In 1993 the Rover 620i faced the BMW 318i, the Citroen Xantia 2.0 and Ford Mondeo 2.0.
All of these cars had something going for them. Car magazine judged all four to be “formidable”. Car estimated the BMW to cost €17,000 with a few options thrown in to make it habitable; ditto the Rover though it came with more features as standard. The Mondeo cost only £14,000 in GLX trim (I miss trim designations like that). Citroen wanted £17,500 for their car. So what are these cars worth now?
As it happens, Jaguar unveiled its new XF today, hailing it as the best looking car in its class.
I misread the headline at Automotive News and thought they had done some more unveiling of the XE. You know how these unveilings run and run. Maybe this was the official unveiling of the car for actual sale as opposed to the unveiling for the automotive press or some car show or other. Cars seem to spend a third of their lives being gradually unveiled. And here is the old one: Continue reading “The Hunt For a Green Car: Jaguar”
Nothing turned up at Renault though their Clio has 13 colours**. Fiat made it impossible to find out what they had in under five minutes though their website looks nice. I could not be bothered….
Mazda have six colours for their new 2 but not a green. The red costs a remarkable €750 while the other colours are running at €450. White is the only colour that comes at €0. Citroen is another green-free zone. The DS5 which is a car for individualists comes in a range of colours limited to six, nearly all of which are some form of grey or black. I really believe that if they offered this car in banana, lime, strawberry and mustard it would Continue reading “The Hunt For a Green Car, Continued”
This car is available with a green called “Smaragd Green”. Smaragd is a green mineral of which I have never heard and I have a degree in Earth Science. Opel want €530 for this colour. I think it’s worth it.
The horse before the cart – or was it the other way round?
It hardly seems like an invention but innovators often do something that, with the benefit of hindsight, the rest of us think is so bloody obvious that we can’t see what the fuss is about. So, in 1892, after a couple of years of fiddling around with alternatives, Émile Levassor decided to put an internal combustion engine in the front of the car he was developing with René Panhard, then he connected it to a clutch with, behind that, a simple gearbox which took drive back to the rear wheels. This they continued to develop, producing the forerunner of the manual gearbox we recognise today in 1895.
As regular readers know, I have been keeping a close eye on colour. On the way out of the car dealer last Sunday I grabbed a colour and trim brochure for the Hyundai i10. What did I find?
I find British buyers are being deprived of choice. To their credit, Hyundai are making their i10 available in ten different colours. Not a single one of them is green and nor will you find yellow. This is not a surprise. On the plus side, there are two deep reds and an orange called “New Orange” in Denmark or “Sweet Orange” in Sweden. They also offer the car in a very regal blue called Continue reading “A Little More Colour From Hyundai: i10 Colour Names”
While The Truth About Cars was informing us on the business model of the Autolib concept, I was thinking about something else.
This is some of what the Truth About Cars wrote: The technology involves lithium metal polymer batteries, developed by Bollore’s Blue Solutions. The batteries, which don’t need liquid electrolytes to store power, are not only lighter in weight than lithium-ion packs, but can be charged up to 3,000 times, and are stable at temps up to 338 F. No one else has gone for the technology thus far, however; Bollore invested €3 billion ($3.2 billion) over three years to develop the EVs and the battery technology now in use by his ventures.” Continue reading “Finally, Something Good From Pininfarina”
Classic car sales is not a line of business known for its propensity to change. Thus I am impressed by the efforts made by RK Motors of Charlotte, North Carolina, to invest in their presentation methods.
I chose this film at random and was very taken with the slick visuals to to display the features and quality of the vehicle. While most of the visual moves are directly from the play-book of television automotive advertising, it is noteworthy to see them applied to a single car. Continue reading “Innovation In Classic Car Sales”
Following our recent Benchmarks piece on the Renault 5, you are quite naturally burning to know more about this little French marvel.
Ever obliging, we offer this (not particularly short) film on the development and history of the Cinq. Made by Renault themselves, it’s a little hagiographic in parts, but an enjoyable (and informative) trawl nonetheless. Enjoy.
This is not yet another of my pleas for the world to acknowledge the subtle allure of the 2000-2007 Ford Mondeo.
Rather it’s a chance to meditate on the impact of trim on the perception of a car. In this instance we see something quite rare: a Ford Mondeo with all the options thrown at it. The version here is a Ghia in 2.0 diesel guise. It has a body kit which makes it look lower though not excessively so. Chrome accents give the door-handles a boost.
In 1991 Opel launched the F-series Astra which lasted until 1998. These unsung cars form part of our streetscape and are often overlooked. I took a series of photos of them in their daily setting so as to document the afterlife of the car.
While the VW Golf basks in kudos for its design consistency, and Ford enjoys the warm glow of popular approval, the poor old Astra lingers in the deep shadows of something or other. I find the shape has aged very well and I wish later cars in this class had the same clear fenestration. Continue reading “The Children of Eisenach”
It might interest you to learn that during the 1960’s, BMC assembled Mini’s in Dublin to a standard not vastly dissimilar to that at Longbridge. Make of that what you will. It was from here that MZI 265 – a light grey Morris Mini Minor emerged in 1966. Republic-spec Mini’s straddled basic and De-Luxe models, having carpeting, a heater and duo-tone upholstery, if little else by way of creature comfort.
Ever since 1978 (Oct 4, 12.34 pm), the dominant colour range used in car interiors has been tending towards the cool: that would be grey, blue, black.
Up until that time most manufacturers offered upholstery, carpet and plastic trim in colours such as ivy green, navy blue, light blue, orange-brown, mid-green, red, bordeaux (what the Truth About Cars insists on calling Bordello Red). I have been looking at colour lately and first noticed a more daring use of tans and browns in concept cars (the most concept-y aspect of most of them) and now this trend feeding into production car interiors. Here is my evidence: the new Hyundai i20. Continue reading “Are Things Warming Up? Hyundai’s New Colour Options”
A concept that does nothing more than entertain – which is no bad thing
Showcars often drive me up the wall by giving us an idealised version of something that actually will be produced, thus diminishing the effect of the production model. In the case of the 2006 Mille Miglia, I doubt anyone expected to build either it, or a watered down version. Continue reading “BMW Mille Miglia 2006”
Five reasons why the Cinq was a benchmark small car
1. Like many significant cars, the 5 was the brainwave of one man; originally created as something of a thought experiment. In 1968, Renault designer Michel Boué sketched the design proposal in his spare time; marking out the now familiar outline superimposed upon a photo of a contemporary Renault 4. Hence the silhouette and unusually tall canopy. Renault design bosses, upon seeing his work, adopted it for production virtually unaltered. Based on the engines and drivetrain of the popular Renault 4/6 models, the R5 is a rare case of inspiration undiluted. Continue reading “Theme : Benchmarks -The Renault 5 in Five Easy Pieces”
Motoring history has many concepts and show cars that disappointed when they were turned into production models, but equally tantalising are the occasions when a manufacturer has looked back into its own history and tried to re-create one of its own supposed ‘classics’. This is sometimes commercially successful, sometimes critically successful, but those of us in the world of motoring who spend our time considering the automotive equivalent of fitting angels onto pin heads are usually frustrated. Here are some of my own personal disappointments and maybe a success or two.
Mini to MINI : Starting with an obvious one that produces greatly polarised opinions. The styling of Frank Stephenson’s relaunch MINI was a clever update on the original, not too slavish, with its own distinctive detailing and more than a hint of Aston Martin at the front, which made the point that this was not intended as a true successor to Issigonis’s peoples car. Continue reading “Theme : Benchmarks – Lost In Translation”
Our good friends at Autocar have reported that Chrysler is going to give up and flee the UK market. This will disappoint only those Lancia fans who had a brief chance to buy the Delta and Ypsilon.
I was entirely unaware or had forgotten that Chrysler were selling the Delta in the UK and Ireland. There is one used Delta in stock in the UK, by the way. Sales of Chryslers were never impressive, 3000 in a good year. The cost of preparing these cars for RHD production must have meant they lost money on each of these unless they had huge success in some RHD market of which I was not aware… Japan? New Zealand? Continue reading “Chrysler Follows Lancia’s Footsteps Out of the UK”
In the middle of a piece of automotive copy the Lump is often found: the engine performance figures. I really don’t care for it much and it’s time it retired.
Typically the worst case is when a model is revised to be even more “ultimate”. As your eyes wander across the lines you stumble across it like a hiker in a mire: “The unit develops 178 bhp, up 23 bhp from before, at 6500 rpm, 450 lower than the outgoing model, and produces 194 lb fb of torque, 23 lb ft extra”. I find this incredibly unpalatable.
A copy of Car, Nov. 1975 turned up on my floormat last week. I ordered it so as to read a Giant Test involving the Peugeot 604, the Jaguar XJ 3.4 and the BMW 528. The Peugeot and Jaguar trounced the 528 which lost points for its shabby handling, confined interior and wind-noise. Car concluded that in several areas including ride, roominess and comfort, the Peugeot had bested the Jaguar. Continue reading “The Peugeot 604 is 40 This Year, Part II”
A few months back Car magazine ran a very harsh review of the 2015 Nissan Pulsar. You can read the text here (undated) to see all that they said.
Ever since then I have been wondering how bad could it be so in the name of half-baked research I went to look at a real Pulsar but didn’t manage to actually drive it. Key to understanding the Pulsar is this part of the Car review: “The wheelbase of the Barcelona-built Pulsar, at 2.7 metres, is the longest in its class, no doubt helping the supple ride quality, and rear legroom (all 692mm of it) at least matches a Skoda Superb, and might even better it.” Continue reading “Spot Check on the Motoring Press”
Boredom drove me to find out what sorts of colours are available for cheapish cars in Brazil. Then I came back to Europe via Japan.
I started out thinking that because Brazil is full of warm and spontaneous people they would have a very lively palette of vehicle colours. Not so. No greens, no yellows and no oranges. And guess which company offers 12 exterior shades for their base model car? We’ll leave that to the end. Continue reading “Full Brazillian Colour Analysis”
Here is a great new game for people out and about. It goes by the name “monochrome bingo”.
Each player chooses a colour e.g. grey, anthracite, silver or black. Here is an example: seven black cars in a row. Whoever spots the most cars of the same colour in a row by an agreed time wins. Good places to play include airport car parks and Ikea car parks. Car dealerships are not valid areas for play.
Every so often, a concept car symbolises the crossing of an invisible line. Here’s one of them.
The Aston Martin DBX represents the best clue yet to the Gaydon-based marque’s future intentions. Aston Martin’s new CEO, Andy Palmer has stated a version of this car will be produced, telling the Telegraph last week; “The DBX is not an SUV, it’s an expression of a GT sports car; a DB crossing over into that usable space… it will be a five-door vehicle, and it won’t grow much bigger than the DBX.” Continue reading “A New frontier? Aston Martin’s DBX”
Underrated. I’ve not seen more than a handful of these. Take another look. That’s a car many people could afford with little effort. Yet few bothered. Market failure, I say.
This is what the AA said: “Perhaps the greatest recommendation for the Astra Sport Hatch is that it feels very similar to the BMW 1 Series, both inside the cabin and in its on-road behaviour. It may lack the much-vaunted 50/50 weight distribution of the BMW but it drives as sweetly, seems just as well built and of course is much cheaper.”
Having sniffed the exhaust pipes of the French and German marques within Europe’s D-segment, we make one last visit to wave a fond adieu to our friends from Japan.
A facelifted Toyota Avensis bowed in at Geneva, featuring front-end styling eerily familiar to current Auris and Corolla owners. It probably represents the last opportunity to purchase one of these while they’re still warm because Toyota has broadly hinted that they may not replace the model once it breathes its last in a couple of year’s time. Continue reading “The European D-Sector – So Long, Farewell…Sayonara”
What one remembers often has little to do with what is important. I clearly recall James Ruppert deriding the 1998 Mazda 626 as being a car whose sole claim to fame was that it had the biggest glove box in its class.
This small and apparently modest claim is a good example of the problem of epistemology. That relates to how we know what we know and how much faith we can have in our beliefs. On the face of it, a glovebox is a simple structure with measurable dimensions. It ought to be easy to determine which glove box is biggest.
In these days, it is usually described as a loss of “mojo”, although I’ve never been certain of what that word actually means.
In terms of the launch of the 307, I’d prefer to describe it as a fall from grace. I suppose I could also have picked the transition from 205 to 206 from the same stable, but I think it less obvious and memorable for me. I think I need to become instantly more specific. The 306 was the chassis benchmark in its class. It was also one of the more lovely looking mid-range hatches of its time, but I think aesthetics are much harder to benchmark, and I am certainly less comfortable opining on the way a car looks under such a heading.
So reports the team at Autocar. It is true that only one firm can sell the cheapest product in a given market…
Citroën has noticed that being the next cheapest or quite cheap or cheap-ish is not really getting them very far. Time to try something else. But can they move away from the corner they are painted into? Price is nicely measurable. You add up the numbers and you get a figure you can compare easily to every one else’s figures. Style on the other hand is a qualitative thing. Once you decide to Continue reading “Refrain: Citroëns To Be Sold On Style Not Price”
At DTW we pride ourselves on our rigorous analysis and our capacity to separate the news from the hype.
Having looked at literally hundreds of thumbnail-sized photos I have been able to sort out the top six yellowest cars from all the other cars that weren’t yellow. I had to be careful though as one yellow car that came up in the search was from 2014. I didn’t include that. By the way, one of these cars, the Mila Plus, is the work of Magna, the Austrian Tier 1 supplier. Continue reading “2015 Geneva Motor Show – The Top Six Yellow Cars”
Recently I posted a photo of an Audi Q7 wearing commercial registration plates. Today’s car is more like the kind of vehicle that these plates were intended for. It’s a 1984 Ford Sierra van.
That means it has no rear seats. The vehicle’s details are written on the side, in front of the door, indicating the car’s gross vehicle weight, for example. The car has the older-style full yellow plates. The new ones have an area on the white license plate marked in yellow. This car is looking a bit rough and there are no interior photos, alas. Continue reading “Something Rotten in Denmark: 1984 Ford Sierra Van”
「N」シリーズ5機種の累計販売が100万台を突破, is what it says at the Honda website.
You can find a nice review here. And there is a more general description of the Kei-car phenomenon here along with some more thoughts on the N/. Autoblog writes: “Technical details remain scarce, but power likely comes from the same 600cc three-cylinder engine – turbocharged or not, driving the front wheels or all four – as the rest of the N series, which already includes the N-One, N-Box, N-Box+ and N-WGN. Feel free to read the original Japanese or Google-translated press releases below, just don’t expect it or any of its stablemates to Continue reading “Japanese Car of the Day: 2015 Honda N/”
Here’s something interesting. Car and Driver reckon that the Mercedes C-class has the best automotive interior under $40,000. Let’s say that interior is not better than the one fitted to the S-class coupe.
Then consider the interior of the Citroen DS5 and while it’s nice enough it’s not stellar. Now visualise the interior (or much of it) for the Audi Q7. Audi interiors regularly get called the best in the business. Then sit inside the unremarkable Peugeot 508. What do the S-class, Q7, DS5 and Peugeot 508 have in common?
A much loved child has many names according to the saying.
Now that I come to think of it, I’ve never seen that phrase applied to anything very good though. What made me think of this was today’s picture, a Lada 2105 Classic. According to on-line sources this car also went under these names: Lada Riva, Lada 1500, Lada 1700, Lada Signet, Lada 2104, Lada 2105 and Lada 2107.
[* think it’s for 2016.] I have reported previously on the Qoros 3 car, a Chinese market mid-sizer developed with the help of European suppliers. Here is the SUV of the 3 (note: it’s not the photo just below).
Legend has it that Lexus’ engineers explicitly used the 1991 BMW E-36 version of the 3 series as a benchmark for their 1999 IS200, right down to giving it rear wheel drive and a straight six engine.
By the time the IS200 came out, the E46 had replaced the E36. The benchmark that Lexus had chosen was obsolete. At this point BMW had settled on a slow detachment from its roots as a “hard as nails” small sports saloon and was well on the way to becoming, in ordinary trim versions, a Munich Mondeo, though to be fair, that’s unfair to Ford’s Mondeo of the same period. As I see it, the car Lexus benchmarked was already Continue reading “Theme: Benchmarks – The Moving Goalpost”
The big, white gas guzzler has a yellow licence plate. That means the owner paid about 30% less than a person who bought the same car on standard plates. There are no rear seats in the Audi, a condition of yellow plate ownership. They are meant to be vans.
What once passed for normal, becomes a rarity (think: Renault 12). Usage debases the value of language so while our words remain set on the page, the meanings attached to them drift off and new meanings, hunting for home, attach themselves. So it is that the world outside our head is unstable and shifting and the words inside our heads lose value like sweating gold coin in a sack or drachmas, lire and roubles in wallets.
This is getting very post-modern, isn´t it? The word for a fixed reference changes its meaning and the thing it refers to changes as well. It´s all relative now, kids.
Is this really the progenitor of the modern sports saloon?
In the early 1960s, the average British driver on an average income would have ended up with a leaf-sprung wheezer, comfortable maybe, but hard-pushed cruising above 70 on expanding and unrestricted motorways, a handful in a panic stop and an entertainment-free and potentially scare-laden prospect on corners.
Ah well. From Lancia Aurelia, Florida and Gamma to Trevi, Lybra and the rebadged Chryslers and on to this, the Elle edition Ypsilon. Bravo, FCA.
Ah well. From Lancia Aurelia, Florida and Gamma to Trevi, Lybra and the rebadged Chryslers and on to this, the Elle edition Ypsilon. Bravo, FCA.
Lancia describes the Elle as follows: “The ultimate expression of Lancia elegance, and proof of the brand’s continuous pursuit of innovative, contemporary new shapes, the new Ypsilon ELLE proposes exquisite paint colors, materials, fabrics and trims that reflect the model’s passion for fashion.” Continue reading “Last Gasp – Lancia Ypsilon “Elle””
Sergio Marchionne has been reported by Automotive News as saying that Fiat will not be a mass market brand. Instead it will focus on its 500-series small cars and let Jeep and Alfa Romeo compete in other sectors.
Rather surprisingly, given Alfa Romeo´s very limited and lacklustre range, Marchionne thinks AR will be able to grow and supply cars in the C and C-D class along with a mooted SUV. Given the steady steaming of vapour ware from this brand, and the poor reception of the current cars, this is a very tall order. The other worrying thing is Continue reading “Alfa Romeo is the new Fiat”
Last week we poked a stick at PSA’s sector-D saloon offerings to see if there was any life in them. Today we cast a glance towards their domestic rivals and ask how Renault can keep churning out Lagunas at a loss of around €3,500 a pop?
Last year, Renault sold 16,019 freshly minted Lagunas across Europe and given it probably isn’t offered in too many markets outside the territory, that’s probably about as good as it got. What keeps Renault shooting themselves in both feet when on the face of things, more successful players are picking up sticks and leaving for good? Continue reading “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Laguna?”
DTW has taken a look at a lot of show cars and tried to see if there are any colour trends apparent.
Most of these are concept cars rather than new launches. What is noticeable is that green is a rarity. Both the greens shown here come from Bentley. The flat orange is distinctive and is from Opel’s Karl. Notice that it is redder than the 021C orange that has been in use for a decade, made famous by Marc Newson’s Ford concept car of the same name. Continue reading “2015 Geneva Motor Show – The Colours”