No 114 FEB 2011

Oman’s Best Automotive Resource

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editor-in-chief
Mohammad Al taie

Counting on a rebound
The calendar year has started and with it has brought along a bit of good cheer to vital sections of the car industry. For instance the best news in a long time has got to be the rebound (admittedly a little asthamatic in nature) of car sales in the United States. The big three of Detroit may have had a rough time over the past few years, but having put behind them the misfortune of the global meltdown and a couple of bankruptcies between them, the year-on-year sales figures and the growth they indicate are moving into greener territory. The biggest gainer in the entire exercise has been General Motors with a healthy spike of 22% plus for the month of January 2011 on top of regaining its position last year as the largest volume seller in the world. In a small victory of sorts on the other hand, Toyota managed to put aside the PR debacle of a swathe of recalls and
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AL roYA PreSS & PUBLiShinG Po Box: 343, Postal code 118 Al harthy complex Sultanate of oman email: automan@alroya.net Website: www.automanweb.com 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

court cases to post an almost unbroken volume every month last year. Of course Ford has greater reason to be happy – their steady performance through 2010 has been on the back of new product introductions and the outstanding performance of long-time stalwart marques like Taurus. The new Chrysler, with Marchionne at the helm and some significant investment in refreshed lines and rebranding has not just stayed true to the trend, it has managed to throw off the impression of being the me-too in the trio and is now engaging the market with some interesting products. The Hyundai-KIA alliance has also managed to continue its onslaught on the largest market with a host of new products and some very interesting finance models, helping it become the single largest threat as seen by almost every other mainstream brand. 2011 holds out a lot of promise – the US economic recovery is still gathering steam and seems to be suffering from the leaking gaskets of depressed job and housing markets and still needs some serious work to be done on debt-reduction partnered with investments in local manufacturing and infrastructure. It does seem nice to look outwards for a change and see some signs of hope.

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execUtive editor chandan B Mallik chandan@alroya.net co-ordinAtor Pratibha n Kadam deSiGn Sawsan Al Muharbi

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© 2011 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
DETROIT MOTOR SHOW}

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{ROAD TEST}

News

deliver 2011 Edge finally sively upgraded mic design? Does Ford’s exten ience promised by its dyna exper on the driving finds out Automan

Automakers showed off their latest and greatest at the 23rd edition of the optimistic about its prospects for 2011
Author Chandan B Mallik

2011: the year of turnaround

North American Auto Show in Detroit last month. And it seems the industry is more

t the 20th edition of North American International Auto Show, better known as the Detroit Motor show in 2008, it was theatrics hand-in-hand with hot machines inside and outside Jacob’s Cobo Convention centre. Anyone there at the time would surely remember the famous cattle drive that introduced the Dodge Ram and the pulsating music and dramatic unveils inside the hall. In three years, a lot of water has passed under the bridge -- General Motors and Chrysler tumbled into bankruptcy and North American car sales dropped sharply in the recession as a result of the global economic downturn. Most car makers’ fortunes were affected and the strain began to show. Detroit usually hosts the year’s opening show for automakers, but in 2009 and 2010, nobody from the industry knew what was going to happen next and hence there were conscious signs of restraint and somewhat cautious decision making. While, the US-homegrown auto makers continued supporting the North American International Auto Show in Detroit despite economic difficulties, but this year, it may be a sign of the changing times for the venue as the fact that several car

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makers preferred to showcase electric vehicles and new technologies also at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas a few days before the annual Detroit gig. The brighter side at Detriot according to participants and visitors at the 2011 show was signs of the first wave of industry confidence and to some extent recovery. While the hype and hoopla of the past years are gone, displays were noticeably bigger and brighter than the past two years. Porsche’s return after a four-year hiatus was seen as a bonus and treat, while Ferrari was not officially present [missing the show for a second consecutive year], but the famous Italian sports car maker exhibited one of its current models with the Chrysler Group’s line-up as a homage to the agreement between Fiat and Chrysler. However, Nissan and Infiniti’s absence since 2009 are still being felt. Of course, as always, some carmakers decided to create some buzz in their own way – either by hosting pre-event shows or a string of timely teasers. Here’s a snapshot of what was on offer. Read on…

Motorshow

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ord’s midsize crossover sport utility, the Edge has been in the market for almost four years and since inception has been one of the better solutions in the segment which demanded a spacious non-truck base vehicle with utility and style. The Edge has been one of the great successes for the brand so far in establishing its standalone career credentials by not being a truck or a minivan. Arguably, it’s more than a just a car. Ford’s successful product and technologyled innovation drive in the past couple of years has paid off rich dividends, and Ford is looking forward to maintain this momentum

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in forthcoming new products or products that are due for their respective mid-life cycles upgrades. The introduction of the extensively revisited 2011 Edge is also evidence that Ford also understands good timing and with the Edge it is more than just bringing a new package to market ahead of the competition, but actually keeping it ahead of the competition. So the big question is: Is Ford’s refresh of the Edge is more than just a new front corporate face, some lifestyle oriented wheel designs and taillights as part of a nip and tuck? Actually not, although features such as profile and dimensions [the Edge is eight

All’s well at Detroit
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PREVIEW

ROAD TEST
o matter what the automotive industry has gone through or endeared in the past couple of years, in the case of Chrysler LLC, the mid-cycle product refreshing/upgrading programme of several models got delayed before the Fiat took over the bankrupt automaker from Daimler. But even by industry standards, six years is a long time to stand behind a boxy, gangsta-looking sedan which became notorious for its ‘Bentley’ grille. Chrysler brand CEO Olivier Francois, who quoted lyrics from Eminem famous “Lose Yourself” song at the Detroit Auto Show said that the company invested a jaw-dropping $1bn on the car’s redesign which includes jobs both over and under the skin. As with the industry’s top priority of meeting future emissions and fuel consumption targets, Francois also confirmed that an eight-speed transmission was on the way that would help the 292hp V6 Pentastar achieve 30 miles per gallon when introduced. While the incoming car has a carryover profile, most of the 2011’s sheetmetal is actually new and redesigned from the ground up. The car is built on Chrysler Group’s new second generation Esegment architecture. The exterior comes with a heavily reworked front face and tweaked rear end which helps differentiate the incoming car from the outgoing model. Chrysler has taken steps to increase the 300’s outward visibility by making thinner roof pillars and extending the windshield’s rake by three inches. Actually, the 300’s new face is more in line with the corporate design which also adorns the recently announced smaller 200‘s. Punters will no fail to notice that a smaller, sloped chromium plated grille with horizontal slats replaces the Bentley-inspired egg-crate design. The headlamps also get a full treatment -- the old rectangular setup is out, replaced by a cluster including trendy LED-fed daytime running lamps and bi-functional projector lamps. The bonnet appears sculpted out of solid metal and at the rear, the previous model’s plain Jane been replaced with a baroque affair of chrome-trimmed taillamps and a new “300C” logo with the C in subscript. The boot lid now sports an integrated lip spoiler and below it the new winged Chrysler logo. The bumper has prominent molded cutouts for exhaust tips. Gilles has noted customer feedback related to the outgoing sedan’s interior and has paid extra atten-

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Author Chandan B Mallik

OUCH
It’s no secret that the outgoing generation E-Class based Chrysler 300C was literally the brand’s saviour when it went on sale in 2005. For 2011, the second generation has been refreshed inside out

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<< For improved aerodynamics and visibility, the car’s windscreen has been raked back three inches, while rolled-framed doors with thinner pillars improve outward visibility by 15 per cent >>

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Breaking news

Chrysler Group plans to offer a gasoline-electric hybrid version of the Chrysler 300 sedan in 2013, CEO Sergio Marchionne said. “We will offer a hybrid variant of the 300 equipped with an eightspeed automatic in 2013.” A 300 hybrid indicates that hybrids are back in favour at Chrysler. Since Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy in June 2009 under Fiat management, it scaled down an ambitious hybrid strategy conceived under previous owners DaimlerChrysler and Cerberus Capital Management.

tion in trying to deliver expressive style, authentic materials, passenger comfort features and precise fit and finish. Interior upgrades mainly consist of soft touch materials, premium interior trim, heated and ventilated Nappa leather seats, and real wood appliqués on the instrument panel, doors, centre console and steering wheel. Sapphire Blue illumination and chrome ring accents surround the two main dials in new instrument cluster. As part of the powertrain upgrades, Chrysler has replaced the outgoing 300’s 2.7- and 3.5-litre engines with 292hp 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine. The 5.7-litre HEMI V8 engine continues with 363hp and fuel saving displacement on demand technology. The 2011 model will be offered in Touring, Limited, 300C, and 300C AWD configurations. Touring and Limited trims will come with the Pentastar V6 while the 300C line will offer the 5.7-litre set-up. In the beefed up SRT version, the new 6.4-litre Hemi with 470hp will be offered. For now, all transmissions are five-speed automatics, but Chrysler is reported to be eyeing at a ZF-designed eight-speed automatic set-up in Indiana starting in 2012 or 2013. Since, the car’s ride and handling character has been designed to deliver class leading handling, it now comes with redesigned front- and rearsuspension geometry. The AWD version features 13mm tighter tyre-to-mudguard fitment and 4mm lowered overall ride height and larger 19in wheels with wider P235/55R19 all-season performance tyres. The AWD model also features segment-exclusive active transfer case and front-axle disconnect system to improve fuel economy by up to five per cent. More than 70 safety and security features, including standard Keyless Enter-N-Go and electronic stability control (ESC) with segment-exclusive Ready Alert Braking and Rain Brake Support safety features have been added to Chrysler signature SafetyTec Group package with many first-timeavailable features such as adaptive-forward lighting (AFL), high-intensity discharge (HID) projector high and low-beams with automatic headlamp leveling, Forward Collision Warning (FCW) with adaptive-cruise control (ACC), Blind-spot monitoring (BSM) with Rear Cross Path (RCP) detection, ParkSense® front and rear park assist system, LED-illuminated rear fog lamps, exterior mirrors with supplemental turn signals and approach lamp (300 Limited adds HomeLink universal transceiver, rain-sensing wipers and SmartBeam® headlamps to the package group). In addition, standard front-row re reactive head restraints, standard fulllength side-curtain air bags, driver’s knee bag and standard front seatmounted side-thorax air bags offer enhanced occupant protection to pas passengers in the event of a collision.

Top 10 headlines that grabbed our attention Brands strategise for China

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ALL NEW OFFERING

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Author Chandan B Mallik Photography Shakeel Al Baloushi

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cover story Previews

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Audi R8 V10 Spyder 2011 Volvo S60 3.0T 2012 MB SLK Roadster Ferrari FF 2012 Hyundai Veloster 2012 MB CLS63 AMG 2011 Chrysler 300 Cadillac XTS Concept

{ROAD TEST}

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BIG ON POWER DOWN-UNDER
We spent a few weeks in Australia in 2010 and what could be better than having a V8-powered Holden at your disposal? But it wasn’t just the power that stayed in mind...
Author Raj Warrior Photographs Dhruv Warrior

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n all the travels we do around the world, we manage to ensure that road travel is a significant part of the mix. In the middle of 2010, I spent almost a month in Australia and had a Holden Commodoreat my disposal, courtesy of Mike Devereux, CEO at Holden and an old friend from his time heading the Middle East operations for GM. Now the fact is that Australia is a country that one needs to look at in the image of being a continent (which it is). Hence travel from anywhere to anywhere usually involves a few hundred kilometres of driving at the very least, or you need to hop onto a commuter flight. It was a relief therefore to have at my disposal a car that is absolutely top of class

in its ability to chew up the miles you have to travel to get anywhere. The Holden Commodore SS-V is quite a mouthful and handful to boot. Most of us in the GCC know the car’s closest local variant as the Lumina SS and you wouldn’t know much of a difference except in the steering wheel being on the wrong side of the cabin. The car given to me also had a unique differentiation – it came with the Pontiac bodystyling kit, perhaps a bit ironical considering the cul-de-sac the Firebird brand finds itself in. However on the Commodore itself, the body kit does manage to distinguish the car on the road, especially when you consider that many Australians still love to drive the large Holden

and the current generation of the car with its billion dollar revamp has been very successful despite the high price of fuel at the pump. Despite a reputation of loving volume over efficiency, Australian drivers are increasingly demanding the best of both worlds and the new engine-management on the Holden V8 Commodore gives them just that. The car’s 6.0-litre V8 engine is pretty reminiscent of the large V8s of GM in the US and here. That means 354 bhp of power is available on tap. What has changed is that this unit gets active fuel management and is mated to a latest generation 6-speed Automatic transmission with active select and has a Limited Slip differential as part of the

Revolvolution on the road

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Author Chandan B Mallik Photographer Shakeel

<< Despite a reputation of loving volume over efficiency, Australian drivers are increasingly demanding the best of both worlds and the new engine-management on the Holden V8 Commodore gives them just that >>

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EDITORIAL NOMINEE VOLVO S60 3.0T PREMIUM CAR

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COVER STORY

R8 e-line V10-fed on its top-of-th ce to match dropped the top ing performan Audi may have car offer blister ding some t does the ers by spen sports car, bu got the answ ks? Automan der its go-fast loo it is no preten car and finds time with the
Author Chand an B Mallik Photographer Nabeel Ferzan

Total Spyder

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42 2011 Ford Edge Holden Commodore SS-V 62 66 2011 Suzuki Kizashi

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! ING NC OU T THAT ANN VEN GE E E CHAN LUE TH LL A WI YOU V R CA W HO OUR Y

YOUR CAR’S SEAL OF EXCELLENCE!

MORE THAN 250 MODELS, 40 BRANDS, 15 CATEGORIES AND ONLY ONE WINNER IN EACH CATEGORY!
announces the thrills and prestige of its own Car of the Year awards. With enough packed in to take you through the year and a unique format of selection, Automan’s COTY awards will reward the best models on offer in Oman in 2011 Look out in every issue of Automan till August 2011. When we test drive cars, we will not only judge each car for how good it is for you as a buyer, we will also possibly select it as our editorial nominee in one of 13 categories:

13 Categories for Reader Voting
If the car deserves the tag, we will tag it as “Editorial Nominee” for the category it best suits. Look out for this logo on each story: EDITORIAL NOMINEE NAME OF THE CAR CATEGORY We will keep a running tally of all the editorial choices till August, after which, we will allow you, the reader to select further nominees through SMS and online at our website, all the way through till our October issue. And that’s when things get really exciting! The nominees in each category will go through a selection procedure that will result in one clear winner in each category. Additionally, our editors will also give two unique awards :

01 Small Car of the Year 02 Mid-size Car of the Year 03 Large Car of the Year 04 Premium Car of the Year 05 Luxury Car of the Year 06 Hot Hatch of the Year 07 Sports Car of the Year 08 Performance Car of the Year 09 Small SUV of the Year 10 Mid-size SUV of the Year 11 Large SUV of the Year 12 Premium SUV of the Year 13 Performance SUV of the Year

14 Best debut Model in Oman 15 Editor’s choice

At a glittering, year-end ceremony, the winners of each category will be awarded the Automan ‘Car of Year Award’ in its class.
www.automanweb.com

Oman news

all-new 2011 Hyundai accent arrives in Oman
ew thinking, new possibilites’ is the current tagline for Hyundai Motor Corporation which is on a virtual product offensive. According to William Lee, vice president of Hyundai Middle East and Africa, 2010 will see several new or refreshed model introductions in the region. Lee, who was in Muscat during the launch of the all-new 2011 Hyundai Accent last month was happy with Hyundai’s performance in Oman which recorded 36 per cent growth year-on-year, according to Shaikh Saad bin Suhail Bahwan, Chairman, OTE Group. The stylish new Accent takes on Hyundai’s ‘Fluidic sculpture’ design language which now adorns most of its new models ranging from Genesis, Sonata to Tuscon and will be seen in the soon-to-arrive Elantra and later in the year in the Azera/Grandeur which has just been launched in Korea. The stylish new car sets a new benchmark in the segment [read Automan’s exclusive first drive in January 2011 issue] and comes with the new generation super efficient 124bhp four-cylinder Gamma engine mated to either a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual gearbox. The new Accent’s chassis is constructed using a collision load dispersal mechanism. It features central locking, keyless entry, eco indicator, CD and MP3 player plus the motor-driven power steering.

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William Lee, executive vice-president, Hyundai Motor Company, and Shaikh Saad bin Suhail Bahwan, chairman, OTE Group, Cyrus Vevaina, MD and V R Dilip, COO of OTE Group at the launch of the new Accent

POrscHe recOrd sales in middle east
ith a 20 per cent growth in 2010, Porsche Middle East and Africa FZE, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, Stuttgart, claims it delivered a total of 6,842 vehicles (5,694 in the

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previous year) to customers in the Middle Eastern and African markets. “We are back on the fast track. Unlike any other car manufacturer, Porsche is a symbol for fascinating sports cars and ‘Intelligent Performance’. Our importers’ commitment and dedication contributed to a further consolidation of our customers’ trust in the Porsche brand,” said Bernhard Maier, Executive Vice President Sales and Marketing of Porsche AG.

Besides the United Arab Emirates, the most important markets for Porsche in the region include Kuwait, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Qatar; Porsche Centre Doha, Al Boraq Co. delivered 725 vehicles in 2010, a 70 per cent increase in comparison with the previous year. The most popular model in the region has been the Porsche Cayenne which accounted just under 3,600 units last year, representing over 50 per cent of all vehicles sold.

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stylisH secOnd generatiOn renault safrane launcHed
enault GCC and Suhail Bahwan Automobiles, revealed the new 2011 Renault Safrane, its flagship model, last month. Renault says that even the first generation Safrane, which was introduced to the GCC in 2008 was specifically tailored to meet Middle East market needs. The incoming model builds upon these strong foundations arrives with many more unique features and choice of powertrains. The car is built by Renault-Samsung in South Korea where it is known as the SM5 and accounts for 70 per cent of sales in the domestic market. Although, the new arrival is built on the outgoing modeI’s platform, it has been extensively revisited for added comfort and features. The car is powered by either a 2.0litre normally aspirated four cylinder or two V6s’ displacing 2.5- and 3.5-litres respectively. The top end V6 producing 240hp while the middle range offers 180hp. The 2.0-litre engine produces 140hp and is mated to Nissan’s XTronic Continuous Variable Transmission while the V6 engines get automatic six-speed transmission. Safety equipment includes standard ABS and emergency brake assist, plus ESC, six air bags (including two dualchamber thorax-groin lateral air bags with twin side-impact sensors), three-point seat belts (with pretensioners and load limiters at front), cruise control with speed limiter and tyre pressure monitoring system. Renault are

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claiming superior comfort features such as the air purifying Samsung Super Plasma ionizer and an Arkamys and Bose sound system. “The Safrane name has become synonymous with quality, durability and performance. It won the customers’ trust, thanks to its superb qualities in all of its segment’s key features,” said Katsumi Nakamura, executive vicepresident of Asia Africa, Renault SAS.

Renault GCC Managing Director, Mustansir Lakdawala added: “Having been developed with the Middle East climate in mind, and with the “Drive the Change” philosophy at the heart of the car, the latest innovative technology has been implemented to deliver an experience, not just to the driver but to all occupants of the new Safrane.”

cadillac mOving tO tHe tOP in middle east

iding on the success of economic recovery in the USA and in the region, Cadillac is now emerging as one of the fastest growing luxury automotive brands in the Middle East after posting a strong sales performance in 2010. Cadillac outpaced its closest luxury competition in 2010 with 26 per cent sales growth. This figure was boosted by strong sales of the SRX midsize luxury crossover and the CTS luxury sports sedan. The SRX was completely redesigned for the 2010 model year and the CTS Coupe joined the line-up in the second half of the year as a 2011 model. Meanwhile, the Escalade accounted for a third of all Cadillac sales.

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The luxury brand’s growing status extends across the Middle East with double-digit sales growth achieved in Saudi Arabia, the highest volume market, where sales increased 52 per cent; Kuwait, where sales improved by 34 per cent; Lebanon 34 per cent, Qatar 31 per cent and Oman 44 per cent. “Cadillac’s newly introduced vehicles and premium car maintenance program have captured the attention and imagination of luxury vehicles buyers across the Middle East,” said Fadi Ghosn, Chief Marketing Officer at General Motors Middle East Operations. The growing recognition of the Cadillac brand has also been supported by the complimentary Cadillac

Service and Maintenance Program that covers maintenance services for the first four years or 100,000kms.

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{news}

Fast and Furious

Last month’s Tokyo auto salon had some really cool stock and tuner merchandise
Author Chandan B Mallik

or tuners and performance thrill seekers, the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association or SEMA may take the proverbial cake for the American tuner scene, but the glamour at the Las Vegas exposition isn’t the only tuner show in the world that attracts the aficionados. In January, all-eyes headed to Japan the where the relatively smaller but colourful Tokyo Auto Salon beckoned the finest domestic and import stock and specialists. The show clearly belonged to Toyota and Honda which had a wide variety of cars on display under various labels and divisions and an array of independents with their interpretations engineering and design skills, from mild sports accoutrements to the wilder fringes of auto design. Small in size but big in attitude, a pumpedup, track-ready interpretation of the supersmart iQ city car led an array of tuned and tweaked Toyota concept and production cars. The GRMN (Gazoo Racing tuned by MN) iQ Racing Concept is the latest interpretation of Toyota’s smallest model by its motor sport competition partner. It’s a stand-out model,

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with its deep front air dam, huge lower air intake and racing wheels, but it is not just about looks: fitted with a tuned- supercharged engine and a roll-cage, it’s cut out for track action. It has a strong heritage too: Gazoo’s previous iQ concept car was given a limited production run in Japan that sold out immediately in 2009. G Sports (G’s) have also contributed to the Toyota presentation with Sports Concept version of Prius, with TRD adding an Auris GT Concept. As well as the cars, Toyota is hosting interactive events at the show, including forums with engineers and racing drivers and virtual driving competitions in Metapolis, an on-line community created by Gazoo Racing. Meanwhile, the luxury performance arm of Lexus also got into the act. Even though its public launch is still a few months away, the new CT 200h was revealed in special F-Sport guise, with an array of sporting accessories including alloy wheels, a body kit by Modellista and Recaro sports seats. It was joined by two new versions of the ultra-high performance IS F: the CCS-R (Circuit Club Sport Racer) and

Club Performance Accessory. The CCS-R is true to the tradition of lightweight track saloons, featuring carbon fibre body panels, including front and rear spoilers, bonnet and boot lid, and a new frameless construction roll cage and polycarbonate windows. Inside there’s further extensive use of carbon fibre for the dashboard, centre console and door trims, while the racing details extend to a six-point safety harness and short-diameter steering wheel with paddle shifts. The car is performance-engineered, too, with racing suspension, brakes, cooling and exhaust, plus a mechanical limited-slip differential and forged alloys shod with slick tyres. TRD (Toyota Racing Department) has created the IS F Club Performance Accessory, giving the most powerful member of the IS family an even bolder appearance with spoilers fore and aft, a rear diffuser and a carbon fibre hood. Again, more carbon fibre material is used in the cabin, along with sports seats finished in bright orange. Sports suspension and brakes, a titanium exhaust, magnesium wheels and a

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mechanical LSD complete the package. Gazoo Racing presented its racing version of the Lexus LFA supercar, which enjoyed success at last year’s Nürburgring 24 Hours race, and TOM’s offered a new interpretation of the LS 460 limousine. Meanwhile, an interesting prototype study called TES Concept T-Sports built by members of the Toyota Engineering Society (TES) in response to a questionnaire that asked what sort of vehicles they thought Toyota needed to build, could also suggest that Toyota engineers are studying plans for a baby FT-86 in view of the many rumours have surfaced that the cost of development of the car has risen and that consumers will have to carry that burden by paying more for the vehicle. Just over a foot shorter in length than the FT-86 and weighing roughly 900kg, this car is powered by Toyota’s 1.3-litre four-cylinder engine. Nissan unveiled a racing edition of the GT-R

by its in house tuner NISMO called the GT-R RC [Racing Competition]. NISMO has tweaked the GT-R’s set up for improved track performance with a tire-compatible suspension, use of lightweight parts and equipped the GT-R with the proper racing safety features. Those include an FIA-qualifying welded roll cage, air jacks and a 120-litre safety fuel tank from ATL. There was likely no need for any engine tuning as the GT-R has plenty of power on tap. It comes with a twin-turbo 3.8-litre V6 engine with an output of 530hp and 661Nm of torque. The 0 to 100 km/h sprint clocks in at a flat 3.0secs for the standard GT-R. Honda was present with its usual assortment of vehicles, but the centrepiece of the displays was a specially modified CR-Z dubbed the TS1X concept. Details offered were somewhat limited, but the car features a matte black exterior with a revised front fascia, extended side skirts, and a massive rear spoiler. Besides

the TS-1X, Honda will also displayed the Sports Modulo NSX and the HSV-010 GT which boasts a naturally-aspirated 3.4-litre V8 engine with upwards of 500hp and 392Nm of torque. Subaru, which is co-developing sports cars with Toyota, was expected to showcase its version of the Toyota FT-86 Concept, but instead of that chose to showcase a tamer Trevia STi, essentially a rebadged version of Toyota’s Verso hatchback. The funny part about Japan’s Super GT racing series is that often teams will run mismatched engines and bodies. And ‘Proud to be a Boxer’ stickered Subaru‘s Legacy Super GT racer isn’t quite the stretch that it at first seems. Actually, this four-door car looks like a production from London-based Bernie-Lipu’s Chop Shop. While might not share much in the way of a chassis with the current Legacy, but it is powered by a typically-Subaru horizontallyopposed boxer engine.

HSV-010 GT Represents Honda Racing in Tokyo
In 2010, Honda officially announced the introduction of the HSV-010 GT race car, which was the successor to the NSX in the Japanese Super GT Series. A purpose-built track car with a 500hp 3.4-litre V8 powerplant, sadly, no production car will ever be derived from the HSV-010. A total of four teams competed with Honda’s new race car in the Super GT series,

Goodyear Racing Debuts Toyota Mark X Drift Car
Goodyear Racing thought it would be perfect for their new Toyota-Camry based race car, the D1 Grand Prix drift series racing. It looks like a NASCAR-inspired production, with what Goodyear Racing refers to as a DTM-style wide body. The car is scheduled to hit the track for testing soon in order to be ready for the start of a new D1 GP season.

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DaiMler-beNz celebrates historic MilestoNe
ore than just pioneers of a cultural revolution, exactly 125 years ago in January, innovative engineer Carl Benz first registered his “vehicle with gas-engine drive” under patent number 37435 with the Berlin Patent Office. This patent significantly forever changed the way how humans would travel and eventually established one of the biggest industries as the world knows today. Back in 1886 nobody could possibly have imagined the impact the automobile would embark upon over the following 125 years. Less than 60 miles away, and almost at the same time, fellow inventor and entrepreneur Gottlieb Daimler was working on his own motor wagon, to which he gave the finishing touches that very year. However, both had to wait some years before the groundbreaking development they had succeeded in initiating became a profitable commercial proposition. As far back as the eighteenth century there had been first experiments with automobiles driven by steam engines, in particular in England and France. In the course of the 19th century countless engineers, developers and inventors all over Europe worked at the further development of steam engines. Electric motors were also tried for the first time. However, the decisive steps that led to Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz’s invention of the modern automobile took place in Germany with the invention of the four-stroke engine

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(gasoline engine) by Nikolaus August Otto. Both Daimler and his congenial partner, Wilhelm Maybach, as well as Carl Benz realized that their opportunity lay in the reduction of size and weight of the engine coupled with an increase in power output at the same time.

luxury is iN the black DiaMoND leak out
eneral Motors has unveiled a new variant for the supercharged Cadillac CTS-V. It’s called the Black Diamond Edition and will be available on all iterations -- sedan, coupe and wagon. GM says that the whole package is meant to invoke images of a well-tailored tuxedo and the appearance package takes the company’s muscle-bound luxury fleet into a new level beginning with proprietary SpectraFlair paint. The final product is achieved through a three-coat process that includes flakes of aluminium encapsulated in magnesium fluoride. The result is a paint that’s as gorgeous. The special paint job is complemented with a set of Satin Graphite 19in wheels and contrasting yellow Brembo brake calipers outside. Inside the cabin the

BMW confirms four pots BMW has been talking about a new 2.0litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and no we have the have official confirmation to that. Although, smaller in displacement, this new four-cylinder engine will get the same twin-scroll turbo technology found in the carmaker's larger N55 3.0-litre engine. Maximum power is rated at 240hp at 5,000 rpm, and peak torque – all 260 pound-feet of it – is delivered at 1,250 rpm. By switching to a smaller-displacement, turbocharged, direct-injected engine, this new 2.0-litre four cylinder will offer a healthy bump in fuel economy over its current six-cylinder models. While, BMW has yet to specify out which models will be getting the new engine, we can guess that that the current naturally aspirated 3.0-litre inline-six is the candidate for replacement. Some market reports have suggested that the Z4 sDrive30i will now use four-cylinder power, and we're sure both the 1 and 3 Series, as well as X1, will get the turbo-four treatment eventually.

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trim includes microfibre suede Recaro seats and Midnight Sapele wood accents littered throughout the cabin. The CTS-V Black Diamond Edition joins Cadillac’s award-winning V-Series line of performance luxury vehicles. All the models in the CTS-V range feature a supercharged 6.2-litre V8 engine with 556hp, Magnetic Ride Control suspension that reads and reacts to the road 1,000 times a second and Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tyre.

first POdium in 2011 fOr ducati-amg in dubai

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he first podium in 2011 for the Ducati-AMG partnership was achieved in spectacular style last month when the Ducati-branded AMG SLS GT3 scored an impressive third place at the Dubai 24 Hour. As part of the agreement signed between Ducati and the Stuttgart-based car makers last November, the rear wings of all three cars entered proudly carried the Ducati logo, an exercise that will be reciprocated with the AMG brand displayed on the 2011 Ducati MotoGP Team bikes and riders’ leathers. Team Black Falcon clinched the impressive podium position in their Dubai 24 Hour debut, with all three Mercedes Benz AMG SLS GT3s crossing the 10

line to complete a positive Arab Emirates marathon weekend and further fine-tuning the model before its delivery to the customers.

kia releases New rio teaser

reNault Moves iNto tyres
A typical car can have 4-5,000 components and many of these are outsourced by automakers to OEM suppliers. While the degree of outsourcing may vary amongst automakers, there is one component that has always been outsourced since the inception of the motor car: its tyres. Now, it seems, there will be an exception. French car maker Renault, thinks that it can create a successful business case by marketing its own brand of tyres to existing Renault owners. To be known commercially as the Motrio line, the Renault tyres are focused on cutting costs as replacement rubber while maintaining optimal performance and minimal road noise. What is not clear who is making the tyres and is likely to be made by an existing rubber company to Renault’s specifications and under their license. Still, the French automaker is claiming this as an industry first.

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ia Motors has released some interesting sketches of the upcoming next-generation Rio. The South Korean carmaker suggests that the new Rio will grow in dimensions and will be longer and wider. The new look of the Rio is meant to “inject emotional appeal into the B-segment” and appeal to that crucial demographic of buyers, 25 to 49 year-olds and hence it is not surprising that it will sit lower than the current model with its swept-back profile and strong character line. Inside, new Rio will offer a feeling

of quality typically associated with larger, more expensive models.

Although, some spy shots of prototypes have appeared of this car, admittedly on the basis of the sketches, it’s a little difficult to connect the sketches seen here with the spy shots. Obviously, the sketches make the Rio look far more muscular and aggressive than the spy shots of the next-generation Rio. The sketches still look like a concept car. Engine candidates for the Rio include the 1.8-litre producing 148bhp and 177 Nm of torque, likely mated to either a six-speed manual or the company’s new six-speed automatic transmission. “Downsizing is becoming more and more of a trend these days and a B-segment car as attractive as all-new Rio, with its driveroriented cabin and interior trim options, will no doubt help consumers to be more comfortable making that switch. New Rio is the ‘next big step’ in Kia’s design revolution and we anticipate this model becoming even more popular than the current vehicle,” says Soon-Nam Lee, director of overseas marketing, Kia Motors Corporation.

New Nhtsa regulatioNs
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced new regulations that will require the adoption of larger side curtain airbags. The new rules are intended to help prevent injuries and deaths related to rollover accidents. Applicable to vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less, the regulations will require “the equivalent of an unbelted adult from moving more than 4 inches past the side window opening in the event of a crash.” This new standard will be phased in beginning in 2013 and fully mandated by 2018. Research has showed that about 47 per cent of people killed in rollover crashes during the last 10 years were completely ejected from the vehicle. Costs associated with the regulations are relatively low, adding about $31 to the cost of a vehicle.

volvo Mulls chiNa-MaDe cars for us
he new and current China-based owners of Volvo and the Swedish car maker’s management team are considering exporting Volvos assembled in China to the US. Volvo chief executive Stefan Jacoby said at Detroit it was the idea as a way to help his company reduce foreign-exchange risk. Exporting made-

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in-China Volvos is “one opportunity” Volvo is exploring with China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. Another option the company is weighing is to build a Volvo assembly plant in the U.S., an individual close to Geely said. But Volvo and Geely essentially have decided to assemble Volvos in China. Meanwhile, any decision to export China-made vehicles to the US and elsewhere haven’t been finalized. Volvo is trying to reduce currency-exchange risk around the world, especially the EuroUS dollar exchange that has eroded the profitability of shipping to the US cars produced in Sweden and Belgium.

ferrari haNDs over keys to 999th custoMer iN chiNa

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Shanghai with the illumination of the Oriental Pearl Tower, the Chinese city’s famous symbol. It was a further sign of the admiration of the Chinese people for the Prancing Horse, a deep-rooted love that can be seen in every single event: from the Grand Prix to the inauguration of new stores as well as celebrations, such as the one today, where the 999th Chinese Ferrari customer since the brand came to China has been celebrated with

a multimedia show on the Pu Jiang river. This is an important number: in China the number nine - ‘jiu’ – is a symbol for longevity and excellence. An alliance between Ferrari and China, which officially started just over five years ago and which has seen the market become increasingly important for Ferrari with 300 cars sold in 2010 and an outlook of impressive growth. Celebrating Johnson Zhang, the 999th client,

Ferrari CEO Amedeo Felisa said: “For Ferrari, China represents the present and the future. It

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lexus toPs 2010 us sales chart
Toyota seems to have broken the jinx that bad PR doesn’t go against a brand in the medium to long term, especially in the US. In the lead up to 2010’s year end, sales of the major luxury marques in the U.S. were for the first time in years nearly neck and neck. And as the final weeks got closer, the suspense began to unravel some pretty unexpected stastistics. In October 2010, Mercedes-Benz was the overall sales leader in the luxury vehicle market, thanks mostly to a surge in sales of its E-Class sedan, but in the end, perennial leader Lexus managed to come out on top, selling some 229,329 vehicles overall in 2010. This represented a 6.2 per cent increase in sales over 2009, a decent result considering the automaker’s tumultuous year in the press and the lingering effects of the recent economic crisis. In second place was BMW Group, which sold 220,113 vehicles for the year, an increase of 16 per cent compared with 2009’s levels. Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, managed to move 216,448 vehicles in 2010, an improvement of 14 percent over the previous year. The big surprises, however, were Audi and Cadillac. While never in contention of achieving the top sales position in the US, Audi managed to sell a record number of vehicles last year, passing the 101,629 mark and easily beating its previous record of 93,506 vehicles. Cadillac, too, had a successful 2010, with its sales rising by 35 per cent in the year to end at 146,925 vehicles. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars sold 2,711 in 2010, representing a 171 per cent increase on the 2009 total of 1,002 cars and more than double the previous company record of 1,212 cars set in 2008.

2012 chrysler 200 coNvertible Photos leak out
hile Chrysler is all set to debut the 2012 200 Convertible at the New York Auto Show next month, but through the magic of the Interwebs, the first crop of official images has already leaked out. The new 200 sedan isn’t a bad-looking car, and while the convertible’s design isn’t the most attractive creation (that rear end still looks plenty awkward), it’s certainly better than the outgoing Sebring. Aside from the deletion of a fixed roof, expect the Chrysler 200 Convertible to be largely the same as its sedan counterpart, with interior refinement and engine choices all being carried over. This means that both the 2.4-liter inline-four and 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 should be underhood. The 2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible will be available in three different configurations in the United States the Chrysler 200 Convertible Touring model,

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200 Convertible Limited model and the 200 Convertible S (late availability) model. All are packed with style, safety, innovative features and a dynamic, open-air driving experience at a surprising value.

New subaru coNcePt MoDels iN geNeva
ubaru has announced plans to introduce a concept version of their Toyota FT-86 variant at the forthcoming Geneva Motor Show in March. Dubbed as a rear wheel drive sports car technology concept, the car is expected to preview a production model that will ride on an all-new platform and be powered by a horizontally-opposed Boxer engine developed by Subaru. While nothing is official yet, previous reports have indicated the Subaru variant will have a turbocharged 2.0-litre with 260hp on tap and is slated to be launched in late 2011, alongside the Toyota FT-86. Besides the concept, Subaru will also unveil

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the new Trezia. Essentially a restyled and rebadged Toyota Verso S, the Trezia replaces the Justy and measures 4,520mm long, 1,820mm wide, and 1,430mm tall. Subaru says the 2,550mm wheelbase will ensure a roomy interior with easy-to-use utility. Engine options will include a 1.3-litre petrol and 1.4litre diesel. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive will be optional.

Next-geNeratioN auDi MMi coMiNg sooN

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udi used the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to preview its nextgeneration MMI technology, the German automaker’s innovative human-machine interface which integrates a special touchpad with handwriting recognition as an input system. The touchpad interface already features in the new 2011 Audi A8, where it’s located on the center console, just next to the MMI controller wheel.
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For the next-generation of MMI, the touchpad will be more closely incorporated into the MMI terminal -- as the surface of the controller wheel in fact. The space saved will mean the system can also be made available in smaller vehicles. Meanwhile it will be even easier to operate because the driver’s right hand can remain in one place. A dashboard display will visualize all operating steps along

the paths through the menus. At the same time, they will also be displayed in an identical structure on the touchpad. Small sensor actuators beneath the touchpad’s surface will supply precisely defined, palpable signals and feedback--the user will be able to literally feel all operating paths. Audi has confirmed that it will appear on the market in just over a year. In addition to the new MMI preview, Audi also announced that it will be using graphics company NVIDIA’s advanced Tegra processor for all its infotainment needs.

ktM oPeNs flagshiP store iN Dubai

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TM, one of the leading manufacturers of off-road racing motorbikes, street motorcycles and quads, opened its stateof-the-art multi-million dirham Middle East flagship store in Dubai last month. The opening ceremony was hosted by Ahmed Al Shafar, president of the Al Shafar Group, which is the major shareholder in KTM Middle East operations. Al Shafar was joined by the global CSO of KTM Sportmotorcycle AG, Mr. Hubert Trunkenpolz, and managing partner of KTM-UAE, Tim Trenker. The company also hosted a special promotion called ‘Orange week’ at the new Sheikh Zayed Road showroom. Named in honour of KTM’s signature colour, ‘Orange Week’ saw a limited period of special deals and also the launch of a new initiative between KTM-UAE and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) that will allow buyers of KTM bikes to access special finance packages from the bank. The launch of the new store comes at a time of impressive growth for KTM, which also revealed its plans to continue to invest in expanding and developing its dealer network in the UAE and the rest of the Middle East. The Austrian brand, which is the market leader worldwide in the off-road segment, is especially popular in the region and produces the bike of choice, whether it is for street, off-

road or ATV riding. In the last three years, KTM has radically outperformed the market, increasing its UAE share in the off-road segment from eight per cent to 30 per cent, against an overall market that dropped by 45 per cent. Ahmed Al Shafar, President of the Al Shafar Group, announced that, by investing in the new showroom and after sales facility, the company plans to increase sales by a further 15 per cent in 2011. “We are totally committed to the brand, as evidenced by the investment in this new flagship store, which will help us as we strive to provide the highest levels of customer service,” said Al Shafar. “Furthermore KTM Middle East is focused on developing an importer network throughout the Middle East to ensure that there are firm foundations in place for the KTM brand across the whole region.” Meanwhile, India’s Pune-based Bajaj Auto which has a 38.09 per cent stake in KTM is in the process of developing a range of highperformance engines to serve domestic and international markets. Interestingly, KTM is preparing to launch Duke, a 125cc motorcycle, this year in India co-developed by KTM and Bajaj.

JeeP to revive graND wagoNeer
The seven-seater SUV is becoming a hot ticket once again for many carmakers and it seems that some who had abandoned the idea are looking at it once again with renewed interest. At Detroit, Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Chrysler Group LLC confirmed the development of a Grand Wagoneer for the Jeep line-up. “It’s time we gave the market an upper-scale Grand Wagoneer.” The return of the Wagoneer in 2013 would mark the resurrection of one of the most storied nameplates for the Jeep brand, and is expected to fill the void left by the seven-seat Commander, which was discontinued after the 2010 model year. This replacement model will share the platform found under the Grand Cherokee, but will compete more directly with the seven-seat configuration found in the 2011 Ford Explorer. The original Jeep Wagoneer ended production in 1991 after a 28 year run.

stoP Press!
here’s been some fascinating action on our region last month as we closed for printing. In future, the fabled North American International Auto Show or Detroit Motor show is about to get a little competition from an unexpected rival from the Middle East. At least that’s the first impression from the 2011 Qatar International Auto Show — the first of its kind in this wealthy Middle Eastern country. As with international norms, organizers highlighted not only supercars, but also electric vehicles and some interesting concepts. We’ve managed to put in a few teasers from Qatar’s first international motor show and we promise our readers more about show in Automan next month!
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Automakers showed off their latest and greatest at the 23rd edition of the optimistic about its prospects for 2011
Author Chandan B Mallik

2011: the year of turnaround

North American Auto Show in Detroit last month. And it seems the industry is more

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t the 20th edition of North American International Auto Show, better known as the Detroit Motor show in 2008, it was theatrics hand-in-hand with hot machines inside and outside Jacob’s Cobo Convention centre. Anyone there at the time would surely remember the famous cattle drive that introduced the Dodge Ram and the pulsating music and dramatic unveils inside the hall. In three years, a lot of water has passed under the bridge -- General Motors and Chrysler tumbled into bankruptcy and North American car sales dropped sharply in the recession as a result of the global economic downturn. Most car makers’ fortunes were affected and the strain began to show. Detroit usually hosts the year’s opening show for automakers, but in 2009 and 2010, nobody from the industry knew what was going to happen next and hence there were conscious signs of restraint and somewhat cautious decision making. While, the US-homegrown auto makers continued supporting the North American International Auto Show in Detroit despite economic difficulties, but this year, it may be a sign of the changing times for the venue as the fact that several car

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makers preferred to showcase electric vehicles and new technologies also at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas a few days before the annual Detroit gig. The brighter side at Detriot according to participants and visitors at the 2011 show was signs of the first wave of industry confidence and to some extent recovery. While the hype and hoopla of the past years are gone, displays were noticeably bigger and brighter than the past two years. Porsche’s return after a four-year hiatus was seen as a bonus and treat, while Ferrari was not officially present [missing the show for a second consecutive year], but the famous Italian sports car maker exhibited one of its current models with the Chrysler Group’s line-up as a homage to the agreement between Fiat and Chrysler. However, Nissan and Infiniti’s absence since 2009 are still being felt. Of course, as always, some carmakers decided to create some buzz in their own way – either by hosting pre-event shows or a string of timely teasers. Here’s a snapshot of what was on offer. Read on…

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udi’s R8 GT debuted last spring, but the novelty factor hasn’t worn off. In Detroit, the car was positioned strategically in the Audi booth, gleaming with spotlights and looking better than ever. But the bigger news came when Audi unveiled its 2012 A6, which essentially is the sedan version of the A7 Sportback. As a redesigned model which aims to be a credible competitor to the new BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the new A6 brings some of the design cues seen in the A8 model. It features LED taillamps, an integrated boot-lid spoiler, a dual exhaust system, and optional LED headlights. The optional S-Line package adds modified bumpers, a sport suspension, a faux rear diffuser, and 19in alloy wheels. Inside, the cabin offers additional interior room as the car’s wheelbase has been stretched to 2,910mm. The car’s down road graphics or DRG takes on a similar aesthetics to the A1 hatchback with the corners of its grille squared-off and angular lamp graphics which now wrap around the corners of the car, rather than defining its edge, as on the A7 or A8. Optimized visual width was a priority says Achim Badstübner, Audi’s Head of Exterior Design. This was partly achieved by placing the bonnet shutlines as far apart as possible [a significant departure from the previous car]. Five different engines will be available depending on market with the most efficient being the 2.0-litre TDI which produces 180hp and 380Nm of torque and allows the car to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 8.7secs.

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VW Group’s has ambitious plan to double sales in the US within the next seven years. Audi is

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considering its own production plant in the US as part of this growth strategy. Audi CEO Rupert Stadler says the automaker is studying the business case for creating a lower-cost production capacity for the North American market and will be making a decision within the next 4 years [before 2015].

A production plant in the US could help Audi increase volumes for the market while at the same time keeping its costs in check and mitigating the euro/dollar currency risk. Audi sold more than 100,000 cars in the US in 2010 [a record year for the brand], but has plans are to double that to 200,000 units by 2018.

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Chevrolet drops Aveo name for US. However, in North America, Canada and Mexico the model will be known as the Sonic. This is happening as Chevrolet feels that small cars like the Sonic represents a new beginning for Chevrolet in the segment.

While this renaming exercise isn’t much of a surprise for the US, the Aveo name will continue to be used in over 50 countries.

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eneral Motor’s Chevrolet brand had quite an impressive array of models. The 2012 Sonic [renamed Aveo replacement] as we all know was officially unveiled ahead of its debut at the show. This renamed model will be available as a fourdoor sedan or five-door hatchback. Regardless of what body style is selected, both feature an aggressive front fascia, bulging mudguards wheel arches, and an upward sweeping character line. Inside, the cabin boasts a Spark/Beat-inspired cockpit with a two-tone design and class-leading spacious rear seat. While GM hasn’t released full details, the car will be available with top line features such as USB/ Bluetooth connectivity, remote start, heated front seats and a sunroof. Two engines will be offered – an entry-level 1.8-litre producing 135hp and 168Nm, and a turbocharged 1.4-litre churning out 138hp and 200Nm of torque. Chevrolet also unveiled a new design study based on the Sonic called the Sonic Z-Spec Concept. The eyecatching matte black and orange Chevrolet was kitted with the turbocharged set-up.

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BMW currently holds a 2.3 per cent market share in the US with 266,000 vehicles sold in America in 2010 and may be looking into expanding the number of models that the company manufactures in the US. Meanwhile, BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer has revealed that future BMW powertrains will be downsized in an effort to improve fuel-efficiency and reduce emissions. BMW, which has always stood
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by the high-rev philosophy for delivering power from its M engines may be rethinking about this. Inside sources have revealed that the next-generation M5, due in early 2011, will be powered by a highperformance twin-turbo V8 engine instead of a naturally aspirated V10. The new V8 will be matched to BMW’s M-DCT dual-clutch system, as found in the M3, but purists can expect to get hand on a conventional six-speed. Performance will also be improved thanks to the extensive use of lightweight materials including carbon-fibre and aluminium.

Besides advantages of having production facilities in a market where it does very well, it makes sense to widen the product portfolio. Meanwhile, BMW has to offset the previous idea as practiced in several generations of M cars, where engines in the M3, M5, and M6 have grown progressively in displacement and cylinders besides being more powerful. More than fuel price rises, the revised CO2 and fuel consumption regulations, it seems has prompted BMW to join the likes of Volkswagen, Ford and others who are effectively downsizing and increasing efficiency at the same time.

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t may have been a frigid 10° F in Detroit, but BMW Group was surely dressed to impress and it had more than four reasons [world premieres] to appeal to enthusiasts of the blue and white propeller logo company. Top of the list was the striking-in-metallic-orange hue 2012 1 Series M Coupe, followed by the 1 and 6 Series convertible and 1 Series Coupe. The production-ready BMW 6-Series was showed in convertible form, following on from the 6-Series Coupe Concept displayed last year in Paris. As we expected, the ‘concept’ was a thin disguise for the production version of BMW’s grand tourer. Core design is virtually unchanged, with only minor alterations to grille and headlamp inserts and the addition of towing eye, parking sensor and headlamp washer covers. On the whole the concept remains as impressive as was in Paris – which also marked a thematic design departure for BMW. The production car is expected to hit markets in March with two engines. The 640i will use a turbocharged 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder that produces 320hp and 450Nm of torque, while the 650i will feature a twinturbo 4.4-litre V8 engine with 407hp and 600 Nm of torque. The second car, the 1-Series M Coupe [Automan previewed this car when visiting Ascari last year] has been designed to offer the last word in affordable performance. The 1M features a twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine with 335hp and 500Nm of torque mated to a six-speed manual transmission which allows the 1,495kg car to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 4.9secs. Top speed is electronically-limited to 250km/h.

recharged Cadillac unveiled the new CTS-V Racing Coupe specifically designed for the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) World Challenge GT Series. This track car was jointly developed with Pratt & Miller and features a carbon fibre body, ventilation scoops on the bonnet, an aggressive diffuser, and a massive rear wing. While the engine

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specifications weren’t released, the car will undergo testing at the Sebring International Raceway before making its debut at a World Challenge GT event in March. Cadillac plans to field two teams in the upcoming SCCA World Challenge GT Class with a racecar based on the CTS-V Coupe.

Cadillac is considering a city car, a small crossover, a large crossover, and a flagship model that

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could rival the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes S-Class. This means the American luxury brand is poised to launch as many as seven new vehicles in the near future. Cadillac is also said to be considering building a crossover using Volt technology and draw on experience learned from previous extended-range vehicles.

One at a time. After Buick, GM thinks Cadillac will be ready for more global markets within the next couple of years with an expanded line-up of appropriate models. Cadillac is currently focused on launching the entry-level ATS and range-topping XTS sedan, and is sure to consider a smaller city car once the core line-up is updated.

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hrysler Group completed its roll out of refreshed models just in time for the North American International Auto Show and its key reveals included facelifted versions of the Chrysler 300 full-size sedan and Jeep Compass compact SUV. Top on the Chrysler agenda has been the 300C which has been now designed to redefine American luxury. The refreshed flagship saloon appeared as menacing as it is elegantly draped in layers of chrome with an exterior is distinguished by a bold grille, LED-infused headlights and sculpted bodywork. A lot of attention has gone inside the car and now it is nicely-equipped with items such as dual-zone automatic climate control, Uconnect Touch, black comodo elm trim, and LED ambient lighting. Chrysler will also offer a premium trim level in the 300 Limited and 300C AWD models, which add Nappa leather upholstery, GPS navigation, olive ash trim, and heated/ventilated seats to the luxurious surroundings. There’s news under the boonet too. Two engines will be available with entry-level models powered by a 292hp 3.6-litre Pentastar V6, while the 300C features a 363hp 5.7-liter HEMI V8 with sub six second sprint performance.

Chrysler made a major announcement with the Environmental Protection Agency. The two groups are set to announce a new research and development project next week at the EPA National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The announcement was made by EPA

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Administrator Lisa Jackson and Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne. The only official comment is that the new project is for the exploration and evaluation of “an innovative drivetrain technology for light duty vehicles”. Also, details of the Chrysler 200 convertible has also appeared to be leaked onto the web ahead of a possible unveiling at the Chicago Auto Show. Looking vastly improved, the facelifted model adopts new bumpers, restyled headlights, a revised grille, and LED taillights.

Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ferrari with Mopar
Mopar, Chrysler’s after-market parts provider showcased several tuned models at the auto show. Models included a 2012 Fiat 500 and a Chrysler 200 sedan. From the exterior, the Fiat 500 comes with chrome touches including the side mirrors, fuel door and exhaust tips. There’s also a rear window-mount rack, snowboard rack and roof and bonnet decals in a double blue stripe. Inside, the 500 gets door sills with the 500 logo, a leather finish with highlights in blue and black and carbon-fiber-looking hand brake and shift knob. The 500 comes in black with wheels in black gloss. The Chrysler 200 gets a 3in suspension lowering and comes in a black and tungsten paint finish. Accessories include gloss black grille surround with a black mesh grille, vented hood, lower chin spoiler and a boot lid spoiler. Inside is a leather finish in Mopar Katzkin. The 200 rides on 19in wheels.

t this year’s show, Ford had more global stuff on its stands for the American masses. The carmaker is returning to the US minivan market and on offer was the all-new Europe Focus based and developed, seven seater C-Max. The C-Max is relatively small compared to Chrysler’s Town & Country, Toyota’s Sienna or Honda’s Odyssey, but despite this apparent shortcoming, Ford is touting the vehicle as sporty new model with first-rate technology and best-in-class fuel efficiency. Engine choices for American buyers will include a base 2.5-litre four-pot and the all-new 1.6-litre EcoBoost turbocharged fourcylinder engine, both mated to Ford’s 6F35 automatic six-speed transmission.The car also has an industry-first feature: a tail gate that opens when the driver waves his or her foot under the back bumper. And with Ford’s line-up undergoing a major revamp, the current Escape seems to be the odd one out of sync. The current model dates back to 2003 and Ford’s new Vertrek concept SUV seems to preview a “sporty, sleek, fuel-efficient” replacement for the Escape and Kuga. As such, the Vertrek features a

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Focus-inspired front fascia, a C-MAX derived greenhouse, carbon fibre accents, LED lighting, and massive wheels. Inside, the cabin has the usual futuristic touches, but in a nod to realism and the crossover will come loaded with tech goodies such as SYNC, active park assist, BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) and Intelligent Access with push-button starting. As part of the downsizing exercise, power will come from either a 1.6-litre fourcylinder with EcoBoost, six-speed automatic transmission with engine start/stop system or 2.0-litre diesel. Interestingly, Ford also unveiled two new C-MAX hybrids at the show. The first one uses an electric motor and has a 2.0-litre gasoline engine which acts as a generator only. It operates primary in electric mode, but when the battery is depleted (or when certain conditions are met), the vehicle switches to a “charge-sustaining hybrid mode for continued optimal fuel efficiency. The second C-MAX Hybrid drops the plug-in component but keeps the lithium-ion battery, electric motor and Atkinson-cycle engine.

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After months of teasing, Ford has officially unveiled the 2012 Focus Electric at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. While the company hasn’t revealed any reaking specifications for now, the car’s electric nEWS motors are powered by a lithium-ion battery which enables the car to hit a top speed of 136 km/h and have “a mile-per-gallon equivalent (MPGe) better than the Chevrolet Volt and other competitive battery electric vehicles.

Every car maker has an agenda with Electric Vehicles, it seems.

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While there will be the usual assortment of vehicles, the centerpiece will be a specially modified

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CR-Z dubbed the TS-1X concept. Besides the TS-1X, Honda will also display the Sports Modulo NSX and the HSV-010 GT which boasts a naturally-aspirated 3.4-litre V8 engine with upwards of 500hp and 392Nm of torque.

Honda is beginning to focus on efficient technologies. Is it a bit late in joining the bandwagon?

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fter a short lull, the North American International Auto Show at least gave the impression that Honda was back on track with its mainstream bread and butter models. The 2012 Civic embraces the company’s vision as a “Civic for all people,” a phrase originally expressed in defining the goal of the first-generation Civic and both sedan and Si Coupe concepts were definitely the stars of Honda’s Detroit Auto Show stand. While, the two concept models are essentially pre-production studies of the actual ninth-generation Civic that will be introduced to the North American market this year, the Detroit Civics didn’t preview the European versions, essentially the upcoming three- and five-door hatchback variants. Nevertheless, the Sedan and Si Coupe concepts featured steeply raked windscreens, upward sweeping character lines, and 19in alloy wheels. Building on its emphasis on fuel-economy, the new Civics will get Honda Eco Assist™ technology, which already available in the CR-Z and Insight hybrids. The 2012 Civic is the first US Honda model to employ Eco Assist technology in a gasoline-only powered vehicle. Under the sloping bonnet, power, according to Honda will be provided by the “widest array of engine choices available in its class.” This means for US, options will include conventional petrol units, a natural gas variant and a hybrid. The latter is slated to adopt the newest Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system which will be powered by a lithium-ion battery - a first for a Honda.

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yundai has kept the pedal to the metal for years now in its bid to become one of the major players in the global economy and, especially, the US market. Hyundai kept the audiences busy with a stunning display of in-car technology [the presentation almost overshadowed Audi’s gig] at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show prior to Detroit. Meanwhile, at Detroit it seemed that Hyundai is targeting youth with its now famous “Fluidic Sculpture” design language in the Curb Concept car. It’s all very funky and hip and reminds one of Citroen’s psychedelic interior in concept cars. But, Hyundai’s aspiration level gets a bit serious when it decides to contest directly well-ensconced Toyota’s US only brand Scion’s tC [Toyota Zelus in other markets] and models such as the MINI Cooper and Honda CR-Z with a funky, technology-loaded Veloster. The car is unconventional with three-doors and was a clear hit with the audience. The motorcycle inspired Veloster delivers innovation to the compact coupe segment with a unique third door for easy rear-seat access, Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system, Pandora internet radio with seven-inch touch-screen display, and a new 1.6-litre direct-injected four-cylinder engine mated to Hyundai’s first dual-clutch transmission.

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At a press preview in Detroit, Hyundai suggested that it’s taking another major step in a

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fast evolution toward the top. The South Korean carmaker announced a new brand slogan – “New Thinking, New Possibilities” – under which it said it would aspire to emulate in premium products such as Apple’s iPhone and the Nespresso coffee-making machine while also retaining the affordability that has helped it become the world’s fifth-largest automaker already.

Finally, the brand has begun its strategic image moves.

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detrOit mOtOr sHOw}

M’s truck brand, GMC showcased a truck concept called Sierra All Terrain HD. As a concept it’s an exploration of heavy-duty truck capability combined with greater offroad versatility. Highlighted by a bold exterior design, enhanced all-terrain suspension and premium details expected of a GMC - all designed to enable greater access to offroad destinations. The production version of theSierra HD underpins the All Terrain HD concept, with a modified, production-based 4WD chassis and the Duramax diesel/Allison 1000 six-speed powertrain. The enhanced suspension and unique body dimensions, including increased ground clearance and wider track, as well as greater approach/ departure angles, deliver off-road capability while maintaining HD levels of payload and trailering capacity.

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refreshed C-Class made its first public outing at a special media event in Detroit. Available in both sedan and estate variants with an all-new coupe model set to follow shortly after, the C-Class is scheduled to arrive in showrooms this summer. The most notable cosmetic changes on the outside concern the redesigned front end with the L-shaped headlamps while the interior has been upgraded with a revised dashboard highlighted by the more finely detailed controls and a larger, high-resolution color display positioned on the center console. Under the skin, Mercedes says fuel economy has been improved by as much as 15 percent, thanks to new direct-injection engines and the redesigned 7-speed automatic transmission. Along with the C350 that sports a more powerful V6 gasoline engine pushing out 302hp and 273lb-ft of torque (previously 268hp and 258lb-ft). US buyers also get a newly introduced direct-injected turbocharged 4-cylinder engine returning a combined 24 MPG in the C250. In addition, five new driver assistance systems ranging from the ATTENTION ASSIST drowsiness detection system through to the Blind Spot Assist are now available in the C-Class lineup, while the updated telematics offer new infotainment and navigation features. The C-Class now features improved fuel-economy for the lineup, up to 31 per cent, thanks to a stop/start system that is now standard on all variants. Mercedes-Benz also showcased its SLS AMG E-Cell concept car, but the big news wasn’t the presentation of the allelectric supercar but the announcement that

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it will enter production within the next couple of years. At the heart of the all-electric supercar are four, high-revving, synchronous electric motors producing a combined output of 526hp with a peak torque of 880Nm of torque, enough to catapult the E-Cell to 100km/h in just four secs or almost as fast as the stock SLS’ 571 hpV8 gasoline engine (3.8secs). As always, there’s interesting thematic interpretations at Mercedes stands and this year the marque once again continued its highly original conceptual device of showing sculpture at motor shows to convey new design messages with the unveil of a piece, ‘Aesthetics No.2’, at the 2011 Detroit show. Unlike last year’s exterior-focused Detroit show sculpture (in that case hinting at the shape of the next CLS with a drape over it), this year’s artwork was more interiorinspired and hints at the direction the brand is taking for its forthcoming quartet of A- and B-Class platform vehicles, known internally as the MFA architecture. All the new A- and B-Class cars will feature jet turbine style vents, shown on the sculpture with a triple set centrally mounted and one more at each end of the IP’s flowing ‘wings’. The dramatic swooping and high central transmission that runs between the oversized seats also reflects how some of the new range will look. The team was led by interior design director Hans-Peter Wunderlich and included designer Miroslav Jasko – behind the initial sketches – and creative manager Jan Kaul.

bit of futuristic fantasy and optimism prompted Kia’s California team to come up with a nifty MPV concept. While, Kia Motors’ design-led transformation has delivered eye-catching production vehicles such as the Soul, Sorento and Sportage, the common bit in them all is that they remain faithful to the concept cars that preceded them. The gullwing-door Kia KV7 is a concept on a mission and a vision for a vehicle with the functionality to transport a large number of people, and their belongings, while also serving as a connected social hub for groups of friends and adventure-seekers. “From the outset, we felt the category was in need of an honest reassessment due to the fact that everyone seems so desperate to attach the word ‘sporty’ to their MPV even though MPVs, at their very core, are simply a box,” said Tom Kearns, chief designer, Kia Motors America. The design study is motivated by the same 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that comes on the 2011 Kia Optima, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
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A

INI is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the brand’s revival and re-launch in the US market. And to celebrate the occasion, the automaker unveiled the Paceman Concept, and also confirmed that it will spawn a production model. The crossover will attempt to excite NAIAS crowds, particularly “young, modern, extrovert urbanites” that the company believes is ahead of the pack. The vehicle is basically a two-door Countryman All4 with a tapered roofline and 19in wheels and it uses the 211hp 1.6-litre John Cooper Works turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Power is transferred to the wheels through a six-speed manual transmission and MINI’s ALL4 all-wheel drive system. The engine cranks out 208hpand up to 260Nm of torque. Those looking for a little extra power will be pleased with the Overboost function that briefly increases maximum torque to 280Nm.

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Currently, the MINI offers four models (hardtop, convertible, Clubman and Countryman), which will be joined by the Coupe in late 2011, and the Roadster in 2012. The series-production Paceman is essentially creating the first crossover coupe in the premium small car segment.

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<< Porsche is continuing to extend its
performance and high efficiency competence via intensive development work in the field of hybrid technology >>
long with the new Prius V minivan, the Detroit Show also welcomed the world premiere of the Prius C Concept, which will provide the inspiration for the next Prius Family member that Toyota plans to launch in the first half of next year. Toyota said that the production version of the Prius C will be smaller, more affordable and with even greater fuel efficiency than the regular Prius. According to Toyota’s claims, the Prius C will deliver the highest mpg of any available hybrid model without a plug in North America.

orsche’s return to the Detroit Show after a four year-absence was more than a token gesture. The sportscar maker marked the occasion with the introduction of a new racing concept based on the company’s 918 Spyder from last year’s Geneva Salon. The 918 RSR is a two-seat mid-engined coupe, and according to Porsche, it demonstrates what happens when the technology fitted in the 911 GT3 R Hybrid race car and the design of the 918 Spyder concept are combined together. The motorsports version of the 918 Spyder concept car gets a V8 engine based on the RS Spyder race car’s 3.4-litre unit tuned to deliver 563hp and is linked to a six-speed racing transmission with shift paddles that feeds the rear wheels. A pair of electrics motors mounted on the two front wheels each contribute 75 kW (102 hp), or a total of 204HP, lifting the combined output to 767HP. The German maker notes that the extra power from the electric motors is available for around eight seconds when the system is fully charged. As with the 911 GT3 R hybrid racing car, the additional power from the electric motors, which is generated during braking, is stored in an optimized flywheel accumulator. In the 918 RSR study, the two electric motors also offer a torque vectoring function with variable torque distribution to the front axle, which increases agility and improves steering response. The interior of the road-spec 918 Spyder has also been modified and comes with a single figurehugging bucket seat, while the passenger seat has been replaced by flywheel accumulator.

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olkswagen has finally lifted the covers of its New Midsize Sedan [NMS], which will be commercially known as the American Passat. According to the German automaker, the car’s technology and styling came from Germany, while Volkswagen of America provided the conceptual direction. Specifically designed for the US market, it is dimensionally in-between its European namesake and the larger Phaeton. The ‘American Passat’ is 4,868mm long, 1,833mm wide, making the new car 99mm and 13mm larger than its European counterpart, respectively. The four-door sedan’s exterior styling draws its inspiration from the recently launched Jetta, and not from the refreshed, European market, Passat. The base version is driven by a 170hp five-cylinder petrol engine and other engine options include an extremely economical clean diesel and a six-cylinder petrol engine, the VR6 with 280hp when paired with a standard dual clutch transmission (DSG). The alliance of VR6 and DSG makes the Volkswagen Passat a top-flight sports sedan. Buyers in the US will have a choice of three equipment lines: S, SE and SEL.
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{Headlines}
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MaNufacturers of luxury aND high PerforMaNce cars fiNeD agaiN
The biggest of the six fines went to Jaguar Land Rover which was hit for US$3,254,900, next up was MercedesBenz which was hit for US$2,935,988, while Porsche was fined US$1,487,145. Maserati’s fine totalled a little less than a million dollars (US$981,640) while Ferrari’s came in at just under half a million dollars (US$477,202). Fiat was the final car manufacturer to pay out, it however paid just US$11,550. First enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1975, the purpose of CAFE is to reduce energy consumption by increasing the fuel economy of cars and light trucks. NHTSA administers the CAFE program, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides the fuel economy data. NHTSA sets fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. while EPA calculates the average fuel economy for each manufacturer.

TOP 10 HEADLINES

Automan’s take: High performance comes at a price. At least that is what Ferrari, Maserati Fiat, Jaguar Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz discovered last year after being fine by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Authority (NHTSA) for selling cars stateside that failed to comply with fuel efficiency legislation. The six firms paid a total of just over US$9 million for failing to meet the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations.

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alfa sale Not haPPeNiNg

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zf DeveloPs 9-sP at

Automan’s take: It’s not about money. Fiat executives told reporters at the Detroit motor show that Alfa Romeo will not be sold, even if they were offered “tonnes of money.” Instead, chairman of Fiat, John Elkann, said that Fiat had big plans for Alfa, including a re-launch of the brand in the US. In recent months it has been rumored that Alfa Romeo has received strong interest from the VW group. VW thinks Alfa Romeo is a beautiful brand but there are quality issues with the engines and suspension. CEO of Fiat, Sergio Marchionne, backed up Elkann’s comments saying that Fiat had already invested far too

much in the brand and that Alfa was part of Fiat’s operational perimeter. Over the past several years, global sales of Alfa Romeo plummeted from a peak of around 300 000 units a year, to roughly 120 000 units per year.

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esPioNage Plot thickeNs?
accused company was not made public, but the filing does indicate an Asian super power, according to a Paris prosecutor involved in the case. “There are in effect several sources that are typically thought to be serious who consider that a Chinese buyer is in fact behind this operation,” said the report. Even French newspaper Le Figaro reported that the deal laundered at least 630,000 Euros (around US$841,800) into bank accounts in Switzerland and Liechtenstein opened by the executives. The three senior accused Renault executives have been suspended deny the levied charges and Chinese officials have also denied any involvement. Know one really knows what or how much was stolen, but Renault Chief Operating Officer Patrick Pelata told Reuters recently that the company’s key technology for electric vehicles was still safe. The Renault-Nissan alliance has invested US$5.17bn in EV technology.

Automan’s take: Eyebrows will always be raised when a new bank account opened by a company executive is credited with $841k worth of laundered money. Question is: who paid the money and for what purpose? Well, in this case, it’s to do with pirated high technology related to electric vehicles. French carmaker Renault has officially filed an accusation against a foreign private company in an industrial espionage case involving three of its top executives and some electric vehicle secrets. Although, the name of the

Automan’s take: It was just a matter of time that this was bound to happen. ZF has developed the world’s first 9-speed automatic transmission for vehicles equipped with a transversely mounted engine. It will be built in a new, stateof-the-art manufacturing facility near Greenville, South Carolina. “Already a leader in technically advanced, fuelsaving multi-speed transmissions for reardrive vehicles, ZF’s new 9-speed enables significant fuel economy improvements and delivers excellent performance characteristics for front-wheel-drive vehicles,” said Hans-Georg Harter, ZF’s President and CEO. Groundbreaking for the new South Carolina factory takes place next month. Compared to conventional 6-speed automatic transmissions for frontdrive platforms, ZF’s new 9-speed automatic transmission enhances driving performance and fuel economy. An advanced shock absorber system in the torque converter, for example, allows rapid lock up of the converter clutch, enabling greater fuel economy and lower carbon dioxide emissions. Similar to ZF’s 8-speed automatic transmission used in reardrive platforms, the new 9-speed delivers extremely short response and shifting times that are below the threshold of perception. That means double shifts and direct multiple gearshifts occur subtly.

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ruNaway car sales woes iN chiNa
Monitor report, traffic has become so bad in the densely populated metropolis that the government has banned car sales until an auto sale lottery takes place. That’s right; if you’re in Beijing and you’d like a new car or truck, you’re going to have to put your name in a hat and hope for the best. The first monthly lottery took place on January 26. Each will give 20,000 prospective motorists authorization to actually buy a car. So far, a reported 100,000+ buyers have already entered the lottery. China will draw 240,000 names during the course of the year. Customers who sell their vehicle or lose it in an accident will be exempt from the lottery and they’ll be able to keep their plate for a future vehicle purchase. The lottery is expected to help Beijing reduce car sales by 50 per cent and that’s not all. To further free up rush hour traffic, the government has also banned cars with out-of -city plates from traveling on Beijing roads during peak travel times.

Automan’s take: We have been wondering on this for a while. How does China, which became the largest auto market by surpassing the US, cope with an unprecedented increase in cars in the given infrastructure? Well it seems that while automakers are living the high life in China, the capitol city of Beijing is beginning to bear the brunt and is now trying to slam the brakes on new vehicle sales. 850,000 cars were sold in 2010 and the problem and according to a Christian Science
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6

2010: the year of auto recalls
the United States since 2004. Of this, Toyota recalled about 7.1mn vehicles this year to fix faulty accelerator pedals, floor mats that could trap accelerators, defective braking and stalling engines. General Motors recalled about 4mn vehicles, and Japanese automakers Honda and Nissan both recalled more than 2mn cars and trucks. The government is expected to release final data early next year. The auto industry set a record with 30.8mn recalled vehicles in 2004.

Automan’s take: What is one likely to remember most about 2010 in the automotive business? Automakers recall of about 20mn vehicles and new scrutiny of the auto industry’s safety record perhaps. An analysis of federal data by The Associated Press shows that the number of recalls this year is the largest in

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Maybach to be axeD?

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Maserati suv coNfirMeD
would also be on offer. While, Maserati has not confirmed plans for such a vehicle, it would undoubtedly be among the most complexlydesigned cars to ever hit the market. The Grand Cherokee’s platform is actually derived from the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, meaning that indirectly MercedesBenz, and directly Chrysler and Fiat would all have had a hand in creating the super SUV. The new Maserati SUV would be aimed at

Automan’s take: It’s no secret that Daimler’s ultra luxury brand hasn’t earned the dividends and the unit has been steadily losing money. Continued stagnation, an aging product line, and little apparent business reason to keep the brand around could lead to its eventual demise. And the frustration with Maybach brand is apparently growing especially after Dieter Zetsche said that all options were on the table, including getting rid of it altogether. The news isn’t surprising, especially on the heels of news late last month that Aston Martin might be tapped to design and build future Maybachs. Although Maybach was created to counter brands such as Rolls-Royce or Bentley, it never could reach the success levels of the British brands. If Aston Martin gets involved, there could be a second chance as it has proved its ability to pen a stunning vehicle, and though its cars tend toward the heavy/luxurious side of the GT spectrum. But what puzzles analysts is that how can Aston Martin as an independent, privately owned carmaker without the deep pockets or multiple parts bins salvage Maybach?

Automan’s take: Could this be the hyperSUV-in-the-making that people have been fantasizing about? While, the Fiat-Chrysler tie-up is undoubtedly reaping benefits for the twobrands, but a new report suggests that there’s a cross-development happening in Turin and Auburn Hills. Fiat and Chrysler chief Sergio Marchionne told a Detroit-based radio station earlier last month that a Maserati SUV based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee platform will be built in Michigan and will be powered by a Ferrari-designed engine. “It will be a rockand-roll engine,” Marchionne said. He later indicated that both V8 and V12 powertrains

9

future liNcolN offeriNgs to be uNique
an effort to better differentiate Lincolns from Fords, future Lincoln offerings will feature unique interior and exterior designs, bespoke technologies and Lincoln-specific powertrains. Although a rear-wheel drive Lincoln isn’t currently in the plans, future Lincoln vehicles won’t share any sheet metal with their Ford platform mates. Future Lincoln’s will also receive unique suspension tuning.

Automan’s take: It’s not a difficult job to have badge engineered products within a group of umbrella brands. Ask Volkswagen Group which has several brands such as VW, Audi, Seat and Skoda sharing technologies and platforms. VW’s strength is not just engineering but how it distinguishes the products within the family. And this is something that Ford wants to achieve with its Lincoln brand. Some of Lincoln’s current offerings – such as the MKZ sedan and MKX crossover – are little more than rebadged Ford models, but the Michigan automaker says its future luxury offering will be better differentiated from their Ford counterparts as part of a new brand development strategy. In

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auDi traDeMarks PerforMaNce NaMePlates for q5
Q5 crossover. Audi has reportedly recently trademarked the SQ5 and RSQ5 nameplates in the US. While the badges clearly suggest Audi is planning two performance variants of its small SUV, no other details are currently known about likely powertrains that might be used. But one can’t miss the fact that this news is comes at a time when Porsche has confirmed the Cajun compact utility vehicle. Logically, the Audi SQ5 and RSQ5 could share components with what will be likely dubbed the Cajun and Cajun S.

Automan’s take: For several years now, the idea of having a high-performance SUV in the line-up has been a favourite topic for product specialists and strategists, despite the threat of rising fuel prices. While Mercedes-Benz has embraced the idea by entrusting its in-house tuning set-up AMG to do the job, BMW has used its ‘M’ badging for the same purpose. Now, Audi is reportedly planning to join the segment with S and RS versions of its compact

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brandwatcH

new year, new strategies
2011 began with the world’s top automakers working on specific markets and branding exercises
Author Chandan B Mallik

W

hether it’s a solo or multibrand automaker, figures, country and market specific strategies do matter in the current economic scenario. In global terms for instance, Toyota Motor Corporation reported 8.42mn sales worldwide last year which was 30,000 units more than General Motors Co.’s 8.39 mn. This means that Toyota’s sales were up 8 per cent from 2009, while GM posted a 12 per cent increase from a year earlier in global sales. But if you consider what happened in China, then here’s the snap shot. GM came out on top in China, selling more cars and trucks in the country last year

than it did in the US. And then there are country specific policies to be adhered to. For example, the Chinese government plans to increase the market share of local brands from 30 per cent to 40 per cent by 2015 to help the Chinese domestic auto industry. Most foreign brand automakers build and sell cars in China under own brand and also in jointventure operations with Chinese partners as mandated by Chinese law. Besides serving the Chinese market, some European automakers are also considering shifting production base to China. Now it seems taking production out of Europe will not hurt a brand credentials.

Automan takes a look at how some of these agendas and strategies are fueling the mood for 2011.

Playing catch-up

Automakers like Honda and GM have already begun developing new local brands with their Chinese partners. Guangqi Honda, a partnership between Guangzhou Automobile Group and Honda Motor, has announced the Everus brand which begins sales of the S1 model early this year. And SAIC-GM, GM’s jointventure with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, has unveiled the Baojun brand

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which will also release its first model this year, the 630, based on the Chinese Buick Excelle.

SUV, the Cajun, at a VW plant in China which builds the Audi Q5. In a separate interview

Daihatsu Europe

to

withdraw

from

An 11th brand for VW?

Volkswagen is on an ambitious growth drive and the automaker has also been eyeing Fiat’s ailing Alfa Romeo brand. While Fiat top honchos have categorically denied any possible sale now or in future, VW seems to have shifted its attention to China. In a recent report by the German magazine WirtschaftsWoche, VW is planning a new small car brand for China which will have “Volkswagen für die Volksrepublik” - Volkswagen for the People’s Republic as its sign off. VW’s proposed new brand will develop small cars to be sold to new demographic segments; namely for the growing number with another German publication, Wirtschafts Woche, Mueller said that building Porsche’s in China or North America wouldn’t be breaking any taboos. “We are OK as long as we can say our cars are ‘engineered by Porsche,’” Mueller said. Porsche also recently announced that it would use a new VW plant (the former Karmann factory in Osnabrueck, Germany) for additional capacity to make the Boxster and Cayman models. VW will be using the plant to make the Golf Cabriolet.

While this is sad news, it’s not unexpected in the business. Unfavourable currency pegging has finally caught up with Toyota’s sub-brand Daihatsu. Citing “increasing development costs” and the “appreciation of the yen against the Euro,” Daihatsu has announced plans to cease European sales as of January 31, 2013. Since 2008, European sales have declined a staggering 33 per cent to just 19,300 units in 2010. For comparison, the brand’s most successful year was 2007 when 58,600 vehicles were sold. Despite the end of European sales, the company has promised to continue aftersales support in the ten countries affected by the announcement.

Hyundai sets its sights on China’s midsize segment

Daewoo brand name to be axed

of Chinese consumers outside of large cities like Beijing and Shanghai who are beginning to buy small cars. VW, like a VW would like to develop a unique brand or sub-brand for China with its partners there to sell the new smaller cars. “The Chinese government has been promoting Chinese brands for some time. We are currently in talks with our Chinese partners. In general, we see a local brand as an opportunity to enter new market segments, especially those we have not been able to get into so far,” VW China CEO KarlThomas Neumann recently told China Daily.

General Motors has announced plans to phase out the Daewoo name by the end of the first quarter of 2011. However, the company will continue to exist as GM Korea but the Daewoo vehicle line-up will be replaced by Chevrolet. In order to ease the transition, Chevy will introduce eight new models including the Camaro, Orlando, and Aveo. Furthermore, the company promises to launch a new SUV and midsize sedan. According to Mike Arcamone, President and CEO of GM Daewoo, “Changing our corporate name will increase our standing within GM globally while demonstrating our commitment to growing locally. We regard these moves as a key to our long-term success and fundamentally believe

While Hyundai’s rapid growth in the US has been nothing short of phenomenal, the South Korean automaker doesn’t plans to just sit and watch. According to a high-level executive in the automaker’s Chinese division, Hyundai is aiming for much of its long-term growth to come from China. “It is time to strengthen our brand’s premium image in China to pave the way for our long-term growth there,” Jung Myung-Chae, the general manager at Beijing Hyundai Motor’s brand strategy division, told the Financial Times recently. Although the automaker was a relative latecomer to the Chinese market, Hyundai is the number four brand in the country today. Its line-up is mostly a mish-mash of products lifted from emerging markets and North America, but its biggest seller was the Elantra compact sedan. Last year, Hyundai delivered 700,000 cars, but most were compact sedans with small displacement engines. According to Jung, Hyundai’s growth will now focus on larger output vehicles, like its more powerful Elantras and its bigger Sonata. The automaker recently broke ground on its third Chinese assembly plant as it attempts to keep pace with high vehicle demand. Two new models will be launched in China this year as the Korean automaker seeks to overcome a new tax on compact cars that has buyers moving toward subcompact and midsize vehicles.

‘Made in China’ Porsche?

Quite possible as Porsche is looking to double its global sales volume to 200,000 units a year by 2018 and its CEO says it may need to take production to other parts of the world in order to achieve that goal. CEO Matthias Mueller recently told the German magazine Focus that, “We will consider this year whether to start production in Asia or North America.” According to Focus, Porsche is considering building its upcoming compact

they will also bring added benefits to our customers and the Korean economy.”

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cOver stOry

d r8 he-line v10-fe top-of-t atch he top on its dropped t ormance to m ing perf audi may have ome ar offer blister by spending s t does the c swers sports car, bu an got the an autom tender go-fast looks? its ds it is no pre and fin e with the car pher Nabeel Ferzan tim otogra
n B Mallik Author Chanda Ph

otal t pyder s

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Editorial NomiNEE audi r8 V10 SpydEr SportS car

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cOver stOry

lessings in the automotive industry comes in many forms and considering the past two years of what top line car carmakers have been up to, Audi would clearly lead the way with innovation. It’s no secret that among the best sports cars to ever dominate two-lane highways, the Audi R8 is arguably a magical sports car. And during the course of its lifecycle, its blue-blooded credentials even got better with the shoe-horning of a Lamborghini-based V10 about a year ago. And this makes the R8 top of the pops in supercars. Audi have once again raised the benchmark by making one of the greatest vehicles it had ever built even better. Although, it may sound a bit outrageous considering current trends in high-perfromance sports cars, the idea of retractable soft top and a roll-down rear window surely gives the R8 line-up a standalone status. Well, it is job easier said than done, especially if your hardware has the same V10, 386kW of power and 530Nm of torque as in the R8 coupe and you are directed not to compromise on what the model stands for. And then you also cannot forget that the R8 hardtop coupe is good for a top speed of more than 300km/h and a zero-to-100km/h time of 4.1sec. So how does Audi guarantee that we have all these virtues in the 2011 R8 Spyder, which is its most expensive and in many eyes

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among the highly desirable offerings in the region? As expected, the new chapter with the R8 Spyder begins with some critical reengineering on the R8. Although at first glance the Spyder is nearly identical to the coupe in some angles. Its dominating front face and much of its side profile and its rear are virtually indistinguishable from the V10 coupe [which itself has a few styling elements to set it apart from the standard R8 V8], but at closer inspection one finds the R8 hardtop’s distinctive sideblade has vanished along with the metal roof. But what hasn’t vanished is the all-aluminium space-frame chassis and double wishbone suspension on which the car rides and surprisingly despite losing its metal top in favour of a fabric one, the R8 Spyder actually weighs just 100kg more than the hard-roofed sibling. While designing the car from hard top to soft top, there are compromises and there are bit in the Spyder that are actually not needed in the roadster, such as the long rear shelf behind the passenger compartment. But credit goes to both designers and engineers who used it to its advantage and effectively camouflage the rather complicated roof mechanism. Some may even argue that there’s a bit of a Porsche Carrera GT to the rear of the R8 Spyder’s side profile. Whatever, it may be, it is visually beautifully balanced and it looks as good with its top raised as it does in full droptop mode. The Spyder’s folding roof takes about 19secs to open or close and works up to speeds of 50km/h. While rag top interiors in the past were virtual furnace rides, Audi has used special insulation material in the fabric’s roofliner and a special coating to make the leather seats keep a lower ambient temperature when exposed to the sun. As with the outside, the R8 Spyder’s interior is essentially carried over from the hardtop, but to the trained eye, there are a few exceptions. Where the hardtop has

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some storage space behind the front seats, in the Spyder that space is taken up by the rear fixed window which slots in when top down, otherwise rest of the elements in the cabin are virtually the same. This means, the cabin is spacious for two and extremely busy with the usual array of standard Audi style and switchgear. The seats themselves are firmly supportive, but not restrictive like in a Ferrari. Despite sitting close to the ground, the seating position is able to still offer commendable visibility. In-car entertainment package is lavish with a multispeaker Bang & Olufson audio system with navigation and iPod-connectability as standard, as is single-zone automatic climate control. Highway speed wind buffeting is acceptably low – enough so that Audi says you can still enjoy Bluetooth conversations thanks to trick microphones integrated into the seatbelt shoulder harnesses. Audi says that customers can bespoke their vehicles through the company’s personalization program!

With top up and strapped inside, the car feels exactly like the coupe. But things begin to change after you activate the central console-mounted switch, which lowers rear glass heated rear window and top down. With this window neatly tucked away into the bodywork, the V10′s exhaust system comes to play. Among the many things you note is that the drive and handling characteristics of the Spyder virtually remain unchanged. The car is as entertaining as ever, thanks in part to the crafty chassis strengthening measures, which has ensured the body or chassis is stiff and doesn’t flex even when driven hard. However, one thing matters in cars which have their engine located just behind the passenger compartment is that no matter how good the insulation is, you can’t avoid the engine’s mechanical noises which can overwhelm the efforts of even the most competent automaker to make an exhaust

Driving impressions

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burble and snap at all the right times. But in the R8 Spyder, aural entertainment gets top marks and so does the car’s race-proven V10 and R-Tronic single-clutch semi-automatic transmission. And at this stage only one can safely conclude and argue that the R8 V10 Spyder is more than just a ride for sun worshippers. Like most top-end Audis with sports pretensions, the R8 Spyder offers a range of settings for controls such as the transmission, steering and bi-modal exhaust – comfort, automatic or dynamic. For most of the driving out of town, we decided to stay with ‘dynamic’. Meanwhile, we won’t hide our love for the R8′s superbly mellifluous V10 engine. In normal city driving speeds, the exhaust note is generally muted and one has to keep the engine revs above about 3,000 to really enjoy the growl when the baffles open up. Actually, we have driven both the R8 in both bodystyles, and in the coupe, the mill offers most of its power above 4,500 rpm. But with a quite acceptable 525hp at 8,000rpm and 530Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm, the R8 Spyder never ceases to entertain even the most spirited driver. In terms of performance, despite the soft top and extra 100kg of mass, the Spyder with its top raised is just 3.2km/h short of its coupe sibling at top whack. As for acceleration, 0-100km/h just flies by just four seconds after a complete stop. In fact pace acceleration the car achieves lateral acceleration of up to 1.2 g and you can feel being thrust to the seats. And the R-tronic six-speed transmission is an absolute joy to put through its paces. The close ratio gears are perfectly revv-matched for the job and it slips nicely into gears minus the typical Lamborghini in-between shift jerks and noisy clunks. What we liked most was the car’s balance between handling and performance which virtually mimics its hardtop sibling and the ease of driving this highly sophisticated and refined beast. Whether you are hard on the brakes and into a corner or changing gears via the flat-bottomed steering wheel paddles of the six-speed R-tronic, the engine automatically blips the throttle with each down change just like in hypersports bikes. Accelerating out of the corner, we can thank Audi’s acclaimed quattro all-wheel drive system that, which we discovered in the Spyder uses a viscous coupler to split the torque between the front and rear axles. Also contributing to this blistering performance is the car’s mid-engine design, which provides an ideal axle load distribution of 44 to 56 per cent. In most situations, the car is a blast on the roads, especially on mountain or twisties where the fast down shifts come into play, and in city driving it also maintains its cheerful and playful mood with electronic nannies watching your every move and in and stepping in whenever required helping the car remain stable. However, you can trick the car momentarily into a slide rear slide by easing on the throttle a little early in a corner before the safety electronics intervene. The steering appears neutral, thanks to some classic racing technology used in the aluminium suspension and the ten-spoke Y designer alloys is exclusive to the R8 V10. The car uses asymmetric tyres -- 235/35 p front and 295/30 in the rear. In real time, it [the steering] seems to read the driver’s intentions and helps point the way in an almost sublime fashion. Body roll is virtually non-existent, yet the two-way adjustable ride (standard and sport) is never punishing like a crude gokart. The car’s specially-tuned all-wheel-drive system ensures that it is a RWD most of the time, yet when pushed hard into a corner on a tight curve, like those just like the ones near the mountains bordering Oman and UAE, the Spyder gratifies instantly and instinctively, part in thanks to the super fast magnetic ride shock absorber which adapts the characteristics of the suspension in milliseconds to the nature of the road surface and also to the driving style. Brakes are pretty sharp and there’s also option for ceramics.

Verdict

In our opinion, by far, the R8 Spyder is unquestionably one of the world’s greatest handling cars ever built. While Audi estimates that the majority of R8 sales in global markets will be Spyders, what we don’t know what statistics and percentages Audi has in mind for the Middle East region. But what we do know is that the supercar market has always been as much about looking good as it has been about driving well. If looks were all that mattered, the R8 Spyder is a genuine winner, but this one comes with genes of a winner.

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lution on Revolvo the road

Editorial NomiNEE VolVo S60 3.0t prEmium car

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lot of things have happened in less than a year in the books of Volvo. In 2010, China-based Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Company completed the purchase of Volvo Cars from Ford Motor Company in the biggest overseas acquisition [Geely paid $1.3bn] by a Chinese automaker. As part of the continued cooperation between the two parties, Ford will continue to supply powertrains, stampings and some vehicle components to Volvo. Ford has also agreed to provide engineering and technology support, and access to tooling for common components.
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Usually in a takeover situation between automotive companies, it takes a while to get the house in order. At Volvo, remarkably there was no lag time and the company stuck with its new product deadlines as per schedule. Meanwhile, Volkswagen AG’s former US chief Stefan Jacoby has taken over as CEO of Volvo and has put into effect a master plan which focuses on reducing the impact of currency fluctuations by concentrating on manufacturing more Volvos in China. Even under Ford, Volvo has been producing cars in China for several years and European manufacturing [Belgium and Sweden] will continue as before.

The all-new third generation Volvo S60 sedan made its international debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2010 and the production model has arrived in Oman. The first thing which strikes is its overall profile. Although it is a compact sedan, viewing it from a three quarter angle one can be forgiven for thinking it is a coupé. This is because the sheetmetal is by far sportier and more distinct than any previous Volvo. Unlike the sleepy designs of the 1990s, Volvo has definitely jumped quite a few steps in automotive design over the past decade and continues to do so. While, one can thank design director Peter Horbury

for revamping design in the whole Volvo line-up, the S60 was actually was penned by Steve Mattin, the British designer responsible for the original Mercedes A-Class and the pre-face-lift version of the currentgeneration Mercedes SL. As a result, the new S60 clearly takes its inspiration from the outgoing Horbury-designed S60, yet it is much more chiseled with strong and well-defined character lines. Up front, the dominating headlamps are virtually embedded extravagantly into the bonnet, aggressive and sporty air-scoops/intakes in the lower valance which combine to help Volvo’s signature chamfered waist line to appear less pronounced, like in a fastback. Meanwhile, the C-pillar stretches all the way to the tail lamps - and the slim coupé -like roof line is accompanied by a new contour on the shoulders on either side of the lower body. This creates a gentle double wave in the line from the headlamps at the front to the tail lamps at the rear. The four-door coupe type profile is more prominent at the rear with the relatively short boot. One of the things we still like about Volvo’s business strategy is that so far it not succumbed to the ‘dumping’ policy which is being currently practised by many European and German car makers. By this we mean trying to offer models sized to slot in between the cars of its competition instead of taking on competing models on the basis of dimension. Despite the proliferation of several ‘intermediate’ models, the S60 as a mainstream model stands out quite nicely with

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an overall length of 4,627mm. Though its short overhangs, 18in wheels and taut proportions make the new S60 appear roughly the same size as its more streamlined predecessor, this sedan is actually 60mm longer. If we can say the exterior is an extrovert expression, the cabin is unmistaken and typical of a current Volvo. The trademark floating central console is where it should be, but it has been improvised for ergonomics by designers who tilted it slightly toward the driver. As always, there’s an array of buttons making the console quite busy. And then there’s a surround effect created by four rotary knobs that control the cabin temperature and the infotainment screen. Good thing, the screen is mounted high in the dash. While the leather and wood bound interior is very well built, the only niggle which we felt was to do with the seats. The stiff cushioned seats are a bit oversized for the car [good for big Americans], the lower base is longer and the lumber side bolsters are a bit spread out. This means an average sized driver or passenger doesn’t exactly get a body hugging sporty seat [although the design suggests so]. The design in this respect seems to be designed more for the American buyer in mind than a global customer, although the driving position
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is excellent for all hues of drivers. In terms of space, the new S60 has almost 50mm more rear legroom than the outgoing model, but while this aspect makes the S60 competitive with its class rivals and despite a tapering roofline at the rear, adults in the back seat will be able to stretch out a lot more in the Volvo comfortably than in the Lexus IS due to its better head and legroom design and management. However, from the practicality vs design view, the car isn’t entirely flawless. With only 380litres at its disposal, the boot space is marginally bigger than a hatchback such as the VW Golf, or better yet, the Audi A3. However, the plus is that it’s easily accessible and the rear bench is foldable in a 60:40 fashion. Volvo have endowed the car with a premium infotainment system which now integrates information from the audio unit, navigation system, mobile phone and other functions into a TFT screen located in the upper part of the centre console. Meanwhile, top spec cars can be ordered with IAQS (Interior Air Quality System) which prevents particles and unpleasant odours from entering the cabin. To offer highly-sensitive passengers even better climate comfort, the system has also been equipped with Clean Zone Interior, a

system based on ECC and IAQS. When the car is unlocked using the remote control, the passenger compartment is automatically ventilated if the outdoor temperature exceeds 10° Celsius. On the safety front, there’s BLIS for the driver, lane departure warning, advanced side impact protection system, seat-mounted side airbags, improved inflatable curtains and whiplash protection system. In the dynamic stability and traction control department, there’s more than just an upgrade. It takes safety a step further with the introduction of a new roll sensor, particularly useful in detecting skidding tendency at a very early stage. Volvo says that the anti-skid system can step in earlier and with greater precision. We all know that advanced stability control can be a great asset in spirited driving that involves considerable lateral forces. Comparing the roll sensor system of the S60 with the one in the XC90 SUV, the SUV one takes body roll into account as a safety feature in order to avoid rollovers, whereas the S60’s setup is designed to perceive the loss of traction before it occurs and make early and slight corrections for better handling.

Driving impressions
Volvo has claimed that the 2011 S60 is the most dynamically gifted car it has ever produced and after a few days with the car, we have to agree with this notion. The first thing that strikes when behind the steering wheel of this car is its agility which we cannot recall of previously experiencing in a S60. This is surprising since the basic suspension configuration remains unchanged, which is a package that comes with struts in front and a multilink set up in the rear. But what we don’t see is that most of the components have been thoroughly upgraded that it’s not easy to ignore the benefits in the ride quality as a result of a stiffer front subframe, firmer bush settings and strut mounts and stronger shock absorbers. Volvo’s investment in giving the T6 S60 serious road manners is an intriguing development considering that fact the car offers drivers to choose what type of suspension settings they would like to have at no extra cost. Depending on the specs chosen, the “Dynamic” chassis calibration is standard or default setting, and “Touring” calibration is for those inclined for more comfort. The third available chassis is Volvo’s FOUR-C, or Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept, which is active, meaning sensors change the settings depending on the road and driving style. The forced fed transversely mounted 2,953cc inline-six cylinder in the test car had a twin-scroll turbocharger with some modifications to reduce internal friction. As a result the engine is now able to offer increased peak power of 304hp at 5,600 rpm and peak torque of 440Nm between 2,100-4,200 rpm and this meant we got dollops of torque at very low engine speeds with spritely acceleration. As far as the everyday city driving went, the new S60 handled like a breeze and Volvo’s Aisin-built six-speed automatic Geartronic did a pretty decent job of exploiting its potential in this set-up. Although, there are no shift paddles on the steering wheel one can select gears sequentially using the gearshifter and the throttle blips complement the high and low exhaust notes. For an all-wheel-drive, besides confident road handling, the car has now a point and shoot attitude. The suspension is moderately firm and there is good roll control and it seems that the many hours that Volvo’s engineers have put in to work into improving the steering gear ratio is that it is ten per cent faster than in previous models. Besides a solid feel and weight, the feedback to a driver’s input is pretty impressive. But, there’s one more piece of technology that we think deserves more than just a passing mention. The new S60 comes with fourth-generation of Haldex’s all-wheel-drive system. As opposed to hydraulic systems in some AWD cars, this one uses an electrically triggered centre differential. The advantage of electric over hydraulic is that it can respond quickly to variations in traction, while the rear electronic limited-slip differential can split the drive to the rear wheels to reduce understeer during hard cornering [It uses torque vectoring, which moves torque to the outside wheels to help steer the car around a turn]. For us this meant that the S60 AWD felt like confident allwheel-drive car instead of a front wheel driven car with a bit of extra help.

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Verdict
Despite the change of ownership of the carmaker, Volvo has kept and in a way surpassed its own benchmark. The S60 is among the first new arrivals from the new partnership and the redesigned car hits the mark everywhere it aims. The new S60 is definitely the most surprising Volvo we’ve ever driven as the level of driver involvement is unparalleled with any other model from the past, with the exception of the R-versions. Punters in the market for a lively sports sedan should have this car on the watch list.

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ord’s midsize crossover sport utility, the Edge has been in the market for almost four years and since inception has been one of the better solutions in the segment which demanded a spacious non-truck base vehicle with utility and style. The Edge has been one of the great successes for the brand so far in establishing its standalone career credentials by not being a truck or a minivan. Arguably, it’s more than a just a car. Ford’s successful product and technologyled innovation drive in the past couple of years has paid off rich dividends, and Ford is looking forward to maintain this momentum

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in forthcoming new products or products that are due for their respective mid-life cycles upgrades. The introduction of the extensively revisited 2011 Edge is also evidence that Ford also understands good timing and with the Edge it is more than just bringing a new package to market ahead of the competition, but actually keeping it ahead of the competition. So the big question is: Is Ford’s refresh of the Edge is more than just a new front corporate face, some lifestyle oriented wheel designs and taillights as part of a nip and tuck? Actually not, although features such as profile and dimensions [the Edge is eight

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Editorial NomiNEE Ford EdgE prEmium SuV

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inches shorter than the outgoing Ford Explorer maintains its two inches shorter wheelbase] have been carried over. From the exterior, there’s a new grille, re-chiseled bonnet, new mudguards, bumper and air intakes up front, revised tail gate and new exhaust tips. Arguably, when compared to many of Ford’s recently updated or redesigned vehicles in the last two years, the Edge can come off as being by far one of the best. Ford engineers have also improved the Edge’s aerodynamics, dropping the drag coefficient from 0.385 to 0.363. Among their many tricks to increase efficiency include resizing the air vent inlets to the engine compartment by 40 per cent resulting in better airflow. While there were some minor modifications made to the Edge for 2009, but the 2011 model counts as a major makeover, with 60 per cent of its parts and components replaced. While, the outgoing Edge’s interior was generally accepted as being ergonomically sound and modestly appealing, the overall ambience was somewhat dampened due to the use of hard touch plastics and hence definitely a candidate for a redesign and material upgrades. For the latest model, Ford has obliged and says it made considerable improvements to overall design, layout and paid extra attention particularly to material choices. As a result, the changes made are more than just a cosmetic exercise. Not only, the Edge enjoys a more upscale look and feel, the bonus is that most of the cabin’s controls have been simplified via new interfacing technologies, which Ford is particularly proud of. In one of the newest applications of this cutting edge telematics technology, it integrates and allows users to control the vehicle’s climate, communication and entertainment functions from a centralized system. Compared to the outgoing model, this is a huge step forward. The application has also influenced to some extent the design of the revised dashboard, central console, instrument dials and steering wheel. Now, the speedometer is flanked by two bright 4.2in LCD screens that contain driverconfigurable information – one for vehicle information, the other for climate, audio and depending on the trim level, communications and navigation. Operated by two five-way controllers located on the steering wheel, it allows the driver to scroll through and select different screens. In some circumstances, a useful screen will appear automatically such as when using the steering wheel mounted shift paddles will bring up a tachometer in the

left side screen automatically. Meanwhile, the central console is like Volvo’s floating design incorporating a storage bin and arm rest at the base. Depending on trim, Ford offers SYNC – the voice-activated communications and entertainment system developed by Ford and Microsoft that fully integrates Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones and digital media players or a navigation system with an eight-inch LCD touch screen and Ford’s “MyFordTouch” infotainment interface. Also included in the package is an entertainment centre in the lower console with two USB ports, video input jacks and an SD card slot. Complementing the existing Sync system, MyTouch features a new touchscreen display along with additional voice commands, and operates the Edge’s array of tech features. Besides the comfort, convenience and infotainment features, Ford’s MyKey and Easy Fuel Capless fuel-filler systems are also present for the new Edge. And there’s news under the bonnet too. For the Middle East, as part of the revised powertrain packages, two V6 engines are now available. Actually, one of the new engines comes straight from the Mustang stable. The previous Edge was offered with a single 3.5litre V6 and automatic transmission across the entire range since launch. Now, Ford has made significant changes to the outgoing model’s 3.5-litre V6 for increased power and efficiency and also added a 3.7-litre V6 to the line-up. While, the outgoing 3.5-litre V6 was good for 265hp, the new 3.5-litre V6 makes use of the addition of Ti-VCT technology and improvements to the engine’s internal components, which result in a net output of 285hp. And despite the increased power, Ford says this V6 engine will be unsurpassed in fuel economy, and beat many models in power, too. Meanwhile, our tester, which had the new 3.7-litre Ti-VCT V6 is the same V6 found in the new 2011 Mustang, and in the Edge it is good for 305hp and 280 ft.-lb of torque. More importantly, very much like the new 3.5-litre V6 in the base and Limited Edge models, the 3.7-litre V6 is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, but unlike the standard Edge, the Sport gains class-exclusive paddle activation of the SelectShift transmission. Ford says that it has been tuned to offer maximum driver control, removing the forced redline shifting found in most manually shiftable automatic transmissions. To make sure that the new wheels and tyres complement the vehicle, Ford has re-tuned the shock absorber, springs and stabilizer bars and to help bring this car stop efficiently

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gs back mediately brin ort the new grille im iginal ford sp he or ugh memories of t oncept, altho ne c trac adrenali style fusion-esque with a modern
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without making its occupants nervous, Ford has added new four-wheel disc brakes with increased stopping power. Changes include steel pistons, larger rear rotors and as with the current trends, the 2011 Edge also gains Hill Start Assist, which is designed to reduce rollback when starting on inclines. Other safety kit includes adaptive cruise control with collision warning that automatically pre-charges brakes and engages an electronic brake assist system to help drivers stop more quickly when the system detects a collision is imminent; blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert that can detect traffic approaching from the sides when reversing out of parking spots. What is interesting about the Edge variants is that many of the additional features can be added to the lower trim levels via optional packages. Other available options include (depending on trim level) 20in wheels, a panoramic sunroof, a power liftgate, xenon headlights, adaptive cruise control, keyless ignition/entry, a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system and an SD-card-based navigation system.

Driving impressions

The extra horses that Mustang V6 offers, provides plenty of torque to move the car with authority and appears to be paired well with the smooth, responsive six-speed automatic as well. Progression from standstill is linear and gearshifts virtually seamless. The retuned suspension gives the Edge a slightly sportier feel and with paddle shifters, there’s Mustanglike fun with the sportier gear changes, especially with no rev limiter trying to thwart the driver’s spirited efforts. The car’s road grip and manners even with the oversized large wheels and low-profile tyres was exemplary. With this set-up, we could take flatter corners and surprisingly, although its roll centre is actually a touch higher due to the huge wheels, the car is absolutely composed on road. We also noted that both road noise and wind noise are significantly decreased, thanks to the extensive NVH improvements found throughout the interior and exterior including acoustic glass, new sub frame isolation mounts among other sound deadening materials. And the cabin is not only a quiet place to

be, but comfortable, with wide seats – in either durable-feeling cloth or full leather – and extensive rear seat legroom. Driver and passenger are surrounded by materials that are soft to touch and pieces that are tightly screwed together that demonstrate Ford’s commitment to improving the quality of its vehicles. And despite the initial feel of being overloaded with tech-goodies, the navigation via the touchscreen system is actually quite easy to use. Under the pads are touchsensitive “cells”, which create a miniature, undetectable electric field. A hovering finger breaks the field and causes the cell to go on or off like a traditional switch. This means there is no true button to push – a touch of the finger does the job. Illumination along with an audible “beep” confirms activation. With the system active, one can control items such as volume, radio seek, radio station tuning, CD track seek or set air-conditioning. Included in the climate controls is the new MyTemp feature, which allowed us to program and set the desired interior temperature like a radio preset. In operation, we’ve found it to be a pretty good interface and an interesting rival to BMW’s iDrive or Audi’s MMI. Among the array of new safety technologies, we were quite keen to see how the car reacted in during an emergency braking simulation. Actually, it works quite well as the Adaptive Cruise Control and Collision Warning with Brake Support system chips in a flash when it senses an imminent situation and helps reduce speed and automatically pre-charges brakes and engages an electronic brake assist system. All Edge models also receive new braking hardware, which has improved brake feel and shortened its stopping distance by 20 per cent. With all these improvements, the 2011 Ford Edge firmly and confidently reassures its position as a top choice for punters looking at a midsize five-passenger crossover. It’s stylish and also loaded with segment leading technological features. But now that it is both innovative and rewarding to drive, the latest Edge finally lives up to its name.

Verdict

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arely three weeks after images were leaked on the internet in a video from Europe, Mercedes-Benz officially released pictures and details of the part SLSinspired third-generation two-seater 2012 SLK Roadster. From the specs and details, it seems that the incoming car will be one of the more environmentally friendly roadsters to hit the roads with launch dates coinciding with the carmaker’s 125th anniversary celebrations in Stuttgart, Germany. The first public unveiling will take place at the Geneva motor show in March. The incoming SLK moves into new territory in design, engineering and features. The front face of the car with its more upright grill clearly mimics the SLS AMG and represents once again Mercedes-Benz’s new design DNA related to this particular feature. And it’s not without cause – there’s a functional aspect as well -- the new design further improves on the SLK’s drag co-efficient, which stands at Cd 0.30 [compared to the previous model’s 0.32].

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As part of the efficiency drive, the bonnet and mudguards are made out of aluminium to help cut weight, and headlights are now entirely LED powered. However, from the design standpoint, the most distinguishing feature of the new SLK is the panoramic roof with Magic Sky Control, whereby the transparency of the ‘vario-roof’ can be changed from light to dark with the touch of a button. The effect is very much like polarized lens in sunglasses that cuts out glare. The earlier application of similar technology was in the Maybach. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz will offer the conventional metal roof with tinted glass. Inside the new SLK, the dash has been remodeled in a style similar to the big-brother SLS while the rest is familiar territory. Depending on markets, several powertrains will be offered and the entry level will be offered with a version of Mercedes-Benz’s new turbo-charged 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine along with the new 3.5-litre direct-

injection V6 in the SLK350. Mercedes-Benz says the V6 has been newly developed, with third-generation direct injection, piezo injectors and multi-spark ignition. In Europe, three models will be available from launch, all flying Mercedes-Benz’s environmental BlueEfficiency banner: SLK200, SLK250 and SLK350. The four-cylinder petrol models are both equipped with a new 1.8-litre engine, but in two states of tune: 135kW and 150kW. The entry-level SLK200 BlueEfficiency, with the 135kW engine, has a claimed 0-100km/h sprint time of 7.0sec – 0.6sec faster than the current 200 Kompressor – and a top speed of 237km/h. Fuel economy is greatly improved, thanks to a range of BlueEfficiency fuel-saving measures such as idle-stop, delivering 7.1litres per 100km, compared with 9.3-litres per 100km for the current SLK350. Mercedes-Benz claims the SLK200 BlueEfficiency is the most economical roadster in its class, achieving 6.1-litre per 100km on the combined cycle on premium unleaded and emitting just 142g

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of CO2 per kilometre. All SLK models will come standard with a new seven-speed automatic transmission, but a six-speed manual alternative will be available with the base SLK200. Mercedes-Benz says tha a 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel is also under consideration for some markets. While there is no information yet on any hot AMG variant, which European reports speculate should get Benz’s AMG’s acclaimed twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8, but without turbo-charging. The SLK buyer in Europe will be able to choose from three suspension formats: a standard conventional steel suspension, a firmer sports set-up or a Dynamic Handling package with electronically controlled, fully automatic damping system. The new SLK will benefit from MercedesBenz’s latest safety gear, including its Pre-Safe system that alerts the driver to an imminent collision and, if necessary, applies emergency braking. In addition to the regular airbags, there’s a new ‘headbag’ which provides lateral protection for the head impact area, as well as an additional thorax airbag in the seat backrest that protects the upper body in the event of a side impact. Another new standard feature will be ‘Neck-Pro’ crash-responsive head restraints, developed by MercedesBenz to support the front occupants’ heads in the event of a rear impact and reduce the risk of whiplash. That’s not all. Pedestrian safety has also been enhanced by sensors in the front bumper that register an impact and immediately raises the bonnet by 85mm to create additional space between the bonnet and the components in the engine compartment. Other systems announced by Mercedes-Benz for the SLK include a camera that detects speed limit signs and displays them on the speedo, an ‘intelligent light system’ with five modes for different driving conditions, and a post-crash supplement to the Pre-Safe system that can automatically provide interior lighting, lower the side windows by 50mm for better ventilation and (where memory is fitted) raise the steering wheel.

<< the most distinguishing
feature of the new slk, is the panoramic roof with Magic sky control, whereby the transparency of the ‘vario-roof’ can be changed from light to dark >>
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FabFour Fab

Ferrari reveals first details of its all-wheeldrive FF flagship in four-seat fastback configuration

<< the four may be the first shooting brake to roll out of Maranello since the legendary 250 breadvan >>
fter many months of speculation, Ferrari has officially unveiled the new four concept ahead of its debut at the Geneva Motor Show. Essentially a preview of the forthcoming 612 Scaglietti replacement, the FF features a bold Pininfarina design that mixes elements from several cars in the family – mainly the 458 Italia, California and 599 GTB Fiorano. Most notably, the car is a shooting brake which will offer 450 litres worth of cargo space with the rear seats up and 800 litres with the rear seats down.

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Underpinned by an all-new chassis, the Four has an independent suspension with magnetically adjustable dampers and Brembo carbon ceramic brakes. More importantly, the car is equipped, for the first time ever in a Ferrari, with an advanced Ruote Motrici (4RM) four-wheel drive system that is heavily rear-biased and “delivers record levels of performance on all terrains and in all conditions via continuous and intelligent predictive torque distribution to all four wheels.” Under the bonet, power is provided by a

6.3-litre V12 engine with 651hp and 683Nm of torque. It is connected to a double-clutch transmission which enables the 1,790 kg concept to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 3.7secs and reach a top speed 335km/h. Furthermore, the FF has a combined fuel consumption of 15.4 L/100 km (15.3 mpg US) and CO2 emissions of 360 g/km. The HELE stop-start system previewed in the California concept from the Paris show also helps keep emissions and fuel consumption down.

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Reinventing
the coupe
By employing a unique three-door design in a coupe, Hyundai is about to prove that innovation and engineering can go hand in hand
Author Chandan B Mallik

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o market observers, it’s a replacement of the sports coupe [Tiburon in some markets], but for the folks at Hyundai, it’s much more than just a design teaser. In fact, given the current state of the automotive markets and future requirements, Hyundai is using its 2012 Veloster to unveil a slate of new technologies, including a brand new engine and transmission as well as the automaker’s first foray into the safety and convenience telematics with Blue Link. Yes, there were the usual quota of teasers and spy shots and teasers, but it was at Detroit lst month when the sheet was finally pulled back to reveal in flesh the Veloster. On top of Hyundai’s business agenda is focusing business in the US, hence it is not surprising that the Veloster wants take aim at the new breed of small displacement and efficient sports cars such as the Honda’s new CR-Z. At Detroit, Hyundai’s presentation was impressive and more impressive is how it is reinventing the way we look at the future of coupes and hatchbacks. In the Velostar, the most striking element is the way designers have crafted into the car’s structure a unique three-door design that’s surprisingly better in execution than what one had actually expected. To maintain the car’s coupe-like style, the rear door handle has been integrated into the C-pillar. Inside the cabin, Hyundai will load the car with a host of newfangled technology, including a standard multi-function seven-inch touch-screen display, internet radio, video playback and game console connectivity and Bluetooth.Hyundai’s usual array of safety equipment will include [depending in market] features such as the new Blue Link telematics system that covers automatic crash notification, enhanced roadside assistance, remote door and vehicle start, and convenience features like voice text messaging, vehicle diagnostics information and a range of navigation features. The production version of the car is 70-80 per cent like the Veloster Concept that was unwrapped at the 2007 Los Angeles Show. The Veloster will be powered by Hyundai’s all-new naturally aspirated 1.6-litre Gamma inline four cylinder engine which will offers 138hp at 6,300 rpm and 123 pound-feet of torque at 4,850 rpm. Advanced technologies such as direct injection will make this engine surprisingly efficient. While official EPA numbers haven’t been released just yet, Hyundai claims that the Veloster will net around 40mpg on the highway, easily beating fuel efficient hybrids such as the Honda CR-Z and even smaller B-segment offerings like the Mazda2 or Honda Fit/Jazz. The standard transmission is a six-speed manual, though an all-new sixspeed dual-cluch transmission is available. Hyundai promises that the Veloster will be agile and fun to drive and its suspension package includes a lightweight V-torsion beam in the rear suspension setup, a 23mm stabilizer bar to control body roll and sport-tuned electric power steering. A quick-ratio steering system has also been fitted, and the Veloster rides on standard 17in wheels wrapped in 215/45 allseason tyres. Two sets of 18in alloy wheels will be available, housed in 215/40 performance rubber.
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utteRly
delectable

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Afuel-efficient AMG-badged performance machine may sound a bit odd, but with the all-new 2012 CLS63 AMG, Mercedes-Benz thinks it could rewrite history
Author Chandan B Mallik

he Los Angeles Auto Show is the largest on the US west coast and is typically the venue where car makers love to showcase their latest green technologies. So how does one present a car that’s been specifically designed to appeal to fashion conscious automotive extremists and literally does just the opposite? Well, some may agree and some may not, but ask AMG, the performance arm of Mercedes-Benz to come up with an idea that combines performance and efficiency and this is what you are likely to get. Actually, on the eve of the LA Auto Show, Mercedes-Benz quietly took the wraps off the all-new 2012 CLS63 AMG, the second generation of its thoroughly restyled E-Class based coupe-styled sedan. Visually, the car retains its elegant profile but now features several refined design cues such as a new sculpted bonnet, modified bumpers, a revised grille, and unique front mudguards. LED daytime running lamps come as standard, while LED high-performance headlights are available as an option. Volker Mornhinweg, the then managing director of Mercedes-AMG GmbH in Affalterbach, single-handedly transformed AMG, turning the in-house tuner into a fully fledged and independent supercar manufacturer and many directions of his infectious business philosophy have transcended into the new AMG cars in the past couple of years. Among them was attention to detail, material choices, ergonomics inside the car besides the engineering. The wraparound effect in the cockpit is deliberate with the high line flowing in a single sweep from the driver door across the dashboard to the passenger door. Generously proportioned and finely detailed trim comes as standard in burl walnut wood veneer. Piano black lacquer and carbonfibre trim elements are available as options. Rendered in matte grey, the menacing looks of the show car may have momentarily diverted one’s attention especially when viewed from the front, the new car evokes more than a passing association with the SLS AMG - the radiator grille in particular. But under the sleek sheet metal is the unique AMG mantra for superior performance and groundbreaking efficiency. Addressing the classic conflicting goals of low weight and high strength and very much like the ground breaking SLS AMG, the CLS63 AMG is also fitted with aluminium doors with extruded sections which are around 24kg lighter compared with conventional steel doors. In addition, the bonnet, front wings, trunk lid, parcel shelf, various support sections as well as major parts of the chassis and engine are all made from aluminium.

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Key specifications 2012 CLS63 AMG
CLS 63 AMG Displacement 5461 cc Bore x stroke 98.0 x 90.5 mm Compression ratio 10.0:1 Output 525 hp at 5250 rpm 557 hp at 5750 rpm* Max. torque 700 nm at 1750 - 5000 rpm 800 nm at 2000 - 4500 rpm* Engine weight (dry) 204 kg Fuel consumption - combined 28.5 mpg CO2 emissions 232 g/km Acceleration 0 - 100 km/h 4.4 s 4.3 s* Top speed** 155 mph

<< the speedshift Mct 7-speed sport transmission will help
achieve an estimated fuel economy of 16 miles per gallon in the city and 21 on the highway, which represents a 33 per cent improvement over the outgoing 6.2-litre >>
But it’s the heart of the car that really attracts the petrol heads. As with the S63 AMG and CL63 AMG, drivers of the CLS63 AMG will also benefit from the state-of-the-art potent new V8 which AMG is now shoe-horning in all the models which used to have the normally aspirated 6.3-litre V8. The new in the equation is the AMG-tuned 5.5-litre V8 biturbo engine, internally known as the M 157, which features a combination of high-technology such as sprayguided direct injection with piezo injectors, an all-aluminium crankcase, four-valve technology with variable camshafts, air-water charge-air cooling, generator management and stop/start system. While, the incoming four-door coupe abandons the bigger engine V8, this doesn’t mean drop in performance. On the contrary, the forced-fed engine not only is flexible, but is capable of generating an output ranging from 525 to 557hp and 700 to 800Nm of torque respectively. And depending on the output of the engines, both versions of the CLS63 AMG are able to deliver exceptional performance. Acceleration from 0 to 100km/h takes 4.4 and 4.3sec respectively, with a top speed of 250km/h [electronically limited]. All this output is harnessed via the AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed transmission. This powertrain packaging represents an improvement of up to 33 per cent compared with the outgoing model in terms of fuel economy estimated to be around 16 mpg in city and 21 mpg in highway driving conditions. And supporting the chassis is an AMG adaptive suspension kit with the adaptive damping system and a new front axle arrangement, plus new electro-hydraulic sports steering delivers supreme handling and dynamics. The driver can switch between the three suspension settings “Comfort”, “Sport” and “Sport plus” at the touch of a button. The “S” (Sport), “S+” (Sport Plus) and “M” (Manual) programs offer a more agile engine and transmission set-up [especially when the stop/start function is deactivated]. In the “M”, “S” and “S+” modes, the engine management partially suppresses the cylinders – by interrupting ignition and injection for a very short and precisely defined period under full load, it makes shift times faster than ever. One highly appealing side effect of this exceptionally quick process is a stunningly emotional sound. Automatic rev-matching and the RACE START function round out the comprehensive list of standard equipment. The three-stage ESP® offers individual settings – and thus a distinct plus for driving fun with no restriction in safety. On the safety front besides the usual assortment of active and passive safety kit, there are more than a dozen driving assistance systems on the new CLS. The active blind spot assist and the active lane keeping assist are new in this car. Perfect deceleration even when driving extremely briskly is ensured by the AMG high-performance braking system with large 360mm diameter internally ventilated and perforated brake discs allround. Particularly resistant, motorsportstested composite technology is used on the front axle. The optional AMG ceramic highperformance composite braking system with yet larger brake discs guarantees an even higher level of braking performance as well as lower unsprung masses. Contact with the road is provided by the titanium grey-painted, highsheen AMG light-alloy wheels featuring a new triple-spoke design and fitted with 255/35 R 19 tyres on the front and 285/30 R 19 tyres on the rear. The 2012 CLS63 AMG goes on sale in the US in the summer.

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the gilles touch
It’s no secret that the outgoing generation E-Class based Chrysler 300C was literally the brand’s saviour when it went on sale in 2005. For 2011, the second generation has been refreshed inside out
Author Chandan B Mallik

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<< for improved
aerodynamics and visibility, the car’s windscreen has been raked back three inches, while rolled-framed doors with thinner pillars improve outward visibility by 15 per cent >>

Breaking news

o matter what the automotive industry has gone through or endeared in the past couple of years, in the case of Chrysler LLC, the mid-cycle product refreshing/upgrading programme of several models got delayed before the Fiat took over the bankrupt automaker from Daimler. But even by industry standards, six years is a long time to stand behind a boxy, gangsta-looking sedan which became notorious for its ‘Bentley’ grille. Chrysler brand CEO Olivier Francois, who quoted lyrics from Eminem famous “Lose Yourself” song at the Detroit Auto Show said that the company invested a jaw-dropping $1bn on the car’s redesign which includes jobs both over and under the skin. As with the industry’s top priority of meeting future emissions and fuel consumption targets, Francois also confirmed that an eight-speed transmission was on the way that would help the 292hp V6 Pentastar achieve 30 miles per gallon when introduced. While the incoming car has a carryover profile, most of the 2011’s sheetmetal is actually new and redesigned from the ground up. The car is built on Chrysler Group’s new second generation Esegment architecture. The exterior comes with a heavily reworked front face and tweaked rear end which helps differentiate the incoming car from the outgoing model. Chrysler has taken steps to increase the 300’s outward visibility by making thinner roof pillars and extending the windshield’s rake by three inches. Actually, the 300’s new face is more in line with the corporate design which also adorns the recently announced smaller 200‘s. Punters will no fail to notice that a smaller, sloped chromium plated grille with horizontal slats replaces the Bentley-inspired egg-crate design. The headlamps also get a full treatment -- the old rectangular setup is out, replaced by a cluster including trendy LED-fed daytime running lamps and bi-functional projector lamps. The bonnet appears sculpted out of solid metal and at the rear, the previous model’s plain Jane been replaced with a baroque affair of chrome-trimmed taillamps and a new “300C” logo with the C in subscript. The boot lid now sports an integrated lip spoiler and below it the new winged Chrysler logo. The bumper has prominent molded cutouts for exhaust tips. Gilles has noted customer feedback related to the outgoing sedan’s interior and has paid extra atten-

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Chrysler Group plans to offer a gasoline-electric hybrid version of the Chrysler 300 sedan in 2013, CEO Sergio Marchionne said. “We will offer a hybrid variant of the 300 equipped with an eightspeed automatic in 2013.” A 300 hybrid indicates that hybrids are back in favour at Chrysler. Since Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy in June 2009 under Fiat management, it scaled down an ambitious hybrid strategy conceived under previous owners DaimlerChrysler and Cerberus Capital Management.

tion in trying to deliver expressive style, authentic materials, passenger comfort features and precise fit and finish. Interior upgrades mainly consist of soft touch materials, premium interior trim, heated and ventilated Nappa leather seats, and real wood appliqués on the instrument panel, doors, centre console and steering wheel. Sapphire Blue illumination and chrome ring accents surround the two main dials in new instrument cluster. As part of the powertrain upgrades, Chrysler has replaced the outgoing 300’s 2.7- and 3.5-litre engines with 292hp 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine. The 5.7-litre HEMI V8 engine continues with 363hp and fuel saving displacement on demand technology. The 2011 model will be offered in Touring, Limited, 300C, and 300C AWD configurations. Touring and Limited trims will come with the Pentastar V6 while the 300C line will offer the 5.7-litre set-up. In the beefed up SRT version, the new 6.4-litre Hemi with 470hp will be offered. For now, all transmissions are five-speed automatics, but Chrysler is reported to be eyeing at a ZF-designed eight-speed automatic set-up in Indiana starting in 2012 or 2013. Since, the car’s ride and handling character has been designed to deliver class leading handling, it now comes with redesigned front- and rearsuspension geometry. The AWD version features 13mm tighter tyre-to-mudguard fitment and 4mm lowered overall ride height and larger 19in wheels with wider P235/55R19 all-season performance tyres. The AWD model also features segment-exclusive active transfer case and front-axle disconnect system to improve fuel economy by up to five per cent. More than 70 safety and security features, including standard Keyless Enter-N-Go and electronic stability control (ESC) with segment-exclusive Ready Alert Braking and Rain Brake Support safety features have been added to Chrysler signature SafetyTec Group package with many first-timeavailable features such as adaptive-forward lighting (AFL), high-intensity discharge (HID) projector high and low-beams with automatic headlamp leveling, Forward Collision Warning (FCW) with adaptive-cruise control (ACC), Blind-spot monitoring (BSM) with Rear Cross Path (RCP) detection, ParkSense® front and rear park assist system, LED-illuminated rear fog lamps, exterior mirrors with supplemental turn signals and approach lamp (300 Limited adds HomeLink universal transceiver, rain-sensing wipers and SmartBeam® headlamps to the package group). In addition, standard front-row reactive head restraints, standard fulllength side-curtain air bags, driver’s knee bag and standard front seatmounted side-thorax air bags offer enhanced occupant protection to passengers in the event of a collision.

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Big on looks and luxury

At the Abu Dhabi International Motor Show, Cadillac offered us a good look at its forthcoming bigger-thanCTS offering with the XTS Platinum concept
Author Chandan B Mallik

I

t seems that it is fast track time at General Motors now after the carmaker has registered impressive recovery performance after its reorganization. GM’s premium luxury brand Cadillac is among the instant beneficiaries of the new wave of enthusiasm. Cadillac green lighted the coupe variants of the CTS last year [which were on hold during the crisis period] and now hopes to continue progress with its new focused models. Among these new planned models, it’s no secret that the GM Epsilon-platform has been the most favoured architecture for many cars across its brands due to its flexibility. In less than a decade, the popularity of the platform and its variants can be measured by the success of Chevrolet Malibu, Saab 9-3,
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Opels, a Saturn, and, most recently, several Buicks. The Cadillac XTS concept, which has been designed from the inside out, rides on a further evolution of the front-or all-wheeldrive Epsilon platform—and by far the largest yet. The concept also showcases Cadillac’s emerging top-of-the-line Platinum series of models, emphasizing new expressions of luxury and technological features, including a plug-in hybrid propulsion system. In terms of product positioning, it’s becoming more evident that Cadillac is inching towards its global packaging format, especially for emerging markets, with China taking the lead. So, it’s no coincidence that the Buick LaCrosse [sold in China] is the closest relative of the XTS Concept. The XTS’s 111.7in wheelbase is identical to that of the LaCrosse, while its length

of 203.5in is a substantial 6.5in longer than the already-long Buick’s. The broad outline of the concept’s styling hints at the production car, however with some modifications. First shown at the Detriot Motor Show exactly a year ago, there hasn’t been any change in the concept’s design or packaging philosophy since then. In the looks department, it was suggested that the design of the car did take some of its cues from the Cadillac Sixteen concept, but we think it looks more like what it really is: that is loading it with signature elements essential to Cadillac’s Art and Science design language which include vertical headlamp and taillamps and grille. The headlamps use light-emitting diodes and have cornering abilities. In ‘real time’, if and when this car goes into

production, we can safely assume that the car will also carryover the concept’s vertical taillamps [that suggest tailfins] and two fuelfiller inlet -- one for petrol and the other one for the electrical outlet. While, the nicely finished 20in aluminium wheels look production ready, we are not quite sure about the detailed billetaluminium exterior trim work will make the grade. We also note that mudguards vents [that had become such a cliché of late] have been done away with completely for a change. The interior of the concept is supposed evoke the feeling of “a personal headquarters, built for efficiency, luxury, and connectivity. Much like the recently introduced Cadillacs such as the CTS and SRX, it certainly takes the plushness quotient up a notch. To achieve the level of sophistication and luxury that Cadillac was aiming for, it lavishly adorned the car with generous amounts of hand cutand-sewn materials. To add a contemporary feel and style to the XTS’ interior organic light-emitting diodes, or O-LEDs were used in place of traditional screens and displays. The beige-coloured leather in the concept was nicely complemented by darker tones and a wood-trimmed overhead console that spans both rows. Suede inserts in the seats and door panels have a retro-chic and laserperforated texture. The car also previews a deployable touch-screen navigation system via the minimization of traditional buttons and switches. Cadillac says that it took an entirely new approach to designing the vehicle’s electronics, which resulted in a new concept

interface system. And to maximize intuitiveness and minimize clutter in design designers removed traditional controls, buttons and switches and replaced them with a panel that appears fully black when the vehicle is off, and illuminates to reflect its function when turned on. The surface is touch-sensitive and allows users to simply tap the surface to convey their desired changes. Interestingly, in stark contrast to the Sixteen Concept [which was powered by a 13.6-litre V16 engine] the XTS has been practically conceived. It has been designed as plug-in hybrid model and its powertrain using a familiar V6 engine along with electric motors and lithium-ion battery packs. So the XTS comes with lesser cylinders, displacement capacity and almost 650 less hp than the Sixteen! The XTS Platinum Concept uses Cadillac’s 3.6-litre V-6 direct injection engine, paired with a plug-in hybrid electric propulsion system (PHEV) that builds on the experience Cadillac has gained with the Escalade Hybrid and Escalade Platinum Hybrid flagship models and total system output is estimated at 350hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. And as that power is too much for front-drive to handle, the concept uses an all-wheel-drive system. Meanwhile, the key benefit of external plug in recharging is that the battery can fully recharge in roughly five hours and the plug-in system operates at maximum efficiency when operating on power the battery has drawn from the electric grid. In the suspension department, to offer the luxo-barge driving and handling properties,

Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) will be employed while helping maintain luxury car composure in “regular” driving conditions. An advanced, specially calibrated all-wheel-drive system ensures optimal traction in wet and slippery conditions, and helps deliver maximum traction while cornering. Four-wheel disc brakes, with four-channel ABS, StabiliTrak stability control and full-function traction control complete the drivetrain details. It will also be interesting to see how GM and Cadillac ultimately position this car. In recent times, it is known and documented that Cadillac has modified its sizing strategy which now does away with the current positioning of the CTS between the BMW 3-series and 5-series. Taking that as a cue and looking forward in the line-up of forthcoming models, the all-new ATS will directly compete with the BMW 3-series and the larger nextgeneration CTS will play against the 5-series. Interestingly, The XTS concept, which splits the difference between the DTS and STS by using all-wheel drive, also is right between the two existing sedans in overall length. And it will take no rocket science to conclude that the XTS is destined to become a 7-series/SClass competitor. While Cadillac is testing waters with the concept at various shows, a production-spec XTS is expected to appear for 2012 with assembly pegged for GM’s Oshawa, Ontario, plant, beginning in late 2011.

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Big on Power Down-UnDer
we spent a few weeks in australia in 2010 and what could be better than having a v8-powered holden at your disposal? but it wasn’t just the power that stayed in mind...
Author Raj Warrior Photographs Dhruv Warrior

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n all the travels we do around the world, we manage to ensure that road travel is a significant part of the mix. In the middle of 2010, I spent almost a month in Australia and had a Holden Commodoreat my disposal, courtesy of Mike Devereux, CEO at Holden and an old friend from his time heading the Middle East operations for GM. Now the fact is that Australia is a country that one needs to look at in the image of being a continent (which it is). Hence travel from anywhere to anywhere usually involves a few hundred kilometres of driving at the very least, or you need to hop onto a commuter flight. It was a relief therefore to have at my disposal a car that is absolutely top of class

in its ability to chew up the miles you have to travel to get anywhere. The Holden Commodore SS-V is quite a mouthful and handful to boot. Most of us in the GCC know the car’s closest local variant as the Lumina SS and you wouldn’t know much of a difference except in the steering wheel being on the wrong side of the cabin. The car given to me also had a unique differentiation – it came with the Pontiac bodystyling kit, perhaps a bit ironical considering the cul-de-sac the Firebird brand finds itself in. However on the Commodore itself, the body kit does manage to distinguish the car on the road, especially when you consider that many Australians still love to drive the large Holden

and the current generation of the car with its billion dollar revamp has been very successful despite the high price of fuel at the pump. Despite a reputation of loving volume over efficiency, Australian drivers are increasingly demanding the best of both worlds and the new engine-management on the Holden V8 Commodore gives them just that. The car’s 6.0-litre V8 engine is pretty reminiscent of the large V8s of GM in the US and here. That means 354 bhp of power is available on tap. What has changed is that this unit gets active fuel management and is mated to a latest generation 6-speed Automatic transmission with active select and has a Limited Slip differential as part of the

<< Despite a reputation of loving volume over efficiency, australian drivers are increasingly demanding the best of both worlds and the new engine-management on the holden v8 commodore gives them just that >>

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transmission. The active fuel management makes the engine one of the most frugal that we have seen in the category. Our running average over a month of driving was an outstanding 9 kms per litre, with highway driving giving us between 11-12 kmpl and urban traffic snarls taking it down to the 6-7 kmpl levels at times. At all times you get an instantaneous read-out of efficiency as well as a host of other parameters through the car’s information centre. But the car is more than its ability to pound out the horses – you wouldn’t get very far in Australia at high speeds, there seem to be more cameras than people there. What the large engine and good efficiency do is provide the backbone for a car that draws attention

from the bystander while offering a large, well-thought out cabin to the user. Current generation Commodores display some of the best interior treatment in the business, making for an extremely livable car. For instance the car has one amazing sound system, dual-zone air-conditioning and the provision of the touch-screen Holden-iQ system that integrates multimedia, navigation and car feature setup and control. The SS-V edition is absolutely the top of the ine, adding in upgrades like 19” alloy wheels with 245/40 R19 tyres. To anyone who has driven a Lumina, the joy is in the instant availability of the V8 torque and power of 354bhp on the rear wheels. At the same time, since the Commodore is

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now a creature of the modern era, there is the whole set of safety features to keep the car in a straight line, including Electronic Stability Control (ESC) incorporating:Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) Electronic Brake Assist (EBA) and Traction Control System (TCS). A pleasure to drive on the highway, the V8 engine also allows you to have fun if you manage to find some deserted regional roads.

The car has more than its fairshare of torque and can slide when pushed. You don’t really hear the engine straining even at that! But it is in the day to day usage department that the car really shines. Despite its V8, it trundles along in traffic, provides a stable and premium driving environment and with its large trunk can carry a traveller’s entire cargo along while we travelled. At any given moment we must have had 3-4 bags in the trunk and

the cabin hosted our travel gear like the water bottles, coffee mugs and some bric-a-brac. The SS-V version of the Commodore may be a bit over the top for the casual traveller to rent, but the car itself is worth it. And that is even if you are taking the V6 variant of the Commodore. We of course enjoyed the drive in the car so much it wasn’t easy handing it back to the workshop on our way to the airport.

<< current generation commodores (lumina to us here in the gcc) display some of the best interior treatment in the business, making for an extremely livable car >>

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Editorial NomiNEE Suzuki kizaShi all NEw oFFEriNg

all-new sses, suzuki’s the ma ipe in with appeal to surprising rec classes but eshingly built for the in the ross as a refr i comes ac loon segment -sized sa 2011 kizash ominated mid brand d he Japanese t region Baloushi
nB Author Chanda Mallik Photography Shakeel Al

baby , Ice, Ice

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s a Japanese automotive brand Suzuki’s product portfolio includes an array of entry level mopeds, scooters to super fast motorcycles, jet skis, quads, small and medium cars, SUVs and light commercial vehicles. In many ways, the brand is underrated in several countries while in volume emerging markets such as India, it has the distinction of being the country’s largest car manufacturer that has managed to consistently maintain 50 per cent market share despite the advent of just about every global player in this part of the world. Well, ‘something good is coming’ from Suzuki with four wheels and it’s the literal translation of ‘Kizashi’ in Japanese. The Kizashi is the latest model to be added to the brand’s

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of o think dt t ers ten compac onsum and st c ies, mo f motorcycles ki is hoping ntr zu ro ew cou roduce ashi sedan, su ng a f fap barri more o he new kiz as ht suzuki but wit eption s. city car that perc ge to chan
line-up and it sits in the entry level luxury segment, which generally is among the most demanding segment for customers who are constantly on the lookout for a vehicle that offers space, comfort, performance and utility combined with the elements of status, looks and a definite ego massage. Addressing all of these attributes till now from the Japanese brands in this region has been from Toyota, Nissan, Mazda and Honda. The big question is: can Suzuki’s new model cut into the established formation? Admittedly, the Kizashi name has been in circulation since the first concept bearing this name was unveiled at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show, followed by second design study at the Tokyo Motor Show in the same year which was second actually a 5-door crossover sport wagon concept. The third Kizashi concept unveiled at the 2008 New York auto show was based on an AWD sedan – the concept the finally became the pre-production model. Obviously, Suzuki has been testing waters as it is aware that an extremely busy segment with fierce competition from strong domestic brands as well as European and fast moving Koreans. With the Kizashi, Suzuki is confident that it meets more than the segment’s demand for an entry luxury sedan. While we won’t be surprised that many people will not think of the Kizashi so much as a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord rival, but rather as an alternative to the boring appliances that seem to populate the mid-

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kizashi chief engineer, Hide kumashiro, a former motorcycle road racer, stressed handling as his highest priority, using high-performance kYB rear shocks and a carefully designed multi-link rear suspension with imbedded aluminium
size segment. And depending on price and packaging, whereas several mid-size sedans try to cater to the masses in a plain vanilla way, the Kizashi surely stands out with a healthy dose of sportiness and styling. It was the neat compact profile of the car that attracted us as we walked up to the Kizashi. Although, some competitive models in the segment appear bigger and very close to the full-size classification, the Kizashi is more in line with the first few generations of the Honda Accord – remember how the Accord has grown over generations! However, this may surprise many in the business: the Kizashi actually shares its platform [along with the 2,700mm wheelbase] with the Chevrolet’s current Epica! The reason for this arrangement for using otherwise a GM-developed platform

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is because of a long-standing arrangement between GM and Suzuki, with Suzuki having made such vehicles as the Geo Metro and Geo Tracker for The General. But, Suzuki has managed to stay away from the Epica’s blandness and injected its own sporty DNA in the Kizashi. Despite three distinct design studies for the Kizashi, for the production car, Suzuki designers were able to give it a tight and muscular look with a strong character lines and jewellery. For the face, the car retains its show car-inspired grille which is surrounded by aggressivelooking projector headlamps. A sculpted bonnet and wide mudguard arches round out the car’s front end. As with many stylish cars, the best view of the Kizashi is undoubtedly from the rear three-quarters. The sportiness in design character comes from the car’s sheet metal to glass ratio especially where the slightly upswept waistline meets with the car’s C-pillar to create a rear haunch reminiscent of an American muscle car. Actually, it does seem as better executed version of BMW’s now famous ‘Bangle-butt’ design complete with a ducktail spoiler. Meanwhile, the stylized bumper-mounted exhaust outlets come straight from the Kizashi concepts. Overall, the neat lines work their magic to give the car a nice wide sporty stance and the rear brings the entire package together amazingly well. And depending on the trim level, complementing the entire exterior design package are the 17 or 18in alloys shod with low profile tyres that add the final touch to

a car built for the classes but with appeal to the masses. The interiors hold a similar story in terms of being fresh, top notch in terms of quality and boasting on neat little touches that work well for a car of this segment. There’s a motorcycle inspired twin-pod gauge cluster and the numbering on the speedometer are bit unusual. While Suzuki went with soft-touch material for much of the Kizashi’s interior, there’s one more aspect that doesn’t let the Kizashi down is its level of standard equipment is impressive and the package includes climate control vents for the rear seat, and a USB port, among other details. Even the base model has remote entry, pushbutton start, power windows, and other equipment many base models lack, although cruise control is not included at that lowest price. Despite its compact appearance, the cab forward design has worked hard to ensure maximum passenger comfort with supportive sporty seats. Incidentally the rear leg room is one of the best we have witnessed in recent times and outclasses several European models on rear bench space and is most probably at par with the current Honda Accord. With great fit and finish as well as neatly appointed interiors the Kizashi is surely up to the European benchmark on these accounts. Powering the Kizashi is a normally aspirated aluminium 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with variable valve timing, from the coded J24B engine family. Mated to a six speed continuously variable transmission (CVT), it is capable of churning out a solid 184hp at

6,500 rpm and generates 230Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. The Kizashi promises to be quite the driver’s car as it is capable of accelerating from 0-100 km/h in just 8.8secs flat. The best part of the transmission set-up is that like most modern CVTs, Suzuki’s unit offers a ‘sport’ mode, simulating six forward gears, complete with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. The car’s chassis has been extra stiffened and it seems that Suzuki engineers invested much time and attention in the development of the sports suspension which consists of MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear. Safety-wise, the Kizashi leads the field, with no less than eight airbags and advanced stability control using the anti-lock brake system (ABS). Suzuki says the Kizashi has surpassed US government’s 2014 standards for side pole impact and offset front collision. Meawhile, electronic stability control, antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution comes as standard.

Driving impressions
There’s a lot of sound insulation, so the cabin is quiet most of the time although, the Kizashi is not as quiet as the Toyota Camry, but it’s quieter than the VW Passat, Mazda6, or Honda Accord. The first thing you note about this car is its riding position, lively acceleration and gearshift feel and response of the steering and suspension. We are not surprised to know that the suspension of this car was track tuned in Germany – Nurburgring

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to be precise. As a result, the Kizashi is a blast to throw around in the corners. We pushed the Kizashi on the road, over undulating and sometimes rough surfaces, quick changes of direction under braking, and it never gave us an unsatisfying moment of wobble or softness. Turn-in is great and the Kizashi is an extremely well-balanced front-drive car, exhibiting virtually zero understeer and hardly body roll, and despite our best attempts to trick the car, the Kizashi did not understeer. That’s rare for any front-wheel-drive car, including many expensive sports sedans and it seems that the suspension is built to take a lot more horsepower. We think a more powerful Kizashi

sometime in the future seems inevitable. The Kizashi’s brakes are equally impressive and are a result of a tie-up with Akebono – the company responsible for making the brakes for Japan’s bullet trains. Although, the car’s the leather-wrapped shift lever feels good, we realized that we were using the paddle shifters a lot and the CVT kept us entertained all the time.

Verdict
We can agree with what Suzuki says about the Kizashi midsize sedan as being the most important car in the history of the company. We think that the all-new Kizashi has most

of the ingredients -- good looks, comfort levels, fuel economy and great performance and confident handling – that could give the break that Suzuki, as a car maker has been denied so far. Actually, the Kizashi kicked off its career with a bang: it was nominated for North American Car of the Year by a panel of automotive journalists who drove it, before it reached the showrooms. The word kizashi means something great is coming. However, the Kizashi’s ultimate success largely depends on potential buyers’ attitude towards the brand. In our view, punters in the market for a vehicle in this segment ought to put the Kizashi on top of their short list.w

der ur-cylin n e fo 2.4-litr t 25 mpg i with a ing abou mes orks car co job well, gett ng. the cvt w the e ivi does th nd highway dr that it y a bined c com
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{chicane}

Can we bring Safety First?
Oad travel is considered to be one of the basic necessities of any human being. In the modern world, journeys that we undertake for going to work, school, the market or just for a leisure weekend are almost as important as the longer journeys we take to meet friends and relatives or to see parts of our countries and world that we haven’t been to – although increasingly the lack of time and overall improved prosperity makes the latter the territory of air travel. And the incidence of road travel of any form will only rise as will the incidence of road travel related injuries and death. It is as plain as day – as more and more people get on the roads, accident rates will rise and losses will mount. A WHO report on road safety projects some staggering data: It shows that that in 2004, road injuries that caused death was the 9th largest killer accounting for 2.2% of deaths globally. By 2030, road deaths are set to rise to 3.6% at the 5th rank, only outdone by Ischaemic heart disease, Cerebrovascular disease, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and Lower respiratory infections. In the process, it will manage to outstrip HIV/AIDS as a killer! To some, the fact that in many countries road traffic accidents are the prime cause of death among the age group of 15-29 years is worrying enough. The matter is a highly complicated one – how do we make our roads any safer without making it impossible to travel? Automation? Regulation? Or do we just depend on stricter policing of the roads? Cars are part of the problem and part of the solution too – cars have never been more regulated in terms of safety, never been safer than they are today and they are the best built in engineering terms (the result of 125 years of development). At the same time, the car as a means of transport is now coveted by a huge chunk of the world’s population that could only dream about such a thing happening a decade ago. Millions in China, india, Brazil and other developing countries are able to buy a car and “Have car, will travel!” A huge seachange is required in how we look at road safety. We need to educate the budding driver, re-educate the veteran and most importantly make road safety a part of everyone’s learning curriculum. It means all the difference between someone using a walkway as opposed to dashing across 6 lanes of high-speed traffic on Sultan Qaboos Road. Are we getting the message at all? The Moscow declaration of the ‘Decade of Road Safety’ (2011-2020) by the UN sponsored by Oman and Russia is a beginning. This wake up call should be heard by everyone who is able to spread the message of ‘Safety First’. Why should we be left behind, being part of Oman’s car scene for the past decade? So we will run, through this year a campaign targeted at schools and professional bodies and corporates that highlights road safety and the importance it plays on individuals. After all, we believe that the two go hand in hand, the act of enjoying a drive in a finely-balanced powerhouse of a car and of returning to enjoy it another day. For some of us it is almost as if we say that our profession is one with safety.

r

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 raj@alroya.net. Identify yourself or your message will be trashed and your id blocked

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