The unthinkables: 10 of the most controversial car innovations


Honda has long been a hard-line exponent of naturally aspirated engines, such as the VTEC units in a long line of Civic Type R hot hatches that stuck with natural aspiration long after competitors went turbocharged. Yet it wasn’t long before the Honda looked weak-kneed next to rivals, so the unthinkable happened in 2014 and the Civic’s VTEC gained forced induction. Performance gains were huge, but some of the magic was lost. Honda learns fast, though, and the latest blown Type R is the best yet.

Porsche Cayenne

Nearly a quarter of a century on, it’s easy to forget just how controversial the first Cayenne really was. Porsche was a dyed-in-the-wool sports car manufacturer and to even be thinking about the possibility of just maybe making an SUV was heresy, especially one that would go on to have a diesel engine. There was no precedent for this car and, allegedly, no appetite for it among zealots of Zuffenhausen’s usual offerings. Yet as we now know, the Cayenne was a massive sales hit, helping Porsche to ride the early SUV wave and on to previously unimagined profitability.

Volkswagen K70

It can be hard to break free from design dogma and, for decades, VW stuck to its tried and tested formula of slinging an air-cooled engine behind the rear axle. By the late 1960s, however, VW was being left behind commercially and technically, so a revolution was needed. Step forward the K70. Based on the NSU Ro80, it ripped up the VW playbook by featuring front-wheel drive and a water-cooled inline engine. Rust issues and high prices meant it was short lived, but the Passat, Golf and Polo that followed used the same layout to dazzlingly successful effect.

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2WD Land Rovers



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