Three new models from three distinct manufacturers. Each playing the same notes – but in a different order.
Last week saw several new car announcements, three of which we’re specifically interested in today. We open with the official release of what has felt like one of the least titillating stripteases in recent history – the Hyundai Kona crossover. This vehicle, the Korean car giant’s entry to the Captur/Juke sector has been seen in various forms of reveal for weeks now, so its advent has at least stemmed the vexing but unavoidable PR-drip-feed throughout the automotive tabloids that appears de rigueur these days. Others better qualified than I might have more to say about the Kona’s styling – of which there appears to be an awful amount – but suffice to say it’s staggeringly busy.
Which brings us rather neatly to the second reveal of last week, Citroën’s awaited C3 Aircross. Looking for all the world like a production version of the concept Citroën showed at Geneva this spring, the Aircross will join the Kona in the compact crossover playpen and we can only hope they play nicely together. The aircross maintains the brand’s family ‘face’ (one which Hyundai could be accused here of pilfering to some extent) and while it wouldn’t be a nu-Citroën without some gimmick-laden garnish sprinkled hither and thither, it presents a more sober visage to the world than the one more associated with the funster, Jackson. Further solace is to be found in that the Aircross also appears to be an airbump-free zone.
Citroën seem to have gone to some effort with the interior which is cheerful and it appears, versatile. In launch specification at least, it’s also available in five colours. I’m holding fire on the aesthetics, given that my own view of the C3 hatch deteriorated markedly once I began seeing them in the wild.
The third car which bookends this particular triptych is Volkswagen’s new Polo. What is it doing here you ask? Well, if one looks at what both Hyundai and VW are doing, we see the polar extremities of mainstream contemporary car styling. The Korean effort is all about noise and attention. The Polo on the other hand appears if anything, to suggest the end of styling. As is now the German default, the VW strives for a look of studied invariance while subtly telegraphing that it’s the new model.
With Neu-Polo, it’s all about the interior, it seems – and of course, the tech. Whether the exterior changes – it’s said to be on the latest corporate platform and VW are making all the usual noises about lighter weight and greater efficiency – are successful are again for others to judge, but one could certainly frame a cogent argument to suggest the outgoing design didn’t really need updating.
While the ultra-conservative Polo sits close to or at the very top of the B-segment ‘supermini’ class, both Citroën and Hyundai represent the sector’s insecure, attention seeking, and slightly annoying younger siblings. They also represent the current direction of travel. In real world terms, I’d suggest it’s likely to play out something like this.
The Hyundai will do the numbers because European buyers trust them, the Polo will strengthen VW’s position against the Fiesta and Citroën will continue to struggle to make any meaningful headway outside the domestic market, because PSA haven’t tangibly addressed the fundamentals. The C3 Aircross seems like a decent effort, but it’s likely to be at least two-to three years too late.
All of which goes to suggest that if you play it loud, and with enough conviction, you’ll get away with anything.