Lotus Continues March to Mediocrity

The Elise you see pictured above will be the last good car Lotus will make since Danny Bahar continues to show that he has no idea on how to run the brand.

First, Lotus announced intentions to go upmarket with four blandly designed concepts. Then came the clothing line to solidify “the brand” of Lotus. And now comes the addition of Swiss Beatz. At every turn, it appears that Danny Bahar would like to produce empty corporate speak instead of cars, especially with the use of Swiss Beatz.

Swiss Beatz does not appear to come from Switzerland, or enjoy beets, but is a multi-talented singer/producer/dj/corporate shill. His hiring is supposed to help Lotus break into the premium market in some way or another. So what nuggets of wisdom does this rapper have to offer Lotus about producing sports cars?

A few key quotes from the article in Insideline are:

“The key is to infiltrate the market in a cool way,”
The best is for “things to happen organically,” Beatz expounds.
“They want flash,” Beatz says in describing prospective Lotus buyers.

Truly riveting and unique statements on producing cars. The last time someone said something this important, their 10 quotes were put in stone tablets and brought down a mountain.

What is Lotus thinking exactly? I see no serious advice that this person is adding, or advice on how to create cars with those values. Danny Bahar just seems to be throwing money at people that kind of know what a car looks like. He might as well hire John Madden for automotive advice. Mr. Madden could tell him that, “To make a really good car, you gotta have four wheels,” or, “Engines are crucial to make a car move, people like to move.” You can just imagine Danny boy just sitting there soaking in all these gems of wisdom with a clipboard muttering under his breath about “branding,” “synergy,” “merchandising,” and “global reach.”

The only thing you haven’t heard from Lotus is what the cars will look and drive like. The last time we heard that was last year, and those were merely concepts. Lotus is acting more like an internet startup than a car manufacturer.

Danny “I don’t like cars” Bahar continues to show that he hasn’t the slightest clue on how to run Lotus. In fact, he has never had experience making cars at all. his last job was at Ferrari expanding their brand through merchandising. That might have worked with Ferrari to shill out the brand with clothes and pop star recomendations, but only because Ferrari had the lore and history to make that happen. Not to mention that that lore and history was made by the drive to make the best racing cars possible. Road cars for Enzo Ferrari were only a way to make money to go racing, not a hollow “branding” exercise to make money for more Grey Goose and Saville Row suits. Maybe Bahar should go work for Goldman Sachs instead one of the most hallowed brands in automotive history, he can bring Swiss Beatz with him.

Source: Insideline

  

Maserati to Launch SUV

Yet another Frankfurt Auto Show debut has come to light, this time from Maserati. To increase sales volume, Maserati is looking to increase their offerings within the next few years. The first model is the new, unnamed Maserati SUV.

Jealous of Porsche’s success with the Cayenne, Maserati is going deep into Fiat’s toy chest to create their own competitor. The result will be the equivalent of a rich man’s turducken. Expect this new model to use the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s platform, a Ferrari derived V8 (most likely similar to the Granturismo), a ZF 8 speed transmission, and the appropriate Maserati styling adjustments both inside the car and out.

If you are connecting the dots, this means that Maserati will produce a truck with a platform engineered by Jeep (also the Mercedes GL), powered by a Ferrari motor, using a German transmission, and built in the U.S.A.

Let’s see if Maserati can put all the parts together to make a true competitor to the Cayene and BMW X5M when the curtain falls in Frankfurt. If it goes all terribly wrong, expect something like the Chrysler TC by Maserati though.

Source: Automotive News

  

Great Red Hope

Lotus is getting fat and greedy, Porsche makes more money selling SUVs to housewives than sports car enthusiasts, Aston Martin sells a rebadged Toyota. The world of sports cars is upside down. But there is hope, a small glimmer from the prodigal son of the automotive world: the Alfa Romeo 4C. This September, Alfa Romeo is set to disclose more details on the 4C at this year’s Frankfurt auto show. It may be a revised concept, or maybe, the production model.

This is not just big for car people, but for Alfa Romeo as well. Alfa is putting their hopes for a successful return to the U.S. on the back of a 1,800lb sports car. It also marks a return to Alfa making true sports cars.

The specifics so far point to the 4C as being a lightweight, turbocharged sports car. It will have a carbon fiber tub, RWD, and a turbocharged 4-cyl where it is supposed to be, the back of the car. It will also be priced in the reasonable $50,000-60,000 range. The 4C looks to replace the much loved, but nearly departed, Lotus Elise in the hearts and minds of people that enjoy driving cars, not status symbols. As for more specifics, we will have to wait until Frankfurt.

  

The Cadillacs are Coming

Cadillac is poised to start 2012 with a bang. Two all new models are slated to bring the fight to their German competition on all fronts. First, is the XTS, the DTS and STS replacement. The largest Caddy will be built off of the Buick Lacrosse platform and be front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

The second one, however, is much more exciting. Bench-marking the BMW 3-series, the ATS is the smallest Cadillac and is poised bring more driving excitement to the lineup. Previous 3-series competitors have fallen a tad flat, such as the Catera, but Cadillac really did their homework on this one.

One model pleases traditional Cadillac customers while the other sets to make an impression on lifelong BMW customers. For the first time in a long time, Cadillac has a fully loaded arsenal of models to compete with. And both are made in the U.S.A.

  

Regal GS Priced

Buick’s sportiest Regal, the GS, is set to arrive this fall. Now we have word of just how much it will cost. The new GS will set you back $35,310. For that you get a turbocharged, 270hp four cylinder motor hooked up to a traditional 6 speed manual transmission. An automatic will also be available. The GS also sports a more aggressive front fascia, wheels, suspension, and interior appointments. The GS may be the most powerful Regal but it does not seem to be set up for full out track assaults, but to be a competent daily driver.

Buick sees the GS competing with Acura TSX V6’s and Audi A4’s. The only glaring fault is that the GS it is only front wheel drive. So is the TSX, but the Audi is available with all-wheel drive. The GS has more power than the A4, but it will be interesting to see if GM is able to handle the torque steer enough to deliver a luxurious ride. Holding the wheel while it wiggles around in your hands does not give the illusion of class and sophistication. Odder still, the car on which it is based, the Vauxhall Insignia VXR, does come with all-wheel drive, and a 321hp, turbocharged V-6.

The GS is a great value when compared to the Acura TSX, but may not sway people out of their Audi’s without all-wheel drive. A final verdict will have to wait for a test drive, but the GS looks to definitely change the way people view Buick.

Source: Insideline

  

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