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RATTLE AND HUM (some text hidden)
By Andy Enright
Introductionword count: 133
We all have guilty pleasures, things we know aren't really right but which we can't help liking. All manner of convoluted justifications can be made to salve that guilt but the best way is usually just to admit to the fact that we're occasionally due a little slack. Or, in the case of the Hummer H3, 2200 kilos of slack. The brutalist Hummer isn't a vehicle that's easy to pass off as a convincing alternative to a Land Rover Discovery, but it is a definite statement of something. I love the H3 if only for its ability to paint a look of abject horror on the face of my rather pompous Prius-driving neighbour. Retain a sense of humour and perspective and you could love it too. Here's how to find a used example.
Modelsword count: 5
5dr 4x4 (3.7 petrol [H3])
Historyword count: 308
How we got to the Hummer H3 is interesting. Drawing its influence from the original Humvee military vehicle (HMMWV - a military term for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle for the curious), the idea for a roadgoing Hummer was hatched when General Motors bought the AM General Corporation of South Bend, Indiana. This company manufactured Humvee vehicles for the US military and had started selling Hummer versions with slightly more creature comforts to civilians such as Arnold Schwarzenegger. The growth of the high end Sports Utility Vehicle market in the US and the brand equity of the Hummer name made the company an attractive target and in 2002 GM unveiled the Hummer H2. A loophole on 6000lb+ 'commercial' vehicles saw many business buyers able to tax deduct $38,000 of the car's $50,000 list price and helped sales skyrocket. Based on tried and tested GM mechanicals, the H2 used a front suspension system similar to a GM Silverado truck while the rear end was similar to a GM half-tonne truck. It drove like a commercial vehicle too and although a few were imported to the UK, it was too big for inner city streets. The H3 packs the Hummer look and feel into a more manageable size and, due to Hummer's production facility in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, was built in right hand drive form, a few of which were officially imported to the UK. Take up wasn't huge, the 3.7-litre petrol engine proving too avaricious for most prospective customers, but it shifted a few units before the Hummer brand was swatted by the global financial crisis. A sale to Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company collapsed when the Chinese government failed to be convinced that the home-built car would be any more economical. The last H3s rolled from the line in 2010, whereupon the company was wound up.
What You Getword count: 300
Anybody who ever drove one of the original Hummers would have been amazed at its reverse-TARDIS ability. Huge on the outside, there was probably less useable room inside than you'd get in a Ford Focus. It was genuinely a triumph of lousy packaging. The H3 is several steps removed from the original and things are a good deal more conventional inside, without a transmission tunnel so wide you need to semaphore your passenger. It's still rather American insofar as the plastics quality isn't great, but the centre stack at least looks stylish with its brushed metal finish. It does have a style of its own and it's not altogether unappealing. On a short off-road route, I managed to almost knock myself unconscious on the grab handle, thought better of it and got back on the tarmac. Other ergonomic glitches include awful rear visibility thanks to the tailgate-mounted spare wheel and a reduction in the Hummer's total load lugging ability thanks to rear seats that don't fold flat. The exterior styling is bluff and uncompromising with a front end that encourages traffic to get out of its path. The H3 is based on a Chevy Colorado pick up truck, so the underpinnings aren't exactly cutting edge. What's quite fascinating about the Hummer is that while to many it represents the unacceptable face of American bling, it's in fact built at the Struandale Assembly Facility in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. General Motors pumped over $100 million into the construction of this plant and the H3 was expected to pay its way. Early signs were promising for the Hummer brand with around 1,900 vehicles sold in Europe in 2006 compared to a mere 548 vehicles the previous calendar year but as soon as credit got crunched, sales evaporated. What To Look For (used_look)
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Category: Crossover or SUV 4x4s
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