For two carmakers so often portrayed as being in diametric opposition, more appears to unite Bavaria’s BMW and Stuttgart’s Mercedes-Benz than separates them. Take their (once) core products for example. Both carmakers remade their post-Wirtschaftswunder identities with medium-sized saloons, recognising that catering to an emergent middle (and business) class was a more lucrative business model than the (slow-selling) plutocratic conveyances previously proffered.
In BMW’s case, the (New Class) 1500 Saloon of 1961 was to prove its lifeline and subsequent profit engine, a model which not only set the carmaker’s visual and conceptual template for over half a century, but would over time evolve into BMW’s most commercially significant — the 5 Series — whose eighth (G60) incarnation was officially announced last week.
The timing of this announcement is perhaps at least as interesting as the product itself, with BMW and Mercedes seemingly locked into a self-defeating race for market domination. So with Sindelfingen showing their hand in late April, it was clearly deemed necessary for Milbertshofen to Continue reading “Doing the Business”
What is good must also be beautiful — Wilhelm Maybach
As a member of the 21st Century ascendency you have become used to the finer things in life. Your cutlery is silver, your furnishings ornate and the staff just a bell push away. Luxury and ostentation is a way of life, so naturally, you demand your vehicle to announce this reality, to herald your self-importance. But rather than continue to state the bleeding obvious, we must Continue reading “Doll, Russell and Maybach”
JLR: A term used for years. Fits alphabetically, trips off the tongue. Their recently aired Reimagine reconfiguration thoroughly confused this author. Jaguar clearly heads the pack now. Land Rover demoted to initials, dropped like a stone. According to Professor McGovern OBE “Range Rover and Defender are the brands. We love Land Rover but that name doesn’t hold the other’s equity. In luxury you need absolute clarity.” Prof Gerry continued with “The Jaguar of 32 years ago is where we’re going back to — and it’s the right place for us to be.”
I headed to the corporate website for (hopeful) clarification only to find this. Land Rover — vehicle and driver united by adventure. Jaguar (by 2025, not far away) will Continue reading “Mirage End I”
Amid the seemingly unstoppable backdrop of automotive colossi crumbling amid shifting regulatory and market tectonics, the announcement last week from Mercedes-Benz that CLS production will cease entirely in August appears something of a sideshow. It certainly is not one to elicit a great deal of garment-rending, for the CLS has never been a car one could take all that seriously.
Perhaps one reason for this is that neither did its maker. This of course is a rather disingenuous statement to make, given that Mercedes-Benz by necessity has to take all of its model lines very seriously indeed, but it can be stated that the CLS model line did suggest a more casual visual approach from Sindelfingen — representing the somewhat unedifying sight of the otherwise po-faced Swabian carmaker loosening its shirt collar, shedding its suit jacket and metaphorically at least, Continue reading “Coupé de Grâce”
As a recognised name, Polestar first came to light on the world’s racetracks in 1996, closely collaborating with Volvo. The race team, which had previously introduced official performance enhancements were entered into the Geely fold in 2015. The leap from tuner to manufacturer required a new tangent, one led by former Volvo Design Director, Thomas Ingenlath. “The automotive world is changing”, he offered at the time, continuing by stating, “Connectivity is a basic necessity. We embrace this and will Continue reading “Philosophy in Unica 77 with Polstjärnan”
As a new generation dawns, we must prepare to bid farewell.
All of the great marques can be characterised by one core model. For Mercedes-Benz, it has largely been what has become known as the E-Class, its heartland product since the 1950s. For most people born prior to the millennium, it is the car (a conservatively styled three-volume saloon or estate) that personified the brand, be it luxurious status symbol, taxi, or ‘lifestyle’ load-bearer. That it could in effect be any of those things spoke volumes of Mercedes’ reach and appeal. The E-Class (in the present tense) also very much the sweet-spot of the Mercedes-Benz car range, possibly its finest, most rounded current product.
Furthermore, given that the flagship Sonderklasse is, for most European cities and towns at least, now something of a leviathan, it is nowadays the E-Class which best represents Mercedes-Benz’s values and ideals. It has, this past generation at least, also represented the closest approximation to elegance of line to see the light of day from the Sindelfingen dream factory. For even if the W213 was no Mercedes design for the ages, the outgoing model was at least coherent, and in non AMG-line form at least, restrained. Continue reading “Empire State”
Regular parish disciples here know well my disdain for most things mathematical — this to my eyes being rather like knitting fog. Wayne Griffith, CEO of SEAT sub-brand, Cupra clearly sees otherwise. 150,000 Cupras were sold in 2022, generating profit margins of £158M for the group with a £9B turnover, the second largest in the (SEAT) brand’s 73 year history.
Mr Griffiths expounded Cupra’s virtues, “wanting half the group’s overall sales and 500,000 per year in the mid-term as we aim to becomea top global brand by 2030.” His gaze is moving Stateside by “testing Cupra” there, Griffiths’ hope being that “the Americans will love Cupra’s design and (electric only) performance.” These potentially American bound machines will require further additions to the coffers, along with the VW Group’s larger SSP Platform. The vehicle we’re examining today however is not for that continent.
The Born sits on the MEB Platform, shared with VW’s own ID3. The world was first introduced of the Spanish version at the 2020 Palexpo, known then as the SEAT El-Born. That particular vehicle being “95% production ready.” Then design chief, Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos described the car as “the ultimate translation of our emotional design language into the new world of electric vehicles. We have to Continue reading “It’s A Mystery”
If the seminal Renault 4 can lay claim to being the most popular Renault model ever — and France’s best selling car of all time — Boulogne-Billancourt’s evergreen Clio can equally be considered the French Republic’s best-selling nameplate, with over 16 million built and sold since the model line’s inception in 1990. And not just in its home country either, the Clio has proven a resounding sales success right across Europe.
Faith: (n) “A strong or unshakable belief in something, especially without proof or evidence”.
For the true believer, faith represents certainty, a confidence which strengthens and sustains through strife and adversity. Closely aligned with hope, in the absence of either quality, the penitent would find it almost impossible to abide.
It is also a word closely associated with the house of Lancia, for to be a Lancista is truly to believe. For observants, fealty to the historic and storied nameplate has carried with it an element of blind faith — a certainty that in the face of all known logic, not to mention the testimony of their own eyes, that somehow, the Turin-based carmaker would return from its latter-day revenant state to life and to light. Hope, on the other hand, has been in considerably shorter supply.
It’s a noisy world out there. Making oneself heard amid all the sturm und drang has become increasingly problematic, especially when the message from the disruptors, the futurists is that you represent the old guard, offer yesterday’s solution. Back in your box, grandad.
What are commonly derided as legacy carmakers — or in other words, those who have been in business for longer than a half-century are facing several crises at once — and while not yet existential, the crisis of relevance they are facing now is exercising the occupants of legacy boardrooms from Sochaux to Sindelfingen, from Michigan to Milbertshofen as much as anything more pressing. After all, how do you counter those voices that claim the future, when not only your product portfolio, but your entire business model is rooted in the past?
These are thorny issues, and for now, they are problems which no legacy carmaker has successfully addressed. But that does not mean that they are sitting on their hands. Hence today, we journey to Hamburg to Continue reading “Where Are We Now?”
Established and trusted brand names are too valuable to be taken lightly or bandied about carelessly. Were this not so, why would businesses spend €millions dreaming up suitable examples, before market-testing them across global audiences, then expending years nurturing, marketing and developing them? Has Groupe Renault somehow missed a memo?
For decades now, Espace meant only one thing to those of an automotive bent. A large French monospace MPV — for many European motorists (and their passengers), the original (and best) of the species. Renault, as much by good fortune as outright bravery, got to market first with a product which would prove so utterly definitive that no other carmaker could Continue reading “Espace – The Final Frontier”
Closer inspections can lead to sleep deprivation – or is it the other way around?
Temptation is a fickle mistress. Every single new iteration of the Range Rover series has made me, even for a moment, ruminate over the possibility of owning one. Many factors halt any form of progress in this area, usually, but not exclusively financial. I’ve enjoyed my Volvo S90 (Nimrod, for that is its name) for two and half years now, and the occasional thought of change does enter my mind. Why, is difficult to explain, for it never lasts long.
Recently, on a night when slumber evaded me, and having up to now successfully avoided any form of S90 update, I found myself looking more deeply. The results surprised me, not all of it being of the pleasant variety. Continue reading “Staying Up. Not Keeping Up”
Ford’s Euro-pendulum swings, but is there time to Explore?
A number of years ago, Ford’s European marketing department initiated an advertising execution they called ‘Unlearn’, an attempt to nudge customer perception of the blue oval; essentially a variation of the somewhat clichéd ‘Think you understand brand X? Think again’ marketing trope. With Unlearn, Ford wanted us to Continue reading “Tick Tock”
It has been happening for some time, and while it hasn’t gone entirely unnoticed around these parts, it has until now been largely unacknowledged. Ferrari design has once more become a seat of elegance. This change in visual course from the visual coarseness of the post-millennial period has been a gradual one. It can probably be ascribed to the current design leadership, under the supervision of Flavio Manzoni, with perhaps some assistance by way of Pininfarina, while under the assured baton of Fabio Filippini.
This shift towards classicism was previewed by a number of low-volume, high-cost model runs aimed at the serious collector of Maranello ephemera, harking back to the much-revered designs of the 1950s, when Ferrari was first making a name for itself on the racetracks and amid the nascent jet-set. However, it was the 2020 advent of the Roma, a 2+2 coupé of surpassing elegance that this shift in stylistic direction truly landed.
In truth, Ferrari was on a losing pitch with its more combative post-millennial style, largely because no matter how aggressively outré their designs became, they would always be upstaged by their Sant’Agata Bolognese rival, for whom striking visual statements is their entire raison d’être. And latterly, with the likes of McLaren, Pagani and other more niche ateliers nipping at Lamborghini’s kitten heels, there really was only one logical direction for Maranello to Continue reading “All Roads Lead to Rome”
Goodbye, VW Golf Plus, we’ll miss you. Hello, VW Sportsvan.
Editor’s note: This piece originally aired on DTW in August 2014. The Golf Sportsvan ceased production in 2020.
Some readers may have missed the news that VW’s much loved GolfPlus nameplate has been discontinued. The new name to watch is Sportsvan and doubtless it will win as much affection as the outgoing one. The replacement car was shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2013 and is now on sale.
Has Genesis shown us a fresh face in emission-free motoring?
Editor’s note: This piece first appeared on DTW in April 2019.
Since the advent of the automobile, cars and cities have co-existed in an uneasy truce, but as concerns over deteriorating air quality gain traction across the developed world, it seems increasingly likely that our urban streets are simply not big enough for both. So the mid-term future for the combustion-engined motor car, in an urban context at least, looks bleak. However, like most behavioural shifts, this seems unlikely to occur overnight, but already – as previously reported both here and elsewhere – urban legislatures are taking matters upon themselves by limiting or banning outright, vehicles which fail to Continue reading “Fresh Mint”
With mere hours to go before the announcement of the winner in Brussels, the author finds little to cheer or celebrate in the 2023 ECoTY shortlist.
2022 was a hard year. Pestilence was far from conquered when war added to the world’s tribulations. An energy crisis followed and, for almost every human endeavour, raw materials shortages and supply chain problems. Europe’s automotive industry was particularly hard-hit, with the continent’s carmaking conglomerates pleading to governments and the EU to Continue reading “That it Should Have Come to This: European Car of The Year 2023”
Opening a new coffee jar should be a pleasant experience
September 2022 saw the millionth electric powered vehicle registered in the UK. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), practically a quarter of a million leccies were registered in the same year. Consider that the overall year to date figures includes over 85,000 hybrids of one form or another, along with 91,000 petrol driven machines. Favourite of old, diesel, mustered just over 10,000 sales, a sign of the times when overall sales are expected to encroach on 1.4 million cars for the year.
The UK’s top spot has been a race between the Liverpudlian Vauxhall Corsa and Newcastle’s Qashqai – 29,000 units each with the bronze headed to the blue oval’s Puma, an increasingly popular sight, especially in lime green.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive observed, “September has seen Britain’s millionth electric car reach the road, an important milestone in the shift to zero emission mobility. Battery electric vehicles make up but a small fraction of cars on the road, so we need to ensure every lever is pulled to Continue reading “Fika Off*”
Best get this beast out the room, sharpish. A mere four years ago, Renault’s international plans were expectantly grand. A car was co-developed, launched and expected to sell in large quantities within the French car maker’s then second largest market, Russia. As part of the Renault Drive the Future plan, Arkana was all set to bolster figures in that region alone by some half a million units. Plants in both the capital and at Togliatti geared up for a 2019 Russian release, with the rest of the world to follow soon after.
Twenty-five years after the nameplate made its debut, “just in time for the 21st Century”, and six years since the introduction of its astonishing looking predecessor, Toyota have revealed a new generation of their hybrid trailblazer. Billed as the “Hybrid Reborn” by its maker, the 2023 Toyota Prius is set to Continue reading “Who Shall Go to the Ball and What Shall Go to the Ball?”
It has been stated with considerably greater authority than mine that the current automotive design centre of gravity no longer resides in Europe, the US, nor indeed (as yet at least), China. Car design’s True North now points inexorably towards South Korea. Several factors have contributed to this enviable state of affairs, not least an influx of senior European design talent to the Hyundai group over recent decades, but the end results are entirely their own and can now Continue reading “Grand Horizons”
When Ford began work on what would become the Bobcat programme in 1969, the small car market had not wholly coalesced around a single format. Even amid the developed nations of Europe, there was no real clarity, although there were vehicles in development, not least in France and Italy which would before long help change that.
The previous year, Ford of Europe had introduced the conventional rear-wheel-drive Escort as its entry level offering, a car which built upon the success of the UK-developed Anglia, offering similar virtues in a more updated, slightly larger, more refined package. However, apart from one or two high-tax markets, the Escort had moved above the Anglia’s one-litre entry point.
Escort’s (slight) shift upmarket was a wholly logical strategic decision at the time, one entirely in keeping with the blue oval’s growth plans. Customers were more affluent and had become more discerning and anyway, Ford did not Continue reading “The Circus is Leaving Town”
In 1910, former US President, Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech at the Paris Sorbonne entitled, ‘Citizenship in a Republic’, a rousing panegyric in which he lauded the protagonist, the man in the arena, rather than the spectator or the critic. It was the figure of action who mattered, he posited, the man who dared. In the century since it was given, this oft-cited piece of oratory has resonated and inspired generations.
At the 2016 Pebble Beach auto show, Cadillac displayed Escala, one of a long line of high-end Cadillac concept cars destined to founder upon the jagged rocks of GM’s timorous caution. The Escala was an elegant fastback sedan, one which elicited an element of critical handwringing owing to its hatchback format, a curious style decision given the US car buyer’s long-held distaste for such layouts.
Certainly, Cadillac themselves appeared to acknowledge that they had some convincing to do, and since every concept nowadays must have a catchy PR slogan to underpin it, the one appended to Escala urged one and all to Continue reading “Star Fighter”
No sneering at the back, these machines drive America.
Today we peer closely at those bread and butter US sales machines – Chevrolet’s Silverado, RAM, a Stellantis brand now separate from mothership, Dodge and the ever-ubiquitous F-150 from Ford.
Spare a thought for those salespeople spread across the land – brand loyalty no longer fully applies – given sales no longer. Once dyed in the wool Chevy fans (for instance) have now taken up the Ford mantle – or even headed elsewhere. Belay playing the Stradivarius, forebear opening those saline ducts, but if you do nothing else today, Continue reading “Bizarre Love Triangle”
The author bemoans the arbitrary manner in which a complex rulebook and extraneous events determine the outcome of so many Formula 1 races.
I have been a fan of Formula 1 for as long as I can remember. I can recall both the highs and lows of the sport over many years. The former includes Lewis Hamilton’s magnificent first World Championship in 2008 when, driving a McLaren, he took the championship from Filipe Massa by a single point when he overtook Timo Glock on the last corner of the season finale in Brazil to finish fifth. At just 23 years old, he became the youngest ever World Champion in just his second season in the sport.
Editor’s note: A version of this piece was first published on 6 January 2014.
As the new Millennium approached, motor manufacturers, having established that engineering integrity would only take them so far in the quest for market leadership, would increasingly rely upon the spreadsheets and focus groups of their product planning departments. The key differentiator would henceforth be defined by one word: Segmentation. Departments sprang up in demographically significant hotspots such as Miami, London and Southern California, all tasked with seeking the elusive new market niche that enable them to Continue reading “A Niche Too Far?”
Hauling earth is dirty, difficult and downright lucrative work. The entrepreneurial spirit of American, George A. Armstrong founded Euclid in 1933 where he designed and built a reliable heavy duty dump truck, initially named the IZ Trac-Truck. Having built an enviable reputation through their war efforts, General Motors were tempted into purchasing Euclid business from the Armstrong family.
The now GM-owned Euclid dilated enough however to warrant a United States Department of Justice intervention, and in 1959, GM were forced to cease selling Euclid trucks for a total of four years and divest parts of the name and business. The General being the General, GM contrived to Continue reading “Caledonian Earth King”
A long time ago on this sceptred isle, hordes of Danes visited the land, leaving behind language and place names, farming principles and legal terminology which (given plenty of time) helped the establishment of parliament. Many years on, the Danes have returned, albeit in far lesser numbers but equally as fierce. Behold Zenvo.
Using the first two and last three letters of his surname, Troels Vollertsen founded the company in 2007. Not that his eponymous cars require more muscle, the badge has that name underlined. Should you Continue reading “Danelaw”
In a world already awash with noise, the fabled prancing horse of Maranello has seemingly been directly connected to a mains-wired megaphone, a matter which you may or may not believe went practically unnoticed to these ears (and eyes) until fairly recently. But to make up for this deficiency, it has reached my attention that the Ferrari online store has lately been selling £600 Ferrari-branded trainers guilefully entitled Rosso Lamina Liquida, which we are reliably informed come “with a bold look that echoes the appearance of the Ferrari bodywork“. Marvellous.
Taiwan may not be your first port of call as regards car manufacturing, but this relatively small island in close proximity to China has been producing motor parts for many years. Alongside this essential line of work, several factories are involved with car production, usually under license from GM, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Honda.
Yulon is a sixty-year established Taiwanese vehicle manufacturer and importer who branched out in 2009 to create the Luxgen Motor Company Limited. Combining the words Luxury and Genius with their Think Ahead motto, the new carmaker accrued a gamut of technologies from long standing partners such as Aisin (transmissions), Delphi (steering), LMS (NVH suppression), Magna for suspension along with Prodrive for the dynamic set up.
Their first vehicle was a seven-seater MPV, effortlessly named the Luxgen 7. Based upon the 2009 Renault Espace, the chrome-winged nose and cascading grille lent the DRG a somewhat sit up and beg stance. A 2.2-litre diesel motor powered the front (or four-wheel) drive 4.8 metre long car. Co-developed with the HTC smartphone company, the car’s Think+ system incorporated 23 ECUs which controlled the myriad of sensors and eight cameras through a Windows operating system. Home sales encouraged Luxgen to Continue reading “Luxury and Genius”
For some years now, there has been a modest but persistent sentiment amid the European motor industry’s think tanks that the current wave of CUV crossover popularity would eventually peak, there being a point after any new fashion takes hold of the public consciousness, long after the early adopters Continue reading “Better With Allure”
Range Rover’s success over the past two decades in establishing itself as the pre-eminent manufacturer of luxury SUVs is truly remarkable, particularly when one considers JLR’s chequered and occasionally traumatic ownership history. British Leyland, BMW and Ford all attempted to impose their plans on the company, with decidedly mixed results. It was only in 2008, when JLR was acquired by Tata Motors, a subsidiary of the giant Indian industrial conglomerate, Tata Group, that the company finally enjoyed both the financial stability and management autonomy to Continue reading “A Gilded Cage?”
Having enjoyed the sinuous ribbon of tarmac known to all and sundry as the Nurburgring from both front seats of such esoteric machinery as a 5-litre TVR Chimaera, an 1983 Audi Quattro, a Mazda RX-8 and a Porsche 911SC from 1987, you might think your author qualifies to wax lyrical about the Green Hell, as Jackie Stewart famously termed the place. Think again. These events were spaced out over a period of several years and no matter how many YouTube videos one peruses, once the helmet’s on and the barrier rises (€25 per lap Monday to Thursday – €30 Friday to Sunday, when open to the public), most of the experience degenerates into a frenzied blur. As competent as one might feel behind the wheel, I never troubled Timo Bernhard’s 5:19.5 lap in 2018.
Softness: increasingly difficult to find in this harsh world. Interiors can cosset but can an entire car be defined as soft? Practically 2.3 tonnes of metal, glass, plastics and leather suggests otherwise, but Dearborn’s luxury arm begs to differ. Lincoln, until recently home to stately sedans have chosen to park that genre for vehicles of a physically larger nature – taking a more tender route – if one which only those in the US and selected regions can sample.
In an ever-competitive luxury marketplace, the new for 2022 Aviator sees Lincoln up the ante in a most restful manner. Aviator can be optioned with air glide suspension where the car bows to greet the driver or assist with loading – the area lit by what the maker dubs a welcome mat, along with headlights that greet your appearance. For such a well mannered and relaxing-natured car, should it surprise that the interior contains 28 speakers? If only perhaps to Continue reading “Livin’ It Up”
When Dearborn hinted at the return of the Bronco, the American nation rejoiced. The internet lit up. But for the inconvenience of trivial global public health issues causing incontrovertible delays, many a soul would Continue reading “Buckaroo!”
The evergreen Astra: around these environs, you might be hard pressed to believe that seasons five, six and, to a lesser degree, seven have ceased production at all. Examples of each of these generations still ply their trade, from the local builder’s grubby estate car or faithful family holdall, to the noisome kerbside cruisers beloved of maxed-up youth. These and other variants remain daily sightings, their longevity a credit to the brand.
But wherefore the latest incarnation? Astra achter was revealed to this fair land during the Summer of 2021, becoming available to download (sorry), purchase from November, yet your North Western correspondent has yet to Continue reading “Bold and Pure”
In less than a couple of months we have witnessed the arrival of two new SUVs from the auto conglomerate’s revered Italian high-performance marques. We have, however, previously expressed reservations about the distinctly mass-market componentry underpinning the Alfa Romeo Tonale. As with the Alfa, this month’s debutant, the Maserati Grecale, represents a move downmarket for the marque, but the ingredients are rather more original and appetising this time around.
At its world premiere in the Alfa Romeo Museum, the Tonale featured two F1 racing drivers and brand CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato as presenter and host. In marked contrast, the Grecale had a duo of Italian actors in a film studio; Matilda de Angelis and Alessandro Borghi, with Maserati Design VP Klaus Busse cast in the straight man role, an unwitting butt of jokes, in the manner of a two-metre tall Ernie Wise. It’s either rather charming or just excruciating, like an overplayed piece of drama school coursework: are these actors really so beguiled by this overtly boastful, but ultimately rather shallow machine? Continue reading “Maserati Grecale – The Passion of St. Giorgio”
On the 9th February 2022, first drive reviews of two quite different yet similarly priced new models featured on the home page of a certain influential car magazine’s website and caused something of a debate chez DTW. One of them gives me cause to believe that there is again room in the market for an honest car that offers fantastic value to potential buyers. The other is a disappointing replacement of an existing city car that just makes me wonder why they bothered?
Let’s start with the positive: all hail the Dacia Jogger. OK, so the name is daft, but then so was Roomster, the moniker given to the car of which the Jogger reminds me so much. Sadly, Škoda has long abandoned this corner of the market, and with it has gone its most distinctive and playful of designs, which must also include the Yeti. Both of these Ingenlath-influenced cars are firm favourites for most, if not all, on this site. Continue reading “So Glad they Bothered vs. Why Did they Bother?”
Now in its 59th year, the earnestly intentioned but often derided European Car of the Year contest has been a hostage to fortune over the past three years. This time pestilence has yet again denied the media attendance at the live announcement on the eve of the Geneva Salon, but minds have been far more concentrated on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, rightly described by the ECotY organisation as “this terrible war.”
In a darkened arena in Geneva, ECotY president Frank Janssen stated his organisation’s response to the invasion: no Russian flag on display at the presentation and the two Russian jurors’ votes would be excluded from the count. I’m sure Vadim Ovsiankin and Sergey Znaemsky are decent fellows, but needs must in these times. Their votes won’t count this year, but they retain their jury places. Continue reading “In the Full Current of Human Life: European Car of the Year 2022”
The arrival of a new mass-market Alfa Romeo is always an important event, and the Tonale CUV arrives with heavy responsibilities upon its evocatively styled shoulders. Nearly three years have passed since the Tonale Concept showed its SZ-inspired face at the last Geneva Salon of the decade. I had been deeply impressed by Fiat’s Centoventi concept, unveiled at the same venue, but the Tonale seemed like a needless distraction; no certainty of production in the post-Marchionne paralysis, very little technical information other than that it would be electric, or at least electrified. The video presentation was fabulously impressive, the red show car rather less convincing. Continue reading “The Alfa Romeo Tonale – a Pass with Advisories”
The life and work of automotive designer, Peter Schreyer.
Is Roots and Wings a book for the Internet age? The plethora of online information concerning Peter Schreyer borders on the exorbitant, even obsessive, but when the heft and aroma of the paper, quality of the photography and fascinating subject matter combine to such good effect, the pleasure this book provides is sensory as much as intellectual. Engaged with the physicality of this book, one is inclined to take one’s time, allowing the narrative and images time to be absorbed and appreciated for their subtlety and nuance. One is left with the impression that Schreyer took the same time, effort and care over the book that he invested in his automotive designs. Hence, the book is bursting with flavour and added humour, some of which is intentional, some inadvertent. Continue reading “Roots and Wings – A Book Review”
In the recent series on the Nissan Qashqai, I mentioned that the latest generation will have a third powertrain option that is so left-field it deserves its own chapter. We are told that the e-POWER version will arrive sometime in 2022 and that nothing comparable has previously been offered in a mass-produced vehicle sold in Europe. What makes it unique is that the powertrain has true petrol-electric drive, a series hybrid system with no mechanical gearbox and electric-only traction. The internal combustion engine drives a generator which charges a buffer battery. This in turn delivers power to the electric traction motor. Continue reading “I Can Explain Everything. Actually, No, I Can’t.”
My mood, like the weather, was drab. My eyes searched in vain for a hint of colour, something other than the pervasive and oppressive greyscale of an English January day, to lift the spirits and provide some inspiration. Jaded, yet ever hopeful, as Shank’s Pony took me hastily back to work to consume my lunch, there in my gaze lay a sorry sight. It was as lacking in vitality as your author at that moment, so one had to check twice to ascertain that the creature still lived.
England made the Nissan Qashqai, in both the design and manufacturing sense. Appearing from an unexpected quarter and disregarded by the industry media’s chattering classes, it not only became a European top-ten seller within three years, but also defined the parameters of its own sector for fourteen years and two generations. There was no doubt that there would be a third generation, but the world around the Qashqai was changing rapidly. To put rest to uncertainty arising from the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, Nissan confirmed in October 2016 that there would be an all-new, third-generation Qashqai, and it would Continue reading “And Now We Rise, and We Are Everywhere – (Part Three)”
In a few weeks time, Alfa Romeo will reveal to the world a car which will unite the massed ranks of automotive press in labelling it ‘make or break‘. Like Alfa Romeo’s reincarnation plans over the years, the tally of make or break Alfa Romeos has been depressingly numerous, but what unites them is a single stark characteristic: none has delivered upon its promise. The latest of these dates from 2015, when the current Giulia was announced, but given that crushing disappointment is a feeling all too familiar to those who admire the Milanese car brand and wish it success, the betting appears to be only for the brave.
Because, by the looks of things, the Giulia is on the ropes. Now, as we all know, saloons of all stripes are in retreat, even those of a more specialised, rear-wheel drive, sporting bent. Customers, we are reliably informed no longer Continue reading “The Serpent’s Egg”
‘Place your tray tables in the upright locked position…’
Steve Cropley is seemingly a worried man. The veteran auto-journalist wrung his hands this week over the lack of meaningful intelligence emerging from Thierry Bolloré’s JLR boardroom over the future direction of the serially-troubled Jaguar brand. Almost a year has passed, he stated since the French CEO announced the Re-Imagine plan for the car business, which is attempting to emerge from a series of crises: political, pandemical and of its own making.
It’s not easy being green – or purple for that matter.
Purple patches: how the car industry seeks them out, wishing them unending. Barrels of confidence too, a strangely metaphorical catalyst. Combine the two and akin to many chemical reactions, effect closely follows cause. The Koreans have lately been planting purple by the acre, nurturing their allotments with generous amounts of confidence, the result being that the Seventh son has germinated. A concept large enough to rival contemporaries such as the Volvo XC90, another all electric family shifter, or indeed the now perfidious Sonderklasse, Hyundai’s epithet for the brute swells with confidence – this is a ‘Category Bending’ SUV.
Ignoring range (or its antithesis, anxiety) and dimensions, look deeply at this auto show reveal. The Seven may very well make it to production as is. Scoff at leisure, the Ionic 5 and 6 barely altered from their own concepts to lines rolling. The (practically) British Racing Green bio-paint makes a great first impression, highlighting how metal requires little, if any adornment. Flanks of elegance reside. Front wheel arch entasis, brawn to the rear. A counter over arch maybe a detail too far – removed for the facelift version, maybe?
Rear three quarter views reveal the gentle barrel roll to the belt line, eyes seeing strength without force. Whilst doubtful the poignée de porte will make it to job one, maybe Hyundai will Continue reading “Seventh Son”
An impressive opening gambit for the Aston Martin DBX, the company’s first attempt at the ever expanding luxury crossover sector. Made in St. Athan, near Cardiff, Wales: 542bhp, 516 foot pounds of torque from a four litre, twin turbocharged V8, permanent four wheel drive on 22” wheels and available in 42 subtly named hues.
Should you consider the everyday Yaris somewhat tepid, yet find the shape appealing, Toyota can offer you an alternative. And should you choose to shell out the old fashioned way of (well over) twenty thousand pounds for, let’s be honest, a city based shopping car; for a wedge more folding, one could be firmly ensconced in this pocket rocket that will flash past the shops. Unlock your inner rally driver, Gazoo Racing style.
Toyota’s coffers are large enough to not only allow their extensive range, but also to indulge the whims of boss, Akio Toyoda. Himself a competent helmsman, Akio has been known to remove racing attire, don his suit and enter the boardroom to Continue reading “G16E-GTS”
As age creeps ever on, the eyes often need time to adjust to unexpected occurrences. Seen from a good hundred feet, I liked what I saw. The car was glossy black, small, by modern standards but owning its stance. Goodness, it’s a new Toyota; the fourth attempt at the Yaris. And, by George, Akio’s gone and done it – at least on first impressions.
Released August 2020, saw round four of the BigSmall car bucking the trend; smaller, improved upon by degrees. Yaris part three was doing nicely for Toyota. A rising market share, reasonable looks and prices, typically impressive warranty – a customer mainstay. Nothing lasts forever; Yaris 4.0 moved over to the TNGA-B platform.