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 …

Top 5: Production cars in Geneva

#5: Renault Kadjar

Renault_Kadjar-front-Geneva_Auto_Show-2015

Why is it here? Because it’s based on successful Nissan X-Trail/Rouge, because it manages to look even better than the already-handsome donor car, and because it should help us forget the sad joke that was the Renault Koleos (European sales in 2014: fewer than 7,500)

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The sad case of the Renault Laguna

Just the other day I caught myself trying to remember what the current Renault Laguna looked like, and I couldn’t. At some point I even started asking myself if there ever had been a 3rd generation Laguna! Don’t think of me as a badge snob, as I was really fond of the 2nd gen Laguna (both the liftback and the estate), it’s just that the 3rd gen is anything but memorable. And the European sales confirm this: it barely sold more than 16,000 units in 2014, and was outsold twofold by the Citroen C5/DS5 duo, almost threefold by the Peugeot 508, and almost tenfold by the VW Passat. Renault better pull out all stops if the 4th gen wants to enjoy even a fraction of the success the first two generations enjoyed in their heyday!

Top 5: Geneva Sports/Supercars

#5: Koenigsegg Regera

Why is it here? Because it has more than 1,500hp from its hybrid drivetrain, because it can reach 400km/h almost 3 seconds faster than the Porsche 918 reaches 300km/h, and because it comes from a small swedish company whose name means “knife’s edge”

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Blast from the past: Porsche 932 Panamera II

The other day I alluded to the Porsche 989 Panamera concept, the stillborn 4-door Porsche was considering in the early 1990s. Although that car was never officially shown to the public, its existence was a well-known fact among Porsche-files. What is less well-known is that after it ceased developing the 989, Porsche produced another concept, the 932 Panamera II, which by the looks of it aimed for a more spacious rear seat and boot.

Creating-The-Porsche-Sedan-1988-Porsche-989-Panamera-1991-Porsche-932-1987-928-Studie-and-1968-911-4-Door-1

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Demand for Lagonda Taraf and why Porsche canned the 989 four-door

To no-one’s surprise the Lagonda (ok, Aston Martin) Taraf will be sold in the UK, Europe, and not just in the Middle East as the company originally planned. This makes me wonder why did Aston Martin not make this car in the first place, rather than the unloved, too-small Rapide?… Continue Reading …

Glickenhaus, you lucky bastard!

James Glickenhaus is already well-known to car enthusiasts as the guy who had Ferrari fashion him the gorgeous P4/5 by Pininfarina, but now he’s gone one better and built himself his very own supercar: the SCG 003S. And I have to say the result looks great! Sure, the front looks like a slightly smoother version of the Lamborghini Veneno, and the whole car has a lot of elements from the Enzo (nose, canopy-like glasshouse, front fenders), but the final result looks very smooth and dynamic, not unlike the GT by Citroën! Oh, and the aerodynamic channels between the engine bay and the rear wheels, my favorite feature on the 2015 Ford GT, look great in combination with rear wing (which itself looks like a cross between the Ferrari F40 and a modern LeMans prototype).… Continue Reading …

To fit or not to fit: Do car segments matter?

The concept of a car “segment” is a curious thing. Mostly customers don’t know or don’t care in which segment their car competes. And in these crossover- and niche-obsessed times I get the feeling that predefined segments are becoming less and less relevant. After all, is the Dacia Sandero a competitor to the similarly-priced Suzuki Celerio, or rather the similarly-sized Opel Corsa? What about the BMW 5GT? Does it compete with the Mercedes-Benz E-class, R-class, or maybe old-fashioned minivans? Ultimately, does the notion of a segment even matter anymore beyond comparison tests and sales statistics?

Yes, they do, but not necessarily as a direct source of information to the buying customer. Rather, I believe they capture the idea that, when buying cars, consumers will usually decide on which car size they want (usually by anchoring their search on the segment leader e.g. the VW Golf) and then cross-shop similar cars. And cars that don’t neatly fit into these “search sets” are often ignored, especially if they are too different from the market leader in their segment.

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New Audi R8: nice, but why does it look like a facelift?

The all new R8 (no, not a facelift!)

Even as a big Audi fan I have to admit the new Audi R8 looks too much like a facelift of the old one. What’s more, the new details disappoint, from the new hexagonal snout (too blocky, especially the thick vertical parts either side of the main opening) , the loss of the “side blades” which made the previous car more distinctive, and finally the rear lights that somehow look cheap. I really wish the front was more like the spy-shot/fan-made rendering shown below, with its aggressively thin LED lights (never really learned whether this supposed “leaked picture” was real, but it could be it was a proposed treatment for the scrapped R4 baby brother).

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