Archives for September 2016

Paris Auto Show premieres: Hot or Not?

Paris-Auto-Show-2016Next weeks the doors of the oldest auto show in the world will open its doors to the public again: the biennial Paris Auto Show. Despite breaking through the 1 million visitors barrier the last time around in 2014, a number of brands have cancelled their stands this year, most notably Ford, Mazda and Volvo, but also many exotic brands: Aston Martin, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce. Still, there’s plenty of news with 4 major premieres and a bunch of interesting concept cars. Bart and Kriss will give their vote of Hot or Not to the most relevant of them. Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

Audi_Q5-paris-auto-show-premiereAudi Q5

After 8 years it’s time to replace the very successful Audi Q5, and why change a winning formula? As we’ve come to expect from Audi, the design of the new Q5 is very evolutionary, with the overall shape staying the same, but a stronger and more swooping crease in the sides and a more pronounced grille. The Q5 sheds some weight compared to the outgoing version and the interior is even more refined.

Bart: So-so

It’s not ugly like the Q2 and Q7, what was good in the old Q5 has been left alone and they’ve improved the things I didn’t like too much. Impressive how an 8-year old design needs just such subtle changes to remain fresh. But it’s just not very sexy or mindblowing, so I struggle to call it Hot.

Kriss: Hot

It’s no secret that I am a fan of evolutionary design, something that’s normal for most high-end consumer products (think appliances, fountain pens, Apple products, eyewear) but somehow gets lambasted for cars. The new Q5 is a perfect example of that – it takes what was good about the previous model (stance, proportions, gently bulging fenders) and gives it a more modern touch with sharper creases, a clamshell bonnet, and Audi’s new “3D” grille it now gives its crossovers. That it’s lighter and roomier is just the icing on top of the cake.

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China car sales analysis August 2016

China-car-sales-graph-august_2016The Chinese car market continues its booming growth rate when compared to the depressed figures of last year after the collapse of the domestic stock market. 2015 car sales would recover sharply in the last quarter after the government subsidized sales of small vehicles by halving the purchase tax on vehicles with engines of 1.6 liters and lower to 5 percent. That means it is unlikely Chinese car sales will keep up this growth rate for the coming months. In August, 1,76 million domestically produced passenger cars were sold in China, an increase of 27,8% for a Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Selling Rate of 23,2 million units, the highest since January. Year-to-date, Chinese car buyers have bought nearly 14 million locally produced cars, an increase of 14% over the first eight months of last year. Unsurprisingly, sales of SUVs and crossovers fueled the market, up 44% to 654.100 units, followed by MPV sales at +36% to 180.400. Even sedan sales showed impressive growth in August, albeit slower than the overall market. Still, a 20% improvement is the best we’ve seen in months, which translates into 916.200 sales. Local brands make a nice rebound with a 39,2% share of the market, the highest figure since Q1. Year-to-date, almost 40% of the cars sold in China wore a badge from a domestic brand, still two points above the full-year 2015 figure and the highest it’s ever been.

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Look-a-like: BMW X1 and…

There is a general consensus that the second-generation BMW X1 is a very good-looking car, mostly because (whisper it) the primarily FWD platform endows it with much nicer proportions than its predecessor, whose 3-series-derived RWD platform gave it an awkward long-nose, cab-backward stance that did not look good on a crossover. However, if there is one way in which the new model is not great is the detailing, which looks a bit fussy in places, making the whole car look cheaper than it ought to. One such example is the taillights, whose amorphous shape not only lacks distinctiveness, it actually bears more than a passing resemblance to a car less than half its price…

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Poll results: Audi A5 sedan/wagon, French family chariots

Here are results of some recently-conducted polls:

1.    Audi A5 sedan/wagon renderings fail to convince Audi sceptics

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Look-a-like: Ford Fusion/Mondeo and…

Normally when you think of Ford Fusion (or Mondeo, as it’s known in Europe) taking design inspiration from another car, your thoughts immediately go to the Aston Martin-esque front grille. And rightly so – Ford’s decision to unashamedly adopt a family grille whose shape is much like that of the British sports car maker has received a lot of press, especially given that Ford used to own Aston Martin. However, this is not the only case of the Blue Oval taking design inspiration from cars produced by a brand it used to own.

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Poll results: Kia Rio, Škoda Kodiaq and VAG crossovers

Here are results of some recently-conducted polls:

1.   New Kia Rio fails to impress

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Audi A4: missed opportunity? [w/ poll]

I usually don’t like to engage in speculation about what could have been, but I recently came across two renderings of Audi A5 sedan and Avant that got me wondering: how much more attractive the uber-conservative new Audi A4 could have been if the brands’s designers had been given a free hand?… Continue Reading …

US is missing out: European 4WD hybrids

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The hybrid trend may have started in Japan, but it is really US customers that were first to wholeheartedly embrace the technology, making the Toyota Prius the giant success that it is today. Ever since it became clear that the technology had the power to lure customers into the showrooms, and, more importantly, open their wallets wider than they would for conventionally-powered cards, carmakers have been trying to offer hybrid cars of their own. Some, though surprisingly few, have taken on the Prius directly (the poor Honda Insight, now Hyundai Ioniq and Kia Nero). Others, primarily Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus, have made good money of offering hybrid options on their luxury cars – a bandwagon that the German luxury brands have belatedly caught onto. Others still have tried to offer hybrid versions of mainstream cars, mostly meeting with moderate to no success (Honda, Ford, Nissan, VW). But the one niche that has not yet truly been tapped in the US, unlike in Europe, is that for smaller cars where a hybrid drivetrain can be used to give normally FWD cars a second set of driven wheels.… Continue Reading …

Look-a-like: Mercedes-Benz GLS and…

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When the first-generation Mercedes-Benz GL-Class made its debut in 2006, many (rightly) viewed it as a super-sized version of the brand’s own ML-Class, designed to appeal to the US market hungry for large, 7-seat SUVs. But then as the second-generation model was facelifted in 2015, the company renamed it as the GLS, reflecting its new naming nomenclature, but also its desire for the model to be viewed as the “S-Class SUV”, and a genuine competitor to rivals such as Range Rover and even Bentley Bentayga. Now, the finer points on whether the GLS fulfills that brief have been debated elsewhere, but what always undermined the model’s luxury aspirations is the second-generation’s uncanny resemblance from the rear to an altogether less luxury model…… Continue Reading …

Snap poll: which French family chariots do you prefer?

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Following our snap poll last week on which of the VAG crossovers our readers preferred, this week I thought we’d jump off from the debut of the newly crossover-ized Peugeot 5008 and ask our reader the question: which of the French family chariots do you prefer?

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