Archives for March 2015

Poll: Which of the German sports cars would you rather have?

There was a time when the choice of a german sports car was simple – you either got the Porsche 911 or, well, you looked elsewhere (probably Italy). The best Audi could offer you was a fast Quattro model or, later, a super-Golf called the TT; BMW dabbled with the M1 and Z8, but those cars really just made you run faster for the competition; even mighty Mercedes hadn’t really offered anything tasty since the gull-wing 300SL. But oh, my, how the times have changed – now we (or at least those with big money) are spoilt for choice with these great four options. So, which one is your poison?

Standaufnahme    Farbe: ArablauP90133075_highRes2016-mercedes-amg-gt-s-first-drive-review-car-and-driver-photo-640290-s-originalporsche911_front[poll id=”2″]

Qoros sells 51 units in first year in Europe

Qoros-auto-sales-statistics-EuropeExclusive to Left-Lane.com, I can now publish official European sales figures of Chinese-Israeli brand Qoros, which started sales in 2014 in its test market Slovakia with the compact Qoros 3 sedan. With just a single dealership in Bratislava, the brand has sold 51 units in its first year of sales. This may sound very modest, and indeed it is, but Qoros doesn’t consider sales volume a priority for at least a few more years, as the brand first wants to learn to understand the European market and gain experience in selling cars here. Considering the mixed fortunes of previous attempts by Chinese brands to crack the continent (remember the Euro-NCAP failure of Brilliance? Or have you ever heard of Landwind?), that sounds like a wise and well-thought-out strategy.

But while other Chinese brands may have been too ambitious, Qoros risks being too modest with their targets. 51 units still leave them a long way from cracking the European car market and also from their long-term target of achieving 10% of its worldwide sales in Europe. … Continue Reading …

Chrysler to quit UK market, what’s next for FCA?

Chrysler-auto-sales-statistics-EuropeIt really didn’t come as a surprise when Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles announced that it would withdraw the Chrysler brand from the UK market this week. Right-hand drive American MPVs, large sedans and rebadged Italian hatchbacks just didn’t vibe with the British car buying public. With the Jeep brand currently red-hot all over Europe thanks to the successful launches of the new midsized SUV Cherokee and even more so of the small crossover Renegade, the company has decided to dedicate its resources in the UK to its SUV brand.

Chrysler-Jeep-UK_Sales_ChartChrysler’s UK sales have dwindled to less than 2.000 units last year, but haven’t been above 3.400 in the last 6 years, which is approximately the number of Fiat 500 minicars the company sells every month in the UK market. Production and sales of the Delta compact had already been suspended last year, and the slow-selling RHD 300C large sedan (88 units in 2014, just 2 in January 2015) and Voyager MPV (2014: 565 units, January 2015: 5) will be discontinued as we speak, while the Ypsilon minicar (1.411 units in the UK last year) will be sold on customer’s request until the end of 2017.… Continue Reading …

Opel and Chevrolet to withdraw from Russian car market

General_Motors-withdrawal-russiaGeneral Motors has announced plans to “change its business model” in Russia, which is a gentle way of calling it quits for the third time in a few years time. In 2013, GM withdrew Opel from the Australian market after less then one year of trying. A few months later, Chevrolet was announced to quit the European car market (excluding Russia) in order to give Opel a shot at returning to profitability. And in a final attempt to stop the bleeding of cash at its European operations, both brands will say “пока-пока” to the Russian market.

Opel Group CEO Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann said, “We do not have the appropriate localization level for important vehicles built in Russia and the market Hyundai_Solaris-Kia_Rio-Renault_Logan-Russiaenvironment does not justify a major investment to further localize.” With which they mean they’ve completely misjudged the market and failed to offer a competitive, locally built subcompact sedan to defend itself against the surging Hyundai Solaris (a.k.a. Accent outside of Russia), Kia Rio and Renault Logan.

Opel will leave the market by the end of this year and Chevrolet will be minimized to “iconic” vehicles like the Corvette, Camaro and Tahoe. Oh, and of course Cadillac will stay in Russia, in a desperate attempt not to lose its self-proclaimed “Global luxury brand” title. Mind you, this is a market where GM sold a combined 288.308 vehicles in 2012 (that’s only three years ago), of which more than 200.000 Chevrolet, 80.000 Opel, and……. 2.024 Cadillac cars and SUVs.… Continue Reading …

Look-A-Like: Jag XF and…

“Look-A-Like” is a new column which is meant as a lighthearted account of all those “I feel like I’ve seen this before…” moments. Today I had just such a feeling when I saw the first interior shot of the upcoming Jaguar XF. There was just something about those central air vents and their relationship to the infotainment system that felt familiar.

Jaguar-XF-00002

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Unpopular opinion: Jeep Cherokee

The new Jeep Cherokee has gotten a lot of flack for its challenging looks, but it’s one of those cars the Brits call a “Marmite car” (Marmite being the yeast spread you put on your toast) – you either love it or hate it. In fact, most of the motoring press seems to hate the split front headlights and chamfered take on the traditional Jeep grille, while at the same time claiming the rest of the car is bland.

Personally, I disagree – I really like the looks of the Cherokee, especially the Trailhawk off-road version:

2014-jeep-cherokee-trailhawk-front-three-quarterContinue Reading …

Brilliant or bonkers? A driverless racing car: ED Design Torq

ED_Design_Torq-driverless-racing_carIf you already find modern F1 races sleep inducingly dull, imagine what a race between autonomous cars would look like…. The concept of a driverless racing car doesn’t seem to make sense at first, but the reasoning behind the ED Design Torq is almost as simple as it is laughable. Michael Robinson, Design director and CEO of ED Design, has noticed that new technology in production vehicles is usually first developed and tested in racing cars on a circuit before hitting the streets in the cars you and me can buy. He also noticed increasing investments in autonomous driving by almost any major car manufacturer. He then combined these two ideas to conclude the world desperately needs a driverless racing car to test the technology before self-driving cars can hit our streets. He jumped into this supposed opportunity and created the Torq, a racing car without windows and without a steering wheel.

Thankfully, ED Design isn’t yet planning to start a racing series with autonomous cars anytime soon, but instead will build a handful of Torq driverless cars in the next 24 hours and rent them out to major automakers, IT companies and government lawmakers as “Mobile Autonomous Automobile Laboratory” for them to experiment with driverless cars and to turn it into an “open-source” technology. The press release states “MAAL asks researchers around the world to join this noble endeavor in the automotive industry to stop killing millions of people.“… Continue Reading …

Top 5: Concept cars in Geneva

#5 (joint): Nissan Sway

Nissan-Sway-4

Why is it here? Because it promises a genuinely dynamic-looking Nissan Micra to rival the Fiesta and Mazda2, because even when diluted for production it should still look better than most other cars in the class, and because it should help us forget the awful current-generation Micra.… Continue Reading …

Tough act to follow: Hyundai Elantra (UPDATED)

5th gen Hyundai Elantra

For many successful manufacturers it’s easy to point to their breakout car – Ford has its Model T, VW has the Beatle and Golf, Toyota the Corolla. What about Hyundai, currently the world’s 4th largest automaker (along with Kia)? There are a few candidates: there is the 2nd gen Santa Fe, as well as the 6th gen Sonata, but for me it’s the current (5th gen) Elantra that really stands out. While the previous generations of the other two cars were still pretty good, the current Elantra was a giant leap over its dowdy predecessor. With a giant injection of style the car went from an also-ran to close to the top of the US compact class, jumping over cars such as the Corolla and Civic in tests if not quite in sales. Still, as the chart below shows the sales of the 5th gen grew quickly and peaked at double that for the 4th gen model.… Continue Reading …

Geneva Autoshow: Top 5 supercars, part 2

After Krzysztof published his hits and misses for supercars at the Geneva Auto Show, I will now give you my own top-5.

#5 Lamborghini Aventador LP750-4 SV

Lamborghini_Aventador_LP750_4_SV-rear-Geneva_Auto_Show-2015This is the essence of Lamborghini and how the Aventador should’ve been from the beginning, especially from the rear. I know the brand needs to compromise and become less extreme in order to sell cars and survive, but come on Lambo, let Ferrari make the polished, clean-looking Italian supercars and keep making things that look like they come from out of space and could eat you alive. Lamborghini_Aventador_LP750_4_SV-front-Geneva_Auto_Show-2015The Super Veloce adds 50 hp to the standard Aventador to make it 750 hp, but top speed remains 350 km/h and the 0-100 sprint is just 0,1 second faster at 2,8 s, so the performance alone doesn’t justify the extra Audi TT this thing will probably cost compared to the regular Aventador (official pricing hasn’t yet been released), but damn, those looks certainly do.… Continue Reading …