British drivers still believe in motoring stereotypes like Subaru boy racer and smug BMW businessman, study finds

Volkswagen Campers most likely to evoke images of hippies, while Volkswagen Beetles seen as hairdresser get-arounds 

Grant Bailey
Wednesday 13 December 2017 12:36 GMT
Respondents believe luxury cars are reserved for arrogant and wealthy elite
Respondents believe luxury cars are reserved for arrogant and wealthy elite (Shutterstock)

Smarmy BMW businessmen, holier-than-thou Prius drivers and reckless Subaru boy-racers – these are the stereotypes which rule the roads, research has found.

A study has revealed the driving stereotypes British motorists actually believe are true.

Almost a third of Britons think BMW drivers are obnoxious business types, and one in eight imagine a banker in the front seat of a Mercedes-Benz.

A Volkswagen Camper is most likely to evoke images of a hippie behind the wheel, while Volkswagen Beetles are considered a hairdresser’s get-around.

But while judgemental motorists are quick to guess the personality traits of other drivers, just one in six think they fit the stereotype associated with their own car.

James Buttrick, spokesman for Vantage Leasing, which commissioned the study, said: “Whether accurate or not, the type of car we drive is seen to portray a great deal about our personality on the roads.

“The next time your find yourself in need of a new car, it might be worth considering the stereotype associated with each brand before making your final decision.”

Britons expect a Land Rover to be driven by an upper-class mum on the school run, and Porsches are the preserve of middle-aged men who are trying to look wealthier than they actually are.

Fords, meanwhile, are considered a safe bet, driven by 'average parents'.

The research, carried out by, also revealed a third reckon you can tell a lot about a person by the car they drive, and one in eight admit to judging someone on their choice of vehicle above all else.

Yet a third of drivers don’t think their car represents their personality at all.

Despite the negative connotations of these popular stereotypes, British drivers aren’t letting the opinions of other motorists influence them when they purchase new cars.

Only 8 per cent have considered a car brand’s image when making a vehicle purchase, with nine in 10 believe they are impervious to being duped by car advertising and the lifestyles they promise.

Audi is the car brand British drivers consider most desirable, followed by Aston Martin, while BMW appears at the bottom of the list.

BMW drivers are also perceived to be the most reckless on the roads, along with those behind the wheel of an Audi or Subaru.

It also emerged one in 10 motorists have been mocked in the past for their choice of vehicle, with friends and colleagues most likely to make a comment about their car.

Mr Buttrick added: “It has been fascinating uncovering the hidden meanings we assign to different car brands.

“While many drivers deny it, we can’t escape the fact our choice of vehicle will be seen as an extension of ourselves and our personality, so it is important to choose wisely.”

To see the results in full, visit


Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in