Finding the Car to Be Seen in 2008
Its that time of year again: Lucire
announces its nominees for the eighth annual Car to Be Seen in
EARLY IN 2008, Lucire will
choose its Car to Be Seen in for the yeara car that expresses
the mood of the times for the woman who wants to be stylish and
a step ahead of the rest. As with tradition, we run through our
nominees for 2008 at the close of the year.
In 2008, we expect fuel prices to remain high,
and we know that big SUVs wont suddenly be in favour (something
weve been saying since 2000). We know that drivers will still
want something individualbut whether its something that
they can take long out of town for the weekend or whether its
a vehicle for the 21st-century urban life will be determined by
The nuova 500 is a 2008 interpretation of the nuova
500the one from the 1950s, also known as the Bambina. We love
the funky interior and how well this little Fiat handles. While
the Italian company has been trying to move upmarket in recent years,
the 500 shows that it is still a master of the supermini and subcompact
car. Already the European Car of the Year.
Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione
Inspired by the 33 Stradale of the late 1960s, this Alfa shows that
the Milanese firm still has the special sauce when it comes to sport
cars. The winner of Car Design Newss best production
design of 2006 in February 2007.
The new CD345 Mondeo is brimming with goodies that normally are
seen on a car twice the price, including an inventive hillstart
feature that prevents it slipping back. The computer is easy to
use. The quality is right up there with other German cars. And being
a great Ford that can knock the socks off Camry and Accord, its
not sold in the US. The S-Max and Galaxy minivans, on the same platform,
are the coolest in the segment.
We said last year this should be the business. We were right: this
is the best looking Jaguar saloon since the XJ6 in 1968. It kicks
off a new Jag design languageclose-coupled, pacy and futuristicjust
like Jaguars used to be in their pre-British Leyland heyday. Its
tasteful with its ornamentation, its flashy without being
over-the-top. Winner of the Autocar Design Award for 2007.
Ford Focus-based small car is a nice tribute to the Volvo 1800 ES
and the 1980s 480 ES, but proves cramped down the back given
the tapered cabin. But its a good example of geometric Swedish
The new A4 blends Walter deSilvas Nuvolari concept with
the packaging of a mid-sized car. Thanks to the new platform, the
car looks like it has a shorter front, something that has been shown
to work on the beautiful A5 and S5 coupés. It actually looks
like a sporting sedanmore muscular than the Mercedes C-Klasse
and BMW 3-series. The Avant model is not out yetthats
where well see how successfully this design language translates
into Kombi form.
Theres something so sublime about a two-door V8 coupé
that can be a cruiser as well as a bruiser. This is the car that
makes a real statement, with an excellent gearbox and handling.
Looks great from most angles except the rear three-quarter one,
which is a tad plain.
This would be under consideration but for the fact the car does
not convert properly to right-hand drive, despite being British-made.
The excuse: BMW couldnt move the fuel tank filler, so it is
stuck with having one door on the passenger side and two on the
drivers side. We know that BMW could have made the move if
it really wanted to. Failure to do so reminds us that this is not
a British car, but a German car made in Britain. It does not translate
Big SUVs are out of favour, but boy, this still looks great. The
sweeping lines are a little Colonnaderemember Kojaks
old Buick?but better this than the boxy Chinese Buick Lacrosse,
or, for that matter, the newly facelifted Daewoo Lacetti-based Buick
Can we get this with a turbodiesel? No?
Looks great for a big carand fortunately,
the Pontiac G8 version does not look crappy, unlike the previous
Australian-made Goatbut we cant believe that GM could
not forecast the fuel crisis we face in the middle of the decade
when we could. So coming out without a diesel or hybrid option is
short-sighted considering the company spent a billion Australian
dollars on the Commodores development. Sold in the Middle
East as the Chevrolet Lumina, making more sense there where oil
is relatively cheap. Sportwagon looks beaut.
Opel Astra GTC Panorama
We still like it, three years on. That big piece of glass just has
a sense of 21st century modernity about it.
Now available as an Opel and a Daewoo, the American roadster shows
that the Yanks are perfectly capable of coming up with an MX-5-beater.
It doesnt quite get into the finalists, because we didnt
get as much surprise or have as much emotion as with the first Twingo.
Very honourable mention here, especially with the 1·5-litre
fuel-sipping model that is totally in line with modern concerns
about gas mileage. Starting the big-car range with a 110 PS engine
that gets 5·1 l/100 km (55 mpg Imperial, 46 mpg US) and topping
it with a 235 PS 3·5-litre V6 shows that the Laguna tries
to be a car for everyone. Down sides: the big nose, which French
cars now seem to have.
So it didnt quite get into production in 2007 as we predictedwell,
its a safe bet that the revolutionary electric-powered car
and last years winner will be on Californian streets in 2008.
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Watch out for these in 08
The Volvo XC60 cross-over blends sportiness with the functionality
of a small SUV. After seeing this, weve forgotten about the
Ford Escape and the Nissan Dualis.
Vectra replacement is supposedly based on the GTC Concept, which
should give GM a real strong entrant in the CD-segment to challenge
the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat.
We dont know when this futuristic fuel-cell vehicle will be
out, but we hope its sooner rather than later. Honda paves
the way to another innovation, just as it did with the Insight hybrid
years before the Toyota Prius.
After how badly this Chinese car rated in Euro crash tests, it came
back with improvementsbut thats still not enough to
get us considering it.
Chrysler PT Cruiser
This is just getting too long in the tooth to be cool in 2008. The
old DaimlerChrysler should have kept the Plymouth brand and the
Cruiser would have fitted thereas a Chrysler, it no longer
fits alongside the newer models.
We said last year that this could have looked like a scaled-down
300 and tapped into Chryslers cool image. A year on it still
Jeep Patriot and Compass
We like the idea of mini-Jeeps but the front-heavy, non-Trail Rated
vehicles look ill-balanced and lack any of the cool of the Land
Rover Freelander or Suzuki Grand Vitara.
Toyota Platz, Chinese-style. Rehashed car reminds us of how fortunate
we are that this isnt exported outside Communist countries.
Ford Focus C132
While the rest of the world has the C307 Focus, North America soldiers on with the 1990s model, albeit rebodied. Politics keep this
alive: in recent memory, Fords American operation has never
properly marketed foreign-designed vehicles, even those designed
by its own subsidiaries. Ford says cost is involvedeven though
it manages to sell the C307-platform Mazda 3 at a reasonable price
in the US. This is basically a reminder of why Ford is in trouble
in the States: its outclassed by the Honda Civic, just like
the old Taurus was outclassed by the Accord. History keeps repeating.
Just how is this different from the US Ford Fusion, which in turn
is on the Mazda 6 platform? Once upon a time, they said Mercury
would be history because they were Fords with a grille. Which makes
a latter-day Ford Telstar.
The Ford Edge looks better. Wed be less offended if this was
a Mercury, but it cheapens the Lincoln namewhich once was
able to challenge Cadillac. Not any more.
One of the ugliest mid-sized cars out there. Its like the
whole car has been shunted backwards, as though the tracing of the
body slipped just before the engineers made the tooling. As the
Holden Epica, it was outclassed by the old Vectra and Toyota Camry
immediately on launch. Sold in Europe and Canada as the Chevrolet
Epicathe Americans are too smart to see this have a Chevy
badge in case of a backlash against the brand.
Facelift for Saab 9-5 uglifies the vehicle no end, making it look
very un-Swedish. At least the original Saab automobileonce
deemed an ugly ducklinghad some aerodynamic rationale behind
Why do the Koreans ruin their big-car designs, Hyundai excepting?
Tries to look like a Mercedes and fails.
Peugeot 4007 and Citroën C-Crosser
We disliked these facelifted Mitsubishi Outlanders last year. We
still do. Mixing France with an Axis power last time got us the
Vichy régime. Youd think the French had learned.
What happened to pure designs like the Primera, or exciting vehicles
such as the Murano and Skyline? Nissan replaces its C-segment car
in Europe with a box based around Renault Clio hardware. It looks
worse than the Tiida or Versa, if that can be believed.
Chinese-made Citroën ZX-based sedan received a single-frame
grille in an effort to rip Audi off. It doesnt work. Lets
laugh now before the Red Chinese beat us all in the auto market
in 20 years time.
Universally hated in styling terms, though a very practical and
commodious minivan. We said it years ago: rodent plus odious
gets Rodius. Called Stavic in some markets.
Just as Toyota gets interesting with the Auris and Aurion, Subaru
gets boring. Subaruwhich has a part-Toyota shareholding these
daysreplaces its individualistic Impreza with a same-again
hatchback. Never mind whats under the bonnet. The clothing
is a big yawn, the automotive equivalent of flannel pyjamas. (The
sedan is marginally better but its still a dullard to look
Suzuki SX4 Sedan
Toyota showed us how to do a small car with an extra front window
with the Auris. Suzuki, in putting a boot on its SX4 off-roader
(also sold as the Fiat Sedici), has created one of the oddest compact
2001 Audi A4 Avant
2002 Audi A4 Cabriolet
2003 Peugeot 307 CC
2004 Aston Martin DB9
2005 Mercedes-Benz SLK
2006 Aston Martin V8 Vantage
2007 Tesla Roadster
Photographic credits: manufacturers; General Motors
images are under Creative Commons licence and copyrighted to GM
Corp.; Audi S5 photographed by Jack Yan.