Let’s start, for no particular reason, with Porsche. Here’s something akin to a Porsche joke. The majority opinion among journos is that the new Cayenne has a “Korean-car’s butt”, in other words a generic, nondescript appearance. Ask a Porsche guy about it and in the unlikely case he’ll answer your question (I posed it in the most polite terms possible, so he did), he’ll say they redesigned the rear end to appeal more to Chinese tastes. This, from an Austrian-sounding fellow… What else is there to say about the new Cayenne? Well, it weighs less than before, and has a grand total of 52 buttons on the dashboard, which at least proves that Porsche isn’t listening to Jack Baruth.
I’d like to say something about the new VW Touareg, and if ed(itor) Ed forced me to, I’m sure I could (but he didn’t, so I won’t). The thing is, the Touareg is not so much a car as it is a cash cow for VW; if TTAC was about car industry finance, there’d be a lot more to report. In other news from Geneva, VW is forcing its staff to wear Rupert Pupkin suits, which they do like champs. And VW is showing the Polo Cross. Don’t laugh: you’d be cross too if they forced you to wear stilts.
Everybody in Geneva’s swarming around the Audi A1. I wanted to scream: settle down everybody, it’s just a Polo in drag! It brings to mind a recent mini-scandal whereas it was uncovered that BMW briefs its dealers to say: “Vorsprung Durch Technik is dead — there has been no technical innovation at Audi since 1997″. On the other hand, I like the clambshell styling of the A1, since it reminds me of NSU’s of a time long gone.
Skoda is another successful brand within the VW empire; it used to be about excellent value for money. So I was surprised to see the Fabia Combi RS. It’s a superhot very small station wagon. So, station wagons have come full circle? A long time ago, they were utilitarian but rough vehicles that made children and dogs vomit. For a while, they were family-friendly; apparently it’s back to making life uncomfortable for passengers again.
Speaking of family-friendly, I was prepared to diss the Opel Meriva: who really needs suicide doors? (Except for a suicidal, of course). But then I got into the Meriva on display and thought of some old people I know. My verdict: it really does make a difference. Opel claim is easier entry and egress, but here is another additional advantage I can think of: the front-hinged door probably makes it a lot easier to install a child seat. One more definite plus: minimization of potential harm to a bicyclist. I know several bikers who were hospitalized after hitting a suddenly-opening car door. Make the door open the other way, and the biker just hits the flat steel surface.
So kudos to Opel, and good luck. (See, we can write nice things about GM!)
What is wrong with Mazda? The new 5 looks like a Ssannggyyonng, for crying out loud. Just compare the rear of the 5 to that of the Rodius and you’ll see what I mean. The 5’s front is all zoom-zoom smiley while the sides try hard (with little success) to integrate the swoopy-creasy stuff we’ve seen on many a recent Mazda concept car. Next!
The Mitsubishi ASX, as a smartly-styled CUV based on the Lancer, could be a pointless exercise but at the planned low price point of 18.000 Euros, it looks like very good value for money.
Dacia belongs to the Renault Group, which you wouldn’t guess if you saw the Renault Gordinis here in Geneva. I like old European sporting brands such as Abarth, Gordini and AMG — who doesn’t? The first two are presently being awaken from a long slumber, and make special driver’s cars that are more aggressive, have more bite and rasp, than other hot hatches. Do they fit into the present day, where every family car has sporting pretensions? I think so.
Another new Renault is the Wind, a small, two-seater droptop. Jeremy Clarkson will probably say it’s a bit Ginger Beer but since four-seater cabrios are torture to the rear passengers, and the Wind has an ingenious, simple roof construction, I give it a thumbs-up.