Our team bring you informed analysis of selected new vehicle models and put them in automotive industry perspective
The Prius has always been an engineering tour de force. What it hasn't ever been, is a genuinely economical model in all conditions and in all markets. Designed mainly for tax laws in Japan and car pool lanes in Northern California, for European buyers Toyota's eco image poster child has never lived up to the hype. Until now.
The new turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine which Volkswagen has quietly slipped into the Golf is one of the best kept secrets of 2016. Power, torque, CO2 and economy are all state of the art, but the best bit is how terrific it sounds - like an old school BMW six-cylinder.
For too many years, those running Jaguar listened to ‘experts’ who said an SUV would dilute its image. What nonsense. Now, as the leaping cat brand prepares to launch the F-PACE, it believes it has a car that’s as good as the Macan. Is it?
PSA Groupe, as PSA Peugeot-Citroen now likes to be known, has turned itself around since the dark days of 2012 when it made an annual loss of EUR5bn. This, let us remind ourselves, was a volume player that was seen as spread thinly with sales across two poorly differentiated brands while also overly reliant on the depressed European car market where it also possessed excessive and costly manufacturing capacity.
The DS4, as you'll see from older ones sporting the deux chevrons, was originally launched in 2011 as a Citroen with DSign, DStyle and DSport trim levels and a range of petrol engines (VTi120, THP155, THP200) and diesels (HDi 110 and HDi 160) with a mix of five and six-speed manuals and an automated six-speed manual. At the end of 2014, the delightful new, three cylinder, 1.2-litre PureTech 130 engine was introduced and plans were announced for DS - also now wrapping up the DS3 and DS5 - to become a stand-alone brand by the end of 2015. After a Frankfurt show debut last year, came the DS4's mid-life update by year-end - three new trim levels called Elegance, Prestige and Crossback (a Brazil market-style, higher riding SUV wannabe) and a stack of new engines - petrol THP165 and 210 replacing the 155 and 200, a whole new range of 'BlueHDi' 120, 150 and 180 diesels (urea injection with Selective Catalyst Reduction and particle filter to meet Euro VI emissions regs), six speed manual and stop and start standard on everything and the option of a 'proper' six-speed Aisin automatic transmission for several versions, both petrol and diesel. Time The Family and I had a look at a DS, then.
FCA’s strategy of creating two distinct products in the B-SUV/crossover segment is paying major dividends. The strength of Renegade sales in the US proves that a Jeep doesn’t have to be big, while the 500X is behind a sales renaissance for the Fiat brand in European markets.
Managers at PSA Group’s Sevelnord light commercial vehicle plant in northern France do not sugar coat the plant’s recent history – put bluntly, in 2012 the factory dodged a bullet.
Think Subaru and you don’t immediately think ‘six-cylinder family sedan’. If the Legacy 3.6 is like no other car in the D/mid-size segment, then its unique attributes only seem to add to the appeal.
At 5,115m long and 1,985mm wide, the Carnival is just too big for many of Kia’s global markets. That’s a shame as its comfort and handling make it a better bet for large families than some similarly sized SUVs.
The XE began what is turning out to to be a major sales revival for Jaguar. Now, the addition of the XF is adding momentum - UK market brand registrations were up 45% in March - just as a long wheelbase body is announced.
Already produced in two Thai plants and from next year, in Indonesia as well, the Pajero Sport is becoming an increasingly important model for Mitsubishi’s global SUV line-up.
With worldwide sales of almost 160,000 vehicles during its first full year of production, the Renegade has to be declared a major success. Not to mention a huge shot in the arm for what had been an ailing SATA-Melfi plant in Italy before FCA decided to manufacture it and the Fiat 500X there.
Might Haval one day be as successful in markets outside China as Land Rover and Jeep are today? Today, it seems fanciful. Tomorrow? Who knows. The export drive has begun at least, and the brand’s smallest SUV is impressive.
Renault says only that the recently announced Kaptur SUV will be for Russia. But there is a lot more to this new model, the fruition of an R&D project codenamed HHR, than meets the eye.
It might have been around for nearly 17 years but Mitsubishi’s Pajero still sells relatively well, thanks to its superb 4x4 abilities and a reputation for being unbreakable.
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