Those are the Headlines – Happy Now?

No sticklers for current affairs are we, (spin cycles etc…) but given that it’s my first dedicated 2018 post, I thought I’d confound expectations. Mine, as much as yours.

Ford CEO, Jim Hackett. Image: CNBC

Earlier this week, Autocar’s reverse-cassandra, [this analogy doesn’t entirely hold water, but bear with me] spoke to Ford Motor Company CEO, Jim Hackett, obtaining assurances that the American car giant has no intention of following General Motors out of the European car market. “I have in my hand a piece of paper…”, Steve Cropley didn’t quite say.

What he did however was Continue reading “Those are the Headlines – Happy Now?”

If There Could Be a Sign, if There Could Be A Sign

We have a chance here to examine the implications and otherwise of Citroën’s announcement about a forthcoming large saloon.

Citroen CXperience concept. Image: tf1.fr

Our good friends at Autocropley reported this the day before yesterday but the message only turned up in my in-box yesterday. I opened the link with trembling fingers. First, there will be a new flagship saloon which Citroën would like us to see as “distinctive”. In line with Citroën’s current self-identity, the car should be laden with technology and be a design that is comfort led. Making this possible is the Chinese market where saloons still thrive.

We should see the car in 2019 or 2020 which means they are working on it now. And should someone from Citroën chance upon this article, please ensure the car has a decent ashtray and manual transmission plus a properly large boot. Linda Jackson, reports Autocropley, says the car will Continue reading “If There Could Be a Sign, if There Could Be A Sign”

Permanence Amidst The Vales and Dales

How are the papery ones doing? I had a look at the Audit Bureau of Circulation’s  nice website to examine the state of the UK car magazine market.

The UK periodical industry owns and runs the ABC as a means to provide an independent (from one publisher) source of data on readership. That is then used to justify ad rates on the basis of the circulation of the journals seeking to sell space. The ABC describes itself as follows: “We deliver industry-agreed standards for media brand measurement across print, digital and events. We also verify data, processes and good practice to industry-agreed standards”.

Much of the information provided by ABC is by subscription. The basic data is accessible if you Continue reading “Permanence Amidst The Vales and Dales”

Hercules’ Shears

Just how flexible is Tesla’s battery technology? Why aren’t they doing more with it? Why?

2018 Tesla Model S station wagon: source

The Tesla Model S has been on sale for quite a while now: Since 2012 (USA) and 2013 (EU). By all accounts it is a pretty decent vehicle. We have issues here with its appearance though. I’ve always maintained that it’s too conservative a shape in relation to the technology under the skin.

It may very well have been a design that would have been almost contemporary in 2007. It’s now 2018 and the car still looks the same but 2007 is now a really long way back. Actually I don’t even think it would have looked good in 2007 either. There were several much more interesting designs around then that didn’t scare the horses. Water under the Zoobruecke. What I want to ask here today is how one can Continue reading “Hercules’ Shears”

Not So Suddenly We Heard a Sound

As a person with a strongly archival temperament, it was disturbing for me to read Citroën’s announcement that the firm intended to auction part of its historic collection.

Citroen Auction 2017: source

You can see the catalogue here. It took me about a week to gather the courage to take a look. Sure enough, I found a few cars I’d really like to have and can’t actually afford. The GS with its perfectly intact interior must be museum quality. Some of the others are peculiar: not that cheap and not that special. Once out in the open they will quickly Continue reading “Not So Suddenly We Heard a Sound”

What a Year It Has Been!! Part 2

As promised here is a very tedious run-down of the year’s news.

2017 Alfa Romeo Stelvio QF: Alfa Romeo UK

Launches, launches, launches. Alfa Stelvio. Range Rover coupe. Porsche 911 GT3. Renaultsport Megane RS. Porsche 911 GT2RS. Volvo XC40. Kia Stinger. Bugatti Chiron. Rolls-Royce Phantom. Aston Martin V8. Ford GT. Koenigsegg Regera. Audi A8. Bentley Continental GT. BMW X3. Lamborghini Urus. That’s the list according to one of the car magazines. DTW wrote about the Bentley and the Lamborghini and we didn’t really like them. We also didn’t much like the Stelvio, describing it as a tall Giulia, if memory serves.

If falls to me to

Continue reading “What a Year It Has Been!! Part 2”

What A Year It Has Been (Part 1)

So, there fades and fizzles 2017, nearly gone. Au revoir and good riddance. What can I remember without cheating by using Google Memories*?

2017 Opel Insignia GS: Opel.de

Or without cheating and looking at a back issue of a car magazine? Unaided I can hesitantly say about the only stand-outs are something to do with a Toyota and an Alfa Romeo. AR launched the Stelvio this year** and many suppose it to be quite good. I haven’t seen one yet so I can’t say. I haven’t seen many Giulias either for that matter and it was launched, oh, what, two years ago.

Jaguar released images of the E-Pace and, again, one of those has not appeared anywhere near my district. Or maybe they aren’t on sale yet. Is that news? Or is it a real car? I am not sure***.

I can see as I struggle to write that this article will really deal with the frailty of memory or else the unmemorability of the year’s crop of cars. Or maybe both. It was the year I stopped buying a car magazine which must be both a symptom and a cause of the difficulty.

Cars aren’t the first thing I’ve got out of touch with. First the tide of popular culture left me stranded around 2006; I may just as well Continue reading “What A Year It Has Been (Part 1)”

Leaping Sideways Into the Morning

I know very little about the history of European automotive engines. Were I to spend five months finding out about the topic, this is how I would organise the information…

Image: gamma.consortium

First, I would outline the principles of petrol engine design: thermodynamics, fluid dynamics and on to cylinder count, cylinder arrangement, displacement, cam design and further on. But I can’t cover it all so I would define a period to cover, say 1955 to 1995 (which is the most interesting for me). Next I would try to Continue reading “Leaping Sideways Into the Morning”

Casting the Die

Lamborghini launched the Urus earlier this week, opening a ghastly new front in the SUV wars. But is its significance greater than simply its unabashed aggression? We have gathered some thoughts on the matter.

Weapons grade. Image: CNET

South of Revenna, and situated between the cities of Forli and Rimini, flows the Rubicone. From its source in the Apennine mountains, the river travels for about 80 km eastwards before meeting the Adriatic. In Roman times, it marked the border between Cisalpine Gaul and what we might call the greater Roman state. In 49 BC, General Gaius Julius Ceasar crossed this body of water with his army in direct contravention of the Republic’s laws, precipitating what can best be described as a military coup. As he did so, Ceasar not only unintentionally created a metaphor for the ages but is believed to have Continue reading “Casting the Die”

How the Cnidarian Drifts in the Sapphire Waters

The Guardian reported that electric cars are cheaper to run than other powertrains. This might have implications other than only cheaper motoring in the near future. 

Not a classic. Image : pistonheads.com

“The researchers analysed the total csot of ownership of cars over four years, inlcuding the purchase price and depreciation, fuel, insurance, taxation and mantinance. They were suprised to find that pure elcectric cars came out cheepest in all the mrakets they examined: UK, Japan, Texas and California,” the Guardian wrote**. Last night I stood in the underground garage where my car is parked and it occurred to me that almost none of the vehicles parked there would Continue reading “How the Cnidarian Drifts in the Sapphire Waters”

Hot and Cool. (But Mostly Hot…)

With the third generation CLS, Mercedes-Benz dials down the Purity but ups the Sensuality. Oh Gorden!

Blessed be his name. Prof. Dr. h.c. Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer, Daimler AG. Image: mercedes-benz

Having trawled through Mercedes-Benz’s predictably hyperbole-laden press release for the new CLS, the temptation to point both barrels feels overwhelming, but the author nevertheless promises to do his best. Instead, I’d like to reflect upon whether nu-CLS embodies a return to form for a model which perhaps did more to Continue reading “Hot and Cool. (But Mostly Hot…)”

Thou Shalt Not Poke Fun

Compiling a list of The 100 Prettiest Cars Of All Time sounds like a fairly straightforward task. Until you ask Chris Bangle to cast a vote… 

chris_bangle-1
Chris Bangle, photo (c) car blogger.it

AutoBild Klassik, one of the leading German publications in the field, is currently celebrating its 100th issue with a list naming the 100 most beautiful cars of all time. The jury tasked with naming the entries includes quite a few illustrious names, such as that of Peter Schreyer, Leonardo Fioravanti, Paolo Tumminelli, Simon Kidston, Gorden Wagener, Henrik Fisker and Laurens van den Acker, among others. One name that isn’t included though is that of the most significant car designer of the past twenty years, Christopher Edward Bangle. Continue reading “Thou Shalt Not Poke Fun”

A Bouquet: Pomegranate, Aloe and Yellow Carnations

Today DTW has a short look at some of the cars being presented at the LA Auto Show. Maybe “short look” oversells it a bit. Read on to find out.

2018 Lincoln Nautilus nee MKX: caranddriver.com

After a scroll down Car & Driver’s list of highlights I didn’t find so much to dwell on. This makes me reflect on what there could have been instead. To be honest I can’t think of anything except that I remember a time when reports of American car shows revealed interesting models that were quite unlike anything we had over in Europe. The death of Oldsmobile, Saturn and Pontiac along with the diminution of Buick has reduced GM’s opportunities to Continue reading “A Bouquet: Pomegranate, Aloe and Yellow Carnations”

It’s Dare!

BMW’s daring X2 crossover breaks new ground by changing the rules, thereby ruling the game. No really – it totally does.

You’re totally not supposed to ‘read’ those grey bits. Stop looking at them! Image: autorevue

Invent Yourself

In the BBC comedy, 2012 and it’s spinoff, W1A, the standout character is that of Brand Consultant and head of PR agency Perfect Curve, Siobhan Sharpe, played with considerable aplomb by actress, Jessica Hynes. In the show, Siobhan is engaged, enthusiastic, totally on-zeitgeist. Her dial is set to communicate, yet lacks a filter or indeed much in the way of genuine insight. As a communicator, Siobhan never seems to Continue reading “It’s Dare!”

Artistic Intent

Volkswagen’s new flagship seems to be intent on making up for the lack of outright prestige with pretence and derivativeness – a cause that isn’t aided by its clunky moniker.

IMG_0546

Tiguan, Up(!), T-Roc – VW’s recent crop of all-new model names certainly invites unkind comparisons. Renault can get away with a Twingo, nobody minded Opel’s Tigra, but Volkswagen appears to be better served by less

Continue reading “Artistic Intent”

Micropost: Automotive Jargon

While DTW is far from perfect on the sub-editorial front (blame the sherry), we still like to hold others to suitably high-standards.

Image Source

In addition to the “front grille”, there is a new piece of automotive jargon to throw into your car-speak. It’s the “rear C-pillar”, a delightful formulation invented by the Irish Times. I feel like grabbing a driver’s steering wheel and heading off now. We will deal with the actual car in due course.

High Flying Adored

No longer content with the surly bonds of earth, with this Rocheresque alliance with Emirates, the Blessed One’s ambitions have truly taken wing.

Dr Jens Thiemer, Mercedes-Benz Vice President Marketing: “Travellers in Emirates First Class are now also able to enjoy the sense of luxury of our Mercedes-Benz S‑Class above the clouds”. Image: nyobserver

Everybody (and their dog) wants at the very least to touch the Blessed One’s hem, and after all, who can blame them? Having successfully reinvented Mercedes-Benz as the last word in modern purity and sensual luxury, the frail ties of the auto business were never going to be sufficient to hold his-blessedness to our leaden promontory, when he can Continue reading “High Flying Adored”

A Luton Brougham

With Vauxhall’s future under PSA coming under renewed scrutiny, we look back to Luton’s mid-’70s upmarket ambitions.

1976 Vauxhall VX Prestige prototype. Image: droopsnootgroup

As automotive industry analysts ponder the fate of Opel / Vauxhall in the wake of PSA’s takeover, one possible future mapped out involves a shift upmarket. On the face of things, this appears about as likely as PSA getting a sudden rush of blood to the head and starting to take Citroën seriously, but as (im)possible futures go, it may not be entirely unthinkable.

Not everyone in the soothsaying universe seems to Continue reading “A Luton Brougham”

Noisome, Necessary, Brilliant and Bad

Sometimes I worry that Driventowrite is nothing but a collection of Lancia, Citroen and Opel musings strung together with bits of Ford Granada in between.

Historic Toyotas: Toyota UK

In order to make a token effort to acknowledge the wider world I went in active search of the news the manufacturers themselves put out.

At Toyota, the most exciting thing I found (and it really is exciting because we love Japanese cars here) is that there will soon be news about the Toyota heritage press fleet. They also have an advanced technology seminar on automated driving. I must look at that soon.

Nissan UK proudly report that the Leaf has been awarded AutoExpress prestigious “best used EV award”. Further, they also have news on automated driving and use an image of an Infiniti to Continue reading “Noisome, Necessary, Brilliant and Bad”

The Embarker Lay Still and Dreamed

Recently we discussed PSA’s mooted plans for their new charge, Adam Opel AG. PSA announced their plans yesterday

You can read coverage here and here and here. For the story direct from the lion’s mouth, you must merely click your mouse here.

As GM Authority dryly note, GM somehow failed to Continue reading “The Embarker Lay Still and Dreamed”

Breakfast, Dinner and Lunch All Over Again

According to Automotive News Europe, Opel will reduce the number of models it sells. You won’t be surprised, will you?

2016 Buick Cascada: Buick

Additionally, purchasing activities will be shared alongside PSA platforms. The Ruesselsheim design and engineering centre will be charged with electrification of PSA vehicles and, finally, Opel will expand into territories that were previously taboo under GM.

The first point can be taken to mean more vehicles like the Crossland which already uses a shared platform with PSA. The bundled purchasing operation probably translates into more parts commonality among which will be engines or eventually electric power trains. Engines are typically a clear generator of brand character (or lack thereof); add characterless electric and hybrid powertrains to the mix and one can see a growing hazard for PSA in meaningless differentiation.

This leads us to the last point: new markets for Opel. Currently Opel is stranded in Europe although some of its output found customers in the US as Buicks (the Insignia, the Cascada and the previous Astra.) So, where will Opel head to now it can compete against GM? North America has been a hard market for PSA to crack. One scenario sees Opel as a “German” brand for PSA to push in the US, as a kind of wolf´s clothing for PSA’s platform sheep. Possible models (or their successors) would be the Astra and Crossland cars. In another scenario, Opel might Continue reading “Breakfast, Dinner and Lunch All Over Again”

DS’ New Horizon

As brand-DS’ pathfinder model becomes available to order, we find ourselves once again asking, what on earth is the distinctive series for?

It’s the Louvre, so it must be art. Image: Evans Halshaw

Yesterday, Autocar reported that PSA’s new DS7 Crossback crossover is now available to order in the UK market, with RHD deliveries starting in early 2018. Pricing ranges from about £28,000 in entry-level Elegance trim to over £43,500 for the highest specification ‘Ultra Prestige’ model. That’s right up there with ‘Premium Luxury’ in the redundant nomenclature stakes wouldn’t you say? Isn’t ‘Prestige’ prestigious enough any more? One could be forgiven for imagining DS’ marketers Continue reading “DS’ New Horizon”

Drophead Candy

Up to now we’ve managed relatively few words on the subject of Aston Martin. It’s probably time we remedied that.

2018 Aston DB11 Volante. Image: South China Morning Post

It wasn’t necessarily a matter of prejudice, but I suspect a degree of ambivalence might have crept in. Certainly in recent years under the leadership of the over-rated Ulrich Bez, the storied British marque came to rival Bentley as purveyors of overstyled and increasingly vulgar trinkets for the well heeled and indolent. Continue reading “Drophead Candy”

The Citroën C4 Hatchback is dead. All Rejoice.

The outgoing C4 is a car that will pass without comment or eulogy. Except here. Well, of sorts anyway…

Shut the door on your way out, there’s a love… The Citroen C4, yesterday. Image carsguide.au

They say that above every cloud lies blue sky, so while we get over our disappointment with the creative execution of the heavily facelifted C4 Cactus, its advent has brought about the demise of perhaps the least worthy bearer of the double chevron ever. Seemingly killed for lacking that now essential Citroën quality, its lack of joie de vivre and cynical adequacy has ensured that it no longer fits within Linda Jackson’s (bouncy) castle moat.

Announcing the decision to Continue reading “The Citroën C4 Hatchback is dead. All Rejoice.”

Untether the Ewes and Sing Your Song, Euan.

The only way forwards is back, according to an old dictum. BMW thinks so too.

More premium, uglier. Image: autoblog

In a recent article at Autocropley, Richard Bremner presented without criticism BMW’s plans to “go upmarket”. Firstly, one has to say, aren’t they already supposed to be upmarket?

Well, the answer is no apparently. As we showed here, BMW’s price spectrum has dropped somewhat in the last twenty years. The price of the cheapest cars fell well into territory that was long the preserve of the hum-drum, mass-market brands as BMW traded on its name. Further, the price of its most expensive cars fell too. Altogether this means that as BMW has managed to Continue reading “Untether the Ewes and Sing Your Song, Euan.”

Getting Down With Da Kidz, Heide Style

Volkswagen’s T-Roc compact recreational SUV is not some belated attempt at jumping on the bandwagon. It’s worse than that. 

vw-t-roc-2017-1_1
Livin’ the urban spirit of Photoshopolis, photo (c) autozeitung.de

Despite decades of commentators claiming the opposite, being a designer at VW never was an easy job. One needs to be within spitting distance to current fashion, but still keep the technocratic aloofness that’s characterised the brand’s best products intact. Which is no mean feat under any circumstances. Continue reading “Getting Down With Da Kidz, Heide Style”

IAA: Lone Star

The classiest, most charming Mercedes-Benz S-class derivative in ages does not wear a three-pointed star. How poignant. 

fullsizeoutput_e01

This is not a Mercedes-Benz S-class convertible sporting some new DetoxAmbience® specification, but the Carlsson Diospyros. Hiding behind that clumsy moniker – and the presumption that car customising inevitably leads to Mansory-like levels of gaucheness – is the most assured and tasteful version of the current S-class released so far. Continue reading “IAA: Lone Star”

Little Or No Corrective Action

Earlier this year PSA purchased Opel from General Motors. We discussed how long it would take for Opel´s identity to fade away. Sooner than even I expected.

2017 Opel range, expected mortality: Opel.de

“Peter Fintl is the director of technology and innovation at the German subsidiary of the French development services provider Altran, which works closely with PSA. He has a precise understanding of PSA’s technology strategy.

“PSA doesn’t need Opel’s conventional technology,” Fintl said. “Since both manufacturers are active in the same class, it is likely that the Opel platforms will be gradually decommissioned and PSA technologies introduced.” (Automotive News)  This is excellent timing: “Opel has just invested 210 million euros in a new development and test center for engines and transmissions in Ruesselsheim. The center, which went into operation last October, employs 800 engineers.” Continue reading “Little Or No Corrective Action”

To Boldly Go…

As JLR moves further into the white space of seemingly infinite possibility, we ask a few awkward questions.

You could put a car in there. Some white space, yesterday. Image: Freedom of Creation

This week, Autocar exclusively reported the prospect that JLR is advanced on developing a more road-biased, Range-Rover-derived vehicle, said by the journal to be dubbed Road-Rover. According to journalist, Hilton Holloway, the forthcoming model, set to debut in about three years time, will be the first of a range of cars aimed at the top end of the luxury market. But one aspect missing from Autocar’s piece is Continue reading “To Boldly Go…”

IAA 2017: A Culinary Perspective

Despite this particular group of people hardly being renowned connoisseurs of the finer things in life, manufacturers try their utmost to make the Frankfurt Motor Show a palatable experience for the press. Do they succeed?

DSC_0300

The IAA press days are all about hustle and bustle. Most attendees have appointments to make or deadlines to meet, which – coupled with the distances that need to be covered at Messe Frankfurt, not to mention the above average levels of dehydration, (courtesy of the halls’ air conditioning) one is afflicted with – can render grabbing a bite to eat a difficult necessity. Continue reading “IAA 2017: A Culinary Perspective”

A medley for Sunday

Across the road from the bus-stop, there stood this VW Passat:

A dark photo of a dark car. Source: reality

Around the C-pillar I saw a lot of what in the olden days we’d call BMW style. I reflect a lot on how BMW once did some of the work involved in epitomising German design, but it’s been a long time since this : Continue reading “A medley for Sunday”

Diamond Dream, or Ruined Rhombus?

Chinese-owned, Stuttgart-headquartered Borgward AG presented an all-electric Isabella concept at the Frankfurt IAA. Is it a hubristic Frankenstein fantasy, or a worthy bearer of the revered name? 

Source: Borgward AG

Die Isabella ist tot, es lebe die Isabella.  Ein gute idee is besser als tausend Bedenken.

(The Isabella is dead, long live the Isabella.  A good idea is better than a thousand concerns.)

So said Dr. Jochen Schlüter, the fictional chairman of the living and thriving Borgward AG in Andreas B Berse’s 2006 contra-factual novel ‘Borgward Lebt’  on the occasion of the launch of the fourth generation Isabella at the Frankfurt IAA in September 1989. Continue reading “Diamond Dream, or Ruined Rhombus?”

Danger, High Voltage

With the motor industry abuzz with the prospect of electric propulsion, just how confident are we they’ve thought this one through?

Image: clker

Earlier in the week we considered the mainstream industry’s lack of leadership when it comes to the design of electric cars. But at the Frankfurt motor show this week, two industry leaders fleshed out some of the challenges they’re facing. Firstly Mercedes’ Dieter Zetsche pointed out to auto journalists the effect the push to electric is likely to have on profitability.

At first glance, this is a case of stating the blindingly obvious, but while the mighty Stuttgart Untertürkheim car giant can weather the loss of 50% of its potential profits, putting aside an alleged €4.0 billion to cover the likely revenue shortfall, it raises questions of how other less financially robust car businesses can possibly Continue reading “Danger, High Voltage”

Leading the Charge

Electric cars are coming. But when are we going to be presented with one we might actually want to buy?

Coming never to an Audi dealer near you. AiCon. Image: autoblog

During a recent conversation with an automotive design commentator and critic I pointed out that motor manufacturers had so far failed to create a truly desirable electric car. He agreed, suggesting they appear stuck at the Blackberry phase and that their i-phone moment has yet to occur. He isn’t wrong, as this week’s deluge of concepts and production cars illustrates. On one extreme we have Audi’s Frankfurt-fodder Aicon, which as implausible flights of conceptual fancy go, is about on point and on the other we have the 2018 Nissan Leaf, which takes retrenchment to new levels of jaded whatever.

One of the advantages of a pure electric car is that by taking the engine and powertrain out of the equation, the entire architecture of the vehicle can Continue reading “Leading the Charge”

Auto-da-fé

BMW have enjoyed a decade of success selling an ever-expanding range of four wheel drive hatchbacks. Now they are making their largest one yet. What madness is this?

So much awful in one photo. Image: bmwblog

“I think if you try and make something impressive, rather than good, you’re doomed.” Spen King, engineer and creator of the Range Rover.

On paper at least, BMW is the smallest and theoretically most vulnerable of the German premium big three. Daimler is bigger and its business more diverse. Audi is insulated to a large extent by nestling within the VW mothership. This however ignores BMW’s deftness as a business, to say nothing of its profitability and net worth, which may well outstrip its rivals.

Still largely controlled by the same Quandt family who have Continue reading “Auto-da-fé”

Awakening the New

Re-engagement with a previous (and prescient) concept leads us to speculate on Kia’s latest Frankfurt show offering.

Remember this? 2015 Kia Novo. Image: motorauthority.com.

When KIA announced the Novo concept at the 2015 Seoul motor show, it passed without much by way of comment in the mainstream press – although Driven to Write’s resident design critic did give it the benefit of his gimlet eye. At the time, Kia appeared to suggest that the Novo’s styling would influence its forthcoming compact car line-up, a statement nobody took very seriously at the time. Continue reading “Awakening the New”

Mountains And Dales, Oh, My Quickening Heart

Industrial designers often personify their target market customers as personas. Meet Antonella again.

2017 Ford Fiesta: Ford UK

As we know, the Ford Fiesta’s archetypal customer is “Antonella”. According to Ford she’s left home now and wants her Fiesta plusher, pricier and something else beginning with p. The question is should Ford Continue reading “Mountains And Dales, Oh, My Quickening Heart”

The Dust Settles

Welcome to the all-new Dacia – now even Dustier.

Eat my Duster! Image: Dacia UK

Why are you showing me this? I can see it’s a Dacia Duster.

Yes, but this is the new Dacia Duster.

Really? Not being funny or anything, but this looks more like a mild facelift. Are you certain it’s new?

We’ve only got Renault’s word on this, and while it’s clearly on the outgoing car’s inner structure, Dacia insist every exterior panel has been changed. This is what they have to say on the matter: Continue reading “The Dust Settles”

Infamia, By Lancia

Always first with the news that matters, this just in…

In a surprise move today, FCA’s Sergio Marchionne announced during an earnings call that the beleaguered Lancia brand could be set to make a comeback. During his conference call with analysts he left strong hints that a new Lancia model, (tipped to be a compact crossover), is being planned – a vehicle type increasingly popular across European markets.

Insiders familiar with the matter suggest Continue reading “Infamia, By Lancia”

Far From the Mainstream: Suzuki Farmworker

In a couple of weeks, Suzuki will present the latest generation of their enduring and hard-working Jimny family. As we eagerly await the new arrival, we look at one of the odder twigs on the extended family tree.

Image; Farm Trader NZ

The subject’s identity crisis is manifestly obvious. It’s sold as a Suzuki, yet there’s a Maruti badge in the centre of the grille. The Japanese masters were content to sell it to New Zealand farmers as one of their own, but it’s an Indian-built Maruti Gipsy, in 4WD, 1300cc petrol specification, and therefore based on the 1982 SJ410 in all its live-axled, leaf-sprung primitiveness. Continue reading “Far From the Mainstream: Suzuki Farmworker”

Written On the Edge

Automotive News alarmed me with this item, below, about the BMW i3.

Source: Automotive News

(Also, I have learned how to make screenshots on my iPhone). The headline suggests a whole new design, something low and slippery. The car shown is, to the layman, the exact same. Anyone who didn’t love the i3 before will still not love it now. This redesign (if it is one) “counters” Tesla like sending a yoga teacher to fight the Visigoths. Continue reading “Written On the Edge”

A Ragbag For Sunday

Two items about off-roaders and one half-thought about car interiors comprise this small collection of notes. Plus a bonus about rear centre arm-rests.

2018 Suzuki Jimny exterior: source

A leaked set of images blew the gaffe on Suzuki’s new Jimny. Readers will remember we ran an item about this car earlier in the summer. The current Jimny is small, robust and a bit cute. It provides inexpensive off-road capability thanks to its body-on-frame chassis, light weight and short over hangs. Designed with practicality in mind, I feel it satisfies quite well the brief once met by Fiat’s first-generation Panda 4×4.

For the new car, Suzuki have decided to go retro: the car shown looks like something from 1985. The panels are flat and the mien is rather butch. This design is one which could Continue reading “A Ragbag For Sunday”

Hair, By Sergio

Today, Driven to Write gets its barnet in curlers over the latest offering from Maranello. Time for a haircut?

Just get in the sodding chair! Image: auto-ferrari

Even hairdressers must have off days. After all, imagine if you will the ceaseless drudgery of it all. The incessant banality of polite conversation, the helicopter view of thinning scalps and receding hairlines, the clippings that get everywhere, the disappointment of customers who Continue reading “Hair, By Sergio”

Henry’s Bequest

One model has defined Volvo’s rebirth, but its backer deserves some of the credit as well.

‘Ford Gives You More’ – Volvo XC60. Image: Car and Driver

It’s customary for a new car line to hit its sales-stride within the second full year of production, before plateauing and gradually ebbing downwards. This fall is normally arrested by a mid-term facelift, before once again, the graph pitches inexorably Southwards as the model is run out and ultimately replaced. While I wouldn’t necessarily Continue reading “Henry’s Bequest”

A Camel Drowns By The Oasis

The Frankfurt motor show is upon us again. Thoughts?

Severe disfigurement: source

The official IAA image is frightening, isn’t it?

It seems like only about six months since the last one closed and, dear, oh, dear, here is another one. I went to Autocropley to have a gander at their list of launches and unveilingments. I can’t say much of it tickled my fancy. The Audi A7 is top of the list for alphabetical reasons and, if it is anything like the new A8, it’ll be a bit much on a too small plate.

The A7 is one of the nicest looking cars in production and the new A7 is not going down that path – as with all launches of replacement models and many new ones, the dial is being turned up to 11, especially in the grille department. The A8’s could be from an articulated truck apart from the quite astonishing amount of brightwork. The first A8 set a standard Audi have failed to Continue reading “A Camel Drowns By The Oasis”

Anger Is an Energy

The Concept Z4 has landed and it’s mad as hell.

“I’m Not Going to Take this Any More.” Image: BMW UK

BMW have released photos and a rather toe-curling video for their new concept Z4, said to provide broad clues as to how next year’s production Z4 will look. Good grief, it’s an angry looking thing, isn’t it?

Here are some words. They’re lifted from BMW’s website, (verbatim) so I take no responsibility. Apart from the annotated comments of course, which are mine. Continue reading “Anger Is an Energy”

Dino Denied

FCA’s Sergio Marchionne appears to be saying no to a new-generation Ferrari ‘Dino’. Well he was last week anyway…

About as much Dino as you’re likely to get. Image: pinstake

Much like the current resident of the American White House, FCA’s Chief Knitwear Officer appears to think nothing of holding entirely bipolar positions on policy, seemingly at will. Over the years, the Turin binman has led us a merry polka and yet here we are, akin to the beleaguered Washington press corps, Pavlovian to our slavering chops. Because one thing of which we can be certain is that whatever either the leader of the free World or the Italian-Canadian yarnmiester pronounces upon will be slavishly reported upon, disseminated and pored over, which is of course the point of the exercise. Continue reading “Dino Denied”

17.5 Billion Hours a Year

I have done some desk-work and put together a few assumptions to see how self-driving transport adds up. What are the problems with self-driving cars or the idea behind them?

Self-driving car

Without leaving the kitchen table, I was able to identify some conceptual problems with self-driving cars and ways to improve the efficiency of car use.

If a car drives on average 12,000 miles per year and does an average of 60 miles per hour then that means 200 hours of driving per year. (Cars are spent after just 1400 to 2000 hours of use).

The occupancy rate in relation to hours per year is very low. There are 8760 hours in year. Cars are driven for 200 hours a year, typically. For 8560 hours a year a car is unused. Thus there are 43.8 times more hours of use available than are used each year. If you drove all year, you would still Continue reading “17.5 Billion Hours a Year”

Micropost: Why Design Matters

German news magazine, Der Spiegel, didn’t have to look very hard to find the right image to accompany its cover story on the alleged German car manufacturers’ cartel

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Photo (c) Der Spiegel

Continue reading “Micropost: Why Design Matters”