When the going gets tough, the tough gear up
PARIS MOTOR SHOW:CARMAKERS DEALING with weak consumer appetite in the battered European market pointed towards inevitable cuts to plant capacity and labour costs at the Paris Motor Show, which opened last week. Company bosses were resigned to a further slump in demand, as industry gloom overshadowed the no-frills small cars and gleaming cars displayed on the stands. But there was still some new metal on show that will be coming to Irish forecourts in the coming months.
Jag goes for the jugular
The Jaguar F-Type was one of the surprises of the show, a really tidy, stylish little package with a design that offers a mix of artistic lines to the rear and real menace at the front. Some suggest it has Maserati looks in its DNA, but Scottish designer Ian Callum was clearly playing on the heritage of the E-Type when he was sketching this car. And he needed to keep it modern and sleek, because the F-Type has its sights firmly set on taking sales from the likes of the Porsche Cayman.
On offer with three powertrain options – 3-litre V6 in 340bhp or 380bhp format, or 5-litre supercharged 495bhp – it will hit Irish showrooms in March. Prices are likely to start at €80,000 for the 340bhp version. It is launched in a soft-top, but we can already start to imagine how good a coupe version would look. Jaguar might be a niche brand, but it’s really on the rise.
Sister firm Land Rover is also bucking the industry trend with phenomenal demand for its Range Rover Evoque. Sales are up 40 per cent year-to-date, and while European sales might not be challenging the big-volume players, the Asian markets can’t seem to get enough of the British brand. With that in mind the arrival of new Range Rover – the fourth since the model was launched in 1974 – should spell sales success for the firm, particularly in China. It’s got a noticeably smaller front grille that takes a little away from the usual Range Rover stance, but the car is as plush inside as any luxury car. By using aluminium, the firm has also drastically reduced its weight, down a whopping 420kg on the outgoing model. It’s still going to be silly money to tax one, but at least the emissions are going in the right direction, with promises it will come in below 200g/km.
Golf ups its game
Sticking on the weight loss theme, the new VW Golf has dropped an impressive 15 per cent on average compared to the previous version. The new car’s engine options include a BlueMotion version that will deliver 85g/km. It’s still clearly a Golf, but has been tweaked enough to please the millions of customers who keep coming back for more. When the flagship GTi arrives next year the 2-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged engine will have an optional power boost package that will bring it from the standard 218bhp to 227bhp. New to the GTi range is VW’s progressive steering system, which reduces the number of degrees of turn the driver needs to apply to the steering wheel. That means lighter parking and tighter handling on twisty roads.
Toyota’s Tourer de force
Over at Toyota, the big news is the arrival of the new Auris, even if it’s not quite that big news since details and images of the car have been on the go since mid-August. New to the range is the Auris Tourer, an estate version that was sadly missing from the range since the end of the Corolla estate in the early 2000s. Toyota has also confirmed new versions of the Auris people-carrier variants.