Some two weeks ago Sergio Marchionne, one of the industry’s most polarizing figures, presented to investors the five-year plan for the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) group. A lot of ink has already been spilled analyzing the announcements, as well as models and whole brands missing from the presentation, so we won’t aim to add to that at this [Read more…]
Alfa Romeo Giulia
Alfa Romeo has finally launched the long-awaited successor to the 159. The brand that has languished and seen plummeting sales over the last fifteen years aims to revive the glory of its heydays with the all-new Giulia. As of now, Alfa Romeo launched the Giulia Quadrifoglio only, the top-of-the-range version capable of some mind-blowing numbers: it features the 510 hp six-cylinder 2.9 turbo petrol engine developed by Ferrari engineers with a top speed of 307 km/h and capable of an acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.9 seconds, a peak torque of 600 Nm, while it should brake from 100 km/h back to 0 in less than 32 metres. Alfa Romeo claims best in class emission levels, with 198 g/km of CO2, while its dry weight is just 1,524 kg. Sales of the Giulia Quadrifoglio will start during the last quarter of 2015, with prices starting at about 79,000 Euro in Italy.
The compact premium segment in Europe is stabilizing despite several important models being replaced or renewed. Total segment sales are up just 3% after the first nine months of 2014, but you can see relatively large swings in model popularity. The Audi A3 increases its grip on the segment, improving its share to more than 27% and selling over 50.000 unit more than its nearest competitor, the BMW 1-series.
It’s increasingly more complicated to compare specific models with each other in this segment as some brands use different names for different body styles, while others combine them all in one model. For example, A3 sales include the 3- and 5-door hatchback, convertible and sedan body styles, while Mercedes-Benz separates its A-Class 3-door hatchback from the CLA sedan. BMW separates the 3- and 5-door hatchback versions of the 1-series from the coupe and convertible 2-series, but to complicate matters, sales of the 2-series also include the Active Tourer. This is a front-wheel drive MPV that competes with the Mercedes-Benz B-Class MPV and has almost no technical relationship with the rear-wheel drive coupe and convertible 2-series. [Read more…]
The European compact premium segment is up a shy 3% in the first half of 2014, but this is all thanks to new entrants and increased sales of the segment leader, Audi A3. Helped by the addition of the “Limousine” sedan version, the A3 has added almost a third to its sales of last year, while its three closest rivals all lose volume in double digits. As a result, it has fortified its leadership, last year the A3 had the BMW 1-series breathing down its neck after six months, but this year they are separated by more than 35.000 sales.
The newly released BMW 2-series isn’t yet helping the brand from Munich, topping out at 1.726 sales in June, less than a tenth of June’s A3 sales. Perhaps the arrival of the Mercedes-Benz B-Class rival 2-series Active Tourer can help BMW catch up with Audi in this segment. [Read more…]
Belgian 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. [Read more…]
Sales 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. [Read more…]
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.
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. [Read more…]
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.
For 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. [Read more…]
If you have been a regular viewer or attendee at any kind of auto racing in the 1970s, ’80s and early ‘90s, there’s no way you’re not familiar with the Martini Racing Cars. A combination of dark blue, light blue and red stripes on a silver or white background are the iconic livery of one of the first major sponsors in auto racing, and these colors have made their mark on some of the most exciting and thrilling decades in racing history. Martini has been connected to auto sports for over 45 years, and during that period Martini Racing teams have dominated every important racing event. The success story includes victories at Le Mans, Formula 1, World Rally Championships and DTM. For the youngsters among my readers: as much as you can see Red Bull at every major extreme sports event these days, Martini was at every auto racing event back in the “old days”. At any auto racing event the Martini colors would be omnipresent and impossible to miss.
Until May 4th 2014, a small but significant piece of the Martini Racing history is brought together and is on display at the Louwman Museum in Den Haag (The Hague, Netherlands). Usually, you would have to travel to at least 4 different museums and even then you wouldn’t see all of these cars, as some are part of private collections. The cars in this temporary collection are combined into four main categories: Rally Cars, Touring Cars, Formula 1 Cars and Endurance Racing Cars. [Read more…]
The premium compact car segment is the fastest growing premium segment, growing 21% in 2013, to a full-year total of over 720.000 units. Add another 208.000 premium small cars to the mix, and the segment is closing in on a million annual sales.
The segment is on a roll thanks to new entrants and model changes in recent years.
The BMW 1-series and Mercedes-Benz B-Class are already the “oldest” of the top players, as both were renewed in 2011, while the Audi A3, Volvo V40 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class and CLA were introduced or renewed in 2012.
As a result, the 1-series has lost the top spot of the segment to the A3 and has the A-Class breathing down its neck, while it sold more than two times as good as the outgoing MPV-styled A-Class. [Read more…]