In this section of the blog, you can find articles about things about cars and the automotive industry that blow our minds or just make us laugh out loud.
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Design hero to zero: part 1


The automotive world is littered with success stories of automakers coming up with surprising hits, creating design icons from scratch and capturing the attention of the industry out of the blue (VW Golf, Audi TT, Ford Focus). The way down is often much slower – carmakers gradually give up their dominant position in design until they become a shadow of their former selves – think Cadillac post-1960s, or Audi over the past decade. But sometimes the downfall is sudden and sharp, when in one generation the automaker turns a design leader into a design stinker. This article is the first in a series documenting exactly such cars. Browse through the pics to see the first five offenders and nominate your own candidates in the comment box below.… Continue Reading …

CARicature news: GM withdraws from US highways

In a week when Fiat-Chrysler announced its Chrysler brand (pronounce: Lan-Cee-Ya) would quit the UK market and General Motors announced it would stop selling Opel and Chevrolet vehicles in Russia, GM also issued a press release stating management has decided to withdraw sales of its cars and SUVs to customers who want to drive it on North American highways, in order to make up for continued losses of its European operations.

CARicature_News-GM-CEO-Mary_BarraIn a statement, General Motors explains that withdrawing their vehicles from the US highways will avoid any supervision by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and therefore save the company an estimated US$4 billion in recall-related costs. It would also alleviate dealers from having to repair over 30 million allegedly defective cars and trucks annually and as a side effect will have a comforting effect on consumers, who will no longer be frightened by never-ending media reports (un)covering potential safety hazards on their vehicle.

CEO Mary Barra: “This really is a prime example of the post-bankruptcy New GM,… Continue Reading …

Poll: Which of the German sports cars would you rather have?

There was a time when the choice of a german sports car was simple – you either got the Porsche 911 or, well, you looked elsewhere (probably Italy). The best Audi could offer you was a fast Quattro model or, later, a super-Golf called the TT; BMW dabbled with the M1 and Z8, but those cars really just made you run faster for the competition; even mighty Mercedes hadn’t really offered anything tasty since the gull-wing 300SL. But oh, my, how the times have changed – now we (or at least those with big money) are spoilt for choice with these great four options. So, which one is your poison?

Standaufnahme    Farbe: ArablauP90133075_highRes2016-mercedes-amg-gt-s-first-drive-review-car-and-driver-photo-640290-s-originalporsche911_front[poll id=”2″]

Look-A-Like: Jag XF and…

“Look-A-Like” is a new column which is meant as a lighthearted account of all those “I feel like I’ve seen this before…” moments. Today I had just such a feeling when I saw the first interior shot of the upcoming Jaguar XF. There was just something about those central air vents and their relationship to the infotainment system that felt familiar.


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Top 5: Production cars in Geneva

#5: Renault Kadjar


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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Why did Ford change their LaFord poster for the GT?

When I arrived at the Geneva Auto Show on Wednesday morning, I noticed a Ford billboard on the outside walls of the Palexpo exposition hall that displayed the new Ford GT with just one word: LaFord. It took me a few seconds to make the connection between this billboard and the Ferrari LaFerrari, but when it struck me, I just smiled and thought: nicely done, Ford.


I didn’t pay any attention to it the next day, until a few other journalists told me they had noticed the poster had been changed overnight, and it no longer had the reference to Ferrari. Ford_GT-poster-newThis left us wondering: why did they change the billboard? Was it only there for one day, just for the journalists on the press days? Because the Geneva Auto Show wouldn’t open for the public until Thursday. Or did Ferrari complain? That would be strange, because there are many examples of car ads taking a friendly stab at the competition, and most of the times, the targeted company responds in a similar matter, resulting in a funny game of advertising “battles” that benefits both companies as it gets attention on the internet, in the same way this ad has done for Ford (but not for Ferrari).

The most well-known battles are those between Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar, and between BMW and Audi, but perhaps supercar maker Ferrari doesn’t want to be compared to an “ordinary” Ford.… Continue Reading …

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.


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Why Volkswagen designers are lazy but smart

Audi_A3-koalaAudi exterior designers are known in the automotive world to be among the laziest in the business, they’re the automotive design equivalent of koalas: sleeping for 18 hours a day until a deadline approaches, at which time they’ll just pull an existing design from the drawer and make a few quick changes and then convince their bosses that evolutionary design keeps the outgoing model from looking old, which should help resale values of the brand. And the amazing thing is that they actually get away with it, because apparently it does seem to work like that, not only in theory.

And now Volkswagen designers seem to have been contaminated by the same laziness virus, as they’ve first proven with the “eighth” generation Passat, which really should be called the seven-and-a-halfth generation, especially when looking at it from the rear three quarters. Usually, a new model generation would imply that the car is completely redesigned, while a facelift means that the so-called hard points, like the window frames and door pillars stay the same, and only minor changes are made to the headlights and taillights, with subsequently the hood and boot lid, and sometimes even the front wings.

Volkswagen_Passat-rear-quarter-designBut with the Passat, they couldn’t be bothered to change the C-pillar, or even something simple like the shape of the rear lights or fender, which means it should be classified as only a minor facelift, even if the platform and engines have been completely reworked. The designers must have realized this when they saw the final clay model, and in order to make the world believe they had actually done any work, they sneaked back into the studio the night before the design was frozen and quickly made the belt line a bit more pronounced.… Continue Reading …

Driving in Africa: the taxis of Morocco

This is part 2 in the series of articles on the North-African automotive landscape and my experience driving there. Part 1 was about getting a rental car in Morocco.

Taxi_stand-Agadir-Morocco-Peugeot_205-Mercedes_240dWhen stepping outside of a Moroccan airport, one of the first things you’ll notice is the long line of Mercedes-Benz taxis. Not the contemporary version, but almost all the W123 model from the 1970s and to a lesser extent the W124 model from the 1980s. I initially thought that this had something to do with them being specific airport taxis, but I would later discover that the streets all over Morocco are flooded with these smoky old diesels, which aren’t granted a well-deserved quiet retirement after a tough initial life in Europe. Rather, they are abused harder than ever, and maintenance in Morocco means that they fix a car when it breaks down.

Petit taxis

Taxi_stand-Agadir-Morocco-Peugeot_205-Mercedes_240dThere are two types of taxis in Morocco: mini taxis (Petit taxi) and Grand taxis. The mini taxis take you within city limits to your destination for a fixed price of about 80 cents per ride, or 1.20 Euros at night. … Continue Reading …