Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ford Mondeo 2007: recent CGI

More on Ford: a recent CGI shows a very attractive break version of the 2007 Ford Mondeo. It still shows influences of the Iosis that will not be reflected in the final shape. For more info on the Mondeo check previous blog entries here, and here.

Ford Focus SUV: Ford CUV

Autozeitung magazine presented a CGI that provides a glimpse to the future small SUV based on the Focus 4x4 platform derivation (also used in the new Freelander). This model will compete against the Golf SUV and Opel Antara. The Opel gets the head-start but soon the VW and Ford models will put it in its place! Specs for the new Ford CUV? Look at the Freelander (aka LR2), a similar range of engines is expected. For now the CGI looks good, let's hope Ford gets this one right.

Infiniti in Europe: what to expect

This is a simple exercise. Just by looking at the current range one can predict what will arrive in Europe and what not (or better, what should not).

G35: YES, of course. But with diesels
G35 coupé: YES, of course!
M35/45: Maybe, but needs a redesign to comply with European tastes. And diesels, of course.
Q45: errrr..., no.
FX35/45: YES, PLEASE! However, don't forget the V6 diesel.
QX: NO! Please don't.

Technically the biggest changes are related to engines. The wonderful Nissan V6 will be present as well as in some Renault vehicles. The current Renault diesel 4-cylinder engines can be used in the G-sedan, both in 2.0 and 2.2 versions. However, a new diesel V6 must be developed by Renault. The current offer originated from Isuzu is not adequate.

Future vehicles? Well, it is a bit early for that. One can expect that Infiniti range will develop with some European-only models. Possibly some smaller SUV based on a future (Nissan Qashqai) Renault model… but don’t be afraid: Renault will not exercise badge-engineering in its cheapest way! The technical expertise and practice of Renault is too good for that.

FX in Europe? Yes, please!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

More on Renault Mégane III

This is Infiniti week but since it's Renault-related... an update on the next Renault Mégane. A car that will engage in a formidable fight with the Peugeot 308 and VW Golf VI in 2008. The new moto for Renault is: more elegance, seduction and design appeal.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Infiniti: welcome to Europe!

Recent news have stated that Infiniti, a Renault owned brand, will arrive in Europe in 2008. Auto-future would like to give a warm welcome to this brand and rejoice with this excellent news. This arrival means that consumers will have more choice in the luxury segment. The excellence of the luxury trio (Mercedes, BMW and Lexus) will be challenged by this new competitor. More choice, more competition usually means better prices and service. More good news are related to Renault influence in Infiniti. Currently Renault has no influence over Infiniti products but this will change in the future. This means that design and product evolutions will be up to date with European tastes. Expect, for example, to receive an updated G35 in 2008 with some slight changes over the recently presented G35 sedan. And diesels: Europeans love diesels and Infiniti products must reflect these preferences.

In the next days Auto-future will look at this important event. What to expect from Infiniti, their chances of success but also some reflections about the (bright) future of Renault. And the reasons why PSA (Peugeot-Citroen) needs to be worried…

Friday, May 26, 2006

Lexus GS450h: hybrid luxury

A recent drive test by km77 site highlighted the remarkable features of the new hybrid Lexus GS: less fuel consumption than a BMW 535d (best 6-cylinder diesel in the world); better acceleration than a Mercedes E500…(see more stats). It is highly significant that a vehicle performs at this level both in fuel consumption, acceleration and gas emissions. But more significant is the fact that hybrid technology is applied at this level of cars: prestige RWD saloons aimed at the most demanding consumers. The performance of the GS450h is obtained in full luxury, comfort and safety. More good news: in the next 2-3 years Mercedes and BMW will present hybrid versions of some cars of their range. Thus the main players of the luxury segment will have hybrid offers.

Today there is no doubt that hybrid cars are a strong alternative until the hydrogen solution starts at full steam. In the next years several models will be presented, in different price ranges and segments. Some of these can be revolutionary for the market (hopefully the
next Prius). Honda and Toyota will present smaller models with very low fuel consumption. The luxury trio (Mercedes, BMW and Lexus) will expand their offer. But also GM and Ford will present more models. But… what about mainstream Europe? Renault, Peugeot, VW, Opel, Fiat? There is no doubt that the hybrid diesel will be born in Europe. But please, hurry up!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

2008 Mazda 6

A recent interpretation on the future Mazda 6 shows influences from the RX-8 but also from the Ford Iosis concept. All good influences. This picture lacks confirmation but we can expect Mazda to present a good-looking car.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

2009 VW Passat 4-door coupé: the CLS for the poor

The influence of the Mercedes CLS will spread for cars of different price ranges. Super-luxury machines like the Aston Martin Rapide and the Porsche Panamera (see Panamera: the CLS for the really rich). But also Merc E-class competitors like the future Peugeot 608, and even cheaper cars like the 4-door coupé version of the VW Passat.

The current VW Passat is a fine car. It is quite big but still elegant. And spacious, unlike the Peugeot 407. VW even managed to make it look good although it has a wheelbase that is too short for the overall length of the car. What could VW want more? Profit, of course. As all the car manufactures VW wants more profit from this model, hence the niche versions. It is quite obvious that a cabriolet would not look very good. A crossover might be a good idea, maybe a mix between the Passat variant and the next Sharan... But VW has chosen the 4-door coupé. A very good choice indeed. The CGI interpretation by Huckfeldt pictured below is the most reliable so far. It might differ in the details but the overall shape is right.

VW will want to differentiate this new model from the regular Passat to justify the premium price. Mercedes did this exercise very well with the CLS. VW will have to play with detailing to help separate the coupé version: different front and rear lights, more sophisticaded and also more chrome. More chrome? Well, that is a bit difficult to achieve considering the ammount of reflection the regular Passat provides... Technically they can start with top of the line V6 and 4WD versions. Then progress to FWD versions, but don't expect to be able to buy it with the current base engines.

A litlle cloud in this plan... depending on the price that it arrives in the market it might fall in the price range of machinery like the C-class, 3 series or Lexus IS. Base versions of course, but miles ahead in engineering and quality. But if the design is right VW can sell it. Just check the Peugeot 407 coupé: a technically inferior FWD machine that can frequently sell in the price range of the superior RWD prestige saloons. Emotional and timeless design can make miracles!

2009 Renault Mégane

Not bad looking at all. The CGI is originated from French magazine Auto-Plus. Usually not very reliable. It is known that Renault will follow a more emotive path but keeping some classicism in the next models. More elegance and emotional appeal in less wacky designs. However the design is not frozen yet so this CGI is based on scarce preliminar information.

Monday, May 22, 2006

2009 Porsche Panamera: the CLS for the really rich

The influence of the Mercedes CLS will be felt for years to come. Check the previous text on auto-future about the CLS. Highly influential vehicle! One of the most interesting derivations is the next Porsche Panamera. A vehicle set to be a cash-cow for Porsche. Business as usual, all Porsche vehicles are uber profit-makers. However this one will not make so much money as it could because, unlike stated in some news, it will be a true Porsche, 100% in-house material, without recurring to some VW group platform. This means good news for the reliability and quality of the Panamera. It also means that Porsche will spend more time and money developing it. We will probably see the Aston Martin Rapide (another 4dr. coupé with CLS influence) on sale before the Porsche. Hurry up Porsche!
The first mules are being tested now, no full prototypes built yet. Technically we can expect V8 and V10 engines from the current Cayenne and Carrera Gt, although the V10 will be slightly detuned for torque. RWD and AWD versions are in the program. Unfortunately a flat-six is not expected because of limitations in the platform - mixing V8, V10 and boxer engines is complicated.

Pictured below are some interpretations based on an official factory sketch. However, don't be fooled by the rear section. It will be a bit more conventional because, unlike initial reports, the Panamera will turn out as a 4dr. vehicle and not as a 5dr. hatchback. A wise change of plans by the Porsche direction board. In 2009 and later we will see a formidable fight between uber-saloons in the shape of 4dr. coupés: Porsche Panamera, Aston Martin Rapide but also a rumoured super-Bugatti. But they are all influenced by the same vehicle: the Mercedes CLS. A future classic that you can buy today.

Friday, May 19, 2006

2008 BMW V5, RFK, LSC...

Pictured below is a collage of several interpretations of a future BMW vehicle: a R-class competitor based on the 5 series platform. A sort of crossover, uber-van, wait…no, van is a forbidden word for BMW! In the mix there is also a CGI of a rumored smaller version based on the 3 series. This vehicle (in the picture is the one that is not weird and looks like a B-class) was canceled so back to the LSC. LSC stands for “Luxury Sports Cruiser”,a nice acronym that BMW’s marketing people invented. It is also known as RFK that stands for “Room functional concept” and V5 that stands for Van, oops!

There is a minor problem with this vehicle. BMW bosses don’t like vans so they hesitated a lot before giving the green light for its production. They looked at different versions because they did not want it to look like a “V-thing”. That is why in the picture below you see two different versions with the Huckfeldt signature (the ones in the top-left corner). BMW did hesitate between different versions before deciding. By the way, the most reliable versions in the collage are the ones highlighted in red. This time Huckfeldt is not spot on. So while BMW bosses were thinking about it the Merc R-class was getting ready for market introduction. We will have to wait until 2008 to buy the BMW LSC. BMW will arrive a bit late to the market.

Technically the BMW LSC will be mainly based on the next generation 5 series platform. There are rumors that it will only seat 5 persons with 4 individual luxury seat plus one additional. Fake! It will have to seat 7, at least optionally. There are also rumors about a carbon fibre roof, intended to lower the center of gravity. That might be a reality. Remember this: when BMW people talk about handling and the technical choices that influence it, they are serious. It’s not marketing hype. They do believe in their principles (weight distribution, longitudinal-central engine, rear wheel drive etc.). If they say that the LSC will handle like a sports car believe it. The LSC will handle like a proper bimmer. Engine available will be those of the next 5 series except for the base 4-cylinder units. Hybrids versions are in the program as well as for the rest of the BMW range.

Is it worth the wait? The prospect of moving the family and luggage in big style and luxury can already be accomplished with the R-class. The LSC will be a formidable competitor. And others will follow the lead, as usual. Buy the R-class now, or the BMW LSC later. And forget about big SUVs.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

More 2008 Scirocco - corrado craziness

In the next days you might see this photoshop circulating in the news. It does look very good, but again, it ‘s unreliable. You can see the closest interpretation here, it's the red car.

2007 Toyota Corolla sedan?

This picture shows an interpretation of a possible Toyota model. Corolla sedan? Next generation Avensis? Recent reports and inside information suggest that the next Corolla will not look like that. In this picture it looks too good to be true. You are witnessing a very common phenomena. Photoshop artists of Japanese car magazines frequently draw renders of cars based on how they would like it to be, instead of following reliable information. Cool down people, the next Corolla will be a subtle evolution of the current model, don't expect extraordinary design just the usual boredom.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

2008 Toyota Prius

Here is an impression of the 2008 Toyota Prius. However, for this new model the interesting bits are not in design. The next Prius is rumoured to have a long awaited Li-ion battery module made by Panasonic. And plug-in ability! The target fuel economy is of 113 mpg (40km/liter). These are great news for hybrid technology, let's hope Toyota can make it happen.

Monday, May 15, 2006

2009 Renault Scénic III

The CGI presentes an interpretation of the next Renault Scénic, expected for 2009. The main feature is the arrival of sliding rear doors, although Renault will improve technically to hide the mechanism. The Scénic will be the last to arrive of the next Mégane range. It will feature a new face for Renault already presented in several concept cars. The new front design is part of a move to increase emotional appeal in future Renault vehicles. It is expected to debute in the Laguna III and spread throughout the range .

Friday, May 12, 2006

2007 Toyota Avensis...or just a restyling?

Recent news mention the presentation of the next generation of the European model Toyota Avensis for the end of May at Madrid Auto-show. Fist remark: the current Avensis started selling in Europe in 2003. That means a 4-year lifecycle for this model. It is not a good politic for a brand that pretends to raise its market-share in Europe to have lifecycles this short.

The referred news article presents some spy-shots of the “new Avensis”. Examining the pictures it seems that this disguised model is in fact the new Lexus ES. Compare the pictures below! Either the information is incorrect, or the new European Avensis will be very similar to this new Lexus ES. That would not be strange since the ES is a reworked version of the American Toyota Camry. Another remark: the new Lexus ES should not be branded as Lexus. It is not worthy of that because it uses technology largely inferior to other Lexus models. It is a front-wheel-drive saloon so it has no place in the luxury class. It will make good money for Toyota because the clueless people that will buy it are getting essentially a Camry with a chunky profit margin in favor of Toyota.

Looking closely at the ES one can not see how this car could have success in Europe. It’s too much of the three B’s: too boring, too bland and too big. It would have to be heavily reworked in the front design and also in the interior. Oh dear, the interior of the ES is horrid, European folks would run away from this thing! I have this theory about the Lexus ES: it is in fact an elaborate marketing scheme to make Lexus more appealing to a younger crowd. Fact is, the ES is so boring that next to it the rest of the Lexus range looks bold and cool. In reality the ES is a marketing plot to get more money from ignorant old people. The kind of people that used to buy rebadged Passats in the shape of FWD Audis can now get rebadged Camrys in the shape of this FWD Lexus ES. Now they are older but still clueless!

To conclude: maybe the news article is wrong. Maybe Toyota will just present a restyled version of the current Avensis. Remember the first remark? It's too soon for a completely new model. This is my bet. Or maybe Toyota will surprise us with a more European-friendly design. For sure we can expect more and better diesels, maybe an hybrid version and the usual quality and reliability. Let’s just hope Toyota doesn’t mess with the design. And if they get it wrong, who cares! Toyota gave us the RWD Lexus IS220d. That is the one that counts. Thank you!
Lexus ES

Spy-shot: Avensis?

ES interior

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

2007 VW Scirocco: beware of unreliable photoshop

Auto Motor und Sport just presented a news article about the next Golf-coupé, to be named Scirocco, or Corrado, or Rivo... the name is not confirmed yet. There is no big novelty in the news on a model that was presented before here at auto-future. The interesting thing is that AMS presents a new photoshop different from the one presented by AutoBild. Check the pictures below. Which one is right? Auto-future knows the most accurate is the one from Auto-bild, the red car pictured below.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Thank you Australia!

When General Motors started hesitating about their new RWD platform "zeta", engineers at Australian division Holden worked even harder on the next Commodore that will use this platform. The results must have been good because the new Holden looks in shape for a 2007 market introduction and it is rumoured that the re-born Zeta will be used in the next Camaro. So thank you Australia for making the Camaro possible. And please GM, use this new platform for European cars. Maybe a new Saab 9-3?

Underpinnings of next Holden Commodore will make new Camaro possible

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

2007 Ford Mondeo

Autoexpress just presented a news article with photos of the next Ford Mondeo. By reading their article one does not see references to the Iosis concept. So it seems Autoexpress finally got it after all. Here at auto-future we knew for a long time that the new Mondeo would be different from the Iosis. Anyway, the pictures are more revealling and confirm that the interior will be very similar to the S-max as well as the front design. The range of engines is predictable, the only thing that needs confirmation is AWD versions that are possible in the platform used.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

2007 Toyota Corolla

The next Toyota Corolla is ready and on final testing. The hatchback version was designed in France (!) just like the current one. Another move in Toyota's relentless pursue for increasing its market share in Europe. Slow and steady Toyota will get there! European brands: be afraid. For now the Corolla will be a conservative evolution of the current model. Below you can see a small picture of its face, then an unreliable photoshop (the second pic) and a picture of the car in final testing. Auto-future will make predictions about the success of this car when the final dimensions are known - the main thing Toyota needs to improve for Europe is the proportions of the car (mainly increasing the width) and how the influence the road presence.

warning: crap photoshop