Certainly it’s true on the Evija front – Lotus’s upcoming electric hypercar does feel roomy, not claustrophobic, with two generous seats and a big swooping ‘halo’ of a floating instrument pack, slightly reminiscent of an exposed Maserati ‘birdcage’ chassis but with a 21st century carbonfibre racing bicycle twist. It feels extremely special.
But space equating to luxury is true in general life, too. Who has the most luxurious life? Who defines luxury more than anybody else? Roman Abramovic? Joaquín ‘el Chapo’ Guzmán? Royalty?
Whoever, I’ve seen their houses, and they’re massive. Luxury is, no question, space.
It’s even more valued in places where little space exists, like those London streets where rock stars live next to bankers, and where the quest for more space, more luxury, occurs underground – a garage here, a gym there, a swimming pool beneath it all – eking every last millimetre from buildings made when luxury meant you suffered gout and didn’t die at 35.
So in cities, and in motoring, space sits at odds with one of life’s other luxuries. Perhaps life’s biggest: time.
People sacrifice one for the other. I imagine many of us have at some point lived somewhere small but a ‘yeah, I’ve had a nice walk’ distance from work rather than in a big house that’s ‘sorry, bloody Thameslink, again’ away. A lot of us think time is more important than room. I’d say it’s the most precious thing any of us has.
Which is a thought that occurred to me the other day when I was in an expensive car. An Aston Martin DB11. It is, like the Bentley Continental GT we were testing it against, luxurious, if you accept that quality and cost of materials, design and engineering are also luxuries, which I do.
Yet I was stuck. The car I was following on a relatively busy single carriageway wanted to turn right into a side road, so was waiting for oncoming traffic to clear. I was waiting behind it. Some 1800kg of aluminium, carbonfibre, leather, a twin-turbo V12 and a few iffy cabin plastics and I were stuck fast. And all because of space.
There was, of course, that gap. The car in front was sitting right of lane, leaving almost a car’s width between it and the verge to its left. Almost. But, in a two-metre-wide car on damageable 20in wheels, not enough.
So I sat, wasting time, life ebbing away, like I would not have done in something narrower, like a Hyundai i10. All the luxury money in the world, to look at the back of a Ford Focus and grow closer to death.