Good Oil: Cruze drives into the sunset
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Talk about a sunset Cruze. Last month General Motors quietly saw the last Chevrolet Cruze leave its Ohio assembly line. The cancellation of the mid-sizer also means that there are no longer any compact sedans being built by General Motors or the other Detroit manufacturers in the United States.
With crossovers now the most popular form of family transport, GM announced several production facilities in the US and Canada would be closed as it exits traditional passenger car manufacturing.
The Youngstown facility where the Cruze was screwed together has been producing cars since 1966. And it’s curtains for small sedans everywhere, with Ford having discontinued its American market Focus sedan, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles saying arrivederci to the Dodge Dart.
Basically, if you’re a compact sedan, your days are numbered.
Actually, if you’re any sort of sedan, you could be for the chop; GM has cancelled the larger Buick LaCrosse and could be switching off life-support for the big Cadillac CT6 and good-looking but unrequired Chevrolet Impala, too.
It could be time, ladies and gentlemen, to slide on the black armband of mourning for the traditional three-box sedan. Especially ones unfortunate enough to be carrying a “Proudly Built in the USA” sticker.
Hyundai builds a head-turner ... and it’s a Sonata
If the end really is nigh for the humble sedan, no one at Hyundai appears too concerned.
In fact, it has taken the wraps off the 2020 Sonata. The Korean carmaker has stepped things up immeasurably with — whisper it — something totally aspirational looking.
Hyundai has upped the ante in the luxury stakes, with a big makeover inside the cabin utilising nicer trim materials and high-end-looking dials and screens.
Hyundai has kind of cheated the silhouette of the car a bit, giving it a fastback roof line that has you wondering whether it’s a liftback or not.
It’s also lower and longer than the previous Sonata; all clever tricks designed to keep the sedan shape relevant in a crossover-lovin’ world.
The front-end features Hyundai’s new — sigh — Digital Pulse cascading grille design, which we do concede looks rather nice, awful marketing moniker aside. Next year’s model also features new daytime running lights tha Hyundai says are “embedded with hidden lighting lamps” that go chrome when they’re turned off.
The rear end is similarly arresting, featuring a full hoop of tail light that encircles the back of the car. It’s possibly the one element of the new Sonata that reveals Hyundai’s chief audience for the model: the United States.
But, with what’s happening in the US car industry in mind, will the Sonata — a medium-sized sedan — find an audience? Yes, it probably will.
We haven’t seen one in the metal yet, but unlike the committee-designed-looking Chevy Cruze or the tired Buick LaCrosse, the Sonata looks damn good. Give it the right feature set inside the cabin and the right firepower underneath the bonnet (likely to be — in Northern Hemisphere markets at least — a mix of four-cylinder petrol and hybrid power) and you have user-chooser catnip.
The Sonata is designed to take the fight for the company car allowance to Mazda, Subaru and the usual Euro suspects.
Add to that the potential for a fire-breathing N version, and you could have a worthy rival for Skoda’s Octavia RS. Not that anything of the sort has been rumoured. Yet.
All eyes on Nissan
Nissan has been doing some light teasing for what it may or may not be bringing to the New York International Auto Show this year.
The car show is in a couple of weeks and, a bit like the similarly themed LA motor show on the other side of the continent, New York has seen its share of global debuts.
The rumour mill is fairly and squarely focusing on Nissan, not least because 2019 is the 50th anniversary year for the mighty GT-R, but also for the brand’s iconic Z cars.
The current iterations are getting long in the tooth — they’re both a decade old. So, the time would seem about right for a new model of each, anniversary party hats being donned or otherwise. The manufacturer said last year that it was high time updated versions of both appeared. It just hasn’t confirmed when that’ll be.
Nissan recently unveiled a New York motor show-orientated photograph showing a variety of cars from the GT-R and Z lineages assembled in the dark. It didn’t exactly spell out that something new would be added to the mix. But it did get the world’s motoring media sitting up and paying attention.
All will be revealed — or not — on April 18 New Zealand time.