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No 111 November 2010

tour de

Oman’s Best Automotive Resource

OMR 0.500 AED 5.00 QR 5.00

2011 kia optima

Tested

touareg

gen 2 is clever and green

2010 bmw GT 2010 mitsubishi asx

2010 cadillac cts coupe paris & SHARJAH motor show

1st harley-davidson Freedom tour in jordan F1: Thrills and spills in singapore, exclusive ! JAPAN & KOREA Visit us online at www.automanweb.com


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More motorshows and models

editor-in-chief Mohammad Al Taie

The past couple of years have seen a churn in both the automotive sphere and in neighbouring Dubai. Home to the regional offices of many car brands, the emirate has been through a rough patch that seems to mirror the travails the brands are facing on a global AL ROYA PRESS & PUBLISHING PO Box: 343, Postal Code 118 Al Harthy Complex Sultanate of Oman Email: automan@alroya.net Website: www.automanweb.com

scale. We have seen enough professionals move sideways into consultancy or look for greener pastures elsewhere, reminding one of the fact that ordinary people bear the brunt of errors of systems and governance. While similar uncertainty rules across most of the developed economies it is heartening to see the outcome of Paris motorshow. New models were there in force after the lean quarters ahead of it and what’s more interesting is that car makers seem to have a better

Editorial office: Tel: +968 24479888 Extn 300, Fax: +968 24479889 Circulation office: Tel: +968 2456 2360, Fax: +968 2456 2194 publisher Hatim Al Taie

understanding of the product chain that will lead them into 2012. Of course all that is governed by the caveat that there is no slide back into recession in key economies. Closer to home, our executive editor Chandan Mallik was part of the jury that selected the winners of the Middle East Motoring Awards, presented as a part of the Sharjah motorshow.

hatim@alroya.net

Hopefully the long-term benefits of initiatives like this will help the show, which hasn’t quite shaken the image of being a dealer-represented marginal event, much like our own home-

EDITOR & GM Raj Warrior

raj@alroya.net

Executive Editor Chandan B Mallik chandan@alroya.net Co-ordinator Pratibha N Kadam pratibha@alroya.net Design Sawsan Al Muharbi sawsan@alroya.info

spun show in Muscat. The next big event we can look forward to is December’s Abu Dhabi motorshow. This biennial event plays leapfrog with the Dubai event on alternating years. There is a growing level of awareness and the presence of the regional arms of manufacturers raises the standard of the event. What we are hoping to see is a good amount of regional premieres and hopefully some exotics that are chasing the fabled money of the region. The new model year is also well and truly on us and we will see more launches happening, both inside and away from the motorshows. Hopefully the money market will be conducive to a growth in sales. Credit is increasingly becoming central to the purchase decision.

HEAD OF marketing Maged Aziz maged@alroya.net

Another factor that influences sales is the degree of comfort with which people perceive

marketing Supreme Philips

Touareg, Mitsubishi ASX and the Jeep Grand Cherokee, all of which we have featured in philips@alroya.net

circulation books@alroya.net FINANCE & ADMIN Abraham Daniel daniel@alroya.net Printer Ruwi Modern Printers LLC Tel: +968 2479 4167, 2479 8157 Fax: +968 2470 0545

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

their immediate futures. This month has already seen the launch of the KIA Optima, VW either this or previous issues. As this Eid comes upon us, to be followed by the landmark celebrations around the 40th National Day, we wish all our readers a great time and the wherewithal to buy one of the new cars on offer.


in this issue {spotlight}

{First Drive}

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{First Drive}

g in Walkin ith W m tande s t n gia

Porsche’s future plans

Author: Chandan B Mallik

ast month’s Paris Motor Show was an unusual mix of enthusiasm and charisma from car manufacturers. The level of enthusiasm amongst domestic players, European and Asian rivals was seen as the beginning of the much needed industry revival after several years of downturn as a result of the global economic crisis. Not that the crisis is entirely over, the industry is moving forward with cautious optimism and most are of the opinion that the swing is the beginning of the ‘feel good’ factor. Besides the stunning displays, introduction of new cars, visitors to the show were also treated to possible technology-oriented solutions or applications designed specifically to meet the forthcoming new regulations, emissions norms and performance factors. Some of the technology led solutions – hybrids or extended range vehicles or simply all-electric plug-in models were equally vying for attention as super or sports cars. Interestingly, the influence of alternative technology solutions appearing in hyper performance cars was quite evident and so was some of the automotive brands entering into new and uncharted segments.

However, automotive aficionados will not forget how Jaguar turned the Paris venue into a ‘best-of-British’ celebration with its awesome C-X75 supercar concept along with Lotus, which also left no one in doubt that it was a force to be reckoned with, stunning the automotive world with no fewer than six new models that it hopes will revolutionise the brand once again. The Jaguar concept was unlike any other at the show, it was least expected and its purpose was loud and clear. Ian Callum has created an exotic supercar outside of the usual box thinking with the idea that it could theoretically be produced in the near future. Besides the six teasers from Lamborghini prior to the show which ended up as a jaw-dropping new superlightweight carbon-fibre-clad super-sportscar concept, dubbed the Sesto Elemento, most automakers had something to say. However, there were some disappointments too. As they always say, expect the unexpected and this show had quite a few of them. Read on…

Paris SHOW 21

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{Special feature}

{Special feature}

On a road less

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he global recession over the past couple of years didn’t just hit the automotive sector. The two wheeler industry too, was affected and the impact of recession can be measured by the fact that many of the leading Japanese brands didn’t make or offer significant or new 2010 models, opting instead focusing on ways to get rid of unsold bikes in large markets such as US and Europe. Even sales of Harley-Davidson have been hurt globally, but according to Michael Carney, marketing manager Harley- Davidson Middle East & Africa, sales in the region were pretty good and the company managed to achieve its retail sales targets. Harley-Davidson has used the downturn period as an opportunity to rework its business strategies and focus business in areas in which it has identified as the strategic growth markets which also includes Middle East. As per the business plan, the iconic brand will increase its dealer network in the territories of Sub Sahara, North Africa and Middle East. Currently, these territories fall under the Cape Town, South-Africa based setup subsidiary. As part of the initiative has the flipside is that even at a time when some of the global markets are stagnating, Harley-Davidson is very excited with the opening up of a brand new market in the Middle East – Jordan. It may be recalled that this destination was closed for nearly three decades for bikers. The lifestyle motorcycle maker has wasted no time in setting up shop in this new territory and appropriately branded its first media ride event in the country as ‘Freedom Tour’. Meanwhile, a resurging Harley-Davidson has introduced three new additions to its Middle East line-up, beginning with the Sportster 883-based SuperLow, re-introduction of the Softail Deluxe and the XR1200X. For the ‘Freedom Tour’ media event, Harley-Davidson designed an extensive two-day

first drive 64 After lifting the 28-year-old ban on two-wheelers recently, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has re-opened its doors for motorcycling. Harley-Davidson let us discover this fascinating destination with its 2011 line-up of motorcycles as part of its first ‘Freedom Tour’ in the country.

loop tour of the Jordan covering most of the important historical and touristic destinations such as Petra, Wadi Rum and swanky port city of Aqaba. The sojourn began at the new dealership located on the outskirts of capital Amman and nine different productions models were made available for testing. My ride began with arguably the most recognized H-D bike in the world -- the Fat Boy Lo. The road and drive towards Petra took us through the mountain passes with stunning views of the Dead Sea. Dressed in satin chrome and pea, the model featured a reshaped seat to my liking and handlebar that placed me ‘in’ the motorcycle. The Fat Boy Lo also boasts of having the lowest seat height of any H-D model in the line-up which is superb for short-legged brethren like me. The half-moon footboards, alloy wheels and leather tank panel help the model rock to a singular, fat-custom beat. The suspension responded very well in insulating the rider from the road irregularities and though its rear-suspension design that mimics the lines of a vintage hardtail frame, it surprisingly is modern when it offers the comfort of modern suspension that is hidden under the chassis. The oil tank is located below the seat, forward foot controls or foot boards, and the classic five-gallon Fat Bob fuel tank are notable styling details of each Softail model. The engine is a counter-balanced 1,584cc Twin Cam 96B V-Twin, rigid-mounted in the frame. The rigid powertrain allows tight packaging of the engine within the frame. Rated at 93.67 ft. lbs. of peak torque at 3,000 rpm, the engine features Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI) and is finished in black powdercoat with bright machined highlights on the cylinder fins, and satin-chrome engine and

| Author: Chandan B Mallik| Photographs: Adrian Wroth

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{First drive}

{First drive}

On

active duty

Road Test 12 Mitsubishi thinks its new crossover, the ASX, is a ‘game changer’ for the brand. Automan thinks it is a Lancer and Outlander rolled into one. | Author: Chandan B Mallik

Perhaps more than any other model in its line-up, KIA’s Optima brings to the fore the great leaps that the brand has taken in catching up with and beating established competitors. The third generation of the Optima packs in quite a few surprises

first drive 48 Author: Raj Warrior

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t’s no secret that globally Mitsubishi Motors has had a very rough road the last few years. Despite its troubled period, the company with the triple diamond logo never abandoned its big plans or its principle of “iimono nagaku” [this was adopted as the corporate policy of the entire Mitsubishi Motors Group in March 1998, reflecting the company’s rethinking of its traditional stance to place greater emphasis on“value for the customer”], and under the leadership of Osamu Masuko, President and CEO of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation there’s been a definitive shift in product policy in recent times. Mitsubishi is deliberately moving away from a past littered with larger saloons and SUVs and now the focus is on building smaller and more efficient vehicles on global platforms. The latest car to arrive in the regional markets under the new philosophy is the ASX crossover SUV, also known domestically as the RVR. In its current line-up in the region, it is the mid-sized Outlander crossover SUV that sits directly above the Lancer. The Mitsubishi Outlander is a tidy and versatile sport utility vehicle that offers a choice of a thrifty 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine or a responsive 3.0-litre V6 [depending on markets], two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, five or seven-passenger seating. With the proliferation of the sub mid-sized SUV/CUV segments with new models such as Nissan’s Qashqai, VW Tiguan, Audi A5 or Suzuki SX4, Mitsubishi spotted an opportunity to build and position a smaller crossover based on the Lancer platform. In doing so, Mitsubishi is targeting an audience that wants something big - but not that big. So, it’s no surprise that the focus has been on content and packaging in this model. The ASX is built off the same platform as the Outlander and Lancer and sits on the same wheelbase as the Outlander, but is 25mm shorter and 65mm lower. The series production car is actually very close in appearance to the initial Concept-cX prototype Mitsubishi first displayed at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show. The ASX is 4,295mm long overall, 1,770mm wide and 1,615mm high. From the styling perspective, many punters may mistake the ASX as an Outlander derivative initially as the front end with the large Lancer Evo-styled jet fighter grille and short overhangs, is almost identical. However, upon closer inspection, the differences in styling are clearly evident – especially in the sheetmetal. The character lines in the ASX are more pronounced than

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cover story 56

Just introduced in the region, the second generation all-new 2011 Volkwagen Touareg is lean, mean and greener. Automan checks out the new arrival and finds it more of a technology-led revolution.

{First drive}

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spotlight

Paris Mondial

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news analysis

Top headlines that grabbed our attention T

Worthy addition

he solid foundation of Cadillac’s rearwheel-drive platform CTS family started effectively with the arrival of the second generation four-door saloon in 2003. Actually, the arrival heralded a major change for a model series that had been dependent on front-wheel-drive architecture for many years. After success with the rear wheel drive CTS, Cadillac added a high-performance version by shoehorning a variant of the Chevrolet Corvette V8 engine with manual transmission and badged it as the CTS-V. Finally, Cadillac added a station wagon variant and what was missing in the CTS line-up was a replacement of Cadillac’s last coupe, the Eldorado, which was discontinued in 2002. The arrival of the second generation coupe was incident filled. Had the economic downturn not affected the automotive industry especially in the US, the new CTS Coupe which was penned in 2006 by Bob Munson, chief designer of the Cadillac CTS and presented as a concept in 2008 would have been introduced as a 2009 production model. Although on the cards, the CTS coupe programme was frozen for a full year and positive feedback from GM top brass, visitors and analysts post Detroit Auto Show in 2008 helped fast track the project. Landing at US dealerships in 2009 as a 2010 model and now in the Middle East, the

CTS Coupe is almost identical to the concept shown. It sits in an elite segment and competes with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe, BMW 335i coupe, Audi A5, Lexus IS 350 C and Infiniti G37 coupe. The car’s design is a breakthrough despite its very close connection with the saloon. The now familiar chiseled design from the saloon looks identical on the coupe but on closer inspection, the difference in detailing is evident. Only the headlights, front mudguards and grille come directly from the saloon while a new sculpted bonnet and bumper contribute to its more aggressive design. Meanwhile, the lower front valance incorporates vents for cooling the brakes. There’s no doubt that the design language of the CTS is strikingly handsome from any angle and certainly unique in the class. The angular sheetmetal on the coupe follows Cadillac’s philosophy of combining art and science in a car by borrowing cues from the Cien concept car. Mechanically, this classic two-plus-two has the same wheelbase dimensions as the CTS fourdoor saloon and this arrangement has benefited designers and engineers who have been able to put in wider doors and create better access for rear seat occupants. In dimensions, overall length is two inches shorter than the saloon, while its overall height is two inches lower. However, it is the profile where the CTS coupe really shines with its sharp door, angled

first drive 44 Just over two months ago, the Coupe version of Cadillac CTSbadged models joined the Middle East line-up for 2010-11. Automan drives the car in Lebanon

C-pillar, and a hidden B-pillar which make the car look shorter than it really is [it’s actually longer than the E-Class coupe, one of its key rivals]. The rear end treatment features a centrally placed dual-exhaust tips [similar to a Porsche] under the bumper that complements all of the other design elements on the car and the tail lamps look remarkably similar to the concept with a slight revision to incorporate the indicators and reverse lamps. Although it has a traditional boot, the CTS Coupe also appears as a fastback at times. Also faster is the new windscreen which is laid at an angle of 62.3°, while the rear glass is nearly flat, making this one of the most dramatically styled Cadillacs since the day GM Design Guru Harley Earl designed cars with tall tail fins, a notable example being the 1959 Eldorado. In spite of the very fast look of the coupe, the actual drag coefficient number is high for a coupe and high in this class, just under 0.36, when some of the competition is down around 0.26. The CTS Coupe focuses more on the luxury part of the equation in the segment and very much like its saloon sibling, its follows the “more space for less money” philosophy in a stylish way. There are no traditional door handles outside or inside; instead, the CTS Coupe uses touchpad type openers adapted from the Chevrolet Corvette. We had liked the interior of the CTS saloon and couldn’t find a

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{preview}

{preview}

Evolution more

than a revolution Heavily inspired by the original Chargers of the 1960s, the revised for 2011 Dodge Charger gets an extensive makeover inside out Author: Chandan B Mallik

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he current generation of the full-size Dodge Charger saloon was designed during the Daimler-Chrysler era to deliver pony car excitement, style and recall a bygone era. The Charger and its siblings, the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum, were part of the trio cars engineered on an older version of Mercedes-Benz’ E-Class platform, but using Chrysler powertrains. At the time of launch it wasn’t seen as a compromise as rehashed product that Daimler-Chrysler was seeking to strike when it launched the range of new LX full-size cars in 2005-06. But as we all know, it was the stylish Chrysler 300C designed by Ralph Gilles which actually stole the show putting the Dodge in somewhat behind, despite it being a useful car offering drivers and passengers benefits of a rear-wheel drive layout and aggressive in-your-face looks. Despite its interior space limitations, the Charger was quite successful in avoiding the anonymous styling limitations in the segment. After the separation with Daimler, now a recharged Chrysler LLC wants to give its Dodge brand motor cars the necessary boost in order to help the line-up come back and be noticed. In its stable, the strongest point is the availability of cutting edge and flexible Pentastar V6 engines, which it is introducing in phases in the line-up. So, it’s not surprising that the revised for 2011 Charger takes its assigned task quite seriously. Set to arrive in US showrooms later this year and in the Middle East a couple of months later, the incoming model will be immediately recognizable from its familiar profile and design, but the real story

preview 38

lies both over and under the sheetmetal. From the exterior, the famous crosshair grille returns and headlamps have been redesigned and placed at a slightly more aggressive angle. The Charger’s side profile is now much sleeker thanks to the tighter wheel arches and lowered bonnet. And running front to rear is the iconic horizontal “coke bottle” or “double-diamond” body-side styling with the biggest cosmetic change at the rear, where a full-width tail lamp arrangement visually links the Charger with both past Dodge models and the company’s Dodge Challenger sibling. Dodge calls the tail lamps a “racetrack” graphic when their 164 LEDs are illuminated. Below the tail lamps, new squared-off tailpipes exit a more refined-looking diffuser. The Charger has been aerodynamically refined in the wind tunnel and several cues point to this, such as the revisited lower sills and race-car-like flat underbody. While, the car still uses the original E-Class chassis, but it has been extensively tweaked to offer worldclass suspension-tunings with re-designed geometry to help it offer a nimble and balanced character. The outgoing model was moderately nose-heavy and had the tendency to understeer. The cabin has also been revisited with the focus on premium soft-touch materials and four interior colour combinations. The car now also integrates world-class infotainment and convenience technologies. Sound deadening material has been used throughout and Dodge engineers claim to have tuned the cabin for sound quality (rather than sound level)

by isolating powertrain, road and wind noise by maximizing structural stiffness of the car’s unibody to world-class levels. The incoming car, depending on the trim, will feature the new 3.6-litre Pentastar engine as its entry ticket. The R/T versions will continue with the 5.7-litre HEMI™ V8 engine with seamless displacement on demand four-cylinder mode for optimizing performance and fuel economy. All-wheel drive will be available in R/T trim, and the system includes a front-axle disconnect function to aid in fuel economy. On the safety front, there are more than 65 safety and security features, including standard Keyless Enter-N-Go and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with segment-exclusive Ready-alert Braking and Rainy Day Brake Support safety system. Safety and security features available for the first time on the Dodge Charger include adaptive-cruise control (ACC) with forward-collision warning (FCW), blindspot monitoring (BSM) with rear cross path (RCP) detection and ParkView™ rear back-up camera with grid lines. The car will be built at the Brampton Assembly Plant in Brampton, Ontario, Canada.

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{Cover story}

Tour de Touareg

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{First drive}

| Author: Chandan B Mallik

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From across the region and around the world

brandwatch

This year’s last European motor show in Paris had a clear cut message: technology and innovation are the buzzwords for future mobility and corporate success. Automan finds out more at the show

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he completely re-developed second generation Volkswagen Touareg had its world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show earlier in the year. The first generation Touareg was co-developed with Audi and Porsche [all the three shared the same platform and at least one powertrain] and hence it was not surprising to find some elements of Audi [build quality] and performance [Porsche] in the Touareg. Since the Touareg launch in 2003, the crossover SUV segment has witnessed many changes as a result of several factors – world economic crisis, new and tougher legislation related to safety, performance and emissions among others. Besides these factors, the crossover segment is also getting extremely busy and crowded with more and more new arrivals. And Volkswagen is in no mood to give up its technical excellence, one of the key elements in the model’s global retial success of more than 500,000 units. As VW has more than one crossover SUV in its line-up, the job of introducing engineering upgrades and content changes actually began in the smaller Tiguan. As the investment proved to be a successful, in a way it prompted VW to carry forward the experience into the Touareg line-up for its second innings. Much like its predecessor, the incoming unibody constructed fiveseater Touareg sits somewhere between mid-size and large SUVs, but it carries its bulk well. From the design perspective it retains its profile and elegant proportions despite a marginal increase in dimensions. VW’s new corporate design language plays well on the Touareg with a more squared off look, and manages to cover most of the dimensional changes quite well. Overall length is up 1.5 inches, all of that within the wheelbase, and width is up half an inch, although height is down a half an inch. A corporate grille now adorns the car, paired with flush fit trapezoidal cluster headlamps with LED daytime running lights and wrapping up the profile are the bumpers with shorter overhangs and improved arrival and departure angles. From the exterior or interior it’s hard to believe that the SUV has been put on a rigid diet plan where it has almost shed 10 per cent of its weight depending on the variant. The entry level V6 powered Touareg is lighter by 208kg and that’s not to suggest that weight losses were effected by random measures. Actually, the job has been done with the finesse of a plastic surgeon where for example the weight of the body-in-white has been reduced by five per cent to 398kg. Inside the cabin, the revised interior appears classy and more functional. Whereas the last-generation Touareg felt a bit cramped inside, the occupants benefit from the extended wheelbase, particularly those in the rear. The redesigned seats are more contoured, body hugging with adequate bolstering and extra leg room in the rear is markedly improved. The rear seat can also be adjusted now and so can the backrests. For convenience, the rear seat can be unlatched at the press of a button and when flat folded it creates 1,642 litres of cargo space. As before, a space saver tyre comes with an electric air compressor neatly tucked in the boot. The influence of Audi doesn’t go unnoticed, be it trims or build quality or materials or tolerances. New climate controls appear to be borrowed from the Audi Q7 bin and a new eight-inch RDS-810 touch screen provides the much expected upgrade to the navigation and entertainment set-up. Volkswagen has added a seven-inch TFT full-color

screen between the tach and speedo dials that is colour-coded and provides additional information on infotainment and navigation functions for the driver. This new screen is very sharp with vibrant colors and provides quite a bit of information at the driver’s request. All in all, the new Touareg represents a significant upgrade to what was already a very nice interior. Also among the other new systems in the car, the most notable is the absence of the foot operated parking brake lever. Like upmarket cars, it is now electronically operated via push button. With the panaromic glass roof fad catching up in the segment, the Touareg is also available with a large panoramic sunroof and top trim version offers a radio-navigation system with a 60GB hard drive and 3D representation of buildings on its screen. The bigger news, however, is in the drivetrain department. While the car was launched with diesel and petrol powertrains plus a mild hybrid for Europe, for the region, till the bigger V8 version arrives next year, an optimised version of the current V6 FSI engine will continue to serve the model series. Compared to the set-up of the previous model, this entry level engine and gets several tweaks largely to help improve emissions and fuel economy. It also gets new fuel management, a new fluid honing process, new piston rings and lightweight forged pistons round out the changes to the venerable narrow-angle engine. The ultra smooth 24-valve six-cylinder unit develops 280hp and a maximum torque of 360Nm. The calibration is designed to offer constant power between 3,000 and 4,000rpm [the working range]. Peak power arrives at 6,200 rpm. Realising that an engine upgrade by itself wouldn’t be able to satisfy the performance requirements, two more cogs have been added to the six-speed gearbox. The eight-speed automatic transmission is designed to cope with engine torques of up to 850Nm [the Touareg line-up also has high torque producing diesels] and one of the benefits is that due to the additional gear levels, gearing spread between first and eighth gears a 20 per cent larger and the result of this is that it allows the engine to operate with even greater efficiency over all speed ranges, making them both more fuel efficient and responsive. Meanwhile, the top two cogs also act as engine speed-reducing overdrive gears. At 9.9 l/100 km, the V6 consumes 2.5 litres less now than the previous version, while the combined fuel consumption is equivalent to CO2 emissions of 236 g/km - 60 g/km less than before. The V6 FSI version has a top speed of 228 km/h and accelerates from standstill to 100 km/h in respectable 7.8 sec. As a dual purpose vehicle, there are some changes in the car’s running gear. Volkswagen seems to have applied the philosophy of ‘different strokes for different folks’ in deciding the overall packaging for the variants. The base Touareg [our test vehicle] was kitted with 4Motion all-wheel with a torsen differential, same as used in the Audi Q7. VW says it will continue to offer the older 4xMotion system with low-range gear reduction and locking centre and rear differential as an option as it is better suited for higher spec variants kitted with adjustable airsuspension. The logic for these options is understandable: the removal of the 4xMotion and air suspension, which the majority of Touareg owners probably will really never need, has helped shave a substantial 75kg of weight off the vehicle and also reduce drivetrain losses. Meanwhile, the dial an off-road driving programme can be activated via the

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cover story

2011 Cadillac CTS-Coupe 44 56 2011 VW Touareg

first drive

12 34 48

2010 Mitsubishi ASX 2010 BMW GT 2010 Kia Optima

preview

Dodge Charger 2012 Tata Aria

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special feature

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Harley-Davidson / Freedom Tour

motorsports

F1 & WRC

72

Chicane

On people who are filthy rich and can buy a Bugatti Veyron

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November

kia pop

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{regional news} VW Touareg arrives in Oman

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lose on the heels of its Middle East debut in UAE, followed by Abu Dhabi, Muscat-based Wattayah Motors launched Volkswagen’s second generation all-new 2011 Touareg, at the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Hotel in Muscat last month. “About 500,000 drivers chose to buy the first generation of the Touareg worldwide, and it quickly established itself as our flagship vehicle in the region after its Middle East debut in 2003,” said Stefan Mecha, managing director of Volkswagen Middle East during the unveil. “Seven years later, the new Touareg has taken its winning concept into the future and heralds a paradigm shift in the idea behind multipurpose SUVs. This, combined with the Touareg’s existing popularity, has generated overwhelming interest already. The Touareg is the keystone of our regional plans, and is integral to expanding our Middle East presence,” continued Mecha. Launched in Europe first with hybrid options, the Middle East versions will be powered by a 3.6-litre V6 FSI initially while customers opting for the larger V8 will have to wait a few more months. The

direct-injection petrol engine offers 280hp and 360Nm of torque and is paired to a standard 8-speed automatic transmission – the first of its kind in the world in the SUV segment. [Eds note: read our first drive impressions on page 54].

Abu Dhabi launch

Ford showcases driver connectivity technology at GITEX in Dubai

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ord returned to GITEX Technology week, as official automotive partner for the third year straight. The Blue Oval is on an overdrive in technology – be it Ecoboost for engine performance or featuring yet another industry first technology led solution, MyFord Touch™. The latest driver connect technology from Ford debuts on the new 2011 Edge and Ford found it appropriate to introduce it during the annual technology festival in Dubai last month. Powered by SYNC®, MyFord Touch redefines how drivers interact with their vehicles, replacing many of the traditional vehicle buttons, knobs and gauges with clear, colorful LCD screens and 5-way buttons. The screens can be personalized to display information relevant to each individual driver using a simple button click, voice command or touch screen tap. “Once again we are presenting a new innovation from Ford, that promises a smarter, safer and simpler way to connect drivers with 4

in-car technologies and their digital lives, and GITEX is the perfect platform to debut the latest MyFord Touch technology,” said Theo Benson, Ford Middle East’s Regional Marketing and Product Director. “MyFord Touch will pioneer the n e x t-g e n eration vehicle experience for customers around the region as it addresses the infotainment explosion, launching vehicle interiors into the realm of popular personal electronics, such as laptop computers, mobile phones, digital cameras and MP3 players. We are really excited to show everyone this exciting new feature which debuts on the new 2011 Edge crossover,” added Benson.

OTE Hyundai Ramadan winners announced

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yundai officials and OTE Group chairman Sheikh Saad Bahwan felicitated the winners and handed over the mega prize of 1kg gold and gold diamond pendants to ten other winners. OTE Group is the exclusive dealer of Hyundai’s range of vehicles in Oman. With a nationwide network of showrooms and service centers, OTE Group ensures that Hyundai customers are never far from getting a wide range of high quality after-sales service. It is this strong partnership that continues to lead more customers to join the Hyundai family.


{regional news} Kia moves up market with Optima/Magentis

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he first generation Kia Optima/Magentis represented value. The second generation improved on that. Although it wasn’t not the segment leader, or the most powerful, or the best-known model but it did offer a combination of an attractive price, a spacious interior and stylish appearance after its facelift in 2009. The third generation all-new Optima launched last month in Muscat is an image turner for Kia Motors and comes at a time when there is intense competition in the segment for midsize saloons. For a model that started its career as a very appealing and logical choice for the sensible consumer looking for a lot of value for the money, the third generation is a stunning revelation. A completely fresh design from the ground up, Kia’s popular mid-sized Optima is absolutely transformed, embodying a bold, athletic and sporty visual energy, thanks to the various design teams working under design director Peter Shreyer. Designed at Kia’s studios in Frankfurt, Germany and Irvine, Cali-

fornia, the all-new Optima is longer, wider and

lower (by 45, 25 and 25 mm, respectively), than the outgoing model. “With the all-new Optima, our global design team has created a vehicle with distinctive dimensions and proportions that stands apart

All new Jeep Grand Cherokee in oman

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he all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee with a new, upscale interior, advanced four wheel drive system, 290hp Pentastar 3.6-litre V6 and 5.7-litre Hemi V8 with MDS, five-speed automatic, numerous standard features, and towing capability was formally unveiled at the refurbished Dhofar Automotive LLC Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep showroom in Al Wattayah last month. High on features and content, the new Grand Cherokee will be offered in Laredo and LTD trims as before with all-new and state-ofthe-art Pentastar engines. Standard features in the Laredo include keyless entry, stability control with anti-roll, hill start assist, trailer sway control, side curtain airbags for both rows, active head restraints, power driver’s seat, fog lamps, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and 17in aluminium wheels. The Limited adds Quadra-Trac II® with Selec-Terrain, front and second-row heated leather seats, memory settings, High Intensity Discharge auto-leveling headlamps, CommandView dual-pane panoramic sun roof, rear back-up camera, rear park assist, premium audio, automatic temperature control and 18in aluminium wheels. The new Grand Cherokee will be offered with air suspension call Quadra Lift as optional. The Quadra-Lift air suspension system has five height settings,

two for off-road use (raising 1.3 and 2.6in above normal, to a maximum 11.1in of ground clearance), “aero” (lowering .5in for aerodynamics at speed), and entry/exit, which lowers the car by 1.5in. For off-roading, there’s a new Select Terrain Control traction control system that allows driver to choose from the menu, the best matches depending on driving conditions. Interestingly, the incoming Grand Cherokee was both designed and developed before the Fiat partnership and the reason for dropping the front limited slip differential of the older version was because Chrysler was able to developed its Quadra-Drive II system with a variable transfer case, rear electronic limited slip differential and offer better differential performance than the older model with electronic limited slip differential set-up.

from everything else in its segment. Using an all-new platform the new Optima moves our mid-size saloon product up to the next level of Kia’s design revolution. Customer clinics with the new Optima have generated strongly positive responses and we are confident that our latest model will greatly increase Kia’s share of the mid-size saloon market around the world, said Hyoung-Keun Lee, vice -chairman, Kia Motors Corporation. Kia’s product concept behind the creation of new Optima had focused on four key areas including stand-out styling, class-leading performance, superior packaging and a host of customer focused options. Optima models will be offer to consumers with a choice of two normally aspirated four cylinder petrol engines - 2.4-litre MPI multi-point injection unit and a 2.0-litre with six-speed automatic transmissions. Two equipment levels, LX and EX will also be offered from Reliable International Automotive, the official retailers in Oman. [Eds note: first drive impressions on page 48].

Audi offers child safety driving experience

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udi driving experience, which is based at the Dubai Autodrome has extended its course portfolio to include a special Child Safety driving experience. The half day course featuring the Audi TT and the Audi Q7 is designed to give parents, particularly those who own SUV’s, the opportunity to practice challenging emergency situations under the instruction of experienced driving trainers. This particular course is tailored especially for parents with kids as well as motorists driving in areas with child pedestrians and will be using props to highlight child safety procedures and exercises. Exercises include demonstrations on the correct usage of child safety seats, the impact of not utilizing seat belts in emergency situations, as well as practice of blind spot situations as well as braking and avoiding techniques practice with life-size dummies.

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{news Regional } news} Omanexpo widens exhibitor platform for 2010

Aston Martin to produce Cygnet

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ndorsed by the Ministry of Commerce and the Oman Chamber of Commerce & Industry, this year Omanexpo is set to meet the growing demand for more vehicles and for the aftermarket industry in the Sultanate. The 15th Oman International Motor Show will be held from December 2 to 5, 2010 at the Oman International Exhibition Centre. The event also promises to bring in more excitement with the introduction of its new features, such as the Auto Shoppers Zone and the Outdoor Adventure Zone. The Auto Shoppers Zone will give car owners the opportunity to purchase spare parts and other items for their vehicles, while the Outdoor Adventure Zone will showcase the unique features and capabilities of different brands of four-wheel drives. Other features include a 4WD test course, driving simulators, BMX stunts, and stage activities. The latest addition to the event is the participation of Step Up Oman, who will entertain visitors with its own brand of fun sport and arts and entertainment activities, such as a car show, a soap football pitch, music performances, and graffiti competition.

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ston Martin has confirmed plans to launch the Toyota iQ-based Cygnet as early as next year. Designed to set “a new benchmark for compact luxury,” the Cygnet is Aston Martin’s answer to increasingly stringent fuel economy and emissions standards. The threemetre long, 3+1 city slicker is positioned below the Yaris in the Toyota line-up. However, none of that has stopped it from being an Aston Martin. Said to be part of its DNA is a hand-stitched leather/ Alcantara/ aluminium blended interior, just like certain other Astons. Personalisation and customisation options will

also be available. Although powertrain details for the Cygnet haven’t been revealed, it will likely use a sub1.4-litre petrol engine with 97hp 23Nm of torque. This should enable the car to get a combined 55 mpg (UK) and emit 120g of CO2 per kilometer. According to Aston Martin CEO Dr Ulrich Bez, “Whatever we do, we do right. If we do performance, we do performance; we don’t downsize or compromise our sports cars. The Cygnet needs to satisfy the demands of emissions and space. It is a car without compromise, just like every other Aston Martin.”

Jaguar may produce the C-X75

New Hertz appointment

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n theory at least, the concept C-X75 by Jaguar could go into production. Well, that was the original idea when the concept was presented. Even if potential customers greenlighted the project today, it will take minimum three to six years for a production ready model. Unlike the limited production Porsche 918 hybrid which opted for a conventional route using a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid approach, Jaguar, it seems fascinated by the world of gas turbine power in a hybrid set-up. As of now, the C-X75 is strictly a plug-in gas-electric hybrid which has a 68-mile electric-only initial range. Once the voltage depletes, the two micro-gas turbines spinning at 18,000rpm are supposed to help recharge the lithium-ion

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battery pack. The million dollar question is: what business model is Jaguar likely to opt for this project and how long will it take to engineer, validate components and factor in turbine reliability for the job. Because the technology behind the C-X75 is complicated and untested, by conservative estimates it will take “two-to-three years for implementation of the gas turbine technology, then another three-to-four years to integrate into a vehicle,” according to Jaguar’s head of advanced powertrain, Tony Harper.

ertz, the world’s largest general use car rental brand, has appointed Lisa Munro

as Partnership Sales Manager for the Middle East and Africa region. Munro, who has 11 years experience in the automotive industry, will report directly to Gina Costa, commercial director for the Middle East and Africa region, at the company’s regional office in Dubai. The appointment underlines the importance placed by Hertz on the development of long term partnerships both within the MEA region and globally. Munro joins Hertz from her role as Business Development Manager for LeasePlan Emirates based in Abu Dhabi.


{Regional{news} Smart moves in with Nissan to make new car

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elationships can be strange in the automotive business and unpredictable too! Seemingly out of the blue, Smart USA - the North American market distribution arm of Daimler’s Smart - and Nissan have announced plans to build a new B-segment (subcompact) vehicle. The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding saying that Smart USA will “obtain the rights to procure and distribute a five-door, gasoline powered, B-segment vehicle from Nissan for sale

through the Smart USA retail dealership network in the United States,” Smart USA said in a statement released to the media. The vehicle will not be created in collaboration with Smart’s global headquarters near Stuttgart, Germany, as it will be primarily for consumption in the US only. Smart USA, which is a subsidiary of Penske Corporation, operates independently of Daimler-owned Smart. The new model will not put a strain on Smart USA’s relationship with the German home office, according to Penske CEO Roger Penske. This isn’t the first time that Penske has had a conversation with Renault-Nissan about purchasing a vehicle for North American consumers. It may be recalled that when General Motors was trying to offload its now-discontinued Saturn brand, Penske’s interest in purchasing it hinged on his ability to buy Nissan-built vehicles. At that time, Penske was looking primarily at Korean-market Renault-Samsung vehicles. The new car is clearly based on the Nissan Micra’s B-platform, which also underpins a

Lincoln to replace Town Car with mkt

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ynonymous with limousine drivers everywhere in North America, the Lincoln Town Car has become a veritable cultural symbol, but sadly, its fate has been sealed with the imminent closure of Ford’s St. Thomas, Ontario, assembly plant in Canada. But Ford has alternate plans to fill in the void. Lincoln says that it will offer two limousine and livery variants of its MKT crossover which is based on the Ford Flex to for-hire users. A number of changes have been made to the basic consumeroriented MKT to make it more appealing to heavy-duty limousine users. The variant adds comfort and convenience for second-row passengers, while the limousine variant comes with a heavy-duty chassis that can be stretched by third party builders. Most of the MKT Livery’s features are focused around

iincreasing passenger comfort. The third row seat has been removed and the second row has been repositioned to allow for more stretch-out legroom. Like the Town Car, a rear seat-mounted switch can move the front passenger’s seat forward for even more space. Despite the repositioned second row, Lincoln says that cargo capacity exceeds that available in the Town Car. On the mechanical front, the MKT Limousine features an upgraded suspension and the car will be offered in both front and all-wheel-drive. The new car is expected to be launch in about a year and a half roughly six months after the last Town Car rolls down the line. No powertrain details have been released yet.

handful of Renaults and the Nissan Cube. The latest Micra, introduced earlier this year at the Geneva Motor Show, is likely to arrive in North America in about a year. From the two sketches Smart released, resemblances to the Micra are obvious. Smart hasn’t even hinted at powertrains or specifications, but the Micra was launched with a pair of three-cylinder gasoline engines in Europe, including a 79hp standard unit and a 100hp supercharged model. Both engines are mated to five-speed manuals and are optionally available with CVTs.

BMW extends CEO contract

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MW AG has extended the contract of CEO Norbert Reithofer until 2016, handing him a fresh five-year term some 12 months before his current contract was due to expire. Dr Reithofer has led BMW since 2006 and, most notably, has forged a host of alliances with rival manufacturers, including Daimler, PSA Peugeot Citroen and General Motors. Last month, he also announced a powertrain alliance with Swedish carmaker Saab, now cut from GM, which will use a version of the 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine from the BMW owned Mini range for its nextgeneration 9-3, due for release late in 2012.

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{news} Modest turnout of brands at Sharjah International Automobile Show and Middle East Motor Tuning Show is Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Bin Sultan Al Qassimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah formally opened the 10th edition of the International Automo-

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swagen Touareg, Mitsubishi ASX. facelifted Mercedes-Benz R-Class and exotics such as the SLS AMG, Audi R8 Spyder and RS5 among others.

Ruler of Sharjah, including a 1928 Rolls Royce and a 1949 British made Riley. This year the IAS also ran in conjunction with the Middle East Motor Tuning Show (MEMTS).

bile Show (IAS) at Expo Centre Sharjah last month. The show is run alternatively to the Dubai motor show. Although participation by some brands were conspicously absent, notable entries for the first time included Infiniti’s M luxury saloon, second generation new Volk-

At the show there was something for vintage car enthusiasts too. The 20 classics on display came from Sharjah’s Classic Car Museum, besides some private collections. Five of these cars were driven by His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, the

The Tuning Show which also ran its own competition also awarded the Custom Design Cup to budding designers who were assigned the task to re-work the interior and exterior of a Ford Mustang.

Germans dominate at first regional car awards

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erman manufacturers Mercedes-Benz and Porsche have each taken home three awards at the first Middle East Motor Awards (MEMA) today. Overall, Mercedes-Benz was nominated in five categories, picking up the Best Premium Saloon section for the E-Class, and Best Luxury Saloon for its S500. Its performance AMG sub brand was equally acclaimed as it won the Best Premium Sports SUV category for the ML 63 AMG. Porsche clean sweeped all sports categories, winning Best Sports Car for the Cayman S, Premium Sports Car for the 911 Turbo and Luxury Sports Saloon with the Panamera Turbo. Other notable winners included Range Rover, which claimed the Best Premium Luxury SUV title and the Rolls-Royce Ghost – the company’s “compact” car – which was named Best Premium Luxury Saloon. In addition to the 15 regular awards, which also included Best Compact Car (Volkswagen Scirocco), Best Exotic Car (Ferrari 458 8

[l-r] MEMA award winners; executive editor of Automan and jury member receiving a memento from Mohammed Ben Sulayem at the show Italia) and Best Large Saloon (Nissan Maxima), the MEMAs included two special categories for environmentally friendly vehicles; Best Hybrid Saloon, which was won by the Lexus LS 600 HL, and Best Hybrid SUV, given to the BMW X6 Active Hybrid. The MEMAs were this year held alongside the International Automobile Show (IAS) at Expo Centre Sharjah. A panel of

motoring experts and journalists from across the MENA region voted independently for the vehicles in 17 categories. As patron of the awards, Vice President of the FIA and President of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE Mohammed Ben Sulayem presented the trophies at the lunch time ceremony to both the winners and jury members.


{news} NHTSA revises safety standards

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eceiving a top-tier five-star crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration just got tougher, and we have the explanation as to why. According to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the previous test had begun to allow for too many five-star ratings, and in an effort to raise the bar on safety and give consumers more ability to differentiate between products, NTSA has modified the test to make it tougher on the cars. “More stars equal safer cars,” said LaHood. “With our upgraded Five-Star Safety Ratings System, we’re raising the bar on safety. Through new tests, better crash data, and higher standards, we are making the safety ratings tougher and more meaningful for consumers.” Naturally, the changes mean some cars previously awarded five-star ratings will

no longer qualify, and for model year 2011, NHTSA will test a total of 24 passenger cars, 20 SUVs, two vans and nine pick-up trucks.

One of the most significant changes to the ratings program is the addition of an Overall Vehicle Score for each vehicle tested. The Overall Vehicle Score combines the results of a frontal crash test, side crash tests and rollover resistance tests

and compares those results to the average risk of injury and potential for vehicle rollover of other vehicles. Also included now is a side pole crash testing and crash prevention-technologies. NHTSA also recommends consumers consider vehicles with crash avoidance technologies that meet the fiveStar Safety Ratings minimum performance tests, such as forward collision warning (FCW), lane departure warning (LDW) and electronic stability control (ESC) systems. So far, only two vehicles have managed to receive the top rating of five, the 2011 BMW 5-Series saloon, and the late-release 2011 Hyundai Sonata (early release obtained a four-star rating).

recalls galore in october this month

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ot so long ago, the pinnacle of automotive engineering standards Toyota faced its worst nightmare with a series of recalls worldwide.While Toyota was bearing the brunt of a PR disaster, rival carmakers quietly went on with their recall programmes as pre-emptive measure. Car recalls are not exclusive to any manufacturer and irrespective of competency levels, there are times when recalls just become a necessity. Rolls-Royce and BMW BMW and Rolls-Royce have announced a worldwide recall. Around 345,000 vehicles are affected and the recall includes several models that share common technology for the braking system, including the 5-Series, 6-Series and 7-Series model years 2002 through 2008. Also included in the recall are 5,800 Phantoms, model years 2003 through 2010. Of the total recalls, around 198,000 units are located in the US. The cars in the US are either V8 or V12-powered. The issue itself stems from a possible leak that may develop in the braking vacuum system, which in turn can result in a loss of vacuum pressure and reduced braking assistance. Braking is still possible, but it will require additional force from the driver on the pedal. Aston Martin While Aston Martin has been named the ‘Coolest Brand’ in the UK for a remarkable fourth time in five years, but it seems that, high-buck, high-performance that it makes are not im-

mune to recalls. Aston Martin has announced its plans to call back a total of 1,090 cars built as 2007-2008 models in the US. Models affected include the DB9 Coupe, DB9 Volante, V8 Vantage Coupe, V8 Vantage Roadster and DBS. A bolt that secures the front suspension arm could crack, increasing the risk of a crash, Aston Martin says. Cadillac General Motors says that its Cadillac division will recall 3,996 2010 SRX crossovers over a power steering line that could leak if damaged. If the line leaks, GM says that fluid could spray on hot engine parts, resulting in an under bonnet fire. GM is aware of at least one fire incident in an unattended SRX and it says only 2-3 SRXs are potentially affected, but it’s playing safe and calling back 3,460 US-specification and 341 Chinese-market SRXs built at the automaker’s Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, assembly plant.

nage. The recall affects 596 vehicles from the British automaker, of the Arnage, Brooklands and Azure models from 2007-2009. Mercedes-Benz German luxury automaker Mercedes-Benz and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have announced the recall of roughly 85,000 E-Class and C-Class vehicles in the US steering system failures. The problem stems from a faulty power steering pump that can create a shortage of power steering fluid, ultimately reducing the aid given from the power steering system. The recall includes various 2010 C-Class and E-Class models, including the E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet models.

Bentley Motors Bentley Motors has announced that it was recalling nearly 1,500 cars because of fears that their iconic “flying B” mascot on the bonnet may fail to retract in a crash – and impale a pedestrian. The company said it was recalling 1,436 vehicles globally from three of their top-end models, the Brooklands, Azure and Ar9


{news}

News headlines that grabbed our attention Automan’s take

Range Rover confirms 5-door Evoque Automan’s take:This was an expected move and we can expect at least a prototype to be shown at the Los Angeles motor show this month. Land Rover’s managing director Phil Popham used Paris motor show to confirm the production of the model and also issue the first official photograph of the forthcoming model. Both models will eventually become a major part of the launch line-up in the third quarter of 2011, forming a range that as previously reported will include both two wheel drive and 4WD versions and petrol and diesel engines, including the same Ford-sourced 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine that will power many Ford models in future.

Tata Motors stock sales oversubscribed

Mike O’Driscoll to retire next year

Automan’s take: Largely seen as the architect who led the Jaguar brand through the sale process to India’s Tata Motors, Mike O’Driscoll, managing director Jaguar Cars, moved to the UK from the US in 2007 and oversaw the introduction of an all-new product line-up comprising the award-winning XF, XK, and new XJ. O’Driscoll, will retire from day-to-day operations at Jaguar Land Rover at the end of March 2011, but will continue as Chairman of Jaguar Heritage and will advise on related matters. Jaguar Heritage is an independent trust that

manages Jaguar’s museum, archives and extensive car collection globally.

Mercedes-Benz to offer four-cylinders in S-Class Automan’s take: How low can you go? The idea of shoe-horning a thrifty four-cylinder engine displacing just 2.2-litres in its rangetopping S-Class for European markets just doesn’t quite right. Mercedes-Benz is fully aware about the market reaction to such a proposition. “Some might call this sacrilege we call it progress. We want to be efficiency world champions... and we will be,” said Dieter Zetsche, Daimler’s CEO. So what’s on offer? The S250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY will emit just 149 g/km of CO2, about the same as a moderate economy car, thanks to its 204hp four-cylinder diesel turbocharged engine. Mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission, the engine puts out an impressive 369 lb-ft. of torque available at just 1,600 rpm. 10

A start/stop function further reduces fuel consumption and emissions. Mercedes-Benz says that the car averages about 42 mpg [Imperial] using the European combined cycle test. Despite the extra girth of the luxury flagship sedan, Mercedes-Benz says that the S250 will still hit 100k/mh in an acceptable 8.2sec before topping out at 250km/h. Who said downsizing can’t work wonders?

Automan’s take: When Tata Motors announced it would sell shares of stock worth $750 million with proceeds to be utilized to help pay down some of the $4.5 billion in debt the automaker owns, global analysts were a bit unsure. Although $750 million may be a far cry from the tens of billions being discussed for General Motors’ upcoming IPO, this sale, for starters, was not an IPO, but only an isolated release of shares. Secondly, as Bloomberg pointed out, it is a significant amount because the automaker had originally announced intentions to sell $525 million worth, but higher than expected demand drove Tata to increase the bid. However, Tata Motors has reported that the offering was oversubscribed by 3.4 times by domestic and international investors. The strong demand for Tata shares can only be taken as a positive sign, as investors have voiced increased faith in the automaker’s ability to turn a profit from the Jaguar Land Rover firms, something Ford struggled to do when it owned the three brands.


{news} BMW engines to power Saab cars

Automan’s take: What a pairing but not at all surprising. Saab is desperate to find a powertrain source from its forthcoming compact new range of front wheel drive cars and BMW finds additional use of a version of the Mini’s turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. Although neither car-maker has specified which version of the British-built engine will be used by Saab, but experts think that the high performance versions are the most likely candidates. Meanwhile, BMW’s announcement at the Paris Motor Show stating that it will also be introducing a smaller FWD car to slow beneath the 1-Series in the US has also raised some eyebrows. The announcement was made by BMW’s own board member and head of sales and marketing, Ian Robertson, who revealed to reporters that, “It will be a relatively big segment because we have several body styles.” This also means BMW is dive head first into an all-new territory, using both front-wheel drive and testing waters in the subcompact segment in a typically “bigger is better” American market. For now BMW is referring to it as the UKL - which comes from an abbreviation of lower compact class cars sold in Germany. The biggest question is: will these new cars fall under BMW brand or will BMW create a sub brand or revive one of the two brand names that it has rights to?

Gemballa saga ends in tragedy

Automan’s take: Uwe Gemballa was an ambitious entreprenuer who was in a bit of a hurry. One of his last business visits was at the 2009 Dubai Motor Show where Gemballa was close to inking a partnership with a local partner. And shortly after, came the news of the man missing in South Africa. What was initially reported as a business trip was not what Gemballa had anticipated. While details are limited, police believe that Uwe was murdered by a syndicate involved in illegal money laundering. Airport surveillance camera showed Uwe being picked up by an associate of the syndicate. Prior to the collapse of the Gemballa Automobiletechnik, Uwe called his wife and ask for one million dollars. Unfortunately, when the money didn’t arrive, Uwe was bumped off. A case of high stakes and desperate lives?

First ‘Made in India’ Nissan Micra exported

Automan’s take: This is a big milestone for Nissan India. Nissan is fairly new to the Indian market and has so far been selling models assembled out of CKD kits. The all-new ‘Made in India’ Micra will be sold domestically and exported to over 100 countries worldwide including Africa, Europe and Middle East. The first consignment of 3,866 cars to Europe was flagged off from the Ennore port, north of Chennai in the first week of last month. Designed and tested in Japan, the Micra will be produced in China, India, Thailand and Mexico only. The new Micras are kitted with new 1.2-litre three-cylinder supercharged engines producing 98hp and impressively low 95g/km of CO2. Such is the efficiency of these new petrol engines that new Nissan Micra will not be offered with a diesel option. The model line-up is simple with just one five-door body style, two engine options and two transmission choices - either a five-speed manual or a highly advanced compact Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

Mulally’s business model for Ford limits to 20 nameplates

Automan’s take: Sometimes having too much can prove as futile as having too less. Well, Ford CEO Alan Mulally, who has already earned a reputation somewhere between “saviour” and “cost cutter,” could be thinking on these lines. Although, Mulally has helped the Dearborn automaker stay out of bankruptcy at the expense of dramatic personnel and brand reductions. Now, Mulally says Ford might need to reduce to as little as 20 nameplates in the future - down dramatically from the 97 it had just four years ago.“There will be less than 30, on our way to 20 to 25 [nameplates],” Mulally told reporters in London. But, in this numbers game one shouldn’t forget that a few nameplates have already vanished by way of attrition. Ford has sold off all of its European divisions - Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo - and it is closing its Mercury brand by the end of this year. Although new Ford and Lincoln nameplates have been introduced, many are being discontinued. Over the next couple of years, aging and unproductive models such as the Ford Ranger, Explorer Sport Trac and Lincoln Town Car will be dropped without direct replacements. Currently, Ford has about 26 different nameplates on offer, not including hybrid and coupe variants of some products.

Will VW’s thirteenth brand be lucky for the group?

Automan’s take: VW Chairman Ferdinand Piech made it official that he wants to make Alfa Romeo the German giant’s thirteenth brand and that he was targeting a deal being struck to acquire the century-old Italian sports name in two years’ time. We have been monitoring rumours circulating for years about VW’s interest in Alfa Romeo, but, this is the first time that the German carmaker has openly discussed its ongoing interest, so it can’t be taken as a passing statement. Indeed, VW attempted to turn its Spanish SEAT brand into an Alfa competitor after previously failing to prise the Milanese marquee from Fiat’s grasp, and poached its top designer Walter de’Silva to push it towards their sports-oriented market space, a strategy that never paid off. It’s well-known in circles that Fiat Group never wanted Alfa Romeo, but bought it in 1986 to

prevent Ford from acquiring it and stop the US carmaker from gaining restricted Italian factory capacity for its own products. Due to the lackadaisical attitude of the parent company, Alfa Romeo’s fortune has dwindled and it remains as a brand totally confused. While he future of Fiat Group’s Alfa Romeo division dominated much of the conversation in Paris and following VW Chairman Ferdinand Piech’s comments, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne respond yesterday by telling reporters at the Paris Motor Show: “None of our brands are up for sale.” Marchionne only late last year publicaly questioned the very future of the Alfa Romeo brand and froze development of new models while he carried out a comprehensive review of the unit. We think Marchionne will fight tooth and nail to revive the brand for US markets and thwart VW’s advances. 11


{Road Test}

On

active duty

Mitsubishi thinks its new crossover, the ASX, is a ‘game changer’ for the brand. Automan thinks it is a Lancer and Outlander rolled into one. | Author: Chandan B Mallik

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{Road Test}

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t’s no secret that globally Mitsubishi Motors has had a very rough road the last few years. Despite its troubled period, the company with the triple diamond logo never abandoned its big plans or its principle of “iimono nagaku” [this was adopted as the corporate policy of the entire Mitsubishi Motors Group in March 1998, reflecting the company’s rethinking of its traditional stance to place greater emphasis on“value for the customer”], and under the leadership of Osamu Masuko, President and CEO of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation there’s been a definitive shift in product policy in recent times. Mitsubishi is deliberately moving away from a past littered with larger saloons and SUVs and now the focus is on building smaller and more efficient vehicles on global platforms. The latest car to arrive in the regional markets under the new philosophy is the ASX crossover SUV, also known domestically as the RVR. In its current line-up in the region, it is the mid-sized Outlander crossover SUV that sits directly above the Lancer. The Mitsubishi Outlander is a tidy and versatile sport utility vehicle that offers a choice of a thrifty 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine or a responsive 3.0-litre V6 [depending on markets], two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, five or seven-passenger seating. With the proliferation of the sub mid-sized SUV/CUV segments with new models such as Nissan’s Qashqai, VW Tiguan, Audi A5 or Suzuki SX4, Mitsubishi spotted an opportunity to build and position a smaller crossover based on the Lancer platform. In doing so, Mitsubishi is targeting an audience that wants something big - but not that big. So, it’s no surprise that the focus has been on content and packaging in this model. The ASX is built off the same platform as the Outlander and Lancer and sits on the same wheelbase as the Outlander, but is 25mm shorter and 65mm lower. The series production car is actually very close in appearance to the initial Concept-cX prototype Mitsubishi first displayed at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show. The ASX is 4,295mm long overall, 1,770mm wide and 1,615mm high. From the styling perspective, many punters may mistake the ASX as an Outlander derivative initially as the front end with the large Lancer Evo-styled jet fighter grille and short overhangs, is almost identical. However, upon closer inspection, the differences in styling are clearly evident – especially in the sheetmetal. The character lines in the ASX are more pronounced than 13


{Road Test}

<< The ASX is actually very close in appearance to the initial Concept-cX prototype Mitsubishi first displayed at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show >> the Outlander, and plain Jane sheetmetal of the donor has given way to a nice balance of concave-convex surfaces. While the A-pillar and its rake are similar, also similar are the bulges of the wheel arches, both front and rear. More or less in profile, up to the B-pillars, the proportions and design execution are similar. However, the real change starts happening as you move towards the C-pillar. In the Outlander it ends rather abruptly and it is quite wide. In the ASX, the rear end exhibits as masterful stroke with a narrow C-pillar [for better visibility] and hints of a hatchback styled waistline. The rear end of the car is more contemporary in design than the front. The car rides on either 16 or 17in wheels shod with 215/65R or 215/60R tyres. Inside the cab forward cabin, there’s a mix of styling and Mitsubishi have tried to get best of both the Lancer and Outlander in it. We think the effort has been mixed in its results as far as styling goes. We would be of the opinion that the dashboard of the Outlander is much classier and definitely better executed in terms of material and ergonomics. The instrument panel in the ASX is placed a bit lower than usual and this has one advantage and one disadvantage. The plus side is that visibility for the driver is clear and unobstructed, but taller drivers will find that it also encroaches 14

into the wheel wells. Seats come straight from the Outlander and again it is a bit of a misfit in the ASX as the ideal driving position is very difficult to get and the despite a sporty appearance, the lumber and lower side bolstering is a bit inadequate and hence they don’t offer that sporty body hugging feel. The build quality and tolerances are mostly at par with industry standards, but we feel that Mitsubishi should pay a bit more attention in getting that premium feel. Somehow, the cabin lacks the Outlander’s panache. But what offsets the niggles are the levels of kit, and not forgetting the trendy panaromic glass roof, which makes the cabin feel a bit bigger that what it actually is. Mod cons include engine start-stop push button [it seems like an afterthought the way it has been fixed on the dashboard], integrated Bluetooth, cruise and audio controls on the steering wheels and high end Rockford Fosgate audio system. On the practicality front, the rear seat split folds 60:40 for access to the 416-litre – 1,193-litre, flat luggage area and to conserve space the ASX uses a standard Spacesaver’ spare wheel. And depending on the trim level, the kerb weight of the ASX ranges between 1,350kg and 1,445kg, which is about 200kg less than the Outlander. Although two petrol-derived powertrains are available, for Oman, the ASX borrows


{Road Test}

the Lancer’s normally-aspirated 2.0-litre fourcylinder MIVEC power plant that produces maximum power of 147hp at 6,000rpm and peak torque of 197Nm at 4,200 rpm when mated with CVT transmission. The CVT also offers pseudo six-speed Tiptronic like function which can be operate either through the paddle shifters on behind the steering wheel or gear shift lever. The car also gets Mitsubishi’s electronically-controlled 4-Wheel Drive system. And at the base of the central console is a rotary switch which locks into 2WD or 4WD with the option of locking the differentials in 4WD mode. As the ASX shares Outlander’s long wheelbase of 2,670mm, shorter ASX essentially carries over most of Outlander’s lower structure as well as the basic architecture of its chassis including MacPherson struts up front and multi-links at the rear in the suspension kit. The anti-roll bars are 2mm thinner and the suspension has been recalibrated for this smaller and lighter model. On the safety front, there are seven SRS airbags, active stability control and traction control and hill start assist, ABS with EBD. Brakes are also lifted from the larger and heavier The ASX uses electric power steering system. And recently, the car was awarded a maximum five-star safety rating from Australia’s independant safety group ANCAP.

Driving impressions The first thing one does note in the ASX is the clear front and rear views. Like most crossovers the ASX’s extra headroom makes the Csegment hatchbacks seem desperately snug in comparison. Although the seating position is a bit awkward, the commanding view is much like that of an MPV than an SUV, which is a plus. Also the blind spot limitation of the Outlander is not encountered, thanks to the thinner C-pillars and oversized door mirrors. On the move, the car appears noticeably more refined than the larger Outlander, thanks to better wind and tyre/road noise insulation. However, the engine can be a bit slow on acceleration and is a bit noisy initially. We found the reach/rake steering wheel adjustment better than the driving position and overall noticeably better than the Outlander. The CVT gearbox in the ASX is one of the finest we have encountered in recent times. Although, the industry in general reckons Nissan scores top scores with its application of CVT technology in its cars, the Mitsubishi is definitely closing in, if not better with the ASX. First, the gears appear to hold genu-

inely as they should in a cogged set-up, and in manual mode, it feels like the real thing with paddle shifters on the steering wheel, we were able to enjoy and extract some spirited driving. Being able to change gears manually made for a more enjoyable drive experience through the twisty sections in and around Muscat. The car’s suspension grips well and absorbs bumps reasonably, although the bigger wheels with lower profile tyres on the ASX did make for a slightly firmer ride. We also noted that pushing the car hard, some bodyroll was encountered, but in everyday driving situations we think is quite normal. Steering feel is light, much like the Lancer and The wellweighted though. The car never felt any less than safe, thanks to the more than adequate braking [brakes are also lifted from the larger and heavier Outlander] distances, however, the pedal travel is on the stiffer side. Some of the useful features we really liked was the ease with which would could access Bluetooth phone connectivity and use the Mitsubishi Multi Communication System (MMCS).

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{Road Test} << The latest vehicle developed from MMC’s “Project Global” mid-size platform, Mitsubishi ASX aims at blending Lancer’s passenger car on-road attitude with Outlander’s clever all-wheel drive systems >>

<< key rivals >> Nissan’s Qashqai has been a huge hit in Europe as a family 4x4 and is offered with several engines displacing 1.6 to 2.0-litres, but it tastes defeat in front of the new Asian Tigers. The Kia Sportage and Hyundai’s Tucson or iX35 are arguably the respective automaker’s best effort yet, mixing exciting looks, stylish interiors decent ride comfort and tidy handling. Both are available with 1.6- to 2.4-litre powertrains. VW’s similarly sized Tiguan tops the performance segment with its 2.0-litre turbocharged in-line 4-cylinder pumping 200hp.

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{Road Test}

Verdict As an overall package, the qualities most buyers expect in this segment are there in the ASX. The first impressions of the new ASX suggest the all-new model competently fills the gap between the Lancer and the Out-

lander. With its compact exterior dimensions but spacious interior, in theory, the all-new ASX has the possibility to poach sales from both its donors. But in practice, the overall package has been presented in such a way

that the possibility of an overlap is minimised. Although, it misses out on a few of the bells and whistles but is still worth a look for family car buyers.

<< Outlander vs ASX >>

Like the Outlander, instrumentation is the conventional two-gauge display with secondary information such as fuel tank level displayed on a compact screen between the two and providing clear blue graphics. The fourwheel-drive selector dial (2WD, 4WD or Lock) is mounted on the centre console near the gear lever. Top spec ASX gains leather seats (heated fronts), keyless operation, rear privacy glass, automatic wipers and lights and an optional 954mm x 860mm panoramic glass roof.

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{Brandwatch}

‘Porsche prefers cautious optimism for new models’

Deesch Papke, MD, Porsche ME & Africa

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{Brandwatch}

e wheel to

ds over th

acht han Michael M ueller Mathias M

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t the recently concluded Paris Motor Show, it seems that Porsche appears to have confirmed that it will produce an all-new mid-size luxury SUV to be positioned beneath the Cayenne. It’s no secret that the German sportscar brand has long toyed with the idea of using the platform of Audi’s popular Q5 to develop a smaller sibling for its Cayenne – which has become the backbone of its sales volume in recent years. At Paris Walter de’ Silva, VW Group’s design chief, said in an interview with an industry publication: “I really hope to be able to add something positive to Porsche’s new models, which will remain coherent with the great tradition of Porsche...The Cajun will be the first new Porsche created under my influence.” Further confirmation came from the fact that Volkswagen CEO Dr

Martin Winterkorn had told German newspaper Der Spiegel that the Porsche line-up will be joined by “a new SUV, a smaller brother to the Cayenne, which might be called Cajun”. Speculation of a sub-Cayenne SUV began well before Porsche registered the ‘Roxster’ trademark in 2007 and, after its takeover by Volkswagen, Porsche said platform sharing with the German giant and its various brands was appropriate only if Porsche led the development. However, it seems now that Porsche’s CEO, Matthias Mueller, has put a temporary hold on the several of the new models proposed. Speaking with motoring journalists recently, Mueller said the company needs to “...clarify how we are to spread out our product program - below, above, left and right and so on.” He added, “There are a

CEO

lot of questions still to be answered and we want to create a business case” for production. As part of the process, the sportscarmaker will conduct a review to determine what models are viable and appropriate to help the company achieve its ambitious goal of doubling production to 150,000 units. Meanwhile, close to home, Porsche Middle East is riding high on a successful sales year with 6,275 units delivered to customers across the Middle East and Africa region. And with 952 sales in June 2010 alone, Porsche broke all previous records for this summer month and enjoyed one of its best order intakes ever. Meawhile, at the first MEMA Awards ceremony in Sharjah last month, Porsche made a clean sweep in three categories.

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{spotlight}

This year’s last European motor show in Paris had a clear cut message: technology and innovation are the buzzwords for future mobility and corporate success. Automan finds out more at the show Author: Chandan B Mallik

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ast month’s Paris Motor Show was an unusual mix of enthusiasm and charisma from car manufacturers. The level of enthusiasm amongst domestic players, European and Asian rivals was seen as the beginning of the much needed industry revival after several years of downturn as a result of the global economic crisis. Not that the crisis is entirely over, the industry is moving forward with cautious optimism and most are of the opinion that the swing is the beginning of the ‘feel good’ factor. Besides the stunning displays, introduction of new cars, visitors to the show were also treated to possible technology-oriented solutions or applications designed specifically to meet the forthcoming new regulations, emissions norms and performance factors. Some of the technology led solutions – hybrids or extended range vehicles or simply all-electric plug-in models were equally vying for attention as super or sports cars. Interestingly, the influence of alternative technology solutions appearing in hyper performance cars was quite evident and so was some of the automotive brands entering into new and uncharted segments.

However, automotive aficionados will not forget how Jaguar turned the Paris venue into a ‘best-of-British’ celebration with its awesome C-X75 supercar concept along with Lotus, which also left no one in doubt that it was a force to be reckoned with, stunning the automotive world with no fewer than six new models that it hopes will revolutionise the brand once again. The Jaguar concept was unlike any other at the show, it was least expected and its purpose was loud and clear. Ian Callum has created an exotic supercar outside of the usual box thinking with the idea that it could theoretically be produced in the near future. Besides the six teasers from Lamborghini prior to the show which ended up as a jaw-dropping new superlightweight carbon-fibre-clad super-sportscar concept, dubbed the Sesto Elemento, most automakers had something to say. However, there were some disappointments too. As they always say, expect the unexpected and this show had quite a few of them. Read on…

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Audi I

t’s been a bull run for the four-ringed brand and the momentum continues unabated. Audi was in full force and form at Paris with an impressive array of concept and production models. Audi has revealed not one but two innovative concept cars. Audi flashed its environmental credentials once again with the e-tron Spyder Concept, but also communicated features most consistent evolution of the current Audi design language. In one shot, we could not fail notice initial hints at the design language of future Audi sports cars. While the current concept reinterprets the most important design elements that already characterized the previous e-tron concept vehicle, the necessary formal differentiation to the purely electric-powered Audi e-tron shown at Detroit earlier in the year was the key message. Compared to the coupé concept car in Detroit, the length and width have increased to underscore the sporty aspiration of the design. The Audi e-tron Spyder, with plug-in is equipped with a 300 p twin-turbo V6 TDI at the rear axle and two electric motors producing a total of 64 kW at the front axle.Audi has always had a soft cor-

ner for quattro technology which celebrates its 30th anniversary debut this year and this was the second concept from the brand. The Audi quattro Concept moves up to a futuristic interpretation of this philosophy into the fast lane. The package is irresistible: create a thoroughbred driving machine with a five-cylinder turbocharged engine with 408hp and mate it to a lightweight body and the latest generation of quattro permanent all-wheel drive. With its exterior dimensions (length x width x height) of 4,280m, 1,860mm and 1,330mm respectively on a wheelbase of 2,600mm, the Audi quattro Concept fits neatly into the sports car segment. No surprises here as the concept car’s wheelbase is 150mm shorter than the RS5. Also on show were the Audi A7 Sportback, Audi R8 Spyder 4.2 FSI quattro, the Audi A1 1.4 TFSI with 185hp as well as the high-performance sports car R8 GT. The R8 GT is a driving machine with

breathtaking lateral acceleration and lightning-fast from its enhanced package. The output of its 5.2-litre V10 has been increased to 560hp and vehicle weight has been reduced by roughly 100kg helping the car to accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in 3.6sec with a top speed of 320 km/h. Featuring the aluminium Audi Space Frame body and a number of new components made of carbon fiber composite, the GT tips the scales at just 1,525kg for a power-to-weight ratio of only 2.72kg. The 19in wheels keep the car planted firmly on the asphalt, and the carbon fibre ceramic brakes easily keep the power under control.

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Interestingly, the Spyder variant is longer and wider than previous e-Tron Coupe concept and comes as a hybrid instead of being an all-electric supercar.

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Alfa Romeo

t’s no secret that for the past two years it’s been quiet at Alfa and its financial woes are far from over. Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has been struggling with the brand, and in December 2009, Marchionne said a product-development freeze on medium and large-sized Alfa Romeo models was one of two alternatives Fiat was considering to stem the flow of losses and declining sales for the Italian prestige brand. The stylish all-new Giulietta which

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replaces the 147, received its première in Geneva earlier this year and Fiat hopes it will help lift sales for the brand which could end up as Volkswagen’s thirteenth brand. It may be recalled that Fiat Group never wanted Alfa Romeo, but bought it in 1986 to prevent Ford from acquiring it and stop the US carmaker from gaining restricted Italian factory capacity for its own products.


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Bentley

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he Continental GT was the key star at the stand and it shows its slight restyling as it attempts to continue the success of this model for Bentley. The Continental GT has been redesigned, taking on a few elements of the Mulsanne, but otherwise essentially the same. This car also has a few interior upgrades with a new multimedia system being the focus. The caris equipped with the W12 twinturbo Flexfuel engine with an updated power figure of 575hp mated to a brand new six-speed ZF Quickshift gearbox which combines with the engine for an acceleration time to 100 km/hr of 4.6sec and a top speed of 318km/h. Fuel consumption stands at an average of 16.5 l/100km.

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Bentley marked a new chapter with the ever popular CGT at Paris.

BMW D

esigned to preview the production model, the concept has a wide twin-kidney grille, distinctive LED headlights, a glass roof, and large 20in aluminium wheels, the Concept 6 Series Coupe is the first BMW in some time to feel totally comfortable in its own skin – minus the famous Bangle butt. The car’s interior is more closely related to its predecessor, with an evolved, more dynamic driver-centric IP. While the interior is ostensibly production-ready, the car’s color and trim — mottled carmel and coffee saddle leather, suede headlining and exquisite detailing such as the steering wheel’s metallic center marker – bestows it with a genuinely opulent grand touring cabin. While the company hasn’t announced

Bugatti

what engine powers the concept, the production model will likely offer a 300hp 3.0-litre inline-six, a 400hp 4.4-litre V8, and a 3.0-litre turbodiesel with 204hp and 245hp. Later on, BMW will introduce the 570hp M6 and possibly an ActiveHybrid variant. Besides the new X3, BMW also showcased some 3 Series cars with dressed in performance kit. While the sheetmetal stays largely the same in the X3, the line-up receives new engines and an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The X3 also becomes the first model to adopt electric power steering, while the variable sports steering is now optional, as well as optional Damper Control and Dynamic Drive Control which adorns saloons and sports car models in the ever increasing line-up.

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he Bugatti Veyron isn’t new a car, but the orange and carbon SuperSport version is officially acknowledged as the undisputed fastest production car in the world. With lighter, more aerodynamic carbon fibre bodywork and an uprated 8.0-litre V16 engine now producing a massive 1,183bhp and 1500Nm of torque, the Super Sports set a new Guinness World Record at VW’s Ehra-Lessien test track Automan

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Bye-bye Bangle butt.

earlier in the year. Limited to a production of just 40 units, the first five cars will be painted in the same black and orange paint scheme as the record breaking car. Bugatti test driver Pierre-Henri Raphanel took the Super Sport to 425.44km/h in one direction, then 431.68km/h in the other to comfortably claim the title from America’s SSC Ulitmate Aero TT.

The Bugatti Veyron isn’t new, but the SuperSport version is the undisputed fastest car in the world. 23


{spotlight}

Cadillac G

M’s luxury performance brand Cadillac had its full repertoire including the CTS Coupe, CTS Sport Wagon, CTS-V saloon, CTS-V Coupe, SRX Crossover and the Escalade Hybrid. Cadillac is set to debut its European operations with a fresh dealer network, consisting of about 40 dealers in key European markets. Cadillac has also established a pan-European network to manage its maintenance and servicing operations. Automan

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Cadillac marks new start in Europe.

Chevrolet

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hevrolet’s first entry into the European MPV segment, the 2011 Orlando, had its world premiere here. The Orlando is inspired by the show car concept displayed at Paris in 2008 and is mechanically based on the Cruze saloon. The stylish new MPV features a low swept roof line, a Corvette inspired dual cockpit and ambient blue backlighting to the centre console. Wellspecced, standard kit includes electronic stability control, six air-bags, air conditioning and electrically heated and adjustable door mirrors. The Orlando will be offered with three of Chevrolet’s latest fuel efficient engines ranging from Automan

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1.8- to 2.0-litres. The new Aveo 5-door model was also introduced which represents the full production version of the Aveo RS show car unveiled at the Detroit and Geneva earlier.

The new Aveo will feature exposed twin-headlamps and dual port grille, compact taut body panels with a rising shoulder line and short

General Motors certainly impressed the crowds with new and refreshed Europe-specific models.

Citroën C

learly, a brand on the move Citroën is now much more focused as it continues to expand its DS line-up. The first model-launched with the DS styling was the DS3, and now comes the all-new Citroën DS4. The five-door hatchback shows off the new direction of Cit-

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rear overhangs. It also gets ‘hidden’ rear door handles. Compared to the current model, the new Aveo is longer and wider and now offers ESC and ABS brakes as standard. European buyers will be offered a choice of petrol and diesel powertrains. Meanwhile, this attractive hatchback version of its new compact car – the Cruz concept hatch also made its debut. Details of the revised new Captiva had been released a few weeks prior to the show. It comes with a new front end design and a range of enhancements to the interior along with efficient new powertrains.

roën styling. The DS4 will be available with several engine choices that can be paired up with either a six-speed automatic or manual transmission. Word on the virtual street is that a sportier DS4 Racing model is also in the works.


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Dacia

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irst previewed in Geneva, the Loganbased SUV will be cheap and cheerful alternative to mainstream brands when it arrives at the end of 2012. Since 1999 Renault’s revamped Dacia budget value brand has sold more than 1.25mn vehicles.

Fisker T

he latest iteration of the Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid petrol/electric sports car made an appearance and Henrik Fisker, the designer and founder, said the display model was the first to be produced in the Scandinavian factory, where all future production Karmas are intended to be built. Staying true to its concept form, the car retains the concept’s massive 22in wheels, sensuous styling, 403hp rating and the company’s promise of

achieving 100-plus miles per gallon in regular use. So, what’s exactly different about the factory-built version? Well, the most notable exterior modification is the addition of a (blacked-out) B-pillar, which was apparently required to increase the vehicle’s structural rigidity. Fisker still lists a base price of $88,000 and anticipates that deliveries will begin early next year.

Ford

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ord’s first global high performance model and a star attraction in Paris was arguably the ‘Tangerine Scream’ 2012 Focus ST, a new generation of the sporty hatchback. This range-topping Focus will be completely true to Ford’s ST model heritage, offering driving enthusiasts an intoxicating cocktail of exhilarating performance and handling, an addictive sound and muscular sports design. At the

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Although many questions remain about the Karma unanswered, including its performance in federal certification, crash-testing and fuel economy tests, but Paris marked the production car’s first public appearance.

Ferrari

heart of the appeal of the next-generation Focus ST is a high-output 247hp derivative of the efficient and advanced new 2.0-litre Ford EcoBoost four-cylinder petrol engine which succeeds the turbocharged 2.5-litre fivecylinder unit of the current European model, which also marks the first application of EcoBoost technology also showcased the new Mondeo and the C-MAX, and also debuted the ultra-low CO2 Mondeo ECOnetic version. Automan

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Ford is banking on Ecoboost technology even in smaller displacement engines now.

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lthough it was the Aperta concept that caught a lot of attention, one model that didn’t seem to flow with company’s pure performance DNA seemed to be the California with the new HELE System. Ferrari says it is doing its best to continue to build the cars it’s known for while staying in tune with the current climate of the world. HELE stands for High Emotion Low Emissions and is a system designed to reduce C02 emissions without taking away from the joy of driving a Ferrari. The HELE System works by utilizing a variety of technical measures including a start/ stop function that can restart the car in 230

milliseconds, intelligent engine fan and fuel pump control, electronically controlled variable displacement air-conditioning technology and adaptive gear shifts. The result is a 23 per cent reduction in C02 emissions.

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Honda

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n the past, Honda has dazzled show visitors with an array of concepts. Compared to that, this year the main star from the brand was the new hybrid version of its Jazz supermini. The hybrid Jazz uses the same Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) mild hybrid system as the Insight and CR-Z paired with a 1.3-litre petrol engine. Meanwhile, Honda was really trying to emphasize that the CR-Z as a sport hybrid at Paris by adding things like larger wheels, a mesh grille, unique bluetinged headlights, some carbon fibre trim and a rear spoiler. The kit may help promote an image of sportiness, but even the fanciest of body kit won’t help boost the not-entirelysporty and not-so-efficient hybrid powertrain under the bonnet in this car.

Infiniti

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hat Infiniti is becoming ambitious, was evident when it launched IPL, its brand new performance division a few months ago. The proof of the pudding had to be Paris where it showcased a modified G model – in both looks and performance departments. The G convertible features a tweaked 3.7-litre V6 engine that at 348hp, offers 18hp more than the regular G37 Coupe and 375 Nm of torque. IPL made adjustments to the suspension, steering and exhaust systems to boost performance and handling of the car.

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Nissan launched Infiniti in Europe with disastrous timing with no dealer network or diesel engines. With new engines and some key components coming from a recent Daimler tie-up, it could be the much needed breakthrough for the brand. 26

Hyundai

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yundai officially replaced its dated Matrix MPV with a new people-mover called ix20. The ix20 is the second European model to adopt Hyundai’s new ‘fluidic sculpture’ design language. Positioned as an alternative to the standard boxy minivan, buyers will have the option of either petrol or diesel powertrains generating the same power. The production ready ix20 will hit European dealers this month. Hyundai also unveiled the i20 Sport Edition which it has jointly developed with Car Research and Development (the company behind StarTech and Brabus). The i20 Sport features an aggressive front bumper, revised side skirts, and 17in Brabus wheels. Other goodies include a mesh grille insert, tinted windows, and LED daytime driving lights. Inside, designers installed Recaro seats, leather upholstery, a chrome gear shift knob, and a 7-inch touch screen with GPS navigation. Engine upgrade

details have not been release and the car will be available in three- and five-door guise when it goes on sale early next year. Also making its global debut in Paris, is the i10 Blue with an all-new super-eco three-cylinder, 1.0-litre engine, emitting a remarkably low 99 g/km of C02. Hyundai have also built a new Pikes Peak contender, the PM580, looking more like an LMP1 car, also powered by a Genesis powertrain, in an attempt to break the 10-minute barrier. The fourth and final new model on display this year at the Hyundai stand, is the ix35 Blue with an extra efficient and brand new 1.7-litre diesel engine, which emits just 135 g/km of C02 as a benefactor of the company’s efficient ‘Blue Drive’ technologies.

Jaguar

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hile, the Paris Motor Show had loads of new supercars and new “green” vehicles but only a handful can claim to be unconventional – traditionally bound, yet futuristic in execution. And this is where we think the Jaguar C-X75 Concept car scored a perfect bulls-eye. The goal of the design team responsible for the Jaguar C-X75 Concept were given the task of producing what would be considered one of the most beautiful and most innovative Jaguars ever built to commemorate the company’s 75 years of design excellence. In one single package it has three elements masterfully inculcated – design, technology and performance potential. In fact, it can be considered as an electric car, a hybrid and a turbine-powered car – all three rolled in to one ultra efficient environmentally friendly module. First, it is also capable of running in purely electric mode for 109km on a six-hour domestic plug-in charge. Four electric motors of 195hp capacity each propel the wheels individually. This means zero emissions and when the initial charge runs out, then the wildly unique use of lightweight micro gas-turbines kick in at mind boggling 80,000rpm to quickly

and efficiently recharge the Lithium-ion batteries. When the turbines are running, CO2 emissions are just 28g/km and each of the micro gas-turbines which weigh 35kg and produces 94bhp of power. Combined energy from the power sources gives the car supercar performance. On the performance front, it has a top speed of 330km/h) and can blast from standstill to 160km/h in 5.5secs. Aluminium is used for body and chassis instead of carbon fibre. Jaguar says it has no plans to produce the car, although it would be more than a worthy successor to the notorious XJ220. Designed to celebrate the marque’s 75th anniversary, the concept heralds a new direction for high-performance Jaguars with low (or even zero) emissions. Automan

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A befitting tribute to celebrate 75 years of Jaguar design and innovation.


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Maserati

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et to break the 300km/h barrier, the gorgeous Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale, is being touted as the fastest, lightest and most powerful model in the company’s range when it goes on sale early next year. This car is inspired by the Trofeo GranTurismo MC and the GT4 motorsport models and ratchets up the excitement by pushing power output to 450 horsepower. The chassis has been tweaked and the body slightly updated for increased aerodynamics. The MC Stradale manages to increase the levels of downforce without causing a noticeable increase in drag. The GT MC Stradale was created in response to demands for a GranTurismo, “which can balance onroad driving needs with race-driving desires.”

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The GT MC Stradale is the result of the combination of the handling and aerodynamic lesson from Maserati’s three racing programmes.

Mercedes-Benz

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ercedes-Benz officially unveiled the redesigned second generation 2011 CLS-Class which draws design cues from the Shooting Brake Concept. Highlights include flared wheel arches, a sloping roofline, and optional LED headlights. Inside, the cabin boasts leather upholstery, wood trim, and bright metal accents. Motivation for this new CLS is expected to come from a wide range of petrol and diesel engines, as well as a BlueHybrid model that will use the same hybrid system as the S400 BlueHybrid. One engine that has been confirmed is a new 435hp twin-turbocharged 4.6-litre V8. Expect an AMG variant sporting the Bi-turbo 5.5-litre V8 to come later. The car maker also introduced the new ECELL, its second electric car, after the B-Class

Kia

F-CELL that goes into limited production. Based on the five-door, five-seat standard Mercedes-Benz A-Class, the car features a 95PS electric motor with two lithium-ion batteries.

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Mercedes will introduce the A-Class E-CELL as a limited series run of 500 units.

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hile, Kia had an impressive array of 20 cars at the show, the focal point was its electric concept car POP. Unveiled for the first time at the event, the POP is Kia’s first electric car concept, fitted with electric motor with a power output of 68bhp, and a top speed of 140km/h.The vehicle is also fitted with lithium polymer gel battery pack that provides a driving range of up to 160km on a full charge.. The Paris Motor Show is also provided the perfect stage for the company’s mid-sized saloon [domestically known as K5] European debut. The new Kia Optima will offer numerous standard exterior features including dual

exhausts, solar glass and indicators on the wing mirrors. Depending on the trim level, fog lights, heated exterior mirrors, exterior chrome or body-colour door handles along with 17in alloy wheels and 215/55 R17 tyres. The interior of the Kia Optima has an overall sporty feeling with precise gauges and controls. There is an optional glass panoramic sunroof that will provide an open air feeling. This new Kia Optima will also offer a dynamic and responsive driving experience, combined with a high standard specification and a range of optional high-tech features usually associated with premium brand vehicles. 27


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amborghini had been teasing the motoring world in recent weeks with a series of photographs of a concept that was wildly believed to be the next-generation Murcielago. But the real game turned out to a technology demonstrator called Sesto Elemento [Sixth Element]. The name is derived from the periodic table, where carbon is classified as the sixth element. The question is: if it’s not the real deal, then what is Lamborghini up to? Actually, Sesto Elemento shows how the future of the super sports car can look. Super and extreme sports carmakers are desperate in finding technology solutions for their cars that can combine extreme lightweight engineering and offer performance results as the trend demands. With low curb weight of less than 1,000kg, 570hp output from a high-revving, naturally-aspirated V10 engine and permanent all-wheel drive allows sen-

sational power-to-weight ratio of only 1.75kg per hp and helps the car catapult from zero to 100 km/h in a 2.5sec with top speed over Automan

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The way things are going now, every future Lamborghini will be touched by the spirit of the gound breaking Sesto Elemento.

Lotus

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learly, a talented brand that’s on an overdrive and arguably was one of the show’s greatest crowd pullers. The Malaysian Proton-owned company displayed as many as five new sports car models which it plans to introduce gradually. The Lotus five pillars were represented by Elan, Esprit, Elite, Elise and Eterne concepts which were the key attractions among sports car enthusiasts. The extraordinary reception from both media and aficionados just goes to show that Group Lotus is back on track after a long lapse from the industry. The Elite is a four-passenger GT with a retractable, folding hardtop powered by a modified version of the 5.0-litre V8 out of a Lexus IS-F. The unit offers 611hp which propels the car to a sub-four-second 0-96km/h time and a top speed of 195 miles per hour. The Elite will also be fitted with KERS for a quick boost of recovered energy. The new Elan is slated for a debut in 2013 and is powered by a Toyota-sourced 450hp supercharged 4.0-litre V6 engine with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. The package offers 0 to 100km/h sprint time in just 3.5sec and on to a top speed of 193 mph. The car 28

300km/h. The entire car is constructed from the lightweight materials such as carbon fibre and carbon fibre reinforced plastics.

will also get a hybrid version using a Kinetic Energy Recovery System similar to those seen in Formula One a season ago. Lotus plans to revive the Esprit for the 2013 model year and the concept is an indication of what it will look and feel like eventually. Taking cues from the old Esprit, the Esprit Concept has a mid-ship engine configuration. Instead of using the turbocharged four-cylinders that powered the originals, the concept uses a meaty supercharged 5.0-litre V8 from the Lexus IS-F. The two-seater will produce 620hp, accelerate from 0-60 in under 3.5 seconds and then blast onward to a 205-mile-per-hour top speed. The Esprit will also be fitted with KERS for a quick boost of recovered energy. With the Eterne, Lotus takes a huge step in a different direction. In design, the Eterne follows the profile of the Porsche Panamera,

Aston Martin Rapide and Audi A7 Sportback. And very similar to Esprit concept, the Eterne will use an identical 5.0-litre V8 powertrain. The optional hybrid drivetrain will use KERS energy recuperation system, and the Lotus saloon will be available in both rear- and allwheel drive configurations. Elise is currently one of the mainstream Lotus production models that literally put the carmaker back on track along with the Exige, its hard-core cousin. The new Elise will continue with a Toyota-sourced a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder, but will produce a staggering 320hp through a six-speed manual and optional paddle-shifted automatic transmission. This supercharged model promises 0 to 100km/h in 4.3sec. Both hard and soft-top models are planned. The sixth car on the Lotus was a compact urban extended range electric city commuter. Power comes from an electric motor that produces 72hp, the city car has the ability to run from 0 to 100km/h in nine seconds with a top speed of 169km/h. With a full charge of its 14.8 kWh battery pack, the compact urban vehicle can travel a total of 59km until the charge runs out. Once the battery pack is depleted, a flex-fuel 1.2-litre 3-cylinder engine kicks in chipping around 47hp and increasing range to 496km.


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Land Rover

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and Rover’s first all-new product since the Tata Motors takeover, the production

version of the all- new Range Rover Evoque ushers in a new direction for the British off-roader brand. The debut continues the company’s march toward the softroader segment, a movement first started with the LR2/Freelander and now resulting in the handsome new three-door seen here. Earlier rumours suggested Land Rover would only bring a three-door version of the Evoque to market – which seemed to be supported by the company’s Paris show car – but Land Rover revealed to a select group

of delears prior to the show that a fivedoor version was also on the way. Powertrain for the Evoque will come from Ford and the latest light-pressure turbo four cylinder Ecoboost 2.0-litre engine which will offer 240hp through a new permanent all-wheel-drive system. Key options for the Evoque include Adaptive Dynamics and Magneride adaptive damping and a massive panoramic roof which makes the interior feel like a greenhouse even on the Paris show floor.

Land Rover, like Lotus have done some shrewd thinking about outsourcing the latest powertrains for the Evoque.

Renault

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he French car maker which now has global ambitions had several interesting cars on show. The European version of the 2011 Latitude, a business-class saloon model which Renault is keen to promote as its flagship model. The car was earlier unveiled at the Moscow International Auto Show. The Latitude will be available with either a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine paired with a CVT or a 2.5-litre V6 mated to a six-speed automatic. As the car expands into other markets, it will feature an expanding lineup of engine and gearbox choices. But the biggest news from Renault was that it showcased two surprises on the opening press day. Both concepts originally shown at last year’s IAA show – a revised version of the Zoë concept and the production version of the electric powered Twizy. The Twizy, which will go on sale late next year, is the third vehicle in Renault’s Z.E. (Zero Emissions) product line and looks more like a covered motorcycle with four wheels than an actual city car. It seats two, with the passenger sitting behind the driver. The car is 2,320 mm long, 1,191 mm wide and stands 1,461 mm tall. The Twizy comes with a 18hp electric motor with 57Nm of torque. Top speed is 75 km/h, although Renault will be selling a version in certain countries limited to 45 km/h. Driving range of the Twizy is around 97km and charging from a standard 220V 10A outlet takes three hours for a full charge. Reanult says that a big part

of the Twizy marketing will focus on the various graphic treatments available. The three examples were finished in graphic schemes entitled Dot Dot, Circuit and Totem, with a further nine liveries shown on the surrounding displays. The range-extended electric hybrid Zoe concept is what the automaker calls “a realistic glimpse of the forthcoming mass-market”. The Zoe is 4,100mm long model and its styling suggests it could be the next Clio. Previewed a few months back, the DeZir concept is the first design study under the tutelage of Renault’s new chief designer, Laurens van den Acker. The DeZir is a two-seat coupe with a midmounted electric motor which produces 147hp and 226Nm of torque. The 24kW lithium-ion battery is good for a range of about 160km and is neatly stacked behind the seats. The coupe has an impressive

drag coefficient of 0.25 which helps it get to 50km/h from a standing start in just two seconds and to 100km/h in 5 secs. Top speed is 180 km/h. The car will also come with kinetic energy recovery system.

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{spotlight}

Rolls-Royce

Mazda

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ff late, Rolls-Royce has been focusing on craftsmanship and bespoke editions in its line-up and as expected there was a lot of that at the show. The premium luxury British carmaker launched five special personalised versions of its line-up which included two Ghosts, a long-wheelbase Phantom, a Phantom Drophead Coupe and a Phantom Coupe.

Low fuel consumption, lightweight design and reduced emissions were the focus of attention on Mazda’s stand. For Europe, Mazda unveiled three new models including the facelifted Mazda2 and upgraded Mazda3 and 5.

Peugeot

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s a strong player, the French marque was expected to deliver – and it did and entertained in the same spirit. First off the lot was the production version of the replacement for the 407 and largely domestic only 607, in the garb of the new Peugeot 508 saloon and its estate sibling. The 508 will also be marketed and built in China to compete with the VW Passat. Peugeot will offer the model with 8 different engine configurations, with power output ranging from 112bhp to 204bhp, in keeping with its competitor, the VW Passat which offers an array of 10. In 2012, the 508 will also get Peugeot’s 4HYbrid drive technology which features a 1.6-litre direct-injection turbocharged engine coupled with an electric motor on the rear axle for an all-wheel drive system with a total of 197hp on tap. Peugeot stand also aroused quite a bit of curiosity with the unveiling of the stunning HR1

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Nissan concept. Peugeot says that it has been designed to be a little bit of everything — city run-around, coupe and SUV— all rolled into one car, the HR1 features electric scissor doors, a double bubble roof and LED lighting units. Inside, there’s a driver-focused cockpit with a head-up display, ‘stowaway’ rear seats, and an innovative movement recognition system. The latter enables users to “scroll through functions and select available settings with a simple movement of the hand.” A 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine pumping 110hp and a 37hp electric motor combine together to offer propulsion power. Like the other HYbrid4 models, the HR1 can operate in EV mode, petrol mode, and four-wheel drive mode. Thanks to these technology applications, the car has a combined fuel consumption rating of 81 mpg and CO2 emissions of 80 g/km. The young-at-heart hybrid micro-SUV concept is expected to provide a design reference point for forthcoming models.

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issan’s hottest car, the Nissan GT-R is due for a facelift and some power upgrades for 2012. The white car with restyled front end, air-intakes, LED daytime running lamps, new diffuser and new lightweight wheels was quietly tucked in one corner, away from the glaring spotlights! Was the updated GT-R given its official world premiere treat in Paris? Yes and no. Although, the car made its first public appearance in Paris, oddly enough, Nissan said it wouldn’t release any information until mid October as the engineering guys are with the car at the Nordschliefer in Germany finalizing the upgrade package. Meanwhile, the Renault-Nissan Alliance is pretty serious about electric revolution in motor cars. With the Nissan Leaf already creating waves, the show saw several solutions across the bandwidth such as the Townpod concept. Nissan says it is a compact van concept and bills as a “vehicle for entrepreneurs”.


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Citroën

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he Citroën DS3 Racing and Citroën DS3 WRC unveiled during the Paris Motorshow represent two incarnations of Citroën’s sporting capabilites. With the Citroën DS3 R3, already presented this summer, Citroën Racing now has a range of three cars based on the flagship DS3. Citroën Racing has developed a completely new DS3 WRC car that complies with the new regulations drawn up by the Fédération Internationale de l `Automobile (FIA). The 1.6-litre direct injection turbo engine has been designed and built in house by the engineers in the Versailles-Satory factory. The Citroën DS3

The new regulations drawn up by the Fédération Internationale de l `Automobile (FIA) sees some downsizing and new entries in the field. WRC will make its competition debut during the 2011 season, and its aim will be to win more world titles for Citroën. Two crews have been confirmed: Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia.

Ford

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ust as Citroen Racing is downsizing its WRC entry, going to the smaller DS3 shell from the C4, Ford is doing the same with this new Fiesta WRC, replacing the Focus WRC which has been rallying since 1999. The Fiesta RS WRC competition car will form part of a new era for the world championship. The Fiesta rally car will boast four-wheel drive transmission and a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, based on the all-new Ford EcoBoost engine family, to comply with new regulations. Specialist engineers from Ford and M-Sport have co-operated closely in the development of this 1.6-litre engine, with highly-respected French tuner Pipo Moteur bringing additional expertise to the power plant. Ford will be racing the Fiesta WRC in the 2011 World Rally Champi-

onship which begins in February with the Rally Sweden.

MINI

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INI is set on making a comeback on the international rally circuit. Starting in 2011, the brand will compete at selected rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and will go on to contest the entire season from 2012 onward. At Paris, MINI has pulled the blankets off its new WRC candidate which is based on the Countryman. MINI will be aided in its efforts by a partnership with motorsport outfit Prodrive, headed by Aston

Martin boss David Richards. At the heart of this rally car is a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged engine from BMW Motorsport, which complies with the new Super2000 regulations put in place by the International Automobile Federation (FIA).Although, MINI’s 2011 entry will be limited to just 6 rounds, Prodrive has plans to make cars available for privateer teams.

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It will be interesting to see how it shapes up eventually.

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{spotlight}

Hits Misses

So end of the day how would one sum up the 2010 edition of Paris Mondial? It’s not tough to answer. Below are our observations brand wise, which we think were appropriate candidates in the list of hits and misses.

As expected Audi is on a product and technology overdrive. The next level of development of the e-tron concept was interesting, and so was its taken in new segments [A1 and A7]

Automan

Bentley revisited and sharper CGT Chevrolet’s new Europe specific offerings will give the brand a better presence

Land Rover’s new direction with the Evoque and its 5-door sibling announcement

Cadillac’s European ambitions get a credible shot in the arm with the new CTS Coupe and its performance variant

Lotus dazzled everyone with its pretty focused and ambitious future policy which includes invading into new segments. Question is: can they pull it in the long run?

MINI is going places with new segments and WRC racing ambitions Nissan becoming funky and innovative at the same time Peugeot is proving to be a consistent player with new ideas and approaches Renault’s ambitious image makeover for global markets is beginning to work After scoring a bulls-eye with the Ghost, Rolls-Royce’s focus on bespoke options

Maserati’s steady new product [variant] introductions. Way to go, when you’re in this segment or class of business

Ford’s Ecoboost technology application even in smaller cars now Hyundai’s persistent and conscientious efforts in adding substance to its new cars

If Seat really puts the new design language of the IBE concept into practice

Domestic player Citroen is now able to convince its global credentials Lamborghini’s Sesto Elemento design and technology study

Infiniti’s ability to convince masses with engineering and design prowess for the newly create performance IPL sub brand

Lexus is a bit slow now, but will catch with the crowd sooner or later

Jaguar’s confidence in serving the right

Mercedes-Benz with its new CLS and

Misses

In a sea of uncertainty and frozen new product development, Alfa Romeo banking too much on one model, the Guiletta only No word on Bugatti’s four door 16C Galibier BMW has been presenting its clean and green side with Efficient Dynamics concepts in past motor shows. Sadly, it

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green cars. But watch out, rival Audi may outpace you soon

aces at the right time – be it technology or design Kia’s power to surprise. Even the mundane Optima/Magentis has been metamorphosed into a classy design statement with engineering and performance to match

Despite the fire scares in the 458, the California with HELE technology is a consolation for Ferrari

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Volvo’s new product direction under new ownership and management As a closely-knit automotive organisation, all the brands under the Volkswagen Audi Group umbrella had something to say at the show.

wasn’t on the list here. For over a year Honda has been tantalizing the masses with concepts at motor shows. Is Honda running out of creative ideas? Lamborghini disappointed the masses for not suggesting a Murceilago successor Is Maybach coming or going? No one

seems to know where this luxury brand is heading Does Opel’s design study reflect a case of too little, too late? Not the year for Saab really Toyota’s woes are beginning to slowdown and hopefully, there will be some better stuff in forthcoming shows


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Editor’s choice Jaguar C-X75: No one had expected this exotic-looking concept would be a befitting tribute to Jaguar’s 75th anniversary. But more than that it explores the outer limits of both performance and sustainability.

Top 12 cars at the 2010 Paris Mondial

Audi Quattro Concept: Like a legend, the Audi Quattro Concept has been recreated. Reborn with cutting edge technology, it is a befitting salute to its 30-year-old heritage.

Lamborghini Sesto Elemento: This wonderful bundle of technology applications probably won’t be built, and if the rumours are to be believed, quite a few styling cues will make its way on to future Lamborghinis.

Lotus Eterne: Inspired by the success of first timers such as Aston Martin and Porsche in the high-end four-door luxury coupe segment, it’s a segment worth tapping.

Kia POP : Kia’s increasing focus on striking design and new technologies in global models is becoming evident.

Renault Dezir: Is this a “passionate” signal of the French automaker’s new design direction? If so, we are interested to see wider applications.

Range Rover Evoque: a bold evolution and direction for the brand which is in tune with the times and future trends.

Bugatti Veyron :Because no one has to argue with the world’s fastest production car.

BMW 6 Coupe: Proof that controversial styling of Chris Bangle’s era is now over.

Cadillac CTS-Coupe: Slowly and steadily, the brand is proving that it will continue to be a serious competitor in the premium market. honda jazz hybrid: becomes by far the most efficient model in the Jazz range.

swat ibe: The IBE hints at more than just the Spanish firm’s electric car aspirations.

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{First Drive}

New turf, new territory Is BMW trying to pre-empt competition by building a car in every possible niche segment with models such as the all-new Gran Turismo while not deviating from its core philosophy? Automan decides Author: Chandan B Mallik

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{First Drive}

In 2007, BMW Group CEO Norbert Reithofer revealed plans about several all-new models that were to be high on the list of the automaker’s business strategy for the coming decade. In the list, besides the usual suspects and replacements models was concept model called the Progressive Activity Sedan or PAS. At the following year’s Geneva Motor Show, the car maker indicated that it was not speculating, but pretty serious with the idea of PAS and the first tangible evidence it provided was in the form of the 5-series Gran Turismo (GT) concept vehicle at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. So what was it in the GT that caught everyone’s attention and why? To begin with, it’s an unlikely design study from the brand. The concept GT’s body styling featured a curious mix of design elements – a crossover, a hatchback and station wagon – all rolled into one. Well, if the idea was to focus on efficient packaging and high levels of functionality in a car, then why not look at a MPV, more specifically a Mercedes-Benz R Class fighter, instead? Two things, it seems went against such a move. According to Reithofer, products like a MPV didn’t fit BMW’s image and secondly M-B’s dismal performance with the ‘R’ could put any one off. Reithofer, therefore felt that the logical idea of producing a “Progressive Activity Sedan’ made much sense as it gave the carmaker an opportunity to introduce its

own interpretation of a saloon with intelligent features. Before we move forward, a couple of things related to the nomenclature of the 5 GT needs to be cleared. First of all, the 5 GT is not based on the 5 Series as some people have misinterpreted it. In fact, the wheelbase and both track widths are identical to those of the current generation 7 Series, with which it shares its modular chassis. For punters, this chassis [internal code F01] will be used in several new models within existing line-up. Meanwhile, the GT’s 120.7in wheelbase and front and rear tracks are virtually identical to those of the short wheelbase 7 Series. But it’s three inches shorter overall. More critically, it just over three inches taller and all these contribute in giving the car its distinctive profile while maintaining the core signature styling. While, some may argue that the GT is a stationwagon on stilts, it’s the interior package

that makes the GT truly unique. It’s an interesting mix of something more than a car and something less than an SUV. Take for instance the front seat hip point which is about 2ins higher than that of a regular 5 Series, but almost 4in lower than that of an X5. This means anyone can literally slide in behind the wheel of the GT rather than sinking down or stepping up to it. Behind the wheel one does get a better view of the road ahead which BMW tags it as a “semi-command” driving position. Rest of the interior execution is typical BMW, be it the fourth generation simplified iDrive system, black panel instruments, and optional heads up display [from BMW’s top of the line

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{First Drive} Driving impressions We drove both versions of the GTs in and around Munich, Germany. Both were shod with 19in wheels and sports tyre Sport Package -- 20in wheels with sport tyres. The standard set-up uses 18in wheels on all-season tyres. One of the cars had the optional luxury rear seat package while the other had the optional Integral Active Steering system. The active steering system electronically varies the steering ratio and also turns the rear wheels up to a maximum of three degrees. At low speeds, the rear wheels are steering in the opposite direction to the front, reducing the car’s turning circle by two feet. At high speeds, the wheels are turned in the same direction as the fronts to improve stability, according to BMW. After driving both versions, our preference would be for the car with the standard steering. In normal driving, we felt it was more communicative, more organic than the car

with the oddly non-linear active steering. For a 2,085kg car, the GT is remarkably light on its feet and remarkably agile in cornering. Most of the time one feels like chauffeuring a 7 Series and the one begins to feel the difference when the GT is pushed through tight corners and the car rolls over onto its front tyres as lateral acceleration increases. Of the two powerplants, the 3.0-litre direct injection, single turbo straight six is a killer engine although it is not quite as silky smooth as old-school BMW straight sixes. Engine has been calibrated to offer plenty of punch right off idle and the best part is that peak torque of 300 lb-ft is available as low as 1,200 rpm and remains pretty constant all the way through 6,000 rpm. In fact, at times it felt so good that we could happily forget that there’s a 160kg heavier, V8 powered 550i GT also available. The eight-speed transmission is superb and

ensured a smooth, seamless surge of acceleration. Most of the time, we noted the engine hovering around 1,600 rpm while cruising at street legal speeds. The powertrain is relaxed and much like the luxurious 7 Series, the GT’s throttle, transmission and suspension calibrations can be tuned to ‘comfort’, ‘normal’, or ‘sport’ modes. Even in sport mode, the GT rides remarkably well, feeling more coherent and composed than any crossover we have driven till date. What we realized during the day long sojourn was the fact the more we drove the car, the more we liked it. The car seems to grow on you and virtually shrinks around you on a winding road, yet it has an aura of a luxo-barge everywhere else. Although, it’s not a svelte, road hugging stunner, but it surely has a commanding presence on the road. But, more importantly, it’s a genuinely luxurious and impressively flexible inside.

saloon]. Actually, there’s a lot of 7 Series in the Gran Turismo with the exception of the gear shifter, which is located at the base of the central console instead of column.

The long wheelbase of the 7 Series and heavily coupe-like roofline means there’s plenty of leg and headroom inside. Rear seat passengers get an extra treat also. The standard

rear seat slides 3.9in fore-aft, and will spilt fold 40:20:40. BMW wants to promote the car as a lifestyle model and hence offers an optional luxury rear seat package, which also includes

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{First Drive} Verdict There’s no doubt that the business of cars and variants are getting a bit complicated with each manufacturer trying to offer a niche in the line-up. Just try to remember a few years ago when the idea of a crossover was mooted – who would have thought then that the idea to build a sort-of car on a car chassis but tall almost like an SUV would turn out to be a runaway success? While many people may think of the BMW GT as a vehicle with identity crisis, we would beg to differ and argue our case on the grounds that it is actually well cut for the purpose. The purpose here being BMW performance, SUV practicality, but not at the cost of being an all-out 4x4. In the region, the 5 GT is available and we think it was sensible decision to market the car as a GT as the pre-fix numeral ‘5’ could lead to confusion in the line-up or model series. Well at first glance we need to identify and plug the car in an appropriate segment. The safest and closest in that respect we think would be a crossover – not in terms of architecture or fundamental engineering but because in some countries such as Europe, the GT is being clearly positioned as an alternative car for those who are against buying big, thirsty SUVs.

rear window sunshades and four-zone climate control. In this option, rear accommodation will be for two occupants. Cargo space flexibility is a strong point in this car as it can be configured by the user. The cargo capacity can be increased to 1,700litres with folded rear seats. Unlike most hatchbacks, wagons and SUVs in the market, the GT features a variable partition between the cabin and the cargo space. In normal conditions, the partition and parcel shelf appears fixed like a regular car, but when it is removed it allows access to the cargo bay. And the best thing is that the detachable shelf stores neatly in a compartment under cargo bay. The top end model also gets

apanorama glass roof, telecommunication and navigation systems, a USB port, a 80 GB hard disc for navigation data and music collection, a multi-channel audio system, a DAB double

tuner and DVD entertainment system at the rear. Two powertrain set-ups are being offered in this model series and common to both is the ZF-built eight-speed automatic transmission that recently debuted on the new 760Li. The top end 550i version uses the same 400hp 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 that powers the 750i and the 302hp in-line turbocharged 6-cylinder will propel the 535i. Both engines use direct injection for fuel delivery and BMW’s Valvetronic technology for performance and efficiency. Both cars get all-wheel drive systems. The suspension uses the same double pivot multi-links up front, and lightweight aluminium components at the rear. The calibration has been done to suit the dynamic nature of the car, especially variants that are equipped with Dynamic Drive Control with optional Adaptive Drive. The chassis offers the flexibility of several driving modes including comfort, normal, sport and sport plus modes. The best part is the reduced stability control intervention in the sport plus setting and in the traction mode.

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{preview}

Evolution more

than a revolution Heavily inspired by the original Chargers of the 1960s, the revised for 2011 Dodge Charger gets an extensive makeover inside out Author: Chandan B Mallik

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{preview}

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he current generation of the full-size Dodge Charger saloon was designed during the Daimler-Chrysler era to deliver pony car excitement, style and recall a bygone era. The Charger and its siblings, the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum, were part of the trio cars engineered on an older version of Mercedes-Benz’ E-Class platform, but using Chrysler powertrains. At the time of launch it wasn’t seen as a compromise as rehashed product that Daimler-Chrysler was seeking to strike when it launched the range of new LX full-size cars in 2005-06. But as we all know, it was the stylish Chrysler 300C designed by Ralph Gilles which actually stole the show putting the Dodge in somewhat behind, despite it being a useful car offering drivers and passengers benefits of a rear-wheel drive layout and aggressive in-your-face looks. Despite its interior space limitations, the Charger was quite successful in avoiding the anonymous styling limitations in the segment. After the separation with Daimler, now a recharged Chrysler LLC wants to give its Dodge brand motor cars the necessary boost in order to help the line-up come back and be noticed. In its stable, the strongest point is the availability of cutting edge and flexible Pentastar V6 engines, which it is introducing in phases in the line-up. So, it’s not surprising that the revised for 2011 Charger takes its assigned task quite seriously. Set to arrive in US showrooms later this year and in the Middle East a couple of months later, the incoming model will be immediately recognizable from its familiar profile and design, but the real story

lies both over and under the sheetmetal. From the exterior, the famous crosshair grille returns and headlamps have been redesigned and placed at a slightly more aggressive angle. The Charger’s side profile is now much sleeker thanks to the tighter wheel arches and lowered bonnet. And running front to rear is the iconic horizontal “coke bottle” or “double-diamond” body-side styling with the biggest cosmetic change at the rear, where a full-width tail lamp arrangement visually links the Charger with both past Dodge models and the company’s Dodge Challenger sibling. Dodge calls the tail lamps a “racetrack” graphic when their 164 LEDs are illuminated. Below the tail lamps, new squared-off tailpipes exit a more refined-looking diffuser. The Charger has been aerodynamically refined in the wind tunnel and several cues point to this, such as the revisited lower sills and race-car-like flat underbody. While, the car still uses the original E-Class chassis, but it has been extensively tweaked to offer worldclass suspension-tunings with re-designed geometry to help it offer a nimble and balanced character. The outgoing model was moderately nose-heavy and had the tendency to understeer. The cabin has also been revisited with the focus on premium soft-touch materials and four interior colour combinations. The car now also integrates world-class infotainment and convenience technologies. Sound deadening material has been used throughout and Dodge engineers claim to have tuned the cabin for sound quality (rather than sound level)

by isolating powertrain, road and wind noise by maximizing structural stiffness of the car’s unibody to world-class levels. The incoming car, depending on the trim, will feature the new 3.6-litre Pentastar engine as its entry ticket. The R/T versions will continue with the 5.7-litre HEMI™ V8 engine with seamless displacement on demand four-cylinder mode for optimizing performance and fuel economy. All-wheel drive will be available in R/T trim, and the system includes a front-axle disconnect function to aid in fuel economy. On the safety front, there are more than 65 safety and security features, including standard Keyless Enter-N-Go and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with segment-exclusive Ready-alert Braking and Rainy Day Brake Support safety system. Safety and security features available for the first time on the Dodge Charger include adaptive-cruise control (ACC) with forward-collision warning (FCW), blindspot monitoring (BSM) with rear cross path (RCP) detection and ParkView™ rear back-up camera with grid lines. The car will be built at the Brampton Assembly Plant in Brampton, Ontario, Canada.

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MY OMANI ACTIVITY BOOK

ABC & NUMBERS


{preview}

Moving up I

ndia’s growing market has attracted many global players, but domestic automotive brands such as Tata Motors are giving even the seasoned a run for their money. Taking advantage of the growing segments, Tata Motors has introduced its first crossover seven seater SUV, Aria, for domestic markets. Tata has been eyeing this segment for several years and at the 2005 Geneva Auto Show revealed a strikingly similar concept codenamed ‘Xover’, which is now widely believed to be the Aria’s international version. The seven-seater Aria has been conceived on the global lines of offering car like finesse and ruggedness of a SUV. It is 4,850mm long and uses a rugged frame-based design. The three row theatre styled seats and cabin will come wrapped in premium leather and among the convenience features are multifunctional steering and mood sensing cabin lighting, sat-nav and reverse camera. Configured to be fitted with a range of Euro IV engines including Tata Motors’ own next generation powertrains, the car offers most of the technology and conveniences that the segment offers such as traction control, climate control with personalized zones, navigation system, driver-, passenger- and side-airbags, anti-lock braking system, four wheel drive and other comfort, convenience and safety options. Sporting 17-inch wheels, the car’s superior ride-comfort and handling will be ensured by independent double wishbone coil spring suspension with a stabilizer bar in front, and a five-link suspension with

India’s Tata Motors has moved into the crossover utility segment with the all-new Aria

coil springs and stabilizer bar at the rear. For the Indian market, Tata will offer its 140hp 2.2-litre direct injection common rail (DICOR) engine with variable turbine technology mated to a newly developed close ratio manual gearbox. The Aria has been extensively tested at the Tata Motors European Technical Centre, the company’s research and development (R&D) outfit in UK and also at the Engineering Research Centre (ERC) at Pune, India. Besides India, the Aria satisfies all current crash safety norms in European markets.

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{Newswatch}

Redefining brands in new markets At least three car brands from Europe are looking at emerging markets seriously with specific offerings. Automan takes a look at what Aston Martin, Citroën and Renault are up to Author: Chandan B Mallik

W

hen we got this news alert last month that Citroën and Aston Martin had confirmed two of their most unlikely concepts for production – the Metropolis and Lagonda SUV respectively, the information was received with a bit of disbelief and skepticism. The reason for this is understandable. Why would two established players want to jeopardize their image [and possibly bottomlines] in producing cars which are not really wanted in most markets they operate? Well, looking at the fine details, it now emerges there’s a mission statement which the respective CEOs are justifying such a move and are willing to 42

take chances. The common factor to both aspirations is the market where they are keen to play in. To be more specific, it is the business potential from ‘emerging markets’ such as China and Russia that are in sight of these players. At least Citroën realizes that in order to be successful as a premium European global brand it has to completely redefine what its brand means for local buyers who are now being bombarded with latest products from all over the globe. Citroën’s business strategy for China is based on the fact that it wants to go decidedly upmarket. And to do that that the French automaker could have opted for a short cut by

promoting its C3 hatchback as a DS3 premium hatch. But realizing that the Chinese buyers are beginning to acquire taste in big chauffer driven motor cars, it was decided to jump start a production version of its Metropolis concept, which Citroën is confident will do the job. Citroën’s CEO of Asian operations, Gregoire Olivier, has recently confirmed that the company has green-lighted the Metropolis concept. “The Metropolis will happen - it will become a real car. The same styling elements will be used for a high-level Citroen car to be developed in China. We want to build up the premier line in China - the Metropolis is emblematic of our approach.”


{Newswatch} The 5.3m long, 2.0m wide and 1.4m tall Metropolis concept was based on the C6. It gets a plug-in hybrid drivetrain which that uses a 268bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine and a 54bhp electric motor. This combination allowed the car to run on electricity alone (at low speed), on petrol alone (typical commuting), and on both together. In the latter mode, the engine and electric motor produced a combined 454hp and 430Nm of torque. Meanwhile, Aston Martin CEO Ulrich Bez has said at an event in Amsterdam last month that the Lagonda concept which debuted at the 2009 Geneva auto show was going to production. Bez is eyeing lucrative markets such as China, Russia and the Middle East for the future performance oriented luxury SUV. The revival of Lagonda nameplate has been on the agenda for a while and the Lagonda Concept was created specifically to celebrate 100 years of car production under the Lagonda brand. However, the Lagonda concept received very poor reception at Geneva during its debut where it was considered ugly by both critics and the public so much so that Aston Martin Chairman David Richards put a stop to the project right away. Marek Reichman, Aston Martin’s Director of Design, described the Aston Martin Lagonda Concept’s design language as a fusion of fluid shapes mixed with hard, constructed lines. Now, it seems that the Lagonda is a go again but, although Dr Bez didn’t offer design details, one can assume it will undergo a complete redesign. However, Dr Bez admitted that the new vehicle would likely have to be built with a production partner. The four-seat international tourer Lagonda concept was based on the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class platform, and hence there’s a possibility that Aston Martin may co-develop the new Lagonda with Daimler and fulfil its long-term vision of bringing performance luxury into new markets and territories around the world for Aston Martin Lagonda. Although, not as extreme or elegant as above, Renault announced the debut of a new derivative based on the SM5 platform called Latitude at the 2010 Moscow Auto Show. The car is already on sale in Korea as the Samsung SM5, and it is this Korean version that will probably make it to the GCC eventually as a replacement for the Renault Safrane. The Latitude will be built in Russia for domestic consumption and powertrain options will range from 2.0-litre four cylinder to V6 3.5-litre with CVT and automatic transmissions.

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{First drive}

Worthy addition

Just over two months ago, the Coupe version of Cadillac CTSbadged models joined the Middle East line-up for 2010-11. Automan drives the car in Lebanon | Author: Chandan B Mallik

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{First drive}

T

he solid foundation of Cadillac’s rearwheel-drive platform CTS family started effectively with the arrival of the second generation four-door saloon in 2003. Actually, the arrival heralded a major change for a model series that had been dependent on front-wheel-drive architecture for many years. After success with the rear wheel drive CTS, Cadillac added a high-performance version by shoehorning a variant of the Chevrolet Corvette V8 engine with manual transmission and badged it as the CTS-V. Finally, Cadillac added a station wagon variant and what was missing in the CTS line-up was a replacement of Cadillac’s last coupe, the Eldorado, which was discontinued in 2002. The arrival of the second generation coupe was incident filled. Had the economic downturn not affected the automotive industry especially in the US, the new CTS Coupe which was penned in 2006 by Bob Munson, chief designer of the Cadillac CTS and presented as a concept in 2008 would have been introduced as a 2009 production model. Although on the cards, the CTS coupe programme was frozen for a full year and positive feedback from GM top brass, visitors and analysts post Detroit Auto Show in 2008 helped fast track the project. Landing at US dealerships in 2009 as a 2010 model and now in the Middle East, the

CTS Coupe is almost identical to the concept shown. It sits in an elite segment and competes with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe, BMW 335i coupe, Audi A5, Lexus IS 350 C and Infiniti G37 coupe. The car’s design is a breakthrough despite its very close connection with the saloon. The now familiar chiseled design from the saloon looks identical on the coupe but on closer inspection, the difference in detailing is evident. Only the headlights, front mudguards and grille come directly from the saloon while a new sculpted bonnet and bumper contribute to its more aggressive design. Meanwhile, the lower front valance incorporates vents for cooling the brakes. There’s no doubt that the design language of the CTS is strikingly handsome from any angle and certainly unique in the class. The angular sheetmetal on the coupe follows Cadillac’s philosophy of combining art and science in a car by borrowing cues from the Cien concept car. Mechanically, this classic two-plus-two has the same wheelbase dimensions as the CTS fourdoor saloon and this arrangement has benefited designers and engineers who have been able to put in wider doors and create better access for rear seat occupants. In dimensions, overall length is two inches shorter than the saloon, while its overall height is two inches lower. However, it is the profile where the CTS coupe really shines with its sharp door, angled

C-pillar, and a hidden B-pillar which make the car look shorter than it really is [it’s actually longer than the E-Class coupe, one of its key rivals]. The rear end treatment features a centrally placed dual-exhaust tips [similar to a Porsche] under the bumper that complements all of the other design elements on the car and the tail lamps look remarkably similar to the concept with a slight revision to incorporate the indicators and reverse lamps. Although it has a traditional boot, the CTS Coupe also appears as a fastback at times. Also faster is the new windscreen which is laid at an angle of 62.3°, while the rear glass is nearly flat, making this one of the most dramatically styled Cadillacs since the day GM Design Guru Harley Earl designed cars with tall tail fins, a notable example being the 1959 Eldorado. In spite of the very fast look of the coupe, the actual drag coefficient number is high for a coupe and high in this class, just under 0.36, when some of the competition is down around 0.26. The CTS Coupe focuses more on the luxury part of the equation in the segment and very much like its saloon sibling, its follows the “more space for less money” philosophy in a stylish way. There are no traditional door handles outside or inside; instead, the CTS Coupe uses touchpad type openers adapted from the Chevrolet Corvette. We had liked the interior of the CTS saloon and couldn’t find a 45


{First drive}

Driving impressions To get in the car one just has to softly press the concealed touch pad switches and then swing open the door. Aside from the heft of the door and the lowered roofline, anyone familiar with the CTS saloon will feel right at home inside this car. Although the interior is identical to the saloon, the car’s cabin feels smaller due to chopped roof and sharply raked windscreen. The engine has a good note to it through the twin exhausts, but it doesn’t sound quite as sweet as one of BMW’s inline-sixes. Actually, very few engines do and while the torqueconverter six-speed automatic is no dualclutch gearbox it shifts quite fast and smooth nevertheless as demanded. We drove the car in various terrain in both sport and manual modes, and the gears hold all the way until redline. The benefit of the lower axle ratio is immediately noticeable when pulling away from standstill. What we also noted in sport mode that it may decide to drop a gear unexpectedly. The car has been engineered to of-

Specifications Engine: 3.6-litre V6 Transmission: 6-speed automatic with clutchless manual Max output: 304hp @ 6,400 rpm Max torque: 273 ft-lbs @ 5,200 rpm 0-96km/h: 5.8sec

46

fer nearly 50:50 axle weight distribution front and rear and the 19in rims with fat low profile asymmetric sports tyres [245/45 in the front and 275/40 in the rear] help in its vice like grip and composure. The stiffer suspension settings helped the car in its point and shoot handling, although one does miss the benefits of the magnetic ride of the V-version in this car. However, somewhat surprisingly, the chassis and suspension calibration effective offsets the coupe’s extra weight [when compared to some of its rivals] and proved to be a nonfactor in our overall first drive experience. We encountered quite a lot of bumpy offcamber corners in the mountain roads in Lebanon and were happy to note that the suspension competently can handle just about anything a road can throw at it, never getting unsettled even in harsh driving conditions. The car’s variable-assist steering starts off lighter and tightens up nicely once speeds increase and at no time feels overboosted. This is one of the reasons why the Cadillac actually out-

performs some of its rivals as a much better handling on road with more precise turn-in, but slightly tarnished by a tendency to understeer when exiting a corner which where we think the car doesn’t get any respite from the laws of physics involving nearly 1,880kg of mass trying to hold onto the road. Thanks to the wider rear track, tail-wagging is very much contained. While overall, the car offers a reasonable package and kit, it is not without flaws. Despite its sporting character, the plain Jane seats are not prepared to cope with the its handling capability as they don’t offer enough lateral support and despite the fact the steering-wheel-mounted shift buttons do the job well, but we think column-mounted paddles would have been a better option if provided. It seems that the Cadillac’s steering wheelmounted ‘buttons’ were bolted on as an afterthought.


{First drive} valid reason not to dislike the coupe’s cabin as the layout and ergonomics are pretty much the same as those of the saloon. The only difference is that since the cabin is a bit smaller, it appears busier and business-like with a motorcycle-inspired three-pod instrument cluster that combines analogue and digital readouts. Since the gauges are bathed in a very nice, crisp blue light, they are easy to see and read. Build quality, tolerances and trim materials are top notch. The extra footprint gives the coupe a considerable advantage in the shoulder, rear-

seat legroom and cargo volume departments when compared with some of the leading rivals such as the Infiniti G37 coupe. There’s only one engine available in the coupe which is the proven normally-aspirated 3.6-litre V6 engine with four valves per cylinder, variable valve timing and direct fuel injection also used in the saloon. The engine is as modern as any other V6 engine available on the planet and it is capable of producing a whopping 1.4hp per cubic inch at engine speeds approaching 7,000 rpm. This translates to healthy 304hp

Verdict

Cadillac expects the CTS Coupe to lead its segment. Chasing the competition led mainly by the Germans premium brands is not an easy task. Cadillac has taken them up on the challenge and has done well so far and we think it’s a fairly achievable goal, considering this car will compete with such capable

from a 3.6-litre displacement. In contrast, the old 8.1-litre Cadillac V8 made 400 hp, or 0.8 hp per cubic inch, and generated unspeakably bad fuel economy, whereas the new engine can reach 27 mpg on the highway easily. The CTS Coupe is available with all-wheel drive. The CTS Coupe offers a six-speed automatic transmission and is also available with an Aisin six-speed manual transmission, which comes with summer performance tyres and rearwheel drive.

and refined cars as the Audi A5, BMW 335i, and Infiniti G37 Coupe. Although, things have changed in the industry since the Eldorado, but modern Cadillac coupes are still best when cruised graciously from a luxurious destination to another luxurious destination.

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{First Drive}

n i g n i k l Wa h t i w m e tand s t n Gia

Perhaps more than any other model in its line-up, KIAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Optima brings to the fore the great leaps that the brand has taken in catching up with and beating established competitors. The third generation of the Optima packs in quite a few surprises Author: Raj Warrior | Images: Jorge Ferrari and Shakeel Al Baloushi

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{First Drive}

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{First Drive} << Optima’s design team led by Peter Shreyer involved the KIA’s Frankfurt and Irvine studios >>

KIA’s attention to detailing, jewellery, build quality and trims have genuinely metamorphosed an ordinary point A to point B model to the top of its class. Besides the two trim levels offered, there’s also a sports pack which is more focused on styling than performance. In terms of kit, it even surpasses its own sibling, the Hyundai Sonata and can confidently lay claim in terms of image and exceptional value in one single package. By far, it is one of the breakthrough models from KIA

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{First Drive}

I

f we hadnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t actually been part of the event, you could have forgiven us for falling into the same error of identity that so many lay drivers are having nowadays. We were driving on the road from Dubai to Oman and there was a stylish new sedan in our rearview mirror. With striking LED daytime running lights and a fascia that even looks good from a 100 metres away in the mirror, the car that was following us could have been any new model from the European brandspace. However, like the car we were in and a dozen other cars on that particular road, the new face in town was that of the third-generation Optima from KIA. KIA has in recent years been a source of many new models. Like their new regional of-

fice president Byung-Tae Yea said at the press conference that preceded the media drive of the car in Dubai, the past few years, including the time during the economic slump that saw so many other brands slow down on launches, have seen KIA continue on its product offensive. The brand now has the unique distinction of having an almost completely new product line-up and all the models in question have the touch of a new identity. The hand of Peter Schreyer and his design teams based in Korea, Europe and the US is visible in cars as varied as the Mohave, new Sportage, new Cerato and now the new Optima. The way the car looks is just an extension of a pronounced design direction that involves the usage of a

visual lessening of overhangs, pronounced treatment of the greenhouses and the usage of latest generation features with an inspired overhaul of the passenger space. The sum total of the improvements has resulted in an entire new generation of KIAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s of which the Optima is definitely the best example. For those of us who are familiar with the second generation Optima, the car came across as a rather staid, yet reasonably capable contender in the lower to mid-segment. At a pinch you opted for the Optima because it was larger than the general C-segment car at a price that remained C-segment in every way. As with its other models, KIA has chosen this model generation to upgrade the model posi-

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{First Drive}

tioning along with looking at an entirely new customer segment. The car has already been launched in Oman a couple of weeks ahead of the media drive. Of course a certain degree of exclusivity was maintained due to the phased roll-out across the region and in various countries around the world. At the launch in Oman, company officials focused on the feature ben-

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efits that the Optima provided, along with the benefits of the two engines – the 2.0-litre and 2.4-litre – straddling the segment in such a manner as to allow them to provide suitable variants for various buyers. The regional event however saw officials use the opportunity to show us how their car stacked against competition. And the competition they see is in the form of the triumvirate of Japanese D-segment sedans – the Camry, Altima and Accord (all in the 2.4 – 2.5-litre category). Now does the car really have the wherewithal to compete in that segment? To give Peter Schreyer and his team due credit – the Optima is just about the most distinctly styled sedan on the road today. From the stance, to the signature treatment of the grille, to the headlamp and running light cluster and then on to the swoosh of the greenhouse and the unique way in which the sedan gets an almost fastback treatment of the reardeck, you won’t mistake this car for anything else on the road, even the Sonata. Oddly enough, different colour combinations with the choice of a black panoramic sunroof make the car look different in light and dark colours. In Oman the car will be sold with both the engine versions and in three levels of

trims. The top of the line is the SX model with ten-spoke, solid feel 18” alloy wheels and a feature pack that will make every ‘competing’ car mentioned blush with shame. The interiors of the car have been similarly upgraded. No longer do we have the muted plastic feel of gen-2. The newest Optima is anything but muted in its treatment of the interiors. Starting from the very driver-biased layout of the console, to the busy environs of the four-spoke steering wheel, right to the welcome intrusion of the seat ventilation controls on the centre-console (unfortunately not available in Oman), the cabin speaks of a really upmarket space for people who are interested in driving. If anything, KIA has made sure that the Optima aspires to almost Lexus qualities with the lighting of the IP console, the way in which the dials do their dance and the silken wood feel on the top of the steering wheel. As for the sport like appeal – let’s admit, with a 2.4-litre normally aspirated engine, there is only so much sporting appeal that you can start out with. The six-speed automatic gearbox is a major plus-point in the transmission equation with smooth shifting complementing a reasonably balanced gear distribu-


{First Drive} tion. With 180PS, the larger engine allows the car to accelerate to 100km/h in a healthy 9.1 seconds. As for the sporty feel, it’s all there. From the leather wrapped steering wheel, to nicely contoured seats, paddle-shifters behind the steering wheel and the external combination of twin oval exhausts and large 18” discs – the features are there. So is the space to make it a family car. Rear legroom and headroom are good, even taking into account the sweep downward of the roof. The doors open generously and the rear seat can accommodate three grown men. As for performance on the road, the car is a quiet, composed cruiser. For the everyday run, features like key-free entry, stop/start button and a nicely tuned infinity sound-system add weight to the buying argument. And for a change the panoramic sunroof operates on a one-touch trigger both ways, open and close. Now try to match that! When the car leaves the highway and enters the mountain stretch, you find just why the Optima misses out on being a sport sedan. 180 PS falls a bit short of requirement and the

firmed up suspension does not compensate enough for the perceptible body roll in turns. On the other hand braking is top-of-the-line, with large brake discs and assist features. On hard acceleration the engine’s sound does manage to break through the excellent acoustic damping. And at speeds and a hint of cross-wind, there is just a little bit of intrusion from wind noise generated by the large mirrors. If there is any concern at all – it is about how much more the buyer has to pay for this remarkable product. It is at this point that you stop to think about how much the brand has moved upmarket and what the position will be like 3 or 4 years in the future. Our verdict is that some increase in the price point should be factored in – in most cases you will be still paying the price of a C-segment competitor and getting a larger car, with better features and an equivalent build quality. And while the car is still available with only one airbag as standard on the entry model, you should be ready to pay more for the better specced variants that offer two airbags.

However, to a test driver, the process of finding fault with the car is almost like trying to clutch at straws. For it is a winner in all respects for the brand. It achieves every goal it sets out to – like moving the KIA brand upmarket in perception, providing an excellent product that feature on feature can take on competition not just from the three large Japanese sedans we named, but a whole host of other cars that crowd the segment and brings with it a new feel to what buyers should expect from the brand. As far as the product goes, we have to give KIA full marks. They have made the Optima larger without making it seem so, packed it full of features and have ingeniously used tried and tested engines with extremely modern gearboxes. The only reason we won’t see a larger 6-cylinder engine in the car is because that space is already taken by the equally interesting Cadenza, making it superfluous. If you are in the market for a family car, you should take a drive on the Optima. We bet you’ll enjoy the car as much as we did and will end up buying it despite all the arguments you have against it [see rivals box].

<< And the competition they see is in the form of the triumvirate of Japanese D-segment sedans – the Camry, Altima and Accord >>

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{First Drive}

Rivals

The third generation 2011 Kia now belongs to the region’s valuable mid-size car segment. This is a highly busy segment that’s home to several of the region’s topselling nameplates whose offerings range from modest to potent packages. The Optima will have to face competition in several categories based on its content, packaging and pricing. The opposition list is quite wide and includes heavyweights such as Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Mazda6, Mitsubishi Galant, Ford Fusion, Dodge Avenger, Chevrolet Malibu and even cousin Hyundai Sonata.

Toyota Camry

Honda Accord

Mitsubishi Galant

The current Camry is in its sixth generation when it was introduced in 2007. While, emotion is typically less important to a Camry owner than efficiency, for 2010, there are some minor changes and modest power upgrades. Compared with the Camry, the Optima shows that mid-size saloon shoppers don’t have to settle to design boredom or a lack of features, but in terms of brand image, Toyota still rules the roost.

Although, the Optima is marginally smaller than the Accord in exterior dimensions, but it offers more head and leg room at the rear. The build quality of the Optima compares favourably with the base Accord but the latter’s fine balance – smooth powertrain, delicate steering and composed road manners are hard to emulate. Pricing, packaging and low cost of ownership of the Optima can help Kia in getting cross shoppers from Honda.

The current Galant was introduced in 2008. The Galant is offered in several distinct trim levels and three performance levels, providing the wide array of choices that mid-sizes saloon buyers seek. The top end is a Ralliart performance edition. Styling and performance have been the selling points. The Optima scores on style and creature comforts, but will fall short of the Mitsu’s performance editions.

Dodge Avenger

Nissan Altima

Mazda6

The smallest Dodge saloon, the Avenger was introduced in 2008 as an all-new mid-size saloon that combined bold, aggressive styling with innovative interior features and high-levels of safety. A revised inside out Avenger is on its way for 2011 and will boast of a new interior and Pentastar 3.6-litre V6 engines. The 2.4-litre engine has also been recalibrated for efficency.

The redesigned Altima goes for the throat with styling and even the base models are very well-equipped. Nissan wants the driver to feel sporty and hence employed its longstroke 2.5-litre four cylinder and CVT with a responsive suspension. The Optima will have to fight tooth and nail to sway Nissan customers.

Arguably, one of the stylish models in the market, the exterior design appeal of the 6 is combined with a spacious and functional interior is one of the current model’s strongest selling points. Mazda’s new family face is introduced with the updated model for a strong, sporty look that’s carried out in solid build quality.

Chevrolet Malibu

Ford Fusion

Hyundai Sonata

Styled well for its exterior, the interior is executed with hard plastic, glaring panel gaps and ragged mould lines indicates the period of GM’s cost cutting. In terms of fit and finish, the new Optima outclasses the American. However, in the mid-size car segment so popular with families, safety ratings play an increasingly important factor in the decision to purchase. The Optima offers just one airbag.

Ford has substantially upgraded the Fusion with styling, revised front and rear. Ford’s new 2.5-litre in line-4 cylinder engine has been upgraded for both improved fuel economy and power. There’s also a hybrid in the line-up besides a V6 [not sold in the region]. With revisions, the Fusion even more appealing to customers eager for a fun-to-drive mid-size saloon.

There’s definitely a case of sibling rivalry out here. Although mechanically related, both cars also offer stylish interpretations of a mid-sized saloon. However, Kia’s packaging of the Optima is much better than the Sonata. The Sonata appeals more to fleet, while the Kia should appeal more to customers looking at comfort a n d convenient features.

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{Cover story}

Tour de Touareg

Just introduced in the region, the second generation all-new 2011 Volkwagen Touareg is lean, mean and greener. Automan checks out the new arrival and finds it more of a technology-led revolution. | Author: Chandan B Mallik

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{Cover story}

T

he completely re-developed second generation Volkswagen Touareg had its world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show earlier in the year. The first generation Touareg was co-developed with Audi and Porsche [all the three shared the same platform and at least one powertrain] and hence it was not surprising to find some elements of Audi [build quality] and performance [Porsche] in the Touareg. Since the Touareg launch in 2003, the crossover SUV segment has witnessed many changes as a result of several factors – world economic crisis, new and tougher legislation related to safety, performance and emissions among others. Besides these factors, the crossover segment is also getting extremely busy and crowded with more and more new arrivals. And Volkswagen is in no mood to give up its technical excellence, one of the key elements in the model’s global retial success of more than 500,000 units. As VW has more than one crossover SUV in its line-up, the job of introducing engineering upgrades and content changes actually began in the smaller Tiguan. As the investment proved to be a successful, in a way it prompted VW to carry forward the experience into the Touareg line-up for its second innings. Much like its predecessor, the incoming unibody constructed fiveseater Touareg sits somewhere between mid-size and large SUVs, but it carries its bulk well. From the design perspective it retains its profile and elegant proportions despite a marginal increase in dimensions. VW’s new corporate design language plays well on the Touareg with a more squared off look, and manages to cover most of the dimensional changes quite well. Overall length is up 1.5 inches, all of that within the wheelbase, and width is up half an inch, although height is down a half an inch. A corporate grille now adorns the car, paired with flush fit trapezoidal cluster headlamps with LED daytime running lights and wrapping up the profile are the bumpers with shorter overhangs and improved arrival and departure angles. From the exterior or interior it’s hard to believe that the SUV has been put on a rigid diet plan where it has almost shed 10 per cent of its weight depending on the variant. The entry level V6 powered Touareg is lighter by 208kg and that’s not to suggest that weight losses were effected by random measures. Actually, the job has been done with the finesse of a plastic surgeon where for example the weight of the body-in-white has been reduced by five per cent to 398kg. Inside the cabin, the revised interior appears classy and more functional. Whereas the last-generation Touareg felt a bit cramped inside, the occupants benefit from the extended wheelbase, particularly those in the rear. The redesigned seats are more contoured, body hugging with adequate bolstering and extra leg room in the rear is markedly improved. The rear seat can also be adjusted now and so can the backrests. For convenience, the rear seat can be unlatched at the press of a button and when flat folded it creates 1,642 litres of cargo space. As before, a space saver tyre comes with an electric air compressor neatly tucked in the boot. The influence of Audi doesn’t go unnoticed, be it trims or build quality or materials or tolerances. New climate controls appear to be borrowed from the Audi Q7 bin and a new eight-inch RDS-810 touch screen provides the much expected upgrade to the navigation and entertainment set-up. Volkswagen has added a seven-inch TFT full-color

screen between the tach and speedo dials that is colour-coded and provides additional information on infotainment and navigation functions for the driver. This new screen is very sharp with vibrant colors and provides quite a bit of information at the driver’s request. All in all, the new Touareg represents a significant upgrade to what was already a very nice interior. Also among the other new systems in the car, the most notable is the absence of the foot operated parking brake lever. Like upmarket cars, it is now electronically operated via push button. With the panaromic glass roof fad catching up in the segment, the Touareg is also available with a large panoramic sunroof and top trim version offers a radio-navigation system with a 60GB hard drive and 3D representation of buildings on its screen. The bigger news, however, is in the drivetrain department. While the car was launched with diesel and petrol powertrains plus a mild hybrid for Europe, for the region, till the bigger V8 version arrives next year, an optimised version of the current V6 FSI engine will continue to serve the model series. Compared to the set-up of the previous model, this entry level engine and gets several tweaks largely to help improve emissions and fuel economy. It also gets new fuel management, a new fluid honing process, new piston rings and lightweight forged pistons round out the changes to the venerable narrow-angle engine. The ultra smooth 24-valve six-cylinder unit develops 280hp and a maximum torque of 360Nm. The calibration is designed to offer constant power between 3,000 and 4,000rpm [the working range]. Peak power arrives at 6,200 rpm. Realising that an engine upgrade by itself wouldn’t be able to satisfy the performance requirements, two more cogs have been added to the six-speed gearbox. The eight-speed automatic transmission is designed to cope with engine torques of up to 850Nm [the Touareg line-up also has high torque producing diesels] and one of the benefits is that due to the additional gear levels, gearing spread between first and eighth gears a 20 per cent larger and the result of this is that it allows the engine to operate with even greater efficiency over all speed ranges, making them both more fuel efficient and responsive. Meanwhile, the top two cogs also act as engine speed-reducing overdrive gears. At 9.9 l/100 km, the V6 consumes 2.5 litres less now than the previous version, while the combined fuel consumption is equivalent to CO2 emissions of 236 g/km - 60 g/km less than before. The V6 FSI version has a top speed of 228 km/h and accelerates from standstill to 100 km/h in respectable 7.8 sec. As a dual purpose vehicle, there are some changes in the car’s running gear. Volkswagen seems to have applied the philosophy of ‘different strokes for different folks’ in deciding the overall packaging for the variants. The base Touareg [our test vehicle] was kitted with 4Motion all-wheel with a torsen differential, same as used in the Audi Q7. VW says it will continue to offer the older 4xMotion system with low-range gear reduction and locking centre and rear differential as an option as it is better suited for higher spec variants kitted with adjustable airsuspension. The logic for these options is understandable: the removal of the 4xMotion and air suspension, which the majority of Touareg owners probably will really never need, has helped shave a substantial 75kg of weight off the vehicle and also reduce drivetrain losses. Meanwhile, the dial an off-road driving programme can be activated via the

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{Cover story} <<What`s In

rotary button and doing so also involves ABS, EDS, ASR. The active system also activates Hill Descent Assist and adjusts the automatic gearshift points on demand. As expected in the flab reduction exercise, the Touareg extensively uses aluminium in its double wishbone suspension, which has also helped in reducing the unsprung mass of the vehicle. The increased track widths compared to the previous model are 1,656mm in front

<< What`s In

What`s Out>>

and 1,676mm in the rear. Models with 4MOTION all-wheel drive system and rear limitedslip Torsen differential offer 40:60 distribution of powere between the front and rear axles. The steering of the new Touareg uses hydraulic rack-and-pinion with variable ratios. The ratio is more directly configured across the entire steering stroke compared to the previous model. Safety in crossover SUVs is an area that no carmaker would want to avoid or cut

What`s Out >>

<< What`s In rotary button and doing so also involves ABS, EDS, ASR. The active system also activates Hill Descent Assist and adjusts the automatic gearshift points on demand. As expected in the flab reduction exercise, the Touareg extensively uses aluminium in its double wishbone suspension, which has also helped in reducing the unsprung mass of the vehicle. The increased track widths compared to the previous model are 1,656mm in front and 1,676mm in the rear.

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corners. VWâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new Touareg active and passive safety measures, and support kit are top notch for the class. The effort begins with stiffening of the bodyshell by five per cent, introduction of number of electronic driving aids from lane departure systems to cruise distance control systems besides 360° degrees views from strategically mounted cameras and an array of nine air bags.

What`s Out >>


{Cover story}

<< VW Touareg also has an “Off-road driving programme”, which - at the press of a button - tunes the ABS, EDS and ASR for off-road duty, activates Hill Descent Assist and adjusts the automatic gearshift points >>

Driving impressions The first drive impressions of this car we would frankly admit was carried out very much in controlled conditions in an around the new Banyan Wadi Resort in Ras Al Khaimah in UAE. The whole exercise which lasted a couple of hours was part of the Middle East media launch-cum-drive programme. Both on- and off-road driving was done in convoy fashion and strictly under supervision with hardly any

scope for deviation. However, this doesn’t mean that we weren’t able to extract 100 per cent information from the car, but in that time frame, a score of 70 per cent would be considered fair. One of our initial missions was to detect any after effects of weight reduction in the overall performance of the car. The car has shed around 208kg and we initially suspected that

it would affect the general composure of the outgoing model. Here we encountered our first disappointment: it seem since a lot of work has gone in increasing torsional rigidity, the car is as composed as before. On the move, the first thing to be noticed is how effortless the whole experience was, part thanks to the better power-to-weight ratio. The new transmission is super smooth with its

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{Cover story}

gear changes, and the computers seem smart enough to choose the best gear at all times. The spread of ratios also meant that the engine actually has to work less and we noted that at about 2,200rpm we were lazily cruising at 130km/h on the highway. The eight-speed

automatic seems to know this isn’t a big engine and where the power lies, and it quickly shifts to the appropriate gear. As always, the sport mode quickens shift response for more enthusiastic driving styles. The lighter standard suspension has been tuned for comfort,

but one doesn’t mistake that for anything soft or wallowy. Since it rolls on 17in wheels and 235/65 VR rated sports tyres, the comfort level it endowed in the V6 with a gentler ride than some bigger-rimmed competitors was impressive. The steering’s feedback is pretty

The VW Touareg will also be the first and only off-roader in Europe by a German car maker to be available in a hybrid version too. It sets standards among fully off-road capable SUVs with petrol engines that have a fuel consumption value of just 8.2 litres fuel per 100 kilometres. The Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid can be driven up to 50 km/h in purely electric mode emissions-free. The hybrid module is integrated between a supercharged 328hp 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine and the new eight-speed automatic transmission. The system integrates a dry clutch mechanism as well as a 51hp electric motor to boost the supercharged V6, which is borrowed from Audi’s S4. To make it compatible with the hybrid setup, the air conditioning compressor and water pump have been replaced by electrically-driven units. The hybrid module delivers a maximum of 221 lbft of torque. Unique to this system is a clutch mechanism that permits the car to shut down the engine any time you are coasting at speed but keeps the hybrid drivetrain running to supplement power needs. Electricity is stored in a

174-pound high-capacity nickel metal hydride battery consisting of 240 individual cells residing in the spare tyre well. That change means the hybrid rides on run-flat tires, which are also designed for low rolling resistance. Additionally, the hybrid uses an electro-hydraulic steering system and a regenerative braking system that can re-charge the batteries during braking to further increase efficiencies. The hybrid system permits the Touareg to be driven purely on electric power without the combustion engine up to 50km/h. In practice this works, however the Touareg is neither small nor light and if you want to keep up with quick-moving traffic, you’ll need to press the accelerator down often enough to activate the gasoline engine. The hybrid also has an acceleration “boost” mode that permits you to take advantage of the full power of the engine and the full power of the hybrid drivetrain resulting in the potential to tap into 374hp and a healthy 427 lb-ft. of torque. No firm plans have been announced for this version in the region.

<< Hybrid Touareg

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{Cover story} Touareg’s with standard steel suspension and 4MOTION produces an approach angle of 22°; the rear scores points with a 23° departure angle. With the 4XMOTION, these values increase to 26°each. It gets even more extreme in air suspension versions: In the 4MOTION version, the values are 24° and 25°. The combination of air suspension and 4XMOTION produces the maximum angle of 33°, front and rear.

<< The new Touareg is flatter around curves, tighter in the steering rack and with less dive and controlled chassis >> accurate for a car that weighs close to two tones. Although it responds to driver input quickly, it still lacks the razor sharpness of say the BMW X5 or Caynenne. Off-road, with deflated tyres and off-road settings activated, the car comfortably does soft dune duties without any fuss. Our accompanying higher spec variants with the 4xMOTION all-wheel

drive, air-suspension and capable of doing 45° gradient climbs demonstrated that it had no issues with some serious dune bashing. The 280hp V6 engine seems quite capable of enduring whatever is thrown at it. Interestingly, on both the 4MOTION and 4XMOTION drive systems, it is possible to manually deactivate the Stop-Start system during off-road driving.

With the 4XMOTION system, it is also possible to deactivate ESP and on vehicles with air suspension, the “Lock” switch can also prevent unwanted lowering of the vehicle from the offroad level to the normal level by locking the system at 70km/h.

Key highlights 1. Technically, the Touareg Hybrid is a full hybrid, capable of traveling up to 1.6km and at speeds of up to 48km/h in all-electric drive mode. 2. The Hybrid powerplant marries an Audibuilt, supercharged 3.0-litre V6 and an

eight-speed automatic with a disc-shaped electric motor mounted internally. Electric energy is stored in 155 pounds worth of nickel metal hydride battery pack stored under the rear cargo floor.

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{Cover story} Specifications 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Engine: 3.6-litre V6 FSI Transmission: 8-speed automatic Max output: 280hp @6,200rpm Max torque: 265 lb-ft @ 3,000rpm Dimensions l/w/h: 188.8/ 76.4/ 68.2in

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Verdict The 2011 Touareg is significant in the bigger picture for the Volkswagen Group as it shows VW is serious in its commitment to build an even better product, while improving fuel economy at the same time. The incoming car is a major step up where significant weight and performance improvements are most significant. Like a matured personal trainer, the second generation Touareg has grown up and matured into a leaner, more athletic, more focused machine with vast improvements that everyone can benefit from. Prices range indicated are in the range of R0 14,000 to RO 17,000.

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{Special feature}

On a road less

Travelled

After lifting the 28-year-old ban on two-wheelers recently, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has re-opened its doors for motorcycling. Harley-Davidson let us discover this fascinating destination with its 2011 line-up of motorcycles as part of its first â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Freedom Tourâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; in the country. | Author: Chandan B Mallik| Photographs: Adrian Wroth

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{Special feature}

T

he global recession over the past couple of years didn’t just hit the automotive sector. The two wheeler industry too, was affected and the impact of recession can be measured by the fact that many of the leading Japanese brands didn’t make or offer significant or new 2010 models, opting instead focusing on ways to get rid of unsold bikes in large markets such as US and Europe. Even sales of Harley-Davidson have been hurt globally, but according to Michael Carney, marketing manager Harley- Davidson Middle East & Africa, sales in the region were pretty good and the company managed to achieve its retail sales targets. Harley-Davidson has used the downturn period as an opportunity to rework its business strategies and focus business in areas in which it has identified as the strategic growth markets which also includes Middle East. As per the business plan, the iconic brand will increase its dealer network in the territories of Sub Sahara, North Africa and Middle East. Currently, these territories fall under the Cape Town, South-Africa based set-up subsidiary. As part of the initiative has the flipside is that even at a time when some of the global markets are stagnating, Harley-Davidson is very excited with the opening up of a brand new market in the Middle East – Jordan. It may be recalled that this destination was closed for nearly three decades for bikers. The lifestyle motorcycle maker has wasted no time in setting up shop in this new territory and appropriately branded its first media ride event in the country as ‘Freedom Tour’. Meanwhile, a resurging Harley-Davidson has introduced three new additions to its Middle East line-up, beginning with the Sportster 883-based SuperLow, re-introduction of the Softail Deluxe and the XR1200X. For the ‘Freedom Tour’ media event, HarleyDavidson designed an extensive two-day

loop tour of the Jordan covering most of the important historical and touristic destinations such as Petra, Wadi Rum and swanky port city of Aqaba. The sojourn began at the new dealership located on the outskirts of capital Amman and nine different productions models were made available for testing. My ride began with arguably the most recognized H-D bike in the world -- the Fat Boy Lo. The road and drive towards Petra took us through the mountain passes with stunning views of the Dead Sea. Dressed in satin chrome and pea, the model featured a reshaped seat to my liking and handlebar that placed me ‘in’ the motorcycle. The Fat Boy Lo also boasts of having the lowest seat height of any H-D model in the lineup which is superb for short-legged brethren like me. The halfmoon footboards, alloy wheels and leather tank panel help the model rock to a singular, fat-custom beat. The suspension responded very well in insulating the rider from the road irregularities and though its rear-suspension design that mimics the lines of a vintage hardtail frame, it surprisingly is modern when it offers the comfort of modern suspension that is hidden under the chassis. The oil tank is located below the seat, forward foot controls or foot boards, and the classic five-gallon Fat Bob fuel tank are notable styling details of each Softail model. The engine is a counterbalanced 1,584cc Twin Cam 96B V-Twin, rigidmounted in the frame. The rigid powertrain allows tight packaging of the engine within the frame. Rated at 93.67 ft. lbs. of peak torque at 3,000 rpm, the engine features Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI) and is finished in black powdercoat with bright machined highlights on the cylinder fins, and

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{Special feature} satin-chrome engine and primary drive covers. The six-speed transmission features a new helical-cut fifth gear for smooth operation. The bike is packaged exceptionally well and it is rider friendly as well being a powerful long haul cruiser. The ride from the new dealership past Dead Sea to Dilagha junction was about 200km with two fuel stops for the Sportsters [which have 8-litre fuel tanks and like children had to be

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fed frequently]. At the first fuel stop at Potash, I parted with the Fat Boy and took charge of a Heritage Softail Classic with all the bells and whistles. Although, this bike is designed as a grand tourer, I personally felt its handling was a bit tighter than the perfectly balanced Fat Boy. The bike has raised handlebars and guys like me have to stretch both arm and leg to get a good riding position. The seat base is also wide and more suited to bigger fellas.

Meanwhile, some improvements have been made to the switchgear, which looks same as before from the outside but uses electronic relays instead of older mechanical contacts. The engine and gearbox is the same as in the Fat Boy and the addition of ABS in braking has made a world of difference now, especially in mountain roads where a rider would not want to shift the weight of this machine drastically. As a long distance cruiser, this is a nice bike


{Special feature}

with detachable windscreen. The handling and overall performance was a shade below the Fat Boy. At the second stop and coffee break at Bier Mathkour, I got the majestic Street Glide. Brightly painted in two-tone metallic colours with individual air-brushed graphics [as opposed to mass vinyl stickering], there’s definitely a class appeal about this model and what strikes you immediately is its poise and detailing. My first impressions with the Street Glide in 2008 during the Egypt ride with H-D were somewhat mixed. I remember its harsh ride, front heavy handling and its

and for me personally, I was impressed the way the earlier niggles has been done away with. As an urban classic, the Street Glide is one fine performer with its outbored 1,690cc engine, refined suspension and ABS. The car-like cockpit is a pleasant place to watch the odometer roll up in front of you and the seven-inch tinted windscreen from the Electra Glide provides better protection while still offering a suitably sporty style. A very neutral riding position [thanks to the lowered seating] helps the rider feel fully in control and comfortable. The audio system sounds

nervousness over gravel road surfaces. From handling perspective, it wasn’t to my liking. But it seems a lot has changed in two years with this premium touring model. First is the involvement of Harley’s Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) division which takes a standard model and retrofits them with extra chrome, custom paint, loads of accessories, and special Screamin’ Eagle high-performance powerplants to create the pinnacle of Harley’s lineup. CVO now calls the shots and defines the ultimate vision of Harley-Davidson styling, features and performance. In that respect, the 2011 Street Glide lives up to the expectations

great, the cruise control holds steady speeds, and the self-cancelling turn signals performed flawlessly. The Street Glide was one of my favourite models on the trip that ratchets up the performance, finish quality and luxury items to give it even greater appeal. Post lunch the drive to Petra was relatively short at 70km and in a way I was pleased because not that I was riding the Sportster XR1200, but because I was able to get rid of it soon enough! Out of all the bikes ridden during the two-day event, the XR1200 turned out to be the most unlikely H-D member

and I have a couple of pretty good reasons of saying so. Although, from the styling perspective it closely resembles the family order, on closer inspection the difference in details emerge. The XR1200 was introduced in 2009 as a new addition, it was reminiscent of the famous XR750 flat track motorcycles ridden none other than daredevil stunt rider Evel Knievel. With a background like that, it’s not surpising that the fuel tank itself looks derived from the XR750 and is painted in classic retro Harley fashion. Riding position is upright with the pegs underneath you to the rear and your arms fully extended if you are six footer or taller. The XR1200 has snappy acceleration through the five gears and the exhaust note is distinct and insistent as the bike leaps forward

at your command. The chassis is extremely agile and allows the riders to lean heavily in curves. The bike loves left hand curves more as both exhaust pipes are located on the right hand side and in an upswept arrangement. This bike is more of a Buell sportsbike than a laid back Harley in its genes. And the mountain roads with aggressive curves on the way up and tight hairpin bends downhill, showed me that I’ve can improve my riding skills, since the XR1200 had way more ability than I did to negotiate the fast and furious curves. Most of the agile handling has to do with chassis and suspension design. The Showa inverted front forks did their job exceptionally well by absorbing bumps, while offering solid control in tight turns. And that superlight-but-rigid rear swingarm and twin preload adjustable

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{Special feature}

rear shocks also contributed. The swingarm is cast-aluminium [like sports bikes and is 40 per cent stiffer than the steel version] and 3.3 pounds lighter, which makes a big difference in unsprung weight and, therefore, handling. For short rides, this is a blast, but for longer periods, the drawbacks in ergonomics show up. It’s not a comfortable bike and that’s why I was happy to part with its company. My personal ride at home is a 1200 C Custom and any new derivative arriving in the Sportster family arouses more than a passing interest. The first time I saw the Forty-Eight I initially felt that this bike had sacrificed comfort for the sake of art. The bike gets the air-cooled Evolution 1200 engine mated to five-speed transmission. I think Sportster fans [me included] will most likely be attracted by the radical new stylistic approach. Rather than sporting its family dress code, it comes with low profile custom handlebar with under-mounted mirrors, a

shorty-style front mudguard and a cut-down rear one, both being wrapped around 16in fat, 150-section tyres. The bike is designed for solo riding and I liked the seat position which stands at only 26in from the ground. The bike looks mean, thanks to a multitude of blacked-out components. The latest Sportster 1200 qualifies as an entry-level H-D with high-end finishing touches and H-D offers an abundance of options for upgrading, including a pillion seat kit. The main question here is: how does it feel? The handlebar’s mild forward placing puts the rider into sporty, aggressive stance, offering good steering leverage, yet the position wasn’t so sporting as to feel uncomfortable – there’s a nice compromise here! The bike has spirited acceleration and was especially grunty off the bottom with its classic, big Twin torque response. This bottom end-biased power proved great for quick launches from stoplights and occasionally

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{Special feature} lighting up the rear tyre. Despite a fat 130/90 x 16 front tyre, steering effort was much lighter than expected. The bike’s steering geometry is marginally milder than that of, say the Nightster. The brakes were a bit on the spongy side in the first half of lever travel, but the single caliper/rotor set up ultimately provide adequate stopping force, and feel improved in the latter half of lever travel. If I were to replace my Sportster 1200C Custom, I could go for the re-introduced Softail Deluxe. This bike has the exact temperament and kit that makes it a worthy successor for riders like me who are generally considered conservative and not flashy. I would not hesitate to rate the Softail Deluxe as one of my favourites alongside the Fat Boy Lo. First, it has got standalone styling and detailing which breaks the sometimes seemingly insignificant intra-family monotony. I took this epic 128km ride from Petra to Aqaba and discovered a few things on the way. Most importantly, I had a fantastic, relaxing time and although we had been riding most of the day I wasn’t concerned with how long it was taking or how fast I was going. I didn’t worry

about anyone else on the road [there’s not much traffic on Jordan except when entering Aqaba]. Like the Fat Boy Lo, the handling on the Deluxe suited me fine. I particularly liked its composed nature, attitude in the turns and on the highway, the front end staying on line. The weak link in the

drive, I felt was in the rear suspension which seemed to suffer from hydraulic lock on potholes. The seating position is both relaxing and effective, as the

bars come back to you and the floorboards aren’t too distant. The wonderfully torquey 1,584cc Twin Cam 96B V-Twin and six-speed transmission play their respective roles in perfect harmony to ensure that you’re traveling in exactly the right rev range. Acceleration is pretty impressive too, up to about 100km/h. This bike practically drives itself and isn’t about how soon you arrive rather it’s about not wanting the ride to end. Among the nine bikes driven, I think it had the best clutch and braking for a stock H-D. It’s no secret that H-D gave the Sportster-based Low a complete makeover for 2011 to improve its suspension for a softer, more compliant ride, while maintaining the low seat height of 25.3in, which is same as on the current 2010 edition. But the new model’s chassis is so improved that the revised bike deserves a new name. Enter the SuperLow for 2011. At first glance, the SuperLow appears pretty much similar to the same low-to-the-ground model which H-D says is one of the reasons

for its success among first-time Harley buyers and women riders in the past few years. Technically, the SuperLow is an all-new model which is based on the low-rider theme, but checks in with new suspension calibrations front and rear, new wheel and tyres sizes, new fork and petrol tank, even a new and betterpadded solo seat. Although, this bike was with us during the whole tour, it’s more of an urban commute than a long distance hauler. There are two reasons for this – it’s has very low ground clearance [even the smallest speed breaker scrapes the underchassis] and its driving range is limited due to a small capacity fuel tank. On the handling front, it’s not shy and readily joins in with its siblings. It’s pretty impressive as H-D’s second lowest price point model. During the presentation, it came as a bit of a surprise to learn that Harley-Davidson’s best-selling bike globally, in fact is the Electra Glide Ultra Classic. The upgraded model confidently approaches CVO levels of opulence and detailing. The centre piece is the Twin

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{Special feature} Cam 1,690cc engine [formerly part of the CVO line for 2010 and now exclusive to this model]. We all remember that the current Ultra Classic Electra Glide was decently equipped with modcons such as cruise control, Harman/Kardon audio system, adjustable wind deflectors and vented fairing lowers. All those accoutrements remain and the new Limited adds a new benchmark level of kit. Meanwhile, H-D’s Tour-Pak luggage also receives upgrades -- a full-size rack adorns the large topcase, and inside is a 12v power supply to go along with the accessory plug located in the fairing’s console. On road, the Ultra Limited feels like an open top luxury convertible. It’s an effortless cruiser, with mellow vibes coming from the rubber-mount engine and smooth tunes pouring from the powerful stereo. Although, bikes in this category aren’t generally known for their handling qualities, the stiffer frame H-D introduced last year is definitely a revelation. The previous tendency

to wallow when hitting a bump in the middle of a corner is long gone, and it did offer a confident use of fairly generous ground clearance and decent grip from new dual-compound tyres. On the suspension front, the air-adjustable rear shocks do a fine job considering they have

just 3.0in of travel and the ABS-equipped Brembos slowed the big rig surely and effectively. At Wadi Rum, we got the opportunity to check out the TriGlide, H-D’s ultimate touring three-wheeler, its first factory built three-wheeler. Most of the time on-road we were following the trike, but its performance off-road while approaching the flats at Wadi Rum was simply overwhelming. Now, we are not suggesting that this is an ultimate off-roader. It hasn’t been designed to do that, despite the fact it has a robust tubular chassis and big and broad wheels with decent rear track. The Tri Glide’s engine is marginally larger than the Ultra Classic’s Twin Cam 96 and it also uses a heavy-duty clutch with a differential rear end. It has a set of 15in and dual disc brakes out back to go along with a 16in wheel up front. The ergonomics on the TriGlide really spoil you. It has large floorboards, laid back reach to the bars, big comfy seat and the controls have the same lever effort as in the Ultra. A parking brake and electric reverse gear is also included as standard kit. Riding this trike evokes memories of a three-wheeler rickshaw or Tuk Tuk. The key difference is this one is more powerful in torque deliver, pretty fast in acceleration and quite composed on road. Coming straight off a motorcycle, it takes a while to become confident in a trike’s front end as the steering feel is different and you have to learn to manouevre the vehicle instead of using body weight to turn it! The first time it feels as if it wants to drift away, but using ATV-riding techniques, one mastered its handling in just a few minutes.

<< Harley-Davidson appropriately branded the first official media ride in newly opened territory of Jordan as the “Freedom Tour”. It’s more than just a symbolic motorcycling riding event >> 70


{Motorcycle news}

Out of

ecession

Despite the global economic downturn holding the motorcycle industry in a tight grip, the INTERMOT 2010 in Cologne last month had some facesavers

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ike motor car shows around the world, the effects of the economic downturn has also filtered in to the ranks of the two-wheeler industry. Last year, the main venues – Tokyo, Milan saw significant players dropping out, but at least there’s some sign of recovery at this year’s INTERMOT in Cologne. While the number of new reveals or concepts has dwindled in numbers due to frozen development budgets, the focus is clearly on sustainability. Even with these limitations, there were still some bright lights shining at the show. Most spectacular among the stars was BMW’s super-tourer in its two forms, the K1600GT and K1600GTL. Of the four large Japanese manufacturers, Kawasaki and Suzuki introduced meaningfully new models, Kawasaki with its ZX-10R, Ninja 1000, the Z750S, Vulcans and W800 retro-bike, and Suzuki with its GSX-R600, GSX-R750 and GSR750. Honda and Yamaha were conservative and just displayed new colour schemes to their basically mechanically unchanged 2010 models. Meanwhile, Triumph released the updated Speed Triple with new styling, lighter weight and more power, plus a special version of the Thunderbird cruiser called the Storm with moody black paint and an upsized 1,700cc engine. KTM appeared with the production version of the baby 125 Duke and RC8 R Track. At EICMA in 2009, KTM had unveiled the small but very attractive concept bike, a 125cc supermoto conceived for those with a taste for spirited riding. This little zapper will be built by Bajaj at its Chakan plant in India to keep the price down. Of the Italians, only Ducati and the Piaggio Group were represented, both introducing updated versions of their respective superbikes: Ducati its 1198 and Aprilia with a special RSV4. We think there’s more to come, at next month’s EICMA show in Milan. Watch this space for more news.

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{Motorsports - F1} Alonso wins in Korea, double DNF for Red Bull

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errari’s Fernando Alonso scored one of the biggest wins of his career in a rainaffected Korean Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon, and a day of total disaster saw neither Red Bull driver finish. Mark Webber crashed out early while running second, and Sebastian Vettel’s engine blew up as he was leading on the 46th lap. The result puts Alonso into an 11-point championship lead over Webber, 231 to 220, with just two races left. As dusk fell and the race was just completed before the two-hour cut-off point, what had begun as impending disaster for Korean race organisers turned instead into a brilliant triumph. But it was edgy. After the rain got heavier just before the start, the race was redflagged after just two laps had been run behind the safety car. That led to a lengthy delay until it was resumed as conditions got marginally better, but after the restart at 16.05 the safety car continued to lead the field for another 15 laps before racing finally began on the 18th. Vettel sprinted into the lead from Webber with Alonso third and Mercedes GP’s Nico Rosberg deposing McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton for fourth. But then Webber spun and hit the

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wall in Turn 13 on the 19th lap, collecting Rosberg. Out came the safety car again until Lap 24, whereupon Vettel resumed control ahead of Alonso and Hamilton. After their pit stops between Laps 31 and 32, Hamilton jumped Alonso for second as the Spaniard had a minor delay due to arriving slightly sideways and making it difficult for mechanics to reach the right front wheel, but they were racing under the safety car again after Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi had taken out Virgin’s Timo Glock on the 31st under braking for Turn Three. As racing resumed on the 35th lap, Hamilton ran wide in Turn One as his front wheels were locking, handing second back to Alonso. And that’s how it seemed likely to stay as Vettel built a lead of 2.7s by Lap 41. But then Alonso and Hamilton began to move in, and going into Turn One on Lap 46 the Ferrari dived inside the Red Bull to take the lead. On the exit to the corner Vettel’s engine blew, and as Mark Webber breathed a sigh of some relief, Red Bull had their head in their hands. Now it was Alonso’s race to lose, but though Hamilton gave it everything he had, annihilating the Ferrari in the first two sectors, Alonso was able to make it all back in the final one. Towards the end Hamilton dropped back,

keeping a badly worn right front intermediate tyre alive, and was 14.9s adrift as a delighted Alonso took his fifth win of the year and his 26th overall. The day was also a disaster for the fifth title contender Jenson Button, who lacked Hamilton’s pace as he suffered brake problems and was taken off the road at one stage by Force India’s Adrian Sutil, who was involved in five other incidents in an adventurous afternoon. Button’s McLaren sustained some damage, and that and his brake problems limited him to a 12th place finish. With 189 points he is almost out of the title fight. Felipe Massa made it a great day for Ferrari and boosted their once flagging hopes in the constructors’ championship, by taking a distant third place ahead of Michael Schumacher, who had his best race of the year to fourth place in the second Mercedes. Red Bull still lead that, with 426 points, but McLaren now have 399 and Ferrari are back in the hunt with 374. The race was also a disaster for Williams, who had Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg running fifth and sixth with five laps to go, but then the latter had to pit for fresh tyres on Lap 51, and the former got sideways and lost places to Renault’s Robert Kubica and Tonio Liuzzi on Lap 52. The Brazil-


{Motorsports - F1} ian’s moment ruined the Italian’s chances of fighting the Pole, on whom he had been closing in his Force India after a superb drive, but sixth place was a great fillip for a man who is frequently underrated. Barrichello recovered to take seventh, ahead of the BMW Saubers of Kamui Kobayashi and Nick Heidfeld, and Hulkenberg recovered to snatch the final point from Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari on the last lap. Force India thus have 68 points, with Williams right behind on 65. Behind Button, Lotus’s Heikki Kovalainen survived a bruising race, having initially fought Glock’s speedy Virgin until Buemi tapped him into a spin. His was the first new team car home, in a valuable 13th place, ahead of the HRTs of Bruno Senna (who was hit early on by Jarno Trulli’s Lotus) and Sakon Yamamoto. Sutil was the first non-finisher, having spun on Lap 29, then had incidents with Button and Kobayashi, run wide in Turn One and lost a place to Alguersuari, then hit Kobayashi and brought about his own retirement on the 47th lap with damaged front suspension. Behind Vettel, Vitaly Petrov went off in a sizeable accident on the 40th lap, trashing another Renault R30, while Glock looked a likely new team winner until Buemi’s assault eliminated them both. With Di Grassi getting shortbraked by an HRT and crashing into a tyre wall, what at one time looked like a promising race for Virgin as Glock ran 13th early on soon became a major disappointment. The world championship fight is still raging, but now the odds are beginning to swing in Ferrari’s favour.

Vettel heads Red Bull one-two in Japan

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s expected, nobody could hold a candle to the Red Bulls in Suzuka as Sebastian Vettel led home team mate Mark Webber by nine-tenths of a second in a gripping race in which the five title contenders finished in the top five places. Vettel’s third triumph of the season, and Fernando Alonso’s third place for Ferrari, 1.8s behind Webber, moves the German into joint second place with the Spaniard, each on 206 points, as Webber moved out to 220 to extend his lead to 14. Jenson Button’s bold decision to qualify on the harder Bridgestone tyre paid off with fourth place, after the Briton had run longer before pitting than his main rivals and led from Lap 26 until his stop on Lap 38. But fortune favoured him as he was able to catch and pass McLaren team mate Lewis Hamilton when the latter’s MP4-25 lost third gear around the 40-lap mark. Hamilton finished fifth and lies fourth overall with 192 points, Button fifth with 189. In the constructors’ stakes Red Bull moved even further ahead, with 426 points to McLar-

en’s 381 and Ferrari’s 334. The race began with a bang - several of them, actually. Vitaly Petrov didn’t quite clear slow-starting Nico Hulkenberg as they raced off the line, and the Renault was pitched into the wall to the left as he cut across the Williams. Then in the first corner Ferrari’s Felipe Massa made a wild run down the inside of Hulkenberg, before spearing across the road to crash into and take off very fast-starting Force India of Vitantonio Liuzzi on the outside of Turn One. Hulkenberg was also involved, so at a stroke four cars joined nonstarter Lucas di Grassi, who had a huge shunt in 130R in his Virgin during his out lap on the way to the grid. Then, while the safety car controlled the race for the first six laps, Robert Kubica’s brilliant start to run second, ahead of Webber, came to naught when he dropped out at the hairpin on the second lap when his Renault threw its right-rear wheel. Apart from Button’s intervention due to McLaren’s different strategy, Vettel had complete control of the race, keeping Webber’s challenge under

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{Motorsports - F1} control as the Australian in turn kept Alonso at bay. The two McLarens ran close behind them, and until Hamilton’s transmission problem the five title contenders were all closing up for what seemed like a dramatic finish. As Hamilton slowed, however, he let Button by at the Hairpin. Michael Schumacher inherited sixth place from Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg, who stopped early because of an accident damageinduced pit stop and then lost the left-rear wheel on the 48th lap. The two of them had been battling, nose to tail, for many laps. One of the heroes of the race was BMW Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi, who did his usual energetic overtaking, mainly in the Hairpin, pit-stopped late, then caught and passed team mate Nick Heidfeld to take seventh ahead of the German despite sustaining damage wheel-rubbing his way past Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari. Heidfeld finished eighth, making it a fruitful day for BMW Sauber, having just fended off Rubens Barrichello’s Williams. Tenth seemed destined for Adrian Sutil until his Force India blew its Mercedes engine on Lap 44; he half spun in 130R on his way back to the pits. Thus Sebastien Buemi came through for the final point after Toro Rosso team mate Alguersuari had to make a late pit stop. The Spaniard finished 11th, ahead of Heikki Kovalainen who led Jarno Trulli home for a Lotus one-two in the newbie stakes. Virgin’s Timo Glock came through to third eventually, and 14th overall. But for a long time Sakon Yamamoto was another hero with a gutsy drive where he stayed ahead of Trulli for a long while and Glock even longer until his tyre stop on Lap 32. Bruno Senna ultimately beat him, having made an early tyre stop, but Yamamoto brought his HRT home an honourable 16th behind him.

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Alonso claims Singaporew

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ernando Alonso scored his fourth win of the season in Singapore after a dramatic battle with Sebastian Vettel that saw them finish only two-tenths of a second apart after a race-long fight. A slow-burn event finally exploded into life just past half distance when following a safety-car deployment after offs for BMW Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi and HRT’s Bruno Senna, points leaders Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton collided while fighting for third place on the 36th lap. The Englishman was pitched out of the race with broken suspension, and the Australian brought a vibrating Red Bull home third to increase his advantage in the title fight to 202 points to Alonso’s 191, Hamilton’s 182, Sebastian Vettel’s 181 and fourth-placed Jenson Button’s 177. In the constructors’ stakes, Red Bull have 383, McLaren 359 and Ferrari 316. It was Vettel who made the best start, but Alonso chopped across the Red Bull’s bows to take a lead he never lost. After a lap Alonso was a second ahead, but it didn’t take long for the first safety-car deployment. This came on the third lap as Vitantonio Liuzzi’s suspension-damaged Force India was cleared away from its resting place just past the chicane, its demise the result of early contact with Nick Heidfeld’s BMW Sauber. Like Ferrari’s Felipe Massa at the end of the first lap - who started from the last position on the grid - Red Bull’s Mark Webber took advantage of the hiatus to switch from the

soft-compound Bridgestone tyres to the more durable hard rubber, hoping to avoid stopping again. The Australian was followed by a host of midfield runners all hoping for similar strategic fortune. By the time racing resumed on the sixth lap, Webber was already back up to 10th as he swept past Timo Glock’s Virgin. At the front Alonso quickly regained his rhythm, holding Vettel at bay by 1.3s as Hamilton maintained third and Button began to drift back in fourth place. Webber’s recovery took him past Schumacher when the former champion made a mistake under pressure on the 11th lap. His team mate, meanwhile, was steadily losing touch with Alonso, who had a 2.3s lead after 12 laps as Hamilton followed a similar distance behind the Red Bull. However, the Australian’s strategy came unravelled when he was unable to overtake Rubens Barrichello’s Williams, and from 16.5s his deficit to Alonso had grown to 30s after 16 laps. Over the radio, his team told him that he was now racing Hamilton for third place, rather than for the lead. McLaren’s hopes of victory evaporated with serious rear tyre wear, leaving Hamilton and Button to lonely races until the mid-race incident.  After that the fight for the lead was back on, as Vettel hounded Alonso mercilessly, less than a second behind. The German looked very aggressive on the harder-compound tyres and soon closed Alonso down, but as the race just completed its 61 laps before the two-hour


{Motorsports - F1} mark, the Spaniard kept the German at bay. They raced past Heikki Kovalainen’s burning Lotus on the pit straight as they completed their penultimate lap, and were only twotenths of a second apart. But, as Alonso won his fourth race of the year to move into second place in the title hunt, the gap was the same. Webber was a relieved third from Button, while Nico Rosberg drove an unobtrusive race to fifth for Mercedes ahead of on-form Rubens Barrichello for Williams and Renault’s Robert Kubica, who drove superbly to repass the Toro Rossos of Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi, team mate Vitaly Petrov, Massa, Williams’ Nico Hulkenberg and Force India’s Adrian Sutil after a Lap 45 stop for another set of tyres. The aforementioned finished in the reverse of the above order after running noseto-tail for much of the race, and Kovalainen’s

late departure with a blown engine and ensuing fire elevated Lucas Di Grassi to 15th as the highest-placed new team runner. He was the only one still standing, as Kovalainen was classified 16th. Virgin’s Timo Glock had led that category until late retirement, while Lotus’s Jarno Trulli and HRT’s Christian Klien were stopped by mechanical problems and Senna hit Kobayashi’s damaged BMW Sauber, the Japanese driver having run into the wall of his own accord at Turn 18. Mercedes GP’s Michael Schumacher was classified 13th after a hard day in which he was attacked and pushed into a wall by Kobayashi just before the Japanese driver’s incident, and then had one of his own as he shoved Nick Heidfeld’s BMW Sauber into a spin and also spun himself.

Wind tunnel boost for Lotus Racing

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otus Racing have confirmed the team will soon start work on designing and building a dedicated wind-tunnel facility at its Hingham base. In addition, the outfit and Team AirAsia, which will compete in the 2011 GP2 series, will expand operations at the existing factory to take over a further two units. Meanwhile Lotus have also confirmed that Red Bull Technology will supply the team with gearboxes and hydraulic systems from 2011. “The announcement is obviously a massive step forward for us, both in engineering terms, and as an expression of our ambitions for next year and for future championships,” said Mike Gascoyne, Lotus’s chief technical officer. Earlier it was confirmed that Lotus had agreed to terminate their contract with current engine supplier Cosworth. They are expected to use Renault power in 2011.

Boullier to replace Bell as Renault managing director

Perez to race for BMW Sauber

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MW Sauber have announced that 20-year old Mexican driver Sergio Perez will race for the team next season, partnering current driver Kamui Kobayashi. Perez, who will make his Formula One race debut at the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix next March, finished second in this year’s GP2 Series, winning four races, including the prestigious Monaco round. “Formula One is the dream of every young racing driver,” said Perez. “And now this dream is about to come true for me. I would like to thank Peter Sauber for the faith he’s shown in me and I’ll do everything I can to make the most of this wonderful opportunity.” Commenting on his new signing, Peter Sauber said: “Sergio has been on a continuous upward curve over the past few years. He demonstrated his fighting spirit in races over the course of last season and proved that he’s ready to take the step up into Formula One. I look forward to working with him and am in no doubt that, in Sergio Perez and

Kamui Kobayashi, we will have a strong driver pairing.” Perez began his career in karting, where he won a total of five championships. He followed that up with two years in Formula BMW before moving on to the National Class of the British F3 International Series, where he won a still record 14 races. In 2008 he finished fourth in the International Class of the British F3 International Series. In GP2 Asia he became the series’ youngest race winner at the age of 18.

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enault announced that team principal Eric Boullier will take over the role of managing director with immediate effect, following the departure of Bob Bell. Boullier has been team principal since January and will add his new managerial role at the French team to his existing one. “We would like to thank Bob Bell for his contribution to the performance of the team and for helping see us through a period of transition since Genii Capital became a shareholder in the Renault F1 Team,” explained Gerard Lopez, chairman of the Renault Formula One team. Bell joined Renault in 2001 as deputy technical director, before being promoted to technical director two years later. He played a pivotal role in helping the team win two world championships in 2005 and 2006. Late last season Bell temporarily took over as Renault team principal following the departure of Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds. In January 2010, he became managing director.

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{Motorsports - wrc}

Loeb wins Rally de Espana!

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hree weeks after clinching this year’s drivers’ World Championship, Citroen C4 WRC driver Sebastien Loeb has won the Rally de Espana - adding another victory to his record breaking tally. The win was the 61st at World Championship level for the Frenchman and his co-driver Daniel Elena. The pair led the rally from beginning to end, eventually finishing 35.3 seconds ahead of the man in second place, Citroen privateer Petter Solberg. Solberg worried that sliding wide on a corner in the final stage had dropped him behind the hard charging Dani Sordo, but in the end the Spaniard had to settle for third, 5.8 seconds back, to complete an all Citroen podium. Ford works team driver Jari-Matti Latvala finished fourth, 38.4sec behind Sordo, while his team-mate Mikko Hirvonen completed the top five places. Three weeks after bagging the 2010 World Rally Championship titles, Sébastien Loeb,

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Daniel Elena and the Citroën Total World Rally Team again showed their superiority by winning Rally Spain. Seb and Daniel led from start to finish scoring their 61st World Championship victory as well as making the C4 WRC part of rallying legend. This car has never been beaten on asphalt since its debut in 2007. Citroën scored its fifth triple of the season thanks to Petter Solberg / Chris Patterson and Dani Sordo / Diego Vallejo. With a lead of over 40 seconds, Loeb tackled the third leg of Rally Spain full of confidence. On the other hand, second place was up for grabs as Petter Solberg and Dani Sordo were separated by only 16.9s. Sordo was determined to take the fight to the Norwegian for second spot, and he started the day with the bit between his teeth setting the fastest time in  El Priorat (42,04 km), which he followed up with another first place in the short  Serra d’Almos (4,11 km) stage. These performances helped the Spaniard to reduce the gap to 10.8s. “As Seb is way out in front, Petter and I are injecting a bit of excitement

into the event,” laughed Sordo at the midday service halt. “We know that we’ll find it difficult to pull back much time on him in the long stage, as we can’t go flat out because we have to look after tyre wear. In the short stage, I went pedal to the metal from start to finish. We’ve pulled back six seconds in the two stages, which means that we’ll have problems taking second place unless outside circumstances intervene. We’re going to continue to keep up the pressure.”   Thanks to his comfortable lead, Loeb was able to drop a few seconds: “I’m driving to make it to the finish, and I adapt my pace according to the split times of my pursuers. Like the other drivers, I had to look after my tyres that were overheating in El Priorat.” After a 30-minute service stop, the drivers set off again to tackle the same stages.  Sordo kept up the pace and set another fastest time in El Priorat. Despite reducing the gap to 5.1s, the Spaniard did not manage to pass Petter Solberg in the last stage: “It was a great scrap. I’m a bit disappointed not to be able


{Motorsports - wrc} to help the Citroën Total World Rally Team to score another double, but it’s still a triple for the make. What I’ll remember about this rally is a couple of good days on asphalt, and I’d like to thank the crowd for its unflagging support.” Loeb, who has been unbeaten on asphalt in the C4 WRC since 2007, was full of praise for his car : “It gives the heartstrings a little tug as ths car has given us a lot of happy moments on all kinds of surfaces. Counting Monte Carlo, we’ve won the fifteen asphalt rallies run over the last four years. This weekend we didn’t have to do any calculations, so it was much easier than in the previous rallies.”   “What Sébastien and Daniel have done is really quite incredible,” underlined Frédéric Banzet, the Citroën Managing Director. “Three weeks after the craziness of Rally France, they were able to keep up their motivation and performance level to score a victory full of panache. As Spain is Citroën’s one of biggest market, this win is very important for the marque. I’d like to congratulate the whole team, and say how much I admire their professionalism and their conscientiousness in a relaxed ambience after winning the two titles in Alsace.”  

It’s all about Loeb Unusually, Sebastien Loeb capped the perfect day with... eighth fastest time on the final stage of the Rallye de France - but the recently crowned seven-time champion wasn't remotely worried about how long it had taken him to race around his town for the second time.

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he Frenchman and his Citroen C4 WRC enjoyed another inch-perfect and trouble-free day. Fourth fastest in Haguenau this morning, the champion elect was second in what would become the day’s only visit to the 24-kilometre Bitche Camp stage. When the re-run of that test was cancelled due to high number of spectators, just over four kilometres stood between Loeb and his 60th win. And those kilometres were dispatched with a smile on his face. “This is fantastic,” said Loeb. “This has been a very impressive rally. It has been very difficult and I didn’t expect so many people to be here. This is the best result for me to win the championship here in France.” The crews following were full of congratulations for Loeb, but there had been battles between the other drivers to focus on. Loeb’s team-mate Dani Sordo took second place, helping to confirm Citroen as winners of the manufacturers’ championship again. With Petter Solberg not too far behind - and fastest on Sunday’s opening stage, Sordo had to be on his mettle in Bitche Camp. He was. He was fastest. Second to Loeb again, Sordo didn’t mind this time. “I’m really happy for Sebastien,” he said. “And I’m really happy for Citroen. There have been so many people watching from the roadside, this is a good result for them.” Solberg rued the stiff set-up of his C4 on the opening day, saying: “It’s a shame we lost

that time in the mud - I hadn’t done any testing in those conditions. But it’s a great feeling, we’re here with another podium and it’s great for my championship chances [of third place] to finish ahead of Jari-Matti [Latvala].” Even though he ended the event just 12.8 seconds behind Loeb, Latvala was delighted with his event - and the four fastest times he set. In fairness to the Finn, his scratch time on the second run through Haguenau will probably be shaded by a Frenchman winning a bit more. But no matter, Latvala had driven exceptionally, but he was still a little disappointed. “The podium was close,” he said, “but when they cancelled the second run at the long stage today, Petter was too far away. I said before the start that I wanted to be under fifth, so I have to be happy that I fulfilled my prediction, but without that mistake last night I could have been a lot closer.” Latvala was quick to pay tribute to his rival, adding: “I have an appreciation of what Petter has done here, he has driven very well again.” Latvala’s team-mate Mikko Hirvonen was fifth with a returning (following his suspension damage yesterday) Sebastien Ogier sixth. Patrik Sandell won the Super 2000 category, while Armindo Araujo mastered the Production class and Jeremi Ancian collected his first Junior win in a Suzuki Swift S1600.

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{Motorsports - wrc} New FIA WRC Academy revealed A brand new feeder series to the World Rally Championship (WRC) will start in 2011, run in partnership by motorsport’s governing body, the FIA and the WRC’s global promoter, North One Sport.

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he ‘WRC Academy’ will be the first step on the WRC ladder for young drivers and will give the stars of tomorrow an unrivalled opportunity to develop their talent on the world stage in an extremely cost effective way. The WRC Academy builds on the successful elements of the Junior World Rally Championship, which is where current WRC stars Sébastien Loeb, Dani Sordo and Sébastien Ogier cut their teeth, but also sets new standards for training and development as pioneered in the Pirelli Star Driver programme The WRC Academy is a one make series where all drivers will compete with identical Ford Fiesta R2s prepared by M-Sport. To further level the competition, the cars will be fitted with control tyres from Pirelli. The six round series will run as a separate category on WRC rallies in 2011, to ensure drivers gain relevant experience and exposure alongside the main competition. The WRC Academy aims to be accessible and affordable and the basic cost of participation is set at 118,000 UK Pounds (approx 135,000 Euros) per season. In addition, drivers will have to provide for travel and accommodation for the crew, a car to participate in recce and the cost of repairing accident damage to the cars. Meanwhile Pirelli has announced its continuing commitment to the WRC by supporting the new WRC Academy as the Official Tyre Supplier from 2011. Pirelli will supply asphalt and gravel specification tyres to the WRC Academy, which will be contested on both surfaces. A calendar for 2011 and regulations regarding tyre quantities and approved modifications will be announced in due course.

Pirelli has also confirmed the continuation of the Pirelli Star Driver scheme, which has provided the opportunity for five young competitors to take part on six rounds of the WRC for each of the last two seasons in identical cars as part of a joint initiative with the FIA, motorsport’s world governing body. The Pirelli Star Driver scheme will continue in 2011 with a fresh intake of six drivers from around the world, who will take part in the WRC Academy against other young competitors. The six Pirelli Star Drivers, Fredrik Ahlin (Sweden), Craig Breen (Ireland), Jan Cerny (Czech Republic), Andrea Crugnola (Italy), Brendan Reeves (Australia) and Molly Taylor (Australia), were selected following an assessment process in Spain recently. As well as demonstrating their talents behind the wheel, the six had to show their level of physical fitness and ability to communicate with the media. All WRC Academy participants will be able to benefit from this type of training when the series gets underway next year.

Raikkonen eyes options in WRC Citroen Junior Team driver Kimi Raikkonen has admitted he has no intention of driving for the Renault Formula 1 team next season - a move which is reckoned to all-but rule-out the Finn’s return to racing and to keep him in the World Rally Championship.

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ver since the former Formula 1 World Champion signed up for his first season in the WRC, there has been speculation of his return to the track. Raikkonen has not publicly stated that he will remain in the WRC next year, but those close to him are now confident of a second 78

season at rallying’s highest level. Speaking to a Finnish newspaper, Raikkonen spoke out against what he saw as manoeuvring from Renault. He said: “I am very disappointed with how they have used my name for their own marketing. I have never even seriously considered driving for Renault and I can assure you that I am 100 per cent sure that I will not drive for Renault next season.” Raikkonen’s agreement with Red Bull has yet to be concluded for next season, but Citroen Racing director

Olivier Quesnel remains adamant the French firm wants to retain him for another year - but the Finn’s seat will have to be funded. Both the Monster Ford World Rally Team and Prodrive’s fledgling Mini WRC team are both known to have had discussions with the 2007 world champion, but those talks have yet to extend to an offer of employment. When asked about next season, Raikkonen conceded it would be “probably rallying” where he would remain.

DUBAI RALLY GETS NEW ROUTE

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he Dubai International Rally will run in December with a completely revised route featuring all new stages, and the promise of an exciting climax to the 2010 FIA Middle East Championship. The new stages are all fast flowing with short “technical” sections to test the drivers and machinery, and they will be in use for the first time when the competitive action takes place on December 3-4. Smooth and forgiving desert trails in the Al Dhaid area have been carefully selected with the aim to get the maximum number of competitors to the finish. The Service Park will be based on an asphalt surface and is conveniently located close to the stages, resulting in a very compact event format.


{Motorsports - wrc} The newly crowed 2010 World Rally Champion talks after Rallye de France It’s every driver’s dream to win a championship, you take your seventh title and win number 60 on home soil, the final stage running through your home town with thousands of people out to cheer you on, that must be a dream come true! “Yes for sure it is in incredible feeling, and especially to win. When I arrived here, I knew that there was a possibility to win the rally, to win the championship, and all that in my hometown. So it was a great challenge, and also a big pressure, because I knew that everybody was waiting for this here, in the region. There was a lot of support, from a lot of people. The feeling was really great. It was incredible. “I was expecting this rally to be popular, but I was very surprised to see so many people for the rally, I could not expect that there would be so many people, everywhere: on stages, on the road sections, waving in front of their house, in the service park, everywhere. And all that in a very nice atmosphere. I was really happy to see this.”

Were there tears in your eyes when you got to the end of the final stage? “A little bit yes. Especially when I saw my friends waiting for me after the checkpoint. It was incredible, I was not able to drive fast in that stage. I tried, at the start, and then I said OK, just drive through. For sure, it was a great moment.

Also in the morning, when I passed in my village, Oberhoffen (sur Moder), on the road section, all the villagers were waiting for me, it was incredible.”

What has been like competing here this weekend with all of the attention you have been receiving from the media and from the fans? “I am not used to getting as much attention as I had here. Because there are so many people supporting me, here. I was very busy, but I tried to make it right and to stay focused on my rally. It has been great.”

Citroen also seal their sixth manufacturers crown here at home, so it’s a double celebration “It has been a perfect event, like in Corsica in 2004, when we won both championships at the same time. Here, it is even more special because it is really at home for me. I am really happy for the team, because they did a great job all season, the car is really strong, and the difference we have to make it with the driving. It is very difficult and it is a big challenge, with Petter (Solberg), Dani (Sordo) and (Ogier). It was not an easy season and I am happy to finish it like this.”

Are you ready to fight for title number eight next year, or will you take all this in first? “I just try to enjoy what happens at the moment, and I really enjoy.”

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{Chicane}

hen the car is the gr avy train

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People in different parts of the world will pay varying amounts for the same product. But sometimes the differences can be astounding

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

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his was a piece of news that seemed designed to shake one out of a stupor. The Bugatti Veyron is now officially available in India through a distributor and the car is to be priced at 164-million rupees. Consider for a moment that while most of us are well aware that you can buy between 110 to 120 rupees to the Omani Rial, this still amounts to a whole sack full of moolah. At latest count that amounts to almost US$3.7-million and by the time you paid the local taxes and insurance and registration, you wouldn’t have much change left over from a whole 4-million. For that amount are you still buying a car? Or is it just the statement – that you have more money than you know what to do with, you don’t have to answer to anyone, not the board members, not the tax authorities and certainly not to your conscience, which is already planning exotic 407 km/h drives on roads where the norm is 47 km/h. How long will it take for the coin to drop – like the elusive 0 dropping out of the car’s top speed? I can’t yet figure out whether the news is positive or negative. Yes India is one of the four alphabets of the BRIC countries and we all look forward to having our share of dollar millionaires and billionaires cropping up on the lists of the rich and famous. But are we forgetting for a moment that India has more than its fair share of malnourished, poverty-stricken people? With what heart would the buyer of the Veyron drive past a roadside beggar and not give into his pleadings? And not much of the 4-million

will actually trickle down, since most of the money will go to the manufacturer in Europe. So if you think people buying Veyrons is good, perhaps you are a genuine capitalist at heart. Let us put aside the whole concept that we need to be charitable to our fellow man. We can do that after we buy everything we love, all the brands we covet and the badges of luxury that set us apart from the less well to do. But where does our appetite for conspicuous consumption stop? A few years ago – it was Mercedes-Benz which beat the crystal ball gazers in entering the nascent Indian market. The highlight was an E-class, though now that has grown to be a Maybach. All the lux badges are there in the growing ‘I ‘economy just as they are in the B,R & C. And any brand that isn’t present in the emerging markets is likely to go downhill. So we can’t really blame the sellers for wanting to sell these over the top cars. Brands as diverse as Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce and Bentley are producing models or extending model platforms in order to cater to the nouveau-riche of the emerging economies. For the more established luxury product markets like the oil-rich Middle East, this isn’t anything new. Gold-plated cars share space with bathroom fittings treated with the same brush. However, is it just a case of sour grapes? How many of us will ever put together one million dollars in our lifetimes? And why begrudge the super-rich their whims and fallacies? Perhaps we all indulge in this in some way or the other – by rushing out to buy the latest mobile phone, latest computer or by being brand conscious. In the meantime let us congratulate those mortals who can splurge millions on cars, ships, airplanes and palatial mansions. Maybe in some way it will eventually benefit everyone.


Automan Noveber 2011  

cars, auto,

Automan Noveber 2011  

cars, auto,

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