Sitting tall in one of the most popular types of new car.
The pace of new cars arriving on the motoring scene this year is an ongoing tsunami of fresh metal. Every week brings more of them, and it is so tough for car makers to grab attention for their new arrivals against all the conflicting cacophony from rival manufacturers, that many are now resorting to early unveilings well ahead of the vehicles being ready for the road.
The past week has brought two such previews. Both, perhaps unsurprisingly, are in the ever-growing category of pumped-up SUV-crossovers: the sit-high, family-friendly darlings of the car world that now dominate the popularity charts.
In Paris, Peugeot occupied a huge exhibition hall for a dramatic reveal of its new 3008, due on sale later this year. And in Gothenburg, we were ushered into a stark white design studio for an even earlier look at the concept model for the new XC40, not due on sale until 2018. Both will aim to woo customers away from such as the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar, Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage, Renault Kadjar, Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 … it’s a long list.
Peugeot’s 3008 is a mid-sized model that is based on the same modular structure as a 308 hatchback. The French company has great hopes for the car, expecting it to become its best-seller. It has the latest version of the i-Cockpit, the cabin design that combines a smaller-than-usual steering wheel with a high-level instrument panel that you view over the top of, rather than through, the wheel.
It has been controversial, not liked by some – and even Peugeot’s design chief Gilles Vidal admitted that he was not entirely enamoured with early versions. In the new 3008, though, it works very well. The car will also have lots of techy features, including hands-free tailgate operation that lets you open it by waving your foot under the rear bumper.
The 3008’s ‘wow’ feature will be a fold-up electric scooter that stows in the boot and is charged as the car drives, ready to be taken out and used as a nippy run-about when you leave the car parked somewhere. What a brilliant idea.
Over to Volvo, where the Swedish company sprung a surprise by taking the wraps off a car it won’t be selling for another couple of years. Following on from the success of the XC90 – reigning Women’s World Car of the Year, amongst a very long list of other international awards – and its smaller sibling the XC60, the next SUV under development in Gothenburg is the XC40.
Currently known a concept 40:1, it will be a very important car for Volvo, the smallest of its SUVs and potentially by far the biggest seller, unpinning an ambition to grow into a much bigger force in the car world. Sleek, chic but with the familiar family face and chiselled tail that makes it unmistakably a Volvo, the XC40 concept shows the shape of things to come in the Scandinavian car range.
There is an intriguing feature on the white-bodied, black-roofed concept car. The door ‘mirrors’ are flat discs. How on earth could anyone see out of them? New technology means that the image of a rearward view can be created by cameras rather than mirrors. The design also cuts down on the wind drag of a chunky mirror housing. Clever.
Images: Sue Baker