Newsgrab

The week that has been – 14 February 2021.

The face of 2021 – Citroen C3 Aircross. Image: Autocar

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.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

12 thoughts on “Newsgrab”

  1. Citroën and maths. Not a happy combination. I checked the Dutch Citroën website and they’ll inform us that there are indeed 7 body colours, 4 colour packs, but only two roof colours. Judging by the pictures there, you can have the roof in the same colour as the rest of the body or black or white. Assuming that black and white aren’t available as body colours, it would mean there are 9 roof colours available. On top of that you get 3 different decorations on the rear side windows.

    However, my biggest beef by far is that not 3, but 4 interior ambiances are on offer there: standardambiance, ambiance urban blue, ambiance metropolitan graphite and ambiance hype grey. And yes standardambiance is written as one word, not standard ambiance. And why isn’t it ambiance standard, like the othere ambiances. Wasn’t this supposed to be a quiet Sunday morning?

    As for the other cars mentioned here: Not interested in the Renault. I love the Elise. Driven a 111R for a bit and it’s been on my shortlist ever since. Sadly hasn’t materialized, though. Move over Audi, I’ll have the Taycan. A JagauRomeo? Now that sounds interesting. Can I have a Lancia Rover?

  2. Wonderfully understated wit and analytic brilliance. Made my morning. Let’s hope that the schnauzer does not reflect the shape of things to come. And that the new twenties could give room for some colourful design ikons to come into fruition.

  3. Products, concepts, and carefully managed revelations shaping up for the Geneva Salon which was never going to be?

    Good news about the Audi A1. The last one filled the bill rather well, the present one looks incongruously cheap, like something VAG might have produced to launch a Dacia-challenger brand. Best to leave that space to SEAT and Škoda, who do it far better – a promising new Fabia’s on the way.

    And chapeau! (as they say in DTW-speak) for the G&S reference…

  4. Good morning Eóin. Your photo of the facelifted C3 Aircross made me realise that I had no recollection of what the pre-facelift model looked like:

    It is (was) actually quite nice, with a relatively clean and simple form, and consistent use of that ’rounded rectangle’ motif (Fiat called it something like ‘squircle’ on the current Panda). The facelift does not represent an improvement, IMHO. I can’t be bothered to check out the interior options as they sound like the usual dreary greyscale variations.

    Ah yes, Mr Holloway’s demented opinion piece about Jaguar and Alfa Romeo. I read it earlier in the week and couldn’t make any sense of it either. I assumed it was a bit of clickbait, designed to attract outraged comment from aficionados of both marques.

    I feel sorry for Autocar, a magazine I used to buy weekly for about thirty years in the last millennium and appreciated for its honest and trustworthy journalism. It now faces the same dilemma as others in the print journalism sphere, continually falling circulation and the difficulty of successfully monetising its website content, which is really quite poor these days. It comprises opinion pieces of highly variable quality, tedious error-ridden ‘slideshows’ written by the office junior and rehashed manufacturers’ press releases. The car reviews are still worth a look, once you mentally adjust for the pro-JLR bias and excessive deference to Volkswagen Group.

  5. I had to check the date, making sure it’s NOT April 1st with the Jaguar-Alfa Romeo alliance.

    Understanding that many a corporation/office/street can thrive on the eternal energies that the rumour mill runs on, has an otherwise respectable journalist jumped onto the latest bandwagon bandied about for something to report? I know many people get a buzz from knowing something you don’t; it’s almost a currency in my workplace and around 99% incorrect. Still, truth is often stranger than fiction so who’ll be opening their JAR order first? I do like the sound of a Lancia Rover though.

    A1, Citroen – meh.

    And just where did Danny Bahar go after leaving Lotus? Oh, is he the rumour monger…?

  6. Freerk: Well done for going to the trouble of checking with Citroen.nl on the specs. I simply couldn’t bring myself. It does ruin my hilarious gag somewhat however, but that’s hardly your fault. Standardambiance: Lord above, what is the matter with marketing people?

    By the way, wouldn’t a Lancia Rover be a LanRover?

    Patrik: You flatter me. But thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy the site.

    Robertas: Couldn’t agree more as regards the A1. What a dreary looking device. Why on earth would anyone bother? Why does Audi – they clearly can’t be. Bothered, that is…

    Daniel: Demented pretty much sums it up.

    Andrew: The Great Bahar now runs an ‘enhancement business’ known as Ares (mind you, rearrange the letters and you might be in trouble) which despite what Mr. Cropley might tell you appears to exist largely upon – gasp! unicorns and a number of credulous motor-reportage outlets who seem to run their press releases largely verbatim.

  7. Could add a few letters to the ambience – ambivalence… I’d expect the missing colour combinations are those off the table for the protection of the colour-blind/tasteless, or perhaps the general public.

  8. “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.”

    News to me. Chrysler is doing just fine so far as I know – it kept FCA from going under for a good decade.

    If you mean the actual Chrysler brand name, they have only three models, the 300, Pacifica and Grand Voyager minivans. All sell reasonably in their niche market segments. The real money comes from several million RAM and Jeep sales per annum. Life support quite unnecessary.

    https://carsalesbase.com/fiat-chrysler-automobiles-us/

    1. For the avoidance of doubt, the piece referred to brand-Chrysler, about which there as been rather a lot speculation of late as to its future viability. Their sales (thanks for including those Tom S) are respectable, but like the Ypsilon, the 300 is getting long in the tooth now and while it maintains some market appeal, something will need to be done before long. Minivans still have a market, but even the dogs in the street can tell you that it’s a market in serious and perhaps terminal decline. I’d keep that ventilator handy, just in case.

      In other headlines, JLR announced their plans for both Jaguar and Land Rover today – (shock news – no tie-ups with Alfa Romeo planned).

    2. Oh cool, news from one of my favorite brands.

      They’ve pulled the plug on the no longer forthcoming XJ sedan while simultaneously promising to go all-electric by 2025.

      A recent patent filing shows an updated I-Pace sporting fake exhaust outlets.

      A recent photo of Jaguar design chief Julian Thomson.

  9. I assumed brand Chrysler rather than Stellantis North America?

    Either way, US sales 2020, from carsalesbase.com:
    Chrysler 110464 units, share 0.8% (23rd highest sales, of 34 – just ahead of Volvo)
    Dodge 267328, 1.8%, 17th
    Jeep 795313, 5.5%, 6th
    RAM 624641, 4.3%, 7th

    Considering it’s three vehicles, or two if the Voyager is just the lower trims of the Pacifica, then that is indeed not bad for brand Chrysler, as with Lancia. Jeep and RAM speak for themselves. Since I’ve got the page open…

    Alfa Romeo 18856, 0.1%, 32nd (actually an increase in units over 2019)
    Fiat/Abarth 4303, 0%, 34th

    JLR 101820, 0.6% (if treated together; Land Rover counted for 80034 of those sales)

    Which would make group market share 11.7%. Big Three comparison- GM brands 17.4%, Ford/Lincoln 13.9%. By comparison Toyota/Lexus 14.5%, Honda/Acura 9.2%, Hyundai/Kia/Genesis 8.4%, Nissan/Infiniti/Mitsubishi 6.7%, VW group 3.9%. Subaru alone, 4.2%

    It’s a bit crude, as smaller brands (eg Bentley) are not listed, and of course it reflects only sales, not necessarily desirability or profit, but hopefully interesting to compare anyway.

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