Who's buying who in French-US car deal?

Wed, Oct 17, 2012, 01:00

HARD SHOULDER:Reports are circulating that Opel may merge with Citroën and Peugeot in a move that could see either General Motors buy up Peugeot and Citroen from PSA Group or the reverse – the French buying Opel and Vauxhall from GM.

The two companies are already collaborating on a cost-saving joint venture that will see them share platforms, engines and parts, with a view to saving more than €2 billion a year, and helping to stem huge losses at both companies.

It’s thought that plans for this are only at a very tentative stage at the moment, and there are a huge number of organisational, political and legal hurdles to jump before – or even if – it becomes a reality.

From daddy SUV comes baby G

Mercedes is thought to be planning a baby G-Wagen for those who crave the upright style and rugged good looks of the 1970s SUV but can’t afford the astronomical price tag or the equally ludicrous running costs.

It’s thought that a GLG model, so called under Mercedes’s new byzantine naming system, could be spun off from the new B-Class chassis, which could mean front-drive as well as four-wheel drive versions. It’s still up in the air, but if this new model gets the green light, it could arrive, priced as a rival to the Range Rover Evoque, by 2015.

Hyundai’s new Santa Fe goes in hot pursuit of BMW and Audi buyers

Arguably, it was the 2006 Santa Fe that changed Hyundai, certainly in Ireland. Or at least it changed our perceptions of it. Before: cheap and cheerful discount player. After: mainstream, quietly classy and, yes, maybe even capable of premium.

Following on from the likes of the i30, 120 and ix35 comes the all-new Santa Fe, and with it an even more profound shift in the character of Hyundai’s seven-seat SUV. Where before it was a relatively simple, utilitarian soul, this new one is much more dramatic to look at, classier in feel and sportier to drive.

It’s the exterior styling that truly grabs you, much more fore-square and aggressive than it appears in the photographs. Inside, the cabin is comfortable and of high quality, albeit not quite up to the high watermark set by the i40 saloon and estate. The sole engine is a 2.2-litre turbo diesel with 197bhp that returns a claimed 5.8 litres per 100km (unlikely, we feel; mid-sixes sounds more like what you’ll get in real driving) and emits a very impressive 147g/km in 2WD form.

Prices start at €36,995 for the very well equipped Comfort model, and Hyundai is bullish enough about the car to attempt to woo BMW and Audi customers with a fully loaded €48,000 Premium model with an automatic gearbox.

Our brief test drive showed us a car with decent on-road manners, excellent refinement and a third row of seats that’s suitable strictly for kids – and small ones at that.

It arrives at an interesting time for Hyundai, as it makes a final move from selling on price and little else to moving very firmly into the mainstream and even having a tickle at the premium market. As a marker in the sand, then, the new Santa Fe is an impressive one.

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