Richard Dredge of Autocar magazine has an excellent, comprehensive article on the first model produced by every key car manufacturer still in existence today. I especially like the streamlined design of the Saab 92, which remains elegant today.
From the press release:
“This demo car is the first step of the proof of concept (PoC), but is an important step towards technology driven innovation,” said Yunseong Hwang, Director of Open Innovation Business Group from Hyundai Motor Group. “Future mobility windshields will be more than just a piece of glass. AR holographic powered glass will serve as a platform to provide new services and open up new in-vehicle experiences.”
AR (Augmented Reality) is going to be a key technology in the future with uses across multiple industries. Whilst applications in the automotive space are currently in the prototype or proof-of-concept stage, I can see it offering numerous benefits for the driver. Foremost, safety would be improved. Warnings and other hazards identified by ADAS (Advanced Driver Assist Systems) such as AEB (autonomous emergency braking), lane departure and blind spot warning systems could be directly marked out and highlighted in the driver’s line of sight, making them more visible, easier to understand and minimising the time that the driver spends looking away from the road. Likewise, navigation would become much more intuitive, with the driver being able to ‘see’ precisely which road to make a turn on or which lane to be in.
A highly advanced AR windscreen of sufficient size, resolution and contrast could replace both the driver’s instrument cluster and the infotainment display entirely. One section of the windscreen could be dedicated to displaying driver relevant information such as speed, ADAS warnings and navigation, whilst the other could serve as a display for selecting music, choosing a radio station, or viewing album art and other media. Shifting these displays onto the windscreen would create a further sense of space and potentially improve visibility, of both the outside and the infotainment system itself, for passengers.
From the press release on AutoNews:
“Mitsubishi Motors Australia established a new annual sales record of 84,944 vehicles in 2018, according to official VFACTS figures released today.
The record annual result capped a solid year for Mitsubishi with sales up 5.3% year-on-year against an overall decline of 3.0% in the new car market.
Triton was Mitsubishi’s best-selling model last year with over 24,000 units sold.
ASX and Outlander contributed over 19,000 and 15,000 sales respectively, with the ASX maintaining its position as the best-selling small SUV in 2018.
Mitsubishi Motors Australia, CEO, John Signoriello said the market last year was much more challenging than anticipated but the investment in our SUV and LCV model range had delivered a good outcome for the brand.”
The ASX isn’t something I would buy given that it is nearing obsolescence, however this goes to show that in a cutthroat segment of the market, heavy discounting that undercuts better competitors works. It would be fascinating to see how much of a profit dealers are making on the ASX. The model itself was first introduced in 2010 and is based on a platform first introduced in 2005 - and given the dated technologies being used, would be cheap to manufacture; however, this would be offset by the discounted prices.
Above: Mitsubishi ASX
Another thing this result demonstrates is the strong growth of SUVs and Utes in the Australian market over passenger cars (i.e. sedans/hatchbacks/station wagons). The age of the family sedan which had the Commodore, Falcon and Camry as its flagbearers is at an end. Over the last 10-15 years, Mitsubishi has shifted to an SUV/Ute dominant strategy, with the positively ancient Lancer and Mirage the only passenger cars in the lineup. Based on these results, it seems the company has put its eggs in the right basket.
Eric Loveday, writing for InsideEVs:
“The Polestar 2 will be fully revealed in the coming weeks, but here are some initial specs and information:
First full BEV from Polestar and the Volvo Car Group
~300 miles of range (all final specs to be announced shortly)
~400 HP (all final specs to be announced shortly)
Four-door “fastback” body type
World debut of the new Google Android HMI, which in turn is also the debut of the in-car version of Google Assistant
Will be sold in the Tesla Model 3 price range
Available on subscription, which will be a slightly more premium version of our sister brand’s Care by Volvo package, although we will honor/take cash sales”
I’m really excited for this car, and those specifications mean it will likely be a direct competitor to the Tesla Model 3. There’s not much to say about the final design from the teaser image, but it appears the tail will follow the contemporary design trend of having a rear light-bar.
Amy Chozick, writing for the New York Times:
She [Caroline Ghosn] and her sister Maya Ghosn, 26, do not have direct knowledge of their father’s business discussions, but both said watching Mr. Saikawa address the national news media had cemented their belief that internal company dynamics were at play.
“Wow,” Caroline Ghosn said. “He didn’t even waste a breath. He didn’t even try to cover up the fact that the merger had something to do with this.”
Maya Ghosn, who works in philanthropy, agreed. As Mr. Saikawa was “talking about the alliance, it was clear to me that there was way more associated with it,” she said. “My gut reaction was that this was bigger than the accusations against my dad.”
Nicholas Maxfield, a company spokesman, said: “These claims are baseless. The family would never have had any reason to be privy to discussions related to the future of Nissan and the alliance.”
“The cause of this chain of events is the misconduct led by Ghosn and Kelly,” Mr. Maxfield said. “During the company’s internal investigation into this misconduct, the prosecutor’s office began its own investigation and took action.” (Asked specifically whether a merger had been discussed, Mr. Maxfield said a previously announced six-year plan had called for “additional synergies and further convergence among the member companies.”)
Mr. Ghosn has remained in a small jail cell without the opportunity for bail since his arrest.
It will be a long while before the truth is finally revealed, but what a soap opera this is becoming for Nissan, Renault and the wider automotive industry. I don’t know much about the Japanese legal system, but locking Ghosn up without bail appears to be a heavy handed tactic for someone who hasn’t committed any physical crimes.
Michael Fisher (MrMobile) has an excellent road-trip review of Hyundai’s hydrogen fuel-cell powered Nexo:
I really dig the exterior styling of the Nexo. Hyundai’s ‘Cascading Grille’ family face combines harmoniously with the pseudo-front light-bar design of the headlamps to create a futuristic, sci-fi look whilst also visually widening the stance of the vehicle. Another detail I like is the metallic copper paintwork - copper is a rare colour to be offered on a new car these days, and on the Nexo it works particularly well around the rear three-quarters view, creating a distinctive contrast with the black band that creates a floating C-pillar and flows into the tailgate. With electrical wiring typically made from copper, this colour, unintentionally or not, also provides a subtle hint to the powertrain underneath.
To clarify, hydrogen vehicles are electric vehicles in the sense that they incorporate an onboard fuel-cell that takes hydrogen and converts it to electricity, which is subsequently stored in a small battery that directly powers the vehicle. For the sake of clarity, this article uses the term ‘battery electric vehicle’ (BEV) to refer exclusively to electric vehicles that are directly charged from mains electricity rather than using an onboard fuel cell. For further information please see my articles on how hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles and battery electric vehicles work.
The interior must be the most luxurious offered in a Hyundai branded vehicle in recent memory. It fuses a Mercedes-Benz inspired horizontal dual screen setup with a Lexus-style centre console, and is all the better for it.
Above left to right: The interior of the new Hyundai Nexo compared to the new Mercedes-Benz GLE and 2011 Lexus CT 200h. Notice the similarities in the horizontally oriented dual-screen setup with the Mercedes, and the design and arrangement of controls in the centre console with the Lexus CT.
Nevertheless, I am sceptical that hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles will ever have widespread private adoption. Despite substantial structural reinforcements and extensive testing, there is no getting around the fact that hydrogen is an extremely flammable fuel, and liable to explode in the event of an extremely severe collision. Although petrol and diesel vehicles today share the same flaw, I can see media coverage and public opinion around hydrogen vehicles becoming extremely cynical following a fatal accident, especially in light of the fact it is a new technology, and irrational cynicism from certain quarters and influential people about electric vehicle technology.
As highlighted in the above video, whilst hydrogen vehicles themselves don’t produce any greenhouse emissions, there are very limited ways to produce hydrogen itself in an environmentally friendly manner. Unlike electricity which can sustainably be produced through solar or hydro-electric power plants, the production of hydrogen involves the release of carbon-dioxide emissions. In this sense, hydrogen vehicles are merely shifting emissions up the hydrogen supply chain, rather than being a holistic, environmentally friendly transport solution.
Right now, a key advantage of hydrogen vehicles over their electric counterparts is the minimal time required to refuel - approximately 5 minutes versus at least 45 min-1 hour for a battery electric vehicle (BEV). However, this is a narrow-minded comparison that fails to take into account the convenience and versatility that battery electric vehicles offer. Fundamentally, hydrogen vehicles follow the same mindset as the typical petrol/diesel car. In order to fill up, you have to go to a dedicated refuelling station, which can be an errand in itself or another stop on a longer journey. In contrast, BEVs offer a huge convenience advantage in that you can charge your car at home. This virtually guarantees that your car is fully charged as soon as you’ve left your driveway, and on shorter day-to-day trips especially, saves the time and worry of having to stop specifically to refuel your car. This is compounded by the versatility of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Whilst dedicated charging stations/networks such as Ionity and others are available, unlike hydrogen refuelling stations and petrol/diesel pumps, these networks are by no means the only way to recharge your car. The extremely widespread availability of electricity today means that it’s easy to build charging points within multi-level carparks, shopping centres, hotels and other frequently visited locations. In these scenarios, it doesn’t matter that charging an electric vehicle takes longer than a hydrogen or petrol/diesel car, as the driver is off doing another activity whilst the car can charge unattended. As no time is spent solely on refuelling the car, the driver effectively saves time which can be used for other things. Thus, strict comparisons between the refuelling/charging time of hydrogen and BEVs are irrelevant as they don’t take into account the charge-at-home convenience and versatility offered by BEVs.
So, what does this all mean for the Nexo? As a vehicle itself, the Nexo is excellent; however, it’s a victim of Hyundai’s bet on the wrong propulsion technology. What I’d love to see is a battery electric version.
Doug Demuro has an excellent review of the legendary Porsche 959. With electronically controlled adaptive suspension, all-wheel-drive, torque vectoring, ABS, sequential turbochargers and a part Kevlar body, the 959, released in 1986, truly was 15 years ahead of its time. With a 0-100km/h acceleration of 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 317 km/h, the 959 remains fast even by today’s standards.
The all-new Skoda Scala slots in between the Rapid and Octavia in Skoda product range, and marks the first time in a while that Skoda has offered a direct competitor to popular models such as the VW Golf, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3 and Ford Focus, among others. Let’s go through why the Scala might be a worthy entrant into this segment.
As per Skoda’s press release, ‘Scala’ is Latin for ladder or stairs, and implies a new, perhaps more upmarket progression for the brand with regard to technology and design. As a result, I think that this name is appropriate for a few reasons for this car. Foremost, it marks the production version of Skoda’s ‘Vision RS’ concept, and the debut of an evolved visual design that places a greater focus on sharper, more geometric creases in the bodywork accompanied by ‘crystal glass’ elements in the headlights and tail-lights.
Above top: The sharper, more geometric creases in the Scala’s bodywork are reflected in this triangular wheel design. Below: The ‘slats’ along the bottom of the headlights evidence the crystal glass design that the Scala embraces.
Moreover, the Scala ostensibly debuts the Volkswagen Group’s third generation infotainment system, perhaps marking the first time that the budget oriented Skoda marque gets first dibs on technology new to the entire VW group. I say ostensibly, as the system appears to be less advanced than the triple screen setup used in certain Audi models.
The Scala introduces an extended, blacked-out rear glass windscreen which visually divides the tailgate into two distinct sections by contrasting with the bodywork below. This design is quite reminiscent of Volvo’s C30 and V40 hatchbacks, and, as with those vehicles, adds another point of difference from run-of-the-mill designs.
Above left to right: The design of the Scala’s tailgate apes the Volvo V40 and C30 - both of which drew inspiration from Volvo’s 1800ES estate.
An interesting, nitpicky, detail is the use of Skoda lettering across the tail, akin to the Volvos. I think this detail could be changed depending on the market where the car is sold to further enhance brand and model recognition. In markets such as Europe, where the Skoda brand is popular and well known, the Skoda lettering could be replaced with only ‘Scala’ instead. The car is already recognisably a Skoda, and doing so would focus attention on the new model line in particular and the evolved design language that it presents.
Of course, currently both the marque and model designation are clearly displayed on the tailgate, however this creates an asymmetrical, unbalanced look with no corresponding lettering on the right side.
As discussed previously, the front of the Scala presents an evolved, geometric interpretation of Skoda’s crystalline design language. I like it - it gives the Scala a differentiated look without being tasteless or overdone. Importantly, in a sign of attention to detail, the creases match up. Note how the bonnet creases either side of the Skoda badge flow precisely into the vertical grille slats, helping disguise the radar sensor, whilst additional character lines adjacent to the bottom of the grille align with those flowing into the headlamps.
Side profile and proportion
A recent article in Autocar magazine provides an illuminating set of reference images in order to judge a vehicle’s proportions by:
Above: The Range Rover in correct and incorrect proportions. It’s easy to see which one has the more appealing visual design.
Using those two images as a comparative benchmark, it’s clear that the Scala has been designed with the right proportions. The swage line across the side profile visually elongates the car, and the wheels (at least in this spec) and overhangs are appropriately sized. Together with the steeply raked D pillar, this creates a more aggressive, sporting appearance. Nevertheless, a small detail I dislike is the chrome trim around the door edges - this begins at the bottom of the doors before hooking and stopping abruptly halfway up the D-pillar. There doesn’t seem to be any design benefit to this, and it simply looks like an obvious cost-cutting measure.
The interior appears to be standard VW/Skoda fare, with an emphasis on the horizontal axis of the dashboard, and logically placed, easy to use HVAC (heating, ventilation, air-conditioning) controls. What is jarring is the use of a dated, space consuming manually operated handbrake instead of an electronic push button parking brake.
Overall, I quite like the design of the new Skoda Scala. The name is largely apt, the visual design is differentiated from key competitors and I’m pleased to see that, after a long time, Skoda is directly competing with vehicles in this segment.
Stefan Menzel, Martin Murphy, Dietmar Neuerer and Volker Votsmeier, writing for Handelsblatt:
“From 2006 to 2018, Volkswagen sold around 6,700 test cars in Europe and the US, a VW spokesman said, confirming German media reports. Around 4,000 were sold in Germany and the remainder in the rest of Europe or North America.
The cars, made to test and showcase new models before the launch of large-scale series production, should officially have been scrapped, but instead VW sold them as new or second-hand cars. The problem: motor transport authorities never approved these test models, only the ones produced in series.
Some models only needed a software update or a new navigation system to make them compliant, but others were so different from production cars, their only destination would be the scrap yard. VW explained that potential safety issues were the reason for the recall.
The matter has been deemed a serious offense by local authorities and the German Transport Ministry is deciding whether to fine VW a couple of thousand euros per test vehicle sold. Legal experts said VW may also face lawsuits, because consumers bought cars which may not have met the criteria the carmaker promised.
VW's own dealers are also angry. "Yet again we have to compensate the customer for damages that actually originated in Wolfsburg," said one car seller in southern Germany.”
This is, frankly, appalling. It’s unbelievable that one of the world’s largest car companies had, for 12 years (!!), no way of clearly distinguishing prototype and pre-production vehicles from production cars.
From a company as established as Volkswagen, it’s obvious for the customer to expect a certain standard of quality and a guarantee that the car will perform as marketed. Thus, having a potential range of issues as broad as simply needing a software update, to poor quality or non-compliant parts, likely worsens the situation for the customer by creating an additional air of uncertainty about the potential safety risk of the vehicle they’re driving. It appears that the customer has no further knowledge about whether their car might require a software update or substantial structural repairs/replacing.
As Volkswagen franchisees, this news will also have an adverse impact from a dealership point of view. Dealerships are typically the first port of call for the customer. Not only will they be responsible for providing compensation (hopefully VW corporate compensates them back) and going through the expense of organising, handling and repairing/replacing affected cars, but they will also share some of the ‘bad blood’ generated from this scandal through no direct fault of their own.
For Volkswagen itself, this episode further drags VW’s brand reputation through the mud, compounding problems for a company still reeling from the ‘Dieselgate’ saga. Whilst 7,000 or so cars over a 12 year period may seem minuscule compared to the millions of cars that the VW group sells annually, this news is sure to have an outsize impact on the brand’s previously heralded reputation for quality and safety.
It’s always great to see fantastical concepts from mainstream manufacturers make production, especially when the car is a collaboration between Nissan and Italdesign (a VW subsidiary). Costing more than a million dollars and with only 50 examples set to be produced, this is a guaranteed modern classic. I’m not sure about the gold-painted tail in the press photos above, but I love the futuristic interpretation of the GT-R’s iconic ‘stove-top’ tail lights.
Excellent article by Hilton Holloway from Autocar on the changes happening to the US vehicle market:
“Many new cars are sold to buyers at barely above their cost to the dealer, he said. Unless the dealership also has an active used car operation, new car sales are often not enough to pay the bills.
One big fear is the extent to which US car buyers have moved into leasing cars (much like the UK) since the Credit Crunch. Around 31% of new cars are sold as monthly leases and the cheap deals of recent times are running out.
The extent to which drivers who have borrowed themselves into significant debt, finding they owe $20,000 on a car they want to dispose of but which has a $10,000 trade-in value, is also a big concern for the industry, because people with negative equity can’t and won’t go out and buy a new car.
And it’s not just disappearing consumers who could undermine the carmakers – massive market shifts are catching them out as well. GM’s recent decision to close three plants and kill 14,000 jobs was mostly a consequence of the collapse in US road car sales as the market swings decisively to crossovers and pick-up trucks. “
It sounds like a combination of factors, from alternative ways to own cars (such as leasing and subscription services), to a shift in demand to SUVs and utes, have combined to create a hurricane that is disrupting the traditional process of outright purchasing a new car through a dealership. Watch this space.
Scott Collie, writing for CarAdvice:
“The headline inclusion will be an all-new Korando, set for reveal at the Geneva motor show in March. Production is set to start in July, with the first cars touching down in Australia early in the third quarter. August is likely at this point.
Ellis wouldn't be drawn on how many Ssangyong wants to sell, or indeed what the sales split will be going forward, but we know the company is chasing between 3000 and 3500 annual sales across its entire range.
Ssangyong is in the midst of its re-launch in Australia. It was backed by an importer last time it ventured into Australia, this time around it's a fully factory-backed operation – the first outside of Korea.”
This appears to be a more serious attempt by the Mahindra backed Korean company to gain a foothold in the Australian market, perhaps highlighted by the fact that Ssangyong will follow its compatriots Kia and Hyundai in selling its cars here with a unique Australian suspension tune. What’s interesting about this is that vehicles with the Australian tune will apparently be sold 3 months after the brand’s initial launch. Personally, if I was the head of Ssangyong in Australia, I’d refrain from selling vehicles until all Australian delivered cars had a localised suspension tune. What happens to the resale value of those initial vehicles delivered in the first few months? If I was a buyer looking for a used Ssangyong, I would hate having to tediously check build and compliance dates to ensure I was purchasing a vehicle with the Australian suspension tune.
More fundamentally, I think the only way Ssangyong will succeed here is on the basis of low prices compared to Hyundai, Kia and other ‘mainstream’ brands. Whilst the design of the current range is a lot more attractive than vomit-inducing horrors such as the Stavic (Rodius) and Actyon, they are no more appealing than other cars in the same class. Compared apples-to-apples, every Kia and Hyundai sold here has greater brand recognition and is simply a better car than its Ssangyong competitor. Consequently, the company should focus in the short term on offering a value packed offering that can compete directly with Haval and other budget brands sold here.
Above left to right: The Rexton, Musso and Tivoli, which along with the yet to be revealed new Korando, will make up the Ssangyong range in Australia.
I’m currently on a trip to India, and was lucky enough to sit in an electric auto-rickshaw for the first time. Suffice to say, the experience was a step up over the typical CNG (natural gas) powered rickshaws, with the most significant benefits being the quietness of the electric motor and the lack of smoke. A range of 70km is sufficient for the urban travel that auto-rickshaws typically undertake, and I’m hoping that these vehicles become more popular in India over the coming year.
Below are some photos I took of the Yatri Deluxe:
Hans Greimel, writing for Automotive News:
‘Ghosn, 64, allegedly under-reported his income in official stock market filings. He diverted corporate investment funds for personal use. And he misused company expenses, Saikawa said. Ghosn was taken into custody earlier in the day after arriving at a Tokyo airport and charged with similar violations of Japan’s financial laws, local media reported.
It was bombshell development for one of the industry’s most storied executives and a man who created its biggest automotive partnership, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. Ghosn oversees them all as chairman of the alliance, while individually chairing all three carmakers and concurrently serving as CEO of French partner Renault.’
This is shocking. Alongside the late Sergio Marchionne, Ghosn is one of the most influential and famous executives in the automotive industry, and widely credited with turning around the fortunes of Nissan and for forming the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. It will be fascinating to see the consequences of these revelations unfold and their impact on the Alliance, given the substantial amount of power Ghosn held over the three companies.
Above: Brands of the Alliance. From left to right, they are Renault, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Dacia, Renault-Samsung, Lada, Alpine, Infiniti, Venucia and Datsun.
Mark Tisshaw from Autocar has a fascinating look at some of the wacky concepts and curiously interesting production models on show at this year’s Guangzhou Motor Show. Whilst models such as the BAIC BJ80 are clear rip-offs (the Mercedes-Benz G-Class in this case), other cars such as the GAC Aion and the Wey P8 GT offer differentiated styling that demonstrates the domestic Chinese automotive industry is maturing.
Jim Holder, writing for Autocar:
“If a plant closure is the favoured option, it is likely the axe will be brought down on Ellesmere Port. PSA has already highlighted deficiencies at the Cheshire facility, while Vauxhall's Luton factory had its fate secured for ten years back in April due to demand for capacity to build the Vivaro van.
This news continues as a flow-on effect following Groupe PSA’s 2017 acquisition of Opel and Vauxhall. The Ellesmere Port factory solely builds the Vauxhall Astra in right hand drive (RHD) for the UK, a car which for Australia, is built at PSA’s factory in Poland. Ultimately, the closure of this factory would not be unexpected - it’s already surprising that an identical model needs to be built in two separate locations despite only the UK and Australia being key markets for the RHD Astra. Surely savings would be realised by shifting production of UK models to the same Polish factory where Australian vehicles are currently sourced from.
Above: Vauxhall Astra, sold in Australia as the Holden Astra
Excellent essay by Karl Smith from Car Design News on the transition from Mazda’s ‘Nagare’ design language to the contemporary ‘Kodo’:
“The Nagare language, first introduced in 2006, was developed by Franz von Holzhausen and Laurens van der Acker. It featured streamlined forms with lots of lines and textures.
A casual glance at the Shinari suggests an evolution of Nagare, rather than a totally new expression. The natural curves and organic surfacing are still there, just more subtle and refined.
It might be interpreted as more mature, more developed from the earlier, expressive Nagare forms – but Kodo is built on a different aesthetic and philosophical foundation to Nagare. Both emphasise natural curves and tension, but Kodo works towards simplicity and the power of surfacing rather than dramatic windswept forms, layered lines, and details.”
Above left to right: The namesake Nagare, followed by the Hakaze, Ryuga, Taiki, Furai, Kazamai and Kiyora concepts
As highlighted in Smith’s essay, the Nagare language melded streamlined shapes with flowing character lines to create an organic, almost ‘born from nature’ character. This is perhaps best highlighted in the Furai racing concept, whose headlamps and front grille mimic leaves within a set of flowing tree branches, and the Kiyora concept, whose colour and flowing door textures are inspired by water.
Above left to right: The Shinari, RX-Vision, Vision Coupe and Kai concepts
In contrast to the Nagare language, Kodo marks a clear shift away from textures and character lines to a greater focus on proportion that is allowed to show itself through simple, elegant surfacing. This is perhaps best evidenced in the stunning 2017 Vision Coupe concept, where the cab-rearward proportions are accentuated by a solitary, sword-like bone line flowing across the side profile.
Chris Maillard, writing for Car Design News:
The Gacha Shuttle Bus is, they say, the first autonomous bus in the world for all weather conditions. Tech agency Sensible 4, based in Espoo, Finland is a specialist in cold-weather AV technology and has provided the autonomous driving systems, with the support of Finnish cities Espoo, Vantaa and Hämeenlinna.
The design is made in consideration of the users. The highlights of the design are its shape, which is friendly and designed with no front or back, the LED light belt, which is made from the combination of the headlights and communication screen, and the seating that follows the soft rounded square shape of the bus.
I think a key tenet of great design is not just that it’s beautiful just for beauty’s sake, but also that it’s a functional, utilitarian design that effectively fulfils its purpose. There is no need for a driver in this bus, so why design a driver oriented vehicle?
The Muji bus maximises the potential of the autonomous vehicle concept. The egg shaped exterior design with soft, rounded corners develops a friendly character with a large glasshouse and excellent visibility for passengers. This welcoming theme is continued inside, where the lack of a driver enables space to be maximised and a moving lounge atmosphere, with a curved seating area enabling passengers to easily converse with each other. Above all, this design demonstrates the superiority of having a vehicle designed with autonomy from the outset, rather than simply removing the wheel from a conventional bus design.
Lexus has announced pricing and specifications of the all-new UX crossover prior to its launch in the Australian market later this month. Let’s have a look at how the UX compares to its key rivals:
It’s clear from the above table that the Audi Q2, rather than the Lexus, offers the best price/performance ratio, with the cheapest price but also the best fuel consumption and second fastest acceleration.
Moreover, whilst the design of the vehicle includes on-trend elements such as a full-width rear light bar, I find the overall design of the car to be distasteful. This is especially the case with the side profile, with excessive creasing and character lines that fail to create any cohesion, and an awkwardly proportioned, excessively wide C-pillar.
I’m really looking forward to the reveal of the new Mazda 3, which will happen soon at the Los Angeles Motor Show. November 30 can’t come soon enough.
From the teaser image above, it appears that the new Mazda 3, at least in hatchback form, closely follows the Kai concept, apart from the usual details that are toned down for production, such as the huge wheels.
Above: The Mazda Kai concept, widely believed to be a preview of the production Mazda 3. Note especially the similarities in the C-pillar design between the concept and the production hatchback in the teaser.
One concern I do have about the production Mazda 3 is the apparent regression from a multi-link to a more basic torsion beam rear suspension design. Mazda says this is for greater refinement and NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) suppression, however this reason is frankly bullshit. Competitors such as the VW Golf are lauded for their refinement, yet incorporate multi-link suspension that also improves ride and driving dynamics. As a further example, reviews of the new Ford Focus, which uses a multi-link setup in more expensive trim levels, note a significant difference in steering and handling as compared to the torsion beam suspension. Therefore, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the new Mazda 3 take a step backwards compared to its predecessor in terms of driving dynamics and transition from the class benchmark to merely being average. Heck, even the new Corolla has moved in the opposite direction, in improving from a torsion beam setup to a standard multi-link rear suspension across all variants.