In my mind, Volkswagens used to be the “Euro Buick.” Positioned one note above the mass market rabble, VW’s Passat shared parts with Audi’s A4, while the Touareg and Phaeton were luxury cars with a mass market logo on the hood. Then Volkswagen decided this was the wrong strategy for them, so they repositioned VW as the German alternative to Toyota and Chevrolet. This left a gaping hole in the market for shoppers looking to step into a European near-luxury vehicle that flew under the radar. And then Buick stepped in.Buick’s Opel-based product offensive has transformed the brand from Barcalounger wheels for the octogenarian, to a window into the soul of GM’s German brand. This transformation isn’t an easy one as Buick’s problem wasn’t just blue-haired buyers and slinky-soft springs. Buick is the penultimate middle child. Jammed between Chevrolet and Cadillac, brand B’s mission is to give Chevy buyers something to aspire to and Cadillac buyers something to graduate from.
Tag: Four Door
There was a time when “Passat” was German for “budget-Audi.” Even though the A4 and Passat parted ways in 2005, the Passat’s interior and price tag were more premium than mid-market shoppers were looking for. To hit VW’s North American yearly sales goal of 800,o000, the European Passat (B6) was replaced with a model designed specifically for American tastes. This means a lower price tag, less “premium” interior, and larger dimensions. If your heart pines for a “real” Passat, look no further than the 2013 Volkswagen CC. If it looks familiar, it should. The CC is none other than the
artist car formerly known as Prince Passat CC with a nose job. VW advertises the CC as “the most affordable four-door coupé” in the US. All you need to know is: Euro lovers, this is your Passat.
Large four-door cars with the style of a coupe aren’t a recent innovation. But early attempts, like the 1995 Oldsmobile Aurora, failed to captivate car buyers. It fell to Mercedes to launch the “four-door coupe” segment with the 2006 CLS. Though sales have long since dwindled to exotic car levels, back when the CLS was new about 2,000 of them left dealer lots each month. This apparently provided sufficient motivation for other manufacturers to offer their own “four-door coupes.” Volkswagen didn’t stray far from the original with its CC. Audi, on the other hand, has taken a very different approach with the new 2012 A7.
With the debut of Audi’s A7 Sportback, and a BMW four-door GranCoupe coming in 2012, it’s clear that the four-door coupe segment is here to stay. At least in Europe. This year Mercedes is coming back into the segment swinging, with an updated CLS shown here in the first leaked official images [via Autocar]. But will the four-door coupes ever make serious headway in the US market? In the last 12 months, the CLS has sold fewer than 2,000 examples in the US market. VW’s Passat CC on the other hand has sold 29,114 units in the last 12 months, more than double the volume of the regular Passat. What does this say about four-door coupes in the US market? Probably that their sales depend heavily on the appeal of their sedan versions: Mercedes sedans have become handsome enough to make the CLS look overstyled, while the CC offers much-needed visual flair to the otherwise-anodyne Passat. But will the segment grow as BMW and Audi wade in?
Worried that a ride-over-handling-oriented California, the end of manual transmissions and flirtations with hybrid power have left Ferrari without any kind of brand focus? Don’t be, Maranello spokesfolks tell Autocar. There is at least one line that Ferrari will never cross: building a four-door to compete with Aston-Martin’s Rapide, Porsche’s Panamera or Audi’s A7.
As Enzo [Ferrari, company founder] would say, we will never do four doors. And we will keep this tradition. Frankly speaking no-one is asking for a four-door Ferrari. If you want a four door Ferrari we have a Maserati. We stand 60 years and we never needed four doors. What never means, I don’t know, but one of the strong points of Ferrari is to keep the product in the right way. I’m not saying four doors is not right for the image, but it’s not part of our heritage.
Unless you’re the Sultan of Brunei, anyway.