Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Lanchester luxury

Often thought luxury cars too big. Lanchester showed 65 years ago that you could have a small luxury saloon, as well-appointed as a big one, just as quiet and every bit as classy. That was when Aston Martins were 2litres and Jaguars a bit big at 3½. Cars fitted roads and 200mph was what they used to do at Daytona Beach. Lancia Aprilias handled beautifully; you didn’t need big cars with huge engines.
Automotive News Europe’s Paul McVeigh says competition for luxury car sales is going to be decided by who does the best small premium cars. “Current No. 1 BMW believes its new front-wheel-drive architecture will give it a competitive edge against Audi and Mercedes-Benz.” BMW will go front wheel drive in its next 1-series. The current 1-series is rear wheel drive, but it has not a lot of legroom in the back so it is likely to follow the Mini and go front-drive.
BMW’s fwd architecture, known as ULK (somebody at BMW might tell us why ULK) is likely to be key. BMW executives hear complaints from traditional zealots that fwd dilutes BMW's rear-wheel-drive heritage. Klaus Draeger, BMW's head of purchasing, who helped create UKL when he was head of r&d, said that by 2020 it expects to make a lot of fwd models. Automotive News quoted him: "We are entering into new segments and getting new customers who learn you can drive very well with front-wheel drive.”
BMW’s Concept Active Tourer shown at Paris in September previewed BMW's first major model with UKL. A production version is due next September as a rival to Mercedes B class and Volkswagen Golf Plus. It's not greenery yallery to look askance at over-large cars. They're fine in America or Russia but there is a place here for the compact, refined, manageable and medium-sized.

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