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No 108 August 2010

Oman’s Best Automotive Resource

OMR 0.500 AED 5.00 QR 5.00

magnum opus!

BenTley’s all-new Flagship saloon Brings Back The mulsanne name ToyoTa sequoia has some good news: now iT comes wiTh awd F1: Thrills and spills in monTreal, Valencia and silVersTone

Tyres special Focus: all you need To know aBouT T yres also driVen: 2010 honda ciVic Type r

Visit us online at www.automanweb.com


Signs of recovery ahead

editor-in-chief Mohammad Al taie

AL roYA PreSS & PUBLiShinG Po Box: 343, Postal code 118 Al harthy complex Sultanate of oman email: automan@alroya.net Website: www.automanweb.com editorial office: tel: +968 24479888 extn 300, fax: +968 24479889 circulation office: tel: +968 2456 2138, fax: +968 2456 2194 PUBLiSher hatim Al taie editor & GM raj Warrior

The month of July saw a host of corporate figures being released and the bellwether industries (as far as spending patterns that concern us) of airline and car manufacturers have almost universally shown as healthy swing back to profit or have shown a healthy growth in sales. People seem to be travelling again after the funk of 2009 and car sales have increased or car companies have learned to make do with less – less people, fewer factories and in some cases fewer product lines. Admittedly there was a time of worry not just for the big three car manufacturers of Detroit, but for the entire range of global car companies. The past year has seen interesting brand buyouts happening and many headlines have also been generated on

hatim@alroya.net

deals that just couldn’t make it past the finishing line. A few car companies have quietly been tending to their business and boosting their sales positions at the cost of the

raj@alroya.net

established leaders. The Hyundai-KIA alliance has reached its avowed goal of becoming one of the top five car manufacturers worldwide. Some companies have also had to

execUtive editor chandan B Mallik chandan@alroya.net

bear problems not associated with the financial meltdown, like Toyota’s huge recall.

co-ordinAtor Pratibha n Kadam

Now, the figures seem to be communicating a rebound in their business, largely driven pratibha@alroya.net

deSiGn Sawsan Al Muharbi

sawsan@alroya.info

by sales to the non-traditional markets of the BRIC countries, but also riding on the relative stability of the Middle East for the large-engined cars and SUVs that almost no

heAd of MArKetinG Maged Aziz maged@alroya.net

one else wants. The countdown is well and truly on for a return to the capitalistic nature of the industry, with the US taxpayer’s money that was transiently applied to stop the bleeding of

MArKetinG Shruti Mehta Supreme Philips

shruti@alroya.net philips@alroya.net

General Motors and Chrysler Corporation set to be returned to the government. The impending IPO of General Motors should generate a lot of interest since the company has been well and truly reformed. In the Chrysler case, new manufacturing practices

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

introduced by FIAT have ensured that the new Jeep Grand Cherokee is built to a standard that is well and truly above the Chrysler norm. In the meantime, we at Automan have been changing as well in this, our 10th year. We have introduced new sections and beefed up our long term favourites, while investing in editorial excellence with the infusion of new talent. All good portents for the forthcoming sales season of Ramadan 2010.

{SPECIAL FEATURE ON TYRES}

S FOCUS ON TYRE its working life. Unlike colder climates, where the life span of a tyre is higher, the hot Middle East region poses extra challenges for any tyre maker in a situation where tyres are constantly being subjected to extremes. In this section, we have identified five major factors contributing to tyre failure and guide you with simply easy-to-understand instructions on how to prevent them. 1. Aged tyre Most GCC establishments in the region recommend a maximum four year period for tyre usage in cars. And it really doesn’t matter how much mileage you have done or that the tyre has still adequate tread depth. To determine the age of your car’s tyres, begin with checking the tyre sidewall for the manufacturer’s date code. It will be in the form of a four-digit number, stating the month and year the tyre was produced. Unfortunately, there’s no equivalent to an expiration date. And it’s not a good idea to instal tyres on your vehicle that have been sitting on a warehouse shelf for many years.

and sidewalls from flexing. Friction from this flexing generates heat, and that degrades the rubber and the fabric construction of the tyre. And don’t be fooled by the appearance of the tyres. It’s impossible to see if your tyres are underinflated without using a tyre pressure gauge. The proper pressures are printed on a sticker on the driver’s door frame or inside the glovebox. They are also in the owner’s manual. 3. Overinflation The tyre inflation pressures printed on the tyre sidewall are the tyre manufacturer’s maximum permitted pressure, not necessarily what the vehicle manufacturer recommends. Overinflated tyres will have poor grip, and the tread will wear prematurely in the center. 4. Deterioration Exposure to ozone, road chemicals and ultraviolet light accelerate degradation of rubber. But this is probably more of a problem for vehicles that are parked outside in the sun. Tyre sidewall rubber is permeated with oils that are designed to leach out slowly and

sidewall plies, it’s time to change that tyre. 5. Physical damage Any foreign object that penetrates the tyre far enough to cause a leak is sufficient reason to require the tyre to be removed from the rim and inspected by a tyre technician for damage to the inside of the carcass. An externally applied plug or worm should be considered a temporary repair. A proper repair involves patching the tyre from the inside with a plug that not only holds air but prevents water from infiltrating into the carcass’s belt plies. Water in this part of the tyre will make it weaker. It’s not really possible to repair a tyre sidewall.

fusing jargon you might hear from a salesmen or “experts” might make your purchase rather stressful. Despite what appears to be a tough scenario, you have often wondered what do all those numbers, letters, symbols, mysteri mysterious codes really mean in simple terminology and what is the purpose of such detailing? Well, there are two main purposes: the first is to help identify the size and specification of the tyres correctly. The second is to confirm that the tyre has been tested and approved to country safety standards. For example, tyres coming from Europe with have a mandatory marking known as ‘E’ marking. Although not illegal, it is not recommended to have tyres with a lower speed rating or load capacity than the manufacturer recommended tyre specification for your vehicle, or to have a combination of different tyre construction types. Always consult your vehicle handbook,

<< Ozone and UV rays can have adverse effects on rubber. Ageing is one of them >>

Meanwhile, we help you understand the various bits related in helping understanding the tyres a bit better. So, let’s begin with the important stuff: Besides, these are other markings and the list includes: The temperature rating - an indicator of how well the tyre withstands heat buildup. “A” is the highest rating; “C” is the lowest. The traction rating - an indicator of how well the tyre is capable of stopping on wet pavement. “AA” is the highest rating; “C” is the lowest. The tread-wear rating - a comparative rating for the useful life of the tyre’s tread. A tyre with a tread-wear rating of 200, for example, could be expected to last twice as long as one with a rating of 100. Tread-wear grades typi typically range between 60 and 600 in 20-point increments. It is important to consider that this

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tion, proper wheel alignment and other vari able factors. In other words, don’t think that a tread-wear rating of 100 means a 30,000 mile tyre. Encoded US DOT information is a twoletter code that identifies where the tyre was manufactured in detail. In other words, what factory and in some cases, what city it was manufactured in. OE Tyres In the same way that Porsche specifies high performance N-rated tyres there’s even more markings on the sidewall of a tyre that can denote tyres fitted as original equipment (OE) to various makes of vehicle. In some cases, the ‘preferred’ OE tyres are slightly different than the same-named tyres without the OE specification. For example on some Honda SUVs, the tyres that are stamped with ‘DZ’ have a lower rolling resistance tread pattern than those that aren’t.

Manufacturers or brand name, and commercial name or identity

225= this number represents the section width of the tyre

The number 50 here describes the aspect ratio. This mark represents the height of the tyre sidewall as a percentage of the nominal section width

R = for type of construction, in this case the tyre is radial

17= this is the diameter of the tyre’s inner rim in inches

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‘Tubeless’ designates a tyre which requires no inner tube.

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V93 is the speed symbol indicating the maxi mum speed for the tyre at full load. In this case it denotes a speed capability not exceeding 240km/h


in this issue TESTEd {Road Test

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The current second generation BMW Z4 was introduced as a 2009 model and is as much a completely new car from its predecessor. It picks up right where the last generation left off and the folding hardtop offers the best of coupe and roadster forms. Automan checks out the roadster and finds out the real reasons for people buying it.

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Uppin entry level

TESTEd TESTEd 52

From across the region and around the world

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Toyota’s largest SUV to date, the Sequoia was completely redesigned and re-engineered for 2008. For 2010, it gets significant improvements and upgrades including AWD. Automan checks out the refreshed version

However, front and rear overhangs appear marginally reduced in the AWD version due to its extended capabilities. Despite its overwhelming dimensions and physical presence the car achieves an impressive drag coefficient of 0.35, which means the vehicle offers exceptional aerodynamic characteristics and low wind-noise. The vehicle’s mirrors, wipers, A-pillar and roof header are also shaped to maximize aerodynamic efficiency and minimize wind noise. The car’s underside has also been optimized to reduce drag and wind noise, and to help improve directional stability. While the primary design goal for the interior seems to revolve around taking full advantage of spacious cabin and converting it in to a practical and user-friendly environment for the driver and occupants, hence the element of premium luxury such as bespoke wood trims, special effects, mood lighting are missing. But what is not missing is a cosy interior which takes full advantage of the car’s enhanced dimensions. We found space generously accommodating eight adults with ample head, leg and shoulder room. Seats are wide with soft cushioning and driver’s seat comes equipped with power lumbar support, a feature also available as an option on the front passenger seat. On the practical side, the second-row seat comes equipped with a sliding mechanism that allows the seat to be adjusted nearly six inches fore and aft. This comes in handy when one travels with less number of passengers. For the third-row seat, there’s an advanced seat-cushion linkage reclining mechanism which helps in theatre type sitting. Meanwhile, the second-row seats are split 40:20:40 and Toyota also offers separate captain’s seats with flat fold down mechanisms. We were impressed with the way the access to third row seats has been designed. An easy-slide action allows access to the third-row seat which also splits 60:40 and folds flat. Since the car will mostly be used by families, thoughtful features include jam protection for the front and rear windows. Meanwhile, the power lift gate can be open or closed via remote control. Driver gets a simplified dashboard with a modular instrument panel with hi-res Optitron back lighting and the addition of chrome rings somewhat breaks the monotony of the pre-

dominant grey-coloured interior. The steering column offers both tilt and telescopic functions and individual settings can be put in memory. [See box below for specific trim details] Two powertrains are now available -- a 276hp 4.7-litre V8 which powers the SR5 and Limited grades, while the top of line Platinum grade [our test vehicle] had the 5.7-litre V8 engine. Both engines are mated to sixspeed automatic transmission with Tiptronic function. The bigger displacement engine is ULEV-II compliant, meaning it emits very little pollution (Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle). It is modern in design and features four valves per cylinder and variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust valves. Consistent with the architecture is the exhaust, which is made from stainless steel and has four catalytic converters and with this package 381hp and 401 lb-ft of torque is available. Being a large vehicle, Sequoia engineers specifically focused on improved ride comfort and quietness, besides performance and straight-line stability. Hence it’s not surprising to find an independent suspension set-up with upper and lower A-arms at each wheel, tubular shock absorbers, coil springs and antiroll bar. In the higher spec model such as our tester, it came with air suspension package and Toyota’s Active Variable Suspension (AVS), with settings for comfort, normal and sport. Wrapping up the package are larger tyres and wheels with standard being 275/65 tyres and 18in rims, while 275/55 tyres are for the 20in set-ups. The car uses 13.9in ventilated disc brakes up front and 13.6in ventilated disc brakes at the rear. As with Toyota models, the Sequoia gets a comprehensive active and passive safety package which is based on Toyota’s STAR Safety System. This means the car includes includes VSC (Vehicle Stability Control), and TRAC (Traction Control) (2WD models) or ATRAC (Active-Traction Control) (4WD models), ABS (antilock braking) with EBD (electronic brake force distribution) and Brake Assist. If this doesn’t satisfy the appetite, then there’s collision driver and passenger seat-mounted side- and side- curtain airbags as as standard equipment and roll-sensing side curtain airbags that extend from the front seat to the third-row seat.

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Honda’s Golf GTI slayer, the UK-built Civic Type-R, has finally arrived in Oman. Automan discovers its true genes

traced directly to the 1992 Honda NSX Type R, which featured a lightweight chassis, stiffened body, fine tuned engine and upgraded performance brakes. Honda Civic Type- R is a high-performance version of Civic introduced in 1997. It is currently in its third generation and comes with two distinct varieties – One for European and one for Japanese, domestic market. The Middle East gets the European version. The Civic Type R has earned itself a cult following in Europe. As a spiritual successor to the previous generation that was retired from active duty in 2007, it seems the development focus has revolved around bold and emotional styling teamed up with a further development of the previous Type R’s race proven and high-revving powertrain. The Civic Type R is offered only as a three door hatch in the UK, so it uses a different chassis and mechanical components in its suspension. When compared to its saloon cousin, the rear suspension, formerly a double wishbone set-up, has been simplified changed to a less complex torsion beam axle. While the Honda runs on 225/40 R18 Y88 Bridgestone Potenza tyres and despite seemingly tight wheel arches and low ground clearance, it can accommodate larger 19in alloys with 225/35 tyres. The car has a curb weight of 1,350kg. From the design aspect, although the car is a hatch with a clear emphasis is on coupé-like styling and the highly stylised and individual personality has been achieved not by a radical change of design, but by a series of unique detailing such more sharply tapered rear side windows, bold side skirts, a noticeably widened track and the large wheel wells. The special character of the Civic Type R is highlighted by well drawn-down body coloured front and rear skirts, a rear spoiler plus a radiator grille with enlarged air intake. The rear is signed off with a bumper that features a built in diffuser and completing the aero package with a huge rear wing. Despite being built in the UK, the build quality, tolerances and materials of this three door car are top notch Honda standards and the whole set-up works well with good ergonomics and extremely supportive two tone sporty seats with extra side bolstering. Although there’s a raked windscreen and seating position is low, the outward visibility is good and getting in and out of the car is facilitated through the extra wide doors. However, due

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Honda Civic Type R: hot hatch 68 BMW Z4: open top pleasure 30 Nissan Maxima: returns to the region 44 Toyota Sequioa AWD

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{cover story}

SpECial REpORT

Bentley Mulsanne: a modern interpretation of the original

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BMW 1 Coupe

{Road Test}

onda in general is generally a considered a conservative carmaker that consistently cranks out modestly refined cars. Besides its attempt to produce neo-luxury cars and charge premium pricing, it occasionally produces a wicked little something that sneaks through the cracks and reminds us that it can also offer a little spice too. As a self-confessed Honda aficionado, at times, I personally feel that Honda has split personality, very similar to Japanese compatriot Subaru. Subaru’s claim to fame comes through its boxer-engined all-wheel-drive rally race cars, whereas Honda combines a strong racing heritage with a reputation for more mundane mainstream models. But all this is changing gradually, and if one follows Honda through the recent motor shows – New Delhi, Detroit, Geneva, Beijing among others – Honda has certainly been making noises with impressive concepts and ideas what its thinks future motoring could look like. While we don’t know how many concepts will actually make it in to production, but we do know that the Civic Type R three-door hatch has finally arrived in several Middle East markets, Oman being among them. The Middle East markets, till the pre-global economic meltdown phase, hardly attracted small cars, let alone compact B-segment hatchbacks. But all that has begun to change and admittedly, rarely does a pint-sized hatchback generate so much excitement in markets that has been predominantly SUV and large car dominated. But with now more openness and acceptance of smaller sub-B segment cars, the market is getting interesting with several automotive brands from Japan, Korea, India and Europe vying for consumer attention. There’s a bonus also attached to the equation if you follow how this segment is shaping up. Till now, the market for performance oriented small hatchbacks has been small with the exception of Volkswagen’s all-time GTI, Seat’s Leon FR and Cupra models, and Renault’s Clio sport models. From Honda’s perspective, the Civic Type R is the highest performance spec of the Civic series. The “Type R” designation is usually given to models that have been developed and tuned in-house, but not by Mugen, Honda’s officially owned tuning set-up. These non-Mugen performance models also end up in circuit competitionas high performance derivatives and in the case of Honda, the lineage can be

bRaNdwaTCh

Jaguar’s second innings looks impressive and solid

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{Road Test}

ess than a decade ago, full-size SUVs sold in significant numbers and genergener ated handsome profits for their manumanu facturers. Although most of the models built then evolved from pick-up trucks, so it was only a question of time before a manufacturer jumped on to the bandwagon with something bit more polished in a segment that was large largely driven by American models such Chevrolet‘s Tahoe, Ford‘s Expedition and GMC‘s Yukon. Toyota entered the fray with the US-only Sequoia in 2000, although the Land Cruiser, its other SUV-pick up nameplate has been around since 1955 in global markets. The country specific USA- built and truck based Sequoia differs from the premium global Land Cruiser in that it is larger and its focus is more on heavy duty jobs such as towing. While, the Land Cruiser is a more upscale and luxurious with good off-road capability is built in Japan and some other locations, the second generation Sequoia is built at Toyota’s Princeton, Indiana plant. Despite the downsizing trends in the industry especially in the large 4x4 SUV segments, Toyota has kept the segment flame alive with the Sequoia which it introduced in 2008 by significantly upgrading it with kit and new efficient powertrains. As of 2010, the Sequoia is sold exclusively in the US, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Middle East and is available in four models – SR5, Limited, Platinum Premium and Platinum Luxury. Though many time-honored Land Cruiser supporters welcomed the re-invigoration of the mechanical aspects of the vehicle, the 200 Series encountered criticism due to its controversial body restyling, with some claiming that Toyota has ‘overdeveloped’ the classic trademarked Land Cruiser identity. In that respect Toyota designers haven’t tampered with the design of the second generation Tundra, on which the Sequoia is based. Not only did it get most of the design DNA, it also gets own set of clothing. So it’s no coincidence that from the front both look very similar too, but unlike other rival SUV models in the past which had similar arrangements, the Sequoia doesn’t look like a cut and paste job. Meanwhile, there are no changes to the Sequoia’s overall length, width and height, wheelbase, front and rear tracks which were revised at the time the model introduction.

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he luxury sales race is tightening as the German premium trio of Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz are fighting it out for top honours. And despite the global economic downturn, all three brands posted increased year-to-year sales (over 2009): Audi climbed 19.1 per cent, Mercedes soared 15.2 per cent, and BMW gained 14.1 per cent. Audi’s stellar performance was prompted, in part, by strong demand in China which has overtaken Germa ny as the brand’s most important market. Now, Audi is looking at producing premium cars in the B-segment as part of its horizontal expansion in the line-up. And the carmaker invited Overdrive and its sister publication Saudi Auto for a quick spin and preview of the A1, its smallest car a few weeks ago in Berlin, Germany. Well, we all know BMW with MINI, Fiat with the 500 have been quite successful in the seg ment with these premium offerings. In fact, BMW’s reincarnated MINI was the first ac knowledged model to be able to offer premi um quality, performance variants and bespoke features – some of the key reasons for its suc cess with young urban customers. And it is this segment of active prospects that Audi is keen to tap with the A1, a vehicle that is spe cifically designed for the urban environment. The A1 has been engineered to be very agile and nimble in city traffic while offering a high degree of everyday utility. And at the same time it does meet the lifestyle aspirations with the sporting S-line trims. Taking the bullet proof platform of the Polo as base material, Audi engineers and design ers have successfully redesigned and pack aged the car with core values of what the brand is known for in less than four meters. At first glance, the design and styling of the car shows its personality being influenced by lot of ideas and innovations from its concept cars – the 2007 Audi A1 project Quattro in particular. While, Audi has taken a lot of ideas and in novations from the concept car and converted them into series production, on no account the A1 is a re-bodied Polo with Audi frills. The front end bears an unmistakable family re semblance, but features unique accents and detailing. The single-frame grille, for example, is harmoniously integrated into the front end and with its angled top corners represents a new evolutionary stage. Its braces are ar ranged horizontally to emphasize the width of

Audi is introducing a whole new dimension to the compact class with the all-new Audi A1 and this car will also grace the Middle East. Automan has the first details of what’s coming soon.

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{cover story}

At lAst Bentley returns home

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2011 Audi A1 With Lambo Navarra designer Adam Denning Electric supercars

The all-new 2010 Mulsanne is Crewe, UK-based Bentley Motors first all-new model developed ground-up in three decades. Automan discovered its real virtues during a sojourn with the car in Scotland recently

alSO dRivEN | Author: Chandan B Mallik

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{also driven}

{also driven}

Brand and model perspective

The introduction of the mid-sized American Ford Fusion (code name CD338) based on Ford’s CD3 platform [which also spawned the Mazda 6] in October 2005 as a 2006 model was widely considered as a befitting replacereplace ment for the then temporarily discontinued Taurus. With its spacious cabin, responsive driving dynamics and attractive styling made it very competitive, but there were a few missing elements that prevented it from being a true segment leader. Meanwhile, the Taurus badge has been revived, so appropriately for the model series the Fusion for 2010 has been extensively revisited and given a new lease of life.

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What’s new?

Automan discovers how the 2010 Ford Fusion marks a turning point for Ford

Although, the 2010 Fusion uses a carryover platform from the 2009 model [originally developed for the Mazda 6 and modified for the Fusion], hence it is not surprising that much of the sheetmetal between the A- and C-pillars continues unchanged. However, the front and rear of the refreshed Fusion do receive considerable cosmetic changes. The design is all-new and the Blue Oval’s corporate threebar chrome grille and chrome-trimmed intakes at the bottom of the valance dominate front end, which make the model much stylish and trendier than the traditional segment leaders from Asia -- Honda and Nissan in particular. At the rear while maintaining the same profile, chrome exhaust tips, larger taillights with honeycomb inserts and a thicker centre-mounted stoplight are new. This has helped the Fusion in getting a sporty character, which is unusual with family vehicles. Meanwhile, the interior has been upgraded with a more modern design featuring Ford’s latest entertainment and climate controls. The Duratec in-line four-cylinder engine has also been upgraded to displace 2.5-litres and now produces 175hp. Like its US-only bigger 3.0-litre V6 which offers 240hp, both get six-speed automatic transmission. Meanwhile, the suspension has also been tweaked. The front stay bar and rear suspension link geometry have been revised to improve steering, handling, and ride. The suspension springs, shocks, and stabilizer bars have also been re-tuned to take full advantage of the revised geometry and new power

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Interiors The interior redesign is evolutionary, not revolutionary and the general shape and arrangement of the dash is very familiar while the central console seems to be button happy. The cabin sports a more contemporary theme with technical flair with metallic new finishes on the instrument panel that carry through on the centre console, doors and steering wheel. The all new instrument panel is finished with soft touch plastics and the instrument panel displays and switches have also been updated with a contemporary iced blue lighting. All key driver touch points have been improved. The seats feel more body hugging than before as a result of the contours being revised and the availability of more side bolstering. The seats also feature contrasting stitching and leather inserts. The ambient mood lighting system offers the option of illuminating the front and rear footwells and front cup holders. There’s a good choice of equipment even the base trim. Package includes 16in alloy wheels, cruise control, a telescoping steering column and an auxiliary audio jack. Ford offers more features as trim levels move up such as bigger wheels, power seats, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control and heated seats. However, it’s the ergonomic and aesthetic improvements over its predecessor which are now among the key highlights besides the upgraded stereos, a navigation system and the Sync electronics interface system. The Sync system does a fine job in integrating audio and Bluetooth functionality with voice-recognition technology to provide easy hands-free operation of cell phones and portable MP3 players. While the Fusion isn’t the largest car in its class, a pair of adults will be content in rear with adequate head and legroom.

The Lexus GS 300 continues to delivers an undiluted combination of luxury and sporty performance. As always several important technology enhancements keeps the GS among the top models in the segment for 2010. | Author: Chandan B Mallik | Images: Sakeel Al Baloushi

Mercedes-AMG is readying an all-electric SLS for production within four years and so is Audi with the R8 e-tron. And strong indicators suggest Toyota joining the elite group with the LF-A. Should start up companies such as Tesla or Fisker be worried? Automan examines the possibilities.

Ford Fusion Lexus GS 300

mOTORSpORTS F1 & WRC

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Taking a second look at 80 design August 1 ....................................................... 2 ....................................................... 3 ....................................................... 4 ....................................................... ......................................... Thu 5 .............. ........................... Fri 6 ............................ ......................................... Sat 7 .............. ......................................... Sun 8 .............. ......................................... Mon 9 .............. ......................................... Tue 10 .............. ......................................... Wed 11 .............. ......................................... Thu 12 .............. ........................... Fri 13 ............................ ......................................... Sat 14 .............. ......................................... .............. Sun 15 ........................... .............. .............. 16 Mon ......................................... Tue 17 .............. ......................................... Wed 18 .............. ......................................... Thu 19 .............. ........................... Fri 20 ............................ ......................................... Sat 21 .............. ......................................... Sun 22 .............. ......................................... Mon 23 .............. ......................................... Tue 24 .............. ......................................... Wed 25 .............. ......................................... Thu 26 .............. ........................... Fri 27 ............................ ......................................... .............. Sat 28 ......................................... .............. 29 Sun ......................................... Mon 30 .............. ......................................... Tue 31 ..............

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Electrifying!

exus designed and created the GS with a purpose. It wanted to bridge the gap between the ES and LS, and to provide Lexus with a true performance saloon to compete in the mid-luxury class dominated by German premium brands. The first generation rear-wheel drive GS was introduced in 1993 for US, Europe and selected markets in Asia. Till date, three generations of the GS have been produced and the GS 300 continues to serve in the region with a host of technology-led solutions and improvements. The current model was introduced in 2006 and was actually the first to adopt the brand’s highly stylized L-finesse design language and is built on a newly-designed midsize platform which is also used on the second generation IS. Since it is an advanced platform it continues unchanged for 2010. And as before, the car retains its 112.2in long wheelbase, long bonnet, pulled-back cabin and short rear profile. It’s tapered, vertical grille surrounded by four wraparound but independent headlamps, typical of the current GS models but interestingly conveys the brand’s design progression. The lower valance features integrated fog lamps, and with its raked A-pillars and overall wedge profile commands an impressive and low Cd 0.27 drag coefficient. This cabin is an exceptionally lively place to be in whether you are the driver or its passenger. It invites you with its European ambience led by ultra-premium wood, polished-metal accents and leather trim, besides dollops of comfort and space for five adults. It has a high-precision feel and most touch points convey very high quality and that includes intuitive response of controls as well. Lexus offers three interior leather colour combinations: Light Grey leather with Dark Grey Bird’s-eye maple wood trim, Parchment leather with Golden Bird’s-eye Maple wood trim, or Black leather with Red Walnut wood trim. As befitting the status of the brand, Lexus designers strive to keep controls simple and intuitive, avoiding needless complexity. The SmartAccess keyless entry and push-to-start ignition allow the driver to keep the access fob in a pocket or purse. Audio and climatecontrol systems are easy to understand and operate. The unique instrument panel lighting system relies on variable-transparency glass to minimize reflections from the dials and to help optimize visibility in all lighting conditions. What we also like is the memory function settings for individual drivers. There’s a pop-

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assisted steering system. Key changes to the Fusion on the safety front include front seat airbags and side curtain.

The Fusion is offered in S, SE and SEL trim levels. Front-wheel drive is standard on fourcylinder, while all-wheel drive is standard on the V6-powered SEL [not sold in the region].

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Lamborghini design concepts appear to have taken strong hold of all the current and young designers’ minds and Adam Denning is no exception. Automan spoke with the budding designer to understand the philosophy behind the Lamborghini Navarra Concept

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{news} RENaUlT REplaCES mEgaNE wiTh all-NEw FlUENCE iN OmaN

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uhail Bahwan Automobiles, the sole importers of Renault cars in Oman introduced the all-new 2011 Fluence last month. The Fluence is the replacement of the outgoing Megane and was first revealed in August 2009. Mechanically based on the flexible Renault/ Nissan C platform, it has been positioned between the compact family saloon C-segment and the upper-medium segment in the brand’s line-up. The Fluence can also be considered as a stylish notchback version of the Mégane III, which was developed as Renault Samsung’s new SM3 in Korea and has been on sale since November 2009. The car for this market is offered with a host of advanced features including a 1.6-litre 16V 110bhp engine mated to an automatic X-Tronic CVT gearbox, ABS with emergency brake assist (EBA), electronic stability control (ESC), up to six airbags, five three-point seatbelts with pre-tensioners and load limiters, cruise control, and speed limiter. The Fluence is built at the Oyak-Renault plant in Bursa, Turkey. Renault GCC has a busy schedule ahead with an impressive array of new model introductions across the region by the end of this year. The back to back launches are in line with

the French manufacturer’s plans to expand its market share within the small and mid-size passenger car segments. In June, the Sandero, its entry level model made its regional

is due in September and a refreshed Safrane will arrive in November. Close to home, sales figures for Renault vehicles in Oman leapt by 200 per cent in 2009 over 2008, and an

appearance followed by the launch of the Fluence this month. The new Megane hatchback

astounding 225 per cent between the firsthalves of 2009 and 2010.

OmaN TOp maRkET FOR SUbaRU

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his fact was stated by members of atop level executive team from Fuji Heavy Industries, owners of the Subaru brand in Japan who visited the region last month. The team, headed by Hidetoshi Kobayashi, corporate vice president and chief general manager were in the Sultanate for a meeting of the distributors to discuss ways to improve the market share of Subaru vehicles. “Oman has emerged as the best selling market for Subaru in the GCC and Africa, prompting us to focus more on this market for further growth in sales,” said Kobayashi. Kobayashi said that the distributors’ meet

was held specifically in the sultanate keeping in mind the success and growth Subaru has achieved, thanks to active retail partner OTE Group. Subaru plans to achieve one per cent growth by 2015 in the GCC, and for Subaru, Oman as a market accounts around two per cent which is double its global market share, one of the key reasons that Oman will remain a top priority market for the company in the coming years. In 2009, Subaru saw its sales go up 16 per cent in the US and by 86 per cent in China on a year on year basis. “The year 2010 looks promising and we will be aggressive and com-

petitive to live up to what other brands have to offer,” added Kobayashi. “The OTE Group has been doing a good job of promoting our cars in Oman through different channels of marketing, which has resulted in good sales figures. OTE is trying to make the brand Subaru a very recognisable one.” While Subaru is also planning to introduce eco-friendly vehicles in the market soon, it will continue to focus on its established core models, namely the Legacy, which comes in two variants – 2.5lt and 2.5lt GT, and the Impreza XV, WRX and STI models. Meanwhile, its sports car project with Toyota is on track.

l-r: Hidetoshi Kobayashi, Tsuyoshi Nakai, Yasushi Nagae and Hiroyuki Karamatsu from Fuji Heavy Industries, Japan with Sheikh Saad Suhail Bahwan, V R Dilip and Anupam Singh of OTE Group, Subaru

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{news} all-NEw JagUaR xJ aRRivES iN OmaN

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aguar announced the arrival of the all-new XJ at its exclusive Oman importer – Mohsin Haider Darwish LLC last month. Sporting a new design language and some unique features such as panoramic glass roof [standard on all models] and plasma instrumentation, the allnew Jaguar XJ brings a daring new spirit to automotive luxury. “The arrival of the all new XJ is a momentous occasion for the Jaguar brand in Oman. This stunning new product will definitely impress our existing Jaguar customers and also bring a new set of customers into our showrooms. We are hoping to capitalize on this advantage to increase our market share significantly,” said David Aziz, director automotive at MHD LLC. The new Jaguar XJ will offers the choice of four powerful and refined engines, which use the latest powertrain technology to deliver an outstanding combination of performance and class-leading efficiency. The top end cars get the supercharged 510hp 5.0-litre AJ-V8 Gen III engine which will sprint the car from 0-100km/h in 4.9sec, while two milder engines, a 470hp supercharged and 385hp naturally aspirated petrol V8s are also available. The new model will be offered to customers

with bespoke options and a choice of four specification levels– Luxury, Premium Luxury, Portfolio and Supersport and prices will range from RO39,500 to RO 49,500.“ Building on the success of the new XK and XF models globally and in the Middle East, the introduction

of the all-new XJ is a landmark for the revitalised Jaguar brand. Clearly positioned as the company’s four-door flagship, it extends the appeal of the XJ to a new generation of customers,” said Hannah Naji, marketing director of Jaguar Land Rover MENA region.

RENaUlT TO ShOwCaSE dEZiR CONCEpT aT paRiS

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he first glimpse of some cars ahead of the forthcoming Paris Motor show in October suggests that design and technology will be top on the agenda for local manufacturers. And not wanting to be outclassed on domestic turf by imports from Asia, both Peugeot and Renault seem to be on an overdrive when it comes to communicating what’s in store for the masses at the French fashion capital’s motor show in the coming months. Among the early bird releases come some interesting details about Renault’s hottest concept car, DeZir. With DeZir, Renault wants to indicate the brand’s new styling and engineering direction. The DeZir project is the first to come off Laurens van den Acker’s design team and marks the start of a sequence of concept cars that will provide an insight into Renault design’s new vision for the future. It also lays the foundations for the styling cues of Renault’s forthcoming electric or hybrid powered vehicles. Powered by an electric motor, DeZir could prove that electric vehicles and styling can be compatible in a single package.

Meanwhile, rival Peugeot with the D-segment 508, introduces the marque’s new design look which has evolved from the stylistic codes first unveiled on the SR1 Concept Car. The stylish exterior design is elegant and timeless and full of ‘French chic’, equally at home in Paris or London. The interior of the car combines hi-tech with the use of high quality materials and every detail has been chosen to offer indisputable perceived quality, both visually and to the touch. An exceptional interior space, a very generous boot, and a level of standard specification provide interior comfort and convenience of a very high level. The 508 has been designed to optimise the performance of its engines, enhance environmental efficiency, reduce weight and im-

prove aerodynamics, matched at all times to a broad range of highly efficient engines. After launch, Peugeot’s HYbrid4 technology will become available on the 508 and will provide 200bhp performance with all-wheel drive and emissions of 99g/km of CO2 or zero in electric mode. The 508 will be built on PSA Group’s platform 3 in saloon and stationwagon guises and will be produced in Re n n e s - L a -J a nais

in France, for the European market and in 2011, at Wuhan in China, for the domestic market. 5


{news} bUgaTTi aNNOUNCES vEYRON SUpER SpORT

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t’s official now that the new Bugatti will be christened as the Super Sport. Improving upon the Veyron’s already impressive 1,001 horsepower, Bugatti engineers have now fitted the Super Sport model’s 8.0-litre sixteencylinder engine with larger turbochargers and intercoolers, resulting in a massive 1,200hp and 1,106 lb-ft or torque. To cope with that added power, the Super Sport features a revised chassis and improved suspension, allowing for lateral acceleration up to 1.4G. But the real story of the Super Sport is its incredible top speed. Using Volkswagen’s 13-miles Ehra-Lessien test track, Bugatti test driver Pierre-Henri Raphanel was able to pilot the Veyron Super Sport to a landspeed record-setting top speed of 267.91mph. That mark was reached by averaging the Super Sport’s two test runs, the first topping out at 265.96mph and the second at 269.86mph. The Guinness Book of Records was on hand to verify the record. The Veyron Super Sport’s speed shatters the 255.83mph record previously held by the Shelby Supercars Ultimate Aero. Fittingly, the Ultimate Aero took its title from the Veyron in 2007.

aSTON maRTiN iNTROdUCES v8 vaNTagE N420

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ston Martin has unveiled a new motorsport-inspired special edition which it calls the V8 Vantage N420. The idea for this is to bring in a new dimension of sporting prowess and dynamic ability to the V8 Vantage range. As a natural successor to the special edition V8 Vantage N400 of 2007, the Vantage N420 6

is based upon the standard 4.7-litre, 420bhp, 180mph V8 Vantage version and is available in both Coupe or Roadster forms and can be ordered with a six-speed manual or optional Sportshift automated manual transmission. It may be noted that all of the company’s successful N24 Vantage racers are celebrated,

with ‘Rose’ yellow, ‘Kermit’ green and ‘Elwood’ blue all featuring in the collection along with traditional Aston Martin Racing green. The white and black car shown in the accompanying images wears the equally striking ‘Asia Cup’ livery. Production of the V8 Vantage N420 begins this month.


{news} 2011 hYUNdai ElaNTRa gOES UpSCalE

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f you thought that the compact segment was just the playground for premium brands, then think again. South Korea’s Hyundai promises to redefine the compact segment and the first hint in this direction came at the Busan Motor Show in South Korea where a pre-production fifth generation 2011 Hyundai Elantra [Avante for domestic market] was showcased. Now the car is ready for commercial release and as always the domestic market gets the new arrival first in August. The new Elantra has undergone a complete design transformation and wears Hyundai’s corporate ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ design language, which the car maker is heavily promoting in the new or replacement models. “The new Avante (Elantra)

encompasses Hyundai’s latest ambitions, featuring the best styling and performance in its class,” said Steve S. Yang, president and CEO of Hyundai’s Global Business Division. The car will be powered by a 1.6-litre Gamma GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) fourcylinder engine offering 138hp and 167Nm of torque via a six-speed automatic transmission. Hyundai promises the car to be “10 per cent more fuel efficient than its closest competitors.” Besides high level of kit such as HID (High Intensity Discharge) headlights and LED taillights, the interior will have a fairly large LCD infotainment screen, tied to a GPS screen and ambient lighting.

GM plans to file for ipo Although no official announcement has been made, there are extra strong rumours in the US about General Motors Co GM.UL plans to file its registration for an initial public offering during the week of August 16. The timing has been chosen to be after the expected date for its second quarter result announcement. A GM filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission would be the first step toward an IPO to reduce the US government’s ownership in the automaker after a $50 billion bailout in 2009. By filing with the SEC in August, GM is aiming to complete its IPO before the November US elections, according to the sources, who asked not to be named because the closeddoor preparations remain confidential. GM also remains in talks with banks for dealer and consumer financing for more credit-worthy borrowers, one of the sources said. One concern for potential investors has been whether GM dealers and potential car buyers have the same kind of access to financing as competitors with in-house financing operations like Ford Motor Co. Meanwhile, GM’s second-quarter earnings report are expected to show the automaker generated cash for a second consecutive earnings period, according to one of the sources.

RaNgE ROvER EvOqUE gOES UNdERCOvER pRiOR TO laUNCh

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ollowing an exclusive premiere in London, last month Land Rover has released the first image of the pre-production 2011 Range Rover Evoque. Looking virtually identical to the LRX concept, the crossover features sporty styling, distinctive headlights, and a sloping roofline. While the company is yet to release specifications, engine options will likely include a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel, a 3.2-litre petrol inline six, and possibly a hybrid 2.0-litre turbodiesel. Two-wheel drive will be standard, all-wheel drive will be optional. According to Phil Popham, managing director of Land Rover, “The all-new Range Rover Evoque, is an important step for the future

continued success and growth of the brand. Customers can be confident that the new car will be premium, luxurious and just as special as the other Range Rover models. Its sporting looks and unique qualities will open the brand to a new group of customers who may not have considered a Range Rover product before.” While the heavily camouflaged prototypes suggest three-doors models being tested, we can expect more information about the powertrains and variants to be released when the Evoque makes its public debut at the Paris Motor Show next month. Meanwhile, the Evoque has entered its final phase of testing, with hundreds of prototype

models dispatched around the globe for trial in the toughest climates and conditions. Land Rover is making no secret of the operation its design team has fitted ten prototypes with funky camouflage wraps, to introduce the new car in ten key cities worldwide. Usually, prototypes are disguised for discretion, but these ten are intended to be seen. The funky camouflage imagery is actually a GPS mapping trail of ten key cities for Evoque, with each vehicle saying ‘Hello’ to its city. The new Range Rover Evoque is the smallest, lightest and most fuelefficient model the company has ever offered, and will be sold in 160 markets around the world.

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{news} SUZUki RElEaSES mORE dETailS OF all-NEw SwiFT

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he forthcoming all-new Swift is positioned as Suzuki’s latest world strategic model and makes further developments in design, impact safety, driving performance, handling, improved fuel consumption and significantly lower emissions at 116g/km which will make it one of the very cleanest petrol engine super minis on sale. Extensive use of higher strength steel makes the new car lighter and stiffer than before as well as offering refinement in underbody design. The latest body structure has also helped improve impact safety for pedestrians as well as occupants. Variable gear ratio steering, increased track and larger diameter wheels with lower profile tyres allow for even better handling than the highly acclaimed outgoing Swift that first went on sale five years ago. The new Swift has grown in length (+90mm) with a 50mm increase in wheelbase and a slight increase in height of 10mm. For the powertrain, a new 1.2-litre petrol engine incorporating Dual VVT (Variable intake and exhaust valve timing) is utilised which produces 94PS at 6,000rpm, slightly more than the outgoing 1.3-litre unit. Torque is also improved to 118Nm at 4,800rpm. Fuel consumption on the combined cycle is now 56.5mpg for the manual transmission model, an improvement of 7.8mpg over the previous 1.3-litre unit.

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pEUgEOT 308 CC STOpS mUSCaT TRaFFiC

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he spiritual successor to French automaker Peugeot’s open-top car heritage and the latest addition to 206 CC, 307 CC and 207 CC family for Oman is the 308 CC. Peugeot, arguably is world leader in coupé-cabriolet body styled cars and has produced close to 700,000 s of 2+2s in both ‘B’ and ‘M1’ segments worldwide. It may be recalled that Peugeot has been a continuous pioneer in the segment of “folding roof cars” since 1930, with notable models such as the 401, 601 and 402 “Eclipse”. Despite engineering challenges Peugeot has never lost its desire to give motorists the freedom to drive in either the coupé or cabriolet configuration through the “magic” of a rigid roof that neatly folds into the boot. As a coupécabriolet with four full size seats, the 308 CC benefits from wider tracks and a wider body compared to the 307 CC, as well as a front

seat structure which offers both generous leg room to the rear occupants and provides a good amount of space. The car is powered by a forced-fed 1.6-litre turbocharged direct injection four cylinder petrol engine offering 150bhp via six-speed manual or automatic gearbox. The car is offered in Sport, SE and GT models and priced from RO 10,595 and is available at Zubair Automotive Group.

TwiN TREaT FOR maZda FaNS iN OmaN

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he only Japanese car ever to win the prestigious “World Car of the Year” overall award, the legendary Mazda2 will be available in Oman before the commencement of the Holy Month of Ramadan. “World Car of the Year” (WCOTY) is the most respected award for any automobile company and is chosen by a jury of 48 top auto journalists from 22 countries. Till date only three German car brands have won this award due to its highly stringent criteria. The compact Mazda2 hatchback will be available in 1.5-litre engine with the whole lot of advanced features as standard which are not currently being offered by other competitive models in its class. “Since its launch, the Mazda2 has received more than 50 awards globally, including Car of the Year in over 20 countries, acclaimed for its beautiful design, sporty driving performance, and outstanding eco-friendly features. At TAC, we believe that the new Mazda2 will make an immense contribution towards further establishing the Mazda brand in the sultanate,” said Annurag Chawla, Head of Marketing and Communications, Towell Auto Centre. The second car that will be offered to customers is the mid-sized crossover CX-7 SUV. This stylish Mazda CX-7 is one of the world’s first production SUVs to combine a sporty design and driving experience with SUV practicality and roominess. Since its launch in 2006, this unique sports crossover SUV has steadily

gained in popularity around the world, selling about 190,000 units and winning 15 automotive awards. The region benefits from the facelifted CX-7 version, which is just as sporty-looking as before with an extremely flat A-pillar angle of 66 degrees, a rising waist line and roof spoiler, powerful wheel arches inspired by Mazda RX-8 sports coupe and large wheels. The new facelift model refines this package of attributes even further and takes ad-

vantage of nimble turbocharged 2.3-litre engine which produces a healthy 244hp. From the specifications perspective, the SUV is endowed with an impressive list of standard features including 18in alloy wheels, xenon headlamps, Bose music system with 6 CD MP3 in dash, leather seats, smart key, reversing camera, climate control air-conditioning, cruise control and Dynamic Stability Control.


{news} FORd’S NEw 2011 ExplORER will FOCUS ON EFFiCiENCY

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t’s no secret that Ford’s body-on-frame Explorer SUV not only had an enviable career, but also served as a halo model in the segment for the brand, much like the Mustang in the sports car segment. But that’s not good enough anymore as buying trends have shifted towards highly efficient and sporty crossovers. As expected Ford will continue with the Explorer badge, but has recreated and repackaged it for 2011 and onwards. Just like rival Jeep which has recently introduced the allnew Grand Cherokee, Ford has solid reasons to be optimistic with its 2011 Explorer. Last month, Ford simultaneously unveiled the Explorer at a number of media events around the US and Canada. Since the focus is on efficiency, no department has been spared. The all-new Explorer will now rides on a lightweight but proven unibody platform derived from the automaker’s D3 platform which was originally designed by Volvo. Substantially updated since it first debuted in 2005, it now underpins the Taurus, Flex, Lincoln MKS and Volvo XC90. With a length of 197.1in and a width of 90.2in including the exterior mirrors, the 2011 Explorer is larger than the outgoing model and just three inches shorter than a GMC Acadia. Powertrains will range from Europe-sourced

237hp 2.0-litre turbocharged with ECO boost to 290hp 3.7-litre V6 engines and the V8 will be dropped. Both engines will be mated to six-speed automatic transmissions. The XLT and Limited trim levels will feature a shiftermounted +/- toggle switch for manual-style gearshifts. The V6 Explorers can be equipped with electronic terrain management control systems offering snow, sand, mud and normal modes besides hill descent mode for lowspeed off road manoeuvres. The fully independent suspension will come with roadoriented bias and Ford will offer its “intelligent” four-

wheel-drive system. The Explorer has some new safety features, including inflatable seat belts in the back seat that help protect occupants’ heads and chests in a crash. A curve control system helps keep the car on track when the driver goes too fast into a tight curve. And its MyFordTouch dashboard system allows drivers to change the temperature, make calls and hear text messages using voice commands.

m-b ShOwS SpECial g-wagEN CONCEpT

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ercedes-Benz has introduced a new armoured truck concept designed for the defence industry applications. The MercedesBenz G-Wagen Light Armoured Patrol Vehicle 6.X was shown off for the first time last month during Eurosatory 2010 in Paris. The vehicle is based on the LAPV 5.4 and the 6.X was meant to carry larger and heavier cargo, while offering better protection as well as agility. It uses an unspecified commonrail diesel engine that lets the concept hit 150 km/h even if carrying 1,300kg of cargo. Various agencies would be pleased with the truck’s armour plate design, that lets repair teams quickly remove and replace damaged pieces. Additional plates of armour may be installed quickly and as needed. This includes protection from land mines that can be added at the LAPV’s floor. Other features on the off-roader include variable air shock absorbers that can be adjusted on the fly to provide up to 450mm of clearance. Hydraulic brakes with ventilated

discs were also added to make rough terrain easier to navigate. A co-operation with the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company provides command centre capabilities with a data recorder, communications system, and even a radio jamming system. li shufu to head new VolVo Cars board Li Shufu, the founder and chairman of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., will become the chairman of a new board for Volvo Cars after the Chinese company completes the acquisition formalities of the Swedish carmaker from Ford Motor Co. Former Volvo chief executive, Hans-Olov Olsson, will act as the vice chairman of Volvo Cars. “We have made significant progress in assembling the team that will develop Volvo Cars under Geely’s ownership,” Li said in a statement. Meanwhile, Zhejiang Geely is in talks to hire Stefan Jacoby, most recently head of Volkswagen’s US operations, to be Volvo’s next chief executive. 9


{Brandwatch}

JagUaR FUTURE plaNS REvEalEd! Should all go according to plan, then we can expect an array of new models, including a bmw 3 Series fighter coming from Jaguar in the coming years. | Author: Chandan B Mallik

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aguar’s new chief, Tata Motors CEO CarlPeter Forster, has outlined an extensive model expansion plan that commits the British car-maker to a high-performance two-door roadster, an X-Type replacement and a wagon version of the XF. Forster is also in charge of the Indian company’s newly acquired Jaguar and Land Rover operations, listed the new models in an interview with German magazine recently in which he detailed what Jaguar must do to be successful.

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The former GM Europe boss gave the thumbs up to a sporty roadster and spiritual successor to the legendary E-Type that would compete with the Porsche Boxster. Jaguar has been playing with the idea of such a vehicle since the 1970s, coming close when it developed the F-Type concept at the Detroit motor show in 2000. That model idea was struck down by thenJaguar owner Ford, but Tata’s takeover has re-energised the roadster plan, which has the support of long-time Jaguar designer Ian Cal-

lum. While the roadster is bound to attract the most attention, it is a redesigned BMW 3 Series rival that could provide the most volume for the prestige car manufacturer. Jaguar has just wound up production of the X-Type, a Mondeo-based mid-sizer born of the Ford takeover of the brand, which was supposed to challenge the top-selling BMW and dramatically drive-up Jaguar sales. While, Forster did not expand greatly on his plan for the new mid-sized model, but suggested that it might not be a mainstream sa-


{news} CadillaC posts iMpressiVe Gains in Middle east In the first half of 2010, sales of GM’s premium brand grew 29 per cent over the same period in 2009, for a total of 1,617 units. This rate of increase in regional sales of Cadillac vehicles has outpaced the regional industry estimates. In Saudi Arabia, the region’s largest market, Cadillac sales in the first half of 2010 increased by 52 per cent over the same period last year, the UAE grew by 27 per cent, Kuwait went up by 30 per cent and Lebanon grew by 56 per cent. First half 2010 Cadillac unit sales in the region’s three largest markets were 560 in Saudi Arabia, followed by 356 in the UAE and 304 in Kuwait.

loon, a position that suggests a different approach to the previous X-Type. This model is expected to be based on an all-new platform which would give Jaguar the opportunity to make the vehicle a rear-drive like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz Cclass. The X-Type was produced in front-drive and all-wheel drive variants. A wagon version of the XF saloon is also in the grand plan and will be aimed squarely at the European market, while a long-wheelbase version of the XF will be produced with the booming Chinese market front of mind. Forster also suggested that new four-cylinder turbo-petrol and four-cylinder turbo-diesel engines would be required to meet more economical buying trends.

AutomAn

int

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It’s getting clearer now how Jaguar is revitalized its portfolio with a clearer focus towards the premium rear-wheel volume segments – currently dominated by BMW and Mercedes-Benz with the 3 Series and C-Class respectively. A smaller sporty roadster that would compete with the Porsche Boxster is also on the cards.

renault-nissan allianCe inks Mou with india’s bajaj Renault-Nissan Alliance confirmed last month that it has signed an accord with Pune, India-based Bajaj Auto for making a new car for the Indian and other emerging markets. Bajaj-Renault are already making an ultra-low cost car, which it plans to launch in 2012. Bajaj Auto, India’s second-largest motorcycle maker makes Pulsar and Discover motorcycles as well as three-wheelers. Bajaj has confirmed that its partnership with Renault-Nissan alliance to make ultra low-cost car was intact and the project was on schedule. toyota to roll out ‘etios’ Toyota is looking at exporting the small car from India to various overseas markets and is expected to launch the new small car ‘Etios’, by the end of the year. Toyota and its local partner Kirloskar Motor Private Ltd have set up a new factory with an initial production capacity of 70,000 cars per annum. The plant will go on stream in December. The capacity of the new facility will be extended up to 2,00,000 cars per annum in two years. rolls-royCe doubles sales in Me While the world may be complaining about recession and stagnation, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has seen sales in the Middle East region in the first half of 2010 increase by 98 per cent year on year. While all dealers in the Middle East reported impressive figures, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia were able to achieve an even more outstanding result and trebled their sales. Four out of the top ten selling dealerships worldwide are located in the region and Mohammed Yousuf Naghi Motors, the sole dealer in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 11


{news}

bmw CONFiRmS 1 SERiES m Baby coupe to get BMW’s potent M treatment in bid to attract a new genre of customer | Author: Chandan B Mallik

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MW’s M division has many reasons to celebrate this year. Last month, the M3 completed 25 years in the business and its M badged X5 and X6 are doing exceptionally well. Now, BMW M chief Kay Segler wants to take the experience to an altogether new level for the first time. BMW Group is actively working on ways to expand its customer base and hopes that performance variants of its smaller cars will attract younger customers to the brand. In a new direction for the performance brand, the 1 Series is now in sight. Last month at Ascari, during the M3 GTS first drive [first drive report to appear in next issue of Automan], BMW officials confirmed that its M-badged baby, the 1 Series M Coupe is almost ready for production. This means that the smallest M car could hit the showrooms as early as 2011. That the probability of a smaller car below the M3 under development has been in circulation for a while and several spy shots have also appeared in media. BMW M chief Kay Segler confirmed the model addition, and added that a small, affordable M model in the tradition of the first M3 was one of his urgent goals. Segler ruled out the M1 name because that had “powerful historical associations” with the BMW sportscar produced between 1978 and 1981. “So we have decided to follow our second nomenclature method,” he said. This means the new arrival falls in the naming tradition of the Z4 Roadster, X5 M and

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X6 M, where BMW has put the brand identifier at the end of the name. At Ascari, we were given a first taste of the car as a passenger. The cars are in their final phase of testing and validation before it goes in for production. Three prototypes – one at Ascari, one in southern France, and one at BMW’s proving centre are currently undergoing testing and the programme is expected to last 5-6 months. The mechanical package is based on the 135, and unlike the 4.0-litre V8-powered M3, the 1 Series M Coupe is expected to get the twin-turbo 3.0-litre straight six from the Z4 sDrive35iS. The M boys will further tweak the engine and suspension to give the car its dual road and track character. We can expect it to pack 260kW – about 35kW more than the 135i Sport on which it is based. A six-speed manual gearbox will be standard during introduction, though we think that a dual-clutch auto could be offered later. The first hand details that we can reveal are interesting. Despite the famous swirl black and white camouflage, it’s clear that the car boasts a significantly wider track than the standard 1 Series Coupé and the lower valance up front is aerodynamically profiled and designed to accommodate the intercoolers for the turbo chargers, while the side ducts will channel air to cool down the brakes. At the rear, the M Division’s trademark quad exhausts are present.

Since the chassis is lowered, there’s less space between the wheel arches and the tyres than the regular 1 Series models. The prototype, we observed was also wearing meaty 19in wheels. We think there will be an option with 18in rims also. While we were assured that the test car was not the finished product inside, we could not fail to spot light grey M instruments ahead of the chunky steering wheel. Since the car is supposed to attract younger customers, we can be assured it will be generously equipped with kit, ranging from Alcantara leather seats, satnav among others mod cons. As a passenger sitting next to a BMW test driver we felt what it’s like on the limit from the passenger seat. The noise from the engine was a little muted, but that’s the penalty for going down the turbocharged route rather than high revs and natural aspiration was quite evident in the corners. The car is fast, and an educated guess suggests a 0-100km/h time of about five seconds is quite possible. The car’s is much more impressive than the regular 1’s straight-line speed is how it tackles corners. It surely feels lighter on its feet than its bigger M siblings. Turn-in is lightning quick and we noted the driver taking full advantage of tapping the power really early and then adjust the angle of the car with the throttle. And that’s possible – there’s an M3’s rear axle, featuring the M differential in this car!


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{cover story}

At lAst Bentley returns home

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{cover story}

The all-new 2010 mulsanne is Crewe, Uk-based bentley motors first all-new model developed ground-up in three decades. automan discovered its real virtues during a sojourn with the car in Scotland recently | Author: Chandan B Mallik

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{cover story}

<< The name mulsanne wasn’t coined after some mediterranean archipelago. actually, it’s christened after a legendary straightaway on le mans’ Circuit de la Sarthe, which bentley think was most appropriate in representing the company’s aspirations for this model>>

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n the history of Crewe, UK-based Bentley Motors, the return of the Mulsanne badge for its all-new production model is more than just an emotional comeback. In an uncertain business climate where many automakers are struggling to keep tradition alive, some forward thinking at Bentley Motors has virtually re-written an illustrious chapter in the top end of performance luxury motoring. What is remarkable is the fact the Volkswagen owned premium luxury marque has proven to the motoring world that it is still possible to continue with the spirit of its remarkable history and heritage history without running the risk of finding itself nowhere, if the various bits in the equation were sensibly put into action. The name Mulsanne wasn’t coined after some Mediterranean archipelago. Actually, it’s christened after a legendary straightaway on Le Mans’ Circuit De La Sarthe, which Bentley think was most appropriate in representing the company’s aspirations for this model. During the product presentation in Scotland, Bentley executives repeatedly highlighted the fact that the new Mulsanne was an authentic and timeless modern classic – and 100 per cent faithful to Bentley heritage. Now, this is an interesting argument, considering the fact that in the current environment of car making, the rather lengthy model lifecycles that small-volume manufacturers are often forced to adopt makes it crucial to ensure that the entire package is right the first time. And Bentley has been spot on that aspect with the new Mulsanne, supersized ultra luxury saloon car. So, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the design chapter for the Mulsanne focuses on dimensions and proportions first as anything else. At first glance, besides the overwhelming presence, it seems to have preserved the Arnage’s exclusivity, and yet remain detached from the Continental. It does have that glorious coachbuilt look, thanks to cutting edge solutions for construction and bespoke options. [Eds note: Mulliner, the official bespoke supplier will also offer custom solutions later]. The Mulsanne is boxy upfront and appears to be chiseled out of a solid block. Breaking the monotony is the traditional Bentley matrix grille, classic round inner headlamps with chrome surrounds, flanked by two, smaller outboard lamp clusters, all featuring the latest in lighting technology. The iconic ‘Flying B’ retractable radiator mascot is available as

an option. The long bonnet, short front overhang and long rear overhang give the car a limousine-like profile and elegant proportions through soft creaselines which interplay with light to give a long and low silhoutte. Physically, the car is really large with an overall length and width just shy of 220in and 76in, respectively. Compared to the Arnage, the Mulsanne’s wheelbase is nearly seven inches longer at 128.6in and in overall length by 18in. We think the influence of emerging markets such as China where generous rear accommodation is a strong consideration, has been a key deciding factor in these new dimensions. While, overall height is up a fraction to 59.88in and despite being loaded with an array of features, thanks to the use of lightweight construction materials such as aluminium and resin composites, the Mulsanne stands healthy at 2,590kg, which is more or less about the same as the outgoing Arnage. Before we move any further, however, it is to be understood that according to Bentley that the Mulsanne isn’t the direct replacement of the Arnage, although the outgoing model series represented the same slot in the hierarchy. At the beginning of the Mulsanne project in 2007, the outgoing Arnage chassis was also considered as a possible carry over, but shelved as it couldn’t meet the new dimensions or styling-led requirements and which led to an all-new platform being created. There’s no arguing that the car’s overwhelming front face has some unusual design elements, especially, the odd front headlamps. Although, they are more of a historical reference out here, they are actually more of an aesthetic reference to the 1950s S-Type. We can empathise with the idea of trying to morph a 50s design element into a 21st century stylesheet, and regardless of what we think, those lights are housed into the ‘cavity superformed’ front mudguards. Meanwhile, the doors and bonnet are also made of aluminium using the same process. In superforming, metal sheets are pre-heated and complex shapes formed using vacuum systems, which cannot be done in conventional stamping methods. At the rear, the boot lid not being made of aluminium may surprise many. No, it wasn’t a cost cutting exercise, but rather a technical requirement. It uses layered composite polymer in its construction and somewhere in those layers are the antenna for the nav system. Similarly, the sensors for the new keyless

entry system are cleverly embedded in the door handles. The car uses labour intensive methods for construction and each car takes 400-man hours to build, which is about 15 per cent longer than that of the Arnage. The cabin welcomes it occupants with a full dose of traditional craftsmanship. It takes over 170 hours to assemble these individual components, be it leather upholstery or Bentley’s trademark metal bullseye air vents and their accompanying ‘organ stop’ regulators. I remember vividly in the Arnage, the regulators were attached to vanes that governed the vents, but in the Mulsanne it’s not like that. Since the car gets the quad-zone HVAC system from the A8, the air control is done via electronic switches. It’s commendable the way the previous mechanism’s feel has been successfully replicated. Meanwhile, the broad swath of veneer or the ‘waistrail’ in Bentley-speak that forms an unbroken ring of wood around the occupants in our test car was finished in a gorgeous piano black. Bentley says more traditional choices are available, including nine different veneers and beyond that, there are over 100 paint finishes, 24 leathers, 21 shades of carpet and 23 shades of seatbelt webbing complete with colour-matched buckles! As this car is intended for both owner and driver to enjoy, nevertheless, both get a comprehensive handcrafted dashboard and instrumentation with inverted dial needles, which are evocative of early Bentleys while the entire instrument panel design is a subtle reminder of the Bentley wings motif. As a new model, the Mulsanne is miles ahead of its predecessors, especially in the electronics department. The Mulsanne boasts

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of a cutting-edge setup, thanks to its German ownership, the car gets a substantially reworked version of Audi’s extremely userfriendly Multi Media Interface (MMI) infotainment architecture, which makes the navigation system in the Arnage, quite archaic. While the system is basically the same as on the 2011 A8, but it operates without a touchpad. Instead of Audi’s all-in-one controller, Bentley has instead chosen to install the system vertically in the central console stack below the HVAC controls which is quite consistent with the marque’s upper-crust image. There’s an eight-inch navigation display screen hidden behind a veneered door, a 60GB hard drive for data and navigation storage, and even an iPod hook up port. Since the car is extra wide, Bentley has given it extra eyes in form new

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optional side view cameras. And for audiophiles, there’s a 2,200-watt Naim audio system which relegates sound through 20 strategically placed speakers. In VAG’s parts bin, there’s an array of modern V6, V8, V10 and W12 engines to choose from, but end of the day, it was more of heritage reference that dictated the displacement capacity and type of engine to be employed for the job. As a result, the new Mulsanne gets a 6¾-litre (also pronounced as six and threequarters) V8 with 90-degree banks and in its half a century, Bentley has offered just one eight-cylinder, but this isn’t the same engine. In fact, it is a highly upgraded version of the Arnage’s L-series V8 block, which can trace its origins back to the firm’s first V8 from 1959 has been used, but components inside such

as pistons, connecting rods and forged crankshaft are now much lighter. Team Bentley has also introduced cam phasing and variable displacement management or cylinder deactivation to the forced fed bi-turbo powerplant – both are technological firsts in the ultra-luxury segment and have been brought in to improve fuel economy and lower emissions. In this garb, the 6¾-litre V8 delivers 505bhp at 4,200 rpm and 1,020Nm of torque from just 1,750 rpm. The new 6.75 is mated to a ZF-sourced eight-speed gearbox, and the Mulsanne is the first ‘large’ Bentley to be fitted with paddleshifters. The latter are simple spoke-mounted +/- pull tabs similar in look and operation to those used on Audis. The chrome finish shifters and knurled finger grips mimic the pattern on the outside door han-


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dles. The steel chassis also houses an active suspension system, so there are air springs all round and the car rides on 265/40 Pirelli P Zeros mounted on standard 20in wheels. Larger 21in are optional and so are carbon ceramic brakes with eight piston calipers. As part of the new software, the Drive Dynamics Control system allows the driver to select three driving modes - ‘Bentley’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Comfort’. There’s also provision for drivers to save their own custom settings also. Whether you are in the driver’s seat or as a back seat passenger, this car is like a palace on wheels. However, it was the Mulsanne’s extra width [car plus extra wide door mounted side mirrors] combined with Scotland’s narrowgauge country roads that initially challenge our driving skills. It took about half an hour

to get acquainted and from there on, the drive was not as complicated as we had anticipated. As we discovered during different phases of driving that this isn’t really the sort of car that feels like it shrinks around the driver when putting foot on to those drilled pedals. Despite its weight, this rear-wheel drive car is exceptionally quick and does 0-96km/h in 5.1secs flat. On straight tarmac, we pushed the V8 and its solid locomotive steel-chassis close to 290km/h. And at street legal speeds, the car is unstressed even with four of the cylinders deactivated. The variable displacement system works like a treat. And in any mode the car is eerily quiet inside the cabin. The car is so well connected with the driver that on the road, not only you experience the Mulsanne’s super refined character, it is a

massive improvement over the Arnage and we think it is much more sportier in most departments than its direct rival, the Rolls-Royce Phantom. The reworked and redesigned relatively low-revving V8 engine is highly civilized, quiet, and will only be heard when there’s some prodding. In the highlands of Scotland with two border crossings, we enjoyed the leisurely paced wafts along at 80 mph and higher in virtual silence. The aerodynamic profiling for this slighty boxy profiled car is amazing with incredible isolation from wind and road noise. Part of that is due to the acoustically treated windows, but the engineers have done an incredible job of reducing wheel and tyre noise also. Mulsanne also has a few cans of surprises too. It can dive into corners like a sports car

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{cover story} Verdict In the automotive business which is now characterized by takeovers and revamps by either carmakers or venture capitalists, there’s always an element of uncertainty with the relationship and the products that will come out from the marriage. While VW AG has owned Bentley since 1998, it may seem a bit long to think that the Mulsanne is the first new ‘big’ Bentley produced. Thankfully, the German owners have understood the British marque’s

and thanks to the superb air suspension tuning and the steering feedback [we chose to customize our own settings via the DDC knob that’s adjacent to the gear selector. In the comfort setting, the highway ride is glorious, especially in the extra generous rear seats, but we felt the steering in this setting was light and the ride a bit compromised on those winding country roads. In these roads we felt that the custom setting worked better. What we did was to combine the heftier weight of the sport steering to the “B” suspension setting, which offers a terrific compromise between handling and ride comfort. Meanwhile, the sport setting ensures that the suspension settles down more firmly, but the rear-seat ride quality, although still admirable, is notably stiffer, which isn’t too bad! For a driver, the delightful aspect of driving the Mulsanne is its really accurate and communicative steering which makes one feel as if driving a smaller car. The most impressive aspect of the handling is how stable it is on corner entry, with body control that would shame many lighter, supposedly sportier vehicles. Despite short sidewalls on the 265/40 Dunlop SP SportMaxx GT rubber, we didn’t observe any ride harshness, even in Sport mode. Our tester didn’t have ceramic brakes and unless one is going to use the car as a long hauler all the time, we think the massive 15.75in steel discs up front, and 14.5in out back are quite competent. Since we adhered to Scotland’s lilting country roads most of the time, we never came close to testing the standard system’s limits on such as a steep downhill run to really get them hot and bothered.

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heritage and tradition, and have upped the game in the authenticity department while periodically allowing benefits of their vast parts bin. So, is the new Mulsanne a magnificent piece of motoring? In three letters, yes and it’s not our solo opinion. Bentley says the 2011 model year is already completely spoken for – no doubt by people who know an enviable tradition when they see one.


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<< This is the first large bentley in 30 years that the company can claim is 100 per cent authentic to its heritage â&#x20AC;&#x201C; be it design, engineering or performance. The car just wafts along like a powerful locomotive without a hint of stress. Even at 120km/h, the new v8 is almost completely silent>>

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Bentley 8-litre The 8 Litre was the largest and most luxurious Bentley luxury car made prior to the purchase of the marque by Rolls-Royce. It used a massive 7,983cc straight-six engine and rode on a long 3,658mm or longer 3,962mm wheelbase, making it the largest car produced in the United Kingdom up to that time. The car was conceived similarly to the Bugatti Royale — as a halo car to vault the maker into position as the supreme maker of luxury cars in the world. However, like the Bugatti, the 8 Litre Bentley failed to sell in sufficient numbers to make a profit. Launched at the 1930 London Olympia Motor Show in October 1930, just as the great depression hit Europe, the chassis was priced at £1,850, making it an exclusive and pricey vehicle.

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The six-cylinder engine used a one-piece iron block and cylinder head with a crankcase made from an exotic magnesium alloy called Electrons. The cylinder head featured four valves per cylinder, as well as twin-spark ignition; both were state-of-the-art at the time. The bore was 110 mm and the stroke was 140mm. The manufacturer claimed a maximum speed of approximately 200 km/h). A four-speed manual transmission with a single-plate dry clutch sent power to the rear wheels, however the placement of the gear shifter was unlike modern cars. Because of the handbrake placement obstructing the driver’s entry, driver’s found it better to use the passenger door instead. The rear door swung in the opposite direction [aka suicide doors]. While semi-elliptical springs were used

all around, and 4-wheel servo-assisted drum brakes were also specified, the car wasn’t as rough one would expect it to be. Only 100 of these cars were produced: 35 were on a 145-inch wheelbase and 65 were on a 153-inch wheelbase; fewer than 25 per cent were fitted with open bodies. It is suggested that the car was a prime reason for Bentley Motors going bankrupt, but when on RollsRoyce bought the company in 1931, it immediately disposed of all 8-Liter spare parts. As a result of their rarity, they are much sought after by collectors: It is believed presently that only 78 chassis survive and the car in the pictures was a company car for WO. Bentley have meticulously restored the car to its original sheen. At the event, we were given taxi rides in this closed-body historical car.


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<< although physically it overwhelms you initially, but it takes a few minutes for the majestic car to connect with its driver. dimensions donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;tâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; bother anymore and seemingly tough manoeuvring in narrow country lanes or country sides becomes secondary in nature>> 23


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hondaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s golf gTi slayer, the Uk-built Civic Type-R, has finally arrived in Oman. automan discovers its true genes | Author: Chandan B Mallik | Photography: Shakeel Al Baloushi

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onda in general is generally a considered a conservative carmaker that consistently cranks out modestly refined cars. Besides its attempt to produce neo-luxury cars and charge premium pricing, it occasionally produces a wicked little something that sneaks through the cracks and reminds us that it can also offer a little spice too. As a self-confessed Honda aficionado, at times, I personally feel that Honda has split personality, very similar to Japanese compatriot Subaru. Subaru’s claim to fame comes through its boxer-engined all-wheel-drive rally race cars, whereas Honda combines a strong racing heritage with a reputation for more mundane mainstream models. But all this is changing gradually, and if one follows Honda through the recent motor shows – New Delhi, Detroit, Geneva, Beijing among others – Honda has certainly been making noises with impressive concepts and ideas what its thinks future motoring could look like. While we don’t know how many concepts will actually make it in to production, but we do know that the Civic Type R three-door hatch has finally arrived in several Middle East markets, Oman being among them. The Middle East markets, till the pre-global economic meltdown phase, hardly attracted small cars, let alone compact B-segment hatchbacks. But all that has begun to change and admittedly, rarely does a pint-sized hatchback generate so much excitement in markets that has been predominantly SUV and large car dominated. But with now more openness and acceptance of smaller sub-B segment cars, the market is getting interesting with several automotive brands from Japan, Korea, India and Europe vying for consumer attention. There’s a bonus also attached to the equation if you follow how this segment is shaping up. Till now, the market for performance oriented small hatchbacks has been small with the exception of Volkswagen’s all-time GTI, Seat’s Leon FR and Cupra models, and Renault’s Clio sport models. From Honda’s perspective, the Civic Type R is the highest performance spec of the Civic series. The “Type R” designation is usually given to models that have been developed and tuned in-house, but not by Mugen, Honda’s officially owned tuning set-up. These non-Mugen performance models also end up in circuit competitionas high performance derivatives and in the case of Honda, the lineage can be

traced directly to the 1992 Honda NSX Type R, which featured a lightweight chassis, stiffened body, fine tuned engine and upgraded performance brakes. Honda Civic Type- R is a high-performance version of Civic introduced in 1997. It is currently in its third generation and comes with two distinct varieties – One for European and one for Japanese, domestic market. The Middle East gets the European version. The Civic Type R has earned itself a cult following in Europe. As a spiritual successor to the previous generation that was retired from active duty in 2007, it seems the development focus has revolved around bold and emotional styling teamed up with a further development of the previous Type R’s race proven and high-revving powertrain. The Civic Type R is offered only as a three door hatch in the UK, so it uses a different chassis and mechanical components in its suspension. When compared to its saloon cousin, the rear suspension, formerly a double wishbone set-up, has been simplified changed to a less complex torsion beam axle. While the Honda runs on 225/40 R18 Y88 Bridgestone Potenza tyres and despite seemingly tight wheel arches and low ground clearance, it can accommodate larger 19in alloys with 225/35 tyres. The car has a curb weight of 1,350kg. From the design aspect, although the car is a hatch with a clear emphasis is on coupé-like styling and the highly stylised and individual personality has been achieved not by a radical change of design, but by a series of unique detailing such more sharply tapered rear side windows, bold side skirts, a noticeably widened track and the large wheel wells. The special character of the Civic Type R is highlighted by well drawn-down body coloured front and rear skirts, a rear spoiler plus a radiator grille with enlarged air intake. The rear is signed off with a bumper that features a built in diffuser and completing the aero package with a huge rear wing. Despite being built in the UK, the build quality, tolerances and materials of this three door car are top notch Honda standards and the whole set-up works well with good ergonomics and extremely supportive two tone sporty seats with extra side bolstering. Although there’s a raked windscreen and seating position is low, the outward visibility is good and getting in and out of the car is facilitated through the extra wide doors. However, due

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to the nature of the cabin layout and extra side bolstering, the front seat has to slide back for ingress and egress. Meanwhile, the rest of the interior layout is familiar, especially Civic saloon owners who not only will appreciate the genuine touch of sportiness and generous amount of space for the both front and rear passengers, despite its diminutive size. Some clever engineering has gone in here. In this car, the fuel tank has been positioned centrally under the front seat similar to some other family models, and this allows a low, flat rear floor in the back. As expected, the interior is very sporty in design and very well executed. It also combines elements from motor racing and from high-quality sports cars. Large black Alcantara bolsters with red stitching provide the driver and front seat passenger with both good side grip and an ergonomically perfect sitting position. Yes, we do miss the Recaro

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seats and Momo steering wheel of the older edition! However, the drilled aluminium pedals make up for that sporty appeal. The dials in the fascia are also red illuminated and set off by brushed metal switch panels. We particularly liked the floating display in the centre of the instrument cluster which is just as modern and functional as that of the 5-door. The most essential information is placed at the very top of the display and relatively far forward, which distracts the driver less from the actual traffic situation and requires the eyes to adapt less. While, secondary information is spaced around this central focus, it always remains in the field of vision without distracting. The steering wheel is covered in perforated leather with red stitching. The knob of the gearshifter is also machined from billet aluminium, and thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a special engraved production serial number tag, similar to the


{Road Test} << honda Civic Type- R is a high-performance version of Civic introduced in 1997 and currently in its third generation. The model earned itself a cult following in Europe and Japan>>

Maserati Granturismo Limited Edition at the base of the central console. For a sports car, we were surprised with the extra content. Actually, there’s quite a bit of kit and includes dual layered digital instrumentation, dual zone air-conditioning, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a six-CD changer and a digital information centre computer. As a modern car, the stereo has USB and auxiliary inputs for MP3 players. Full power features and cruise control are also standard. Then there’s practicality too. The stowage capacity behind the front seats is generous with a capacity of 485 litres with seats folded up. The rear seats feature special kinematics by which the back-rests can be lowered and to create more space. All you need to do is just release the back-rest catch. Rear seats can also be split asymmetrically (60:40) to release more space. Red is a popular and dominating colour in

the car hence it appears almost everywhere in some form and the other interesting feature related to colour is the use of a special colour from the days of Honda’s F1 winning car from the 60’s called “Championship White” and a Honda log with a red background. Unlike the saloon version which is powered by a 1.8-litre normally aspirated four pot, the Type R is powered by a 2.0-litre DOHC i-VTEC naturally-aspirated four cylinder engine featuring VTC variable inlet camshaft technology. It offers 198hp at 7,500rpm and 193 Nm of torque at 5,600rpm and this is a commendable effort, since most other manufacturers have resorted to force feeding fuel with turbochargers for additional boost. Honda has been among the top normally-aspirated engine designs when it comes to extracting maximum output. This engine is tad shy of the one litre 100hp club! And going by the figures the segment av-

erage is slightly on the higher side, if one considers immediate competition. Consider the output from the Seat Cupra R edition, at 265bhp, it definitely puts the Honda or even for that matter its own cousin the Golf GTI in to shade. We think in an automatic gearbox dominated market, the Type R’s main problem for the Middle East market could be its manual six-speed gearbox, which is normal for European markets. However, we think an automatic – unless it was a Volkswagen-Audi direct shift gearbox (DSG) – wouldn’t make much sense or difference as a traditionally cogged gearbox with Tiptronic would readily kill the fun factor in this car. As with Honda cars, occupants usually don’t have to worry about safety in this car, as passive safety as always has been prioritized at Honda. Safety kit includes front, side and curtain SRS airbags and double pretensioners on the front seatbelts.

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{Road Test} Driving impressions What is interesting is the fact that this car’s main selling points are its engine and driving dynamics and hence were not really expecting it to be a heavily laden with features.The Honda Civic Type R does look the business, and sounds willing too. The steering is as expected slightly heavy due to the wide low profile tyres and its feedback to the driver’s input is pretty commendable. The suspension is stiff, but not as stiff as that of the Lotus Evora, hence one could say it is a mix of luxury and sportiness in a bundle. Although, it will not 100 per cent absorb road imperfections, but the nice thing is that the tight build of the car and its stiff body ensures that there are not unwanted rattles or shakes. We had the car for several days and subjected it to various road and driving conditions. In general, it is a spirited car, but it’s not as aggressive or extreme as say the Seat Leon Cupra R. Its free willing and high-revving engine continues entertain with no drop in torque delivery. What would excite a driver of this car is with the tweaking, the high rpm VTEC range is now broader and more accessible. This means effectively that the switch to long duration valve timing in the reworked engine covers the range from 5,400 to 8,000 rpm up to the peak power output. With previous engines, this output was available up to a speed of 7,900 rpm, but we think it has been toned down to meet the current European legislation. The driver is informed of the cam change via an i-VTEC indicator just to the right of the digital speedometer. Since the car is virtually glued to the ground it can actually appear faster than you think. The stiff chassis makes for excellent dynamic handling, with the car staying level and balanced around the corners and there’s plenty of feedback from the tyres through the steering wheel, which is a pretty impressive for the size and shape of this car. Even with the short throw manual shifter, it is capable of fast shifts, depending on the driver and its quite normal to do the 0-100 km/h sprint in around 6.6secs with a top speed around 235 km/h. The sharper wedge profile,

sleek surfaces and improved aerodynamic packaging ensures that the car slices through any wind resistance with least counter effort. The suspension in this road rocket is taught, so cornering is great fun with a steering that offers superb feedback combined with a gear ratio that makes better usage of the highrevving engine. Despite the surefooted handling of the Civic 5-door’s MacPherson strut/torsion beam chassis arrangement that is carried over to the more sporty Civic derivatives, the car is tad stop short of being razor sharp – and this is where Mugen takes over. This is also perhaps one of the reasons why a Type S derivative was created [not available here yet] with revised spring and damper settings to help deliver sharper chassis dynamics, while a 20 mm wider rear track and 17in light alloy wheels shod with 225/45 YR17 tyres provide enhanced grip. Anyhow, for our market, we have to live with 18in alloy wheels and 225/40 YR18 extra legroom and greater freedom of movement in general on the front seats. Anyhow, for our market, we have to live with 18in alloy wheels and 225/40 YR18tyres until alternative options are offered. The current combo is good as there is an exclusive steering-assist setting that contributes significantly to the car’s sharp responses to driver input. Stopping power is assured and on the dot, thanks to the large 300mm ventilated front brake discs and 260mm solid discs at the rear. Of course, a car with this magnitude of kit also gets ABS, Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), designed to assist the driver in maintaining control during cornering, acceleration and sudden manoeuvres. The key niggle so far, the rear spoiler looks cool but restricts rear visibility and secondly, we thought that the working arrangement with the starter button was odd. You can use it to fire up the engine, but you still need to put the key in the ignition and turn it. Aren’t modern push button starter motor switches meant to make life easier.

<< The car’s lineage can be traced directly to the 1992 honda NSx Type R featuring a light and stiff body with tweaked mechanicals>> 28


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Verdict End of the day how does this European machine stack up? As a relatively young and new fighter in the growing hot hatch game, the Type R should be capable of taking a lot of beating in the region as there isn’t much rivalry in the segment. One advantage of this model arriving a bit late in the Middle East is that it has given its creators extra time to study competition, rework the packaging wherever applicable and on top of it, taken a leaf out of its revolutionary ancestors’ books.

In the UK, Top Gear Magazine awarded the European Civic Type R its ‘Hot Hatch of 2007’ praising the car’s controls and comparing it favourably as a driver’s car. However, in four years the market dynamics has changed and so has the car industry. With more and more potent hot hatches coming from competitors such as Ford with its Focus ST, Opel with its Astra OPC and Volkswagen with its superb Golf GTi, the benchmark in the segment has considerably moved up.

Although, the Civic Type R is well-packaged, handles and performs well, but by today’s standards it does fall short dynamically especially in the areas steering and chassis balance when compared to extreme rivals. Over all, the car has an individual personality and is practical with the classic Honda virtues such as guaranteed driving pleasure together with brilliantly low fuel consumption. The car is on sale in the region and is attractively priced.

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Back with a bang The seventh generation all-new 2010 maxima has been repositioned as four-door sports cars by Nissan. is it a really performance sports saloon or just a car with sharp styling? automan solves the riddle. | Author: Chandan B Mallik

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n the Middle East, the Nissan’s Maxima has been one of the carmaker’s most successful models. The model was originally known as the Datsun 810 or Bluebird when the model series was formed in 1976. In 1982, the model series officially became the Maxima in a year that also saw Datsun metamorphose into Nissan. Nissan started selling the Maxima from the third-generation model in the Middle East in 1990, a year after it was launched and continued selling them till 1994. Instantly, it was regarded as first Maxima with true sporting credentials and it came at a time when Nissan was enjoying a product renaissance. Nissan continued enjoying success with the fourth and fifth generation also. The sixth generation Maxima, code-named A34, was only sold in the United States, Canada and Mexico and hence we never saw it in the region officially, barring a few personal imports. Hence, the outgoing Maxima fifth-generation sold from 2000 was the last official Middle East import. Meanwhile, the arrival of the Altima in both 2.5-litre and 3.5-litre garbs started encroaching into the slot made vacant by the absence of Maxima. In the US, where both models were sold simultaneously, it was noted by Nissan that the bigger-engined Altima had significantly cornered a sizable chunk of Maxima’s market share. Naturally, this situation posed a serious dilemma for product strategists. What to do with two successful models from one brand with very similar characteristics? Would dropping a model work? Not really. So, the option was to separate the models in terms of positioning and character. For the Maxima it was decided to focus it with a balance between sport and luxury, while the Altima could concentrate more on comfort and convenience. With support from Nissan, the sixth generation [model code A34] during its lifecycle saw several engineering innovations included such as the VQ35DE DOHC 3.5-litre engine, and some cosmetic upgrade and CVT transmission during its mid-cycle refresh in 2007. With the product positioning clear at Nissan for these two models, we are not surprised with the idea that Nissan now wants us to believe that the all-new seventh generation Maxima [model code A35] is a proper four door sports car. But we have questions because when anyone mentions a new fourdoor sports car to us, what immediately conjours is a rear wheel drive tyre-smoking Nurburgring-tuned and perfected hot metal capable of vanquishing the likes of BMW M5s at the street corner drags. So what’s in the Maxima package and how does it differentiate 31


{First drive} itself from sibling Altima? First on the list is architecture. Nissan still believes that the front-wheel drive cars such as the Maxima have traditionally enjoyed a certain ‘duality’ - a unique fusion of saloon practicality with the soul of a sports car. But, ground reality is that in recent years, competitive vehicles have caught up with Maxima in ‘sporty’ looks and performance. So, what’s the real deal up here? For five generations Maximas have been built on a front-wheel drive platform and one would expect an evolution here. Yet with the new Maxima, the development team opened a Pandora’s Box for discussion and including debates related to the benefits of front-wheel drive versus rear-wheel drive. Although, we are aware of the advantages of RWD in terms of handling, it was ultimately decided that by switching Maxima from its previous platform to Nissan’s new ‘D platform,’ which was first introduced on the current line-up of Altimas, the targeted performance could be delivered without giving up the added FWD benefits of lower costs, lower weight and enhanced roominess versus a RWD platform. OK, seems logical so far. However, a range of enhancements were also needed to achieve these targets, which including things like increased body rigidity, adjustments to the wheelbase and track dimensions. As a result, body rigidity was increased by 15 per cent and front strut mounting rigidity was increased by 100 per cent, with all-new structures added to the engine compartment and additional reinforcement applied to the instrument panel structure. The new Nissan Maxima is marginally smaller than the outgoing edition and has a wheelbase of 109.3 in, a decrease of 1.9in, but is wider by 1.5in to 73.2in. Meanwhile, the front and rear track measurement of 62.4in represents increases of 1.4in front and 1.2in rear over the previous model. On the design front, the car does have pleasant proportions but its grafted GT-R inspired headlamps may not appeal to many and in our opinion, the styling is a bit controversial — and being a subjective matter, you either like it or hate it. However, like a high-end saloon that has grown up, the new Maxima shows a mature, refined look, thanks to the deliberate sculpted look of the bonnet or the creased character lines running on the mudguards. Add to that some modern amenities such as flashy LED taillights and long overhangs, and you get a complete picture. As much as the Nissan pushes the 4-Door Sports Car envelop with the Maxima, we can’t help but think that it 32

has gone more upscale in its approach. Inside the car, there’s cockpit-like cocoon where most of the action happens greets the driver who also gets a tilt and telescoping steering wheel. Costing cutting seems to be the order when you see the paddle shifters have been lifted directly from the 350Z. Meanwhile, the stitched leather bound interior comes with a premium air-conditioned driver’s seat with manual thigh extension. At the rear, there’s space three adults and the practicality of a 60:40 split fold seat with access to the boot. There’s more bin parts lifting as you scan the interior minutely, piece by piece. The familiar Nissan corporate central console anchors the cockpit, dividing the car into the business and pleasure departments with it usual fervour. The driver’s position is good as it offers a clear view of the instrument cluster, which as expected contains a speedometer in the centre, flanked by a tachometer on the left, and fuel and temperature gauges on the right. To the lower left, are secondary controls including a vehicle stability control on/ off switch, mirror controls, and a slot for the smart key. We have said this before and we say it again, the deal is raw related to kitting the car with binned stuff, when the car is supposed to be premium material. The navigation system, for a change is a new version of a style previously seen in other Nissans and upmarket Infinitis. The shift lever is now offset towards the driver and offers the ability for manual-style gear change programming from the CVT transmission. There is a choice of two optional roof openings: a standard moonroof, or the dual-panel moonroof available with the premium equipment package. For the powertrain, the car carries over the VQ 35DE 3.5-litre V6 engine mated to a new Xtronic CVT Continuously Variable Transmission. The revisited DOHC 24-valve engine has been chipped to offer 290hp and 261 lb-ft of torque representing a healthy increase of 35hp and nine lb-ft of torque over the previous Maxima. And for drivers seeking the utmost in vehicle control, a new “Ds mode” (drive sport) has been added to the CVT. “Ds mode” is an electronic control logic, that enhances sport driving through increased acceleration feel with higher engine revolutions, automatic engine braking and maintaining engine speed during cornering. Additional “D platform” enhancements include the use of aluminum suspension links, revised suspension geometry, new technology shocks, revised steering and suspension geometries, a lower engine mounting.


{First drive}

<< The current maxima is the seventh generation of the model. although considered as a rear-wheel drive possibility, it ended up as a front-wheel-drive mid-sized saloon with CvT transmission >>

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{First drive} << arguably, the sixth-generation maxima was a hit [it still is] with its middle East clientele, as it did have several advantages in terms of power, comfort and interior space >>

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{First drive} Driving impressions A car that’s touted as a four door sports car sporting a powerful engine mated to a continuously-variable transmission may sound a bit odd to genuine sports car aficionados who are used to short throw manual shifters or stateof-the-art direct shift gearboxes. So, the big question is how can a CVT offer sporting character in a car like the Maxima? Nissan says the Maxima’s CVT set-up belongs to the threemode Xtronic systems, which unlike other CVT set-ups, actually allows the driver to use either paddle shifters or a gated stick shift to “shift” the gears through six programmed steps. In other words, there should be a feel of the cogs up or downshifting. After the driving the Maxima for few kilometres, one begins to empathise with the package. Interestingly, only 20hp and approximately 94kg differentiate both cars. In fact, the power to weight ratio in both cars are very close, yet the Maxima feels much more spirited and aggressive. Much of this character was deliberately inculcated in the Maxima by chassis engineers who took extra measures in stiffening it along with the chassis guys who Besides this, the engine in the Maxima seems to be a free revver and it’s to do with the increased air intake and increased fuel burn efficiency and lowered exhaust backpressure. The hydraulic steering system seems to offers better adaptability for slow as well as high speed maneuvers than the speed sensitive power steering of the Altima. Regardless, pulling the trigger results in a launch with a minimal amount of torque-steer,

which is important in the high-power frontdrive segment. The revised Xtronic S-CVT with over 700 new shift algorithms now features a new Ds (Drive Sport) mode, which we could immediately feel under foot. Nissan claims a quick gear-ratio change in the “downshifts” of the CVT coming into a turn, followed by an auto gear hold, on exit. We would have to agree: power just kept winding up as we accelerated through a turn. The new Maxima’s suspension has been thoroughly sorted as well. A strut-coil spring suspension rules in the front of the new flagship, while a rear multi-link with stabilizer bar holds sway out back. (pun intended). Steering is now controlled by a “Twin-Orifice Power Steering System (TOPS), which sounds painful, and is similar to equipment found in the 350Z. We found it tracked well and transmitted a good amount of road feel. Not overly harsh, nor marshmallow soft, it offered great road handling through a variety of routes ranging from bumpy backwoods country lanes to major expressways in the At 290 horsepower, the Maxima’s V6 is right at the top of the class in terms of power development for its size, but it’s not peaky or cranky because the valve and intake systems keep it optimized for whatever gear and rev range. It has both variable valve timing and a variable intake system, a system that opens wide at about 4,500 rpm, wide enough that you can hear the engine sound change dramatically, adding to the driving enjoyment.

Verdict At that price, Nissan’s brand-new Maxima proffers a high-output V-6, an advanced continuously variable transmission, oodles of electronic conveniences, and what’s claimed to be one of the best-performing front-drive chassis in the world. The Nissan Maxima is one of the most fun-todrive cars in the class, and one of the best-engineered front-drive sporty sedans available, from its accurate, quick steering to the engine power to the remarkably good performance of the CVT. It isn’t the roomiest car in the class, and it isn’t the least expensive. Instead, it’s designed as a premium car for drivers who want something sporty.

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{also driven}

Unadulterated fun

The lexus gS 300 continues to delivers an undiluted combination of luxury and sporty performance. as always several important technology enhancements keeps the gS among the top models in the segment for 2010. | Author: Chandan B Mallik | Images: Sakeel Al Baloushi

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{also driven} Brand and model perspective

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exus designed and created the GS with a purpose. It wanted to bridge the gap between the ES and LS, and to provide Lexus with a true performance saloon to compete in the mid-luxury class dominated by German premium brands. The first generation rear-wheel drive GS was introduced in 1993 for US, Europe and selected markets in Asia. Till date, three generations of the GS have been produced and the GS 300 continues to serve in the region with a host of technology-led solutions and improvements. The current model was introduced in 2006 and was actually the first to adopt the brand’s highly stylized L-finesse design language and is built on a newly-designed midsize platform which is also used on the second generation IS. Since it is an advanced platform it continues unchanged for 2010. And as before, the car retains its 112.2in long wheelbase, long bonnet, pulled-back cabin and short rear profile. It’s tapered, vertical grille surrounded by four wraparound but independent headlamps, typical of the current GS models but interestingly conveys the brand’s design progression. The lower valance features integrated fog lamps, and with its raked A-pillars and overall wedge profile commands an impressive and low Cd 0.27 drag coefficient. This cabin is an exceptionally lively place to be in whether you are the driver or its passenger. It invites you with its European ambience led by ultra-premium wood, polished-metal accents and leather trim, besides dollops of comfort and space for five adults. It has a high-precision feel and most touch points convey very high quality and that includes intuitive response of controls as well. Lexus offers three interior leather colour combinations: Light Grey leather with Dark Grey Bird’s-eye maple wood trim, Parchment leather with Golden Bird’s-eye Maple wood trim, or Black leather with Red Walnut wood trim. As befitting the status of the brand, Lexus designers strive to keep controls simple and intuitive, avoiding needless complexity. The SmartAccess keyless entry and push-to-start ignition allow the driver to keep the access fob in a pocket or purse. Audio and climatecontrol systems are easy to understand and operate. The unique instrument panel lighting system relies on variable-transparency glass to minimize reflections from the dials and to help optimize visibility in all lighting conditions. What we also like is the memory function settings for individual drivers. There’s a pop37


{also driven} Driving impressions Lexus is known for a smooth ride and luxury appointments, and the GS has accomplished road manners. As a Lexus, the cabin is exceptionally quite and its strongest point is its sense of balance that makes driving this car a truly enjoyable affair. Even during a morning commute, you can enjoy driving the car effortlessly. Even with the smaller engine, the GS can rip down the road and the low profile wide tyres furnish plenty of cornering grip. While on highway and city driving, the car’s electric power steering is exceptionally responsive, so one doesn’t miss the benefits of the variable gear ratio steering system which

quickens the mechanical ratio while at the same time reducing effort at very low speeds, then provides a slower ratio for more precision and higher effort at higher speeds of the bigger sibling. While the sophisticated system in the bigger car makes the GS more manageable, it has its drawbacks from a purist’s point of view. Despite the sophistication, both the electric power steering and electric brake system occasionally deliver an unnatural feel through the controls, but thankfully, in the smaller car this is not an issue as the car connects more directly with the driver. The suspension geometry gives the GS very

good handling qualities, while gas-charged shocks and coil springs offer a balanced ride. Body roll during fast driving is minimized and the introduction of the Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system seems to do its job pretty well by making certain corrections and allowing the driver to continue without even realizing that the system is at work. In contrast to conventional ESC systems, which react to a car’s loss of control, VDIM remains on high alert all the time as it has been developed to anticipate a dangerous situation and offer lightning quick corrections or responses.

<< The lexus gS 300 is loaded with technology, grace and convenience, ensuring it is worth as a good investment>>

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{also driven}

Verdict In three generations of the GS, the model series has reaffirmed its solid dynamic, yet free of gimmicks credentials. It does what it is meant to do and by that we mean it combines precision with luxurious appointments, offers a high standard of automotive performance, yet is intuitive to drive. What’s more, the level of automotive technology that’s included as

standard equipment works behind-the-scenes virtually unnoticed. From a driver’s perspective, the GS is rewarding to drive with its calm and intuitive personality, but what we particularly like about the car is its balanced handling and performance on demand attitude. It’s best of both worlds – performance and luxury.

<< Controls for power mirrors, dash-light adjustment and petrol-tank lid opener are on a retractable pod at the lower left side of the dashboard>>

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{Interview}

Murcielago successor

lamborghini design concepts appear to have taken strong hold of all the current and young designersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; minds and adam denning is no exception. automan spoke with the budding designer to understand the philosophy behind the lamborghini Navarra Concept | Author: Chandan B Mallik

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{Interview}

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amborghini plans to replace its Murcielago soon and its plant in Sant’Agata Bolognese is gearing up for the launch of the successor. The new Murcielago is expected to be unveiled at the Geneva auto show in March 2011 and will be constructed in lightweight material. It will use Audi’s aluminium spaceframe chassis bonded to an extremely light, strong and stiff carbon fibre body using aerospace bonding and riveting technology. Lockheed Martin designer Adam Denning has some ideas for the new model which will be the first entirely new top-of-the-line Lamborghini in almost four decades. In his proposal of the Raging Bull model replacement, he created the Lamborghini Navarra Concept as a design study exploring the evolution possibilities of a V12 car to succeed the current Murcielago. “I wanted to bring the brand’s identity through into a new flagship model. I did not want to just create and new car to replace the Murcielago, but rather to re-enforce the development of the V12 segment of Lamborghini. I tried to imagine all the V12 flagships of the brand from the Miura to the Murcielago, and then create a car that would look like it not only belonged in this group, but that it was the result of these cars as well,” he says. During his research of Lamborghini, Denning was inspired by La Pieta, a famous sculpture by Michelangelo located in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City. “I was very inspired by the way Mary’s garments flow down and fold over each other. This was the main

inspiration for the Navarra’s overlapping surfaces and organic shapes. The challenge was to maintain Lamborghini’s image while bringing it do the next generation.” Denning hasn’t tampered much with the mechanicals of this car including dimensions. “The dimensions of the concept car are very similar to the current Murcielego. The overall length is only 2cm shorter, but the wheel base is longer, thus creating short overhangs. However, for all practical purposes, Denning doesn’t expect the new car to downsize in displacement as part of its ‘return to roots’ philosophy, an obvious reference to the 1963 predecessor which came with a 3.5-litre unit. Getting the final shape and proportions right was a daunting task admits Denning. “I am an extreme Lamborghini enthusiast. So this project was a big challenge for me. To create a car that would be something I felt truly deserved to carry the Lamborghini badge on the bonnet. I wanted to bring a concept that would hold true to the brands dramatic razor edged style, but also with a touch of class and sophistication that makes Lamborghini so unique.” Denning’s attention to detail has been impressive especially for driver and occupant in the way they will enter or exit, and start the car. In fact, it will use cutting edge keyless entry using electronic chipped cards. “I didn’t mention this before how would be the entry/ exit system would be operated. The driver would keep something similar to a credit card in his wallet. So when they are near the driver would simply need to touch the surface of the door near the window, the small triangle area, and the door would open. This would mean introduction of a new level of technology, but one interior a key would still be required. I chose to do this simply to maintain the raw ecstasy of starting the engine without any “new age” interference. I felt a “push button start” would take away from the soul of what a Lamborghini is.” Denning’s association with the aerospace industry is also quite evident, especially in the air flow design and aerodynamic profiling. “Since the new car is expected to continue with a V12 engine with between 650

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{Interview}

<< adam denning, a designer with lockheed martin has a master’s degree in automotive design from milan’s Scuola politecnica di design. martin took into account lamborghini’s supercars from the miura to the murcielago and blended it with the company’s current sharp-edged language and organic shapes inspired by classical Renaissance sculpture >> 42


{Interview} and 700bhp on tap, I paid particular attention to the upper air intakes which will be responsible for cooling the engine. On the current Murcielago, there are intakes that open and close to allow more air flow. I have incorporated this into my design as well, but in a way that wouldn’t change the overall shape of the car. So what I envisioned was instead of the top surface moving out like the Murcielago, the bottom surface would move in, creating larger intakes. This would use a similar technology and materials as BMW’s GINA. [GINA, by BMW is a new take on car design, materials, and flexibility. The GINA concept replaces the traditional metal/plastic skin with a textile fabric skin that’s pulled taut around a frame of metal and carbon fibre. Even the shape of the car can change.] So what makes Denning think that Lambo-

rghini will use advanced composites in building the new Murceilago? “I think it is because of Lamborghini’s recent involvement with the University of Washington’s advanced composites structure laboratory. I would imagine that these materials and construction advancements will be considered for the chassis of the next generation of Lamborghini.” Denning’s technical specs for the Navarra would read something like this: carbon fibre chassis and body panels, V12 power, and the option of a manual or electronic transmission. All coupled together he thinks would put this car at the top of the performance list. As a designer does he think Lamborghini should change its design language? “I don’t think that Lamborghini needs to shift their design language entirely. I think they have something that no other brand has, and they

need to hold onto that. But I do think it needs to be updated. The hard edges and “stealth” surfaces are nice, but can get boring quite fast. That is why I tried to introduce just a touch of organic movement. Like I said, La pieta was a huge inspiration for this car. I have been to the vatican many times, and every time I look at that sculpture I think ‘that would be a beautiful car’.” Although the design study was not commissioned, naturally Lamborghini has had no input with this concept car. Lamborghini hasn’t contacted Denning, but he would love to work with them in anyway. “Although I would love to hear from them, Lamborghini is the reason I got into car design, and to work with their amazing team of designers is the goal of all my years of study and work.”

<< giNa, by bmw is a new take on car design, materials, and flexibility. The giNa concept replaces the traditional metal/plastic skin with a textile fabric skin that’s pulled taut around a frame of metal and carbon fibre. Even the shape of the car can change>>

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{Road Test}

Refreshed and now with AWD

Toyotaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest SUv to date, the Sequoia was completely redesigned and re-engineered for 2008. For 2010, it gets significant improvements and upgrades including awd. automan checks out the refreshed version | Author: Chandan B Mallik

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{Road Test}

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ess than a decade ago, full-size SUVs sold in significant numbers and generated handsome profits for their manufacturers. Although most of the models built then evolved from pick-up trucks, so it was only a question of time before a manufacturer jumped on to the bandwagon with something bit more polished in a segment that was largely driven by American models such Chevrolet‘s Tahoe, Ford‘s Expedition and GMC‘s Yukon. Toyota entered the fray with the US-only Sequoia in 2000, although the Land Cruiser, its other SUV-pick up nameplate has been around since 1955 in global markets. The country specific USA- built and truck based Sequoia differs from the premium global Land Cruiser in that it is larger and its focus is more on heavy duty jobs such as towing. While, the Land Cruiser is a more upscale and luxurious with good off-road capability is built in Japan and some other locations, the second generation Sequoia is built at Toyota’s Princeton, Indiana plant. Despite the downsizing trends in the industry especially in the large 4x4 SUV segments, Toyota has kept the segment flame alive with the Sequoia which it introduced in 2008 by significantly upgrading it with kit and new efficient powertrains. As of 2010, the Sequoia is sold exclusively in the US, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Middle East and is available in four models – SR5, Limited, Platinum Premium and Platinum Luxury. Though many time-honored Land Cruiser supporters welcomed the re-invigoration of the mechanical aspects of the vehicle, the 200 Series encountered criticism due to its controversial body restyling, with some claiming that Toyota has ‘overdeveloped’ the classic trademarked Land Cruiser identity. In that respect Toyota designers haven’t tampered with the design of the second generation Tundra, on which the Sequoia is based. Not only did it get most of the design DNA, it also gets own set of clothing. So it’s no coincidence that from the front both look very similar too, but unlike other rival SUV models in the past which had similar arrangements, the Sequoia doesn’t look like a cut and paste job. Meanwhile, there are no changes to the Sequoia’s overall length, width and height, wheelbase, front and rear tracks which were revised at the time the model introduction.

However, front and rear overhangs appear marginally reduced in the AWD version due to its extended capabilities. Despite its overwhelming dimensions and physical presence the car achieves an impressive drag coefficient of 0.35, which means the vehicle offers exceptional aerodynamic characteristics and low wind-noise. The vehicle’s mirrors, wipers, A-pillar and roof header are also shaped to maximize aerodynamic efficiency and minimize wind noise. The car’s underside has also been optimized to reduce drag and wind noise, and to help improve directional stability. While the primary design goal for the interior seems to revolve around taking full advantage of spacious cabin and converting it in to a practical and user-friendly environment for the driver and occupants, hence the element of premium luxury such as bespoke wood trims, special effects, mood lighting are missing. But what is not missing is a cosy interior which takes full advantage of the car’s enhanced dimensions. We found space generously accommodating eight adults with ample head, leg and shoulder room. Seats are wide with soft cushioning and driver’s seat comes equipped with power lumbar support, a feature also available as an option on the front passenger seat. On the practical side, the second-row seat comes equipped with a sliding mechanism that allows the seat to be adjusted nearly six inches fore and aft. This comes in handy when one travels with less number of passengers. For the third-row seat, there’s an advanced seat-cushion linkage reclining mechanism which helps in theatre type sitting. Meanwhile, the second-row seats are split 40:20:40 and Toyota also offers separate captain’s seats with flat fold down mechanisms. We were impressed with the way the access to third row seats has been designed. An easy-slide action allows access to the third-row seat which also splits 60:40 and folds flat. Since the car will mostly be used by families, thoughtful features include jam protection for the front and rear windows. Meanwhile, the power lift gate can be open or closed via remote control. Driver gets a simplified dashboard with a modular instrument panel with hi-res Optitron back lighting and the addition of chrome rings somewhat breaks the monotony of the pre-

dominant grey-coloured interior. The steering column offers both tilt and telescopic functions and individual settings can be put in memory. [See box below for specific trim details] Two powertrains are now available -- a 276hp 4.7-litre V8 which powers the SR5 and Limited grades, while the top of line Platinum grade [our test vehicle] had the 5.7-litre V8 engine. Both engines are mated to sixspeed automatic transmission with Tiptronic function. The bigger displacement engine is ULEV-II compliant, meaning it emits very little pollution (Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle). It is modern in design and features four valves per cylinder and variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust valves. Consistent with the architecture is the exhaust, which is made from stainless steel and has four catalytic converters and with this package 381hp and 401 lb-ft of torque is available. Being a large vehicle, Sequoia engineers specifically focused on improved ride comfort and quietness, besides performance and straight-line stability. Hence it’s not surprising to find an independent suspension set-up with upper and lower A-arms at each wheel, tubular shock absorbers, coil springs and antiroll bar. In the higher spec model such as our tester, it came with air suspension package and Toyota’s Active Variable Suspension (AVS), with settings for comfort, normal and sport. Wrapping up the package are larger tyres and wheels with standard being 275/65 tyres and 18in rims, while 275/55 tyres are for the 20in set-ups. The car uses 13.9in ventilated disc brakes up front and 13.6in ventilated disc brakes at the rear. As with Toyota models, the Sequoia gets a comprehensive active and passive safety package which is based on Toyota’s STAR Safety System. This means the car includes includes VSC (Vehicle Stability Control), and TRAC (Traction Control) (2WD models) or ATRAC (Active-Traction Control) (4WD models), ABS (antilock braking) with EBD (electronic brake force distribution) and Brake Assist. If this doesn’t satisfy the appetite, then there’s collision driver and passenger seat-mounted side- and side- curtain airbags as as standard equipment and roll-sensing side curtain airbags that extend from the front seat to the third-row seat.

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{Road Test}

Driving impressions The 5.7-litre V8 has lots of grunt but what impresses is the way the engine has been mapped to offer a reserve of torque at low revs. For a vehicle that weighs close to 2,720kg, we could cruise along at just 2,000rpm or less all day long without feeling the need to push the throttle. As the engine offers most of its torque below 3,600 rpm, so when you do decide to overtake, acceleration is impressive. Steering is fingertip-easy around town and with a short turning circle of just 39ft, the SUV actually feels smaller. Thanks to the variable speed sensitive system, it adds more return-to-centre and a firmer, more precise level of control as speeds increase. This help it avoid being boat-like at higher speeds, and we found the Sequoia was easy to keep in its lane without undue attention. The six-speed electronically controlled au

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low range. While, our previous impressions with the 2WD version off-road was quite disappointing, but our perceptions have totally changed with the AWD model. While most of the time on road the car is a 2WD, and switching into 4WD is a simple affair. Basically, one just uses the toggle switch to go from 2WD to 4WD, while low range is engaged via the floor-mounted lever. With the system engaged it was pretty easy to get in and out of, even on ground that was not perfectly level and we noted that the gearing seemed low enough that the Sequoia could crawl at comfortable speeds, perfect for dune manoeuvring. Additionally, we also noted that the six-speed transmissionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s torque converter also locked up in fourth and fifth gear, as well as in sixth gear. This car is no softy anymore. The biggest advantage of having a low rev engine is that it endows the SUV with tow capabilities that are in the class of a full-size pick-up. The Sequoia can tow up to 5,000kg without stress. Meanwhile, the brakes are consistent with full-size pickup capability and feel reasonably gradual, with some forgiveness at the top of the pedal and very strong response as foot pressure is increased. The brakes are enhanced by ABS (anti-lock brake system) and Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), the latter of which keeps all four brakes accurately proportioned as the vehicle stops, assuring straighter stops and better control and shorter stopping distances. Brake Assist reduces stopping distances in panic situations. These are all useful and necessary features for a modern SUV, particularly one that might be towing a boat. tomatic transmission also accounts for part of the Sequoiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s smooth performance and also its decent highway mileage. The transmission is controlled by a shifter that allows sequential shifting, and has a lock-up torque converter for better towing efficiency and heat control. We also noted that engaging the Tow/Haul mode changes the shift points for heavy loads and long, uphill grades. While this family SUV is not built to be a cornering machine on country roads, control is good enough for confident handling. The suspension is soft sprung, but the rebound is stiff and this helps in controlling excess wallowing, especially in corners. The steering column actually has a floating shaft that keeps noise and vibration from coming through to the wheel. The big news is that the AWD models come with a two-speed transfer case with 2.6:1


{Road Test}

<< The Sequoia is the largest SUv currently sold under the Toyota umbrella and is slightly larger than the eight-seater land Cruiser. The 4wd system is different to the one in land Cruiser >> Trims and variants The Toyota Sequoia SR5 comes with cloth upholstery, tri-zone air-conditioning; power windows, locks, and back window; keyless entry; an eightspeaker AM/FM/CD audio system with a plug for iPod compatibility; tilt steering; cruise control; spare tire; and mud guards. The SR5 is available with 4WD and Sport Package upgrades the second row bench to bucket seats (reducing total seating to seven) and upgrades with a power-adjustable driver’s seat, 20-inch alloy wheels with a unique finish, colour-keyed sport grille, rear spoiler, fog lamps, and a black fabric interior. For 2010, new standard equipment for the SR5 includes the towing package, eight-way power driver’s seat, fog lamps, running boards, power tilt/slide moonroof, a roof rack, rear spoiler, and a leather steering wheel with audio and climate controls. Sequoia Limited comes standard with the 5.7-litre V8 and adds heated, leather trimmed seats; upgrades the driver’s seat to 10-way adjustable; and adds leather trim to the steering wheel, seats, and gearshift knob. The rear 60:40 third-row seat is power operated. The dash is upgraded with brighter Optitron gauges and a multi-information display, and a 14-speaker JBL Synthesis audio system includes Bluetooth capability. Outside, the Limited adds a roof rack, fog lamps, running boards and parking sonar system. For 2010, new standard equipment for the Limited includes a power rear door with a sliding window, 20in alloy wheels power tilt/slide moonroof, rear spoiler, and a backup camera with a 3.5in display built into the rear-view mirror. The Platinum comes with 20in alloys, a rear load-leveling suspension, and a memory feature for the power seats, which are heated and air conditioned in the front. Second-row seat is bucket type and hence converts the interior to seven-passenger capacity. Navigation system with backup camera is standard. Exterior features include a power back door, moonroof, and headlamp cleaner. Also standard on Platinum are laser cruise control, a rearseat DVD entertainment system with a seven-inch screen and a separate rear-seat audio system, including wireless headphones. There is also a new wood-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob. Options for the Limited include the rear-seat DVD entertainment system.

Verdict For the region, the Sequoia has just got better. Not only the AWD system extends the car’s capabilities, but the creature comforts, flexibility and over all packaging including pricing is really hard to beat considering the fact that much softer under 3-litre five-seater CUVs are beginning to command premium pricing. In that respect, if you are in the market for value for money, the Sequoia could be considered on the shopping list. The 4WD Sequoia is now available in four models – SR5, Limited, Platinum Premium and Platinum Luxury, with prices ranging from Dh159,000-225,000 in the UAE. 47


{Preview}

e h t g n i p p U l e v e l entry

audi is introducing a whole new dimension to the compact class with the all-new audi a1 and this car will also grace the middle East. automan has the first details of whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s coming soon. | Author: Chandan B Mallik

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{Preview}

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he luxury sales race is tightening as the German premium trio of Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz are fighting it out for top honours. And despite the global economic downturn, all three brands posted increased year-to-year sales (over 2009): Audi climbed 19.1 per cent, Mercedes soared 15.2 per cent, and BMW gained 14.1 per cent. Audi’s stellar performance was prompted, in part, by strong demand in China which has overtaken Germany as the brand’s most important market. Now, Audi is looking at producing premium cars in the B-segment as part of its horizontal expansion in the line-up. And the carmaker invited Overdrive and its sister publication Saudi Auto for a quick spin and preview of the A1, its smallest car a few weeks ago in Berlin, Germany. Well, we all know BMW with MINI, Fiat with the 500 have been quite successful in the segment with these premium offerings. In fact, BMW’s reincarnated MINI was the first acknowledged model to be able to offer premium quality, performance variants and bespoke features – some of the key reasons for its success with young urban customers. And it is this segment of active prospects that Audi is keen to tap with the A1, a vehicle that is specifically designed for the urban environment. The A1 has been engineered to be very agile and nimble in city traffic while offering a high degree of everyday utility. And at the same time it does meet the lifestyle aspirations with the sporting S-line trims. Taking the bullet proof platform of the Polo as base material, Audi engineers and designers have successfully redesigned and packaged the car with core values of what the brand is known for in less than four meters. At first glance, the design and styling of the car shows its personality being influenced by lot of ideas and innovations from its concept cars – the 2007 Audi A1 project Quattro in particular. While, Audi has taken a lot of ideas and innovations from the concept car and converted them into series production, on no account the A1 is a re-bodied Polo with Audi frills. The front end bears an unmistakable family resemblance, but features unique accents and detailing. The single-frame grille, for example, is harmoniously integrated into the front end and with its angled top corners represents a new evolutionary stage. Its braces are arranged horizontally to emphasize the width of

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{Preview} << From the range of powertrains offered globally, the middle East will get its cars with 1.4-litre TFSi engines mated to either a six-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed S-tronic>> the front. The large, plastically modeled air intakes with their horizontal bars also contribute to the sporty appearance of the Audi A1. The fog lights are located in their outer corners. The three-dimensionally styled headlights also have their own special look. A strongly curved wing structures the interior of the headlights. As with every Audi, the daytime LED running lights are standard which appear as a homogenous strip that follows the profile of the wing. With the optional xenon plus units, the daytime running lights are implemented using LEDs and a light guide. However, the most powerful design element in the car is what Audi says is the ‘tornado line’. It’s most prominent when the car is viewed from the side where the upper edge of the bonnet extends below the side windows to the rear end, which reminds one of the TT. According to the designers, it is the point where the chiseled bonnet meets the mudguards that defines the point of origin for this design element called the tornado line which then continues over the doors to the rear end. Meanwhile, there’s an extra creaseline running closely and precisely above the wheel wells, which provide shelter to wheels measuring up to 18in in diameter. As part of the lifestyle-cum-bespoke options to customers, the sportily flowing roof

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arch will be available in one of four contrasting colours. The arch flow into a C-pillar is flatter than on the TT, giving the rear end a dynamic outline that is further emphasized by the roof spoiler. When viewed from the rear, the car resembles the Volvo C30 in some ways as the rear is wider. The luggage compartment is accessed through a liftgate. Rear lamps are combined with xenon bulbs and LEDs, but cannot be seen when the luggage compartment hatch is open. Hence, Audi decided to include additional LED lamps in its broad side flanks. Meanwhile, a sporty black diffuser in the skirt at the bottom of the rear valance signs off the rear while depending on the engine, the exhaust system ends in one or two tailpipes on the left side. With 0.32 coefficient of drag for the base model, the newest Audi should be among the most aerodynamic cars in its class. As a newcomer, the new car’s inner trappings should be familiar to those with experience behind the Audi’s compact models. The A1’s dashboard and central control layout is clearly of the same vein, however there are some specific design related changes which have been designed to offer sporty looks with bespoke options. As expected the build quality is high and so is the equipment level which

also includes a multimedia package and satnav. The screen for the satnav neatly slides in and out the dash and it angled perfectly in line with the driver’s sight. Instruments a large and are grouped together like its bigger cousins. With the LED interior lighting package, the A1 brings 100 per cent LED technology to an interior in the premium compact class for the first time. Although, several petrol and diesel powertrains will be offered with six speed manual or dual-clutch seven-speed S-tronic automatic transmission, the engine for the Middle East markets has been chosen on the basis of turbocharging instead of displacement. A high output of 122hp and peak torque of 200Nm on tap which is continuously available between 1,500 and 4,000 rpm comes from the 1.4-litre four cylinder TFSIs mated to either gearbox. The turbocharger with a water-cooled intercooler pressurizes the 1,390 cc engine with four valves per cylinder. Together with the seven-speed S tronic, the 1.4 TFSI gets the Audi A1 up to highway speed in 9.1secs. Top speed is 200 km/h. while the standard sixspeed manual transmission bumps the time for the sprint to 9.2 seconds, but does not affect top speed. Average fuel consumption is just 5.1 and 5.4 litres/100 km, respectively, in the EU test cycle. All engines in the line-up


{Preview} also benefit from Audiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s modular technology, one of them being the start-stop system. On the safety front, besides a stiff body shell, the car comes with two front airbags, side airbags in the backrests of the front seats and two curtain head airbags as standard kit. Belt tensioners and belt force limiters plus the Audi integral headrest system round out the package of retention systems. Isofix child seat anchor points in the rear are standard. On the handling front, Audi wants the front-wheel-drive Audi A1 to be the sportiest car in the compact class which means it has to be nimble and agile in the city; steady and precise on interurban roads, and comfortable on the highway. Hence, the advanced chassis with the wide track and balanced weight distribution was a key engineering challenge. The front suspension comprises a MacPherson construction with lower triangular wishbones, while the rear uses torsion beam. Steering is electro-hydraulic rack-and-pinion power. At only 81cm, the front overhang is unusually short and depending on the engine, only between 61 and 63 per cent of the weight rests on the front axle. A number of details contribute to this, such as the position of the battery, which with most engine options is underneath the luggage compartment. With a base weight of only 1,045kg, the A1 promises to be the lightest vehicle in its class. The car gets ESP packaged with electronic differential lock. The Audi A1 will be built at the Audi plant in Brussels. Audi invested more than 100 million euros in the modernization of the production facility in order to completely satisfy the most stringent of quality standards. The A1 is expected to hit the region in first quarter of 2011.

<< with 0.32 coefficient of drag for the base model, the newest audi has been optimized for super efficiency and fine-tuned at the ingolstadt wind Tunnel Centre. The entire body has been - from the rear spoiler, including the spoiler edges, to the underbody and the wheels. The aerodynamic underbody largely covers the underbody, protecting it and creating favorable aerodynamic air flow>> 51


{special feature}

electrifying! mercedes-amg is readying an all-electric SlS for production within four years and so is audi with the R8 e-tron. and strong indicators suggest Toyota joining the elite group with the lF-a. Should start up companies such as Tesla or Fisker be worried? automan examines the possibilities. | Author: Chandan B Mallik

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{special feature}

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s early as 2014 or ‘05, both MercedesBenz and Audi are expected put their respective electric supercars into commercial production if the current pace of development and investment in technology continues. There has been genuine interest on part of supercar and sports car makers in developing cars that don’t bring in the guilt of burning fossil fuels excessively or pollute the environment. Although, electric technology for propelling cars has been available, but the challenge isn’t over yet for carmakers looking for that perfect answer. And though start-up companies such as Tesla and Fisker seem to be ahead in the game for now with all-electric or extended range hybrids, the gap between these players and mainstream automotive brands will become narrower in the years to come. In the supercar category, the most promising names come from Germany – with Audi and Mercedes-Benz leading the show. Although BMW can be included in the technology equation, all three have been showcasing interesting concepts and this leads us to the concepts at last year’s Frankfurt show, where Audi showcased the e-tron and Mercedes-Benz AMG the electric version of the SLS called SLS eDrive. In common both feature an electric powertrains on an existing platform. While both have promised to offer green credentials, but the big question will always be: will either be any good as their petrol counterparts? Mercedes-AMG is challenging the future with its SLS AMG E-CELL with the promise offer exceptional performance. The project vehicle offers a power output of 392 kW and 880Nm of torque from its four synchronous electric motors which can spin as high as 12,000rpm. As a result, compared with wheel-hub motors the unsprung masses are substantially reduced. One transmission per axle transmits the power. When it comes to dynamics, the electricallypowered SLS AMG makes a statement with the E-Cell model capable of accelerat-

ing from zero to 100km/h in four secs which puts it almost on the same high level as the SLS AMG with the 6.3-litre V8 engine, which can hit km/h in 3.8secs. The SLS AMG E-CELL drive incorporates a liquid-cooled high-voltage lithium-ion battery featuring a modular design with an energy content of 48kWh and a capacity of 40 Ah. The maximum electric load potential of the battery, which consists of 324 lithium-ion polymer cells, is 480 kW, which is an absolute best value in the automotive sector. Another technical feature of this considerable performance is the intelligent parallel circuit of the individual battery modules which helps to maximise the safety, reliability and service life of the battery. The 400-volt battery is charged by means of targeted recuperation during braking whilst the car is being driven. The transformation from petrol to electric super sports car also called for some specific changes to the interior. As a result, the AMG instrument cluster and centre console in particular both feature a new design. The new AMG instrument cluster provides information on speed, charge status of the battery and the estimated range. The newly designed centre console now houses a 25cm touchscreen, which driver and passenger can use to conveniently operate all of the audio, climate and navigation functions, and also obtain information on the flow of power from the four electric motors. The AMG Drive Unit, which is angled towards the driver, houses buttons for starting the motor, ESP® functions, the AMG memory function and the extendable front splitter and rear spoiler. Using three new buttons, the driver can switch simply between P, R and D. The park setting is enabled automatically by switching the electric motors off. Although, figures relating to full driving range on a single charge haven’t been released, but David Coulthard, retired Formula One driver, who drove a prototype model recently, was taken by surprised with the car’s acceleration. Coulthard described it as: “instant, but smooth” and “way, way more than I expected.”

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{special feature}

<< The audi e-tron Concept and its package takes into account the specific realities of an electric vehicle. The car is able to freely distribute the powerful torque of its four electric motors to the wheels as required and torque vectoring allows for dazzling dynamics and an undreamed-of level of agility and precision when cornering>>

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udi has been showcasing several technical solutions for a compact sports car with all-electric drive. At the 2010 NAIAS in the Detroit, the second electric concept vehicle from the brand, the R8-based e-tron Concept was presented. Ingolstadt’s ace up the sleeve is this all-electric R8 which is set to take on anything from Tesla or any other ‘green’ supercar. As expected, there are no V10 engines here and the battery pack sits behind the passenger cabin to optimise its centre of gravity, thus achieving a 42:58 weight distribution. Four electric motors drive the front and rear axles, driving up to 70 per cent of power to the rear wheels. The motors offer a total system output of 313hp and maximum torque of 4,500Nm. These figures translate to a 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.8secs, with a top speed of 200km/h and a range of about 248km on full lithiumion power. Recharging the 213kg battery pack at the back to full capacity requires six to eight hours on a normal 220volt outlet, while a 400volt plug will do the job in about two and a half hours. While Tesla and Mercedes rely heavily on carbon fibre composites, body mass in the Audi is said to be 1,600kg, thanks to the use of the company’s advanced space frame aluminium technology and reinforced plastic in the construction. The first practical outing of the R8 e-Tron was at the track at Le Mans on June 15, where legendary Audi driver Frank Biela took the car for a spin in the Le Mans vers le futur demo event for EVs. So who wins – Audi or Mercedes? On the power output consideration with available details of chassis and handling, the SLS trumps with its 526hp vs Audi’s 313hp. The goal of the AMG for the electric SLS was to match the acceleration of the petrol 563hp version. If the SLS eDrive actually hits its claimed zeroto-60 time of less than four seconds, it will be a close match for its V8 sibling. However, the top speed, although said to be in excess of 125 mph, is still a far cry from the near 320km/h of the regular SLS. Audi claims the 53-kilowatt-hour battery pack powering the e-tron is good for a 154mile drive. However, the car uses only 42.4 kWh of its total output for propulsion, in order to lengthen the life expectancy of the battery. AMG haven’t released any other details related to battery performance


{special feature}

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or the moment. Tesla is clearly, a market leader in commercial battery-powered supercars which retail for around $109,000 in the US. At the end of last month, Tesla Motors went public with an IPO, stirring an investors’ frenzy on Wall Street. On the first day, the carmaker raised $226mn, far better than its own expectations but subsequent trading wasn’t that enthusiastic. While, Tesla revealed in its IPO papers that another three models will join the range: a convertible, a crossover and even a van. Tesla understands that it has to produce lower priced models and that could happen should the collaboration deal with Toyota at the former NUMMI plant materialises. The volume model will be called ‘S’ and will have a price tag of $50,000 and should be ready by 2012. The current Roadster model is powered by a small and lightweight three-phase alternating current induction motor which weighs just over 115 pounds. The battery produces 375volts and 900 Amps of current into the motor to deliver peak output of 288hp and 295 lbs-ft of torque. At top speed, the motor is spinning at 14,000 times per minute.The motor is directly coupled to a single speed gearbox, above the rear axle and the simplicity of a single gear ratio reduces weight and eliminates the need

for complicated shifting and clutch work. The motor does not need a complicated reverse gear - the motor simply spins in the opposite direction. The battery pack in car takes into account the latest in Lithium-ion battery technology. The pack contains 6,831 lithium ion cells and is the most energy dense pack in the industry, storing 56 kWh of energy. The ingenious pack architecture enables world-class acceleration, safety, range, and reliability. The cars are engineered to charge from nearly any 120-volt or 240-volt outlet. A single charge allows a driving range of 245miles. The Roadster also has an on-board battery charger and charge times vary based on the outlet voltage and amperage. With the Tesla Home Connector, a Roadster charges in as little as 4 hours from empty, yet most Roadster owners simply “top off” after each trip and start each day with a full charge. An advanced power electronics module functions as a bridge between the charge port, battery, and motor. Every electron used from the motor drive to the dome light flows through the module and Tesla says that at many operating points, it is 97-98 per cent efficient with less than two per cent of converted energy being lost. The car has carbon fibre construction will outclass many Ferraris

with blistering 0-96km/h in 3.7secs.

And it’s not going to be cheap While Tesla promotes day-to-day supercar performance and running costs at a fraction of a petrol equivalent, these lithium-ion battery powered cars at the moment are prohibitively expensive. Tesla sells its Roadster for approximately $109,000. Consider the hard facts: in these cars every KWh of battery storage currently costs roughly $1,000. The Audi’s battery pack weighs about 1,040 pounds, and the SLS’s batteries likely weigh roughly the same. Fortunately, both supercars have lightweight aluminum structures to offset that bulk, but curb weights are still expected to top 4000 pounds, a gain of about 400 pounds over the current gasoline versions. And like the batteries, using aluminium in cars isn’t exactly cheap technology; both cars are likely to cost more than $200,000. And then there’s the convenience/inconvenience recharging batteries. Using a highvoltage charger, depleted batteries would take about three hours to reenergize; a 220-volt home-charger would mean 6 to 10 hours, and a household 120-volt plug would require more than 30 hours.

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{special feature}

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ver the years Toyota and Panasonic have been working in the area of advanced lithium-ion batteries. But the Japanese carmaker has decided to go the Tesla way by stringing together a bunch of laptop batteries to power an electric vehicle. It seems that Toyota wants to play catch up and is considering making an all-electric supercar to rival the likes of the Audi e-tron and the SLS AMG E-Cell from Mercedes-Benz. Analysts think that Toyota’s recently announced a $50mn partnership deal to codevelop electric propulsion technologies with Tesla could result in the Japanese automaker

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to develop an electric supercar with around 500hp and four-electric motors with a 0 to 96km/h time of around 4secs. The car would be equipped with a function which allows the driver to select between different types of drive programmes such as comfort or sport, in order to have a better command of battery use. The car could be tentatively scheduled for a 2015 debut. Meanwhile, Tesla has scheduled to deliver two electric-car prototypes to Toyota by the end of July. The two are believed to be electric versions of the Toyota RAV4 and Lexus RX models according to US-mag Motortrend.

automan take on the future of electric supercars Lengthy charging times, restricted range, expensive, and heavy—it all adds up to a not very appealing or practical combination. It’s no secret that Tesla has actually the first car maker to commercially sell over 1,000 green supercars. This aspect does give Tesla a definite lead as most other manufacturers have been showcasing concepts or design exercises. The second car maker closest to offering a competitive model would be Fisker. Fisker plans to deliver the first extended range Karmas late in the year. Porsche comes next in the list. Porsche hybrids are expected to go on sale by late 2010. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz has indicated that the SLS eDrive AMG could be commercially available in four years. Compatriot Audi has made no formal production announcement yet, but Audi could bring to market a small, limited-edition series of the e-tron within the next couple of years. That leaves BMW with its ambitious VisionDynamics Concept. BMW hasn’t announced any production plans for the concept but we think the way it has been packaged it would be more of a test bed for future models. So, the next few years will see some interesting propositions but we think these limited production cars will be purchased more as a green status symbol and probably won’t be cross-shopped by anyone interested in the internal combustion engines. As of now these electric-powered supercars make sense only as learning tools and these vehicles can be popular with masses, so they’ll be built in tiny numbers. We think car brands will continue using the concepts as a high-profile and public-relations-friendly proving ground for battery and electric-drive technology and perhaps find low cost solutions for masses. Meanwhile, one thing is for sure, the supercars of the future will be greener, electric and just as fast and nimble.


{SPECIAL FEATURE ON TYRES}

Keeping them fit and healthy automan shows you how to identify problems and get the best out of your car’s tyres

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yres, in general are considered as distress purchases and hence is probably at the bottom of motorist’s purchase list. But one shouldn’t have to wait till a tyre has a flat or completed its working life. Unlike colder climates, where the life span of a tyre is higher, the hot Middle East region poses extra challenges for any tyre maker in a situation where tyres are constantly being subjected to extremes. In this section, we have identified five major factors contributing to tyre failure and guide you with simply easy-to-understand instructions on how to prevent them. 1. aged tyre Most GCC establishments in the region recommend a maximum four year period for tyre usage in cars. And it really doesn’t matter how much mileage you have done or that the tyre has still adequate tread depth. To determine the age of your car’s tyres, begin with checking the tyre sidewall for the manufacturer’s date code. It will be in the form of a four-digit number, stating the month and year the tyre was produced. Unfortunately, there’s no equivalent to an expiration date. And it’s not a good idea to instal tyres on your vehicle that have been sitting on a warehouse shelf for many years.

2. Underinflation Tyres that have too little pressure in them run hot, much hotter than correctly inflated ones. The pressure in the tyre keeps the tread and sidewalls from flexing. Friction from this flexing generates heat, and that degrades the rubber and the fabric construction of the tyre. And don’t be fooled by the appearance of the tyres. It’s impossible to see if your tyres are underinflated without using a tyre pressure gauge. The proper pressures are printed on a sticker on the driver’s door frame or inside the glovebox. They are also in the owner’s manual. 3. Overinflation The tyre inflation pressures printed on the tyre sidewall are the tyre manufacturer’s maximum permitted pressure, not necessarily what the vehicle manufacturer recommends. Overinflated tyres will have poor grip, and the tread will wear prematurely in the center. 4. deterioration eterioration Exposure to ozone, road chemicals and ultraviolet light accelerate degradation of rubber. But this is probably more of a problem for vehicles that are parked outside in the sun. Tyre sidewall rubber is permeated with oils that are designed to leach out slowly and

protect the rubber. Detergents or aftermarket protectants will remove these oils prematurely. A certain amount of weather-checking is normal. If the cracks are down to the fabric sidewall plies, it’s time to change that tyre. 5. physical damage Any foreign object that penetrates the tyre far enough to cause a leak is sufficient reason to require the tyre to be removed from the rim and inspected by a tyre technician for damage to the inside of the carcass. An externally applied plug or worm should be considered a temporary repair. A proper repair involves patching the tyre from the inside with a plug that not only holds air but prevents water from infiltrating into the carcass’s belt plies. Water in this part of the tyre will make it weaker. It’s not really possible to repair a tyre sidewall.

<< Ozone and Uv rays can have adverse effects on rubber. ageing is one of them >>

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{SPECIAL FEATURE ON TYRES}

Better safe than sorry a tyre burst or blowout is the last thing any motorist’s mind and no one would want it to happen, especially on the move.

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f you are a motorist residing in the region, you may have noticed that accidents caused by tyre blowouts seem to be unavoidable. You might have experienced that while travelling as a long distance commuter apparently without reason or warning, one of your car’s tyre fails and explodes. With quick thinking, you control and quickly manoeuevre the car to a safe spot. Although shaken by the incident you still have no clue to look for an explanation as to why such a thing happened. Tyres are the only part of the vehicle that directly connects the vehicle to the road surface and it’s the air inside the tyres that supports the weight of the vehicle. However, there are several reasons for unexpected tyre failure. One of the things that can cause a blow out is damage to the side wall of the

a car will cause a bubble to form in the side wall. This bubble is formed when the layers of the tyre separate and air gets in between them. The second most common reason for a blow out is driving a car with incorrect tyre pressure. If the tyre is soft the side wall flexes more than it is designed to. Heat is generated in the flexing and that results in the side wall splitting. Drivers of many vehicles are either unaware about routine maintenance or just aren’t bothered. In either case, there’s a penalty rider attached, and sometimes it can prove to be costly, if some of the symptoms are grossly ignored. And in tough economic times, it’s not surprising to find drivers who are keen to cut corners when purchasing tyres. And there’s

Tyre safety tips

tyre over a period of time.

9.Do not mix tyre types such as radials or cross plys. Always use same type of tyres. 10.Always have wheels balanced whenever replacing or rotating tyres. 11.Buy your tyres from a manufacturer ap-

1.

It is advisable to check tyre pressures at least once every fortnight when the tyre is cold. Over and under inflation are both bad for the car and occupant safety. There is a misconception that tyres hold the car up. It is actually the right air pressure that keeps the car up. The tyre is just an object that keeps air inside. To maintain the right pressure in the tyres, it is important to check them every 15 days. Observation counts. Also examine your vehicle tyres for visible surface damages, minute or cracks, uneven/eccentric wear or unexplained bulges. Consult a tyre expert if in doubt or if you suspect any damage to your tyre or wheel from an impact with a curb, pothole, debris on the road or any other road hazard, or if you feel or hear any unusual vibration, replace with a properly inflated spare at once and immediately visit any qualified tyre technician. Where to go: it pays to go to authorized set-ups and avoid roadside or souq-styled set-ups as much as possible as there’s a good chance of being duped with unsuitable category of tyres or cheap non-approved imports. Avoid using tyres that are four years or older. Even if your car has clocked low mile-

2. 3.

4. 5.

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no shortage of an unscrupulous retailer supplying budget tyres which eventually turn out to be sub standard, reconditioned or unfit for use. That’s one of the reasons that in Oman, several reputed tyre manufacturers organize safety campaigns which include inspection and education relating to dangers of using unsafe tyres. Finally, never ever brake when your car tyre bursts in the middle of the road; just try to maneouvre, shift to low gear, move towards the side and gradually come to a halt to avoid serious accidents. When you brake suddenly, the car skids and becomes uncontrollable, resulting in serious accidents.

age and tread wear seems normal, it has to be replaced. Period. Tyre rotation: is considered vital to achieving even tread wear and long tread life in a car. Rotation is necessary because of the uneven wear characteristics which ultimately depend on the type of the vehicle – front, rear or all-wheel drive. Front wheel drive cars experience much faster rate of wear. Tyre rotation should be undertaken every 5-8,000km even if there is no sign of wear. Front and rear wheel drive cars usually practice ‘cross rotation, while straight rotation is advised for 4WD vehicles. It’s useful to include the 5th (spare) in the programme but on no account include a temporary spare (space saver) tyre in the rotation schedule. Replace worn out or cracked tyres promptly. Avoid running a car with a tyre that has flat spots. This happens when a vehicle is parked for a long time in the same position. These tyres develop flat spots, which can weaken the

6.

7. 8.

proved outlet and it is recommended that all four tyres are replaced at the same time. However, whenever only two tyres are replaced, the new ones should be put on the rear. The logic being that new tyres, with deeper tread provide better grip and water evacuation in wet driving conditions. Avoid overloading. If a tyre is 20 per cent overloaded, its lifespan will be reduced on average by 30 per cent. 13.Never use hydrocarbon-based solvents such as thinners or unapproved liquids to clean tyres. Avoid striking or driving over hard objects such as shrapnel’s, nails or small rocks on road. These can rupture the tyre’s inner walls quite easily with no visible exterior damage. Temporary puncture kits: as the name implies these are to help the driver to take the car to the nearest repair outlet only. Always seek professional and permanent tyre repair solutions. Never run a car with temporarily repaired tyres for long distances.

12.

14. 15.


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{SPECIAL FEATURE ON TYRES}

Know your tyre You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to interpret tyre markings. automan helps you demystify all numbers, letters, symbols, mysterious codes

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ou are ready to change your tyres, but don’t know where to start as you find the variations in tyre specifications and the confusing jargon you might hear from a salesmen or “experts” might make your purchase rather stressful. Despite what appears to be a tough scenario, you have often wondered what do all those numbers, letters, symbols, mysterious codes really mean in simple terminology and what is the purpose of such detailing? Well, there are two main purposes: the first is to help identify the size and specification of the tyres correctly. The second is to confirm that the tyre has been tested and approved to country safety standards. For example, tyres coming from Europe with have a mandatory marking known as ‘E’ marking. Although not illegal, it is not recommended to have tyres with a lower speed rating or load capacity than the manufacturer recommended tyre specification for your vehicle, or to have a combination of different tyre construction types. Always consult your vehicle handbook,

which will confirm your vehicles tyre speed and load ratings as well as any additional requirements. Meanwhile, we help you understand the various bits related in helping understanding the tyres a bit better. So, let’s begin with the important stuff: Besides, these are other markings and the list includes: The temperature rating - an indicator of how well the tyre withstands heat buildup. “A” is the highest rating; “C” is the lowest. The traction rating - an indicator of how well the tyre is capable of stopping on wet pavement. “AA” is the highest rating; “C” is the lowest. The tread-wear rating - a comparative rating for the useful life of the tyre’s tread. A tyre with a tread-wear rating of 200, for example, could be expected to last twice as long as one with a rating of 100. Tread-wear grades typically range between 60 and 600 in 20-point increments. It is important to consider that this

is a relative indicator, and the actual life of a tyre’s tread will be affected by quality of road surfaces, type of driving, correct tyre inflation, proper wheel alignment and other variable factors. In other words, don’t think that a tread-wear rating of 100 means a 30,000 mile tyre. Encoded US DOT information is a twoletter code that identifies where the tyre was manufactured in detail. In other words, what factory and in some cases, what city it was manufactured in. OE Tyres In the same way that Porsche specifies high performance N-rated tyres there’s even more markings on the sidewall of a tyre that can denote tyres fitted as original equipment (OE) to various makes of vehicle. In some cases, the ‘preferred’ OE tyres are slightly different than the same-named tyres without the OE specification. For example on some Honda SUVs, the tyres that are stamped with ‘DZ’ have a lower rolling resistance tread pattern than those that aren’t.

Manufacturers or brand name, and commercial name or identity 225= this number represents the section width of the tyre

The number 50 here describes the aspect ratio. This mark represents the height of the tyre sidewall as a percentage of the nominal section width

R = for type of construction, in this case the tyre is radial

17= this is the diameter of the tyre’s inner rim in inches

‘Tubeless’ designates a tyre which requires no inner tube. 60

V93 is the speed symbol indicating the maximum speed for the tyre at full load. In this case it denotes a speed capability not exceeding 240km/h


{SPECIAL FEATURE ON TYRES}

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{SPECIAL FEATURE ON TYRES}

Space savers: boon or bane? Nearly 25 per cent of all new cars sold these days are fitted with the space- and weightsaving spare wheels. while many consumers don’t know the tyres’ limitations in their cars, automan highlights the core issues related to these

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idden in the boot below the carpet or felt lining of your car is something that you may not realise which has the potential to significantly compromise your health and safety. And it’s probably the last thing you could expect in your car. No, it’s not a poisonous insect that might have sneaked into the car, but believe it or not, it relates to the manufacturer supplied original equipment [OEM] spare wheel and tyre. This may surprise many since the thought of tyres, like batteries come only when there’s some distress such as a flat tyre or dead battery. While many motorists actually are ignorant about the spare wheel they are carrying, it pays to spend some time in investigating. What’s more, many cars are now being sold without a spare wheel and instead come with temporary tyre repair kits. But expensive cars like the BMW 5 Series come with special runflat tyres which have reinforced sidewalls and special rims that allow the car to be driven for up to 150km on a deflated tyre. But, the last category is that of the space-savers, which have certain advantages and disadvantages. Consumer trend research has suggested that many customers are still unaware about what they need to know, hence this article. Read on. why do car makers offer space savers? There are three main reasons. First, with the availability of better quality tyres, the frequency of getting a flat has reduced compared to what they were say 10-15 years ago. Secondly, space-savers are generally cheaper to produce and does makes commercial sense for volume car makers. Thirdly, many cars, particularly performance variants come with big wheel and tyre combos, don’t have anywhere to fit a similar spare, which is where the term space saver originated.

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How do space-savers benefit car users? These act as temporary spare tyres which are lighter and smaller than the regular tyres fitted on the car. Temporary use spare tyres are generally recognizable by their unusual design (yellow rim) and compact size. why do many people dislike having space savers in their cars? The main reason is because the range and top speed is limited. Can a space saver be swapped for a regular tyre? It depends on the design of the car and available boot space. In some cars you can’t swap a space-saver unless you want most of the cargo space in the boot to be occupied. aken up with the wheel and spare because that’s the reason they’ve got a space-saver”. what should a car user remember when using a temporary spare? Fit only the temporary use spare tyres provided by the vehicle manufacturer for your vehicle model. (Replacement tyres offered by reputable tyre companies may also be used provided they match the original equipment specifications.) are there any limitations on usage of space savers? Always remember, temporary use spare tyres are not designed to travel long distances. If you are unsure of the condition of the space saver spare tyre, be sure to check it before driving the car. Can a space saver tyre be mounted on to a different rim? Never attempt to fit a temporary use spare tyre to any other rim. Always use the temporary use spare tyre strictly in accordance with the vehicle manufacturer’s instructions. why should we follow vehicle manufacturer’s instructions for space savers?

Safety of the car’s occupants is the main concern. You should carefully observe the manufacturer’s recommendations for any limits on speed, tyre pressure, load and safe travel distance. is the tyre pressure for a space saver same as the other regular tyres in the car? No. The inflation pressure will not be the same for the temporary spare as the primary tyre. This information can be found either on a placard near the spare tyre or in the vehicle handbook. what other factors need to be considered when using space savers? You will need to understand that the braking distance of a car be affected when using a space saver, even if the car has ABS. There are plenty of vehicles without ABS, and having a space-saver can significantly increase the braking distance. a regular tyre in a car can last 3040,000km. in comparison, will a space saver be as durable? The working life span of a space saver is very limited. A space saver can last just 450km before it needs to be replaced, and if one is on a long distance drive, a flat could place someone in a very difficult situation. Is there any real benefit of having a space saver, even if it comes from the car manufacturer as oeM? As with any system or kit on board the car, there are pros and cons. The space-saver tyre is usually lighter than the regular tyre combo used in the car, so there is a minor fuel saving over the life of the car. Secondly, the smaller rear tyre offers improved rear-end crash protection and lastly, there’s the issue of boot space and the shape of the boot in some cars which have been designed to offer a flat floor.


{new product} The all-new bridgestone Turanza gR-90 has been designed for motorists who want the highest level of ride comfort, quality and safety in a replacement tyre.

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n March this year, Bridgestone Middle East and Africa organised an extraordinary launch programme of its new Turanza GR-90 tyre under an innovative themed presentation called “Take a Journey”at the Lost Chambers of Atlantis, in Dubai. Maximized comfort, extreme quietness and enhanced safety are the three core USP’s in this new Bridgestone product. Born from Bridgestone’s state-of-theart engineering processes, the Turanza represents the brand’s passion for setting groundbreaking standards in performance touring tyres which has innovative tread designs and extensive usage of quality compound materials. Together, they unite comfort and handling at the highest levels in the new tyre. Automan spoke with Makoto Ono, director of sales and consumer tyre marketing at Bridgestone Middle East and Africa office to understand more about this new arrival. In the global tyre industry, where is Bridgestone ranked? Makoto Ono (MO): If you consider the global base, we enjoyed 16.7 per cent in 2008 according to Tire Business. How much of the global economic downturn has affected the tyre industry in general as most major car makers have reduced production? MO: Like all other organizations worldwide, Bridgestone also has been slightly affected by the global economic downturn. However, we have already implemented countermeasures to secure the share and sales expansion. What are the major challenges that Bridgestone is facing today? MO: Bridgestone wishes to respond to the requirements of our society swiftly and appropriately. The company is now focused on the need to direct resources towards the further intensive development of innovative technologies and strategic products with high growth potential which are intended to contribute to driving safety and the needs of the environment. New cars are getting sophisticated and faster. These cars also need specially designed tyres for performance, handling and safety. What role does Bridgestone play in catering to such needs? MO: Bridgestone is always working in close collaboration with all the auto manufacturers

worldwide in order to fit the requirement of the latest technology of the cars in terms of high performance, improved handling and also at the same time focusing on enhanced safety and the environmental commitments. What are the current tyre trends in luxury cars, Sports SUVs etc? MO: Currently, most of cars are a combination of high performance and comfort ride which is exactly what TURANZA GR-90 offers. Was the TURANZA GR 90 developed by Bridgestone alone? Was there any close collaboration with auto manufacturers? MO: TURANZA GR-90 was developed by Bridgestone. During a new tyre development, safety often heads a priority list, but not far behind, and for some who take safety for granted in premium tyres, comfort and performance are next on the agenda. Hence, we focused on the consumer demand for better handling and performance. Bridgestone collaborated with auto manufacturers worldwide, and derived the TURANZA lineup, designed to offer an unprecedented experience in supreme ride comfort, road handling capabilities, smoothness and low noise characteristics. How is the TURANZA GR 90 going to establish itself as a “premium touring” tyre? MO: TURANZA is recognized as the “premium touring” tyre because it does not exclusively focus on quality alone, but instead pursues an ultimate balance of comfort and handling on all kinds of road conditions. In attaining such an unparalleled objective, the designers needed to fully understand driver’s expectations far and wide. For a customer, what can he expect from a TURANZA GR 90? MO: It would suit those who want the best of both worlds – a tyre designed specifically with comfort and safety in mind. The Turanza was originally developed for European luxury cars, complements performance luxury saloons such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Lexus and a number of other luxury cars in that segment. Since it is positioned as a touring tyre, the GR-90 not only succeeds the GR80 but betters its predecessor when it comes to noise, comfort, handling and rolling resistance reduction. What does the TURANZA [the name] represent for Bridgestone? MO: TURANZA represents tyres that guar-

antee maximized comfort, extreme quiet ride and enhanced safety to the drivers of world class luxury cars and middle sized saloons. It is known that friction from tyres accounts for about one-fifth of a car’s fuel consumption. With new regulations and legislation in the auto industry demanding tangible solutions for CO2 emission reduction and better fuel efficiency, how does a tyre like TURANZA GR 90 help in achieving these considerations? MO: TURANZA GR-90 has a low rolling resistance coefficient which subsequently contributes to reduced CO2 emission and hence better fuel efficiency. What sizes are offered for TURANZA 90? MO: TURANZA GR-90 is available in a wide variety of sizes from 14in to 19in, with an aspect ratio ranging from 65 to 30 series, to fit a diverse range of cars and to satisfy most driving styles and road conditions. Besides luxury cars, can the TURANZA 90 offer a premium touring experience for customers? If so, please explain how. MO: TURANZA GR-90 has the highest specification level of ride comfort, ideal for luxury/ medium sized sedans. With the superior noise-reduction technologies and dampening design, this premium tyre offers a smoother, quieter ride, as well as higher levels of safety. How different is the recently launched TURANZA GR 90 as opposed to the high end POTENZA? MO: TURANZA and POTENZA cater to entirely different driving preferences. TURANZA exudes premium touring whereas POTENZA delivers high performance sports driving. How is the market classified for these tyres by Bridgestone? MO: Bridgestone has tyres that meet all the requirements of the customers. POTENZA – High end Sports performance tyre, TURANZAPremium Touring Tyre , DUELER – Tyres that are suitable for SUVs.

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{also driven}

Style with substance

automan discovers how the 2010 Ford Fusion marks a turning point for Ford | Author: Chandan B Mallik | Images: Sakeel Al Baloushi

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{also driven} Brand and model perspective The introduction of the mid-sized American Ford Fusion (code name CD338) based on Ford’s CD3 platform [which also spawned the Mazda 6] in October 2005 as a 2006 model was widely considered as a befitting replacement for the then temporarily discontinued Taurus. With its spacious cabin, responsive driving dynamics and attractive styling made it very competitive, but there were a few missing elements that prevented it from being a true segment leader. Meanwhile, the Taurus badge has been revived, so appropriately for the model series the Fusion for 2010 has been extensively revisited and given a new lease of life.

What’s new? Although, the 2010 Fusion uses a carryover platform from the 2009 model [originally developed for the Mazda 6 and modified for the Fusion], hence it is not surprising that much of the sheetmetal between the A- and C-pillars continues unchanged. However, the front and rear of the refreshed Fusion do receive considerable cosmetic changes. The design is all-new and the Blue Oval’s corporate threebar chrome grille and chrome-trimmed intakes at the bottom of the valance dominate front end, which make the model much stylish and trendier than the traditional segment leaders from Asia -- Honda and Nissan in particular. At the rear while maintaining the same profile, chrome exhaust tips, larger taillights with honeycomb inserts and a thicker centre-mounted stoplight are new. This has helped the Fusion in getting a sporty character, which is unusual with family vehicles. Meanwhile, the interior has been upgraded with a more modern design featuring Ford’s latest entertainment and climate controls. The Duratec in-line four-cylinder engine has also been upgraded to displace 2.5-litres and now produces 175hp. Like its US-only bigger 3.0-litre V6 which offers 240hp, both get six-speed automatic transmission. Meanwhile, the suspension has also been tweaked. The front stay bar and rear suspension link geometry have been revised to improve steering, handling, and ride. The suspension springs, shocks, and stabilizer bars have also been re-tuned to take full advantage of the revised geometry and new power

assisted steering system. Key changes to the Fusion on the safety front include front seat airbags and side curtain.

Choice of models The Fusion is offered in S, SE and SEL trim levels. Front-wheel drive is standard on fourcylinder, while all-wheel drive is standard on the V6-powered SEL [not sold in the region].

Interiors The interior redesign is evolutionary, not revolutionary and the general shape and arrangement of the dash is very familiar while the central console seems to be button happy. The cabin sports a more contemporary theme with technical flair with metallic new finishes on the instrument panel that carry through on the centre console, doors and steering wheel. The all new instrument panel is finished with soft touch plastics and the instrument panel displays and switches have also been updated with a contemporary iced blue lighting. All key driver touch points have been improved. The seats feel more body hugging than before as a result of the contours being revised and the availability of more side bolstering. The seats also feature contrasting stitching and leather inserts. The ambient mood lighting system offers the option of illuminating the front and rear footwells and front cup holders. There’s a good choice of equipment even the base trim. Package includes 16in alloy wheels, cruise control, a telescoping steering column and an auxiliary audio jack. Ford offers more features as trim levels move up such as bigger wheels, power seats, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control and heated seats. However, it’s the ergonomic and aesthetic improvements over its predecessor which are now among the key highlights besides the upgraded stereos, a navigation system and the Sync electronics interface system. The Sync system does a fine job in integrating audio and Bluetooth functionality with voice-recognition technology to provide easy hands-free operation of cell phones and portable MP3 players. While the Fusion isn’t the largest car in its class, a pair of adults will be content in rear with adequate head and legroom.

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{also driven} Driving impressions One of the immediate changes evident in the driving and handling of this modded CD3 platform which was stretched by 30mm in width and 55mm in length besides strengthening it, and the suspension tweaks is that the car offers a more compliant ride now even with the smaller engine. Dynamically, the refreshed Fusion will get our vote for the car to be in when you’re stuck on rough roads. The

suspension tuning is still on the softer side, so hard cornering will not be as entertaining as in the sports tuned version which has a little more rebound damping that improves the responses without sacrificing much of its smooth ride. On the other hand, the steering is pretty good and overall the car was absolutely devoid of nasty surprises. Although, performance from the base four-cylinder

is adequate for city driving, but is still a bit underpowered when it comes to initial acceleration or overtaking. And that’s where a sixspeed select-shift type of arrangement in the automatic gearbox comes in handy, but sadly this feature is not available in the base model. But what is available as standard now is ABS and traction control.

<< what’s in

what’s out>>

styling

equipment

powertrain

Both front and rear ends have been revisited. The incoming model is sharper, trendier and upscale. The car now looks lively and fits in very well with the new corporate styling.

Class-exclusive technologies including a blind spot detection warning system and Ford SYNC in the new car are among some of the features.

Displacement has gone up marginally in the four-cylinder engine, but it offers unsurpassed fuel economy and more power, thanks to the new six-speed gearbox.

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{also driven} << with the new Fusion, Ford is offering consumers more choice, even better fuel economy and the leading quality and reliability that they have come to expect>>

Verdict Traditionally, Fusions have attracted customers in the region as a car thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s comfortable, well-equipped and spacious family hauler. But the thoroughly refreshed for 2010 model has addressed many problems from the old car and even managed to add class-leading

new elements â&#x20AC;&#x201C; such as looks, handling, performance, equipment levels, interior trims and comfort elements â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and in the process have given this American car a more contemporary international feel without losing its core American identity. The 2010 Ford Fusion is poised

to win over even more mid-size car customers despite tough competition from models such as the Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima.

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{Road Test}

Right on target

The current second generation bmw Z4 was introduced as a 2009 model and is as much a completely new car from its predecessor. it picks up right where the last generation left off and the folding hardtop offers the best of coupe and roadster forms. automan checks out the roadster and finds out the real reasons for people buying it. | Author: Chandan B Mallik | Images: Nabeel Ferzan

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{Road Test}

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{Road Test}

<< Combining classic proportions with modern sportiness, the new bmw Z4 has reached the top of its market segment almost overnight. and now this charismatic roadster is entering a new dimension in driving dynamics >>

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{Road Test}

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MW Group’s Z4 is currently in its second generation and combines classic proportions with modern sportiness values. The hard top which folds in the roadster reinforces the fact once again that open top driving can be fun and rewarding if the ingredients are right. And this is where BMW is exceptionally strong and it’s no coincidence that the new BMW Z4 has reached the top of its market segment almost overnight since its 2009 launch. So, what makes the Z4 so special that people who can afford to buy one find it simply irresistible and wouldn’t consider anything else? Does the Z4 simply connect the right points or do aficionados choose a Z4 based solely on the badge/image, or just on merits of style? We think that there’s much more than just an emotional decision based on just the above mentioned elements. We think there exists a segment of tech-savvy buyers out there who just appreciate performance, technology and aren’t really bothered with style. But what if the car had some or all of these ingredients, would it matter? Overdrive had the car for a couple of days and over time with it tried to learn the real reasons, from both an objective and emotional perspective. At first glance, it seems very clear that the design has matured significantly. I clearly remember how much criticism the styling of the first generation Z4 (both coupe and roadster) generate in 2003. I also remember Chris Bangle, the then chief designer of the carmaker who defended his famous ‘flame surface’ treatment which appeared to be sculpted for the sake of sculpting, and you either liked it or you didn’t. As it happened, Bangle went on to gain notoriety for the edgy direction he’d taken BMW although commercially BMW was very successful during his tenure. I am pretty sure the new Z4 was signedoff in Bangle’s presence, but under the new design direction led by successor Adrian Von Hooydonk. Hooydonk has been responsible for recent wave of BMW designs such as the 6 Series and 7 Series, and his influence is also apparent in concept cars such as the Concept CS and the M1 Homage design study. More recently Hooydonk headed up the design development of the latest 7 Series and Z4 and is responsible for streamlining the lines and curves in the line-up. It’s clear now that BMW wants to revert back to its pre-Bangle-isation

and has considerably softened the looks in several new models including the Z4. Despite the lukewarm reaction, the first generation coupe drew universal praise for its sleek lines when it was introduced in 2006. The end result is a head turner Z4 without any doubt. The Z4 hits the top spot as a perfectly profiled, designed and executed as a roadster. It has got the classic proportions of the stretched bonnet and short overhangs to begin with along with a low and wide stance. The shape is a modern evolution, and the interplay of striking contours and the softer crease lines on the body shell fully capture the character of this vehicle from its characteristic and trademark kidney grille to the exceptionally powerful wheel arches at the rear. There’s something else we noticed. On the sides of the front mudguards, the new cars sport a new nomenclature ‘sDrive’. According to current BMW nomenclature this refers to rear-wheel drive. The retractable hardtop is an engineering marvel which opens and closes graciously in 20 secs. It folds in layers and thereby consumes a lot of the precious boot space. But in concept, it is a departure from any previous two-seater BMW. Effectively, the retractable hardtop replaces the roadster and coupe versions of previous-generation pre-2009 Z4 models with one do-everything model. While there’s no soft top, it didn’t escape BMW product planners that many Mercedes SLK buyers had mentioned the folding hardtop as a pivotal factor in their buying decision. Considering the aesthetics of the car top up or top down, we think the car definitely looks better with the top down. But the mastery in design shows up with the top up as it doesn’t seem to add the impression of excessive mass. Top-up it has a similar closed profile to the stylish Mercedes-Benz SLR. The air vents behind the front wheels carry the badges and the side signal repeaters are now behind opaque panels in the vents. Although, the BMW logo is still here, but no longer serves to disguise the signal. A view from dead-on at either end the car has more than a passing resemblance to a scaleddown version of the 6 Series or its roadster precursor, the Z8. The design and detailing of the taillights appear to ramp up the bodylines when the lights are burning. Adaptive brake lights deliver more red light when you hit the brake pedal hard than when merely slowing mildly. A single side twin-exhaust beckons its

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{Road Test} the 30i, while the 35i uses a single exhaust on either side, similar to the Z8. BMW’s trademark corona daytime running lights adorn the model, but the package varies by model or trim levels. The 30i has black vanes in its grille and a silver slash across the outer lower grilles, while the 35i has matte silver grille vanes and perimeter frames for the outer grilles. Dimensionally, the Z4 is longer than the Audi TT and Mercedes-Benz SLK, but it is shorter than the Porsche Boxster, its key rival. Although, the length difference is limited to a few inches, actually in height and width, all the cars are much closer to each other. Although the new car retains the old car’s wheelbase, it adds six inches to overall length, most of it in the front end. The car’s cabin bear the hallmark features that is characteristic of a BMW. So there’s nothing offensive or outrageous to cope with. There’s white-on-black analog instrumentation, sweeping driver-centric lines, functional controls, and a high level of fit and finish. The test car had two-tone red and black leather upholstery complemented with darkwood polished veneer trims. I liked the single row arrangement of the controls ranging from the start-stop button and air-con controls. Key instrument gauges for a change have large dials and the digital displays in the centre of the binnacle displays useful data such as exterior temperature, mileage, trip data among others. The multlimedia iDrive has been revamped says BMW and the mechanical parking brake lever has been replaced with an electronic one. We also note that several extra buttons have been added to the controller to speed access and operation is much more intuitive while maintaining the myriad functions. It might not be the best such system in modern automobiles but we think it should put an end to the criticism of earlier iDrive versions.

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There is plenty of space for two people in the Z4, the head and legroom being about what you find in a full-size SUV. Standard manual seats and tilt/telescoping steering column provide enough adjustment to suit many driver sizes. Seats are sporty and offer excellent support. While, storage space usually has been the bane of roadster designers, but it seems particular attention was paid to that by BMW. The door pockets tilt out for access and a bin ahead of the shifter offers usable space and the cubby on top of the dash is available in models without navigation. Audio options include radio, gloveboxmounted six-disc DVD changer, iPod and USB ports and a hi-fi system with 14 speakers. On navigation-equipped cars much of the audio control is done through the iDrive but common requests can be handled by steering wheel buttons as well. On cars with iDrive there is an 80GB hard-drive that has 15GB allotted to music storage. Safety features for the Z4 include frontal airbags, head/thorax side airbags in the seats, active knee protection, roll hoops, electronic stability, traction and braking controls, and tire-pressure monitoring. The only option that might be considered safety related is the Park Distance Control.

Driving Our tester was equipped with the 255hp 3.0-litre normally aspirated in-line six with six speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic clutchless manual control. The manual part can be operated either through the shifter or steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. The first thing a driver will notice is that besides being cosseted in the seats, outward visibility is very good. Although, the windscreen is curved across the top and the A-pillars are long, it’s no impediment to vision. The blind spot is helped by the folding top’s design

which now includes two small windows. We drove the car in different terrains and checked out all the driving modes and their respective differences via the controller switch located on the base of the centre console. The pre-sets allowed us to select from three modes of driving seriousness ranging from normal, sport and sport-plus. Well, these three modes are electronically activated and essentially a software tailors shift points and speed, throttle response, steering boost and suspension damping. As expected, there’s a discernible tightening of reflexes when you are inclined to use the Sport-Plus mode. Mind you, even in this mode, the Z4 doesn’t become stiff like a truck or punish the driver for activating it! Actually, the car is quite lively and hospitable in any mode. Yes, you do miss the roll stiffness of the ‘M’-badged models and I think that’s deliberate on part of BMW. Meanwhile, besides brisk acceleration, the most noticeable immediate change in Sport-Plus mode is the amazingly swift and crackling shift action. The car’s electrically powered steering feels quite different than other roadsters that we have driven recently, and it depends a lot on how and where the car is being driven. Well, how much you like In a brisk cruising mode, it feels smooth, light and agile, but as you speed up and begin to push the car though fast sweepers or quick transitions, it begins to change feel. Like other Z4s we have driven before, it still lacks the precision and poise of a Boxster, but in terms of overall feel, there has definitely been marginal improvement, thanks a mildly re-worked rack-and-pinion. And with equal weight distribution on front and rear axles, the Z4 is highly entertaining and fun to drive and just requires small corrections to hold a line, as if the car is not tracking smoothly, but that’s not really an issue out here. Our handling on UAE’s mountain roads gave us more confidence with the car. It feels sure-


{Road Test} footed and predictable, and the car’s supple suspension and excellent ride quality keep the Bridgestone Potenzas connected on bumpy curves. Despite much softer roadster in its normal drive settings when compared to the outgoing Z4, and yet it’s better connected to the road, but the suspension doesn’t forgive bumps as easily. The way the electronics have been programmed, most drivers would surely want to engage the Sport setting, if for no other reason than its quicker steering, which is already among the most direct you’ll find in a sports car. Interestingly, the calibration of the Sport setting’s springs, shocks and dampers are to match the last Z4’s, but with better suspension travel. The handling also benefits from the new roadster’s 15 per cent improvement in chassis stiffness versus the previous model. With Dynamic Stability Control turned off, we could trick the car into oversteer and it though it pretends to remain unaffected, essentially it is easy to drive at normal fast road speeds. But, we were expecting a bit more as somehow we are still not convinced that it feels quite as planted and race-carlike as, say, a Porsche Boxster S. We think it has more of a grand touring dynamic focus instead. The six-speed electronic transmission is a work of art as it allows you to select gears manually with either steering wheel paddles or the shift lever. Downshifts, especially in the Sport-Plus control mode, produces a quick and lovely whoop-and-burble from the exhaust as the valves open up. The paddle shifters communicate without the slightest interruption of torque and engine power and the shift response is as good as the driver’s reflexes

<< brilliantly packaged, the new bmw Z4 sdrive35is offering an even higher standard of performance ensured both by the modified straight-six power unit with bmw Twin Turbo Technology and high precision injection, on the one hand, and by bmw’s seven-speed Sport automatic with double clutch operation and the m Sports package including the adaptive m Suspension likewise featured as standard, on the other >>

Verdict That the new Z4 has picked up right where the last generation left off, it has become more intimate and involving which is nice for some. Despite the fact, it is marginally bigger and more luxurious than before hasn’t contributed to loss of soul or driving enjoyment. The car offers the best of both worlds: the best of coupe and roadster with few of the drawbacks of either. Over all, we would consider it’s one of the best sports carin this class and would perhaps rank it at par or just below the all-time and undisputed favourite, the Porsche Boxster.

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{Motorsports - F1}

Webber finally gets his due at Silverstone

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t was a masterclass in controlled driving from Mark Webber in this his 150th grand prix, after he overtook Sebastian off the line and lead until the chequered flag. In fact, the only person who did trouble him all afternoon was his Red Bull Racing teammate, and even then it was only the first two corners. Sebastian’s Lap 1 battle with Lewis Hamilton, who started third, left Vettel with a puncture and a place at the bottom of the timesheets. But as Mark was demonstrating the RB6’s pace at the front, Sebastian was scything through the pack and finished seventh.

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After Saturday’s ‘unique situation’, Webber demonstrated some of his famed Aussie grit to win this historic race: “The start was ideal,” he said. “When I got to the first corner I was ahead and thought, ‘let’s get on with it’. It was a special day and a lot of hard work has gone in from the team – you don’t get results at this level if you’re not putting the effort in. They deserve this. Yesterday was a unique situation, but I’m confident we can sort everything for the future.” And his team principal echoed those sentiments. Christian said: “It’s fantastic to win in front of all the team today. Mark drove an

excellent race – it was a flawless performance from him - and the team was fantastic in the pit stops. The most important thing is winning this race in front of all the people who work so hard to make the team what it is.” And Sebastian was also working hard from the back of the pack. Helped by a Safety Car which bunched up the cars in front, he was able to take on first the new teams before going on to take some more established scalps. “For the first 30 laps, I didn’t have much to do except going around trying to catch up,” said Seb. “But after the Safety Car I had some people to fight and that was good fun, I was


{Motorsports - F1}

racing people like Felipe and Michael – it’s always a good race here with a great atmosphere.” Hamilton followed Mark round to finish second with Mercedes Nico Rosberg completing the podium. Nico Rosberg achieved his third podium finish of the season at the British Grand Prix with an excellent drive from fifth position on the grid to take third place at the MERCEDES GP PETRONAS team’s home race at Silverstone. After an early pit stop, Michael Schumacher was also looking in a strong position when a small mistake on his out lap cost him valuable

time and he came home in ninth place at the chequered flag. Nico said in his post race interview, “I had a good start today and was happy to be up to fourth place by the end of the first lap. Robert was holding me up and with Fernando pushing hard behind, it wasn’t easy to maintain the place. Our strategy was really strong today so thanks to the guys on the pit wall for their efforts and keeping me out on the options. I had a great lap and with the quick pit stop, it was enough to get me out ahead of Robert, and that made the podium possible.”

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{Motorsports - F1}

Redbull take-off and win in Valencia

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t was a day of great highs and lows today as Sebastian Vettel recorded his seventh grand prix victory in Valencia while his Australian team-mate spectacularly crashed out just eight laps into the race. There will be two images from the European Grand Prix which stick in the collective Red Bull mind: Sebastian’s second win of 2010 and Mark Webber’s car flying through the air after crashing into the back of Lotus’ Heikki Kovalainen. The headline writers are going to have a field day. Red Bull does indeed give its athletes wings. But as Christian Horner said afterwards: “The most important thing today is that Mark Webber is safe and OK. After a very nasty accident, he’s fine.” Indeed the victory celebrations will be tempered by the memory of the heart-stopping moment when Mark’s RB6 flew upwards, landed upside down and bounced back upright before hurtling towards the tyre barrier. Luckily and miraculously Webber got out without any major injury. Sebastian’s fiercest opponent this afternoon was Lewis Hamilton. His Mclaren had sped up the inside of Mark off the grid with Alonso right behind him and then pushed Seb out

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wide, touching his RB6. But Seb managed to pull away and his only other threat was, coincidently, when the Safety Car came out after Mark’s crash diminishing his lead. But Vettel was simply pleased to be back on the top of the podium. And pleased that his team-mate was not hurt. “It’s good to be back winning and on a circuit where we didn’t expect to be that strong,” he said afterwards. “But we were quick enough at all times to pull away, find the gap and guide the car home, but it wasn’t as easy as expected. Most important of all is that Mark had quite a big shunt but he’s fine - it shows that the cars get safer but still there is a lot of risk so it’s good he’s OK.” Webber had had a tough race even before the crash. He had seen both Hamilton and Alonso take him off the line and had dropped to ninth by the end of the first lap. Deciding to take an early pit stop, he emerged behind Kovalainen’s Lotus, who was taking more precautious approach to cornering: “I was going a lot faster than Heikki and then a long, long way before the braking point he braked - about 80m before - and at that point I’m a passenger,” said Mark. “The car, thank God, was very safe. It was my Monte Carlo and Barcelona winning

chassis and one which has secured a lot of pole positions, so the chassis has been good to me, and it has been good to me today as it saved me from some injures.” The AT&T Williams team’s competitive form during the weekend’s European Grand Prix at Valencia concluded with Rubens Barrichello crossing the line in fourth place in this afternoon’s race. He retained the position despite being one of the drivers given a five-point penalty by the stewards. While running in a points-paying tenth position, Nico Hulkenberg’s FW32 suffered an exhaust failure which put him out of the race on lap 50. Elsewhere Lewis Hamilton caught himself a drive-through penalty for over-taking the Safety Car, Kobayashi waited until lap 53 (of a 57 lap race) to pit from third place, and nine drivers were given a five-second penalty for breaching the Safety Car rules. This was no dull street procession. Sebastian had even more reason to smile after the post-race press conference as he was desperate to know how Germany were getting on against England in the World Cup quarter-finals. He was not disappointed …


{Motorsports - F1}

Another McLaren One-Two at Montreal a competitive drive from alonso could not beat mclaren’s One-Two trend For the first time since the Spanish Grand Prix, a Ferrari driver has stepped onto the podium, as Fernando Alonso finished third for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro behind a second consecutive one-two finish for McLaren, Lewis Hamilton winning from Jenson Button. To say Felipe Massa had a difficult day is an understatement and the Brazilian eventually came home in fifteenth place, needing two nose changes on his F10, the first on the opening lap after he was sandwiched between Button and Tonio Liuzzi and the Force India driver collided with him and the second in the closing stages when again he was the victim, this time when he was involved in an incident with Michael Schumacher. There is no denying that a podium finish is a good result, but the team was not overjoyed at the end of the 70 laps, because all weekend the F10 has proved to be competitive and Fernando was always in the fight for the lead, given a spot-on tyre strategy which could have seen him finish higher, but for some unlucky breaks when trying to pass backmarkers. Having started from third, the Spaniard maintained that position behind Hamilton and Vettel, the Ferrari glued to the Red Bull gearbox and pulling away from Button, who was himself passed by Webber on lap 6. Having

started on the softer tyre, Fernando made his first pit stop on lap 7, at the same time as Hamilton: the two men drove down pit lane side by side and as they emerged on track, the Ferrari was in front. However, on lap 14, as the duo came up behind Buemi who was leading at the time, the McLaren man got the better run and passed the Ferrari, the two men having a great battle which thrilled the completely packed grandstands at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit. Fernando led briefly and then made his next visit to the pits on lap 28, coming out behind Webber and Hamilton. The Ferrari and McLaren closed on the Red Bull, with Hamilton getting past the Australian on lap 50 and Fernando going second when Webber pitted shortly afterwards. Button was now closing on the two leaders and as he and Fernando came to lap Chandhok, the McLaren man seized the opportunity to overtake both men, so that Fernando was now down to third where he would stay to the chequered flag. For the impartial race viewer, the Canadian GP was a thrilling afternoon of sport with action and incident throughout the field, even without an appearance from the almost traditional Canadian Safety Car. Behind the podium finishers, fourth and fifth places went to the Red Bull duo of Vettel and Webber, with Rosberg sixth for Mercedes, followed by Kubica seventh in the Renault, Buemi eighth for Toro Rosso, with Liuzzi and Sutil filling the final two points places for Force India. For race viewers who support Ferrari though, there is a touch of disappointment at the thought of what might have been. On the plus side, the F10 was definitely able to match the pace of the best and there is the promise of major technical novelties arriving

for the next race in Valencia in a fortnight, which it is hoped will maintain this return to form. Race winner Lewis Hamilton said, “It was an incredibly challenging afternoon, especially in the last 20 laps, when I was trying to look after my tyres while also keeping Jenson and Fernando behind me. It wasn’t easy, I can tell you that! “This track is unique – you can never be too confident, because you really have to look after your tyres, and it’s so hard to know how long you can make them last. Fernando put a lot of pressure on me. We had a really good battle, but, although he was pressing me hard, I was able to pull out a small gap and then maintain it. It was such a sensational feeling to cross the line. “In terms of pure pace, I still think the Red Bull car is still a little bit faster than ours. But, as a whole, I think our package is now stronger. So, going forward, we need to build on the progress we’ve made recently, and we’re going to do just that; we’ll now knuckle down and make a really big effort to increase that gap. We’ve got good momentum now, so I hope we can continue our winning run through to Valencia in two weeks’ time. “The feeling and atmosphere within the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team is better than ever. The contribution that Jenson has brought is the best I’ve ever witnessed from a team-mate. He did another great job today to come from fourth to second – he’s doing his part and I’m doing mine. The team is happier than ever. “This has been a truly fantastic day.”

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{Motorsports - wrc}

Loeb and Citroen stretch the gap

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itroen now has a 47-point lead over Ford in the manufacturers’ standings with six rounds remaining. The final day consisted of just four stages and 94 competitive kilometres, under the hottest conditions seen yet on the rally. Loeb started the day with a 40-second lead and then controlled his pace to the finish, ending the rally with a 29.5 second advantage over his team-mate Dani Sordo. The Spaniard, however, had a fight on his hands as Petter Solberg’s private Citroen was just five seconds behind him at the start of the day. Solberg and his new co-driver Chris Patterson were determined to overhaul the Spaniard, but in the end they just missed out on the runner-up spot. Nonetheless, the Norwegian was extremely happy with a podium. “When we started the rally, both myself and Chris were quite nervous,” he said. “But I have to say he did an excellent job.” Sebastien Ogier was a lonely fourth, while the factory Fords of Mikko Hirvonen and JariMatti had resigned themselves to fifth and sixth almost from the first day. “We have to keep working hard to improve,” concluded Hirvonen. “We just tested a few things for future rallies today. I think

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we learned something that will help on the remaining asphalt rallies.” Stobart-Ford’s new recruit P-G Andersson was a trouble-free seventh, having kept out of trouble as asked, while former Grand Prix champion Kimi Raikkonen also had an eye on the future. The Finn just missed out on finishing in the top 10 after getting stuck on a bank for more than half a minute on the final stage of the rally. Raikkonen takes heart from Bulgaria Bulgaria was by no means an easy event for ‘the iceman’, but Kimi Raikkonen is encouraged by the lessons learned so far on asphalt Red Bull driver Kimi Raikkonen has been encouraged by his progress on the Rally Bulgaria, despite losing 10 minutes after missing the final stage of day one as the result of an accident. Up until SS3 the former Grand Prix champion had been running in fourth place, until a gravelly right-hand corner caught him out. His Citroen went off the road and landed on its roof, but the damage was only cosmetic and the Finn was eventually able to continue under the super rally system, finishing 11th. Now he feels that the experience gained will stand him in good stead for the three remaining asphalt rallies this year, in Germany,

France and Spain. “Some things were up and down but on the whole it was a good weekend,” said Raikkonen. “The most important thing was to get used to driving the rally car on asphalt, which is obviously a completely different experience to driving a Formula One car. I feel a bit more comfortable on asphalt than I do on gravel, but rallying is still a totally different sport compared to racing and we have a lot to learn. Bit by bit the feeling is coming though, and I actually liked a lot of the roads here in Bulgaria: they were quite flowing with a nice rhythm.” Raikkonen will now get back to gravel with a two day test in Finland next week. “It will be nice to compete at home again and also to come back to a rally that I know a bit already,” he added. Citroen Junior Team manager Benoit Nogier said that he was impressed with Raikkonen’s progress on what was only his first World Championship asphalt rally. “If you consider his lack of experience, the times that Kimi has set are remarkable,” he commented. “I think he has a lot of potential and this experience will definitely have helped him prepare for the remaining asphalt rallies.”


{Motorsports - wrc}

Ogier beats Loeb to win in Portugal

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he Citroen Junior Team driver started the third and final day with a lead of 21.1 seconds and showed a level of maturity that belied his 26 years to hold firm as Loeb tried in vain to get ahead of his countryman. After completing the final sun-baked gravel stage with a lead of 7.7s over Loeb, Ogier knew he would ensure first place by safely negotiating the rally-closing superspecial through the Estadio Algarve near Faro. Roared on by thousands of spectators, Ogier did exactly that and even set a time faster than Loeb, just for good measure, to win by 7.9s. “It’s a fantastic feeling and I am very, very happy,” said Ogier. “It has not been easy with Sebastien behind me, pushing me all the time, but we also pushed hard for all of the rally and made no mistakes.” Ogier’s co-driver, Julien Ingrassia, added: “It’s a special feeling. I have worked so hard preparing to get to this level and to achieve this win is a big moment for me.” Loeb was fastest on all four of Sunday’s gravel stages but ultimately couldn’t deny Ogier his day in the limelight. “I tried all the rally to beat him but he was just too fast,” said Loeb. “On the second pass through the stages he was untouchable. I have a new rival now.” Dani Sordo completed a Citroen podium lockout after profiteering from the steering glitch that slowed Petter Solberg on the final morning and demoted the Norwegian to fourth

overall heading into the super special. “I had to push really hard to get in front of him,” said the Spaniard. Solberg looked set to take fourth only to clout a water-filled barrier in the superspecial and tip his privately-run Citroen C4 onto two wheels. The delay allowed Mikko Hirvonen, driving a works Ford Focus, to snatch fourth place by 3.7s. Matthew Wilson, who was up against Solberg in the superspecial, overcame brake and steering woes to complete the top six for the Stobart M-Sport team, which lost team-mate Henning Solberg’s similar Focus to an overheating engine on Sunday’s second stage. Mads Ostberg brought his Subaru Impreza home in seventh overall despite fearing he might not make the finish when a number of engine warning lights flashed up on his car’s dashboard after stage 15. Federico Villagra survived striking a bank on the penultimate gravel stage, which ripped the front bumper from his Munchi’s Ford Focus, to claim eighth spot, 19.7s clear of Abu Dhabi’s Khalid Al Qassimi. The Argentine was fastest through the 2.03-kilometre superspecial. Ex-Formula One world champion Kimi Raikkonen was slowed by a handling imbalance on his Citroen Junior Team-run C4 on the opening loop of stages and then a tyre deflation, caused by striking a rock, on stage 16. He finished 10th to claim the final drivers’ championship point.

Ford plans WRC fight back in Bulgaria Ford team boss Malcolm Wilson says an extensive testing programme on asphalt will help the Blue Oval reignite its manufacturers’ championship ambitions when the WRC resumes on Rally Bulgaria in July. Wilson was speaking after lead driver Mikko Hirvonen finished a distant fourth on Rally de Portugal, while number two pilot Jari-Matti Latvala crashed out of the event for a second year in a row on the second day of the rally. The outcome means Ford trails Citroen by 26 points in the race for the makes’ title. “Portugal has proved to be a difficult place for us to come, especially after Jari-Matti’s crash last year,” said Wilson. “We haven’t had the performance we expected this time round, despite coming here on the back of a great result in New Zealand, and we’re a bit mystified with that. Citroen have been very strong here but we’ll come back from this. “We’ve got an important test planned on asphalt and we’ll keep working, keep pushing to get back to where we need to be. I’ve no doubt we can do it.” Gerard Quinn, Ford’s European motorsport head, added: “For us the manufacturers’ championship is the Holy Grail. It’s not worked out here so we’ve got more worked to do over the summer in order to get back on the pace. We’ll be working as hard as we can to do just that.”

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{Chicane}

What’s the secret behind good design?

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ou can’t spend a long time connected with the automotive industry without realising that it stands apart from most other lines of business in the matter of passion. It’s easy to get passionate about cars. Whether it is the seductive styling of cars or their power or indeed the thrill that you get in watching 22 men go howling around a track at strictly illegal speeds in order to prove that their ego is bigger than anyone else’, there is no escaping the element of passion. On the other hand I would think it a bit difficult to get my pulse racing about coffee beans, paint, mortgages and drilling for oil among a host of other vocations, though I am sure that there are many who find their passion in these fields. I am a firm believer that the field of design has contributed a lot to the presence of passion. As a school child I would sketch cars and other sundry automobiles in the margins of my notebooks, with my teachers giving me a clip on my ears for my artistic efforts. It isn’t as if I became a designer in later life, but the connection stayed on. When I look at a car I see it in many guises; as an idea on the sketch pad, a scale representation that sets out critical ratios like wheelbase, overhangs and height and even as a collage of parts. Yes, we all see what the whole car looks like, but could you salivate over the strengths of a rear three-quarters view over the profile representation? Car designers are my demi-gods in that they do a job that I find impossible. They take four wheels, cabin space, engine, steering wheel, lights and other accessories and manage to produce a unique model that sets itself apart from every other car by just that little bit. From the basis of that differentiation, we then get the move to homogenise design by various categories. We get the ever prevalent family look of a brand or the adoption of styling cues that appeal to a particular type of audience. How many of us ever cared that the height of a Rolls-Royce Phantom was set at twice the size of the tyres? Or that the front was always higher than the rear, like the prow of a ship? While it is difficult to see its use in the car, I am sure that the golden ratio propounded by Da Vinci and his ilk finds application in the car as well. We even recognise traits like sportiness or utility depending on the ratios between width and height that the car presents to us.

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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When I know what goes into design, it becomes quite a crime to ask a designer the question I put to Peter Schreyer of Audi and KIA fame. At what point in the design process does a car gain the brand identity? Admittedly that was a cheeky one considering that my dinner table companions an I had just spent a considerable time finding the Audi cues in the KIA car being unveiled. I am sure that Peter’s job was not made any easier by the speed with which the Korean brand was assimilating European overtones. Finally, despite all the objective analysis of design, good design is about subjectivity. You either know that you like it or not. I have a long list of cars that you love or hate. There is no middle ground in their case. But most cars suffer from ‘acceptable’ design, which serves the purpose yet remains unremembered. Even established design houses have these cars on their lists. From the mouth-watering appeal of the Ferrari 458 Italia you wouldn’t believe that the same design house is responsible for the utilitarian Hyundai Matrix.


August 2010  

Automan August issue

August 2010  

Automan August issue

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