AD #1601 – First Look: Fiat 500X, Piech Loses Power Struggle, Audi Reveals New prologue Concept

April 17th, 2015 at 11:55am

Runtime: 8:31

- Piech Loses Power Struggle
- Geely Plans CUV for U.S.
- Audi Reveals New prologue Concept
- 2016 Fiat 500x
- Viper Launches Customizer
- New Materials & Techniques Help Design

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79 Comments to “AD #1601 – First Look: Fiat 500X, Piech Loses Power Struggle, Audi Reveals New prologue Concept”

  1. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Back to a discussion of a few days ago, being reminded that the 2.4 engine in the 500X is “a bit buzzy,” maybe Honda would be an ideal partner for FCA. Honda and FCA have only limited product overlap, and Honda has has a major item that FCA lacks, good 4 cylinder power trains, well, except for those timing belts.

  2. Buzzerd Says:

    I suppose I should watch the materials and techniques show before casting judgment but I hope Darby Barber has more to offer than ” well like, ya know what would be really cool, like you know”

  3. pedro fernandez Says:

    I find it incredible that FIAT has been building 4 cyl motors forever and we still hear words like “buzzy” to describe their power-plants. Inexcusable IMO.

  4. RumNCoke Says:

    Buzzerd you are a hard, cold man. Dr. Piech would be impressed!

  5. pedro fernandez Says:

    Ki, any reason why Honda will not use chains instead of belts, other than to keep their mechanics busy?

  6. HtG Says:

    Has Piech lost his touch? You don’t go after your CEO without a plan.

    “There can be only one”

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    3 I’m pretty sure the 2.4 engine is the current version of the “Titershark,” jointly designed and shared years ago by Chrysler, Hyundai, and Mitsubishi. To my knowledge, it is fairly reliable, but has never been known for its refinement.

    The 1.4 turbo, used in some Chrysler and Fiat products with manual transmissions, is a Fiat engine.

  8. w l simpson Says:

    “made en Chine” is a tag to be avoided.
    GM’s old 2.4 had a great rep until the Chinese
    version came out. metallurgy is the key word.
    Ck the forums.

  9. Lex Says:

    Happy Birthday to Dr. Ferdinand Piëch, 78 years young! The VW Group should not air their dirty laundry in the press. If Dr. Piëch had issues with Mr. Martin Winterkorn performance he should have voiced his concerns behind closed doors. This type of conversations errode consumer confidence in VW.

    The VW group has not yet cracked the code on a winning formula in the North American automotive market. I believe John McElroy did a great analysis several weeks ago regarding the price to value point in purchasing or leasing a VW Product in the US Automotive Market compared to other makes and models. The real issue as John pointed out is that VW products are not competitive enough on price or value to attract consumers. VW needs to review it’s portfolio of vehicles and compare them head to head with the competition. VW is a mass market product line as the name implies (People’s Car) in German. However VW’s styling, performance and pricing needs to be more competitve for the average American consumer in order to gain market share.

    Porche and Audi are filling the Luxury and Premium segments. VW needs to build cars like the Camry, Accord or Altima and CUV / SUV’s like the Rav4, CR-V, Classic Rogue and New Rogue. These are the majority of vehicles you see on the roads of America. In conclusion Dr. Piëch and Mr. Winterkorn should put personal issues aside and work harder together to re-evaluation what configuration of VW vehicles need to be sold in North America to better suit American tastes. Good Luck to both of you gentlemen.

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    5 All I’d know, is that using belts is a little cheaper, and they are very quiet.

    GM was the first, or one of the first companies to use a belt driven camshaft in an overhead cam six, related to the Chevy inline six. Then, they were one of the first companies to switch to timing chains in nearly all of their engines.

  11. HtG Says:

    9 One thing I didn’t like hearing was Oliver Schmidt appearing on AAH, saying that VW’s reliability problems were due to suppliers.

    Another Edward R. Murrow moment for Autoline

  12. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Lex: I think your spot on.

    @ HtG: They can’t keep on blaming the suppliers for their reliability woes.Most people realize that if they pass through VW quality control,the steaming pile is on them,imho.

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    9 VW owns a few niches in America, including “affordable” diesels, diesels with manual transmissions, and “affordable” car-height wagons. Those niches don’t add up to enough volume to help the brand much.

    VW has cars to compete with Corolla and Camry, in Jetta and Passat, but the suspect reliability of the VW’s and the sparse dealer network hurts them. Also, people who buy cars in these categories aren’t look for something “different.” Yeah, the closest competition VW has for RAV4 and CR-V is the much pricier Tiguan. They need a competitive product in that, very hot market segment.

    I am writing as a fairly recent VW owner, and one who would consider another VW as my primary transportation, if I trusted reliability a little more, and/or if there were a dealer closer to my home. I like the Golf hatch and wagon, and the TDI engine. Also, the new 1.8 turbo, the standard engine in most U.S. market VW’s is competitive in both performance and fuel economy.

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    If they want to get “quality supplies” from their suppliers, they must stop nickel and diming them which causes them to produce inferior parts. It’s common sense, a vehicle is a bunch of parts assembled together, and if those part are bad, no matter how good the assembly is. the vehicle WILL break down and fail as the miles pile on.

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    9, 12 I think if you would drive a current Jetta or Passat, you would find them to be competitive with the better cars in their class, but an actual ownership experience might not be.

  16. pedro fernandez Says:

    #13 the Passat and Jetta rate above those Toyota models they go up against, but because of their poor reliability/durability, they can’t make a dent in the sales against Toyota, and as cars get more expensive and loans longer, buyers want and expect a vehicle that is gonna at least last the length of the loan. OEM need to increase the warranty period to reflect these long payments periods, otherwise leasing will be the alternative.

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    16 Yep, if VW had a Hyundai-like warranty, it might help them, even though they might take a hit on warranty costs. That would work for me, though, only if the nearest dealer were closer, and I trusted their shop to be competent.

  18. HtG Says:

    Wasn’t VW telling John at a recent auto show that they were going to increase the number of dealers, concomitant with the arrival of a new small CUV? Your idea may get a test, Kit.

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    HtG, I remember that. If you hear anything about where these dealers might be going, let us know.

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    If they increase the number of dealers, it does not mean that they will sell more of them, I know a lot of people who would never consider a VW just based on their poor reliability record.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’d think more dealers would help. I, for one, would be more likely to “chance it” if warranty repair, if needed, was nearby, rather than more than an hour away.

    Surprising, the Passat has good results in CR’s reliability survey, though that may not equate to long-term durability. The Jetta did poorly in CR’s survey.

  22. BobD Says:

    2 – I did watch the Autoline This Week episode and considering Darby is a 21 year old student, her contributions to the show were on par with the other two guest who were twice her age with 20-30 years more experience. And if you watch last year’s Motorcity Masters reality show you also would have realized the impressive talents she has in the design arena. I only wish I was that “cool” at age 21 pursuing my automotive engineering degree.

  23. HtG Says:

    Considering that Piech has suffered a public humiliation, I wonder how much fight the old man has in him. What are they even arguing over? Poor US sales or not beating out Toyota worldwide?

  24. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Kit: I don’t doubt their,(VW’s) driving dynamics at all.It’s the ‘perceived’ reliability issue.A diesel wagon would not be hard to enjoy,if it had the room I need for a sizable fuse.

  25. G.A.Branigan Says:

    And I do have a VW dealership close by….

  26. HtG Says:

    It’s like Cadillac has trouble marketing its cars today, even after years of improvements. Psychology is hard stuff. But damn, do CTSs and Escalades look awesome on the road. I even saw my second ELR on the road yesterday.(no points for guessing it was on the highway to Greenwich, CT)

  27. John McElroy Says:

    VW needs to be careful in blaming suppliers on quality issues. VW AG is more vertically integrated that most automakers, meaning it relies less on suppliers. And besides, all automakers essentially buy from the same group of suppliers, so how come VW can’t manage them as well as the others?

  28. HtG Says:

    27 Seriously! What was Oliver talking about? Did I hear him wrong?

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I had a diesel Jetta wagon, before the Malibu Maxx. It had a 5-speed manual, the only way the 1.9 TDI made sense. There was a significant mpg difference between the automatic and manual at that time, before they used the dual clutch autobox.

    I didn’t have much trouble with it, but it was hard to find a place that would even change the oil, except dealers. When I am in Florida, I don’t have a place to do it myself. The fuel economy was very good. I averaged about 40 mpg overall. Still, if I were buying a VW wagon now, with the current gas engine, I might end up getting the gasser. The mpg advantage of the diesel is barely enough to make up for the higher fuel price, and you pay extra for the diesel engine.

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    27 Yeah, it looks like VW needs to manage their in-house parts divisions better.

    Still, from my experience, it seems that VW may have more of a problem of perception than reality. I had a 1998 GTi VR6, and a2003 TDI Jetta wagon, and while I minor problems, they were generally reliable. As far as “durable,” though, I didn’t give them a very good test, having each of them only about 60K miles.

  31. pedro fernandez Says:

    Yahoo Auto just put out a long term reliability study done by a fellow named Steve Lang which is worth reading just because it is really a looooong term look at how good and bad some cars really are, no surprises for me including the fact that the Land Cruiser is untouchable in the reliability dept and how poor VW does, reason stands that except for a few rebuilt old Beetles, you see no old VW’s anywhere. This goes beyond what CR and JD Power report on.

  32. HtG Says:

    31 Oh Pedro, I was just thinking about where all the old cars are. When I was growing up, I’d see old Mercs and Bimmers regularly. It was so cool to see well maintained good cars like that. Where are they today? So few older luxury cars around here, save for Lexus.

    Is that the same Steven Lang from the other place, Pedro?

  33. pedro fernandez Says:

    Yep! Very interesting and comprehensive list I will print it out and show those who tell me I’m full of manure when I tell them that certain cars are just not durable, and with today’s super long loans, many on this list will not live to see them paid off. Sorry, Kit but the Mini is really bad in the long term.

  34. pedro fernandez Says:

    If you go to this city’s poorest areas, you do see a lot of old American cars, but I bet they don’t get driven much, just like at some poorer retirement communities, a lot of old cars for old folks who perhaps used them once or twice a week to go shopping or a doctor’s visit.

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    At my 5K or so miles a year, maybe I’ll be ok with the Mini.

  36. pedro fernandez Says:

    Even Subaru with its perceived long term reliability, is not so long term reliable after all, even Accord is just avg, even though you see tons of them from the 90′s still running around.

  37. HtG Says:

    35 Not to worry, Kit. It’s the automatics that ‘splode.

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I checked it out, and it looks like Mini is the worst of the bad. A specific problem mentioned was automatic transmissions, though, and I don’t have one of those.

  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    37. You beat me there.

  40. HtG Says:

    At the latest NADA convention a speaker talked about how longer loan terms were following the greater durability of cars. The speaker was a gal from Experian, IIRC. But she was speaking in aggregate and across credit scores, not about specific makes of auto.

  41. HtG Says:

    40 Does anybody need any further proof that I don’t watch much TV? I sat through that presentation.

  42. Ukendoit Says:

    #17, I agree the warranty issue is a big part of the VW problem. My father was a big VW fan when I was growing up back in the air cooled days. We always had a few rear engined VWs of different models and he traded each about every 4 years. When I was looking to get my first new car in the 90s, everyone had 10yr, 20yr, or unlimited warranties. VW had 3 yr/36K and said they didn’t need a longer warranty. I told them I did, and I haven’t been back to a VW dealer since. Reliable or not, their unwillingness to back up their product has really hurt them.

  43. Kit Gerhart Says:

    34 I see quite a few older GM front drivers, relatively speaking. I suspect most of them have the 3800 engine, and the 4-speed automatic that was generally reliable. I sure don’t see X-cars, though. Maybe there is one in a museum somewhere.

  44. HtG Says:

    I saw a circa 1990 Civic sedan this morning. In great shape. My oh my, was that thing small. That’s about as rare a sighting as the Rolls Royce Wraith I drove alongside on 95 earlier this week. (more impressed with the Roller. black with silver roof. wow)

  45. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Isn’t ford’s warranty 3/36?

  46. XA351GT Says:

    G.A. I think it is on everything ,but drivetrain that is 5/60.

  47. HtG Says:


    I thought that Darby Barber was impressively composed. She really knows what she wants. I know that when I was talking to reporters recently it was really hard to stay on message and not say stupid stuff, which I did and had to clear up later. And I’m an old guy. Impressive.

  48. Kit Gerhart Says:

    45, 46 Here is everyone’s warranty. It looks like Hyundai and Kia, along with Mitsubishi still have the best.

  49. BobMan Says:

    So I’m listening to Joe Dehner of Dodge Ram talk about the changing materials and prototyping methods. He basically opens with “…it’s allowing us to solve problems that don’t exist…” Now that’s one of the most progressive management phrases I’ve heard in a while. Dear God, we have names for people who do this…and it’s not good.

  50. C-Tech Says:

    After driving a Jetta, Passat, and a Golf (regular editions) my impression is this: compared to the mid-sized and compact competition the interiors of the Jetta and Passat are too plain and too hard. It reminds of the plain interiors in the old Sebring before Fiat upgraded them. The less expensive Golf has a better interior than its more expensive brethren. This may be part of what holds back VW in the U.S.

  51. C-Tech Says:

    Kit you may be on to something with a merger of Honda and Chrysler. Honda gets into trucks and suv’s, plus a boost in styling, Chrysler gets a much needed shot of powertrain engineering.

  52. G.A.Branigan Says:

    FCHA ???

  53. pedro fernandez Says:

    Watch Honda quality go south, just like Daimler’s did when they married Chrysler.

  54. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I disagree Pedro,Honda doesn’t really need fca,and where they to enter into an arrangement I don’t see Honda compromising their quality.Why should they?

  55. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I meant ‘were’,instead of where….dohh

  56. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I still think daimler went into chrysler to take what they wanted.When they finished ceribus came in a gleaned what was left.

  57. Kit Gerhart Says:

    52, 53 etc. I wasn’t completely serious about Honda/FCA, but as C-tech said, it would make a certain amount of sense. FCA quality reputation would keep Honda away, though.

    Still, some Chrysler products have better long term reliability than Accord, in the study study mentioned by yahoo.

  58. HtG Says:

    Trifecta today, Pedro!

    I saw an i8 an i3 and another i3

    They’re out there
    You guys need to see the interior of the new Honda HRV. Very well done. No way they merge with FCA, no matter what Kit imagines. ;)

  59. pedro fernandez Says:

    Seen a couple of I3′s don’t think they’re worth the asking price.

  60. Kit Gerhart Says:

    58 Yeah, I agree on probably no way, though Honda has done sillier things, like selling a badge engineered Isuzu a while back.

  61. Kit Gerhart Says:

    59 Some people really like that carbon fibre.

  62. cwolf Says:

    I have yet to see one i3 and would like to. Only a few Volts and Leafs seem to be in the area. I never thought I would say it, but the Leaf is kinda cute and a good’nuf city scooter.

  63. HtG Says:

    The i8 was parked in a shirt driveway alongside a new 911. Both cars on display by a busy street. This cost a few nonchalance points, most of which were taken by the deep red Ferrari 365GTC4 pulling into a long driveway leading to a hidden manse.

    There is a difference

  64. HtG Says:

    The Ferrari was a deeper red than in this photo.

  65. Kit Gerhart Says:

    64 Those things are are worth more than I realized. The $475K is negotiable, though.

    Is it normal for these cars to need an engine rebuild at under 39K miles?

  66. cwolf Says:

    HtG: Seems like you hang around all the nice areas or you have some very wealthy neighbors.

  67. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Very interesting nooz….

  68. HtG Says:

    66. I just happen to drive to a ritzy area to swim at the state university. The area also houses the world headquarters of Pepsico, enemy of good health. You see some interesting stuff near Greenwich, CT, the hedge fund suburb. But I will say that that Ferrari ad likely has a detail wrong, in that the first owner of that car was likely one Lammot DuPont, not Lamont. Sheesh, low class oversight. :)

  69. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ HtG: Well…..that changes everything,(puts checkbook away) ;}>

  70. Kit Gerhart Says:

    67 I’m not surprised that Honda and Toyota were near the top, but Chevrolet? Most of the vehicles counted would have been Aveos, etc. I’m surprised they came out very well.

    At the other end, I’m surprised about Porsche. They sell the same products world wide, and generally come out ok in CR surveys, and I think ok in JD Power data.

  71. pedro fernandez Says:

    #67 This must be Europe, the difference between Honda and Toyota is puzzling to me. In the US, the Toyota beats Honda all the time. Bentley, dead last!!! “James where is the Bentley?” “At the service dept, as usual, Sir”

  72. HtG Says:

    67 That survey takes into account not just frequency of repairs, but also cost. So German luxury performance cars cost a lot to repair, eh?

  73. Kit Gerhart Says:

    72 …and Brit luxury cars made by VW.

    Mini wasn’t at the bottom, probably because essentially all of them sold in the UK would have manual transmissions.

  74. HtG Says:

    71 The survey’s also based on cars aged 3 to 8 years. And Toyotas and Hondas are certainly on the roads longer than that, even if it’s as spare parts from the junkyard. But I think buyers have enough info to make decisions on what they want to buy; I know I did when I was itching for a Porsche Boxster. Verzeihen Sie, mir. Aber nein.

  75. HtG Says:

    Though maybe once you’ve replaced a couple parts on your Bentley, you’re good for another decade.

    Didn’t Thorsten Veblen say a few things about displaying the ability to waste money? I think Charlie Hughes of Range Rover repute and “Branding Iron” fame understood this quite well.

  76. HtG Says:

    IMSA is live streaming the RadioLeMans coverage of the Long Beach race right now. John Hindough, Jeremy Shaw and maybe Shea Adam!

    John Hindough!

  77. pedro fernandez Says:

    Yep, plus Suzuki doing so well, not so here, I suppose where they’re assembled does make a difference, which is why I would not buy a new French-built Yaris. Ditto for the next gen, Mexican-built, Mazda based 2016 model.

  78. pedro fernandez Says:

    Bentley is owned by VW, no wonder they have the worst record.

  79. Kit Gerhart Says:

    i wonder if the problems with Bentleys involve power train, of if the leather stitching rips out. If it is power train, owners might be able to save money by going to a VW store. A lot of Bentleys use the same power trains as a VW Phaeton. Some, though, use a heavily boosted version of the old Rolls/Bentley pushrod V8 that has been around since the late 50′s.