These cars that manufacturers want to forget

Citroen Axel

Citroën Axel was to be launched in 1976. Suffice it to say that in 1984, the history of effective marketing in France was no longer in its infancy.

Visa sacrificed on the altar of rationalization by Peugeot, which technically prefers the 104 city car, Axel practically gave its appearance to the latter. The stillborn little Citroen, scheduled for release in 1976, finally saw the light of day thanks to Romania. That year, Ceausescu’s government announced a tender to buy the car and a factory to build it, and the double chevron won.

At the end of 1976, the last and Romanian state-owned Oltcit company was created to produce it from 1978. The communist administration was too slow, production didn’t start until 1981… and the expensive Oltcit was sold. It is wrong in Eastern Europe. Aided by the exchange rate, PSA realizes that it can buy copies at very low prices and sell them cheaply in the West, while remaining profitable. It starts in 1984.

Unfortunately, Axel Aulnayda, the western name of Oltjit, produced by unmotivated workers in Craiova, remains of poor quality. Worse, its straight four engines (GSA ones) consume a lot, are available only in three doors, and the network is wondering what to do with it, since it competes with LNA and Visa… So, despite the very low price and real qualities (comfort, control) Axel will fail. It was removed from the French catalog in 1988. Note that it was the last 100% in-house Citroën and gave the torsion bar rear suspension to the 205.

Alfa Romeo Arna

Stainless Japanese bodywork, high-performance Italian engines... The Alfa Romeo Arna idea wasn't bad, but its execution left something to be desired.  First of all, the Alphists rejected it en masse.  Here in 1983.
Stainless Japanese bodywork, high-performance Italian engines… The Alfa Romeo Arna idea wasn’t bad, but its execution left something to be desired. First of all, the Alphists rejected it en masse. Here in 1983.

There are two ways to instill hatred in Alphisti. Talk to them about Alfa’s acquisition by Fiat and remind them that their favorite brand used to make the Arna. But it combines advantages on paper. The fruit of the alliance with Nissan, which is eager to gain a foothold in Europe, restores the Cherry shell, in which the excellent Italian flat-fours are implanted.

All this allows Alfa to get a modern entry level sensitive to high volumes at a lower price knowing its finances are dry. In practice, everything is wrong. The Japanese platform, planned for transverse engines, had to be largely modified to accommodate boxers, necessarily longitudinal. Which causes delays. Worse, the industrial process is insane: body elements arrive in wooden crates from Japan, then are assembled in several locations around Pomigliano d’Arco.

Moreover, when the car appeared in 1983, its design was considered terribly vulgar. Finally, it can only be sold in markets where the Nissan Cherry is not offered. It doesn’t matter, because anyway, Alfis gave up this Alpha with mixed DNA, but then he was the only one who didn’t rust! It’s lively, it holds the road well, but nothing helps, customers don’t want it. This is a complete failure. If only enthusiasts knew that in a few years they would have to make do with rebadged Fiats…

Audi A2

The overpriced Audi A2 due to its aluminum construction was not without controversy in 1999.
The overpriced Audi A2 due to its aluminum construction was not without controversy in 1999.

An all-aluminum city car is a silly idea, and it was bred at Audi. The brand with rings has made itself the champion of this material, interesting for the top of the range, but difficult to implement. This requires a space frame structure that is not suitable for high production volumes because it is time-consuming and therefore expensive. In addition, aluminum repair is complex and can only be done by highly skilled technicians.

Also, when the Audi A2 came out in 1999, we had a city hauler that was small, light (895 kg) and well made, but expensive (F129,900 for 75 hp or €26,400 today, without radio). fix it after one of the inevitable little bumps it will take a lot of, it’s not that wide and it’s oddly designed. A2 is also not very comfortable so customers avoid it.

While Audi could revive the range by offering a 1.2 TDI version that’s supposed to sip just 3 l/100 km thanks to its incredibly low Cx (0.25!), the A2 falls short of its goals and is discontinued. years ahead of time. It was a money pit valued at over a billion euros. Audi has reinvested in the B segment with the A1, the Polo with a body again: Ingolstadt financiers have stopped having nightmares!

Mercedes-Benz CLC

If the front part of the Mercedes CLC copies the C-Class W204, its technique remains in the C W203, and its Brazilian production does not impress.  Appeared in 2008, disappeared before 2010…
If the front part of the Mercedes CLC copies the C-Class W204, its technique remains in the C W203, and its Brazilian production does not impress. Appeared in 2008, disappeared before 2010…

At Mercedes we produced pure magnificences like the 540K or the 300 SL Papillon, we innovated more and more, we marketed the best luxury sedans in the world, but in January 2008 we also delivered the CLC. This is the C. -Class Sport Type 203, originally released in 2000, hastily changed to the C-Class W204 and cheaply produced in Brazil.

Basically, when this vaguely sporty compact appears, it’s already dynamically outdated, decked out in an old-fashioned dashboard, and not very well-engineered, in short, unworthy of a Mercedes. Sales collapsed in 2009 and production ceased at the end of 2010. By paving the way for the third-generation A Class, the CLC earned the distinction of accustoming Mercedes customers to a certain mediocrity in the compact segment…

Peugeot 1007

As elegant as a plastic bin, the Peugeot 1007 is less practical because the grab bars are on the roof.  These are all downsides to a stupid basic concept that leads to insurmountable limitations in terms of style, weight, and cost.
As elegant as a plastic bin, the Peugeot 1007 is less practical because the grab bars are on the roof. These are all downsides to a stupid basic concept that leads to insurmountable limitations in terms of style, weight, and cost.

The almost sliding doors are practical in the J7 van, but completely useless for a city car. Why? Because they create technical limitations, which in themselves not only define the line of the car, but also lead to irreparable excess weight.

Peugeot learned this the hard way with the inexplicable 1007 launched in 2004. Pininfarina couldn’t do anything to make the shoebox silhouette look good, nor could the engineers keep down the weight of this little car, which is 3.73m long but 1200kg. ! As a result, it is inefficient, greedy… And expensive!

Worse, the (very slow) electric sliding doors take up too much space for passengers, making the 1007 look like a compact minivan. The result was a decent commercial failure and production stopped prematurely.

Renault Fluence ZE

With an electric range of 160 km, the Renault Fluence ZE is the ideal car for going on holiday within 50 km from home.  In short, it embodies the ethical tourism of 2025...
With an electric range of 160 km, the Renault Fluence ZE is the ideal car for going on holiday within 50 km from home. In short, it embodies the ethical tourism of 2025…

Carlos Ghosn had at least one merit, he understood the interest of electric motorization very early. This resulted in the very interesting Zoe in 2012 and the very questionable Fluence ZE a year ago. Why this humiliating voter? Because this Zero Emission family sedan (hence the name) can only travel 160 km between two fill-ups at best.

You can only do top-ups at home, because public terminals are conspicuous by their absence! So we have a difficult and almost useless car, especially in winter, the heat reduces the autonomy. Some administrations, it seems, were equipped with Fluence ZE… We will not want to buy it to collect it, even as in Avantime, but with a more deviant spirit, its line is banal to cry. !

Porsche Cayenne Diesel

Luxury cattle, Porsche Cayenne Diesel?  In any case, customers bought.  Just like you can sell almost anything with a strong brand image.
Luxury cattle, Porsche Cayenne Diesel? In any case, customers bought. Just like you can sell almost anything with a strong brand image.

“No, it won’t be a diesel Porsche. Why? Because the diesel stops at 4,500 rpm, that’s where the Porsche fun begins.” Here’s what I heard during the 2007 Cayenne facelift 957 press conference. Six months later, the Cayenne Diesel came out.

So we lied knowingly at Porsche, because it was already difficult to sell a diesel-burning 2.2-tonne. The manufacturer vaguely tried to justify this by putting it in parallel with the tractor it produced in the 1950s… Under the hood, we did not run in Zuffenhausen, we restored the V6 TDI Audi as it was.

However, customers bought this fat SUV in large numbers mainly for tax reasons. The second generation Cayenne (958) also ran on diesel, then the manufacturer came to its senses…

Lancia Flavia II

Clumsy, slow, not very dynamic and poorly designed, the Flavia II is somewhat the antithesis of the emblem affixed to the hood: Lancia.
Clumsy, slow, not very dynamic and poorly designed, the Flavia II is somewhat the antithesis of the emblem affixed to the hood: Lancia.

I’ve already written all the bad things I think about “badge engineering” and it’s not the Lancia Flavia that’s making me change my mind. Mind you, I’m not talking about a sedan from the 60s, but an unapologetic coupe-convertible from 2012.

It’s actually a Chrysler 200, itself a redesigned Sebring. In other words, a technically outdated, poorly manufactured, poorly handled and motored American, despite common sense for the European customer. Indeed, it makes do with the naturally aspirated, noisy and greedy 2.4-litre mated to an automatic gearbox. It’s a dream come true for the ten-time World Rally Championship constructor… Or not!

Also voluminous, heavy and soft cushioned Flavia is not the queen of dynamism. Is she at least pretty? But no! Other than a few disappointed dealers, I wonder who bought this rolling bug that was taken off the market in late 2013…

Of course, the cars that put their manufacturers to shame are not limited to those mentioned here, we can mention the Suzuki XC90, the Maserati Biturbo (I hurt myself by mentioning this at the Trident in Modena!), the Fiat Panda I diesel. (even the Italians didn’t want that), VW Fox (a slot with an electrical fault), 1990 Ford Escort (unreliable, badly hung, dependent on rust), Opel Sintra (unreliable and dangerous on impact) ), Toyota Urban Cruiser (nobody understood who this was aimed at did not fall, especially customers), Cadillac Cimarron (Opel Ascona sold at BMW price) …

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