Micropost: Which is Which?

Following on from the earlier post, readers are invited to identify the Kia Carens and the BMW 2-series Active Tourer.

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(Credits: Kia and BMW)

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

20 thoughts on “Micropost: Which is Which?”

  1. The Carens looks very good and there’s definitely not much between them. I take it the KIA is a significantly cheaper?

  2. The difference is clear. The Kia is a loser-mobile and the BMW is a car for the modern urban silver-ager made for all sorts of expensive and wild activities (tennis and golf).

    The Kia looks better.

    1. It’s less obvious on an iPhone. When I saw the Carens last week I thought “That Active Tourer doesn’t look too bad at all.” Then I saw the front and realised it was not a BMW.

    1. My factory does the conversions. €2,500 + VAT one side. €4,000 + VAT for both sides. Makes your Kia look €8,000 more expensive. A bargain.

  3. Chasing volume in mass market sectors, BMW open themselves to the kind of cross-comparisons they have been hitherto spared. Historically, BMW customers understood that the trade off for a best in class engine and fine handling was a high list price, cramped accommodations from a fat transmission tunnel, and a black plastic cliff face dashboard. The mass market customer, by comparison, is spoiled for choice. Is the BMW 2-series Active Tourer demonstrably superior to the Kia Carens? It is not. Kia have been in the MPV game longer than BMW and it shows; so have GM, Ford, Citroen and Renault. The new Scenic in particular looks like it would knock the Active Tourer into a cocked hat. You would have to really hate Renault not to choose the French car.

    1. I’d say that if you run a “premium” auto maker and put yourself into the position where your buyers are quite seriously cross shopping against a Kia then you’re seriously gone off piste.

      The recent announcement that Audi are significantly expanding their RS range is a testament to how much the German premium marques have cheapened themselves; they now need to introduce sub brands to retain any thin claim to the exclusivity that underpins their higher margins.

      If they stop screwing around I think that Maserati have a real opportunity to pick up buyers with real money who do not feel that an Mercedes Benz, BMW, or even Jaguar is unusual or exclusive enough for them now that they are more common that Vauxhalls.

    2. Why would BMW enter a mature and some would add, dying market? Largely to help amortise costs of the shared MINI platform and improve economies of scale one assumes. Nevertheless, on brand equity alone – can it be anything else? – they’ve taken a huge slice of that market. If you don’t believe me, look at the sales figures.

      Okay, the Scenic is on run-out and the Kia is stigmatised by its name, but given the price – (not massive) and depreciation – (notable) differentials, a lot of people have and will continue to take the conservative route. There’s also a sizeable number of once-bitten former Renault owners out there who (rightly or wrongly) would never darken Billancourt’s doors again.

      The likes of BMW and Mercedes are locked into a mad race for market dominance, and given that both have demonstrated their ability to enter any market sector without harm, why wouldn’t they mop up what volume they can grab? You can argue the longer-term impact to them, and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree, but viewed in the here and now, it’s clearly making some kind of business sense. They’d hardly bother otherwise. I’d wager the monthly repayments on a B-Class or 2-Series AT would put the mainstream boys to shame.

      The advent of the 2017 Scenic will be interesting. It’s probably the last roll of the dice for Renault in this segment. Come to think of it, Renault’s running out of last dice throws. How many sectors is it now?

    3. I remember having a conversation with the head of Maserati in Australia around nine or ten years ago, where he said that one of the brand’s biggest attractions for people who used to have a Merc or BMW was exactly this – the exclusivity angle. I wouldn’t know about such things, but reportedly, people spending upwards of AUD$200k on a car get a bit sniffy at having to share the showroom with 3-Series or A-Class buyers. The caveat here is that this is when their range was composed entirely by the Granturismo and Quattroporte. Vulgarity of vulgarities, I actually saw a TV ad for the Levante yesterday. I’m not sure that Maserati’s direction allows it to claim prestige bragging rights in the way it might have been able to a decade ago.

  4. David: it’s true Maserati could be a proper premium alternative. However, there’s no evidence they have the ability to provide the deep-down solidity of build that the German brands’ reputation rests on. One could write a PhD on what this mysterious, evanescent something-or-other is. I think FCA don’t know what that is and so don’t know how to find it. I’m not being flippant: Mazda, Ford, Nissan, Opel, Skoda and Subaru all make cars I think are more robust and useful than Maserati. Maserati make expensive Alfa Romeos.

  5. Richard – that’s a less extreme form of my argument that a passenger Doblò is a superior car to any Ferrari. It can carry seven people or loads of cargo, uses far less fuel, is inexpensive to maintain, and in most real road situations can be driven faster safely by virtue of its higher driving position and better vision. Probably far more relaxed than a Ferrari on a long journey too.

    Returning to the original matter, I wasn’t at all surprised to note that the first Bavarian Carens was on Hankooks, on wheels which looked at least two inches too small. The Gran Tourer has a sort of Vito look about it – perhaps BMW should confound the present trend for premium pick-ups by introducing a premium light van.

    1. That argument for the Doblo would be better if a Kangoo stood in, or a Transit Connect. However, I was thinking of quality and reliability. As I have boring, technocratic tendencies, a well-specced mainstream car would be preferable to me than a new QP: such cars are my own XM, the 604, 406, Opel Vectra (last iteration, Insignia, Mazda 6, 2000 Mondeo (the newer ones have lost me), Legacy. There’s a touch of the gold toilet seat about the Maserati range.

  6. Stradale: coffee or tea, fairness and efficiency, ride and handling; volume and exclusivity. The world’s made up of oppositions. Maserati can’t have both a select clientele and a load of customers.

    1. Quite. Actually, there is a question to ponder. Did the Biturbo’s first-class resistibility to potential customers for 15 years set the groundwork for the brand’s upper-end relaunch?

  7. The Biturbos flakiness probably created a lot of bad impressions. Cars like 2003 QP and 1998 3200 GT had the opposite effect. That pair changed my impression of Maserati. The follow-up cars dived into the puddle of questionable taste.

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