Is Nissan right to replace the Juke with the Kicks? [w/ poll]

To me one of the biggest surprises of the LA Auto Show was Nissan’s announcement that the Kicks will replace the Juke in the Subcompact SUV segment. Is this a copout for the once-bold manufacturer, or an astute business decision?

Continue Reading …

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Frankfurt production cars

Audi RS4 Avant and BMW M5

Kriss: hit

If this is the future of performance saloons/wagons, sign me up! Sure, we should all mourn the passing of the thrilling NA V8 screamer in the RS4 and, going back two generations, a similarly high-revving NA V10 in the M5. However, if they can only imbue the new engines with a bit of charisma it’s hard to argue with the hard facts: 0-62mph (100km/h) times of 4.1s for the RS4 and 3.4s for the M5, respectively, plus a series of chassis techniques to make these big cars controllable and exciting: torque vectoring, carbon brakes, a rear-biassed 4WD system that can be fully switched off in the BMW’s case. Plus they look every bit as good as they should, with their wide tracks and swollen arches.

Continue Reading …

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: the pre-Frankfurt report

With the Frankfurt Auto Show almost upon us, Bart and I figured we’d run one of our customary Good, Bad and Ugly features ahead of the actual show, just to make sure we’re not swamped with the debuts once the doors open. This is a series all about opinions on a site totally dedicated to facts, just to balance it off a bit. Here we’ll give our views on new cars and invite you to give yours, be it in the poll at the bottom or in the comment section below. Fortunately, every opinion is personal so even Bart and I don’t always agree and we hope you don’t either.

Bentley Continental GT

Continue Reading …

Shanghai Auto Show 2017: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly, Domestic Cars

The Shanghai Auto Show is the largest auto show in the world with 350.000 square meters (3.7 million square feet) of floor space, over 1.300 cars on display and close to 1 million visitors. And while you may think the cars from international brands are the most relevant for the worldwide automotive industry, the domestic Chinese automakers are eager to show off the impressive progress they’re making in terms of quality and design. Some of their launches and concept cars are destined to be exported to the European and US markets as well.

There’s simply too much news in Shanghai to discuss all the news, but we’ll take a closer look at the most relevant, most notworthy and most impressive production cars and concept cars.

Production cars:

Baojun 310 Wagon

2017-Shanghai-Autoshow-Baojun_310_WagonWagons are not a popular bodystyle in China, where sedans have traditionally ruled, MPVs were the alternative if more seats were required and SUVs are now the hottest thing around. Hatchbacks never really caught on in the People’s Republic either, which makes it that much more surprising that Baojun has a sudden hit this year with its ultra-cheap 310 hatchback, selling over 50.000 units in the first three months of 2017. Will the 310 Wagon be able to crack the cheap station wagon market in China too?… Continue Reading …

Shanghai Auto Show 2017: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly, Foreign Cars

Just when the New York Auto Show in the US is in its final weekend, the Chinese equivalent is starting up in Shanghai. And while the former is an important event for the US market and no small show by any means, the latter is by far the largest auto show in the world with 350.000 square meters (3.7 million square feet) of floor space, over 1.300 cars on display and close to 1 million visitors. Besides being one of the major shows for the domestic auto industry (together with Beijing), Shanghai is also important to foreign automakers for some of whom the Chinese market is their largest single market, especially for luxury brands. This means they’re showing off some important products in China first, before bringing them to the European or US markets. We’ll take a quick look at a selection of those launches here.

Production cars:


2017-Shanghai-Autoshow-BMW_M4CSKriss: hot

What is there to say: the M4 CS is the halfway point between the standard M4 and the hardcore M4 GTS, and as such promises to strike the perfect balance between the two. That it still looks more attractive than the younger Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe and the new Audi RS5 is just the icing on top of the cake!

Bart: hotContinue Reading …

New York Auto Show 2017: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

The annual New York Auto Show is one of the most popular auto shows in the world, it’s traditionally held at the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan and this year it runs  from Friday April 14 through Sunday April 23. That means it’s the last of the major auto shows in North America, after LA in November, Detroit in January and Chicago in February. As a result, the number of real new product launches and concept cars is relatively limited, especially compared to the most important of them all: Geneva. Still, we’ve had our pick of winners and losers of the show, and as usual we just can’t seem to agree on most of them. Let us know your view in the poll or in the comments below.

Production cars:

Acura TLX (facelift)

2017-New_York-Auto_Show-Acura_TLXKriss: Not

See the new TLX in isolation and you may think to yourself “wow, this is a pretty good-looking car”, but wish the grille wasn’t quite as big and brash as it is. Well, then, you’re in luck – there is a version of this car without this ugly new grille, and it’s called the pre-facelift TLX. Now, don’t get me wrong, the TLX is still pretty good looking, it’s just that with this facelift Acura managed to either botch the changes the TLX needed (the new grille is not an improvement, and does not go far enough to give this car “personality”) and not change things at all (the interior still looks no better than on the mass-market Accord). Acura is desperately looking for a car that will change the fortunes of its mainstream offerings, and this is not it, sadly.

Bart: Hot

What a difference a grille makes! Acura pulls trick from the Lexus playbook, using the motto: it doesn’t have to be stylish, as long as it’s brash. As opposed to Kriss, I think it’s an improvement compared to the pre-facelift version. The TLX goes from utter wallflower with its beak-nose to one of the most aggressive designs in the segment with its enormously wide grille. I don’t find it particularly sophisticated, or even attractive for that matter (I’d still prefer a C-Class, Q50 or even the aging 3-Series over it), but I just have to admire Acura for finally getting the point that just another vanilla sedan just isn’t going to cut it in this competitive segment anymore. Besides the sheer size of the grille, and the graphics inside it, there’s one more issue I have with the front end of the updated TLX: the lower part seems visually wider than the rest, which gives it a bit of a “heavy” presence, as if it has a double chin. The rear end has been cleaned up nicely, though.

Continue Reading …

Geneva Autoshow 2017: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly: supercars and concept cars

The Geneva Auto Show in the beginning of March is very likely to be the place with the highest density of supercars and concept cars in Europe at that moment. Even the smallest manufacturers, tuners and designers make it to the showfloor each year to show off their latest creations and try to steal some of the limelight from the major brands. That leads to an interesting mix that caters to everyone, from mainstream mass-production to hyperexclusive, from realistic to futuristic, and of eyepoppingly beautiful to eyewateringly unsightly. All this contrast means everyone must have an opinion, love it, hate it, or totally indifferent. We also loved a few, but not all of them. Here are a the ones that stirred us the most, be it in a good or a bad way.

Ferrari 812 Superfast

Bart: hot

2017-Geneva_Auto_Show-Ferrari_812_SuperfastIs it an extensive facelift of the F12 or a completely new model? Ferrari wants you to believe the latter and has given the model a new name. And although the overall proportions and silhouette are very similar to the F12, the aerodynamics and engine are completely overhauled. At 800hp and 718Nm (529 lb.-ft), the engine is Ferrari’s most powerful V12 engine ever built. Displacement grew to 6,5 liters which means it has an output of 123hp per liter, the highest of any non-hybrid, naturally aspirated production engine ever made. The aerodynamics are another awesome feature of the 812 Superfast, as Ferrari strives to create downforce without using additional wings. There are a number of gaps in the front and side of the bodywork to create additional downforce, reduce drag or cooling purposes. Some are even equipped with active flaps to change the airflow through or under the car to fulfill different purposes at different speeds. The Ferrari mid/front engined V12 has always been the showcase of what the brand is capable of, but this time I watched in awe when they explained the aerodynamics and performance of the 812 Superfast.… Continue Reading …

Geneva Autoshow 2017: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly production cars, part 2

After discussing the Alpine A110, DS7 Crossback, Ford Fiesta, Kia Picanto, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross and Opel/Vauxhall Crossland X in part 1, we’ll continue with the second bunch of Geneva launches. Let us know what you think and vote for your favorites below!

Opel/Vauxhall Insignia

Bart: hot

2017-Geneva_Auto_Show-Opel_Insignia_Grand_SportSee, they do now how to design a great looking car at Opel/Vauxhall, as the new Insignia proves. Wow, this thing looks more capable then ever to steal each and every one of those 12 private sales annually from the Passat. The rest of the sales in this segment are corporate orders from leasing companies, some of which limit their client’s choices, which means even if the Insignia is the better (and better looking) car, not everyone who wants one will be able to get it. Too bad, because its low and wide proportions and almost coupe-like roofline of the hatchback absolutely make this one of the best looking cars in the segment, right up there with or maybe even ahead of the Renault Talisman and miles ahead of the dull Passat and already long-in-the-tooth Mondeo. Who could’ve said that of an Opel just a few years ago? The Americans are drooling over this thing to make it Stateside again as the Buick Regal (including the Wagon) and that’s actually pretty impressive for a brand that’s been known as a maker of uninspired middle-of-the-road cars for decades.… Continue Reading …

Geneva Autoshow 2017: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly production cars, part 1

It’s that time of the year again: everybody who’s somebody in the automotive industry can be found within just a few relatively small show floors at the Geneva Convention Center, where the cars are the real stars. The Geneva International Motor Show, as it’s officially called, is packed with new releases and world premieres every year and the 87th edition is no different. Of course is there too to feel the pulse of the industry and to get an idea of what’s going to be a hit and what’s going to flop. And as you’ve become used to from us, we have an opinion on the lastest launches and would like to know yours too. Which cars stir our senses, which ones need to go back to the drawing board and which are just plain mweh?

Alpine A110

Bart: hot

2017-Geneva_Auto_Show-Alpine_A110It’s always to see a brand with such a great heritage make a comeback, even if most car buyers may not even remember it, let alone have ever seen an Alpine in real life. Sure, in this segment brand value plays a great factor, but so does design and performance. The former is well taken care of in my opinion, the retro design with modern touches actually works on the A110. Performance promises to tick all the boxes as well thanks to its lightweight aluminium construction and 252hp on 1080kg is pretty impressive. Better than a Cayman? Hard to say, but at least it’s different. And I mean that in a good way.

Kriss: hot

I agree with Bart – it’s great to see Alpine make a comeback and challenge the Germano-Italian dominance of the segment. It looks great, and sports a great power-to-weight ratio thanks to its lightweight construction. In essence – I can’t imagine how this car could have turned out any better. But still I’m worried – many have tried and failed to provide a genuine challenge the Boxster/Cayman duo, and I’m afraid that no matter how good the A110 is, it’s not good enough to differentiate itself from the also-rans like the Alfa-Romeo 4C and Lotus Evora.

Continue Reading …

Detroit Auto Show: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly [w/ poll]

Here’s our take on the hits and misses of the Detroit Auto Show, make sure to let us know what you thought in the poll and the comments section!

BMW 5-series


Bart: Hit

Packed with new technology and undoubtedly again being one of the best driving sedans in its class, the new 5-Series will (depending on your personal preferences) either come close to or beat the standard set by the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class. But where the E-Class was mostly criticised for looking too much like its larger and smaller siblings, the 5-Series looks too much like the previous model. Did I miss the news that BMW hired a former Volkswagen designer? However, this doesn’t mean I don’t like its looks. With the right (M-Sport?) bodykit and wheels and a color a bit more inspiring than the obbligato fifty shades of grey, blue or black, this can be a very desirable looking car that will remain the obvious choice for the decreasing number of luxury buyers who still prefer a sedan over an SUV.

Kriss: So-so

I agree with pretty much everything Bart said, and yet I still can’t rate the BMW a “Hit”. Why is that? Objectively, the car has everything going for it – technology, BMW’s legendary chassis tuning, straight-six engines, and a smart and light construction (recently read a comparison test with the E-class, and saw that the 4wd 530d xDrive is 100kg lighter than the 2wd E-class 350d). However, subjectively the car is lacking that certain “want it” factor – the one that made the E34 and E39 generations so achingly desirable, no matter what specification or color they were in. While the E-class boast a stunning interior, the BMW looks too much like its predecessor inside; to me this is especially disappointing given that BMW showed us with the i3 and i8 of creating genuinely stunning interiors. Call it a case of sky-high expectations, but the new 5-series is just not a “Hit” to me.

Continue Reading …