Archive for frankfurt motor show

Mercedes finally make a couple of cars that don’t look like crap

Posted in Desirable machines with tags , , , , , on 21/11/2013 by Alexander

Big news: after years and years of conservative, drab, boring and simply fugly cars, Mercedes decided to go against this trend and release the current A-Class. Though not an eye-wateringly beautiful piece of automotive design, it certainly marked a change for the Stuttgart-based brand, since the previous A-Class was laughably styled to say the least. The new design language brings the car closer to the cars it’s suppose to contend with, like the BMW 1-series or the Audi A3.

Fortunately, Merc has realised that even it’s more flashy, further-upmarket stuff looks bloody awful, and BMW, perhaps its most direct rival, have made cars that actually don’t look like turds, so two recent concepts are designed to change this. First, it’s the future S-Class Coupé, which paraded its lines at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, which improves the stuffy, can’t-stray-too-far-from-the-formula styling of the regular 4-door S-Class. It’s a sleeker, sexier take on the world’s #1 ostentation-mobile, and makes the saloon look rather brick-like in comparison.

p01lxncbThen there’s the computer game-oriented AMG Vision Gran Turismo. MAde for some video game on some console, Merc show that after all, they can allow their designers to properly let the hair down, go wild, show some flair and make a car that isn’t designed just for grey people who want to show off how much money they’ve (supposedly) made. I’ll admit, it seems to echo some cues from Citroen’s very similar idea with GT, such as that rear overhang and its general shape, but nonetheless it warrants some congratulations since at least MB designers took inspiration from a worthwhile source.


Peugeot 308 RC Z

Posted in Crap cars, Desirable machines, News with tags , , , , on 06/09/2009 by Alexander

Peugeot and Citroen are part of the same company, the PSA Group, after Citroen went bankrupt for the second time in 1974 and was absorbed into their rival company. Many blame this as the turning point for Citroen, seeing an end to the innovative flair that had characterized their cars and made so many of them undisputed cult icons and legends. Peugeot, on the other hand, have no legendary cars whatsoever. The 504 and 504 coupé are very nice machines, and rank among my personal favourites, but they can’t stack up to an SM or CX, let alone a Traction Avant or a DS. VW have the Beetle and the Transporter, BMW have the Isetta, Mercedes have their 220’s and SL Gullwing, Datsun/Nissan have the Z-cars, Fiat have the 500 and 600, even Renault have the 4 and 5 to be glowingly proud of. So that gives Peugeot some catching up to do, and it seems they plan on starting right now at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

So while Fiat have the new 500 and BMW have the new Mini, Peugeot give the world the 308 RC Z coupé. Since they don’t have a prestigious, iconic model to base it on, they make it a version of one of their current, horribly bland (if not absolutely hideous) production model, the 308.

However, I predict this car to be a runaway success, and will pluck a lot of customers out of the Audi TT’s and BMW Z4’s hands, not to mention other coupés. The front end looks awful, being what characterizes Peugeot’s current aesthetics, perhaps thought up by someone who was partially blind and suffers from brain damage. But the rest is stunningly attractive. The car’s outline is fantastically proportioned, making it look balanced yet fast while standing still, unlike its pretty crappy-looking German rivals. Another design detail sure to make people swoon are the bubble-like protrusions in the canopy, which looks like it’s off a high-end supercar. The berlinetta-like rear-end looks amazing too, though those rear lights look suspiciously similar to those on a Nissan 350Z. The curve at the end of the doors is also a delicious detail.

What I don’t fancy, apart from the aforementioned facial section, are the wing-mirrors. Lots of Citroen’s latest models also suffer from this ailment, which is wing-mirrors that look like antennae. They look dumb. And wing-mirrors are an important design detail for me. I think my Volvo S60 is one of the best looking cars on the road today, but if it had the wing-mirrors of the post-2004 models, I wouldn’t like it.

Would I buy one? Hmmm. If I were looking for a coupé, perhaps this would be my choice, though that snout and the fact that it’s a Peugeot would make me think twice.

So here’s my prediciton for the 308 RC Z: Runaway success.

Thoughts on the (possible) return of the 2CV

Posted in Desirable machines, News with tags , , , , , , , on 05/09/2009 by Alexander

Autocar makes no mention of the word 2CV, calling it ‘Citroen’s mystery concept car’ and predicting it to be a new C1. Motorspain rejects out of hand that this could be a new C3 Pluriel, because the new C3 has been presented. L’Autojournal makes an interesting point, noticing the grooves on the bonnet, similar to those of that of the original 2CV.

I’ve photoshopped the original picture to see If I could get any sort of other clue:
official citroen photo_psed
Not much can be ascertained, though it looks a lot to me like a revised version of a Citroen C-Airplay.

Now I loved the C-Airplay. It was a beautiful concept car and I was saddened by the fact that it seemed a prodction version wouldn’t be made. The prospect of it being a new C3 Pluriel is also mouth-watering. The Pluriel has reached the end of its life as a production car and Citroen have announced they’ll stop making it later this year. If it is a new 2CV, there’ll be a lot of hype around it, and I just hope it lives up to it.

If you think of current retro-cool cars, the new VW Beetle, the Mini and the Fiat 500 spring to mind. The Fiat is great, a funky little car that might just save Fiat after many years of absolutely abysmal cars. The VW isn’t so cool, having aged and losing most of its shine. The Mini doesn’t really resemble the original that much and doesn’t really convince me.

The thing is, all of the above cars were originally conceived to be mass-market, super-cheap wheels for everyone. Their iconic status is due to their longevity and large sales, and car manufacturers want to cash in on that. That’s fine. But their new versions are nothing more than hideously expensive clothing accessories, driven by rich little weasels between the hippest spots in town.

The original 2CV was just like the original of these new versions: dirt-cheap, put French peasants on wheels, lasted 42 years in production and sold around 4 or 5 million units. Citroen want to cash in on this wave of retro-cool new hip young car thing, and that’s fine. I honestly do hope a new 2CV somehow escapes the fashionista market, but then again, that’s probably what it’s for.

Or is it? Citroen have unveiled the DS3, a competitor in the “premium small car segment” (i.e., the stupid rich kids niche). Will it make another car to compete with itself? Methinks not. Which really pisses me off, since it’ll mean “no, this isn’t a new 2CV”. I just hope it isn’t just another concept car, though if it is a pre-production model, my bet is it’ll be a new DS4 or DS5.