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The future of the middle class: upper class technology is arriving

Christian Schulte
This is what the future of the middle class looks like
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M odern assistance systems like distance radar or alternative drives like Plug-in hybrids are just two examples of new technology that will characterize the future of the middle class and will be widely available. Regardless of whether it is a premium brand or a volume manufacturer - this segment is big and not messy.

Ford actually wanted to start this year. The new Ford Mondeo, which has been at dealerships in the USA under the name Fusion since September 2012, was originally supposed to be launched in Germany at the beginning of 2013. However, due to the closure of the plant in Genk, Belgium, Ford had to postpone the market launch to the end of 2014.

The key data of the new flagship: The Mondeo grows to 4.86 meters in length with an almost unchanged wheelbase. Ford presented the European version in September 2012 at the Paris Motor Show. It differs only marginally from the US model.

Touchscreen instead of buttons in the new Ford Mondeo

In the interior, the Mondeo pleases with its simplified operation. Instead of the previously large collection of buttons, you can now navigate through the menus using the touchscreen. In addition, the new mid-size Ford has voice control and is equipped with safety systems such as adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition and lane departure warning. The well-known turbo gasoline engines of the Ecoboost family and the diesel engines developed together with Peugeot-Citroën work under the hood - all of which save fuel with a start-stop system. In addition to a dual clutch transmission, there will also be all-wheel drive for an extra charge.

New Opel Insignia not until the end of 2015

Opel is only just beginning to expand a new generation of engines across the entire model range. The first fresh engines with turbocharging, direct injection and small displacements will not be available until 2013. An eight-speed automatic transmission is also in the works. Although the Opel Insignia gets the new engines, it still has to assert itself in its current guise against the ever increasing competition.

He will be supported with a small facelift in late summer 2013, but the successor will only be in the starting blocks at the end of 2015. However, with a veryexpressive design to attract attention. In the future, Opel will be relying on full LED headlights that will offer designers completely new design options. The Flextreme study, which was on display at the Geneva Motor Show in 2010, gave an outlook on the future design line. 'The next Insignia is going in this direction,' confirms an Opel project confidante.

No optical radical cure for VW Passat

VW is not planning a radical cure for the next Passat, at least visually. But everything changes under the sheet metal. Because in 2014 the next generation of Passat will switch to the Modular cross-construction kit of the VW group. The majority of the series will be based on this architecture, which is flexible in length and width. This massively lowers the unit costs of a large number of parts. VW also wants to use these savings to offer extras such as large color displays, Bluetooth hands-free kits and some driver assistance systems as standard without increasing the basic price.

On the engine side, the revised turbocharged gasoline and diesel engines with the familiar cubic capacities are used. The Passat will also be available for the first time as a plug-in hybrid with a system output of up to 170 hp, which can drive up to 50 kilometers purely electrically. For 2015, the first full sales year of the new model, market observers from IHS Automotive expect the Passat, together with its US and China offshoots, to sell more than 700,000 times a year worldwide. A year later, even the mark of 800,000 units is possible.

Skoda boss Winfried Vahland is also aiming for strong growth, which, in addition to the Rapid, is to be achieved primarily by the new Octavia. The strategy: The Octavia, which is also available on the modular cross-construction kit , is positioned in the new generation of higher quality and higher, the gap between the Fabia and the cheaper, yet spacious Rapid.

Mercedes CLA well below 30,000 euros

Mercedes does a similar thing. The Stuttgart-based company is currently adding the CLA, a cheaper notchback sedan based on the front-wheel drive platform of the A and B classes, below the C-Class. In addition to the coupé-like sedan in the style of the larger CLS, there will also be a CLA Shooting Brake lift-style station wagon.

The new C-Class will finally follow in 2014. It will grow by a few centimeters, but should have a drag coefficient of around 0.25 and a further weight reduction in terms of consumptionMiddle class setting new standards. In contrast to the CLA, it remains with rear-wheel drive, and the C-Class sets itself apart with an even finer interior and more technology. Extras such as a head-up display, gesture control including a stronger connection between the Internet and the car as well as comfort features such as the Magic Vision Control cleaning system integrated into the windscreen wipers from the current SL are reserved for the C-Class.

BMW 3 Series GT is supposed to compete against Audi A5

BMW is taking a different path than Mercedes with the addition of the 3 Series. With models like the 3-series GT and 4-series, the Bavarians do not round off their range downwards, but upwards. The 3 Series GT, a coupé-like sedan with a large tailgate in the style of the 5 Series GT, was recently presented and is expected to stand up to the Audi A5 from summer 2013.

On the other hand, there will no longer be a 3 Series Coupé and convertible as it is today. BMW positions the two niche models higher. In future, they will be named 4 Series Coupé and Cabrio and will grow by around ten centimeters in length. In the open version - contrary to the fabric roof trend - the foldable hardtop remains.

And how does Audi counter? With a brand new A4 as early as 2014, around two years after the facelift. Sharper lines, shorter overhangs and clearly flared wheel arches should make the newcomer look more muscular. At the front it remains with the single-frame grill that is now typical of the brand, although it is a little more upright. The dimensions hardly change either, the next Audi A4 will only be a few centimeters longer. The larger wheelbase should, however, noticeably improve the space available. In order to keep pace with the competition in terms of consumption, the next A4 will lose at least 60 kilograms, and the aerodynamics must also be improved, according to Audi internally.

Future of the middle class with a stronger one Upgrading

The Ingolstadt-based company benefits from the VW group especially when it comes to security and alternative drives. The in-house plug-in hybrid system and the assistance systems familiar from the A6 are also used in the A4. As of 2014, the A4 will have the basic scope of the Pre-Sense safety program as standard. If there is a risk of an accident, this includes preventive occupant protection such as belt tensioning, activating the hazard warning lights and closing the windows. The more advanced pre-sense systems such as collision warning systems and emergency braking assistants cost extra. In spite of this upgrade, by the way, when you speak to car managers you always hear one sentence: Rising prices are 'not enforceable on the market'. Good thing.

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