Page 1


Find us Online :


Facebook: AutomanMag


Twitter: @automanmag

| Youtube: AutomanVideo

Automan MAY 2014 | 2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class | 2014 Aston Martin Vantage S Q-spec |2014 Ford Fusion | Mitsubishi Attrage |2014 Volkswagen XL1 |2014 Peugeot RCZ |Ferrari 458 Speciale

now, the region’s Best Automotive Resource

OMR 0.500 AED 10 QR 10

May 2014 Issue no 153




t n a i l l i r B y l p m i ’ C ` ewrites th

Mercedes r

ith all-new

segment w e premium C

Middle East Exclusive!

2014 C-class

750 2014 H-D Street

ugeot RCZ this issue age | 2014 Pe tr At i sh bi driven in su en XL1 Mit sion |2014 14 Volkswag 20 | c pe -s Q S 2014 Ford Fu ge artin Vanta 2014 Aston M

Spot report: 2014 Beijing Auto Show | Feature: Tour of Oman with ‘Project Rushmore’

ALL-NEW RANGE ROVER SPORT The Empty Quarter. 650,000 km² of hostile, unforgiving terrain. Yet on the 3rd November 2013, with speeds in excess of 200 km/h, one vehicle set the fastest ever recorded crossing in a blistering 10 hours 22 minutes. The all-new Range Rover Sport, performance driven to another level.

Land Rover MENA

in this issue 18

COVERstory |

cover story 18-24 2014 maserato ghilbi 44-49 2014 kia soul NEXT ISSUE 2014 mercedesbenz c-class

M-B C-Class

Fourth generation brings it to head of the pack in the premium C-segment

firstdrive |


International news 26-35 2014 Geneva motor show REPORT




New multimillion riyal Ferrari and Maserati service centre opens in Muscat, , Maserati Ghibli arrives in Oman in style, Regional launch of Ferrari California T in Dubai, Third generation MINI hatchback launched in region, impressive reveal of Porsche Macan SUV in Oman, Mercedes SUVs put to the test as part of brand event, Land Rover and Extreme Sailing Series Act II thrill Oman residents , Volkswagen introduces ‘R’ variant in the Golf family, New compacts from Mitsubishi introduced in Oman, Muscat municipality takes delivery of Yamaha bikes, New appointments at Nissan, Harley-Davidson introduces MY14.5 models, Hyundai announces top Middle East footballer as brand ambassador for 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

IDx development, Porsche to replace defective 911 GT3 engines and delay GT3 RS launch, Porsche confirms downsizing strategy, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in talks with Suzuki? Bentley releases glimpse of its first SUV, Peugeot to focus on sportier hatchback variants, Poor response to SRT Viper, MINI to grow as ‘brand family’, New battery chemistry to double driving range of electric cars like R8, New Camaro to be built on new lighter platform, Jeep planning a sub-Renegade model? Alfa Romeo designer defect to China, Tokuo Fukuichi admitted to Toyota Board of directors, Iker Casillas & Ricardo Kaká are Hyundai’s FIFA brand ambassabors, Top regional executive appointments at Bentley, Gerry Dorizas joins GM from VW India

Close encounters with a different kind of supercar

ars, tion c ng c u d o i r Star p cles, stunn y @ c r e moto s and mor alon t S p conce neva Auto e G 2014


Oman and regional news 6-13 2014 Shell Super Mileage Challenge held in Oman,

brandwatch 14-17 Nissan chief supports unusual approach with




also driven 36-39 2014 cadillac XTS Platinum VSport 40-43 2014 chevrolet camaro zl1 50-53 2014 Volkswagen tiguan exclusive First drive 54-56 2014 datsun GO previews 58-59 Maserati Alfieri concept 60-62 citroen c1 concept 64-65 Hyundai Intrado concept 66-69 Jeep Renegade concept 70-73mclaren 650s 74-75 volkswagen T ROC ConcepT








MOTORSPORTS 76-79 FORMULA ONE, regional HAPPENINGS, uae desert

challenge, WRC

80 Chicane




Mohammad Al Taie

EDITOR & GM Raj Warrior

executive EDITOR Chandan B Mallik contributing EDITOR Anne Kurian HEAD OF Design Sawsan Al Muharbi photography Elvis John Ferrao marketing Sayantani Ghosh circulation FINANCE & ADMIN Sumy Mol

Website & IT Mohammed F Draz Printer Ruwi Modern Printers LLC, Muscat Tel: +968 2479 4167, 2479 8157 Fax: +968 2470 0545 © 2014 All editorial content of Automan in the magazine and its website is copyrighted and may not be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the management of AL ROYA PRESS & PUBLISHING Automan accepts unsolicited exclusive editorial material, but reserves the right to publish any such material. Once published, the copyright for any such material will vest with AL ROYA PRESS & PUBLISHING

While on the W205, Mercedes looks like it is back to the leadership position on product that it enjoyed during the nineties. The car is now the complete package - style, power, handling and an almost uncanny feel of being almost S-class in feel, just in a smaller size. One would wish that a brand like Aston Martin had the wherewithal to fund such a renewal of its portfolio, which faces the challenge of staying relevant as competitors toss out far better, advanced products. It is this need to stay relevant to markets around the world that has seen a venerated old brand like Harley-Davidson produce a new generation of smaller bikes in the Street sub-brand. Initially being made in India and the USA, these bikes are supposed to attract a new type of buyer who aspires to the brand, yet can either not afford or doesn’t want the bigger bikes that the brand makes. We check out the 750 in a Middle East exclusive test in this issue. At the other end, we have also driven the amazing Volkswagen XL1 with its two-pot diesel and electric hybrid drivetrain. Driven either in combo or just on one of these sources, the drive tells you what a future commuter car will be all about – reaching your destination in the least time, least discomfort and least fuel consumption. It realy does seem a very long time ago when cars were all about being excessive. Do you miss those days? We are sure that the average customer in China doesn’t. They want the most car for their limited money and they definitely would like to drive in some clean and fresh air.



Now, Automan is available in bookshops in the United Arab Emirates too! Get your copy or let us know which outlets you would like to see us in


3:20 PM

publisher Hatim Al Taie

Mercedes’ has chosen the Beijing show to show their long-wheelbase variant of the W205 C-class. With the knowledge that most of their buyers are likely to be chauffeured around, most premium brands have made long-wheelbase variants of their cars in China for the past decade. How soon, do you think, it will take to export these cars to other markets?


Editorial office: Tel: +968 24479888 Extn 300, Fax: +968 24479889 Distribution: Tel: +968 24490386, Fax: +968 24121045 Subscription: Tel: +968 24493701, Fax: +968 24121045


Email: Website:

The Beijing motorshow may only come once in two years but it is increasingly serving to showcase the world’s latest crop of high end vehicles while bringing out the best of what the world’s largest automotive market can offer. It isn’t surprising that brands from around the world choose to display their latest China specific wares here. What’s surprising is how many of these will then be manufactured in China and then exported to other parts of the world.


AL ROYA PRESS & PUBLISHING PO Box: 343, Postal Code 118 Al Harthy Complex Sultanate of Oman

Oman & region news

New multibranded motorcycle retail outlet opens in Muscat

A special welcome in Oman for Ferrari 458 Speciale


lfardan Motors, the official importer of Ferrari vehicles in Oman, introduced the Ferrari 458 Speciale – the brand’ most powerful and technologically advanced naturally aspirated V8

Berlinetta. The car was launched at the Ferrari Showroom in Al Azaiba. The Ferrari 458 Speciale joins the Ferrari range alongside the 458 Italia and 458 Spider and, like all special-series Ferraris, is aimed at a specific kind of owner, in this case those looking for an even more focused sports car that offers extreme driving 6

emotions. As a result, with the latest 458 Speciale, the new addition has yielded powertrain, aerodynamics and vehicle dynamics advances that transform an already exceptional

458 Italia into a car genuinely worthy of the “Speciale” moniker. The result is a completely new, uncompromising, streamlined sports car concept. The car unveiled had an unusual red livery featuring a blue and white central stripe inspired by the historic NART (North America Racing Team) colours.

MAY 2014

The 1,290kg 458 Speciale gets a mid-rear-mounted 4,497cc GDI naturally aspirated Ferrari 8-cylinder engine, which punches out 605bhp at 9,000rpm and maximum torque of 540Nm at 6,000 rpm. Its record 135bhp/litre specific power output is also the highest ever achieved by a naturally-aspirated road-going engine. F1 technology transfer to the Ferrari 458 Speciale was of fundamental importance to its development, including the production processes. The car uses F1 inspired dual-clutch transmission. Mohamed Kandeel, General Manager of Alfardan Motors said: “The 458 Speciale is the ultimate expression of the V8 range from Ferrari and a natural progression of the Ferrari product line. The 458 Speciale is the very essence of what a Ferrari is, with sleek lines, advanced aerodynamics and power that can translates to outstanding track times with ease. This is a car like no other, one that brings another level of sophisticated design ethos, extreme technologies and ultimate power.”


ere’s some exciting news for motorcycle and scooter aficionados in the Sultanate from Al Fardan Motors. No more relying on grey imports or making elaborate trips to neighbouring countries to purchase a KTM/Triumph/Aprillia motorcycle or Vespa/Piaggio scooter or SandX off-road vehicles. Thanks to a brilliant initiative by Al Fardan Motors, two-wheeler enthusiasts in the Sultanate can be rest assured of their purchase, after-sales servicing/parts and warranties. The new multibranded boutique-styled outlet located near Honda showroom in Wattayah. Mohamed Kandeel,General Manager of Alfardan Motors said: “With the opening of the Alfardan Motorcycle showroom here in Muscat, the choice of models available for two-wheeler riders has grown exponentially. Each of these six brands truly epitomize all the characteristics that make motorcycles special and unique, and the opening of our showroom offers riders and enthusiasts the broadest spectrum of choice for premium high-performance motorcycles, ATVs and scooters in the Oman market.” As a one-stop lifestyle and upmarket retail outlet, in addition to the range of twowheelers, the facility also has a dedicated corner for branded motorcycle apparel and accessories. For after-sales services, there will be no waiting as the service and parts centre for the two-wheeler is located next to the recently opened multi-million riyal Ferrari and Maserati Service Centre in Ghala is already operational.

Sayarti inks deal with Magneti Marelli

Refreshed 2014 Audi A8/S8 introduced in the Sultanate

Audi’s top-of-the-line sedan, the A8 L and its sporty sibling, the S8 were jointly unveiled at the Bait Al Zubair museum last month. Among the key highlights is the engine line-up, which has once again become more powerful and efficient while the new assistance systems and the innovative Matrix LED headlights make driving more composed than ever. Ahmed Shariefi, General Manager of Wattayah Motors said: “The new Audi A8 is a complete technological package – over delivers on the basics, boasts features and innovative technologies never seen in its class before. The new A8 also offers outstanding drive, enhanced handling, acceleration and thoughtful technology solutions not currently found in the segment.” For the previous model year, Audi replaced the A8 L’s naturally aspirated V8 with a pair of new motors - a supercharged V6 and an absurdly powerful twin-turbocharged V8. The A8 L is available with a no less than three engine options. Entry level models get a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 that produces 333hp and 328 lb-ft of torque. The mid-level engine is a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8, which is good for 420hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. The top end gets a 6.2-litre W12 that churns out 500hp and 463 lb-ft of torque. All engines pair with a smooth-shifting eightspeed automatic gearbox and Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system. The A8 L is fitted as standard with a full air suspension and handling dynamics can be further tightened up with the optional Sport Plus Package, which brings adaptive dampers, dynamic steering a rear sport differential that sends torque to the outside rear wheel in turns to quell understeer. An Audi Drive Select System offers drivers the choice of several different suspension, steering, transmission and engine calibrations.


april 2014

Post warranty car maintenance is a worrying factor in the Sultanate as owners are virtually at the mercy of service providers. Sayarti has tied up with one of the world’s top suppliers of automotive components, service parts, Magneti Marelli for distribution and retail in Oman. Magneti Marelli’s portfolio consists of over 50,000 parts for all brands of cars – European, Japanese, Korean and American. Magneti Marelli is part of Chrysler Group and its distribution setup is looked after by Mopar since 2008. In Oman, Sayarti will promote these parts supplies through its 200+ strong retail network and also use them at its own service workshops. Oman is the first country in the Middle East to launch Magneti Marelli as a brand which was founded in Italy in 1919. As of now Magneti Marelli is being represented in 19 countries and the set-up also supplies OEM parts for most of the major car manufacturers in Europe, North and South America and Asia. There are 86 manufacturing set-ups worldwide that produce Magneti Marelli products. The Magneti Marelli product range will cover everything from automotive lighting, electronics systems, exhaust systems, after-market vehicle parts, lubricants, batteries, and collision replacement parts among others. Arun Kumar, General Manager of Sayarti said: “When we were establishing Sayarti for the first time our concept was quite simple – to offer a one-stop-shop for all a customer’s car care needs whilst offering top quality service, the very best products, affordable prices and convenient locations. Magneti Marelli is a brand that shares very similar ideals, and it is these ideals that will ensure that this remains a long and fruitful partnership.”

Rolls-Royce Wraith drive in Oman


he newest member of the Rolls-Royce family, the 2+2 Wraith got itself familiar with the Sultanate’s picturesque roads and landscape as part of the brand’s regional office and Oman’s official retailer Al Jenaibi Automobiles joint initiative last month. Resurrecting a venerable nameplate last used in 1938, the Wraith coupe seeks to combine the traditional Rolls-Royce virtues of elegance, refinement and fine craftsmanship with a sporting spirit heretofore unseen in the brand’s opulent but laid-back offerings. Along with a supremely comfortable cabin, the Wraith packs the most powerful motor ever fitted to a Rolls-Royce which is a 624hp twin-turbo V12.

Mechanically, it is a close relative of the Ghost sedan, the Wraith sets itself apart from its more formal four-door sibling with a sweeping fastback roofline and elongated C-pillars that provide an athletic counterpoint to RollsRoyce’s stately, upright radiator grille. Among cutting edge technologies introduced in this car includes the application of ground-breaking technologies like Satellite Aided Transmission (SAT), specially-tuned air suspension with adaptive dampers. A nearly infinite amount of options are available, and the car can be further personalized with unique paint colors and interior furnishings through Rolls’ Bespoke Commission programme.

Infiniti goes in to overdrive with new Q50

Encapsulating Infiniti’s vision of future premium sport sedans, Infiniti Q50 sedan has been officially launched across the Middle East including the Sultanate of Oman. The launch in the Sultanate was marked by the presence of Infiniti officials along with the importer’s chairman Sh Ahmed Suhail Bahwan. The Q50 marks a new era for the brand’s model range and it brings distinctive design, several world first technologies, engaging performance and a new standard of in-car connectivity. Offering new levels of driving personalisation, Infiniti Q50 is for the new generation of young-minded, premium customers seeking Infiniti’s unique fusion of inspired performance and hospitality. With the Infiniti Q50 range, Infiniti introduces the brand’s first hybrid powertrain to the Middle East alongside the 326hp 3.7-litre V6 engine variants. The hybrid variant uses a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine with Infiniti’s Direct Response Hybrid System [similar to integrated motor assist] delivering net 350hp and 536Nm of combined torque with Intelligent Dual Clutch Control, making it capable of reaching 100km/h from a standing start in 5.1secs. Juergen Schmitz, General Manager, Infiniti in the Middle East, said: “Infiniti Q50’s muscular, athletic appearance brings a blend of dynamic exterior styling and Infiniti’s signature ‘double wave’ interior to create design which creates an emotional engagement. Infiniti Q50’s looks alone make it standout in its class.” Automan also attended the regional first drive event for the Q50 in Dubai last month. The first drive impressions will be presented in our June 2014 issue.

have in Common? april 2014


Ford Mustang 50th anniversary celebrated in Dubai


n April 17, Ford’s iconic Mustang turned 50, and it joined the exclusive club of vehicles that have been in continuous production for 50 years. Around the world fans of Ford Mustang roamed far and wide to celebrate 50th anniversary of their favourite and the Middle East is also no exception to this adage. On April 19, Dubai acted as the focal point for Mustang aficionados from all over the region who overwhelmingly poured in numbers to be part of a 300-car grand parade last month. The customer-cum-media event took place from Meydan Hotel in Nad Al Sheba with a drive to Palm Atlantis and loop back through Al Khail Road and Sheikh Zayed Road. The morning started early in a carnival-like atmosphere where participants lined up their Mustangs for inspection at the hotel’s car park. A competition was also organized for the best restored and best customised Mustangs. The oldest Mustang spotted was from around circa 1965 while the modded /tuner versions included several Boss editions, Shelby and Roush tuner creations. The parade was kicked off with Dubai Police escort and the lead car being a Mustang Roush in Dubai Police livery. Despite the heat and humidity during the afternoon, there was no let down in enthusiasm amongst participants, even the few from Oman and elsewhere. In pure carnival spirit, the organizers also arranged

open air entertainment with a local band, food stands and RC entertainment at the venue. It may be recalled that when the Mustang was first produced in 1964, it was in a time when the wealth of the baby boomers was increasing, optimism was growing and the image captured the imagination of the generation. “Ford Mustang is undeniably an iconic muscle car that has its own unique following,” said Ford Middle East & North Africa director Kalyana Sivagnanam. Meanwhile, in the US, Ford presented a special limited to 1,964-unit production 50th anniversary edition, which is based on the all-new 2015 Mustang GT fastback with performance pack. In Middle East, it was the tie-up with Red Bull events that made the headlines. Ford Middle East has teamed up with Red Bull in 20 co-shared events including a pro-drifting programme. A specially prepared drift Mustang was presented along with its driver. Throughout its history, the Mustang has often been featured in TV shows, music videos and movies, its most famous outing being in the James Bond film Goldfinger, as well as appearances in Charlie’s Angels and the music video for ‘Crazy’. This connection to pop culture has helped to establish the car’s huge fan base, not only in North America but also in several markets worldwide.


Regional launch of Porsche Macan in Dubai

Bentley adds new variant in Continental GT line-up for ME

More drama and excitement along with sharper sporting edge is what is going to be the USP of the new GT V8 S models which now come with lowered and retuned sports suspension, sharper steering, dramatic ‘S’ signature

ollowing its global debut, Porsche’s fifth new model, the Macan SUV has now arrived in Middle East. Porsche Middle East and Africa HQ organized an elaborate day and a half programme to facilitate journalists, dealer reps to get acquainted with the new arrivals in and around Ras Al Khaimah. The new Audi Q5-based Macan will be offered in two flavours – Macan and Macan S. As expected both have been extensively engineered to exhibit true Porsche sports car qualities like outstanding onroad handling and performance besides its light off-road capabilities. The styling of the Macan has deliberately been kept somewhat different to that of the bigger Cayenne with styling cues from the 918 Spyder and 911. Two turbocharged V6 engines displacing 3.00-litre and 3.6-litre are being offered along with 7-speed double-clutch [PDK] automatic transmission with Tiptronic. Air-suspension is standard and Porsche now offers electronic vectoring control which senses wheel spin and controls torque with maximum grip. For a premium offering in the segment, pricing has been kept exceptionally attractive from AED 2,58,000 – 3,20,000 (Macan S), AED 3,48,9004,20,000 (Macan Turbo) and AED 2,48,000 – 3,00,000 (Macan S Diesel). Bespoke options/ services will also be available now, thanks to the appointment of an expert from Germany. The Macan is built in Germany and Porsche aims to sell 50,000 units or more in year one of its production. Automan also attended the regional first drive event for the Macan in Dubai last month. The first drive impressions will be presented in our June 2014 issue.

styling cues and a distinctive soundtrack from the uprated V8 engine. The new GT V8 S models feature a more powerful version of Bentley’s high-efficiency 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8 engine developing 521bhp at 6,000 rpm and peak torque of 680Nm available as low from 1,700rpm. The CGT V8 S is available in both a coupe and convertible bodystyles. Automan attended the first drive event and will present a full review of these cars next month.

have in Common? Find us Online


com www.automanweb.

5 QR 5 OMR 0.500 AED


Mag Facebook: Automan


now, the region’s

nmag Twitter: @automa

AutomanVideo | Youtube:

no 151 march 2014 Issue

ive resource Best Automot




now GoES rEGional

e ce to fAc fAce ÖS VÖS ÖtV müLLer-

ing! are Com s t C a p Com yce ceo roLLS-ro

rld’s the wo ng in emergi cept nking KWid con ycLe of thi orc renAuLt wAve c-01 mot iForniA t s A new LotuS preview Ari cAL Bonus 2014 Ferr eot 108 cAbrio Audi S3 F concept 2014 peug rc cept SuV LexuS un con tAig s VW report deLhi show neW motor Ago And rAiser tAin From chic eVA cur 2014 gen



ment c seg dynAmi tested i A3 2014 Aud ecoSport 2014 FordpAcemAn 2014 mini

Only AED 10 in the UAE. Available in bookshops, convenience stores and retail outlets. For advertising enquiries contact Sayantani +968 24479888


april 2014

MAY 2014


Second generation Hyundai Genesis launched in UAE

Hyundai Motors seems have plotted the career of the second generation Genesis in such a way that it moves into a territory that some of its key rivals have virtually abandoned due to lack of products. The new Genesis comes with new styling – a sensible evolution of the brand’s Fluidic Sculpture’ theme – and puts it right into the premium entry luxury segment with an enhanced feature pack. Despite moving the model up, Hyundai still has no plans to create a befitting sub brand and continues to promote its cars as value proposals. The new Genesis is incredibly wellequipped in every configuration, offering even more content than the first-generation Genesis. This additional content includes a generous suite of standard safety and convenience features, unsurpassed in its class. The heart of the Genesis 5.0 is the award-winning 5.0-litre Tau V8 engine producing 420hp at 6,000rpm and 383 lb. ft. of torque at 5,000 rpm. The Tau V8 engine family has been named to Ward’s prestigious Ten Best Engines list three times. In keeping with its V8 sibling, the 3.8-litre V6 Lambda engine utilizes direct-injection and produces 311hp at 6,000 rpm and 293 lb.-ft. of torque at 5,000 rpm. Both engine variants use eight-speed automatic transmission which now offers enhanced shift logic and speed, better acceleration, sport-mode mapping, shifting smoothness, and transmission efficiency. All eight-speed transmissions include SHIFTRONIC® manual shift capability with ergonomically-placed paddle shifters for spirited driving with manual shifting. Automan also attended the regional first drive event for the Genesis in Dubai last month and the first drive impressions will be presented in our June 2014 issue.


IHE holds 10th Annual Product Show International Heavy Equipment (IHE) LLC, part of the Zubair Automotive Group, recently hosted its tenth annual IHE Product Show at the Zubair Recreation Club in Seeb. This year’s show witnessed an impressive display of heavy construction machinery, trucks and numerous products from IHE’s extensive brand portfolio in conjunction with the principal representatives from each brand.

Infiniti posts impressive sales in region Infiniti has announced sales increased 12

MAY 2014

to 5,892 units across the Middle East in Financial Year 2013 (April 2013 to March 2014) - a rise of 19per cent compared to the same period for 2012. Significant increases were seen across the GCC making Infiniti one of the fastest growing premium automotive brands in that market. Meanwhile, Al Ghassan Motors in KSA are the latest dealer additions to the growing Infiniti retail network in the region. Online gamer to racer qualifiers open Nissan and Sony Computer Entertainment have announced that online qualifying for the 2014 Nissan

PlayStation® GT Academy is now open in the Middle East. In addition, 10 live qualification events for the gamer-to-real-racer competition will be held across seven countries in the region between the April 25 -- May 31. Following the live qualification rounds, the 14 aspiring race drivers with the fastest times will be selected for the regional finals to be held in Dubai, UAE, alongside 14 qualifiers from the online competition. Chevrolet doing well in Oman Seventy per cent of Chevrolet models available in the Middle East are all-new or have been recently refreshed. And

this has helped 36 per cent increase in Chevrolet passenger car sales in Oman for Q1. Oman was one of the strongest regional markets that posted the highest overall growth for Q1 when compared to Q1 last year. Maurice Williams, President and Managing Director of General Motors Middle East said: “I’m delighted to see such positive growth. It’s fantastic that so many customers in Oman are experiencing not only the extensive features that our vehicles offer, but also the Chevrolet Care servicing program and low cost of ownership that comes with having a Chevy.”

Middle East debut of all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee in Dubai

The new generation of the Jeep’s mid-size SUV, the Cherokee is a key model for the success of the Jeep in the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East and Africa). The incoming new model comes in with a lot of promises in its bid to redefine the segment. It has been designed to deliver proper 4x4 capability and comes with a segment-first nine-speed automatic transmission, fuel economy improvements of more than 45 per cent (versus the outgoing model), superior on-road ride and handling, a cutting-edge, revolutionary design, world-class craftsmanship, class-exclusive technology and more than 70 advanced safety and security features. For the Middle East, it will be available in Sport, Longitude, Limited and Trailhawk trim levels, powered by the new 3.2-litre V6 Pentastar and the 2.4-litre MultiAir Tigershark engines, both of which are paired to the all-new nine-speed automatic transmission, used for the first time in the mid-size SUV segment. “The all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee will be the benchmark for mid-size SUVs with a new level of on-road driving dynamics and fuel economy, while at the same time improving the 4x4 capability that customers expect from Jeep,” said Jack Rodencal, Managing Director of Fiat Chrysler Middle East.

Jaguar proves its mettle at Yas Marina Within weeks of its global ride and drive programme in Europe of the all-new F-Type coupe, the second family body styled variant, Jaguar Middle East was quick to organize driving experience of Jaguar cars at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. The daylong event consisted of hot laps in the F-Type convertible [both V6 and V8 variants] and XKR. Among technology sessions, there was demonstration of safety electronics like stability control [ESP] in various road conditions including zero traction. The sign off was friendly autocross competition for participants. The hard top all-new F-Type coupe was also previewed [not driven] at the venue. [Eds note: see detailed preview of F-Type coupe elsewhere in magazine]. And here’s a quick recap of the F-Type

convertible which represents a return to the company’s heart. In profile it is a two-seat, convertible sports car focused on performance, agility and driver involvement. The F-Type is a continuation of a sporting bloodline that stretches back more than 75 years and encompasses some of the most beautiful, thrilling and desirable sports cars ever built which provides Jaguar with a broader line of sports and GT models. The 2014 Jaguar F-Type combines low vehicle weight, high and superb aerodynamics to achieve a pure sports car experience, yet with Jaguar elegance and luxury. A true two-seat sports car, the all-new Jaguar F-Type is equipped with a modern, lightweight soft top that, when lowered, serves as its own tonneau

cover. This not only provides a weight savings, but also improves packaging and contributes to the car’s low centre of gravity for greater agility. The top can be fully raised or lowered in just 12 seconds at speeds of up to 48km/h. Its multi-layer construction includes a Thinsulate® lining for optimal thermal and sound-insulating properties. The F-Type showcases the new supercharged Jaguar engines, a 3-litre supercharged V6 in 340hp and 380hp states of tune and the 5-litre supercharged V8 in the V8 S with 495hp and 460 ft-lbs of torque. All variants are equipped with the new Intelligent Stop/Start system to enhance fuel economy under certain driving conditions.

MAY 2014


has not been locked down yet because the car will modified and adapted to accommodate India-specific features. On the design front it is expected to wear a model-specific appearance that will fall in line with the rest of the Tata SUV line-up. Interestingly, power will come from a Tatasourced 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that will be mounted longitudinally in the engine bay. The setup is creating a major challenge for Tata engineers because the LR2 is designed to be equipped with a transversally-mounted engine. Power will be sent to all four wheels via either a manual or an automatic transmission, and the SUV will reportedly retain the LR2’s off-road prowess. The Indian edition of the Land Roverbased Tata SUV will go on sale in 2016 at the earliest.

Since 2008, Porsche has been offering hints about the possibility of downsized engines for the next-gen Boxster and Cayman. And three years later, a senior Porsche executive confirmed that a fourcylinder engine with a horizontally-opposed ‘boxer’ design was in the works. Now, Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller has not only confirmed the above but has also gone a step ahead by revealing some specifics on the new engine. “We will continue with the downsizing strategy and develop a new four-cylinder boxer engine which will see service in the next-generation Boxster and Cayman,” Mueller said. “We will not separate ourselves from efforts to reduce CO2.” When asked how much power Porsche’s flat-four would produce, Mueller said up to 400hp. The most powerful versions of the current Boxster and Cayman are the recently revealed GTS models, which produce 330 and 340hp respectively.

This is a story we have been anticipating from the time we knew that Tata Motors were buying Jaguar Land Rover from Ford. We have gone on record in the pages of AUTOMAN years ago about how we saw the reason behind the move extending to using outgoing platforms in India. You have only to realise that Tata Motors had spent close to half a billion dollars on their Indica car platform and production setup. Seen against this, buying JLR was cheap. What surprised us all along was Ratan Tata’s insistence on keeping the Tata’s at arms length from their UK operations. In hindsight this proved to be astute as the brands thrived and are at the forefront of the luxury and premium markets, backed by some astounding products. However, back to Tata using the older platforms.

Seen from an Indian perspective the LR2 and the series II Discovery are still way ahead of anything that local brands can offer. And it makes sense for JLR to monetise the older platforms and their tooling in the process of allowing Tata Motors to spin out new bonus models at way lower investment than they did on the Indica. Additionally, JLR are increasingly moving towards aluminium body structures, adding a further point towards moving steel structures to lower cost production areas. Now that we have this inside information, we can safely assume that it’s only a matter of time before the series II Disco becomes the next Safari and the old S-type also makes landfall. Thankfully the X will not move to India. It is after all a Ford platform.

Breaking news

Peugeot to return to US, if…


The last car Peugeot officially sold in the US was the 405 in 1991 after a 33-year run. PSA chief Carlos Tavares is keen to rekindle the French lion brand for this market, but on a cautious note says return to the US market was possible only if four conditions were met. These include: Establishing a distinctive three-brand portfolio consisting of Citroën, Peugeot and DS Reducing the number of model lines from the current 45 to 26 Returning the company to profitability in 2016 Modernizing the automaker’s manufacturing facilities to boost efficiencies At present, Tavares forecasts these goals being reached around 2017-2018.

MAY 2014


The current Land Rover LR2 which was launched in 2007 has served well in global markets till now. However, as it is at the end of its life cycle, it will be replaced by an all-new global model soon. An interesting development is taking place regarding the outgoing model in India and some selected markets where it will carry on wearing a Tata badge. As of now, for the India market, Tata Motors assembles LR2s from knock-down kits and its plan to entirely manufacture an entry-level premium SUV for the Indian market using Land Rover’s technology has gained significant momentum. The project will use the original tooling from Land Rover’s factory in England, which will be shipped to India once UK production of the LR2 ceases. Meanwhile, sources close to Tata Motors say that the monocoque chassis SUV’s final design

Porsche to offer four-cylinder engines in next gen Boxster/Cayman

Alliances important for PSA turnaround

PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, which has been hit hard by the European market slump, has reported cumulative net losses of more than $10.4bn in the past 2 1/2 years. CEO Carlos Tavares has an ambitious turnaround plan which calls for PSA to reach an operating margin of two per cent on sales by 2018 from a three per cent loss last year. As part of this’ Back in the Rac’e strategy by Tavares, PSA/Peugeot-Citroen will keep its industrial partnerships with General Motors, Toyota and Fiat. Meanwhile, the arrival of China’s Dongfeng Motor as a 14per cent stakeholder in PSA will not affect the automaker’s other alliances, according to Tavares. Cooperation with GM, Toyota and Fiat to jointly build about 1.25mn vehicles a year basis will enable PSA to save about 100mn euros a year. PSA confirmed that its alliance on diesels with Ford will continue. The two companies are developing new engines that will meet Euro 7 emission rules. PSA and GM’s Opel brand will build minivans at each other’s factories in France and Spain, although the companies ended plans to build subcompact cars together.


Tata Motors preparing premium entry level SUV for India based on LR2

Electric cars to roar [literally] by 2019

European Union lawmakers want carmakers to reduce engine noise from petrol- and diesel-powered cars by 25 per cent by 2019 and during the same period it wants the near silent all-electric cars to mimic the sound of a comparable conventionally engined car at speeds of up to 20km/h. The EU has passed laws that will require car-makers to fit new generations of electric vehicles with speakers to mimic the sound of a comparable conventionally engined car. The union recently voted in favour of passing the law designed to protect hearingimpaired pedestrians who may not hear one of the near-silent electric vehicles creeping up behind them.

A previous directive from the EU had called for a voluntary system that relied on car-makers assessing whether the battery or fuel cell-powered vehicle required an artificial noise to make it safe around pedestrians.

Three-cylinder bug bites Mercedes-Benz too!

Citroën announces aggressive game plan Considering that the next generation of the Boxster and Cayman sports cars aren’t due until the end of the decade, it may be some time before we see Porsche’s new four-cylinder boxer put into use. However, there could be a possibility of the engines being introduced in the current cars, which will hit their mid-life cycle upgrades in two years.

Toyota’s new Atkinson Cycle engine is super efficient Toyota Motor Corporation has announced the development of two hyper-fuel-efficient small-displacement petrol Atkinson cycle engines. The portfolio includes a three-cylinder 1.0-litre and four-cylinder 1.3-litre which will be introduced across the range from next year in 14 different variations. The fuel-efficiency of the onelitre engine in particular is remarkable. This new engine it will replace won the 1.0-litre category of the International Engine of the Year awards four years in a row from 2007-2010.

PSA Peugeot Citroën has announced several measures that it will take as part of the carmakers’ mid to long term business strategy aimed at returning to efficiency and profitability. By 2020, Citroen will have reduced its existing line-up of 45 models to 26 models as part of platform optimization which will significantly help in reducing costs related to product development, production and marketing. Besides optimizing the platforms, a third premium brand will also be created. PSA chief Carlos Tavares while announcing the above also said that existing DS line-up would be promoted to a “full-fledged” premium brand sitting alongside Peugeot and Citroën. The three brand line-ups will complement each other as a result.

Daimler has a partnership with Renault and a new generation of three- and four-cylinder engines are said to be under codevelopment. It will take at least two years of work before these engines hit the market.

Reports from Europe are suggesting that MercedesBenz is actively considering three-cylinder engines for compact cars with hybrid modules. Mercedes engineers are said to have examined three-cylinder engines in detail and agrees that they are preferable

in cars with transverse-mounted configurations. “In packaging a hybridized engine in the front end, the four-cylinder engine has its limitations,” said Daimler powertrain head Bernhard Heil.

All these critical decisions are part of a “back in the race” roadmap that will also include expansion programme in China. PSA wants to triple production by 2020 with help from joint-venture partner Dongfeng as well as enlarge the DS family. Moreover, PSA will boost the modernization process of its factories to cut costs.

MAY 2014


Golf is 40

Volkswagen is celebrating the 40th birthday of the most successful European car of all time: the Golf. More than 30 million vehicles of the best-seller have been sold and from the first to the seventh generation, the Golf has been a pioneer of technological progress.


First child seat prototype Inspired by how astronauts travel rearwards, Bertil Aldman, medical doctor and subsequently professor in traffic safety at Chalmers University of Technology, developed the very first child seat prototype. Volvo was closely involved in the development and testing was carried out in a PV544.


Reversible front passenger seat with special child backrest The first child seat to be sold to customers was created by turning the front passenger seat around. Adding a padded backrest with straps made sure that the rearward-facing child was kept in place. The solution was sold as an accessory for the recently introduced Volvo Amazon.


Whether turbocharged engine, direct-injection engine, electric or plug-in hybrid drive system; whether ABS, ESC, XDS or 4MOTION; whether Adaptive Cruise Control, City Emergency Braking, trailer stabilisation or Automatic Post-Collision Braking System; whether automatic air conditioning, Dynaudio sound system, touchscreen with proximity sensor or LED headlights; whether GTI, GTD or GTE – it was always the Golf through which the most important technologies and trends of our time were democratised.

Golf Mk I: The first series production Golf rolled off the assembly line in Wolfsburg on 29 March 1974. Where for decades the Beetle and thus rear-mounted engines and rear-wheel drive had dominated the scene, a new era had now dawned: that of the transversely mounted front engine and front-wheel drive. As the successor to the legendary Beetle, of which over 21.5 million units were built, the Golf Mk I, designed by Giorgio Giugiaro and Volkswagen Design, had to live up to the immense expectations that it would carry on the success story of what until then was the world’s most successful car. It worked: the modern and reliable drive concept, the excellent spatial economy and ultimately the design as well, won over the market to such an extent that by October 1976 the one-millionth Golf had been produced. In launching the first Golf GTI (in 1976), Volkswagen heralded the introduction of greater dynamism in this class, while the Golf D (naturally aspirated diesel engine, 1976) and the later Golf GTD (turbodiesel, 1982) marked the breakthrough for diesel cars in the compact segment. With the Golf Cabriolet, introduced in 1979, Volkswagen launched an open-top car that was at times the best-selling cabrio in the world. Golf Mk II: As of August 1983, passengers no longer sat quite so close to each other, as use of space have been improved once more. It was then on the Golf that the regulated catalytic converter was introduced (1984), anti-lock braking system (ABS, 1986) and power-steering to the lower medium class. In 1986, syncro was 16

MAY 2014

introduced, opening up the option of allwheel drive in the Golf class. Golf Mk III: With the launch of the third generation Golf in August 1991, Volkswagen heralded a new era of safety. This Golf was the first of the series to have front airbags, starting in 1992, while major advances in the area of car body construction also resulted in significantly improved crash safety. In addition, numerous other technological milestones of the model range are linked to the third Golf. Many new features made their debut in this new Golf: the first six cylinder engine (VR6), cruise control, oxidation catalytic converter for diesel engines (1991) and the first direct injection diesel engines (TDI in 1993). Likewise, ABS became a standard feature on all Golf models in 1996. In 1993, Volkswagen had also introduced a new convertible based on the Golf Mk III, a new all-wheel drive model (syncro II) and the first Golf Variant (an estate). Golf Mk IV: Under the direction of Hartmut Warkuß, then Head of Design at Volkswagen (Group), the Golf Mk IV crystallised the clear, precise design that lived up to the history of the Volkswagen brand more than ever before while setting its course to the future. With the debut of ESC (in 1998), the car continued to democratise safety. Also in 1998, Volkswagen unveiled the first all-wheeldrive Golf with a Haldex clutch – the Golf 4MOTION. One year later, ESC became a standard feature, initially in Germany. The first direct-injection engine (FSI) and

the debut of the standard head airbag (window airbags) followed in 2002. Also in 2002, Volkswagen launched the R32, with a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). It was this top model of the range that in 2003 was the first to debut with the revolutionary dual-clutch gearbox (DSG). Golf Mk V: This was the Golf that boasted levels of comfort and dynamic performance that left many competitors way behind in 2003. The same went for the car’s security features. One factor that underlines the stability of the laser-welded bodywork was the 35 per cent increase in torsional rigidity demonstrated when the Golf Mk V made its debut in 2003. On request, the Golf was now also available for the first time with side airbags – together with the six standard airbags (front, side front and window) there were thus eight protective air buffers on board. In comfort as well as dynamic performance, the Golf Mk V scored in numerous areas, including: its new four-link rear suspension, seven-speed DSG, bi-xenon headlights, panoramic sliding sunroof, plus the world’s first twincharger (in the 2006 TSI), combining turbo- and supercharger. In 2006, the Golf Plus made its debut; in 2007, the CrossGolf, a new Estate and the extremely fuel-efficient Golf BlueMotion (4.5 l/100 km or 62.8 mpg). Golf Mk VI: In just four years, a further 2.85 million Golf cars had been produced by the end of July 2012, based on the sixth generation of the car launched in 2008. And once again safety made great advances too: the car body was so rugged

that it passed the EuroNCAP crash test with flying colours, gaining the maximum five stars. Meanwhile, more TSI engines and a transition among the turbodiesel engines (TDI) from unit injection to the common rail system resulted in greater dynamic performance and lower fuel consumption. A top performer here was the second Golf BlueMotion with a combined fuel consumption of just 3.8 l/100 km (74.3 mpg), equivalent to 99 g/km of CO2. New assistance systems, such as Light Assist automatic main beam management and Park Assist, made the sixth generation the most advanced Golf to date. Golf Mk VII: On 4 September 2012, Volkswagen celebrated the world premiere of the seventh generation Golf. The weight of the new Golf was reduced by up to 100 kg, thereby reversing the often cited upward weight spiral. Fuel economy was hence also improved by up to 23 per cent. The new Golf TDI BlueMotion consumes only 3.2 l/100 km (88.3 mpg) (equivalent to 85 g/km of CO2) under standard NEDC conditions. In addition, Volkswagen has equipped the Golf with an entire armada of new assistance systems – some as options and others as standard. In 2014, Volkswagen electrifies the compact class with the Golf: the all-electric e-Golf with a range of around 190 kilometres is already available to buy. In addition, the new Golf GTE will be launched in autumn. Its plug-in hybrid drive system achieves a standard fuel consumption of 1.5 l/100 km; in allelectric mode, the Golf GTE can be driven for 50km.

Important milestones in Volvo Cars’ child safety history:

Volvo’s first rear-facing child seat Rearward-facing child seats are designed to support the neck and help spread the force of a frontal impact over a larger area. Frontal impacts are the most frequent and usually the most severe impact situation.


The booster cushion – a world first from Volvo Children from 3 or 4 years and up travel facing forward using the standard safety belt with a beltpositioning booster cushion. Volvo Cars’ policy is that children should use a booster cushion until they are 140 centimeters tall and 10 years old. When using a booster cushion, the child runs about a 75 percent lower risk of being injured compared to being unrestrained.


World’s first integrated booster cushion The first integrated booster cushion was an ingenious fold down and out version in the rear center position in the Volvo 960. Double integrated pop-up booster cushions in the outer rear seats were introduced in the Volvo S40 in 1995.


World’s first rear-facing seat for ISOFIX The world-first solution for the standardized, car-integrated ISOFIX fittings was actually two rearward-facing seats in one. Both seats – one for infants and one for toddlers up to four years of age – could be fitted in the same ISOFIX frame.


World’s first two-stage integrated booster cushion Two-stage integrated booster cushions were introduced in the Volvo V70 estate. The two-stage version, with two sitting heights, enables a better belt fit regardless of the child’s size. Child adapted safety belt load limiters were also fitted.


Inflatable Child Seat Concept The innovation, which is still in the development stage, is easy to install and can be tucked away in a small bag when not in use. This means that the child seat can be easily transferred between cars and the bag even fits in carry-on luggage when flying or travelling.

Volvo looks at safer child seats

2014 marks the 50th anniversary of Volvo Car Group’s (Volvo Cars) dedication to protecting the smallest and most vulnerable car occupants. The China-owned Swedish

carmaker has designed a lightweight and inflatable rear-facing child seat concept using groundbreaking technology. The seat concept presents new opportunities, for example grandparents and friends who take care of your kids and need an ultra-mobile child seat. It is also very convenient when travelling by taxi, rental car or bus, situations where you historically had to rely on the safety measures available. The seat has an innovative pump system that is silent and efficient in its construction which helps the seat inflates in less than 40 seconds and deflates with an integrated pump. The total weight of the seat less than 11 pounds, half the weight of a contemporary seat, and it is constantly online via Bluetooth, enabling a wide range of features, including remote controlled inflation. It fits into a weekend bag together with other necessities. The Inflatable Child Seat Concept faces the rear of the car, as it is the safest way for children to travel.

Costly ignition switch recall debacle for GM A delayed recall of 2.6mn GM vehicles following reports of at least 13 deaths and 31 front-end crashes linked by faulty ignition switches is turning out to be a nightmare for 52-year-old Mary Barra, who has been CEO less than three months. Barra is reported to have been grilled by more than 20 members of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation. The top executive tried to explain the situation by focusing on the “new GM” rather than the pre-bankrupt company that approved the defective ignition switches knowing they didn’t meet the company’s own specifications. While this is happening and GM trying to fix the problems in the cars involved in the recall, the PR fiasco has seen replacement of both the senior vice president of global human resources and the senior vice president of global communications and public policy. Prior to this, two engineers have also been suspended. The 2.6mn vehicles affected by the ignition switch recall in the US include 2003-2007 Saturn Ions, 2007-2010 Saturn Skys, 2005-2011 Chevrolet HHRs, 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstices, and 2005-10 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 models. Vehicles with the faulty ignition switches can cause the key to move out of the “run” position to the “accessory” or “off” positions, leading to a loss of power. If the key turns to one of those positions, officials say the front air bags may not work if there’s a crash. Meanwhile, GM said it will fix another defect involving the ignition of the small cars it has recalled for faulty switches. The new recall is for cars produced during the 2003 to 2011. This recall will see a replacement part of the ignition mechanism -- the “lock cylinder” into which the key is inserted -- because the current ones could allow the key to be pulled out while the car is running.

Not the best scenario for GM’s recently appointed CEO. “The general perception is that GM is slow to communicate, slow to act, and, at times, requires additional effort of [the agency’s Office of Defects Investigation] that we do not feel is necessary with some of your peers,” NHTSA ODI director Frank Borris wrote in a 2013 e-mail to GM’s own product-investigations head, Carmen Benavides. Meanwhile, some global analysts place more blame on managers and executives who are still with the company -- the decision makers behind a penny-pinching ethos that placed pressure on engineers and suppliers to save money in any way imaginable. GM now says it will cost the company US$1.3bn for the expanded recall. That’s up from the US$300mn that GM first announced and later expanded to more than US$700mn. MAY 2014


COVERstory |


MAY 2014

Mercedes-Benz has finally announced its intention to take back the lead in the premium C-segment with its next generation C-class. Using technology, class leading luxury and a new found handling edge, the C now truly lives up to the baby S-class tag Author: Raj Warrior |Photography: Author and Supplied

Class Reformer

2014 Mercedes C-class

MAY 2014


COVERstory | 2014 Mercedes C-class

Two fascias are available on the car with the one on the left integrating motorised aerodynamic louvres – just one of the tricks available to lower the drag to 0.24

The technological edge is brought in with even more of the driver interface moving to the HUD. The new instrument panel features the iPad like monitor with a reworked controller


ercedes-Benz unveiled the new W205 platform based C-class at a month long event held for international media in Marseilles, in the south of France. As part of the event, media got an opportunity to drive the new iteration of Mercedes’ C-segment sedan in various trim and engine combinations, including the hybrid diesel engine combination. Over two days, the routes chosen allowed participants to enjoy the beauty of the village 20

MAY 2014

roads of southern France along with substantial highway and city driving. In addition, in a series of workshops, participants were taken through the technological improvements that the new car enjoys, with one on one sessions with designers, engineers from chassis, aerodynamics, structural and interiors as well as telematics and electronics. The C-class is set to be a technological tourde-force with its new structure having been lightened by almost 180kgs to allow for new

systems and features - the end car is 100kgs lighter and enjoys a Cd of 0.24, by far the lowest in its segment. In addition to extensive restyling of exterior panels and addition of underbody airfoil members, an innovation in the form of a closable louvre arrangement for the front grille too adds to the low drag coefficient. This system is fully automated, opening to allow the engine to get extra air as required and is available for Exclusive trim levels and above. The lower weight and better efficiency add to better mileage.

The sea port of Marseilles in the South of France served as the location for the global press reveal of the C-class.

On the second day, the morning was devoted to exploring the collision avoidance and safety technologies on the C-class on a closed track MAY 2014


COVERstory | 2014 Mercedes C-class

While the C-class has been in production since 1993 the car is only in its fourth generation with the W205 being the latest iteration

W202 1994-2000 Model Years The first genuine C was seen as a successor to the iconic 190, with design attributed to Murat Gunak

W203 2001 - 2007 Model Years

W204 2008 - 2013 Model Years

The C-class buyer now gets a grade of interiors that rivals the S-class for sheer touch and feel premiumness. Beginning from the silky contours of the new controller to the unique feel of the lighter cabins, including a near white interior available on higher grades including the 400 variants, you get far more than you bargained for – full marks to M-B!

W205 2014 Model Year onwards Redefining the segment, with technology, new build technics and superb interiors

The profile has been tightened, with twin character lines matching with a rearwards biased cab. The C now looks very much like a shrunken S-class

The platform itself is the first ajor iteration of the new modular Mercedes Rear-wheel drive architecture (MRA) - one on which we will see the next E-class as well. Both the MRA and MFA (front-wheel architecture) allow for variations of four-wheel drive, albeit with different arrangements, with the C getting 4Matic. The body shell of the new C also has far more aluminium integrated into it, with almost all hang-on parts made from the silver metal, the roof and even suspension mounts and such. The front door now weighs in at a little over 12 kgs, with even the anti-intrusion member made from formed extruded aluminium. Of course the C-class is also available with the complete range of engines, from a 180 combo till 400 (that’s a turbo 3.0-litre V6) as well as an AMg variant in petrol engines, while the diesel range also rises from a new 1.6-litre unit through to the C300 diesel hybrid with 204hp and 27hp from the assist (with an efficiency of 3.6-litres per 100km in the bargain).


MAY 2014

MAY 2014


COVERstory | 2014 Mercedes C-class

At launch the car has a range of engines from the 4-cylinder 180 to the V6 biturbo 400. However the newer hybrids promise to be equally interesting - with the 300 diesel hybrid available at launch, while the petrol hybrid is set to launch later on. The C is an early iteration of M-B’s MRA architecture, soon to be seen on the next E-class

The interiors of the cars have also undergone major improvements, with more leg and headroom, a sportier driving position, redesigned steering wheels and centre console and a grade of finish that benchmarks the S-class for quality and touch and feel. In most configurations the area in front of the car will be dominated by the heads-up display and large centre panel, that seems so much in connect with the times with its Pad like contours. The console is kept clutter free by moving the gear selector up to the steering wheel,

matched by paddles behind the steering for manual overrides of the 7-speed auto transmission. The extra space on the divider is used for hidden storage and the enhanced multimedia input that clearly looks like it came off a Star Trek set. The combination of touch pad and click-and-dial with haptic feedback is extremely intuitive to use. On cars equipped with the Airmatic suspension system, ride height and quality is controlled from the selector right next to the Comand interface. The car can sit as much as 50mm lower at speeds (in tune with the Sport and

Sport+ settings, or can be raised by almost as much to overcome bad surfaces (albeit reverting to datum at speeds above 80). However, the real 3-series beating elements can be found in the seamless manner in which the engine and gearbox play with each other, transferring every input to the wheels with less than 300 milliseconds of lag. On this tighter platform, with an almost perfect weight distribution, the car responds with alacrity to every blip on the throttle, making the C400 so good that we would take it over any 3-series (except the M) any day.

There’s nothing like it on THE ALL-NEW the road. Or anywhere else. FORD FUSION More Style. More technology. More driving thrills. The 2014 Fusion is right for you for so many reasons. It features an outstanding exterior design, a responsive engine, attractive interior craftsmanship, and an array of driver-assist technologies inside and out that empower you in sophisticated Style. And you can choose from three Fusion models that offer a confident and a rewarding driving experience. • 2.5L i-VCT Engine • ABS • Hill Start Assist • Tyre Pressure Monitoring System • AdvanceTrac Electronic Stability Control • 8 Standard Airbags including Driver & Passenger Knee Airbags • Dual Zone Electronic Automatic Temperature Control* • SYNC - Voice Activated Communication & Entertainment System • 8" LCD Touch Screen with MyFord Touch*

*Only on SE SportTech

Arabian Car Marketing Co. LLC 24

MAY 2014

Wattayah-Tel: 99466316, 99264193, Branches Tel: Barka – 99238728, Buraimi – 92822697, Ibri – 92821005, Nizwa – 93320817, Salalah – 99443048, Seeb Al Mawaleh – 93320815, Sohar – 99436946, Sur – 92822738. For eet enquiries, contact – 99477832, e-mail:

Visit YouTube

Motorshow news

Easter weekend bonanza A few genuine surprises and clearer industry intentions to adapt topped the 13th Beijing International Automobile Exhibition [Auto Show] agenda this year Author: Chandan B Mallik


o most of us who are familiar with the Chinese automotive market would now rate Beijing’s Auto Show is one of the biggest and most important shows on the calendar in arguably the world’s largest car market. However, for unexplained reasons, the press access was only limited one day from two. However, this aspect didn’t affect our enthusiasm to cover the show given the time constraints. “Driving for a Better Future” was the theme of Auto China 2014, and the show which was held during the Easter weekend did focus on innovations and new technologies in automotive development, especially in vehicle design, energy savings and environmental protection. Automakers are looking to China’s biggest auto show this year to help boost sales in this huge but cooling market. Total sales last year reached 17.9mn vehicles, but growth is expected to slow from 15.7per cent to as low as 8per cent, even as ambitious newcomers prepare to enter the market. However, China’s automakers appeared as the underdogs at Beijing auto show. As foreign and domestic brands jostled for attention, it was clear that domestic


MAY 2014

brands like Chery, Geely and SUV maker Great Wall were overshadowed. These aspiring domestic brands are facing fierce global competition from biggies like General Motors and Volkswagen besides other global players. Interestingly, the current Chinese leadership has made it a national priority to catch up with neighbouring Japan and South Korea by creating globally competitive automakers and it’s obvious that no one is in a mood to yield. While, non-Chinese brands have long dominated the premium end of China’s market, some regard this market so important that they are ready to deviate from the industry trend of selling the same models everywhere and are designing specific solutions for this country. Digital and social media played a great part in generating awareness about the show. Tweets from Peugeot , Volkswagen, BMW, Citroen, Honda, Kia, Audi , Lexus , Jeep and several others helped build up the pre-show hype. Mercedes-Benz went a step further and even arranged to live stream of its press conference. In all 118 world premieres took place including 31 world and 45 Asian premieres. And making their debut for Chinese market for the first time at the Beijiing platform were Lincoln, McLaren and Qoros. Here are the key highlights from the show

MAY 2014



The Audi Q4 small SUV concept revealed is believed to be a preview of the forthcoming new sporty SUV that will compete with successful models like the Range Rover Evoque. The Audi gets the firm’s new-look grille, which will first feature on the new Audi TT. The Q4 concept will feature four seats, rather than five, to reinforce its sporty image and has many of its controls on the steering wheel for a less cluttered dashboard. Audi also took the wraps of its TT Offroad Concept. “The Audi TT offroad concept provides a glimpse of how we might imagine a new model in the future TT family,” says Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development. “It combines the sporty genes of the TT with the strengths of a compact Audi SUV.” . In addition to very similar physical appearances with the Allroad Shooting Brake concept, the two share the same plug-in hybrid propulsion systems (the “plug-in” part is a bit misleading, as the concept simply needs to be parked over an inductive pad to take advantage of Audi Wireless Charging technology).


Bentley’s well-kept secret about hybridization possibilities came out in the open in Beijing. The British brand is envisioning a powerful and even more efficient future with the Bentley Hybrid Concept – a technology showcase that previews Bentley’s first plug-in hybrid model, set to be a dedicated version of the all-new SUV available in 2017. Bentley promises the plug-in hybrid system will offer a power increase of up to 25 per cent together with a 70 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions, both without any compromise to the exquisite luxury, timeless design and industry-leading refinement


Premium cars are the fastest-growing segment of the world’s largest automotive market and French car brand Citroen thinks it will have good chance with the newly created DS-sub brand. Citroen has a joint venture with Chery and he DS brand was launched in China in June 2012. The DS gets its distinctive premium positioning inspired by top-shelf French-style luxury. The first car to go on sale was the locally built DS5. At Beijing was a new concept, the DS 5LS R, a red hot show car expanding on all the attributes of the DS 5LS, particularly its power and top-quality materials and a midsized CUV inspired by the Wild Rubis concept unveiled at last year’s Shanghai auto show.


BMW thinks there’s a slot to create a new sedan above the 7-Series and below the Rolls-Royce Ghost. The German brand officially unveiled the Vision Future Luxury Concept giving the world’s media an in-the-flesh look at not only a future design theme for the brand, but its possible new flagship model. The 4-door sedan’s styling is expected to mark an evolution from the Gran Lusso Coupe concept, designed by Pininfarina and shown last May at the Concorso d’Eleganza at Villa d’Este in Italy. Could this be the rumoured 9-Series?


Chevrolet had 11 models on display and the brand introduced the new-generation Cruze developed specifically for China, and the first model to be equipped with GM’s new-generation Ecotec small-displacement engines. There is also the Trax urban SUV equipped with on-demand all-wheel drive and the Chevrolet MyLink system. The Chinese-market Cruze has styling inspiration from the Chevy Tru 140S Concept and is different to the North American market version.


Ford Bugatti

The automaker introduced the fifth Legend in the Veyron – the Black Bess. The legend editions may do nothing to alter the Grand Sport Vitesse’s already prodigious performance, but certainly have buyers hooked to their themed exclusivity.


The new Enclave SUV and the updated GL8 were among the 10 Buick vehicles at Beijing. The new Enclave has updated styling, a refreshed interior, as well as additional safety features and power steering. Other Buicks on display were the LaCrosse, Excelle GT and Encore SUV.


The Cadillac brand had four models on display, led by the new second generation CTS sedan along with the XTS luxury sedan which comes with a range of new innovations. Other models included the SRX SUV. With the ATS, Cadillac is targeting the younger generation of luxury car buyers in China. 28

MAY 2014

Ford’s plan to launch 15 new models in China by 2015 and to do that it will serve some existing and new models. It’s no secret that for over a year, Ford has been considering reviving the Escort nameplate. The first indication of that came at last year’s Shanghai Motor Show where Ford showed a clean, straightforward take on Ford’s current styling in a compact car. The Blue Oval said at the time that it wanted to create a model that was stylish “but not one that is arrogant or pretentious”. A year later it looks like the minimalist vehicle might make its production as indicated at Beijing. The second vehicle was the Everest Concept SUV which showcases the future of the Blue Oval’s truck line in China. While it is a concept for now, we’re sure that JMC, Ford’s Chinese joint-venture partner, will build a production version soon of this seven-passenger SUV. Ford’s Asia Pacific design team has helped conceive the SUV for China. The 2015 Ford Mustang, which was unveiled globally in December last year was on display at the Chinese auto show for the first time will be available with two engine options– a 2.3-litre EcoBoost and a 5.0-litre V8 in the domestic market.

Honda had announced prior to the show it that it would unveil a concept car that previews a new model exclusively developed for the Chinese market. The Concept B Hybrid car looks like a cross between the CR-Z and Hyundai’s Veloster. Dongfeng Honda also presented a prototype of the all-new Spirior. The current Spirior is essentially the Honda Accord Euro or Acura TSX variant for the China-market. Another important debut for Honda in Beijing was the third generation Fit. Meanwhile, Honda’s till now US-only Acura brand also made its debut in Beijing. Honda hopes production versions of the MDX, RDS, ILX and the NSX Concept will drum up support for its luxury brand in an ever-growing Chinese car market. Honda hopes its “new-value concept” will help it get the brand’s foothold into the entry-level petrol-electric game in China.

MAY 2014




Ford used the venue to launch its luxury Lincoln brand in China. The MKX Concept SUV was presented as the key model. This car shares its underpinnings with those of the Ford Edge Concept that we saw in LA, but the changes made by Lincoln stylists are consistent with the brand’s design direction.

The Hyundai ix25 SUV might not draw the crowds like some of Beijing’s biggest launches, but the budget entry crossover is set to be an important model for Hyundai. The car is based on the Hyundai i20 and is billed as a Chinese-market-specific high-volume budget model. Hyundai also managed to get the Korean pop star Kim Soo-hyun to make a very brief and very late appearance at the show.


Infiniti is pressed ahead with the Q50 Eau Rouge highperformance sedan. Infiniti’s Director of Performance Sebastian Vettel has been testing the 560hp prototype version at the Millbrook Proving Ground automotive testing facility, UK.

Kia Jeep

Fiat SpA and its Chrysler Group LLC arm announced that their Jeep brand would begin manufacturing in China next year with Fiat’s local partner, Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. That will allow Jeep to avoid steep import taxes. At the auto show, Jeep also displayed its new Renegade model and some localized concepts based on current production models.

Kia presented a concept sedan which aims to bridge the gap between its Cerato/Forte and Optima. The K4 is a midsize sedan measuring 186 inches long and riding on a 106-inch wheelbase that makes it bigger than the Forte/ Cerato [K3] and just a few inches shorter than the Optima [K5]. The car gets familiar Kia-style bodywork, with a high boot and low nose to give it a wedge shape and a familiar if somewhat new take on the headlights and grille seen on other new models from the Korean automaker.


The final production version of the forthcoming MLC SUV was previewed via a concept called the Coupé SUV. We think it is a step forward for the brand as it breaks the BMW monopoly of creating seemingly unrelated market niches to create something new entirely. The M-B MLC has been conceived as a rival to the second-generation BMW X6, which will be premiered at the Moscow auto show in August. A production version of the Concept Coupé SUV, known internally under the codename C292, is planned to head into Mercedes-Benz showrooms during the latter half of 2015. To be badged as the MLC, it will be assembled alongside the third-generation M-class, with which it shares its mechanical package, at Mercedes-Benz’s US plant in Alabama. Despite being based on the third-generation M-Class, the MLC will receive a uniquely styled body and features. The MLC line-up will include a range of six- and eight-cylinder petrol and diesel engines as well as plug-in gasoline-electric and diesel-electric hybrid drivetrains. Topping the lineup will be a twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 MLC63 AMG and twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre V12 MLC65 AMG models from the brand’s AMG performance car division. Mercedes also unveiled the LWB version of its smaller C-series sedan.



Lexus in recent years has slipped behind German luxury rivals Daimler and BMW in the US and is trying to play catch up in China where it is behind Audi in sales. Toyota Chief Executive Akio Toyoda has been pushing Lexus to adopt a more aggressive, performance image, responding to concerns of the brand losing ground to rivals. At the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, Lexus quietly presented a prototype model with a turbocharged motor. This motor was showcased along with the world premiere of its NX compact SUV at Beijing. The NX is being seen as an intermediate model that’s expected to fill a massive void in Lexus’ range below the large RX model, giving the Japanese luxury player a genuine rival to the trendy segment leaders like the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Volvo XC60. The LF-NX concept was previewed at the Frankfurt motor show in September 2013 and Lexus has toned down the production version. Like Ferrari which has returned to turbo-charging applications, under the bonnet of the new Lexus will be the luxury carmakers’ first forced-fed turbo new 2.0-litre charged petrol engine in the brand’s 25-year history. A petrol-electric hybrid offering is also expected to be among the variants to counter the frugal German and Swedish diesels. 30

MAY 2014

Nissan is looking at China to help drive its global turnaround. The Lannia Concept, created by the Chinese staff of its Beijing design centre looks a bit like a fastback from the rear and definitely gets inspired by the Friend-Me Concept. The car looks production ready and if Nissan’s product boss, Andy Palmer statement is any indication, the new model might not be limited to just China.


Presenting the Exalt Concept using a variety of unusual materials and basically picks up where the show-stopping Onyx concept left off two years ago. The four-door Exalt concept adopts a similar approach exhibiting a body character reinterpreted by the combining bare metal and an efficient sharkskin-inspired textile. In homage to the art of the French motor car from the twenties and thirties, this one of a kind project was meticulously handcrafted using the skills of a master panel beater for sheetmetal. Under the bonnet is a 1.6-litre inline-four with 270hp, while the rear axle is powered by a 50kW electric motor. Combined output of 340hp is possible for the all-wheel drive car.

MAY 2014



China is the second largest single market for Porsche after the US and events like Auto China reflect the rapidly growing interest in Porsche. The German brand celebrated the world premiere of the Boxster GTS and Cayman GTS which feature more powerful engines and additional standard equipment befitting the GTS badging. The Boxster GTS and Cayman GTS get mid-mounted 3.4-litre 6-cylinder boxer engines which deliver additional 15hp compared to their “S” counterparts. This means the Boxster GTS has 330hp and the Cayman GTS has 340hp. Torque has been increased by 7 lb.-ft. in each model: 273 lb.-ft. in the Boxster GTS and 280 lb.-ft. in the Cayman GTS. With the standard Sport Chrono package, optional PDK transmission and Sport Plus button activated, the Boxster GTS reaches 60 mph from a standstill in 4.4 seconds (4.7 seconds with manual transmission) and 4.3secs (4.6secs with manual transmission) in the Cayman GTS. The top track speed for the Boxster GTS is 174 mph (173 with PDK) and 177 mph (175 with PDK) for a Cayman GTS. Alongside the new GTS sports cars, the 919 Hybrid and the 911 RSR racecars, and the 918 Spyder also made their Chinese market debut in Beijing.

is seriously. Tesla eing China quite ey is ng er gi ak ar m r ch yca batter tric super “big” network of us that the elec k ess of building a but it was obvio , oc led out and Mus rk pr ru e Yo en th w be in Ne ’t so in sn al ha nt is d se sla an ab Te a en in by ll a be Ch to se cle in in Chin may have ould allow Tesla el S electric vehi n of electric cars CEO Elon Musk cal production w ghai. Productio eries of the Mod Lo e Chinese liv an s. th de Sh t ar n d ha ye gi an w ur be g fo ish to ijin pl g to preparin next three pt to accom hargers in Be e m rc th te pe in at su y ill tr ng w un di at co clu th e a, in saying rs in th stations in Chin it goes without ill be making ca the company w import tariff and at nt th ce st r ca pe re 25 fo s s a’ ha ng Chin rs. prices by avoidi more electric ca cars at cheaper t people to buy ge : do to d le gg s stru government ha



The redesigned Volkswagen Touareg has made its debut at the Auto China show in Beijing. With a refreshed styling front and rear, new features and trims and greater efficiency, Volkswagen’s rugged yet refined premium SUV is more competitive than ever. The second idea presented was the New Midsize Coupé concept car. It’s a four-door coupé is low in height (1,422 mm) and very wide (1,838 mm), it has a low visual centre of gravity, short overhangs, muscular shoulders and side sections, a dynamic roof line with markedly sweptback C-pillars, a short trunk lid and long bonnet. The concept car is just 4,597 mm long and thus shorter than a Passat or Jetta. The concept car outdoes the other two in terms of its width – and it is thus midsized. A team led by Volkswagen head designer Klaus Bischoff integrated these sharp proportions in a body design that makes the New Midsize Coupé a powerful and avant-garde proponent of a new, compact saloon class. The concept has a 220 hp four-cylinder TSI engine, allowing it to sprint from 0 to 62 mph in 6.5 seconds, with a top speed of 152 mph. The car sits on 20in wheels with 245/40 tyres. Could this be the new Jetta?

Jeep’s all-new Renegade is the brand’s smallest SUV which will be built by Fiat in Italy but engineered by Jeep when it comes to demonstrating capabilities 32

MAY 2014

s r a c d e d n a r b e s Chine ! too k r a m r i e h t make


Tha Haima S5 SUV made its official debut. It is the second SUV for Haima after the larger Haima S7. Power comes from a turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder with 150hp and 210nm mated to a 5-speed manual or a CVT sending power to the front wheels.


Great Wall Motors Co. unveiled its latest model, the Haval 8 and Haval H2, its smallest SUV so far. The Haval H2 will compete with fine cars such as the Chery Tiggo, the Haima S7, and the Geely GLEagle GX7 and is powered by a 1.5-litre engine with two levels of outputs.



Two new models from SAIC-GM-Wuling’s entry-level Baojun brand made their debut. The 610 hatchback is a sibling of the 630 sedan, the brand’s first model, which was introduced in 2012. The 730 is a sevenseater family vehicle was specially designed for Chinese market.


China’s carmaker BYD Co, backed by Warren Buffet may have posted a slump in first-quarter net profit compared with a year earlier, citing sluggish traditional auto business, the brand’s pure electric car e6 caught a lot of attention at Beijing. The e6 is one of the car models quite popular with taxi fleets in Shenzhen.

The Changan Grand Raeton and the Changan XT prove that a local Chinese company can also be innovative too. Changan presented a big frontwheel-drive stretch limo and a cute, pink compact hatchback.


Hongqi is the brand owned by First Auto Work Group in north-eastern China since the 1950s. The brand presented Hongqi L5 which means ‘red flag’ in Chinese originally started life as a government only vehicle as a replacement for foreign brands to showcase self dependency. It was recently made available to civilians as a luxury alternative to imports. The Hongqi L5 is powered by a 6.0-litre V12 engine that produces 402hp and 548Nm of torque. The cabin offers luxurious features like the premium leather upholstery, headrest mounted touchscreen displays, rear air vents and premium legroom for rear occupants.


Changfeng’s obsession with older generation Mitsubishi SUVs was quite clear at the show. The Liebao Q6 debuted looking perfectly old-school and clearly inspired by a Pajero. Meanwhile, the Heijing Q6 is based on the second generation Mitsubishi Pajero which was made in China by the Changfeng-Mitsubishi joint venture until 2012. The agreement was terminated after Guangzhou Auto bought Changfeng Auto in late 2011 and Changfeng has license to use the platform. Various self-designed variants also including the Liebao Q6 are based on this set-up.


Chery unveiled its Alpha concept car sedan a day before show. The sharply styled Alpha concept previews the new Chery Arrizo 5 sedan which will be launched on the domestic market later this year. A 1.6-litre four-cylinder with 126hp and 155Nm and a new 1.2 turbocharged four-cylinder with 130hp and 212Nm mated to a 5-speed manual or a CVT will be offered.


The JAC Refine A6 Concept debuted on the Beijing Auto Show, featuring an aggressive styling with a huge shiny grille and mean looking headlights. The JAC Refine A6 Concept previews the upcoming JAC Refine A6 sedan that will be launched on the China car market later this year. The A6 Concept was ‘powered’ by a 1.5 turbo 1.5 turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with 170hp and 251Nm, mated to a six-speed DCT.


Jiangling Motors Corporation (JMC) is 30 per cent owned by Ford and as a significant role player, it help Ford boost its footprint in the country. JMC is expected to produce the Everest SUV among other new models.


LIfan Dongfeng Denza

Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler had announced two year ago that it was forming a new electric car brand for the Chinese market with its local partner BYD. The new brand was called Denza. The joint venture combines Daimler’s expertise in vehicle engineering, safety technology and quality production with BYD’s leading battery technology. At the show, the first production Denza model was revealed. It’s a small electric hatch slightly larger than the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, and it has a driving range of 186 miles on a single charge of its lithium iron phosphate battery. Power comes from an 86KW electric motor that can spirit the car to a top speed of 93 mph. The battery has an impressive 47.5-kilowatt-hour capacity and can be safely charged at home. 34

MAY 2014

At the last Dubai motor show, Dongfeng was present with some products which did have direct influences from Hummer. This manufacturer seems to be doing well on its own now despite the fact the it faced resistance from the Chinese government which effectively blocked GM from selling Hummer to Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company when it was promoting/protecting domestic players. Dongfeng also showcased its Number 1 sedan concept which is based on the Citroen C6 platform that was manufactured from 2005 until 2012. The platform is the first fruit for Dongfeng after the purchase of a 14 per cent stake in PSA, the mother company of Citroen.


A clean, unified four-door hatchback that shows even Chinese companies can break out of their archaic design moulds with professional help. “Copy may be an honour on the Eastern side, but it’s criminal on my side,” says Peter Horbury, Geely Group’s senior design vice president.

Sporting more than a passing resemblance with Audi sedans, the Lifan 820 sedan which was expected to debut at Guangzhou Auto Show [but didn’t] finally had its show debut at Beijing Auto Show. The car will only be available with a 130hp 1.8-litre mated to a 5-speed manual and later on a 160hp 2.0-litre version will be launched later this year.


If there was an award for the most outrageous presentation, then it would have certainly gone to Chinese automaker Youngman. Youngman presented a blinged outdated Malaysian Proton, complete with a body kit and gold chrome finish and “Lotus” badges. While “Engineered by Lotus” branding was all over Youngman’s Beijing auto show stand and Lotus PR was quick to point out that it had no relationship with Youngman—engineering, importation, or otherwise. The only connection is that DRB Hicom owns both Proton (the original source for this car design) and Lotus.

Relatively a new player in China, Zotye bought production tooling and manufacturing rights for a number of phased out cars from big automobile manufacturers to produce cars for the Chinese market, mainly from Fiat and its production began around 2005. In the interim period it has established itself as a player in the A-, B-segment in China, and now it seems that this carmaker has expanded its reach with new and bigger models like the Zotye Z500. Power will come from a new 1.5 turbo fourcylinder petrol engine with about 150hp, mated to a 5-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic. Zotye is also working on a new 1.8 and 1.8 turbo that will be launched in early 2015.


Qoros, is a new year-old car brand which had a high-profile debut in UK last year. The brand’s second production model, the Qoros 3 Hatch was presented to Chinese audiences for the first time. It is a compact hatchback featuring bold, dynamic design, excellent connectivity, and generous interior space and equipment. Also making its China debut was the Qoros eBIQE Concept, an innovative electric bike design and connectivity showcase. MAY 2014


FirstDrive | Volkswagen XL1

A different kind of supercar!


t’s not every day that you are introduced what not only is a genuine technological milestone in motoring but also to what could possibly be the future mode of our daily transportation. Future forms of personalized transportation have been conceived by many carmakers and designers, but few have been able to bring actual goods to the consumer table. Experts predict that future transportation solutions will be super efficient individual pod-like structures using pure electric or some form of hybridisation. This is the strongest view as of now shared by many progressive and innovative carmakers and there’s a genuine sense of purpose as evident by what’s currently on offer as a result of the demands/strain on natural resources. Almost drawn from science fiction, the Volkswagen XL1 besides being the most fuel-efficient production car in the planet with a fuel consumption performance of 0.9 l/100 km, it is an urban car that can actually be used. It all started when Dr. Ferdinand Piëch, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG, formulated the visionary goal of bringing to market a production car that was practical in everyday use with mandatory fuel consumption of one litre per 100 km. In the two-seat XL1, this vision has become reality. The XL 1.0-litre was presented as early as in 2002 and then in 2009. In these two versions, two occupants sat slightly offset, side by side, nearly as in a conventional vehicle. Now, enters the 2014 XL1, which represents the third evolutionary stage of 1.0-litre car strategy. Product designer and developers have taken the car to a new level by accomplishing several techno-creative goals. Priority jobs included optimizing mass and better occupant placement for starters. In all 250 units will be made and 200 sold to customers worldwide. Five units are destined to find homes in Middle East too and more can be heading this way should there be a demand for this exotic machine. The practical runability of this ‘supercar’ was proved by a ‘real-time’ demonstration at Dubai’s Autodrome recently. At first glance, essentially, this futuristic looking two-seater car follows pure sports car design principles -- low weight, top aerodynamic profile, low centre of gravity among others.

es tio ns lik e ov ok es yo u to as k qu Th is is a ca r th at pr ar? Au to ma n a fu tu ris tic su pe rc ho w do yo u de fin e ag en’s th ird h th e 2014 XL1, Vo lk sw sp en t so me tim e wit te gy in Du ba i e of 1.0-li tr e ca r st ra ev ol ut io na ry stag to fig ur e ou t Author: Chandan B Mallik


MAY 2014

The XL1 uses advanced composites in construction which results in its low weight of 795kg. The package is combined with exceptional aerodynamic profile of Cd 0.189 and a low centre of gravity. In perspective, the XL1 is 3,888mm long and 1,665mm wide and 1,153mm high. For comparison VW’s Polo has a similar length (3,970 mm) and width (1,682 mm) but is significantly taller (1,462 mm). Even Porsche’s Boxster is 129mm taller than the XL1.

| Photography: Supplied

MAY 2014


At launch the car has a range of engines from the 4-cylinder 180 to the V6 biturbo 400. However the newer hybrids promise to be equally interesting - with the 300 diesel hybrid available at launch, while the petrol hybrid is set to launch later on.

A thoroughly entertaining car which has the correct set of genes to set it apart in the class In its construction the XL1 uses newlydeveloped carbon-fibre reinforced polymer parts and to make the project economically viable together with suppliers, Volkswagen has developed and patented a new system for CFRP production in what is known as the aRTM process (advanced Resin Transfer Moulding). The car also uses lightweight polycarbonate instead of glass to its advantage.

and exit the car. And when compared to the driver and passenger seating arrangement in previous concepts which was tandem, in the XL1 it is close to a normal car as two occupants sit slightly offset, but side by side. Elsewhere, the cabin is compact and there are conventional analog instrumentation and a busy central console. Modern conveniences also include cabin air-conditioning!

In the car there are no conventional mirrors as the rear view duties are taken care by cameras and screens which are placed in housing on the winged door. Meanwhile, the doors are designed to make it easier to enter

The car’s principal power source is a turbocharged 48PS 800cc two-cylinder diesel engine which sits right behind the occupants along with other hardware. VW says that the two-cylinder TDI engine was derived from the


MAY 2014

1.6-litre TDI, which is used to power the Golf and Passat. The 0.8 TDI exhibits the same data as the 1.6-litre TDI common rail engine in terms of cylinder spacing (88 mm), cylinder bore (79.5 mm) and stroke (80.5 mm). In addition, the engine also gets special piston recesses for multiple injection and individual orientation of the individual injection jets. The excellent, smooth running properties of the common rail engines were transferred to the two-cylinder engine. Two cooling fans are placed on top of the engine-motor combo facing upwards for ensuring thermal efficiency.

The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 debuted at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show as the highest-performing Camaro and the most technically advanced car ever developed in its class

Besides the diesel motor, there are electric motors connected directly to the wheels. The E-motor which adds 27PS to the kitty gets its energy from a lithium-ion battery pack neatly concealed in the front of the chassis. Power [all modes – diesel, electric or combined] is sent to the wheels via seven-speed dual clutch [DSG] gearbox. Thanks to its plug-in hybrid system, the two-seater can also cover a distance of up to 50 km in all-electric mode and therefore with zero local emissions. In terms of performance, the XL1 has a top speed of 160km/h and can accelerate to 100 km/h in 12.7secs. There’s a lot of software programming that has gone in involving the various drive modes, sensors and hardware involvement. For instance, gears of the automatically shifting seven-speed DSG are also always selected with the aim of minimising energy usage. An engine controller regulates all energy flow and drive management tasks, taking into account the power demanded at any given moment by the driver. Running gear weight has been reduced by the

use of aluminium parts (including suspension components, brake calipers, dampers, steering gear housing), CFRP (anti-roll bars), ceramics (brake discs) magnesium (wheels) and plastics (steering wheel body). Frictionoptimised wheel bearings and drive shafts, as well as an entirely new generation of optimised low rolling resistance asymmetric tyres (front: 115/80 R 15; rear: 145/55 R 16) are fitted in this car.

Driving impressions Getting in and out of the small car isn’t very complicated as the wing doors are hinged at two points: low on the A-pillars and just above the windscreen in the roof frame, so they do not just swivel upwards, but move out slightly forward as well. The doors also extend far into the roof and hence offer extra head room to manoeuvre. Once settled in the cabin, the outward view is like that from the interior the low slung Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, except that the car is long and wide as a stock Polo.

An indicator at the bottom of?the central speedometer simply reads “READY.” Pull the lever of the automatic shifter to “D,” and push the accelerator and the electric motor integrated into the gearbox gently whirs like a home blender, and the XL1 moves off. In combined use, the E-motor acts as a torque booster for the TDI engine. As soon as the electric mode button on the instrument panel is pressed, the car is propelled exclusively by electrical power. On its own, there’s enough juice from the batteries to enable it a decent driving range of around 35kms and when engaging his mode, several things happen. First, the TDI is decoupled from the drivetrain by disengaging a clutch, and it is shut down. Meanwhile, the clutch on the gearbox side remains closed, so the DSG is fully engaged with the electric motor. Regenerative brakes assist the recharging effort. Lift the throttle and the XL1 coasts, but gently depress the brake pedal and the system switches to regenerative mode. Restarting of the TDI is a very smooth and comfortable process: In what is known as MAY 2014


“pulse starting” of the TDI engine while driving, the electric motor’s rotor is sped up and is very quickly coupled to the engine clutch. This accelerates the TDI to the required speed and starts it. The entire process takes place without any jolts, so the driver hardly notices the TDI engine restarting. When the cars engage brakes, the E-motor operates as a battery regenerator. In certain operating conditions the load shared between the TDI engine and the electric motor can be shifted so that the turbodiesel is operating at its most favourable efficiency level. How this car operates on road is quite fascinating. As expected it feels quite a bit different than a modern car. The steering is pure mechanical and you can feel the weight of the car. Steering ratios are calibrated to factor in stability as the cars wheels are quite


MAY 2014

narrow and hence turn circle is generous. When driving the car with the diesel engine, the unassisted steering lightens up a bit [at least it feels that way], and the XL1 seems to run more quietly as road noise overtakes the car’s mechanical noises. In full throttle, the acceleration response is modest and we were able to propel the car at 140km/h plus on the Autodrome without toppling it over! Despite our initial apprehension regarding the road holding, the skinny tyres actually provided a comfortable ride up to city speeds but at speeds over 110km/h, the cabin can be a noisy place. For a car with so many systems on board, the information display system is old fashioned and hence keeping up to date with status of operations is cumbersome. It takes some concentration to figure out what’s happening

with the flow of power from the engine, motor, and battery details on the dashboard info screen. We would expect a user-friendly digital interface to be incorporated in future productions versions.

Verdict After teasing the world with two prototypes since 2002, VW now presents a ‘saleable’ XL1 that’s long and wide as a production Polo and carries a height similar to Lamborghini’s Gallardo Spyder with an extremely low drag coefficient and incredible efficiency-oriented technologies underneath. We tried out the car in all the three modes and the way the E-motor and TDI engine interact with each other is remarkable. Overall, it’s a car that can be put to practical use, but since it’s going be available in limited numbers, it will eventually become a collector’s item in the very exclusive segment of our motoring community.

RoadTests |

Aston Martin Vantage S Q spec

Dressed up extreme Vantage


aking fast sports cars has been British sports car maker Aston Martin’s core business for a century now. As the brand tries to reinvent itself and cope with contemporary market demands, it has started looking at bespoke solutions for customers for various models as part of its business strategy. It may be recalled that a few weeks ago, Aston Martin arrived at the 84th Geneva International Motor Show with its most compelling bespoke sports car creations to date. The two tailor-made personalisation entries sub branded as ‘Q by Aston Martin’ included a V12 Vantage S and Vanquish Volante. The bespoke V12 Vantage S had a Stratus White exterior with a Jet Black roof and orange accents, revised grille, orange brake calipers and satin finish carbon fibre components. The interior had True Teal leather upholstery and Californian Poppy orange accents on the seats, doors and paddle shifters. Of the two, the Volante had a restrained appearance with an exposed carbon fibre tonneau cover, White Essence leather seats, Cream Truffle stitching and satin finish walnut trim. Enough of Geneva debuts, let’s get back quickly to the basics of our tester. Technically, it’s quite easy to describe the Vantage S as a package which combines Aston’s biggest, most powerful V12 engine into its smallest car. Besides this, the car has been restyled to reflect is position as the flagship of the new Vantage range and the evidence begins with the restyled grille that does away with the traditional aluminium vanes. Aston designers have replaced them with a new carbon fibre arrangement with sporty black carbon fibre or titanium silver mesh finish. The grille is functional


MAY 2014

too and according to its creators, the specific design has been created to maximise airflow to the V12 engine. We are also not surprised that the new grille is inspired by that of the CC100 Speedster Concept. From its predecessor, the model’s profile is similar and it has carried forward the pronounced bonnet vents and flared wheel arches which are host to new lightweight forged alloy ten-spoke wheels. Meanwhile, the cabin is familiar place with most of the Vantage trappings and equipment. You get singlepiece moulded carbon fibre backed seats – which are adjustable – but as a single unit. This means it can be a little difficult to find a 100 per cent seating position if your dimensions don’t match the stock seats! As such the cabin is a mix of old and new styling elements and some of items like the cheap switch stalk and old fashioned dot matrix display could have been replaced in this version. These are items that are the driver is constantly exposed to and after all, this is not exactly a budget car either. Overall visibility is restricted due to the car’s low height and thick pillars and hence a lot of reliance is on the rear view mirrors for traffic and blind spot management. Besides these niggles, the Q bespoke division attempts to give some individuality to the car’s personality. Bespoke features in this car are to be found in the paintwork [exterior pack], stitching and Rose Gold embellishments [interiors]. The level of craftsmanship is commendable by industry standards. Cosmetics apart, we’re more interested in the engineering and what lies underneath the sleek composite body lines. When you open the Vantage’s bonnet, there’s virtually no empty space. The 6.0-litre naturally

With the exception of the One-77, the new Aston Martin Vantage S is the fastest road-going car the British sports car brand has yet offered. Automan was among the very few publications invited to check out the bespoke Q spec version in the Sultanate last month Author: Chandan B Mallik | Photography: Elvis John Ferrao

MAY 2014


RoadTests |

Aston Martin Vantage S Q spec

On sale since the end of 2013, the car gets a new grille inspired by the new CC100 Speedster and a new Sportshift III AMT gearbox aspirated AM28 V12 engine from the Vanquish has been neatly shoe-horned in the engine bay and to ensure the car gets top spot in terms of performance it has been reprogrammed to bump up output and torque which stands now at 565bhp and 457lb ft [up by 55bhp and 37lb-ft]respectively. Credit in part to this enhancement also goes to adapting race car technology like CNC machined combustion chambers and the use of hollow cam shafts. The car also benefits from a new automated manual transmission called Sportshift III AMT from Oerlikon Graziano. Aston claims it is a major development of the automated manual gearbox that is found in the current V8 Vantage S. The hydraulically actuated automated manual transmission offers motorsportstyle paddle shift changes for optimum performance delivery and efficiency of this V12, besides being 25kg lighter than the outgoing six-speed manual gearbox. Interestingly, this race-derived and motorsport proven technology is used in Aston Martin Racing’s race-winning Vantage GT4, GT3 and GTE competition cars. It promises for great driver control with only milliseconds of torque interruption and delivers precise and swift gear changes. Supporting the new powertrain is an active chassis now. The Vantage S also debuts three-stage adaptive damping with three driver selectable -- ‘Normal’,


MAY 2014

‘Sport’ and ‘Track’ modes. The system also governs the level of power steering assistance offered in two stages. The car’s hydraulically assisted steering also gets a quicker 15:1 steering ratio for crisper handling. Large disc brakes are by Brembo and damping system was developed by Bilstein. The car’s twostage Dynamic Stability Control is from Continental which can be completely turned off by the driver whenever required.

Driving impressions When we received the car for this report, it had done 1,500kms only. We were aware that the car hadn’t been run-in completely [usually it takes 5,000km] and hence would have been programmed to operate in ‘safe mode’, a precautionary measure to ensure that it couldn’t be physically manhandled! While, this approach serves the manufacturers’ needs, it also limits the tester’s ability to fully come to terms with the ultimate capabilities of the vehicle. Automan’s first impressions are something like this: while cosseted in a luxury bespoke interior, the behaviour of the car on road suggests that the car wants to dictate how it wants to be driven. It’s a bit of a rogue, if left unchallenged. For example when you drive the car in D mode, with each gear change, especially upshifts, there’s evidence of

excessive engine braking which means that the cog transmissions are not smooth. Although, quieter than before, the engine seems to demand that it be driven over 4,000rpm for optimised performance. Engine braking is least when you engage paddle shifters mode and are able to control the throttle. While it takes a little while to get accustomed to the mechanics of the car, the steering feel is very close to that of the V8 version and the car’s front end despite being heavier due to the extra cylinders. The nicer side of the car is being able to nudge that Alcantarawrapped wheel and point the front end of the car as you wish. Even in default chassis mode, the body felt flat and composed. The ride in general is very connected, as expected but there’s still a suppleness that prevents it from feeling abruptly curtailed. When you reach that level, it’s a hint for the driver to go in for the Sport mode which allows the car to open up to the next level of say a track day performance. We also decided to play combo with the car, that is leave the shock absorbers in Normal and press the other Sport mode, the one that opens the baffles and rewards the driver with a meaty growl besides quickens the gear shifting. What we realized end of the day, despite the limitations and niggles, the car loves to be pushed hard. There’s no doubt that this is a very quick car,

but it’s still a few notches away from perfection, especially at lower rev bands due to shall we say mismatched electronics. While peak torque comes at 5,750rpm and it allows the V12 S to deploy its power surprisingly well, the automated manual is short of the same torque converter momentum as found in cars like the Jaguar XKR-S GT, for instance. As a driver’s car, the Vantage S on one hand excels in handling and its V12 soundtrack, but the flip side is that the cramped cabin and not-so-ergonomically friendly seating will tire out the driver and co passenger very quickly. Also not helping in the effort is the squeaky body and excessive wind noise from the mirrors in particular even at modest highway speeds.

Verdict Aston Martin thinks it has created a masterpiece with the new Vantage S. Despite the infusion of some new race-derived technologies in a physically smaller package, one is reminded of the more relaxed and communicative feel of the longer DB9 and Vanquish. The Vantage S ushers in an altogether new experience and bespoke Q appointments now allows even greater scope of individualization. But Aston needs to work on the transmission and get it right as it can turn out to be a dampener if not attended soon.

MAY 2014


RoadTests | 2014 Ford Fusion

Upping the Fusion game plan Ford has recognized that it had to move its midsized sedan contender, the Fusion, a few notches up if it wanted to make a significant dent in the highly contested market. With the all-new 2014 Fusion, that’s seems exactly the job description. Automan evaluates the new arrival in the Sultanate Author: Chandan B Mallik | Photography: Elvis John Ferrao

If you look back a few years at the American branded mid-sized segment cars in particular, then it seems they have been sort of neglected by their respective parents when it comes to grooming or presentation. Contrast that with the leaders in the segment who have wasted no time and energy getting their respective merchandise up-to-date and spot on with design and technology influences. In the past few years, Ford’s line-up of cars has improved considerably in terms of design, content and engineering under the One Ford approach. And it’s quite clear now that this momentum will also touch mainstream models like the Fusion. And it’s high time too as in Oman, this segment is quite a busy with lot of models to choose from like the US-built Japanese branded models like the redesigned Honda Accord and Nissan Altima or stylish Korean models like the 2013 Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata, besides perennial favourite Toyota Camry and Europeans like Volkswagen Passat, Peugeot and Chevrolet Cruz among others. Another significant trend noted in this segment is downsizing of powertrain options and introduction of forced fed options by several brands.


MAY 2014

Ford’s new Fusion assignment has therefore come at a time when not only the segment is not only extra active, but also demands the best from what the Blue Oval is able to offer. The outgoing edition of Ford’s US-designed and built Fusion did receive attention from its creator – but more in the engineering department than styling. Actually, the styling efforts during the mid-cycle refresh was more focused on giving the car a corporate look which meant a very familiar chrome grill up front [which was virtually shared with every model including SUVs]. Designers did attempt to give the car a squatter profile and hence its lower valance was redesigned. Overall, it appeared more of a cut and paste job than a ground up redesign and that is something Ford was pretty serious about removing in the successor. As an observer, it’s obvious this is no easy task and requires both investment and a will to move forward. To begin with, the new Fusion is not a rebodied interpretation on a carryover chassis. The incoming model is mechanically based on a new “world-car” platform from Ford that offers more structural rigidity for both enhanced safety and improved driving

dynamics. Compared with the outgoing edition, exterior dimensions grow marginally and Ford claims that the new dimensions have allowed for better cabin space management despite its swoopy coupe like styling. In its styling, the new Ford design DNA application so far has been best portrayed in the smaller global models like the Fiesta and Focus. These cars have been meticulously metamorphosed from mundane ‘me-too’ to stylish lifestyle-oriented models with striking standalone identities. And it’s not Ford alone that has discovered the power of design in boosting car sales. Design led aggressive South Korean brands like Hyundai and Kia are now largely acknowledged as pioneers in volume segments with their respective segment offerings. Irrespective of segment – entry or premium, carmakers now know that consumers are looking at this aspect as well as the overall packaging in a purchase decision. As a result, at first glance the car is able to entice anyone with its handsome and very much Europe-inspired styling. A bold grille, sheet metal with bolder and better defined

MAY 2014


RoadTests | 2014 Ford Fusion

Very much in line with the styling treatment vetted to the Fiesta and Focus, Ford has trained its attention to its mainstream mid-size sedan in the region, the 2014 Ford Fusion which now comes with a blend of top-drawer visual experience and efficient technologies

character lines and a slightly longer and wider body give the new Fusion a planted look. And compared to its predecessor, there’s definitely a more upscale look. Fit and finish have improved by American standards, but Ford will still have to do more work if it wants to get the premium European level tag image on its side. In terms of accommodation, the Fusion is a five-passenger sedan and has a pleasant and airy cabin. There’s plenty of space up front for legs, shoulders and heads. The concave door trim gives an impression of space and strangely, the narrow, body-hugging sport seats seem to be a slight mismatch in its surroundings. This is because the unlike normal sedans, the front seats sit low in the cockpit and when you consider the car’s relatively high bonnet line, it is a little hard to find a perfect seat height with unobstructed outward vision. However, on the flip side, the headrests sit at a surprisingly neutral angle, and don’t force your head to tilt forward as aggressively as in some other vehicles. Ford’s eco-friendly credentials also show up in the cloth trimmed seats which are made from 100 per cent recyclable materials. And the seat cushions and head restraints use a type of polyurethane foam that Ford says is derived from the oils of plant seeds including soyabean. Materials and finishes on the 48

MAY 2014

dashboard and upper portions of the doors are straightforward and attractive. But we did find ragged edges along the top seam of the map pockets.

In terms of practicality, the rear seat split folds to offers 16c-ft of cargo space, which is slightly more than its key competitors: Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima.

The central console is quite busy and uses manual climate control knobs which are easy to see and are well laid out. The driver’s instrument cluster is modern and goodlooking, with a pleasing illuminated blue needle on the speedometer. One nifty feature is the overhead interior lighting, which you can turn on and off with the swipe of a finger. The steering wheel feels fine in hand.

The Fusion offered in the Sultanate comes with as standard a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine that’s rated at 175hp and 175lbs-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. On the safety front both active and passive features have been considered well. Engineers increased its body strength by 10 per cent, using more high-strength steels such as boron. In fact, Ford claims that the Fusion safety team targeted top-of-theline ratings in each public domain safety benchmark, including National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ratings, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick and top ratings in world markets where the car will be sold. Besides the above, Fusion is designed with customer safety in mind. Engineers increased its body strength by 10 percent, using more high-strength steels such as boron.The Fusion safety team targeted top-of-the-line ratings in each public domain safety benchmark, including National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ratings, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick and top ratings in world markets where the car will be sold.

Ford is on a smart technology drive and quite a few elements are evident in this respect in this car. Notable techno-led features include adaptive cruise control, automated parking assist, blind-spot detection, the Sync voice command system and the latest generation of MyFord Touch. The latter is a new addition to the Fusion and utilizes a customizable touchscreen display to control many of the Fusion’s electronic features. Ford is aware of user feedback as regards to its Microsoftbased MyFord experience and has assured us that it has been improved in this newest iteration. Meanwhile, rear accommodation is comfortable with adequate leg and knee room and so is headroom for tall occupants.

MAY april2014 2014


RoadTests | 2014 Ford Fusion

Sayarati AD Besides the above, the car comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front seat side airbags, front knee airbags and side curtain airbags. Also standard is Ford’s MyKey, which can be used to set certain parameters for teen drivers. Optional equipment includes blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, driver drowsiness detection and lane-departure warning, lanekeep assist, and collision warning with brake intervention.

Driving impressions If the new Fusion felt big on the inside, then it also feels big on road with its planted ride. Outward visibility to the front has been improved thanks to the new Fusion’s relatively slimmer front roof pillars. Within the crowded segment of mid-size sedans, the new Fusion, although of American origin will actually be remembered and enjoyed more for its European-flavoured driving


MAY 2014

experience. Acceleration and torque delivery are impressive and the best part is that the Fusion in this set-up doesn’t claim sporty aspirations. Electric-assist power steering is standard on all Fusion models and we’ve typically found these systems notably lacking in feel in many cars. However, the calibration in the Fusion is one of its strongest features as it provides remarkably communicative feedback and definitely one of the better versions of this new industry-wide trend we can vouch for. On the move the assist is good and progressively it becomes lighter and comfortable as speed is gained. Meanwhile, the six-speed automatic transmission shifts in all the right places and holds gears as expected. While this segment has witnessed various levels of competence when it comes to performance, dynamics and handling and we

are happy to note that the tester Fusion was able to convince us that it has successfully raised the bar even higher, combining a comfortable and controlled ride with engaging handling for a family car. This car is confident and composed when cornering, and very much at the top of its class and NVH has been very well contained as the car is remarkably quiet on the highway.

Verdict The mid-sized sedan segment in Oman is quite competitive with models like the redesigned Honda Accord and Nissan Altima and Korean models like the 2013 Kia Optima, Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Passat and even Peugeot. Each of these cars has certain advantages, but shoppers looking for a family sedan that provides a sharp driving experience, luxury car options and head-turning looks will make an informative choice in the Ford Fusion.

RoadTests | 2014 Mitsubishi Attrage


of being af ford with the promise es m co at th or ad bass global compact am e Sultanate trage is the brand’s r in and around th At i ca is ish th ub t its ou M ks 14 ec ch an rrao m Fe to hn Au Jo The all-new 20 al. is hy: Elv practic B Mallik |Photograp Author: Chandan


itsubishi Motors’ priorities have drastically changed over the past few years and the metamorphosis sees the performance being traded for efficiency. While the carmaker still ponders what it will do with halo products like the Evo successor, its renewed focus on smaller and efficient family cars has become clearer with the introduction of global models like the Mirage hatchback and its sibling sedan version, the Attrage. Both new models were introduced in the Sultanate simultaneously a few weeks ago and are based on common platform and powertrain engineering. Both cars are built at Mitsubishi’s Laem Chabang plant in Thailand.

Instead of calling it the Mirage Sedan, the Attrage name is actually a combination of the words ‘attractive’ and ‘mirage’. The car was first unveiled at the Shanghai motor show as the G4 concept sedan. At first glance, the Attrage is clearly linked to the Mirage in design to some extent, but it does get its own distinctive feature pack. The car’s dimensions are compatible with the pack leaders in the segment and its overall profile is well balanced thanks to its 4,245mm length, 1,670mm width, 1,515mm height on a 2,550mm wheel base. When parked side by side, the Mirage front end definitely has Japanese design flair, while the styling elements seem to be more influenced by Asian tastes in the Attrage. To

able and

begin with, the car’s redesigned nose comes with a larger chrome grille, bigger head-lights and restyled front bumper with slight over the top overhangs. The car overall appears cute with aero tweaked touches up front resulting in a drag coefficient of 0.29.and a bold character line which kicks up towards the rear.” Mitsubishi has been able to keep the car’s weight under 1,000kg, 905kg to be precise. Considering the price point and positioning, the car’s interior looks pretty decent in its layout but we wouldn’t say its awe inspiring. The piano black centre console is the centre of attraction and has a busy set-up. This is where the head unit and automatic airconditioning controls are housed. We liked the

The Mitsubishi Attrage is a B-segment sedan that shares underpinnings with the Mirage and like the hatchback that was simultaneously launched, it is imported from Thailand 52

MAY 2014

MAY april2014 2014


The cabin is basically designed with the principal of minimalism without compromising working efficiency. The instrument cluster design is basic with the very visible display screen in the middle and the layout of the central console is dominated with large manual controls

One of its major USPs is its claimed combined fuel economy of 21 km per litre on the European NEDC cycle, achieved by having a low kerb weight and an efficient 1.2litre three-cylinder MIVEC engine 54

april 2014

simple configuration that Mitsubishi has opted for and also the large and easy to see control buttons for air-conditioning. In terms of space inside the cabin, the car takes full advantage of its 2,550mm wheelbase. Front seats are simple in design and well padded and can be adjusted manually. Front occupants also get access to usable cubby holes on the door pads. However, Mitsubishi has dropped the idea on the rear passenger doors in favour of creating accommodation for three adults without feeling uncomfortable or cramped. If there are only two occupants at the rear, you can also unfold the centre mounted armrest, sit back and enjoy the ride. Instrumentation is basic, and you do get essential information from the dot matrix type display. Analogue fuel gauge is replaced by digital bars. Plastics used on the dash are hard to touch, but the fabrics used elsewhere are quite upmarket by contrast. All round visibility is quite good despite the car’s slightly cab forward stance. Some of the higher specs features like Eco mode, keyless entry or push button stop start switch were not available in the entry level tester. The car’s boot can take in 450 litres of cargo, or three golf bags.

As a car focused on energy saving, as expected there’s electric rack-and-pinion steering and 3A92-series three-cylinder MIVEC unit, which offers 78 PS at 6,000rpm and 100Nm of torque at 4,000rpm. Transmission is INVEC III CVT and also comes with a manual engine braking feature. Keep the car agile and planted on road, the suspension set-up is modern and up front you have MacPherson struts and coil springs, and a torsion beam axle at the rear. Safety equipment, besides a strong body structure, safety also includes electronic stability control, ABS, EBD, driver’s and front passenger’s SRS airbag.

Driving impressions

With more and more cars coming on to the market with smaller displacement engines and lesser cylinders, the attitude towards these set-ups is definitely changing. Small cars like the Attrage are nippy, and zip around congested roads with utmost ease. While the Attrage is not expected to be a supermini on steriods, it does come across as a decent urban city car. The test car’s three-cylinder MIVEC engine delivers enough torque to the front wheels via the CVT set-

up and considering all parameters including driving the car with air-conditioning on full blast, we are genuinely pleased to find out that the engine’s performance is surprisingly agile for a typical everyday drive. Besides lively acceleration, it pulls pretty steadily even with full load. The 0-100km/h sprint is super smooth, thanks to the INVEC-III CVT. However, due to the nature of CVT-equipped cars, the transitions as usually felt in cogged set-ups is not there. But what is there when you observe the tachometer is that the engine rev and speed build up complement each other. At around 2,000 rpm, this car will cruise comfortably all day long at 80km/h. Another feature in the CVT set-up is that for downhill drives it offers the driver the ability to brake the engine [equivalent of running the car in low gear] and hence avoiding over use of the brakes. To do this, the shifter has to be put in the ‘B’ slot. While the car’s airconditioning is exceptional in keeping the cabin cool and occupants comfortable, the electric rack-and-pinion power assist steering feels is very light at low speeds, but it gets excessively heavier at higher speeds. And as

expected for this type of set-up, it also feels very numb. A small flick of steering offers very little feedback and it doesn’t inspire confidence. Riding on 185/55 R15 tyres the car’s road grip was commendable and body roll very well controlled and contained. However, for the class and segment of car, the NVH of the Attrage would be described as average. The engine can be loud initially when pushed to highway speeds but settles nicely without feeling strained. But in city runs, the car’s manouevrability is where it really excels with its short 9.2m turning circle, parking the car even in the tightest spot is a delight.

Verdict On a global level, Mitsubishi Motor Corporation has re-entered the booming l baby-car segment with all value guns blazing and in markets like Oman, it will represent exceptional value pricing and features for most consumers in the light-car segment.

april 2014


RoadTests | 2014 Peugeot RCZ

Racing ahead with style


rench brand Peugeot officially rolled out the restyled version of its swoopy 2+2 coupe in 2013. And it’s about right time that this happened to this model. Depending on market roll outs, the RCZ has been on roads since 2010 and in three years it seems that Peugeot has realized that its potential Audi TT rival could use a personality boost. As a result, most of the effort has been painstakingly devoted to give the car a “distinctive new identity” as part of the catch up process in a compact, but niche segment.

With a timely facelift for the current model year, Peugeot has increased the appeal and exclusivity of its halo RCZ Sports Coupé. Automan spends some time with the car in the Sultanate Author: Chandan B Mallik | Photography: Elvis John Ferrao


MAY 2014

Ever since it was conceived and introduced as one of the best-looking two-doors on the market, Peugeot are still keen to capitalize on that aspect alone and perhaps this is one of the reasons that the nip and tuck exercise is more cosmetic than an outright engineering job. Mechanically, the RCZ continues to be built on the robust and agile first generation Peugeot 308 family hatchback platform and in profile, it has a racy theme with some unique features like the bubble roof and low slung profile. These key design and functional features remain untouched. According to Peugeot, the refreshed RCZ now fully embodies the new signature of Peugeot: MOTION & EMOTION.

Call it a nose job or whatever, the designer scalpel has ensured that the car’s gets a matured face now which also seems to promotes fluidity within the brand’s conservative design language. Instantly noticed up front is the new grille design which is now accentuated by a lower air intake which is also extended on each side by a set of daylight LEDs. Overall, the front is now a bit more aggressive with its higherset matte-black grille offset by a lower air dam running in a slash below it. The RCZ also gets trimmed in LED daytime running lights. Besides these, what else is noticeable is the fact that the entire glasshouse and roof is now more than a deep coloured silhouette, sort of complementing the front end treatment of the car. The interior of the car continues with its conservative theme. We were expecting the dashboard to get some transitional elements from the new genre of stylish Peugeots like the 308/508. Despite their absence, one can still live with the interior and familiar Peugeot elements like trimmed leatherlook dashboard, large instruments, chrome headed gear shifter lever, sporty designed and body hugging seats and some genuine adult occupant space behind. While we liked

MAY 2014


RoadTests | 2014 Peugeot RCZ

The cabin is basically designed with the principal of minimalism without compromising working efficiency. The instrument cluster design is basic with the very visible display screen in the middle and the layout of the central console is dominated with large manual controls

Macpherson struts up front and a multilink system with a hollow antisway bar at the rear keep the RCZ glued to the ground. the contrasted white stitching on the leatherlook dashboard that adds a classy feel, but the flip side is that you have to live with a lot of reflection on the windscreen. Meanwhile, the heavily bolstered front seats wrap around you and hug you in comfort while offering outstanding lower lumber support. The electric driver’s seat has ample adjustment to get nicely square-on to the reach and rake adjustable multi-function steering wheel, and things ergonomically work very well. The RCZ is also one of the brand’s representative models where evidence of attention to detail, especially on ergonomics is clear.

Mechanically, the RCZ is a carryover of the previous generation and that means for the Oman market it uses the same high output turbocharged 163hp 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine mated to six-speed automatic transmission.

Despite the RCZ being a compact, it has always been very practical, with a generous volume boot for its category, having a capacity of 384-litres, to which are added storage compartments under its floor (more than 30 litres extra). Folding the back of the two additional rear seats increases the maximum carrying capacity of the vehicle to 760-litres.

Driving impressions


MAY 2014

Underneath, the RCZ keeps the previous model’s suspension and brake set-up. That means disc brakes all around, with the front ones vented. Large 19in wheels are also added to the spec list for the current model year.

We are aware that there are even powerful variants of the RCZ available in European markets, and the availability of the RCZ in one single specification in Oman means that we are limited to a car that actually shoulders a lot of responsibility as a halo model for the brand. Well, in that respect we are happy to note that the car makes all the right noises,

and can be paddled manually through the tiptronic-style box, has a tight chassis and is close to being qualified as a sports car. The RCZ still feels plenty quick and the torque delivery from the four-cylinder is pretty punchy too. The engine is free revving and likes to be pushed hard to redline. Even its exhaust makes a well-endowed stirring noise. The revised suspensionset-up is a simple MacPherson front with a torsion beam rear but combine that with a wide track and low centre of gravity, then things start getting noticeable. Also aiding in the effort are the short overhangs which are deliberate to facilitate instant turn-in response. For the record, the front and rear tracks considerably widened by 54mm and 72mm compared with the 308 on which it’s loosely based. Meanwhile, large 19in wheels don’t dampen the car’s handling and the wide tracked RCZ can actually cope with fast corners confidently without the usual tail end games. For a front

MAY 2014


RoadTests | 2014 Peugeot RCZ

wheel drive car, the suspension is very welltuned and we think that the track dimensional changes are key to the RCZ’s exceptional onroad handling. Complementing the chassis is the transmission. Gear shifting in the six-speed automatic changes as intuitively programmed and holds them as long as they are required. But we did note during the run at Amerat that shifting down a gear under braking to help pull the RCZ up, shifting down a gear under braking to help pull the RCZ up, however, it did not shift down a gear to try and keep the car at a constant speed while running downhill.


MAY 2014

Among the changes noted are that the RCZ now rides 19in alloy wheels and low-profile Continental tyres which have replaced the Michelins. They are great to look at and fill the muscular wheel arches and it isn’t just looks, they seem to perform quite well despite the absence of tricky torque-distributing technology which several front- wheel driven small cars in the class are employing these days. Of particular note is that the steering wheel weight and feedback is absolutely brilliant! Push this car into a fast corner and the way it reacts it is difficult to ascertain whether this car is all-wheel drive or frontwheel drive with a limited slip differential. This is where superb electronics chip in to

mimic a mechanical system and this car has a chassis performance balance that easily rivals that of the Renaultsport Clio if you consider purity and control.

Verdict Arguably, the RCZ is stunning car to look at and comes with a decent engineering package. It isn’t designed to be aggressive like the higher priced TT, but does offer adequate punch. We think that RCZ is an honest car which is liked for its design than hardcore track skills. And in some ways, underrated car

TWOWheels | Harley-Davidson 2014.5 models

Let the miles roll by

‘Project Rushmore’ is the largest scale new model launch programme in Harley Davidson’s 110-year history which encompasses eight new motorcycles that feature improved performance, rider ergonomics, and dramatic styling updates. Automan was invited to join the Oman leg of the brand’s press tour last month with these bikes Author: Chandan B Mallik |Photography: Elvis John Ferrao


MAY 2014

MAY 2014


TWOWheels | Harley-Davidson 2014.5 models


s a brand, what is keeping HarleyDavidson at the top of its game is its capability to innovate and come up with exemplary packaging and detailing in its range of motorcycles. The whole effort is now dictated by what it calls ‘Project Rushmore’ and in short the outcome of the efforts is designed to show up in four key areas of motorcycling – control, infotainment, feel and style – a step forward for the brand which is as always in an overdrive mode. Most of the line-up which benefits extensively from this programme is now available in the region and specifically covers eight models. As part of an elaborate exercise to generate awareness, Harley-Davidson’s Middle East organized a two-day long riding programme which saw us hitting some of the Sultanate’s enchanting tourist spots, besides enjoying the spectacular mountain roads on these new bikes. Among the new repertoire we focused on several models like the Breakout, Sportster Touring and Dyna Lo Rider in particular besides taking turns in the other models in the line-up that were offered. Day One of the programme saw us ride to Wadi Dayqah dam from Muscat. I chose the Sportster 1200T to begin the journey. As Harley-Davidson’s newest addition to its Sportster family, when you look at the bike, what immediately strikes is its simplicity as a concept. Basically, H-D took the low-slung and easy-to-handle chassis of the SuperLow 883 and added the power of the Evolution 1200 V-Twin engine that produces 70.8 ft.-lb.

of torque. To this package, touring features included a detachable windshield and lockable saddle bags. Compared to the SuperLow 883 chassis on which it’s based, the new 1200T has floorboards that are mounted three inches more forward, which makes it easier for riders to place their feet flat on the ground. Also, as on all Sportsters for 2014, the 1200T has an electrical update that includes a revised wiring harness, plus an analogue speedometer and a digital tachometer. There’s also a new oil tank and side cover, 64

MAY 2014

The cabin is basically designed with the principal of minimalism without compromising working efficiency. The instrument cluster design is basic with the very visible display screen in the middl

designed for easier access to the battery and diagnostic terminal. Our tester also came with optional factory-installed ABS. Since it’s based on the SuperLow 883 model, the new 1200T has the same fork angle, wheel sizes and tyres. As a result, the bike feels light due to reduced steering effort, which also means that in ‘real-time’ one can ride all day long without getting tired, thanks to its generous power and torque availability across the power range and well spaced out ratios from the gear box. What I particularly liked about this bike is that Harley calibrated the SuperLow 1200T’s ergonomics for average height or shorter riders [5’1″- 5’7″] which means the handlebars and foot controls are within comfortable reach. The “Reduced Reach” seat with 4in of extra padding also aids in pushing the rider further forward. At Wadi Dayqah dam when all the bikes where lined up, the second bike that striked out was the Softail Breakout and I decided to try it out on Day Two of the ride. It reminded me of how customization could recreate the genes of a classic design. Instead of a weird and whacky job, the design team has done an impressive job of creating a profile so impressive that it has been chosen as Captain America’s bike in the upcoming Marvel movie “The Winter Soldier”. The styling DNA of the Breakout is muscular, long and low and screaming the attitude of the ‘60s dragsters. It’s a machine which is a genuine head turner with plenty of style and customised features like wheel design for instance. The alternating-position alternating black and machined aluminium spokes is

The cabin is basically designed with the principal of minimalism without compromising working efficiency. The instrument cluster design is basic with the very visible display screen in the middl simply gorgeous. In fact, the entire Breakout package is a mixture of contrasting paintwork and lush chrome accents. Extended to the Twin Cam 103 engine, this design cue adds to the commanding look of the bike. The bike comes with wide and impressive drag handlebars which in turn require a forwardleaning riding position, for an even more aggressive stance. For the ride, we balanced and calibrated the spring load to give it a neutral feel in view of those big wide wheels. The bottom line – you get a smooth, fun ride in streets or winding along country roads. The third bike which I chose was the Dyna Low Rider model which is back in the line-

up with some authentic 70’s styling and an attitude to match. The Low Rider is also an attractive bike to look at with its very classic ambiance and there was no reason not to like the Amber Whiskey/Vivid Black two-tone colour combination. This particular offering was regarded as one of Harley-Davidson’s first-ever factory customs at the time which not only offered a platform for accessoryminded inspiration, it delivered a seat height that made these motorcycles accessible to a whole new segment of buyers. So, among the things which were of interest to me for inspection, yes, was the ride/seat height. Actually, the seat height is quite low at 25.4in and this aspect is commendable from Harley MAY 2014


! NG I C UN THAT O N T Wheels N AN TWO E2014.5 models E Harley-Davidson G V E N THE LL CHA ALUE WI YOU V R CA W O R H U YO


MORE THAN 250 MODELS, 40 BRANDS, 15 CATEGORIES AND ONLY ONE WINNER IN EACH CATEGORY! announces the thrills and prestige of its own Car of the Year awards. With enough packed in to take you through the year and a unique format of selection, Automan’s COTY awards will reward the best models on offer in Oman in 2014 Look out in every issue of Automan till January 2013 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

The cabin is basically designed with the principal of minimalism without compromising working efficiency. The instrument cluster design is basic with the very visible display screen in the middl

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:


adjustable handlebar riser, which creates a notable change in rider posture. On road, as expected, it feels like a Dyna which essentially means that wants to be ridden sportily, but touches down easily, and is somewhat limited by its short suspension travel in the rear. Meanwhile, the Twin Cam 103 feels appropriate and very strong for this bike. Brakes worked fine and the double discs set-up front exhibit a noticeable advantage over the single front disc on some of the other Dyna models. Anti-lock brakes are also now available in this model. Handling wise, I personally think it is one of the best suited for cross-country riding.


engineers who have thought beyond simple feet-on-the-ground comfort. The ease at a standstill to addressing full-body ergonomic comfort on the move leads to rider confidence, factors well in this bike. After riding it in the winding roads, it became evident that the research chaps at Harley have studied the ergonomic equation involving seat, handlebar and footpeg positioning of a variety of riders and then devised an optimised solution. H-D 66

claim the bike will easily accommodate riders from ranging in height from 5’1” to 6’1” and besides this arrangement, H-D have placing the foot controls two inches forward of typical Dyna mounts. The key to the new system is the removable lumbar seat extender, which is removable also. It makes a huge difference by moving the supporting edge of the seat forward or backward by 1.5in. Also unique to the 2014 Low Rider is an easily and infinitely

Harley says the eight motorcycles of Project Rushmore with innovations and technical enhancements driven by the company’s constant customer interaction and feedback. Well, the two-day ride experience and being able to get acquainted with the bikes in the best bike riding territory in the Middle East has given us a better understanding and a genuine perspective of how Harley-Davidson is moving forward. We can safely assume that Project Rushmore as a well-timed step to keep the brand firmly affixed at the top of the touring segment.


MAY 2014




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

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 :

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.

TWOWheels |

Harley-Davidson Street 750 Exclusive

Streetfighter! It’s still a year away before it reaches export markets like the Middle East, but Harley-Davidson’s all-new India-built Street 750 has been created with a purpose. Automan is among the first few publications in the world to bring you this exclusive first ride report from the country of its origin Author: Faisal Khan


he Street 750 and its smaller sibling the Street 500 were first showcased at the Delhi Expo in January 2014 and represent a new genre of all-new Harley-Davidson models in 13 years. The Street 750/500 will be built in Haryana, India and Kansas City, USA. The India-made bike will also be sold in Asia, Europe and Middle East. The tester supplied for this report was among the first pre-production dealer demo models to be offered to select journalists and hence not expected to be 100 per cent perfect. We began the exercise with an open mind and did expect some niggles here and there. Whatever the shortcomings, we expect them to be resolved by the time the customer models are ready for delivery in June. To get a better perspective, we have benchmarked the Street 750 against the CBU [completely built up] units that the brand sells in India. This was done deliberately as we were keen to see H-Ds global manufacturing prowess when it comes to building bikes outside home territory. As the first completely new motorcycle added to Harley’s line-up in, one begs to ask, what exactly is the Street 750/500? Is it a smaller variant with modern take from the existing family of air-cooled V-twin engine machines or a retro take on the liquid-cooled V-Rod which was introduced with the new Porsche designed Revolution X engine? At first glance, we think after examining the bike closely it’s a bit of both. The frame of the bike is made of steel tubes and since it is a cruiser, it is also low. In its profile, HD has tried to inculcate traditional styling cues from


MAY 2014

MAY 2014


TWOWheels |

Harley-Davidson Street 750 Exclusive

the 883/Sportster Lo Rider upfront with some styling influences from the V-Rods at the rear. As a result, it looks like a hybrid of sorts, but communicates clearly that it’s from the family of cruisers with its cruiserfriendly 1,534mm wheelbase. The front takes cues from the Night Rod especially in the headlamp with its cafe style fairing and stubby mudguard. Instrumentation is typical Sportster influenced, and the speedometer pod sits above the headlamp. It’s a mix of analog and digital systems and offers various bits of information like gear positioning, trip meter, reserve fuel indicator, low oil pressure, engine diagnostics among others. The fuel tank is classical Harley teardrop inspired with a lockable and offset filler cap and it also gets a horizontal character line. We like the way the narrow rear end of the fuel tank flows smoothly into a wide saddle seat. The riding stance is good for average height Indian rider, but taller riders may not find it ergonomically perfect for their liking. The bike’s liquid-cooled 749cc 60˚V-twin uses four valves per cylinder and gets chain driven single overhead camshafts. Engine sits tightly in the frame, very much like that in the V-Rod which suggests centralized mass with low centre of gravity for better handling. Instead of using two separate silencers, to save some weight both exhaust pipes are rolled-into-one. The unitized construction of the engine also hosts the six-speed gearbox. Final drive is by belt and engine output and torque is a bit of guess work due to absence of official figures. We think it should be good for 56-60hp and 6.62kgm of torque at 4,000rpm. In terms of suspension, the arrangement is conventional with hydraulic shock absorbers up front and swing arm with dual shocks at the rear. The front forks come with rubber boots to protect them, quite apt for India’s rugged and dusty conditions. The tail end of the bike is squat and the mudguard is broad to accommodate fat 170/50 R15 tyre. Braking is via a pair of single, ventilated discs at both ends and ABS is not offered on this set-up. Daytime running lights is standard, but while the mirrors are small and don’t offer a clear view of what’s behind. While the profile and features are acceptable in the Street 750 as a whole, however, on closer scrutiny, the fine print details begin to emerge. At this stage, to be fair, we will


MAY 2014

classify them as pre-production niggles. Surprisingly, there are glaring examples of cost cutting, something you would usually see in a budget priced bike and not in a branded bike of this calibre. There’s evidence of shoddy welding on the frame, exposed wiring and even the paint work didn’t appear to be top notch as you see in other models in the line-up. In a Harley, you don’t expect to see exposed wires hanging out perilously in awkward places. While most of the wires in the harness are heat wrapped, the wire leads to the brake switch and horn were hopelessly exposed. And then there are some other causes to worry about besides the cheap and flimsy plastic indicators and switchgear. As part of the running gear, H-D India is outsourcing some components – particularly brakes and suspension -- from domestic suppliers. We have no issues with that but an alarm bell rings when you begin to know where it’s coming from. A particular supplier, called Endurance, whose quality has been questioned by other India bike manufacturers like Bajaj Auto, is supplying brakes and fork components. This to us represents cost cutting to a new level and perhaps at the cost of safety later. Cost cutting is evident elsewhere too. Can you believe it that the footpegs don’t have return springs and when you ride the Street 750. The overall build quality of the tester, we are sure, if compared with H-D’s own standards would not fare so well, at this stage. Attention to detail has been a shortcoming so far and we think this is where H-D manufacturing and quality control needs to put their foot down and bring it on par with the other merchandise.

Riding impressions Electric start the 749cc, liquid-cooled engine which settles into an unrefined idle. Like the pushrod engines, there’s a lot of mechanical chatting. Acceleration response to throttle response is good as the torque spread is well laid out. The engine has decent pep lower down with a stupendous mid-range, it pulls the Street 750 to triple digit speeds in a jiffy. In fact, performance from this V-Twin motor is the best part of this bike. First gear is good enough for 55 km/hr and the 6-speed gearbox is relatively smooth but finding neutrals is

The Harley-Davidson Street 750 is a bike made to a price. It does offer strong performance and a good ride quality but as a package, it has quite a few shortcoming which are difficult to ignore.

close to impossible (no false neutrals but when parking neutral is difficult to get). The Street 750 returns a fuel mileage of 20-25 km/l, which is good for a bike of this weight and engine size. The Street 750 doesn’t sound like a typical push rod engine Harley. While the company has tried to give it the same vocals through acoustic management, it lacks the punch of other Harley bikes. The exhaust note is subdued and perhaps high performance Screaming Eagle Stage I or Stage II kits may do the intended job. However in spite of its 218kg weight, the Street 750 is quite agile and easy to ride in the city, being very nimble on its feet. The steering is light and handling is good too with the bike being stable through long sweepers. The tester had hard compound tyres, which lacked grip though and prevent the rider from taking tight corners. The ride quality is very good and the Street 750 absorbs most of the bumps in its stride. The seating is upright with a wide handlebar making the ergonomics good for short riders. However both the brakes are poor, they lack initial bite altogether (cost cutting on the braking system becomes evident) and with so much performance on tap, there isn’t stopping power to match. At this price, ABS should have been offered, at least as an option. The Street remains stable at speed and with the engine not throwing out much vibes (in spite of being a V-Twin), you can cruise at high speed for long.

Verdict Harley-Davidson has taken its traditional cruiser design, endowed it with modern powertrain engineering and downsized the package to suit the specific market requirements, and at some point in its lifecycle, it is obvious that pricing will play a key role too. The American motorcycle brand is banking heavily on the Street 750/500 series to attract a new genre of customers to the brand. Right now, it needs to sort out the production related niggles and move forward while balancing the pricing and qualitative issues.

MAY 2014


PREVIEW | Ferrari 458 Speciale

Trendsetting is something Ferrari is pretty good at – be it for track or road going cars. Ferrari engineering has proved time and time again that lessons learnt from track racing can successfully be adopted and applied in road going cars. Actually, no one in say Formula One till now has said with a straight face that this form of racing has actually benefited road cars. And this is one of the key strengths that helps keep Ferrari on top of its game. Living proof now comes in the form of the 458 Speciale which was introduced in Oman last month. In this instance, Ferrari takes powertrain, aerodynamics and vehicle dynamics from the already exceptional 458 Italia and gives them a work out befitting the “Speciale” moniker. The result is a completely new, uncompromising, streamlined sports car concept. Many of the sophisticated solutions being applied for the very first time to an in-range car in the 458 Speciale, including its advanced active aerodynamics, will become a standard feature of all new Ferraris in the future. Flanked in the Maranello marque’s range by the multi-award-winning 458 Italia and 458 Spider, the new mid-rear-engined V8 berlinetta was designed to boost both performance and driving emotion to unprecedented levels, yet simultaneously guarantee smooth, effortless control in all kinds of situations. Having lavished meticulous attention on the power unit that was named “Best Performance Engine” at the International Engine of the Year Awards for two consecutive years, Ferrari has now built its most powerful naturally aspirated V8 ever (605 cv) with an extraordinary specific power output of 135 cv/l , the highest ever achieved by a road-going naturally aspirated engine. Thanks to an equally exceptional weight/power ratio of just 2.13 kg/cv, the 458 Speciale can sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in a mere 3.0 seconds (0-200 km/h in 9.1 seconds) and also clocked a lap time of just 1:23.5 at the Fiorano Circuit.

The 458 Speciale is the latest product of Ferrari’s core philosophy of extreme technological innovation and research 72

MAY 2014

MAY 2014


PREVIEW | Ferrari 458 Speciale

Aerodynamic requirements guided the work of the Ferrari Styling Centre, which led the project in cooperation with Pininfarina, to sculpt the car’s forms to ensure they were more performance-oriented than ever. The most notable features in this sense are the front and rear movable aerodynamics which balance downforce and cut drag, thus helping make the 458 Speciale the most aerodynamically efficient range production car in Ferrari history (E Index of 1.5). The technology used in the vehicle dynamics subsystems which gives the driver instant confidence and control at high speeds, natural power oversteer management and precise response to commands are further advances in an area in which Ferrari is already a wellestablished leader. One of the most innovative features of the 458 Speciale is the Side Slip angle Control system (SSC) which makes it easier to achieve car control on the limit, thereby greatly improving driving emotions. Thanks to the development of an accurate new algorithm SSC performs instant-to-instant analysis of the car’s side slip, comparing it with the target value and then optimising both torque management (via integration with F1- Trac traction control) and torque distribution between the two wheels (via integration with the E-Diff electronic differential). Part and parcel of the car’s development included Michelin Pilot Sport Cup2 tyres which were specifically honed for it in an intensive collaboration programme involving, amongst other factors, numerous track test and simulator sessions. Conceived for the 458 Speciale, they boost performance over a single lap in the dry as well as improving performance consistency in subsequent laps. They also allow the car to avail of maximum available grip in the wet. The above-mentioned technical content has improved the 458 Speciale’s single lap time and also delivers repeatability of that performance on subsequent laps that is absolutely unprecedented for a car not designed exclusively for track use. The result is that the 458 Speciale has the fastest response time (0.060 s) and highest lateral acceleration (1.33 g) ever achieved by a car in the Prancing Horse range.


MAY 2014

MAY 2014




Designed for extra kilometres* at no extra cost * Comparison between a standard fuel and that same standard fuel containing our fuel economy formula. Actual benefits may vary according to vehicle, driving conditions and driving style.


MAY 2014


ewis Hamilton led Nico Rosberg to a dominant Mercedes onetwo tonight in the most exciting and most memorable Formula One Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix ever held at Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) in Sakhir. The landmark 10th edition of the Kingdom’s Formula One race certainly lived up to the hype as the top flight’s greatest drivers put on a spectacular show over an eventful and hugely exciting 57 laps, held for the very first time under floodlights at “The Home of Motorsport in the Middle East”. Following the conclusion of the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix, BIC Chairman Zayed R. Alzayani said: “I would first like to congratulate Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes team on an outstanding victory today, in the most exciting race ever seen at the BIC, bringing a fitting end to a momentous 10th anniversary weekend at Bahrain International Circuit. “Today, we attracted a record crowd of 31,000, our highest ever attendance for a single day and I am delighted that the crowd was suitably rewarded with a phenomenal display of racing..” Bahrain’s first-ever night race attracted the biggest ever single day crowd at BIC, with the Main Grandstand and corporate boxes all sold out. The 31,000 crowd for Sunday bettered the 28,000 from last year, while the total 85,000 over three days

dwarfed the 73,000 total of 2013. Hamilton crossed the finish line the winner as BIC Chief Executive Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa waved the chequered flag, with teammate Rosberg trailing by a mere 1.085 seconds following a heated battle for the lead over the final 10 laps. An impressive display of fireworks then brightened up the night sky over the spectacularly lit desert circuit as Hamilton stepped out of his Mercedes W05 cheered on by the thousands of fans in attendance. Force India’s Sergio Perez joined Hamilton and Rosberg on the podium, leading the rest of the pack who were nearly half-a-minute behind the Mercedes pair. At the podium ceremony in front of a packed Main Grandstand, Hamilton was presented his trophy by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister. Mercedes, being represented by Engineering Director Aldo Costa, were handed over their trophy as winning constructor by Gulf Air Acting CEO Maher Al Musallam. Rosberg was awarded by Minister of Transportation HE Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed, while Perez was presented his prize by Bahrain Motor Federation President HE Shaikh Abdulla bin Isa Al Khalifa. “It’s great to see that we have such a

great following here,” Hamilton said after the podium presentation. “I am so grateful to the team for getting us up here. This is my first win in Bahrain, which is nice.” Mercedes’ dominance was never more clear than when Hamilton and Rosberg built a huge gap in front of the rest of the field after only the second safety car period ever in Bahrain. With 10 laps to go and the safety car coming in, the Mercedes pair charged ahead and created a lead that was nearly as long as BIC’s main straight in just a single lap. The two teammates were then engaged in a breath-taking duel that could have gone either way, but in the end it was Hamilton who claimed the win. Perez crossed the finish line a whole 24.067 seconds behind. “It was really exciting,” Hamilton described. “Nico drove fantastically well, it was hard to keep him behind me. I was on a real knife-edge at the end but just managed to take it.” Rosberg, who started from pole position but then gave up the lead to his teammate at the first turn, commented: “I strongly dislike coming second to Lewis, I have to say that, but it was definitely the most exciting race I have ever raced in my whole career. “I think today was a day for the sport, we put on a fantastic show and I will be back to win here next season.”

May 1st 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of arguably F1’s darkest day, the death of Ayrton Senna in the San Marino GP of May 1st 1994. On a weekend already enveloped by

grief following the tragic accident of Roland Ratzenberger in qualifying, the sport suffered the shattering blow of Ayrton’s passing after his crash during the race.Such was the depth

of feeling Ayrton generated, and the presence he cast across Formula 1, hearing the news of his death was a moment that all F1 fans through that era will never forget.

We are available online 24 hours for your comments and suggestions.


When you visit a Shell station please note the station ID. Then log on to and complete our customer survey.

Please don’t use your phone on the forecourt. Terms and conditions apply.

MAY 2014




Sebastian Vettel Q&A: I’m fighting with the car

Hamilton leads Mercedes one-two in Malaysia

ewis Hamilton had never won in Malaysia, until a crushing drive in Sepang on Sunday finally rectified that after an eight-year quest. The 2008 world champion was never troubled, taking the lead from pole position at the start and calmly controlling the race from Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg, who eventually finished 17.3s adrift in second. Hamilton also added fastest lap to round off a near perfect weekend. The Silver Arrows’ one-two enabled Rosberg to retain his championship lead, but Hamilton now jumps up to second, 18 points adrift. Sebastian Vettel also got his title defence off the ground, but was a beaten third, 24.5s behind Hamilton. The Red Bull driver challenged Rosberg very closely on one occasion and got within a

second around the 34-lap mark, but dropped back after his fellow German repelled him, and later had to ease up to save fuel. Nevertheless, he received 15 points for his afternoon’s work. Daniel Ricciardo should have followed Vettel home having got the better of a wheel-to-wheel battle with his team leader early on, just after the world champion had unsuccessfully tried to defend his second place off the line from the fast-starting Rosberg. But the Australian had dropped back nearly 10s when his race completely fell apart during what should have been his final stop on the 40th lap. The left front wheel on his RB10 was improperly secured, and after being wheeled back to the Red Bull garage to have that rectified he was given a

10s stop and go penalty for an unsafe release. As if that wasn’t bad enough, in between that fumbled stop and the subsequent enforced one that he had to make, Ricciardo needed another after one trip too many over the Turn 14 kerb damaged his front wing and led to a problem with the right front tyre. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was 11.4s behind Vettel at the chequered flag, having clawed back past Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India in the closing stages. Where all of the leading runners opted for three pit stops, Hulkenberg went for two and though he couldn’t quite hold off Alonso, he was able to finish a bold fifth.

Doubts raised about new Concorde Agreement


n 2001 the FIA gave undertakings to the European Commission about its commercial and regulatory role in the Formula One World Championship. The agreement between the FIA and the Brussels Competition Directorate General was published in the Commission’s Official Journal on the June 13 2001. The Commission’s notice confirms that the FIA agreed to modify its arrangements “to establish a complete separation of the commercial and regulatory functions in relation to the Formula One World Championship and the FIA World Rally Championship where new agreements are proposed which place the 78

MAY 2014

commercial exploitation of these championships at arms-length”. The Commission also noted that the FIA would “improve transparency of decisionmaking and appeals procedures, and to create greater accountability”.

and especially formula one is a particularly complex technical activity requiring important investments in technological research and development it is indispensable for all participants to agree on the way the series are organised”.

The document went onto to explain that the separation of commercial and regulatory functions would be achieved by using “arms-length commercial agreements which will provide for fixed payments to FIA”. These fixed fees would pay for the FIA’s fulfilment of its regulatory duties. The Commission also commented that; “As motor sport

More than a decade later the FIA has accepted a new Concorde Agreement in which both the Federation and the smaller teams can be out voted in the F1 Strategy Group. This is what happened at the recent meeting in Bahrain where the FIA found it impossible to introduce a cost cap strongly supported by the smaller teams. By accepting a


or the first time since 2012, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel has been bested by his team mate in two consecutive races. But why did the world champion seem to struggle so much in Sunday’s Grand Prix in China? After the race Vettel explained all to reporters… Q: Sebastian, looking at your start it seemed like you got away very well, but what happened then? Sebastian Vettel: Yes, I think I had the best start of the first three cars, but of course it was not enough to catch Lewis (Hamilton). Then it became difficult in the first stint, as Lewis pulled away quite fast and I did not have any slipstream. Luckily I could stay ahead of Fernando (Alonso) in the beginning. Then probably I came in for my first pit stop a lap too late, but looking at the result it would not have made a big difference. During the race I just did not have the grip to keep up with Fernando, as on the long back straight the DRS zone only begins somewhere close to the middle of it, and up until that point the Ferrari just pulled away and then there was no chance to get close enough again to attempt to overtake. Overall there was not a lot more that I could do than P5, as the gaps were just too big to the frontrunners. I could have maybe saved two, or even three seconds in total if I avoided fighting for position with Nico (Rosberg) but still the result would have been exactly the same in my opinion. Q: No driver likes to move over for his team mate - and you don’t have a history for doing that. So did you move over for Daniel Ricciardo or did you just run wide? SV: I did move over. Although initially I did not understand why (I had to) because we were on the same tyres, unlike in Bahrain, and that was also the reason why I double-checked when I got the call from the pit wall. At that point Daniel (Ricciardo) was on a different strategy, and I realised that I had to move over, as there was no point of holding him back with him having a two-stop strategy. At that point in time I was still on a three-stop, which we changed later on, also to a two-stop strategy. Towards the end of the race I also realized that I did not have the pace, which was not really clear to me at that earlier stage, and which you could see in the result of me having a 24 second gap. I was even happy to keep the distance to Nico (Hulkenberg), and not lose another position. Q: How is it for you to drive in a car that you do not feel too comfortable in?

Ferrari aims to be second-best 2014 team

decision-making process that can be dominated by an alliance between the larger teams and the commercial rights holder the FIA appears to have weakened its regulatory power. Despite this seemingly emasculated role are there other advantages for the FIA from the new Concorde Agreement? From an income point of view surely the answer is yes. In addition to fixed regulatory fees worth €14.8 million each year, the FIA has the option to buy, for a price of 460,000 US$ (nominal value), 1% of the shares and loan notes of Delta Topco (the estimated market value of which is approximately $70m) if and when CVC decides to sell.

SV: Well, I am not yet where I want to be, and I’m pretty much fighting with the car. It is an ongoing process. Sometimes it feels that we are making one step forward, but then also one backward again. Hopefully we are able to make some steps into the right direction for the upcoming races. In general, I am not unhappy about the result today, I am unhappier about the condition that we are in. Q: How much are you pinning your hopes on the upgrades that are coming at upcoming races? SV: Obviously we know where our main weaknesses are, and this is not in the corners (laughs). At the beginning of this race I did not have a chance to overtake Fernando (Alonso) and this is why I decided to drop back. What happened next I do not know, and I do not fully understand yet. I was very slow on the prime tyres. Q: How do you see your championship chances for this year? SV: For sure not easy - definitely not a walk in the park as we still cannot think about catching up with Mercedes. Then again, the season is not over - at least I have not heard that yet - so we are still facing a long year. So anything should be possible - still! The truth is that we have a great car, and now we need to work on the upgrades and implement them in the best possible way to make sure we get more power out of the engine.


fter experiencing their least competitive showing of the season in Bahrain, Ferrari’s engineering director Pat Fry has said that the team’s short-term priority is to establish themselves as the second-best team in F1 racing - not to catch runaway championship leaders Mercedes. Following the race in Sakhir, in which Frnando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen claimed ninth and tenth places respectively, the Italian team undertook a detailed evaluation of their F14 T in a bid to extract more speed from a car it was hoped

would challenge for the world title. “Since the Bahrain race, it’s been a very busy time for us, as we examined all areas of car performance from the power unit to suspension configurations and aerodynamic improvements,” Fry said in an interview on Ferrari’s website. “We are naturally working as hard as we can on closing the gap to the top teams, with Mercedes having a reasonable lead over the rest of the field. MAY 2014


ChicaneOpinion |

Techno Evolution, or is it a Revolution?

It’s a brave new world out there. Everywhere you turn, you meet the new unknown. What was familiar and proven to you is now replaced by scrum of electronic chips, flashing lights and some form of automaton. And you haven’t even been transported into the unnerving world described by Aldous Huxley in his iconic ‘Brave New World’. There is a joke that has is almost as outdated as Huxley himself, which goes that if you want your VCR programmed you need to ask your seven year old. I am old enough to have used a VCR (Video Cassette Recorder for the uninitiated) and savvy enough to have known how to program one. But the conundrum continues with the passing of the VCR into the age of not just hard disk based storage but the move to shift all your data into the ‘cloud’. Now your seven year old will tell you how to get on to the cloud. This rapid pace of technology presents its own challenges to us as consumers, even if we are relatively clued in – at what point do you throw out your PS3 for the PS4? Do you spend RO 20 more for an air-conditioner that can ‘sense’ when you are in the room? When is it worthwhile to buy an Ultra-high definition television? And does the move to having concave viewing surfaces mean that you have travelled full-circle in a way from the day of the convex cathode ray tubes? Over the past month, I have also repeatedly come face to face with the tech advance in automobilia. Let’s see, the days of the around-view monitor and blind spot indicator seem to be almost an age old. The current generation of AVM is so realistic that it looks like there is a camera tower on top of the car. And BLIS has stopped being a complete pain by going off only when the car in the blind spot is actually in the blind spot. However, as I mentioned, these are yesterday’s news. Now four cars in a week of testing had advanced cruise control with braking to a complete halt, three had the ability to tell you if you wandered from your lane, with the Jeep Cherokee acting as if it would steer you back, while the Infiniti Q50 actually steered quite nicely (as long as the road gently meandered and didn’t turn). The Q50 even had the world’s first production ‘drive by wire’ steering ayout. This comes complete with two independent motors for the front wheels and a feedback motor for the steering itself, just to dial in feedback and avoid the steering from coming across as a PlayStation controller. Of course the obvious questions are then, why only three settings for feedback intensity? Why not go the whole hog and allow us to dial in both force and ratio? And at what point does it become dangerous? Of course technology also is present in things like the new Hybrid drive systems (on the Q50) or the newer

Raj Warrior is editor of Automan and has been in the thick of the Automotive journalism field from the past 15 years.

generation of terrain response controller on the Jeep Cherokee or the Porsche Macan. Indeed in all this clutter, the new Genesis almost seems plain Jane with its cabin comfort biased features. But then this technology brings with it the challenge of how best to use it. My seven year old can drive a better race on the PlayStation than I can – largely because I cannot accept the lack of feedback on the controller. So while I would want my car’s feedback to be as realistic as possible, while my kids would accept any old steering.

Want to comment or have your say? Email at Identify yourself or your message will be trashed and your id blocked

At some point, all this technology is going to reach the magic Eureka moment where society, designers and governments will either say, “let’s allow autonomous cars” or will do a U turn and say stop. Just because the Q50 now has two touch screens, does it have to allow your facebook feed as another means to distract the driver? On the other hand, isn’t technology really nice when you use the feed to your front camera and radar to see what the car two cars ahead of you is doing? Or use the camera to add a new dimension to around view by showing you what the road or terrain is like under your car’s hood, very useful to avoid rocks or potholes? Take your choice – evolve or be part of a revolution? The choice is yours. It is indeed a brave new world.


MAY 2014

Automan 153  

Automan issue of May 2014 (Issue no 153)

Automan 153  

Automan issue of May 2014 (Issue no 153)