Hyundai Kona: this is it [w/ poll]


After what seems like years of teaser and leaks the first official pictures of the Hyundai Kona have been revealed, and we finally get a proper look at what Hyundai’s new challenger to the Nissan Juke looks like.

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US sales: May 2017, models

After discussing the US auto brand sales ranking for May, let’s take a closer look at the models ranking.

Top 10

At the front the RAM Pickup outsold the Chevrolet Silverado for the third month in a row, though only by a slender margin of a little over 1,000 units – not yet enough to overtake its arch rival in YTD sales, though this remains a possibility in the coming months. Behind the pickups once again the leading non-truck car was compact SUV – this time it was the Toyota RAV4, which managed to claw back some space to the class-leading Nissan Rogue and Honda CR-V, both of which ranked relatively poorly in 7th and 8th in May. The surprise in the top-10 this month came from Honda Accord, whose sales were up 5.0% and which ranked 5th, the highest it has been since December’15 (though, YTD, the model is still down 7.3%). Otherwise it was business as usual, with Toyota CamryHonda Civic and Toyota Corolla all continuing its slide by recording sales drops of 10% or so.

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Look-a-like: VW Arteon and…

I have to admit I have a soft spot for the outgoing VW CC (née Passat CC) – it was a handsome car, especially once the facelift sharpened up its front design and rid of the weird oval graphics in the rear lights, and it seemed like a reasonable step up from the more humdrum Passat (in fact, the nickname the press gave it before it was launched, “Passat Plus”, captured its market placement pretty perfectly). What’s more, it sold pretty well, reaching around 30,000 units in its best years both in Europe and in the US. But now VW has grander ambitions for its indirect replacement, the Arteon, and wants the model to go after Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4-series Gran Coupe. To enable this the carmaker has allowed the Arteon to grow in size, and given it sharper styling which it hopes will imbue the model with a sense of classy sportiness. So far so good, it’s just a pit that in the process the Arteon ended up looking quite a bit like another decidedly non-premium model…

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US sales: May 2017, brands

Total US sales fell by 0.5% in May, the slowest rate of decline so far this year, but a decline nonetheless. What’s more, the decline continued despite favorable market conditions: rising employment, economic growth and (relatively) low gas prices. As has been the trend recently, the overall figure masks burgeoning demand for trucks and crossovers, which was up 6.2%, and the continuing decline in demand for cars, whose sales were down 10%.

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Look-a-like: Fiat Argo interior and…

There are many ways in which Fiats have stood out over time: innovation, good looks, spaciousness, charm and value-for-money. You’ll notice that one of the things not on this list is interior design, with Fiat interiors more often than not being just a sea of gray plastic (notable exceptions include the 500 range, especially the original small 500, and cars like the mid-1990s Coupe and Barchetta). Given the lack of form in this respect it makes sense that Fiat would look elsewhere in the industry for inspiration for the interior of the newly-revealed Argo, and what better place to look than at the carmaker that is seen by many as leading the industry in terms of interior design (if not always quality).

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Look-a-like: VW Atlas and…

When the VW Atlas was finally revealed after what felt like the longest gestation period the main responses that could be heard were those of disappointment. “This is it?”, most people said, “it’s way too conservative”, said others. And then there was a sizable group of people who thought the Atlas was straight-up ugly, mainly because of the character line that runs down the side of the car. In fact, not only is the concave/convex line controversial, it’s also very reminiscent of the side-treatment another less-than-beautiful SUV received a while back…

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Smaller-engined versions of top-end cars [w /poll]

The past year has seen an interesting development in the arena of exotic and ultra-luxurious cars – the emergence of smaller-engined versions of cars that were previously available only with super-high-output 12-cylinder options. First was the facelifted Ferrari FF, now called the GTC4 Lusso, which in addition to the all-wheel-drive V12 version became available as an “entry level” model with rear-wheel-drive, powered by a turbocharged V8 engine taken from the 488 GTB and California T. Then Bentley released the oft-rumored Bentayga powered by, the sacrilege, a V8 turbodiesel seemingly taken straight out of the Audi SQ7. Are they a sign of things to come, smart decisions by the brands from a marketing perspective, or foolish endeavors to chase short-term profits at the expense of the brands’ long-term allure?

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Ford replaces CEO with autonomous car guru

In a somewhat surprising move Ford has ousted CEO Mark Fields after only three years, a period in which he oversaw the company losing 40% of its market value and being overtaken by Tesla in market capitalization terms. His replacement, Jim Hackett, comes from within Ford and has recently headed Ford’s Smart Mobility division, in charge of developing the blue oval’s autonomous car technology and ride-sharing business models.

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New Fiat Argo may replace Punto globally

Today first pictures emerged of the new Fiat Argo, a model designed by Fiat’s Brazil division and intended to replace models based on the 12-year-old Punto in the Latin America market. However, it’s the prospect of the model being sold globally that is truly intriguing.

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US sales: April 2017, models

After discussing the US auto brand sales ranking for April, let’s take a closer look at the models ranking. In a big upset among the market-leading large pickups, RAM Pickup outsold its rival Chevrolet Silverado for the second month in a row and only the third time in three years. If the large Chevy continues underperforming like this, its FCA rival may overtake it in the YTD sales before long – I don’t have the data to prove it, but I don’t think the Dodge Ram/RAM Pickup has ever outsold the Silverado in a full year. Behind the pickups there is a new car sales leader – the new Honda CR-V – which outsold both the Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue, with the Nissan ranking particularly poorly in #9 – it’s lowest position in half a year, and in danger of losing its #4 YTD spot to the Honda in May. Still, it’s clear the CR-V’s and RAV4’s success is at least partly due to customers shunning the brands’ compact and mid-sized cars continues, all of which lost sales once again in April, and are down 2 or 3 spots in the rankings so far this year.

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