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4x4 DRIVERS ARE STUPID AND POMPOUS; Mini-driving Range Rover designer raps school run cars.

Byline: By Annie Brown

THE creator of the Range Rover says people who drive 4x4s in town are stupid and pompous. Spen King is angry that the cars he created for the great outdoors have become oversized toys for pretentious city slickers.

King designed the Range Rover in 1970 but is now so fed up with 4x4s that he drives a Mini.

He said: 'The 4x4 was never intended as a status symbol, but later incarnations of my design seem to be intended for that purpose.

'I find the people who use it as such deeply unattractive.

'Sadly, the 4x4 has become an alternative to a Mercedes or BMW for the pompous, self-important driver.

'To use the 4x4 for the school run, or even in cities or towns at all, is completely stupid.'

There are more than 1.2 million 4x4s on Britain's roads. Sales have doubled in the last 10 years, and 4x4s now account for more than six per cent of new car registrations.

More than 77,000 were sold in the first five months of 2004, against 67,000 in the same period last year.

Most owners use them like normal cars.

A survey in the US last year found that only 11 per cent of 4x4 drivers ever bother taking them off-road.

Campaigners claim 4x4s clog our streets, threaten our safety and damage the planet.

Their drivers say they feel safer than in ordinary cars, but the 4x4's high centre of gravity makes it easier to roll.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents have warned that 4x4 drivers are more likely to hit pedestrians or cyclists.

And research has shown that pedestrians are twice as likely to die if hit by a 4x4, because the vehicles' high bonnets cause head and upper-body injuries.

Road safety charity Brake have urged schools to ban 4x4s from their gates.

Other drivers are also at extra risk from 4x4s, because they tend to strike cars above their bumpers and side-impact protection systems.

As 4x4s have got bigger to feed public demand for status symbols, their fuel efficiency and effects on the planet have got worse. A 4x4 can spew out up to five times more carbon dioxide per mile than the most fuel- efficient small cars.

The French government are planning a pounds 2000 surcharge on the gas-guzzlers. And Paris council are trying to ban 4x4s from the city.

Lib Dem environment spokesman Norman Baker wants 4x4 drivers to face higher road tax and additional driving tests.

Hesaid: 'It's really unnecessary to drive your child 300 yards to school in a 4x4.

'Some of our towns are quite short of space, and they just don't have room for these vehicles.'

Matthew Taylor, managing director of Land Rover UK, insisted: 'People should be able to choose the vehicle that suits their needs.'

CAPTION(S):

ROAD HOGS: 4x4s spew out more fumes and are more dangerous than small cars; MINI-ME: Spen King drives a small car
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 28, 2004
Words:496
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