The first fruits of Daimler’s tie-up with Renault attracted a lot of reader interest this week – the rebadge of the latter’s Kangoo to create the Citan. Actually, dismissing this as just a rebadge is a bit unfair, the new Merc also gets its own dashboard and a substantial nose restyle, a little more effort than when the big Sprinter was shared with VW and Dodge .
That prompted a bit of memory cell stirring in the office. Has Mercedes, whose press release banged on about entering a new segment, not been here before? Finally the Vaneo popped into someone’s head but that A-class derivative built between 2002 and 2005 was not a van at all but a five- or seven-seat people hauler. In contrast, there’s no sign the Citan will be anything other than a van or, with a rear seat option, what the Europeans call a Combi, a van that can carry people when needed but is still pretty much trimmed and equipped like a van. Renault UK has canned its passenger Kangoos and somehow I can’t see a Mercedes-badged version sitting alongside a CLS in the showrooms especially after the Vaneo flopped.
I got to have a go at KIA ‘s new CEED and I’m afraid the days of getting most of what the European rivals offer, if not quite the finish and dynamics, for thousands less look like being over, at least in the new car showroom. Kia has really polished up the cabin, layered on new top options – heated steering wheel and power memory driver seat for example – and now reckons they do not need to sell the Ceed short. So they won’t. A respected colleague, who drives more new cars in a week than I do in a year, reckons the engines and dynamics aren’t quite up with Golf/Astra/Focus but I can’t pick any significant difference and the Ceed generation two looks like continuing where the original left off as a worthy Asian contender on any C-segment consideration list.
Fire service sources told us last week’s big bang at a GM battery lab could be quite expensive and there are growing signs unions are concerned at the ramifications of the PSA-GM alliance – today’s update is here, earlier reports are here, here, here and here.
Yet more capacity was confirmed for China this week. Nissan confirmed, sans much detail, it will build Infiniti in China – I’ve yet to see one on the road here in the UK – while Ford announced yet another new plant, as VW reportedly is about to, and, while we’re mentioning the Germans, guess who came out of left field and said they’d build Audi in Mexico?
Beijing show next week and we’ll be there. In advance, we’ve been keeping the debut list up to date.
Have a nice weekend.
Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, just-auto.com