No 110 October 2010

Oman’s Best Automotive Resource

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Mohammad Al taie

Paris portends a new phase
As this issue goes to press, we have seen the Paris motorshow beginning to evolve. Manufacturers from every continent have been informing us about the new models they are likely to show and for the European marques, the show could not have come at a better time. The great fears that were rampant in the corporate suites and assembly lines of the European manufacturers of recession beating them to the ground are now a memory in the rearview mirror. Europe is going through a painful period of readjustment with some countries having come out of recession and others trying tol get their financial affairs in order. Critically, Germany, France and the United Kingdom have seen a certain degree of customer confidence returning and with continued growth from the Asian continent and Western Rim of the Pacific, European exports have been enjoying a bit of a renaissance. It is during this phase that the Paris show opens. Mainstream manufacturers are increasing the lineup of environmentally responsible models with hybrid and electric drivetrains gaining more acceptance, largely because of the dual effects of improved battery technology and volume production bringing down costs and improving reliability.

AL roYA PreSS & PUBLiShinG Po Box: 343, Postal code 118 Al harthy complex Sultanate of oman email: Website: editorial office: tel: +968 24479888 extn 300, fax: +968 24479889 circulation office: tel: +968 2456 2360, fax: +968 2456 2194 PUBLiSher hatim Al taie editor & GM raj Warrior

Interestingly, there will also be a slew of high-end models, model variants and premieres. There is an increased acceptance among manufacturers that customers in that bracket are looking for a degree of custom couture in terms of the models they drive. Whether it is the tie-up with high-end luxury non-automotive brands or the limited run production series, car makers look at improving return from their existing lineup. In the meantime, this issue also has two signature powerhouses on its cover. Both the M3 GTS and the Cadillac CTS -V Coupe take the art of turning a mainstream luxury saloon into a screaming banshee into the rarer parts of the atmosphere. While the former is the last attempt to bring out the beast in the current platform, Cadillac’s attempt manages to show the future direction in which the American brand is evolving. Another brand that will interest is Honda, that has taken the Accord platform to new levels with the CrossTour. It is an interesting attempt at monetising an existing platform. Initially considered underwhelming, the car did however manage to surprise our team.

execUtive editor chandan B Mallik co-ordinAtor Pratibha n Kadam deSiGn Sawsan Al Muharbi

heAd of MArKetinG Maged Aziz MArKetinG Supreme Philips circULAtion finAnce & AdMin Abraham daniel Printer ruwi Modern Printers LLc tel: +968 2479 4167, 2479 8157 fax: +968 2470 0545

© 2010 All editorial content of Automan in the magazine and its website is copyrighted and may not be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the management of AL roYA PreSS & PUBLiShinG Automan accepts unsolicited exclusive editorial material, but reserves the right to publish any such material. once published, the copyright for any such material will vest with AL roYA PreSS & PUBLiShinG

in this issue
From across the region and around the world


107 10

Cadillac’s future plans

18 20 22

paris preview 24

first drive 10

Hot new V8s

news analysis curtain raiser
Paris Mondial

Top headlines that grabbed our attention

24 10 46

first drive 32

first drive 38

cover story

2012 BMW M3 GTS 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

first drive

Honda CrossTour Land Rover LR4 Mazda2

32 38 60 56 58

road test 60

preview 56


2011 Dodge Durango 2011 Bentley Continental GT F1 & WRC


64 72


Buying stuff off the internet

cover story 46

{regional news}
mitsubishi’s baby crossover launched


man was the first market in the region for Mitsubishi’s all-new ASX crossover SUV. The Japanese automaker appears to be right on schedule with the car, having just launched the production version of the compact Concept-cX SUV. First unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show last year, the new model will replace the now discontinued Pajero iO [pronounced as Ee-oh] in some markets but will slot in just below the Outlander in the Mitsubishi product portfolio in Oman. With the ASX, Mitsubishi Motor Corparation expands its crossover line-up, which already includes the full-size Pajero, and the mid-size Outlander. The ASX is built off the same platform as the Outlander and Lancer and sits on the same wheelbase as the Outlander but is 25mm shorter and 65mm lower. The lightweight vehicle measures roughly 4,3mm long, about the same size as the Toyota Yaris saloon. Actually, the production car is 200mm

longer than the Concept-cX, but still much shorter than the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 or BMW X1. The new model has a squarer nose than the concept car, while being stretched

a bit in the rear. The crossover will be available with Mitsubishi’s proven 2.0 -litre MiVEC engine that develops 150PS and is combined with a CVT gearbox. The powertrain offers maximum torque of 197Nm with a top speed of 190km/hour. The ASX comes with a choice

of either 2WD or 4WD, the latter coming with Mitsubishi’s renowned electronically controlled 4WD system using one centrally located dial to switch between three driving modes – either the fuel efficient 2WD, 4WD AUTO or 4WD LOCK. On the safety front, the ASX has received the highest NCAP safety rating available in the world for collision-worthiness. The car also comes fully equipped with anti lock braking system (ABS), Active Stability Control (ASC), multiple air bags, front seat belt pre tensioners all as standard items. The 4WD model also comes with hill start assist (HSA) which prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards by automatically braking when starting on an incline. The ASX will be offered in three specifications levels - GLX 2WD, GLX 4WD and GLS 4WD which have been designed in mind with flexibility in capability, trims and customer budgets. The ASX benefits from many features new to the Mitsubishi line-up such as engine keyless switch and UV treated panoramic glass roof with night time illumination.

first motoring themed pub in muscat
inally, someone has thought about creating a themed bar cum restaurant for motoring aficionados in Muscat. A new initiative from House of Foods LLC, the idea took two years from concept to creation. Located conveniently in the Le Grand Hall of Al Falaj Hotel in Ruwi, a strategically-placed custom made bike invites punters. “The bike is made entirely of nuts and bolts, which is also the name of our new pub. It sets the tone for what lies in wait for you inside,” said Ali Moosa Al Rawahi, manager at Nuts & Bolts located. Inside, the ambience is of a mini museumcum-garage where a bright yellow real BMW Z3 convertible is perched atop the bar, while a custom stretched Mercedes limo and trailer parked host guests. Various motoring paraphernalia adorn the walls for that authentic garage feel. “Auto-themed pubs are common around the world and have proved to be big draws. As the idea of starting a pub came up, we researched and concluded that this concept fits in best here. Besides, there is none other like it in Oman. And let us not forget Omanis’ never-ending fascination with automobiles.


So, Nuts & Bolts becomes a unique tribute to these automobile fans – a place for everyone to hang out,” said Al Rawahi. This is also the place where you will find on the menu, steaks, burgers, sandwiches and cocktails come with motoring inspired names such as Top Gear, Rocket Fuel, Accelerator, Gasoline, Coolant

Kia Sportage getS higheSt environment friendly certification
orld-renowned German certification agency TUV Nord has awarded the allnew Kia Sportage its highest environmental certificate following a rigorous assessment of all environmental aspects, from production to day-to-day running through to recycling. TUV Nord certified that the stylish new crossover complies with the strict environmental standards of the ISO 14040 life cycle assessment. The new Sportage is produced in Kia’s European factory in Zilina, Slovakia. The factory was certified according to the ISO 14001 life cycle assessment standards in 2007 and was granted a certificate as an environmentally friendly production facility.


and Reverse Gear. “In every nook and corner of any car, truck or motorbike, you will find nuts and bolts connecting the parts together to provide a smooth drive. ride,” said Al Rawahi. Nuts & Bolts can accommodate up to 300 people and is open on weekdays from 6pm to 2am.

{regional news}
new volkswagen touareg dazzles at middle east debut
olkswagen Middle East – the regional office of Europe’s largest car manufacturer – has launched its most technically innovative model ever, the new Touareg, at an exclusive media unveiling ceremony and dinner held in the UAE. The launch establishes the Middle East as one of the first markets to distribute the completely redeveloped flagship petrol engine Volkswagen sport utility vehicle, which unites the world of off-road vehicles with the comfortable dimensions of a luxury saloon and the dynamic attributes of a sports car. The new Banyan Tree Al Wadi Hotel and Resort in Ras Al Khaimah formed the perfect host where the new car was unveiled. The following day regional media got behind the wheel and experienced the new arrival [Ed’s note: read our first drive impressions in Automan’s November issue]. At the unveiling of the new Touareg, Stefan Mecha, Managing Director of Volkswagen Middle East, said “About 500,000 drivers chose to buy the first generation of the Touareg


worldwide, and it quickly established itself as our flagship vehicle in the region after its Middle East debut in 2003. Seven years later, the new Touareg has taken its winning concept into the future and heralds a paradigm shift in the idea behind multipurpose SUVs. This, combined with the Touareg’s existing popularity, has generated overwhelming interest

already. The Touareg is the keystone of our regional plans, and is integral to expanding our Middle East presence,” continued Mecha. “With its combination of stunning looks, world first innovations, and environmentally friendly economical technologies, the new Touareg is sure to become the new champion amongst SUVs in the region.”

lebanon is harley-davidson’s new port of


Zubair automotive organiZeS training Seminar

ebanon has become one of the major hubs for Harley-Davidson once again in the region with the opening of a new showroom in Beirut last month. “Harley-Davidson appeals to people in Lebanon and the region because it offers a chance for them to demonstrate their individuality. It’s a brand that offers a lifestyle bringing together passion, power and an iconic style. In the last decade, HarleyDavidson has been embraced by more and more people in the region and the new store in Lebanon is a reflection of that regional success,” said Stuart Farrell, managing director of Harley-Davidson strategic growth markets. Interest in Harley-Davidson has long thrived in the Levant. The company first opened a showroom in Lebanon more than 70 years ago to support the growing number of riders there. With an investment of $2.5m for the new outlet the place will be offering the latest Harley-Davidson equipment, and bikers will have a revived opportunity to engage with the sport and fellow riders. The Harley-Davidson Beirut Lebanon Showroom is located in Kantari, Michel Chiha Street. harley-davidSon redeSignS entry level SportSter for india In business, they call it different strokes

for different folks when it comes to country specific models. Harley Davidson is preparing launch new model based on the 883 Sportster called SuperLow in India. The new SuperLow model has been developed with short riders in mind with and has reduced the seat height from 27.5in to 25.5in for rider convenience. The Superlow is comes loaded with an air-cooled Evolution, 883cc, V-Twin with Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI) engine which delivers peak torque of 74 NM @ 3,750 rpm. Company official said thT the new entry-level cruiser motorcycle has considerably reduced mass and inertia front and rear, which when combined with the improves handling and performance.


ast month, Zubair Automotive hosted a special training and development seminar for its personnel aimed at reinforcing unified service standards for its customers across Oman. One of the key factors discussed related to service was availability of spares and the mechanics of efficient logistics management for parts. “We believe regular interaction of this kind is essential not only to raise service standards but also to ensure uniformity of standards across the network,” said Hemant Bhat, national parts manager at Zubair Automotive Group. With over 100,000 line items in stock, excellent availability, extensive branch network, a dedicated team of parts professionals, Zubair Automotive Group’s efforts and dedication has paid dividends in the form of several prestigious awards from Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation and Daimler Chrysler.

{Regional news} news}
in the spirit of the super trofeo race car

he track season may have wrapped up at Vallelunga, but two companies – a super carmaker and a watchmaker -- took the wraps of their joint creation. Usually, when an automaker and a watchmaker team up, it’s to spec out a special-edition watch. But this time it is the other way round. The two marques are also behind the Super Trofeo racing series, which Lamborghini claims is the fastest spec racing series on today’s circuits. Enter: Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Blancpain Edition.


Lamborghini and Blancpain have combined their individual engineering skills and in the spirit of honouring the success of the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo racing series have created a very special super sports car: the new Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Blancpain Edition. The special-edition Lambo is distinguished from the standard model with such unique touches as a vented engine cover and a big rear wing, along with carbon fiber parts, Skor-

plus wheels and carbon-ceramic brakes. A matte black finish with yellow accents further set it apart inside and out. The most interesting spec however, is the Blancpain Edition’s weight; at 2954 pounds, Sant’Agata lauds it as the lightest vehicle in Lamborghini’s roadgoing range. Couple that with the 5.2-litre V10 boosted to 570hp (like the spec racers) and Lambo claims a 3.4-second sprint to 100km/h from a standstill, topping out a hair under the double-century mark.

iS toyota alphard heading thiS way?

porsche panamera rocks globally
ith over 23,000 global sales in 12 months, the Porsche Panamera has established itself firmly as a unique sports car for four people combining characteristic sporting styling cues and dynamic performance with day-to-day versatility. The appeal of the Gran Turismo has widened further with the recently-introduced V6-engined Panamera and Panamera 4 – powered by a new Porschedesigned 300hp six cylinder engine – which already accounts for over a quarter of it total sales globally. At the forefront is Porsche’s traditionally most significant sales market, North America: 890 vehicles are already cruising the streets of Los Angeles and 760 the streets of New York. Interest in the four-seater is also large in Asia: 300 Panamera were delivered to Hong Kong, 223 to Tokyo and 188 vehicles were delivered to Shanghai, where the Gran Turismo celebrated its world premier at the end of April 2009. Very pleasing figures were reported by other cosmopolitan cities, such as Dubai (285), Moscow (203), Munich (206), Hamburg (117) and Berlin (108).


t could be, as Automan’s hawk-eyed editors spotted Toyota’s luxurious MPV, the Alphard, on a transporter in Oman last month. Toyota’s MPV range is currently made up of the Previa, Innova and Hi-Ace, but the lavishly equipped Alphard is destined to sit at the top of the line-up if launched here. It may be noted that the said MPV is also due for introduction in China this month. The Alphard is powered by a 170bhp 2.4-litre and a 280bhp 3.5-litre engines, but we are taking an educated guess that the bigger engine will be the bestseller among regional customers.


porSche Support rugby initiative in uae
Porsche Middle East has finalized a sponsorship agreement with the Dubai Exiles Rugby Football Club for three years. The Dubai-based rugby club was founded in 1968 with 1,000 members of which 550 are active players. Its home base is the Sevens Rugby Stadium on the outskirts of Dubai. Throughout the years, the Club has significantly promoted Dubai’s sport and leisure environment with the foundation of the Dubai Rugby Sevens, participation in regional tournaments and the regular highly anticipated derbies between Dubai’s teams and the players of the Abu Dhabi Harlequins Rugby Club.


infiniti ipl concept revealed


nfiniti has been talking about a performance sub brand and has used its most seductive car, the G Coupé, as a test mule for its spirited ambitions. Wasting no time, it has unveiled in one of Europe’s most romantic cities, the first production Infiniti Performance Line variant builds on the fine looks and sporting nature of the production G Cabrio to raise the temperature in the luxury cabriolet stakes. Resplendent in new Malbec Black – a pearlescent black paint with red hints - and Monaco Red leather interior complemented by unique new cabin inlays inspired by the finessed

craftsmanship of samurai armour, the ultimate G Cabrio in concept form is a bespoke and very exclusive fulfilment of Infiniti design values. As well as previewing a dramatic new look and classically luxurious cabin, the world’s sexiest four-seat cabriolet with electric folding hard-top – probably – provides a tantalising vision of a new range of Infiniti models to extend the Japanese brand’s reach further into the performance car market. The Paris motor show debut follows on from the August unveiling in the USA.

infiniti releaSeS electric car teaSer
Infiniti is also exploring alternative propulsion systems and has just released a sketch of its first electric vehicle and also confirmed a 2013 launch. The sketch was shown by Andy Palmer, Infiniti’s senior vice president, during a ceremony held to mark the opening of the Infiniti Centre Piccadilly in London. Befitting the brand’s promise of “Inspired Performance”, the Infiniti EV will be a stylish, compact, high performance, five-seat luxury car with zero emissions technology on board.

new sonata in recall programme
o successful car manufacturer these days wants a black spot in their biodata – especially if a problem relates to a successful new model. Take the case of Hyundai, which has enjoyed its stronger sales ever so far in 2010 with its stylish, popular and competitive new Sonata saloon, but now the Korean automaker is set to face the downside to strong sales: bigger recalls as a result of some production glitches. Till now, Hyundai has managed to drastically grow the sales of its now popular Sonata saloon, enjoying record sales month after month worldwide. It is now reporting that some 139,500 Sonatas sold in the US will be recalled for inspection of a faulty steering wheel assembly that could result in reduced or totally lost steering control. More specifically, NHTSA has reported that a separation of the


ford releaSeS teaSer for ranger
ord will discontinue the Ranger model in North America but will introduce a new and larger global Ranger in Australia this month. The Ford Ranger will not be replaced but Ford will instead expand the offerings in its F-150 range to fill the gap in the market. US market sales of the Ford Ranger, a small pick-up truck first introduced in 1982, peaked in 1999 at 348,000 units. Ford sold only 55,600 Rangers last year and only 35,000 have made it off of dealer lots so far this year. For the rest of the world, Ford will be introducing a new and larger global edition of the Ranger pick-up truck in Sydney, Australia on October 15. According to Ford spokesman Mark Schirmer, the new global Ranger will be closer to the F-150 in terms of size.

intermediate steering shaft assembly’s upper universal joint can cause either a reduction in, or a complete loss of steering capability. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration first began probing the Sonata in August, but at the time suggested the incident was limited to just 16,300 cars only. But Hyundai isn’t in the mood of taking chances and has since announced the official intent to recall the Sonata. This means roughly 139,500 vehicles will come under scrutiny. Some analysts have suggested that the move by Hyundai to preempt the conclusion of NHTSA’s study was intended to ward off criticism for failing to take prompt action for safety issues. Hyundai has determined that the only vehicles included in the latest recall were built between December 11th and September 10, 2010.



mid east first for international automobile show
xpo Centre in Sharjah is getting ready to welcome motor industry participants in the 10th edition which takes place from 14-18 October. Through their respective UAE dealerships, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Nissan and other brands have chosen the International Automobile Show (IAS) 2010 platform to publically unveil new models for the first time in the Middle East. The five-day exhibition will host the first public viewing of Volkswagen’s all-new 2011 Touareg, and showcase the Mercedes R-Class facelift 2011, among others. “It is testament to the growing reach and reputation of the International Automobile Show that such established dealers are not only exhibiting but have chosen to use the event as a platform from which to launch their latest models,” said Saif Al Midfa, director general of Expo Centre Sharjah. In addition to displaying the SLS AMG, Mercedes dealer Gar Gargash Enterprises will also display the M Class Grand Edition and Maybach facelift. Meanwhile, other major UAE car dealers such as AGMC, Arabian Automobiles and Al Habtoor Motors, amongst others have all confirmed their participation at this year’s event. Nissan’s Arabian Automobiles has booked the largest stand space of 1,100sq m and show showcasing the all new Z370, meanwhile Infiniti with their 400sq m will showcase the QX and M for the first time. AGMC, which is the exclusive dealer of BMW, RollsRoyce and MINI in Dubai and the Northern


Emirates, will display their all new range of 2011 models in addition to some unique MINI displays in the outdoor arena. Other brands that have confirmed their participation at the show include Liberty Automobiles (representing General Motors, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Hummer, Opel) and Al Habtoor Motors (Mitsubishi, Bentley, Aston Martin). The IAS is becoming one of the Middle East’s most popular bi-annual auto exhibition venues by hosting some of the finest automakers from across the globe. The show attracts car lovers and auto enthusiasts alike, not only from the UAE but from across the Middle East and with events for all ages. And for the first time, the Middle East Motor Tuning Show (MEMTS) will run alongside the IAS. Show highlights also include a state of the art 4x4 driving course by Off-Road Zone.

The track will include an extreme rock driving track, complete with artificial wadis, log drives and a RC Racer Zone. For more information on the International Automobile Show, please visit

Saif al midfa, director general of expo centre Sharjah.

maZda to reStyle picK-up trucK


bmw group announce plans for india

azda has announced plans to introduce the redesigned BT-50 pickup at the Australian International Motor Show this month. Details are limited, but the BT-50 is described as an “active lifestyle vehicle that overturns the conventional image of a compact pickup truck.” It features a Mazda6-inspired front end, bulging fender flares and wraparound taillights. Available in multiple configurations, the BT-50 will be sold in Australia and Europe mainly.



n an announcement dated September 22, BMW group outlined its future plans for India. BMW sales in the country for the first eight months of this year, increased by 43 per cent (3,301 units, almost more than the whole of 2009). The company recognises the potential for growth for most industries and sees the country as one of the fastest growing economies of the world. Some of the plans announced include a production increase from 3,000 to 5,400 units at its Chennai plant, expanding production to include the X1 along with the 3and 5-series it already makes at Chennai, doubling the dealer network and increasing presence and launching Financial Services

by the year-end. BMW further say that by mid-2012, they would have invested nearly Euros 30mn since launch in 2007.


ferrari virtual simulator goes online
errari’s Virtual Academy made its official début during the Italian Grand Prix in the paddock of Scuderia Ferrari. The virtual simulator has been developed in collaboration with the drivers of the Scuderia Ferrari, Alonso, Massa and Fisichella in particular, as well as its engineers. The site enables users to experience driving an F10 car and also allows aficionados from all over the world to compete with each other on the Fiorano circuit now, with Mugello and Nürburgring coming up later. The challenge of the Ferrari Virtual Academy was to create a version of the simulator used for training Scuderia Ferrari’s drivers which everyone can use on their own PC. Using authentic data, the game’s developers have employed the latest 3D graphics technology and data processing software. As a result, the detailing faithfully reproduces the cockpit and steering wheel of the F10, thus revealing all its controls and functionality. Not only the car has been replicated, but also the track details. The dynamic modelling of the car was followed by

child Safety weeK in uS


a comparison of the real and virtual telemetric data of the F10 on circuits reproduced through laser scanning, to ensure that they corresponded. The analysis of the simulated laps, turn after turn. But that’s not all. There’s some serious business too awaiting the best participants. At the end of the tournament, following the regulation of the competitions, the top five drivers ranked as fastest will win a trip to Maranello, the heart of Ferrari. They will pass through the gates of Fiorano and take part in the exclusive Ferrari Driver Academy course, personally aided by the exceptional tutors of the Racing Department. The simulator can be purchased online from the site at a nominal price of €14.90 for the first release, the Fiorano Circuit, and €9.90 for the following releases with the Mugello and Nürburgring circuits.


hild Passenger Safety week was celebrated in the US last month and appropriate for the ocassion, US transportation secretary shared some findings from a new research garnered from the National Highway TrafTraf fic Safety Administration. The results of the study show that many young children are still being placed in the wrong restraint or booster seat systems. Also, it’s important to be certain their safety seats are inspected to insure they’re working properly. NHTSA data shows that in 2009 the leading cause of death for young people (ages 3-14) was motor vehicle accidents. During the Child Passenger Safety week NHTSA set up free safety seat inspection stations around the country with the purpose of educating parents to make sure they know what type of system is best suited for the child or children on board.

production mileStone for maZda
azda Motor Corporation has announced that the cumulative global production volume of the Mazda6 (known as Mazda Atenza in Japan) reached two million units at the end of August 2010. The Mazda6 reached this milestone in the eight years and six months since production of the first generation Mazda6 commenced in February 2002 at Mazda’s Hofu Plant No. 2 in Yamaguchi prefecture. This achievement marks the second fastest time – after the Mazda3 – to produce two million units of one model since Mazda launched its new generation Zoom-Zoom product lineup in 2002. Production of the first generation Mazda6 commenced in 2002, and it was the leadoff model in Mazda’s new generation of products epitomizing the company’s Zoom-Zoom brand message. The Mazda6 is a mid-size car which combines sporty styling with exceptional driving performance, and the first generation Mazda6 received high praise from many customers. Additionally, it has won over 130 global motoring prizes, including Japan’s prestigious 2003 RJC Car of the Year award, in November 2002. The Mazda6 was fully redesigned in 2007 in line with Mazda’s “Zoom-Zoom evolution” concept by building on the strengths of the first generation model and taking them one step further, and its environmental and safety performance was significantly improved.


ferrari world abu dhabi to open this month
errari World Abu Dhabi will open the doors to the world’s largest indoor theme park on the evening of October 27, a day before the earlier announcement. “We are excited to open our doors to the public earlier than previously anticipated and we look forward to welcoming many guests to mark this historic day,” said Claus Frimand, general manager, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. “This will be the beginning of an exciting inaugural period, with the start of operations at the world’s first Ferrari theme park.”The inaugural period will continue throughout November, leading up to a grand opening in December with the


official launch of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. Visitors will be able to experience the legendary Ferrari passion, history and culture through various rides and attractions, in addition to unique shopping and dining experiences. With more than 20 rides and attractions including a spaceshot tower that launches riders 62m into the air and the world’s fastest roller coaster that propels thrill-seekers to speeds of 240 km/h in just five seconds, the park is sure to appeal to those whose allegiance lies with other supercar marques besides the Fiorano GT Challenge and the 4-D experience inside Speed of Magic themes. Ticket prices range from Dh225 to Dh375 dependiing on package.


{First drive}

he :T TS G M3 cT la na fi


{First drive}


bmw’s m-division has prepared the most extreme variant of a road going e92m3 yet, the all-new m3 gts. that’s good for the marque’s aficionados, but the sad news is that none of limited production units are arriving here. but that didn’t deter automan in having some fun with the car at the famous ascari track.
| Author: Chandan B Mallik

ast month, we shared our experience with four generations of BMW M3s at the 25th anniversary celebrations at Ascari in Spain. Now, it’s time to talk about the newest act of the M3 chapter which comes as a bonus and forms part of the final product portfolio of the E92 M3 series which is due to retire in two years. BMW’s M division will produce only 105 units of track-oriented M3 GTS, which will be sold in Europe only. The prescription for the M3 GTS was pretty straight forward. Take a standard M3, lighten its construction, and secondly enhance its power-to-weight ratios on a solid chassis with competent suspension and top up the rest with aerodynamic tweaks for sharper handling characteristics. To implement the strategy, ‘M’ boffins went back a little in the line-up for inspiration. Reference was made to the E46 based CSL (Coupe Sport, Lightweight) that was produced in 2003. Actually it was the CSL that began the technology chapter of lightweight construction and though technically a marvel, BMW sold less than 1,400 units of the 360hp M3 CSL as it could not tap the potential of the US markets due to complications arising out of clearing DOT and EPA standards out there. While the E92 M3 GTS represents a huge evolution over the E46 CSL, it is strictly a track car. Naturally, BMW’s performance division had to undertake some pretty comprehensive work. To the casual observer the GTS has a familiar profile, but there are vivid suggestions of its track orientation to a keen observer. On the body itself, the deep front splitter and manually adjustable rear wing is similar to the ones fitted to BMW’s World Touring Car racer are the first indicators. Flab reduction was to be a key element in the package and this is where the M3 GTS directly draws inspiration from the CSL. In fact, the GTS’s carbon fibre reinforced composite roof has been donated by the CSL. And in true racecar fashion, the glass rear side windows and rear screen are made out of polycarbonate. Other weight savers include a lightweight centre console and door trims and several items considered as low priority non-essentials in the GTS were dispensed with. Items in this list included the car’s rear seats, air-conditioning and stereo, while the essential items list grew and included a new titanium exhaust,


{First drive}
light body-contoured seats and roll cage. Although the stripping has made the interior a bit stark, but it does includes carbon-fibre trim and an Alcantara-clad M steering wheel. After the flab reduction, the job was to enhance the power quotient to help optimize the power-to-weight balance. As a result, the car’s normally-aspirated 4.0-litre V8 engine has been extensively tweaked. The tweaking includes lengthening the stroke as a result of which the displacement has increased to 4.4-litres. In the process power output has also jumped from 414bhp to 444bhp and more importantly, peak torque now climbs to 440Nm. Since the stroke is longer, one would assume that peak revs would have reduced and affected the power band, but the engine mapping has been revised to allow most of the torque to come in lower in the rev range, thereby giving it more low-down punch, something which is very handy when sprinting out of fast corners with the help of its sevenspeed transmission. Unlike earlier editions of the M3, there’s no manual gearbox option in the GTS and the standard issue out here is the Getrag dual clutch transmission (M-DCT) with adapted shift characteristics. While the M3 GTS’s power to weight ratio suggest that it is rather sharp at 290bhp per tonne, sharp enough to make the standard M3 appear somewhat blunt by way of comparison, but a tad short of the Porsche GT3 RS, its key rival. The pay off of this transformation is that the track-oriented M3 GTS tips the scales at 1,530kg which means it is 70kg lighter than the stock M3. Only one colour is offered which is burnt orange and all the cars get exclusive 19in aluminium wheels wrapped with asymmetric 255/35 front and 285/30 profile rear Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tyres. Also making the GTS just one stop short of BMW’s global touring car title contender, the M3 GT4 racecar is a rear suspension subframe that’s mounted directly to the chassis and individual adjusters at each corner for compression and rebound-stroke damping. Suspension upgrades are also interesting and include the utilisation of yellow springs for a threaded suspension while the rear axle support is said to be bolted in place. For structural integrity, the rollover protection mounts are bolted on from the B-column, while 6-point seatbelts, a fire extinguisher and a master battery switch/ emergency shut-off switch takes care of track safety and legislation.


{First drive}


{First drive}
Driving impressions
Driving around the Ascari track’s 26 corners in Spain was a fast paced experience. The best part of the exercise was also being able to compare the performance of the GTS alongside the stock M3s. I preferred to drive the GTS with the windows rolled down, not because there’s no air-con, or the ambient temperature was still above the 30° C, but because it allowed the full version of the V8’s soundtrack to be heard and appreciated. On the move, the GT3 doesn’t feel its 1,530kg as the engine revs up freely up to 8,300rpm where it delivers most of its peak power before being limited to 8,500rpm. It does sound louder than the stock M3 while quickly gathering the pace through its rapid shift changes from the beefed up Getrag gearbox. The transmission copes well with the engine’s extra power and quickly rips through the seven gears in the sharpest sports mode. The engine is incredibly responsive too, with a noticeable extra torque lower down the rev range. Despite its ability to deliver savage bursts of acceleration, the GTS is also surprisingly nimble. Steering as expected is simply brilliant, although it’s a bit heavier than a standard M3, but it does allow the driver to cut through corners with total precision and provides the driver the necessary feedback whenever needed and its ability to shrug off its weight when changing direction was high level entertainment all the way. At Ascari, I found myself enjoying the hospitality of the GTS as it takes that age-old M3 experience a level further. In M-mode, the DSC stability control is almost imperceptible in regulating the car’s line even when going through a series of high-speed corners. Like the base M3, it is easy to control, with a stability-control system that kicks in a bit too early but can be turned off. Power-on oversteer can be induced easily, which is why we like the steering so much. This is an easy car to drive extremely fast and for me it meant that I could swing and direct the car’s character at will without the fear if being dictated, and was able to follow a neat line one lap and then perform some tyre smoking corner drifting in the next without the worry. The car is damn right and its brakes so powerful that even a simulated emergency stop actually can be fun. We think the claimed ballistic 305km/h top speed also seems very achievable given a longer straight stretch. The revised and new adjustable coil-over suspension ensures that there’s virtually no body roll and that the car remains planted like a go-kart and like track cars, the air dynamic elements help keeping the downforce in the same manner as in the BMW 320si which are raced in the WTCC World Touring Car Championships. Straight-line acceleration is also impressive and BMW claims 0-100km/h in 4.4sec. The exhaust noise of the V8 emitting from the titanium set-up is naughty and you really don’t miss creature comforts such as the radio or air-con, electric seats, soundproofing among others. However, there are some niggles and what dampens the experience a bit is when you compare the car with the Porsche 911 GT3 , we think the car struggles a bit for traction when compared say with the. Although the Beemer doesn’t steer as sweetly and isn’t as fast as the Porsche in a straight line or in terms of lap time, but never the less it is an entertaining drivers’ car and the reason for that is clear.


{First drive}

blast from the past
BMW’s M3 has never been the shy, retiring type. First launched in 1985, it has spent the intervening years gaining power and mass. It has also successfully attracted a cult following thanks to its precise handling and supercar-baiting performance.




A major step forward in technology and performance was taken with the launch of the latest M3 in 2007. Central to the experience is the adoption of a 4.0-litre V8 engine, which revved freely beyond 8,000rpm. And a myriad of driver aids allowed owners to customise the driving experience to their liking. The M3 remains a capable road car, despite performance and handling that are not out of place on a track.


The first the public knew about BMW’s latest road racer was when the company displayed a prototype “E30” M3 at the 1985 Frankfurt Motor Show. Unlike most modern concepts which have a hidden marketing agenda, the M3 was developed first and foremost to homologate a racing version of the 3 Series. BMW was required to produce 5,000 examples so that the car could race. Two years later, it won both the world and European Touring Car championships and by 1991, 18,000 cars had been sold. The first versions used four-cylinder engines with 195bhp, but the final Sport Evolution variant boasted 235bhp from its 2.5-litre plant. A top speed of 155mph was supposedly possible, along with a 0-62mph time of 6.5 seconds.

In 1992, the second generation M3, the “E36”, cemented the model as a mainstay of the 3 Series line-up. It was initially offered as a coupé, convertible and four-door saloon formats followed soon after. This generation also heralded some important changes, notably in cylinders and displacement. It was the first M3 with a six-cylinder engine which grew from 3.0- to 3.2-litres over the years, with power outputs ranging from 286-321bhp. At launch, it actually offered buyers more power than a Porsche 911 for much less money and this strategy help cement the M3’s reputation as a giant-killer. However, despite its impressive credentials, by today’s standards, the E36 model is the least inspiring. It was undoubtedly fast, with an electronically limited top speed and sub 5.5 sec sprint timings, but its main criticism was its much softer drive due to its slow steering. However, the E36 model was a roaring commercial success with over 72,000 sold.

Fast forward to 2000 and, in styling terms at least, the move from the E36 model to the “E46” was largely seen as being evolutionary. What the new car brought back to the M3 fold was the much-missed raw driver appeal of the E30, all the while maintaining a sense of refinement and usability. A 3.2-litre straight-six engine was employed from the start, sending 338bhp to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. Despite the modest increase in power, the E46 feels much quicker. While the sequential manual gearbox (SMG) sold well, its changes feel slow and jerky in comparison to the latest smooth dual-clutch gearboxes. Meanwhile, the E46’s interior, while solid in construction felt hopelessly dated. The icing on the E46 cake was the introduction of CS and CSL models. The latter had more power, yet a lot less weight than the standard car, and came with special tyres and a carbonfibre roof. It’s still highly coveted today.


{First drive}

Till the all-new model arrives in 2012, the M3 GTS will hold ground and serve as the lighter, faster and more focused than ever track-tuned flagship road rocket. The handbuilt M3 GTS costs about twice as much as a regular M3 and will be produced in a limited run of just 150 units with $170,625 price tag for the Europe market only. It still won’t make sense to the casual observer, but when you factor in research and the amount of engineering necessary to set the GTS apart from even the regular M3, one can see why it costs so much. One more thing this package does is dispel some of the reservations about the high-revving V8 in the E90 M3s. While the straightsix M3 was adored for its versatility, initially, the process of mimicking its direct rivals from Mercedes and Audi with V8 power wasn’t taken as a welcome gesture till it was proven that even with the V8, the car had not lost any of its charm. On the contrary, revving up to 8,400rpm, the V8 powered M3 is one of the most addictive cars you can drive on a racetrack. The progression and application of performance technology is no better illustrated on track and Ascari proved to offer the perfect setting. After a few nice individual hot laps, one need not argue with the M3 GTS. This is perhaps the car the BMW faithful have been waiting for.

GTS in the ring
Fast, but not fast enough
While we were checking out the car at Ascari, others who were hoping that the BMW M3 GTS would crush the Nurburgring may be slightly disappointed. The car’s best lapped time so far in the famous Nordschleife is 7m 48s. Although, the time is two seconds better than the test times of the Porsche 911 Carrera S and a 2003 BMW M3 CSL, it is also 17secs faster than that of the BMW M3 E92. The experts were hoping that the BMW M3 GTS would fare better on the Ring. However, the car clocked better timing in Hockenheim, where its 1m 12.5s time even beat the Ferrari F430.



‘CadillaC is the new standard of the world’
recharged and revitalized, cadillac is ready to take on any challenge, be it domestic or overseas markets says don butler, marketing vice president for cadillac


adillac, one of the oldest premium luxury brands of General Motors’ since 1902 has in recent years undergone a sea of change within and outside the organization with the view of becoming a credible global player. Cadillac has engineered a historic renaissance led by artful engineering and advanced technology and the resurgence is built on the back of new products such as the CTS saloon and full-sized Escalade SUV. However, like many automakers, the global recession that nearly shook the economy of the entire world to its very core also slowed down some of Cadillac’s programmes. Though the threat of further economic meltdown has subsided and economies across the globe are on a rebound, GM, itself went through a major transformation under the automotive bailout programme initiated by the Obama administration in 2008. Arguably, for Cadillac it is the most crucial phase in its chequered history. While Cadillac is off life support, but it realizes that to remain profitable it must go global with top notch products. Parent GM will not measure Cadillac’s success only by the number of

German and Japanese luxury-car buyers it conquests but how many new luxury-car buyers it can grab from emerging markets such as China or Middle East. With clear cut objectives, Cadillac in the meantime has really turned itself around with new levels of quality and an exemplary product lines, has been cautious with its future business plans and new product strategies. Cadillac will focus on updating the rest of its product line in the near future. In the longer term Cadillac hopes to prove itself to be a technology leader with the introduction of hybrid, flex-fuel and even fuel-cell models Although, the recent additions such as the 2010 CTS Coupe and high performance CTSV Coupe versions will add some panache and glitz, it is still has a long way to go. Don Butler, marketing vice president for Cadillac shared some thoughts about how Cadillac was moving forward during the sidelines of the Cadillac CTS and CTS-V Coupe introductions in Beirut last month.

<<cadillac will focus on updating the rest of its product line in the near future. in the longer term cadillac hopes to prove itself to be a technology leader with the introduction of hybrid, flex-fuel and even fuel-cell models>>
how did the domestic market kick-off in 2010 for cadillac? Despite starting the year with a marketing vacuum, the Cadillac’s sales shot up after we introduced a special 24-month lease programme in May as part of our marketing campaign. Since then, Cadillac has continued its strong sales momentum in July with total US sales of 14,919, more than double the total for the same month last year as SRX posted its best month ever and CTS had its best results of the year. It was the best month for the brand since August 2008. Cadillac total US sales through August have risen 50 per cent, compared to the first eight months of last year. how will the marketing momentum be kept up for the time being? We have two additions to the CTS line-up, the CTS Coupe and the CTS V Coupe as 2011 models. what are your expectations from these two additions? how do you think it will help the brand? We are confident that with the CTS Coupe, we will be able to attract a new generation of luxury sports car enthusiasts to Cadillac brand and go head-to-head with the BMW 335i Coupe, Mercedes-Benz E350 Coupe and Audi A5.



with the ctS platform, you almost have a full house. what happens now to the current StS and dtS models which are on the last phase of their respective life cycles? Both of these Cadillac stalwarts will face the axe after the 2011 model year. The large STS saloon and the livery-favourite DTS luxury saloon are set to be discontinued and that will leave the CTS to carry Cadillac’s saloon line-up offensive until the future products arrive. With the recent arrival of a coupe and wagon, the number of CTS variants is up to three, plus the hot CTS-V models. A redesigned CTS is set to arrive in four years, at the earliest and it will be slightly bigger than the outgoing model when it arrives. in your presentation you have mentioned that cadillac is once again ready to compete with the world’s best and notably you have premium brands from germany and Japan in sight. but, do you have enough products to represent your ambitions? We are looking at two major product lines -- compact and large saloons as part of the line-up expansion. The future saloon product plan will be highlighted with two acronyms: ATS and XTS. can you highlight where the product positioning of the atS is likely to be? The ATS or A-series as will call it internally, will sit below the CTS in the line-up and it will be our volume seller with a cheaper price tag and performance to match. It will directly compete against the likes of the BMW 3 Series or Audi A4, sporting several powertrain options, including two six-cylinder engines, as well as one four-cylinder. Starting in saloon and coupe configurations, the ATS may even-

tually spawn additional variants, including a convertible. Rear-wheel drive will be standard, and all-wheel drive may become an option. The new car isn’t due until at least the 2013 model year. what’s the current focus with the brand? The new focus boasts of Cadillac’s returning product prestige, much like the reputation the brand enjoyed for much of the past century. GM has positioned Cadillac to compete with German and Japanese luxury brands. if one believes that the production version of the large d-segment cadillac XtS concept would be positioned as the brand’s flagship model, will it be based on the flexible Zeta platform or a stretched version of the ctS’ Sigma ii platform? We have platforms to build a Cadillac range-topper with the potential stand as a true rival to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class or BMW 7-Series. what is the Suv side of the business looking like? The SRX will be upgraded in the powertrain department and it will receive the corporate 3.6-litre direct-injected V6 for 2013, as well as a cosmetic upgrade. The full-size top end Escalade is set to be redesigned with the next generation of Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon. if europe is cadillac’s prime overseas target market, do you have or are you planning models that are specific to this

market which has totally different characteristics. we all know europe is dieseldominated with compact saloons and hatchbacks. In Europe, we are offering our dealers a portfolio of seven vehicles starting with model year 2011 which includes the CTS and its high-performance version CTS-V saloon variants. These will be joined by the all-new CTS Coupe and the CTS Sport Wagon – all of them introduced at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. In addition, we are also offering the new SRX

crossover and the Escalade Hybrid. The new top-of-the-line sporty Cadillac, the CTS-V Coupe, will have its European premiere at the Mondiale de l’ Automobile in Paris.. is front wheel drive being ruled out in cadillac after the blS experience? The SRX SUV is available in front-wheel drive versions. We don’t have plans for saloon cars with front wheel drive now.

<<cadillac has remarkable timing. Just three months after the 1929 stock-market
crash, cadillac premiered at the new york auto show its series 452 with a 185hp v16 engine designed to trump chief rival packard’s v-12. fast-forward almost 80 years: cadillac is ready for another flagship, perhaps something along the lines of the gorgeous sixteen concept that was first shown in 2003>>


is ariel unashamedly aiming for the bugatti veyron, at least in the acceleration stakes with its latest creation, the atom 3?
inally, it seems they have done it. Having been in the development process for the past two years, the Atom doesn’t have as powerful a motor as the Veyron but boasts a power-to-weight ratio that’s more than 50 per cent better than the Veyron’s. In fact its 909hp per tonne ratio even betters that of a GP2 race car. While the prototypes are still undergoing testing, the V8 Atom has already shown the world its performance credentials. 100km/h comes in under 2.5 seconds and 160km/h takes less than six seconds to reach from s t a n d still. Ariel’s goals for the production model of the V8 atom are 2.3 seconds and 5.4 seconds

Mad,mad Atom


respectively. If it can achieve these figures, Ariel will better the acceleration figures of Bugatti’s Veyron.The Atom’s V8 engine is sourced from the US and was actually originally developed from two Suzuki motorbike engines that had been grafted together. However, since the original development, the 32-valve motor has become significantly more advanced. Two derivatives will be available, one detuned to 474hp that will be easier to use on the road and then the 500hp model. The more powerful of the two will also have a much more aggressive throttle map and will be designed specifically use on the track. Top

speeds are rated at 274km/h and 322km/h respectively.To cope with the extra power in both models, the cars has been outfitted with a six-speed sequential Sadev transmission which can handle the 16,500 rpm redline. The chassis is a close-to-standard Atom chassis, but it has been reinforced around the engine bay. Carbon fibre aerodynamic bits and bobs will also feature along with a revised doublewishbone suspension with arms made from aerofoil-section chrome-molybdenum tubing, Intrax shock absorbers, Alcon brakes, and Xrated Toyo tyres. According to Atom designer Simon Saunders, it is Ariel’s duty to build cars that blow open segment performance. “I believe it’s the role of little firms like ours to go where the big companies can’t or won’t,” he noted. The car will go on sale next year with a price tag beginning at £150,000.

From Russia with love
ussian specialty sports car manufacturer Marussia Motors has marked the start of production of the B1 and B2 models with the grand opening of their first showroom in Moscow. First unveiled in late 2008, the B1’s original design included a hybrid powerplant but has since been dropped. The second model is the jet fighter inspired B2. Both models featuring a mid-mounted 3.5-litre V6 from Cosworth is available in three power levels: 300, 360 ad 420hp. Not the most powerful supercar around, but Marussia insists the power level is competitive given the weight of 1,100 kg which allows a lively sprint to 100 km/h in 3.2 seconds. Priced at around 100,000


euros, Marussia has supposedly collected a healthy amount of orders. By 2014 Marussia plans to produce up to 10,000 cars per year. This includes a third Marussia F2 SUV model slated for market launch in the spring 2011 followed by a September surprise in Frankfurt. Surely, the Russians are warming up the automotive scene.



Aspirational GTS tops Carrera range
MW have just launched their version of its M3 GTS [our cover story this month] and it was just a matter of weeks that Porsche would announce a model in its line-up bearing a similar tag. Well, here it comes with a power output of 408hp, outstanding vehicle dynamics and emphatically sporty equipment. Well, you have guessed it right. These are the specs for the new 911 Carrera GTS which intends to ascend to the pinnacle of the Carrera model series much like the BMW M3 based GTS . Roughly 23hp more than the 911 Carrera S will enable the new GTS with a 3.8-litre engine close the gap to the 911 GT3, which ofof fers 434hp on tap. Unique within the Carrera family, the 911 Carrera GTS combines the 44mm wider Carrera 4 body of the AWD models including a wider track with classic rear-wheel drive. And there are many more details that distinguish the appearance and technology of a GTS from other Carrera models. For instance, the GTS runs on 19in centremount RS Spyder wheels, painted in black, with high-gloss finish rim flanges and 305/30 ZR tyres on the rear axle. Other features include the SportDesign front apron with spoiler edge, painted in black, special sideskirts, also in black, and the Carrera GTS logotype on doors and rear lid, in black or silver depending on the body colour. The area between the two tailpipes in the rear is finished in black. In combination with the standard interior colour “black Alcantara”, the centre sections of the driver and passenger sport seats are covered with black Alcantara. The new Porsche 911 Carrera GTS will celebrate its world premiere at the Paris Motor Show in early October and will be available as coupé and cabriolet.

Spartan unveils Ducati-powered track car
f the Atom thought it hadn’t inspired some petition, well here it is. Spartan, an Australian carmaker specialising in niche vehicles, has created the Spartan V, which is essential essentially a Ducati superbike with four wheels. The V is said to have Ariel Atom V8threatening performance, dispatching 100km/h in just three seconds and then heading on to a top speed of 278km/h. This blistering performance is owed to the Spartan’s 170hp 1,198cc Ducati V-Twin engine, which is mated to a six-



speed sequential gearbox. Being a track-day special one of the main features of the Spartan V is its light lightweight construction. With a tubular spaceframe chassis and carbon fibre bodywork, the V is said to weigh a phenomenally low 300kg and hence its awesome power-to-weight ratios and claimed performance credentials. This low weight is aided by the fact that the Spartan has no roof or doors. Just 300 units will be produced and it won’t be cheap either.



News headlines that grabbed our attention
Automan’s take

is the ferrari 458 a little too hot to handle?
ficially admitted that 1,248 Ferrari 458 Italias have been recalled due to fire risk. While Ferrari’s technical team is investigating the problem, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in US has offered an explanation. The NHTSA says heat from the engine can cause the rear wheel housings and heat-shield assemblies to deform and allow the shields to get too close to the exhaust system. Heat from the exhaust, the agency says, can cause an adhesive that holds the shield assemblies together to overheat and emit smoke. When the car’s operating temperature is particularly high, the adhesive can catch fire. In some cases the fires have spread quickly and destroyed the cars. Ferrari is asking the owners of all 458s built before July 10 to take them to the dealership to have the glue removed and fasteners installed. If it’s too late and if the 458 was damaged by fire, Ferrari said it would replace the car with a new one.


utoman’s take: Literally, as several owners of the new sports car from Maranello, which costs about $230,000, found out after their cars caught fire in recent months. The

Italian automaker began looking into the situation actively in August after five 458s caught fire in California, Paris, Switzerland, China and one other unnamed location. Ferrari has of-

Geely reorganizes brand portfolio

automan’s take: Another positive signal from a Chinese company with global ambitions. Following in the recent footsteps of General Motors and Ford, Chinese automaker Geely has announced it will be thinning its brand ranks. The Geely brand will go the way of Saturn and Mercury by the end of 2012. Like its American counterparts, Geely says it is doing away with the Geely brand to focus on its sub-brands. Geely’s sub-brands include Gleagle, Emgrand, Shanghai Englon and,

most recently, Volvo. Gleagle, short for Global Eagle, is Geely’s global brand, while Emgrand stands as the automaker’s luxury division. Shanghai Englon focuses on economy and some fleet vehicles. Analysts believe that the decision to cut the Geely brand will probably be for a positive move for the company as its focus is towards becoming China’s premier automaker. Meanwhile, Geely announced it might build as many as three Volvo assembly plants in China.

Mahindra US dealer deal off, plans with Ssanyong progressing
automan’s take: Not surprising with this Indian company which has been trying to get a foothold in the US for past couple of years. The latest news from the Mahindra saga is the Indian tractor and automaker has terminated its current import contract with Global Vehicles in US, although the Georgia-based distributor claims Mahindra cannot simply drop the agreement. Meanwhile, Mahindra has signed a preliminary deal to

take over bankrupt South Korean Ssangyong Motor. But what we don’t understand what does Mahindra stand to gain with the purchase of Ssangyong, which makes SUVs and MPVs based on dated Mercedes technology? Analysts estimate that the 50 per cent stake would cost Mahindra about $418m and the task after that getting the company up and running could be an uphill task given Ssangyong’s history of perennial labour problems. We think, Hummer, which has iconic brand equity could have been a better option for Mahindra which seeks crucial SUV technology as part of its global expansion plans.

automan’s take: We are a bit bewildered with this company owned by flamboyant lawyer-turned entrepreneur Victor Muller. Is it a case of one biting more than they can chew? Spyker has recently announced that the company’s liabilities far exceed its assets. Although several factors are at play in Spyker’s negative worth, the Dutch car maker attributed a large portion of its debt to an International Financial Reporting Standards requirement that mandates Spyker list GM’s $326 million worth of redeemable stocks gained through the Saab sale as a liability.Will this announcement affect the future of Saab, which Spyker purchased from General Motors earlier this year.Interestingly, Spyker has never turn a profit in its existence, which puts into question funding for future Saab vehicles.

Saab owner Spyker reports negative equity

GM IPO in Nov
automan’s take: The biggest question is: does GM’s IPO have enough appeal for investors? Several sources familiar with the preparations of GMs’ upcoming initial public offering are, suggesting that American taxpayers could take a loss on the offering in the short term, potentially pushing off payback for years. And even current GM CEO Dan Akerson believes it will take “several years” before the Detroit automaker fully repays its bailout loans. GM’s IPO could come as early as this November, but that doesn’t mean American taxpayers will be repaid in full by the end of 2010. Akerson told reporters that it would “unrealistic” to expect a lump-sum payback and that GM’s bailout loans likely wouldn’t be repaid in full for “several years”. The US government owns a 60.8 percent share of GM. Six individuals with inside knowledge on the offering say that the Treasury intends to sell the first available shares at discounted rates. Despite several projections placing a full payback out of reach at this time, GM still plans to hold a roadshow to woo investors beginning the day after the November 2 elections, and leading up to the November 18 offering. automan’s take: It’s no secret that the state of California is long known for its tough stance on emissions and has taken the lead on several occasions. California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) has now contracted UK-based Lotus engineering to continue its study on how to reduce the weight of vehicles in an effort to increase efficiency. The $2 million contract comes several months after Lotus Engineering first unveiled detailed specifications and explanations behind how to shave 38 per cent of the vehicle mass off of a Toyota Venza. Lotus believes that a reduction in weight of somewhere between 30 and 40 per cent can be achieved on most vehicles with a moderate three per cent increase in cost. Fuel economy is expected to jump by an astounding 23 per cent but what remains to be validated if the flab reduction affects the essential crash test qualities or not. Should Lotus be able to demonstrate little to no reduction in crash worthiness ratings, then we can expect widespread application of this technology soon.

California looks to Lotus for reducing vehicle weight

Jaguar to revive X-Type saloon, wagon on XK platform?

automan’s take: Should Jaguar look at its own history first before moving forward? Again debatable as Jaguar’s first experience in the modern compact luxury market was hardly a success. The X-Type, which had a Fordsourced powertrain and downmarket interior hardly represented the true image of a Jaguar baby. Given Jaguar’s current commercial success, once again numerous reports of the X-Type’s revival have been surfacing. And the latest suggests that the X-Type could ride on the next-generation XK platform which boasts of rear-wheel-drive architecture, and is all set to underpin the replacement coupe and convertible models. The argument is about the logic to use an expensive platform in a lowerpriced model, but Jaguar could be betting on making up for the initial costs by going for a higher volume model. Previously, it had been hinted that Jaguar would use a sophisticated dedicated aluminum platform for the X-Type; sharing such technology with the XK seems considerably more feasible if Jaguar wants to sell the car for around $40,000.

McLaren to launch five new models in next 5 years
automan’s take: McLaren has ambitious plans to build 4,500 vehicles by 2015 and to do this the company will have to launch a new model or variant every year for the next five years. While details are limited, each vehicle will strive for “substance over flash,” and “lower volume, higher standards,” according to McLaren North American chief Tony Joseph. This goal seems plausible considering 2,700 people have expressed interest in purchasing a MP4-12C. McLaren’s regional director for North

America, Tony Joseph, said MP4-12C buyers aren’t the usual suspects. Instead of owning a Ferrari, they normally drive Porsches.

Kia drops sub branding idea for US, reposition’s technology focus

automan’s take: Both Kia and Hyundai need to understand this that they are building good cars and moving up the ladder in terms of perception and quality value. What they should also realize that even a brilliantly executed car can suffer poor sales if the image perception isn’t correct. Ask Volkswagen about its experience with the Phaeton. Kia Motors was planning to introduce ‘EcoDynamics’ as a sub brand representing the automaker’s green nameplate across all of its markets. While, says dropping the idea was due an effort to limit the number of subbrands and logos it offers in the US, but Kia will continue use the EcoDynamics badge on hybrid and efficiency-minded models offered outside of North America. We think Kia should adopt a global approach in sub branding if it wants its models to be considered as entry or mid-level luxury.

Carlos Ghosn as GM CEO?

automan’s take: Well it could have been possible, had Ghosn accepted the job offer, according to a new book by former car czar Steven Rattner. Rattner, served as US President Obama’s auto advisor inside the White House was instrumental in steering the government’s $85bn bailout package of GM and Chrysler. The Obama Administration initially wanted Nissan-Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn to run GM after Rick Wagoner was ousted in 2009, and repeatedly pressed Fiat to put up cash for a stake in Chrysler, according to an upcoming book about the government bailout of General Motors and Chrysler. The book promises several new insights of those six months when GM strongly considered moving its headquarters from downtown

Detroit to its Tech Center in Warren, Michigan. The idea was championed by former GM CEO Fritz Henderson and was supported by Rattner. Henderson argued the move would not only put GM’s managers on-site, but that it would also help the company cut costs. However, many government officials didn’t view the move as highly as Henderson. Rattner’s book will also reveal that the government approached Nissan and Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn about taking over as chief executive of GM. Citing his current responsibilities with Nissan and Renault, Ghosn politely turned down the job, but added he would be open to a partnership with GM. Ghosn pressed for an alliance with GM prior to the company’s bankbank ruptcy. It will be interesting to see how GM reacts to the book and its contents.


Tango in Paris
the 2010 paris mondial de l’automobile opened its doors on september 30 and managed to offset of the effects of the long drought in the automotive industry. highlights include a new lamborghini, mini and peugeot concept and several others interesting production and concepts. automan will provide ongoing reports of the most significant debuts in our show highlights and analysis in the next issue. key highlights:
Author: Chandan B Mallik

The Ferrari 599 SA Aperta roadster at Paris is a special series model of which a strictly limited number of just 80 will be built. Already presold, Ferrari chose to build this special model in celebration of Pininfarina’s 80th anniversary. The SA nomenclature also pays homage to both Sergio and Andrea Pininfarina whose


top setting. The chassis has been redesigned to deliver a standard of stiffness comparable to that of a closed berlinetta and there is a negligible weight dif-

larly bad. A low-slung windscreen and the fact that it crouches lower to the ground than our other models lend the SA Aperta an exceptionally aerodynamic sleekness. Its profile arches back from the Apost

company and work have been linked to the most successful road-going cars ever built at Maranello. The Aperta uses Ferrari’s signature front-engined V12 architecture in a completely open-

ference also, thanks to engineering work done on the chassis. In fact, it has just a light soft top designed to be resorted to only if the weather gets particu-

to t w o aerodynamic fins beautifully integrating the two roll-bars which themselves cleverly mimic the outline of the seats.



MINI and Smart electric scooter concepts
s part of their respective brand lifestyle extensions, Smart and MINI are planning to introduce plug-in electric scooter concepts. The Smart scooter will have a streamlined appearance with futuristic design cues. It will reportedly be powered by a lithium-ion battery which will enable it to travel up to 96km on a single charge. Production is a possibility, but consumer interest remains to be seen. MINI, on the other hand, will display three retroinspired scooters. They will feature yellow accents (from the MINI E), a lithium-ion battery, and a retractable charging cord.

he GTC features an aggressive front fascia, LED daytime running lights, muscular rear wheel haunches, and classic Opel styling cues (the ‘blade’ from the Insignia). Other highlights include a roof-mounted spoiler, 21in wheels and aluminium window trim. Power is provided by a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with maximum output and torque. While nothing is official, speculation has suggested the engine could produce up to 300hp although some reports suggest 285hp. Regardless, the four-banger will feature start/stop technology and be connected to a six-speed manual transmission. To ensure the ride matches the sporty styling, Opel engineers installed a FlexRide suspension (with a Watt’s link in the rear) and a limited-slip front differential.


Opel Astra OPC / VXR

he preview car is expected to adopt an evolution of Jaguar’s new design language, basically from the XF /XJ). It will be larger than the current XK, which signals the intention to turn the 2012


2012 Jaguar XK

model into a legitimate four-seater. More importantly, by making the car larger, they are creating room for the long-rumored XE coupe/ roadster. Jaguar is reportedly look at hybrid options and there could be a concept with hybrid powertrain.



enault is set to make a splash at their home motor show in Paris at the end of the month. One model that is sure to be there is the facelifted Renault Laguna in preparation for the 2011 model year. The first images released prior to the show highlight the lift-back and sport tourer models sporting a new front


2011 Renault Laguna

end design. The Laguna facelift has also received a new set of headlights and a restyled bumper. Under the bonnet, the Laguna will have its engine range extended with a new cleaner 1.5-litre dCi 110HP diesel engine that emits 120g/km of CO2.

outh Korea’s Hyundai Motors is wasting no time in getting its ‘fluidic sculpture’ design language across all new models in the line-up which go along with the new naming nomenclature. Hyundai’s new B-segment MPV will be known as the ix20 when it goes on sales and is the second Europe-specific model to adopt the new design philosophy. Hyundai thinks that the new design will help differentiate the


Hyundai ix20

ix20 from the traditional boxy ‘minivan’ image typically associated with the segment. Designed and developed at Hyundai’s European R&D centre in Rüsselsheim, Germany, the name ix20 reflects the new model’s crossover-like versatility – a vehicle with the ability to simultaneously serve as a functional people-carrier while providing a dynamic, funto-drive experience.


s previewed by the BlueOn, Hyundai will introduce the facelifted 2011 i10. While details are limited, the updated model features a revised front bumper, a modified grille, and redesigned headlights. minor changes which will give the cabin a more premipremi u m ap-

Hyundai i10

2012 Ford Focus ST

pearpear ance. Under the hood, engine options will likely carryover with the exception of a new 1.0-litre three-cylinder. It is expected to produce 68hp and emit less than 100 grams of CO2 per kilometer.

et to go on sale in early 2012, the ST features an aerodynamic body kit, a massive air intake, ‘Tangerine Scream’ paint, and a centre-mounted dual exhaust system. The dynamic styling carries over to the interior as the cockpit boasts two-tone leather sport seats, contrast stitching, and faux carbon fibre trim.


Power is provided by a 2.0-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder engine with 247 hp. While the company is keeping additional specifications a closely guarded secret, Ford says the car delivers an intoxicating cocktail of exhilarating performance and handling accompanied by an addictive sound.



he new second generation BMW X3 builds on the success of the original by developing its core competencies while adding new technology to establish new benchmarks for agility, efficiency and comfort. Through its lifecycle, over 600,000 first generation X3s have been sold worldwide. The incoming X3 has a similar profile, but comes with redesigned exterior and interior as the car is now marginally bigger in most dimensions. Compared to its predecessor the car is 12mm taller, 83mm longer, 28mm wider and features a 12mm more



ground clearance. It rides on a wheelbase which is also 15mm longer at 2,810mm. Powertrain focus is on efficiency and performance in the line-up where three new sixcylinder engine variants boasting twin-turbo technology and an eight-speed automatic transmission will power the xDrive35i, xDrive 28i and xDrive 20i variants. Among the recipients of significant engineering upgrades include the third generation xDrive which splits torque split 40:60 front:rear.

he BMW Concept 6 Series Coupe appears to mark an evolution of the current BMW language and very much like the current model retains its 2+2 coupe layout format. The thinly-veiled presentation could best be described as being closest to the production version which will hit the shelves next year. The design has softly evolved and its exterior styling doesn’t appear to be as shocking as its predecessor’s on its unveiling in 2003. Its car’s front end gets a subtly evolved kidney grille and the sleek headlamps appear more drawn-


BMW Concept 6 Series Coupe

back. This is most obvious in side profile, where the low nose, oval lamp graphics and heavilycontoured bonnet appears more dynamic. At the rear, there’s shallow boot lid and more generous glasshouse is clearly reminiscent of earlier BMW coupes. Inside, the themes of the current car remain: the enveloping sweep of the IP, driver-oriented central console and wrap-around door cards all remain. Its display screen is now free-standing.

Bang and Olufsen have created the bespoke sound system for the new car. Powertrain details will be released at the show.


n its first major refresh and upgrade in its lifecycle, the new for 2011 Chevrolet Captiva features a new face and sporty exterior look. The interior of the 2011 Chevrolet Captiva has also been enhanced, with higher quality materials and a new design. For Europe, the car will be available with two turbo-charged diesel engines, while other markets will have choice between entry level 2.4-litre DOHC or a 3.0-litre V6 with direct injection and variable valve timing. The 2011 Chevrolet Captiva also features new manual and automatic six-speed transmissions and will be available with both front and all-wheel drive. Equipment that will comes standard include

Chevrolet Captiva

Electronic Stability Control(ESC), Traction Control System (TCS) and Braking Assist System (BAS). Hill Start Assist and an electric parking brake will also be offered. In terms of marketing flexibility, the model will be made available with both five and seven seats configurations. The car’s chassis has also been re-tuned to further enhance vehicle dynamics, improving cornering, roll characteristics and ride feel. With Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS) and Braking Assist System (BAS) standard, as well as front-, sideand curtain airbags, the Chevrolet Captiva provides a high level of safety.



he official countdown already began when Lamborghini issued this lame excuse of five teasers for building up anticipation for the suspected next-generation Murcielago. The teaser model of the heavily carbon clad was identified as c [sixth element] hours before the press preview dates. While no further details were available as Automan went to press, it was strongly rumoured to be the Jota in automotive circles,



the range topping supercar. The Jota will have a new direct-injection V12 engine stamping out at least 690bhp. Standstill to 100km/h will transpire in around three seconds, while top speed blossoms at 370km/h. The Jota will be built with a body mono cell similar to the McLaren MP4-12C and using weighsaving technologies it is rumoured to be less than 1,500kg. We think the Sesto Elemento is more of a technology showcase.

Maserati to show another GT

he new Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale will be the fastest, lightest and most powerful car in the Maserati range when it goes on sale in the first quarter of 2011. Inspired by the Trofeo GranTurismo MC and the race-winning GT4 motorsport models, the two-seater Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale that will debut at the Paris Auto Show will feature razor-sharp handling and will break the

300km/h barrier. The GranTurismo MC Stradale produces more aerodynamic down force without producing more aerodynamic drag, it produces more power - 336kw, 450 hp - without using more fuel and it is more agile without sacrificing the GranTurismo S’s highly praised ride quality.

oyota which has gone through a recent rough patch has not abandoned plans to introduce several new models at the Paris Motor Show. The main attraction will be the “small, spacious and smart” Verso-S. While details are limited, the model will have iQinspired styling and a flexible interior. Toyota will also focus on their commitment to hybrid


Toyota believes small is big

technology and fuel-efficient transportation. As part of this effort, the company will introduce the Prius Plug-in Hybrid and the Auris HSD (Hybrid Synergy Drive). Other highlights will include an updated iQ, an interactive Hybrid Synergy Drive Gallery, and the FT-CH concept which originally debuted at the 2010 North American International Auto Show.


fter announcing production of its extended range hybrid would begin in 2009, Fisker will unveil the first factory-built Karma at Paris. The Karma features two electric motors that produce 402hp and 1,300Nm of torque. They are powered by a 200kW lithium-ion battery pack, which allows the car to travel up to 80.5km before a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine kicks in to recharge it. In terms of performance, the car accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 5.9 seconds, hits a top speed of 200km/h and has an average fuel consumption rating of 2.4 litres/100km.

Fisker Karma


tricter government standards in Europe have already killed off the current generation Honda Civic Type R and Ford Focus ST. Could Ferrari be next on the hit list? Not a chance, if a recent report is correct which suggests Ferrari will introduce a “green” version of its California at Paris. Till now technical details are sketchy, but sources quoting OmniAuto reported the car won’t be a hybrid. Instead, it will likely feature an improved direct injection system, low friction engine com-


Green Ferrari California

ponents, multi-cylinder d e a c t i va -

tion, and regenerative braking like the HY-KERS concept. While purists will cry foul over a “green” Ferrari, the company has already announced plans to cut emissions 40 per cent and improve fuel efficiency 30 per cent, compared to 2007 levels.


aguar Land Rover’s interpretation of the LRX concept will finally show up as a production series Evoque under Range Rover. This is a first for the company, trying to address its upmarket clients with a crossover that will be powered by a four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine that generates 240PS thanks to a combination of turbocharging, direct injection and twin variable valve timing. Despite its small footprint, the car will be a Range Rover in all senses, with the latest Terrain Response, high-performance off-road drivetrain, a full complement of comfort fea-

Range Rover to show production Evoque
tures, topped off with a new 17-speaker sound system and the choice of 19 or 20” wheels. Additionally the Evoque will also be available in three ‘looks’ with different styling matching different temperaHowments. ever, there will be no five-door c o n cepts at the


enault will take the wraps of its DeZir concept car a couple of weeks before showing the concept in Paris. Although there doesn’t appear to be any production plans for the DeZir, the concept indicates Renault’s future design direction. Penned under the leadership of Re-


Renault Dezir concept

nault design director Laurens van den Acker, the DeZir concept features Renault’s new ‘Drive the Change’ design language. The design language is inspired by three keywords -‘simple’, ‘sensuous’ and ‘warm’. The DeZir features an all-electric pow-

ertrain, backed by a vertically-mounted 24kW lithium-ion battery pack. The DeZir can be fully charged in eight hours on a standard outlet, with a quick charge system allowing for an 80 per cent charge in just 20 minutes. Saving even more time, the DeZir is also equipped with Renault’s Quick Drop battery swapping technology. In order to ensure maximum performance and efficiency, the DeZir’s body is made from lightweight Kevlar, resulting in a curb weight of just 831kg. The svelte weight allows the DeZir’s 150hp electric motor to propel the concept from 0-100km/h in just 5 seconds, while allowing for a 160km cruising range.




aking its world premiere, the Saab 9-3 ePower is the prototype for a test fleet of 70 vehicles which will participate in extensive field trials in Sweden early next year. This all-electric family estate represents an important step forward for Saab’s pursuit of delivering cleaner and sustainable mobility solutions. The ePower features a 35.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and a 181hp electric motor. This enables the wagon to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 8.5sec, hit


a top speed of 150km/h, and travel up to 200km on a single charge. When the batteries are depleted, they can be recharged with a standard household outlet in less than six hours. While the car won’t go into mass production, a fleet of 70 ePowers will be “evaluated under a variety of real world driving conditions as part of the development process for a purpose-built, electric Saab vehicle.”


orsche has announced that it will unveil the 356 Speedster at Paris. This car is built on the 911’s successful underpinnings, yet gets some special treatment to set it apart. Porsche says, “In the best tradition, the 60 millimetre lower, more raked windscreen, the flat contour of the sporty-look manual hood, and the characteristic double-bubble hardcover for the soft top define the striking profile of the new 911 Speedster. This makes the body of this rear-wheel drive with its 44 millimetre

Porsche to show limited run speedster

wider rear stand out even more.” The car is set for a limited production run of 356 units and has been conceived by Porsche Exclusive, the company’s special edition wing, which will in turn celebrate 25 years in 2011. In terms of mechanicals, the car shares the 3.8-litre flat six of the Carrera S while delivering 408hp (that’s 23hp more). Rear axle driven 7-speed PDK gearbox accompanies active suspension management and has ceramic composite brakes.

Lotus to show stunning new Elite in Paris
otus Cars have announced their next model in the Elite, which will be shown at the Paris motorshow end-September. A press release from the company says that the Elite is scheduled for a spring 2014 release. It quotes Dany Bahar, CEO of Group Lotus saying, “Make no mistake, there’s a definite market requirement for the Elite – it’s the ultimate sports car feel with comfort and space. There will always be those who believe that Lotus should stick to small sports cars but we didn’t take the decision to design something like the Elite lightly, it’s based on months of careful research and planning. It’s worth noting this sector has been very successful for us in the past and now the Elite raises the benchmark higher still.” The new 2+2 will have a front-mid positioned 5.0l V8 engine delivering up to 620 PS so that drivers can expect to go from 0-100 km/h in approximately 3.5 to 3.7 seconds. The picture is of a Production Intent Prototype. Lotus Cars say that the Concept to be shown in Paris will be similar in all respects.




n the official web site for the 2010 Paris Motor Show, the Audi S1 has showed up on the list of debuts. Although no details were released prior to the show, the S1 is expected to strongly resemble the S-Line package for the A1plus a lowered suspension and special 17in wheels. Power will come from a 1.4-litre

Audi S1

TSI also found in the Seat Ibiza Cupra with 178hp. Ironically, the S1 will be the first Sbadged model to not be equipped with Quattro all-wheel drive as standard. Instead, front wheel drive will be mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.

Kia Pop
ia’s focus will major on striking design and new technologies. Taking centre stage and making its world premiere will be the eyecatching, compact and unique electric POP concept, designed by Kia’s European design team under the direction of Peter Schreyer, Kia’s Chief Design Officer, and Gregory Guillaume, Kia Europe’s chief designer. “A concept car like the POP could only have come from us,” explains Gregory Guillaume. “Designers very rarely have the opportunity to start from a clean sheet of paper and it’s great to be in a position to operate with such freedom.” In addition to POP, Kia will also be displaying a number of striking production models which reinforce the company’s commitment to developing its design language – and putting this into practice with real-world models.

Honda Jazz Hybrid
our years ago, Honda said it had no plans to build a hybrid gasoline-electric version of its popular Jazz subcompact (also known as the Fit in the US, Japan and elsewhere). Well, the mindset for 2010 has changed and that will be evident in Paris, Although, intended for Europe only, Honda will showcase the 2011 Jazz Hybrid, which uses the same petrol-electric IMA system as the Honda Insight.


The package is a 1.3-litre i-VTEC four-cylinder engine, a CVT transmission, and an electric motor sandwiched between them.


{First Drive}

RooM foR one MoRe

did honda create the all-new accord based crosstour because it felt there was a void in its crossover line-up or was it a model to represent its premium ambitions? automan decides
Author: Chandan B Mallik | Photography:Raj Warrior and author


{First Drive}
he idea to take a mid-size family saloon or station wagon and morph it into a new stylish two-box package with variable degrees of SUV functionality, features of a station wagon and car-like manners on road is currently the definition of a crossover in the cut throat automotive business. It also happens to be the most dynamic segment and perhaps the reason why this particular segment receives more attention from existing and newcomers who are trying to outdo each other. The real question: how is Honda tacktack ling this hyperactive segment which already has some established players such as the Audi A6 allroad quattro, Subaru Outback, Toyota Venza, BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo and Fiat Palio Weekend Adventure with the all-new CrossTour? The situation is a bit unique and not exactly a ‘me-too’ for Honda. The reason is that it’s no secret that the carmaker has been experimenting with innovative transportation concepts which in turn are aimed in helping the brand explore new or uncharted territories. Honda probably realizes that it needs more market specific models in the line-up besides its global offerings to support its conscientious pitching for the premium end of the market at the same time. A task like this is not easy to execute, but Honda has a couple aces up its sleeve which it can rely on. In 1986, Honda created a premium luxury sub brand called Acura for US, Canada and Hong Kong. In 2004, Acura was introduced in Mexico and in 2006, the sub brand was extended to China. While there are no plans to introduce Acura in any other market including the Middle East for now which also happens to be the hot bed for premium branding, we think instead of opting for Acura, Honda wanted to focus on a product that could fit in the existing line-up and do the job as premium pitch. In the saloon line-up, the Accord is the brands mid-sized bestseller, so the issue of finding a tested platform was already in stock. Since the new model was to inculcate several attributes, Honda’s strategy for packaging and positioning the CrossTour was best found in its current crossover line-up where it is pretty secured. Honda believes there is room for one more in between for markets where both the five seater CR-V and eight seater Pilot are sold [Middle East being one of them]. The CrossTour is positioned as an in-between the two SUVs in functionality, but from a pricing perspective, strategically putting it at the top as a


premium offering in the Accord food chain. Honda’s overall packaging of the CrossTour appears a bit mixed for the purpose, but the company has tried its best to balance the various elements in both exterior and interior departments. Honda is good in crossover technology applications and not surprisingly, the CrossTour is based on the current Accord’s platform and shares about 60 per cent of its parts. Although based on the saloon, none of its exterior panels are shared. Over all, exterior styling is bold and the front face differs from saloon in its new bold three bar grille, wrap around angular headlamps, valance. But it’s those extra long overhangs at the front and rear that gives the CrossTour its defining design character. Following the upsizing trends in US for new saloon cars [the new Ford Taurus for instance], at 4,980mm, the CrossTour is marginally bigger than the saloon, adding 63.5mm to its length, more than 101.6mm in height and 50.8mm in width, on the same wheelbase of 2,796mm. From the mid-section to the rear, the design transformation from a size up saloon to a classic four-door coupe takes place. The car gets its own set of character lines on the sheet metal and bling features include chrome door handles, stainless sill plates and designer rocket plates. Despite the mixed or odd styling cues, the CrossTour is not ostentatious and it seems to possess the right balance of flair and restraint. As a crossover wagon, the large 225/60 tyres shod on 18in rims and 8.1in ground clearance support the equation. Meanwhile, the interior has more than a passing resemblance with the saloon with most of the controls in the same locations. The cabin is genuinely spacious and sports similar surface textures, be it leather or wood. The idea of using components from an existing parts bin is not new, but Honda should have looked at refinements considering the positioning of the car. The idea of retaining masses of knobs and buttons instead of grouping functions through a centralized controller will certainly not be overlooked by punters. Secondly, expected options such keyless ignition, power steering adjustments, Bluetooth connectivity, power liftgate, mood lighting and a reclining rear seat and rear occupant entertainment system are sadly missing from the factory end, but Honda dealers are retrofitting some of these features for the benefit of customers. However, Honda tries to offset these niggles by a offering comprehensive list of stan-


{First Drive}
dard equipment that includes dual-zone climate control, driver seat with memory, and an auxiliary audio input and optional equipment includes a USB input, heated seats, and a navigation system. Despite its sloping roof, head and legroom for the front occupants are typical that of the saloon. The bonus is extra elbow room, however, there appears to be less headroom for rear seat passengers due to the rake of the sloping roof. As a crossover it is not as sharp as the Jazz in its functional ability. To tilt or slide the moonroof the driver or front passenger needs only to fully press the ceilingmounted switch once (instead of pressing and holding it for several seconds) and we thought this was intelligent. Cargo space is a bit compromised with the inwards intrusion of the rear wheel wells, but the rear seats fold flat 60:40 and frees up 51.3 cu-ft, almost double space with seats up. Unlike some competitors in the segment, the rear seats don’t recline in this Honda. However, the cargo area has a few smart touches such as the washable

<< honda crosstour’s styling and body construction evolved from the sophisticated foundation of the accord saloon and is more aggressive in its design and stance>>
Driving impressions
While seats are firm, the driver gets a commanding view, much like a Land Rover. The steering positioning can be mechanically adjusted for rake and tilt and the short height windscreen effectively shields the front occupants. While the CrossTour is about 138kg heavier than the saloon, feels relatively light on its feet as the V6 engine delivers a powerful surge as valve timing and lift change at high revs while the transmission shifts smoothly in normal drive cycles. Depending on the driver’s inputs, the ‘Eco’ indicator comes up on the dash, mostly during deceleration. However, maximum fuel efficiency can be achieved even at speeds of 50km/h. The nice thing is that cylinder deactivation even takes place in sports mode [where gear shifts are a bit faster and hold longer]. The CrossTour is a car that grows on you as you spend more time with it, however, drivers familiar with normal Tiptronic systems will need extra time to get familiar with the CrossTour. What is surprising is that despite being engineering driven company, Honda hasn’t really come up contemporary solutions in its new cars. Since, the car is all-wheel-drive [part time or traction on demand], it would have been nice if the option of a differential lock and low range gearing was offered for the driver. The powertrain package is sort of intermediate, if you compare it with current trends in the market. That is not to suggest the CrossTour wasn’t capable of light off road sojourns. With its generous ground clearance of 8.1in and large wheels the car literally glides over broken ground, absorbing imperfections much before they reach the steering column or driver. In general the car is quiet and its triple door-seal system is effective in minimising wind and road noise, although some intrusion can be felt during crosswinds. For the added weight and height, the CrossTour corners commendably with minimum body roll. The constant ratio rack-and-pinion steering which replaces the variable type unit in the saloon offers nice and decent feedback and with speeds feels sharper. One thing we particularly noted was the design disadvantage during driving. Given its coupe profile, the rear windscreen is sharply raked and the non-reclining rear head rests also interfere with rear visibility. Although, Honda has provided very large side mirrors [larger than the Rolls-Royce Ghost], but it doesn’t solve the blindspot problem, which can be tricky at times to manage. We would expect Honda to address this issue by offering blind spot assistance system at a later date. The least Honda can offer is an audio back-up alert if the rear camera isn’t a viable option [the test car had a dealer retrofit]. The CrossTour also has a more powerful brake system with two-piston calipers upfront and larger rear discs and no brake fading was noted. The best part of this car is that it grows on you as you spend more time playing with it.


{First Drive}

<< off-road, the car exhibited superb manners in composure and its ability to offer a luxurious ride.>>


{First Drive}
pullout box beneath the floor made possible by cleverly anchoring the full-size spare wheel underneath the chassis. The swing-up hatch lid makes for easy loading/unloading and well positioned handles along both sides of the roof allow the rear seatbacks to fold flat so quickly you’d think they were power operated. The CrossTour is built in the US and hence one can expect some perceivable differences in build quality when compared to global Honda models. At the heart of Accord saloons, both in-line four cylinder and bigger V6 engines are offered but the CrossTour has been endowed with the 3.5-litre normally aspirated V6 with iVTEC technology. It offers 271hp with 254 lbft of torque via a five-speed automatic with a new rev-matching downshift feature through steering wheel mounted paddles. Some features such as Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system has been borrowed from the Pilot and is programmed to run the engine on 3, 4 or 6-cylinder mode to optimize fuel usage. Paddleshifters are also offered, but the Tiptronic function at the gear lever gate is not there. The car is all wheel drive with most of the torque bias at the front in normal driving. The car’s front suspension is a modified version of the double-wishbone system used on the saloon and coupe. Stabilizer bars, springs and damping rates have been optimized to provide the best combination of ride and handling. Honda’s ACE body structure is part of the safety design, and active equipment is abundant, including stability control, ABS with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Distribution, multiple threshold front airbags, full sidecurtain airbags, active front head restraints, pedestrian injury mitigation system and tyre pressure monitoring system.


{First Drive}

<< the crosstour’s front suspension is a modified version of the double-wishbone system used on the accord saloon and coupe>>

By packaging and pricing, and positioning the CrossTour at the high-end of the five-passenger crossover segment, Honda is targeting both empty nesters and young couples moving from either a smaller or larger vehicle into this growing segment. Styling is certainly sub-


jective, but when it comes down to time spent behind the wheel, the CrossTour, is certainly an enjoyable vehicle which grows on you. If absolute utility is the main criteria for selecting one of these tall wagons, the competition does offer more cargo capacity and greater

hauling capability in a taller crossover package. But if driving fun is the larger part of the equation, the CrossTour is the more engaging partner.


{First drive}

New NAMe, New GAMe
land rover’s versatile fourth generation midsize luxury sevenseater suv, the lr3 has metamorphosed into the lr4 for 2010 and beyond. is it just a nomenclature fad or something else? automan spent some time with the car to discover its true meaning.
| Author: Chandan B Mallik | Images: Nabeel Ferzan


{First drive}
he Land Rover LR4 has come to the region’s market as the all-new successor to the LR3. The old LR3, also known as the Discovery 3 in some markets has been a game changer in the segment for the brand and has won more than 100 awards for its ground breaking design and engineering. Naturally, we are keen to know how does the successor stack up, where the predecessor came with an illustrious bio-data. At Land Rover, the job of morphing the LR3 into LR4 hasn’t really been that daunting considering the fact that the model was among the first wave of new product investments after the takeover of Jaguar and Land Rover by India’s Tata Group. Although, the focus of the facelift exercise has been is more biased towards engineering, but cosmetics haven’t been entirely ignored and hence the LR4 retains almost the same profile and sheet metal of the LR3, but moves forward in detailing and embellishments. Items that are clearly visible include the redesigned new two bar corporate grille, front end valance with an air scoop, more aerodynamic sculpted headlamps with high resolution LED parking lights and new vents without repeater lamps on the mudguards. Meanwhile, the rear remains virtually unchanged with the exception of the new LED rear lamps. The touch of jewellery has given the car a more upmarket, friendlier and less industrial appearance. The LR4 looks squat since it has wider mudguard arches than the LR3 which house 19 and 20in wheels. Land Rover says that it is more functional than cosmetic, as the redesign helps reduce aerodynamic lift at the front by 50 per cent. With bumpers and mudguard arches are now finished in gloss body-colour paint finish instead of matte black plastic, the LR’s bodywork has moved from high-art functional to tastefully upscale. The car actually gets much more interesting once you are inside the cabin. Beautifully fitted and finished, the LR4 accommodates three rows of seats since it’s more than five inches longer in wheelbase than the Sport. It also takes a lot of inspiration from the Sport and in doing so has eliminated the dull elements of the design and trims. We also discovered that legroom for the second row can be increased by sliding the seats which also split fold 35:30:35 to offer extra cargo space. The completely remodeled cabin now features the worlds’ first virtual instrument panel, laid out on a 12in wide TFT screen and is able to display huge amounts of information about



{First drive}
the vehicle, the drive system, differentials, steering, ride height among others. There are fewer switches than on the previous-generation LR3, because some vehicle functions have been moved to the touch screen at the centre of the instrument panel. In terms of kit and trims, the LR4 offers quite a variety to suit different tastes and budgets. While the company offers a wide choice of bespoke options, standard features include leather seating and trim, dual-zone climate control, eight-way power seats, a multifunction steering wheel, cruise control, power windows, power mirrors, power locks, power tailgate, audio with an auxiliary jack and iPod compatibility. The comfort package adds second- and third-row flat-folding seats, a thirdrow side-curtain air bag, map lights and accessory power outlet, a luggage net, and rear air-conditioning with separate controls. The new optional surround camera system uses five cameras, two facing forward, one on either side of the truck facing down, and one at the rear to give a near-360-degree view of surroundings. Camera views can be selected from the main navigation screen and the view can be zoomed also. Land Rover says that this specific feature was developed to assist drivers in trailer hookups and trailer maneuvering, as well as for checking all-around clearances and terrain when driving off-road and we think it will help drivers during intense off-road sessions out here.For us, however, besides the creature comforts in the car, our focus was to discover the changes under the skin and how it affects the overall packaging. And this is where the biggest news is: the powertrain packaging is now identical to that in the Range Rover Sport and this means that in a one shot upgrade, the engine bay of the LR4 now gets a shoehorned two engines --- normally aspirated or supercharged V8 engines displacing 5.0-litres each and mated to 6-speed ZF automatic transmission with Tiptronic function with revised calibrations to match its specific demands of the car. Internally identified as the LRV8 series, the new engine boasts variable valve-timing and lift, the latter provided by a spring between the cam follower and valve stem that reduces or increases the valve excursion. The phase-shifting aspect of the valve-timing control is powered by the torque pulses of the valve train itself, rather than by a powerrobbing oil-pump. Designed to meet the latest ULEV2 emissions requirements, the LRV8 has cut CO2 output by 8 per cent, yet equals the fuel consumption figures of the outgoing 4.4-litre engine. Abundant low-rev torque has allowed higher gearing with much more frequent torque-convertor lockup for optimal efficiency. The normally aspirated engine offers 375hp and 510Nm of torque and the figures represent 25 per cent more power and 16 per cent more peak torque than the 4.4-litre V8 it replaces and yet delivers seven per cent better fuel economy and creates eight per cent fewer emissions. In terms of ride quality, there’s supposed to be a nice balance between on road comfort and off-road capability in the LR4 and its reworked suspension and an optional Adaptive Dynamics package which uses continuously adjustable Bilstein shock absorbers are there to do the job. The suspension has been revised over the previous LR3, with a new variable-ratio steering gear and new front knuckle design to close the gap between the car’s centre of gravity and the suspension system’s roll centre in order to reduce roll motions. Further roll control is provided by a larger antiroll bar. The LR4 also gets the Dynamic range addition on the Terrain Response dial for outstanding and serious off-road capabilities and four-wheel drive.Meanwhile, the stopping power in both HSE and supercharged versions have been upsized and upgraded. In fact, the brakes on the HSE have been upgraded to the Range Rover Sport’s larger 14.2in ventilated front discs with four-piston calipers, with slightly smaller 13.8inch ventilated discs and twin-piston calipers. The LR4 comes as standard with ABS, eight airbags, emergency brake assist and electronic traction control.


{First drive}

<< he land rover lr4 has evolved from a distinct design heritage over 20 years and four generations of iconic, instantly recognizable vehicles. lr4 inherits the clean lines of the previous generation, but is updated with a more premium, more contemporary look >>

{First drive}

Driving impressions
We had the unique opportunity to drive the car in two diverse locations within a span of few weeks. The first drive was in Scotland as part of an introductory programme by Land Rover. The drive programme was designed with diversity in mind and once out of Edinburgh, we headed south and east into the Scottish Borders region, A-, B- and C-roads of ever-decreasing width, culminating in some rugged off-roading on the estate of Floors Castle in Roxburghshire and here we realized that at one moment we were cruising Britain’s motorways on beautifully damped air springs, ensconced in soft leather and an hour later we’re nearly door handle deep in liquid mud. In either case, the driver gets to use most effectively the 375hp V8’s mid-range punch, combined with a more aggressive torque converter lockup protocol that also helps the LR4 maintain and deliver much crisper rolling acceleration response in surge-and-stop urban traffic. With new mapping, the LR4 feels much more alive in the cut and thrust of fast-moving highway traffic, with just a caress of your right foot needed to keep it running with the pack. On winding roads, we also noted that the car steered noticeably better and felt less nervous on rapid changes of direction than in the outgoing LR3. One irritating point in the LR3 experience was that its electronic nannies intervened at the merest hint of shenanigans, in the LR4 it does the job intended much more effectively with a touch of refinement. In standard driving mode on normal asphalt, the chassis and suspension have been set in such a way that there is actually very little body roll for a SUV that rides high off the ground which also has a high centre of gravity. The air suspension system does a brilliant job in absorbing and effectively filtering road imperfections without fuss and thereby allowing a quiet and smooth ride. Modifications to the front suspension have made the steering response crisper as well. Although, we are


{First drive}
aware that the LR4 rides on a body-on frame supported by air suspension, its new on-road behaviour is a genuinely surprising and wonderful mix of luxury, quietness, and serenity. The improved ZF six-speed transmission shifts very quickly and quietly, up or down. The steering is both light and fluid, yet offers plenty of feel and feedback that we certainly wouldn’t mind in this SUV with a heart of a sports car. The car’s performance on the wet skid pads surpassed our expectations. Back in UAE and Oman, the test car was once again subjected to both on- and off-road test sections in much hotter climate conditions. With the LR4, going off-road is easier than ever and it’s a far cry from the days when drivers had to manually lock differentials and shift levers in vehicles that were in general crude and uncomfortable. The way the LR4 is built, its material quality and the plush cabin would suggest this is a vehicle meant strictly for the boulevard, yet the LR4 is just as comfortable on the off-road sections. And it was during the off-road sections that we began to get friendly with the ‘diala-terrain’ system. With this piece of gadgetry, the LR4 is able offer the driver a wide choice of driving modes at the flick of a rotary knob located on the central console. The pre-sets range from general driving, medium range grass or gravel or snow, sand, mud and ruts right up to extreme jobs such as rock crawling. The sand setting we note has been revised for minimal wheelspin, and the rock crawling mode has quicker responses to lost traction in the LR4. The Hill Descent Control feature which was pioneered by Land Rover has been sharpened to complement the overall package and is now controlled by a separate console button. The LR4 is possessed of amazing off-road capabilities over every kind of terrain we could throw, part in thanks to the driver controlled ride height [as much as 9.4in], courtesy of the air shocks. There are no surprises as power goes to all four wheels through the Electronic Traction Control and Dynamic Stability Control that always modulates power supply for the best available grip. And this is where the practical side of Land Rover shows through. End of the day, like any other premium vehicle, the LR4 isn’t entirely flawless. We felt the nav menus were a bit slow and the screen displays washes out in harsh sunlight and is difficult to read at time. Although, the number of switches has been reduced, the central console still appears a bit overloaded.

<< the lr4 competes in the crowded midsize luxury sport-utility vehicle segment, one of the largest and fastest-growing segments in the industry. lr4’s direct market competitors include the lexus rX 350, the mercedes-benz glk, the audi Q5, and the bmw X5 >>


{First drive}

2010 land rover lr4 engine: 5.0-litre v8 max power (bhp/rpm): 375/6,500 max torque (nm/rpm): 510/3,500 transmission: Six-speed automatic driven wheels: four-wheel drive Kerb weight: 2,548kg

The LR4 offers such Swiss Army functionality and yet it remains thoroughly refined on-road, too. The LR4 competes in the crowded sport-utility vehicle segment, one of the largest and fastest-growing segments in the industry. LR4’s direct market competitors include thethe Lexus RX 350, the MercedesBenz GL, the Audi Q5, and the BMW X5. Stunningly packaged and engineered brilliantly, the LR4 is like an LR3 that’s been lovingly dipped in chocolate.

{Cover story}

Taste the


lebanon’s stunning countryside and mountain roads were just perfect for the all-new 2011 cadillac cts-v. automan was among the few invited for the official regional debut and first drive.
| Author: Chandan B Mallik


{Cover story}

hen General Motors premium luxury brand Cadillac introduced the second-generation CTS saloon in 2003, the superbly engineered and designed car changed quite a few things for the marque. Besides getting rave reviews from even the harshest of critics, it went on to be nominated for the North American International Car of the Year award, but missed it by a whisker. For 2011, General Motors hopes that lightning will strike again, but time with two doors less in the CTS family. The coupe slot which had been vacant since Cadillac’s last coupe, the Eldorado, went out of production in 2002, is now alive and active. Cadillac, in one stroke has entered both the variants of the CTS-derived coupes – a regular and a high performance ‘V’ version – in the fray which also sees the likes of the MercedesBenz, BMW, Audi, Lexus and Infiniti coupes with their respective regular and performance versions. The big question that first comes to mind is how much can the CTS Coupe really be different from its saloon sibling? This is significant at this juncture because the coupe is virtually identical to the concept vehicle shown at the Detroit auto show in January of 2008 and is mechanically based on the saloon’s underpinnings with minor tweaks. At Lebanon, where the car was introduced to the regional media at the swanky Le Grey Hotel in downtown Beirut, it didn’t take long to realize that the coupe’s wheelbase is the same as the saloon, but somehow its unique design detailing gives it its distinctive styling character. Helping the effort is mainly the roofline, which is is two inches lower, and the compactness of the car and its short overhangs is a result the body being two inches shorter in length. The car has a power stance, thanks to the widening of the rear track by two inches which facilitates fitment of big 19in wheels. The other difference noted was the rake angle of the front windscreen which is much steeper than the saloon’s, at 62.3°, while the rear window is nearly flat when viewed from the side. In concept and in practice, the car’s highly angular bodylines, surface treatments, characteristic wire mesh grille along with the power bulge on the bonnet once again reinforce the



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styling hallmarks of the ‘V’, but the rear end treatment featuring dual-exhaust tips help sign off the visual sharpness of the car. Compared with the regular coupe, there are hardly any significant suggestions as to specific aero dynamic tweaking in this car. According to Cadillac, even the stop light on the boot is designed to help in downforce. In spite of the very fast look of the coupe, the actual drag coefficient number is high for a coupe and high in this class, just under Cd0.36, when some of the competition is down around Cd0.26. While, the coupe’s doors are as long as a summer day in June, it doesn’t sport traditional door handles outside or inside. Instead, it uses pushbutton openers similar to those used in the Chevrolet Corvette and getting in and out of the car, especially for the rear seat incumbents is still a bit cumbersome and requires quite a bit of agility. Under the power bulge of the bonnet is the most powerful engine GM has offered in Cadillac’s history -- a LSA 6.2-litre supercharged V8 engine [also found on the CTS-V saloon]. Rated at 556hp and 747Nm torque, it is mated to Hydra-Matic 6L90 six-speed automatic with pushbutton shift control switches behind the steering wheel. The engine features an intercooled four-lobe rotor Eaton supercharger system, aluminium-alloy cylinder heads and to handle the V’s extra power, Brembo cooked up a set of two-piece composite rotors. These discs use the usual cast-iron rotor with an aluminium hub that’s cast in place. This new design is reportedly less prone to heat warping and less expensive than conventional twopiece rotors. Massive six-piston front calipers up front and four-piston units out back are there to provide plenty of squeezing power. Since the CTS-V coupe is not an all-out nocomprise sports car, Cadillac took measures to preserve the ride quality. That task was given to the adjustable magnetorheological (MR) shock absorbers. These shock absorbers have small iron particles suspended in the oil that change the fluid’s viscosity based on electrical signals from the car’s ECU. These shocks first appeared on the Corvette but have now spread not only to other GM products but Audi and Ferrari as well.

<<the cts-v coupe has a mindset and temperament of its own. it’s both docile and aggressive on demand>>

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<<brilliantly engineered and uniquely styled, this car will stand out anywhere as a leader of the pack>>

Once settled in the car, visibility is not a problem as long as you’re looking forward. But at the rear, it’s a different story, because the rising waistline, beefed up C-pillars and steeply raked rear window aren’t exactly the package one would be looking for. The driver has to be extra cautious and rely more on the door mounted mirrors and standard back-up camera while reversing. That said, parking sensors and the camera make parking fairly easy. Funny enough, no solution has been of-

Driving impressions

fered for blind spot management! In the driving experience in and around the Beirut’s countryside and mountains, the CTS V-Coupe offered no real surprises. Power is seductive and any driver who has experienced the thrill of a high-performance car’s straightline acceleration will have instantly been won over in this beast which boasts of power-toweight of 289.28bhp/ton. The car can sprint from standstill to 100km/h under four secs with the sublime energy of a big cat and the

overall performance also surprised us as one expected mighty top-end punch from such a rev-hungry engine. What’s arguably more impressive is the car’s ability to surge forwards from little more than 2,000rpm with cool and unassuming attitude that had nothing to do with us burning rubber or controlled drifts with traction control switched off. Surprisingly, the car performed pretty much like its saloon sibling, but we felt it was quicker off the mark, with solid acceleration from


{cover story}

the supercharged V8 engine accompanied by a sonorous exhaust note. The relatively quick upshifts and downshifts from the automatic and its steering-wheel paddles, and a reassuringly buttoned-down feel when it came to sticking to the asphalt. The drive set up through the car’s sequential Hydra-Matic 6L90 six-speed automatic is key to its success recipe. Fully functional in normal drive mode, it really comes alive when moved over to the right side manumatic gate (+/-) where the software helps it remap and as expected allow the gears to hold longer. We totally enjoyed playing with the manual gate and occasionally, the pushbuttons at the back of the wheel (surprisingly, still no paddle shifters). Once the rhythm is set, the Hydra-Matic reverts to normal automatic mode by default. While throwing the car around, you discover that the CTS-V coupe represents an improvement in refinement and composure, not just power and performance. However, there’s abundance of torque available in all gears and the car requires the driver to balance his driving with the beast as there’s a tendency of the rear end to drift a fraction during downshifting, but the car’s wider rear track ensures that all is under control in a blink. The end result was a car that handled beautifully and offered predictable handling at every turn and

we loved the way the car reacts when lifting off the throttle, the shifting of weight forward and those predictable sharp exits from corner moments later. The CTS-V’s steering feel is actually lighter than the V6 and response to turn-in is pretty impressive. The steering provides crisp turnin as well as ample feedback, while the effort level firms up nicely when you’re cornering the car into fast curves. Part in thanks goes to the magnetic shocks which have two settings and help control body roll. For most of the drive we preferred to leave it on stiffer settings as the road surfaces in Lebanon vary a lot from smooth to bumpy and uneven stretches. In normal mode, it earns respect from us for providing a supple ride over the crumbling, pothole-ridden roads. The V-spec actually rides with notably more compliance than the standard CTS Coupe and at speeds on the open highway, we not that V upholded its Cadillac lineage with a quiet ride unmarred by excessive wind or road noise. Traction and grip from the large Continentals was good most of the time we had the car. A bit of aggressive driving and cornering reveals some of its hidden handling characteristics. We did encounter a modest understeer, enough to inspire some confidence, but not like a typical American car With the traction

control and yaw control system turned on, it’s amazingly easy to drive at a pace that would make the CTS-V competitive and we think this car would actually do quite well in racing venues. A click of the steering-wheel-mounted button turns off the traction control but leaves the yaw control activated. A second click turns it off altogether. There’s ample power in the slower corners to kick the back end around if you are determined enough. No surprise, sprint times are not significantly faster or slower if you leave the system in its default mode and drive well, rather than turning it off and pushing hard. On the utility front, despite all the standard gizmos, the part we liked was that the car’s various controls are quite intuitive to operate. The dual-zone climate controls, for instance, are located on either side of the center stack and canted thoughtfully toward the driver and passenger respectively. The instrument gauges are large and easily read. The audio system provides fairly crisp, powerful sound, and iPod connectivity is standard. Though the navigation system is easy to use, it doesn’t mute the stereo quite enough when giving its voice prompts. Another downsider is the cargo management capability in the boot where the large gooseneck hinges intrude deeply into the boot and can damage goods.

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Coupes are not for everyone, but if your tastes and lifestyle fit fine with a blue-blooded performance coupe, the 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe definitely is one car to consider. Cadillac wants this car to compete with the finest from Germany and Japan. The performance is certainly there, as are the handling and brakes, but we think there’s a bit of a tradeoff in the rawness vs comfort department. We think that the CTS-V Coupe’s level of performance and creature comforts would satisfy a great many potential buyers in the region. Reasonably priced for the region, no other car can touch the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe in the bangs per buck department. But if you can trade off a bit of that face-flattening acceleration, there are other tempting choices.

<<there’s so much torque on tap that even going uphill it continues to pull in top gear effortlessly. paddle shifters would have added more to the fun quotient>> quotient

2011 cadillac ctS-v coupe Specifications
engine output torque transmission acceleration [0-100km/h] wheels wheels brakes lSa 6.2-litre supercharged v8 engine 556hp 747nm hydramatic 6-speed auto 4.2secs 19-inch cast aluminium

racing-bred brembo brakes



*Offer valid from 22.08.10 to 21.11.10.

The LR2 & LR4 are now available with free service for 3 years/72,000 kilometres (whichever is earlier) and free insurance.* Drive away the most advanced, most powerful, most luxurious Land Rover vehicles this festive season.


MUSCAT: Tel 99349324 (Rakesh), 99333620 (Souyahar), 99357297 (Reyaz) SOHAR: Tel 95359381 (Shantanu), 99485327 (Manjit) SALALAH: Tel 99480660 (Tabook), 95754411 (Murali) SUR: Tel 25543390/91 (Showroom).

LR2 & LR4



dy Rea oll or t



first reveal of 2011 dodge durango suggests major changes in engineering and design
Author: Chandan B Mallik


ime flies as they say, and how true it can be for Chrysler Group LIc which seems to be steadily coming out from near extinction. It may have taken two years to make a return, and following the footsteps of the recently introduced all-new Grand Cherokee comes the all-new third generation 2011 Dodge Durango. The mention of the Jeep we think is essential as, unlike the previous truck-based versions, the incoming Durango is based on the same unibody platform from Mercedes-Benz, the ML, to be precise, much like the just-released 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Besides the engineering changes, the biggest news is in the design department. Attempts have been made to see that the Durango also appeals to brand crossover customers and hence the universal appeal. The best part is the new design remains connected with the outgoing model in design, but is able to remain true to the core of the Dodge DNA


with its aggressive yet contemporary look with smooth design lines and an unmistakable front end that breathes 100 per cent Dodge design. Also to be noted, this is the first vehicle from Dodge sporting the redesigned logo which features the Dodge name with a pair of red racing stripes, suggesting speed and agility, according to the carmaker. Dodge says that Durango’s interior was created by the same interior design studio that designed the much-lauded interior in the Ram trucks. As a result, the new Durango is also extremely comfortable for all three rows of passengers, and there’s a surprising amount of interior flexibility built in. With 22 different seating configurations, there’s plenty of room to store and move plenty of people and their gear. The all-new 2011 Dodge Durango also offers consumers 45 safety and security features, including standard front seat-mounted side air bags and standard side-curtain air bags that

<<dodge is jumping back into the sport utility (suv) segment with the 2011 dodge durango, a three-row vehicle spacious enough to carry the entire crew and performance-tuned to thrill anyone who truly loves to drive>>
out going durango
The second generation Durango debuted in 2004. Although, it looked tough, it could offers decent on road manners despite being big and bulky. As a truck, it’s quiet, roomy, and comfortable, with a host of available technology. This model fitted perfectly between the Chevy Tahoe and Ford Expedition in exterior dimensions. While it was larger than most midsize SUVs such as the Ford Explorer, it had the room and feel of a full-size SUV, such as the Expedition and Tahoe and when properly equipped, the SUV was rated to tow up to 4,068kg. Durango offers seating for five, seven or eight, depending on the model; for example, optional second-row bucket seats provide seven-passenger capacity on a three-


cover passengers in all three rows, as well as all-new standard active head restraints. Electronic Stability Control also is standard. Other available safety and security technologies include Blind-spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Path detection, Forward Collision Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control and Keyless Enter-n’ Go. Riding on a new stiffened unibody platform, the incoming Durango will be offered with two engine options. The base engine will come from the newly developed Pentastar V6 family that displaces 3.6-litre. This 290 hp and 352Nm of torque engine is designed for fuel efficiency and promises the vehicle to run 800km on a single tank of fuel. For power and performance seekers, as always, the second engine option offered is the more powerful 360hp 5.7-litre HEMI V8 engine with 528Nm of torque on tap which will also come with the company’s fuel-saving, Multi-displacement system (MDS) which seamlessly drives the car on four-cylinder whenever needed. According to Dodge, the displacement on demand system will help in 20 per cent fuel savings in the V8.All-wheel drive is optional on the 2011 Durango. Standard features include side airbags and side curtain airbags, stability control and new standard active head restraints. Options include blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-path detection, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control and keyless entry. The 2011 Durango goes on sale in the fourth quarter of 2010 in the US and pricing has not been announced yet.

<<the durango will lead the dodge brand’s new product onslaught for 2011 >>

row model. With all seats folded, there’s more than 100 cubic feet of cargo space. Besides periodic upgrades in equipment, the biggest news for the Durango line-up came in 2009 with the addition of a Hybrid model for US markets that utilized the Hemi V8 and two electric motors. The Durango Hybrid got a 25 per cent fuel economy boost in combined city and highway driving, and a 40 per cent boost in the city.

<<not only is it a pleasure to behold, it is extremely functional and gives owners a first-class experience, regardless of the trim level >>


{New car preview}

Spiced up
bentley to offer new continental gt with more power, better dynamics and loads of techno treats
Author: Chandan B Mallik


t’s no secret in the top echelons of grand touring coupes, the Bentley Continental immediately takes the crown as it combines the best attributes of European engineering and performance, global contemporary style, and British charm, craftsmanship

and sublime road manners in arguably, the world’s fastest saloon and elegant two-door coupe and convertible models. The seminal and highly successful Continental GT was introduced in 2003 and not only it represented the first step in Bentley’s renaissance, in fact,

it defined a whole new market segment and ever since there has been no looking back for the double winged marque. Despite its commercial success worldwide, the CGT never seemed to be quite the vehicle Bentley had hoped for. But fast forward to its


{New car previeww}
successor now and things begin to look in a different perspective as Crewe’s design and engineering teams have taken upon themselves as the custodian of Continental badge that the all-new successor should set a bold and exciting direction for Bentley in terms of performance, comfort and efficiency. As a result, the new 2011 Continental GT with its brand new credentials should comfortable be able to quelch any “luxo-barge” notions. And why not, other than the wider stance, notable exterior design cues brought with the redesign include a more upright grille, a four-lamp headlight format (including LED daytime running lamps), slightly reshaped ‘floating’ LED tail-lights, a Mulsannelike trunk lid design with ‘double horseshoe’ motif, and flared elliptical tailpipes. Carrying significantly crisper bodylines and more infotainment and driver-oriented features, dimensions are largely unchanged for the 4,800mm long GT, but overall width has increased 125mm to 2,227mm and this is reflected in the broader stance and wider wheel-arches of the new model, which accommodate wider tracks – up 41mm at the front and 48mm at the rear. The redesigned cabin also includes new touch-screen technology and a 30G hard drive, which Bentley says combine to offer the latest in navigation and infotainment functionality. However, the party piece is undisputedly the 6-litre, W12, twin-turbo Flex fuel powerplant that offers 567hp and 700Nm (up by 50Nm) of torque and runs on standard unleaded petrol or bioethanol. Bentley claims that this advanced power unit reduces emission by 40 per cent compared with the outgoing W12 engine and will offer a class-leading CO2 emissions. On the emissions front, the CO2 figure for the redesigned model comes in at 384g/km, which is a 12g improvement. Both engines [normal and Flex Fuel] are coupled to an upgraded six-speed ZF ‘Quick‘Quick shift’ automatic transmission and a new Torsen centre differential now splits torque 40:60 front:rear (compared with the 50:50 bias of the original Continental GT), obviously an idea borrowed from the current high-performance Supersports model. This arrangement, according to Bentley engineers will help in minimising the tendency of the car understeer during hard cornering and allowing the experienced driver to control the car’s line and balance via precise throttle control. Meanwhile, transmission shift times are said to have halved to just 200milliseconds, while the revised gearbox also now has the ability to deliver double downshifts, such as fourth to second. Top speed remains at 318km/h.Notwithstanding modest weight reductions and a more aerodynamic shape (now 0.33Cd), Bentley has also used aluminium super-forming technology to create the front wings and trunk lid. The same process that heats the aluminium panels to nearly 500° Celsius before shaping them by air pressure. It requires only a single sheet of aluminium and hence eliminates the need for seams or welding and the first application of this technology came in the recently launched Mulsanne. Other chassis highlights include the use of redesigned front suspension uprights made from hollow-but-strong ‘castforged’ aluminium, plus a redesigned anti-roll bar and retuned spring and damper settings.

A revised electronic stability control system is also said to provide additional traction. The redesigned CGT tips the scales at 2,320kg (down by 30kg), which together with

the raised engine output and revised gearbox create a six per cent improvement in powerto-weight ratio and sees the 0-100km/h acceleration benchmark fall two-tenths to 4.6sec.

And for the first time on Continental, the GT can be optioned with 21in wheels, up from the standard 20in rims.


{Road Test}

Smart commuter
mazda’s first b-segment hitter for the region is the 2011 mazda2. automan checks out the new arrival to find out whether it has to potential carve its place much like its other siblings.
| Author: Chandan B Mallik | Images: Shakeel Al Baloushi


{Road Test}

n Oman, the compact car segment is quite active and is represented by few brands. Hiroshima Japan-based Mazda has an impressive line-up of models in the region, but the only void till now for the brand was its representation in the subcompact B-segment. But this void has been plugged introduced recently with the arrival the Mazda2. While the


model is a first timer for the region, it has been on sale since late 2007 in other markets. Actually, the Mazda2 was designed in Europe and Japan primarily for the former’s hatchback-friendly market and it does benefit from Mazda’s engineering synergies with Ford. With both Ford and Mazda looking to streamline global product line-ups in an effort to shore up their respective bottomlines, the deep pockets in the parts bin has saved considerable money for both entities. In fact, both the Mazda2 and the Ford Fiesta share the same front-wheel-drive DE platform and were developed around the same time, but that’s where the commonalities begin and end. Both have their individual styling, packaging and selling points.

The Mazda which is offered in the region is actually a refreshed version that’s being offered in two body styles – hatchback and saloon. Its design cues have been drawn from Mazda’s “Nagare” (wind) school of design philosophy which usually avoids the slab-sided elements usually found in the subcompact segment. In that respect, the Mazda2 comes with nicely defined character lines, and although there’s some soft flame-surfacing on the sheet metal it doesn’t interfere or conflict with the other design or functional elements in the car itself. And in both style forms, there’s at least this relief that both appear to have been designed with a purpose and not as cut and paste variants of each other. Generally, car models originally designed as hatchbacks with notch or boot versions arriving later never seem to have a proper balanced look. With wedged-shaped profile, the styling cues and their similarities with the larger Mazda3 are evident. At 153in overall and 66.7in wide, the Mazda2 is actually 2.2in shorter and 1.1in narrower than the Ford Fiesta, even though both ride on essentially the same 98in wheelbase. In the hatchback, the wheels ap61

{also driven} Road Test}
pear as if they have been pushed to the corners and the front end of the car boasts a short overhang, while the swept-back and pulled-in greenhouse makes the Mazda2 look wider than it is, and the flared arches wrap tightly around the 15in wheels. Design efficiency includes a cab forward, corporate front face, wraparound lamps and raked large windscreen. The design specific criticism might be that it in trying to balance both hatch and saloon forms, the car looks narrow and tall due to the vertical styled elements. Considering the average segment design standards, the Mazda2 stands out as a cute and stylish car. The car’s interior theme has a clear cut focus. It is a pleasing mix laid out in a simple in design but it isn’t as stylish as that of the Fiesta. A pleasant place to be in, one is surrounded by a neat dashboard with logically placed controls which are easy to use, usable cubbies which can take items such as cell phones or iPods. Build quality is good and fitting of most of plastic interior components feel solid. The front seats are well cut and bolstered, so they comfortable, while the rear seats are adequate for the class, with enough space for an average-sized adult. In terms of practicality, the rear seats split fold 60:40 for extra cargo carrying capacity but they are not completely flat. Unlike the Fiesta, the rear head restraints don’t have to be removed before folding down the rear seatbacks. The Mazda2 will be offered in two trim grades: GX and GS and irrespective of the trims and body styles the cars are powered by Mazda’s largest selling MZR 1.5-litre, in-line four-cylinder 16-valve DOHC engine mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. In this set-up, the engine offers 100hp and 135Nm of torque at 6,000rpm and 4,000rpm respectively. Mazda says will be sufficient to get you from a standstill to 100km/h in 10.4 seconds on the way to a top speed of 187km/h, not bad for a car that weighs around 1,037kg.. In its construction, Mazda engineers seem to have paid extra attention in optimising the weight of the structure by extensively using high-tensile steel in its body and many other weight-saving measures, similar to the “gram” strategy employed during the development of the MX-5 sports car. As a result, the Mazda 2 has achieved world-leading crash safety ratings (five stars in the Euro New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), the highest possible result) without compromising driving performance and fuel economy. The car has also been endowed with an extensive list of stan-

Driving impressions
One of Mazda’s priorities was to get this lightweight small car package to offer funto-drive characterestics and it shows through in the first few hours of driving, especially in city runs. That the Mazda2 clearly belongs to the city is a result of some clever tricks of the trade. It has a tight turning circle (9.8 m curbto-curb) and great visibility all around due to some clever design tricks such as lower side mirrors that eliminate some of the trickier blind spots around the A-pillar area, and oneposition head restraints that push flat for more rearward visibility.The car reveals its Europe-biased suspension settings and the stiff structure combines with a compliant but firm suspension to provide a high quality, responsive feel. The electric power steering is interesting as it has been carefully tuned to provide a good feel and quick response, but what impressed us most was its terrific weighting. While, Mazda is relatively new to the electric steering game, the high quality execution is commendable. While there’s not a lot to expect from the powertrain combination, the available 100hp and 98 lb-ft of torque won’t exactly burn your hair off, but this engine revs freely, is smooth and sounds good. Overall it is able to squeeze out decent amounts of power for the drive and make it feels much more responsive than the figures suggest. The Mazda 2 doesn’t perform with the alacrity of a MINI, but it can be hustled along at a good pace and there’s a genuine pleasure to be had in exploring the comparatively modest limits of such a small, low-powered car. The car’s ride quality at low speed is more forgiving than a MINI, but large bumps can dampen the ride quality. The one niggle we could connect to the “adding lightness” philosophy is reduced sound insulation, which translates into road noise, and there’s lots of it. On broken roads, noise filtering through from the tyres could be heard, but at highway speeds, wind noise is practically non-existent. Car’s stopping power is convincing and secure, thanks to efficacy of the front-disc and rear-drum brakes.

<< mazda is approaching the customer by addressing the typical b-segment buyer’s wish for basic transportation>>

{also driven} {Road Test
dard safety features including an Anti-Lock Brake System with EBFD and Brake Assist, advanced dual front air bags, front seat side air bags and side air curtains, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), and a Traction Control System (TCS). As befitting the overall packaging, it’s not surprising that car gets at very basic suspension package with MacPherson struts in front and a space-efficient, cost-effective torsion-beam axle in the rear.

<< the mazda baby is roomy, comfortable, well-appointed and practical. beyond those qualities, it is also commendably fuelefficient and offered at a very attractive price in two body styles >>

The 2011 Mazda2 represents a new entry point into Mazda’s line-up, fitting in under the popular Mazda3 in Oman. It’s a no ‘fuss car’, perfect for economy-minded drivers who want exceptional value in a fun-to-drive package. With killer style, great fuel economy and an affordable price tag, the current version of the Mazda2 was engineered as a ‘Personal Smart Commuter’ and launched in 2007 and has bagged more than 50 awards worldwide including ‘Car of the Year’ in many markets including Japan, New Zealand, Chile, Bulgaria and Greece. Notably, the Mazda2 was selected as the ‘2008 World Car of the Year’ (WCOTY) at the 2008 New York International Auto Show and has established a distinguished position in the sub-compact segment. Although, the Mazda2 is fine for short journeys around town, it’s not a practical family car in the Mazda6 sense. Besides it killer styling and ultra attractive packaging, the biggest news is in the car’s fuel efficiency department. Mazda puts it at 27mpg in the city and 33mpg on the highway. The 2011 Mazda 2 won’t change perceptions on its own, but it is a good car, and if you’ve got a desire to lead the downsizing revolution, then this car is worthy of consideration.

{Motorsports - F1}

Advantage Hamilton after Spa thriller


{Motorsports - F1}
cLaren’s Lewis Hamilton won a dramatic Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday, leading throughout and beating Red Bull’s Mark Webber by 1.5s despite one agonising moment, as the rains came on lap 35 and he slid momentarily into the gravel at Rivage. In the process, on a day when title rivals Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso all failed to score, Hamilton moved back into the lead of the world championship with 182 points to Webber’s 179. Vettel remains third on 151 ahead of Button on 147 and Alonso on 141. In the constructors’ stakes, Red Bull still lead McLaren with 330 points to 329, with Ferrari third on 250. Hamilton really wanted this race, to add Spa to the list of places he has conquered, and stormed into the lead as Webber made a slow start due to a clutch problem and was quickly engulfed by Renault’s Robert Kubica, Button, Vettel, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and Force India’s Adrian Sutil. Button soon fought up to second and for a while a McLaren one-two was a clear possibility. But his left front wing endplate had been damaged slightly in traffic, and Vettel moved in, taking Kubica and Webber with him after the Australian had moved ahead of Massa. Button had things under control, but then it began to rain


lightly from Blanchimont onwards and on the 16th lap Vettel simply got too close to Button, lost control under braking for the chicane, and then speared into the side of the McLaren. Button was out on the spot, but Vettel crossed over into the pits for a new nose and resumed in 12th place. But then he was given a drive-through penalty for causing the accident, and was well out of the picture thereafter. Later still he touched Tonio Liuzzi’s front wing after passing him in the chicane after the Italian had given him something of a driving lesson, and finished a very unhappy, and lapped, 15th. Kubica clung to second place ahead of Webber during the first tyre stops, by which time the track was completely dry again, but when the rain came back with a vengeance in the final quarter he was so busy adjusting his steering wheel buttons ready for his wet tyres that he slightly overshot his stopping place in the pits and lightly damaged the right front wing endplate. That was enough to lose second place to Webber, but third was still a great result for Renault on a weekend when the Fduct made the R30 very competitive. Massa could not get any closer than fourth place, running just off the pace of the frontrunners, but his was a much more successful race than Fernando Alonso’s. His Ferrari was hit at the chicane on the first lap by Rubens Barrichello, sending the Spaniard into the pits for repairs and the Brazilian into an ignominious exit from his 300th Grand Prix. Later Alonso, like Vettel, got a driving lesson from Liuzzi, but was on course for some more points when he spun exiting Les Combes and had to abandon a damaged car. That was the incident which triggered the second deployment of the safety car, after the first-lap dramas. Sutil drove a great race for Force India to take a fifth place that protects the team’s

points advantage on a day when Williams failed to score, while Mercedes salvaged something from a tough weekend with sixth and seventh places for Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher. Things might have been a little tense in the garage afterwards, however; on lap 10 Renault’s Vitaly Petrov squeezed by Rosberg at Les Combes, running him wide and enabling Schumacher also to pass his team mate, but Michael swiped Nico’s front wing as he did so. Later Nico forced his way by Michael there on lap 41, then left him behind. Kamui Kobayashi made some amends for his qualifying gaffe by driving his usual feisty race through to eighth for BMW Sauber, ahead of Petrov, who also did well to claw his way from the back of the grid. The final point fell to Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari, who resisted a strong challenge from Liuzzi when the safety car pitted at the end of lap 40. Behind the Italian’s Force India, BMW Sauber’s Pedro de la Rosa survived a late off at Rivage to take 12th ahead of Sebastien Buemi’s Toro Rosso and Nico Hulkenberg’s Williams, with Vettel a lap down in 15th. In the new team stakes, Heikki Kovalainen brought his Lotus home 16th ahead of the duelling Virgins of Lucas di Grassi and Timo Glock, with late-spinning Jarno Trulli 18th from final finisher Sakon Yamamoto. Besides Barrichello, Button and Alonso, Bruno Senna failed to finish after something broke on his HRT. It was a great race, with fine performances from the top three. Hamilton was cock-a-hoop with what might turn out to be a crucial success, and looking back to the 2008 race which he won before the FIA applied a time penalty, he smiled and said: “I get to keep this one.”


{Motorsports - F1}

Ferrari prance to victory on home turf


ernando Alonso produced a stunning drive to give Ferrari its first win on home turf since 2006 and to add to the delight for the thousands of tifosi who filled the grandstands opposite the podium, Felipe Massa was up there too, in third place. McLaren’s Jenson Button joined them for the obligatory champagne spraying having come home second. This great performance is not only the perfect way to end the European leg of the season, but it also reignites the Scuderia’s fight for the championship titles, as Fernando is now third in the Drivers’ table, just 21 points, or less than one race win, behind the leader, while in the Constructors’ Ferrari is still third, but the gap to the leaders has now come down to 60 points. Although Fernando had the advantage of being on pole position and made a good start, it was not as good as Jenson Button’s, who managed to muscle past to take the lead going into the first chicane. Indeed, for a mo-

ment, even Felipe pulled alongside his teammate, before slipping behind him down the straight. At this point, Lewis Hamilton pushed his McLaren alongside the Brazilian and the two cars touched: fortunately the F10 was able to continue, but the Englishman’s race was over due to broken suspension. The leading trio, who appeared to be tied together with an invisible thread, then gradually pulled away from the rest of the field, with Fernando right on Button’s gearbox for much of the race and Felipe close behind, with the three men trading fastest race laps. By lap 20, Felipe’s advantage over fourth placed Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes was almost eleven seconds. With the top three men all so close, the one and only pit stop to switch from the soft to the hard tyre was evidently going to be the key moment of the race. It was the Englishman who came in first, and when Fernando came in on lap 37, the Scuderia pit crew pulled off the fastest wheel change of the day. It was a heart-stopping moment as Fernando rumbled down pit lane, as Button rushed down the main straight, but the Spaniard just had the edge, the two men almost side by side through the first chicane. Felipe came in next time round and maintained his third place. For the rest of the 53 lap race, the lead trio again stayed in close contact, but not enough for the positions to change, while there were several good scraps lower down the order. Finishing just off the podium was Sebastian Vettel in fourth place for Red Bull, who instigated the unusual strategy of bringing him into the pits for his compulsory tyre change on the very last lap. Behind the Ger German, the rest of the points went to Rosberg in fi f t h ,

then Webber, Hulkenberg, Kubica, Schumacher and Barrichello in tenth. This is win number 213 from 807 Grand Prix participations for the Scuderia, the eighteenth in the Italian Grand Prix. For Fernando, it was win number twenty four in Formula 1, his second at the Monza circuit. Thanks to the 25 points he collected today, the Spaniard finds himself third in the Drivers’ classification, 21 points down on the leader, while Felipe, making his fourth podium appearance this season, consolidates his sixth place. The Scuderia is still third in the Constructors’ classification, 60 points off the leader. Alonso said in the post-race conference, “Winning at Monza at the wheel of a Ferrari is something special, which can only stand comparison to when I won in front of my home crowd in Barcelona in 2006. Being on the podium was an incredible feeling: what a sea of people, so many flags! I was stunned by the emotion from the fans, right from the first moment they got here on Thursday. I wish to dedicate this victory to them and to the passion that characterises all Ferrari fans.” Button said of his second place, “It was a very tough race mentally, and it was tricky holding off the challenge from behind. I spent the first half of the race either looking in my mirrors or at the TV screens to see where Fer Fernando [Alonso] was. “I didn’t know until after the race that I’d damaged my diffuser as a result of contact with another car on lap one, and I don’t know whether that affected my pace or not. But, with the downforce level I had, I expected to pull ahead more through the corners. Instead, the car was moving around quite a bit; so I had to drive as smoothly as I could and not make any mistakes. “Maybe it was the wrong call to pit when we did, but the team felt the new Prime tyres were faster than the Options. But I couldn’t find any grip on the new tyres, and lost a little bit of time on them. When I saw Fernando emerge just of me, I was very disappointed.”

{Motorsports - F1}
Team input ‘invaluable’ to Indian circuit design
Organisers of next year’s inaugural Indian Grand Prix are hoping that input from Formula One teams into the design of the new circuit will help make it one of the most challenging and exciting on the F1 calendar. Hermann Tilke, the architect behind several recent new circuits including Turkey and Abu Dhabi, came up with the initial design for the Indian track, but several teams were also consulted before construction began in earnest. “We have shared the design with some of the Formula One teams to put it into their simulators, and they have come back with some recommendations on how to modify it to make it a little more exciting,” explained Mark Hughes, vice president of JPSK Sports, who has experience of other new F1 projects. “I have been lucky to have worked in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi before, so I have a good relationship with the teams myself. I was able to go to some of them and ask them if they are able to give their input and the feedback has been invaluable.” Four million cubic tons of earth has been moved to give the circuit plenty of undulation, with rising 14 metres between Turns One and Three alone. Inspiration has also been drawn from Turkey’s infamous Turn Eight, with a double-apex corner, slightly banked, forming part of a ‘mini-arena’ that alone will seat 13,000 spectators. “I think the drivers are going to find it a good challenge,” added Hughes. “The track is quite unique, and hopefully the drivers and teams will not complain as they have given their own input. I don’t think that as a promoter and venue owner this has been done before.” Earthworks for the circuit have been completed ahead of India’s July/August monsoon season, and Hughes predicts the track will be ready for FIA homologation in July next year, with the race organisers anticipating a lateseason slot on the 2011 calendar.

Work on Korean circuit nears completion
With the inaugural Korean Grand Prix just under two months away, organisers have released a set of images of the brand-new Yeongam track. The circuit, which is currently 90 percent complete, held a special event in August to mark the 50-day countdown to the Korean race. ‘Circuit Run 2010’ included a demonstration run by Indian driver Karun Chandhok in Red Bull’s show car. The Korean Grand Prix will take place from October 22-24.

Heidfeld replaces De la Rosa at BMW Sauber
BMW Sauber announced that Nick Heidfeld is to replace Pedro de la Rosa at the team for the remainder of the 2010 season. Heidfeld will race alongside Kamui Kobayashi at the final five Grands Prix of the year. Heidfeld only parted company with BMW Sauber at the end of last year and became Mercedes GP’s reserve and test driver for the 2010 season. In August he was released from his Mercedes contract in order to become the official tyre tester for Pirelli. He recently completed two tests for the Italian company, who are to return to the sport next year as the sole tyre supplier. Heidfeld’s contract with BMW Sauber comes into effect immediately.

Petronas extends Malaysian race sponsorship
Petronas have signed an agreement with the Formula One Group to extend the national oil and gas corporation’s title sponsorship of the Malaysian round of the FIA Formula One World Championship for another five years. Under the extended partnership, Petronas will continue to hold the title sponsorship rights as well as extensive advertising, branding and promotional benefits for the event until 2015. The partnership will provide Petronas the opportunity to continue leveraging on Formula One’s massive global appeal to build and support its international business expansion efforts as well as position Malaysia as a major sporting and tourism destination.


{Motorsports - wrc}

Ogier, a rising star in the Land of the Rising Sun!
ébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia achieved a stunning feat by winning Rally Japan on their debut in the event. The Citroën Total World Rally Team crew scored their second world championship victory after a masterly drive. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena who finished fifth scored previous points for both world championship titles. The third day of Rally Japan was much shorter than the two previous ones. It consisted of eight stages including six of less than five kilometres. The crew left the service park, which they would not see again until the finish, at the crack of dawn and set off for Sunagawa, 70 kilometres north of Sapporo. After being the overnight leaders for two days, Petter and Chris ended 2nd in Japan. Jari-Matti Latvala came third. “I am so happy with the second today”, says Petter Solberg. “I started this rally with fever and a really bad cold, so being second today feels quite good. Of course I do feel a bit disappointment of not winning after being so close, but second is good enough today!” Petter and Chris started the third and final day being the overnight leaders, but a steering problem made them loose time from the beginning. “I hit something quite early, and could feel it right away that something were wrong”, says Petter Solberg. “For a while we were really concerned about not being able to


finish the rally. But without this, I just know that Sebastien would have had to fight really hard to beat us today, my confidence was back this morning and I was ready for a big attack!” Petter is currently 4th in the championship, and the 18 points scored today gives him a total of 118 points. In the Citroën Total World Rally Team, the two crews were pursuing objectives as different as Yin and Yang! Sébastien Ogier in third place 5.4s behind, was locked in battle for victory with Petter Solberg and Mikko Hirvonen. Sébastien Loeb in sixth place 37.9s in arrears, was playing a waiting game to score as many points as possible in view of his seventh world title. So it was ‘Banzi’ for Ogier and ‘Zen’ for Loeb! After warming up with Bizan, the crews tackled Naekawa (SS20), the equalizer on this leg thanks to its 18 kilometres. Ogier drew first blood as the no. 2 C4 WRC driver set the fastest time and retook the rally lead, which he’d lost at the end of SS3: “This stage was fairly dry and I had better road conditions than the first two. I had to go for it to try and make the break.” Ogier managed to widen the gap in Naekawa 2 (SS23). His 11.3s lead over Solberg was like a country mile given the very small gaps throughout the rally: “I’ll have to stay concentrated right till the end,” said the Frenchman.

“There are three short stages left – three opportunities to make a fatal mistake!” However, there were no changes in the overall classification in the last three stages, and the Ogier / Ingrassia duo climbed onto the topmost step of the podium! “Obviously, I’m delighted to have scored another victory, my first for the Citroën Total World Rally Team. I couldn’t dream of a better present to thank the team for its confidence in me,” laughed Ogier. “Everything went off exactly as planned. I’m not really very keen on these stages but I managed to adapt my driving style to find the right rhythm. I think I’ve made another big step forward this weekend.” Ogier won his bet and so did Loeb who finished fifth after setting three fastest times in today’s loop. “I was never really in the running for victory but I’m happy with ten points; A forty-three point lead with three rallies left to go is still a fairly comfortable situation. My calculations for Rally France are pretty simple as I’ll win the title if I come first whatever the positions of my rivals. I’d like to congratulate Sébastien on his victory as I can tell you that finding the right dose of speed to push hard on this kind of terrain wasn’t at all obvious.” Meanwhile over at BP Ford Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila claimed a battling podium finish in this 10th round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The Finns lost the lead of the rally yesterday afternoon with a


{Motorsports - wrc}
mechanical problem and a spin, but recovered superbly on today’s final leg to finish third in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car. Latvala’s podium provided a suitable ending for Anttila, who celebrated his 100th WRC start here and his 38th birthday. Team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen started the third and final leg northeast of the rally base in Sapporo in second place, just 3.7sec from the lead. However, difficulties with the hydraulic pump in their Focus RS WRC cost the Finns time throughout the day and they eventually finished sixth. The Ford duo won seven speed tests, Latvala claiming four wins and Hirvonen three. Rally Japan returned to the championship after a year’s absence. Fast, undulating and narrow gravel tracks provided a tough challenge for competitors in the Do-oh region of Hokkaido, the country’s most northerly island. They completed 26 speed tests, covering 303.54km, including eight passes around a test inside the 67,400 capacity Sapporo Dome, usually the venue for top-flight soccer and baseball. Latvala was fourth after the opening leg but a determined charge on the second day morning carried the 25-year-old into a slender lead. He extended his advantage until a broken front right driveshaft and a spin in the penultimate test at the Dome dropped him to fifth. However, Latvala fought back on today’s final leg over eight special stages and 55.68km. Fastest time in the second pass through the day’s longest stage promoted the Focus RS WRC pilot to third, and he remained there to the finish. “It’s been a strange weekend,” he said. “On Friday I was a little off the pace initially but yesterday I climbed back to lead. Then I dropped back and I thought my chances of a good result had gone, but now I’m on the podium. After all that I have to be happy to finish third, even if I’m surprised. “I took third place by winning the second pass through the long stage. I had a great rhythm and everything flowed perfectly. It was difficult to get back into the rhythm of driving on gravel having driven an asphalt rally since my win in Finland, but once I overcame that on Friday then I had good speed here,” added Latvala. Hirvonen ended Friday’s opening leg in second and, despite a spin on yesterday’s opening test, the 30-year-old closed the gap on the leader to just 3.7sec by last night. However, a problem with his car’s hydraulic pump meant both the semi-automatic gearchange and the centre differential did not work properly throughout the day. With no opportunity to make repairs, he dropped time to eventually finish 1min 13.5sec behind the winner. “I drove eight stages today with the gearchange and centre differential not working and that was difficult, especially on the twisty sections,” he said. “When the car slowed in the twisty sections and under braking I couldn’t keep the revs high enough to use the paddle shift gearchange and had to use the manual version. When I could keep the engine above 5000rpm, then the paddle shift was fine. “But after a series of difficult rallies, it was good to be back on the pace for the first two days and fighting for the lead. The battle for victory was so close on Friday and Saturday that it was flat out all the way and it’s great to be part of such a big fight,” he added,


{Motorsports - wrc}
Former Grand Prix Champion Kimi Raikkonen has to choose between a number of options for 2011 both within rallying and Formula One.

aikkonen has shown encouraging progress throughout his debut season in the World Rally Championship with Red Bull and the Citroen Junior Team, but his best result of the year so far remains fifth place on the Rally of Turkey back in April. Now Raikkonen has been linked with other options for next year, both in rallying and Formula One. Neither Raikkonen nor Red Bull are ruling out an extension to the Finnís one-year WRC deal with the Citroen Junior Team, although Red Bullís plans are fluid pending confirmation of its sponsorship agreement with Citroen. One intriguing possibility is for Raikkonen to switch energy drinks allegiance and move to the Monster World Rally Team alongside Ken Block next year in a Ford Fiesta WRC. Raikkonen and Block have struck up a good rapport, and Monster bosses believe that the maverick Raikkonen would fit their brand im-


age perfectly. Raikkonen has also had an approach from MINI, although his drive there would be a commercial deal - which could again be linked to Red Bull. Renaultís Formula One team is additionally in discussion with the 30-year-old about his services for next year, with the French squad being Raikkonenís only realistic option on the F1 grid next year. Finally, a third possibility exists of Raikkonen either taking a sabbatical or retiring from motorsport totally - as he considered at this time last year when his future was uncertain. Nonetheless the Finn says that he is no hurry to make up his mind - and that his preferred option would be to stay in the World Rally Championship. ìIím enjoying it so far, but Iíve not made up my mind what Iím doing yet,î said Raikkonen. ìQuite soon I hope I will know but there is no rush




How comfortable are you with buying things off the internet? For that matter, when was the last time you sat up and watched late night cable TV and tried to nod off counting electronic sheep while watching the excruciating antics of hosts trying to get you to buy a magic broom, super cleaner, vitamin supplement or blessed talisman? Did you perchance then quickly grab the phone and place your order that instant? Was it the allure of getting a second piece of everything plus a miniature one for your car that made you go for it? Or are you by nature ready to take chances?
he point is that there are some of us who will try the great new frontiers in marketing, like internet shopping and order by phone. A few decades back it was buying from a catalogue that was the bold new frontier. We won’t even begin a discussion on the potential downside of the old-timers who bought out mail-order brides. One of the draws of buying off the internet is that things seem to be cheaper than in the store. They should be considering that you avoid the establishment costs of the high-street real estate, the pimped out interiors and the salaries of the staff. At the same time, if the internet operation is to be a genuine success, the supply chain has to be strong and proactive and the faceless customer hiding behind a dodgy username has to be given the same level of attention as a clearly profiled walk-in. In the past few months, I have taken a leap of extraordinary proportions. Instead of buying cheap China-made stuff here in Oman, I have begun buying cheap China made stuff straight from China, courtesy of a broad band connection. Like most buyers, I have had a mixed outcome - the first buy went beautifully, with my little netbook getting a great new battery and a whole new lease on life. Round two wasn’t as good - I ordered another battery and a few weeks later I got a small two-pin adapter by post. Furious as I was at being taken for a ride, I complained. Another few weeks later and I got the original

uying Chinese in the modern age


Raj Warrior is editor of Automan and has been in the thick of the Automotive journalism field from the past 15 years. Want to comment or have your say? Email at Identify yourself or your message will be trashed and your id blocked

item. Now I don’t know whether to be happy or flabbergasted. On the plus side another laptop’s got a new innings, on the other hand how do I know that this won’t be the normal practice from here on? Concurrently, I have also decided to get myself a Chinese copy of the iPad. As much as I respect Apple’s innovations, the thought of paying more than 800 dollars for the device is galling. So, the China-made Android powered device will have to do and at less than a quarter of the price of the magic tablet, it’s superb. I have even been given a remote control helicopter bought from Dragon Mall over in Dubai. As everyone in Muscat knows, it’s the closest that one can get to buying from the mainland. This 25 dollar machine is absolutely the most exciting piece of machinery by volume that I have ever seen. And the kids are enjoying it too. Sadly, the same equation does not hold true of buying cars made behind the bamboo curtain. By the time they land on our shores, are placed in fancy showrooms and are sold to us, the price does not seem to have the faintest link to the yuan. Look at the engineering and build and you have the impression that you have stepped back in time by three decades and are seeing a Japan-made car, or two decades and a Korean car. There is a lot of catchup left in the product department. Also, cars being the temperamental devices that they are, service, spare parts and the profit needed by the importer all manage to boost the asking price. That’s when you ask yourself whether it is worth it? So for now my plan is clear - buy China made stuff like electronics, watches and toys and steer clear of buying a car at least for the next few years, till they catch up



*Offer valid from 22.08.10 to 21.11.10.

The LR2 & LR4 are now available with free service for 3 years/72,000 kilometres (whichever is earlier) and free insurance.* Drive away the most advanced, most powerful, most luxurious Land Rover vehicles this festive season.


MUSCAT: Tel 99349324 (Rakesh), 99333620 (Souyahar), 99357297 (Reyaz) SOHAR: Tel 95359381 (Shantanu), 99485327 (Manjit) SALALAH: Tel 99480660 (Tabook), 95754411 (Murali) SUR: Tel 25543390/91 (Showroom).

LR2 & LR4

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