Archives for March 2014

Controversial Cadillac ELR commercial parodied

For those of you who haven’t seen or heard about the recent “poolside” commercial for the Cadillac ELR, which was a viral hit on YouTube because of its controversial “American Pride” theme, watch it here:

In short: it features what Cadillac hopes will be a typical buyer of the ELR, a Plug-in Hybrid coupe which is technically based on the Chevrolet Volt / Opel Ampera, but will only be sold in North America, for a price tag that’s double that of the Volt. It starts with the actor standing in his bermuda shorts by the pool of his $4 million home, asking why “we” work so hard (although I don’t see any callus on his hands) and talking about how the Americans take only two weeks off in August while other countries spend the whole month with their lazy asses on the beach. … Continue Reading …

A new kind of retro: naming a model after the company’s founder

As manufacturers are running out of inspiration for another retro styled car, a trend for which Volkswagen is credited since it introduced the New Beetle back in 1997, I have started to notice a new trend: retro naming. And with that, at this moment, I don’t mean re-using model names from the past, like Alfa Giulia or Chrysler 300, which could be the subject of an entirely different article, but I mean using the first name of the company’s founder as a model name.

Ferrari-EnzoFerrari started this trend in 2002 when the Italians decided to name their supercar Ferrari Enzo. While the model’s two predecessors, F40 and F50, were named to celebrate the company’s 40th and 48th anniversary in 1987 and 1995 respectively, the Italians may have been a bit too quick with the development of their next supercar. It was already completed and ready to be sold in 2002, so the Italians must have called for an emergency board meeting during lunch time:

  • “Oh mama mia! Grande catastrofe! Gianni, what do we do now? The F60 is already finished!
  • — Eating spaghetti —
  • “When is the 60th anniversary, Alberto?”
  • — Drinking Chianti —
  • “That’s another five years, Vincenzo! We cannot wait that long! The Germans are working on a Carrera GT, which is much better than ours. We need it to be sold out before they finish their car!”… Continue Reading …

Luxury battle part three: Audi vs. BMW vs. Mercedes-Benz in roadsters

Audi-TT-Geneva-Autoshow-2014The German Big three BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi have faced each other for the European luxury car buyer for decades now, and the fight isn’t limited to high-volume segments. The compact roadster / coupe segment has been a battleground as well, although the three brands have followed entirely different strategies for this segment. Each of the three manufacturers has been in the lead of the compact roadster / coupe category at some point in the past 16 years, since the introduction of the first Audi TT.

Audi was the last to the game, as the BMW Z3 and Mercedes-Benz SLK were introduced in late 1995 and 1996 respectively, while the TT didn’t arrive until 1999. But it entered the segment with a bang, saleswise, immediately rising to the top in its first year of sales.… Continue Reading …

50th Anniversary of the Škoda 1000 MB

Skoda-1000-MB-50-year-anniversary-frontAfter 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the Porsche 911, this month, it is the Škoda 1000 MB which turns 50 years old. The first Czech mass-produced car made its debut on March 21st 1964 as the successor to the Škoda Octavia. It also was the first Škoda with rear wheel drive, a rear engine and unibody construction, making it a milestone in the nearly 119-year history of Škoda, as it marked the beginning of what would eventually evolve into a long line of rear-engined Škodas, although this was still a fairly popular layout for a compact car in that time. Other rear-engined, rear wheel drive models during that period are among others the Volkswagen Beetle, Simca 1000, Renaults Dauphine and R8, NSU Prinz, Hillman Imp and the Fiats 500 and 600.

Revolutionary technology

The 1000 MB was a revolution for Škoda, as it was built in an all-new production plant in Mladá Boleslav (hence the MB in its name), its design was radically different than the brands previous models,… Continue Reading …

Toyota cleared in fuel-economy lawsuit

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about the “Fuel-loss Foundation” in The Netherlands who had sued the Dutch Toyota importer for overstating the fuel economy claims of its vehicles, most notably the gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles. I had predicted their lawsuit would not be successful for two reasons: first and foremost because Toyota is simply following the European Fuel-loss-foundation-class-action-lawsuitguidelines for fuel economy statements, and secondly because the only reason the lawsuit was aimed at Toyota specifically is to set them as an example, as the brand is the largest producer and seller of hybrid vehicles, the type of cars that showed the highest deviation between theoretical fuel economy and actual fuel economy.

Nearly every car reviewed by the foundation was less fuel efficient than its manufacturer claims, which should be an indication that there is more likely to be a discrepancy between the European test cycle and the real-world driving conditions than this being a result of deceptive behavior by Toyota.… Continue Reading …

Geneva Auto Show 2014: details of every new production model, part 1

Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

Alfa Romeo’s 4C sports car has been well received, at the Geneva Motor Show Alfa Romeo launched the convertible version, which will have a total weight of less than 1,000 kg. The body of the 4C Spider is made from the same fiberglass and has the same four-cylinder 1750 Turbo petrol engine teamed with the TCT automatic twin clutch transmission. Alfa-Romeo-4C-Spider-Geneva-Autoshow-2014

Audi S1

Audi launched the new flagship models of the A1 range: the S1 and S1 Sportback. The S1, which also previews the upcoming A1 facelift with a new design for headlamps and bumpers, is fitted with a 2.0 TFSI engine, which produces 231 hp. The top speed is 250 km/h, while it accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 5.8-5.9 seconds. The average fuel consumption is 7.0-7.1 l/100 km and the equivalent CO2 emissions 162-166 g/km. … Continue Reading …

Geneva Auto Show 2014: details of every new production model, part 2

Ferrari California T

Ferrari launched the California back in 2008. 5,5 years after its debut, Ferrari refreshes the California with new sheet metal and replaces the normally aspirated 4.3-liter V8 by a 3.8-liter V8 biturbo engine with 560 hp (up from 490 hp), which was launched initially in the Maserati Quattroporte. The CO2 emissions have dropped by 15% to 250 g/km. Ferrari-California-T-Geneva-Autoshow-2014

Fiat Panda Cross

The second generation Fiat Panda Cross is based on the Panda Climbing 4X4. Fiat sold approximately 30,000 units of the previous Panda Cross, mostly in Italy and the Alpine countries. Fiat offers two engines: the 0.9 TwinAir Turbo petrol engine with 90 hp (CO2 emissions 114 g/km) and a 1.3 MultiJet II diesel engine with 80 hp (CO2 emissions 125 g/km). The latter one has a ground clearance of 16 cm, while the TwinAir has 15 cm. The approach and departure angles have improved compared to the first generation Panda Cross. The front end features new light clusters, front and rear bumpers, wheel arch extensions, side mouldings, new roof bars and 15-inch alloy wheels with all-season tyres. The interior features a new dashboard finish with copper fascia. … Continue Reading …

Geneva Auto Show 2014: details of every new production model, part 3

Opel Adam Rocks & Adam S

The Adam Rocks is almost identical to the concept car, which was shown one year ago. Its all-around body cladding and 15 mm raised ride height give the Adam a more rugged appearance. The Rocks is exclusively available with a folding canvas roof called Swing Top and will go on sale in early Summer. Opel will also add new three-cylinder 1.0 Turbo Ecotec engines (90/115 hp) combined with a six-speed manual transmission to the Adam line-up. Moreover, Opel launched a new top-of-the-range Adam S, which features a 1.4 Turbo Ecotec engine with a maximum output of 150 hp. Opel-Adam-Rocks-Geneva-Autoshow-2014

Peugeot 108

The Peugeot 108 was the first of the next generation triplets manufactured in Kolin, Czech Republic to be revealed. The 108 now comes with many styling cues from the 208, 2008 and 308. The overall length has increased by 40 mm to 3,470 mm, while the width decreased by 35 mm to 1,620 mm as compared to the preceding 107 and the wheelbase is unchanged at 2,340 mm. The luggage capacity is similar to the C1, which means 196 liters with a puncture repair kit or 180 liters with a spare wheel. The base weight of 840 kg is remarkably higher than the outgoing 107. Like Citroën, Peugeot offers 3-door and 5-door versions and an open-top body style, the TOP!. There is a choice of two petrol engines: the 1.0 e-VTi and VTi 68 with CO2 emissions of 88 to 95 g/km or 97 g/km for the ETG-version with semi-automatic transmission. While Peugeot uses a 1.0-liter Toyota engine, the 1.2 VTi 82 (82 hp) has an in-house developed engine with CO2 emissions of 99 g/km. … Continue Reading …

Geneva Autoshow Report: no news is bad news

The Geneva Auto Show may be one of the most important shows of the year, it is also one of the smallest when comparing floor space. As a result of the limited space, brands focus on their brand new models, the ones that are being introduced at the show.

Renault-stand-Geneva-Auto-Show-2014For example, more than three quarters of the Toyota stand was dedicated to the new Aygo, with more than 10 of these brand new city cars on the stand, and for the rest only one Yaris, an Auris hatchback and an Auris station wagon. A similar strategy was used by Renault, showing around 10 newly introduced Twingo minicars, three hot selling Captur small SUV’s, three Clio’s and a handful of Renault EV’s. No Scenic, no freshly facelifted Megane, no Laguna, Espace or Koleos.

But the displays that struck me the most, where those of two struggling automakers, one of which has already been announced to get pulled from the European market, and the other is rumored to retreat to its home market as well: Chevrolet and Lancia. … Continue Reading …

Different views on the European minicar market

The Fiat 500 has been and still is a great success story. It has been on the market for almost 7 years already, its exterior design hasn’t been changed much since, but sales have remained firm and have actually increased again in 2013, and also in 2014 so far, outselling the once very popular Fiat Panda. Besides the obviously appealing design, its success may also many ways buyers can customize the exterior and interior of the car, a trend that has caught the attention of other automakers.

Renault Twingo

Renault-Twingo-Geneva-Autoshow-2014Renault claim the new, third generation Twingo was inspired by the 40-year old Renault 5, but after talking to some visitors on the show floor at the Geneva International Autoshow, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that most people find the Twingo very similar to the Fiat 500. And it’s not only because of the design, but also because the cars on the Renault stand all have been personalized with striping, colored dashboard and steering wheel accents and different sporty wheels.… Continue Reading …