Monday, July 30, 2007

Sniffpetrol's new blog

Sniffpetrol site has a new architecture: now it’s a blog, and by the looks of it, regularly updated. Since it's a blog and still keeps the familiar orange design then it must be very good, right? It’s great of course. Amongst other interesting stories they have a new one on the Mini clubman that reports on something Auto-Future knew long ago but didn’t report… because we don’t like the Mini clubman. Regular Mini: love… Clubman version: don’t really care.

Another quality-orange blog, yesterday

Friday, July 27, 2007

2009 Audi A1

Recent information has surfaced on the next very-small Audi. British CAR magazine presented some “official” sketches of the car and interesting information. The drawings do look very nice but then that is expected, the final version might look closer to the preview below. The technical bits are more interesting because they refer to a new platform, different from Polo/Fabia/Seat underpinnings, and one that could have quattro AWD system (in this case read Haldex system). This is good for added credibility, much needed if Audi plans to take on the Mini. Some folks are now saying “oh crap, another we will not get in the USA” but then again, what interest could this car have for Americans?... well, I suppose Paris Hilton could buy one for her dog!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

2009 Opel Astra

How should a sporty version of the future Astra look? Well, sport and tacky of course, just like the preview CGI by Autozeitung below. Opel's lack of finesse is legendary and one would be disappointed if Opel cars suddenly started to look classy and elegant. More interesting is the fact that Autozeitung still refers to the future Astra as a notchback in its 5-door version when almost all of the cars in this class have converged to a hatchback with thick C-pillar configuration. We could not confirm this with inside information so a surprise element is in the works.

Monday, July 23, 2007


...or a SUV by MINI. It was recently confirmed that BMW will develop a SUV version of their MINI maxi-success car. Specifically, the car will be based on the underpinnings of the Clubman version with added 4WD and some limited off-road capabilities. This version marks yet another step in the progression of the Mini range. We are not very big fans of the Clubman and we suspect it will not be very successful (this is a risky statement…). But not the SUV version, if it looks as good as the CGI it will be a fantastic hit. Other than the confirmed SUV, someone told us about another version of the Mini family, developed towards very low CO2 emissions. The word Zero was pronounced… we wonder why, zero as in very small?...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Peugeot 3008 SUV

Peugeot is getting ready a small SUV to compete against the Ford Kuga, VW Tiguan, Renault Koleos, etc. The image below shows a really nice design although it’s still early for a credible representation. The small SUV is for now known as 3008 and its development program includes, besides the 3008 SUV, MPV versions with 5 and 7 seats. Finally Peugeot understands the importance of compact MPVs in the European market, many years were lost loosing market share due to the absence of such versions in Peugeot’s range.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

2008 Ford Fiesta

A new CGI of the Fiesta... that might get a new name. This looks like a Mazda 2-based job although in reality the new Fiesta might be a bit more unrelated to the small Mazda than one might have thinked of. Because the new Mazda is slightly smaller than the previous version, while we believe that, in typical recent Ford of Europe policy, the new Fiesta will be a very big car for its segment average. Also notice the Mondeo front, we don't like it because it reminds us how the Mondeo is different from the Iosis concept: it was so promising and it turned out so generic!

Monday, July 16, 2007

2008 Ford Falcon

Meet Australia’s greatest invention: the mainstream RWD saloon. And why is it so great? Well, we have quite a few great RWD saloons in Europe and USA but these are usually from luxury brands and come with the luxury price tag. But the folks down-under are clever, they make bread-and-butter RWD saloons that everyone can afford. And with V8 engines available for even more fun. We followed the Holden Commodore with great interest dreaming that it would be available in Europe as some future Opel. Not quite, but people in the UK can buy it as a Vauxhall. And folks in the US will have available the Pontiac G8 based on the Australian GM machine.

Ford of Australia is also updating its Falcon and hopefully its platform will cross oceans and be eventually found in other Ford models of the US and Europe (well, sadly maybe not in Europe). The image below is obviously taking inspiration from the Commodore but there are some disturbing signs that affect its credibility. We have seen recent spy-shots of the Falcon and in all the images the front overhang was very big. This is not apparent in the preview below and is not a good sign for a future sp
orty RWD saloon.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Saab 9-5 CGI

Every now and then we are reminded that Saab still exists with some new CGI of a future model or news of yet another restyling of one of their current models. Now we have a CGI that translates to a very easy analysis: too good to be true. Too much 4-door coupe, too much elegance, too much sophisticated sportiness. Nothing of the features we can expect from a GM brand although we suspect some managers of GM don’t even know Saab exists. Ouch, that was mean and unnecessary, we apologize in advance!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Renault Megane III, not presented below

The next Megane III, not presented below, is a very important car for Renault and one with a mission: to establish Renault as leader in the mainstream compact segment while increasing profitability. And with another thing to improve over the current model: a more constant sales level, that is, the current Megane started selling very well but after the novelty effect passed sales lowered loosing to the older Peugeot 307. Renault needs to fix that with a more mature design that ages better while still keeping Renault design features. In the picture not presented below it doesn’t seem like the design is very mature but nothing like seeing it on the road for a proper evaluation.

Technically we can expect a great car: the passive safety will be class leader, the interior space will be improved on the current model and the suspension design will probably be the reference of the FWD mainstream class, judging by the very good manners of the Nissan Qashqai that marked the introduction of Renault’s new compact platform. In this respect the new Megane will score points over the Peugeot 308 that still keeps a French-tradition torsion beam in the rear.

It is interesting to note that 2008 will mark a French domination in sales of this class of cars in Europe: the new 308 will be the sales leader in 3-5 door models while either the Scenic or the Picasso will be sales leaders in the compact-MPVs. At the end of 2008 the Golf VI arrives and in the beginning of 2009 the Megane should be ready for a formidable fight with the VW model.

Finally, what’s with the “not presented below” picture? Some stolen images of what looks like a final design and unmasked version of the car were presented by a French magazine and could be illustrating this entry. Auto-Future reports on a lot of these scoops (and other stuff like technical information, EV future series, inside tips, etc), but we believe that showing those images means bad business to Renault. We are still more than one year before introduction of the model so this leak is much more serious than photographing masked prototypes or uncovered vehicles a couple of months before presentation. The interested reader can find those images very quickly on the internet so we are doing this as an editorial statement. We love all car brands and wish no harm to the folks that design and build cars all over the world. So if we feel that we could be hurting their business with a scoop image we don’t present it. And in this case Renault had a very serious security problem with this leak, such thing can not happen more than one year before the presentation of the car!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Official Audi A4 picture

The title of this entry is just slightly inaccurate, ok, maybe a bit more than just slightly,… oh well, it’s misleading and wrong! Or maybe not. Autobild presented a CGI of the next Audi A4. Considering that the car is to be presented at Frankfurt show in September and that this is a Huckfeldt job, we can safely consider the image below (the yellow car) as good as official. We are just guessing here but this could well be a photoshop based on a real photo of the car if Huckfeldt sources are as good as we think. The other image below shows a CGI from more than one year ago and we can see how accurate it already was back then.

It’s also nice to notice that the A4 will be more pleasing to the masses than the Audi A5 that still is a bit strange in the front design. Unfortunately the Audi A4 will probably display the same technical limitations of the A5/S5 that have been so criticised by the press (we remember EVO using some very harsh words: "something of an understeer fest, no matter whether ESP is switched on or off "). Or maybe in the more comfort-oriented saloon the new steering and front suspension feel better.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Small Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo and Audi want a piece of the Mini's market share. So they are getting ready small "premium" cars to fight the Mini. The Alfa Romeo pictured below is rumoured to use bits from the Fiat Grande Punto, while the Audi A1 will make use of whatever platform from small Seats and VWs that is in use. However, these two brands have a problem: how to match the iconic status of the Mini, the vintage design and credibility gained from a classic car design? Alfa Romeo could design the car like some classic Alfas from the 70's but these were RWD and the new small Alfa not. But it seems Alfa Romeo and Audi found a vintage factor: they will not be using a multilink suspension as the Mini but instead a cheaper whatever-type as in the cheap cars from their sisters cheap brands. Ah, vintage, right? Multilink is modern so whatever-cheap must be vintage, right? Errr... not?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Future diesel-hybrids

A recent study has presented theoretical advantages of the introduction of diesel-hybrids. According to the results, presented in the graphic below, the highest gains can be obtained with diesel-hybrids in relation to gasoline-hybrids, being this advantage higher for the heavier cars.

These results confirm a trend that is developing under the radar for future cars. Other than the announced Peugeot 308 HDI-hybrid, we know from inside sources that several of the big names of component and system manufacturers have ongoing programs that include diesel-hybrid technology. And, as expected, this technology will see its higher development for European manufacturers.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Alfa Romeo 149

A new image of the next compact Alfa Romeo has surfaced, presumably originated from an internal presentation. There is no new information regarding our previous story on the 149, except that the presentation mentions an “active anti-roll system”. We didn’t see that coming, but a quick research confirms that Fiat issued a patent on a very simple mechanism for a active anti-roll bar. That is some interesting piece of kit that can do wonders for handling although previous experiences (notably the Citroen Xantia Activa but also Mercedes and BMW systems) have failed to convince drivers of a real improvement in driving pleasure. A case to follow.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


The picture shows an early mule of the next generation BMW X3. Fashionably dressed as an enlarged 3-series station, it has raised rumours as whether BMW would build a Audi Allroad-type vehicle based on the 3-series Touring. Well, it will not. Such thing will not exist. But we can envisage a nice evolution of the fantastic X3 small-SUV and also a new model, a sort of coupe-ish version with lower roofline and even more car-like features. That will be the X4 (tentative designation).

The BMW X4 will be the equivalent of the X6 in the smaller-SUV-land of BMW. And since we mention the X6, follow us on this: it will blow your mind. No really, that thing looks so good that is unbelievable. It will make hardcore environmentalists want to buy a SUV… errr, maybe not, but I’m a conscious person, interested in an environment-friendly future of auto (just check the “road to EV future” on this joint) and I totally want the X6. Funny how in a couple of years BMW will have a fantastic array of SUVs: X3-X4-X5-X6 (and it seems a X1 is also on plan), who would have thought some years ago! There is a good reason for BMW making all those SUVs: profit. Just check the current X3, it’s still based on the old E46 touring underpinnings with most of the development and tooling costs paid long ago, and BMW sells it for more money than the current 3-series. That car is a cash-cow!

Technically the next X3 will benefit from the E90 base and the most advanced iteration of the X-Drive system featuring torque vectoring. WTF is torque vectoring? Nice phrase for a T-shirt but we will need a blog entry just for that. Later, in a special on future active-safety systems. The next X3 (and also the current model in a few months) will also feature the “efficient dynamics” set of technical bits that are making BMW leader in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in some classes of vehicles. The next X3 will also benefit from increased efforts in weight reduction and thanks to that and the “efficient dynamics” tech it will probably have CO2 emissions very close to some non-SUV competitors.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Ford Focus restyling

Mainstream car brands are very predictable. For example, every now and then Renault, Ford, Opel, Volkswagen etc. change their front design, or if you want to talk fancy, their design language. And then these new design elements progress to the rest of the range. Check Ford for example. The S-Max presented the kinetic design and quickly Ford restyled the front of the C-Max to incorporate a S-Max face. Now that the Mondeo was presented we can also expect a restyling of the Focus incorporating design elements from the Mondeo. And so it will be. And in a year or two it starts again. Check VW: the Tiguan was just now presented and it shows the chrome face of recent VW models. But that front design will change with the next Golf VI to be presented next year. And then give it one more year and the Tiguan (and Passat) will be restyled with the new corporate face. Predictable, right? Generating marketing opportunities and sales in the short term, probably. Profitable in the long term?...not sure.