Archives for March 2014

Geneva Autoshow Report: more tuners and supercars per m2 than Dubai

The Geneva Auto Show may offer one of the smallest floor areas of the international auto show circuit, it’s all about density. And when it comes to supercars and tuners, there’s no place in the world where you will find more of the most outrageous creations per square meter than here at the Palexpo Convention Center.

Brands like Koenigssegg, Pagani and RUF would stand out of the crowd in any other auto show, but here in Switzerland, their exotic car offerings are almost too ordinary to be worth a second look. No wonder in order to be noticed, the Ferrari stand is larger than Lancia’s, RUF has a floor space almost as large as Porsche, and tuners are going through extremes to be noticed.

Mansory-Bentley-Rolls-Royce-Bugatti-Aventador-Geneva-Auto-Show-2014In that light, Mansory, famous for its ostentatious creations, usually considered “over-the-top” for western likes, keeps things relatively civilized this year. … Continue Reading …

Geneva Autoshow Report: Minicars

The Geneva International Autoshow featured many premieres, and some of the most important product launches  are in the minicar segment. In the coming months, a handful of new A-segment models will hit the European market, and the competition will be fiercer than ever. These cars have made great strides in “growing up”: departing from their budget roots and promising improved handling and comfort.

Renault Twingo

Renault-Twingo-Geneva-Autoshow-frontRenault has just launched the new, third generation Twingo, a car that shares its platform with the upcoming Smart Fortwo and Forfour. That means its engine is placed in the rear, under the luggage compartment, and it is also rear-wheel drive.

According to Renault head of design Laurens Van den Acker, the concept of a rear-engined, rear wheel drive citycar makes sense for a number of reasons: first, it helps create a spacious interior, as they have been able to make the car 10cm (4 inches) shorter than the outgoing model, while adding 22cm (8 inches) of space inside. This does come at the cost of luggage space, as the floor of the boot has been raised. Secondly, because there is no engine between the front wheels, the wheels can be turned in further, thus creating a smaller turning circle, which is ideal for city driving. And finally, the all-rear layout should be a recipe for “fun to drive”.  That is true indeed, if done right (evidence no. 1: Porsche 911, or basically every good sports car), but it could just as well mean absolutely disastrous driving dynamics if done wrong (evidence no. 2: Smart Fortwo). Let’s hope the chassis technicians from Renault Sport have been asked to take care of the handling, so it will drive as good as it looks.… Continue Reading …

European car sales analysis January 2014

Renault-Captur-all-new-models-2013Auto sales in Europe are up 5% in January 2014, when compared to previous January. Similar to the 2013 full year data, small SUV’s and crossovers are the hottest segment, up 81% thanks to new model introductions. In fact, when we look at the all-new models, the Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008 take the top two spots, with the Chevrolet Trax in fourth position.

The midsized crossover Suzuki S-Cross makes a splashing entrance as well, already outselling its smaller sibling the SX4 for the third time in its five months on the market.

While non-premium cars are up 6%, sales of premium and luxury cars are up just 3%. But that doesn’t stop some premium models from making waves in the ranking. The Mercedes-Benz CLA is the third best selling all-new model, underscoring the success this model is enjoying. Mercedes-Benz is struggling to meet demand, as the CLA’s success is not limited to Europe, they are selling like hot cakes in the United States, China and other markets as well. And what about the new generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class? It sold 3,5 times as many cars in Europe than in January 2013.… Continue Reading …

Luxury battle part two: Audi vs. BMW vs. Mercedes-Benz in SUV’s

The German Big Three have grown faster than the overall market in the past 17 years, as their combined market share has increased from just over 10 percent of the market in 1997 to 16 percent in 2013. One of the reasons for this impressive growth is the increase in models and versions, most notably SUV’s.

Mercedes moves first, Audi catches up quickly

Mercedes-Benz-M-Class-luxury-SUVMercedes-Benz was had the edge in SUV sales, as it has produced the G-Class (or G-Wagen) since 1979, although at that time, the G-Class had little in common with the luxury SUV’s that would become so successful in the new millennium. Even without the G-Class, Mercedes-Benz was the first of the Big Three to offer a modern luxury SUV, when the M-Class large premium SUV was introduced in 1998. BMW followed just two years later and has been the luxury SUV leader since overtaking the Stuttgart brand in 2003. Audi was a laggard, not offering an SUV until 2005, but the brand has showed the steepest growth curve and, after passing Mercedes-Benz in 2009, is challenging BMW for the lead, only 8.500 units behind the München brand and selling more than twice as many SUV’s as Mercedes-Benz in 2013.… Continue Reading …