Toyota as an automaker has to be the bestselling marque from Asia. Simply, there probably isn’t a road in this world where a Toyota hasn’t been. Affordable, efficient and ever so reliable, this are all the hallmarks of the Toyota brand. Though, expanding to SUVs like the Harrier and Land Cruiser, Toyota has started to adopt a more premium feel. Out of all its SUVs, the RAV4 is the bestselling SUV in the Asian automaker’s lineup. In fact the Toyota RAV4 started a trend, where its competitors took notice of its success and started to make their own compact SUVs to compete in this new niche market.
The Dodge Charger will always be remembered fondly to most car enthusiasts for the amazing American muscle cars that wore the badge in the 60s. So much that if a guy who saw the once proud muscle car, now turned into a performance sedan, probably, he’d say, “they just don’t make them as they used to.” However, to be fair the new full sized sedan brings no shame to the Charger badge and is quite a unique high performance car. Also, it’s important to note that the Charger is the bestselling passenger car from Dodge.
Thinking of getting a family car and you’re on a budget, then the Skoda Rapid is just the car for you. It isn’t going to blow you away in the same way a Golf would, however in the VW lineup it’s the next closest thing. Ironically, the name Rapid brings up the idea of a very fast car, however the Rapid’s performance can be underwhelming if compared to the likes of Ford Focus.
The Skoda Rapid goes all the way back to 1935, and it managed to stay in production in some way during and after World War II. Production of the Rapid eventually ended in 1947. It came back in the 80s as a rear-engined coupe, which by the way is held in high regard by Skoda aficionados. Later in 2011 it was introduced as a four-door saloon car in the Indian market and it is still in production there.
The Qashqai, seems like every automaker out there is making money from the SUV boom. Looking at the global market there are undeveloped and are growing an appetite for crossovers. With that in mind it won’t be a bad idea as an automaker to invest heavily on SUVs, somehow they are the new hatchbacks on stilts, and oddly enough that is what you get with the Nissan Qashqai.
What’s in a Name?
If you are wondering what the name Qashqai means, then let me enlighten you, it’s a moniker derived from the Qahqai Turkic people who live in the mountainous region of Southwestern Iran. It was known as Dualis in the Japanese and Australian market for its first generation. It was named this as the Japanese automaker was worried that it would be punned as “cash cow” in its domestic market. However, the press still used the pun (us included) ironically and in its second generation Nissan dropped the name and stuck to Qashqai.
Now as a car writer, there are few car automakers that make you billow with passion. One such automaker is the Rolls Royce, what can I say, a car that is ridden by past/present aristocrats, celebrities and politicians, is rich with material. Rolls Royce has to be the epitome of luxury in the automotive industry, so the Wraith has to be the most luxurious coupe out there, though it does face competition from its own stable mate the Drophead coupe. Another challenger the Wraith has to face is the $ 100,000 cheaper Bentley Continental GT.
Sweden as an automotive destination offers a rather interesting selection of marques. We have Koenigsegg, Scania and Volvo just to mention a few. Now, of particular interest to us is Volvo. Through the years it has evolved and become a true luxury brand. Considering the sad story behind the Saab also from Sweden, the luxury niche market can be very unforgiving. However, the Swede automaker has established itself in this niche, especially in the full luxury SUV segment. Competing with and rivalling German exports the Volvo XC90 is holding its own while being very Swedish. It doesn’t try to emulate other German offerings in the market it sticks to its own game plan. This three-row seven-seater is a work of beauty, which is ironic considering that Scandinavians are considered the most beautiful people in the world.
The Honda CR-V has to be one of the pioneers in the compact SUV segment. It’s been growing great with age and has picked up a more premium dimension. Honda have added just enough premium to make it standout, but not to lead in that respect. The great part of this premium feel is that no sacrifice has been made to make the CR-V lose its identity. The Honda is a five-door, five-seat SUV that is hailed for its reliability and practicality.
What’s in a Name?
You may wonder what the CR-V stands for, depending on whom you ask you’ll get a different answer. If you go through Honda’s press info you’ll find that the “CR-V” stands for “Comfortable Runabout Vehicle,” while if you are in the UK going through its sales literature it is coined as “Compact Recreational Vehicle.” Apart from these official names there are others out there who refer to it as the “Civic Recreational Vehicle.”
The Pajero in its heydays used to be the go to SUV. It had created an almost mythic reputation winning numerous Paris-Dakar rallies. However, today the story of the Pajero is an altogether different story. Somehow this car in particular kind of tells the story of Mitsubishi. This once great Japanese automaker is looking more jaded and spent with the years. It was only last year, Mitsubishi unveiled the last Evo. Mind you the Evo was also an exceptional rally car. I for one hope that Mitsubishi can put their money problems behind them and start to build great cars again. As for the Pajero, it suffers from lack of development and has been left behind by the likes of Land Rover.
In Europe there are four supreme countries that are at the fore-front of the automotive industry that is Germany, England, France and Italy. Take any of this countries out of the automotive world and the industry will lose something. If Italy is taken out of the equation will definitely lose the passion of the industry. Italy is a country renowned for la dolce vita, which is Italian for the “good life.” Now, the Alfa Romeo Giulia is about that life, and is a compact sports sedan meant to recapture the attention of the American market especially.
The Volkswagen Group seems to have a plethora of compacts everywhere you go. Offerings from Skoda, SEAT and VW seem to match up to the conglomerate’s plan to inundate this segment. Thus, Golf is the ultimate offering from VW, followed by the Skoda Rapid and then eventually we have the SEAT Toledo. The Toledo as a model for SEAT features somewhere between the Ibiza and Leon. The car is a lot larger than the Rapid and offers more practicality, other than that don’t expect much except for affordability.