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Coupé crossovers are the latest fad, as Ford Evos and Roewe Jing appear at Auto Shanghai

Filed by Lucire staff/April 19, 2021/21.45



It seems coupé crossovers, low-slung fastbacks riding on big wheels, are the trendy shape for cars now, after a decade dominated by the boxier variety, if Auto Shanghai’s débutantes today are any indication.
   Ford showed its Evos crossover, with hints of the Mustang Mach-E—a car, based on its development code, that started off as a Focus crossover. The new car looks more substantial, and Ford has been clear that it isn’t the model that will replace the Fusion and Mondeo.
   Inside is a “coast-to-coast” screen spanning the entire cockpit width, from the driver’s to the passenger’s sides. All up, the display measures 27 inches, with 4K definition, comprising digital instrumentation, infotainment, and an additional screen for the passenger. AI and a hands-free driving assistance program complete the high-tech package.
   SAIC’s Roewe brand, meanwhile, showed a coupé crossover of its own—with the same colour scheme of white with a black roof, which must be the other automotive trend presently. The Jing (鯨), the Chinese word for whale, has a large grille that is supposed to recall the mammal. It’s part of Roewe’s ‘emotional rhythm’ design philosophy, and the Jing is supposed to ‘accelerating the process of brand rejuvenation, personalization and promoting brand upgrading,’ says SAIC. The shape isn’t as sleek as Ford’s, and the company says it is a concept.

 


Citroën redefines the large family car with the C5 X

Filed by Jack Yan/April 13, 2021/22.02





William Crozes/Continental Productions

Is this the future of the CD- and D-segment family car? Citroën has unveiled its C5 X, the third generation (if you don’t count the C5 Aircross) of the C5 line, blending saloon, estate and SUV ideas.
   Sales of conventional saloons and estates in this segment have been dropping for some time. Ford has already said it will not replace the Mondeo after 2022, bringing to an end a line that could be traced back to the Consul Cortina of 1962. There have been suggestions that Opel, Citroën’s sister brand, will replace the Insignia with a crossover, possibly a car closely related to this one.
   The lines are certainly more blurred with the C5 X. Traditionally, a crossover would have meant something like a Subaru Forester, a station wagon format more raised than a traditional car, but lower than an SUV. Here Citroën takes influences from numerous genres. It is a sleek, two-box shape, that if viewed without the 19-inch wheels, could be taken to be a shooting brake, an estate car with less loading capacity because of a sloping rear—think Mercedes-Benz CLS or even the Audi Q8. The six-light glasshouse even recalls Robert Opron’s Citroën CX (and specifically the CXperience concept of 2016), which no doubt will please Citroënistas. Up front are thin LED headlights that give a V shape when lit, a Citroën design signature that started with the 2020 C4. The bespoilered rear deck emphasizes that this isn’t a regular estate; curiously, when viewed from some front three-quarter angles, the D-pillar looks upright, and even recalls the outgoing C5 break.
   Happily, the C5 X has an airy glasshouse, doing away with the massive C-pillars that have plagued car design for a decade. This helps with bringing light in, while also aiding visibility. One can only hope that it is the beginning of the end of the cocoon, which may have emerged in times of great uncertainty, where people wanted to feel enveloped and secure. If Citroën’s trend-watchers have it right, we might come to feel more open and embracing of the outside world again.
   Those 19-inch wheels raise the car’s stance, but in an age where the crossover and the SUV are not niche vehicles, but mainstream ones, they do not look oversized. Interestingly, Citroën’s French rival Renault may have contributed to that, with intentionally large wheels for the Scénic and Espace, with a similar philosophy of blending genres with an eye to courting mainstream SUV buyers who want a more commanding driving position. More opportunity, then, for a future designer to claim a successor is ‘lower, wider, longer’, the romance of postwar US design.
   Its sleekness is perhaps only compromised by the transverse front-wheel-drive layout, which necessitates the position of the front wheels, a design compromise evident on the Citroën C6 in China, but better hidden here. One might think that Citroën has gone adventurous here—though not to the level of the DS—because of its recent poor sales in China. When in doubt, design your way out—it worked for Chrysler and its LH sedans in the 1990s.
   Under the skin is active suspension, with Citroën claiming (not for the first time in its history) a “magic carpet” ride. There are what the company calls its Progressive Hydraulic Cushions that relax the suspension more. Handling isn’t the top priority here, having an interior that’s lounge-like and floating is.
   The interior emphasizes width (externally the car measures 1,865 mm in this respect, which is probably typical for a grand routier of this age). Citroën says its Advanced Comfort seats are particularly capacious in the second row, while the boot has a 545 l capacity. There’s more refinement, the company points out, with the plug-in hybrid version running in pure-electric mode, which it can do for 50 km, up to 135 km/h. Acoustic-laminated front and rear windows keep things insulated further.
   There is a head-up display that Citroën says is a step toward augmented reality, driving assistance features, a new infotainment interface powered through a 12-inch central touchscreen, voice recognition, and a customizable display. Safety systems use the radar, cameras and sensors. There is level 2 autonomous driving, with Highway Driver Assist, using the adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go and lane-keep assistance. And as one would expect in 2021, rear cross-traffic alert, a 360-vision display that plots the area around the car on the touchscreen to aid man, and hands-free access.—Jack Yan, Founder and Publisher





William Crozes/Continental Productions

 


Kia launches flagship Sorento model with plug-in hybrid powertrain in New Zealand

Filed by Jack Yan/April 7, 2021/0.33

It seems to be the trajectory of brands such as Hyundai and Kia: offering ever more stylish, premium models on the basis that even people who indulge in luxury like value for money.
   Kia’s rise has been particularly marked after its appointment of Peter Schreyer as head of design, before being named one of the company’s three presidents. Schreyer worked his magic on the Audi TT, and he has been behind such hits as the original K5 (Optima in New Zealand) and Stinger.
   The latest Sorento benefits from similar design philosophies: whereas Japanese marques often veer toward either a domestic (e.g. Honda Civic) feel or a mid-Atlantic one, Kia looks west and bridges the gap between Korea and the occident. The Sorento is no exception and its latest entry, the Sorento PHEV Premium, blends the luxury appointments of the range’s flagship with a plug-in hybrid powertrain—not to mention all-wheel drive, seven-seat capacity, and 1,988 ℓ load space when the second and third rows are folded down.
   Its all-electric range is 57 km, and carbon emissions are at a low 36 g/km—thanks to its 13·8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack mated to a 1·6-litre turbocharged engine, developing 265 PS (195 kW) and 350 Nm of torque.
   There’s the trade-mark “tiger nose”, 19-inch machine-finished alloys, and a premium cabin that’s marked by two digital displays (12·3 inches ahead of the driver, 10¼ inches for the central infotainment screen), and includes a panoramic sunroof, a wireless smartphone charger and a Bose 12-speaker surround-sound system. The power leather seats are 14-way for the driver, with four-way lumbar support and cushion extension, while the front passenger gets a 10-way. You can expect the usual conveniences for a premium model: lane-keep and lane-follow assist, smart cruise control, sat-nav and life traffic updates, and seven USB charging ports.
   Warranty is for four years’ or 40,000 km scheduled servicing for the hybrid and plug-in hybrid models, complementing a standard five-year warranty and five-year roadside assistance (unlimited kilometres) plan.
   This premium machine retails in New Zealand for NZ$89,990 plus on-road costs.—Jack Yan, Founder and Publisher

 


The Outlierman commemorates 60 years of the Jaguar E-type with luxury fashion accessories

Filed by Jack Yan/March 25, 2021/11.21





Andrea Mazzuca, co-founder of the Outlierman, is a huge motoring enthusiast, so it’s no surprise his company was going to let the 60th anniversary of the Jaguar E-type, one of the British marque’s most iconic models, pass unnoticed. The Outlierman has released a range of accessories commemorating the anniversary, with scarves, T-shirts, pocket squares and silk ties, all handmade in Italy by its skilled artisans.
   As profiled by us last year, the Outlierman’s luxury driving accessories are made by artisans whose world-class quality suits the most discerning customers—and who has managed to attract Bentley and Pagani as exclusive partners.
   Mazzuca notes, ‘The Jaguar E-type is one of my most favourite cars—the elegance, style and panache are all unrivalled. It’s a car I’ve loved ever since I was a child so naturally, to celebrate the 60th anniversary, I knew the Outlierman had to pay tribute in the only way we knew best—by producing the E-type’s very own collection.’
   In addition, the Outlierman has a Rent & Drive service, which has a classic car fleet comprising two Jaguar E-types. But if they’re not your cup of tea, there’s a 1956 W154 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, a.k.a. the Gullwing, a 1961 Maserati 3500 GT Vignale Spyder, a 1961 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL roadster, a 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso, and a 1957 Ferrari 250 GT California short-wheelbase Spyder. Rates-wise, the E-types are bargains, with both a Series I and a Series III on offer.—Jack Yan, Founder and Publisher

 


Reebok, Banana Republic and GMSV mark International Women’s Day

Filed by Lucire staff/March 7, 2021/23.20


Reebok has a campaign called It’s a Man’s World, but with the words struck out, for its International Women’s Day promotion, created by the all-female creative collective Madwomen. Four sneakers in two collections are promoted—the Club C Double, Classic Leather Double, Legacy 83 and Zig Kinetica. The first collection features the sneakers with multiple colours and silhouettes, representing the different facets of a woman; the second shows neutral-toned footwear, representing a clean slate to which a woman can bring her uniqueness.
   The Berlin-based collective has chosen to feature locals: model and stylist Isi Ahmed; make-up artist and photographer Aennikin, and stylist Elli Drake, who styled the campaign.
   The first collection is available from today, and the second from April 1, at reebok.com, priced from US$90.

Banana Republic is celebrating International Women’s Day with its campaign on women who break boundaries, entitled Work Where?. Directed in-house by Banana Republic’s Len Peltier, the campaign shows a montage of videos of real women doing modern work—wearing Banana Republic, of course.
   Subjects include Grammy-nominated recording artist Saint Sinner, recording artist Goapele, street artist Apexer, actor Jimmie Fails, photographer Grady Brannan, real estate developer Mari Swim, executive Todd Palmerton, café owner Lea Sabado, entrepreneur Jamal Blake-Williams, and social media manager Halee Edwards. Movement artist Jon Boogz and screenwriter and artist Chinaka Hodge return for the campaign.
   The company will also make a US$100,000 donation to CARE to help fight poverty, and advance women and girls around the world.

It’s refreshing to see that GMSV (General Motors Specialty Vehicles) has women leading the business in Australasia (Joanne Stogiannis, director; Jodie Lennon, general manager marketing, customer experience and communications; and Dahlia Shnider, vehicle supply chain and systems’ manager) as well as 45 per cent female representation in the wider team. And, of course, General Motors itself is led by Mary Barra, who broke the glass ceiling when appointed CEO of one of the largest car manufacturers in the world in 2014 and has a commitment to diversity.
   ‘It is common knowledge that the auto industry is skewed heavily towards male representation, so it’s incredibly heartening we’re making gains in changing this balance, albeit as part of a relatively small team,’ said Stogiannis.
   Stogiannis is a GM veteran of 25 years and recalls when she was one of the only women in the room when she started.

 


For SAIC’s goodness: MG launches HS plug-in hybrid SUV

Filed by Jack Yan/March 3, 2021/3.29




MG Motor has announced the plug-in hybrid version of the HS for the Australian and New Zealand markets, in a live-streamed launch on March 2.
   The HS plug-in hybrid is the second electrified MG on sale in the region, after the all-electric ZS crossover, the price leader in the segment. The HS range effectively succeeded the GS, which sold in limited numbers in New Zealand. The platform, perhaps predictably, features MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link suspension at the rear.
   Giles Belcher, sales director for MG Motor Australia and New Zealand, hosted the event from Sydney, joined by CEO for the region Peter Ciao. David Hearty, the project general manager for the HS for Australia and New Zealand, and Danny Lenartic, general manager for EVs for Australia and New Zealand, also took the podium to introduce the new vehicle.
   Ciao said that he could not copy the European approach and import it to Australasia, with the different population densities, tastes and needs.
   ‘With the PHEV, we knew 90 per cent of the time we are just driving in the city. The electric vehicle engine is perfect for this. You can enjoy perfect driving and performance and low running costs. Then, when you want to explore and venture in this beautiful country, the petrol engine provides an additional range so you never have to worry about a charge station. It really is the best of both worlds,’ he said.
   He stressed that the aim of MG was to provide the best value for its customers, including making electrified vehicles mainstream.
   Hearty said the HS would be the flagship crossover for the range in the region, which probably means that large Roewe models would not don MG badges in this part of the world.
   Showing confidence and how far MG has come since it returned to the New Zealand market with the 6, the HS plug-in hybrid retails in New Zealand for NZ$52,990 (plus on-road costs), in a single Essence AWD trim, backed by an eight-year, 160,000 km battery warranty, and a five-year unlimited-kilometre vehicle warranty.
   The HS plug-in hybrid is particularly well equipped in this market, with a panoramic sunroof, 360-degree camera, a 12·3-inch digital instrument display complemented by a 10·1-inch HD centre touchscreen, and heated and electrically adjustable leather seats. The MG Pilot driver safety system is standard.
   Externally, the HS has 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, and daytime running lights. The hero colour, called Clipper Blue, is exclusive to the PHEV.
   Claimed range for just the 16·6 kWh lithium-ion electric motor is 52 km (WLTP combined cycle), and an EV-only mode is available. Top speed is 190 km/h, and 100 km/h is reached in 6·9 s. Total output is 284 PS (209 kW) with peak torque at 480 Nm, with fuel consumption at 1·7 ℓ/100 km (combined cycle)—a whopping 166 mpg (Imperial)—and carbon dioxide emissions of just 39 g/km. The powertrain means that emissions are reduced from 50 to 70 per cent.
   The estimated 7·2 kW charging time is five hours.
   Parent company SAIC was formally pronounced ‘sake’ by the company officials, rather than referred to by its initials.
   As with Chinese convention, the electrified models were referred to at the press conference as ‘new energy vehicles’.
   Lenartic says SAIC is ‘focusing on accelerating innovative development … areas of electrification, intelligent connectivity, software-defined motoring, knowledge sharing, and continued globalization of its brands.’
   Lenartic says it sold 320,000 new-energy vehicles globally in 2020, a year-on-year increase of 73·4 per cent, the second-fastest growth rate in the world. Twenty-five thousand of those were exported to Europe.
   He also pointed out that SAIC had its own battery production, part of its own supply chain.
   Lenartic refused to say whether plug-in hybrid versions of the Toyota RAV4 and Mitsubishi Outlander were in MG’s sights, saying that was something the market would decide.
   ‘This is only the beginning of the electric dream,’ said Lenartic. ‘Certainly it’s a sign of bigger things to come.’
   The cars arrive in Australian dealerships in March and in New Zealand dealerships in April.—Jack Yan, Publisher









 


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