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6-9 Porsche Middle east unveil the new PanaMera in dubai in a closed door event 10-11 nissan Middle east reveal the new 4.0l v6 Patrol with a drive to Jebel akhdar
OmaN aNd regiONal News
12-15 new infiniti Q30 launches in oMan. Mercedes-benz reveals the new e-class along with an interesting offer. aPl logistics enters oMan with Joint venture, new gtc4lusso launched. eMgrand gets new flagshiP. bridgestone reveals new entry level tyre
18-23 cafe 2025 ProPosals to be abandoned. us and eu to unify standards. new focus rs runs into flak in australia. laMborghini to consider electric suPercars. lincoln gets new Marketing direction with lincoln way. genovation May take on tesla with electric suPercar. italdesign gets new business strategy. ad PersonuM studio launched.
24-25 saMir cherfan, nissan Middle east Managing director, sPeaks about autoMotive autoMation and Mobility
26-33 we visit the sudtirol region of italy to drive the new ferrari gtc4lusso in its hoMeground
34-41 we drive the black badge variants of rolls-royceâ€™s wraith and ghost
42-47 2016 bMw 740li 48-51 2016 ford Mustang ecoboost
52-57 2017 infiniti Q30 driven in beirut
FOcus ON tyres
58-61 sPecial focus feature on tyres
62-63 aston Martin rb001 64-65 ferrari la ferrari sPider 66-69 Mini vision next 100 concePt 70-73 2017 renault Megane sedan
74-79 forMula one at gerMany, hungary and britain
80 uniQueness or Mass Produced?
editor-in-chief Mohammad Al taie
AL roYA PreSS & PUBLiShinG PO Box: 343, Postal Code 118 Al Harthy Complex, Sultanate of Oman
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PUBLiSher hatim Al taie
finAnce & AdMin Sumy Mol
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so, how was your ramadan? to most of us the answer would revolve around rather personal choices. the majority of us were using the month to bring back a sense of equanimity and poise through the cleansing process of the month of fasting. for many others, the heat of oman’s summer and school closing for the season brought about the perfect reason to up anchors and set out to distant shores. we are sure that most of our readers would have individual stories that sit within the broad outlines of the above. but the month of ramadan also means something different to the automotive industry of the region and especially to the fraternity from oman. while ramadan isn’t really a month of celebration, there is a decidedly upbeat mood brought out by the myriad offers and special schemes laid out for buyers. in fact the advancement of the occasion through the years has seen it subsume the small window of opportunity that car dealers used to target school teachers from some countries who would hopefully buy a new car and take it back home for the vacations.
MAnAGed And ProdUced BY:
www.carbrandz.com MAnAGinG editor raj Warrior firstname.lastname@example.org contriBUtinG editorS chandan Basu Mallik email@example.com Anne Kurian deSiGn conSULtAnt Antony Karlo PhotoGrAPhY elvis John ferrao
but then, this ramadan has been something that most of the industry had pinned their hopes to – considering the downbeat mood that 2016 began on and the hardwork that brands have put into giving themselves a fighting chance, the month would have been a saviour if it managed a ratio of sales like more rewarding years. but it seems more than the season could offer. while some brands have walked away with more than they expected from their reduced targets, at others the story isn’t so great. overall, our belief that the month would average out at a little over the average month seems to have been borne out by retail sales. however, for us at automan, this month also saw us travel a bit in the pusuit of two rather interesting stories. The first is the world premiere of the GTC4Lusso from Ferrari. Building on the legacy of the FF, the gentleman’s everyday sportscar is now redefined and reengineered to a new level of brilliance.
for Advertising & Marketing enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org diStriBUtion United ArAB eMirAteS dar Al hikma LLc email@example.com Tel: +971-4-2665394 | Fax: +971-4-2669827 Printer Al Anan Printing Press LLc Tel: +968 24446163 | Fax: +968 24446287 alananprinting.com | firstname.lastname@example.org © 2016 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 Automan. 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 Automan.
another major story is about the black badge from rolls-royce. initially meant to bring the rather reverse bling treatment of a blacked out custom job, the black badge offering means a factory custom job on the wraith and ghost. the closest to parallel would be the M versions for bMws. Lastly, we also visited Beirut to join in the massive regional launch of the Infiniti Q30, during which we also get a first drive in the new ‘activity’ hatchback. A great new car set in the colourful surrounds of the Paris of the east is a real treat.
Automan is now in its 16th year of publication. Expect a great deal from us through the year in terms of all your favourite automotive content
NEWWHEELS 2017 Porsche Panamera
Reinventing the Top Cat
Porsche unveiled the all-new Porsche Panamera at an exclusive soiree at the Dubai dealership. We get a first look at the new car Author: Raj Warrior
he Porsche brand does tend to do things different to what you would expect. Steeped in a history of sport cars, the brand managed to spring a surprise with the outstanding success of the Cayenne when it brought the genre of the highend performance SUV to life. In 2009, Porsche also sprang a surprise, albeit one that had its fair share of teasers, when it tried to carry over the sports car legacy of the 911 into a four-seat sports sedan – the Panamera. Over the years, the Panamera has had a steady clientele although by 2016 it did seem to be a bit dated. All of that has changed with the second generation of the Panamera that debuted to the global audience in June of this year. At the event Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG said, “We have tapped into the segment of luxury sport saloons with the Panamera. Since it launched in 2009, more than 150,000 units of the Panamera have been sold. In the new model, you see here a completely redeveloped automobile –
with new engines, a new design and new technologies. Also new is that we are now manufacturing the second-generation vehicle entirely at our Leipzig production site. We have also invested a sum of 500 million Euros – which includes a completely new body manufacturing facility.” Of course, the gap of seven years has seen a lot happening with the breed of the premium sports sedan. Competition has grown in the segment, with the Ghibli joining Maserati’s Quattroporte, Mercedes-Benz reinventing the CLS, BMW now having the 4-door 6-series coupé and the much rarer Aston Martin Rapide also expanding the offering. Porsche have announced the second generation with a candid assessment of the new breed of car. In their words, “The new Porsche Panamera reconciles two contrasting characteristics more than ever before: the performance of a genuine sports car and the comfort of a luxury saloon. It is a Gran Turismo that has been rethought and realigned.” Of course, the past few years have also seen a distinct change in
Porsche’s Regional Managing Director Deesch Papke, addresses the invitees at the exclusive preview event
the way the brand does business. The increasingly competitive market has brought out a sense that design will need as much importance as performance. And that facet is very visible in the new car. While the general proportions haven’t been changed significantly, the front axle has migrated a little further forward, giving the snout a little more elongation. The car is longer and a tad wider and taller than before and makes full use of its 2,950mm wheelbase. The visual theme is distinctly angled to making the car look wider still – and to carry on the current family theme of four-point headlight surrounds and larger air intake nacelles. The effect takes the car well ahead of the previous generation. You would recognize the car just by its headlights with a full LED treatment. However, it is in the profile and the rear end treatment that the new car really tells the story of how design is now so important. The car really looks so much closer to its 911 ideal, yet has a distinct identity of its own. The slope of the roof is now a touch more aggressive, as is the coupé profile to the rear deck. The retractable spoiler is now a rather complex affair that slides apart to form a much larger wing. Somehow, it seems right. The car looks good both with and without the spoiler deployed and much of your attention could otherwise wander over to the strong light signature of the rear fascia. Similarly, the Porsche Panamera displays a rather unique new identity in the cab. We had got used to the strong central console treatment of Panamera and the Cayenne for that matter, with a very tactile surface dotted with buttons and switches. The new Panamera is more touch centric, with the migration of new technology to the automotive sphere resulting in an ultramodern combination of smooth mirror-like ebony consoles with
backlit graphics and switches. The IP and dashboard have also migrated well. The central roundel of the instrument panel is a dedicated tachometer, which is flanked by two 7” screens that are multi-tasked to offer a range of driver and infotainment information. This is in turn supplemented by the large 12” plus main display that also takes in touch inputs as well as recognizing proximity. The car’s new seats have evolved and there is more legroom at the rear as well as a greater degree of comfortable space despite the increased rake of the roof. The rear seat occupants also get a large touchscreen based interface coupled with a smaller version of the centre console available to the driver. At launch, the Panamera will be offered with three new biturbo engines although the diesel version will not be making it to our shores. The two petrol variants are the engines on the Panamera Turbo and the Panamera 4S. The former is the top of the line 4.0-litre V8 unit with 550hp output and a massive 770Nm of torque from just under 2,000 rpm all the way to 4,500 rpm. The smaller unit is a 2.9-litre V6 with more muted figures of 440hp and 550Nm of torque. Both of these engines are biturbo units, with the turbochargers placed inside the V to shorten the cycle and provide a more compact engine with quicker response off the turbo. The V8 unit in addition uses adaptive cylinder control to switch between 8 and 4-cylinder modes in part-load conditions. Both these engines will come mated to a new 8-speed Porsche PDK gearbox, as well as the adaptive suspension and chassis management controls that the brand is famous for. The new generation of driver assistance systems includes an adaptive cruise control and Porsche InnoDrive that literally looks
ahead around corners and through traffic. It uses navigation maps, radars and video input and pre-computes the best driving parameters for the next three kilometres meaning that gear changes are made more precise and cruise control is much more automated. Of course, it will be sometime till we get to drive the car but we are already excited by the prospect. The performance figure for the stock Panamera Turbo out on the NĂźrburgring Nordschleife is 7:38. That is epically quick. Of course, the car is lighter and offers a better power to weight than before, but now, it is in sports car territory.
NEWWHEELS Nissan Patrol V6 4.0
When smaller means more competition
The Nissan Patrol gets a new V6 engine that makes it more competitive in the 4.0-litre segment, especially against its principal competitor, the Toyota Land Cruiser Author: Raj Warrior | Photographs: Elvis John Ferrao
Porsche’s Regional Managing Director Deesch Papke, addresses the invitees at the exclusive preview event
he favourite slugfest of the GCC’s car market just seems to have become that little bit more interesting. It isn’t as if there is a lot to cheer about these days, but when a car manufacturer manages to draw out some excitement by the reveal of a smaller engine option on an existing model – you know that times must be a bit troubled. It isn’t as if there is a shortage of large SUVs in the region. In fact the traditional stalwart of the breed – the American car manufacturer – has brought back into the contest with some much-awaited upgrades to their offerings. The current Yukon, Tahoe and Durango are very nicely kitted up and the new generation of the Expedition seems like it will serve as a benchmark. But that isn’t where the bulk of the market is – between the Toyota Land Cruiser and the Nissan Patrol the region’s demand for capable large SUVs with proven off-roading capability and the potential to carry a third row complement is taken care of. And that’s where the dynamics could take a closer looking at. For there was a certain balance to the market while the Land Cruiser J100 platform competed with the Nissan Patrol Y61 platform. Admittedly the former had the bigger marketshare, but then we had the huge shift brought about by the move in 2007-2008 to the new J200 platform of the Land Cruiser, only to be followed three years later by the Y62 of the Nissan Patrol. The importance
of the segment for Nissan couldn’t be overstated – with the Japan made Patrol being researched for the Middle East market and launched globally in Abu Dhabi, with the global media drive in Oman, both with Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn in attendance. Over the years the platforms have evolved, largely focussed on staying in tune with the electronics and infotainment departments along with a degree of vehicle systems. Mechanically, both platforms have very little to change – already being on top of their game, with almost similar focus on suspension control systems and off-road ABS and controls. But the Land Cruiser has managed to stay ahead in terms of marketshare despite a huge improvement in Nissan’s volumes of the Patrol, especially with the Saudi Arabian market stabilising under its new marketing arrangement. However, one bugbear that has been plaguing the competitiveness of the Patrol and that is the lack of variants, with the Patrol being seen as a topend offering as opposed to the Land Cruiser’s ability to offer a lower entry point. Over the past year, the Patrol offering has been opened up, with two new variants that came in targeted at the higher end of the already top level market that the Patrol has its strengths in. The Nismo variant brings in an association with Nissan’s sporting heritage with restyled kit, touches of red and carbon-fibre and larger wheels to match with the boosted output from the SEP 2016
5.6-litre engine adding in to the appeal. The other offering is the Desert Edition, which takes the regular engine output of the V8 5.6-litre Patrol and adds in the hard-core capabilities that add to its off-road capabilities. However, this new move towards a smaller engine is more prominent, especially with the speed with which it follows the other two. The launch of this new model also seems to have come full circle with the media launch combined with a drive in Oman. This time around the launch venue was the Alila Jebel Akhdar and the event involved being driven out to hotel in a fleet of Nismo Patrols and after the presentation and lunch, the media drove the new V6 engine Patrols all the way back to Muscat. For the occasion, the company’s press release quotes its regional managing director, Samir Cherfan as saying “The new Patrol V6 complements the legendary Patrol V8 which is considered one of the most powerful, spacious and popular SUVs in the Middle East.” It further goes on to add, “Our Nissan Patrol business has expanded close to 4 times from FY11 to FY15, and with the introduction of the Patrol V6 we aim to grow by 20% over the next 2 years. “Specifically designed and built for the demands of the region while taking into account increasing consumer appeal for more
fuel efficient, practical, full-sized SUVs, the Patrol V6 still retains the high levels of power and prestige that the legendary Patrol is famous for and has earned it the title ‘hero of all terrains in life.” The company is keen to point out that the V6-powered Patrol is not stripped of any features or kit, with the basic difference in the V6 SE and the base V8 LE being the engine. However, the base XE on the V6 is definitely packaged to offer a better price point for the new customers that the brand expects to be drawn in – especially the fleet segment. The engine is an all-new VQ40, with the 3,954cc displacement from under square cylinders. Power output is rated at 275hp at 5,600rpm and a max torque of 386Nm at 4,000rpm. And it is mated with the seven-speed automatic gearbox that propels the larger variant. This engine has been made available only for the Middle East market and Nissan hopes that it will take the battle to the 4.0-litre Land Cruiser, claiming 12% better torque in the bulk of the mid-range, while matching the towing prowess. Of course, there was a whole presentation of numbers that showed how the offering had improved over the smaller V8 that was on offer, but that is beside the point. The question is by how much does the performance improve? Perhaps, rather tellingly, the drive scheduled on the route was
on the largely downhill routes of the way back from Jebel Al Alkdar. The torque may seem quite substantial when seen on paper but every little rise on the way back saw the gearbox working hard. However, this was also masked slightly by the inclusion of an ingenious competition that was meant to highlight the Nissan Smart Car program that the test cars were equipped with. This allows the owner to track the vehicle, check usage patterns and even remote start the car. More importantly for the moment, it allowed Nissan to keep tabs on how each driver used the vehicle, including speed, gear change and braking patterns. So the competition was to find the smoothest driver and that played nicely into a pattern of muted throttle and even driving.
Patrol XE includes: 7 Speed AT, 4L-4H Switch - Full time 4WD w/ Variable 4X4 mode, 18” Alloy Wheels, Remote Keyless entry with Intelligent key, Push Engine Starter, Power Door Locks with Speed-sensing Auto Lock, Power one-touch auto windows - FR&RR, Centre Console w/ Lid and Cool Box, Manual Tilt and Telescopic Adjuster Steering Wheel, Leather shift knob, Chrome door handles, Front Auto Dual-zone Climate Control A/C with Rear Cooler, 2-DIN AM/FM 1CD + AUX input Audio System with 4 speakers, Cruise control, Trip Meter, Cargo net hook, Dual SRS Airbag System with VDC, Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control, ABS, EBD and Brake Assist, Rear Differential Lock, Immobilizer with Car Alarm (Vehicle Security System), TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System) ,Rear Fog Lamps and Hands Free Phone. Patrol SE-T1 (in addition to XE features): Coloured and Electric outside rear view mirrors with indicators, Chrome Grille, New LED + halogen Headlamps, New LED Rear Combination Lamps, Headlamp levelizer, DTRL (Day Time Running Light) , Woody print Interior décor, Front fog lamps, Front and Rear Parking Sensors, Welcome Light – FR, Leather steering wheel, Rear view Monitor with camera, iPod®/USB/MP3 Connectivity, 6 speakers, Pintle Hook. Patrol SE-T2 (in addition to SE-T1 features): Pop-up headlamp washer, Remote Engine Starter, Power adjustable driver’s seat with power lumber support, One-touch Power Sunroof, Power Back Door, DVD player on 8” Coloured LCD Screen with Navigation, Audio and Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System with Steering Switch, Flash memory Music server, Fine-vision Meter, Crash Sensitive Automatic Unlock System, Drive Computer with built-in Combination Meters, Automatic Hazard Lighting System, Compass integrated in centre cluster OPTIONS: BOSE Premium Audio with 13 speakers. Patrol SE-T2 OPT Pack (in addition to SE-T2 features): Side + Curtain Airbags, Navigation, Rear Entertainment System with 7” Rear Display, Power Assist seat, and Leatherette seats OPTIONS: BOSE Premium Audio with 13 speakers. Patrol SE-Platinum City (in addition to SE-T2 ): Chrome and Electric Outside Rear View Mirrors with electric folding and reverse link, Electric Rear View Mirror, Leather steering with Wood Grain, Steering Electric telescopic and height adjustment, Front Driver + Passenger Power seats, Leather door trim, Auto Air conditioner with climate control push type, Bose Audio with DVD, 8”inch Coloured LCD Screen with Navigation, 13 Bose speakers, City type front bumper, Roof Rails, Off road monitor function, 20” Machine cut alloy wheels, Side + Curtain airbags, Around View Monitor, Powered 3rd row seats, Leatherette seats, Intelligent key linked to Front door, Rear Hatch, Panic alarm with memory, Door step lighting, Platinum grade emblem SEP 2016
Infiniti Q30 launched in Sultanate
Infiniti in Oman recently launched Infiniti Q30, the premium compact segment, at an exclusive event held at its showroom in Muscat. A senior official at Infiniti, Suhail Bahwan Automobiles LLC, Oman said, “We are delighted to launch Infiniti Q30 that is sure to impress the new generation of buyers. With the launch of Infiniti Q30, it is going to be
another very exciting year for Infiniti in Oman. This new model strengthens the brand’s presence in the fastgrowing premium compact segment. Infiniti Q30 offers a complete technology package that augments the car’s driving experience while providing supreme safety to all occupants. Customers will be pleased to know that Q30 makes a bold
visual statement through its exceptional exteriors and superb interiors. The car has been engineered to exacting standards to deliver a driving experience that is distinctly Infiniti. Auto enthusiasts are sure to enjoy Infiniti Q30’s versatile dimensions, confident dynamics and intuitive technologies.” Juergen Schmitz, Managing Director, Infiniti Middle East is quoted as saying: “When we first debuted the Infiniti Q30 to the region at the Dubai International Motor Show last year – it was met with widespread critical acclaim. We are extremely proud to be here today when we can officially launch the car to all markets in the Middle East. The Infiniti Q30 is a completely new segment and direction for the Infiniti brand and we are confident that this vehicle will continue to deliver Infiniti’s premium experience to a new segment of customer.”
Ranking among the best in the premium compact segment, front passenger seat width is 1,393mm; rear passenger seat width measures 1,349mm; head room (without sunroof) is 108mm in the front and 43mm in the rear of the car. There is 626mm of leg room in the front and 538mm in the back, and 1,324mm and 1,244mm of hip room front and rear, respectively. Cargo capacity is highly competitive, notably the boot capacity of 430 litres. At launch, the Infiniti Q30 will be available with 1.6L or 2.0L Turbo variants in a 2WD configuration. The 2.0L Turbo will also be offered with an optional AWD drivetrain. The 2.0L Turbo engine delivers 208hp and 350Nm torque. When equipped with frontwheel drive or all-wheel drive, the highest-performing engine in the range is capable of powering the Infiniti Q30 from 0-to-100kph in 7.3 seconds.
comfort to a new level. It is without doubt the most intelligent sedan in the executive class.” The new E-class launches with several all-new or cutting edge technologies including the new 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission, a new 5-mode air suspension control, attention assist as standard, with optional driving assistance in the form of Drive Pilot. This system takes the company’s Distronic to the next level, maintaining distance, lane integrity and safely braking at speeds upto 130 km/h. It also has new LED headlights.
Special offer on the new E300 AMG Sport 2016 E-Class from just OMR 24,995, limited time only 5 years or 105,000km Service Package plus a Cash Gift of OMR 1,000. “Our incredible vehicles are renowned for their standard setting artistry, cutting-edge
innovations and high-end luxury. However, we always want to offer our customers the best experience when they buy a new car and this offer further enhances their experience through a generous OMR 1000 Cash Gift and an
unmatched 5years/105,000Km Service Package.” enthused Clive Hammond, MercedesBenz Oman CEO. “The 2016 E-Class excites from the moment you first step foot in this ultra-intelligent and luxurious automobile. Its
outstanding comfort and exceptional agility awaken both mind and body with its composed driving experience.” The 2016 E 300 offer is available only until 30th September 2016 or while stocks last. SEP 2016
Oman & region
The new E-class was launched in the Sultanate in August, with Clive Hammond, CEO of Mercedes-Benz Oman commenting about the importance of the model series in the Sultanate. Dirk Fetzer, VP and Director of Sales and Marketing at the regional office in Dubai is quoted as saying, “The E-class is the core of our brand and in the past has repeatedly redefined the standards in the executive-class segment. Now it carries this tradition into the future with a wealth of top-class innovations that take safety, stress relief and
Mercedes-Benz launches new E-class in Oman
APL Logistics enters Oman’s transport market Global logistics major APL Logistics announced an entry into Oman’s highly competitive transportation segment in a tie-up with Arab Global Logistics LLC in Oman. APL Logistics Oman will spearhead efforts to develop Oman as a regional
logistics hub to serve local and international customers in the Middle-East and East Africa. APL Logistics is the goto global supply chain specialist for companies in the Automotive, Consumer, Industrials, and Retail sectors. The new Muscat-based joint
venture company is backed by APL Logistics’ deep logistics expertise and global execution experience. Joerg Granzow, APL Logistics Regional Leader for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), said “We are excited about the compelling growth prospects
in Oman and the Middle East, with rising consumption and rapid diversification of economic activities. We chose Oman for its strategic location within the region, wellestablished infrastructure and highly capable workforce.”
New Ferrari GTC4Lusso hits Oman’s roads The brand new replacement for the Ferrari FF, the brand new Ferrari GTC4Lusso was launched in Oman. Speaking at the occasion, Mohamed Al Zawawi, the assistant General Manager for the brand’s local importer said, “The GTC4Lusso represents the single greatest advance that Ferrari has done in its
Emgrand flagship GT now gets 3.5-litre V6 engine The Emgrand GT V6, Geely’s first flagship super saloon powered by Geely’s first 3.5L V6 engine, is the most innovative and advanced vehicle Geely has ever produced. A senior spokesperson of TAC comments: “The all-new Geely Emgrand GT with 3.5 L V6 engine offers an excellent package of quality, comfort, 16
design, safety, never beforeseen performance along with a reasonable price. Much of the technology and safety of the Emgrand GT has been undersigned by Volvo cars, which is the wholly owned subsidiary of the Chinese automaker. The Emgrand GT meets Geely Total Safety Management System (GTSM) requirements.
model offerings, both in terms of technology and innovative driver and passenger interface elements. We are certain that our discerning customers will be excited to get their hands on the new car.” We carry a detailed story on the new V12 engine four-wheel drive Ferrari on other pages in this issue of Automan.
to provide advanced products to match these needs of consumers. “In tyre design and development, we define three core elements as safety, comfort, and being environmentally friendly. Based on this, the ECOPIA range of tyres utilizes unique compounds and cutting-edge technology in tread design
that reduces rolling resistance which in turn lowers fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The ECOPIA EP150 has a 23.2% better rolling resistance coefficient compared to its predecessor thus delivering greater fuel efficiency while balancing superior wear life and improved braking performance” added Mr. Ekin.
Harley-Davidson unveils Milwaukee-Eight Engine, Its 9th Big Twin Harley-Davidson redefines touring by unveiling the allnew Milwaukee-Eight engine, the ninth Big Twin in its history, plus all-new front and rear suspension for its Model Year 2017 Touring motorcycle lineup. “These are the most powerful, most responsive and most comfortable Touring motorcycles ever offered by Harley-Davidson,” said Scott Miller, Vice-President of Styling
and Product Development Strategy. Retaining the classic 45-degree V-Twin cylinder angle, the Milwaukee-Eight engine produces up to 11 percent more torque than previous year models and features four-valve cylinder heads that offer 50 percent more intake and exhaust flow capacity. The engine is counter-balanced to cancel 75 percent of primary vibration at idle.
Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic derivative available The new SVAutobiography Dynamic brings new levels of performance to the Range Rover, powered by a 550PS V8 supercharged engine.The SVAutobiography Dynamic is available exclusively in standard wheelbase specification and comes fitted with specially configured suspension designed to optimise agility without compromising Range Rover’s
trademark refinement and comfort. The 2017 model year Range Rover also debuts a selection of innovative new technologies, which include Advanced Tow Assist, an intelligent driver aid, which takes the stress out of reversing a trailer, In addition, Driver Condition Monitor and Blind Spot Assist are added.
Bridgestone Middle East and Africa in partnership with their local distributors Towell Auto Centre has announced the launch of its latest tyre - the ECOPIA EP150. It has been developed to better suit the needs of the consumer while maintaining Bridgestone’s safety standards. Mr. Mete Ekin, Regional Managing Director, Bridgestone Middle East and Africa FZE said, “At Bridgestone, we make safety a business value and put it first through all stages of the tyre lifecycle, from creation to purchase and use.” A survey conducted by Bridgestone revealed that ‘safety’ and ‘wear life’ place high on the consumer’s performance requirements in the region. Through technology and innovation along with its passionate commitment to serve society with superior quality, Bridgestone is able
Oman & region
Bridgestone launches new entry tyre Ecopia
CAFE 2025 proposals to be abandoned The US government acknowledges the automotive industry’s push to adopt efficient fuel economy technologies at unprecedented rates, but also realises that achieving the 54.5-mpg minimum target, due to come into effect in 2025 is next to impossible to achieve, according to the findings of the latest Technical Assessment Report draft.
The follow up to this report is that instead of forcing its way through, the regulators in this case, the EPA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and California Air Resources Board have decided to show a softer attitude and have said the 2025 mandate isn’t actually a mandate, but an estimate of where the auto industry could be in nine years. The EPA’s original
2025 standard expected cars to make up two thirds of the new vehicles sold that year, while trucks, crossovers, and SUVs represented just a third of MY2025 sales. But with consumers buying the latter in increasing quantity, the original percentages simply were not realistic. The EPA won’t make a final decision on CAFE standards for period 2022 to 2025 until April 1, 2018.
US and EU to unify standards for car makers? It’s no secret that automakers have to comply with various legislation and engineering demands in order to meet market specific requirements. Now, all this doesn’t come cheap and this is an issue
that has troubled automakers for decades. A group of automakers representing the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers asked the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) to figure out just how expensive it is to maintain various country demands. The alliance presentation highlighted the level of cost savings and benefits from a more unified safety regulation between the European Union (EU) and United States. The study presented two ways of resolving the differences between each region’s differing regulations. One is harmonization, in which both regions would change their rules to an agreed upon set for use in both areas. The other is mutual recognition, in which neither region would change their rules and would recognize both sets of regulations as acceptable. In 2014, there were 172 model groups sold in both the EU and the US amounting to a total of 16.6mn unit sales. The cost to homologate these cars for these regions was estimated at US$3.3-4.2bn. The study also points out that in both situations, the
costs of development for different regions is greater than that of tariff costs between locations. Using the 2014 data, it is estimated that extra cost to consumer for European cars exported to the US, was between U$618 and U$827 and for US-built cars exported to the EU, the cost was $836 to $1,154 [data does not factor in the potential cost of lost sales based on increased price tags].
The CAR study recommends the adoption of mutual recognition of existing safety regulations, with an aim to further harmonize future laws. This way, the regions could remove trade barriers quickly. The study also recommends further research into the effects of thirdparty testing groups such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and the costs of emissions compliance for a more complete picture of regulatory costs.
While the Drift mode feature has been a brilliant marketing tool for the Ford Focus RS, Ford is facing calls from Australian
road safety groups to disable Drift Mode. Ford Australia has no intention to disable the RS’s Track or Drift modes since it displays a disclaimer on the dashboard saying those modes are for track use only, but this hasn’t impressed the safety lobbyists in that country. A disclaimer
is not going to stop an idiot from trying this on public roads,” said head of the Pedestrian Council of Australia. It may be understood that Australia’s current “antihooning laws,” make burnouts on public roads illegal.
In time, electric Lamborghinis possible Despite the global push for fuel efficiency and low carbon emissions, sports and supercar builders still maintain a V12 as the benchmark of high performance. Currently, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Aston Martin, and Lamborghini are keeping the V12 club alive. Lamborghini’s CEO Stefano Domenicali is open to new ideas and in a recent interview said that electrification could come when it’s relevant and that there was no rush to change the game. “Our major customers and dealers around the world say: ‘Please do not touch the V12’, so we will continue to work in that direction,” he said. According to Domenicali, the company’s niche is small enough to weather V12-ruining storms. “Of course, we need to understand what the market is doing in terms of emissions and legislation, but I don’t see that will be a short term
problem for us. We are always very open to how the market might evolve.” A point hinting at what rivals like Ferrari were doing like pairing a 12-cylinder engine with a hybrid system for blistering performance. “We cannot be disconnected to the world of the future but we want to be balanced,” Domenicali said. “We need to make sure that as soon as the technology of electrification is relevant to our car at a cost level, and will add value, we are flexible to shift in that direction.”
While V12 segment remains a niche for performance focused machines, V8-powered hybrid machines like Porsche 918 Spyder and McLaren P1 are setting new standards in performance and price segments and have potential to outclass Lamborghini’s AventadorLP750-4 SV SEP 2016
Ford engineers who have worked on the new Focus RS are both happy and disappointed. While developing and calibrating the 4WD system and much to their delight were able to introduce Drift Mode feature. Drift Mode works by channeling up to 70 per cent of the car’s power to the rear axle, and up to 100% of that can be sent to either rear wheel by the twin-clutch 4WD, creating a torque vectoring effect.
Engineering delight doesn’t gel with Oz safety groups
Lincoln prepares arrival of the all-new Continental with lifestyle marketing The launch of the all-new 2017 Lincoln Continental is a few weeks away and the brand is keen to release its next chapter of brand’s largest investment ever in personalized client services and experiences. To be promoted as ‘The Lincoln Way’, the primary focus of the multi-faceted initiative is individualized client care and
attention teamed with optimized time savings. The suite of enhanced client experience includes valet pick-up and delivery services. Lincoln is also opening a Lincoln Experience Center at Fashion Island in Newport Beach, California where clients and guests can engage with Lincoln products and connect with relevant luxury information, activities and experiences.
The Lincoln Way concept initially was a key pillar of the brand’s expansion in China, where full-service client care has helped differentiate the brand and also support sales. In North America and select markets, Lincoln Black Label Lincoln Black Label clients also enjoy special privileges, ranging from premium service coverage to Culinary Collection membership, which provides access to a curated list of restaurants from coast to coast.
Tesla electric supercar faces challenge from modded Corvette OK, it’s not an official deal as of now from GM, but Genovation, a Maryland-based electric powertrain specialist in the US has highlighted that a stock Corvette could be converted it into an electric supercar capable of beating Tesla’s fastest production S P90D electric car, which has
a top speed of 232km/h. Based on a stock 2006 C6 Z06, Genovation shoehorned a 44KWh battery pack which is said to produce around 700hp and 600lb-ft of torque. Range under ‘normal driving’ is claimed to be 208km. Genovation CEO, Andrew Saul, said: “We
are thrilled that after setting a record earlier this year, we were able to further enhance the GXE’s performance and break our own record. We have managed to create a car that is both exhilarating for drivers and gentle on the environment.” Genovation plans to sell these cars.
New business strategy for Italdesign
VW Group subsidiary Italdesign’s new CEO Jorg Astalosch is on a mission to reduce dependency on VW Group. In 2015, 95 per cent of Italdesign’s U$218mn of revenues came from the VW Group and Astalosch wants to establish new business cooperation with major players in all relevant markets. As part of the strategy, Italdesign will target global players like Apple, Google and Tesla. According to the company, 15per cent of its revenue in 2015 came from design and models, 25per cent from prototyping and 60per cent from engineering. Italdesign currently employs around 1,000 people and produce 500 to 600 prototypes, show cars, and pre-production units every year. Producing limited runs of special edition cars for high-end manufacturers also factors into the plans.
Lamborghini’s launches new Ad Personam Studio Lamborghini’s Ad Personam program studio will assist customers with creating an exclusive Lamborghini. As customised solutions business reports more than 50per cent of have been delivered this year have been customized through the service. A new Ad Personam Studio has been opened near the company’s headquarters in Sant’Agata Bolognese. When a customer is ready to order their car, they can schedule a visit to the studio. Once they arrive, they will be given a guided tour of the Lamborghini factory before being taken to the studio. An Ad Personam specialist will then present the customer with an assortment of leathers, colours, materials, seats, and rims which can be applied to their car. When the customer has made their selections, they can view the resulting work.
Appointed: Martin Uharlik Martin Uhlarik is the new head of design of India’s Tata Motors European Design Centre in the UK. Uhlarik was formerly UK design director of SAIC, also based in UK, where he had been for four years and led projects such as the MG CS concept and the European version of the MG3. Prior to joining SAIC in 2012, he spent 11 years as project design leader for Nissan Europe, his work including the Nissan Evalia and NV200 concepts as well as the facelift of the first-generation Qashqai. SEP 2016
VW Dieselgate fall out delays BMW’s 2017 model introduction At the end of June, Volkswagen reached a record-breaking US$15.4 billion settlement with US regulators over the Dieselgate scandal. Now, the Environmental Protection Agency is said to be looking at improving the way of evaluate diesels by setting a new regimen. And till the time when this programme is effected, rivals-inwaiting like BMW will have to wait for its 2017 diesel models to be approved before they can go on sale in the US markets.
Samsung moving into electric cars South Korea-based electronic conglomerate Samsung is diversifying its business approach and has automotive applications in sight. Cash rich Samsung Electronics Company has invested US$449mn for stake in the Warren Buffett’s Chinese auto company BYD. BYD will use the proceeds from the placement to fund an expansion in battery production and research and development into new-energy vehicles and for Samsung, it will boost semiconductor business for cars. This business synergy comes at time when China’s government wants sales of EVs to exceed three million units a year by 2025.
Lamborghini sales buoyant Lamborghini delivered 2,013 vehicles to clients in the first half of 2016. Lamborghini delivered 1,370 units of the Huracán and 643 Aventadors, including the 5,000th one. Lamborghini experienced rapid growth in just the past few years. The company achieved a sales record of 2,530 cars in 2014, and last year was the first time it delivered more than 3,000 vehicles. The business expects this trajectory to continue. In 2018, the Urus arrives with a biturbo V8, and the automaker estimates the performance SUV could push annual numbers as high as 6,000 units.
WWF and Toyota join hands World Wildlife Foundation and Toyota Motor Corporation have entered into a five-year agreement to promote biodiversity conservation, raise environmental awareness and accelerate the move toward a “zero carbon” society. 22
Nissan creates world’s first NISMO dedicated showroom corner in the Middle East Nissan today announced that the world’s first ‘NISMO Corner’ dedicated showroom space will be launched in the Middle East and then rolled out across Nissan’s dealerships globally. The ‘NISMO Corner’ is a unique, customer showroom area for Nissan performance vehicles and products, and is a completely new showroom concept that was developed in the Middle East. The NISMO Corner follows the regional launch of NISMO brand and vehicles last October 2015, and Nissan has introduced the NISMO Corner in the Middle East as a world’s first as it prepares space at seven regional dealerships. “The Middle East is a significant growth market for Nissan worldwide and our regional team continues to innovate, excite and deliver customer experiences that set a
new benchmark for Nissan globally,” said Samir Cherfan, Managing Director of Nissan Middle East. “The NISMO Corner is testament to the region’s creativity in creating new customer experiences that surpass global expectations. Our new Patrol NISMO embodies the essence of what performance and luxury can be when combined and the new showroom space has been designed to reflect that at the very first customer touchpoint.” Seven Nissan dealerships across the Gulf will have dedicated NISMO Corners that dramatically display the attributes of the NISMO brand. In Dubai, the NISMO Corner will be available at Arabian Automobiles’ Deira showroom, with Al Masood Automobiles’ Khalidya Showroom featuring the NISMO Corner for Abu Dhabi customers. In Qatar, NISMO
Corner will be created at the Salwa Road showroom of Saleh Al Hamad Al Mana Co., with the Oman NISMO Corner being showcased at Suhail Bahwan Automobiles’ Qurum showroom in Musca. Three dealerships in Saudi Arabia will complete the list including Petromin’s Jeddah showroom at the Auto Mall and two corners will be established by longstanding partner Alissa Automobiles Company in Jeddah (Madinah 2) and Riyadh (Exit 4). Designed to be eye catching and embody the excitement of the band, the NISMO Corners are raised display areas in white with exciting red accents and include merchandise space near the display vehicles. Each display allows customers to interact with the vehicle and immerse themselves in the space as they meet with NISMO sales advisors.
Jaguar relocates SVO HQ to bigger premises
Jaguar Land Rover is ambitiously expanding and integrating itself into lifestyle business for its motorcars and it seems it needs more space to integrate its operations. The company’s Technical Centre which is located in Coventry, UK, will now serve as the new SVO HQ and its 215,000sq-ft set-up will include bespoke manufacturing and paint facilities, a technical suite and a VIP commissioning and viewing suite. The relocation represents the buoyant growth in Special Vehicle Operations and Classic divisions. “The new Special Vehicle Operations Technical Centre is a major step forward in meeting the desires of our most discerning customers,” said John Edwards, managing director of Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations.
Generation next Ferrari platforms to be lighter At the moment a group of Ferrari engineers are busy preparing the opentop Aperta for its Paris debut in early October and there’s another team working on the next generation of its flagship supercar. Although, in initial stages of development, what we do
know is that Ferrari is involving its trusted design, engineering and software partner Altair Product Design. Altair will develop the multi utility platform which will start life as the successor to the current LaFerrari which is three years old. Altair claims the platform
of the car will be 15per cent lighter, while providing improved strength, and lower noise and vibration levels by up to 20per cent. In numbers, the new range topping Ferrari car could weigh around 1,350kg vs the current 1,585kg for the LaFerrari.
Audi mission to the moon: Audi Lunar quattro tests in Qatar The Audi Lunar quattro moon rover has recently been tested in the Qatari desert as part of the preparations for its mission to travel to the moon and win the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition in 2017. The team of German engineers and Part-Time Scientists leading the challenge are supported by Audi with expert knowledge in innovation and technology – from quattro all-wheel drive and lightweight construction to electric mobility and piloted driving. The Part-Time scientists team chose Qatar as the terrain in the surrounding desert has a common resemblance to the environment on the moon. This is the first time that the moon rover has had its capabilities practically tested in extreme hot climate conditions after conducting strict lab-based tests in its development phase. To win the competition, a team – which must be at least 90 percent privately financed – needs to transport an automated vehicle to the moon. Competition rules state that this rover must drive at least one-half kilometer
distance on the moon and transmit highresolution images and video footage back to Earth. In addition, the lunar vehicle with the Audi lunar quattro must launch into space by the end of 2017 aboard a launching rocket that will travel over 380,000 kilometers to the moon. The trip takes five days and – according to estimates by the Part-Time Scientists – it will cost around 24 million euros.
Subaru Japan getting innovative Subaru is generally considered as a conservative automotive player, but that image will change soon as the carmaker embarks in a new career direction. The first indication of this comes from Japan where the Forester tS and a Levorg STI Sport models are sold. Subaru is now offering a special version of the XV Hybrid SUV with STI inspired packaging. The car’s package includes a body kit lending the sedate model a more aggressive appearance and the cabin has been subjected to a series of STI bits and pieces, such as the special side sill plates, body-hugging seats, and orange accents to match the exterior finish besides a piano black/metallic instrument panel and gear knob in leather with contrast stitching. Besides these cosmetics tweaks, the XV Hybrid tS also gets some mechanical upgrades, like STI-tuned suspension. SEP 2016
FirstHand Samir Cherfan
Modern driver safety aids are paving the way for autonomous vehicle capability during the next 5 years Author: Samir Cherfan, Managing Director of Nissan Middle East
t’s the news story that simply won’t go away. The automobile industry has been busy investing in, and developing, automated driving technologies--this has been a constant headline for the past two years and the potential upheaval and impact autonomous driving technology will have when it becomes a day-to-day reality cannot be overstated and should not be underestimated. We are seeing the results of this exciting new technology already filtering into contemporary production vehicles, with digital connectivity, safety and driver assist systems now transforming the way we drive, run and maintain our cars, vans and trucks. Yet still there is a common misconception that fully autonomous driving is still many years away. The reality, however, is that this technology is being developed at incredible speed by a number of manufacturers—and not just established carmakers, either. Why the push for automated driving in the first place? There are two goals: aiming for zero emissions for a cleaner environment and zero road fatalities for enhanced safety on the roads. For as long as vehicles are propelled by the burning of fossil fuels this planet will face ecological problems and, while human beings are responsible for operating these vehicles, mistakes will be made and accidents will happen. To prevent either scenario is what responsible manufacturers are working toward, for the benefit of all. As you might expect from a forward-thinking industry leader, Nissan is right at the forefront of this innovation and many of its cars are already equipped with technologies that would have seemed like science fiction only a few years ago. Certain Nissan cars have the ability to park themselves, warn their drivers of potential hazards, maintain a safe distance from other road users and automatically apply emergency braking – all extremely practical and useful for removing the stress from driving. But the company is not resting on its laurels. Our CEO, Carlos Ghosn, had much to say on the future of mobility and Nissan’s involvement in it, at the 2016 Geneva International Motor Show. He believed that our Intelligent Mobility vision is 24
a framework to move customers around the world toward a safer and more sustainable future, and in order to realise this vision, Nissan had launched a long-term strategy, supported by significant R&D investments. He added that this enabled Nissan to introduce the breakthrough LEAF, the world’s first mass production EV, in 2010 – years before any of our competitors. It has also driven our development of cutting-edge autonomous drive technologies, which will be available in a range of mass production models by 2020. He finally reaffirmed that Nissan’s aim, is to lead the way toward a new era of mobility. Nissan’s commitment to developing intelligent mobility is evidenced on a local level through its SmartCar application and on a global level with its Autonomous Driving R&D. In Britain, Nissan is already manufacturing ‘Piloted Drive’ cars, with the award-winning Nissan Qashqai crossover being earmarked to be the first to offer it to customers. This is technology that’s normally the preserve of expensive luxury cars but Nissan is determined to apply it to one of its most popular -- and most accessible for many customers -- making it readily available to potentially millions of people. Intelligent mobility still has final hurdles to cross. But the race to introduce fully automated driving to our towns and cities is not far off on the horizon. Nissan has developed its own technologies and is in the process of refining them, with concrete plans to introduce vehicles equipped with autonomous drive technologies in 2017. These cars will be able to negotiate road hazards and even change lanes while driving and, by the year 2020, Nissan intends to introduce technology that will allow cars to drive themselves on busy intersections and crossroads, in complete safety for occupants and pedestrians alike. Naturally, safety and security is at the front of everyone’s minds right now and for Nissan these are vital attributes for our future autonomous vehicles. The company is investing enormous sums of money and resources to make our future cars as safe as possible. It’s all about intelligent mobility, after all.
Ferrari couldnâ€™t have chosen a better locale than the Sudtirol region of Italy for the global media unveil of the FFâ€™s successor. We take a first drive of the Ferrari GTC4Lusso in its home ground. Author: Raj Warrior | Photography: Supplied and Author
Engine 6.2-litre V 12-cylinder Compression ratio: 13.5:1 Bore and Stroke: 94mm x 75.2mm Power 690PS / 507 kW @ 8000 rpm Torque 697 Nm @ 5,7500 rpm
Suspension Magnaride SCM-E damper control, SSC4 Side Slip Control System, Ferrari-patented 4RM-S (four-wheel drive, four- wheel steering) system, Weight distribution 47:53
Brakes & Wheels Front 398mmx38mm Four-pot Callipers Rear 360mmx32mm Two-pot Callipers Wheels (F)8.5” J x 20” Alloy (R)10.5” J x 20”Alloy Tyres (F)245/35 ZR20 (R)295/35 ZR20
Transmission 7-speed F1-type sequential shift with double clutch control and separate Power Transfer Unit for front axle
he Sudtirol is a very odd region indeed. Classically beautiful landscapes composed of craggy mountainsides, pines descend to rolling meadows and cows munch away contently on the slopes; complemented by a mix of traditional alpine homes interspersed with modern structures. It is one of those regions that most people have never heard of – a self-governing, largely German speaking population that is part of Italy since the early parts of the 20th century. We understand that it is prosperous and by virtue of its unique status also retains much of the taxes that are raised locally. The region definitely has a very active tourism department. For Ferrari had tied up with the local government to launch their new GTC4Lusso at the very same locale where they had first launched the Ferrari FF, which the new model replaces. The launch itself was held on top of a local mountain called the Kronplatz, with the presentation and dinner being held in the restaurant after a reception and visit to the Zaha Hadid designed Messner Mountain museum. As with most modern Ferrari presentations, this one too delved into the technical elements of the new car and how it’s underpinnings had improved over the outgoing FF. The session was split into four segments covering Market positioning, Engine, Vehicle dynamics and Design. For the sake of this story, we are about to flip the order to put Design at the front and market positioning at the end. Design The car is obviously the follower of the FF in that the hatchback look hides a rather longish profile and the sportscar platform. While major changes have been brought about to the front and rear presentations, the profile took a bit of explaining – the visible change is around the functional front fender air intakes and a pronounced rising trimline from the base of the front wheel arch to the top of the rear. Having said that, we like the way the hood has been sculpted with a clear sweep back to the A-pillars, while the grille does manage to look a bit happier with its eyes and grin offering. The rear deck pushes the hatchback feel even more with the D-pillars spreading out to the rear flanks, a wide set rear track and strong horizontal styling that enhances the width of the car. The interiors of the GTC4Lusso haven’t just been cleaned up; they reflect the best of current day trends in style and electronics. Excuse us while we gush about the seats. We drove a car that had almost pure white interior trim and the way the leather is offset by hints of dark material in the intricacy of building up a layered backrest looks stupendous. If we could give an award for the bestdesigned seat, the Ferrari GTC4Lusso driver seat would win hands down. The rest of the cabin is just as interesting – it is split into twin cockpits that encompass the front and rear seats. We managed to get in the rear without too much effort and there is just about enough legroom and headroom to justify the full four-seat claim of the car. In fact, the brand has tried to connect the FF and now the GTC4Lusso with a multiplicity of connections to four; four seats, four-wheels driven and now four-wheel steering, which we will touch on in vehicle dynamics. The dashboard has undergone a major revamp. The already exquisite Ferrari interior is taken to a whole new level with the four prominent air-conditioning grilles serving to segment the dashboard into zones, with the very busy driver’s zone to the left now getting a bit of visual offset with the new touch screen panel that serves as part of the dashboard for the passenger. The centre console is dominated by the large 10.25” high-resolution monitor powered by a new Jacinto J6 CPU with physical controls just below the display. A very interesting feature of this arrangement is that the passenger can choose to be a more active participant of the journey. You SEP 2016
not only get speed and tach readouts, but can also call up Navigation way points and send that to the driverâ€™s console. And if you choose to just sit back and enjoy the drive, you can use the display as your own personal window on the journey. Apple CarPlay is the default pairing available for your smart phone, so if you are an Android fan you will have to just use it as a media source. The zone in front of the driver is a more traditional Ferrari one, although some new features have crept in like the oversized turn indicator buttons that allow one to operate them from behind the wheel as well. The IP layout has the traditional tachometer centric layout, with a white background revolution counter flanked by two smaller digital displays that can scroll through various functions. Again, you see the traditional separation of chassis dynamics controls towards the left hand. The steering wheel is the latest variant of the Ferrari F1-inspired ovoid, complete with settings that can take you through snow, wet and all the way over to ESC off. Engine The engine is a variant of the F12 berlinettaâ€™s V12 unit, tuned to a slightly lower peak output but compensating with some really healthy midrange torque figures. Here too, Ferrari engineers are keen to point out how they have engineered equal length paths for the inlet and exhaust piping, although unlike on the turbocharged V8-engine California and 488 variants, here the pipes are welded rather than cast to keep the weight low. The engine has a higher compression ratio 30
than before, boosting power output to 690hp with a max torque of 697NM. The engine revs freely into the higher bands hitting the stops at 8,250rpm. While the engine could run a little hotter, the team has improved the size of the oil radiators. Similar to the FF, the layout of the engine is front-mid, with the power transfer unit for the front wheels taking power off the front of the crankshaft, while power to the rear wheels is sent back to the transaxle with electronic differential. The engine also switches to a 6-cylinder mode as and when required, while offering a broader range of fuel diversity through an ability to handle 91 octane to 98 octane ratings. Using ion sensors the engine shifts its firing pattern to compensate. Vehicle Dynamics The major change affecting vehicle dynamics is the introduction of rear wheel steering, although the steering effect is in the single digits. What this does is tighten the turn circle at low speeds and allow the car to slide across lanes as we use the steering at higher speeds. Other than that the company insists that the weight distribution and power delivery has been targeted to keep the handling of the car neutral, with just a slight tendency to understeer. The weight distribution is 47:53 front-rear and the transmission can shift 100% of the available power to the rear axle on demand. The rear E-diff allows for a huge degree of torque vectoring to compensate in turns as it sends torque to the outer wheels. Ferrari also credits the combination of an upgraded PTU off the front end of the engine, SCM3 damping
In the new GTC4Lusso, Ferrari has the perfect new addition to its 12-cylinder sportscar line-up. Track-focussed handling, with rear-wheel steering and SSC4 make the car more than a GT
control, 4RM-S which handles the power distribution to all four wheels and the 9th generation ESP for the new dynamics. The GTC4Lusso also gets SSC4, which takes care of sideslip control with a special feel for the four-wheel drive characteristics of the car. You can feel the SSC kick in on Sport mode, especially if you carry your momentum into the curve, although the sharpened steering wheel response is also likely to be tangible. Marketing Angle What’s to say about the potential customer of the GTC4Lusso? A rich sportscar aficionado who would like a car that can actually accommodate something more than himself and his girlfriend – or vice versa in many cases! The logic of the FF owner is continued – it isn’t quite the traditional sportscar, but the GTC4Lusso isn’t the sort of car you would ignore if you had the sort of money for a top end sportscar. Driving Impressions Of course no Ferrari launch event is quite as exciting without a drive event thrown
in and that was part of the agenda for the following day. As we paired up for the drive around what passes for local highways in the Sudtirol, we knew that we would be turning heads. For even in the exclusive northern Italian region, a fleet of new Ferraris does tend to do that. The loop took us around the two lane hill roads as well as through some of the most beautiful landscapes and the Ferrari does tend to excite the senses in more than one manner. For instance, you begin to relish the active sound baffle that kicks in as you stomp the pedal, the vibration of the engine as it rocks in the cradle and the feel of the tyres as they navigate the roads and gravel. The selection of the twisty tarmac was spot on to feel the wheel as the rear-wheel steering kicks in at slow velocities, but the wheel itself feels very direct. As you accelerate through the gears the car settles into its haunches and pulls away in a very linear fashion. A very strong midrange keeps the drive interesting even while your car is trying to grab a higher gear to maintain better efficiency. You can easily tap and hold your way down of course and
the damper management ensures that the harder you steer in the stiffer the response. One of the pairs in our journalist wave came back with a photograph of the speedometer showing 317 km/h, but we didn’t even try to get anywhere close. The small roads that we were driving on were public roads with enough traffic to limit our top speeds, but we were anyway well over any posted speed limits. Verdict Is the GTC4Lusso an all-new vehicle? Nominally, we must believe so, not so much for what the architecture changes offer as for the internal changes. The technology is certainly cutting edge as demonstrated by the new IP, consoles and interfaces. The car is also more powerful, driveable and definitely better handling. Would you rush out and replace your FF with this? Only, if you had bought the very first FFs. You are more likely to be the new kid on the block sitting on top of your new internet startup and yes, the GTC4Lusso may just be your everyday car.
Rolls-Royce Black Badge
Author: Raj Warrior | Photography: Supplied
How do you take an already ultra exclusive segment and make it even more so? Perhaps Rolls-Royce Motorcars has found the path to make their offerings even more desirable. Automan attended the global media launch in Las Vegas SEP 2016
The Black Badge seeks to set a new level above the already exacting standards of the Ghost and Wraith. It is built on the premise of a new standardised customisation using materials and visual markers. The Black Badge clearly appeals to the senses
s we write this tale, the world’s economy is as troubled as it can be. The depressed petroleum market has seen fortunes change for the negative in traditional hydrocarbon exporting countries, while China, the world’s factory, is shifting to an internal demand driven economy. Of course the traditional economic stalwarts seem to be enjoying a bit of good fortune, so it’s not all bad, especially if you stop thinking from a GCC viewpoint. However, one certainty this time around is that Roll-Royce finds itself in a period of transition while a couple of its largest markets are facing downward pressure. The most significant part of this transitory phase is the phasing out of the Phantom line, with its share of end-of-line specials as well as the declared year-end phase out of the droptop variants. Till the replacement for the Phantom comes to market (and the Cullinan SUV along with that) the entire offering from Rolls-Royce will have to be built around the F01 platform derivative that has spawned the Ghost, Wraith and Dawn. In a sense, a new flagship needs to be presented and that is where the Black Badge seems to be going. “Today, I am announcing that Rolls-Royce Motor Cars will create a permanent Bespoke series of motor cars for a group of young, driven, self-made people that will make a bold and edgy lifestyle statement about their lives,” commented Torsten MüllerÖtvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls- Royce Motor Cars at the global launch during the Geneva motorshow. “In an unprecedented
collaboration with these new customers, Rolls-Royce has confidently created ‘Black Badge’, the ultimate in pure luxury style and engineering substance. Technically and aesthetically ‘Black Badge’ is the alter ego of Rolls-Royce Wraith and Ghost; darker, more assertive, more confident and powerful, and more demanding. With Black Badge we have created the most powerful presence on the luxury landscape. It is a truly transformative moment for our great brand.” During a series of interactions we had in Las Vegas with Giles Taylor, the brand’s director of design, he took us through many visuals of Ghost and Wraith post customization by buyers, with many photographs showing a tendency to black out the car’s exterior. Admittedly some of these jobs were quite tasteless, so it isn’t hard to understand why the Rolls-Royce team found humour in the effort. But what does the brand do, when a customer can already order a car highly customized? It’s an almost self-defeating position to be in – when a company offers extremely high standards of regular kit, with a rather vast array of standard colour and trim options, with the ability for a customer to then sit down with product and design staff to actually get almost anything they want. How do you take this equation to a new level where you are now offering a new standard with the Black Badge – a new standard that is in effect a pre-decided customization? Let’s hear what Giles says about this, “In creating Black Badge, we were conscious of satisfying the different
demands of these new customers. Not only did they demand an alternative image for themselves, they demanded authentic RollsRoyce engineering substance to underpin it. As a result, the Black Badge Spirit manifests itself through a series of carefully considered design elements, which together express a darker luxury sophistication. New material accents and tonalities are combined to accommodate the tastes of those fast-moving customers who adopt a strident approach to life’s finer challenges.” The Black Badge modifications will be offered on both the Ghost regular wheelbase and Wraith, although the Wraith version still remains the sportier option even after the Black Badge upgrade. But even before the engines get tweaked, the Black Badge tries to bring a semblance of order in exclusivity. The major external visual differentiation is linked to a dark version of the Spirit of Ecstasy, a deep black enamel finish for the grille (instead of the bright chrome) and a unique set of wheels with the newly developed carbon-fibre and aluminium alloy hybrid structure that is offered on the exclusive wheels. This structure is built up from 22 layers of carbon-fibre composite that are further folded in at the edges and bonded to a forged aluminium hub using titanium bolts. The end result is visually distinct and serves as a draw in to the Black Badge variant considering that a degree of exclusivity is promised. Similarly, the inside of the cars get an exclusive badging with the brand choosing to use the infinity logo taken from the Lloyds rating provided for boats piloted by then speed record holder Sir Malcolm Campbell. This logo is called Unlimited (with reference to the non-limited nature of the insurance rating) and has previously appeared in a limited run Phantom Drophead Coupé. The logo appears on the dashboard and on the upholstery. But what really draws the eye is the new age material with which the main trims are accented. This is a unique three-dimensional buildup of aluminium alloy fibres of 0.014mm diameter that are woven and bonded with the carbon-fibre and then undergoes six layers of lacquering. If the wire is that thin, it is one-fourth the size of a human hair’s! Now, we come to the crux of the Black Badge puzzle. Apparently, the brand has no intention to offer the aluminium composite panels or indeed the wheels on customisation of regular Ghosts and Wraiths. But the rest of the styling, including the dark on dark feel of the interiors could be made available. In fact you can also buy the Black Badge in any colour of your choice, except that the regular Wraith’s two-tone exterior wouldn’t be on offer. Giles Taylor also would like us to know that the selection of colours will have to stay in tune with the black Spirit of Ecstasy and grille. But, when we spoke to the product team, they clarified that even those elements could be customised. Confusing, right? Just a little bit. But the cars get more than visual tweaks. The 6.6-litre biturbo engine also gets tweaked with the Ghost now getting almost Wraith level of output , while the Wraith’s own offering is also shifted up (especially in regard to the torque on offer). The figures are quite telling – on the Ghost Black Badge the power figure is now 603hp and the torque is bumped up by 60Nm to 840Nm. The Wraith gets its own share of tuning, with no change in the power on tap (still at 623hp) but the torque gets boosted by 70Nm to 870Nm. While both the cars still continue with the 8-speed gearbox, now the throttle response has been mapped differently with a tendency to hold gear for longer and allowing the engine to go all the way to 6,000rpm. There has been no attempt to carve out any weight from the car. While almost every other manufacturer would have tried this method to improve take off, RR is quite content with letting the higher torque and remapped gearshift take care of stuff. You are also able to put the Wraith in a power mode that intensifies responses, opens up the baffles and tightens the chassis through the adaptive damping.
Driving Impressions Our interaction with the cars involved two separate sessions of driving. The first evening we drove the Wraiths on a new Speedway on the outskirts of the city. While not much longer than a large gokart track, the circuit had a couple of tricky corners and two reasonable straights that allowed the test drivers to show us how the Wraith could increasingly become easier to handle on the track. As the chassis tightens up, you can modulate the car better than ever before, avoiding the tail going out, while the straights were just about enough to hit 160 before braking hard. The next day’s session was much better. We first flew out in helicopters to a craggy outpost overlooking the Colorado River, deep in the Grand Canyon; the flight took us over the Hoover dam and Lake Mead. After a quick picnic lunch, we flew back again, through a refuelling stop over to a Golf course north of the city. This served as a base for the invitees to take out the Wraith Black Badge on a combination of highway and hill roads that skirts Mt Charleston and brings one back to the city. We had been warned that someone on a previous wave had been pulled over for speeding by the police and faced a hefty fine. That certainly didn’t stop us from opening up on the less populated hill roads, where we managed a bit more than expected. But the Wraith was already a quick car to start off with and although the extra torque is noticeable, what we really liked was that faint hint of raspiness out of the tail end. Again, the car isn’t go-kart steady as you take had curves, but that would be very surprising considering the bulk. What it is, is predictable. You don’t get so much of the weight shift that you normally feel; the chassis does tighten up proactively and the gearshifts are very very quick. You do take bends a little faster than you would normally have and all of this happens while the interiors stay so very ‘Magic Carpet’ like. Verdict If we were to hazard an instant, spur of the moment reaction we would say that Rolls-Royce is on to a good thing here. Instead of the usual limited runs, which undoubtedly do a lot for collectors here they sell a product at a premium and can keep that going. If you were in the market for a Wraith, you would have to be very focussed to not upgrade to the Black Badge. Either that or you really love the two-tone colour scheme. Because the Wraith is already seen as an owner driven car unlike the Ghost; which owner wouldn’t want the extra performance? But a deeper look at the Black Badge does reveal some pitfalls that the company has to steer clear of – how much do you allow the package to dilute? Do you allow regular customisation to include reserved elements at some stage? Do the wheels become available for regular models or indeed as replacements? And how do you prevent outside tuning houses from mimicking some degree of Black Badge customisation? And at what point does the new engine power settings become the new standard for the Ghost and Wraith? SEP 2016
2016 BMW 740Li
We get our hands on the new BMW 740Li and discover what the new top end contender brings to the competition with the S-class and A8 Author: Raj Warrior | Photography: Elvis John Ferrao
e are moving to a new paradigm in automobiles, where the very concept of premium and luxury will be challenged because of the shifting sands of measurement. Do we judge a car solely by its badge? Do we factor in perceived value for cutting-edge technology and transitioned consumer electronics? Or do we now begin assigning an edge for the presence of alternate drivetrains and autonomous drive? Of course the regular features still have an import – the product has to be mechanically superior, should match or define the driving norm for the segment and should have features that are recognised as cutting-edge. However, the strength of brand value association often defines all of this in one basket. For the bulk of the car market, the BMW 7-series and the Mercedes-Benz S-class define the flagship competition. The Audi A8 has consistently played catch up with the two and often manages to deliver a car that somehow seems even better that the brace. The latest generation of the three cars between them offer the very best in terms of technology, alternate drivetrains and autonomous driving. The new BMW 7-series seems to be at the head of the list for all these parameters. Design While the 7-series still looks very recognisable, the sixth generation of the car debuts on an all-new G11/12 platform that uses BMW’s new modular platform. What’s really unique about the platform is its use of multiple structural materials, with a focus on providing the best of ultra strength steel, aluminium and carbon-fibre composite components. The basis of this new approach is aimed at a lighter structure that is inherently more rigid and safer. The use of a carbon core is taken from the brand’s i8 development. The final
structure is almost 130kgs lighter. The styling is very current generation, with the large kidney grilles flanked by the prominent wings of the headlight assemblies. The twin headlight arrangement has both the top and bottom trimmed short and are now in full-LED kit, or offer the optional Laser beam. In addition to the slightly busier fascia, the grille gets the active air flaps that are meant to cut down on air resistance when the engine’s ventilation needs are lower. The hood is now slightly more muscular, partly as a result of the lowered fenders and the complementary power bulge, with the rising hood sweeping outwards to the A-pillars. The general proportions remain the standard 7-series but this time the front axle looks thrust a little further ahead and the enlarged wheelbase is bridged by a strong horizontal sipe. This time around, the rear of the car is almost as interesting as the front, set off by a large horizontal chrome strip that defines the width of the car from taillight to taillight. The interior is a classy upgrade over the previous generation – with the layout decidedly driver centric. The dashboard is made with a centre console tilted towards the driver, with even the pop out screen taking the same alignment. However the interior flavour is carried over, with a rich wood inlay defining the separation between the black upper zone and the lighter treatment of the cabin basin over the doors and seats. Our test car had the light tan leather and that is nicely set off against the dark top leathers, wood and the brushed aluminium inserts. The main theme here is a simplification of layout, with clear zones on the centre console for the screen, airconditioning grilles, media and air-conditioning controls. Even the IP binnacle is largely cleaned up and clarified with a combination of twin roundels SEP 2016
BMW TwinPower Turbo technology: TwinScroll turbocharger, High Precision Injection, VALVETRONIC fully variable valve control, Double-VANOS variable camshaft timing Power 326 hp/240kW @ 5,500-6,500 rpm Torque 450 Nm @ 1,380-5,000 rpm
8-speed Steptronic transmission Brake Energy Regeneration with recuperation display, Electric Power Steering, Auto Start Stop function, Optimum Gearshift Indicator, ECO PRO mode with coasting function and Proactive Driving Assistant
Brakes & Wheels Suspension
Front Four-piston fixed-calliper disc brakes, vented Rear Single-piston floating-calliper disc brakes, vented Wheels 7.5J x 17 light alloy Tyres 225/60 R17 99Y
Front Double track control arm axle with separate lower track arm level, aluminium, small steering roll radius, anti-dive, air suspension with automatic self-levelling Rear Five-link axle, aluminium, with steering function, anti-squat and anti-dive, double acoustic separation, air suspension with automatic self-levelling 44
The standard- specification instrument cluster in black panel technology comprises four classic circular dials and an 8.8-inch graphic display. There is also the option of a multifunctional instrument display with a 12.3-inch display area, which alters the graphics and colour scheme used for the cockpit gauges to match the mode selected with the Driving Experience Control switch. In COMFORT mode, the instrument cluster display features a classic fourdial arrangement, with a magnifier function to highlight the current speed and rev speed. When ECO PRO mode is activated, the rev counter turns into the EfficientDynamics gauge, which indicates how to maximise efficiency and how the journey is progressing. And with SPORT mode engaged, the entire speedometer is pared down to display just the essential information. The speed and selected gear appear as large digital readouts.
and LCD panels. The main display also gets touchscreen input and gesture control that can bring up certain pre-programmed modes, depending on how the camera reads the position of your fingers, including such features as swipe and pinch. The longer wheelbase Li that we drove has an almost limousine like interior, complete with touchscreen control, two high-resolution monitors and individual seat controls. This is part of the Executive lounge package that includes four zone air-conditioning, individual seat controls with massage function. However, despite all of this the car remains a driver’s delight. Let us for a moment forget that one of the claims to fame for this car is its ability to park itself, or indeed the very elaborate ‘key’ that sports its very own screen and a touchpad ability. From the curve of the seat, its support and elaborate adjustment mechanism, the size of the steering wheel and the drive mode all build into the immediateness of the drive experience. The drive mode now has an adaptive mode in addition to the regular Comfort, Sport and Eco modes. What this mode does is learn from your driving pattern and adapt the car’s chassis and gearshift patterns to optimise the experience.
Engine and chassis Although the new 7-series comes with a whole range of engine choices, including the V8 750 and a new advanced hybrid system that incorporates an electric drive that offers a useful electric only range, the 740Li looks like it will be the most popular version with its combination of boosted 3.0-litre inline-6 performance and economic operation. The engine is equipped with a twin scroll turbocharger, BMW’s valvetronic valve control, Double-VANOS camshaft timing adjustment and high-pressure injectors with a very fine control on the demand curve. The maximum power on offer is 326hp with 450Nm of torque available through 1300-5000rpm. The engine is mated with an intelligent 8-speed automatic gearbox that uses navigation system inputs along with the feed from the drive control system to optimise the gearshift pattern. It has also been a few generations since BMW set the benchmark for how adaptive a large sedan’s chassis could be. Other cars have played catch up while BMW still manages to keep ahead in terms of firmness of response, four-point selective cushioning and the ability to iron out a centrifugal force induced sway. The combination of air suspension and SEP 2016
dynamic damper control allows a certain degree of height control as well as selflevelling the car with very quick responses. In certain grades the car also offers the latest generation of active roll stabilisation that along with motorised stabiliser bars uses a predictive mode that makes the changes almost instantaneous. You can also get active steering control that is made possible due to the new rack and pinion nature of the steering linkage. Rear wheel steering is part of the package when taken with the all-wheel drive XDrive. Driving Impressions With the ambience being what it is in the Seven, you would expect the feel of quick intense acceleration that the engine provides. The combination of sport mode on the gearbox and tapped over to manual shift just holds the gears that much longer. The 740 has the ability to rocket ahead with the downshift paddle held, although you will find that the box upshifts to prevent hitting redline. We like the fact the NVH is still so effective. You feel the rising notes from the engine and the rumble of the tyres come through, while the snappy gearshifts serve to highlight the sporty nature of the transmission. Initially we thought that the driving wheel
had too much of an assist element thrown in, but realised that the car’s adaptive nature compensates depending on input. When you need to steer hard the wheel is very precise, allowing for firm steer in and an immediacy of feel from the front axle. The suspension never really flattens out even on humps, you get the micro hard bump as you go over and begin to understand the way the shock curve has been damped. The Amerat hill climb is really interesting in the car. For all purposes, you feel like you are in a 5-series or smaller car, since other than your point of rotation you barely feel the rear of the car at all. Weight distribution is supposed to be a perfect 50:50, with the paddle-shifter at hand to throw in the little bit extra torque that some of those corners demand. While the engine’s automatic on/off character is not extremely intrusive, you do tend to cut out the mode as soon as you can. It does remain operative in Sport mode although any significant revving switches it off. The gesture control takes some getting used to – initially we would get tired of waiting for the system to recognise our volume up and down gestures and just do it manually. Voice control is a lot more adaptive and intuitive. But once you drive the car for a couple of days, you reach
the perfect space where you adapt to the system’s idiosyncrasies as well. So rotating fingers became the norm. The car offers both heads-up display and night mode, but our test car did not have the fancy James Bond –ish version of the auto park mode, which you can operate from your key. Of course autonomous driving in a limited fashion is available. The car will trundle along in a well-marked lane, with appropriate gaps maintained, gearshifts and braking, as well as parking the car for you while you are in the driving seat. Verdict In simple terms, if we had the money this car would have already been in our garage. It has the right badge, power, control systems, technology and future proofing to ensure that it will remain competitive for the length of its immediate life cycle. Yes, the S-class does have some goodies of its own, including what would effectively be an I-Max type interface, but we cannot see how the S would be a better drive than the 7. If we get the opportunity, we’ll certainly give you feedback on that aspect. In the meantime, let’s say we are intrigued by the carbon core approach to structure, love the way the BMW inline six engine has evolved and really like the limousine like feel of the cabin. SEP 2016
2016 Mustang Ecoboost
Ford says that the all-new Gen VI Mustang is the logical evolution of a classic with notable improvements in power, handling and convenience features. With the Ecoboost fourcylinder under the bonnet, Automan thinks Ford has created a new entry point for global markets with this package Author: Chandan B Mallik | Photography: Elvis John Ferrao
n 2014, Ford celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Mustang in style all over the world with the introduction of the all-new sixth generation. Ford says that the incoming model is the logical evolution of a classic that comes as part of Ford’s One Ford campaign to globalise this model. In fact, this will also be the first Ford Mustang to be built as right hand drive model from factory. With this agenda in mind, when seen for the first time, it becomes clear why the design of the new Mustang is not so revolutionary. Its character lines and proportions are familiar with a long and rakish front end and short boot in rear. But all is not carried over. The car is lower and wider now and it is obvious more at the rear where there’s a wider rear track accompanied by flared mudguards. Dimensionally, the car’s body has been widened body by 1.5in and it sits 1.4in lower. It does share its wheelbase with the outgoing model and shares very few components from the parts bin. Stylistically and with detailing, the car does retain its iconic visceral appeal and at the same time benefits from a new interpretation of what Ford calls the ‘shark bite’ front end. This aspect is associated with a low, wide trapezoidal front grille with an integrated pony icon. However, the greatest giveaway that refers to the past is the fastback rear end. The styling has also aided in helping the car achieve a lower coefficient of drag as the boot lid sits 2.75in lower when compared with the outgoing model. Interesting new design cues include LED headlamps and accent lights, as well as a
new three-dimensional interpretation of the classic tri-bar tail lamps. The interior of the car has been revisited and it resembles that of an airplane cockpit taking advantage of the increased body width and it constantly reminds one of the Ford GT. And this has been done with a purpose in mind. The rear occupants in the earlier editions had to live in cramped accommodation and now it seems a bit of that has been improved. A few features from European luxury cars like changeable ambient lighting are out here as before, but the effect spreads beyond the dials, cup holders, and speakers to other points within the cabin. The car’s front seats have been designed to be sporty and in the tester had powered movements fore and aft. However, the back has to be adjusted manually and it is a cumbersome affair to get the right position. The car’s steering wheel is small and adjustments are also minimalistic. As a modern car, it also comes with features such like digital instrument cluster with analog dials, proximity key and push-button start, a centre touch screen, a radar-based blind spot monitoring system, and a parking sensor system with driver alert. The base of the central console also has a set of chrome plated toggle switches for hazard, steering feel, chassis modes and traction control. While build quality shows improvements, several quirky elements stick out as sore thumbs. Unexplained was the way one had to get the Satnav activated – there was no dedicated switch for that on the dash or touchscreen access. It could only be activated or
deactivated by engaging the Bluetooth audio switch! Meanwhile, Ford now offers a new free app, compatible with iPhone and Android-powered smartphones. Depending on markets as a global car it is being offered with several powertrain options and body styles -- coupé or convertible. Three trims are offered and are identifiable with V6, EcoBoost, or GT badging. The V6 trims come with a 300hp 3.7-litre normally aspirated V6. Next in is an EcoBoost with a 310hp from a 2.3-litre four-cylinder. The top-of-the-line machine is the GT which gets a 435hp 5.0-litre V8 engine. Both six-speed manual and automatic transmissions are available. Our tester was the Ecoboost version. The suspension has been thoroughly revamped for better handling. Past Mustangs were pretty famous for straight line stints but not so sharp when it came to fast corners as it had the tendency to oversteer with the rear of the vehicle losing traction. The car also exhibited understeer in the hands of inexperienced drivers. Technically, oversteer can be prevented by stiffening the front suspension; by replacing or adding the front strut tower brace and replacing the front sway bar with a stronger, thicker brace. Understeer can be prevented by adding a stiffer rear sway bar. Ford was keen to make this car do better, and hence the rear set-up now is fully independent with controlled damping set-up. The multi- link rear end underpins the new chassis and is joined by a revised MacPherson strut set-up up front. Safety equipment on all Mustangs includes a post-crash alert system, seven
airbags, including dual-stage frontal, front seat side impact, side curtain and driver knee; antilock brakes, electronic stability control. In some markets it will be offered with 911 assist crash notification system. Optional safety features include reverse parking sensors, blind spot alert with cross-traffic monitoring and adaptive cruise control with collision mitigation. Driving impressions Despite the quirky front seating, visibility in the 2016 Mustang is remarkably good, especially compared to the blind-spotladen Chevrolet Camaro. The Mustang’s cleverly designed A-pillar is narrow enough to allow one to look through the corners. Settling in the car takes a little extra time as finding the perfect seating position is time consuming. You have fore and aft powered movements, but the back rest is manual. There’s no bolstering booster so you have to live with that. The 2016 Ecoboost Ford Mustang is unlike any Mustang built before. It offers several shades of dial-in characteristics -- you want a muscle hooligan, you want a refined road car, you want a sports car -- you got them all in this one bundle. The question is most of us are familiar with V6 and V8 Mustangs in the past, so how does one make a four-cylinder sound appealing? Well, there’s a bit of techno trickery out here. The acoustics, especially what you hear inside the car have been electronically tailored using the car’s audio system. So when you take a stab at the throttle especially in sport mode, all you get is a drone like effect. In fact, the fourcylinder turbocharged Golf R32 still sounds better naturally! Thankfully, the Tiptronic function is not on the gearshifter [as practiced in most Ford
models despite criticisms from drivers] but as proper paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. After the engine was fired, we decide to start the exercise with stock settings. The steering is light, acceleration is pretty good for a four-cylinder even in normal mode where the transmission is on the sporty side, holding shifts longer and downshifting when our revs dropped. In this mode, the flip side is that the car doesn’t feel like an out an out muscle car and despite the EcoBoost’s solid torque numbers, the grunt doesn’t hit all at once like that of the V8 when you stab the throttle, particularly noted while exiting a corner which means it is less of a hooligan than it could be. At this point one has to accept that it does feel more like a typical European coupe. While the 310hp it produces is well-utilised across the band, the engine doesn’t feel stressed and one hovers at 120km/h with the engine ticking at 2,000rpm and peaks out at 4,000rpm. We dial-in the second settings -- that is sport mode and interestingly one is also able to change the weight of the steering. From light it becomes stiffer and thereby more entertaining. This is the mode where we think most drivers will enjoy, other than the track only options most of the time. The car feels spirited and alive and seemingly the chassis firms and offers sharper handling which is notably better in fast corners. Change in acceleration characteristics are also noted with extra torque availability and longer holding of the gears. The torque delivery in this set-up is much better and is also flat and hence watching the analogue boost and vacuum gauge in the car is a good pastime. Over all, the car’s handling has dramatically improved over previous
generations, thanks to the independent rear suspension set-up and 19in alloy wheels shod with Pirelli P Zero tyres. The bump sensitivity and nose dive under hard braking of the old Mustang is gone. Previous Mustangs were good in straight line performance but were a bit unpredictable when it came to handling corners with understeer issues. Meanwhile, braking is superb and linear, and even in hard braking it will show no signs of fade and the car will not budge from its line. Actually, the Ecoboost packaged car benefits a lot from the rejigged suspension tuning, sportier steering characteristics and 3.55:1 ratio limited-slip rear end. The Ecoboost fourcylinder certainly doesn’t sound like a traditional Mustang and the exhaust note has been artificially created in conjunction with the car’s audio system. Verdict As a package, it’s a pretty decent one, but for a purist it would be considered somewhat un-Mustang-like. The closest analog I can think of is when HarleyDavidson introduced its Porsche-designed Revolution X liquid-cooled engines for the newly created V-Rod family. This car looks like a Mustang, feels like a luxury coupé, but the experience suggests that this is a car that has been designed with a different objective in mind. And on the performance level, it is far more reserved and civilized than any Mustang we have driven before. It’s more like a refined car made for global audience than for the hardcore pony car enthusiasts. Well, for them, the 5.0-litre 430hp GT500 is the benchmark. The Ecoboost edition, in our opinion is an interesting experiment with new technologies. SEP 2016
FirstDRIVE 2017 Infiniti Q30
Author: Chandan B Mallik | Photography: Author and supplied
Lebanon was the perfect destination for the Middle East launch of Infinitiâ€™s hottest new entry level model â€“ the 2017 Q30 last month. Automan was invited by the regional office to witness the lavish launch and attend the first drive of the new arrival in that country 52
hat is Infiniti, the luxury premium brand of Nissan up to these days? Well, quite a lot as the aspiration levels have moved up and it has indicated clearly that wishes to become a major global luxury market player with core focus in US, Europe, China and other global regions including Middle East. To do that, Infiniti also realises that it also has to bring in new customers to its fold and also widen its product offerings in order to achieve this ambitious objective. And given the current global economic scenario, the million-dollar question is how to go about this dual business objective? Firstly, the advantage Infiniti now has that it besides enjoying the Nissan Alliance synergy it is also able to tap in resources from technical partner Daimler with whom there’s an interesting business arrangement. Secondly, with just a few models available in the category, it’s hard to call compact luxury hatchbacks a growing category. But as luxury automakers increase the size of their bread-and-butter cars and crossovers, newer, smaller models make a more affordable entry point for many buyers. This aspect has been established by the success of models like the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class which are car blending sport, luxury and premium interior features into a minicrossover package. In the current line-up, according to Infiniti, an entry level model was very much in order and this is where the all-new Q30 is expected to make its presence felt along with its QX30 sibling [essentially a taller Q30] in the crossover category. Using the successful platform of the recently launched Mercedes-Benz GLA, Infiniti has been able to create two entry level derivatives – the Q30 and QX30. The latter which is more of a crossover SUV will join the line-up in 2017, according to Juergen Schmitz, Managing Director, Infiniti Middle East, while the Q30 goes on sale this month in the region. So, what exactly is the Q30? At first glance it could safely be considered as a premium family hatchback more than a crossover SUV due to its specific packaging and the way the portfolio has been conceived. Designed in Nissan’s Paddington studio in London, engineered in Cranfield and manufactured in Sunderland, UK, using the Mercedes-Benz W176 platform, this 5-door hatchback styled Infiniti attempts to exhibit global values. Dimensionally it stands at 4,425mm in length, 1,805mm wide, 1,495mm in height on a 2,700mm wheelbase and these figures mean that it is very close to the GLA but definitely not identical including wheelbase. Although, dimensionally they may appear close, but subtle differences and ride height differences are obvious when both are seen together. So, that clears who’s who and cut out for what role and responsibility. At first glance, it is clear that the Q30 has been adorned with the brand’s latest design language and detailing like the 3D mesh grille and double wave effect on the bonnet. The core design DNA consists of sharp angles and sweeping curves which together lend an organic feel with a pleasant combination of elements of French and Japanese influence. Evidence of these includes a long front end, angular nose, a sharply raked windscreen, roof line that tapers towards the rear. Bulging mudguards surround huge wheel wells and add to its overall presence and personality. Infiniti’s familiar reverse-crescent C-pillar complements the low greenhouse and ends up with a steeply-sloped window. The result is a profile unlike any competitive model including the Mercedes model which it is mechanically based on. The feature detailing in this car ensures it’s not just a rebodied GLA, but much more, if not better in some respects as it has been able SEP 2016
to avoid totally the quirkiness associated with the equivalent Merc variant. Considering the entry level pricing which stands at AED105,00 in UAE, it soon becomes evident for the hawk eyed individuals who are familiar with these brands of things that have been shared. Inside the cabin, there have been attempts to give the car its own character where the results in my view are a mixed bag and here’s why. The obvious are the door mounted switches, stalk gear and instrumentation that come from the donor partner but its asymmetrical dashboard is the key element that offers notable contrast to more austere, down-to-business cabins in rival German models. The infotainment system and central-console located controller are from Infiniti as they are designed to work with Infiniti’s safety systems, like the Around View Monitor bird’s eye camera. The cabin appears cosy for occupants with good legroom in both rows who also enjoy the benefits of entering or exiting the car through its carefully planned high hip points. While, the low roofline gives the car a nice profile and visual balance, the flip side is that headroom for tall occupants is not so generous, especially at the rear. Tall occupants will find head and shoulder room a bit crampy. Irrespective of variants, the build quality, fit finish, touch points and materials used in the UK-built vehicle are quite good and are able to represent its class ambitions clearly. In terms of feature packaging, it as expected varies from premium to average depending on the trim level selected. Top trim cabin features panaromic roof, soft, leatherwrapped surfaces, Infiniti InTouch system which is the automaker’s bundled package of navigation, entertainment and smartphone-connected features, and includes a 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth and USB connectivity and 10-speaker Bose audio system and 19in wheels. 18in wheels are also offered. The Q30 in Middle East will be offered will be offered with a choice of powertrains, trim levels, FWD and AWD. The AWD variant features raised ride height and as expected the system can transmit up to half of engine power to the rear wheels, whenever sensors detect traction loss. The smallest engine is a turbocharged high output 1.6-cylinder four cylinder which belts out 156hp and 250Nm of torque and powers the FWD variant only. The larger engine is also a forced fed turbocharged 2.0-litre fourcylinder offering 208hp and 350Nm of torque and is offered in both FWD/AWD variants. In a pleasant surprise for all of us, both engines are mated to 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmissions with manual Tiptronic feature. It may be noted at this point that the powertrain set-up is of German origin. New engines from Nissan’s stable will be introduced phase wise later. The suspension package is pretty much of what the segment offers which means independent links and hydraulic dampers tuned by Infiniti. At this point there’s no provision for active suspension set-ups for sportier performance as there are no plans to offer AMG-type models as of now. Instead, Infiniti have provided driver selectable mapping for engine and transmission and also paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. On the safety front, Infiniti says that crash-test results have not yet been issued, but safety takes precedence and the car comes equipped with a number of active-safety and driver54
The Infiniti QX30 is a new luxury compact crossover designed to convey a sense of what might be termed elegant aggression. The QX30 shares its platform and powertrain with the recently launched Mercedes-Benz GLA250
In terms of performance and handling, Infiniti engineers sought to develop steering that maintains a consistent feel, regardless of speed, and they appear to have succeeded. Not only is steering precise, it’s neither excessively heavy at higher speeds nor overboosted in parking-lot driving
assist features. They include blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning with emergency braking assist, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. Available Park Assist can guide the QX30 into an open parking space. The available surround-view camera system includes moving-object detection. Driving impressions In a day long driving session we were able to experience most trim and powertrain variants in various driving situations ranging from city driving, expressways, B-roads, mountain roads and also a stint with the car on a go-kart track. While settled in the cosy interior, one has to get used to some of the design-led limitations in this car. The biggest issue for the driver is side and rear visibility due to the C-pillar. Of the two engine variants driven, the bigger 208hp 2.0-litre turbo engine is quiet and smooth. The seven-speed Mercedes derived double clutch transmission is silky smooth. Gear changes are seamless and the best part there is no lurching or crunchiness feel at low traffic speeds. Unlike the CVT enabled machines which are more economy oriented and
often appear boring, with this setup it is possible to dial in some extra performance, thanks to the availability of a decent torque band which allows the engine to be prodded more without sacrificing performance. The capital city of Beirut is notorious for being slow with traffic gridlocks and expressway speeds rarely go beyond 100km/h, the car appeared comfortable and mostly stress free. We did note that the transmission is quite eager to stay in a high gear when overtaking until one really pushes the pedal. With 156hp available at 5,000rpm from the 1.6-litre version, this variant of the Q30 isn’t as fast as the 2.0-litre, but the engine note isn’t too harsh and the sound deadening means it’s not unpleasant accelerating up to speed, thus it makes it a decent city cruiser where going extremely fast is not the core criterion. In fact, it feels lighter on the wheel too. While the chassis and steering are tuned to be on the luxury side of the premium small crossover class, but at the go-kart track we are reminded that despite soft suspension settings, it is possible to extract a bit of driving aggression. In general, we noted on the track that body motions were controlled and the electric
power steering weights up nicely through the sharp corners. However, on track we do note the obvious performance differences between the FWD and AWD models. The AWD model behaves, in most circumstances, just like the FWD does, sending power primarily to the front wheels as and when required. In the 1.6-litre variant, only FWD is available and in a track event type of set up one can actually feel the weight and occasional torque steer in the 2.0-litre. We observed the electric steering, tends to be slightly heavy at low speeds and while holding the same weight throughout the driving experience ensuring an overall pleasant drive. Braking is supported effectively by all round discs and while the pedal pressure is soft, it doesn’t reflect sponginess even after repeated usage. Verdict A compelling entry for the brand which offers punters best of both worlds -Germany premium engineering at an exceptionally attractive starting price of AED 105,000.00 in UAE. The 2017 Infiniti QX30 goes against such well-executed rivals as the BMW X1, as well as the GLA250 itself SEP 2016
Do you know how important your tyres are? How do you select the right tyre and when do you know to change your tyres? Automan highlightsthe important points
yres are the only components in a vehicle that keep us connected to the road and their well-being is also therefore very important when it comes to our safety. A tyre burst or blowout is the last thing any motorist’s mind and no one would want it to happen, especially on the move. If you are a motorist residing in the region, you may have noticed that accidents caused by tyre blowouts seem to be unavoidable. You might have experienced that while travelling as a long distance commuter apparently without reason or warning, one of your car’s tyre fails and explodes. With quick thinking, you control and quickly manoeuevre the car to a safe spot. Although shaken by the incident you still have no clue to look for an explanation as to why such a thing happened. It’s the air inside the tyres that supports the weight of the vehicle and there are several reasons for unexpected tyre failure. One of the things that can cause a blow out is damage to the side wall of the tyre. Hitting a kerb innocently while parking a car will cause a bubble to form in the side wall. This bubble is formed when the layers of the tyre separate and air gets in between them. The second most common reason for a blow out is driving a car with incorrect tyre pressure. If the tyre is soft the side wall exes more than it is designed to. Heat is generated in the exing and that results in the side wall splitting. The third is aged tyres.
What to do in case of a tyre burst? If you look after your tyres but are still unlucky enough to get a blowout or high speed puncture the guidelines below will help you to cope and perhaps avoid an accident. The first indication of the blow out is the burst noise immediately followed by the car handling abnormally, especially at speeds over 80km/h. The best action is to hold the steering wheel firmly, decelerate slowly and let the car slow down by itself. Do not panic brake, and remember this is not a normal situation. If the car is starting to move sideways braking will make matters worse and can cause the car to spin. Sudden braking is the single worst thing that you can do if a tyre blows out. Keep looking ahead and turn your steering wheel to keep in a straight line. Maintain momentum by accelerating if required. Mind you, accelerating is not done to speed the car up, simply to maintain momentum and minimising the risk of and effect of a side slide. Changing to a lower gear might help in a front wheel drive car if you can control the steering with one hand. The idea here is to steer the car and its occupants to safety and also minimize the risk of damaging the rims. How to cope with punctures? The difference between a puncture/flat tyre and blow out is that the air from the tyres can leak slowly, depending on the severity – nail, shrapnel etc.
If it happens on the move, then the indication of a front tyre puncture is that it will cause the car to pull heavily to one side. Steer firmly to correct the pull. Avoid hard braking as it might lead to the tyre coming off the rim. If there is space ahead, concentrate on steering and allow the car to lose speed naturally. If you use the brake after gaining initial control, be very gentle. Pulling the parking brake on and off repeatedly can help you to slow down but care must be taken not to lock the back wheels because this could cause the car to pivot around the damaged wheel and spin - your main aim is to keep the car on course and lose speed naturally. Changing down might help in a rear-wheel drive car as engine compression will lower the speed but again no snatched or jerky changes. Remembering that extra effort will be required for steering, it may be safer to keep your hands on the wheel. Burst tyres are dead. You can drive on the tyre very slowly to a safe place but do not attempt to go any further than is absolutely necessary. Repairable punctures can turn into irreparable tyres if you drive too much on them. Change the tyre in a safe place as soon as possible. If you can’t do it yourself, then get assistance. Read your car’s handbook for information about jacking your car safely and changing a wheel. If you have a space saver spare tyre, use it as guided by the manufacturer.
Tyre Maintenance Tips
1. Check tyre pressures at least once every fortnight when the tyre is cold. Over and under in ation are both bad for the car and occupant safety. There is a misconception that tyres hold the car up. It is actually the right air pressure that keeps the car up. The tyre is just an object that keeps air inside. To maintain the right pressure in the tyres, it is important to check them every 15 days. 2. Observation counts. Examine your vehicle tyres for visible surface damages, minute or cracks, uneven/eccentric wear or unexplained bulges. 3. Consult a tyre expert if in doubt or if you suspect any damage to your tyre or wheel from an impact with a curb, pothole, debris on the road or any other road hazard, or if you feel or hear any unusual vibration. 4. Where to go. It pays to go to authorized set-ups and avoid roadside or ill-equipped set-ups as there’s a good chance of being duped with unsuitable category of tyres or cheap non- approved imports. 5. By law, tyre retailers in Oman cannot sell tyres that are more than two years old. De nitely avoid using tyres that are two years or older. Even if your car has clocked low mileage and tread wear seems normal, it has to be replaced. Period. 6. Tyre rotation: is considered vital to achieving even tread wear and long tread life in a car. Rotation is necessary because of the uneven wear characteristics which ultimately depend on the type of the vehicle – front, rear or all-wheel drive. Front wheel drive cars experience much faster rate of wear. Tyre rotation should be undertaken every 5-8,000km even if 60
there is no sign of wear. Front and rear wheel drive cars usually practice ‘cross rotation, while straight rotation is advised for 4WD vehicles. It’s useful to include the spare tyre in the programme. Temporary spare or space saver is NOT to be part of the rotation schedule. 7. Replace worn out or cracked tyres promptly. 8. Avoid running a car with a tyre that has at spots. This happens when a vehicle is parked for a long time in the same position. These tyres develop at spots, which can weaken the tyre over a period of time. 9. Do not mix tyre types such as radials or cross plys. Always use same type of tyres. 10. Always have wheels balanced whenever replacing or rotating tyres. 11. It is recommended that all four tyres are replaced at the same time when ever possible. However, whenever only two tyres are replaced, the new ones should be put on the rear. The logic being that new
tyres, with deeper tread provide better grip. 12. Avoid overloading. If a tyre is 20 per cent overloaded, its lifespan will be reduced on average by 30 per cent. 13. Never use hydrocarbon-based solvents such as thinners or unapproved liquids to clean tyres. 14. Avoid striking or driving over hard objects such as shrapnel’s, nails or small rocks on road. These can rupture the tyre’s inner walls quite easily with no visible exterior damage. 15. Temporary puncture kits: as the name implies these are to help the driver to take the car to the nearest repair outlet only. Always seek professional and permanent tyre repair solutions. Never run a car with temporarily repaired tyres for long distances. 16. Change your tyres before your tread depth is worn to 1.6mm. To make life easier, choose tyres that are equipped with tread wear indicators situated in
The right air pressure can make all the difference in how your tyre surface wears out. While it is always better to inflate to recommended pressure, remember to do it while the tyre is cold.
the base of the main tread grooves at the height of approximately 1.6mm. Take a coin and insert it into the tread. If the entire border remains visible, you don’t have enough tread. 17. Always balance the rear wheels as well as the front wheels to ensure your tyres and vehicle stay in good condition for longer 18. Replace your valve every time you change your tyre. It’s an inexpensive way to protect your tyres, vehicle and yourself 19. The easiest way to tell if your vehicle is out of alignment is to check the tyres for any signs of uneven wear. 20. Some innovative newer tyres have a convenience that older tyres lacked. They have tread wear indicator bars built into the tyres themselves. These bars, invisible or barely visible when the tyres are new, gradually begin to appear as the tread wears down. They appear as at rubber bars running perpendicular to the direction of the tread itself. If more than one or two of these are visible on a tire, the tread is getting low. This should be particularly obvious in the wet tracks that your tyres leave after you drive through a puddle. Use the penny test described on the previous page to double check the depth, but if the bars are starting to appear on any or all of your tyres, it’s once again time to check with your mechanic or local tire dealer to see about getting your current tyres replaced. 21. A certain amount of vibration is inevitable when driving, especially on poorly paved roads, but if you’ve been driving for a while, you probably know how much vibration feels right and how much means that something’s going wrong. There can be any of a number of causes for the vibration — maybe your tyres are misaligned or unbalanced, or your shock absorbers are starting to go. But it could also indicate that there’s some sort of internal problem in the tire itself. Even if the tire isn’t the root cause of the vibration, the vibration could damage the tire and pretty soon you’ll have a problem. So if your car has a bad case of the shimmy-shimmy shakes, especially if you notice this when you aren’t driving on bad roads, take it to the mechanic right away to have it checked out. Too much vibration is almost always a sign that something is wrong. 22. Even fairly low mileage tyres show up for cracks on the treads due to heat and humidity due to exposure to ozone and UV rays.
Towell Auto Centre and Bridgestone launched a rewarding campaign giving customers free fuel on cash purchase of Bridgestone tyres. The campaign offer is valid from 14th August 2016 and will run until 13th October 2016. Dedicated to provide customers with the best products all the time TAC and Bridgestone this time brought in a consumer offer which will aptly match with travelling season. While buying new set of four Bridgestone tyres, customers get free fuel cards. This offer is valid on specific PSR, 4WD, LSR or LSR tyres purchased from any Tyre Care Plus outlet, First Stop Store, Truck Tyre centre or Fleet Point across the country. Customers are free to choose from the complete range of 4x4, SUV& other tyres that Bridgestone holds which includes Turanza, Potenza, Dueler and Ecopia. On purchase of 4 sedan tyres of rim size 13” and 14” customers are rewarded with fuel card worth of RO 10 & RO 15 on purchase of 4 sedan tyres of rim size 15” and above, as well as SUV,700R16 and 750R16 tyre. “When we design our scheme, we ensure that it is something that will be an added advantage to our customers. Going by the idea of creating a perfect journey, we decided to add free fuel to an excellent brand & service,” said Mr. Oommen John, Business Head Bridgestone Tyre Division, TAC. “Keeping the safety aspect in mind, we encourage people to keep a check on
their tyres and change them in due time.” Bridgestone continuously conducts awareness campaigns as part of their responsibility towards society where the team get together to educate the need for tyre care and maintenance. Following Bridgestone’s safety protocol, TAC also diligently performs the standard procedures to ensure healthy tyres like wheel alignment, wheel balancing and tyre rotations, all of which is essential. Towell Auto Centre (TAC) has a network of strategically positioned Tyre Care Plus outlets for Bridgestone tyres with a nationwide presence across the Sultanate in Barka, Musannah, Sohar, Saham, Bu Ali, Ibra, Sinaw, Ibri, Nizwa, Karsha, Sumail, Salalah and Sur. In the capital, they are located at Wadikabir, Bausher, Ghubra, Ghala, Rusayl, Al Khoudh and Mabella with First Stop stores located in Amerat & Seeb. Bridgestone Truck Tyre Centre is located in Ghala and Fleet Points are located at Fahud, Karsha, Nimr and Salalah. Gaining increasing popularity as a reliable service centre, TAC has completely revolutionized the very concept of tyre and auto care in the country. Bridgestone, being one of the most outstanding brands is available at all the store locations throughout the Sultanate. Customers can choose from an extensive range of tyres and avail the best in terms of service, quality care and expertise from well trained professionals and service engineers. SEP 2016
PrEVIEW Aston Martin RB001
As part of an elaborate collaboration between Aston Martin and Red Bull Racing, a new hypercar concept called AM-RB 001 was revealed last month. Automan has the details Author: Chandan B Mallik
For customers who crave an even more intensely focused driving experience, a track-only AM-RB 001 is also in development, the projected performance of which is in line with that of today’s LMP1 Le Mans sports prototypes
ritain’s most exclusive GT car maker Aston Martin, seems to be planning an entry into all-new customer territory with a product that will be offered with significant advantages when compared with hybridised cars like McLaren P1 or La Ferrari. Dubbed as the AM-RB 001, the concept which goes into production in 2018 has been designed in a collaborative effort between Marek Reichman, Aston Martin’s chief creative officer and 10 times Formula One Constructors’ Championship designer Adrian Newey, who is currently employed by Red Bull Racing. Reichman and Newey worked closely on all aspects of the AM-RB 001 project and the result is a remarkable and unprecedented fusion of form and function. The AM-RB 001 is a car engineered to be entirely useable and enjoyable as a road car, but with the capability to perform like no road car before it on a race track. The task of engineering the AM-RB 001 has been shared between Q by Aston Martin Advanced and Red Bull Advanced Technologies Built around a lightweight carbon fibre structure, Reichman designed the exterior of the car, while Newey’s
design focused much on keeping the car glued to the ground by maximising downforce generated through underfloor aerodynamics set-up. In terms of powertrains, no details have been released as yet, but it is widely believed that Aston Martin will shoehorn a normally-aspirated V12. Unlike the McLaren P1 or LaFerrari, there are no plans to offer hybridisation as Aston believes the performance will be evaluated by optimised power-to-weight ratios. In fact, the aim of engineering will be to try and achieve a 1:1 power-to-weight ratio which means 1 bhp/kg. To cope with the extreme aerodynamic loadings at high speeds yet deliver the on-road usability and comfort levels, the car’s suspension system features innovative technology and employ principles perfected by Newey. Likewise, the transmission is a clean-sheet design conceived by Newey and developed by Red Bull Advanced Technologies. The car will be built by David King and his team at Gaydon, in the purpose-built facility and numbers will be strictly limited. Total volume will be between 99 and 150 road cars inclusive of all remaining prototypes and 25 track-only versions. First deliveries will commence in 2018. SEP 2016
PrEVIEW Ferrari La Ferrari Spider
Author: Chandan B Mallik
Barely weeks after CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed the existence of a variant of Ferrariâ€™s hybrid hypercar, Ferrari has wasted no time in releasing details of its open top LaFerrari Spider. Automan has some details of this pre-Paris Motor Show star 64
The LaFerrari was created as a successor to the legendary Enzo and the F50. It is the first Ferrari to carry a hybrid powertrain and is the first Ferrari not to be designed by Pininfarina since 1973. It is the fastest road-legal supercar to come out of Maranello,
n the hyper world of motoring aficionados, an open top version of a hypercar will always been seen as an object of intense interest. As with the case with Ferrari and its hyper hybridised hardtop Le Ferrari, there have been high levels of expectations in circles for an open top and rumours mills have been pretty busy since 2014. Well, the good news is Ferrari hasn’t disappointed at all and Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Ferrari spilled the beans a few weeks prior to its Paris Motor Show debut next month. The LaFerrari is 4,702mm long and 1,992mm wide, with a 2,650mm wheelbase, and the Spider version has to adopt very similar dimensions as per Ferrari design philosophy. Ferrari designers have been particularly attentive in ensuring the car didn’t lose its glamour by removing the roof. In fact, at first glance, there’s not much to suggest that the car’s styling has been affected or compromised. As a result,
even with the extra strengthening, the open top replicates faithfully the same steeply raked windscreen and raised rear haunches. As before, it will be constructed out of carbon-fibre and is expected to be powered by the jaw dropping 949hp, 6.3-litre hybrid V12. However, some revisits to chassis and aerodynamics are expected to help retain expected performance of 0-100km/h in 2.9s, 0-198.4km/h in under seven secs, 0-297km/h in 15s and a top speed of 348.km/h. As part of the personalisation programme Ferrari will offer carbonfibre and fabric soft tops. Production will be limited to 200 units to ensure exclusivity and it will still be one of the fastest and rarest cars in the world. As of now, there are very strong rumours that Ferrari LaFerrari spider will take ‘Aperta’ nameplate when it is revealed to public for the first time next month at Paris.
PrEVIEW MINI Vision Next 100
With a majority of automotive players convinced with the prospect of autonomous cars in future, BMW Group thinks it will be able to produce fully-autonomous cars within the next five years. Among things, the 2016 Mini Vision Next 100 Concept also explores this possibility Author: Chandan B Mallik
tâ€™s no secret that BMW Group had prepared an extensive celebration agenda for its 100th Anniversary. In the course of a few weeks, the group presented three concept vehicles across its brands, which as technology showcases have been designed and prepared to give an idea of what awaits in the next century of motoring from this organisation. The trio of concepts presented included the BMW Vision 100, RollsRoyce Vision Next 100 and the
Mini Vision Next 100. The concept idea for the MINI Vision Next Concept was to present a car that represents the brand mated with clever approaches to future mobility solutions and connectivity. As a result of this thinking, several innovative ideas like Digitally Mine, Cooperizer and Urban go-kart capabilities have been included in the MINI concept. The car has the familiar MINI silhouette, albeit with new detailing matching its job description. It has been SEP 2016
The MINI Vision Concept 100 takes carsharing into consideration, with unlimited personalization options alongside automated taxi-style service to drive itself to a location and drive passengers to their destination as either an automated car or with a driver constructed using various material applications made from recycled plastic and aluminium in the floor area, roof lining and side panel trim. Interestingly, the efficiently-packaged, zero-emission drive system has resulted in reduced need for crash zones which in turn has enabled to envisage a compact body not so far removed from the first MINI back in 1959. The car’s exterior organic form complements its clutter free interior which is devoid of the usual array of controls and screens. To give it an individual touch, interior designers have introduced materials which are now rarely found in car cabins like brass, basalt and cellulose. As an autonomous vehicle, the driver has his place as far as involvement goes and is able to create a personalised experience and customised package of on-board information systems which forms the clinical part of the Digitally Mine concept. Similar to the BMW Vision 100 concept, the Mini Next 100 concept also gets an artificially intelligent system on board and it is represented by its circular set-up
located on a dashboard. And as significant part of ‘Cooperizer’ forms the connection between the driver and the car’s digital intelligence which means that on the move, the driver can influence the car’s decision-making process. As an example, BMW cites if one friend happens to get tickets to an art exhibition that another friend likes, it can alert that friend and coordinate the carpool automatically. Apart from this, the car will allow driver inputs for manipulating controls to vary things like interior ambience and driving modes. Autonomous driving will play an important role in the MINI Vision Next 100 and it will allow the car to travel by itself to say a charging station, cleaning service, parking space or the next user. To switch from driving themselves to autonomous driving, the driver simply moves the steering wheel into the central area between themselves and the front passenger. MINI says despite these features, the hall mark experience of its legendary go-kart feel remains intact if not elevated to new level.
PrEVIEW 2017 Renault Megane Sedan
Renault’s SM3-based Fluence sedan has been serving the brand’s aspirations in the compact family saloon C-segment and the upper-medium segment since 2009. Now, the sedan aspirations in this segment will be fulfilled by a new sedan from the Megane family. Enter Gen IV Megane for 2016-17 Author: Chandan B Mallik
he Middle East market is familiar with the Megane badging from Renault. The Mégane range has always featured a “three-box” notchback sedan variant until 2008, but this was never a volume seller and when, at the end of that year, the Mégane III was introduced, but there was no notch-back version available at the time. As a result there was a void in the model range due to the absence of this particular model from the Franco-Spanish manufactured Mégane range. That is where Renault rebadged the Samsung SM3 as the Fluence to fills these markets. The Fluence for Middle East comes from the Oyak-Renault plant in Bursa, Turkey. While, the Fluence soldiered on, Renault, was behind the scenes preparing a befitting replacement and its commitment is reflected with the arrival of the Megane sedan which will represent the brand in the hotly contested-segment. The Gen IV Mégane was launched at the September 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show and a lot of effort has been made to blend upmarket styling, engineering and features. SEP 2016
The car is larger and lower than its predecessor as it is built on the Alliance Common Module Family or [CMF] C/D platform. It’s styling and design language is heavily influenced by its current siblings like the Clio IV, Captur, design language Espace and Talisman. Well defined proportions come with sculpted sheetmetal surfaces, a typical Renaultfamily front end, distinctive C-shaped front light signature are among key design elements. As expected the car’s cabin borrows a lot from its hatchback sibling including the instrument panel, front seats with perforated inserts and large bolsters on the sides to give them a sportier feel. What differentiates the sedan is the large glass panaromic roof, which Renault also claims is unique in the segment. The car promises to be user-friendly with its “top-level rear-seat spaciousness,” which in real time terms translates into 17.94c-ft of boot space. Meanwhile, the boot operation offers hands-free access, which is also a new feature for the Renault brand. 72
Depending on markets, two petrol [1-6-litre and 2.0-litre four cyclinder] and three diesels powertrains will be offered with choice of manual, 7-speed dual-clutch and CVT transmissions. The suspension package includes McPherson struts on the front and a torsion beam on the rear. Brakes are discs on both axles. The driver can select between five driving modes that change the car set-up. Most Megane’s models have a head-up display and a 7-inch screen (replaced with a 8.7-inch touchscreen in some trim levels). Optionals include adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, lane departure warning, speed limit warning, blind spot monitoring, automatic headlights, reversing camera, parking sensors and a hands-free parking system. Renault’s chief designer Laurens van den Acker’s comment in the Gen IV Megane after its reveal: “Renault can produce cars with a Latin skin and a German heart.” The sedan will be produced at the Bursa plant in Turkey and will be sold in at least 20 countries. SEP 2016
2016 German GP race report Lewis Hamilton dominated the race from the first turn and never looked back
nce again, Lewis Hamilton dominated the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim amidst tough team rivalry. Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg managed to finish fourth after a controversial penalty for a move on Max Verstappen deemed illegal by the stewards. Luck it seemed was not in favour this time for Rosberg, who had won the last time F1 raced here in 2014. Sadly Rosberg made a terrible start from pole and dropped to fourth on the opening lap behind the two Red Bulls. His pass on Verstappen at the Spitzkehre hairpin dashed his podium hopes, however, as stewards ruled he forced Verstappen off the track – although Rosberg argued that Verstappen had moved in the braking zone, which tightened the corner’s exit for him. After taking his 5s penalty in the pits, Rosberg was 74
unable to chase down the Red Bulls. In his 100th Grand Prix, Ricciardo finished second – although Verstappen had passed him at the first corner. Unlike at Barcelona earlier this year, an alternate tyre strategy between the Red Bulls played into Ricciardo’s hands. Despite best efforts, Ferrari was once again frustated and unable to enter the frontrunning fight again, finishing fifth and sixth with Sebastian Vettel ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. Action was seen from the race beginnings itself. From pole position Rosberg made a poor start, dropping to fourth behind Hamilton and Verstappen, the latter driving around the outside of Ricciardo at Turn 1. Hamilton led lap one by 1.3s from Verstappen, with Ricciardo defending from Rosberg. Vettel got ahead of Raikkonen for fifth, with
Valtteri Bottas seventh for Williams from Nico Hulkenberg (Force India), McLaren’s Jenson Button and Felipe Massa’s Williams. Jolyon Palmer’s Renault was involved in an incident with Massa and had to pit for repairs. Massa, didn’t recover and later retired. Rosberg made a concerted effort to pass Ricciardo on lap two, but was elbowed wide in the Mercedes Arena having drawn alongside. The race quickly settled as the drivers nursed their supersoft tyres to their target lap for the first pitstop. Verstappen complained he was “struggling with the rear tyres” as Hamilton set fastest lap by half a second on lap nine and pulled 5s clear out front. Verstappen and Rosberg were the first of the leaders to pit, both rejoining on supersoft tyres – with Rosberg losing 1.3s due to a slow left-rear
change and then getting mired in traffic. Ricciardo pitted on the next lap for softs, as Hamilton took the opportunity to record several of his fastest laps. Hamilton stopped at the end of lap 14, switching to softcompound tyres, having held a 16s lead over Raikkonen. Hamilton rejoined with a 6s lead over Verstappen, Ricciardo and Rosberg. Raikkonen had a slow first stop as he switched to softs, and rejoined 4s in arrears of Vettel, who was already 5s behind Rosberg. Rosberg pitted for his second stop at the end of lap 27, switching to the soft tyre, a move mirrored by Verstappen on the following lap. At the Spitzkehre hairpin, allegedly Rosberg pushed Verstappen off the track. Stewards investigated the move, and gave Rosberg a 5s penalty for “forcing another driver off the track”.
Vettel went back on to supersofts for his third stint, and Riccardo followed suit on lap 33 – dropping behind both Rosberg and Verstappen. Hamilton pitted for the second time on lap 34, also switching to the supersoft, rejoining 5.7s ahead of Rosberg and pulling away. Ricciardo caught Verstappen just after half distance, and DRSed past him for third on lap 40. Ricciardo caught up with Rosberg, just as the German made his final stop – which included the 5s time penalty, which appeared to take longer than required. Rosberg rejoined on the softs in fourth, 5s behind Verstappen after he too had stopped, but could make no impression on the Red Bulls ahead. Vettel overruled Ferrari’s timing of its final stop, as he felt happy on his supersofts. “Who do you want to undercut, they’re miles away?” questioned Vettel, who was told
“Verstappen.” Hamilton stopped for the final time on lap 48, taking softs for his last stint. He rejoined 10s clear of Ricciardo, who had Verstappen 2s behind. “Let’s have a little push to make the gap to Verstappen,” Ricciardo was told. The Red Bulls unleashed their raw pace at this point, which was even faster than Mercedes at this stage on new, softer tyres. Ricciardo carved 3s out of Hamilton’s lead on his supersofts, but the leader raised his pace with 15s to go and they matched each other’s pace to the finish. Behind the Mercs and Red Bulls, the Ferraris trailed home in fifth and sixth. Hulkenberg passed a struggling Bottas for seventh with six laps remaining – just as light rain began to fall. Force India’s Sergio Perez nailed Alonso for the final point with an aggressive move with two laps to go.
2016 Hungary GP Hamilton topped the driver standings for the first time this year after a controlled drive to victory in Budapest
amilton got the jump on pole sitter and teammate Nico Rosberg at the beginning and from there only lost P1 during pit stops. Red Bull were able to push the Silver Arrows in the early stages, but their challenge faded and Ricciardo came home 25sec off the lead, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel right on his tail. In the second Red Bull-Ferrari battle, Max Verstappen held on to win a tense and lengthy scrap for fifth with Kimi Raikkonen, while Fernando Alonso took a worthy if distant seventh for McLaren. His team mate Jenson Button was the race’s sole retirement. Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg completed the top ten to take the remaining points. 76
Hamilton may have been up front, but the nip-andtuck flow as the two Silver Arrows cut through lapped traffic ensured that the world champion was never able to relax, once Rosberg had got his second wind and reduced the advantage Hamilton had opened up in the first stint on the supersoft Pirelli tyre. He seemed less happy on the two sets of softs that he used after that, whereas Rosberg could push harder on them than the supersofts, but the German could not gain track position. The closest he got was on lap 52 when the gap came down to 0.6s after Hamilton was blocked by backmarker Esteban Gutierrez in the Haas, and again when Hamilton had locked up and momentarily run wide in Turn 12 on the 62nd lap, but thereafter he regained
momentum and had things under control to the flag. Both Red Bull and Ferrari showed moments of potential. Riccardo so nearly went round the outside of both Mercedes for the lead at the start but having got by Rosberg in Turn 1 he then lost out to him almost immediately in Turn 2. Later the Australian was lapping faster than the Mercedes at times, but though he got the gap down to under five seconds to Hamilton mid-race, thereafter he faded and was only just able to keep Ferrari’s Vettel at bay by the end. Team mate Verstappen’s race was compromised when Hamilton pinched him at the start as he tried to go down the inside of the Mercedes into Turn 1, and then ruined when he came out from his first pit stop behind
Raikkonen, who had started his Ferrari on the soft tyre. The Finn resolutely kept him under control, losing the Dutchman any chance of the podium. Verstappen overtook Raikkonen when the latter stopped for fresh supersofts on lap 50. It seemed only a matter of time before the Ferrari repassed, but as Raikkonen tried a move in Turn 2 on lap 57, the Ferrari ran into the Red Bull as it changed direction. His left front wing endplate damaged, an unhappy Raikkonen had to settle for sixth, three-tenths in arrears. Button was the only retirement. The result gives Hamilton 192 points to Rosberg’s 186, as Ricciardo moves to third on 115 just ahead of Raikkonen on 114. Vettel is fifth with 110, as Verstappen closes up with 100.
British GP race report Except for Lewis Hamilton, it was a dismal day for the other Brits
n home turf, Lewis Hamilton performed quite well and has moved to within a point of Nico Rosberg at the head of the 2016 Formula 1 World Championship standings after claiming a comfortable lightsto-flag win in a wet-to-dry British Grand Prix. A fourth win for Hamilton on home soil at Silverstone to put him on a par with Nigel Mansell. Hamilton as defending champion thrilled the fans by dominating title rival Rosberg in the early stages before managing his advantage to the chequered flag. A heavy downpour in the lead up to the race prompted a Safety Car start and the race eventually began properly on lap six. Hamilton was comfortably ahead of Rosberg, with a margin of 3.7secs on the opening lap alone. With the entire field pitting for intermediate tyres within three laps of the Safety Car on track, those that waited longest to make the switch would ultimately benefit, with Hamilton, Rosberg, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez – up from tenth – making up the initial top four positions. From here Hamilton steadily
stretched his margin as Rosberg dealt with the attentions of a feisty Verstappen. The Dutchman demonstrated his racing mettle on lap 16 with a marvellous pass for second around the outside of the Mercedes at Chapel. With the change to slick tyres in the rapidly drying conditions looming, Hamilton pitted on lap 18 and returned to track 7.1s clear of Verstappen. Verstappen briefly got the gap down to less than six seconds with a flurry of fast laps, a wide moment at Turn 1 would clip his charge. Turn 1 in particular under braking prove treacherous over the course of the race, with Hamilton one of several drivers to taking a trip across the run-off area on lap 28, albeit without consequence beyond lost time. However, it was to be the only misstep of his in a race he would control thereafter, Hamilton keeping the margin static even when Rosberg eventually broke through Verstappen’s robust defence on lap 38 of 52 with a DRS-assisted pass into Stowe. Cruising across the line for his fourth win in five races, though Hamilton had already
slashed the margin to Rosberg at the head of the standings to four points, he stood to potentially gain even more ground over his team-mate and rival after the provisional championship leader was placed under investigation for a rules breach. With Verstappen dispatched, Rosberg had been eating into Hamilton’s lead with a series of quick times in the latter laps, but a gearbox issue would see him lose 7th gear with just six laps remaining. With Mercedes coming onto the radio to inform Rosberg of the issues – or risk a DNF -, stewards would inform the team its driver is under investigation for an alleged breach of the radio communication rules. And so it proved, a 10secs penalty being applied postrace, dropping him behind Max Verstappen and down to third place. It means heading to the mid-way point in the 2016 season, Rosberg leads Hamilton by just a single point in the standings An earlier change to intermediate tyres would see Daniel Ricciardo lose touch with the leaders initially, but he recovered to fourth ahead of Sergio Perez, the result
putting Red Bull within just seven points of Ferrari in the constructors’ standings. A late move on Perez would see Kimi Raikkonen secure fifth place on an otherwise dismal day for Ferrari, his team-mate Sebastian Vettel suffering a spin and two offs as he attempted to recover from his penalty-induced 11th place starting position. Picking up a five-second post-race time penalty as punishment for running Felipe Massa off the road, the former champion could only manage ninth place. Benefiting from pitting with the leaders in the wet, Perez moved from 10th to sixth, despite a spin at Turn 1. Team-mate Nico Hulkenberg completed a strong race for Force India in seventh position. Elsewhere, Fernando Alonso suffered a wild high-speed spin at Turn 1, resulting him drop down the order. Williams failed to score as Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas struggled in the conditions. It was a disappointing day for the rest of the British contingent, with Jenson Button missing the points in 12th, while Jolyon Palmer retired with technical issues. SEP 2016
F1 in Italy: Imola or Monza?
One country, two locations and a fight to host F1! A legal fight has now broken between Imola and Monza to secure the Italian Grand Prix approval for the event. A dramatic TV-serial styled development shows how tensions over hosting the high profile lucrative race. Imola said it was taking the matter to court – as it feels it not correct that the Italian racing authority [ACI] did not want to approve its bid nor make fundsAuthor: available that are there for Chandan B Mallik Monza. As it transpires, Imola has an agreement in place with Bernie Ecclestone to hold the Italian GP from 2017, if it can secure the support of the Italian motor racing
authority. It was also clear that extra funding given by the government to help Monza’s cause was not going to be made available either. Formula Imola president Uberto Selvatico Estense told reporters recently that ACI president Angelo Sticchi Damiani was only interested in helping Monza. “I think it’s a political issue. We have an agreement with Bernie, and we only need the approval of the national sporting authority, he said. Imola executives claims with its contract accepted by Ecclestone, and Monza not having a deal in place, that it is wrong for the ACI not to help Imola.
Sauber F1 team announces change of ownership Peter Sauber, founder of Sauber F1 team is retiring from all functions related to his set-up. Swiss investment firm Longbow Finance has purchased Sauber team following months of speculation about new investors coming on board. Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn will continue under new management and Peter Sauber will step down from the board and be succeeded as chairman by Pascal Picci from Longbow Finance.
Mercedes has been pushing on with upgrades at each race to keep improving its speed. Ferrari engineering is still struggling to understand why its car has such a sensitive set-up that allows it to be competitive only in a very narrow performance window. 78
Marchionne unhappy with Ferrari’s F1 performance
On the back of a deeply disappointing British Grand Prix, where the team struggled for pace all weekend, Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne has been reportedly holding top level meetings with staff to work out what needs to be done to rescue its embarrassing season. With the Formula 1 campaign approaching its halfway point, Ferrari victory seems to be elusive till now. Now, there are several factors that could be responsible for lack of progress. And worse than that, it appears to have fallen behind in the development stakes against Mercedes and Red Bull – leaving it now facing a challenge to finish second in the constructors’ standings. Meanwhile, the hunt is on for a new technical director following the premature exit of Briton James Allison. Ferrari’s senior management has been discussed internally Ross Brawn as a possible successor and advisor to Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne. Marchionne is believed to have offered favourable job conditions and even exempting Brawn’s travel to races. Informed sources have revealed that Brawn has made it clear he does not want to return to F1 and this development means the Maranello must now activate Plan B in a bid to get desired results.
F1 radio rules relaxed
Following several instances of inconsistencies of rule applications during races, a meeting of the Strategy Group has resulted in some relaxation and improvements. “At the request of the Teams and Commercial Rights Holder, the FIA has agreed to adopt a more liberal approach to the interpretation of Article 27.1 (that a driver must drive the car “alone and unaided”),” said the sport’s governing body. This means that with the exception of the period between the start of the formation lap and the start of the race, there will be no limitations on messages teams send to their drivers either by radio or pit board. This approach is aimed at providing improved content for fans and spectators, as teams will now be required to provide the Commercial Rights Holder with unrestricted access to their radio messages at all times that their cars are out of the garage.
BMW announces factory-built M4 GT4 race car for 2018 BMW Motorsport keenly eyeing the booming GT4 racing segment and the set-up has formally announced that it is preparing to tap in on the action from 2018 with the M4 GT4. BMW says the race car’s drivetrain and electronics will be acquired from the M4 road car as the rules allow only limited modifications to the base car. While power will come from a twin-turbo,
431hp 3.0-litre, straight-six engine, but the rear wheel driven GT4’s output will be determined by Balance of Performance equalisation. From a marketing perspective the M4 GT4 will slot into BMW Motorsport’s range of customer race cars between the entry-level M235i Racing and the bigger M6 GT3.
Marquez shows mastery at Germany Life line for Kimi It’s no secret in F1 driver circuit that Force India driver Sergio Perez, Valtteri Bottas of Williams and Haas’ Romain Grosjean had all been identified as potential replacements for under-performing Kimi Raikkonen. Raikkonen’s contract with the Scuderia Ferrari was due to expire at the end of 2016. But last month, ahead of the British GP, Scuderia Ferrari bosses announced that they had renewed its technical and racing agreement with Raikkonen. The response to this decision has been lukewarm in F1 circles as many believe that Raikkonen had outlived his utility for the struggling brand and his performance is not as lively as his codriver Sebastian Vettel. Raikkonen is in his second stint at Ferrari after winning the 2007 Drivers’ World Championship during his first spell with the team. He left the team, and Formula 1, in 2009 but after two years of rallying he returned with Lotus for the 2012 campaign and then re-joined Ferrari in 2014.
Marc Marquez’s phenomenal run in the German Grand Prix, which had seen him victorious for six consecutive years at Sachsenring (four times in MotoGP), was extended to seven today with a win in a flag-to-flag race. The Spaniard decided to change bikes early after making a mistake that ran him wide and dropped him down to eleventh. The result puts him 48 points ahead.
Miller wins sensational Assen race Australia’s Jack Miller became the first satellite rider to win a MotoGP race in 10 years as the Aussie sealed a sensational victory in the rain-affected Dutch TT at Assen. The race was restarted over 12 laps after being stopped initially on lap 15 due to adverse weather conditions, with heavy rain lashing the circuit. Marc Marquez sealed second. SEP 2016
THE COMMODIFICATION OF UNIQUENESS You couldn’t have spent a lifetime, however short that may be, in the modern brand and consumer driven world without building up your own pet set of aspirational tokens. It could be something as simple as the clothes you choose to wear, the car you drive, the locality you choose to live in or the food you eat. Your choice, when it comes to that is driven by so many inherent and learned factors that it is a science in itself. But there is one common thread that runs through our choices – we try to get ourselves the best that we can afford, sometimes even stretching ourselves to go that extra mile, putting aside necessities in the pursuit of perceived luxuries. Have you ever done that yourself? It could be something as mundane as deciding not to buy a new outfit and using the money to celebrate a birthday. Or choosing to keep your car for another year, so that you can afford a holiday in the here and now. It again comes back to choice. The entire concept of the value pyramid is built on the idea that as our economic clout increases, we move upward, towards the ever more expensive and rarer options of the premium, luxury and super luxury. Somehow, the quagmire of human nature and our need to live up to our vision of ourselves makes sure that we do not live comfortably with a standard of living that is below our station. This truism drives the marketing strategies of car companies that seek to upgrade you through their model line-up, from the entry level hatchback for the college-goer, to the family man’s first sedan and on to the mature family man’s estate or crossover. If it isn’t the family bit, then you are peddled cars depending on your position in life, from a sales executive’s wagon, through to the E-segment premium car of upper management.
Raj Warrior is now managing editor of Automan and has been in the thick of the Automotive journalism field from the past 18 years. Want to comment or have your say? Email at email@example.com Identify yourself or your message will be trashed and your id blocked
However, that is something the modern world is finding a lot harder to keep as the status quo, largely because of a blurring of identities. Take phones for instance – Nokia’s Vertu brand was set up as the pinnacle of desirability in mobile phones. What still keeps it unique? That too in a world where you can quite easily buy an iPhone with a huge screen, lots of storage and a bucketful of desirability and quite comfortably use it while driving around in your Rolls-Royce. If you take it to the next level, one which most of us equate with, the same is happening in the regular Android phone space where manufacturers offer affordable price points for hardware that competes with the top rung offerings from traditional leaders. That is increasingly happening in almost every sphere of the consumer’s umwelt – you are getting luxury features in mainstream cars as technology lowers the cost of production. What does that do for the luxury car? How does the premium brand keep its USP over the rest of the industry? In a world where one school of thought says that the product is of a standard irrespective of its place of manufacture, what is the attraction that a manufacturer offers by saying that they make their cars in Italy or Germany or the United Kingdom? Of course the issue is with business chasing the money stream. If you are looking at export markets, your product has to be the best in the market you enter, or offer the best value for money at the very least. However, as a consumer you couldn’t have asked for a better time to be alive. Aspire all you want for the best in life and somehow you can find a set of brands that elevate you along the way. So what if you don’t want to buy a small hatch back as your first car? You will find an Asian brand selling a family sedan for the same price. It may still take some time for the brand to become desirable on its own, but by then your means and your needs would have also moved on ahead. Your journey as a consumer seems to follow the much vaunted arrow of time, ever ahead. It’s just less and less likely that you will ever reach the pinnacle of uniqueness anymore.