Posts Tagged ‘motors’

I’ve been surfing around this Lincoln Skoda dealer‘s website lately and I’m curious about the new Skoda Superb and whether it really is, well, superb.

The new Skoda, Superb?

The new Skoda, Superb?

The advertising for it said “we started with the name and worked backwards.” Which suggests a team of designers all trying to make the most superb car. Did they succeed?

It looks nice enough, it doesn’t look like a traditional Skoda – which is a good thing – pretty sharp inside and out and has all the now-usual gadgets and gizmos along with some unique touches. I really like the twindoor boot concept – the boot can open either saloon style or hatchback style.

I’m not sure if it counts as Superb though – I suppose I’ll have to head to a Skoda dealer and drive one. But it’s pitched at the executive market which has elluded Skoda for some time.

What do you think: is the new Skoda Superb really all that superb??

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It gets everywhere this car. After commenting on its launch up in London I came face-to-face with the new Vauxhall Insignia in Kent this weekend.

New Vauxhall Insignia

New Vauxhall Insignia

The new Insignia arrived at Caffyns on January 10th and they were eager to show it off, with due cause. It’s a good-looking car! My local Kent Vauxhall dealer placed a new Insignia in my local town centre and the shoppers seemed more interested in it than they did the remains of the January sales. Either that or it was a really bad parking job.

I’m not personally in the market for the executive class car but I do like this one. Are you in the market for such a car and what do you think of the new Vauxhall Insignia? Is it one to watch out for in 2009 for the stylish executive driver?

I woke up this morning thinking it was Saturday all ready and prepared myself for a lie-in. The realisation that we’re still in the working week is never a good start to the day.

Last night I managed to finally see the Top Gear road test that the whole office has been talking about at one point or another since it was aired: the ‘sensible’ road test for the new Ford Fiesta. I already liked the new Fiesta, I think they’ve done a wonderful job with the styling so I was curious to see what was so special about the road test which seemed to be plodding along at rather a pedestrian rate until the “what if I go to a shopping centre and get chased by baddies in a Corvette” section flashed on screen.

Very rarely have I appreciated that motoring show much lately, then I saw the new Ford Fiesta thrown around the inside of a shopping centre – I did remember thinking I felt sorry for whoever had the job of cleaning up after – trying to out manoeuvre the Corvette. They did a better car chase through a shopping centre and car park scene than the famous one in Blues Brothers.

Not only was there the Fiesta-goes-window-shopping scene but then the final flash card: “What if I’m asked to take part in a beach assault with the Royal Marines?” Suuuuuuuuurely I cannot have been the only person who watched that to go “no way!” But sure enough, there’s the new Fiesta in the middle of a landing craft and promptly filling with marines and water as it storms the beach to culminate in what has to be the most dramatic, panoramic and show-stopping final scene to a road test, anywhere. Ever.

No wonder people were talking about it. I wonder if Ford will change their advertising for it from “New Fiesta: This is now” to “New Fiesta: storm the beaches?” I doubt it, but I don’t think Ford’s agency could have come up with a better advert in their wildest dreams.

It’s undeniable how important brand identity is for marketing. In my mind it’s also very important in the automotive world on a corporate level. I won’t go into how I think the automotive industry needs to change (I’ve been reading the Lee Iaccoca autobiography) but in a world where so many modern cars look alike the identity of a brand is key in attracting customers and differentiating between vehicles.

Chrysler knew this which is why they spent so much in designing and adopting their Pentastar back in 1962 and the other major companies followed suit when branding up their dealerships.

With this in mind while marketing an automotive site I decided to do some research for articles on the matter with two brands in particular and the origins of their identity.

The first marque I looked at was Audi, for an article on its emblem. What do the rings mean? The olympics? No, it’s the four companies that made up the Auto Union when Audi, and three others were bought and merged. Audi, Horch, DKW and Wanderer.

While the rings are instantly recognisable as the Audi emblem, is it good to have an identity that isn’t clear in its meaning? Can people identify with something they don’t understand?

I’ve also discovered today what BMW actually stands for – Bavarian Motor Works. While the origin of the image within their emblem is debated between the Bavarian flag and the movement of a propeller, it is explainable and recognisable and associated with a certain cache of luxury. Their numerical naming system is also part of their branding. Having found out the designation for the letters – ‘l’ is for long wheelbase not litre or base model – I’m wondering if using numbers is a good thing in branding?

While it means a car is clearly a BMW if it’s called a 318i (regardless of age), is this a savior or hamper?

Knowing the debates that take place over naming of cars and its importance – would the Mustang have been so popular and important if it had been called the Cougar and had a less iconic emblem – using a numerical system avoids such issues and potential calamities. But is it a restriction? BMW have created some pretty amazing cars in terms of engineering and styling (the Bon loving Z8) but is the simple nomenclature hampering. It doesn’t conjure up any mental images.

With a car like the Mustang, the emblem and name of a wild horse meant that the marketing and advertising pretty much wrote itself. Simply hearing the name and the associations it created half sold customers, the fact that it was a great design simply sealed the deal.

Hear in good-old Blighty, motorways are prefixed with an M (as in M25, though that’s another blog) so when somebody mentions the M5 my mind immediately links to the motorway down in Devon rather than the turbo-charged 5-Series. Not neccesarily a good mental connection for a car.

Then again, an otherwise great car can be hung out to dry by a terrible name. There’s no BMW Gremlin for example. So while their method creates an identity as strongly as their logo, I think it might be a catch-22 in terms of marketing the cars themselves.

Anyone?