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Mohammad Al taie

The year 2012 is upon us. Irrespective of what doomsday cultists may say about the outcome of this year, for the automotive industry we think 2012 will be a signature year – of course with a few provisos in place. 2011 in itself was both a year of opportunity and impediments. If you look back to

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the beginning of the year – the Tsunami and resultant washout of a significant part of Japanese car production and the ongoing drama over the leaking Nuclear reactor – you can see that the first quarter itself gave portents of what to expect. Supply side problems meant that practically all the mainstream Japanese brands have had a lacklustre first half which allowed the Korean duo of Hyundai and Kia to ramp up sales and marketshare in key markets. Now more than ever the distinction between models based upon their country of origin is shrinking as customers are getting used to feature-rich offerings making up for perceived quality shortages. On the other hand the benchmark for production quality has also risen significantly. Many new models also saw the light of day in 2011 as marques entered new territory in an attempt to gain mainstream acceptance as well as entry into profitable volume segments. The Evoque, X1 and Q3 are all biting the heels of the premium crossover segment, while the A1 takes Audi into territory where its biggest competition is from the Polo and Golf R range. We can’t forget the number of variants that the top-end of the car market is producing – with market specific focus as well an attempt to meet the niche demands of the wealthy.

execUtive editor chandan B Mallik deSiGn Sawsan Al Muharbi

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2011 also saw its share of model line renewals with so much happening in the past few months that we regularly find ourselves out of pages to cover them all. 2012 is giving all indications of going one-up on its predecessor. And to us, the best sign of a change is the way in which the Auto Expo in New Delhi is now far more significant than the usual annual show at Detroit. Who knew this day would come, when the GCC market would be sourcing so much from the Asian side of the globe that the burgeoning Indian car market would become this important? GCC markets will get the new Sunny, Figo and a few other models from India. And these aren’t from Indian brands but global ones. In addition Chinese models and China-sourced global models are gaining ground due to the keen pricing. We are going to see a lot more of them this year.

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But nothing will mean as much as the Car of the Year awards which will debut this January. We are carrying the shortlist of the finalists this month. Look out for next month’s issue for the winners. In the meantime a Happy New Year and a profitable one too to all our readers!

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in this issue
The refreshed and redesigned all-new entry level 2012 Dodge Charger and its bigger engine R/T variant proves that you can have the best of both worlds in one car: American muscle and European comfort. Automan finds the recipe interesting at both levels
Author Chandan B Mallik Photography Raj Warrior


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Even in its new location, Japan’s biennial Motor Show in Tokyo last month was a fabulous experience for the motoring fraternity, technology lovers et al. Automan looks at the highlights of this very unusual mix of contemporary and future under one roof
Author Chandan B Mallik


he 42nd biennial Tokyo Motor Show welcomed a new home called the Tokyo Big Sight. The decision to move from the show’s former home, Makuhari Messe in Chiba City [the show’s home since 1989] was based on logistical benefits/considerations. As a result the show is now closer to the city centre and to help rectify the emptiness of the vast, but ultimately empty, exhibition halls of the 2009 show. This year saw Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Daihatsu, Subaru and Suzuki all showcase new concept and production vehicles including: the hotly anticipated ‘86’ / BRZ combination from Toyota and Subaru;Suzuki’s Q and Regina concepts; Daihatsu’s D-X, FC ShoCase and Pico concept models; and a plethora of new concept and production models from Honda. As you’ll see from the next 6 pages, there were a lot of electric drive vehicles on display from twowheeled models on up. Some are already in production. Some are in the pre-production stage and some are just exercises in pure fantasy. As expected there were some surprises too. Read on…


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ergio Marchionne, CEO of both Fiat and Chrysler has made a couple of things quite clear in his multi brand global operation. While Chrysler’s portfolio sees some changes to suit its mainstream business objectives, Dodge and Jeep will continue to be reinforced with their respective niches. Marchionne says Dodge will continue to focus on performance and that’s something the Middle East markets enjoy even at times when there’s a conscientious effort by some car makers to offer heavily downsized products. But for Dodge, things operate at a different level and that’s one of the key reasons why it’s actually rare these days to find a brand and products that say a lot. And 2011, was also an interesting year for the markets, especially muscle markets for the extensively reengineered inside out new Charger. Actually, the outgoing and incoming models don’t look very different as they evolve from a common ancestry. They have the identical footprint [120in wheelbase] and they use the same basic platform architecture – but that’s not a disqualification considering the fact that chassis design is so flexible these days that to shrink it or widen it is just a matter of a few clicks. However, going deeper on an engineering level, the new Charger line-up has been designed to cater to a wide range of needs – from users who want the look of an aggressive faced car with some moderate performance, 3.6-litre V6 fuel economy and comfort, to a bigger 5.7-litre V8 powered


model with body kit and an extreme professionally tuned and prepped R/T badged 6.4-litre V8 for adrenalin seekers. Although the Charger still rides on a Mercedes-Benz derived E-Class platform, Dodge says that the architecture has been re-engineered so much that it now considers it its “secondgeneration” E-segment platform. At first glance it goes without saying that the re-skinned Charger has some presence. Although, immediately recognizable, the styling changes include the return of the famed crosshair grille and re-profiled headlamps and the new deep character lines on the sheet metal. The car’s side profile is also sleeker and more coupe-esque than the outgoing model, thanks to the slippery roofline. Even the revised wheel designs look more upmarket now. But moving on to the rear, by far, the biggest style change is the full-width tail lamp arrangement which now visually links the Charger with both past Dodge models besides its sibling – the Challenger. Dodge calls the tail lamps a “racetrack” graphic when all the bright LEDs [164 in all] are lit up. Below the tail lamps, one can’t miss out the new squaredoff exhaust tips. The cabin and interior of this car is a welcome departure from the often criticized interiors of the past. We had the opportunity to experience both entry and mid-level models in UAE and Oman respectively. Welcome are the upgraded materials and more cosmetically appealing designs as well as the now corporate wide three-spoke steering wheel [nearly every new Chrysler

News Pentastar Wrangler in ME 4 Refreshed 2012 Pilot, Bridgestone drives safety 6 US-built Camry for Asia 22 Features We join a Mitsubishi off-road event to discover Oman 8 The Bentley open-tops thrill on the Yas Marina circuit 14 braNdwatch Detroit Motorshow teasers the Old GM ceases to exist 18 BMW promotes green tech, Infiniti out of Japan 20 Q&a With Hyundai designer Thomas Burkle sPotlight Tokyo Motor Show Essen Auto Show Preview Lamborghini Aventador MB SL roadster Hyundai Genesis Prada cover story Ferrari 458 Italia road test 2012 VW Tiguan Dodge Charger R/T




Big thing
For 2012, Volkswagen introduces a highly reworked Tiguan, its smallest SUV, so much so that it could be considered as all-new. Automan checks out this new arrival in Oman
Author Chandan B Mallik Photography author

Author Chandan B Mallik 34 Author Chandan B Mallik

Lamborghini’s all-new Murceilago replacement, the Aventador is living proof of what Lamborghini can technologically offer in a blue-blooded sports car while meeting contemporary parameters

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Sixth generation 2012 Mercedes SL roadster breaks cover prior to official debut at the 2012 Detroit Motor Show

ercedes’ flagship coupe-cabriolet designated as the SL [also known internally as the R230] entered the market as a replacement of the R129 in 2001. As a key model in the line-up, the car has had in its career several interesting milestones, including AMG and special limited editions. As the model evolved over the years, it has become more aggressive with each generation. Stylistically, the incoming SL [R231] also moves further in that direction but


it’s the engineering and packaging efficiency that’s become the talking point. Designed at the Advanced Studio in Carlsbad, California, For the latest model, given the global market scenario, Mercedes-Benz has reduced the offerings from two non-AMG models to just one and has also discontinued the SL600 as part of the efficiency-cum-downsizing trend. A great part of the efficiency effort is focused on flab reduction and depending on model 110 to 140kg has been knocked off by


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hen the PR agency informed us of such an event being organized at local level, for me it was a bit of a surprise. Basically for two reasons: one coming from UAE where most of the car manufacturers are headquartered regionally and are better equipped to organize such outings or off-road adventures, and secondly, while traveling on an Oman air flight in December, the in-flight magazine had an interesting article about places to visit in the Sultanate. The article was more than just a visitor’s guide and I made a mental note to visit those places at the first opportunity while the pleasant weather lasted. All I had to do was to organize a competent 4x4 with kit. Actually I didn’t have to wait that long to have my desired


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vehicles rs of Mitsubishi country’s ers and retaile to explore the official import ing journalists otive LLC, the Zubair Autom select few motor encouraged a roads. bustle of city in the Sultanate the hustle and landscape beyond
Author Chandan y B Mallik Photograph Raj Warrior







February March April June July August







Supercar obit uary, not yet!

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Thanks to Ferra ri’s multiple aw ard-winning allseventh in the new 458 Italia, series, the pa ssage to high the car paradise is performance still very much sports alive. Automan how close one editors discover can get to ete rnal automoti Author Chand an B Mallik ve bliss. Photography author and Nabee l Ferzan

car oF the year The shortlist as of now 68 MotorsPorts Formula One, WRC, MotoGP 74 chicaNe Measuring public transport against private 80

subaru uae dealer expands retail netWork

Jeep Wranglers With pentastar V6 engines noW in Me
At first glance, they may look the same, but Jeep’s Wrangler models for 2012 come with extensively reworked engineering and efficiency. The biggest news is that Chrysler Group’s all-new super efficient 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine has been shoehorned into the Wranglers alongwith upgraded fivespeed automatic transmission for refined shifting and better performance. Manufactured at the Trenton engine plant in Michigan, the compact and lightweight all-aluminium constructed 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 saves more than 40kg lighter than the cast-iron 3.8-litre V6 it replaces. Constructed with a high-pressure, die-cast aluminium block fitted with cast-iron bore liners and aluminium cylinder heads. The engine is extremely quiet and has also been designed to meet all known future worldwide emission standards and is currently Euro 5 certified and delivers 285hp and 353 Nm of torque. Meanwhile, the A580 automatic transmission also benefits Jeep Wrangler as much as the new petrol engine, with more refined shifting and gear selection. By increasing the number of speeds, the transmission allows the engine to operate in a more efficient rev range, which helps increase fuel economy. More speeds also enable the engine to remain in the torque curve, increasing acceleration. The new two-door Wrangler boasts a 37 per cent improvement in 0-100km/h time, which is now 8.1 seconds. Also, a lower first-gear ratio in the new automatic transmission gives the Wrangler more off-road capability via a lower overall crawl ratio. Electronic Range Select is standard for all automaticequipped Jeep Wrangler models. The electronic stability control (ESC) also has been optimized to perform effortlessly with the new engine. “We are delighted to bring the All New Jeep Wrangler to Oman. With its new 3.6 litre V6 engine it provides even greater handling capabilities both on and off-road, and with the improved fuel consumption, the Jeep Wrangler once again sets the benchmark and offers consumers the ultimate vehicle for any driving adventure,” says Chris Edwards, general manager of Dhofar Automotive.

Al Khoory Automobiles, sole distributors of Subaru vehicles in Dubai and the northern emirates have formally expanded their retail and after-sales services network with the opening of the 40,000sq-ft new Subaru showroom and service centre in Sharjah. “Launch of this Subaru showroom and service centre is a part of our strategic expansion plan. Over the next two years, we are a looking at an investment of AED 40-50mn in the UAE market. We plan to open new showrooms in other northern emirates with Ras Al Khaimah being first in the pipeline. A new network of showrooms and service centres is envisaged to enhance visibility, proximity, sales and after sales customer experience.” “We are also looking at scaling-up awareness about the brand Subaru, considered as a niche brand in the UAE and preferred mostly by western and Asian expats and western educated emiratis who are well versed with the brand’s motor sports legacy and technology innovations. In 2010-11, the brand has shown steady growth with sales going up by 40 per cent. For 2012, we are targeting a growth of over 45 per cent,” says Nayyar Zaidi, GM marketing and sales at Al Khoory Automobiles.

dhofar organizes Jeep JaMboree in oMan
The second three-day adventure filled Jeep Jamboree desert crossing was organized by Dhofar Automotive with Jeep owners taking advantage of superb weather to test their vehicles to the off-road limit on the Sharqiya Sands. The challenging event attracted a huge convoy of Jeeps which took on this grueling desert adventure that crossed from north to south and spanned three days and two nights of desert camping – crossing some of the most difficult sand desert terrain to be found in the Sultanate. “We were delighted by the response once again of Jeep owners in Oman to participate in this exciting weekend adventure. It is a great opportunity to make new friends, experience an amazing landscape and test your Jeep to the limit in a safe and controlled environment. For our novice desert drivers and even the more experienced, taking part in the Jamboree means they can benefit from our team of highly trained technicians who accompany the trip to show them how to obtain the best out of their off road vehicles,” says Chris Edwards, GM, Dhofar Automotive.

A parade of BMW Motorrad Bikes, adorned in the colours of the UAE flag, powered through the city of Abu Dhabi during the UAE’s 40th Anniversary National Day celebrations, a surprise that delighted onlookers during the day’s proceedings.


refreshed 2012 honda pilot suV in region
Bluetooth and the addition of a full-color 8in intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID) for audio and vehicle information. The fuel economy gains for 2012 result from combined improvements to the powertrain, chassis and vehicle aerodynamics. The 250hp i-VTEC V-6 engine includes additional The eight-passenger SUV receives a wide range of upgrades for 2012 with a sleeker front-end design, enhanced interior features and an EPA highway fuel economy rating of 25 mpg on two-wheel-drive models, an increase of 2 mpg compared to 2011 models. The new styling for the front fascia, with its three-bar chrome-style grille, conveys a more sophisticated crossover SUV appearance. Interior styling changes focus on instrument panel refinement and a more intuitive button layout. For 2012, audio system upgrades on Honda Pilot EX and EX-L models include

Nissan is headed to the Dubai 24 Hours with a specially prepared 370Z. While the 410-hp Z is an impressive piece of hardware, we’re more interested in who’s behind the wheel. This year, Nissan will take to the track with a full team of racers who have graduated from the company’s GT Academy. The four-man team is made up of individuals who got their start on the virtual tracks of the Gran Turismo video game franchise before beating out the competition for a spot on track.

measures for friction reduction and improved efficiency. The 2012 Pilot becomes quieter with additional noise insulation and other enhancements throughout the vehicle.

bridgestone introduces safe driVing prograMMe in Me
Nissan’ industry-leading vision for sustainable mobility was outlined to a distinguished audience of regional and international delegates at the recently-concluded 2011 Energy Dialogue, organised by King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre (KAPSARC) in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh. The event ran from November 20 to 22 under the theme ‘Partnering for a Sustainable Future’. Entitled ‘Nissan’s Vision for Sustainable Mobility’, Nissan’s presentation was delivered by Minoru Shinohara, senior vicepresident, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., global leader of the company’s technology division at a topical discussion on ‘transportation technologies and fuels in fast-growing economies’.
second week of December. “The POTENZA Driving Lesson first launched in Japan in 1985, and was later developed and modified by Stefano Modena in 2007 when it was introduced in the Asian countries,” said Takumi Kakara, marketing director of Bridgestone Middle East & Africa. Not to be confused with race or circuit driving, the POTENZA Driving Lesson offers courses in handling, steering and seating, emergency braking, and cornering. Stefano Modena, a member of Bridgestone’s Tyre Development team, said: “The courses that we have tailored and developed are to teach the basics of sports driving and give the drivers’ new insights on maintaining control of their cars as much as possible. This is all facilitated in a controlled and safe driving environment, while also highlighting the important role that proper tyres have.”

Bridgestone Middle East and Africa FZE officially launched the ‘POTENZA Driving Lesson’ in the Middle East and Africa with Formula One racing legend and brand ambassador, Stefano Modena. Tagged under ‘Put your car under your control’ tagline, the practical course introduces drivers to the key forms of proper sports driving and gives them a true driving experience. The first POTENZA branded driving Lesson was held in Dubai Autodrome as a part of the POTENZA Performance Challenge programme in the

Oman welcomes Kia’s all-new Rio
Kia Motor’s all-new fourth generation subcompact will be available in three flavours in Oman –three and five door hatchback and four door sedan. Common to the three variants is the corporate styling cues set by Peter Schreyer including two versions of the front valance. All three are powered by a normally-aspirated 1.4-litre CVVT Gamma engine with 108hp on tap when mated to four-speed transmission with Tiptronic function. The car offers a host of equipment options including Bluetooth connectivity, ABS, cruise and climate control. Prices begin at OMR4,450 and top out at OMR6,000 for fully loaded versions.


Automan AD.pdf

Turki Badar Al-Hamadani became a proud winner of Audi A1 during the conclusion of the five month festival promotion organized by Bareeq Al Shatti Mall. Audi Oman’s Abdel Karim Awwad [centre] drew the winning ticket in the presence of ministry officials and sponsors.



11:09 AM




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hen the PR agency informed us of such an event being organized at local level, for me it was a bit of a surprise. Basically for two reasons: one coming from UAE where most of the car manufacturers are headquartered regionally and are better equipped to organize such outings or off-road adventures, and secondly, while traveling on an Oman air flight in December, the in-flight magazine had an interesting article about places to visit in the Sultanate. The article was more than just a visitor’s guide and I made a mental note to visit those places at the first opportunity while the pleasant weather lasted. All I had to do was to organize a competent 4x4 with kit. Actually, I didn’t have to wait that long to have my desired




fulfilled. As it transpired, in less than 24hrs, I joined a small group of selected media who were handed keys to a fleet of Mitsubishi SUVs by the dealership. After a quick briefing at the Athaiba showroom, our starting point, a map was handed over to us and a quick glance suggested an interesting loop taking in Barka, the road to Nakhl, Wadi Bani Awf, Hamra, Nizwa and loop back to Muscat. The cars available for the day long programme included the SWB 3-door and LWB 5-door Pajeros, Nativa and surprisingly a baby in the midst of

hardcore merchandise – the Outlander. For the first part of the road drive, I selected the Pajero long wheel base outfitted with 3.8-litre V6. The group of seven vehicles in the convoy included the marshal’s car and a back-up with technician on-board just in case. The first part was quite the usual on road and somewhere in the mid-point, a driver change was encouraged. At the second point cars were swapped as we approached the off-road section. My car for this part of the drive was the 3.8-litre V6 SWB Pajero.

I’ve tested the LWB Pajero several times in the past and have had pleasant memories with it especially off-road. The LWB Pajero is actually more fun off-road than off-road. As the off-road trail section approached, we discovered on the way that the route was to be gravel mostly with some sections with wadi crossings. And at this time of the year, there’s still some water in the wadis. Depending on surface traction, especially some sections where road works and civil construction [break water walls] were a


bit tricky [slippery with very low grip], but changing the gears to 4-low all-wheel drive solved the traction problem. About 10-15 kms later we arrived at the famous Snake gorge. A short break including photo shoot followed by a car swap, we began to ascend into the mountains. The roads out here were rough, dusty with lot of loose gravel, but the Nativa felt quite comfortable and poised. Although, there’s quite a difference in the handling and feel between the Pajeros and the Nativa [it feels at least one generation older than the

contemporary Pajeros] but the workhorse does have solid credentials and ability to virtually go-anywhere. Driving through the mountain passes near Jebel Shams, if I remember correctly, 3,000m is the highest point is not recommended for the faint-hearted or the inexperienced driver, as loose gravel, sharp drops and sometimes herds of goats are often just around any of the hairpin turns. After reaching the peak of Jebel Shams it was time to hit the tarmac once again.

As an expat I am also surprised that there are thousands of miles of top-class roads to explore in the Sultanate honeycombed with ancient forts and archaeological treasures such as the 400-year-old village almost hidden from prying eyes in an oasis of dense date/ banana plantation. After lunch in the village, we returned to our starting point. Although most of the off-road drive by me was done in the bigger Pajeros and Nativa, the Outlander had no trouble in keeping on or off-road.



Bentley Boys a new track
a customer evening turned into a magical drive around the yas Marina track in the oldest bentley existing – the eXP2.
Author Raj Warrior


quick day trip to Abu Dhabi was in store for the Automan team as we were invited to a Bentley Drive event on the Yas Marina circuit. It has become something of a tradition for corporates to hire the UAE’s premier circuit in order to showcase their wares to their customers, dealers and members of the press. However, considering the expenses involved, it is usually the territory of the luxury brands. The logic is irrefutable – it makes more sense to bring your target audience to the cars that you put on the track – usually very costly cars – so that they can all get the opportunity to drive these cars in the


controlled environment of a world-class track. This time around Bentley had a new model to highlight, while reminding participants of the awesome performance of the stable of models they already have. The addition was the completely revamped though not all new Continental GTC, while we got to drive the Continental GT and the Flying Spur around the track. The new GTC has had a host of modifications, without significantly changing the profile of the car. Right from the fascia and fenders, which are now vacuum formed so as to allow for a wrap-around shape to the aluminium sheet

(also, in the process it allows the designers to use paired concave-convex forms that would be impossible in the old method. This is useful in getting a better play of light and shadow on the surfaces.) The body has also been strengthened, with special attention going to the lower sills and improving torsional stiffness. There have also been improvements to the cabin, with better acoustic insulation for the fabric roof – glass rear windscreen and better slipstream handling by the rear wind breaks when the roof is down. In addition the front seats get neck warmers (warm air blowing



out at neck level) and the seats themselves are narrower and less bulky by the simple expedient of shifting the seatbelt mechanism onto the body structure. A nice touch is the way in which the car presents the seatbelt to the user upon entry, of course involving some more complexity of the mechanism, but wellworth the differentiation. In terms of the drivetrain the car has got the new uprated 6.0-litre W12 engine of 567bhp and 700Nm of torque. This is partnered with the six-speed quickshift system that is already so successful in the Supersports, with shift times of 200 milliseconds. Apparently there is a smaller V8 that is likely to come in the model in a few months, but this will be matched with the seven-speed gearbox. The power delivery pattern has also changed from the 50:50 power split of the previous AWD system to the new 40:60 front-rear split. Apparently this arrangement is better suited to handle understeer situations and makes for a more responsive performance environment. Unfortunately there was only one car available on the track and all that the team would allow us was a taxi ride around the circuit. Hardly worth the trip to Abu Dhabi. However, the taxi ride we had just before that was – it was in the world’s oldest Bentley, the EXP2, which is valued at 1.2 million dollars. This is the second car built by WO, with the first car having been cannibalised to make later models. The 3-litre grand dame was

driven around the track by the Bentley team and we enjoyed the open air experience that was so different in so many ways to that the GTC provided. On our arrival at the event, Bentley’s affable regional director for the brand welcomed us with a promise to surprise us and to allow us to experience Bentley style in the air, on

heroes of the season. However, the end result is not quite the same. You can’t take a Flying Spur or even a Continental GT through the access underpass that leads from pitlane onto the track in the manner of a sports car. You slow down on the downward dip and then cautiously edge the nose around the blind corners until you are out on track. From there on it is a matter of understanding the weight shift patterns of the beasts, especially in the first chicane and at the end of the flying straight. As if to top out the night, we were given a tour of the Yas complex in a Mulsanne by Trevor Gay, long time Bentley man and someone who has all the right connections with the customers in the region. So that leaves us looking forward to the next time we drive Bentley’s (on-track or otherwise). Our certificate of participation is hanging on the wall in a place of honour.

track and at sea. This of course then resulted in a lengthy helicopter ride over the Yas Island complex, allowing us to see in some detail the layout of the track, the large roof of the Ferrari theme park and much of the Marina. The sea element was to be a late night dinner on a luxury yacht moored at the Marina, which we skipped in our need to get back to Muscat. But the track drive was a real bonus. It is fun to take a huge three tonne car and throw it around the F1 track trying to emulate the




detroit Motor show: 2012 teasers
Weeks before the New Year’s coveted motor show opener in Detroit, several car manufacturers were scrambling to get teasers and some news across. Here’s are some of the interesting samplers of what to expect at the show Dodge Lexus

Toyota’s premium luxury Lexus brand is planning to pull the curtains off a new concept car. Besides the fact that it’s red and appears to be a sporty coupe of some sort, we have no real details on what to expect. What we do know, however, is that the concept will be sporting a rather inviting interior, thanks to the second teaser image and we also note of bespoke craftsmanship a plethora of different leather colors and textures. We also spy some genuine wood trim and what appears to be a mighty large sweeping information center making up most of the dash. The image is noteworthy because it shows Lexus taking some risks with its interior design. The image shows a cabin with sweeping lines and a thin-style seat and headrest somewhat reminiscent of Volvo. And, finally judging by the serious plunging roofline, we’re confident that this car with cues from the LF-A will be the replacement of the SC430.

In a series of teasers, Dodge has started revealing the exterior and interiors of its reworked Alfa Romeo Guiletta-based C-segment Dart sub-compact. According to information available the European platform has been lengthened and widened to help accommodate the needs of the American market. It will be interesting to see how Dodge’s aggressive styling blends into this Italian profiled


In a series of teasers, Dodge has started revealing the exterior and interiors of its reworked Alfa Romeo Guiletta-based C-segment Dart sub-compact. According to information available the European platform has been lengthened and widened to help accommodate the needs of the American market. It will be interesting to see how Dodge’s aggressive styling blends into this Italian profiled car when it is revealed.


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Detroit and Delhi have something in common. It will be cold and chilly, but automakers will ensure that the motor shows are as hot it can be. Ford is getting ready to take on the Delhi Auto Expo with an array of production and concept vehicles. The company has released a teaser for what is likely the company’s next EcoSport CUV to stir up interest. This second-generation production vehicle is likely based on the same platform as the Ford Fiesta [the outgoing EcoSport is based on Ford’s compact Fusion crossover] and will make its way around the globe in select markets as part of the automaker’s “One Ford” strategy. The Delhi Auto Expo kicks off on January 7 and runs through January 11.

Ford teasers for Delhi

Honda has confirmed that a new NSX sports car will be revealed at the Detroit Motor Show early next year. Wearing the Acura badge of Honda’s north American luxury arm, the NSX Concept is said to “represent the styling direction of Acura’s super sports car”. The new two-seater sports car will go on sale throughout the world and is likely to use the NSX badge when it arrives in 2013.

Automan’s take In 1991, Honda’s Acura brand in the US shocked the

exotic car world with the introduction of the NSX, a supercar that stood up to models like the Ferrari 328. However, poor sales led the production of the NSX to be discontinued in 2005. A successor model has often been talked about in industry circles, but would it how up, especially considering the fact that the NSX was said to go into production a few years back, but was denied on several occasions always ended up as a speculation. Let’s hope that Honda is really serious about this and we can be sure that there will be no V10, but a souped up or hybrid V6 instead if the car went into production.


‘Old GM’ ceases to exist officially
Most Detroit-based newspapers carried this news item: ‘General Motors Corporation, once America’s largest multibrand automobile conglomerates died on Dec. 15, 2011. It was 103 years old’. Technically, the legendary automaker faded into business history following a long and painful period. GM’s career hit several highs and lows – several production plants were closed; investor savings wiped out; 1,700 dealerships shuttered and tens of thousands made redundant. The automaker was preceded in death by three of its brands: Pontiac, Hummer and Saturn. And hope for the fourth former brand, Saab, is also in the doldrums. No one was there officially to mark the company’s passing. On Friday morning, lawyers filed a court stipulation acknowledging the automaker’s demise. US Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber confirmed the company’s liquidation plan in March, and set Dec. 15 as the deadline for it to go out of business. The Detroit-based company, known in its final years as “old GM” but officially renamed Motors Liquidation Co., is survived by General Motors Co., a company born after its ancestor’s 2009 bankruptcy filing, and through the inheritance of old GM’s viable remaining assets and a $49.5bn federal government bailout. General Motors Corp. was born Sept. 16, 1908, in Flint, rising to become the world’s largest automaker. More than 60 million of its vehicles, built before bankruptcy, are still on the road. It was a century-long run that sparked some of the great innovations in auto engineering and styling. For decades, GM helped make Michigan one of the nation’s most prosperous states. For much of the century, old GM was the world’s largest company. As recently as 1997, GM was larger than Microsoft, Intel, Dow Chemical, Boeing and Coca-Cola — combined. Carriage maker Billy Durant founded what became the GM empire with the birth of the Buick brand. GM acquired more than 20 other companies in its early years, including Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Oakland (renamed Pontiac), Chevrolet, Vauxhall, Opel and Holden. In 1931, GM surpassed Ford Motor Co. as the world’s largest automaker, a title it held until 2008, when it was eclipsed by Toyota. In 1955, GM had 525,000 employees in the US and another 100,000 outside the country — and built more than five million vehicles. Old GM’s bankruptcy cost more than $120mn in legal fees and expenses. Its primary bankruptcy law firm, Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, charged $45.2 million in legal fees and bills to guide GM to the grave. More than 400 lawyers at Weil spent 70,000 hours working on the bankruptcy. The automaker’s remaining assets are being transferred to four trusts, including one large trust that is overseeing the $800mn cleanup and sale of old GM properties. GM has sold some old factories to startups like Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive to build new EVs, but it may take years to sell the rest of the dead company’s properties.

Honda UK starts new Civic production
Honda has begun production of the new Civic at its Swindon car plant. Honda Motor Europe President Manabu Nishimae speaking at the ceremony said Honda remained totally committed to building cars and engines in Europe with Swindon at the heart of Honda’s European manufacturing activities and this is further demonstrated today with the launch of the New Civic. He added that Honda in Europe had turned a corner with a significant production increase expected in 2012.

Automan’s take
It may be recalled that from the 1970s to the all new Honda Civic 2012, Honda virtually led innovation in the car industry. Here’s how: 1970 By the 1970s, America was waking up to the need to drastically improve the exhaust emissions from vehicles, and Honda wowed the car industry with an amazing new design called compound vortex controlled combustion (CVCC). 1980 With strong roots in motorsport at the time, Honda was never going to forget performance fans and 1988 saw the launch of ‘Variable Valve Timing and Electronic Lift Control’ or VTEC as we know today. 1990 The nineties was the decade that will always be remembered for the launch of the incredible NSX supercar. With a powerful VTEC engine, aluminium suspension and handling tuned by the late, F1 racing champion Ayrton Senna, the NSX redefined the supercar for a whole new generation. 2010 and beyond Continuing the trend for innovation and technology brings us to the new-for-2012 Civic. Petrol engines get the latest i-VTEC system, a redesigned cylinder head, and a host of lighter components while the diesel – a 2.2 litre i-DTEC unit – receives more extensive changes including new materials to make the engine stronger and lighter. Introduction of eco friendly and efficient technologies also play a key role in the over all package.

Rise and fall of Saab: game over
Saab Automobile is dead. The company, which started selling cars 61 years ago, declared itself bankrupt on Monday, setting the stage for a forced liquidation of the storied, but troubled Swedish car maker. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Saab’s CEO Victor Muller reportedly turned in the bankruptcy application just hours before a court was set to rule on the company’s reorganization. According to the company’s Facebook page, the filing comes nearly two years to the day after Saab first learned it would be scrapped as part of the General Motors reorganization. The latest development in the automaker’s tireless fight for survival could be the last chapter in the Saab story. Saab has been in a state of suspended production since April when the company ran out of cash and the company’s creditors came knocking. The company then entered into governmentsanctioned creditor protection as Muller worked to find investors in the storied Swedish brand. An on again, off again suitor soap opera carried on for months with Chinese companies Youngman and Pang Da, but repeated cash flow delays and vetos from GM squashed that deal before it could get off of the ground. GM expressed concerns over Saab working so closely with its direct competitors in China when so much of the Saab technological encyclopedia was penned by the American automaker.


General to go the carbon way
GM has signed a partnership agreement with Teijin Limited, a Japanese company that specializes in carbon fibre reinforced thermoplastic technology. Teijin has developed an automotive molding process that cuts the cycle times of its carbon fibre components to under a minute. Other carbon fibre companies use thermosetting resin processes that take more than five times longer to set, according to Teijin. These longer molding times are a primary reason why carbon fibre has been so expensive and limited to high-end performance cars. GM believes that with Teijin’s foundation in carbon fibre, the companies will be able to effectively mass produce and apply carbon fibre, making it less expensive, and practical for applications beyond expensive cars. GM doesn’t just envision using carbon fibre on the likes of Cadillacs and Corvettes, but also on mainstream, everyday cars, trucks and crossovers.“Our relationship with Teijin provides the opportunity to revolutionize the way carbon fibre is used in the automotive industry, said GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky. industry game changer and demonstrates GM’s long-standing commitment to innovation.” Next year, Teijin will break ground on the Teijin Composites Application Center in the northern part of the United States so that it can collaborate more closely with GM. GM, of course, isn’t interested in using carbon fibre to build bullet-quick supercars, but it will surely take advantage of the other benefit of low weight: cleaner, more efficient driving. Using carbon fibre will help GM to greatly reduce the weight of its vehicles, which in turn will increase the fuel economy of its fleet, helping the automaker to meet government-imposed restrictions. More efficiency is also a big selling point for consumers. Meanwhile, either company hasen’t detailed any specific applications for their automotive carbon fibre work but stated that such applications will be announced closer to market readiness.

Teijin Senior Managing Director Norio Kamei (left) and GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky after signing the carbon fibre deal

“This technology holds the potential to be an

Automan’s take

We look forward to seeing how this partnership develops. A push to bring carbon fibre to the mass market is certainly an intriguing turn. As a specialist company, Teijin is well-known for its technical prowess. The Japanese company has won both a Frost & Sullivan 2011 Global Automotive Carbon Composites Technology Innovation Award and a Best Product Innovation Award at the ICIS Innovation Awards 2011 for its technology.

BMW partnering with other carmakers for green tech
This means that from 2014, BMW will supply Toyota with much-needed new fuel-efficient, low-emissions 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre diesel engines for the European market. Toyota has never been strong on passenger car diesels because its major markets of Japan and the United States have traditionally had a low diesel-engine uptake, but in Europe dieselengined cars account for more than half of new-vehicle sales. Meanwhile, newswire source Reuters has reported that General Motors and BMW are headed toward a partnership that may see the two automakers join forces on the creation of a fuel cell system. Even a German business magazine called Wirtschafts Woche has quoted unnamed industry sources as saying talks between the companies are already quite advanced, and that the duo may formalize the agreement soon. GM has invested a lot in fuel cell technologies and BMW is likely hoping to leverage some of that knowledge into its own products. GM has refused to comment on the partnership, though BMW has said that the two companies are “speaking about various future technologies.”

Automan’s take

By itself, BMW Group is strongly focused when it comes to developing conventional technology for motor cars but the Munich-based car maker also realizes that when it comes to specific future alternative technologies, there’s a long list of things that need to be accomplished. And as it happens, the latest trend in the business [also applicable with other car makers] is to optimize and consolidate even if it means partnering with other car makers. Well, at a joint press conference in Tokyo, BMW Group and Toyota Motor Corporation announced they had signed a memorandum of understanding [MoU] concerning “a midto-long-term collaboration on next-generation environment-friendly technologies”. Under the MoU, the two companies have agreed on collaborative research in the field of nextgeneration lithium-ion battery technologies.

In the given economic scenario, we shouldn’t be surprised when automakers [some even bitter rivals] joining forces on green technology which is where most of the industry believes where the future is. Individual research and development can be costly, and it only makes sense to spread that financial burden out amongst as many collaborators as possible. The case involving BMW’s initiative in this direction is interesting as it showcases a new wave of thinking at HQ. Till now, BMW has considered hybrids as merely a ‘stopgap’ technology, but it appears now to have conceded to the stark reality that it is now required to meet market expectations and lower the performance-focused brand’s overall consumption levels. BMW’s respect for Toyota is now clear and with its electronics partner, Panasonic Toyota has been developing lithiumion batteries for its hybrid and forthcoming full-electric cars. Meanwhile, the Bavarian car-maker also has a joint-venture in place with Peugeot-Citroen for petrol-electric hybrid technology, which is understood to be unaffected by the Toyota deal.


Infiniti moving production out of Japan
It’s no secret that some Japan based global car brands with manufacturing units in the country have been bearing the brunt of having to deal with ever rising effects of a strong currency such as the Yen. While the to start a production operation in the US at its facilities in Smyrna, Tennessee. The first car to be built will be the new Infiniti JX crossover that’s slated for production in 2012. And that’s not all. More Infiniti models will be built outside of Japan and there are some hints that some models will also be made in Europe also. “As cars come up for renewal, generally they’re being relocated in a function of where the majority of sales are,” said Andy Palmer, executive vice president of Infiniti. Even models that continue to be assembled in Japan will feature more parts imported from outside the country. Currently, Infiniti averages about 15 per cent imported parts content for vehicles assembled in Japan, but the automaker is targeting a new goal of 65 per cent content. If production outside Japan goes well, expect the trend of Japanese brands building more and more vehicles beyond its borders to continue as automakers look to bolster profits in the face of a strong yen. “Somebody in this industry has got to demonstrate that you can make luxury outside of Germany and Japan successfully over time,” concludes Palmer. Will Honda take note?


economic climate is difficult in Japan, not entirely because of the post-effects of the devastating Tsunami, but more to do with the yen which has reached record levels compared to the US dollar. Since a giant chunk of Japanese automotive exports are shipped off to America and countries that use dollar invoicing, for accounting purposes that means a sizable chunk of the profits being wiped off the balance sheet. Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury brand is one such company that doesn’t build cars outside Japan and Infiniti bosses have now decided

New Volvo design direction

Mercedes-Benz has it and currently leads 2-0. Porsche and Volkswagen level out a 1-1 and in the Audi vs BMW, the score stands at 1-0. Well, we are not referring to friendly football matches but more of who’s done what with the four-door coupe. Mercedes-Benz started the trend with its E-Class based CLS and the second generation was introduced in 2011 as a 2012 model. Volkswagen offers the Passat-based CC and Porsche has its own version with the Panamera. The last entry was from Audi with its A7. BMW wasn’t in the fray till now. Using the 6 Series coupe as its inspiration, the German automaker has added a proper back seat and two additional doors to create this, the 2013 6 Series Gran Coupe. The first version of the Gran Coupe will be the 640i, followed by the 650i. Both rear-wheel drive or xDrive all-wheel drive will be offered. Compared to its two-door counterpart, the Gran Coupe is a full 4.4in longer and BMW’s PR suggests that the stretched 6 Series has a 4+1 seating configuration.

Win-win for supercar players at Dubai Motor Show
Who said the Middle East was in recession when it comes to super or exotic car buying? Well, here are the hard facts. Jerod Shelby of Shelby Super Cars [SSC] came with the intention of finding a distributor for the region returned home with firm orders for 10 of his creations at US$1.3mn a pop. Meanwhile, Lamborghini also found 14 buyers for its allnew Aventador and Canada’s De Macros GT1 and Aston Martin’s Zagato also enjoyed a fair bit of attention as well. . The coupe looks brilliant, and SSC promises the car will deliver Bugatti baiting whopping 1,350hp from its 6.6-litre V8. That much power should enable the Jason Castriota design to reach 320km/h in just 16sec and power on to a top speed of 440km/h.

Ever since Swedish carmaker Volvo began focusing its efforts on the compact premium segment, the current S60 and V60 have indicated that Volvo is putting some real effort into creating cars that are sexier and more dynamic than before. But that’s not all. While the carmaker reworks its future design language, it has been testing waters with concepts and newly penned themes such as ‘Designed Around You’. At the Shanghai Auto Show in April 2011, Volvo presented the Concept Universe, a study for a luxury sedan model that also provides a peek at the Swedish automaker’s future design language. Then at the Frankfurt Motorshow, Volvo unveiled yet another concept – more of an evolution to the Concept Universe called Concept You. The Concept You radiates several aspects of Volvo Car Corporation’s new, customer focused

“Designed Around You” strategy: It is a large, luxurious sedan with a new, sculpted Scandinavian form language that also honours the sweeping, elegant lines of classic Volvo models. The inspiration from - and cooperation with - a number of world famous brands demonstrates the level of exquisite craftsmanship customers can expect from future Volvo models. The concept car reveals how Volvo’s new Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA) opens up dynamic design possibilities - on top of the technological and industrial advantages. By bringing the latest intuitive smart pad technology into the car, Volvo Car Corporation emphasises its ambition to lead the development of super-functional connectivity features in cars.


wORLd NEws}
separated by egos?
Toyota describes the GT 86 as a car that has been “designed by passion not by committee” and it is the first sports car to carry the Toyota badge since the demise of the Celica, Supra and the MR2. Toyota officially unveiled its GT 86, its long-awaited rear wheel drive sports car to a crowd of around 20,000 at Japan’s Fuji Speedway a couple of days ago. The GT 86 is the first sports car produced by the company in around ten years and car was driven on the main straight by Toyota president Akio Toyoda. However, all isn’t that hunky dory when it comes to giving credit where it is due. Yes, we are referring to joint venture partner of Toyota, Subaru. It seems that it isn’t always easy when corporate egos are involved -- a fact very much illustrated by recent dissension between the partners on the issue who deserves more credit for the sports coupe project that resulted in the GT 86/BRZ twins. Subaru’s Australian managing director, Nick Senior, has claimed that car’s sharp handling and sporty soul are attributable to Subaru. “The product planning and the design was done by Toyota but the rest is a Subaru. And I think the rest is the DNA piece that gives it its driving characteristics. It’s a fun car to drive.” Senior’s words followed an earlier comment from Toyota 86 chief engineer Tetsuya Tada stating that all-wheel drive (a technology implemented in all Subaru vehicles save the BRZ) added unnecessary weight and could contribute to a glut of technology items that make driving “boring.” “Many new sports cars have high-performance tyres, turbo technology and four-wheel-drive,” Tada said. “The car is controlled using hightech. As a result the car is heavier, the prices are higher, so it’s not affordable to everybody.” “Cars are fun only when it is the driver that is in control. That is what sports cars should deliver to our customers,” he said. “Both Toyota and Subaru has their own philosophy and pride in car making,” Tada said. “There was a lot of frustration, arguments and discussions.”

audi to change design direction?


s Audi’s corporate styling falling out of favour? It could be as Audi has been heavily criticized in recent times for making their models look alike and knowing how Audi top management takes cognizance of criticisms, it seems that the design gremlin is about to be changed. Speaking at a recent event, design director Stefan Sielaff confirmed Audi is developing a new styling language that will attempt to give their three model lines (sedans/wagons, crossovers and sports cars) a unique

identity. Dubbed AQR, the program will establish common styling attributes that will only be used across certain body styles. For example, sedans could get a sloping grille while crossovers would have a more upright one. This sounds like a minor change, so it will be interesting to see what the design team eventually comes up with. In addition, future e-tron models could receive bespoke styling to help distinguish them from their conventionally-powered counterparts.

Stefan Sielaff, head of Audi design

US-built Toyota Camry for Asia
For years Detroit automakers have been cribbing about the low value of the Japanese yen versus the US green buck and how it affected their business. However, the reverse is true these days as the world economy experiences extremely volatile inter-currency rates with the Japanese Yen skyrocketing in value against the US dollar. As a result, many of Japan’s-based automakers are finding it really tough offset the effects of the currency, especially bottom lines. However, Toyota is in a unique position with

its Camry as the global model is manufactured in several countries. While market forces from Asia have been demanding lower priced models from Toyota, it seems now that both Australian and Japanese produced Camry’s will give way to the US-built models. Toyota has said that it will build 6,000 Camry units in Georgetown, Kentucky and ship these units to Korea, one of its largest markets in Asia. This is the first time in Toyota’s history where an American-made Camry is being exported, while Toyota isn’t new to exporting from its US

manufacturing base. The US unit of Toyota exports 100,000 vehicles annually, shipping them to 19 countries.

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AutomAn xclusive e

As an automotive designer, he represents the finest from Germany and Japan. Before joining Hyundai, Thomas Burkle worked with BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota. Did he take a career gamble when he decided to join lesser known Hyundai in 2005? In a free-wheeling interview prior to the 2012 Detroit Motor Show, Burkle shares with Chandan B Mallik his decison to move to Hyundai and many things including how ‘Fluidic Scupture is further evolving at Hyundai

You have a very impressive resume which includes assignments with Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. How have you used this varied experience [each brand has its own strengths / weaknesses] gained to benefit Hyundai? I’ve enjoyed 27 years in the auto industry to date and the experiences gained have definitely helped me to become the designer I am today. Each company has its own personality and I’ve learnt a lot by expressing brand characteristics through car design. Today Hyundai is a brand with its own unique design and I’m very proud to have helped shaped this identity. Your last role prior to your current assignment with Hyundai was with BMW Group. What where your key projects out there? I joined BMW in 2000 as Chief Manager. My responsibilities included the design development of the 3-Series and 6-Series, exterior and interior, among other BMW models. At BMW you had done interesting projects. So, what really motivated you to move from established automotive brand to this South Korean brand? In 2005, I could see that Hyundai was a company with a lot of potential, and there was a desire

to develop a unique design identity. The company was engineering good cars and I saw an opportunity to help Hyundai build a brand in Europe. Everyone at Hyundai is committed to developing cars of the highest quality and awardwinning design, and the new-generation i30 in particular is testament to how far the company has come. Was it a career gamble for you when you decided to go for Hyundai? I would say it was a chance to advance my career. As a professional designer you’re always looking for the next challenge, and my team and I have worked hard to significantly contribute to the development of Hyundai as a leading European brand. Are you among the types that cannot a resist a creative challenge? Designers are renowned for their love of creative challenges, I’m no different. How do you find working at Hyundai? Is there a cultural / communication divide? How are you able to get your ideas across? I love working at Hyundai – we work as a team towards a common goal. As a result, the designers have come together and created a unique design language that can be seen on all present and future Hyundai models in Europe. Of course,

there are different cultures within every team of a large multi-national company like Hyundai, but we speak a common language – ‘design’, and this makes communication simple. What are the expectations of Hyundai’s think-tanks from you? The expectation from a Chief Designer is to form the brand and develop a Design Identity for Hyundai. Definitely my task is to strengthen our European Design Studio and develop our future line-up of products. We are working on Exterior, Interior and Colour&Trim Design As well as being involved in the product layout and early technical conception phase. And how are you going to deliver the same? We have increased our team in the European Studio up to about 50 members- creative people from all over Europe to develop innovative cars touching the heart of our customers. Design, package and engineering have to go together, therefore we have established a Design Engineering team including ergonomic specialist, who works together with the team of Designers. According to Hyundai’s modern premium-strategy we have Colour and materials designer, taking care about the exterior colours and high quality materials in the interior.

Finally we forecast the future of our brand with the development of futuristic concept cars like the “i-flow” with new environmentally friendly technologies. Less than a decade ago, Hyundai wasn’t seriously considered as a brand that could deliver stylish cars with international quality, durability and engineering. What’s the situation now? All aspects of our operations reflect the moves we are making to improve vehicle quality and the quality of service offered by Hyundai. With a design centre and manufacturing facilities in Europe, we are in a good position meet the demands of local customers. We continue our research into customer perceptions, as well as monitoring brand leagues to track the evolution of the brand. We have recently achieved positive media recognition across Europe for the quality of our vehicles and Hyundai has won multiple industry awards and many product comparison reviews. Tell us more about the operations when you took over. How is it now? What’s your team like? Is it multicultural or not? What are the advantages / disadvantages of working with such a team? When I joined the company in 2005, the brand was certainly moving in the right direction but was lacking a distinct design identity. Now, we are recognised for having dynamic design on all of our cars and have received industry recognition across Europe. This progression is thanks to a team of designers which bring different experiences from varied cultures across Europe and the globe. We all have different perspectives on design, but are united by a common goal – to make cars from Hyundai ever more desirable for European motorists. What do your compatriots think of your current work? You’d have to ask them! I will say that Hyundai has won several awards across Europe for car design over the last two years and that’s thanks to a team of talented designers working towards a common goal. What are the key elements that will be considered as Hyundai’s unique design DNA? Is the philosophy of ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ going to continue or will there be further refinements / developments in future models? If so, what can one expect? Using nature and modern architecture as influences, ‘fluidic sculpture’ gives a constant three-dimensional presence to Hyundai vehicles. This form language was introduced on the Hyundai ix-onic concept at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show and has been the form language for all new Hyundai models launched in Europe since. Over time, it has evolved to keep ahead of the demands of European customers, but the basic principles remain – a confident attitude through

sporty characteristics and dynamic proportions. This will remain Hyundai’s design language for the foreseeable future. A lot of new factors are beginning to influence automotive design – legislation, technology, safety etc. How much are your thoughts compromised? Part of being a designer is looking at all the parameters – including legislation – and harmonizing it with your vision, creating a vehicle that is aesthetically appealing as well as safe and practical. At Hyundai, we are proud to produce vehicles that attain the maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating. Safety is an important aspect of our success in Europe, so we design vehicles that incorporate this key commitment.

2012 Detroit teaser from Burkle’s sudios: part two of Fluidic Sculpture’ language

You seem to have focused on creating several concepts since you took over. Was it just exploratory or did it have a purpose? What has Hyundai gained with these concept ideas? Concept cars are an important part of the development process of the latest production models. Hyundai has produced several concept models which have been developed into production models, including the ix-onic and Genus concepts in Europe which led to the ix35 and i40, respectively. It seems now that Hyundai is on a fast track to establish itself as a modern premium brand. How far or close are you to this mission? Have you had any breakthrough? If so, in your opinion what would represent your claim and why? At Hyundai, we question traditional or conventional thinking that says premium quality (form and function) is only available from expensive, luxury brands and only affordable to the rich. Under our global brand communication tagline ‘New Thinking. New Possibilities.’, we express this philosophy to our customers. Hyundai is a modern, progressive and creative brand that questions convention, thinks differently and as a consequence provides its customers with new possibilities in their mobility solutions. The C-segment new-generation i30, launched at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, is the embodiment of this progressive thinking. It includes numerous features and technologies as standard that European customers usually associate with D-segment vehicles.

Hyundai’s growth has been phenomenal in the past few years despite global economic meltdown. At this rate, perhaps in some markets you may have toppled Toyota. [Hyundai is #2 in Oman]. Is the drive for volumes only? The growing popularity of our small cars (i10, i20, ix20, i30), unprecedented success of the ix35, and launch of new models such as i40 and Veloster, has put us in a strong position to grow in Europe this year and beyond. The combination of government initiatives, aggressive marketing campaigns and our growing reputation for style and quality has continued to bring new customers to Hyundai. We are not focused on quantity of sales, but more on the quality of our vehicles. It just so happens to consumers want cars which offer premium quality and features at affordable prices. What’s the product strategy in brand conscious markets? Hyundai cars are designed, engineered and tested in Europe with European consumers in mind, to help grow sales in this strategically-important region. Hyundai’s strategy is to continue delivering high-quality vehicles that meet local consumer expectations. We have seen a growing number of buyers coming to Hyundai for the first time, as consumers look for brands which represent quality and reliability – they want to buy a brand they can trust. The Five Year Triple Care package is exclusive to Europe and gives buyers added confidence when choosing Hyundai. This care package includes a five year warranty with no mileage limit, five years of roadside assistance and five years of vehicle health checks. What would be your dream car for Hyundai if given an open hand? What would be your personal favourite? I would have to say my personal favourite is the new-generation i30, inspired by the ‘fluidic sculpture’ form language. Utilising strong, fluid lines we sculpted a car which looks athletic while exuding a sense of constant motion, even when stationary. The new-generation i30 offers innovative design, class-leading fuel efficiency, high quality levels and peerless packaging, making it a compelling proposition for European buyers. What’s the forthcoming i-oniq concept car all about? Is it a preview of the next evolution of the brand’s ‘fluidic sculpture’ form language? We’ve created two strong arched curves that define the silhouette of i-oniq. These create a playful contrast between the sharp character lines and soft but muscular features. How would you like to be remembered at Hyundai? I would like to be remembered as being part of the team that created the ‘fluidic sculpture’ form language – the inspiration behind cars such as ix35, ix20, i40 and new-generation i30.

Techno fesT
Even in its new location, Japan’s biennial Motor Show in Tokyo last month was a fabulous experience for the motoring fraternity, technology lovers et al. Automan looks at the highlights of this very unusual mix of contemporary and future under one roof
Author Chandan B Mallik



he 42nd biennial Tokyo Motor Show welcomed a new home called the Tokyo Big Sight. The decision to move from the show’s former home, Makuhari Messe in Chiba City [the show’s home since 1989] was based on logistical benefits/considerations. As a result the show is now closer to the city centre and to help rectify the emptiness of the vast, but ultimately empty, exhibition halls of the 2009 show. This year saw Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Daihatsu, Subaru and Suzuki all showcase new concept and production vehicles including: the hotly anticipated ‘86’ / BRZ combination from Toyota and Subaru;Suzuki’s Q and Regina concepts; Daihatsu’s D-X, FC ShoCase and Pico concept models; and a plethora of new concept and production models from Honda. As you’ll see from the next 6 pages, there were a lot of electric drive vehicles on display from twowheeled models on up. Some are already in production. Some are in the pre-production stage and some are just exercises in pure fantasy. As expected there were some surprises too. Read on…




onda was very strong with its presence at Tokyo and its stand and exhibits also indicated that there’s a change in its mindset. It’s no secret that for years Honda has been focusing its engineering efforts solely on mild hybrids and advanced fuel cells. But that’s changing as Honda is serious about plug-in electrics now evident with unveiling of the AC-X plug-in hybrid concept and the EV-STER battery electric concept. With this concept, Honda is aiming to delicately balance the combination of electric propulsion with


performance – something that most hybrid sport-hatchbacks [including Honda’s CR-Z] have failed to address satisfactorily. The zippy little ride around town is a rear wheel drive two-passenger convertible can accelerate to 60km/h in a five seconds, and has a top speed of 160km/h. Its range is about 160km on a full charge. The EVSter features twin-lever steering in place of a steering wheel, in an attempt to make it more fun to drive. The driver can also control aspects like output and suspension settings to suit their driving style. Honda’s stand also had the curious little Micro Commuter EV that comes equipped with its own folding electric scooter, which itself is a flashback to their 80s vintage Motocomp gas-powered scooter.

We are aware that Mazda’s current C-segment model, the 6, is due for replacement in a couple of years. Going by Mazda’s radical concept styling interpretations at motor shows, it’s usually trying to make the best out of the guesswork as to which way styling is heading eventually. The Takeri concept takes the Kodo ‘Soul of Motion’ design language to a new level. The design language is attractive and integrates very well traditional Mazda cues. We expect the production version to come equipped with a full slate of Skyactiv features, including Mazda’s new Skyactiv-D clean diesel and a new i-ELOOP regenerative braking system.




Mitsubishi is serious about its electrification efforts and investments, one of the reasons why the Concept PXMiEV II was given a prominent display. But more than that we think the plug-in hybrid actually previews the styling direction of 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander which gets a 2.0-litre four-cylinder gasoline engine along with an electric motor on each rear axle. These motors are to be powered by a lithium-ion battery. Mitsubishi claims that the parallel hybrid MX-MiEV II can run up to 50km on electric power alone make it up to 800km on a single tank of fuel.

Making its first appearance on Japanese soil was the Teewave AR.1. A working prototype for a pure-electric two-seater roadster model is the result of a ninemonth partnership between Gordon Murray Design and materials company Toray Industries. Toray designed a space frame out of carbon fibre while the seats, outer body panels and other parts are also all molded out of the lightweight material. The car scales at just 850kg including the battery pack. Still, a lot of tweaking is to be done before it hits the production line as the electric motor produces only 63hp helping the car complete the zero to 100km/h sprint in 11.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 147km/h with a driving range of up to 186km.



Volkswagen strongly believe that CUVs will continue to grow in popularity and the carmaker’s major presentation was its SUV concept, the Cross Coupe. Labelled as the ‘SUV of the future’, it is an all-wheel drive plug-in hybrid that hints is also the first vehicle to ride on Volkswagen’s new modular transverse matrix architecture and it previews the future of the automaker’s crossover range. Despite its overwhelming proportions, the Cross Coupe is actually smaller than the current Tiguan, closer in size to that of a Nissan Juke. Designed by Mark Lichter under the direction of Volkswagen Brand Design Chief Klaus Bischoff, the SUV features the familiar horizontal lines of a traditional Volkswagen while displaying all-new light graphics and grille treatment. The Cross Coupe is expected to be powered by a unique all-wheel-drive hybrid drivetrain, with two electric motors (one for each axle) paired with a turbocharged gasoline engine. Volkswagen estimates that this powerplant should be good for 262hp, but will be able to drive on pure electricity for about 40km.


This French design influenced Japanese car probably got the most attention at the show. Although, it uses steel structure as part of its new “weight reduction” platform, the car weighs just 730kg which according to chief engineer, Minoru Sasah, is capable of passing global crash tests. Its styling borrows some cues from the old Citroën DS or Renault, but it has a style all of its own. The engine is pure Japanese Kei-class standard, with an 800cc turbo petrol engine feeding a continuously variable transmission driving the front wheels and uses both start-stop and regenerative braking tech to achieve such lofty fuel economy.


KOBOT, an all-electric scooter that can fold up at the tap of a button on a smartphone application is the result of joint venture between medical robot firm Tmsuk and pharmaceutical outfit Kowa. The promoters reckon it’s perfect for navigating crowded city streets and storing in the cramped living conditions of a typical Japanese metropolis. The all-electric scooter sports three wheels and one seat and can cruise at speeds of around 29km/h. In terms of practicality, it can fold-up to fit in a space of around one square metre after the rider taps a button on an accompanying smartphone. Two versions are planned for production and the vehicles are expected to be ready for the market by next autumn. 31


oyota unveiled a trio of concepts which are essentially taking snap-shots of the future of Toyota. The concepts are the clearest indicators that are said to represent the ‘near-future, mid-term and far out.’ The FT-EV III represents the ‘near future’. An obviously iQ-based electric vehicle, it is equipped with a lithium-ion battery giving a range of 100kns. Despite its iQ underpinnings and concept tag, it does give a clear indication of the future aesthetic of EVs from Toyota. The FCV-R is a Fuel Cell concept vehicle.


The three-box sedan features a distinctively different demeanor to previous Toyota concepts. The Avensis sized concept is said to point toward a Fuel Cell production car scheduled for 2015. Furthest removed from reality is the Fun-Vii concept. A mono-form concept, it features a full-length screen that relays information to the outside world. The concept is Toyota’s vision of ‘a future where people, cars and society are linked’.

The Aqua will serve as the Prius C in the US when it lands at the Detroit Auto Show in early 2012. The Yarissized hatchback will come equipped with a 1.5-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine and an electric motor.

Toyota Fun-Vii concept Billed as the automotive equivalent of the smartphone, the Fun-Vii is a socially-integrated vehicle that can change its appearance as quickly as the owner can download an app. The surfacing of the concept can be used as a display surface for business, with the body colour and display content changeable at will. Inside the vehicle, the surfaces are as functional and flexible as the exterior, with the panels allowing for the navigation system integrated into the car. Through augmented reality and a ‘navigation concierge’ passengers and driver can be relayed the latest information. The car itself can also link into fellow Fun-Vii units, other vehicles and infrastructure to allow for hazard detection or to simply connect with friends in the surrounding area.




The second of Daihatsu's entourage of models is the Pico. Following the layout of a two-seat quadricycle, laid out by the Twizy, the Pico has been developed as a vehicle ‘offering the appeal that only a compact car can provide to accommodate social and environmental changes such as the aging population, regional locations and delivery businesses'. The Pico features an LED central belt that circles the vehicle, relaying information such as the Pico's speed to pedestrians and other road users. The glass-less bar ‘doors' lift in a scissor fashion akin to the Smart Crossblade and offer some side impact protection to occupants. Inside the Pico has a simple IP. Dominating this is a large screen relaying information to the driver. Another, smaller, screen gives information such as speed and range. The interior is similar to the recently announced Suzuki Q, in that it offers flexible arrangements allowing the Pico to be used as a small commercial vehicle.

Under Japan’s Kei car classification, the FC ShoCase has space for four occupants and the floor pan is flat, to show-off the potential benefits created by fuel cell propulsion technology packaging [similar to GM’s ‘skateboard’]. A water theme is rather literally applied through use of screens and graphics featuring the liquid, but the overall exterior form has an appealing architectural, graphical quality that only Japanese manufacturers appear to successfully be able to capture.T he mono-box upper cabin form sits on top of a lower platform and houses the tiny wheels, and hydrogen fuel cells. As the new brand moniker suggests, the car is dimensionally small, and features interchangeable body panels that allow the vehicle to transcend segments. The Kei car is able to switch from a two-seat roadster – reminiscent of the Renault Sport Spider thanks to its two-tone hue and simplistic nature – to a two-door crossover-type vehicle, more reminiscent of the Suzuki X90 thanks to its two-seat bubble centre section and prominent rear deck. The final variations of the D-X is a ‘racer’ – in essence a sports car with a race inspired livery and a lightweight panelled van. Inside, the D-X has a simple IP, featuring a prominent central stack and thin bucket seats. The instrument binnacle is mounted atop the IP giving a driver-centric feel to the cockpit.

The small car specialist certainly attracted the attention of media and visitors with three outstanding concepts. Among them, the FC ShoCase appeared to be the most unorthodox. This concept is in essence a technology demonstrator for the company’s next generation technology which uses no precious metals its construction.

Hot on the heels of the reveal of the new Toyota GT 86, or Scion FR-S [in the US], Subaru finally unveiled its version of the new jointly developed rear-wheel drive sports car, the BRZ. Although, most mechanical details have already been revealed, there are a few new unique details such as the car’s grille and front bumper design, headlight detailing, custom mudguard vents, integrated exhaust tips, and revised tail-lamps. Despite rumours that the BRZ would be more powerful than its Toyota counterpart, its horizontally opposed ‘boxer’ engine will get Toyota’s D-4S direct injection technology and gearbox options will include six-speed manual or automatic with steering-wheel mounted paddle shifts.

Subaru GRMN Sports Hybrid Concept II
This car was rolled out at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring earlier in 2011. The GR stands for Gazoo Racing, and the MN means it was developed with help from the late Toyota test driver Hiromu Naruse. The GRMN is an all-wheeldrive sports hybrid that uses a mid-ship placed 3.5-litre V6 that sends power the rear wheels while the electric motors drive the front axle. Output is rated at 245bhp for the IC engine, and 295hp with electric motor combined.


The year of Turnaround



Automakers showed off their latest and greatest at the 23rd edition of the North American Auto Show in Detroit last month. And it seems the industry is more optimistic about its prospects for the future
Author Chandan B Mallik


Automobile Design and DTM World, hot rods and motorcycles

While the “Automobile Design” special show put the spotlight on highly topical design creations, the fair also offered a view into the future of cars. The “DTM World” was dedicated

Homage to the “Monte Adventure” - and to the “Dakar of the North” The special show entitled “100 Years of the Monte Carlo Rally” honoured the anniversary of the legendary motor sport event which is regarded as the “mother” of today’s rallying. Attention focused on 13 victorious vehicles which documented the chequered history of the prestigious event in the form of examples. Meanwhile, the Wroclaw Rally which is one of the most demanding off-road rallies for private drivers in Europe and therefore also bears the name of the “Dakar of the North” was also present itself on a large booth.


Tuners @ essen
“RTK-7” police lights from Hella, a sports-tuned suspension system, a new set of 19in wheels wrapped in Hankook rubber. Carbon ceramic brakes, Recaro seats and a fully-prepped rollbar wrap up this limited to 25 production cars. The police-dressed supercar also gets performance upgrades including bumped up 620hp 5.2-litre V10 engine and these numbers translate to a 0-100km/h time of jaw dropping 3.2secs with a top speed of 323km/h.

to latest DTM vehicles as well as at the vehicles from the 2012 season from all three manufacturers. Special shows and events were devoted to hot rods and motorcycles of all shapes and sizes. For the first time, a full hall was dedicated to hot bikes. In the “Speed Bike Show”, there were some fast and crazy one-offs such as the Suzuki Hayabusa trike.

Police livery by Foliatec on a R8 GTR tuned by ABT. Package includes carbon fiber body kit, an

The show also gave visitors an opportunity to see the new BMW M3 E92 DTM race car. Along with the super sporty M3, another M3 DTM was present at the show: the original E30 version which was powered by a four-cylinder 2.5-litre engine producing 335hp and reaching a top speed of 310km/h. From 0 to 100 km/h, it took only 4.5 seconds. BMW returns next year to DTM with the current E92 M3 model. The new BMW M3 DTM is equipped with 4.0-litre V8 engine

which includes an air restrictor that keeps the power to approximately 480bhp, as per DTM regulations. The car accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in about three seconds and boasts a top speed of 300km/h. The car measures 4,775 mm in length (without rear wing) and 1,950 in width. The height is set to approximately 1,200 mm. The DTM regulations for the 2012 season stipulate all cars must use a certain number of standard components.

Motor sport: adrenaline for fans and drivers It wasn’t just static vehicles or displays of tuned and classic cars. Motorsport formed the fourth pillar of the Essen Motor Show with a specially created motor sport arena. The action out here was spectacular -- racers went on to the drift course and off-road vehicles participated for the first time. The “taxi rides” were extremely received by the visitors.

German tuning company, Velocity, has been an undisputed fan of American muscle cars and their latest tuning project involved Ford’s very own Mustang GT. Dubbed the Velocity Edition, this Mustang has been given a pretty unique and distinctive individualization program that features a plethora of customizations beginning with the new vented bonnet and carbon fibre boot. Other prominent modifications include

new KW coil overs that allow for precise setting of the ride height and adjustable for rebound and compression, a new set of 22in Giovanni ’Martuni’ wheels wrapped in Pirelli P-Zero tyres, and finally, a new and bigger set of brake discs to ensure shorter braking distances for the American muscle car. At the heart of Velocity’s program for the Mustang is the engine modification, significantly bumping up the output of the muscle car. By installing a new Roush compressor unit, Velocity was able to drive up the output of the car’s 5.0-liter V8 engine from 412 hp all the way up to 519hp. On top of that, the tuning company also installed a new muffler unit, a new shifter lever, and an improved digital gear display.


Automobile classics: nostalgia and passion The range on offer in the classic cars extended from the young timer to the precious collector’s item. Special shows were dedicated to t “100 Years of Juan Manuel Fangio” and “100 Years of the Indianapolis 500”.

Homage to the “Monte Adventure” - and to the “Dakar of the North” The special show entitled “100 Years of the Monte Carlo Rally” honoured the anniversary of the legendary motor sport event which is regarded as the “mother” of today’s rallying. Attention focused on 13 victorious vehicles which documented the chequered history of the prestigious event in the form of examples. Meanwhile, the Wroclaw Rally which is one of the most demanding off-road rallies for private drivers in Europe and therefore also bears the name of the “Dakar of the North” was also present itself on a large booth.


M-Class by Brabus starts with a body kit made of Pur-R-Rim plastics which include new sill skirts that make the SUV look longer and sleeker. The chipping program also includes a power upgrade on the ML 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC diesel variant by means of the BRABUS ECO PowerXtra D6S performance kit with output bumped up to 301hp and 690 Nm from the series 254hp and 620Nm. The sprint time from 0 to 100 km/h comes in at a flat six seconds and top speed is increased to 229km/h. Brabus also offers its Monoblock wheels sized between 18 and 22 inches on the M-Class. A standard suspension lowering of 30 mm is part of the program and for the M-Class with AIRMATIC suspension a Brabus module can lower the rideheight by 30-40 mm.

The tuning program for the Mercedes-Benz

In an incredible blue-green paint job, Wimmer RS, a German tuner decided that the Mercedes C63 AMG would look better in two colours. Their project - BlueGreen Eliminator - starts with a very impressive engine update. The tuner has added new sport camshafts, a new sport air filter by K&N, manifold, down pipe and special sport catalysts and a handmade stainless steel exhaust system from Wimmer House. And as a final touch to the

engine the engine electronics have been adjusted. As a result the car is delivering a total of 601hp and a peak torque of 531 lbs-ft. Top speed has been increased to 209 mph. Next to the engine job Wimmer has also opted for a complete foiling of the body with blue and green /matte and of course a new set of 19in wheels combined with a MOV’IT ceramic brake system

Tuners @ essen

Hofele Design introduced the Cayster GT 670 at the Essen Motor Show which is based on the Porsche Cayenne (958). The model features an aerodynamic body kit with a new front fascia, wheel arch extensions, a rear diffuser and a fourtailpipe exhaust system. Customers can also order a ventilated bonnet with carbon fibre accents. Furthermore, there’s a lowering module - that reduces the ride height by up to 40mm - and a

variety of wheels in sizes ranging from 20- to 22in. To spruce up the cabin, Hofele Design offers a two-tone “StarLight” leather interior and carbon fiber trim. For added performance, the Cayenne Diesel can be tuned to produce 311hp and 650 Nm of torque [an increase of 69hp and 100Nm]. The programme also includes the Cayenne S Hybrid can also be upgraded to develop 474hp and 737Nm.

Startech, is actually a sub-division of Brabus. The tuner showed off a custom Range Rover Evoque project, which originally debuted at the Dubai International Motor Show last month.The tuning package from Startech is available for all threeand five-door models of the Evoque and was developed to make the crossover more capable on the road, rather than focusing on the Evoque’s somewhat non-existent off-road capabilities. For aesthetics, Startech outfits the Evoque with a new front apron, roof wing and rear apron that sports a new rear diffuser and wickedly cool quad exhaust

tips. Ride height is lowered by 1.2in thanks to a suspension kit while Startech offers a variety of 20- to 22in wheels with custom color combos for the client.On the inside, Startech offers a plethora of custom interior modifications including a sport steering wheel, aluminum pedals, foot rest and shifter, leather upholstery and Alcantara headliner. Startech also announced that they’re working on more horsepower for the 2.0-litre powerplant first, and will develop a power kit for the diesel engine shortly thereafter.

The new Porsche 911 Turbo GT Street R was one of the three projects presented by Techart. Techart’s new TA 097/T3 power kit that improves the output of the 911 Turbo’s 3.8 liter six-cylinder bi-turbo engine from the standard 500hp and 516 lb/ft of torque figures all the way up to a massive 700hp and 650 lb/ft of torque. Techart also presented its GrandGT based on the Porsche For the SLS, the German tuner starts things off with a carbon fiber aerodynamic kit which it offers either in a high-gloss or matte finish. The body kit includes a front spoiler, newly designed air vents for the front fenders, side skirts, rear spoiler, side air vents for the rear fascia and a diffuser with integrated quad-exhaust. Brabus then fits its own Monoblock F “Platinum Edition” forged wheels, offered in several finishes, with 20in rims for the front and 21in rims at the rear axle. The Brabus Ride Control suspension system lowers the car by up to 40mm at the touch of a button where the driver also gets to choose between different damper settings. The tuner also offers a Front Lift System which can raise the front axle of the car by 50mm to navigate speed bumps or other obstacles.

Panamera Turbo as well as the new Aerodynamic Kit I for the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, presented a few weeks ago at the IAA in Frankfurt in a world premiere. With its high-quality interior refinement and the new TECHART power kits up to 630 hp and 660 hp the dynamic sedan as well as the sporty SUV.



Lamborghini’s all-new Murceilago replacement, the Aventador is living proof of what Lamborghini can technologically offer in a blue-blooded sports car while meeting contemporary parameters
Author Chandan B Mallik 40



he all-new Aventador is named after a famous fighting bull from Spain and Lamborghini is well-equipped to use it. With the all-new Aventador LP700-4, Lamborghini’s latest, the supercar maker has not only has created a befitting replacement for the 10-year-old Murceilago, but in the process also redefined the very pinnacle of the world super sports car market - brutal power, outstanding lightweight engineering and phenomenal handling precision in a stunning design package. While aluminium and carbon fibre are the important lightweight engineering materials used on the chassis, the car’s unique monocoque is entirely made from carbon-fibre. The entire suspension system, including upper and lower control arms, wheel mounts and relay levers are made from forged aluminium alloys. Lamborghini’s unique ISR transmission is mated to the new 6.5-litre V12 which pushes the envelope to 700hp at 8,250rpm with 690Nm of torque coming at 5,000rpm. This set-up employs dual shifting rods which help gears to shift nearly 50 per cent faster than a comparable dual-clutch gearbox. Lamborghini says that the low weight and compact dimensioned transmission has been designed to offer everyday usability and guarantees emotional sensation from gearshifts as expected from a supercar. And dry sump lubrication guarantees the car’s engine health even under extreme racetrack conditions with high lateral acceleration. Thanks to a dry weight of only 1,575kg, the weight-to-power ratio stands at only 2.25kg per hp.



One of the engineering challenges was to blend industrial sized radiators for the engine in the sculpted body and the creation of the ‘Tornado Line’ gives the car its visual sparkle

Performance of 0-100 km/takes just 2.9 secs and top speed is 350km/h. Despite the staggering figures, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are down by around 20 per cent compared with its predecessor. The standard package of electronic systems includes ABS, electronic brake distribution, anti-slip control, speed-dependent servo-tronic steering, hill start assist and, of course, ESP stability control. The rear spoiler and the side air intakes are electronically controlled. The Drive Select System enables vehicle characteristics (engine, transmission, differential, stability control, steering) to be set in accordance with individual driver preferences in one of three modes - Strada (road), Sport and Corsa (track). The hydraulic steering on the Lamborghini V12 forms the highly sensitive connection between the driver and the super sports car, which runs on 19-inch wheels clad on 255/35 tires at the front and 20-inch rims on 335/30 tires at the rear. Steering Gear foresees 3 different servotronic characteristics managed by drive select mode. Besides the most up-to-date, comprehensive and individualistic technology and equipment package ever in a modern super sports car [which obviously includes dynamics through safety to communication and entertainment], Lamborghini pampers its customers with its ‘Ad Personam’ programme, which like other high-end makers including Porsche, Bentley and Aston Martin, allows customers choose their own custom colours and interiors.



Sixth generation 2012 Mercedes-Benz SL roadster breaks cover prior to official debut at Detroit Motor Show
Author Chandan B Mallik


ercedes’ flagship coupe-cabriolet designated as the SL [also known internally as the R230] entered the market as a replacement of the R129 in 2001. As a key model in the line-up, the car has had in its career several interesting milestones, including AMG and special limited editions. As the model evolved over the years, it has become more aggressive with each generation. Stylistically, the incoming SL [R231] also moves further in that direction but


it’s the engineering and packaging efficiency that’s become the talking point. Designed at the Advanced Studio in Carlsbad, California, For the latest model, given the global market scenario, Mercedes-Benz has reduced the offerings from two non-AMG models to just one and has also discontinued the SL600 as part of the efficiency-cum-downsizing trend. A great part of the efficiency effort is focused on flab reduction and depending on model 110 to 140kg has been knocked off by



using aluminium in the body-shell in the body construction, whereas steel has only been used for rollover protection in the A-pillars. The car’s styling follows the current Mercedes design language diktat and is evident all over – from the extra wide-mouthed grille and angular LED headlamps with new lighting technology applications in particular that give the SL a super-sized SLK-look. However, the good news is that there’s no compromise of the traditional SL proportions or stance with its long-bonnet an unapologetic large threepointed star despite marginal increase in dimensions. The incoming car is longer and wider than its predecessor by 50mm and 57mm respectively, resulting in class-leading cabin room according to Mercedes. Inside, the SL’s dashboard architecture borrows inspiration from both SLK and SLS -- chromed air vents and switchgear are remarkably similar. As for powertrains, the SL500 badged cars downsize to 4.7-litre twin-turbo V8 as opposed

to the current 5.5-litre unit. Power has been hiked to 429bhp, whilst it drinks 22 per cent less fuel, and hits 100km/h in a claimed 4.6secs. The SL350 serves as the entry level with a 302bhp 3.5-litre V6. Standard features include start-stop technology and a sevenspeed automatic transmission. ‘Semi-active’ damping and steel springs are standard-fit on the SL350, whilst self-leveling hydraulic dampers – dubbed Active Body Control – are also available. Some new features are being introduced and Magic Vision Control is one of them. It’s a clever wash-wipe system integrated into the wipers, which ensures the driver’s vision can never be obscured by washer fluid on the windscreen. And then there’s Magic Sky Control – the panoramic photochromatic glass roof already seen on the smaller SLK. Also making its appearance is automated parking facility where the car is able to steer into a parking space automatically.




Adding a haute couture edge
Hyundai Motor held a media day in Dubai to showcase the Genesis Prada edition. Along with swathes of classy leather, the brand seems to be establishing its mandate of moving upmarket.
Author Raj Warrior

fter an early reveal and many column centimeters about the Genesis Prada project, the car made its expected arrival in the region at a media day hosted by Hyundai in Dubai. The event was attended by Hyundai Motor Co management and the Director of External Relations of Prada, Francesco Longanesi Cattani. The Genesis Prada was unveiled amid fanfare. The car is essentially a vision of what a high end saloon should be and it is to Hyundai’s credit that they have taken their highly successful Genesis and further transformed it - although the asking price of almost RO 24,000 would mean that the buyer would have to be very convinced of the value he or she was getting in the car. Explaining the design cues that make the Genesis Prada a distinguished vehicle, Longanesi Cattani said: “We felt it important to make Genesis Prada owners not only see, but also feel the difference when inside the car. From the outside-in, the car looks in a class of its own, with special paint and badges. The interior also gets special treatment, with signature Prada Saffiano leather used to give it an air of luxury and sophistication.” The car gets three special colours - Black Nero, Blue Baltico and Brown Moro that are applied in a special process that involves three layers and a stereoscopic gold pearl finish. The radiator grille, emblem and door handles get a dark chrome treatment and the car gets special 19” wheels and a shark fin antenna. The interiors get an artisan crafted saffiano leather to reflect the best of Prada’s leather treatment. The Genesis Prada is limited to 1,200 units globally and the car gets a unique GP500 badge, although the engine remains the 364bhp, 4.6-litre V8. On the occassion, Hyundai’s Marketing Manager, Mike Lee said, “The fact that this is only the second market globally to receive this limited edition vehicle underlines our commitment to the market. Joining forces with Prada, a world-renowned fashion house, lends a distinct air of luxury to the Genesis Prada and underscores the importance of this award winning vehicle for Hyundai.”



with Oman's only car magazine



Supercar obit uary, not yet!
editorial noMinee 8 italia ferrari 45 perforMa nce car

thanks to Fer rari’s multiple award-winning seventh in the all-new 458 it series, the pa alia, the ssage to high car paradise is performance still very much sports alive. automan how close one editors discov can get to ete er rnal automotiv Author Chanda n B Mallik e bliss. Photography author and Na beel Ferzan



new Ferrari Berlinetta has arrived in the Middle East. It’s called the 458 Italia and when Automan got an exclusive one-off invite to test the car in UAE for a day, we must admit in our profession, there are these rare moments in our tranquility that’s a welcome distraction. This is where we can re-ignite the fact that it’s also fun to adorn the role of a 100 per cent petrol head. Because of the adulation, devotion, and unrelenting attention given to the spiritual successor of the venerable F430, the 458 has garnered adulation [and a host of awards from all corners of the globe, the latest being the 2011 performance car title], we made sure that we didn’t fall into the trap of one preconceived notion or another about this car from Modena. But, there’s one fact that Ferrari can never be discounted for – its race derived technology driven products, innovation and design. While the Italia uses the same modular format all-aluminium chassis as the California’s, Pininfarina design has ensured that it is


distinctive in its own right. In fact, the lines of this low slung car are not only pleasing to the eye but they also communicate evidence of the complete departure from the past in its compact aerodynamically inspired profile while underscoring an element of simplicity, efficiency and lightness in the overall package. As it evolves, it is only a millimetre lower than its predecessor, but 14mm wider and 15mm longer, with a wheelbase stretched 50mm with overhangs shorter to match. The front track has been pushed 3mm wider, although the rear is actually narrower. The car’s front features a single opening for the front grille and side air intakes and aerodynamic cues and detailing of this car which can reach speeds up to 325km are obvious to a keen eye. The car’s fluid shape, new flat underbody, specially designed mall aeroelastic winglets on the nose all contribute in generating downforce as much as 140 kg at speeds of 200km/h and above. The Italia’s interiors talk about the next level – in terms of supercar design with pure driver

focused elements such as the leather bound two tone interior, new wraparound dashboard, three dimensional HVAC vents, extra chassis controls, starter button, turn signals and more on the steering wheel [believed to be recommended by Michael Schumacher for that closest to F1 track car feel], low slung sports seats among others. Similar to the outgoing F430, there are no gear shifters, but electronically operated buttons instead neatly settled at the base of the central console. Instrumentation is a mix of analogue and digital, where the digital part of the display can also be programmed to offer all sorts of information needed for a typical track day outing. As before, the paddle shifter are mounted to the steering column, whereas most rival models such as the new McLaren MP12 C has them on the steering wheel. Ferrari’s view point is that you should not change gears while the wheel is turned. Plus, by moving all secondary controls to the steering wheel,


the 458 italia is soulful and pure and direct, something you wear as an extension of your body and mind and eyes

there is no accidental activation of the wipers or turn signals. Our only niggle with this is that you need to cancel said turn signals after a lane change, as they lack a three-blink feature so it has to be manually canceled at times. The car’s bonnet is actually the boot which hosts a space saver. However, boot space is virtually absent and perhaps the biggest item you could carry along would be a small back pack. However, between the seat and firewall, there’s some space available for a snug fit briefcase. The 4,499cc normally-aspirated V8 is the first Ferrari direct injection engine to be mid-rear mounted. It has a very low piston compression height typical of racing engines which contributed to achieving its compression ratio of 12.5:1. Equipped with the traditional flat-plane crankshaft [introduced in the F430 with great success], the engine delivers 562hp at 9,000 rpm and which also translates to incredible power output of 125hp litre. This engine has also received top marks

from Wards Engine awards [equivalent of engine Oscars] and offers maximum torque of 540Nm at 6,000 rpm, over 80 per cent of which is available from 3,250 rpm. The sevenspeed sequential gearbox in this car traces its heritage to the track and the e-diff is now incorporated within the transmission housing to reduce dimensions and weight. The e-diff, F1-Trac traction control and ABS are now controlled by one ECU. Altered gearing suits the extra power and the car’s character, while gear actuation is quicker, claims Ferrari. Even the asymmetric tyres have been specially designed for this car. Although the 458 is based on the same chassis of the California, it uses a multi-link rear suspension that has been designed for this car specifically with different suspension bushings plus new software and hardware for the Magnetorheological magnetic suspension (SCM2) for more rapid response. This is to ensure that there’s greater roll stiffness and greater lateral and longitudinal

integrity., besides the 458’s very distinctive ride charateristics. Stopping power has also improved, with 100km/h to zero in 32.5m, thanks to carbon ceramic brakes and new high-performance ABS. Driving impressions Once you are inside the car, there’s an immediate sense of déjà vu. Part of this I think is to do with the driving position where you not only sit quite low but almost at the outer edge of the car which heightens the sensation of its width. It takes a little while to get accustomed to the haphazardly placed controls on the steering wheel and during the first few kilometers of driving the car in Dubai we were almost disappointed at how easy this car is to drive. It initially sounds a little flat, and feels almost too sensible. But when you decide to go a bit faster the canvas can change dramatically. I’ve driven the F430 before and its exhaust note sounded like an overgrown sports




Dimensions Length: 4,527mm Width: 1,937mm Height: 1,213mm (47.8 in.) Wheelbase: 2,650mm Dry weight: 1,380 kg Weight distribution (front/rear): 42:58 Engine Normally aspirated 4,499cc, V8 90° Maximum output: 562hp @ 9,000rpm Maximum torque: 540Nm @ 6,000rpm Specific power output: 125hp /l Compression ratio: 12.5:1

Tyres Front: 235/35 ZR20 8.5in Rear: 295/35 ZR20 10.5in Performance Top speed: >325 km/h 0-100 km/h: <3.4 s Fuel consumption: 13.7 l/100 km Emissions: 320 g CO2/km Gearbox Dual-clutch, 7-speed F1 Electronics E-Diff3, F1-Trac, high-performance ABS

motorcycle, whereas the 458 sings a more melodious and more complex tune. The bored out engine sounds delicious, utterly intoxicating and encourages you to use every last one of the 9,000 revs that are on tap before you finger-flick the superfast paddle shifter back and engage gears in less than a blink of an eye. One thing I noted in particular is that even at docile speeds of say 100km/h, the engine is ticking at around 3,000rpm and constantly reminding me of the fact that there’s up to 15 per cent more torque at low to medium revs than any F430 variant had, and 80 per cent of it available from 3,250 to 9,000rpm. The second thing that we experienced with the seven-speed transmission is that even at very slow city cruising speeds as low as 73km/h, the top gear still holds and it’s when you abruptly push the throttle that the gears downshift to third without the engine screaming unnecessarily – something which the Maseratis tend to do. What is truly extraordinary is the amount of torque available while still maintaining high levels of power at low revs, thanks to the record 120 Nm/litre specific torque ratio. It’s great fun to be able to shift through the gears super quick and


By far, the most driver and track focused car Ferrari has ever dressed in a stylish set of clothes. From the cockpit to ergonomics, from real-time data to useful information and day-to-day creature comforts -- you name it and its there.

silky smooth unlike the some cars such as the Aston Martin V8 Vantage S which applies engine braking between the jerky gear shifts. The engine responds with blips and opening of the exhaust baffle plates release that extra power. Even on technically challenging roads one really doesn’t miss the manual transmission at all, reveling instead in the way you can drive the car with both feet and delighting in the instant shifts in both road modes. Actually, one of the nice things about this car is its dual personality. Although it has track genes built in, one would have thought that a racetrack is needed to appreciate the car. While that’s true to some extent but even in normal driving situations, our drive across the UAE’s roads we could manouevre it like a normal sports car by tapping the wheelmounted button [choosing the appropriate mode] to soften damper response and leaving other job for the Manettino [controls] to go on with. Although we didn’t go in for the extreme two-track modes [as it could compromise with safety on public roads], if one wanted to experience some G-force thrust, we are happy to note there’s plenty of it, courtesy of extra generous torque on tap. Even in the normal mode, the thrust available is pretty compelling by any measure and car’s road manners are

Ferrari’s 4.5-litre eight rightfully can claim the world record for per-litre output from a naturally aspirated engine: 125hp



impeccable and quite consistent with its engine note which is frantic [as even idles at higher revs]. While most modern cars are opting more and more electric power steering, it’s still nice to have a bit of old school with the hydraulic set-up. The weight of the steering is marginally felt in low speeds and progressively changes as speeds pick up and offers incredible feedback to the inputs from the driver. The steering is hyper-responsive, intuitive, reacting

to mere twitches and so is the accelerator pedal, which spikes the revs and illuminates a set of bright red LEDs atop the steering wheel as you approach the 9,000rpm redline. No supercar is worth its salt if it hasn’t been given the hairpin test. We deliberately chose a route with plenty of those with both on and off cambers thrown in. Whatever was thrown in, the F458 takes it naturally and turns in as eagerly as a kid choosing candy!

Verdict If someone was thinking about writing an obituary about supercars, well right now it’s not happening, at least at Ferrari. No amount of fancy words can ever describe the 458 Italia in its totality. Simply put, it’s sensational. When Ferrari announced the 458 Italia as the successor to the F430 model it promised a giant leap forward in design, technology and environmental efficiency. A two-seat berlinetta, Ferrari calls its 458 Italia “a completely new car from every point of view: engine, design, aerodynamics, handling, instrumentation and ergonomics.” Although, the F430 was a breakthrough in many respects, the 458 Italia in our opinion represent a further evolution in engineering and design elements packaged with class-leading refinements. We couldn’t agree more after spending some quality time with it.

F 430 vs 458 Italia

The arrival of the F430 paved the way for a whole new generation of Ferrari V8engined berlinettas and also some incredible engineering solutions. The 458 Italia evolves from the family and also meets the current market demands for performance and efficiency. In both cases, the results are highly innovative design characterised by cutting-edge technologies perfected for use on a road-going car.w

Styling Pininfarina penned the lines of both cars which blend a very high level of aerodynamic efficiency, chiefly inspired by either car’s exceptional engineering package.

Interiors The F430 handily placed steering wheel-mounted control switch (better known to the Scuderia’s drivers as manettino) directly controlled the integrated systems governing vehicle dynamics. Donato Coco, Ferrari’s chief designer designed the wrap around interior of the 458 and Michael Schumacher helped in designing the car’s steering controls with greater focus on driver. Engine The F430’s compact 90° V8 4.3-litre engine was completely new and used a flatplane crank (180° between throws) design. The engine offered 490hp at 8,500 rpm and 465Nm of torque at 5,250rpm. The Italia’s 90° V8 engine is derived from a shared Ferrari/Maserati design also uses flat-plane crank design that help produce 562hp at 9,000 rpm and 540Nm at 6,000 rpm with 80 per cent torque available at 3,250 rpm. The engine features direct fuel injection, which is a first for Ferrari midengine set-ups in its road cars. The 458’s award winning engine currently holds the world record for most power per litre in a naturally aspirated car engine. And despite the fact that both overall displacement and power have increased when compared to the F430, the engineering focus on reducing internal friction in the engine for lower fuel consumption has yielded commendable results. Chassis Like its predecessor the 360 Modena, the F430 was built on an aluminium chassis and its design and construction methods allowed considerable structural stiffness. Meanwhile, the 458 Italia’s chassis is entirely of metal rather than carbon fibre. The design structure is an all-new modular unit made of aluminium, high-tech alloys and high-resistance extrusions using aircraft technology. Ferrari also employs heat forming in the construction of the chassis as a way to use more single-piece chassis components which reduce weight and increase rigidity. The result is a chassis that is lighter than the F430’s and has 15 per cent more torsional rigidity and five per cent more beam stiffness.


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Big thing
For 2012, volkswagen introduces a highly reworked tiguan, its smallest suv, so much so that it could be considered as all-new. automan checks out this new arrival in oman
Author Chandan B Mallik Photography author


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While most of the stylish interior remains unchanged, noticeable is the new seat upholstery. Rear seat moves fore and aft, and can also be inclined by 23°.


olkswagen says that a new Tiguan is here for 2012. Considering that the CUV was launched in 2008 worldwide, technically it would qualify as a refresh or mid-cycle upgrade now. But VW doesn’t want us to view it in that way since it has done some intensive rework good enough to qualify as new. Well, that’s an idea that we are well aware of being practiced in the industry by several car makers. The current Ford Focus and Toyota Camry have been completely reskinned inside out and the same can be said for some Mercedes-Benz models. Actually, if the engineering fundamentals are strong, what goes on top is a matter more of cosmetics than anything and that can also include things like re-styling certain components or a total revisit. In the case of the Tiguan, the front end design has been completely reinterpreted with a purpose thrown in. In fact, there’s something in the Tiguan which is even more interesting. Instead of adopting a ‘one size fits all’ approach, depending on purpose, the car is still the only SUV in its class that can be ordered in two different versions: one for on-road use and one specially tuned for off-road driving branded as ‘sport & style’ and ‘track & style’ respectively. Design director Walter De Silva has successfully grafted a corporate face on the car which gives the SUV a bit more aggressiveness in its appearance and at the same time looks more upmarket. Like on the larger Touareg, the grille is upgraded with two double chrome louvres. Our test car, one of the higher spec models was equipped with the now-ubiquitous LED daytime running lights that look modern and require less energy than traditional incandescent lights. VW has also added a large 19in alloy wheels to topspec cars along with matching low-rolling-

resistance tyres. Meanwhile, the tail lamps have also been reprofiled to blend very nicely with the rear of the car. Both versions carry their own identity and among the key visual clues are the fact that the siblings differ in their front ends where the “On-road” version has an 18° angle of approach, while the “Off-road” version has 28°. In addition, like the on-road version, the off-road version is now also available with a top equipment line. Meanwhile, the “Trend & Fun” and “Track & Field” versions are equipped with 16in alloy wheels [Portland type] as standard and the “Sport & Style” and “Track & Style” equipment lines get factory-fitted 17in alloy wheels [Philadelphia type].There are also some cosmetic add-ons that distinguished the base models such as the chrome strips. Inside, the car conveys a lot in terms of fit, finish, trims. Our top of the line tester had leather bound seats and most of the bells and whistles attached. The front seats are comfortable, but the back seems to be a bit small for the car. Meanwhile, the 60:40 split rear bench seat that can be adjusted fore and aft up to 16cm and can also be reclined. Cargo capacity ranges from 470 to 1,510 litres, depending on the rear seat configuration. For the Oman market, the Tiguan is offered with VW’s new TSI 2.0-litre fourcylinder engines offering 170bhp and 200bhp respectively. VW claims that both engines which are mated to six-speed automatic transmissions offer more to the dynamometer than the previous model without increasing combined fuel consumption. Both models also get 4MOTION [all-wheel drive] as now standard. There are no range selectors [hi, low] or differential locks in these models. However, the gearbox does offer sport mode for extra torque and longer holding gears and Tiptronic manual function.

A few style or design changes are apparent now. The car’s grille and front end get most of the scalpel treatment and

there’s more than a passing resemblance with big brother, the Touareg. Rear taillamps also match the Touareg’s style.


while ‘sport & style’ and ‘track & style’ represent two facets of this suv, vw is actually targeting two target group customers in the premium class

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The Tiguan is an important global model for VW like the Golf and Touareg. The carmaker provides several powertrain options depending on markets for this model. While, the region gets TSFI 2.0-litre engines mated to six-speed transmission, seven

In terms of safety, new assistance systems such as Fatigue Detection (standard on the “Sport & Style” and “Track & Style”), the camerabased main beam control systems Light Assist (H7 lights) and Dynamic Light Assist (bi-xenon headlights) as well as the Lane Assist lanekeeping system. The previous Tiguan model attained a maximum five star rating in crash testing by the European consumer protection organisation EuroNCAP (New Car Assessment Programme). The American IIHC (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) also named the SUV its Top Safety Pick.

Driving impressions As a city runner, the Tiguan is an interesting concept because for a 5-seater car that’s slightly bigger than a hatchback, you are sitting quite high with commanding view all around. In fact, with the amount of headroom available, it feels like a tall boy and definitely much better than the Polo variant. The engine appears zippy, but is a bit noisy initially but settles in on the move. The weight of the steering is pretty good and with its sharp feedback you could swear that this was a Golf on stilts since there’s very little body roll [despite the height and extra ground

clearance] and hence appears exceptionally composed with pleasant manners both on and off-road. Off-road, we took the car along loose gravel paths and some wadis and had no problem whatsoever and were pleasantly surprised that the lack of a dedicated 4x4 low range/diff lock was not felt at all. While the AWD does its job quite well, however, we did feel that the back support of the front seats could use extra bolstering as at times you feel something’s missing. Besides that we don’t have any serious niggles to report. Also handy was the auto hold feature. We were requested by the agency to check


different engines ranging from 1.4-litre -2.0-litre [petrol/diesel], seven-speed and DSG options along with electronic driver aids such as electronic diff locks are also available. The Middle East package is optimized for the region.

out the second generation auto part assist and we did make it a point to try it out. In contrast to first generation systems, which exclusively supported parking parallel to the road, the latest parking assistant also offers assisted perpendicular parking - i.e. at right angles to the driving lane. The system is activated at speeds up to 40 km/h by pressing a button on the centre console. The driver indicates the side of the carriageway for parking by activating the indicator for that side. The Park Assist system utilises a host of ultrasonic

sensors – 12 in all – [4 front, 4 rear, 2 right, 2 left] with a working range of 4.5m to detect a sufficiently large parking space. Once the car has recognized sufficient space, basically, the driver just engages reverse gear and then only needs to accelerate and brake while the car handles the steering by its own. The driver is assisted by acoustic signals and visual cues on the multifunction display. While parking, Park Assist reduces the car’s speed to seven km/h. For the first time, this system can also brake the car actively in case of impending collisions.

Nonetheless, the driver remains responsible for braking, since the new braking function of Park Assist cannot guarantee that damage will be prevented in all cases. Verdict As before, the Tiguan is offered in two flavours. Although considered as CUVs in most markets, the car is a bit more than a lifestyle statement. Punters get several options to choose from and the price range begins at OMR 11,500 and tops at OMR 13,200.


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ergio Marchionne, CEO of both Fiat and Chrysler has made a couple of things quite clear in his multi brand global operation. While Chrysler’s portfolio sees some changes to suit its mainstream business objectives, Dodge and Jeep will continue to be reinforced with their respective niches. Marchionne says Dodge will continue to focus on performance and that’s something the Middle East markets enjoy even at times when there’s a conscientious effort by some car makers to offer heavily downsized products. But for Dodge, things operate at a different level and that’s one of the key reasons why it’s actually rare these days to find a brand and products that say a lot. And 2011, was also an interesting year for the markets, especially muscle markets for the extensively reengineered inside out new Charger. Actually, the outgoing and incoming models don’t look very different as they evolve from a common ancestry. They have the identical footprint [120in wheelbase] and they use the same basic platform architecture – but that’s not a disqualification considering the fact that chassis design is so flexible these days that to shrink it or widen it is just a matter of a few clicks. However, going deeper on an engineering level, the new Charger line-up has been designed to cater to a wide range of needs – from users who want the look of an aggressive faced car with some moderate performance, 3.6-litre V6 fuel economy and comfort, to a bigger 5.7-litre V8 powered


model with body kit and an extreme professionally tuned and prepped R/T badged 6.4-litre V8 for adrenalin seekers. Although the Charger still rides on a Mercedes-Benz derived E-Class platform, Dodge says that the architecture has been re-engineered so much that it now considers it its “secondgeneration” E-segment platform. At first glance it goes without saying that the re-skinned Charger has some presence. Although, immediately recognizable, the styling changes include the return of the famed crosshair grille and re-profiled headlamps and the new deep character lines on the sheet metal. The car’s side profile is also sleeker and more coupe-esque than the outgoing model, thanks to the slippery roofline. Even the revised wheel designs look more upmarket now. But moving on to the rear, by far, the biggest style change is the full-width tail lamp arrangement which now visually links the Charger with both past Dodge models besides its sibling – the Challenger. Dodge calls the tail lamps a “racetrack” graphic when all the bright LEDs [164 in all] are lit up. Below the tail lamps, one can’t miss out the new squaredoff exhaust tips. The cabin and interior of this car is a welcome departure from the often criticized interiors of the past. We had the opportunity to experience both entry and mid-level models in UAE and Oman respectively. Welcome are the upgraded materials and more cosmetically appealing designs as well as the now corporate wide three-spoke steering wheel [nearly every new Chrysler


the refreshed and redesigned all-new entry level 2012 dodge charger and its bigger engine r/t variant proves that you can have the best of both worlds in one car: american muscle and european comfort. automan finds the recipe interesting at both levels
Author Chandan B Mallik Photography Raj Warrior


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the uPdated dodge charger with three distiNct oPtioNs oFFers aN iNterestiNg choice For PuNters seekiNg liFestyle or Muscle iN a Full-size sedaN.

the car’s iNterior has also received a visit. with sMart styliNg aNd soFt-touch Materials, the cabiN’s aMbieNce has beeN MetaMorPhosed FroM blaNd to street savvy


Technical specifications

eNgiNe MaX outPut MaX torQue traNsMissioN PerForMaNce [0-96 kM/h]

5.7-litre, Naturally asPirated Port-iNjected v8 with cyliNder deactivatioN 370hP @ 5,250rPM 395 lb-Ft @ 4,200rPM Five-sPeed autoMatic with coNsole shiFter aNd MaNual Mode 5.2sec

the r/t tested beloNgs to the Middle order iN the series with its carryover 5.7-litre heMi v8-based PowertraiN.


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product for the latest model year has it]. Meanwhile, the instruments look better, the leather feels better and the Garmin-based 8.4in navigation screen/infotainment unit is a vast improvement over the old system. All round improvement is evident all over. Standard safety features for the Charger include stability and traction control, antilock brakes, front seat side airbags, a driver-side knee airbag, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. Optional features include a blind spot warning system, a rear cross-path warning system, a rearview camera and a forward collision warning system that’s included with adaptive cruise control. Driving impressions The entry-level Pentastar-powered 3.6-litre V6 was acquired in UAE for the test impressions. The package delivers 292hp [which is a staggering 63per cent improvement] along with 260lb-ft of torque [also up by 36 per cent]. These performance figures definitely help lift the model’s performance quotient when compared to the underpowered entry model of the outgoing edition. Although, the car’s suspension set-up is officially called ‘Touring’, it is agile and occupant friendly in terms of absorbing road imperfections. Besides that, the smoothness can partly be owed to the extra cog in the gearbox so there’s wider ratios spread out doing the job quietly. Dodge is emphasizing that its Charger R/T model which came from the dealership in Oman, you get the 370hp 5.7-litre V8 Hemi with 5-speed automatic transmission punching out 395 lb-ft of torque as the candidate for ‘real toys for real boys’. Now, things do get a bit serious as it’s not just ‘horsepower rules’ out here. To understand the differences, one has to push this car and you can forgiven for thinking that this a mechanically souped-up muscle car with comfort class of an executive sedan [an aspirational element within the segment]. Engineers responsible for the performance handling also know that since the car requires a maximum grip and the fastback four-door car’s improved road-holding capabilities, the softer Touring set-up would have been inadequate for the job. Decidedly a bit more action-oriented, the tuned set up is aided by its more aggressive front- and rearcamber geometry which is set at -1.0 [front] and -1.75° [rear] respectively. As a result the car is set up for high-speed cornering with its tyres leaning inboard at the top relative to the body and this guarantees confident cornering and extra swift exits at roundabouts. That’s not


all. All-new premium hydrobushings combined with new monotube shock absorbers, spring rates and redesigned front and rear multi-link suspension geometries improve performance handling dynamics significantly besides the improved and lowered overall ride height and larger 19in wheels shod with P235/55R19 allseason performance tyres. The most shocking thing about our Charger R/T is how modern and ergonomic the interior feels and one thing that we immediately noticed on both cars is the improved visibility from previous edition’s cockpit. This has

been possible, thanks to the revised rake of the windscreen and the thinner A-pillars. The view out the front is panoramic compared to the old car. Common to both cars we enjoyed the revised quicker by 25 per cent steering wheel that allowed us more precise feedback, road feel and improved on-centre tracking. The all-new electro-hydraulic power steering is quieter now Compared to muscle cars of the past where comfort or trendy equipment wasn’t a priority demand, the new genre of muscle cars like the Charger is able to fill in that void.

Several upscale options have been added to the Charger for the latest model, including adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring with rear cross path protection and a rear backup camera with grid lines. The new steering wheel is a bit heavy, but keyless access, a USB jack and a driver knee airbag are standard on all Chargers. However, we found the keyless system is a bit awkward as the car can lock-up without warning [even with the key inside the car]

Verdict The 2012 Charger isn’t for everybody. Its in-your-face attitude and the model flexibility makes it an attractive proposition – if you are style conscious and want a car that delivers presence without costing a fortune in fuel then the Dodge Charger SE should be the on top of the punter’s wish list. The R/T is designed to deliver tighter. In our view, the Charger also earns high marks for a suspension that delivers a good balance between ride comfort and competent handling .




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.

COTY 2011
It’s taken the Automan team more than a calendar year and thousands of kilometers and various geographical locations to test and evaluate the shortlisted candidates for the first edition of COTY in 2011. From hundreds of cars driven overall with some intense competition within the class/segment categories, the task has been Herculean. With grit, determination and strict time guidelines set, we are happy to present the compilation of vehicles that have made it to this round. Following is the list of editorial nominees and participant recommendations. And the final list of winners will be announced in the third week of this month. So, stay tuned for the final results and also follow developments on as we break news.




New engine and revised engineering tweaks give a new lease of life to a car that seemed to have been created to do smoky burnouts, doughnuts and power slides


At 3.6secs it is nearly as quick as the 3.5sec time posted by the previous-generation 911 Turbo and just 0.2sec behind the best time from the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1



The GTS is just a Carrera S with the extra horsepower and the wide-body kit of the AWD Carrera 4 model with centre-lock RS Spyder wheels and GT3-inspired‫ صص‬trim

This variant is a tweaked R8 V10 Coupe with top off shoehorned with mindbogglingly fast V10 powertrain


Re-skinned and further refined using innovative construction techniques





A pushrod V8 OHV engine with sport-tuned suspension that produces more horsepower than a Porsche 911 Turbo or Aston Martin Virage!

Porsche has been extra careful not to lose the Cayman’s positioning by limiting output and and creating a handful of appearance variants

A cute CUV with all the bells and whistles on board. Double the fun at half the price of an European equivalent





In an segment of mostly uninspiring styled models, this car establishes itself as its own thing by being sharper, better detailed and comes with reasonably good handlinng

Now owner of Volvo, this Chinese brand can be considered as one of the country’s truly global ambassadors offering value added packages in the segment it represents

More refinements and two distinct global lifestyle marketing approaches catering to wide section of audiences in both pricing and kit





French manufacturer’s halo model is mechanically based in the 308, but it opens a new chapter in the history both of the marque and of compact coupés

Fourth variant in the series that is most unMINI. Bigger dimensions, more weight and all for a cabin and boot that is far smaller than most SUV rivals besides a hefty price tag

A downsized all-new concept created at the right time for global markets. Top class refinement and stylish with punchy engines and hot-hatch- handling



Hide the Kia badge and the Optima could be mistaken for a premium European mid-sized car. Swanky exterior matched by cabin space and quality

Evolution on the outside, revolution inside best describes the bullet-proof image of the seventh generation mid-sized car





Stuttgart certainly knows how to dress up its entry level model as an uber cool affordable lifestyle statement



Arguably, Corolla is the world’s best-selling car of all time and this car owes much of its success to Toyota’s reputation of dependability and it’s hard to argue with such a buying rationale



Technically, third generation Renault Samsung SM5 platform based Safrane [also known as the Latitude] is a fine style-cum engineering representation of what globalization can do to a car

Mechanically 5-Series based but designed as a 7-Series SW with a touch of SUV practicality, this car truly command an unique USP




Accord based derivative that mimics the BMW GT in concept and execution, but we are not quite sure what prompted Honda to build it


Although now technically a convert from body on frame to unibody architecture, the reborn Explorer may has more in common with Ford’s Taurus sedan than a truck

Big Yank tank eschews ladder frame for body on frame, but at least feels trimmer and nontruck like to drive. Value issues and choice are key factors





High-quality large SUV from Germany impresses with frugal and punchy petrol drivetrains. Dynamics are good but the fiveseat cabin isn’t so space-efficient

The in-house tuning arm of Chrysler LLC has done engineering wonders in transforming a day-to-day drivable SUV into a road burning hot rod

In house tuner arm specializes not only in increasing the power or performance quotient of new models but has given the legendary timeless Gelanderwagen a class of its own




A sophisticated natural in the business of brutes. This supercharged car represents a rare trait – beauty with brains in one package

One of the finest-riding and sharpesthandling Jags around. Superb interior quality with brilliant yet ultra-efficient drivetrains



A premium-luxury four-door coupe styled that gave rival premium manufacturers something to think about its authentic design and engineering




South Korean car makers’ first stab at the ultra luxury segment also comes with bundles of equipment and award-winning powertrains


A fast and capable four door day to day executive class rocket slotted under the Jaguar XJ Supersport or the Porsche Panamera

The sedan is the fourth new Rolls-Royce to appear since the Phantom rewrote the rulebook for super-luxury cars in 2003 for the BMW Group owned iconic British brand and also the smallest






VW-Polo based premium but pricy youth oriented entrant from Audi that comes with flexible lifestyle options and bespoke features

The new Picanto moves the game significantly forward in the segment and from the previous model that launched in 2005


Mazda’s forte has been clean and sharp styling with good engineering and now that extends to the entry level models too





Even with a bit of Prius efficiency technology under the skin, the usual Lexus virtues we are used to in terms of ride quality and refinement are a bit short in supply in this car

Another statement making model for the segment, the new Rio brings an excellent engine, six-speed transmissions, good dynamics and a roomy interior to transform into one of the most convincing class leaders.

GM has high expectations with this highly efficient and frugal redesigned Korea-built global model which replaces the Aveo and will also be offered in performance variants





In its dual role of a grand touring coupe and reborn muscle car, nothing comes close to this sensuously packaged model

Packed with electronics, superb handling and performance, launch in a package in a virtually unbeatable price pack, the GT-R is a truly breathtaking car in its class

South Korea-born chief designer Sang Yup Lee designed the Camaro with three distinctive personalities in mind. The middle order topline spec SS with its massive 6.2-litre V8 is considered more mature and refined amongst its peers in the class




Maserati considers the GranTurismo MC Stradale as a product that represents the pinnacle of its knowledge. Its a road car with racing genes


The spiritual successor of the 430 infused with state-of-the- art application of F1 technology and materials management. The closest you can get in a road car

The Mercedes E-Class platform still serves well at Dodge and its in-house tuning set-up has further tweaked this Hemi-engined car to offer spirited performance





BMW continues its evolution of a world-class grand touring coupe and convertible rolled into one with classier styling and choice of powertrains

The new silky smooth and efficient Chrysler LLC corporate engine is giving a new lease of life and opening up numerous application options for existing and new models

The Koreans are beginning to make their presence felt in almost every segment they represent. New ‘Fluidic styling’ is making waves along with good engineering



Stylish SUV was introduced in 2007 and upgraded in 2009, but the 2011 model counts as a major makeover, with 60 per cent of its parts and components replaced

Standalone aggressive styling with fuelefficient powertrains, a lavish interior and top safety scores make this car a compulsive entry




based on a global SUV platform from GM, the car has been refreshed inside out with a host of new features, trims and energysaving technology







A bolder design, a more curvy body and superior safety features are a few of the reasons why the all-new body on frame Toyota Prado sits in the top tier of serious 4x4 SUVs

Introduced in 2010 as the spiritual successor to the Aston Martin Lagonda, the company’s previous four-door saloon, the Magna Steyr built Rapide is among the British brand’s most popular models

Considered as a solid well-balanced and stylish luxury alternative to otherwise ubiquitous German merchandise.




Redesigned car uses cutting edge superforming technology and efficient powertrains. Interior craftsmanship further enhanced

Iconic name celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2011 and the 5.7-litre V8 model was an added gift to the Middle East markets that can’t get enough

A new breed of a crossover SUV that commands presence and has very strong personality and comes with a choice from basis to hyper performance variants

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lls recounted rills and spi


ormula One’s new golden era continued in 2011, as five world champions did battle over the 19 races. The top four teams kept their same driver line-ups: Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber at Red Bull; Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button at McLaren; Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa at Ferrari; and Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg at Mercedes. New to the show, however, were Paul di Resta in place of Tonio Liuzzi at Force India; Sergio Perez in place of Nick Heidfeld at Sauber; and Pastor Maldonado in place of Nico Hulkenberg at Williams. Toro Rosso kept Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari, Lotus Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli, while Virgin paired regular Timo Glock with Jerome D’Ambrosio and Liuzzi slotted into HRT with Narain Karthikeyan as his partner until the Indian was replaced mid-season by promising rookie Daniel Ricciardo. The saddest change was forced upon Renault when Robert Kubica, surely one of the top three drivers in 2010, was so grievously injured in a rallying accident in the off-season that his F1 future still remains in doubt. The likable Pole was replaced initially by Heidfeld, who got his umpteenth chance to show his mettle against Vitaly Petrov, until he was replaced later in the year by rookie Bruno Senna after some less than stellar performances. On the technical side KERS - the Kinetic Energy Once again there were few significant political

issues. The most notorious was Bahrain. The troubled situation there, which saw a later start to the season after the cancellation of the opening race, dominated the news for much of the year. Thankfully, the F1 paddock is due to return in April 2012. KERss was one of those arguments that meant everything to the teams most keenly involved, but virtually nothing to the man in the street, to whom it was ludicrously complicated to try and explain. There was so much argument and counterargument that weekend that nobody really knew who was running what, and by Germany the FIA reverted to the previous rules with the promise to look deeper into the matter over the winter. Then there was the dispute over naming rights between Group Lotus (Lotus Renault GP) and Tony Fernandes’ Team Lotus, which got so fraught that it went to court where it was settled in Team Lotus’s favour and two teams thus continued to share the same name. That one has been resolved for 2012, when Fernandes will run his team as Caterham; at the same time Lotus Renault GP will become Lotus and Marussia Virgin will become Marussia. Those issues aside, once again the focus was on the racing as another highly competitive season was fought out between the three star teams of 2010. The 19 races took the circus from Australia to Brazil, via Malaysia, China, Turkey, Spain, Monaco, Canada, Spain, Britain, Germany, Hungary, Belgium,

Italy, Singapore, Japan, Korea, India and Abu Dhabi. This year there was no last-race denouement as Vettel’s 11 victories brought him a youngest-ever back-to-back world champion’s title by Japan, but Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button took three wins apiece for McLaren as Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber scored one each. Vettel made tremendous use of his machinery as he demonstrated even greater maturity. He took a record 15 pole positions, beating Nigel Mansell’s 14 from 1992, and more often than not built an early lead after judging exactly how hard he could push his tyres before they were fully warm, yet still managing to conserve them. Races such as Korea and India indicated just how beautifully he judged such things, and he had them won from the start. He made few mistakes in races, (but several in practice sessions), and showed that he is now a complete racer. The Red Bull RB7, created by the genius of chief technical officer Adrian Newey and painstaking attention to detail of chief designer Roger Marshall, was the season’s best car. It lost out to the Ferrari once and the McLarens several times, but it was almost inevitably the fastest in qualifying and the most competitive in races, as well as being phenomenally reliable. Webber had some early KERS issues, Vettel’s tyre failure in Abu Dhabi may have been down to one of Newey’s innovative exhaust system tweaks, and he had an odd gearbox

MOtOR spORts -F1
problem in Brazil, but otherwise it was bulletproof. McLaren struggled horribly in pre-season testing, trying to get their blown floor working, but reversion to a previous iteration worked miracles for the opening race and they were competitive for much of the season. Hamilton won beautifully in China, then came victory for Button in Canada, the race of the year which had it all. First there was the terrible weather at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, then the collision between the McLaren team mates which put Hamilton out. Then there was a drivethrough penalty for Button for speeding behind the safety car, followed by stoppage of the race for two agonising hours because of the conditions. Then, as he fought back from last place after the restart, Button collided with Alonso, caught and passed a duelling Webber and Schumacher, then relentlessly pushed Vettel into a slide on the final lap which enabled him to slither by to snatch a sensational victory after one of the greatest wet-weather drives. Hamilton won again in Germany, a much-needed relief for under-fire team boss Martin Whitmarsh after a disastrous Silverstone, then Button won in Hungary and Japan before Hamilton, who had a bruising year filled with personal problems, hit back at his mounting number of critics with a great triumph in Abu Dhabi. While McLaren’s massive developmental rate saw it capable of matching and beating Red Bull, Ferrari struggled. Alonso was mighty, leading in Spain and winning at Silverstone, but the 150° Italia’s overwhelming problem was poor performance on the harder compound Pirellis. That, and Massa’s failure to back Alonso and a history of collisions with Hamilton (where the fault was pretty evenly distributed on both sides), meant that the Scuderia had a tough year. It was not as bad as Mercedes’, however, as the silver arrows never threatened the leading three teams to any great extent. Nico Rosberg showed strongly, and one had to feel sorry for him that the season yet again failed to give definitive answers about his overall level of ability, but though there were definite signs of promise from Schumacher, who closed the gap to Rosberg significantly compared to 2010, the veteran German continued to make more mistakes than one would expect of a seven-time champion. Renault failed to live up to the pre-season hype, and though the aggressively innovative R31 with its forward-facing exhausts was a car with which Kubica could undoubtedly have launched a spectacular challenge, Heidfeld was lost in it bar a third place finish in Malaysia, and Petrov and Senna made little significant impression. Force India had a great season which resulted in sixth overall, as they saw off and outdistanced the challenge from Sauber and Toro Rosso. Though there was competition at times from Perez, Di Resta was clearly the rookie of the year. The taciturn 25 year-old Scot let what he did at the wheel do all his talking for him. Straight away he started to outqualify Adrian Sutil, himself one of the fastest men over a single lap, and he could beat him in races too, confirming the potential that Mercedes-Benz and manager Anthony Hamilton had seen in his F3 days when he used to beat Vettel. His confident and mature performances were complemented by some excellent drives from Sutil, who surely deserves to retain a seat somewhere for 2012. Williams had a bitterly disappointing year, and though Maldonado often matched Rubens Barrichello’s speed, the Venezuelan rookie showed himself to be a hothead on occasion. For Barrichello’s part, it remains to be seen whether the veteran Brazilian has reached the end of his long F1 road. moves in 2011 than ever before. Prior to Brazil, Mercedes estimated there had been 1436 of them. Excluding those categorised as ‘Lap One’ or because of damage, there were 1180 manoeuvres. The combined total of ‘Normal’ and ‘DRS-assisted’ moves - the indicator of what most observers consider to be ‘clean’ overtaking - was 804 overtakes, giving an average of 45 normal and DRS overtakes per race. Within these totals, Mercedes further estimated that there had been 441 normal overtakes and 363 DRS, and that from that total of 804 clean overtakes, 55 percent were normal and 45 percent were DRS. 300 overtakes were on the three slowest teams by faster cars, with passes between team mates accounting for 76 overtakes. The highest number of clean overtakes were recorded in Turkey (85), Canada (79) and China (67). The races with the fewest were Monaco (16), Australia (17) and India (18). Nine races featured fewer than 50 clean overtakes; eight races featured more. DRS’ greatest influence came in Abu Dhabi (89 percent of overtakes), Valencia (81 percent), India (78 percent), Turkey (59 percent) and Spain (57 percent). The lowest was in Monaco (13 percent), Hungary (20 percent), Canada (22 percent), Japan (26 percent) and Britain (27 percent), though three of these races featured wet or mixed conditions, and use of DRS was restricted for portions of the race in Canada and Britain. DRS overtakes outnumbered normal moves in eight of 18 races, but overall it accounted for 45.5 percent of clean overtakes. India’s first Grand Prix was a huge success, as the country welcomed F1 with open arms and put on a great show that won it universal accolades. For 2012, Austin in Texas hopes to emanate that success and bring Formula One back to the United States for the first time since 2007. The new season will be one with relatively few major rule changes and all of the teams will be able to go into it with evolutions of their existing designs (albeit without blown diffusers, at least in their traditional sense), which will inevitably close up the field a little more and promote even better racing. Formula One’s latest golden era shows every sign of continuing.

Team Lotus emerged the best of the new teams, winning the lucrative 10th place overall. Kovalainen was brilliant there, Trulli less so. Virgin also made progress, especially after the split with technical boss Nick Wirth and his digital-only design approach, as did HRT as they regrouped around new Spanish ownership for 2012. On the technical front Pirelli listened intently to everything that team bosses and drivers had to say to them and acted on their suggestions. Thus when their tyres reached their limit, the performance drop-off was so marked that pit stops were inevitable. At some races there were as many as four per driver, but things found their level as the season progressed, and generally there were two or three. Tyre conservation once again became part of the driver’s art. The smooth Button was arguably the best at it. By season end, the brave experiment had had no discernible negative effect on Pirelli’s marketing image, and was adjudged to have been a major success. DRS, too, had its moments, though at times it also disappointed. Much depended on where the zones were located, and this was a work in progress all season as the FIA learned more about car behaviour with the system. Overall, however, it too was a big success. It might have been artificial, but effectively it gave drivers back the age-old advantage of the slipstream which had been lost to turbulence-inducing diffusers. Beyond question, there were more overtaking


Nasser Al-Attiyah joins Citroën Racing for 2012
From Rally Sweden onwards, the driver from Qatar, alongside co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini, will be at the wheel of a Citroën DS3 WRC, identical to those of Sébastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen in the works Citroën Total World Rally Team. Nasser Al-Attiyah, winner of the 2011 Dakar, is no stranger to the WRC. The Qatari has raced in 46 rounds of the championship since 2004, and he also won the P-WRC title for production cars in 2006. With seven FIA Middle East Rally Championship titles to his name, he brings considerable rallying experience to Citroën Racing. Nassar will make his debut in Rally Sweden after defending his Dakar title. In addition, he will represent his country in the 2012 London Olympic Games in clay pigeon shooting. Olivier Quesnel, Citroën Racing Team Principal said: “We’re pleased to announce the arrival of Nasser Al-Attiyah at Citroën Racing. He’s a complete all-round driver who already has considerable experience as proven by his impressive results. We’re delighted that he’s chosen our team to make his debut in a World Rally Car, and we’re determined to put all our support behind him to help him move up to the top level.” Nasser Al-Attiyah commented: “I’m very happy to fulfill what has been both a dream and a sporting objective. We’ve done a lot of work on this project in the past few months and I’d like to thank Raouf Menhem for his involvement alongside me. I can’t wait to get to know the team better and to test the DS3 WRC. It’s still a bit early to fix myself objectives as I’m counting on acquiring experience not only with the engineering squad, but also with drivers as talented as Sébastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen. I think I’ll be able to score good results in the toughest rallies like Greece, for example. I also feel it’s a very positive step that the WRC is being opened up to longer events. The experience I’ve gained in the Dakar will certainly be very useful as endurance skills are of supreme importance in these rallies.”

Rise and rise of loeb

Following official confirmation of his success in the 2011 WRC season, Sébastien Loeb is now the most titled racing driver ever. With eight consecutive FIA World Rally Drivers’ titles to his name, Loeb has moved ahead of seven-time champions Michael Schumacher and Valentino Rossi in terms of major motorsport championships won – a feat never achieved before across all senior motorsport categories.

Here are some of the highlights from his record-breaking eight championship winning seasons:

2005 Rally Japan

2004 Rally Sweden

Loeb’s first title came in a year that the Frenchman dominated the sport. He held a 36-point lead over his closest rival at the end of the season with a record-equalling six rally victories for the year. Loeb also silenced his

Loeb had another record-beating season in 2005. Most consecutive rallies won (six); first driver to win seven rallies in a single season and he also broke a 25 year-old record by clinching the title with a 56-point margin at Rally Japan, the 13th round of 16. In France, his home rally, he became the first driver to win every single stage of a WRC event, taking all 12 fastest stage times over the weekend.

2006 Rally Cyprus

After winning the Rally of Cyprus in 2006, Loeb suffered a broken humerus bone in a mountain-biking accident near his home in Switzerland. Unable to compete in the

critics along the way, confirming his status as a tarmac specialist, but also proving his skills on a number of different surfaces and terrains. He became the first non-Nordic driver to take victory on the icy Swedish stages. remaining two rounds, Turkey and Australia,


MOtOR spORts -F1
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East reaches half way point

Loeb could only watch from home. Having built up a strong enough points lead though, he claimed the title at the end of Rally Australia.

2009 Wales Rally GB

2007 Rallye Automobile de MonteCarlo

Once again, the championship came down to the wire, with Great Britain the setting of the deciding round. Loeb entered the event trailing the championship battle by a single point. A stunning drive and a thrilling battle with Ford’s Hirvonen secured him the victory.

2010 Rallye de France-Alsace

Loeb enjoyed a triumphant home coming in

The Citroën C4 WRC made its debut in the 2007 Monte-Carlo Rally with Loeb ensuring the new model took victory on its first competitive outing. After enduring a competitive season with some hard fought victories, Loeb was able to pick up his fourth World Rally Championship title at Rally GB in December.

2008 Rally Japan

The setting of Rally Japan in 2008 was where

2010. The Rally of France moved from its traditional home on the island of Corsica, to the region of Alsace. Having grown up in the area, Loeb took victory on the final stage in his home town of Haguenau and in doing so, he also achieved his seventh consecutive FIA World Rally title.

2011 Wales Rally GB

Armed with the brand new 300bhp 1.6-litre turbo-charged DS3 WRC, it was a new season and a new era for the WRC in 2011. Loeb had competition not just from rivals, but also his own team mate. Sébastien Ogier, in the sister DS3 WRC, matched Loeb’s five rally victories during the season. However, Loeb’s consistent run of points allowed him to enter Loeb became the WRCs first ever fivetime champion in the penultimate round of the season. Despite taking the drivers crown in Japan, the team would have to wait until the finale in Great Britain to lift the Manufacturers’ trophy, their first since 2005.

It was battle of wits and victory in Round 6 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at Yas Marina Circuit last month was hard earned. Austrian Clemens Schmid won after a great battle with Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal who extended his lead in the championship for the second day running. Starting from pole position as he had done 24 hours earlier, Schmid immediately lost the lead in the race to the first corner and spent the next ten laps desperately trying to find a way past Prince Abdulaziz. He finally made it with four of the 14 laps remaining and held on for a slender victory, although second place for the Saudi driver still saw him stretch his advantage in the title race to eight points over Bandar Alesayi who finished third. Another Saudi, Saeed Al Mouri, took fourth place ahead of Belgian driver Stephane Lemeret who fought his up from the back of the field after spinning off on the first corner. Swiss driver Armin Schmid just managed to hold off Saddon Al Kuwari to complete the top six, although the Qatari driver finished the race as the comfortable leader in the new Michelin Silver Trophy standings for the intermediate class. Oman’s Ahmad Al Harthy went out of the race when he slid into a barrier on lap six in an incident which also saw Al Mouri spin out and lose third place to Alesayi.

MINI misses WRC registration deadline
MINI – or Prodrive, the outfit that preps MINI’s rally cars – has inexplicably failed to file for entry into the 2012 World Rally Championship before the series’ December 20 deadline. MINI’s first year back at the top level of rallying as a development team yielded two podiums, and the company hasn’t stepped back from its stated desire to win the whole championship in 2013. Word is that parent BMW is gung-ho to continue but that there are “significant issues which need to be resolved” between it and Prodrive. In an update to the situation, Prodrive says that MINI will somehow gain entry and be at the first race in Monte Carlo. Prodrive is in discussions now with the FIA to clear the way to entry, but it seems there’s still “some concern” over WRC promotion with respect to television coverage.

Wales Rally GB as the championship leader ahead of Mikko Hirvonen. Despite having to retire from the event on the final day, Loeb secured a record-breaking eighth FIA World Drivers’ Championship title!


Flying start for new series
Close battle at the top of Maserati Trofeo JBF RAK standings in 2011
he first round of the Maserati Trofeo JBF RAK gentlemen drivers race series took place at Bahrain International Circuit in early December and saw twelve Maserati GranTurismo MC Trofeo race cars hit the track for the first time. There was action throughout the field in both 30-minute races with battles right up to the chequered flag. Cedric Sbirrazzouli took victory in the first race over Patrick Zamparini, with BIC’s Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa finishing in a strong third position. Lebanese racing driver Joe Ghanem overcame his disappointment from the first race when he was forced to pit after suffering a puncture by taking the top step of the podium in Race 2. He came under unrelenting pressure from Patrick Zamparini from the green light, but secured a 1.341sec margin at the race finish. Combining his points scored for winning


Race 2 with his 9th placing in Race 1, plus the fastest lap time in Qualifying 2, Joe Ghanem is leading the Driver Standings with 33 points - just a single point ahead of Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa on 32. With 22 points, Lebanon’s Ziad Ghandour who races under the name Zeehog - is in third position ahead of teammates Mohammed Jawa and Faisal Shaker from KSA’s GR8 Racing Team who have 21 points a piece. Kuwaiti driver Khaled Al Mudhaf finished 8th in both races and carries 16 points. Rounding off the table are Tani Hanna with 8 points and GR8 Racing Team’s Osamah Shaker with 6. Osamah retired from the first race of the weekend with a gearbox problem, therefore only scores points for his 10th position in Race 2. Competitors from outside the FIA’s Middle East zone are allowed to compete in the Maserati Trofeo JBF RAK series, but are not eligible to score points. Drivers who hold an eligible race licence score points based on their final race position. Each race during a race weekend is scored on its own merits, with the driver who posts the fastest time in each qualifying session earning an extra point.

Alongside the official point allocations, general ranking trophies are awarded by Maserati to a number of drivers after each race. The first of the awards is the Trofeo Novice Champion which is awarded to the highest finishing driver who doesn’t have past experience of circuit racing - Italy’s Patrick Zamparini collected the glassware for both races in Round 1. The Trofeo Duo Championi is awarded to the highest-placed two-driver team - where one driver competes in Race 1 and the other in Race 2. The pairing of Cedric Sbirrazzuloi and Adrien De Leener collected the trophy in Race 1, with Carlo Romani and Giorgio Manuzzi receiving the trophy for Race 2. Drivers who enter as part of a team of cars on the circuit also receive awards based on their race performance with KSA’s GR8 Racing Team awarded Trofeo Team Champion in Race 1 and teammates Tani Hanna and Joe Ghanem securing the award in Race 2. Maserati returns to Bahrain International Circuit for Round 2 of the Maserati Trofeo JBF RAK series as part of BIC’s Speed Weekend on January 6th-7th 2012.


MOtOR spORts -F1
New racing series in India
After a sensational debut of Formula One in India at the Buddh circuit, Indian entrepreneurs have been quick off the mark to announce a new racing series designed to cater to the large and growing numbers of young Indian consumers. The i1 series which is also being called the Indian Racing League has been unveiled by its promoters Machdar Motorsports and is being backed by Indian cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar too. The league is reportedly designed to benchmark the already successful Indian Premier league that has cricket teams representing various Indian cities in a series that has set records in advertising and gate revenues. The format being followed in the i1 series is similar - 9 teams representing 9 Indian cities will race two cars each in a series of 10 races to be held across India, the UAE and Malaysia. The total prize money on offer is US$ 2 million and the races are to be televised live on Ten Sports who are the official broadcasters of the series. The teams are being given on invitation to investors, some of whom have already made their mark by owning IPL cricket teams. Indian filmstars Shahrukh Khan, Juhi Chawla and husband Jai Mehta will own the Mumbai team and other industrialists and celebrities are picking up ownership of other teams. The series will be one-make, with the car to be used being the SR3 from makers Radical sports. Powered by a 1500cc RPE Powertec engine that is capable of 260 HP, the cars can hit 250 km/h. The car has a carbon steel spaceframe with safety cage and crash structure. The drivers participating in the series include Giancarlo Fisichella and Jacques Villeneuve along with some homegrown Indian talent as well as Indian drivers who have made a mark abroad like UAE regular Zaamin Jaffer. The series has generated interest even among the regular F1 crowd with Tony Fernandes having picked up the Chennai franchise. However at the time of writing this report, two teams had yet to get owners and the allocation of drivers to particular teams had not happened. The series is affiliated to the FIA so watch out for further news on the races - which are currently supposed to run over the first quarter of 2012 in Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, India and Malaysia.

2012 MotoGP calendar The FIM announced changes to the MotoGP World Championship 2012 provisional calendar, which include a change of date for the opening round in Qatar, the confirmation of the Jerez circuit contract plus the designation of Sachsenring as the circuit to host the Grand Prix of Germany (pending confirmation of the contract). The new schedule for 2012 is as follows: Date, Grand Prix - Circuit 8 April, Qatar* - Doha/Losail 29 April, Spain - Jerez de la Frontera 6 May, Portugal (STC) - Estoril 20 May, France - Le Mans 3 June, Catalunya - Catalunya 17 June, Great Britain - Silverstone 30 June, Netherlands** - Assen 8 July, Germany (STC) - Sachsenring 15 July, Italy - Mugello 29 July, United States*** - Laguna Seca 19 August, Indianapolis - Indianapolis 26 August, Czech Rep. - Brno 16 September, San Marino & Riviera di Rimini - Misano 30 September, Aragon - Motorland 14 October, Japan - Motegi 21 October, Malaysia - Sepang 28 October, Australia - Phillip Island 11 November, Valencia - Ricardo Tormo –
Valencia * Evening Race** Saturday Race*** Only MotoGP class

Porsche approves development of third-generation 911 GT3 R Hybrid Porsche has announced that it will continue development on its innovative 911 GT3 R Hybrid, delivering a new third-generation model in 2012 in an effort “... to gain extra practical experience under racing conditions and make the hybrid drive even more efficient.” The rolling race laboratory, as the automaker prefers to call it, ran the 2011 season in second-generation trim. That version used a 470hp gasoline-powered 4.0-litre flat-six to drive the rear wheels and 202hp worth of electric motors to drive the front wheels – with electricity generated by a 36,000 rpm flywheel mounted on the passenger side of the cabin. With a curb weight of just 2,866 pounds and total system power of 672hp, the all-wheeldrive Porsche GT3 R Hybrid 2.0 can accelerate from 0 to 96km/h in about 2.5secs. Porsche’s factory-supported teams kick off the 2012 season in 911 GT3 Cup cars at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in late January.

New Delhi hosts FIA’s Annual General Assembly FIA Vice President Mohammed Ben Sulayem said that the FIA’s decision to stage its Annual General Assembly in India underline’s the importance of Asia in driving the future growth of motor sport as well as initiatives to protect the interests of motorists. Sulayem, President of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE), heads a team of six representatives from the UAE’s National Sporting Authority attending the General Assembly taking place in New Delhi last month along with sport and mobility members from around the world. The General Assembly is the supreme decision-making body of the FIA. It is chaired by the FIA President and is composed of automobile and touring clubs and national sporting authorities representing the 226 member organisation. It meets once a year, traditionally towards the end of October. Occasionally, the General Assembly’s agenda is composed of principle items that have been brought forward by the FIA’s two World Councils, the World Council for Automobile,

Mobility and Tourism which governs all nonsporting FIA activities, and is headed by the Deputy President for Mobility and the World Motor Sport Council which governs all the sporting events regulated by the FIA. As the governing body of world motor sport and the representative of millions of motoring consumers world-wide, the FIA has a unique interest and expertise in a wide range of automotive, motoring and mobility issues. From road safety and the environment to consumer protection, the FIA actively promotes and protects the interests of motorists at the United Nations, within the European Union and with other international bodies. A key subject will be the FIA involvement in the Action for Road Safety Programme. Initiated during last year’s meeting and put into action in July this year, this programme aims to support world governments in adopting more road safety campaigns to help more than five million lives in the next ten years.



Public versus Personal
What is luxury? Depending on the observer, occasion and circumstances, luxury could be something as simple as having a steaming hot cup of coffee while seeing a downpour, to being able to afford a 10,000 rial watch. What after all is your concept of luxury? To me luxury has meant different things through my years. At this particular point in time I would lean to according the title of luxury to personal space. Space? Have I lost it completely, you may well ask? Allow me to elaborate. Take our world population – it has breached the seven billion mark and if you come from India or China you are not unique - you are one in a billion and something. Both of these countries have large populations but India has a small difference, unlike China’s people who will age on the average as the years pass due to their one-child policy, India has one of the largest young populations around. In some ways it is like the scene in the GCC, except for the numbers involved. This young population is educated and networked and will aspire for and get all the better things of life. And one of the must haves is a car, another is an apartment or house. The pressure on the resources that society provides is already tangible. Roads that we put up a decade ago are crowded and have to expand. The number of cars on a road go up faster than the ability to match with tarmac and the time has never been better to project the importance of public transport. I make a point of using public transport wherever possible. In Europe it is a cinch – trams, buses and trains are in plenty. In India, the transport is present, but lacks investment, quality and is usually overcrowded and late. In America, some cities have decent transport, others prefer you using cars. And in most of Asia, public transport does fill the need far better than the car does. However, in most places the ability of Joe Public to afford to buy a car has never been better. Car sales are increasing in places where public transport exists, even where excellent public transport exists. That is a huge problem for town planners. Now they have to spend on keeping the trains and buses the best while putting in more tarmac for car usage. Take a city like Mumbai. Its backbone is the local train system, just like London’s metro is to the British capital. In both cases the bus service is also critical, in effect another backbone. But the difference now is that while London is making an effort to control its car population with measures like the congestion tax, Mumbai has become a free-for-all in terms of car purchase. All that is needed is the will to show off and the ability to tender a down-payment. Most Indian cities are facing the dilemma of this race between improving public transport with rampant consumerism. Hence at each stage personal space is at a premium. You fight for space on the roads, you push for your territory on buses and trains, you pay a premium for legroom and shoulder room in business and first class in airlines. Even your houses are graded by how many rooms, how much carpet area and how large a garden you can put in place. Everything else is a luxury that we will find we can drop by the wayside. But space, the space to stretch, the space to accelerate a car without having to brake, the space to sleep comfortably on a plane – all this will be a luxury that gets ever more effervescent. Of course that means that personal transport will be a luxury that is much in demand. However good and efficient public transport gets, travellers will tire of sharing their space with others. What’s that going to do for the future? Who knows?

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


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