After looking at production debuts from the 2018 Geneva Auto Show, it is time to now look at the concept cars.
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.
This is the first installment of our series of car cultures around the world/international street scenes.The kind of cars the people of Morocco drive can be described very simply: all types of Renault with a number instead of a name, Peugeots from the -04 and -05 series, and increasingly so from the -06 series, and Mercedes-Benz from the same era (1970’s, 80’s and 90’s), preferably with a Diesel engine. Of the modern cars, by far the most are either French or Dacia, most notably in the bodystyle what the French call “Fourgonette”, the archetypical Boulangerie-van like the Citroën Berlingo and Renault Kangoo, both in passenger and cargo versions. Add a handful of South-Korean and Chinese models to the mix and you’ll have a pretty accurate picture of what the streets of Casablanca, Marrakech or Agadir look like.
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
Let’s talk about automotive mergers again, because Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles, keeps going on about them being necessary to achieve the economies of scale needed for automakers in the current, highly competitive marketplace, and in order to spread the cost of investments in fuel efficiency, connectivity, autonomous driving and electrification. Okay, in all honesty, Sergio isn’t the only one saying it’s becoming “too expensive to make cars”, but he is the most outspoken one on the subject and he keeps flirting with other automakers to merge, most notably General Motors, so he’s an easy target for my rants.
And to a certain degree I can relate with him. Like he says, it doesn’t make any sense at all for every single automaker to develop -for example- hydrogen fuel cell technology in-house, so each of them has to “invent the wheel” by all themselves. Of course it would save tons of money for the automakers, and therefore for new car buyers, if development costs of a new technology could be spread among a cooperation of automakers, but guess what? This already happens a lot without any of them having to actually merge. Besides that, a lot of technologies in vehicle safety or fuel efficiency already get developed by suppliers, like Bosch, Magna or Denso, who then sell a license to the technology to a number of automakers, and thus spreading the development costs. [Read more…]
One is used to cars designed for the Indian market often looking rather ridiculous: think tall and narrow Nano, the booted Renault Thalia (Clio), or, even worse, the Suzuki Swift sedan. That is why the newest Renault for the Indian market, the Kwid, is a very pleasant surprise – it not only looks good, it looks European-good! Not only that, it is based on an all-new CMF-A platform from the Renault-Nissan alliance, though a 0.8-liter petrol unit will likely ensure its more “show” than “go”. Still, starting at below $5,000 in India, the car looks to be a great hit, and will surely be sold in markets around the world.
What is weird about it, though, is that it looks a whole lot like another car from Renault’s sister company: the Dacia Sandero Stepway. A smaller, better-executed version, sure – but the family resemblance is undeniable.
Executive salaries are a hot topic these days, mostly due to the huge bonuses paid out to executives in the financial industry, at companies that needed government aid during the global financial crisis. And the French have always been exceptionally sensitive about this topic, as a country with strong unions and an a socialist government.
So when the Renault board voted to almost triple the 2014 salary of its CEO and Chairman Carlos Ghosn to € 7,2 million in cash and share options (up from € 2,67 million in 2013), it shouldn’t come as a surprise that 5 of the 19 board members voted against the proposal, including those of the French state, which still controls a 15% share in Renault. What these board members must have failed to realize, is that Renault’s net income has also tripled, to € 1,89 billion thanks to sales successes of the Renault and Dacia brands in Europe and continued benefits from the alliance with Nissan.
Ghosn has been in charge of Renault for 10 years and helped to make the alliance with Nissan perhaps the most successful in the automotive world ever, he’s led Nissan for 15 years, and he’s known for setting audacious goals and then achieving them. [Read more…]
As the Renault-Nissan alliance celebrates a combined tally of 200.000 Zero Emission vehicles worldwide, the Renault brand has something to celebrate all by itself in Europe before the end of the year. Total sales of its four-vehicle lineup of full-electric vehicles have added up to 48.471 units by the end of October 2014. The French brand sold 1.971 Zero Emission vehicles in October, so there’s a good chance the 50.000-unit threshold will be broken in November.
The Zoe subcompact, Kangoo Cargo Van and Twizy quadricycle have sold in virtually equal numbers, each taking almost one third of the cumulative volume, while the Fluence compact sedan has been much less successful, taking less than five percent of the brand’s cumulative Zero Emission sales. That’s not very surprising, considering the Fluence didn’t have a quick-charge option and therefore takes up to eight hours to recharge. Besides that, a compact sedan isn’t a very popular body style in Europe, and its bland design hasn’t helped either. The Zoe has been the latest to reach the market and has been the strongest selling model of the lineup, contributing to over half of this year’s Zero Emission sales for Renault.
In contrast to its Alliance partner Nissan, which sells its Leaf compact hatchback in other continents as well, mainly North America and Japan, Renault’s EV sales are almost entirely limited to Europe. [Read more…]
The midsized crossover segment is still enjoying a healthy growth pace, increasing sales 11% in the first three quarters of 2014, as 14 models in the top-20 have sold more units than they did in the same period last year.
The first model to lose sales is the Nissan Qashqai which has suffered from a model change-over to its second generation. I had expected the new model to have picked up the pace by now and to have returned into positive territory by now, but it has fallen below 20% segment share instead. Considering the last quarter of the year is traditionally the slowest, the Qashqai may fall below the 200.000 annual sales mark for the first time since 2009. But even if it does so, it won’t be by more than 5.000 units. Perhaps the successful introduction of the 7-seater Nissan X-Trail as a replacement to both the outgoing X-Trail and the extended wheelbase Qashqai+2 is hurting sales of its smaller sibling. The X-Trail has already more than doubled its volume of last year and was up into 13th place in September, ready to move past the C4 Aircross and Forester by the end of the year. [Read more…]
The small crossover segment has already topped half a million sales after three quarters of the year and has already broken the full year 2013 tally by a large margin. By the end of the year, a total of 670.000 small crossovers may have hit European streets, of which the top-5 players take a combined share of 92%.
Thanks to the popularity of the segment in their home market France, the Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008 and Dacia Duster take the podium positions of the segment. Or is it the other way around? Are small crossover sales in France ahead of the rest of the continent because their incumbent brands have introduced the hottest new models last year? Either way, the Captur remains the leader of the pack and the only model above 20% segment share, but behind it is a tight three-way race. Year-to-date, the 2008 is well ahead of the Duster and the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka, but when looking at the third quarter, less than 125 sales separate the three models.
The Duster almost outsold the Captur in July and actually did so in the slow month of August, but it fell back in September. Sales of the Mokka have headed in the opposite direction, losing ground in July and August, but making it all up in September at it came within 400 units of the Captur. [Read more…]