The week that has been – 14 February 2021.
As we enter the mid-point of February 2021 and for most of us, the interminable wait for any palpable sense of normalcy seems as distant a prospect as ever. Automotive news these days appears to arrive in bursts of optimism, before quickly dying down once more – somewhat akin to hopes for an even semi-productive year in prospect. Still, we must hold firm, so to the news of the week (at least that which your editor deems newsworthy) we return.
Having surprised a sizeable cohort of us by unveiling a retrofuturist concept for an EV based on the stylistic cues of the mid-1980s SuperCinq, Renault are (according to the good people at AutoCropley), rumoured to be readying a further concept based on the Renault 4, a model celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.
The nu-Quatrelle is set to be shown in November of this year and is allegedly, to be a… come on everybody, sing in tune… crossover CUV. Given that Renault have promised, a “surprise unveiling“, it’s going to have to be something to raise even one inflected eyebrow round these parts. Of course one should hold one’s council until it’s revealed, but given the recent R5 concept (which is fine but I’d much prefer a Zoe), no jigs of anticipation are being choreographed.
Meanwhile it’s with profound sadness that we report this week the imminent demise of the Lotus Elise, which along with its Exige and Evora stablemates are to be culled in anticipation of a new Geeley-funded model. What Lotus have in store remains for now somewhat unclear, there being several conflicting accounts as to what is to be produced and where it is to sit within the Hethel firmament.
However, while all will be missed to some degree (the Evora holding a rather special place in this author’s affections) one aspect that seems relatively assured is the strong likelihood that with the Elise’s demise, the relatively affordable, compactly dimensioned Lotus will be no more. And that, as those of you who have driven one will undoubtedly attest, is a genuine shame. Mind you, it’s bound to make Dany Bahar’s day.
We’ve waited so patiently, but at last it’s here. The Audi E Tron GT, and for heaven’s sake don’t mention the Tay… ahem, sorry Mr. Duesmann, it just slipped out. Yes indeed, Audi has announced its electrified four door GT thingie and well, if you liked the concept, you’re probably only mildly disappointed by the reality. For the rest of us, it’s more a case of breathless relief that it isn’t yet another dreary crossover CUV.
So yes, “the gran turismo of the future”, sayeth Ingolstadt, offering an “emotional and fascinating” interpretation of the Tay… sorry, no, what am I saying? Anyway, the GT represents the “dynamic spearhead of electric mobility at Audi”, which I think we can all agree is nice, it’s just a pity it looks such an angry mess.
Speaking with journalists this week, Audi CEO, the aforementioned Markus Duesmann turned his attention to the opposite end of Audi’s product offer, casting a certain element of doubt upon the future of the unlovely A1 once the current model cycle has come to an end. Citing the fact that other parts of the VAG empire can make the B-segment numbers work owing to their scale, he suggested that perhaps the Q2 would in future represent Audi’s entry point.
All of which is another way of saying that the future lies in crossovers, not in traditional hatchbacks – not if you want any appreciable margins from the enterprise anyway. Duesmann did also allegedly hint that a vehicle in the spirit of the A2 could be developed as an EV, a prospect which has been mooted in the past, with less than edifying results. Breath (somewhat understandably) not being held.
We also heard from Stellantis’ Carlos Tevares this week – who rather understandably has rather a lot on his plate these days. Having recently suggested that rumours of Lancia’s demise were premature, he was this time at pains to mollify our US cousins that Chrysler isn’t quite for the chopping block either. Currently on a similar level of life support as its Turin cousin, Chrysler, much like Lancia requires a little more than an infusion of capital. A raison d’être would be helpful as well.
The latter part of the week saw the introduction of a facelifted Citroën C3 Aircross. The current car, which rivals the Nissan Juke and Toyota C-HR, et al has been around in its current iteration since 2017 and was amongst the more cohesive and (relatively) attractive of its ilk. The bulk of the changes centre on the nose, which gains a new lighting signature-cum grille, lending the car something of the appearance of a slightly pissed-off miniature Schnauzer, albeit without the incessant barking and cleaning up, one assumes.
Up to 70 possible exterior colour combinations are said to be possible – which sounds a lot until one drills down a little. There are, and I quote, “seven body colours (three new), four colour packs for the skid plate inserts, door mirror caps and quarter lights with new graphics, and three roof colours.” Maths never having been a strong point, I’ll simply give my best (Irish) impression of a Gallic shrug and leave it for you to decipher.
My particular favourite from the introductory report was that of the “three distinct cabin ambiences;” [three little cabin ambiences from school are we…] Metropolitan Graphite and Hype Grey described as being “the two most distinctive options.” Leaving one to ponder as to the third, least attractive option.
Lastly, and perhaps most concerning is the realisation that there may be other things equally as transmissible as certain infamous novel coronaviruses, especially amid the corridors of Haymarket’s leading weekly automotive organ. This week, Autocar contributor Hilton Holloway, who really needs to go outside and take a few deep breaths before committing digit to keyboard, suggested (in writing) that what Jaguar needs is to partner-up with… Alfa Romeo.
In his opinion piece, he posits the notion that JLR could potentially ink a deal with Stellantis to share the Giorgio platform and build a new Jaguar saloon upon its base. No wait, there’s more. JLR should then utilise currently unused capacity in Italian factories – one imagines how well that one would go down amid workers and union representatives at JLR’s beleaguered and currently under-utilised Castle Bromwich plant.
To be honest, the whole idea is so irredeemably bonkers that it suggests that either the writer is suffering from some form of delirium, or has simply gone full-Cropley. (Some might even rationalise it as some kind of bizarre reverse Brexit bonus). Either way however, it’s rather upsetting – our thoughts and prayers are with all involved at this difficult time.