Archive for the Upcoming cars Category

Citroën – doing what it does best

Posted in Car conception, Desirable machines, News, Upcoming cars with tags on 10/06/2016 by Alexander


I’m a big Citroën fan. Always have been.

In fact, I’m a second-generation Citroën man, since my father owned most models of Citroën manufactured from the 60’s onwards. He had a wonderful olive-green Ami8, e had a couple of Visas, but he never had a GS simply because his car of choice was the CX.

Thanks to him, the CX is my favourite car to this day, and it represents what most purists argue was the last true Citroën that was 100% faithful to the core philosophy: innovation, lateral-thinking, standing out, no compromises.

The CX launched in 1974, and the following year, the company had to be bailed out by Peugeot. Peugeot did all it could to kill Citroën’s flair and innovative style, but a lot of crackingly good, original Citroëns managed to make their way to the showrooms.

There was the BX, which thankfully ended up being my first car, which was so good it inspired a cult following still vibrant to this day. There was the Citroën AX, a car everyone assumed would be just a cheap, forgettable urban runaround, but still chugs around transporting proud their proud owners in 2016. The Saxo, with its “street” following, the C6 with its unique stance… the list goes on.

The past decade or so has made me sad, in that it would seem that everyone now likes Top Gear-endorsed, overpriced German cars, with rock-hard suspension and seats that seem to be made of granite. Everyone now prefers cornering and a badge over common sense and an intact spine.

So it thrills me that Citroën, for years the last automotive stalwart for comfort and treating its passengers’ bodies well, has announced Citroën Advanced Comfort, a few simple technologies to make the car as comfortable as possible. Let me just pause by saying that this is a sad day for some die-hard Citroën fans, as it marks the definite end of the Hydractive suspension system, responsible for the Marque‘s “magic carpet” ride quality, and present in most mid to high-end Citroëns since 1955. I’m part of this number, since it was a fantastic bit of kit to have on your car (that adjustable suspension got me out of a few pickles), but let’s look at the bright side: at least Citroën is on the path to regaining its status for innovation and comfort.

The tech is comprised of cushioning the suspension further, as well as using different and supportive materials in the seats. Heightened body rigidity adds to he comfort, as does further sound deadening to isolate occupants from the outside world. You can read the testimony of someone who has tried this in this Autocar article.

Perhaps the main advantage is the low cost, which will allow even the entry-level Citroen offerings to be equipped with the extra comfort. I personally can’t wait, as this news plus the announcement that the PSA group plans to introduce a range of new vehicles including electric ones, means I might have an electric mega-comfy Citroën I can actually afford in the future.


The Tesla Model 3

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Car conception, Desirable machines, General opinions, Green Tech, News, Upcoming cars on 03/04/2016 by Alexander

Tesla Model 3I’m very surprised by the reactions to the launch of the Tesla Model 3. The BBC were balanced as usual, but I believe failed to underline how significant 115,000 pre-orders in 24 hours actually is. Then there are articles like the Daily Beast, that prophesizes Teslocalypse, where the brand will be irrevocably DESTROYED by the Model 3. A lot of criticism is being heaped at Tesla and the Model 3, and although much of what being said is factually correct, I definitely feel as if behind these nay-saying opinions are the voices of motoring journalists who either feel that their time of being lent petrol-swilling supercars is being threatened, or who think Tesla’s aren’t so much cars as they are gadgets, so as experts on grease-and-oil-driven machines they’ll be made obsolete. Maybe it’s just me being unnecessarily bitter. Here are some facts:

Tesla is hemorraging money
Yes, and so are Uber, Shazam and Spotify, and even YouTube only managed to break even as recently as 2014. Airbnb loses $150-million a year and may not make a profit until 2020. Funnily enough, I don’t see this referred to in related articles concerning all these aforementioned companies, but Tesla gets a special financial-loss mention.
Unlike all these other companies above that are pissing money away, Tesla has invested very heavily indeed on R&D, as recently proved by the Autopilot function (however, Tesla also wasted money on stuff like those pitiful “falcon” doors which add nothing but complexity to the Model X, a car that should have been postponed until after the Model 3). It’s a perfect criticism to try to frighten potential punters away, implying that Tesla won’t be around long enough to honour warranties and such.

Tesla won’t be able to meet demand
This will probably happen. Overwhelming demand is a double-edged sword, and cuts very sharply both ways. The positive view is that, in theory, lots of demand means whatever leaves Tesla’s production line for the next few years is guaranteed to be sold. The negative view is that in reality, not being able to meet demand means overdue delivery times, customer frustration and consequently, damage to the brand image.
However, there’s alway’s the Gigafactory, which will definitely boost Tesla’s fortune’s once it’s up and running, even if it only reaches full capacity in 2020.

No-one’s mentioning how good (or bad) it looks
The Model S is bite-the-back-your-hand beautiful. The Model X isn’t. The Model 3 is sort of halfway between them. Am I the only one who thinks the glass area above the body looks bulbous, and badly-proportioned to the rest of the car? I hope I’m wrong, because I’m one of those people who were eagerly antecipating the Model 3’s unveiling, in the hope of it ticking all the right boxes to being my first electric car. Nothing puts me off quite like an ugly ride.

Hardly anyone mentioned the terrible interior
I couldn’t believe it: no f**king instrument cluster. A screen that protrudes from the centre as if it were an aftermarket item nailed into place minutes before the cars unveiling. I hate this design with a passion. Recently, I read how this might indicate a really autonomous car, which is just as bad. I like driving. Unless the Model 3 has something like a HUD replacing a conventional instrument cluster, or an ACTUAL binnacle included in the production version, this is a deal breaker.

No-one’s talking about the brilliant glass roof

On the other hand, the interior might be saved by the wrap-around glass roof. If I understood what Elon Musk said, and if the pictures and videos are correct, the roof will be entirely in glass, save for above the driver and front passenger (for sun-visors, lights and such), and the boot lid will basically hinge in the middle of the car. This is brilliant. I love glass roofs and I think sunroofs and such should be mandatory on cars. This Model 3 has hit this particular nail right on the head.

No-one’s talking how disruptive and revolutionary this is
The number of pre-orders has hit over a quarter of a million. Pre-orders. In just over 48 hours. Established car-brands with highly-awaited models don’t get that many orders, and they must see by now that if they don’t get into the electrification game soon, they may be very well left behind with their dinosaur-juice-burning contraptions. And the more car-brands go electric, the more the market will follow. The more the market follows, the more things will change to enable/cash in on this. Infra-structure will have to be updated, car and road tax will have to change to pay-as-you-go. Even mundane habits will be altered, as there won’t be such a need for 24/7 fuelling stations, because you can plug in at home, but then there’ll be nowhere to buy fags at 3am.

Like it or not, the Model 3 is a big deal.

New Volvos

Posted in Car conception, Upcoming cars with tags , , , , , , , on 30/08/2013 by Alexander

Volvos of the 2000’s had quite long production runs, such as the S60 (2000-2009), the second-generation S40 (2004-2012) and the XC90 (2002-). Even though they had minor facelifts during their lifetime, they were essentially the same car, and ageing models aren’t treated very kindly in today’s market. This was mostly due to Volvo’s tumultuous tenure under Ford’s ownership, who were in trouble themselves and would keep all the good bits for Fords rather than the group’s premium brand.

However, those days are gone and it’s Chinese money keeping the Swedish boat afloat. The Volvo V40 was a promising start to the post-Ford era, a very stylish, unique and contemporary car that has, to my knowledge, garnered praise from various corners of the motor-journalistic world.

129825_4_13Volvo’s new cars look promising. First there’s the good-looking Concept Coupe that’s designed to show off the brand’s Scaleable Product Architecture (SPA) platform that will underpin all future Volvos, from the smallest to the largest cars. The car definitely reminds me of the Audi A5, which in one aspect is positive, because the A5 is very handsome, but bad in another way because no-one wants a chinese rip-off. I love coupes and I hope Volvo builds it, because their current “coupe”, the Pininfarina-penned C70 (it isn’t really a coupe, it’s a convertible), is as ugly as sin.

And other notable Volvo news is the upcoming all-new XC90. I normally don’t go for SUV’s at all, but this summer I was lucky enough to ride around in a V8 XC90, and one thing that I loved was how the centre back seat had an in-built booster seat that could move all the way forward, so my daughter had a proper view out the front. I’d buy the car just for that.

VW XL1 – Official production version

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Car conception, Desirable machines, Upcoming cars with tags , , , , on 21/02/2013 by Alexander

vw1Volkswagen have released pictures and specifications of the production version of their already-ageing fuel-sipping XL1. I say ageing because the third version of the car was shown two years ago, and what they’re flouting here is what will be available to the public during this year. The figures are still 314mpg (UK) (0.89l/100km), or around 140mpg (UK) (2.0l/100km) for diesel-only driving. The car is incredibly light at just 795kg, and now has a side-by-side seating arrangement as opposed to the tandem occupation of earlier concepts. vw_xl1_in_11_03The aerodynamics are also a big part of the car, perhaps best exemplified by the absence of wing-mirrors. Instead, exterior cameras feed an image to screens on the door, as can be glimpsed in the accompanying image here. Goodness knows how many mpg’s that adds to the consumption figure, but it’s one way that shows how hard VW must have worked on this, if two years between the final concept car and the production version weren’t enough to prove this.

But it’s not all roses. VW say production will be limited, so we won’t be seeing this as a common sight on your street, especially if you live in a backward country like I do where limited production cars are hardly ever seen let alone sold. And I suspect the price will be pretty whopping too, what with carbon-fibre-reinforced plastics included and expensive gadgetry such as the diesel-electric drivetrain. Who will this appeal to? Rich actors who usually go round in Lambos but buy this car to appease their guilty conscience? Not a big market. As I’ve written before, I personally would absolutely love to have one of these. I’d be able to visit my family in France on little more than what the 10-litre tank theoretically has to offer

Compressed air hybrid

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Car conception, Upcoming cars with tags , , , , , on 28/01/2013 by Alexander

hybrid-air-1PSA Peugeot-Citroen’s fortunes have been dismal lately. They’ve posted one of the biggest losses of European car makers for 2012, and continue with alarming operating costs on a daily basis. This makes me very worried, because I’m a big Citroen fan, and I hate seeing them this way. However, PSA has recently announced a new type of hybrid system for their smaller cars,developed in conjunction with Bosch, that uses cylinders of compressed air instead of batteries. You can see a video of it here. The main aim of the system is for city driving, which as we know, is by far the most fuel-consuming part of a car’s use (unless you’re one of those lead.footed wankers). PSA say the compressed air will account “60 to 80 per cent of the time in city driving,”, and improve fuel efficiency by some 45% and range by 90%.

The system adds about 100kg to the weight of a traditional ICE powered small car, which is around half that of a conventional hybrid system. PSA claims it uses very simple, serviceable parts, with no rare metals like lithium-ion. The goal is to develop a ‘global’ system that’s cheaper than existing hybrids to appeal to China and Russia as much as European markets.

This is definitely an excellent idea, and any and every possible technological path that leads to lower fuel consumption must be explored. The problem is the release date: 2016. That’s very far down the line. Both PSA and the world at large need this sort of tech in showroons yesterday.

Aston Martin Vanquish

Posted in Desirable machines, Upcoming cars with tags , on 20/06/2012 by Alexander

Stylistically, Aston’s new Vanquish is just like every other Aston Martin. Aston are like Audi, their cars are all too similar. But I have to concede that if your cars look this good, then you shouldn’t muck about with designs that might not work.

This Vanquish looks pretty fricking good, with those superb tail-lights, and those indents in the flank. I’m not too keen on side-skirts and front splitters, but this car wears them well.

Production i8 revealed

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Car conception, Upcoming cars with tags , , , on 18/04/2012 by Alexander

I’ve always been a fan of the BMW i8 ever since it was a concept car with a very complicated name. Looking at the latest renderings of the production form of the car, it’s going to be a head-turner.

BMW are a strange lot. They make a new 7- and 5-series that look great, then make a new 1- and 3-series that both look bloody awful, and then they do a 180 and give us another proper-looking car. That said, I would like to see the interior. BMW make awful, Spartan-bare innards for their cars, so I don’t have my hopes high.