Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Inside Koenigsegg Is Back, To Show You A 'Megacar'

The motoring industry's favourite Bond Villain is back! The YouTube channel /DRIVE has once again persuaded Christian Von Koenigsegg to open the doors to his wonderful car company, as they prepare their most extreme car yet, the One:1. While it may look like just an updated Agera R, it is in fact a comprehensive mechanical makeover promising some serious figures. 1360PS and 1360kg give it its name, as he explains, while the Swedish company has claimed that this "Megacar" can go from 0-250mph in just 20 seconds. Twenty seconds! My car takes 14 seconds to hit 60mph! What's more, because Koenigsegg employ a Porsche-like philosophy of constantly evolving and improving a single design, the One:1 will be more refined and resolved than the similarly-fast Hennessey Venom, and unlike the Venom will actually be an official OEM production car (rather than a tuned Lotus). Active aerodynamics play a bigger role in this car than the Agera R, in order to harness its megawatt of power. This could just be the hypercar to slay them all... and we get to know every dirty little detail, piece by piece, over the next few Tuesday evenings. This'll be good!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Sometimes The Customer Is Wrong... And An Idiot

A BMW-backed styling and marketing exercise, and a Mini.
Someone recently questioned people's criticism of the new MINI Countryman and used model bloat (each replacement being bigger than its predecessor) as an excuse. My response? Well, model bloat is one thing, but the thing about the Countryman is that it's the same as having a Golf that's the same size as a Passat. The Golf Plus (Renault Scenic rival) was not a successful car.

Besides, it's basic logic to think that huge Minis are weird and sort of wrong (or very wrong if it's also called - blegh - Paceman). Small is what the word "Mini" means. It would be like Maserati selling a two-door car called Quattroporte! The Fiat 500L is equally wrong, because again, everyone knows what a Fiat 500 is, what it's meant to be, and that it is meant to be a very small city car. That's the very basis of the brand (again, like MINI). But because some people are fat and greedy, they have to dilute the brand and sell the car purely on the badge and garish styling that apes the car you actually like.

Brand dilution is how our era is being defined, and I hate it. I really hate it a lot.

Land Rover (and I know this because their design manager told us in person when briefing us for our live design project with them) aren't interested in making rugged-looking, mud-plugging off-roaders like the Defender any more. They want a softer-looking, premium brand for their customers, who are now far more Harrods than Himalayas. They basically want every product of theirs to be a Range Rover and are even considering re-branding as just Range Rover. Yes, they'll still have to be off-road capable - they're not that shameless like BMW are - but they can't look like utility vehicles. They must be more like lifted luxury wagons. Imagine a British Audi but with Q-models only and their own graphics. We basically have to give the Jaguar C-X17 a floating roof and different headlights. They've tried killing off the Defender multiple times, but the hardcore cult following refuses while also asking for more creature comforts in it.

And that's just one brand! Look out the window and you'll see SUVs/Crossovers from sports car companies, front-wheel-drive BMWs (actually badged as such now, rather than just being the reason they're pissing on a prestigious other brand) and the Aston Martin Cygnet, although that symbol of so many wrongs is happily no longer with us. In 20 years time they'll all make everything, and you'll only choose based on styling and/or who has the most interesting back catalogue.

This industry is fucking crazy, man. And you know what? Sometimes the customer is wrong. And an idiot. The vast majority of car buyers - i.e. the target market - has either chosen a brand to stick to until one of them dies or just has a generic list of requirements that are met by probably 30 different new cars on sale today. They don't know what they want beyond those things, things which probably just include modern gadgets, styling they like, affordability and enough interior space. So why are car companies bending down to people who don't honestly know what they want? TELL THEM what they want! Meet the generic What Car? requirements and then show them what makes sense and tell them what makes fucking no sense at all, like a massive MINI or a hatchback-based crossover that is literally just a sensible car with a bigger body on it that spoils every aspect of the rest of the car so that morons can pretend they're in something safer and cooler. Or an automatic BRZ. Or a front-wheel-drive Land Rover. Stick to your fucking values or you'll all just dissolve into one big soup bowl of synthetic everything-for-everyone genericars separated only by styling and what cool shit you were doing 20-60 years ago that has no bearing on the lumps filling your forecourts today.

This is the nightmare that's so easy to predict. I only hope that, as it sometimes can, the car industry will surprise us all and maintain individuality in the face of desperation and brand depreciation.

Modern Day Play On A Trad Print Ad

So the other day, on Twitter, I came across a cool old print ad for the Citroën 2CV, which featured tongue-in-cheek comparisons with the latest and greatest of the automotive world of the time in such a way that the little two-horse farmer's car came out on top (think TopGear's Škoda Yeti review but on one A4 page). I thought to myself that it would be fun to do a similarly smart-arsed version for a new Citroën. So, because I had some responsibilities to avoid, I did so. You've probably already looked at it, seeing as it's above this text, so find the original inspiration below. Vive Citroën!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

2014 Geneva Motor Show Roundup Part 2

Citroën C4 Cactus Adventure Concept, under a thin veil. I will post about the regular C4 Cactus separately because it's awesome
Seeing as the Geneva Motor Show is pretty huge, I was never going to fit every interesting and/or important car in one post without making to massive that the one-column format of this blog would've made it a tedious scroll-fest that took whole minutes to load all the pictures. So, because there's plenty more to show you, here's a part two, with ten more new releases!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

2014 Geneva Motor Show Roundup Part 1

Giugiaro Clipper Concept doing its thang
The famous Italian design house is owned by VW these days (they did the original Golf, don't you know). This is a 6-seat EV
It's that time again, folks! The most interesting and important motor show of the year has kicked off in Geneva, Switzerland. As this is neutral ground, it's a chance for every car company (primarily European ones and the EU branches of those further afield) to have an equally-sized presence with concepts and production previews - or even finished cars - that will give you an idea of what to expect from them this year, in the years to come, or never. Let's take a look at some of the more interesting and/or important ones, in no particular order.