Spyker B6 Venator ready for production

The small yet ambitious Dutch supercar company Spyker has revealed the production version of its B6 Venator, which is planned to go into production in 2015. A concept version of the Venator, which is Latin for “hunter”, was introduced at the Geneva Auto Show in 2013, and a convertible Spyder version was shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Both concept vehicles were based on the German Artega GT. Spyker promised to have the Venator production ready by now, they decided to make some last minute changes to the compact sports coupe, although the delay will undoubtedly also be related to the need for a capital injection into the company.

Spyker-B6-Venator-front

Spyker B6 Venator. Photo credit: Spyker

The past couple of months, Spyker has been working to a new design for its smallest car yet. “After careful research of our potential market we’ve concluded that we could make the Venator appeal to a larger audience with just a few tweaks to the original concept.” according to John Walton, Chief Commercial Officer at Spyker. As a result, the sports car has returned to the drawing board shortly after its initial introduction. The final result is a car that’s been slightly stretched to offer increased interior space and luggage room. “The car will have a longer wheelbase, giving us the possibility to add a rear seat while offering more capacity for baggage. We’ve found that our potential customers appreciate practicality more than we initially thought.” The new layout is either a 2+2 with only room for small children in the rear seat or a 2+0 in which the rear seats are removed to create a larger storage area with leather straps. … Continue Reading …

Book preview: Spada. The long story of a short tail

ercole-spadaBelgian automotive writer Bart Lenaerts and his wife, photographer Lies De Mol, have published a new book. People familiar with their previous work will know that this means something special has been created once again. The creators of the already legendary automotive bible “Waft” and its equally must-read sequel “Waft 2”, always capture the imagination of the reader and don’t follow the beaten track.

“Spada. The long story of a short tail” describes the history and career of the Italian automotive designer Ercole Spada and his son Paolo. Over his 50-year long career, Spada has designed and worked on a number of famous and price-winning designs, like the Aston Martin DB4 Zagato, Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ and Lancia  Flavia. Together they have created the spectacular Spada Codatronca. But knowing Lenaerts, don’t expect a simple recital of Spada’s work, this book will read like an exciting story about passion for automotive design, and the relationship between a father and his son. Lenaerts is always in search of a different perspective, and his wife tops it off visually with exquisite photographic decoration.

The new book is in the same size and layout as their previous books, so 30cm x 30cm hardcover, 304 pages and can be ordered through their website waft.be. Early birds ordering the book before June 6th get a € 10,- discount on the € 90,- purchase price. If you think that’s a lot of money for a book I agree with you, but bear in mind this is not just another biography, more like a passionate narrative of the man behind the design, and features Spada designs that have never been published before. The connoisseurs who have read the limited edition “Waft” books and “Masters of modern car design”, know these are true collector’s items worth every cent.

Regular readers have been personally invited to pick up their copy on the evening of June 5th in the Brussels Automotive museum Autoworld, signed and presented by Ercole Spada himself. The museum will have a special collection on display featuring some of Spada’s designs, like the Aston Martin DB4 Zagato, Alfa TZ1, de Alfa Junior Zagato and the Lancia’s Fulvia and Flaminia Zagato.… Continue Reading …

Watch these racing drivers scare their passengers

Walter-Rohrl-Audi-S3-NurburgringBeing a passenger is almost always scarier than being the driver, especially for people who are used to being in control. Like for example, other racing drivers. So it should be fun to see what happens when you put a racing driver in the passenger seat while another racing driver makes a hot lap round a circuit. In case of Darrell Waltrip and David Coulthard, it makes great video’s.

But it’s not only fun with other drivers in the passenger seat. You’d think that someone who’s married to a racing driver is used to a bit of fast driving, but apparently not all wives are entirely up-to-date on how quick their husbands really are. Turn up your volume while listening to Mrs. Patrese, Mrs. Farfus, Mrs. Barbosa and grandma Gené scream their lungs out.

Journalists usually prepare themselves before an interview, making sure they are familiar with the background of the person they’re about to meet, to avoid making a fool of themselves. But Barbara Schöneberger, Dominic Littlewood and even Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson appear rather shocked by the speed at which their being driven around by drivers of whom you’d think are known for their ability to go fast.

Nico Rosberg is about to take former Formula 1 winner David Coulthard for a (wet) hot lap on the Nürburgring in a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. Before getting in, David warns us that he’s not a good passenger. As he crawls out of the car on his knees after the lap, we must conclude he wasn’t lying.… Continue Reading …

European sales 2014-Q1 exotic and sports car segments

Bentley-Continental-GT-GTC-auto-sales-statistics-EuropeSales of exotic cars in Europe are up slightly in the first three months of 2014, growing 5% after a similar 5% decline over the full year 2013. The compact sports car segment is down again as well, just 2%, while the Jaguar F-type is pushing sales of large sports cars up 13%.

The top of the exotics ranking is stable, with the Bentley Continental GT still in the lead, although the Ferrari 458 Italia is gaining ground, up 12% thanks to the “Speciale” version, compared to an increase of just 3% for the Continental GT.

The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is also up, despite being in run-out mode until the introduction of the AMG GT “Porsche 911-fighter”. It passes the Ferrari F12 which is down 40% compared to the first quarter of 2014 when it was just introduced and customer deliveries were at full steam.… Continue Reading …

European sales 2014-Q1 Premium large SUV segment

BMW-X5-luxury-SUVSales of premium large SUVs in Europe have rebounded in the first quarter of 2014, up 11% compared to a similar decline over the full year 2013. Just like in the compact premium SUV segment, there is a complete shuffle of the ranking, with the top 10 of the segment all changing position.

Whereas the BMW X3 has fallen from its throne in the smaller segment, its larger sibling BMW X5 has committed a coup d’etat by leapfrogging its main competitors to jump from fourth position at the end of 2013 straight into the segment leadership. The new generation has sold almost double what the outgoing generation sold in the same period last year.

Also almost doubling its sales thanks to a new generation and rising from fifth position into second place is the Range Rover Sport.… Continue Reading …

European sales 2014-Q1 Premium midsized and compact SUV segment

Range-Rover-Evoque-auto-sales-statistics-EuropeSales of premium midsized SUVs in Europe have continued their steady decline in the first three months of 2014, down another 6% after sales already declined 3% over the full year 2013. Major changes in the ranking, as the top 4 is completely shuffled.

The Range Rover Evoque has surprisingly moved up from third place in 2013 to take the segment lead in the first quarter of 2014, despite completely flat sales, down just 3 units on the same period last year.

A 40% increase in sales thanks to a model update has helped the Volvo XC60 propel itself from a distant fourth place straight into the number two spot, less than 300 units from the pole position.

As a result, the Audi Q5 is pushed down one spot, as the model suffers from a 9% decline in sales. But that is not as bad the BMW X3, the instigator of the segment and the leader of the segment in 2012 by a large margin and also in 2013, is down 19% and has fallen to fourth position.… Continue Reading …

European sales 2014-Q1 Limousine segment

Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-auto-sales-statistics-EuropeCar sales in the limousine segment in Europe are up a whopping 44% in the first quarter of 2014 after a 19% decline for the full year 2013. And although 7 out of 13 nameplates in the segment show an increase of sales, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class takes almost 85% of the segment growth just by itself, thanks to the new generation introduced last year.

The S-Class is the clear leader of the segment, selling more than double of the second placed Audi A8. The A8 has leapfrogged both the Porsche Panamera and the BMW 7-series as it was only in fourth position by the end of 2013. The update of the A8 has helped the model to a 21% increase of sales.

The Plug-in hybrid version of the Panamera is likely to have helped the Porsche increase its sales by 27% compared to the same period last year, helping it stay on the segment podium as 7-series sales are down 17%.… Continue Reading …

European sales 2014-Q1 Premium large car segment

Mercedes-Benz-E-Class-auto-sales-statistics-EuropeSales of premium large cars in Europe have rebounded in the first three months of 2014, up 8% after a similar decline over the full year 2013. The top six ranking is stable, although the Mercedes-Benz E-Class is now challenging the BMW 5-series for the lead. Thanks to a 25% increase of sales, the E-Class has slashed its lifelong competitor’s lead from 7.654 units during the same period last year to less than 1.900 units. In fact, the Benz even managed to outsell the 5-series in March.

Meanwhile, the gap to the Audi A6 in third position has grown to almost 6.000 sales, as the A6 saw sales slightly decline. The 2005 to 2007 segment leader is falling further behind its main rivals as the latest generation A6 doesn’t vibe with European consumers as the previous version did.

The Volvo V70 in fourth place rebounds from a decline in 2013 to a 20% sales increase, thanks to a minor update in the third quarter of 2013, of which also the aging S80 is taking profit. The Jaguar XF has also been updated last year, but is already down 4% again this year.

The all-electric Tesla Model S is responsible for almost half of the segment’s growth, and is amazingly selling an average of 1.000 units per month.… Continue Reading …

European sales 2014-Q1 Premium Midsize segment

BMW-3-series-auto-sales-statistics-EuropeSales of premium midsized cars in Europe continue their steady decline, down another 6% after sales already were down 7% over the full year 2013. No change at the top, the BMW 3-series is still “king of the hill”, not only outselling every premium midsized competitor, but plainly outselling every midsized competitor, including the mainstream midsized models. And the 3-series even manages to increase its sales, albeit marginally, despite the fact that the coupe and convertible models are no longer counted within its nameplate. The BMW 4-series are now counted separately as the 4-series and add an extra 10.000 units to BMW’s midsized tally which used to be counted as 3-series sales.

Bear in mind that Mercedes-Benz C-class sales include the coupe and convertible as well and that Audi A5 sales are made up of the coupe, convertible and sportsback versions combined. That makes BMW’s performance even more impressive, considering the 4-series is already breathing down the neck of the A5, while the 4-series Gran Coupe four-door is not yet on sale.… Continue Reading …

European sales 2014-Q1 Premium Compact segment

Audi-A3-S3-auto-sales-statistics-EuropeSales of premium compact cars in Europe have slowed their growth in the first quarter of 2014, increasing just 6% which is less than the overall market at +7%. Despite big differences in volume increases or decreases, the top eight ranking is stable on the full year 2013. That means the Audi A3 is still firmly in the lead it took over from the BMW 1-series. In fact, the A3’s lead over the 1-series after just three months is already larger than it was over all twelve months last year.

The Mercedes A-Class and B-Class see the effect of the brand broadening its line-up, as the CLA four-door coupe and the GLA compact crossover undoubtedly cannibalize on their sales. Overall, sales of Mercedes-Benz’s 4-car compact car line-up have grown slightly, but that’s only because the GLA hasn’t started its deliveries until March.… Continue Reading …