The Great Compression

Opel’s slow walk into the history books, to join Panhard and Saab, has begun. It occurred just as I came to understand what Opel was about.

2017 Opel Insignia Sports Tourer: source
2017 Opel Insignia Grand Sport: source

You can read the technical details here. The important and ominous part is this: “Tavares told his board that PSA would redevelop the core Opel lineup with its own technologies to achieve rapid savings, according to people with knowledge of the matter” (from AN Europe).

While I was reviewing the last generation Opel Astra, I noted that the description of the mechanicals differed little from its peers. So, you might say, where is the great loss? Even if you don’t care for Opel, its absorption into the PSA combine will reduce meaningful competition among the most important classes of cars.

Continue reading “The Great Compression”

Alfa Romeo Promises Delays and Fewer Models

Autocar, Gearheads and Carscoops reports today that Alfa Romeo promises “up to” nine new cars by 2021. The numbers don’t add up.

A good decade late to market. Alfa Romeo's Kamal concept. Image:digitaltrends
Still waiting. Image:digitaltrends.

As a check on this let’s look back: in February we reported that the plan was for eight cars by 2020. This is what I got out of the last report: – the promises included a mid-size SUV on sale by 2017 (one), by 2017-2020 there would be a ‘full-size’ SUV (two), then come two more UVs (for ‘utility vehicles’ (four).  And by 2021 there would be two more ‘speciality’ models in the vein of the Alfa 4C (making six) Also confirmed by Alfa was a new hatchback (seven). I can’t find reference to car number eight.  Continue reading “Alfa Romeo Promises Delays and Fewer Models”

2016 Citroen Cxperience Concept

Sufficient time has elapsed now for Citroen to admit to making the CX. 

2016 Citroen Cxperience concept car: source
The bonnet is too high. 2016 Citroen Cxperience concept car: source

Make that 25 years in the dog house before they could bear to put the name, or something like it, on their latest concept car, the Cxperience. Thancx, Citroen. Extrapolating from this we may have the Xmination concept car in 2026. The car is showcasing the drivetrain and not the appearance. We’ll see what others have to say about the oily/electrical bits first. Continue reading “2016 Citroen Cxperience Concept”

DTW Summer Reissue: Matching Designer Luggage

When confronted by a question of taste, I always ask myself, what would Bryan Ferry do? 

1979 Cadiilac Seville Gucci edition
1979 Cadiilac Seville Gucci edition

[First published Oct 10, 2014]

My extensive research has thrown up a nice example of a sub-set of a subset, designer accessories for designer editions of mass produced cars. It’s Gucci fitted luggage for the 1979 Cadillac Seville. Would Bryan Ferry go for this or not? The Big Two and a Half in the US have been more prone to tie-ins and designer editions of their cars than we have here in the social-democratic paradise of Western Europe. Cartier have been associated with Lincoln; Bill Blass added his magical touch to the understated elegance of the 1979 Lincoln Continental Mk V; there was the 1984 Fila-edition Ford Thunderbird; AMC asked Oleg Cassini – yes, that Oleg Cassini – to trim the 1974 Matador, for example. Just recently I have become aware of the Gucci fitted luggage that came with the Gucci-edition Cadillac Seville, truly a part of this very fine tradition. Continue reading “DTW Summer Reissue: Matching Designer Luggage”

1967-1972 Fiat 125

From 1967 to 1972 Fiat sold the 125 and, according to Wikipedia, it combined saloon car space with sports car performance.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


This formula could also be found in the 1966 BMW 1602/2002 and 1962 Alfa Romeo Giulia. What might distinguish the 125 from these might be that it offered these characteristics in a cheaper package than Alfa or BMW. It certainly had more doors than the 2002 and it had more space than the Alfa Romeo. Continue reading “1967-1972 Fiat 125”

Micropost: Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Coupe

Autocar announced yesterday without any sense of embarrassment that the AMVZC shown as “a concept” last month will go into production largely unchanged.

2016 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Coupe, the same as it was last month: source
2016 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Coupe, the same as it was last month: source

What a remarkable sleight of hand, I feel. What has happened is that Aston Martin have shown a production car as a concept car, at the Villa d’Este concours. That has yielded a press-release and lots of coverage. A month later they are showing effectively the exact same car as a production car, with yet more coverage.

In this way AM have been able to avoid producing unconvincing and unfeasible trim as a disguise for a production car and get two bursts of coverage by the showing the same thing with two labels. If anyone can tell me where the difference lies between the “show car” and the production car then I’d be grateful. The entire exercise is quite cynical because, with one month between the “show car” and the “production car” it is clear that production was inevitable and there are no serious differences, no time need to evaluate demand or assess the reaction. Thus what has happened is that a production car has been presented as a show car, and I ask is this a first?

Since the Zagato is very striking and the sales are guaranteed, one wonders if this tricksy behavior is really necessary.

Trends in Doorcasings

The car market is segmented into several slices. How are these distinguished?

Johnson Controls´idea of differentiation in doors skins: source
Johnson Controls´idea of differentiation in doors skins: source

When it comes to door skins, the supplier Johnson Controls has a good idea of what constitutes the appropriate level of luxury for each price level. They also have an eye on how these levels will change in the future. The image shows what you might expect to see in four classes of car in the near future. Continue reading “Trends in Doorcasings”

More Harbingers

In the not too distant past DTW covered the matter of the slow end of the internal-combustion engine era. The matter comes up again… It’s not so bad really. In fact, it’s great.

Pedestrian street in the Nordrheinwestfalen: source
Pedestrian street in the Nordrheinwestfalen: source

This time the prompt for this article is a proposal by the German Green party to essentially do away with petrol and diesel engines by 2036. Their proposal is reported by Der Speigel. The alternative is to use electric cars and more buses and trains. In my earlier article I mentioned that certain north European and North American states were planning to be rid of ICE vehicles within forty years. I suggested that Continue reading “More Harbingers”

You’re Bothering Us With This Carbon Dioxide Business, You Know.

The ACEA calls on the EU to ‘rebalance’ its attitude to carbon dioxide emissions.

Carlos Ghosn asking for an easier time of it: ACEA.be
Carlos Ghosn asking for an easier time of it: ACEA.be

It’s not hard to guess the rebalancing is not in the direction of an even more stringent approach to reducing carbon emissions. Carlos Ghosn said “As Paris and the world gear up for the COP21 global climate change conference, we must make sure that ambitious climate change policies do not conflict with the need to protect jobs and growth in Europe.” The next interesting bit is this “By 2020 average emissions of new passenger cars will need to Continue reading “You’re Bothering Us With This Carbon Dioxide Business, You Know.”

The next Astra is already being tested

The 11th generation of the Astra on its way. Autocar were allowed to test a disguised prototype and reported on the apparent changes in comparison with the outgoing car.

2015 Opel Astra estate: www.opel.de
2015 Opel Astra estate: http://www.opel.de

The next Astra is going to be smaller and lighter but roomier inside. I am a little anxious that the next car is going to be less pleasant to look at than the current car which I regard fondly, especially in bechromed estate guise. However, one compensation is that Opel intend the new Astra to dispel the lingering criticism that they are duller to drive than its arch enemy, the Ford Focus. How will they do this? Continue reading “The next Astra is already being tested”

They are all at it now (nearly)

A recent announcement by Aston Martin that it will go off road soon confirms that the ranks of aristo SUV´s are now filled, just about. Anything is now possible.

2017 Rolls Royce Cullinan: techviewon.com
2017 Rolls Royce Cullinan: techviewon.com

The Cadillac Escalade arrived first in 1999, an SUV from a marque known for limousines and stately sedans. Because Cadillac´s brand value lay in the ditch by then, nobody minded much: more kitsch, they said. However, it was an inspirational move from a brand that has often – though unintentionally – led the way. Lincoln dressed up a Ford pick-up to make it into the Blackwood in 2001 and got a three year run before really

Continue reading “They are all at it now (nearly)”

This one is really about car advertising

….and not the Renault Espace. To launch the new Espace, the actor Kevin Spacey is being used in the advertising campaign. And so is the Guggenheim in Bilbao. And a lot of clichés.

2016 Renualt Espace with Kevin Spacey pasted in. I assume that´s the Guggenheim and not just a pastiche.
2016 Renault Espace with Kevin Spacey pasted in.
I assume that´s the Guggenheim and not just a pastiche. The shadow is wrong, isn´t it? If the lens flare was real, the shadow should be angled from his feet in the direction 7 or 8 o´clock.

A few things arise from this. I´ll start with the background. It is another one of those sterile and highly unrealistic images where every pixel of the original photography has seemingly been removed, polished and improved so that the final image is utterly divorced from reality. I don´t believe in this picture. I don´t believe Continue reading “This one is really about car advertising”

Some highlights of the 2015 Shanghai Auto show II

I did some more rooting around for oddities from the Shanghai Auto Show. 

Is that Photoshop? That background looks decidedly British but I doubt an Emgrand GE was shipped to the UK and shown just to make this photo possible. Image: autoblog.it
Is that Photoshop? That background looks decidedly British but I doubt an Emgrand GE was shipped to the UK and shown just to make this photo possible. Image: autoblog.it

This is the Geely Emgrand GE, a rather shameless Rolls-Royce copy with a grille inspired by Buick. The headlamps curved shapes are not sitting happily there, are they? Continue reading “Some highlights of the 2015 Shanghai Auto show II”

Some highlights from the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show

The team at Australia´s Drive have put together an interesting listicle of some cars they consider worth our attention. 

2015 Chery A5 concept: www.drive.au
2015 Chery A5 concept: http://www.drive.au. That´s quite neat, isn´t it? And the colour is good.

I picked two to show here. One is the Haval Concept R which has some rather wobbly highlights down the side but has a quite pleasing graphical arrangement at the front. Continue reading “Some highlights from the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show”

Renault are doing quite well

“Renault group revenue increased 13.7% in the first quarter,” they announced here  They are very diligent about sending me this kind of news.

2015 Renault Captur: Renault, Denmark.
2015 Renault Captur: Renault, Denmark.

Offsetting the deteriorating market conditions in Russia and Brazil, Renault group registrations increased 0.8% during the first quarter of 2015, reaching 641,588 vehicles in a worldwide automotive market up 1.7%. Furthermore, during the first quarter of 2015, Renault group registered 641,588 units (+0.8%), posting a stable worldwide market share at 3.0%. In Europe, where the market increased by 8.9%, Group registrations were up Continue reading “Renault are doing quite well”

Porsche: tuning and badges

Nothing but pure curiosity drove me to this. What sort of engine range does Porsche have? We had an interesting theme on engines some months back. We covered a lot of ground such as the engines of the mainstream makers and a special focus on quints, small V6s, rough American fours and French ones generally. What we didn´t do was look at sports cars like Porsche for whom the engine is essential to their credibility. Sorting this out sorts out their baffling range of cars too.

2015 Porsche Boxster GTS.
2015 Porsche Boxster GTS.

Porsche have seven models now, goodness me. If you ´d have asked I´d have said five and been hard pressed to name all of them.  In the showroom you will find the Boxster, Cayman, 911, 918, Panamera , Macan and Cayenne. The 918 won´t be in the showroom unless it´s used but it´s still listed at the UK website for some reason. Four are obvious sports cars with either two seats or a 2+2 layout; one is a four door saloon and there are two SUVs.

What I found out is that for Porsche every engine variant is deemed worthy of a model designation. This is not quite like, say, Renault where you have a Megane in several engine and trim variants: 1.8 dCi  in Expression Plus trim**. It´s not like BMW where the Continue reading “Porsche: tuning and badges”

Is this the next Opel Senator? (Part 2)

Automotive NewsAutoblogInautonewsArchy-news.com  all report that the upcoming Cadillac CT6 could provide the underpinnings for a future large Buick. This is excellent news for Buick who sell very well in China (outselling Cadillac thirteen to one) and also gives Buick USA a more appropriate flagship than the Enclave (an SUV) or Lacrosse (a saloon).

2016 Cadillac CT6 - another distinctive Cadillac name. Image: automotivenews.om
2016 Cadillac CT6 – another distinctive Cadillac name. Image: automotivenews.om

What is more interesting for Europeans is that this news also makes it seem likely that something similar or nearly identical could appear as a new Senator (though it may not bear that storied nameplate).

If Buick is to get a new range-topper it will probably look something like the very attractive Avenir concept car shown recently. Since there is already a strong overlap between Buick and Opel, it would not take very much to add an Opel touch here and there to help it slot into Opel´s existing range. Autoblog wrote about the conversion from Cadillac to Buick: “If a large Buick based on the CT6 were to head to China, though, it likely wouldn’t be a Continue reading “Is this the next Opel Senator? (Part 2)”

European car sales increase for 19th consecutive month

European car sales rise 11% on strong demand for VW, Renault and FCA.

Car dealers at Goad Cadillac dealership in the 1960s. Image: blog.hemmings.com
Car dealers at Goad Cadillac dealership in the 1960s. Image: blog.hemmings.com

After what has seemed like most of a decade in the doldrums, European sales are growing again. It doesn´t feel like it but the increase in car sales is a trend almost two years old.  11% is quite a remarkable increase and reflects a number of factors, among which are a weak Euro and consumers eventually deciding to replace worn vehicles. The statistics were published by ACEA today.

Continue reading “European car sales increase for 19th consecutive month”

Qoros show a drawing

There is a certain morbid fascination to watching Qoros add models and expend resources like this. I think that for a storied brand it is possible to “tease” journalists and customers with a drawing or a photo of a veiled, shadowed car.

The chief designer of Qoros, Martin Hildebrand, has revealed a drawing showing the style of the brand´s projected next car, the 2. Shades here of Hillman´s Benny Dohar, I feel.

2015 Qoros 2: big on wheels and short on details, small on themes. Image: Qoros
2015 Qoros 2: big on wheels and short on details, small on themes. Image: Qoros

The 2 will Qoros´ fourth model.  The other three are the Qoros 3 hatchback, saloon and City (all essentially the same car tweaked).

At present the firm is focusing on sales in China but has a small, experimental dealer network in Slovakia where 40 customers have been lured in. Continue reading “Qoros show a drawing”

Variation in colour palettes for the VW Golf in four major markets

This bit of research aimed to determine what, if any, variation existed in four major markets in the choice of colours available for the VW Golf.

VW Golf colour palettes in four major markets. Images: VW
VW Golf colour palettes in four major markets. Images: VW

I looked at the configurators at VW´s websites in Brazil, Australia, the US and Germany. The expectation was that there would be some variation in the number and type of colours. The first part (number) was confirmed by this empirical study but the second expectation (type) was Continue reading “Variation in colour palettes for the VW Golf in four major markets”

A little more on naming systems

Yesterday I took Lincoln to task for their model name system. I argued that since all their models bar one had an MK prefix, that part served no purpose. Lincoln are not alone though.

2015 Cadillac line-up. Image: Cadillac.com
2015 Cadillac line-up. Image: Cadillac.com

Automotive News  report that Citroen is thinking of revising their own model nomenclature. Currently Citroen use a C prefix and this too is redundant. Unlike Lincoln´s fairly lame scheme, at least the MK might remind one of the glory days of Lincoln´s Mark-series, the Continentals. The C-system doesn´t even do that as it simply Continue reading “A little more on naming systems”

Learn what Lincoln´s line-up looks like

Today I will turn my attention to Lincoln. How good does it look for Ford’s premium brand? What are they selling? Read on to find out what the main UK-based websites** aren’t telling you.  

Lincoln MKC. It´s a Kuga underneath.Image: Lincoln.
Lincoln MKC. It´s a Kuga underneath.Image: Lincoln.

Lincoln´s range of vehicles has changed dramatically in the last decade. For nearly the entirety of its history the brand sold luxury cars in varying flavours of large.  Not all of these have been particularly well-regarded but Lincoln has also managed to avoid overt product disasters. It has no equivalent to the Cadillac Cimarron, for example. Lincoln´s high points involve the Continental limousine of 1961 and 2002 but thereafter it stagnated gently as a provider of non-Cadillac, non-Mercedes luxury cars to an older clientele. Unlike Cadillac, Lincoln has made no notable efforts to sell their cars in Europe. As such, while many who are somewhat interested in cars have seen the occasional Cadillac in Europe, the Lincoln nameplate is unknown outside the livery trade where a white stretched Lincoln Town Car vies with Cadillac, Hummer and Rolls for business. If your impressions of Lincoln are lodged circa 1963 in Dallas it might be time to find out how the brand looks today.

Continue reading “Learn what Lincoln´s line-up looks like”

All new? How new is Ford´s 2016 Galaxy really?

DTW has prepared this side-by-side comparison of the 2007 Ford Galaxy and the “all-new” Ford Galaxy with its “latest global design language”.

DTW has prepared this side-by-side comparison of the 2007 Ford Galaxy and the “all-new” Ford Galaxy with its “latest global design language”.

Image: paultan.org
Image: paultan.org

You can read Ford´s lengthy description of the revised Galaxy here. Among the extensive field of words Ford composed is nothing about major dimensional changes or structural changes. Even the improvement in rear head-room was probably achievable by revising the seats.

The current Galaxy is a very fine vehicle. What is not very fine is Ford´s compulsion to pass off what seems to be a nearly comprehensive re-styling as “all new”.  Here is their summary: “…with a sophisticated grille and slim-line headlamps, the all-new Galaxy offers seven full-size seats, enabling families to easily switch between seating or load space with a segment-first feature that raises third-row seats at the push of a button.”  And furthermore: Continue reading “All new? How new is Ford´s 2016 Galaxy really?”

Jaguar´s XF is not alone

Or Ford´s 2015 Mondeo is not alone. They are both guilty of the same crime. That crime is to offer a new model that differs very little from the predecessor.

2015 Ford Mondeo
2015 Ford Mondeo

Here´s the new 2015 Mondeo (above). Granted, it´s black and the lighting is terrible. It does look incredibly like the last one though. Ford does not usually do this. Usually they make it really clear that a new model has superceded the old one, for better and for worse. This time they Continue reading “Jaguar´s XF is not alone”

Here´s the engine for the next Opel Senator

Automotive News has reported that the 2016 Cadillac CT6 will be equipped with a twin turbo V-6 (below). We wonder if this device will also power Opel´s possible future range topper, the revived Senator.

2016 GM V6 twin-turbo engine
2016 GM V6 twin-turbo engine. Image from Automotive News.

This is what Automotive News said: “[a] spirit of innovation will extend to the sedan’s powertrain, with General Motors announcing that an all-new 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 will be available under the CT6’s hood. The direct-injected V-6 is estimated to generate 400 hp and 400 pounds-feet of torque. At 133 hp per liter, Cadillac claims, the new engine is one of the most power-dense engines of its type. By comparison, the same-displacement inline six-cylinder found in the BMW 7 series, which is expected to be one of the CT6’s key rivals, generates 315 hp and 330 pounds-feet of torque.” Thanks for those details. But you could have read that at AN yourselves (and if you haven´t, do). What is interesting for me is that this engine could very well also be used to propel a possible Opel Senator to be based on the Buick Avenir, should that make production. This will give a putative Senator a real USP in the market and allow it a fighting chance to compete with BMW, Audi and Mercedes.  Continue reading “Here´s the engine for the next Opel Senator”

The hunt for a green car, continued

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….

2015 Citroen Cactus colour palette. Not very green.
2015 Citroen Cactus colour palette. Not very green.

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 Continue reading “The hunt for a green car, continued”

The hunt for a green car: 2015 Ford Tourneo Connect

No, it’s not green but a very excellent yellow called Solar Yellow Metallic.

It more than compensates for Ford´s lack of verdant colours.
It more than compensates for Ford´s lack of verdant colours.

Here is the Ford Ka colour palette. The blue is greenish but not a pure green. Continue reading “The hunt for a green car: 2015 Ford Tourneo Connect”

A Little More Colour From Hyundai: i10 Colour Names

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?

2015 Hyundai i10 in Sweet Orange or New Orange garb.
2015 Hyundai i10 in Sweet Orange or New Orange garb.

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”

Finally, Something Good From Pininfarina

While The Truth About Cars was informing us on the business model of the Autolib concept, I was thinking about something else. 

Autolib electric per-per-mile rental cars in Paris, France. Image: Wikipedia. Give them some money, please. We all use Wikipedia so cough up. Thanks.
Autolib electric per-per-mile rental cars in Paris, France. Image: Wikipedia. Give them some money, please. We all use Wikipedia so cough up. Thanks.

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”

Innovation In Classic Car Sales

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.

1982 Toyota Supra at RK Motors, NC, USA.
1982 Toyota Supra at RK Motors, NC, USA.

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”

Are Things Warming Up? Hyundai’s New Colour Options

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. 

2015 Hyundai i20 door.
2015 Hyundai i20 door.

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”

Full Brazillian Colour Analysis

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.

2015 Toyota Etios colour palette. Image: Toyota Brazil.
2015 Toyota Etios colour palette. Image: Toyota Brazil.

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”

Theme : Benchmarks – Peugeot 306 to 307 = Immediate Loss of Status

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.

Peugeot 307 - image from caroftheyear.org
Peugeot 307 – image from caroftheyear.org

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. As a chassis benchmark, in UK tests at least, the 306 was praised – lauded, even – time and time again. Obviously, this was most prominent for the GTi and S-16 versions of the car, but even lowly 1.4 litre, basic versions were blessed with a deft balance between fun handling and a supple ride. Then, when the more contemporary (but less lithe) looking 307 turned up, something went amiss. Continue reading “Theme : Benchmarks – Peugeot 306 to 307 = Immediate Loss of Status”

Refrain: Citroëns to be sold on style not price

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.  

Surplus to requirements. Image: politiken.dk
Surplus to requirements. Image: politiken.dk

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 focus on style you are focusing on something that is much Continue reading “Refrain: Citroëns to be sold on style not price”

2015 Geneva motor show – the top six yellow cars

At DTW we pride ourselves on our rigorous analysis and our capacity to separate the news from the hype. 

2015 BMW M4 in pale yellow-gold. It´s almost pearlescent and, frankly, a bit aftermarket. If you are going to do yellow, don´t get cold feet at the last moment.
2015 BMW M4 in pale yellow-gold. It´s almost pearlescent and, frankly, a bit aftermarket. If you are going to do yellow, don´t get cold feet at the last moment.

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.

In at number six (above) we have the BMW M4 coupe. Continue reading “2015 Geneva motor show – the top six yellow cars”

Japanese car of the day: 2015 Honda N/

「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.

2015 Honda N box (Image from Honda Japan)
2015 Honda N/ (Image from Honda Japan)

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: Continue reading “Japanese car of the day: 2015 Honda N/”

Who is the second largest supplier to the car industry?

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.

Made by the same people who supply the Peugeot 508. Image: Faurecia.com
Made by the same people who supply the Peugeot 508. Image: Faurecia.com

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?

Continue reading “Who is the second largest supplier to the car industry?”

Theme: Benchmarks – From Standard to Acclaim

The only constant is change.

1960 Standard Vanguard Vignale
1960 Standard Vanguard Vignale

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.

Continue reading “Theme: Benchmarks – From Standard to Acclaim”

Last Gasp – Lancia Ypsilon “Elle”

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.

2015 Lancia Ypsilon Elle. Image from Autoblog.com
2015 Lancia Ypsilon Elle. Image from Autoblog.com

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””

Alfa Romeo is the new Fiat

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. 

2015 Fiat 500L: the future of Fiat?
2015 Fiat 500L: the future of Fiat?

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”

2015 Geneva Motor Show – the colours

DTW has taken a look at a lot of show cars and tried to see if there are any colour trends apparent.

Geneva Motor Show colour palette 2015
Geneva Motor Show colour palette 2015

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 Viva car. 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. This orange is more of a 60s racing orange than an industrial design orange. The black or near black is used on Mercedes´ hybrid C-class which is unexpected. It´s a very ordinary shade whereas you might expect Continue reading “2015 Geneva Motor Show – the colours”

Production and design: EDAG´s research into additive manufacturing

Recently under the rubric of the Geneva Motor Show 2015, I mentioned the Light Cocoon concept car produced by the consultancy EDAG. This work highlighted the possibilities of additive manufacturing methods. Does it have a meaningful place in the future of car manufacture?

2014 EDAG Genesis
2014 EDAG Genesis

First, let´s find out a bit more about additive manufacturing. In contrast with standard mass production, additive production relies on building up material layer by layer using lasers to activate and bind particles together to the required shape. Lasers follow a path through a mass of granules and cause selected ones to fuse. The path is defined by a mathematical model generated using CAD programmes. Other additive methods use extrusions of hot plastic laid down in layers. Again, the layers are defined by CAD data. The key thing is that material is addded and not removed. (Sculpture using stone is subtractive manufacturing, so is wood turning.) In automotive production the methods used to make thing usually involve stamping where a flat sheet of metal is pressed into the required shape using a specially made one off tool. In moulding processes a liquid is introduced to an empty form and takes up the shape of the tool. In both cases the CAD data is mediated by costly forms or dies which need to be milled slowly from tough materials. These are usually finished (polished) by hand to

Continue reading “Production and design: EDAG´s research into additive manufacturing”

Theme: Benchmarks – Personal Luxury Coupés

Benchmarks come and then they go. Personal  luxury coupes (PLC) occupied the hottest sector of the American car market in the late 70s and early 80s. What were they?

1976 Olds Cutlass Supreme: America´s best selling car that year. Isn´t it quite like the Ford Granada we looked at recently?
1976 Olds Cutlass Supreme: America´s best selling car that year. Isn´t it quite like the Mercury Monarch we looked at recently?

A personal luxury coupe is understood as a two door, four seat car with at least a V6 or ideally a V8. Whilst the advertising for these may have suggested sporting capability, the body-on-frame and bench seat reality spoke of cars whose main talent lay in getting quickly up to 65 mph and staying there from Baker, Ca. to Frederick, Md.

The image above is my idea of the archetype of this car. I don´t think European had equivalents of the PLC. Two-door Ford Granadas (such as the 1975 example owned by our stalwart contributor Myles Gorfe) don´t strike the same note. Whether with two doors or four they retain their Granada-ness (the Ghia fastback came a bit closer to the concept). The Opel Monza offered a sporty experience and isn’t Continue reading “Theme: Benchmarks – Personal Luxury Coupés”

Geneva Motor Show Update – A follow up on Zenvo

On Feb 23rd we discussed the enigmatic Danish supercar maker, Zenvo.

2015 Zenvo : image from Automotive News.com. I have to applaud the choice of colour.

2015 Zenvo : image from Automotive News.com. I have to applaud the choice of colour.Automotive News has followed our lead though, to be fair, have produced a lot more copy than I managed. I like think that in a small way we had a little scoop nonetheless.

Continue reading “Geneva Motor Show Update – A follow up on Zenvo”

The Private Buyer Is Dying Off [Exclamation Point]

That’s the tabloid-style scare headline for this topic. The sensible, broadsheet-style headline would be “Fleet buyers to dominate in car market”.

Not enough people want this sort of thing. 1978 Opel Senator's rich ambience.
Not enough people want this sort of thing. 1978 Opel Senator’s rich ambience.

According to Automotive News (who posted this story on Saturday, Jan 10th – do they never rest?) Renault are to bank on fleet sales as the proportion of private customers decreases relative to corporate ones: “Renault hopes its new Espace will appeal to business customers as family buyers increasingly shun minivans”. Furthermore, AN reports that “Jamel Taganza, an analyst for Inovev, said fleet customers now represent the majority of potential buyers of midsize vehicles in Europe: ‘With the exception of Italy, the shift to fleet sales is a European-wide trend,’ he said”. Continue reading “The Private Buyer Is Dying Off [Exclamation Point]”

Teutonic Displacement: Volkswagen Konzern (Part 2)

Having looked at the issues besetting the mighty Volkswagen AG (VAG) recently in Part 1 – which can be read here – we can now try and shed some light on the depth of the problems and likely solutions. 

Today, the problem is that these cars are all on the verge of being replaced (or have already been replaced, in the Golf VI’s case). The new range taking their place will, even once the glitches related to MQB have been ironed out, not be as lucrative, with profit margins shrinking by as much as two thirds, compared with the Bernhard-era models. This should make future subsidising of models such as the Amarok pick-up (which is said to have a profit margin of -25%) with the Tiguan II’s yields considerably more difficult. Continue reading “Teutonic Displacement: Volkswagen Konzern (Part 2)”

Fiat Punto 1.3 “Alfa Romeo”- Edition, Engineered By Ferrari

How much can a brand be stretched? Should Alfa Romeos carry an ‘engineered by Ferrari’ badge? Or shouldn’t Alfa’s engineering speak for itself?

Image: thanks to Autocar. They seem to have put a huge card saying "Autocar" inside the test car.
Image: thanks to Autocar. They seem to have put a huge card saying “Autocar” inside the test car.

While trawling other news sites, I read at Autocar  that Alfa Romeo’s forthcoming SUV will be based upon the Maserati Ghibli. That bit doesn’t surprise me so much as the remark that “….there have also been unconfirmed rumours that the top of the range Alfa engines will feature ‘developed by Ferrari’ sub-branding.” This has all the hall marks of an idea designed to appeal to Sergio Marchionne. It also reminds me of Silvio Berlusconi’s idea that Fiat could sell more cars by badging them as Maseratis. You might as well Continue reading “Fiat Punto 1.3 “Alfa Romeo”- Edition, Engineered By Ferrari”

After the Great Leap Forward 2: Qoros Cars News Update

So, I presume you are all wondering how Qoros Automotive is doing? I was so I went and found out.

2015 Qoros screen shot

In March I wrote an article about the Israeli-Chinese firm Qoros. The latest news is that Qoros is running into difficulty, leading to reports of a split between the Israeli investors and the Chinese side of things. The Wall Street Journal reported it another way, saying major shareholder, Israel Corp have reiterated their support for the firm. This is as reassuring as saying out of the blue, “I won’t chop off your arm”, I think.

In a letter released to the Wall Street Journal, Israel Corp said they were “looking forward to Continue reading “After the Great Leap Forward 2: Qoros Cars News Update”