After discussing the what’s hot and what’s not in Detroit this year, let’s also bump heads on the prototypes and concept cars. Of course, these are all in different stages of market readiness, with the RDX and Insight virtually production ready, the Enverge and Xmotion merely hint at what could be, and the Q Inspiration and LF-1 Limitless [Read more…]
Next weeks the doors of the oldest auto show in the world will open its doors to the public again: the biennial Paris Auto Show. Despite breaking through the 1 million visitors barrier the last time around in 2014, a number of brands have cancelled their stands this year, most notably Ford, Mazda and Volvo, but also many exotic brands: Aston Martin, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce. Still, there’s plenty of news with 4 major premieres and a bunch of interesting concept cars. Bart and Kriss will give their vote of Hot or Not to the most relevant of them. Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
After 8 years it’s time to replace the very successful Audi Q5, and why change a winning formula? As we’ve come to expect from Audi, the design of the new Q5 is very evolutionary, with the overall shape staying the same, but a stronger and more swooping crease in the sides and a more pronounced grille. The Q5 sheds some weight compared to the outgoing version and the interior is even more refined.
It’s not ugly like the Q2 and Q7, what was good in the old Q5 has been left alone and they’ve improved the things I didn’t like too much. Impressive how an 8-year old design needs just such subtle changes to remain fresh. But it’s just not very sexy or mindblowing, so I struggle to call it Hot.
It’s no secret that I am a fan of evolutionary design, something that’s normal for most high-end consumer products (think appliances, fountain pens, Apple products, eyewear) but somehow gets lambasted for cars. The new Q5 is a perfect example of that – it takes what was good about the previous model (stance, proportions, gently bulging fenders) and gives it a more modern touch with sharper creases, a clamshell bonnet, and Audi’s new “3D” grille it now gives its crossovers. That it’s lighter and roomier is just the icing on top of the cake.
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 Bentayga is the fastest, most powerful, most luxurious and most exclusive SUV in the world according to Bentley, a statement which could very well be true. The production version of the EXP 9 F Concept is based on the platform of the new Audi Q7, but designed, engineered and handcrafted in Crewe. It sits on the 2,992 mm wheelbase of the Q7, while the overall car length is 5,141 mm, its width is 1,998 mm and height 1,742 mm. It can be selected with four- or five-seat configurations. The four-seat version features two individual rear seats that adjust in 18 different ways and include massage and ventilation functions as well as footrests. The storage space features a leather-trimmed folding seat that matches the style of the cabin seats, according to Bentley “Ideal for those wishing to stop for a moment and enjoy a spectacular outdoor environment or pursuit”. A 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12 engine with a power output of 608 hp and 900 Nm torque powers the SUV, with which it could achieve a top speed of 301 km/h and accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 4.1 seconds. The engine is mated to an eight-speed transmission, while the CO2-emissions are 292 g/km. In the future Bentley will launch diesel and hybrid variants.
The New York International Auto Show is finally under way, and here are our thoughts:
Kriss: for me the good is the new Malibu, which I think looks amazing, even if the facia is a bit too busy and the engine line-up weird (a 1.5-liter turbo with only 160hp as a base engine in the US? even VW could not pull that off!)
Bart: or me, the good is the Porsche Boxster Spyder. Basic, fast and less girly than a regular Boxster.
Sales of premium midsized SUVs are up 6% or more than 12.000 units on the first three quarters of 2013, thanks to the introduction of two all-new models from Porsche and BMW.
The Audi Q5 holds on to the first place it claimed in the second quarter, but the recently refreshed Volvo XC60 continues to stay close, even outselling its German rival in September. I don’t think the XC60 will be able to pull a rabbit out of its had and finish in the segment’s first place for the first time ever, but reclaiming the second place it already held in 2009 and 2010 would be almost just as impressive considering the increased competition since.
The Range Rover Evoque led the segment in the first quarter of the year, but has fallen behind since, being outsold by the recently updated BMW X3 in the second and third quarter, although it remains firmly in third place. 2014 is going to be the third year in a row where the Evoque finishes on the third step of the podium of the premium compact SUV segment.
The European limousine segment continues its strong growth curve which is fueled by model changes of a few major players in the segment. The newly one-year old Mercedes-Benz S-Class accounts for 85% of the growth of the segment all by itself, and almost all of the growth when combined with the segment’s number two, the Audi A8.
As a result, the S-Class commands a whopping 42% share of the segment, two-and-a-half times as much as its nearest competitor. The rest of the ranking is completely stable in the third quarter, with the recently refreshed Audi A8 in second place and the Porsche Panamera completing the podium, as it did last year. Until the introduction of the Mercedes-Benz S500 plug-in hybrid, Porsche will be the only brand in this segment to offer a plug-in hybrid model.
The BMW 7-series is stuck in fourth place, where it’s likely to finish the year. That would make 2014 the first year ever that the 7-series is not in the top-3 of the limousine segment. The big Beemer is likely to shoot back up to the top of the ranking in 2016 when the new generation hits the market. [Read more…]
The premium large car segment has lost some ground in the third quarter, as year-to-date sales are down by 1.500 units after being ahead by 12.000 units after the first half of 2014. The third quarter loss is almost entirely due to the slowdown of the two leaders of the segment Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5-series.
The ranking has fluctuated this quarter with the 5-series down to third place in July before rebounding to the top spot in August, when the E-Class was down in third place. But an excellent month of September secured the top spot of the segment for the Benz year-to-date. With the Audi A6 outselling the 5-series for the quarter, the E-Class looks set to hold on to it until the end of the year. The model last finished on top of the ranking in 2009 and 2010 before the 5-series took over. It’s been even longer for the A6, as the Audi last topped the premium large car segment in 2007 and it doesn’t look like the current generation will repeat that excellent performance of its predecessor. [Read more…]
Sales of midsized premium cars stay on track to finish 2014 above the 600.000 unit mark after dipping below that level for the first time since more than a decade. In fact, the midsized premium segment peaked in 2002 at over a million units and has lost 40% of its volume as the midsized car segment has slumped as a whole.
The traditional leader of the segment, the BMW 3-series, is also the biggest loser of the segment at -15% as its coupe and convertible models have been renamed 4-series. This has created room for the new generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class to step up and outsell its competitor from Munich in September for the first time since February 2012. Year-to-date, the C-Class has come within 200 units of the Audi A4 and by the end of the year it will undoubtedly have taken back the second place of the segment the A4 took from it last year. [Read more…]
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…]