Renault chief Carlos Ghosn seems cagey on new Kadjar; self-shifting Lotus is fast and fun; new Hyundai i10 is perfect package
Steve Cropley Autocar
11 February 2015

MONDAY - Wonderful week for new cars. Started with a day trip to Paris to watch Renault chief Carlos Ghosn unveil the new Kadjar crossover, which follows the familiar modern pattern of being an appealing model with a funny name, because all decent ‘handles’ have been taken.

In a quick one-to-one, I found Ghosn surprisingly cagey about the car’s sales potential – more cagey than I would be on his behalf, because the model looks great and its underbits are not only well proven, but proven desirable by record-breaking sales of the Qashqai, the Kadjar’s Nissan twin.

Interviewing someone like Ghosn is nerve-wracking, because his answers are so fact-packed and precisely edited that you need all your concentration either to pick up on what he’s just said or to move to a new subject and make best use of your time available. 

Up close, Ghosn seems so focused that he makes a magnifying glass look like the bottom of a Coke bottle. But I can’t help wondering how this extraordinary bloke, around whom an industry revolves, will cope with retirement, only a handful of years away.

TUESDAY AM - Quick sojourn on favourite roads in a 3.6-metre surprise package called the Hyundai i10, my favourite of the current tinies. 

One minute it feels big (cruising motorways), the next it feels small (when you’re sticking it down country lanes at speeds that would daunt anything bigger and wider). Fully loaded, an i10 costs a paltry £10,800, yet you could drive it around the world in ease and comfort, enjoying every mile.

TUESDAY PM - Uplifting hacks’ dinner with Honda UK boss Philip Crossman and his management team, who laid out an impressive UK recovery strategy that involves launching six new cars in the next six months: CR-V, Civic, Civic Type R, HR-V, Jazz and NSX. That’s quite a line-up.

Crossman’s concern is that Honda, which makes 4.4 million cars a year and spends a cool £3.5 billion on R&D, is unfairly seen in the UK as a failing enterprise, because in recent years it has been hit by a catastrophic decline in the yen plus a couple of huge natural disasters that decimated key factories and delayed vital products. 

Business abruptly halved from the halcyon, 100,000-a-year days of 2007-2008. Better times are coming, though, and for this closet Honda fan (11 Honda motorbikes and counting) that’s exciting.

WEDNESDAY - Morning pow-wow to put the finishing touches to Autocar’s bigger, better motorsport coverage, which is about to begin. Rather than running a sport column, we’ve decided to dedicate the space (and more) to features and track tests that will embrace both F1 and other fascinating codes and characters. 

We’re well stocked with ideas, but if you have a suggestion burning a hole in your pocket, as it were, our head of content, Matt Burt (matt.burt@haymarket.com), would love to hear it.      

THURSDAY - Up early to beat the traffic on a trip to Lotus to try the new paddle-shift Exige S. It’s not exactly a new car, but there hasn’t been a two-pedal version before.

High-achieving Lotus boss Jean-Marc Gales (who is about to deliver the first stage of his promised expansion by hiking his first year’s sales by 63% to 2000-plus units) reckons the model could add as much as 40% to Exige volume, because Far Eastern demand for self-shifters is so strong.

I found the car perfect for beating up the ancient, skinny roads of Norfolk; in a car weighing not much more than a tonne and with 345bhp, it helps to be able to keep two hands on the wheel.

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Comments
5

11 February 2015
You want to kadge one of these?? whats going on with daft names these days? I thought after the laughable KOLEOS - which in Greek KOLOS is ass would have been the end but no ..now they want us to kadge one

what's life without imagination

11 February 2015
quote
Morning pow-wow to put the finishing touches to Autocar’s bigger, better motorsport coverage, which is about to begin. Rather than running a sport column, we’ve decided to dedicate the space (and more) to features and track tests that will embrace both F1 and other fascinating codes and characters. Unquote

Autocar - just tell me at a quick guess how many
1) Polo's (2) Hyundai i20 (3) For Focus (4) Citroen DS3 there are on the roads of England (just England OK). and then tell me how many
Ferrari/Mercedes/Honda are on the same roads??

What am I getting at? Well driving F1 cars around silk smooth surfaced roundabouts is not quite in the same league as those cheap everyday cars Polo Focus etc in WRC..So why on earth can we not have just a double page layout of each and every rally.... PLEASE!!!!! because your jouno's write much better than other mags, and I think Stan Pap will also manage some indulgent happy pics for a change

what's life without imagination

11 February 2015
CR-V - Should hit a market need, and pics I've seen shows it's nice to my eyes. I think the Qashqai's nicer though, so how will it stack up against it?

Civic and Type R - From the Type R pictures I gather the revised Civic will look similar to today's one, which heavily polarises people and has probably sold to anyone who wants one already - HUGE mistake. Type R will be good for its niche market I'm sure. Build an attractive Civic please, you've managed it before.....

HR-V - No one wanted the first one, so why make another one? It'll have to be very good won't it?

Jazz - A good looking car now, and clever packaging, but Paris pics suggest the replacement will be a fussy looking hybrid of the ugly Civic and the previous Jazz.

NSX - Looks great in my eyes, but again very niche.

There may be a lot of far smarter people than I involved with product decisions at Honda, but this model range will not dig them out of the European hole in my humble opinion.

Steve - take your tongue out the car bosses bottoms please. I know they have the ultimate power over your ad revenue, but the comments on Ghosn are overboard. He's a clever guy sure, but he's not a god.

11 February 2015
Paul Dalgarno wrote:

CR-V - Should hit a market need, and pics I've seen shows it's nice to my eyes. I think the Qashqai's nicer though, so how will it stack up against it?

Civic and Type R - From the Type R pictures I gather the revised Civic will look similar to today's one, which heavily polarises people and has probably sold to anyone who wants one already - HUGE mistake. Type R will be good for its niche market I'm sure. Build an attractive Civic please, you've managed it before.....

HR-V - No one wanted the first one, so why make another one? It'll have to be very good won't it?

Jazz - A good looking car now, and clever packaging, but Paris pics suggest the replacement will be a fussy looking hybrid of the ugly Civic and the previous Jazz.

NSX - Looks great in my eyes, but again very niche.

There may be a lot of far smarter people than I involved with product decisions at Honda, but this model range will not dig them out of the European hole in my humble opinion.

Totally agree. Honda UK just dont seem to know what they are doing. People have a lot of respect for Honda, but nothing they sell here today appeals. The Civic Type R will no doubt be good, but based on something so clearly in need of replacement. Surely they would be better served just replacing the Civic with something that doesnt look so unappealing. The NSX is going to cost double the initial estimates, so sales will be tiny no matter how good it is.

We dont get the Civic coupe, the Accord Coupe, both far more appealing than the cars we get offered here. We have lost the CRz, about to lose the Accord saloon and Estate. Never got the Insight with the more appealing 1.5. They gave up on the Legend very quickly too. Where are the replacements for the S2000, the FRV, the original insight (80g/km back in 1999!)

A34

11 February 2015
artill wrote:
Paul Dalgarno wrote:

CR-V - Should hit a market need, ...

Civic and Type R - ...will look similar to today's one, ...HUGE mistake. Type R will be good for its niche market I'm sure. Build an attractive Civic please, you've managed it before.....

HR-V - No one wanted the first one, ...

Jazz - ...Paris pics suggest the replacement will be a fussy looking hybrid ...

NSX - ... very niche.

...

Totally agree. Honda UK just dont seem to know what they are doing. ...Where are the replacements for the S2000, the FRV, the original insight (80g/km back in 1999!)

Quite. The Civic Tourer is better though. Main problem is the engine range for the blue rinse customers: the 1.8 petrol is sweet but hardly competitive while the 1.6 diesel needs an auto for the Civic as well as the low end CR-V (i.e. 2WD). Not to mention uncompetitive list prices.

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