Latvia: Dartz Prombron Black Shark to be produced at 10 units

October 23rd, 2014 1 comment

DartZ Prombron Black SharkDartz Prombron Black Shark

Think you are looking at one of those vehicles used by the South African police or in Northern Ireland a few years ago, or even an anti-terrorist weapon used on some delicate regions in the world? Not so. This is one of the most exclusive private vehicles on sale at the moment, and as I am conscious of mainly focusing on the highest selling nameplates around the globe here at BSCB, I have prepared this little interlude in the world of super-exclusive tanks of wheels. Introducing the Dartz Prombron Black Shark.

Dartz Introduction featuting founder Leonard Yakelowich

Dartz Motorz Company, a Latvian car manufacturer founded by crazy man Leonard Yankelowich that specialises in high performance armoured vehicles. I have to confess (shock! horror!) I was not familiar with this brand before today, and always get fascinated when discovering new automotive players with such an extravagant yet unique story to tell. Yankelowich says his cars are based on 3 (non-lethal) bullets: Russian Imperial opulence in the interior, Soviet military power in armouring and German engineering perfection as a platform. All there is to know about the brand can be found on the tidy little documentary above, entirely shot in the city I grew up in: Cannes, France. It features the Prombron Red Diamond and details its specs, including an… interesting fuel ‘economy’ of 25 to 30L per 100km or 6 to 10 mpg… How I missed that enormous Red Diamond driving around on the Croisette Boulevard I will never know.

Dartz Prombron Aladeen Edition

2012 Dartz Prombron Aladeen Edition2012 Dartz Prombron Aladeen Edition

The video above also mentions the Dartz ‘Gold Bullet Wheel Edition’ Prombron, complete with gold bullet-adorned wheels, three free bottles of the world’s most expensive vodka RussoBaltique and, wait for it… each vehicle shipped with a complimentary gun (!?). Want more bizarre? The original Kombat model was going to be available  in upholstered leather that was made from the foreskin of whale penises… before Dartz backed off after receiving flak.The Kombat line of Prombron vehicles has appeared in a number of movies over the years, such as Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator, for which Dartz smartly released an Aladeed edition (above), Die Hard 5 and The November Man.

CGI promo animation for the Dartz Prombron Black Shark

Dartz has been on the news in the past week because it just unveiled the new Prombron Black Shark, based on the Mercedes Benz GL 63/65 AMG platform. Traditionally the Prombron family of SUVs  can be equipped with various levels of armor protection ranging up to ballistic level B7 (using the Soviet Capsule technology), specifically designed to withstand attacks from rocket propelled grenades and land mines. Two available engines: a V8 5.5 L with at least 585 horsepower or a V12 6.0 L with up to 1.500 horsepower. Standard colour options are limited to black, gold, gray, white or camouflage but buyers can also request custom jobs. One of the build slots for the Black Shark has already been claimed, with the owner requesting a Tiffany Blue exterior with Swarovski crystal embedded in the hood and tailgate.

Dartz Prombron. Picture courtesy of

But wait there are more features. Lightless driving (like a paratrooper) is possible, and if you happen to be on the road and in spontaneous need of an international flight (who doesn’t?), you can book a private jet from any major airport directly from the car with BlackJet. The body is made from bullet resistant Kevlar-titanium, to prevent the use of magnetic mines, and also available with military tech like a road analyzer, distance explosive detector and signal jammer. The door handles disappear into the body and have an “anti-paparazzi shock-device.” as well as fingerprint and retina scanner for opening the car. Most buyers won’t be driving the car themselves, so it comes equipped with a “driver vigilance telemetric control system, capable of constant monitoring of the driver’s psycho-physiological condition and overall awareness”. In other words making sure the driver does not fall asleep. Such complicated word for such a simple thing…

Back CameraDartz Prombron Iron Diamond

The first market that comes to mind for this type of vehicle is Russia, of course, but in fact Dartz has cleverly paid a lot more attention to China. To commemorate the year of the dragon in 2012, Dartz launched the Prombron Black Dragon ‘pullman-saloon’ with a number of dragon motifs, many made from diamonds, rubies, and gold. Other goodies include satellite television, full WiFi, a 42-inch LCD monitor, and electrochromic glass for privacy when you want it. Only 12 were scheduled for production at launch. Only 10 units of the Black Shark described above will be produced, half of them reserved for China.

Dartz-Prombron-White-Horse. Picture courtesy of caranddriver.comDartz Prombron White Horse

The definitive version of the Dartz Prombron Black Shark could potentially be unveiled at the 2015 Top Marques Auto Show in Monaco next April, and in any case Dartz announced it will show a 007 Edition in Battleship-Grey colour when unveiling the model. Now that I along with each and every one of you want one, we are going to have to work hard for the money. The Red Diamond’s sticker price was $1.3 million, the Black Dragon cost over $7 million, and the Black Shark should start around $1.5 million. Personalisation options hike the price up but rebates guaranteed if you are famous: Kanye West got two Prombron Iron Diamond for a mere $2 million, a bargain!

Dartz  vs HummerDartz vs. Hummer

Categories: Latvia, World

China September 2014: Focus on the all-new models

October 22nd, 2014 2 comments

Hyundai ix25 China September 2014. Picture courtesy of huanqiu.comHyundai ix25

* See the Top 325 All-local models ranking by clicking on the title! *

As usual after exploring the monthly Chinese ranking we detail the all-new models making their first appearance in the world’s biggest car market this month. After a crazy August that saw 8 new nameplate hit the sales charts, we are down to a more reasonable 3 in September, one Korean compact SUV and two Chinese sedans.

The first is the much anticipated China-only Hyundai ix25, one of the stars of the last Beijing Auto Show, landing directly at #121 with 3,972 sales. The ix25 is based on the platform of the Kia Soul and is the second model launched by the Korean manufacturer in the past 12 months that will only be sold in China (with the Mistral) – clearly showing the scale of Hyundai’s ambitions for this market. It gives the carmaker its first entry into the very competitive compact SUV market and is priced from 119.800 to 179.800 yuan (US$19.600-29.400), competing with the likes of the Ford Ecosport (#68 so far in 2014), Peugeot 2008 (#90 in September) and Chevrolet Trax (personal best at #78). Its inaugural ranking already places the ix25 as Hyundai’s #2 SUV below just the ix35 (#40) but above the Santa Fe (#122) and Tucson (#204). A Top 100 monthly ranking seems a done deal, a Top 50 would seal the ix25 nameplate as a new household name.

BYD G5 China September 2014. Picture courtesy of qc188.comBYD G5

Much lower in 237th position with a shy 610 sales for now we find the BYD G5 which also debuted in April at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show. The G5 fits between the F3 and the G6 (no logic there) in the BYD range and is priced from 75.900 to 102.900 yuan (US$12.400-16.800). A hybrid variant, starting around 130.000 yuan ($21.200) will become available in 2015. According to Carnewschina, one interesting feature of the G5 is its ‘CarPad’ infotainment system where users can surf the internet, check microblogs such as Weibo (very important in China), find their way, watch movies, and listen to music played from the on-board flash drive. CarPad runs on Google Android.

Dongfeng Fengshen A30 China September 2014. Picture courtesy of jllmjt.comDongfeng Fengshen A30

The third and last all-new model in China in September is the Dongfeng Fengshen A30 arriving at #246 with 487 units sold. Fengshen is the mid-priced sub-brand/subsidiary of Dongfeng that is carefully extending its range. After the S30 sedan in 2010, the H30 and H30 Cross hatchbacks in 2011 and the A60 sedan in 2012, Dongfeng is now clearly accelerating Fengshen with the A30 and soon the AX7 SUV and a full-size luxury sedan. The A30 adopts a decidedly more modern design and is the largest Fengshen sedan so far, priced from 67.500 to 85.700 yuan (US$11.000-14.000).

This is mid-level price is the right place to be in for the Fengshen A30, as Chinese sedans have been struggling on the budget end of the market lately: only the BYD F3 (49.900 to 63.900 yuan or $8.140-10.400) sells in significant numbers at #54 year-to-date and the Chery E3 (52.900 to 67.900 yuan or $8.600-11.100) is a flop at #120 in September. Moreover, the two best-selling Chinese sedans in the same price range as the Fengshen A30: the ChangAn Eado (#25) goes from 73.900 to 94.900 yuan ($12.100-15.500) and the Emgrand EC7 (#34) is priced between 69.800 and 100.800 yuan ($11.400-16.500). So Dongfeng is holding the right end of the market with the A30, but it will be tough to impose this model in a very competitive market where foreign brands are dominant and becoming more so every month. A Top 150 ranking would almost certainly mean the A30 is the best-selling Fengshen, so a good objective to have, keeping in mind the the S30 ranks around #155 in 2014, the A60 at #164 and the H30 around #200.

Previous post: China September 2014: Baojun 730 instant sales blockbuster

Previous month: China August 2014: Focus on the all-new models

One year ago: China September 2013: Focus on the all-new models

Full September 2014 Top 325 models Ranking Table below.

Read more…

Categories: China

Malaysia September 2014: Honda and Nissan strong

October 22nd, 2014 No comments

Nissan Sylphy Malaysia September 2014Nissan Sylphy

* See the Top 50 All-brands ranking by clicking on the title! *

New car sales in Malaysia are down a harsh 13% year-on-year in September to 47.771 registrations, however the year-to-date total still stands at a record 492.302 units, up 1% on 2013. Both local manufacturers Perodua and Proton, while still comfortably leading the market, post market shares below their year-to-date levels at 25.4% and 16.9% respectively vs. 28.5% and 18.4% so far in 2014. Reversely, Toyota (15.6%), Honda (12.9%) and Nissan (7.1%) and all well above their 2014 level.

Previous month: Malaysia August 2014: Perodua solid in stable market

One year ago: Malaysia September 2013: Market up a shiny 14%

Full September 2014 Top 50 All-brands Ranking Table below.

Read more…

Categories: Malaysia

China September 2014: Baojun 730 instant sales blockbuster

October 22nd, 2014 5 comments

Baojun 730 China September 2014. Picture courtesy of 730

* See the Top 326 All-models ranking by clicking on the title! *

Is the Chinese new light vehicle market finally experiencing the much talked about slowdown that has supposedly been looming for years? In September, sales are up only 3% year-on-year – the slowest growth rate in the past 19 months – to 1.98 million units. Passenger Cars rose 6% while commercial vehicles decreased by 16%. This brings the year-to-date total to 14.4 million, up 7% on 2013 compared to a 14% annual growth in 2013. Automotive News quotes Li Xiangfeng, an analyst at Shanghai-based consultancy ISE: ”China already has a huge auto market, and with more cities restricting auto sales to fight pollution, it’s natural for growth to slow down – double-digit pace cannot go on forever.” Nissan (-20%) and Honda (-20%) both lodge their third consecutive monthly decline, while Audi (+13%), BMW (+18%) and Mercedes (+31%) continue to shine. 

Buick Excelle China September 2014. Picture courtesty of Excelle

As always the models ranking is full of surprises in China. Below the Wuling Hongguang (+18%), VW Lavida (+8%) and Ford Focus (-11%), the Buick Excelle is up 5 spots to 4th place, its highest ranking since May 2013. The Haval H6 stays at a record 5th position, bettering its monthly score to an all-time high 27,744 sales, its 11th monthly record in the past 15 months. The Chevrolet Sail is also back in shape: up 8 ranks on August to #7 while the Hyundai Elantra Langdong is strong again at #8 vs. #13 year-to-date.

Dongfeng Joyear China September 2014. Picture courtesy of dyfdgs.comThe Dongfeng Joyear smashes its monthly volume and ranking records this month…

Just outside the Top 10 at #14 with 21,016 sales, we have what has now become the most successful new nameplate launch since the VW Lavida: the Baojun 730. The low-cost MPV is up 75% for its 2nd month in market and single-handedly lifts the Baojun brand to blockbuster status. It is the third MPV to ever top 20,000 monthly sales in China (others: the Wuling Hongguang and Chana Honor at 20,259 units last March), illustrating further the strong long-term sales trend I’ve detailed on this site before: micro vans are being replaced by low-cost MPV in rural areas: they are larger, more practical and sold at a similar price.

Dongfeng Fengguang China September 2014. Picture courtesy of…as does the Dongfeng Fengguang.

Unsurprisingly, the MPV segment is currently the fastest-growing in China and this is where Chinese manufacturers can catch up part of the market share they have given away to foreign carmakers. In the same vein this month, both the Dongfeng Joyear and Fengguang double their sales vs. September 2013 to smash their volume and ranking records at #33 and 12,037 sales, #50 and 9,281 units respectively. The Toyota Corolla is above 20,000 sales for the first time since August 2011 at #17 and 20,238 units, up 43% year-on-year, the VW Golf posts the nameplate’s 2nd all-time highest monthly score at 18,697 units (best: 19,116 last April), up 3-fold on September 2013 and the Emgrand EC7 is back up 13 ranks to #19, reclaiming the title of best-selling Chinese sedan off the ChangAn Eado, up 82% to #23.

Haval H2 China September 2014. Picture courtesy of chexun.netThe Haval H2 is inside China’s Top 60 most popular vehicles for its 2nd month in market.

The SUV segment is the other main engine of growth in China right now. The Nissan X-Trail (+746% to 12,968 sales), Chery Tiggo 3 (+150% to 12,877 units) and ChangAn CS35 (10,594 sales) all breaking their monthly volume records are prime examples. But it doesn’t stop there. A few recent launches are becoming instant blockbusters too: the ChangAn CS75 is up 60% and 24 spots on its August record to finish the month just outside the Top 50 at #52 and 9,239 sales, the Haval H2 doubles its August score to 8,288 sales and #60 (now the brand’s 2nd best-seller in between the H6 and H5), the Beijing Auto Hansu S3 is up 42% for its 2nd month of sales to #67, the JAC Refine S3 triples its inaugural August figure to 6,103 sales at #89 and the Luxgen 6 SUV is up a further 4 spots to a record #92, the highest a Luxgen model has ever ranked in China.

Toyota Levin China September 2014. Picture courtesy of two months and the Toyota Levin is already one of China’s 50 favourite vehicles.

We also have a bunch of heroes in the sedan category: the Toyota Levin imposes itself as a new nameplate to be reckoned with by breaking into the monthly Top 50 as early as for its 2nd month at #46 and ending the month only 12 units shy of the symbolic 10,000 monthly sales milestone. An extremely impressive start indeed. The Audi A3 takes off thanks to the sedan variant, up 32 spots on August to #76, the Mazda3 Axela is up 10 ranks to #82, the GAC Trumpchi GA5S shoots up 47 ranks and 92% on its first month to #110 and the Kia K4 is up 49 spots and 106% to #114. There are 3 all-new nameplates making their first appearance in the Chinese ranking this month, but this will be the subject of a next post as is the tradition on BSCB.

Previous post: China 8 months 2014: Discover the Top 366 models ranking!

Previous new models post: China August 2014: Focus on the all-new models

Previous month: China August 2014: Baojun 730 directly above 12,000 sales

One year ago: China September 2013: Discover the Top 313 All-models ranking!

Full September 2014 Top 326 All-models Ranking Table below.

Read more…

Categories: China

USA 9 months 2014: Discover the Top 275 best-selling models

October 22nd, 2014 No comments

GMC Yukon USA September 2014. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comGMC Yukon sales are up 62% so far in 2014 thanks to the new model.

* See the Top 275 best-selling models by clicking on the title! *

I give you the models ranking for now, more data and complete analysis will follow shortly.

Previous post (models): USA September 2014 Chevy Silverado and Nissan Sentra on fire

Previous post (brands): USA September 2014: GM fleet, Jeep lift market up 9%, Big 3 back to Top 3

Previous month: USA 8 months 2014: Discover the Top 273 best-selling models!

One year ago: USA 9 months 2013: Discover the Top 276 best-selling models!

Full 9 months 2014 Top 275 models Ranking Table below.

Read more…

Categories: USA

Algeria September 2014: Renault Symbol leads the way

October 22nd, 2014 No comments

1. Renault Symbol Djerba July 2014Renault Symbol (Tunisian model pictured)

* See the Top 10 best-selling models and brands by clicking on the title! *

The brands ranking seems to be stabilising somewhat in Algeria this month, with the Top 3 most popular manufacturers identical to their year-to-date order: Renault is king with 4,706 sales followed by Peugeot at 3,506 and Hyundai at 3,253. Notice also Kia up to 4th, Skoda stable at #9 and Suzuki back inside the Top 10. Model-wise, after its twin the Dacia Logan topped the sales charts last month, the Renault Symbol takes the lead for the first time so far in 2014 thanks to 1,773 units sold. The Hyundai Accent remains 2nd at 1,588 units and reclaims the year-to-date lead off the Logan with 17,267 sales vs. 16,556. The Kia Picanto is up two spots on August to #3, the Toyota Hilux back up 5 to #5, and we welcome the Hyundai i10 (#7) and Dacia Sandero (#9) for the first time inside the monthly Algerian Top 10.

Previous month: Algeria August 2014: Dacia Logan now #1 year-to-date

One year ago: Algeria October 2013: Dacia Logan back in charge

Full September 2014 Top 10 models and brands Ranking Tables below.

Read more…

Categories: Algeria

Paris Auto Show 2014: An exclusive interview with Dacia

October 21st, 2014 5 comments

Dacia Dokker Lodgy Stepway Paris Auto Show 2014Dacia unveiled the Dokker and Lodgy Stepway in Paris.

* See the Full interview by clicking on the title, and all Paris Auto Show 2014 Reports here! *

This is the last part in my Paris Auto Show 2014 series of reports: an exclusive interview with Renaud Pirel, Renault Entry Range Sales & Marketing Director, and Frédéric Favre, Dacia Press Relations Manager. I have never hidden the fact that I am a big fan of Dacia’s brand strategy, that has enabled it to go from 0 to 5 million units sold in 10 years, still posting in 2014 the fastest growth rates of any mass brand in France and Europe. Being French but living in Australia since 12 years ago, I have witnessed the Dacia adventure from afar, getting a snapshot of its popularity in France every year I came back for a visit. An experience I have described in two successive articles: France August 2012: Dacia, king of the countryside and Nice hinterland September 2013: one Dacia in every tiny village.

This is the first time I get to speak with Dacia directly, and it was the most fruitful interview I conducted at the Paris Auto Show. I even got a very open answer to something that has puzzled me for a while: the lack of success of the Dokker LCV in France, and we reversed roles at the end when I got interviewed by Dacia about the potential success of the entry range in Australia. The full interview is below the jump.

Dacia Sandero StepwayThe Stepway variant accounts for 2/3 of all Sanderos sold in Europe, 90% in Northern Africa.

BSCB: Automotive News Europe announced recently that the Dacia range was about to be streamlined, with either the Dokker, Logan MCV or Lodgy to be cancelled. Do you confirm?

Frédéric Favre: This is a huge misunderstanding, there is absolutely no intention to cancel any of the models you mentioned.

Renaud Pirel: Not only that, but we also keep investing and thinking about new ideas on each of these 3 models, so they are here to stay.

BSCB: Glad we cleared that one up. Dacia is up 21% in France and up 35% in Europe so far this year. What’s next?

Renaud Pirel: The sky is the limit! No to be perfectly honest, as a principle we never communicate market share or volume objectives for Dacia, only Group ones by our President. But before I address the ‘What’s next’ question, it’s worth taking stock of what’s happened in the decade that the brand has been commercialised in Europe – it launched in France in June 2005 – because a lot of elements that will form our future lie in our foundations. In short, I believe the explosive growth rates we have consistently achieved over that period come from our capacity to always remain in touch with our customers.

The adventure started with the Logan, which wasn’t originally designed for Western European markets let alone France (BSCB note: C-segment sedans are all but dead in French sales charts). The extension of the Dacia range into other segments has always been decided based on customer feedback. The first Logan customers bought into the idea of a new, very simple car with a 3 year-warranty as an alternative to a similarly-sized 2-3 year-old used vehicle often without a manufacturer warranty beyond the few months required by law. On this foundation, we have managed to build the Dacia brand.

Dacia Picnic 2010. Picture courtesy of Dacia picnic. Picture courtesy of autodeclics.comThe 6th annual Dacia picnic attracted 14.000 Dacia owners in France last June.

Understanding our customers is paramount because they are not the same customers that we were used to dealing with through Renault. They belong to the used-vehicle universe, and we realised that as car manufacturers we actually didn’t have much information about this type of customers. So when we tested their interest for this type of products with the Logan, these customers were actually surprised that a car manufacturer would be willing to communicate with them, they were not used to that. So they weren’t shy in talking with us and we received a huge amount of feedback that we were able to utilise to grow the brand. Based on this, we rapidly launched the 7-seat Logan MCV, then the Sandero, Duster, Lodgy and Dokker.

Full interview below.

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Paris Auto Show 2014: Has Renault lost its mojo?

October 21st, 2014 4 comments

Renault Espace Paris Auto Show 2014aRenault Espace

The Paris Auto Show was the first motor show in the world, established in 1898 by industry pioneer Albert de Dion. This is where French manufacturers are expected to shine, surprise and revolutionise the automotive world. In 1922, an astounding 81 French automobile makers were exhibited at the Show.

Renault Twingo Paris Auto Show 2014aRenault Twingo

As the #1 French manufacturer for the past 70 years, Renault has used the Show in the past to make big noise about new and upcoming models. From the 1947 Paris Motor Show where Renault unveiled the first mass-produced French car, the Renault 4CV, to the 1992 Show where it stunned the automotive world by revealing the Twingo which would go on to achieve legendary success for the brand, and 2002 when the doomed yet prestigious Vel Satis was unveiled.

Renault Espace Paris Auto Show 2014b Renault Espace Paris Auto Show 2014c Renault Espace Paris Auto Show 2014dRenault Espace interior, featuring incredibly cramped and windowless third row seats.

In this context, Renault’s efforts at this year’s Paris Auto Show have left me frankly unsatisfied and a little worried. All Renault’s energy at the inaugural press conference on the first press day was spent talking up the new generation Espace, granted a paramount nameplate for the brand, but with very little sales power. Worse, the world class smarts the first generations Espace showcased have all but disappeared to give way to an SUV-esque silhouette with pretentious interior and ridiculously cramped third row seats. Is Renault starting to take itself too seriously?

Renault Twingo Paris Auto Show 2014bRenault Twingo

The Espace wasn’t exactly new news as its design and most features were known well before the Paris Auto Show, yet it took complete centre stage at Renault’s stand with no less than 10 examples displayed. The other star model on the Renault stand wasn’t new either: the third generation Twingo had been unveiled in Geneva last March and had already hit French roads (#8 in September). Yet there were 7 of them on the stand. Although I have to say I do like the colour-changing light balls hanging from the ceiling that have become Renault’s trademark over the past few international Auto Shows…

Renault Eolab Concept Paris Auto Show 2014Renault Eolab Concept

Paris Auto Show 2014: The 20 things to remember

October 21st, 2014 No comments

1. Lamborghini Huracan1. Lamborghini Huracan

* See the Full Photo Report by clicking on the title and all other Paris 2014 Reports here *

The Paris Auto Show 2014 just closed its doors on Sunday and was another tremendous success at over 1.2 million visitors. There is one more interview I will share with you very shortly, but until then here are my Top 20 highlights of the show outside of French manufacturers, covered separately. Completely subjective highlights based on design, new finds, stand layouts, and my overall experience there compared to the expectations I may have had before coming in.

My first highlight is the Lamborghini stand. Whether it be in Frankfurt, Geneva, Beijing or here in Paris, Lamborghini has brought a consistently prestigious flair into every Show I’ve had the privilege to attend. The Volkswagen-owned Italian marque comes up with new vehicles each time to ensure they make news, models look sexy, somewhat out-of-reach in a playful way and always ravishingly, glamourously and enticingly expensive. I can’t wait for the next Show.

2. Mini Superleggera Vision 1 3. Mini Superleggera Vision 2 4. Mini Superleggera Vision 32. Delicious: the Mini Superleggera Vision

Not a World Premiere but what a delightful vision indeed. The line “British Born, Italian tailored” fits this speedster concept that I would love to see produced to the tee. Every detail is spot on, including the rear lights in the shape of English flags and the Como Blue paint that screams “take me on a tour round Lake Como”. Ready when you are Superleggera.

5. VW XL Sport

3. Volkswagen XL Sport

I had not been a great fan of the VW XL1, another awkward-looking car sacrificing beautiful design for fuel efficiency. Now eating my words with this sublime XL Sport, with the added guts of placing a 1,199cc V-twin motorcycle engine used in the Ducati 1199 Superlegerra, a donation facilitated by the acquisition of Ducati by Volkswagen in 2012. I love how Volkswagen generates and advertises synergies between its stable of brands.

6. Maserati Alfieri Concept4. Maserati Alfieri Concept

Although it was already present at the Geneva Auto Show earlier this year, I am not getting tired of the Maserati Alfieri Concept’s muzzle. Never had a white shark with a gaping mouth looked so good at an Auto Show.

7. Toyota iRoad5. Toyota iRoad

Toyota reserved a surprisingly large section of its stand to its Personal Mobility Vehicle, the iRoad. A clear message here that the Japanese manufacturer wants us to take this new type of vehicle it came up with with the utmost seriousness. Noted.

8. Opel stand6. Opel stand

Right in the middle of a controversial kill of the Chevrolet brand in Europe, General Motors is now putting all its energy into the Opel brand and sent a strong signal this year at the Paris Auto Show. Its stand was much larger than I expected, vibrant, pumping with music while managing a dark, cocktail bar look that conveyed a classy image contrasting with the current perception of the brand most European consumers have. Opel is back and wants you to know it.

8b. Tesla stand7. Tesla stand

One year ago at the Frankfurt Auto Show, the single Press rep at the minuscule Tesla stand confided in me with bright shiny eyes that the Model S had just topped the overall sales charts in Norway. This would end up happening a couple more times over the following 6 months. In Paris, small Tesla is becoming big with a full-scale stand that was more than holding its own against the industry’s traditional behemoths. Always heart-warming to see a brand jumping leaps and bounds towards mass success.

9a. Jeep Renegade interior8. Jeep Renegade interior: a good mix of tradition and playfulness
9b. Lexus NX interior9. Lexus NX interior: as convoluted as its silhouette
9c. Mini Countryman interior10. Only for the fans: Mini interior  9d. Smart Forfour interior11. Fresh but Chinese-flimsy: the Smart ForFour

8-11. Interiors.
I am particularly picky on car interiors, and the Paris Auto Show proved this once again. Only one new interior made me really happy: the Jeep Renegade’s. I liked the mix of tradition (“Since 1941″), typically-Jeep shapes, playful colour mix and down-to-earthness. I can see myself driving this little beauty for days on end through the Australian Outback…
When the first pictures of the Lexus NX popped up on the internet I thought it was all a joke. Just as my eye is slowly getting used to its bleedingly sharp angular silhouette, an overly convoluted, button-heavy interior is ruining everything…
I don’t mind the new Mini 5 door, but as for the standard Mini its dashboard looks unbelievably un-driverfriendly and actually unsafe to keep track of while driving.
Let’s finish on a particularly cringe-worthy experience all-round: the Smart ForFour. Here again exterior design is to me a massive improvement on the first generation. But why oh why do the doors sound like they will remain stuck in your hand if you slam them too hard, and everything on the dashboard, although very fresh-looking, feels like it could get broken off by a vigorous slap? We’re not in China, Smart.

10. Nissan IDx Freeflow12. Nissan iDX Freeflow Concept

Not a new concept once again but I am absolutely loving the retro-future design and dual colours. I want one. Now.

11. Dongfeng Giotti Victoria Gladiator13. Dongfeng / Giotti Victoria Gladiator

This was a very interesting find at the Show. Did you know that the Dongfeng mini pick-up was assembled under licence in Italy under the name Giotti Victoria Gladiator? More, that it is imported and commercialised in France by a company called MAM Strager (, selling around 100 units per year mainly in semi-rural areas of the south half of France like Le Creusot? Now you do. It doesn’t appear in official stats likely because MAM Strager doesn’t have official connections with the AAA and CCFA which record new car sales in France…

The next highlights are below.

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Portugal September 2014: VW Golf confirms pole position

October 21st, 2014 1 comment

VW Golf Portugal September 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frVW Golf

* See the Top 195 models and Top 33 All-brands by clicking on the title! Thanks Antonio *

The spectacular recovery of the Portuguese new car market is still ongoing: sales are up 32% year-on-year in September to 9,701 units, bringing the year-to-date total to 107,404 registrations, up 35% on 2013. Peugeot takes the lead of the brands ranking this month, overtaking Volkswagen with sales up 67% to 1,025 for a 10.4% market share thanks to great performances of the 208 (#2 above the Renault Clio), 308 (#11) and 2008 (#19 just below the Captur). Renault remains leader year-to-date however with 11.5% share vs. 9.6% for Volkswagen and 9% for Peugeot. Notice also Nissan up 106%, Dacia up 98% and Skoda up 81%.

Mercedes C Class Portugal September 2014The Mercedes C-Class is up to #6 in Portugal this month.

Surprise in the models sales charts: whereas it had never topped the ranking in the time BSCB has been following Portugal monthly (June 2013), the VW Golf ranks first for the 2nd straight month with a very satisfying 5.7% market share (vs. 3.5% year-to-date). This means the Portuguese market has been dominated by a Volkswagen for 3 consecutive months now (the Polo was #1 in July). Below the Nissan Qashqai strong once again at #4, Mercedes manages to place two models inside the Tp 6 (the A-Class at #5 and C-Class at #6), something no other manufacturer was able to do this month! Mercedes is the #3 brand in the country in September ahead of Renault with a huge 9% market share…

Previous month: Portugal August 2014: VW Golf takes the lead in market up 26%

One year ago: Portugal September 2013: BMW 3 Series up to 2nd place!

Full Top 195 models and Top 33 All-brands Ranking Tables below.

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Categories: Portugal