The Chinese will be the first to lay eyes on Peugeot’s beautiful new concept car, the Exalt, at the Beijing Auto Show that starts later in the month. Along with great artistic touches inside and out, it’s also a hybrid that can run on gasoline, pure electricity or both. The Exalt is a sedan that anticipates Peugeot’s take on the sedan as a coupe -and it’s another example of a dying brand throwing a “hail mary” pass in the form of an attractive concept car.
Posts By: Marcelo de Vasconcellos
Serendipity is what I believe it’s called. On the day TTAC was aflutter with news and comments on the new Chevy Colorado and an out-of-the-box thinking proposal to get the Chevy Montana into the North American market, I got some news in my e-mail inbox. The new Ford Ranger has arrived in Brazil – but in regular cab form.
Last time I told you of the perfect legal, societal and media storm which conspired to make me let go of the car of my dreams. This time reasons of a more personal, and very human, nature, joined up to make the Fiat Tipo a car that never was to be mine.
The year was 1995. The country: Brazil. A new Constitution had been proclaimed a few years before, and our fledgling democracy had survived a presidential impeachment. Society was growing up and demanding new, more transparent relations with big business. The car market was more open than it had been since the 1950′s, and due to the deluge of imported cars, that brief window would soon close. I was there, in the eye of a hurricane, looking to buy my very first car with my own money. All those factors made up the perfect storm, which conspired to pull me away from the car of my dreams.
As of late Brazil has been on a roll and a multitude of makers have set up or are in the process of setting up in our tropical paradise. Everybody from Jaguar to Hyundai (not to mention a motley crew of Chinese brands) are placing their bets, but they face an obstacle that nobody has really noticed: the existence of a number of foreign makes that locals consider, well, local. Among them, the most Brazilian of makes – Volkswagen. Currently trailing Fiat, and sometimes GM, VW nonetheless is as Brazilian as feijoada, and for the first time in decades, VW has deemed us worthy of getting a taste of the best they have to offer on their European menu, the whimsically named up!.
According to this Brazilian site, this is the list of the 10 most sold cars in the history of Brazil. Some of them are just for us, while others have been sold in other countries, even in the First World, even if under a different brand, or a different company altogether. Do you think you have a clue? Don’t worry if you don’t, even I was surprised by some.
The rumors have it that the new Ford Ka will be on sale as of March this year. Production of the old Ka has come to a close as the Zetec Rocam engines have also been terminated (and thus the old Brazil-market Fiesta is probably dead as well). At launch, the new Ka will come exclusively with a 1.5 Sigma engine and a 1.0, three cylinder, EcoBoost-based engine. Rumors have it that it will be the most powerful 1.0 engine in Brazil and will thus have to provide around 82 ponies.
Another victim of government meddling in Brazil’s auto market is dead. Fiat’s venerable old Uno, redubbed the Mille a while ago, will not receive airbags and ABS, as per a newly mandated law, and thus will go into history’s dustbin alongside VW’s Kombi. As a farewell, Fiat has unleashed into the Brazilian market its own last edition, the Grazie Mille (“Thanks a Thousand” a clever pun on the car’s official name, Mille, though the market still calls it Uno). It can be had for slightly over $13,000, and it’s the most well equipped Uno Mille of recent times. A nod back to when this car had the panache to dispute middle class families’ hearts.
The Conselho Nacional de Trânsito, the highest traffic authority in Brazil, has just unauthorized the Economic Ministry’s intention of opening up an exception to venereal, I mean venerable, Volkswagen Kombi (known as Bus in the U.S.). It has ratified the governmental organ’s own resolutions of 2009, which implemented a gradual, mandatory adoption of airbags and ABS systems, reaching 100 percent of cars sold in Brazil as of 2014.
The Twingo is celebrating its 20th birthday and many people the world over are celebrating and reminiscing of times gone by in what was a car that dared to stand out in a staid market accustomed to treating A-segment buyers as second class. Renault came along and actualized Patrick Le Quément’s vision, and in the process, created a legend.
On the off chance that someday you might walk into your local Ford dealership in Kalamazoo and buy a Brazilian-built Ford EcoSport, at least you now get the ease of mind that it got five stars from Latin NCAP, the institution that tests cars sold in Latin America, in Germany, using pretty much Euro NCAP standards. So it would seem that, as TTAC has previously reported, Brazilian cars may not all be deathtraps.
1957. Italy was having a ball. La dolce vita was in full swing and Italians were on the up and up. Along came the original Fiat 500, or Cincuecento, to enliven things that much more. It’s hard to understand nowadays how exciting it is to see a nation get motorized, but the 500 helped Italians along and get over the World War doldrums.
Now, you Americans will be able to get a taste of that fabled time in recent Italian history. Fiat has cooked up an even more retro 500, Called the 1957 Edition, which seems to be an American special.
If you get it, you’ll be able to enjoy Fiat’s Multiair 1.4 16v engine good for 105 ponies mated to a manual or an auto 6 speed. More important than that, this special edition features a brown leather interior with sand colored details. Exterior colors are very 50-ish too: baby blue, water light green and white. The wheels are a modern take on 50s hubcaps and are 16 inches. According to sources, the suspension is calibrated in a more sporting set up. Finally, Fiat logos are done in the style of the 50s.
To be even more perfect I’d have called it Edizione 1957 to complete the Italian-ness. Call me jealous.
Recently, as to the attention given by TTAC to the spy shots of what might be or not a future Ford Ka sedan in southern Michigan, commenter Kenmore asked, “Has any other sad little runt of an econocar ever received so much attention on TTAC?”. Since you asked, I’ll offer up a brief pictorial explanation. (Read More…)
Derek’s recent article on the CUV “event horizon” seemed to have been misunderstood by some of the B&B. Derek’s fine analysis showed you how one type of car, the crossover, has left its usual stronghold of America and is now eclipsing other kinds of cars in other markets. His proof is the new Mercedes GLA which shows that now everybody wants in. I posit that the “event horizon” came somewhat earlier in the form of the Renault/Dacia Duster and that this phenomenon had been brewing for a while. My home country of Brazil is one place where crossovers have been steadily rising in popularity.
Spy photos in Germany of a heavily camouflaged small Ford have set the Brazilian blogosphere on fire. The initial photos were published by a Malaysian site that didn’t really know what they were seeing. It turns out that it’s actually the new Ford Ka, a very important car for our market (and the car I currently drive).