It’s the circle of life folks…
There is, as perhaps you’ll notice, something of a ‘births and deaths’ feeling to our weekend proceedings. Yesterday we reviewed of some of the more significant new arrivals, while today, we don black armbands in doleful anticipation and bid a socially distanced adieu to three storied model lines, soon to make a bid for the eternal.
Our first port of call is Italy’s Po valley, in the region of Emilia-Romagna -Maranello to be precise. That of course can only mean one marque. The FF model was genuinely a prancing horse of a different stripe when it was first introduced in 2011. Not that four-seater Ferraris were novel – anything but. However it was the first production car from Maranello which employed a shooting brake estate-car silhouette, and full-time four wheel drive, mated to a traditional (mid) front-engined, V12 engined powertrain.
With four seater accommodation and a hatchback rear, combined with all-weather capability, this was a Ferrari for all seasons, if not necessarily all terrain. Nevertheless, the FF could go where no cavallino rampante could canter before.
2016 saw it being superseded by the similarly bodied, facelifted GTC-4 Lusso. Employing the same bodyshell, originally styled by Pininfarina, in conjunction with centro stile Ferrari, the GTC was in-house design – Pininfarina by then having either alienated their defining client, or vice-versa. The revised model was a visual success, in that the revisions made for a more coherent, cleaner looking car.
The GTC, available in 6.3 litre V12 or 3.9 litre V8 form (the latter in 2WD form only) proved a relatively successful model line, being that rare thing – a thoroughly usable (by Ferrari standards anyway) 200 mph supercar. Admittedly, there wasn’t a massive untapped demand for such a thing, with 1496 being sold in Europe over the past four years, but there is (or ought to be) even less requirement for a prancing horse badged SUV, yet this is precisely what Maranello is preparing for sale in 2021. Because they can. I’d keep that black armband on if I were you.
We now turn our nose Northwards, towards Stuttgart-Sindelfingen, where Mercedes, having just introduced the world to the new generation W223 S-Class saloon, has announced that the current C222 Coupé and convertible will not be replaced once their model cycle ceases. Given the style, visual bulk and chintz-laden accoutrements of the outgoing cars, this is not necessarily a departure necessarily worthy of lachrymose musings. However, it does represent the final act in a (once) worthy line of large-format, indulgent grand touring coupés and convertibles from the three pointed star.
The rationale behind the decision is that demand no longer justifies the investment, but what perhaps sits behind it with greater imperative is the fact that even before the onset of the C-19 pandemic, Mercedes’ Daimler parent was massively overstretched, haemorrhaging vast quantities of Euros on what has become an unmanageable and unsustainable product portfolio.
Over now, not to the Czech Republic, as we might have thought, but nearby to Bratislava in Slovakia, home to the VW Group Up! Mii and Citigo trio. Introduced in 2011, Škoda’s Citigo was the Bohemian offering amid the A-segment trifecta of Wolfsburg, Martorell and Mláda Boleslav.
Never a hugely compelling product, being by hierarchical imperatives a less desirable offering than its VW equivalent, the Citigo was nevertheless a worthy one, with as much to recommend it as anything else in the compact European city-car segment. Powered, initially at least, by a shared 1.0 litre triple, the Citgo was remodelled quite comprehensively last year when its combustion engine was replaced by a battery-electric powertrain, the first to be offered by Škoda Auto.
Once again however, what might have been considered expedient or at least broadly acceptable has been rendered null and void under the current fevered circumstances. There is no money to be made on sub-compact EVs – they emit only one thing – red ink. So the Citi must go. Škoda PR states that the newly announced Eynaq iV will remain for now the Czech carmaker’s electric torchbearer. They might make a few Euros on that one. Maybe.
Matters are coming to a head for all carmakers; Ferrari is (currently at least) acting primarily to print money, while it can, but for the likes of Škoda and even the mighty Daimler, there is no immunity from the coming reckoning. Attrition is the way forward. Entire formats are for the birds – or the history books at least. Just as in life, there is only one true leveller. All things must pass.