Sales in the Large Sports segment in the US fell by 20% in Q1 2016 to 11,091 vehicles, with every model but the Jaguar F-Type losing sales. While the facelifted Porsche 911 and Mercedes-Benz SL, as well as the new Audi R8, may bring back some positive growth to the segment later in the year, they may be unable to compensate for the drop-off in sales for the one model that sells more than the rest of the cars in the segment: Chevy Corvette.
So Lamborghini claims to have developed the Centenario to celebrates the 100th anniversary of the brand’s founder Ferruccio Lamborghini, but they’d better just admit that it really is a farewell tribute to the departuring CEO Stephan Winkelmann who has saved the company from extinction in his 11-year tenure at the brand. Winkelmann has turned a struggling, low-volume money-pit into a successful cashcow, which produces more supercars than ever and is preparing to launch a third model line with an über-SUV in two years time, which will undoubtedly rake in more cash. But the insane looking, all-out special editions launched under Winkelmann’s watch are what both boost the brand image and bring in the cash: the Veneno, the Sesto Elemento, the Reventon. And now the Centenario: a 770 hp, naturally aspirated V12 engine launches the carbon-bodied Centenario to 300 km/h in 23,5 seconds and doesn’t stop until 350 km/h. All 40 (20 coupes and 20 roadsters) have already been sold out at € 1,75 million a piece, before taxes.
Lexus LC 500h
Lexus stunned the world when it showed the concept car-like production version of its LC500 Coupe in Detroit last January. In Geneva the brand debuts the hybrid version of the new luxury coupe. It’s equipped with the next-generation Lexus Hybrid Drive technology, called “Multi-Stage Hybrid”, promising higher performance and efficiency. Combining a 3,5 liter V6 petrol engine with an electric motor gives a combined 354 hp of power, sent to the wheels through a four-speed gearbox. Despite Lexus’ claims, expect this car to be closer to a GT than to a thoroughbred sports car.
#5 Porsche 911 R
Why is it here? Two reasons: manual gearbox, and natural aspiration. At a time when most other supercar manufacturers are releasing cars powered by turbocharged engines that do with two pedals only, citing emissions and efficiency, Porsche is alone in still offering drivers what they really crave: three pedals and a stick that the driver has to row with speed and precision to extract the best from a wailing, high-rev NA engine. Long may this combo live!
Sales of Sports Large sports cars in the US shrank by 5.4% in 2015 to 55,100 units, after showing growth in the first half of the year, similar to the Exotic car segment, for which the downward trend in the second half was even more obvious. Only one existing model has been able to grow its volume in 2015, as even the distant leader of the segment, the Corvette, is down 4% after four straight years of growth. If in Europe the Porsche 911 is ultra-dominant in the large sports car segment with about 50% share, in the US the Corvette holds an even more impressive 60% share of the segment. The 911 is in second place with less than a third of the volume of the leader. [Read more…]
The exotic car segment in Europe takes a small correction after a 16% increase in 2014, as sales are down 4% in 2015 to 5.267 units. The Bentley Continental GT leads as comfortable as ever because its closest competitor Ferrari 458 Italia is being slowly phased out to make room for its successor Ferrari 488 GTB. The 458 is down 27%, but even with sales of the new 488 added to its year-end total, the two Ferrari’s are still down 11%. Lamborghini has benefited from that and has more than doubled its sales of the Huracan compared to its first partial year on the market, also helped by the Spider version. That moves from 9th to 3rd ahead of two Aston Martins.
Sales in the Sports Large segment shrank by 7% in Q3 2015, pulling the segment into the red after a period of positive growth in the first half of the year. [Read more…]
The exotic car segment in Europe slightly recovers from its slowdown in the first half, as Q3 sales were down 4%, lifting the year-to-date score to -11%. Much of the lost volume is due to the changeover from the Ferrari 458 Italia to the new Ferrari 488 GTB, which is happening very slowly. The outgoing 458 is already down 28%, losing 326 units of volume, while the 488 is off to a slow start, at 62 units this quarter. That means the Bentley Continental GT is able to take undisputed control of the segment, with sales down only 2% so far this year. [Read more…]
Mercedes-Benz A-Class facelift
Mercedes-Benz revamped the A-Class, which features redesigned front and rear bumpers and is optionally available with LED High Performance headlamps. From the beginning of 2016 Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink will become available. The refreshed Mercedes-Benz A-Class comes with a range of no less than eight petrol engines, oddly with only two displacements: a 1.6-litre four-cylinder (A 160, A 180 , A 180 BlueEFFICIENCY Edition & A 200) and a 2.0-litre four-cylinder (A 220, A 250, A 250 Sport and A 45 AMG) engine. The A 160 with 102 hp is the new entry-level model. It consumes 5.1 l/100 km (CO2-emissions 119 g/km) when opting for the 7G-DCT dual-clutch transmission, the manual version is slightly less efficient. The diesel range consists of five engines with two displacements: the 1.5-litre Renault engine is offered in the A 160 d, A 180 d and A 180 d BlueEFFICIENCY Edition, while the 2.2-litre Mercedes engine powers the A 200 d and A 220 d. Fuel consumption of the A 180 d BlueEFFIENCY Edition has been reduced slightly to 3.5 l/100 km (CO2-emissions 89 g/km). The A 220 d now offers 177 hp (+ 7 hp). The A 250 Sport now has an additional 7 hp (218 hp) over the regular A 250. Mercedes-Benz was slightly jealous seeing the Audi RS3 dethroning the A 45 AMG (“The best or nothing”, right?), so it has improved the performance of high-performance even further. The four-cylinder engine develops 381 hp (+ 21 hp) and a maximum torque of 475 Nm. Thanks to faster gear ratios, aerodynamic fine-tuning and the Dynamic Select driving mode it launches the A 45 AMG from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds, 0.4 seconds than its predecessor.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé
The Large Sports segment in the US stayed pretty much the same size as it was in the first half of 2014 – it did not fall but it did not rise either, broadly reflecting the composition of the marketplace – most cars are recent enough, a few are new and a few are on the way out. As a mature segment it is also likely to stay like that in the forthcoming future, although there are a few notable new models just around the corner: Audi A8, Mercedes-Benz S-Class coupe and the Porsche 911 facelift. [Read more…]
Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet – a very handsome machine, exactly what you’d expect from a car based on the S-class Coupe. But herein lies the problem – by looking so much like the S-class Coupe, which itself was copied by the C-class Coupe, this car just does not look that special in a class that’s dominated by Bentley and Aston Martin.
Verdict: Miss [Read more…]