By on October 19, 2017

2012 Lamborghini Urus Concept - Image: LamborghiniThe company that sells SUVs together stays together.

So it goes, or is likely to go, with Lamborghini. Keep in mind that the Volkswagen Group supercar manufacturer has already seen massive sales growth. During the half-decade before Stephan Winkelmann took over as boss at Lamborghini in 2005, the brand was selling only 800 cars on an annual basis. But by the time Winkelmann was done a decade later, Lamborghini was averaging 2,300 annual sales. In 2016, Lamborghini sold 3,457 vehicles around the world, including more than 1,000 in the United States.

Those figures will soon seem paltry because the unfortunately named Urus SUV will double the brand’s volume. But what does such a massive change do to Lamborghini’s operations? (Read More…)

By on October 16, 2017

2015 Infiniti QX70 - Image: Infiniti2017 was the 15th and final model year for the Infiniti QX70, formerly known as the Infiniti FX. Sad, sad the day.

But is the QX70/FX, a dramatically curvaceous take on the modern idea of a crossover, dead and gone for good? Perhaps not. “We are now asking ourselves what is the QX70’s role?” Infiniti president Roland Krueger rhetorically asked Automotive News, “And what should it be?”

Maybe these questions come a year or two or 15 too late, but the fact that Krueger even broaches the subject suggests a high degree of willingness to reinsert the vehicle back into Infiniti’s lineup. If Nissan’s upmarket brand could copy the degree of success the FX earned early on in its tenure — more than 30,000 were sold in America in 2004 — then the rebirth can’t come soon enough. (Read More…)

By on September 21, 2017

New Volvo XC40 - exterior - Image: VolvoOf the 1.4 million new vehicles sold in the United States of America each month, premium auto brands account for slightly more than one out of every ten new vehicle acquisitions.

More than 55 percent of the vehicles now sold by premium auto brands in America are utility vehicles. Of the nearly 100,000 luxury SUVs/crossovers sold in America each month, 7 percent are subcompacts, vehicles positioned below the compact BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Audi Q5, and a variety others.

It’s a sliver of a slice of a chunk of a pie. But that sliver is growing far faster than the overall U.S. auto market, far faster than the U.S. luxury vehicle market, and far faster than the U.S. luxury SUV/crossover market.

Into that four-vehicle premium subcompact crossover segment now jumps the Volvo XC40, timed to roughly coincide with the arrival of the Jaguar E-Pace. It’s a segment that, to date, no automaker has yet found a way to dominate. (Read More…)

By on September 19, 2017

2018 Land Rover Discovery - Image: Land RoverThe new 2018 Land Rover Discovery (née LR4) is not the automatically handsome successor to the Discovery 4 you assumed it would be.

The front end is visually softened. Viewed from the side, there’s enough bodywork between the windowline and wheelwell to empty the paint shop. The need to maintain a traditional Discovery shape was compromised in part by aero demands, and the result is flat rather than boxy. The C-pillar leaning far forward is more reminiscent of a Lexus RX than a Discovery Series I.

But it’s around the back where Land Rover’s own design boss, Gerry McGovern, has his own problem. “Overall, I like the design of the back of the Discovery for its asymmetry,” McGovern tells Auto Express, “because it’s tipping its hat to the Discoveries of the past.”

The problem then, Mr. McGovern? License plates. Yes. License plates. (Read More…)

By on September 15, 2017

2019 Porsche Cayenne pixelated rendering - Image: PorscheOn this, TTAC’s authors and TTAC’s audience are largely in agreement: luxury sport utility coupes are not the answer to the vehicular challenges of this age.

So Porsche is probably going to build a Cayenne Coupe.

It’ll probably have four doors. It’ll probably be more expensive than a regular Cayenne. It will almost certainly not be as good or half as attractive as a Porsche Cayenne. (Read More…)

By on September 8, 2017

2017 Porsche 911 Carrera - Image: PorschePorsche revealed a new, third-generation Cayenne on a new platform late last month, but the U.S. arrival of the third version of Porsche’s original SUV won’t take place until the second half of 2018.

While the new Cayenne will be sold in some markets as a MY2018 vehicle, the 2018 Cayenne on this side of the Atlantic is the outgoing Cayenne. Yes, that Cayenne, the Cayenne that’s suffering from a sharp sales decline.

In August 2017, the Cayenne’s gradual and not entirely unpredictable old-age decline was matched to a sudden downward shift from its smaller sibling, as well. Macan sales plunged 29 percent last month. Cayenne volume was down 28 percent. Jointly, the duo lost 1,003 sales, year-over-year.

You know what that means. The overwhelming majority, the lion’s share, most, nearly half, more than a third of the vehicles sold in Porsche’s U.S. showrooms in August 2017 were sports cars. Yes, Porsche still builds sports cars, rather decent ones, in fact. And in August, Porsche’s sports car sales were very healthy indeed. (Read More…)

By on September 7, 2017

2017 BMW 5 Series - Image: BMWBMW’s North American CEO, Bernhard Kuhnt, blames inventory issues for the brand’s sharp utility vehicle sales decline in August 2017.

BMW reported only 8,847 utility vehicle sales in August, a harsh 21-percent year-over-year drop for the five-model lineup. Sales of Spartanburg, South Carolina-built X3s, X4s, X5s, and X6s plunged 30 percent as BMW was fortunately boosted by — strange as it may sound — elevated passenger-car sales.

Has the tide turned? Is America’s BMW buyer forsaking his X3 for a 330i; her X5 for an M550i?

Don’t believe it for a second. (Read More…)

By on August 30, 2017

2015 Aston Martin DBX Concept - Image: Aston MartinYour dreams of an upmarket, V12-powered, British version of the 1996 GMC Yukon GT can be put to bed. The production version of 2015’s Aston Martin DBX Concept will not maintain the concept’s bodystyle.

Production vehicles periodically trace very little back to the concept vehicles that were originally intended to act as previews. Indeed, the defining element of the DBX shown in Geneva in March 2015 is gone. “There are aspects of the car that have changed dramatically,” Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer says, “perhaps none more so than the fact that it is now a four-door.”

Although the coupe format has been cast aside, Aston Martin’s boss believes the company will not have to trade beauty in exchange for true 4×4-ness. “If Aston Martin wants to survive, it must do a SUV,” Palmer says. And in this era, there are aspects of perceived SUV-ness that simply aren’t compatible with a two-door format. (Read More…)

By on August 17, 2017

2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar - Image: Land RoverIt’s 2017. If this isn’t The Year Of The Luxury SUV, then surely we’re fast approaching The Year Of The Luxury SUV.

Therefore, Land Rover can pretty well do whatever it wants. “A brand like ours,” says Land Rover’s chief design officer Gerry McGovern, “has this ability to stretch.”

Bentley Bentayga rival? “Absolutely,” McGovern says.

Identically sized Range Rovers? “If they had two personalities then they’ve both got equal appeal but to different customers,” McGovern tells Automotive News Europe.

There’s no reason to doubt Land Rover’s self-belief. (Read More…)

By on August 10, 2017

2017 Volvo XC90 Excellence - Image: VolvoIn anticipation of a welcoming party for 2018 models, non-Volvo luxury car owners are currently eligible for a discount valued at $23,500 on a handful of remaining copies of the 2017 Volvo XC90 T8 Excellence.

There’s only one problem. The Volvo XC90 T8 Excellence is not exactly the most affordable member of the second-generation XC90 lineup. In fact, the T8 Excellence is the most expensive XC90 in America — by a wide margin. While the XC90 range opens at $46,745 for a five-seat front-wheel-drive variant, the T8 Hybrid turns on the lights with 400-horsepower for $69,895. Bump up another couple of trim levels and you’ll find yourself at the — let me clear my throat — $105,895 XC90 T8 Excellence.

Yet the $20,000 bonus Volvo is paying to dealers for XC90s in T8 Excellence trim means the laughably high $105,895 price — $1,005 more than a Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged — and a $3,500 conquest bonus drops the $105,895 XC90 T8 Excellence way down to $82,395.

It also means you lay hold on what CarsDirect’s Alex Bernstein says is, “the single largest discount on any vehicle at the moment.” (Read More…)

By on July 17, 2017

2017 BMW X1 white off road - Image: BMWDepending where you live, it’s possible the shift away from luxury cars to luxury SUVs is dramatically more apparent than America’s nationwide figures suggest.

In 48 of 50 states, luxury utility vehicles outsell luxury cars. In seven states, premium brand utility vehicles form more than 65 percent of the premium market.

But according to Edmunds, the two states in which luxury cars still outperform luxury utility vehicles account for 31 percent of America’s luxury SUV market. (Read More…)

By on July 12, 2017

Volkswagen Slovakia Werk Bratislava - Image: VolkswagenAn inconsequential 1,630 copies of the Volkswagen Touareg were sold in the United States during the first half of 2017.

It’s therefore unlikely you’ll notice the Volkswagen luxury SUV’s absence now that Volkswagen has decided to eliminate the Touareg from its 2018 U.S. lineup.

Initially reported by Motor Trend yesterday, Volkswagen’s decision to discontinue the Touareg was confirmed to TTAC by Volkswagen of America spokesperson Jessica Anderson today. “Our focus for the 2018 model year is the all-new Atlas and redesigned Tiguan.”

So is the Touareg done, or just done for now? Volkswagen of America won’t say. (Read More…)

By on July 7, 2017

2017 Land Rover Discovery - Image: Land Rover“But in some cases, the traditionalists are going to
maybe pine over the squarer shape of the previous four iterations.”

– Jaguar Land Rover Australia Managing Director, Matthew Wiesner

The Land Rover Discovery, known for a time in North America as the LR3 and then LR4 whilst alphanumeric nomenclature was deemed necessary if one was to steal market share from the Lexus GX460, is a box.

Or rather, it was a box. For nearly three decades, through the Series I and Series II and then the LR3 and LR4 that ran for a dozen years or so, Land Rover’s sub-Range Rover was squared off. Hard lines. Rectangles. Right angles. No Bangles.

Land Rover has rediscovered the Discovery name in North America, but the brand did not manage to rediscover the Discovery’s styling themes. And on the other side of the world from Land Rover’s Coventry HQ, Australia’s Jaguar Land Rover boss is vocalizing a major concern.

“The new shape is certainly going to test some of the traditional owners of Discovery,” Matthew Wiesner told CarAdvice.

(Read More…)

By on July 7, 2017

2018 BMW X3 - Image: BMW“We created that segment,” BMW CEO says of the sector in which the BMW X3 arrived before Acura, Audi, Infiniti, Lexus, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Volvo.

“The No.1 approach and target I clearly have is, there shouldn’t be anyone besides us who is No.1,” Krueger told Automotive News Europe.

In the U.S., where Krueger’s goals (expectations? demands?) for the South Carolina-built BMW X3 are lofty, the X3 ranked a distant fifth in the category in 2016.

But Krueger ain’t kiddin’ around. (Read More…)

By on June 30, 2017

Mag-X Lexus RX Three-Row Tokyo - Image: Mag-X via AutoguideThe Lexus RX is, by a massive margin, America’s top-selling luxury utility vehicle.

Through the first five months of 2017, Lexus had already sold 38,329 copies of the RX350 and RX450h in the United States. Most competing luxury crossovers won’t produce that many sales in all of 2017.

But Lexus wants more, and with car sales plunging — Lexus car sales are down 29 percent so far this year — there’s no better means of adding volume than by expanding the utility vehicle division. Lexus has already introduced the NX to sit below the RX, and it’s a verifiable hit. But the GX and LX at the top of the Lexus SUV/CUV heap add only incremental volume.

Thus, Lexus is readying a three-row version of the Lexus RX, a natural fit given the RX’s connections to the three-row Toyota Highlander. This much we knew.

Now, based on reports from Japan’s Mag-X, we also know the seven-seat Lexus RX will debut at the Tokyo in late October 2017. (Read More…)

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