The Maltese Islands are experiencing a traffic crisis which refuses to die down, as hundreds of thousands of new cars are registered and licensed on an annual basis. At the heart of this crisis is Malta’s love for cars, and our uncanny ability to mirror the stereotypical characteristics that each car model carries with it.
A recent study by One Poll revealed that almost a third of Brits think BMW drivers are “obnoxious business types” and VW Campers are “hippies”, and that got us thinking; what are Malta’s most popular vehicles, and what do they say about their drivers?
Here are seven of the commonest cars on Malta’s roads, and the type of person you’re probably going to find behind the wheel.
1. Fiat 500
The ‘daddy got me this car and I love him so much’
It’s now been 10 years since the revamped, bubble-like 500 was announced to the masses, and like its predecessor a whole half-century ago, it didn’t take long for the Fiat hatchback to take over the world. Within months, Malta was quick to follow suit.
Nowadays, Fiat 500s are everywhere, and seeing as they’re relatively cheap but still beautiful inside and out, they quickly became the ride of choice for spoilt rich kids looking for a fab first car.
“It’s cute, but it’s only a Fiat ta’. I’ll end up asking for another one like.”
Watch the next purchase be either a Mini or a Smart.
2. 90s Honda Civics
The ‘lowered AF Japanese racer, kink’
Leading the notorious car modding tradition that has taken Malta by storm for decades.
Whether it’s an overly-eager 19-year-old who thinks they live in the streets of Tokyo or a 20-something who grew up playing Need for Speed, this car quickly becomes a collage of cliché stickers, alluding to how lowered the car is (because that’s of course a great idea in Malta) or how much quicker this 20-year-old Civic is meant to be when compared to a brand new Ferrari.
When Honda fails, a slew of other Japanese cars come in to the save the day. Cue so many modifications, you’ll be hard pressed guessing what the original looks like. Cringeworthy decals are a must.
“I wish you thrice what you wish to me.”
3. Any Alfa Romeo
The ‘old money, petrolhead’
Believe it or not, the older the model, the better.
Bought in the 80s or 90s for a pretty hefty price, these babies still run relatively smoothly. And when they don’t, it’s all part of the charm. Besides; it’s a perfect reminder for any bystander that the driver has been rich for a very long time.
This is however not limited to only old models of Alfa Romeos; newer iterations, like the MiTo, will still do the trick just fine.
“You haven’t really driven until you buy an Alfa man.”
4. Huge SUVs
The ‘I’m only one person but I definitely need a car that can fit a whole band and all their instruments’
Sure, SUVs are great for people with large families, large dogs, or both, but we’d be kidding ourselves as a nation if we thought those were the only people who buy massive 4x4s in Malta.
A direct effect of this country’s obsession with cars and the extent to which a vehicle can be specifically bought as a statement, huge SUVs can commonly be seen around Malta with nothing but a lonely driver hidden behind the massive wheel.
From Land Rovers and Porsches to Toyotas and Nissans, there’s just no end.
“Aw, imma rajtom il-heated seats bil-massagers?”
The ‘I don’t care about you or your stupid traffic rules’
BMW drivers have a tough time with public perception all over the world, and Malta’s no exception.
Posts on local forums are daily inundated with people complaining about a driver blocking a couple of cars. Or stopping exactly in front of a garage. Or recklessly driving past a shocked bystander. And most of the time, just like magic, it’s a BMW at the centre of it all. If this had to be a drinking game, our money would be on a white 1 Series.
The ‘imliha bro’ of cars.
6. VW Golf / Polo
The ‘Best of both worlds man’
Golfs and Polos aren’t only two of the safest and best rated cars in the world; they’re also some of the most popular on the island.
And while a car as common as this is sure to hold a wide variety of drivers, most of them are very quick to remind everyone just what an amazing purchase they’ve made. It’s probably got to do with the relatively high price for a hatchback, but you’ll be hard-pressed finding a Golf or a Polo on the streets of Malta which doesn’t have that not-so-humble, Best Car In The World Award sticker at the back.
“Ili fan minn żmien il-Mark 1 man.”
7. Toyota Yaris / Vitz
The ‘I really just need a car with four wheels that works’
By far the commonest car on Malta’s roads (by a landslide).
These owners love to remind everyone that, against all odds, their trusty steed has been going for years, and fixing it comes at a fraction of the price of your car.
Whether they genuinely love owning a Yaris (or even the Japanese second-hand Vitz version) or they’ve been left with no choice because that’s what their budget affords them, you’ve got to hand it to these guys for making the best of their car. And for recognising it in a car park with at least a dozen identical models.
Other Toyota models like the IQ, Aygo and Rav4 (and equivalents like the Peugeot 108 and the Citroën C1) are also very common cars with similar drivers behind the wheel, but the Yaris and Vitz of Malta probably outnumber all of those combined.
You’ll find everything from bright red models to barely-recognisable modified models (there’s even one with Lamborghini doors driving around), but the commonest iteration is definitely the silver 2001 Vitz.