Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Peugeot 308

“Wow what’s this, is Auto-Future trying to fool us with a picture of the 207?” Well, it certainly looks like that although the reader is really seeing one of the latest computer generated images of the highly expected Peugeot 308. The image is based on some 207 picture but it is also, according to inside information, the most similar to the real thing. Hummm… does Peugeot really hires designers or they only have a couple of blokes redesigning the same car over and over and just changing the size?

Anyway, the truth is that the 308 will look like the 207 only a bit fatter. And, again according to people that have seen it, it will really look like a current Peugeot 307 with 5 people and some luggage… this meaning that it will be a modernized version of the current car with the height reduced for a bit more sporty feel.

Friday, February 23, 2007

2009 Opel Astra

Autozeitung magazine presented an article on the future Opel Astra and VW Golf VI, actually, they also call it Golf "five and a half" just like Auto-Future. Anyway, we found the Astra photoshop very atractive although one needs to have in mind that Autozeitung's CGIs are usually very nice but not very reliable.

Also of interest is the information that the 5-door version of the next Astra will be a notchback instead of a hatchback. So a 2-1/2 volume car like the previous Astra H. This is interesting considering that every car in this class is now a hatchback with a thick C-pillar. Could this be a way of Opel to express their leadership in this class? (Yes, the Astra sells more than the Golf in Europe). The article also refers a multilink suspension in the rear (about time!) and that it will be a world car with the platform spreading for models in different continents. So another step in the trend for global platforms as explained in a previous article at Auto-Future.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Mercedes GLK

We, EU folks, are known for being generally environmental conscious. That is, we embraced diesels long ago, we don’t drive big cars, we like fuel efficiency and even our politics seem to care (just check the latest proposals for emissions reduction in Europe). So why oh why so many new SUVs from European manufacturers? Well, one thing is that some of these small SUVs are meant for the NA market where crossovers and smaller SUVs are gaining momentum. But we also like our not-very-off-road-capable-but-very-nice-looking-tall-machines… only we do it smaller and more eco-friendly. So we have the BMW X3 (and possibly a future X1), the next Focus SUV, a future small Renault SUV, the VW Tiguan and also the Mercedes GLK.

A new impression of the small Mercedes SUV has surfaced. It shows a really boxy design that I think fits well with this type of car. It looks a bit like a smaller GL. I always imagined that the perfect design for the Land-Rover LR2 would be just a scaled down version of the big Range Rover. It didn’t quite turned out like that although it still is a good design. The GLK has that scaled down feel of a much more expensive car. Not that the GLK will be cheap…

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The road to EV future: Toyota Hybrid X

In the next month at Geneve car show Toyota will present a hybrid concept that "proposes a new design language for hybrid models and will act as a technology showcase for future hybrid cars". Well if Toyota says so it will be an interesting concept to follow, can we expect a preview of the next Prius design, the display of plug-in technology or even a series hybrid concept?

Other than that we can also take other things for sure. Namely that every next motor show will present new concepts of hybrids and electric cars. Volvo will present a series hybrid C30 concept also in Geneve and we can expect for other manufacturers to follow. Particularly interesting will be the Tokyo show at the end of the year where I'm sure several interesting novelties will be shown and maybe even real production cars either fully electric or predominantly electric hybrids.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Future vehicle platforms

CSM worldwide has used a crystal ball to predict the top 10 vehicle platforms in 2012. We think this is a bold move considering how far we are from 2012 but hey, it’s the future and that word is in the title of this joint.

Today the VW group is well established as the king of platform sharing. The PQ35 (that’s the current Golf underpinnings) is a fine example of optimization of resources and cost cutting. Just marvel at how a humble Seat Leon is transformed in a posh compact like the Audi A3 while sharing everything except exterior panels and some tactile-pleasing plastics. Accountants at VW-group love it, people-that-can’t-quite-afford-a-1-series-or-a-Merc-sportcoupe love it, and we love it too: those nice metal-polished door handles and chromed air vents… brilliant engineering!

But, for the 2012 prediction CSM says the Toyota Camry platform will be established as a real world car, spreading through more than 20 vehicles including bi-fuel, gasoline, diesel, hybrids and possible hybrid plug-ins (according to CSM the next Prius will also be based on the Camry platform). Also note as in 2012 the Ford C1 platform designation changes from “Euro Focus” to “Global Focus”. That means more Euro-Fords for America.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Ford Focus III

The current Focus is a great product. The only thing Ford needs to improve is the design and add an extra layer of desirability. The photoshop presented below follows that theme and is clearly inspired in the new Mondeo's design. Make it look like this and add some flair in the interiors and the Focus III will be an even greater success than the current model.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

2007 Hyundai Arnejs/FD

Let’s start this entry with the related cousin, or actually, brother of the Hyundai: the Kia Cee’d. The Kia has been tested by European magazines and is getting some good reviews. It rides and feels like an European car: ride quality (multilink suspension), interior quality, space, mechanical credentials (7 year warranty) and a small diesel, everything one might expect from a native European car. We wonder how it will do in the market because with all those qualities it still has a rather generic and bland design… and we Europeans are a difficult crowd to please.

This gets us to the Arnejs. Not sure if Hyundai will use such a stupid name but they kept Cee’d for the Kia so it seems they want to build a tradition of stupid names. The Hyundai is expected to have all the features of the Kia plus the extra pluses that might make it more appealing. A bit more style in the design, a bit more attention to detail in the interiors, improved sound proofing materials and overall refinement. The extra layer that can justify a higher price than the Kia and that might just be the ticket for success in Europe. The design is the biggest question here but we will only have to wait a few weeks to meet the production car.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

2007 Peugeot 308... and future hybrid HDI

The next Peugeot 308 is ready for a market introduction in September at Frankfurt Auto-show beginning comercialization shortly after. Until then the car undergoes the latest tests in typical PSA black plastic bags dressing... But the pre-series are already being assembled and shown to people that... are telling us what they saw: Expect a great design, an evolution of the 307 but more sportier. And surprise... the diesel hybrid is for real, the new car was designed having that version previewed from the beginning. But it will arrive later than 2008...