Paris Auto Show 2014: new models, part 2

Jaguar XE

Jaguar-XE-Paris-Auto_Show-2014After the much maligned, but commercially relatively successful (9 years of production and 400.000 worldwide sales, of which half in Europe) Mondeo-based X-type, the Jaguar XE is the brand’s second attempt at a premium midsized sedan. This time they’ve developed the car from scratch and are hoping its rear-wheel drive layout will help make it the new benchmark of the segment in terms of driving pleasure. The XE will be equipped with an all-new generation of engines, also developed in-house, which will spread across the Jaguar-Land Rover line-up. The XE’s styling resembles that of the larger XF, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but they could’ve been a bit more flamboyant in my opinion. It absolutely looks stunning with the optional sport-pack but I think the standard version, like the white one on the picture, is a bit too uninspiring to compete in the tough premium midsize segment. However, making all their cars look alike has worked out for Audi for years, so I see why Jaguar chose to give the Jaguar_XE-Paris-Auto_Show-2014XE a familiar face. Jaguar is rather modest with their sales projections, as 30.000 units a year in Europe (of which two thirds in the UK) is meager when compared to the 200.000 sales of the BMW 3-series, but it would still make it the brand’s best selling model by far, and it would double total Jaguar sales in the continent.

Kia Sorento

Kia-Sorento-Paris-Auto_Show-2014Kia has shown the third generation of its Sorento large SUV, which has grown larger and wider, but is lower than its predecessor. The exterior design of the 7-seater has been softened, with a more rounded look to appear more crossover than SUV. The Sorento shares its platform with the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Kia Carnival large MPV, the latter of which is no longer available in Europe. Fuel economy has become increasingly more important in Europe, and as a result the large SUV segment has shrunk considerably in the past decade. The second generation Sorento has never been able to come close to the sales figures of the hugely popular first Kia_Sorento-Paris-Auto_Show-2014Sorento, which peaked at almost 45.000 units. I expect the new generation to reach no more than one third of that figure as well. But with European sales of the Hyundai Santa Fe limited to supply shortages, that means the Sorento should be able to lead the large SUV segment in Europe again.… Continue Reading …

Paris Auto Show 2014: new models, part 1

Fiat 500X

Fiat-500X-Paris-Auto_Show-2014Fiat has taken the covers of its 500X small crossover in Paris. It’s technically identical to its cousin Jeep Renegade, but they are completely different in styling. Whereas the Renegade shows the square and rugged lines of a true Jeep, albeit in a Playmobil size, the 500X is easily recognizable as a member of the Fiat 500-family, with its rounded and huggable looks. Both will compete in the fast-growing small crossover segment, and will stand out from their mostly French competitors thanks to an optional four-wheel drive system, which is expected to make up about 20% of the 500X’s volume. Fiat projects a volume of around 60.000 units in Europe, which would place it in 5th position of the segment. Fiat_500X-Paris-Auto_Show-2014The Renegade will add another 25.000 to that tally. Europe’s most important market for the 500X besides its home market Italy is France, as that’s where small crossovers are the most popular. But the biggest market worldwide will be the USA, which are expected to take about one quarter of 500X sales worldwide.

Ford Mondeo

Ford-Mondeo-Paris-Auto_Show-2014After having already been on display at the Paris Auto Show in 2012, the Ford Mondeo is finally ready to hit the European market. Even though its design is already almost three years old, it still looks fresh and from some bystanders I heard they liked it much better than the new Volkswagen Passat, which has been styled very conservatively. The engine line-up will start with Ford’s already famous 1,0 liter 3-cylinder Ecoboost engine which also powers the Fiesta and Focus. It offers more power and more fuel economy than the 1,6 liter 4-cylinder engine it replaces. This engine should prove especially popular in markets with government subsidies on the most fuel efficient vehicles. Besides the diesel engines, which will take the bulk of sales, Ford will also offer the Mondeo Hybrid. It will be priced similar to the diesel version, giving buyers who’d rather not drive a diesel an alternative powertrain. A plug-in hybrid version, as offered in the USA as the Fusion Energi, is not planned for Europe, but it’s ready to be launched if demand for such a vehicle justifies bringing it to the market. Ford-Mondeo-Wagon-Paris-Auto_Show-2014Ford has not disclosed sales projections, but it won’t be a secret they’re aiming for a number one spot in the midsize segment. But I don’t think the Mondeo will outsell the Passat and I see a potential for 150.000 sales per year in Europe for the Mondeo, the bulk of which will go to the UK and Germany.… Continue Reading …

Great cars, great stories at Youngtimer Event 2014

Youngtimer-Event-2014Sunday June 15th was the third edition of the Dutch Youngtimer Event “Forever Young”. Owners and enthusiasts of cars from the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s gathered together at the former DRU factory complex in Ulft, near the German border. Some visitors may have not even made it to the entrance of the event, as even the parking lot was one big cookie jar, filled to the brim with cars from the past, kept running by passionate owners who showed their car and told their story to other enthusiasts. With the outside area covered by brand- and model- owners clubs like the Mazda-owners club, Volvo 480-owners club and the EMW “Club for forgotten and undervalued youngtimers”, the air was filled with enthusiasm, passion and appreciation of each other’s hobby.

Walking into the factory hall was like stepping into a time capsule. It was easy to feel a bit of melancholy in this combination of the industrial atmosphere with the remains of the pre-war ironworks still visible and the well-preserved cars from the time when we were young. As most of the cars on display inside were for sale, some felt like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, finding it hard to restrain themselves.… Continue Reading …

Geneva Auto Show 2014: details of every new production model, part 1

Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

Alfa Romeo’s 4C sports car has been well received, at the Geneva Motor Show Alfa Romeo launched the convertible version, which will have a total weight of less than 1,000 kg. The body of the 4C Spider is made from the same fiberglass and has the same four-cylinder 1750 Turbo petrol engine teamed with the TCT automatic twin clutch transmission. Alfa-Romeo-4C-Spider-Geneva-Autoshow-2014

Audi S1

Audi launched the new flagship models of the A1 range: the S1 and S1 Sportback. The S1, which also previews the upcoming A1 facelift with a new design for headlamps and bumpers, is fitted with a 2.0 TFSI engine, which produces 231 hp. The top speed is 250 km/h, while it accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 5.8-5.9 seconds. The average fuel consumption is 7.0-7.1 l/100 km and the equivalent CO2 emissions 162-166 g/km. … Continue Reading …

Geneva Auto Show 2014: details of every new production model, part 2

Ferrari California T

Ferrari launched the California back in 2008. 5,5 years after its debut, Ferrari refreshes the California with new sheet metal and replaces the normally aspirated 4.3-liter V8 by a 3.8-liter V8 biturbo engine with 560 hp (up from 490 hp), which was launched initially in the Maserati Quattroporte. The CO2 emissions have dropped by 15% to 250 g/km. Ferrari-California-T-Geneva-Autoshow-2014

Fiat Panda Cross

The second generation Fiat Panda Cross is based on the Panda Climbing 4X4. Fiat sold approximately 30,000 units of the previous Panda Cross, mostly in Italy and the Alpine countries. Fiat offers two engines: the 0.9 TwinAir Turbo petrol engine with 90 hp (CO2 emissions 114 g/km) and a 1.3 MultiJet II diesel engine with 80 hp (CO2 emissions 125 g/km). The latter one has a ground clearance of 16 cm, while the TwinAir has 15 cm. The approach and departure angles have improved compared to the first generation Panda Cross. The front end features new light clusters, front and rear bumpers, wheel arch extensions, side mouldings, new roof bars and 15-inch alloy wheels with all-season tyres. The interior features a new dashboard finish with copper fascia. … Continue Reading …

Geneva Auto Show 2014: details of every new production model, part 3

Opel Adam Rocks & Adam S

The Adam Rocks is almost identical to the concept car, which was shown one year ago. Its all-around body cladding and 15 mm raised ride height give the Adam a more rugged appearance. The Rocks is exclusively available with a folding canvas roof called Swing Top and will go on sale in early Summer. Opel will also add new three-cylinder 1.0 Turbo Ecotec engines (90/115 hp) combined with a six-speed manual transmission to the Adam line-up. Moreover, Opel launched a new top-of-the-range Adam S, which features a 1.4 Turbo Ecotec engine with a maximum output of 150 hp. Opel-Adam-Rocks-Geneva-Autoshow-2014

Peugeot 108

The Peugeot 108 was the first of the next generation triplets manufactured in Kolin, Czech Republic to be revealed. The 108 now comes with many styling cues from the 208, 2008 and 308. The overall length has increased by 40 mm to 3,470 mm, while the width decreased by 35 mm to 1,620 mm as compared to the preceding 107 and the wheelbase is unchanged at 2,340 mm. The luggage capacity is similar to the C1, which means 196 liters with a puncture repair kit or 180 liters with a spare wheel. The base weight of 840 kg is remarkably higher than the outgoing 107. Like Citroën, Peugeot offers 3-door and 5-door versions and an open-top body style, the TOP!. There is a choice of two petrol engines: the 1.0 e-VTi and VTi 68 with CO2 emissions of 88 to 95 g/km or 97 g/km for the ETG-version with semi-automatic transmission. While Peugeot uses a 1.0-liter Toyota engine, the 1.2 VTi 82 (82 hp) has an in-house developed engine with CO2 emissions of 99 g/km. … Continue Reading …

Geneva Autoshow Report: no news is bad news

The Geneva Auto Show may be one of the most important shows of the year, it is also one of the smallest when comparing floor space. As a result of the limited space, brands focus on their brand new models, the ones that are being introduced at the show.

Renault-stand-Geneva-Auto-Show-2014For example, more than three quarters of the Toyota stand was dedicated to the new Aygo, with more than 10 of these brand new city cars on the stand, and for the rest only one Yaris, an Auris hatchback and an Auris station wagon. A similar strategy was used by Renault, showing around 10 newly introduced Twingo minicars, three hot selling Captur small SUV’s, three Clio’s and a handful of Renault EV’s. No Scenic, no freshly facelifted Megane, no Laguna, Espace or Koleos.

But the displays that struck me the most, where those of two struggling automakers, one of which has already been announced to get pulled from the European market, and the other is rumored to retreat to its home market as well: Chevrolet and Lancia. … Continue Reading …

Geneva Autoshow Report: more tuners and supercars per m2 than Dubai

The Geneva Auto Show may offer one of the smallest floor areas of the international auto show circuit, it’s all about density. And when it comes to supercars and tuners, there’s no place in the world where you will find more of the most outrageous creations per square meter than here at the Palexpo Convention Center.

Brands like Koenigssegg, Pagani and RUF would stand out of the crowd in any other auto show, but here in Switzerland, their exotic car offerings are almost too ordinary to be worth a second look. No wonder in order to be noticed, the Ferrari stand is larger than Lancia’s, RUF has a floor space almost as large as Porsche, and tuners are going through extremes to be noticed.

Mansory-Bentley-Rolls-Royce-Bugatti-Aventador-Geneva-Auto-Show-2014In that light, Mansory, famous for its ostentatious creations, usually considered “over-the-top” for western likes, keeps things relatively civilized this year. … Continue Reading …

Geneva Autoshow Report: Minicars

The Geneva International Autoshow featured many premieres, and some of the most important product launches  are in the minicar segment. In the coming months, a handful of new A-segment models will hit the European market, and the competition will be fiercer than ever. These cars have made great strides in “growing up”: departing from their budget roots and promising improved handling and comfort.

Renault Twingo

Renault-Twingo-Geneva-Autoshow-frontRenault has just launched the new, third generation Twingo, a car that shares its platform with the upcoming Smart Fortwo and Forfour. That means its engine is placed in the rear, under the luggage compartment, and it is also rear-wheel drive.

According to Renault head of design Laurens Van den Acker, the concept of a rear-engined, rear wheel drive citycar makes sense for a number of reasons: first, it helps create a spacious interior, as they have been able to make the car 10cm (4 inches) shorter than the outgoing model, while adding 22cm (8 inches) of space inside. This does come at the cost of luggage space, as the floor of the boot has been raised. Secondly, because there is no engine between the front wheels, the wheels can be turned in further, thus creating a smaller turning circle, which is ideal for city driving. And finally, the all-rear layout should be a recipe for “fun to drive”.  That is true indeed, if done right (evidence no. 1: Porsche 911, or basically every good sports car), but it could just as well mean absolutely disastrous driving dynamics if done wrong (evidence no. 2: Smart Fortwo). Let’s hope the chassis technicians from Renault Sport have been asked to take care of the handling, so it will drive as good as it looks.… Continue Reading …

Brussels Autoshow Coverage

Autoshow-Brussels-AtomiumThe Brussels Autoshow, or Salon de l’automobile Bruxelles, is not one of the major European autoshows, it lacks the glamour of Geneva, the supercar presence of Paris and the sheer magnitude of Frankfurt, but it offers a totally different atmosphere than those other shows. At most autoshows, the brands are mainly focused on introducing and displaying their newest models and revealing jawdropping concept cars which should pave the way for future design, whereas the Salon is a buyer’s show, approximately 30% of all new cars sold annually in Belgium, are either bought or ordered on the show floor. During the entire month of January, Belgium is covered in advertising posters and billboards promising the best “Salon deals” and the highest discounts, up to 35% off.

Nissan-Qashqai-Autoshow-BrusselsAs a result, the show floor is packed with the most popular models, in different colors, trim levels and interior finishes, to give the potential buyer the possibility to compare and configure his or her vehicle of choice. The only true world premiere was the new generation Nissan Qashqai crossover, a vehicle that has large shoes to fill, replacing one of Europe’s top-10 best selling cars and the most popular Japanese car in this continent ever in terms of sales ranking and market share. The outgoing Qashqai was sometimes referred to as Nissan Cashcow, and that is not far from the truth.… Continue Reading …