Page 1

124 AUTOMAN DECEMBER 2011

No 124

DECEMBER 2011

Oman’s Best Automotive Resource

OMR 0.500 AED 5.00 QR 5.00

BRANDWATCH, TOYOTA CAMRY, HYUNDAI CENTENNIAL, KIA SOUL, EMGRAND EC8, DUBAI & LA MOTOR SHOWS, MOTORSPORTS

YOU’VE WAITED ALL THESE YEARS AND IT’S FINALLY HERE! Details

inside

SPOTLIGH

T DUBAI, LOS A NGEL

ES, MILAN, B

IRMINGHAM

CAR & BIKE SHOWS

SEDANS

FIRST DRI

VE

2012 SEVENT H THE CLASSIE GENERATION ALL-NEW C PREVIEW ST MID-SIZE A D MODEL FRO MRY: BY FAR, 20 12 BMW 3 M TOYOTA SERIES

+

TESTED

EMGRAND EC 8 HYUNDAI CE NTENNIAL

S UR RE L OEATU ALR F LA LUDINGTCH GU

RE

INC

A

B

NDW RA

Visit us online at www.automanweb.com


Revival of the motorshow

editor-in-chief Mohammad Al Taie

Our issue of December is usually an iconic one and this year too, Automan packages 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 2360, Fax: +968 2456 2194

some of the best cars in the world into the magazine. But of course, what else could you expect from the combination of a top grade car magazine and a season that is more than usually bountiful in terms of the new models, new model generations and refreshes. For the 2012 model year line-up is well and truly on us. It was in the hedonistic 1920’s and pre-second world war era that the motorshow truly came into its own. After all, until then most people (even in America) were just happy to own a car, let alone take an opportunity to shop for the next year’s offerings. But after WWII and its military skewed resource usage, consumerism really took off and there has been no looking back for the car industry. The platform of the motorshow spread and as car manufacturers started cropping up in the newer Asian manufacturing hubs, the

publisher Hatim Al Taie

hatim@alroya.net

EDITOR & GM Raj Warrior

raj@alroya.net

Executive Editor Chandan B Mallik chandan@alroya.net Design Sawsan Al Muharbi sawsan@alroya.info HEAD OF marketing Maged Aziz maged@alroya.net

propensity to gather and display their wares once a couple of years spread too. It really took a major economic collapse to take the wind out of the sails of the car manufacturers’ participation levels. All through 2009 and 2010 we saw players approach motorshows with caution. The previously profligate spend on brand and concept selling was over-ridden by the necessity of meeting short-term financial goals. And in some cases the brands chose to give motorshows a miss altogether. Thankfully we have seen a resurgence of sorts in 2011. Geneva and Frankfurt told their own tales of an industry that is seeking to lift itself back onto the fast track. The bottle neck in product development has passed and most brands are replete with new models and new segment-creators that they wish to highlight before the world. And the biggest spenders are approaching this with more black on their balance sheets.

circulation books@alroya.net

In this issue we have looked at length at the offerings at the Dubai motorshow and

FINANCE & ADMIN Abraham Daniel daniel@alroya.net Sumy Mol sumy@alroya.net

Dubai package, we have to see it in context with the lack of presence at Los Angeles.

Website & IT Mohammed F Draz mohammed.draz@alroya.net

Tokyo, which opens as we go to press. All indications are that it will be the place where

have contrasted it with Los Angeles. While trade visitors were left a little wanting in the So, in some ways Dubai was good not just for the regional ego. We saw global concept premieres as well as some significant top-end models present. From here we move on to the Japanese manufacturers stand up to be noticed post their natural disaster of early 2011. We can also expect the top-end brands to all be there to get into the challenging

Printer Ruwi Modern Printers LLC Tel: +968 2479 4167, 2479 8157 Fax: +968 2470 0545

© 2011 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

Japanese luxury market. As we enter 2012, it is not just the 2012 model year cars that entice us. We also can look forward to some 2013 MY cars from the Detroit show. All in all, the future seems interesting.


in this issue SPOTLIGHT

News

{ROAD TEST}

IT MAY NOT BE CLOSE TO THE GENEVA MONDIAL OR FRANKFURT MOTOR SHOW IN ITS CURRENT FORMAT, BUT THE 11TH MIDDLE EAST INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW [BETTER

MOVERS & SHAKERS

KNOWN AS THE DUBAI MOTOR SHOW] HAD THE AUDIENCES WELL ENTERTAINED WITH THE USUAL HYPE AND HOOPLA OF DANCE, LOUD MUSIC, CONCEPTS AND NEW CARS. IN FACT, THERE WERE A FEW SURPRISES TOO. AUTOMAN’S EDITORS HAVE THE STORIES.

Hyundai enters an established luxury niche segment – domain of US brand once the s and now perfec tly etched and re-def BMW, Audi, Merce ined des-Benz and Lexus -- with its Centennial by luxo

10

64

12

13

brandwatch barge. Automan tests the car in Oman to in to this exclusive find out whether it club can Author Chandan

B Mallik Photography Raj

cut

Warrior

66

67

{ROAD TEST}

PREVIEW

Turning

B

point

Author Chandan B Mallik

The new mid-size model arrival definitely reconnects with the past with its dynamic and elegant lines

MW has considered the E21 as the original forebear of the 3-Series since 1975 and there’s a good reason for that. This E21 was produced from 1975 to 1983 and had worldwide sales of 1.36mn, although the car was not particularly popular in the US for various reasons. It was replaced by the 2002 model, which itself was a two-door sports sedan based on the four-door 1600. Actually, the 2002 is revered as the model which cemented the company’s reputation for compact sporting sedans. However, under the direction of a new majority shareholder, Herbert Quandt, things moved fast at time when the British motor industry had come close to cracking the formula [but missed the opportunity of combining a spirited compact sedan for day-to-day use. Instead, it was producing cars such as Rover’s P5, which was considered too soft for a sports car or a Triumph’s Dolomite which was too raw to be classed as an executive car. Under Quandt’s directions, BMW decided upon a befitting replacement for their ageing 2002, which itself was very reminiscent of the Dolomite and a classic in its own right with a

3

56 58

the spot

new formula that gave it a long lasting blueprint for lasting success, including the then and future models. The E30 fitted the bill perfectly. With its model series success, over the years, the 3-Series sedan has established itself as the ‘original’ in the compact sports sedan segment and off-late has come to symbolise the aesthetic appeal, dynamics and sporting capabilities of BMW cars. With such a solid foundation, the sixth generation attempts to reconnect with the past, especially, as the fifth generation with its uncharacteristic Banglestyling seemed to be looking the other way. The new car is built on a new platform and in the process has grown up in dimensions. At launch [Feb 2012], the car will be offered with two petrol and two diesel engines. BMW will be offering turbo charging and direct injection in the 2.0-litre four cylinder [with two output levels]. The diesels will also benefit from Efficient Dynamics packaging. Eight-speed transmission will be common to all variants.

s the Soul, its For 2012, Kia refreshe out. Automan non-MPV cute SUV inside s takes a look at the upgrade Author Chandan B Mallik

Allnew sixth generation 2012 BMW 3-Series promises a new direction in the model series and much more

BMW

Suzuki

BMW unveiled two new maxi scooters at EICMA – the C600 Sport and C650GT. Both scooters are powered by a 650cc two cylinder in-line engine giving a max power output of 60hp transmitted to the rear wheel by means of a CVT gearbox. What separates the two is primarily the seating position: the Sport version is slightly higher than the GT which has a softer seat. Both machines have generously sized ABS brake systems as standard. A daytime running light, to enhance safety, is also available as an option. In addition to low fuel consumption, both scooters already fulfill Euro-4 emissions standards.

At the UK show, Suzuki unveiled the new Inazuma 250 which is an all-new model for the European market. The Inazuma features a parallel twin 248cc engine, with modern styling inspired by the B-King and GSR models and practical features offering a new choice for riders looking for a user-friendly, fuel efficient machine with fresh and innovative looks.

Photography Raj Warrior

70 59

72

73

Grand entry

Ducati Ducati had been releasing bits of information and images of its all-new 1199 Panigale and the unveiling and first public outing took place at Milan. Pronounced “Pan-ee-gah-lee”, the new model breaks with Ducati’s Superbike tradition by adding a name to its 1,199cc engine making a significant and warm association to its historic roots in the Borgo Panigale area of Bologna. In an Italian territory known as “Motor Valley” and where high performance and racing runs through the veins of its passionate people, Ducati now underline their pride in being world ambassadors for the “Made in Italy” title by immortalizing their home town in the name of the new Superbike. Besides the Panigale, the Diavel duo also commanded sizable presence. For the first time, the Diavel Cromo and the special edition Diavel AMG were revealed. Meanwhile, the Multistrada family showed off its latest - the Pikes Peak Special Edition in celebration of its recent successes at this famous hill climb in Colorado.

Return of Lambretta Lambretta was a line of motor scooters originally manufactured in Milan, Italy by Innocenti. Today, the Innocenti brand name rights are owned by Fiat whereas the oldest Lambretta and Lambro trademark registrations worldwide are owned by Lambretta Consortium. Lambretta scooters were also manufactured under licence by Fenwick in France, NSU in Germany, Serveta in Spain, API in India, Yulon in Taiwan, Pasco in Brazil, Auteco in Colombia and Siambretta in Argentina. With the all-new Lambretta LN 125 scooter, the brand stages a comeback. The new model keeps all the style and charm of its 60s and 70s heritage, but underneath and on the road it is a totally modern machine. The brand now has ambitious plans to re-enter its former markets with an array of new machines.

Honda Honda is experimenting with innovative concepts and produced two middle-class motorcycles NC 700X and the NC 700S and the the Crosstourer to compete with the multiple use BMW R 1200 GS. Both NC 700 S and the X-model are powered by an in-line 48hp 670cc twin-cylinder engine and are also equipped with ABS. The S is a naked and the NC 700X sports a body in line with the very popular crossover segment. Honda also offers dual-clutch transmission in these bikes with full automatic transmission mode option. The Integra is a scooter that is powered by a newly developed engine

Vespa Technically, the Quarantasei concept unveiled at EICMA is possibly the most futuristic looking Vespa ever designed. The Quarantasei is named for the number 46, which represents the year Vespa first began producing scooters. Designed by the Vespa Pontedera Style Center, the Quarantasei maintains classic Vespa lines established from the original 1945 MP6 prototype, the “Wasp” that became forefather of all Vespas. The most distinguishable element of the Quarantasei’s design is the aggressive forward lean in the rear, emphasized by the hanging seat and the way the bottom of the frame rises up towards the wasp-like tail. While the design is purely a concept, a glimpse of possible future models, its powerplant is very real and likely to go into production in upcoming scooters. Piaggio developed a new fuel-injected 125cc fourstroke, three-valve air-cooled engine for the Quarantasei.

Automan’s take Vespa has built a reputation for classic, retro-styled scooters, trading on its iconic styling. Now it opens a new chapter.

54

55

{COVER

O

riginally debuted as a concept vehicle at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show in 2006, Kia Motors introduced the Soul as one of its most significant global production models at the 2008 Paris Mondial de l’Automobile pointing clearly at a design-led future for the brand. And despite the proliferation in the segment it’s not often that a car’s name actually matches its personality. Conceived in the US originally and but developed in Korea and Europe simultaneously under the leadership of Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer, the compact and spacious Soul has been specifically designed for younger customers are a bit more rebellious in nature and determined to stand out from the crowd but on a budget. Schreyer’s team created the Soul with a bit of styling aggressiveness and unusual appearance of a much larger 4x4type vehicle and got the engineers to shoehorn compact 1.6- to 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines. In this case the Gamma engines developed for Kia’s cee’d family were found to deliver excellent fuel economy and low running-costs and hence perfect for the job in hand. The refreshed and upgraded Soul is clearly identified from its older siblings quite easily and even from a distance one can’t miss the reprofiled bonnet, new front lamp cluster with high power daytime running SMDs [surface mounted diodes]. On a closer look, there’s some class leading features such as projection headlamps, gloss finishes on the bumpers and the really impressive rear LED lamp cluster. In fact, it seems that the refreshing of the vehicle has been fine tuned to give it a definite, classy, smoother and more streamlined profile. While Kia Soul offers a relatively small wheelbase of 2,550mm for a car that’s 4,120mm long, like a MINI Cooper its wheels have been pushed out to help carve a surprisingly spacious interior. Inside the cabin is where Kia Soul really shows its power to surprise. While, the cabin sports a refreshed design that now combines more individuality with special textured shiny ‘Soul’ embossed fabrics, the practicality of 14 storage zones isn’t lost. In terms of accommodation, five adult passengers will find ingress and egress simple and effortless, thanks to convenient hip points and wide and tall door openings. Depending on spec chosen, the Soul’s interior design varies and we think it is decidedly influenced by the car’s highly specified audio system – a focus area in the car. As before, the dashboard remains unchanged with its three-dial instrument cluster, LCD illumination, a floating central console design with conveniently located auxiliary and USB input jacks with full iPod® controllability via the audio head unit and steering wheel controls.

60

Honda CEO takes blame for Civic’s poor performance 14

Q&A

Frank Bernthaler Mercedes16 Benz AMG ME Larry Prien Ford ME 24

spotlight

Dubai Motor Show Los Angeles Auto Show

10 39

cover story

2012 Toyota Camry

{ROAD TEST}

BIKE NEWS}

51

Ferrari FF launched in Oman 4 2011 MEMA awards, 6 Peugeot RCZ launched New VW showroom in Oman 6

splendour

C

hinese carmaker Geely which also now owns Volvo, is on an expansion drive beyond its own shores. Geely has worked out an interesting strategy by creating new brand identities linked to specific business strategies. Emgrand was created to represent premium cars from its stable for export markets while the other two Gleagle [from Global Eagle] and Englon also have their agendas cut out. With Gleagle, Geely is focusing on the entry-level market and Emgrand for more affluent buyers and Englon is intended to tap the mid-priced segment. The Emgrand EC825 [now renamed as the EC8] is Geely’s first shot at a mid to full size sedan segment. It’s a new development and was officially introduced at the Beijing Motor Show in 2009 for the first time using some of Mitsubishi’s hardware. Geely says the EC8 is positioned to rival Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Mitsubishi Galant and Honda Accord. At first glance, the car’s design seems to be influenced by both American and Japanese styling. As a Chinese car designed for nonChinese market it presents a clean design with pleasing aesthetics. With dimensions of 4,905mm, 1,830mm and 1,495mm [length/ width/height/ respectively and wheel base of 2,805mm, the car is marginally bigger than the Camry. Besides its large Cadillac inspired grille, the car’s oversized wraparound headlamps have a jeweled appearance with independent lighting units and are smoothly integrated into the front end and so do the lamps at the rear. The ingress and egress points are good and inside the car is a roomy cabin with seats that have fairly firm cushions and decent lumbar support. A twin-brow instrument panel wraps around into the doors with a nice all-of-a-piece unity and style to it. Geely is serious about building a solid clientele and hence keeping

Geely created Emgrand as a premium product brand for export markets and has launched some of its products in the brand conscious Middle East. Automan checks out the EC8, the carmakers’ entry-lux sedan in Oman Author Chandan B Mallik Photography Shakeel Al Baloushi

62

63

STORY}

42

Bike news

Milan & Birmingham Bike 51 shows

Preview

2012 BMW 3 Series

56

First drive

2011 Emgrand EC8 60 2011 Hyundai Centennial 64

Also driven 2011 Kia Soul

A HEADLINE ACT

70

Motorsports

Formula One, WRC, MotoGP

EDITORIAL NOMINEE TOYOTA CAMRY MID-SIZED SEDAN

68

Chicane t’s no secret in the automotive world that even for the seasoned product planners the job of redesigning a perennial top seller like the Toyota Camry isn’t easy. While, Toyota has manufactured and sold 15mn Camry models across 100 countries since it debuted way back in 1983, the carmaker also realizes that the segment has grown considerably with competition and the game has moved up with a host of new and attractive body styles and feature loaded models coming regular intervals. Things can get tough even for the seasoned players like Toyota. After all, over the years, the popular Camry has become the model by which all other mid-sized creations must measure themselves. However, the past two years or so has been particularly tough for Toyota not because Ford, Hyundai, Kia or Volkswagen unveiled an array of products designed specifically to lure Camry loyalists away, but Toyota’s expensive

44

problems in the US, Europe and capping that the devastating aftermath of Tsunami in Japan. But, Toyota being Toyota, the carmaker hasn’t given up hope and has entered a completely re-engineered seventh-generation model six months before its traditional introduction which usually takes place in five years. Considering the fact that the outgoing model [also known as the XV40] has pleasant proportions and dimensions besides a competent chassis, it’s not surprising that Toyota’s engineers preferred to carry forward this platform. While the car has been re-skinned, at first glance, from the exterior, it retains a similar profile of its predecessor. This also means that latest generation carries itself with dimensions identical to the outgoing model. It’s also no secret that critics have often commented on the generic design of the outgoing Camry,

80

Poster We

Th

Fr

Tu Mo 1 2 Su 9 8 7 6 16 5 4 14 15 3 23 12 13 21 22 10 11 30 19 20 18 28 29 17 26 27 24 25 31

Sa

Neither being flashy or anonymous, the all-new seventh generation 2012 Toyota Camry enters an extremely busy and fast growing segment with a host of upgrades. Automan is the first in the region to test drive this new arrival

cover story 42

ber Decem

I

On the demands of journalism

45

tember

121 | Sep 0 s GS35 T Lexu NCEP 2013 ER CO

a EV-ST Hond

2011

ember 2011

124| Dec


oman news}

All-new Ferrari FF arrives in the Sultanate

Shanfari Sports Car LLC, the official importer of Ferrari in the Sultanate of Oman hosted the launch of Ferrari’s new FF, the company’s most powerful to date first four-wheel drive four-seater model in presence of the officials from Ferrari Middle East and Africa. According to Ferrari officials, the FF — an acronym for Ferrari Four (four seats and four-wheel drive) — ushers in an entirely new GT sports car concept. A decisive break with the past, the new car represents not so much an evolution as a true revolution. With the FF, Ferrari offers a completely new take on the sporting Grand Tourer theme. It is not only the first Ferrari with four-wheel drive, but, more

significantly, a model that hails a major break with the past, effortlessly melding extreme sports car performance with the versatility and usability of a genuine GT and boasting an extremely innovative design. Every single area of the Ferrari FF brims with innovation, not least its engine, the first GDI V12 to be coupled with the seven-speed F1 dual-clutch gearbox. The V12 unleashes a massive 660 CV at 8,000 rpm, and maximum torque of 683 Nm at 6,000 rpm with 500 Nm already available at just 1,000 rpm. This ensures the performance figures of an extreme sports car, with the 0-100 km/h sprint covered in 3.7 seconds

Automan salutes the legend As a designer Scaglietti had an unusual approach to work. He shunned pencil and paper and worked out his designs in his head and with his hammer [he would pound aluminium sheets on sand bags]. As his fame rose, so did his clientele. In 1954, Scaglietti was commissioned by Italian movie director Roberto Rossellini to design a custom Ferrari 375 MM for his then-wife, actress Ingrid Bergman. Scaglietti’s other wellknown Ferraris include the 250 GTO, of which only 36 are said to exist, the 500 Mondial and the California FERRARI TESTAROSSA Spyder. His repertoire “embodied not just Ferrari beauty, but extreme beauty,” Leslie Kendall, curator of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, said in an interview. “They weren’t just low slung, they were impossibly low slung. They weren’t just sexy,” he said, “they were

6

impossibly sexy.” It’s no secret that over the years Scaglietti’s designs evolved and had value beyond aesthetics. His famously bulging “pontoon” fenders on the Testa Rossa, for example, helped cool the car’s drum brakes. How the Testa Rossa accidentally got its name was a tale of Ferrari lore that Scaglietti enjoyed telling quite often. The tale goes like this: In 2000, the company’s chief of production told Enzo Ferrari that the company had to stop building the proposed car because it had run out of black paint to coat the engines’s cam shaft covers.“Enzo asked, ‘What colour do we have?’” Scaglietti asked. “The chief of production said ‘red.’ Ferrari said, ‘Paint the engines red, and we’ll call it the Testa Rossa’ ” — red head, in Italian. Scaglietti sold his business to Ferrari in the 1970s and retired in the mid-1980s.

Black day at Ferrari as Sergio Scaglietti passes away November 20, 2011 was indeed a black day at Maranello, and for Ferrari particularly. “Today is a sad day for Ferrari. We lost a friend, a travel companion, a man who had his name forever connected to the Prancing Horse. Sergio Scaglietti leaves behind the legacy of an artist who with his talent created some of the most beautiful cars of our history. Who had the luck to know him like I did will also remember him as a straightforward and honest man, completely dedicated to his work. We will miss him.” These are the words of Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo regarding the death of Sergio Scaglietti, the legendary Ferrari coachbuilder, who created some of the most famous models from the manufacturer from Maranello, such as the Ferrari California, the 250 Testa Rossa, the 250 GTO and the 750 Monza, who died at the age of 91. Sergio Scaglietti was a real and natural talent who made cars with his hands and with his eyes, as he liked to say. Soon the Carrozzeria Scaglietti started to collaborate with the Scuderia Ferrari and a great friendship was born between Enzo and Sergio. “He was one of my father’s best friends,” said Piero Ferrari. “He was next to me with Marco Piccinini also the day my father died and stayed with me the whole night until the funeral. I loved him and he was a very important part of my life. My life will be emptier without Sergio.” The Carrozzeria Scaglietti has been an integral part of Ferrari for many years. To underline his unique relationship with the coachbuilder from Modena, chairman Montezemolo dedicated him the 612, the 2+2 seater Berlinetta.


brandwatch New investments for Jeep Cherokee replacement Chrysler chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne is fast tracking the plan to replace the current Cherokee/ Liberty. Marchionne has hinted that the new successor Jeep model will ride atop a platform shared with Fiat and the vehicle will be built at the Toledo North Assemby Plant. To be rolled out as a MY 2013 model, this new SUV will be developed with a $1.7bn investment from parent Chrysler. Part of the investment will be used to renovate to the plant and a new quality control centre will be responsible for build quality.

Honda’s CEO takes blame for the Civic’s poor performance

V

olkswagen aspires to be the number one car manufacturer in the world by 2018, and as part of this strategy there is a strong focus on fleet business. Volkswagen Middle East and its partner Saad Buzwair Automotive Qatar have announced the first of its fleet taxis in Qatar. In collaboration with Mowasalat – the Qatar Transport Company, Volkswagen Middle East has supplied 300 allnew Jetta Taxis to Karwa Taxi Services in Qatar. The initial handover of 300 vehicles is only the first installment to be received by Karwa, with

a total number of Volkswagen fleet Taxis in Qatar reaching 500 by the first quarter of 2012. Volkswagen has great experience in this field throughout the world, and we’re confident that the all-new Jetta fleet will be well received. Marcus Butros, sales director of Volkswagen Middle East said: “This partnership with Karwa Taxi Services symbolizes the first venture into fleet business for Volkswagen Middle East in Qatar. The Qatar deal is further evidence that Volkswagen has the right range of cars available to attract more and more fleet customers.”

European losses not acceptable, says GM boss GM CEO Dan Akerson isn’t a happy guy these days. The master plan to revive the European operations including Opel and Vauxhall now seems to be mistimed as the current European economic crisis takes its toll. Now, it seems that Akerson’s patience is running out as he recently voiced his frustration with the financial performance of GM’s European operations, describing the long-running losses sustained by the problem child as “not sustainable and not acceptable”. The European division’s third quarter result showed a $300mn lossr. Instead, GM’s quarterly global profit before interest and tax dipped from $2.3bn in the third quarter of 2010 to $2.2bn this year.

Suzuki says sayonara to VW Fed up with VW’s lackadaisical attitude for over two years, the last straw in the puzzle finally broke when Suzuki to the step to cut off its partnership with Volkswagen. The Japanese automaker claims that Volkswagen has not lived up to the agreement terms and has blocked the company’s attempts to access core technology. Suzuki also accuses VW of meddling with its independence. Suzuki also said that it seeks the return of the 19.89 per cent stake that Volkswagen currently owns in the Japanese automaker through arbitration. Volkswagen purchased the shares for $2.5bn in 2009.

End of the road for Maybach in 2013?

M

iddle East visitors to the recent Dubai Motor Show visiting the Mercedes-Benz and AMG stand may have missed the Maybach, which apparently was barricaded in a corner, almost out of view. Well, after months of speculation, Daimler has reportedly decided to phase out Maybach. Citing high-ranking sources, an UK-based motoring publication has reported that Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche will axe the brand in order to focus more attention on Mercedes. As one insider commented, “We’ve come to the conclusion that it is better to cut our losses with Maybach than to continue into an uncertain future with a brand that has failed to live up to original sales expectations.” If everything pans out, the last Maybachs will be built in early 2013. In the interim, Mercedes-Benz will offer a new version of the S600 Pullman.

7


World news} 2011 MEMA awards announced

Official Patron of MEMA, Mohammad Ben Sulayem, vice-president of FIA Middle East and president of the Automobile and Touring Club UAE, in the presence of Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, director-general of Expo Centre Sharjah, handed over the awards to the winning car manufacturers for 2011. “I am proud to continue my support for the Middle East Motor Awards. As in the inaugural edition, the second edition of the Awards too has been extremely well executed and a great testament to the importance of the motoring industry across the Middle East,” said Ben Sulayem after the ceremony. “Automobiles are very important in Arab culture and something very dear to my own heart, and I am delighted that the Middle East Motor Awards provides an opportunity to give something back to the industry as a way of appreciation,” added Ben Sulayem, while congratulating the winners in different categories. “MEMA is the most coveted and prestigious award in the Middle East. It is also the most credible award of its kind, judged by 19 highly sought-after automotive experts from 10 countries, including Lebanon, Oman, Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It is also the ultimate recognition for vehicles in various categories,” said Al Midfa. The awards, judged by a panel of distinguished automotive journalists [including Automan], professional race drivers, motorsports experts, tuning & off road experts, chose Lamborghini Aventador as the Best Supercar, Kia Optima as Best Midsize Sedan, and Jeep Grand Cherokee as the Best Midsize SUV.

8

Omani singing star introduces Peugeot’s swanky RCZ

M

ore than just a concept car which has become a reality, the Peugeot RCZ marks a new chapter in the history of Peugeot “lifestyle vehicles”. While the car went on sale in the spring of 2010 in Europe, it has taken a little while to get here. And when it did, it was Salah al Zadjali who introduced the car to media and invitees at Peugeot’s official retail partner’s showroom in Oman. “We are delighted to launch this fantastic car in Oman; it is one of the most original and unique sports coupes ever developed in the world and among the most distinctive designs that Peugeot has ever created,” said Bob Seshadri, general manager of European Motors. Sculptural, dynamic and elegant, the style of the Peugeot RCZ offers new harmonious and vibrant proportions based on a compact and original three-compartment coupé architecture and the “double bubble” of the

roof and rear windscreen not only represent a remarkable feat of engineering, but also the stylistic signature of a car. Although several powertrains are offered, models heading this way are powered by a 156hp 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged mated to either six-speed manual or sequential automatic transmission. Most of the 240Nm worth of torque is available from 1,400rpm and prices for RCZ begins from OMR 14,500.

2012 Genesis Coupe teaseD

these supposedly ‘leaked’ teaser images seem to preview the upcoming model. What is clear that both front and rear ends are in concert with the Hyundai’s ‘fluidic sculpture’ design language. The refreshed car will make its global debut at the Detroit auto show in January 2012.

Wattayah Motors adds second showroom to sell VW cars Volkswagen cars are distributed exclusively by Wattayah Motors in Oman and the franchise officially recently transformed its Skoda showroom facility in Athaibah into a new retail set-up for VW as part of its expanding operations and reach for the brand. The spacious showroom has adequate floor space for displaying VW’s entire range of cars and SUVs. “In recent years Volkswagen has started to become an increasingly popular brand here in Oman and the Middle East region, as more and more members of the motoring public recognise the

world class engineering, build quality, power and style offered across so many diverse models. This expansion is also in line with Volkswagen global aim to be the number one car manufacturer in the world by 2018, a goal which Oman is strategically aligned to support,” said James Oliver, general manager of Wattayah Motors. On the side lines, the agency said it had concrete plans to revamp Skoda with a slew of new or refreshed model introductions including the Octavia-based Yeti crossover SUV in 2012.


UAE National Day celebrated in style Ducati and AMG Gargash Enterprises in partnership with Ducati Dubai, Emirates Motor Sports Federation, RTA, Dubai Police and Dubai Sports Council, organised a parade comprising of 40 Mercedes-Benz AMG cars and 40 Ducati motorcycles on November 26 in Dubai. The parade commenced at Al Diyafa, from the iconic UAE flag mast at the Union building joined by Emiratis and residents in their own National Day Sticker adorned vehicles. The end point was at The Intercontinental, Dubai Festival City where participants gathered to salute the successful nation.

Chevrolet Chevrolet’s centenary and UAE’s 40th National Day fall in the same year and hence the brand which has had quite a long presence in the region decided to sponsor the fourth edition of the Emirates Classic Car Festival in Downtown Dubai from 1-3 December. The festival began at The Palace – The Old Town Roundabout on Emaar Boulevard where a host of classic cars and motorbikes were displayed including some from Chevrolet such as the 1965 Chevrolet Corvair Monza Convertible and a 1963 Chevrolet Corvette [which was also a winner of the ‘American Award’ at the 2010 Emirates Classic Car Festival].

RATAN TATA’S SUCCESSOR ANNOUNCED For a closely guarded process that had India’s corporates and media guessing for over 15 months, the suspense is finally over. The successor of 73-year-old chairman Ratan Tata of Tata Group comes from a family that needs no introduction and is no stranger to the stresses and strains of life at the top of a vast business empire. Having headed a family business called Shapoorji Pallonji Group since 2003, the younger son of a reclusive billionaire with an estimated wealth of $7.6bn according to Forbes, 46-year-old Cyrus Pallonji Mistry also belongs to a family which is one of the largest shareholders in the $71bn Tata Group. As the younger son of construction tycoon Pallonji Mistry, the newlyappointed Tata Sons deputy chairman will succeed current chairman Ratan Tata on his retirement next year. Expressing his gratitude to the selection committee and board of directors, Mistry said: “I feel deeply honoured by this appointment. I am aware that an enormous responsibility, with a great legacy, has been entrusted to me. I looked forward to (Ratan) Tata’s guidance in the year ahead in meeting the expectations of the Tata Group. I take this responsibility very seriously and in keeping with the values and ethics of the Tata Group”. As expected Mistry has also committed himself to legally dissociate himself from the

management of his family businesses to avoid any issue of conflict of interest with his new assignment. His surname may not be Tata, but Cyrus Mistry is as close as an outsider could come. Announced on Nov 21 as the heir apparent to Ratan Tata, the group’s long-standing chairman, Mistry, who graduated from the Imperial College, London with a BE in civil engineering also holds a masters degree in management from the London Business School, and is a fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers will become a nonTata head of one of India’s most storied business groups . A five-man selection team - which included Mistry himself - spent months searching for a successor and in the end the panel didn’t have to look far. Mistry’s grandfather first bought shares in Tata Sons in the 1930s, a stake that currently stands at 18.5 percent in the hands of Mistry’s father, Pallonji Mistry, the largest single shareholder in a firm mostly controlled by trusts. In Tata circles, Pallonji is dubbed the “Phantom of Bombay House” [Tata Group’s HQ] for the quiet but assured way he commands power around the south Mumbai headquarters of the Tata empire. Mistry will be the sixth chairman of the group and the second not named Tata and when asked about his successor, Ratan Tata said: “I have been impressed with the quality and calibre of his participation, his astute observations and his humility”.

KIA’S ME NEW PRES AND CEO In October 2010, Brandon Yea was appointed President of Kia in the Middle East and Africa region. Yea’s relatively short tenure has been productive and Kia’s Middle East and Africa region has seen sales around 300,000 sales a year for the Korean brand. Yea is being posted to Europe in similar capacity and his position is being taken up by Min Kun [MK] Kim, who till now was looking after the brand’s interest in Australia. MK Kim has more than 24 years’ experience with Kia Motors and parent Hyundai Motor Co, and moved to the top job at the Australian division in January 2010.

HORBURY’S NEW ROLE AT GEELY Volvo has officially announced that Head of Design Peter Horbury has been appointed Senior Vice President of Design at Geely Group. In his new position, Horbury will be responsible for the Gleagle, Emgrand and Shanghai Emglon brands, that are parts of the Geely Group, which acquired Volvo from Ford in 2010. Peter Horbury’s successor as head of Design at Volvo Car Corporation will be revealed in a later announcement. “Peter Horbury has played a very important role for Volvo’s design during a long period of time and has a legendary position in the automotive world”, says Stefan Jacoby, President & CEO of Volvo Car Corporation.

DESIGN CATCH FOR CHRYSLER LLC Finally, the design department at Chrysler LLC has something to talk about. Lorenzo Ramaciotti has been tapped to create a new styling language for Chrysler and Lancia. Ramaciotti is a former Pininfarina stylist who helped to pen models such as the Ferrari F430, 550 Maranello and 612 Scaglietti. Speaking with Bloomberg, Ramaciotti said “We are trying to find an international [design] language, which could have a place both here in Italy and in the US.” He added, “We don’t want to do pure badge-engineering” and “[Chrysler and Lancia] should be global in sharing platforms and strategies without dulling the product line.”

9


It may not be close to the Geneva Mondial or Frankfurt Motor Show in its current format, but the 11th Middle East International Auto show [better

known as the Dubai Motor Show] had the audiences well entertained with the usual hype and hoopla of dance, loud music, concepts and new cars. In fact, there were a few surprises too. Automan’s editors have the stories.

12


spotlight

Movers & shakers

13


Audi W

hile Audi’s newly launched Audi A1, A6, A7, A8 L W12 and R8 GT formed an impressive line-up, as a surprise, the brand with the four rings also revealed the new Audi Q3 – Audi’s first SUV in the premium compact segment. The Q3 will be launched with two four-cylinder 2.0-litre TFSI engines, which combine direct injection with turbocharging and feature an energy recovery system and develop between 170hp and 211hp. Audi combines both engines with quattro permanent all-wheel drive and an ultra-compact and fast-shifting dual-clutch seven-speed S tronic transmission. Dubai also saw the regional premiere of the

Jeff Mannering, Managing Director of Audi Middle East

14

Automan’s take Audi has defined five priority areas: design, lightweight construction, networked mobility, electric mobility and CO2 neutral mobility. Each of these will be sub branded under the names ‘Audi ultra’, ‘Audi connect’, ‘Audi e-tron’ and ‘Audi balanced mobility. Despite challenges ahead such as standards, costs and infrastructure, Audi says it is ready to write the next chapter of mobility

Audi R8 GT

Audi Quattro concept

At the 125 th anniver sary of the car, are rein we venting the car. objecti The ve for A udi is n keep u ot just p with to the pac k ; we wan to set th t e pace.

Jeff Mannering with Juliana Down, the band voted as “best band in Dubai” after unveiling the new Audi Q3

Audi quattro concept car. Thirty years after the original Audi quattro rewrote the rulebook of motorsports and everyday practicality Audi moves it’s most iconic model into the fast lane with this futuristic interpretation in both design and technology. The Audi quattro concept is a thoroughbred driving machine with 408hp, a fivecylinder turbocharged engine and – of course – the latest generation of quattro permanent all-wheel drive. At 1,300kg the two-seater concept car weighs almost exactly the same as the Sport quattro from 1984, thanks to Audi’s “ultra” lightweight construction methods.


Aston Martin

spotlight

F

ollowing the unveil of Aston Martin’s stunning new V12 Zagato endurance racer concept on the shores of Lake Como, Italy at the 2011 Villa D’Este Concours, senior officials from Aston Martin confirmed at the Dubai that the concept car was heading for a limited run [around 150 units] production. While the project revives a collaboration which has produced some of the most beautiful and sought-after cars in the world, the partnership takes inspiration from the past, to create a modern descendent of classics such as the DB4GT Zagato, V8 Vantage Zagato and DB7 Zagato based on Aston Martin’s ultimate performance interpretation of the Vantage range: the V12 Vantage. The customer versions will sport some minor changes cosmetically. Plans are to reduce the size of the large front brake outlet air scoops on the side of the mudguards, removal of the race emergency/safety locks/pins on the bonnet and a redesign of the rear lower valance and exhaust tips. In profile, rest of the car will remain faithful to the concept and the interiors will be typical of Aston’s other models with all the bells and whistles. Meanwhile, the four-door Rapide, new Virage Volante, DBS Coupe and refreshed V8 Vantage S Coupe helped form the marque’s largest presence at the show to date. Also making its UAE debut was the new Aston Martin Cygnet, the ultimate luxury city car based on a synergy arrangement with Toyota. Aston Martin said it was investigating seriously its market feasibility and potential interest from customers in the Middle East before making a decision to have the car homogolated for this region or markets beyond Europe.

With date a ye r to by ales up e 2011 s t s u 1 g 0 0, th Au rsus 2 e v t n n a r ce to be 107 pe tinues n o c t n Eas regio Middle ortant ly imp e m bal e r t ex in’s glo n Mart . s in Asto n sion pla expan

Mark Kenworthy, General Manager of Aston Martin Middle East & N. Africa

Automan’s take As expected, Aston takes the plunge into the limited production run slot. It has commercially tasted success with its One-77 [although a few are still available] and the car maker hopes that the V12 Zagato will not only encourage existing buyers but also will find some cross shoppers also. 2011 was a significant year for Aston Martin Middle East & North Africa with the introduction of new dealers in Mumbai in India and Turkey in Istanbul. Further developments are planned, including a dealership in New Delhi, India. Interest in the brand continues to grow with new investments being identified in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Morocco. With year to date August 2011 sales up by 107 per cent versus 2010, the Middle East continues to be an extremely important region in Aston Martin’s global expansion plans.

15


Mercedes-Benz & AMG How do you evaluate your sales results this year and what was the percentage of your sales growth? What are your expectations for next year? Our 125th Anniversary year has been very positive in the region and we look forward to further driving our ambition for success into 2012. In October, we recorded our best sales month since 2008, with sales up 26 per cent year on year. We have a very exciting product pipeline for next year and we have every reason to feel confident, whilst we remain fully aware of the global economic situation and are prepared to make plans for any eventuality. We have been growing profitably over the past few years and together with our partners here in

the region, we will continue to deliver products that set the benchmark, coupled with top notch customer service – remember, our mantra at Mercedes-Benz is “The Best or Nothing.” In your opinion, what is the overall trend which drives the automotive industry? Our founder Carl Benz built our first car back in 1886 which was simply to take passengers from one place to another. With time our expectations and ambition have increased alongside our customers’ demands until we have reached where we are today, when there are many aspects and trends that drive the industry rather than just one. Safety, design, technologies, performance, efficiency, reliability, comfort and many other elements are traits all cars should own to be attractive to the consumers they are built for in mind. On a global scale, fuel efficiency has risen to the top of the list of car musthaves. Why isn’t the idea picking up in the Middle East? You are right. In most western countries the awareness about fuel efficiency has risen to the top of the minds of consumers. Mercedes-Benz takes great pride in the new sustainable mobility technologies it

16

Frank Bernthaler, Director, Sales and Marketing, Mercedes-Benz Cars, Middle East & Levant

has introduced across the full product range. Here in the Middle East however, there is the potential for sustainable mobility, though it would need strong government backing and new infrastructure to become a reality, especially when petrol is cheaper than many other places in the world.

Celebrating 125 years since company founder Carl Benz built the very first automobile, Mercedes-Benz was first at the venue to fire-up the DIMS 2011. The all-new M-Class SUV was revealed in the region for the first time, followed by the launch of the third generation all-new SLK 55 AMG and SLS AMG Roadster.


spotlight Systematic lightweight ng construction, outstandi design ing athtak performance and a bre driving ir n-a us ope combined with sensuo dster Roa G AM pleasure – the new SLS ophy los phi G AM perfectly embodies the and g of German engineerin craftsmanship

Ola Källenius, CEO of Mercedes-AMG GmbH

Of Swedish origin, Ola Källenius, took over as CEO of Mercedes-Benz AMG on April 1, 2010. Prior to this assignment, Källenius had been the head of the carmaker’s UK-based Mercedes-Benz high performance engines unit and his career also includes a stint at the sports-car producer McLaren Automotive. Källenius admits that sales process isn’t so different from any Mercedes, but the key task is to get the customer behind the wheel. He plans to help dealerships improve utilisation and visibility of performance demonstrators. In UK, retailers usually hire the cars to show potential customers. A new programme will allow each retail market area keep the cars for a fortnight and enable them to host bespoke events. The high profile brand capitalises on customers’ enthusiasm by offering the AMG Driving Academy for them to hone their skills. Buyers can travel to AMG’s base at Affalterbach, Germany, to collect their car in person. Afalterbach can even tune and modify their car to their bespoke requirements.

Automan’s take Actually, the M-Class unveil precedes an expected launch in early 2012, while Jettisoning the iconic gullwing doors of its older brother, the compact fabric soft top of the SLS AMG Roadster marks an evolution for the ground breaking super sports car minus its gullwings!

Quiet intro: new M-Class

While M-B and AMG were promoted in a fashionable way, Maybach was hidden in an enclosure and kept low profile

Replica of the world’s first automobile, the #1 Patentwagen built by Carl Benz in 1886.

17


The GCC region is e quite stable and we hav stant always kept a very con crunch of volume since the credit te the wealth 2008. Oil prices genera look at the here and people do not y do in economy as much as the Western markets

Chris Buxton, Bentley’s regional director for the Middle East, Africa and India UK’s Bentley Motors unveiled the new Continental GTC for the first time in the Middle East at the Dubai International Motor Show. Taking cues from its GT coupe sibling launched last year, the new Continental GTC builds on the highly successful foundation of the previous cabriolet, which premiered in

2006. Bentley’s design and engineering teams have improved virtually every aspect of the iconic convertible with an uncompromising focus on quality. Also making its Middle East debut was the new Continental GT fitted with a new Mulliner Styling Specification. The new styling specification

Bentley

spotlight

provides customers with the opportunity to personalise their GT with a range of stylish features, whilst ensuring Bentley’s standards of quality and design integrity are maintained. This is the first time the Bentley design team has offered an exterior body kit created by the in-house team. We realise that the market in this region is ple are still very strong. The peo really are y the connoisseurs and and s car l sua unu interested in on es mm gra pro customisation s car ir the

BUGATTI

Oliver Schauerte, general manager of Bugatti Automobilies

Although the global economy is weak, we know in these markets there are still a lot of very rich people. The question is whether people are ready to show they have a certain amount of wealth available. In the US market, there is also a problem regarding the 18

exchange rate of the dollar against the euro, which for many people makes it unattractive to purchase a Veyron. But it’s a different ballgame in this region and exotic supercar maker Bugatti knows that very well. Bugatti says that many customers in this part of the

world are collectors of luxury cars and want something that is specifically made for them by the manufacturer itself and hence Bugatti’s idea of showcasing extremely limited [1-5] production cars is not surprising.


Join us on Facebook and tell us what you like www.facebook.com/kiaoman

19

www.facebook.com/kiaoman


Chevrolet & cadillac

‘Cadillac goes sporty’ would be an apt description for the marque’s stand at Dubai. Besides strongly promoting the V performance badge, Cadillac also introduced the 2012 Escalade Sport as the latest update to Cadillac’s series of luxury SUVs. The assuming 2012 Escalade Sport features a more colourful exterior design treatment and provides a fresh alternative for Escalade buyers. Also making an appearance was the all-new Black Diamond Edition of the CTS-V and CTS-V Coupe 2012 SRX with its 3.6-litre direct-injected V6 engine.

GM’s Chevrolet brand was definitely on an overdrive at Dubai with a plethora of launches including a global unveil of a concept truck and new SUV. Chevrolet also commemorated its 100th Anniversary on its stand at the Dubai International Motor Show by unveiling the 2012 Chevrolet Centennial Edition Corvette for the first time in the Middle East. The Centennial Edition Corvette features a sleek black colour scheme, unique design elements and Corvette’s trademark sports car technology. The 2012 Centennial Edition package will be available on all Corvette models and trim levels – including Grand Sport, Z06 and ZR1. Also on show sharing the stands were the new Sonic hatchback version and compact Spark city car.

Centennial edition of the ZO6 Corvette

Automan’s take 2011 is a milestone year for the bow-tie brand which also celebrated its 100th anniversary in November. The global product momentum is driving the brand successfully in both existing and emerging markets. More excitement is coming in early 2012 with the high-performance Camaro ZL1 -- the most technologically advanced car ever developed in its segment.

20


spotlight Camaro Special 45th anniversary edition Chevrolet Camaro, the Middle East and North America’s most popular sports car extends its momentum with several enhancements for 2012. Highlights include an improved version of its standard 3.6-litre direct injection V6 engine, a new FE4 performance suspension package for SS coupes and several interior and technology improvements, such as a revised instrument panel design, new steering wheel and rear camera system. These enhancements also arrive in time for Camaro’s 45th birthday, which will be celebrated with the release of the Chevrolet Camaro 45th Anniversary Special Edition. Continuing the tradition of Camaro anniversary models, the 45th Anniversary Special Edition carries all the upgrades for 2012, with additional unique design elements, inside and out.

Malibu The all-new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu made its global debut at the 2011 Auto Shanghai, with simultaneous introductions in the United States and China - two of the nearly 100 countries on six continents where it will be sold. Chevrolet’s first global midsize sedan will provide customers from Shanghai to New York and Sydney to Sao Paulo with expressive design, advanced technologies, ride performance and fuel-efficient powertrains. The new Malibu comes in LS, LT and LTZ trim levels when it goes on sale in the Middle East early next year.

Chevrolet TrailBlazer and Coloradio Rally Concept GM’s $2bn programme for developing several vehicles on a common platform reminds one of the success that Toyota has had with its IMV platform on which the Fortuner SUV, Hi-Lux pick-up and Innova MPV are built. Developed in parallel with the new mid-sized seven-seater Chevy TrailBlazer and Colorado one-tonner in Brazil, these new vehicles preview Chevrolet’s direction in their respective segments. Both cars will be sold as global models, beginning with Thailand in early 2012. The Colorado features an all-wheel-drive system and is powered by GM’s new 2.8-litre Duramax turbo-diesel engine, which features a variable-geometry turbocharger for an optimal combination of performance and fuel k-up economy. The Toyota Prado rival will also be built in Thailand and is due to touch down in Middle East showrooms as early as the second quarter of 2012, Thai floods permitting. The return of the Trailblazer with new truck underpinnings and

efficient powertrain also suggests GM’s prowess in combining the strengths of its various technical centres around the globe and formatting them for global applications. Although, the Trailblazer shares the same architecture as its truck sibling, its chassis has been tuned to combine heavyduty off-road capability with refined city driving.

21


McLaren Automotive McLaren Automotive marked the official launch of its Middle East network with the opening of its flagship Middle East showroom and the regional show debut of the first in its range of models, the MP4-12C at the Dubai show. The first model in McLaren’s new range of sports cars, the 12C is powered by a bespoke McLaren ‘M838T’ 3.8 litre, V8 twinturbo engine producing around 600bhp and helping the car propel from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.1secs and on to a top speed of 330km/h.

Automan’s take The GCC is one of McLaren Automotive’s most significant markets and the launch of luxurious showrooms and bespoke services reflect its commitment and confidence to the highest standards of customer care and expectations.

This part of the world is full of nuts. really well-educated car y travel the , itan pol mo They are cos what is see y the and rld around the wo happening. have experienced great we Consequently, tly ce its launch and curren interest in the 12C sin s nth six to eight mo have an order bank of of a performance er dov han for customer leading 12C

Racebred thoroughbred: A Formula track car built by McLaren and a bespoke MP4-12C [background] 22

Ian Gorsuch, McLaren Automotive’s regional director for the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific


Maserati

spotlight

Maserati is setting out to fill the gap of uplifting driving experience and luxury atmosphere with its new sport luxury SUV concept – the

Maserati Kubang, which had its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show. A forerunner of the future Maserati range, it at once creates

discontinuity by entering a new segment for the brand whilst maintaining the integrity of Maserati’s DNA.

Automan’s take The idea of a sport luxury SUV is naturally not totally new to Maserati. Many will remember the Kubang concept that was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in 2003. At a time in which few other brands were going in the direction of a sport luxury SUV, Maserati was already thinking to build one. And now with potential synergies with sister brand Jeep, there are bright chances that Maserati’s own interpretation of a sport luxury SUV will finally see the light of the day. As expected, no engineering details were revealed.

GranCabrio Fendi

The Dubai is l Motor Show Internationa ity un rt po fantastic op set to be a ting ci ex se its i to showca the for Maserat of e on is Middle East ati er future. The as M r fo tial regions e most influen th r fo our vision and we hope visitors to ri future th lls the show

MC Stradale Trofeo Umberto Cini, Managing Director of Maserati Middle East and Africa

23


ferrari Ferrari’s exciting new eight-cylinder convertible, the 458 Spider, shared the spotlight with the recently introduced V12 powered Ferrari FF. The third car was an exclusive customised Ferrari California that introduces an all-new bespoke programme for the region. The customization programme was first unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September and will virtually offer buyers almost unlimited customisation. A statement from Ferrari said: “This innovative programme enables clients to create an individual car, using exclusive and unique materials, colour and trim with the support of a dedicated team, as if it were a bespoke suit.” In creating truly bespoke car clients, Ferrari promises that customers will be assisted by their own Personal Designer throughout the decisionmaking process, right up until delivery. The Carrozzeria Scaglietti programme continues the range of personalisation options open to clients. Ferrari PR also displayed images of a 458 Italia complete with bright orange leather seats, as well as an FF finished in the famous white and blue of John Surtees’ 1964 Formula One championship-winning car. 24

Automan’s take Ferrari also joins the ranks of high-profile bespoke luxury car manufacturers. Branded as ‘Tailor-Made’, the programme provides customers with an extensive range of exclusive cloth trim, colours, finishes and technical materials for a final specification inspired by unique classic Ferraris and motor racing. The selection is available in three innovative collections - Classica, Scuderia and Inedita - specifically conceived by Ferrari’s Styling centre.

Motoring enthusiasts will have the opportunity to see the 458 Spider, which is sure to be one of the star attractions of this year’s event

Hossam Hosni, General Manager – Luxury Auto, Al Tayer Motors, the exclusive Ferrari representatives in the UAE.


Automan’s take The Aventador LP 700-4 has been awarded Best Supercar at the Middle East Motor Awards (MEMA) in November 2011. The award for the car was selected by a 19-strong panel of automotive journalists representing various titles from Lebanon, Oman [Automan], Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.

lamborghini

spotlight

Just launched a few weeks ago in the region including Oman, with the Aventador LP700-4, Lamborghini is redefining the very pinnacle of the world super sports car market - brutal power, outstanding lightweight engineering and phenomenal handling precision are combined with peerless design and the very finest equipment to deliver an unparalleled driving experience. Based on an innovative monocoque made from carbon-fiber that combines exceptional lightweight engineering with the highest levels of stiffness and safety, the car is powered by a new high revving 6.5-litre twelvecylinder engine producing 700hp with astonishing low-end torque. Thanks to a dry weight of only 1,575kg, the weight-to-power ratio stands at only 2.25 kg per hp. For purists, even the 0-100km/h acceleration figure of just 2.9 seconds and the top speed of 350 km/h do not fully describe the car’s extreme performance. And yet, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are down by around 20 per cent compared with its predecessor, despite the considerable increase in power (about +8%).

With the Gallardo LP570-4 Super Trofeo Stradale, Automobili Lamborghini is bringing motor racing excitement directly to the road. This new and most extreme top model in the Gallardo line-up is based on the successful race car from the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo, the world’s fastest single make series. With a dry weight of just 1,340kg, it beats the already lean Gallardo LP560-4 by a margin of 70kg. As a result, this Super Trofeo Stradale offers a stunning power-to weight ratio of 2.35kg per hp which translates from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.4secs and helps the reach 200 km/h just 10.4sec. The car tops out at 320km/h.

Green can also be mean, courtesy Lamborghini’s Performante With the new Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Spyder Performante, Lamborghini is setting a new benchmark in the most fascinating automobile segment of all - the open-top super sports car. As “Performante”, the Gallardo Spyder is even lighter thanks to advanced carbon fibre reinforced plastic technology, even more agile and even more dynamic. The new Spyder Performante is an automotive high-performance athlete that combines sheer sporting excellence and extreme performance with that unique open-air feeling that only a soft-top spanning the ten-cylinder power unit can offer. Ultimately, every spin in the Spyder Performante is like a journey into the eye of the storm. The Performante only weighs 1,485kg and is powered by a 5.2-litre V10 that develops 570hp for a 0 to 100 km/h sprint in a mere 3.9secs and a top speed of 324km/h. 25


Ford

What’s the reason behind Ford and Lincoln’s hyper performance [55 per cent] in the GCC at a time when the industry average is quite low? I’d say there are several factors -- strong products, expanding dealer network and increasing customer satisfaction levels. We delivered a solid performance this year and we’re very pleased with the results. Clearly our solid product lineup is leading the way for our growth and this marks another proof point in the ongoing success of the One Ford plan So, customer focus is among the priority areas? We will continue to serve our customers by offering them the products and technologies that they want. At the same time, continuously work with our dealers on delivering some of the best vehicle ownership experiences in the region. Has Ford expanded the line-up or continuing with the existing offerings? We currently offer a strong contender in almost every segment, from the B-Car Figo thru to the Explorer mid-size SUV, and the heavy duty F-Series trucks. It’s more than evident that the models we have introduced recently are striking a chord with customers. Your enhanced business target also means that additional investments will be required to achieve them. What’s happening on that front especially in the coming years? Our outlook for 2012 remains positive and we’re certain this trend will continue well into 2012 as customers increasingly look to Ford as a preferred option. As far as investments goes, Ford

is planning to open additional facilities in Saudi Arabia next year, with expansions also planned in Iraq and elsewhere throughout the region. But perhaps one of the most important areas that Ford Middle East has been taking actions on this year is customer service and after sales. Is that all? No. Besides the above, we have also in a technical centre in Jebel Ali for testing all-new vehicles before launch. The technical support teams evaluate the cars and the inputs are sent to our R&D facilities in Nevada and Texas. The Taurus, Mustang and the Figo underwent extensive testing in the region as a result. Besides, these investments, we will register an important milestone in Ford Motor Company’s history in the Middle East with the opening of our Middle East Parts Distribution Center in Jebel Ali in November from which we will support our entire regional network and provide parts faster to our retail partners and help them in offering efficient customer after-sales services. We are hearing a lot about ‘One Ford’ these days. What exactly does it mean and its impact at the core of your business? At its core, “One Ford” means One Team, One Plan and One Goal. This philosophy has allowed us to aggressively restructure where necessary in order to operate profitably at current levels of demand, while giving us the freedom to change the model mix and offer the products that our customers want and value. “One Ford” has also kept us goal-oriented, which has had the effect of greatly accelerating the development of the new products our customers want and value. Today, our One Ford plan is working. It helped us achieve profitability and grow our business despite a global recession. Consumers’ perceptions about Ford continue to strengthen, thanks to our ongoing introduction of new products that are leading in quality, fuel efficiency, safety, smart design and value. We continue to focus on the great products, stronger business and better world that lead to profitable growth for all.

Automan’s take It’s the right time and moment for Ford to firmly reinvest in its commitments for the region. Ford Middle East has invested in major customer satisfaction initiatives over the past year or so, including product engineering and testing as well as ongoing dealer training efforts.

Mustang commemorative edition in full glory

26


spotlight 2012 Ford Focus First unveiled at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, the new global is also a product of ONE Ford strategy. The model will be offered as a sporty five-door hatchback or sleek four-door sedan and stylish five-door wagon depending on market. Developed in Europe, for sale in over 120 markets worldwide with 80 per cent parts commonality, the next-generation Focus was the hero model created on a new global C-segment platform. Naturally, the Focus variants took centre stage on the Ford stand at the show.

2012 Ford Ranger The all-new Ford Ranger is the latest in a wave of global vehicles which is the impressive result of an all-new global compact pick-up truck platform from Ford [the latest to emerge under the company’s One Ford initiative and Mazda]. Technically, it replaces two previous-generation compact truck platforms currently in production in one go. The truck made its worldwide debut at the 2010 Australian International Motor Show. For sale across five continents and more than 180 markets, Ford Ranger will be offered as a complete family of compact trucks - with three different cab body styles, 4x2 and 4x4 drivetrains, two ride heights and up to five series choices, depending on the market. The flagship of the new range is the XLT Double Cab model powered by fuel-efficient new 2.2-litre Ford Duratorq TDCi diesel engine.

Ford’s continued flow of segment-leading products is more than evident on its stand inside Sheikh Saeed hall, with the regional debut of the much anticipated all-new 2012 Ford Focus and the all-new Ford Ranger 1-tonne pickup truck joining the extensive lineup of new-gen Ford models such as the all-new Ford Explorer, Edge, Taurus, Mustang, and F-Series.

2012 Ford Raptor The F-150 SVT Raptor is certainly raising the bar in the half-ton lifestyle-cum- off-road performance trucks segment by adding a SuperCrew option and more standard power and towing capability. The optional 411hp 6.2-litre V8 is now standard and now SelectShift Automatic™ transmission is offered. The F-150 SVT Raptor is seven inches wider than a base F-150 to make room for the additional suspension components. While the SuperCab and SuperCrew both have different strengths, each is worthy of the Raptor nameplate, according to Ford.

Automan’s take Following an unprecedented global development programme under the company’s ONE Ford strategy, the next-generation Ford Focus and Ranger pick-up are among the line-up set to continue the successful tradition of its predecessors and also demonstrate how Ford is changing in the immediate future.

We currently of fer a strong co ntender in almost ever y segment, from the B-Car Figo through to the Explorer mid-size SU V and the he avy duty F-Series truc ks

Larry Prien Managiing Director Ford Middle East

27


jaguar Executives from the Tata Motors-owned luxury British brand Jaguar held the global unveil for the new Sport and Speed option packs for the flagship Jaguar XJ saloon. Also on display was the award winning CX-75 supercar. Jaguar also debuted the convertible version of its sledgehammer 300km/h topping XKR-S sportscar at Dubai weeks before its LA unveil.

The new Jaguar XJ Sport and Speed Packs mance further unlock the perfor thetically aes h potential of the XJ bot tomers to cus g and dynamically, allowin ism even am dyn enhance that sporting looks as t tha XJ further and create an es” good as it driv

Automan’s take The blue-blooded performance-oriented XKR-S coupe’s electronically limited top speed may marginally fall shy of the magic 349km/h figure claimed for the short-lived XJ220 supercar of 1992. We think the new convertible will almost certainly be the fastest drop-top to wear the iconic cat badge.

Robin Colgan, Managing Director of Jaguar Land Rover MENAP

JLR executives pose with the stunning CX-75 concept car 28


land rover

spotlight

Automan’s take Land Rover’s product portfolio is changing and the line-up has a better focus. now Range Rover as a brand becomes stylish, efficient and performance oriented,s while the workhorse duties go to Land Rover badged cars. The dilemma is: as new markets are being added, how does the company attract new buyers?

Land Rover revealed a reconfigured prototype of the Land Rover DC100 Defender concept. The car maker claims this third prototype has been specially developed to suit the conditions of the Middle East. First unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2011, the Land Rover DC100 Defender concept explores the potential future direction of the iconic Land Rover Defender, a vehicle which captures the adventurous, daring, indomitable spirit of Land Rover like no other.

Robin Colgan, MD of Jaguar Land Rover MENAP on the DC 100

“We don’t comment on future product, however I can confirm that we had an overwhelmingly positive response from media, customers and VIPs when it was revealed at the Dubai International Motor Show. Replacing such a much-loved vehicle as Defender is always going to be controversial. These concepts are just examples of our current thinking. This project is about listening to the reaction from all audiences, including existing customers and fans from all parts of the world. This is especially true in the Middle East region where the Defender truly holds a special place in people’s hearts”. 29


infiniti Meanwhile, Infiniti is promoting its PR via sponsorship of the Red Bull Renault F1 team this year. It’s been a good year for the team and its star racing driver Sebastian Vettel, who tops the score boards in the 2011 F1 championships on points alone. A replica of the F1 car was also on display. While Vettel was busy in Yas Marina practising for the Abu Dhabi race, he wasn’t present during the regional unveil [he was present during the Frankfurt unveil] of the Infiniti FX Sebastian Vettel Version. Instead, team principal Christian Horner was at hand to introduce the car. The second car unveiled was the refreshed EX for 2012. Horner insists he has “complete trust” in Sebastian Vettel despite the double world champion setting nerves jangling on the pit wall at the past two races. Vettel has taken to showing off in Korea and India, cementing his victories from pole position with a last-gasp fastest lap, but a puncture during the second lap at Yas Marina saw Vettel sit out the rest of the race.

30

Automan’s take Most of the motoring media consider the FX a been a bit of a wild child in the premium crossover segment, mostly due to its polarizing exterior style and not to mention its superb performance. Infiniti has given the car a lifestyle twist by partnering with Formula One racer Sebastian Vettel to make it even more extreme, and the result is the signature edition.

We have an ongoing . Both relationship with Infiniti individual ise erg syn parties are keen to efit from ben to g kin loo strengths: Infiniti is ’re looking at rolling Formula 1 racing and we s is first project with out into other areas. Thi vehicle. Based Sebastian Vettel with this ’ll see what we t tha on the success of ure . fut in e don else can be

Team principal Christian Horner


nissan

spotlight

Automan’s take In June this year Nissan unveiled its global mid-term plan called Nissan Power 88. This plan targets an 8 per cent global market share and a sustainable 8 per cent operating profit by 2016.

First unveiled at the 2010 Shanghai Auto Show, Nissan’s new global Versatile or ‘V’ platform underpins the all-new tenth generation Sunny. A popular name for Nissan for the past 45 years since the model’s first launch in 1966. This new model is built in China/India has been completely re-designed and carefully fine-tuned to meet different tastes and needs of customers beyond its market segmentation. The ME models will be powered by Nissan’s second generation 1.5 litre HR engine. Also sharing the the limelight with an impressive array of 15 models including a special edition of the Patrol, full-size Titan pick-up, refreshed Murano and the beefed up GT-R, 370Z, Juke and Nissan’s zero-emission EV -- Nissan LEAF. However, the much awaited Micra wasn’t at the show nor was the Juke GT-R concept.

By adopting this product-led, customerbusiness focused approach to our ished Nissan as we have already establ nufacturers in one of the top selling ma market share of the Middle East with a d, but we are around 10%. This is goo going to do better

2012 Nissan GT-R

Just a few more weeks before the sub three second 0-100km/h refreshed GT-R becomes available for GCC customers. Nissan launched the revised edition as 2012 model year model. For the first time, the GT-R’s performance has made it capable of breaking the three second 0 to 100 km/h sprint barrier having recorded a 2.8 second time in Japan. Surprisingly, the bespoke version of the GT-R wasn’t at the show.

Gilles Normand Corporate Vice President at Nissan Africa, Middle East, India and Europe 31


KIA Although Kia Motors has one new car reveal, its spacious creative stand at the show lifted somewhat the bland and downsized presentation of many other car makers. It also reflected the state of mind too. Top officials from Kia Motors were in town to give a hand to Al Majid Motors- the exclusive UAE distributor for the brand. While the hatchback version of Kia’s compact B-segment fourth-generation Kia Rio was revealed at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show and launched a few months ago in the region, the Dubai show saw the launch of the sedan variant. The new Rios get Kia’s newly developed 1.4-litre normally-aspirated four-cylinder MPI CVVT engine. The engine produces 79kW at 6,300rpm and 135Nm of torque at 4,200rpm.

32

ssc

Pininfarina

Automan’s take Kia Motors as a rapidly expanding South Korean automaker brings a fresh wave of impressive styling and new engine technology to its line-up besides building confidence in markets. Designed to compete in the growing light car segment with the Ford Fiesta, Hyundai i20 and Mazda2, Kia will be looking to the Rio - the brand’s traditional volume seller to make a big impact in 2012.

[left]: Pininfarina Hyperion: The Euro three million creation doing show rounds since 2008. Still no takers for this quirky Rolls-Royce based one off! [above]: Shelby Super Cars Tuatara: named after a very fast lizard and shadows the Veyron with its 1350-hp 6.8-litre, twin-turbo V8 and claimed top speed of 444km/h!


spotlight

Seung Tack Kim, senior executive vice president

You could say Hyundai’s presentation of the lifestyle Genesis Prada and the Veloster sports hatchback was a bit of a show off. Question is why not? Hyundai has the freshest models in the market and its business is moving forward into new territory – especially after it announced its “New Thinking, New Possibilities” tagline. The world’s #5 automaker also stole the Dubai show with its stylish executive class 2012 Azera which was also unveiled at the LA show for the first time a week later.

HYUNDAI

Hyundai’s diverse line-up king, represents our “New Thin sophy. Each product New Possibilities” philo Hyundai is now an is making very clear that ve industry, because we innovator in the automoti so much we make our own. With don’t follow tradition, use is everybody’s brand beca dai Hyun , from se to choo ybody. We expect this ever for g ethin som e’s ther as we look forward to to reflect in the figures re we expect to whe , year t grea her anot worldwide cars on milli four sell

Automan’s take If Hyundai wants to flex its muscles, then this is the right time to do it. After getting the fundamentals of the business plans in the right place, this South Korean car manufacturer is moving into new ground with confidence. It’s making the right moves at the right time and in the process also making several brands a bit nervous!

33


lexus & toyota

The premium luxury brand from Toyota is banking on the all-new GS along with upgraded models in its line-up. Dubai saw the regional unveil of the first car to be built with the new design, the 2012 GS, which Lexus claims combines world-class luxury, evocative design, outstanding driving dynamics and innovative technology in what it sees as the ultimate luxury performance sedan in its class.

The all-new Lexus GS is the first car to ction showcase the new dire has car The nd. for the bra d, ere ine eng ed, been design t hou wit d ure act and manuf e mis pro com

Fatima Tomoum, Deputy General Manager of AlFuttaim Motors – Lexus

Toyota’s halo car is the co-developed near production FT-86 sports car. Toyota, please explain why is it still being showed around as a revised concept at motor shows?

Toyota’s real stars in the region: the all new Yaris [left] and seventh generation 2012 Camry

Automan’s take OK, the new Camry was a pre-production sample on show. We are still scratching our heads to find out a logical explanation as to why the interior was blacked out from public or media view by the exhibitors? Automan readers have to look no further. We are the first in the Middle East to offer the first drive impressions of this car. Read more in this issue or www.automanweb.com

34

Without a shade of doubt, two traditional best sellers in the B- and C-segment from Toyota in the region have been the Yaris and Camry respectively. Al Futtaim Motors, Toyota’s UAE retail partner introduced the all-new, seventh-generation Toyota Camry and the Yaris rather uninspiringly and focused on other things instead. The UAE media launch of the hatchback version of the all-new completely redesigned Yaris was held a day prior to the show. The new arrival features a remarkable attention to detail in the design and engineering , especially in this class of vehicle. From its smart, interior design and quiet, refined passenger cabin to its responsive driving dynamics, the 2012 Yaris answers car-shoppers’ demands for a nocompromise vehicle. Featuring a sportier, aggressive look, the incoming Yaris is bigger than its predecessor.


Besides entertainment by generation one of ASIMO’s famous robot for the masses, Honda’s stand had two refreshed models – the Pilot and City. According to Honda, the 2012 model Pilot includes significant improvements such as the introduction of top-of-the-line Touring grade and includes new features like HDD navigation system, DVD rear entertainment system, intelligent MID (i-MID), wide mode rear view camera, Bluetooth hands free phone and Bluetooth audio streaming among others. Meanwhile, the City now looks more like the CrossTour with its revised corporate nose, revised front and rear bumpers and new tail lamps.

After its Frankfurt debut, the compact Mazda CX-5 SUV was unveiled for the first time ever in the GCC at the Dubai Motor show. Already a celebrity of sorts, the Mazda CX-5 has been heralded as the first in a long line of Mazda motors to incorporate its latest SKYACTIV technology – a futuristic technology that gives higher fuel efficiency without compromising on performance. The stylish car uses Mazda’s new design philosophy - Kodo, meaning Soul of Motion and is powered by SKYACTIV-G 2.0litre petrol engine mated to a new six-speed automatic transmission.

honda

Mazda

Subaru revealed the new XV at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show, and the Dubai show saw the car’s first regional outing. The XV takes the company into the compact crossover territory for the first time. Like its concept precursor, the XV features a hexagonal grille and ‘hawk eye’ headlamps, while front and rear corners of the bumpers are equipped with special edges, designed to improve fuel efficiency and enhance aerodynamics. The new crossover’s interior is designed to allow the passengers plenty of room and car will be powered by a four-cylinder 2.0litre engine boasting high level of torque in the low- to mid-speed range.

subaru

spotlight

35


porsche

Porsche revealed its new 911 Carrera S to an ultra-enthusiastic crowd at the Frankfurt Motor Show just a few weeks ago. Redesigned after 48 years, the new 911 has a flat, stretched silhouette, exciting contours and precisely designed details. The 911 Carrera features a 3.4-litre boxer engine producing 350 horsepower and the 911 Carrera S with its 3.8-litre boxer engine producing 400 hp. Porsche also showcased what it calls its ‘racing laboratory’ -- the 918 RSR concept car.

HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum looks at the new two-tone leather interior Black/Flamenco Red now available for the Cayenne model range

Never mind the quirky names of cars made by China’s largest SUV maker in 2010, Great Wall Motor Company Limited. As one of China’s leading automobile exporters to over 60 countries including Middle East, this car maker uses technology from several Japanese brands such as Mitsubishi [for powertrains] and Toyota for chassis engineering. As of 2010, some Great Wall products including passenger vehicles and the new Hover (Haval H5) and Deer (Wingle 5) have obtained an EU whole vehicle type safety approval.

36

An authentic “British” brand now owned by a Chinese company SAIC. Since 2007, MG has been trying to establish itself once again as a flagship UK brand. While, rebadged cars are sold in China under the Roewe brand name, three new models – the 350, 3 and 6 for the region come from the global portfolio.

porsche mg & great wall

Automan’s take Porsche Intelligent Performance revolves around three tenets: innovative strength, technological leadership, environmental friendliness and safety.


spotlight

Peugeot

With the 508, Peugeot reaffirms its presence and its ambitions in one of its traditional strong suits, the grand touring car segment. As one of the key new models in Peugeot’s international offensive, the 508 will be produced in France for the European market, then in China. Environmental efficiency was a priority from the very start of the 407 replacement project. Lightweight construction, improved aerodynamic profiling and a variety of engine choices offering a power output from 112bhp to 204bhp should make this strikingly attractive car a good choice for punters in the region.

Automan’s take 2011 has been a year of transformation for Volkswagen Middle East with 19per cent growth year-to-date compared to 2010. This is mainly due to a number of new product introductions.

Renault’s squad for the Dubai show consisted of 10 cars that included current and facelifted models. Key highlights were represented by the Fluence, Safrane, Mégane hatchback and CoupeCabriolet, Laguna Coupe and Clio Renault Sport. The star of the show was the introduction of the Duster, a small crossover SUV by F1 racing driver Mark Weber. Alongside, Renault also displayed two of its zero emission models: Fluence and Kangoo Z.E. Also on display was the Red Bull Racing Renault Formula One race car. The Duster is manufactured in the Curitiba plant in Brazil.

Stefan Mecha, Managing Director VW ME

Volkswagen Middle East along with UAE retail partner Al Nabooda Automobiles had a full house this year. Besides the new Scirocco R, the line-up included the Golf GTI, and the Golf R alongside the Polo R WRC (World Rally Championship) model and the new Amarok pick-up. In addition, Volkswagen also showcased the latest Touareg, refreshed Tiguan in “Track & Field”, “Sport & Style” lifestyle editions, the Eos and the all-new Jetta Trendline and Comfortline edition. VW also showcased some interesting alternative driving systems including hybrid and CNG technology and Think Blue, Volkswagen’s sustainable and energy efficient solutions.

Mark Webber could find time to come out and help unveil the Duster

renault

vw porsche

Our aim at this year’s show is to kswagen present a range of Vol innovative s pas models which encom ign. We are des and German technology R at the co roc Sci previewing the new coupé st rtie spo event which is the n age ksw Vol ever created by

37


rolls-royce That the Middle East is one of the most important markets for Rolls-Royce was emphasized several times by Torsten Muller-Otvos, CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars at the show. And the reason for this was also clear: year-on-year in the region, sales of Rolls-Royce cars has gone up by 30 per cent. Muller-Otvos also reiterated that the prestigious ultra luxury brand had registered a double digit increase for global sales. Confidence of the brand at Dubai was certainly high as the details of the special models at the show were released one after the other. Included in the portfolio was the Ghost EWB [extended wheelbase] and the Riviera Phantom Drophead Coupe, which is inspired by the world of yachting. However, the star car was a bespoke Spirit of Ecstasy which had a diamond studded [2,700 to be exact and valued at whopping $250,000 alone Spirit of Ecstacy emblem. According to Rolls-Royce, it was a befitting tribute celebrating Automan’s take Incidently, during the year-long celebration, Rolls-Royce the centenary ear of the Flying Lady. quote

The Gu lf is an imp ortant market for Roll s-Royce , with ro sales b eing se bust en acro The reg ss all m ion con odels. ti nues to one po hold th sition in e n umber th e world Bespok for Roll e reven s R u oyce e per c highly ar, refle sophisti cting th cated c e ustome Rolls-R rs that oyce att racts

Torsten MullerOtvos, CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

38

has commissioned famous photographer Rankin to capture 100 images inspired by the Spirit of Ecstasy, the figurine famed for its prominent and defining position on the bonnet of every Rolls-Royce. The project has offered Rankin full artistic licence to create a modern and very personal interpretation of the legendary ‘flying lady’, with spectacular results. The special gallery was showcased at the LA Motor Show, a week after Dubai.


Al Ahli Football Club’s Technical Director and Ambassador and former captain of Italy’s 2006 FIFA World Cup-winning team Fabio Cannavaro commemorates the tenth anniversary of the brand’s arrival in the Middle East

The all-new MINI Coupé, the brand’s first ever two-seater and the sportiest model to join the MINI family, was on display for the first time since its Middle East debut. Also, making its debut in the Middle East following its global reveal at the Detroit Motor Show earlier this year, was the MINI Paceman Concept car, the first Sports Activity Coupé in the premium small car segment. The MINI Paceman Concept takes the fundamental strengths of MINI and gives them a fresh twist with the help of cutting-edge technology and an innovative body concept. It brings together the classical MINI concept, the defining features of the MINI Countryman and the style of a coupe - the result is a MINI “muscle car”.

bmw, mini

spotlight

The BMW Group stand also featured an exclusive ‘BMW Individual’ zone where a bespoke BMW 7 Series composition inspired by ‘Steinway & Sons’ was on display. This limited-edition model demonstrates the luxury motor manufacturer’s leadership in individuality. It is inspired by the aesthetics, quality and exclusivity of piano manufacturer Steinway & Sons and embodies the desire of both brands to harmoniously combine aesthetics, comfort and technical perfection. BMW Individual builds each of the BMW 7 Series ‘Steinway & Sons edition’ models to customer specifications using the normal or long-wheelbase versions of the luxury saloon. Just 100 of this limited-edition model BMW Individual 7 Series inspired by ‘Steinway & Sons edition’ have been produced worldwide. Vision ConnectedDrive concept

To mark the 40th Anniversary of the unification of the United Arab Emirates, which took place in December 1971, BMW Group launched the BMW 7 Series UAE 40th Anniversary Limited Edition at the 2011 Dubai International Motor Show.

Together with local importer AGMC, BMW Group showcased 16 models. On display for the first time in the Middle East, the BMW Vision ConnectedDrive is a demonstration of BMW’s intelligent networking between driver, vehicle and the outside world. Dynamic design and innovative technology reflect the vision of BMW ConnectedDrive and the potential that can be unleashed through an exchange of information that optimise comfort, safety and Infotainment inside a car. This sensational two-seat roadster concept study was joined by the all-new fifth generation BMW M5 that goes on sale this month, as well as the exclusive BMW 7 Series “Steinway & Sons Edition” and a BMW 7 Series “UAE Edition” which celebrates 40 years of the UAE. Also at the show from BMW M Division was the premiere of the X6M fitted with the Special M-Performance Kit as well as the BMW 1 Series M Coupe and X5 M. In addition to the new BMW 6 Series Coupe, the Convertible body style is also on display. Both models are fitted with the BMW M Sport Package and feature BMW Individual interior highlights and exterior colours. Also on show is the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo and the all-new BMW X3 Sports Activity Vehicle.

39


The 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 uses the proven 6.4-litre HEMI V8 engine that delivers 470hp and 470lb.-ft. of torque across a wide rpm range. The Challenger’s new and exclusive SRT steering wheel features mounted paddle shifters.

Originally revealed on the all-new 2012 Chrysler 300S models, the industry-first partnership between Chrysler and Beats™ By Dr. Dre™ is now expanding the studio quality sound experience of Beats by Dr. Dre technology into more Chrysler 300 models, including the 300 Limited, 300C and new 300C Executive Series. However, Middle East availability of the Chrysler 300 with the Beats™ by Dr. Dre™ audio system is still to be confirmed. Over the t pas year, Chrysler enjoyed Group Middle East has h sales tremendous growth, wit significant increase consistently showing a East has always since 2008. The Middle globally, making played an important role Chrysler Group’s a major contribution to expect this to worldwide sales, and we continue

Jack Rodencal, Managing Director, Chrysler Group Middle East

40

Chrysler, Dodge & Jeep

Across the three Chrysler Group LLC brands, making their Middle East premieres at the show were the allnew 6.4-litre HEMI® powered 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, the 2012 6.4litre HEMI® Dodge Challenger SRT8 and the refreshed Chrysler 300C.

Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 By far, the most powerful and technologically advanced high-performance Jeep vehicle ever made that combines in one package capability and utility. Also using the 470hp 6.4-litre HEMI V8 with Fuel Saver Technology, every ounce of performance has been extracted by the engineering team at Chrysler Group’s Street and Racing Technology (SRT).

Automan’s take It’s nice to see the focus on performance badge products in the line-up. We have question: what happened to the MOPAR programme that was announced a while ago? Is it still on?


spotlight They are separated by 13389.74kms and span across mighty oceans and continents, but they share the same passion for cars. Almost back to back in terms of ‘events of influence’, the 11th edition of the Dubai motor show may have been a shade paler than its European counterpart, say Geneva or Frankfurt, but that doesn’t mean Dubai was a whitewash. In fact, less than a week later when reports started coming in from the Los Angeles show, things started becoming clearer. It also became obvious that automakers, especially the top end players still consider Middle East having great potential for their merchandise. Whatever, the truth about the numbers, we discovered some significant trends in both the shows. Here’s a look.

Aston Martin V12 Zagato: First launched the in late May at the famous Villa D’Este Concours on Lake Como, Dubai saw the bright orange track version while the LA show drew a blank.

SSC Tuatuara: Till now, the car was basically a body on a rolling chassis. At Dubai, it was the first time that the car was revealed with full specs including its Bugatti Veyron bashing figures.

Did the premier Middle East motor show up stage LA last month? Automan checks out the possibilities

Dubai vs LA

Porsche: German sports carmakers introduced the Panamera GTS at LA as a tasty four-passenger sedan with a bit more spirit and punch. We’ll stick to the all-new 911 Carrera S for now.

Not just a sub brand: Volkswagen is actively promoting it ‘R’ performance division. It debuted the production ready Beetle R Concept in Los Angeles and the series production Scirocco R in Dubai. Obviously, Ulrich Riestenpatt Richter, R’s Executive Director, and Dr Hendrik Muth, R’s marketing head, are looking to the future.

Hyundai Azera: launched in the ME a few months ago, the new arrival had its first public unveil at LA.

Peugeot 508: The French brand introduced an elegant and stylish sedan at Dubai. Sadly, the trendy European brand isn’t represented in the US yet!

Saimese twins: Thailand’s flood problems have pushed the launch of GM Brasil designed Colorado pick-up and Prado bashing seven-seater Trailblazer production models to mid-2012

41


‘One Ford’: The Escape, Focus, Fiesta and Ranger are significant global products coming out of the company’s new and integrated strategy. The Ranger has been one of Ford’s most popular pick-ups across the globe for over two decades with different versions for US and Asia. Meanwhile, Ford’s Ecoboost technology is now applied to smaller four cylinder 1.6-litre engines. In the new Escape it will be frugal, in the Fiesta ST, the same engine will be hot and performance oriented.

Did Dubai upstage LA?

Mustang mania: Ford claims the bored-out 5.8-litre 650hp 2013 Shelby GT500 shown at LA is the most powerful production V8 in the world. Middle East gets the value-packed muscle-car with GT500-inspired facelift for 2013, along with a few mild tweaks.

42

Jaguar concepts: Jaguar presented an updated version of the C-X16 Concept that initially debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The car was presented by Jaguar design chief Ian Callum who all but confirmed that a version of the C-X16 would be put into production. Dubai saw the CX-75 for the first time in flesh.

Camaro power: Team Chevrolet is happy to point out that this sledge-hammer-of-a-drop-top ZL 1 is the most powerful production Chevy ever produced in the brand’s 100-year history. Dubai saw the 45th Anniversary Special Edition.

Mazda CX-5: Mazda says that the Skyactiv 2.0litre-based powertrain should return best-in-class fuel economy figures and grunt.

Audi Q3: Audi is venturing into a new market segment with this compact SUV. The car was a surprise unveil at Dubai.

Actually, the Dubai motor show last month was quite good if one also considered Los Angeles. Both shows had market specific models and some concepts. It was also clear that niche automakers are playing the game according to market specifics – be it concepts or production models. For example, executives from Aston Martin told us in Dubai that there were still a few One-77s available for sale, but the ME focus was for the V12 Zagato. Likewise, USbased niche carmaker Shelby Super Cars [SSC] felt that the ME was a better place to prospect than US for its new Tuatuara hyper performance car. If we were asked to compare and score, we’d say both shows would appear with similar score cards.


spotlight

Chevy Spark: After setting the roads alight in emerging markets such as India, this compact city car wants its presence felt in US and M E too!

Power entry: An important model in US and ME, the most powerful to date it should be more fun.

Separated at birth: Subaru BRZ and Toyota FT-86 concepts. Both mechanical twins in near production stages three years after debut.

Did Dubai upstage LA?

Subaru’s new compact crossover SUV name finalized at LA for US market. XV Crosstrek as it will be known in the US, should help to further differentiate the new variant from the Impreza.

Lincoln: Refreshed inside out with performance upgrades, the facelift 2013 MKS is the first from the brand to sport a renewed profile and is the beginning of a new era.

Land Rover DC 100 concept: Should it be evolutionary or should it be revolutionary? That’s probably what executives are asking after the fourth interpretation of the concept in LA. Dubai saw the third prototype.

Out of the shadows: The fourth generation Honda CR-V hits US dealerships this month. No news for ME as of now.

Bentley GTC: both markets are equally important for the British luxury carmaker and this new open top.

In expansion mode: Cadillac is expanding from three models to five next year. The production version of XTS and ATS compact debut in Detroit.

Supercar entry: The first product of the newly formed McLaren Automotive, an offshoot of the F1 team, now officially hits the world markets in the form of the MP4-12C. More models are planned soon.

While the number of new concept vehicle introductions has reduced in the past few years due to mostly budget constraints, there are a few automakers still testing waters with old concepts – Maserati with the Kubang SUV, Toyota with the gen II FT-86 and Subaru with the BRZ concept. In-between, Land Rover finds itself on the crossroads of development with its Defender replacement concept. The SUV specialist has two options – either revolutionise the package or move forward as an evolutionary project. Hopefully, the feedback from the three shows will give some direction in this respect.

Automan’s take Eitherway, given the current market conditions, the mood in general was positive and encouraging and the outlook for 2012 seems to be consolidation more than anything else.

43


{COVER

STORY}

t c a e n i l A head Editorial Nominee toyota camry mid-sized sedan

I

t’s no secret in the automotive world that even for the seasoned product planners the job of redesigning a perennial top seller like the Toyota Camry isn’t easy. While, Toyota has manufactured and sold 15mn Camry models across 100 countries since it debuted way back in 1983, the carmaker also realizes that the segment has grown considerably with competition and the game has moved up with a host of new and attractive body styles and feature loaded models coming regular intervals. Things can get tough even for the seasoned players like Toyota. After all, over the years, the popular Camry has become the model by which all other mid-sized creations must measure themselves. However, the past two years or so has been particularly tough for Toyota not because Ford, Hyundai, Kia or Volkswagen unveiled an array of products designed specifically to lure Camry loyalists away, but Toyota’s expensive PR problems in the US, Europe and capping that the devastating aftermath of Tsunami in

44

Japan and the recent Thailand floods.. But, Toyota being Toyota, the extremely strong-willed carmaker hasn’t given up hope and has entered a completely re-engineered seventh-generation model six months before its traditional lifecycle [which usually takes place in five years] introduction. Considering the fact that the outgoing model [also known as the XV40] has pleasant proportions and dimensions besides a competent chassis, it’s not surprising that Toyota’s engineers preferred to carry forward this platform. Toyota’s size experimentation with the Camry was signed off in 1992 when the dimensions grew and officially the model was promoted from compact to mid-sized. While the car has been re-skinned, at first glance, from the exterior, it retains a similar profile of its predecessor. This also means that latest generation carries itself with dimensions identical to the outgoing model. It’s also no secret that critics have often commented on the generic design of the outgoing Camry,


Neither being flashy or anonymous, the all-new seventh generation 2012 Toyota Camry enters an extremely busy and fast growing segment with a host of upgrades. Automan is the first in the region to test drive this new arrival 45


{COVER

STORY}

stylish interior Finally, an interior that new Camry owners can talk about. An all-new dashboard with saddle stitching on the instrument panel, soft touch plastics and matching stitchinglook trim elsewhere helps to create a sense of luxury. Knobs, buttons and controls are intuitive and within easy reach. A Bluetooth wireless connection for compatible hands-free phone calls is standard, now improved by an available automatic phone book transfer function. Also standard is a USB port that allows playing of music and video from portable audio devices, using the vehicle sound system and available in-dash display screen, including full iPod integration

Rear head room not affected even in moon roof models

A completely new nose incorporates a refreshed headlamp design

OCCUPANT FOCUS The accelerator pedal and front seats were moved forward, and the rear-seat hip point was positioned rearward, increasing the couple distance by 0.6in together with reshaped front seatbacks help increase rear-knee room by 1.8in. The redesigned centre console and front edge of the rear-seat cushion increase rear middle seat legroom by two inches

46


solid construction The 2012 Toyota Camry body structure uses a greater amount of high tensile steel (440 Mpa or higher) than before and even stronger high tensile strength sheet steel (590 Mpa or higher), resulting in a stronger but lighter body than the previous model. A flared design on the doors and fenders enables use of slimmer but stronger construction. High tensile aluminum bumper supports are lighter yet stronger than before. Newly developed plastic for the bumper covers and cowl louvers reduces weight as well

Engine revisited The 2.5-litre four-cylinder normally aspirated engine has been improved to offer extra horses and torque without sacrificing on fuel economy. It uses the Atkinson cycle to achieve maximum efficiency. The Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) system on the intake camshaft enhances torque by 3kg-m when compared with the previous engine. internal friction, boosting economy. Also two more cogs have been added

F1 technology application Rear-combination lamps and sideview mirrors on the 2012 Camry incorporate aero stabilizing fins, inspired by Formula One racing technology, that create air vortexes on the body sides to stabilize the body and contribute to handling stability. Underbody aerodynamic elements regulate airflow under the vehicle, also contributing to ride smoothness.knobby treads make all the difference in performance

size matters The new 2012 Camry stays true to the proven Camry formula. In fact its major exterior dimensions, things like overall length, width, height and the relative position of its tyres, remain unchanged

47


{COVER

STORY}

The seventh generation confidently manages to inject a bit of excitement, style and additional value. Toyota believes that’s a promise to make this new arrival as popular as its predecessor

48

but many will still not be moved with the new looks either. Although with its sharpened looks and angular front and rear light assemblies, the car does look contemporary and sleeker. For us knowing the fact that Toyota is quite conservative in its design, actually it would be impossible to visualize a Camry in the hands of a radical designer. Meanwhile, Toyota calls this new design language “rational tech-dynamism.” To a keen eye, there’s a lot to discover in the revised sheetmetal. In fact, there’s a good dose of functionality in the Camry’s new avatar. Toyota has worked to make the Camry as slippery as possible and part of the technology influences come from Toyota’s experience in Formula One. As such, all trims are now built with squared-off aero corners at the front and rear. While, the car may look blunt and slabsided, but its drag coefficient at Cd 0.27 not only is class leading, it also beats several high profile sports cars such as 997 Series Porsche 911 [Cd 0.28]! Also Toyota claims that the car’s underbody is flat and directly borrowed from its Formula One racing experience are the veined rear lower valance between the exhausts on either side and one can’t fail to notice rather squarish rear end with a lip spoiler, which seems to be influenced by the Germans. Meanwhile, a careful look the roofline suggests that it has been revised along with the narrowing of the A-pillar and marginal change in the front windscreen’s rake. Actually, the profile of the roof near the top of the windscreen has been modified to help improve the view out. At the rear, the flatter rear roof line and modified C-pillar design improves rear-seat headroom by 0.3in, while the squarer rear door opening enhances rear-seat access. There’s more legroom in back, too on account of revised front seatback sculpting and upright positioning besides the re-sculpting of the middle seat base to help free more leg room. Other noticeable changes include the pushing forward of the rear of the centre-console and the carved out contours at the rear for the headliner. Interestingly, even with moonroof, the headliner design remains unchanged. In unibody construction, one of the objectives was to reduce mass but at the same time maintain structural rigidity. Toyota says that is has increased use of high- and ultra-high-strength steel blanks in strategic areas which combine help produce a more rigid structure that makes the new car lighter by about 60kg. Newly developed plastic for the bumper covers and cowl louvres reduces weight as well. Well, if the exterior fails to impress outright, then it’s better to be indoors and Toyota reckons this is an area that required most attention and


Key Camry career milestones 1987-1991

Markets got a taste of Toyota’s rapid pace of development when the popular Camry was redesigned after just four model years as a second-generation entry with body variants such as station wagon. All-wheel drive and the model’s first V6 engine was also introduced.

1992-1996

In 1992, Toyota launched the third generation Camry and the big news was an increase in size that took the model from the compact-car class to the midsize category. Unadventurous but attractively rounded new styling, larger engines, introduction of a coupe body style, and the gradual addition of standard airbags also were parts of the four-year career cycle.

climate functions. In 2003, power-adjustable pedals were newly optional on models with automatic transmission.

2007-2011

Camry ushered in its sixth generation in 2007 with new styling and more muscle -up to 268hp -- and first-time availability of a gasoline/electric hybrid version. The car had a more muscular appearance thanks to all-new sheet metal on a 2.2in longer wheelbase while height was trimmed by an inch. Most body

1997-2001

1983-1987

Toyota introduced the Camry into the Americanmarket mainstream with a roomy, economical compact that drew new buyers to the Japanese brand. Built in Japan, the Camry model line consisted of a four-door sedan and a fourdoor hatchback and also switched its compact car from rear-wheel drive to front-wheel drive. By 1987, Camry was the company’s top-selling model. A few years later, it displaced the Ford Taurus and Honda Accord as America’s most popular line of passenger cars, a title it has held most every year since.

More increases in size and power marked the fourth-generation Camry. Safety moved ahead with the addition of side airbags, and Toyota took the coupe version in a new direction, and even branched out with a convertible. A 2.2-litre four-cylinder engine and 3.0-litre V6 were available for each “grade,” but the four-cylinder was upgraded from 125 to 133hp, while the V6 was tweaked to 194hp. A four-speed automatic transmission was standard except on the four-cylinder CE (where automatic was optional) and the V6 CE, which came only with five-speed manual. This Camry was the first front-drive Toyota to offer traction control.

2002-2006

With new styling that made it look more than ever like a baby Lexus, the 2002 Toyota Camry signaled the start of yet another design generation for this landmark sedan. Styling wasn’t the only Lexus like attribute of the new Camry; its mechanical refinement was worthy of Toyota’s luxury brand, too. Another new option was Camry’s first navigation system, operated from a dashboard touch screen that also absorbed some audio and

dimensions were carried forward unchanged and an updated 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine with 158hp was offered. ME markets got 4-speed automatic transmission.

1997

2001

2006

Automan’s take What’s the secret of this stupendous success? It’s not trendy appeal or driving fun. Although, Camry has grown larger, more powerful, and more luxurious over the years, it has never tried to be anything more than a no-nonsense mainstream family car. Its key traits have always been solid engineering, high-grade workmanship, and strong value for money, a combination most competitors don’t match. Camry also enjoys Toyota’s reputation for high reliability and strong resale value, two more factors that keep it demand as both a new car and used car. 49


{COVER

STORY}

Toyota is only playing catch-up with itself because, recent PR difficulties aside, the Camry was still the top-selling car at the end of 2010, a feat it may yet repeat again in 2011

50


resource allocation. In fact, to be sure that this was the right way of doing things, a rather unusual method was employed to gather information. It is reported that in the US, chief engineer Yukihiro Okane summed up a group of Camry loyalists and rejecters alike and gave a mythical $100 and asked them where on the car they would spend it if they were him. The results were indicative enough: items such as the dashboard, central console and seats topped the list. As a result, the interior is where most attention has been given and it’s not just design but also choice of materials, trims fit and finish. If I remember correctly, this will be for the first time in Camry history, a succeeding model hasn’t grown. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t significant changes – especially inside the car. Toyota designers redesigned the cabin quite intelligently to offer slightly more head, leg and shoulder room. The first thing we note inside the car is gone the wave of plastic of its predecessor along with the uninspired central console and thin rimmed steering wheel. Instead, there’s a welcome designer dashboard sporting new and additional analogue and digital instrumentation, complementary textures, handsome trim and elegant leather saddle inspired double stitching and a thick walled steering wheel. Even the divided into two zone front climate control layout looks logical and well placed beneath the 6.1in touchscreen audio system. There’s a busy multifunctional tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel to hang onto and redesigned lighter but more supportive seats that are covered with a higher grade of fabric. In terms of trendy features, there’s Bluetooth and a six-speaker CD sound system with auxiliary input and USB jacks. From the steering-wheel-mounted audio and Bluetooth controls the systems can be operated and we were impressed with the seamless and quite fast streaming capabilities of the Bluetooth system. A premium 10-speaker JBL audio system integrated with a 7in touchscreen hard-drive-based navigation system is also available depending on grade. Meanwhile, common on all Camry trims is the 60:40-split fold-down rear seat. And unseen to most of us, Toyota has also modified the rear section of the chassis to accommodate a battery pack that’s been moved forward 5.5in to increase boot space to 15.0c-ft Under the bonnet is a modified 2.5-litre fourcylinder engine from the 2AR-FE series which

was introduced all-new in 2008/09 with a new six-speed automatic transmission. The key engineering modification is the introduction of dual CVVT in the exhaust manifold and the chief benefit if this is not only a free flowing exhaust but also some enhancement in output and torque. With the revised arrangement, the Camry’s powertrain offers 182hp and 170lb-ft of torque at 6,000 and 4,100rpm respectively. We do understand what a stiffer and lighter structure can do for handling and ride. And so does Toyota’s suspension engineers. The stiffened cowl section increases suspensionarea rigidity, suppressing twist. The front-suspension towers are directly connected through the cowl to increase rigidity, and the attachment method and reinforcement braces have been strengthened. The all-new rear underbody and rear subframe increase lateral force control and torsional rigidity. While the key elements in the suspension architecture remain unchanged — MacPherson struts up front and dual-link struts in back — but to cope with the structural changes, some fine-tuning has been done to ensure compliant ride and handling. As a result, the rear lateral links have been altered to produce a stabilizing dose of roll understeer. The 2012 Toyota Camry comes with a battery of standard safety features, including antilock brakes with brake assist, stability control, front- and rear-seat side airbags, fulllength side curtain airbags, and knee airbags for both driver and passenger. Driving impressions Once settled in, the new Camry’s cabin feels slightly roomier. The thinner A-pillars do help increase forward visibility and narrower door panels open up elbow room. According to Toyota, the electric power steering (EPS) expands from the hybrid model [not sold here] to the entire line-up and this brings some smiles to the driver. While, the Camry hasn’t exactly morphed into a driver’s car, in our opinion few drivers will find a reason to opt for any engine other than the standard four cylinder. It’s powerful and refined, and it moves the Camry with plenty of reserve. The response feels better at highway speeds and turn-ins more effective as if someone infused some life into the car. On road, the car

feels luxurious as better dashboard and firewall insulation helps in drastic noise reduction. While, engine hum detectably lower and the cabin very well insulated, some road noise can filter in from the tyres depending on what surface the car is being driven on.

On the bright side, this new Camry feels more planted to the road and less disturbed by bumps, the result of refined rear suspension tuning and the improvements made to enliven the car’s handling dynamics were put to stringent test by Automan on its very own designed fast corner – the 15 per cent stiffer springs and 50 per cent firmer shocks do what they are designed to do 100 per cent. The six-speed automatic transmission houses the same gear ratios as before, but as the final-drive gearing is lower and torque converter lockup tendency expanded across the rev range and hence the gears hold a bit longer while the engine programmes itself to offer better fuel economy [there’s an eco light on the dash now plus real time data is also available on the digital display]. The flip-side is that in Tiptronic mode, the gearbox does an admirable job of executing quick, rev-matched downshifts. Verdict We are seriously impressed with the total packaging of the seventh generation Camry. While these days the trend suggests revolution in design and over all content, but Toyota’s conservative approach doesn’t allow it to take a risk or afford to have controversy in its design and at the same time needs to get the best out of its resources, given the problems it has [along with other Japanese manufacturers] in Japan and other expensive issues elsewhere. Overall, with the comfort and engineering refinement, it’s a package worthy of its badge and is aimed at the heart of the market where value, fuel economy, safety, quality and comfort are deciding factors for punters.

51


Bike news}

Two-wheel extravaganza The biggest European bike event in Milan, Italy followed by the NEC in Birmingham, UK suggests that confidence is returning in the motorcycle industry as it moves forward into 2012. Automan takes a look at the rising stars from these shows.

From Italian exotics, Japanese superbikes, British manufacturing resurgence and a new wave of maxi-scooters, it couldn’t have been better way to round off 2011 for two-wheeler aficionados. While the past couple of years have seen minimalistic participation in important bike shows in the European continent, 2011 ushers in a bright hope for 2012 and beyond. We take a look at the twowheelers that were true show stunners. 53


BMW BMW unveiled two new maxi scooters at EICMA – the C600 Sport and C650GT. Both scooters are powered by a 650cc two cylinder in-line engine giving a max power output of 60hp transmitted to the rear wheel by means of a CVT gearbox. What separates the two is primarily the seating position: the Sport version is slightly higher than the GT which has a softer seat. Both machines have generously sized ABS brake systems as standard. A daytime running light, to enhance safety, is also available as an option. In addition to low fuel consumption, both scooters already fulfill Euro-4 emissions standards.

Ducati Ducati had been releasing bits of information and images of its all-new 1199 Panigale and the unveiling and first public outing took place at Milan. Pronounced “Pan-ee-gah-lee”, the new model breaks with Ducati’s Superbike tradition by adding a name to its 1,199cc engine making a significant and warm association to its historic roots in the Borgo Panigale area of Bologna. In an Italian territory known as “Motor Valley” and where high performance and racing runs through the veins of its passionate people, Ducati now underline their pride in being world ambassadors for the “Made in Italy” title by immortalizing their home town in the name of the new Superbike. Besides the Panigale, the Diavel duo also commanded sizable presence. For the first time, the Diavel Cromo and the special edition Diavel AMG were revealed. Meanwhile, the Multistrada family showed off its latest - the Pikes Peak Special Edition in celebration of its recent successes at this famous hill climb in Colorado.

Honda Honda is experimenting with innovative concepts and produced two middle-class motorcycles NC 700X and the NC 700S and the the Crosstourer to compete with the multiple use BMW R 1200 GS. Both NC 700 S and the X-model are powered by an in-line 48hp 670cc twin-cylinder engine and are also equipped with ABS. The S is a naked and the NC 700X sports a body in line with the very popular crossover segment. Honda also offers dual-clutch transmission in these bikes with full automatic transmission mode option. The Integra is a scooter that is powered by a newly developed engine

54


Bike news} Suzuki At the UK show, Suzuki unveiled the new Inazuma 250 which is an all-new model for the European market. The Inazuma features a parallel twin 248cc engine, with modern styling inspired by the B-King and GSR models and practical features offering a new choice for riders looking for a user-friendly, fuel efficient machine with fresh and innovative looks.

Return of Lambretta Lambretta was a line of motor scooters originally manufactured in Milan, Italy by Innocenti. Today, the Innocenti brand name rights are owned by Fiat whereas the oldest Lambretta and Lambro trademark registrations worldwide are owned by Lambretta Consortium. Lambretta scooters were also manufactured under licence by Fenwick in France, NSU in Germany, Serveta in Spain, API in India, Yulon in Taiwan, Pasco in Brazil, Auteco in Colombia and Siambretta in Argentina. With the all-new Lambretta LN 125 scooter, the brand stages a comeback. The new model keeps all the style and charm of its 60s and 70s heritage, but underneath and on the road it is a totally modern machine. The brand now has ambitious plans to re-enter its former markets with an array of new machines.

Vespa Technically, the Quarantasei concept unveiled at EICMA is possibly the most futuristic looking Vespa ever designed. The Quarantasei is named for the number 46, which represents the year Vespa first began producing scooters. Designed by the Vespa Pontedera Style Center, the Quarantasei maintains classic Vespa lines established from the original 1945 MP6 prototype, the “Wasp” that became forefather of all Vespas. The most distinguishable element of the Quarantasei’s design is the aggressive forward lean in the rear, emphasized by the hanging seat and the way the bottom of the frame rises up towards the wasp-like tail. While the design is purely a concept, a glimpse of possible future models, its powerplant is very real and likely to go into production in upcoming scooters. Piaggio developed a new fuel-injected 125cc fourstroke, three-valve air-cooled engine for the Quarantasei.

Automan’s take Vespa has built a reputation for classic, retro-styled scooters, trading on its iconic styling. Now it opens a new chapter. 55


Yamaha Yamaha have ramped things up a few notches with an update of the old TMAX. The refreshed TMAX now has a new 530cc DOHC in-line twocylinder fuel injected engine which we’re led to believe provides improved acceleration with plenty of torque in the low to mid range. The double chain transmission has also been replaced with a new drive belt. Stopping power has been upgraded with two 267 mm brake discs at the front and a larger 282 mm disc at the rear. Overall aesthetics have changed quite dramatically, sporting new R1 inspired headlights, a new dashboard and redesigned bodywork throughout. The TMAX now looks decidedly more aggressive and assertive. With a new die cast aluminum swing arm and new transmission the TMAX is also 4 kg lighter bringing the overall weight down to 200 kg. In an increasingly competitive sector of the market, Yamaha look likely to retain their share.

Italjet

Midalu Czech manufacturer FGR showed up at the 2011 EICMA with its much-talked about his exotic bike called Midalu FGR 2500 V6. The model has been developed with the support of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic, and it has been in the works for six years. The 90° V6 engine displaces 2,442cc and produces 240hp and about 200Nm of peak torque for that jaw-dropping performance.

Italian manufacturer Italjet introduced at the EICMA the revamped versions of two historic model names: Velocifero and Dragster. The new version of the Dragster boasts several aesthetic modifications and will be initially available with a 50cc engine while a 125cc engine from Piaggio will join the line-up later. Meanwhile, the new Velocifero will be allelectric motorcycle.

Breaking news from Tokyo Honda describes the RC-E as an electric version of a supersports bike, claiming a powerful and smooth ride for an electric vehicle within the compact form of a 250cc-class motorcycle. The images clearly show Brembo calipers and Ohlins suspension, and we especially like the LED headlights and the retro styling. The RC-E remains at this moment purely a concept. Yamaha has released new details for its Y125 MOEGI following the concept model’s debut at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show. Styling-wise, the MOEGI looks like a cross between a bicycle and the YA-1, Yamaha’s first motorcycle, introduced in 1955. Other features include fuel injection, a four-speed transmission, belt drive and low-maintenance LED lights.Yamaha also claims fuel economy of 80 km/l (about 188 mpg), though with only a 0.8 gallon tank, range is limited to 150 miles or so. 56

According to a post on CycleNews.com visitors to EICMA 2011 voted Ducati’s new Panigale superbike the “Most Beautiful Bike of Show” in a vote organized by the Italian bike magazine, Motociclismo. The new Ducati collected 53 per cent of the votes from nearly 14,000 participants. The MV Augusta F3 Serie Oro collected 15 per cent of the vote for second place, with 3 per cent of the vote going to Husqvarna’s Nuda 900R for third.


PREVIEW

Turning

point

Author Chandan B Mallik

58


B

The new mid-size model arrival definitely reconnects with the past with its dynamic and elegant lines

MW has considered the E21 as the original forebear of the 3-Series since 1975 and there’s a good reason for that. This E21 was produced from 1975 to 1983 and had worldwide sales of 1.36mn, although the car was not particularly popular in the US for various reasons. It was replaced by the 2002 model, which itself was a two-door sports sedan based on the four-door 1600. Actually, the 2002 is revered as the model which cemented the company’s reputation for compact sporting sedans. However, under the direction of a new majority shareholder, Herbert Quandt, things moved fast at time when the British motor industry had come close to cracking the formula [but missed the opportunity of combining a spirited compact sedan for day-to-day use. Instead, it was producing cars such as Rover’s P5, which was considered too soft for a sports car or a Triumph’s Dolomite which was too raw to be classed as an executive car. Under Quandt’s directions, BMW decided upon a befitting replacement for their ageing 2002, which itself was very reminiscent of the Dolomite and a classic in its own right with a

3

new formula that gave it a long lasting blueprint for lasting success, including the then and future models. The E30 fitted the bill perfectly. With its model series success, over the years, the 3-Series sedan has established itself as the ‘original’ in the compact sports sedan segment and off-late has come to symbolise the aesthetic appeal, dynamics and sporting capabilities of BMW cars. With such a solid foundation, the sixth generation attempts to reconnect with the past, especially, as the fifth generation with its uncharacteristic Banglestyling seemed to be looking the other way. The new car is built on a new platform and in the process has grown up in dimensions. At launch [Feb 2012], the car will be offered with two petrol and two diesel engines. BMW will be offering turbo charging and direct injection in the 2.0-litre four cylinder [with two output levels]. The diesels will also benefit from Efficient Dynamics packaging. Eight-speed transmission will be common to all variants.

Allnew sixth generation 2012 BMW 3-Series promises a new direction in the model series and much more 59


Elegance from the 7-Series serves as the key source of influence out here. High gloss trim – be it chrome or black will outclass anything in the segment.

Sport Line

This is where we will put our money. The style looks at class sophistication with satin effect aluminium trim complemented with saddle leather stitching. Our favourite detailing would be the turbine-styled alloy rims!

Luxury Line

Modern Line

PREVIEW

A nice combination of black trim with chrome surrounds, specialized leather stitching and in general 5-Series executive class influence all around. Sports seats can be specified in a choice of three upholstery variants and four colours.

M Sports package As expected a bit more functional than cosmetic M badging. Powertrain remains stock, suspension is where the action its. Driver will be able to lower it by 10mm. Some aerodynamic tweaks/kit also offered.

Going the lifestyle way Sport Line, Luxury Line and Modern Line are the three cosmetic trim variants that will offer individual styling focus. There’s also an M Sports package in the offering as well. Interestingly, for each package, individually styled alloys in various sizes have been created. 60

Three equipment lines to be offered highlighting the model’s distinctiveness and individualization


{ROAD TEST}

Grand entry

Geely created Emgrand as a premium product brand for export markets and has launched some of its products in the brand conscious Middle East. Automan checks out the EC8, the carmakers’ entry-lux sedan in Oman Author Chandan B Mallik Photography Shakeel Al Baloushi 62


C

hinese carmaker Geely which also now owns Volvo, is on an expansion drive beyond its own shores. Geely has worked out an interesting strategy by creating new brand identities linked to specific business strategies. Emgrand was created to represent premium cars from its stable for export markets while the other two Gleagle [from Global Eagle] and Englon also have their agendas cut out. With Gleagle, Geely is focusing on the entry-level market and Emgrand for more affluent buyers and Englon is intended to tap the mid-priced segment. The Emgrand EC825 [now renamed as the EC8] is Geely’s first shot at a mid to full size sedan segment. It’s a new development and was officially introduced at the Beijing Motor Show in 2009 for the first time using some of Mitsubishi’s hardware. Geely says the EC8 is positioned to rival Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Mitsubishi Galant and Honda Accord. At first glance, the car’s design seems to be influenced by both American and Japanese styling. As a Chinese car designed for nonChinese market it presents a clean design with pleasing aesthetics. With dimensions of 4,905mm, 1,830mm and 1,495mm [length/ width/height/ respectively and wheel base of 2,805mm, the car is marginally bigger than the Camry. Besides its large Cadillac inspired grille, the car’s oversized wraparound headlamps have a jeweled appearance with independent lighting units and are smoothly integrated into the front end and so do the lamps at the rear. The ingress and egress points are good and inside the car is a roomy cabin with seats that have fairly firm cushions and decent lumbar support. A twin-brow instrument panel wraps around into the doors with a nice all-of-a-piece unity and style to it. Geely is serious about building a solid clientele and hence keeping

63


{ROAD TEST}

in mind the price band vs features available in the region, the car maker has put together a really impressive package which includes a real leather, power seats, multifunction steering with integrated entertainment, DVDGPS navigation system controls and Bluetooth shortcuts. Besides the leather, there’s a dose of plastics with grained wood effects in the trim as well. Interior materials, we’d say are a grade above average and tolerances, fit, finish seem are similar to other mainstream cars in the entry-lux segment. Surprisingly, the car is equipped with ten-speaker premium audio system from Harman. One does have to been reminded that end of the day you get a decent-sized, well bolted together family car with a very practical, comfortable interior, decent leg and headroom in the front and back. On the practical side, besides a large boot, the driver in particular will find the dead pedal positioned well [surprisingly how many cars overlook this],

64

giving the driver a place to brace the left leg when cornering or for reduced strain on long trips. Although Geely launched the EC8 for the domestic markets with Mitsubishi engines two years ago, our test car was powered by an inhouse developed normally-aspirated 2.4-litre four-cylinder transversely placed engine which has been mated to a four-speed automatic gearbox. Suspension package is typical of the front wheel drive motors these days and the current Camry’s set-up bulletproof set-up comprising of front MacPherson and rear twolink suspension seems to be the key source of inspiration for this arrangement. On the safety front, proving that at least some Chinese brands are starting to take safety seriously, Geely has fitted the car with more than average number of airbags -- driver and front passenger, front and rear side curtain airbags besides ABS + EBD. Meanwhile, Euro NCAP

crash testing results of the EC7 which earned the brand four stars last month recently does indicate that the EC8 will also score similar or better scores when tested. Driving impressions The results of the car’s engineering packaging come out after a few kilometers of driving. Despite a small handicap [reference to the 4-speed gearbox where most cars in this segment sport 6-speed or more], it is able move on its own quite well. In fact, so well, it sometimes feels like a luxurious Camry [even the Camry till now had 4-speed automatic gearboxes!] on Oman’s mixed road surfaces. The four-cylinder engine is willing enough, although 154hp at 6,000rpm means it only manages to get to 100km/h in around 11secs. But a helpful lump of torque – 213Nm of torque at 4,000rpm – means the EC8 can feel lively and quite comfortable around town and can cruise at highway speeds up to 182km/h. And helping in the driving effort is the


hydraulic power steering which ensures that the weight of the front wheel drive 1,570kg car is hardly felt. The weight of the steering is good and response to feedback from the driver is also well responded to. Suspension, although on the softer side is able to absorb most imperfections before it reaches the occupants and all the four disc brakes work well in engaging confidence inspiring stopping power. While the EC8 is no super sedan like a BMW 3 Series, it’s no couch slouch either. In fact, it turned out to be much better than we initially thought. The downside for this model in our opinion would be the gearbox which

currently only offers four cogs [whereas most of the competition including Toyota with its seventh generation Camry offers six-speed or even more] and limits fuel consumption to 10-litres/100km [city average]. This aspect actually inhibits the car’s true potential given the fact the Mitsubishi MIVEC-inspired engine is pretty modern in technology. Verdict After spending a few days with the Emgrand EC8, it appears as a competent midsize sedan with distinctive looks and solid value. With its 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine it delivers responsive performance, crisp handling and

notable fuel efficiency. What impresses most in the car is its tidy, yet roomy package and healthy complement of features at an attractive price. It seems likely that Geely will look to occupy the more basic part of the market recently vacated by Hyundai and Kia, as these two Korean brands have moved up the ladder and we think it’s a sensible entry path for any new volume car maker is serious about cars. However, we don’t expect the Geely Emgrand to stay at the bottom of the heap for too long as Geely moves forward aggressively with its plans on getting the Emgrand range into markets such as UK after it gets its European Whole Vehicle Type Approval soon.

As Geely’s first foray in the international market, the EC8 is a befitting entry in the hotly contested mid-sized segment. It’s value for money packaging is simply outstanding

Daily,Weekly,Monthly rentals.

Get the best rates!


{ROAD TEST}

splendour

Hyundai enters a n established lux ury niche segme domain of US bra nt – once the nds and now per fe c t ly etched and re-d BMW, Audi, Mer cedes-Benz and L efined by e x u s barge. Automan t -- with its Centen ests the car in Om nial luxo a n t o find out whethe in to this exclusiv r it can cut e club Author Chandan

66

B Mallik Photog raphy Ra

j Warrior


67


{ROAD TEST} Hyundai has lavishly equipped the Centennial with a leather bound interior, real wood trim and loads of gadgetry. The cabin’s styling is a mix of European and contemporary American with elements both trendy and some archaic. Over all the presentation is impressive due to its simplicity and non-complicated operative systems. Two engines are offered and the bigger 5.0-litre flagship with eight-speed transmission will be introduced in the region in 2012 along with some cutting edge features such as automatic parking

T

rying to make a noise in a segment that at one time banked mostly on heavyweight heritage models from past heavyweights such as Cadillac [Brougham] or the Lincoln [Town Car] to be superseded in the 80s and 90s with a slew of even better engineered and crafted German merchandise from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi and closely followed by the introduction of Lexus is no easy task for any car manufacturer these days. While it is a known fact that just a few luxury offerings have been able to more squarely hit the marketing nail on the head in the current economic scenario, Hyundai’s rise has been meteoric by any standard – design, engineering, technology etc. I even remember the time when Lexus introduced the LS400, Hyundai was launching its first generation Sonata. And who would have thought two decades later that this Korean brand’s midsized Sonata would one day rival Camrys , Accords and the likes? And these are some of the instances that go in favour of Hyundai, and many of us are confident enough to bet on the odds are that Hyundai will make it in to the grade. Hyundai’s confidence is based on the fact that it has been able get its core fundamentals in place. It has been doing so in a phased and planned manner while minimizing potential risks. With Hyundai consistently moving up the quality ranks, the automaker’s ability to build a quality product can hardly be questioned anymore and this is where the Centennial [domestic and Middle East] or Equus [Europe, US and other markets] comes in on top of the

68

line-up. To gain confidence in this segment what we know is that any potential candidate has to offer a mix of qualities -- it has to be reliable and unpretentious, offer a filtered ride, solid mechanicals, handling dynamics – in a well-defined package and loaded with luxury.

With Hyundai consistently moving up the quality ranks, the automaker’s ability to build a quality product can hardly be questioned anymore Hyundai says that’s exactly what it has done with the current Centennial/Equus. The Centennial/Equus chapter begins with a solid foundation. Hyundai has fashioned this car on a platform that has been hugely successful. On the record is the fact that when Genesis was introduced, Hyundai promised that its rear-wheel-drive architecture would spawn

more products in other segments. Centennial/ Equus is the third of those products, this time riding on a lengthened Genesis architecture. The car is 7.2in longer than Genesis boasts near perfect 52:48 front-to-rear weight distribution. While the Lexus LS460 has been the key inspiration for its length, width, height and front and rear track, at times one can be forgiven for thinking that this Hyundai and the Lexus were cut from common cloth including styling. While styling can be a highly debatable issue and sometimes controversial [remember Chris Bangle’s BMW designs] and conflicting, but one thing is pretty clear about this 5,160mm long car at standstill: it certainly has road presence. The car sports a wedge shape profile, strong character lines and minimalistic surface treatment. Chrome trim plays an important role in this flagship model which also features Hyundai’s first application of LED headlamps. And there’s plenty of evidence for the hawk-eyed to suggest Hyundai hasn’t cut corners on the car’s build quality or workmanship either. From less than 5mm uniform sheet metal gaps to tight tolerances indicate attention to detail. While the Lexus exudes a kind of understated nobility inside out, Hyundai has intentions to master those key ingredients as well and the Centennial takes a good stab at being a plush and has all the bells and whistles that one expects to find in competition complete with reclining and massaging rear seats, cameras front and rear and electric everything. Driver gets top-tier electro-luminescent instruments and also ventilated seats. It’s no secret that Hyundai also benchmarked Cadillac,


BMW and Lexus, the Centennial feature a much simplified BMW iDrive-type system. Alcantara has been used in the headliner besides leather, natural wood trim and leather-wrapped French-stitched instrument panel. But there are a few things in the interior which stick out like a sore thumb – in particular the shiny plastic switches with white lettering and the out of fashion 90s Mercedes-Benz look-alike seat controls on the door panels. The test car supplied had Hyundai’s awardwinning normally-aspirated dual CVVT 4.6litre Tau V8 engine mated to a six-speed ZF automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC® manual control and depending on type of fuel used sends between 378-385hp and 44.8Kg-m of torque at 3,500rpm to the rear wheels. Hyundai has been able to keep the weight of the car within the class and in order the model to be considered as a truly competitive luxury sedan, Hyundai has equipped the car with an electronically controlled air suspension along with Continuous Damping Control (CDC), which automatically monitors road conditions and adjust damping force accordingly. In its construction, Hyundai has been able to optimize weight despite the additional features by using high-tensile steel in critical areas in the unibody. Hyundai says this arrangement enhances torsional rigidity and helps in the safety structure. Besides a strong body shell, there are nine airbags and a host of electronic aids such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC), active head restraints, lane departure warning system and smart cruise

control. The car is brought to a halt by large four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD). The 13.6in front rotors have fourpiston fixed calipers and the rear brake set-up has 12.4in rotors with single floating piston calipers.

[Top]Driver friendly kit includes forward camera which can be switched on off or off. [Centre] Power seat controls influenced by 80s German styling. [bottom] The Centennial’s unique mascot on the bonnet.

Driving impressions The front seats are designed with adjustable driver thigh support, plenty of width, great range of adjustment and hence it’s very easy to settle into. While the cushioning is on the harder side, lower lumber and thigh support is great. The spacious cabin actually offers more leg, head and shoulder room in the front and rear seats than the Lexus LS460. With performance of 0-100km/h below seven seconds, this large car feels quite agile and fast. There’s plenty of power available on demand and the speed sensitive steering

Hyundai’s Tau 4.6litre V8 engine in the Centennial is a two time Ward’s 10 Best Engine Awards winner

69


{ROAD TEST}

system helps reduce the feel of its size. Even in city driving, the car is driver friendly with its short 37.7ft turn radius. And to assist drivers in proper and safe parking or navigating blind corners and alleys there’s a forward-view cornering camera integrated into the grille which can be switched on or off by the driver. Meanwhile, the electronic parking brake with automatic vehicle hold enables the parking brake to hold the vehicle automatically when

70

the vehicle stops, and deactivates as soon as the accelerator is pressed. On Oman’s mountain roads heading towards Amarat, we were surprised with the handling of this car which benefits from the precise wheel control, thanks to its five-link front and rear suspension geometry, both of which are controlled through Continuous Damping Control (CDC). While offering a compliant and luxurious ride, the standard and assymetric

P245/45R19 [front] P275/40R19 [rear] tyres offers excellent gripping power and precise control. We also checked out the other chassis settings and in either case the ride is acceptable for a large car although there’s a vague feeling to the steering and the air suspension gives you a limited indication of what’s happening underneath. Pushing the Sport button firms up the suspension and removes the float and some of the roll. It quickly becomes the only


mode to drive in and we expect most owners of this car will prefer this setting most of the time. One interesting observation is that the car offers less body roll in corners and in Sport mode, we definitely felt that it tracks better than the LS460L. Also impressive was the very quiet and serene cabin during the drive, another indication of attention paid in the NVH department and aerodynamics. Despite its bulky appearance the car sports a drag coefficient of Cd 0.27 [identical to the all-new BMW 3 Series] and better than the outgoing Porsche Carrera! While most of the competition was moved up to offering 7- or 8-speed transmissions, for now there are no qualms about the smooth six-speed ZF auto which was more than happy to grab the appropriate gears during downshifts. Having said that we are aware that Hyundai’s 8-speed transmission is ready to roll and we expect the future models with the bigger displacement V8 will arrive with the enhanced packaging. Verdict Hyundai have composed an impressive package given the price point and competition. Although, the established names will conjure up certain expectations in the segment, Hyundai is catching up pretty fast and in the process making some brands a bit nervous. The Centennial is just the beginning in its respective segment and with more enhanced features heading this way soon, the current package is perhaps one of the best value propositions available for discerning consumers in the Middle East.

[Top] Badging for the 4.6litre version [Centre] Large taillamps with modern and innovative lighting technologies [Bottom] Cluster headlamps have jeweled looks

71


{ROAD TEST}

the spot

e Soul, its th s e h s e fr re ia K , 2 1 0 For 2 out. Automan e id s in V U S te u c PV non-M rades takes a look at the upg llik Author Chandan B Ma

72

r

Photography Raj Warrio


O

riginally debuted as a concept vehicle at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show in 2006, Kia Motors introduced the Soul as one of its most significant global production models at the 2008 Paris Mondial de l’Automobile pointing clearly at a design-led future for the brand. And despite the proliferation in the segment it’s not often that a car’s name actually matches its personality. Conceived in the US originally and but developed in Korea and Europe simultaneously under the leadership of Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer, the compact and spacious Soul has been specifically designed for younger customers are a bit more rebellious in nature and determined to stand out from the crowd but on a budget. Schreyer’s team created the Soul with a bit of styling aggressiveness and unusual appearance of a much larger 4x4type vehicle and got the engineers to shoehorn compact 1.6- to 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines. In this case the Gamma engines developed for Kia’s cee’d family were found to deliver excellent fuel economy and low running-costs and hence perfect for the job in hand. The refreshed and upgraded Soul is clearly identified from its older siblings quite easily and even from a distance one can’t miss the reprofiled bonnet, new front lamp cluster with high power daytime running SMDs [surface mounted diodes]. On a closer look, there’s some class leading features such as projection headlamps, gloss finishes on the bumpers and the really impressive rear LED lamp cluster. In fact, it seems that the refreshing of the vehicle has been fine tuned to give it a definite, classy, smoother and more streamlined profile. While Kia Soul offers a relatively small wheelbase of 2,550mm for a car that’s 4,120mm long, like a MINI Cooper its wheels have been pushed out to help carve a surprisingly spacious interior. Inside the cabin is where Kia Soul really shows its power to surprise. While, the cabin sports a refreshed design that now combines more individuality with special textured shiny ‘Soul’ embossed fabrics, the practicality of 14 storage zones isn’t lost. In terms of accommodation, five adult passengers will find ingress and egress simple and effortless, thanks to convenient hip points and wide and tall door openings. Depending on spec chosen, the Soul’s interior design varies and we think it is decidedly influenced by the car’s highly specified audio system – a focus area in the car. As before, the dashboard remains unchanged with its three-dial instrument cluster, LCD illumination, a floating central console design with conveniently located auxiliary and USB input jacks with full iPod® controllability via the audio head unit and steering wheel controls.

73


{ROAD TEST}

The Soul offers drive-it-andforget it simplicity, four-door upright hatchback versatility and the charm of its unusual styling hasn’t worn off yet 74


The enhanced power from the engine and the new six-speed gearbox seem to be made for each other in this car. Although the combo has been tuned to optimize fuel efficiency more than quarter-mile sprints, the 1,610mm tall car doesn’t pretend to be a sports car. Rather it likes to take things in a relaxed manner and also helping in the effort are the 18in alloys shod with 225/45 rubber. Now, we are not suggesting that the car Under the bonnet there’s some news also. There’s a marginal bump of output and the Gamma engine now produces 128hp [up from 120hp] at 6,300rpm and around 160Nm of torque coming at low revs, thanks to the additional two cogs in the gearbox, most of the torque is available at 4,850rpm now. Since the construction of the Soul was done with future trends in mind, more than 70 per cent high-tensile-strength steel used to enhance structural strength doesn’t add lot of weight overall. The Kia-engineered body achieves high torsional stiffness allowing handling, ride quality and refinement. Additional measures to help ensure good noise vibration and harshness (NVH) qualities are fitted throughout the car. Besides that mounted on the front sub frame that supports the engine and transmission, the Soul is fitted with a fully independent front and twist-beam rear suspension system, with front McPherson struts and coil springs, designed to deliver responsive handling and an agile ride. In the rear, the Soul suspension is sub-framemounted with a transverse torsion beam axle with trailing arms for a smooth ride and minimum intrusion into the cargo space. For optimal space, the rear anti-roll stabilizer bar is mounted inside the torsion beam. As before, Kia continues to offer the same high level of standard safety equipment in the Soul, with features such as front seat active headrests, dual front advanced airbags, front seat-mounted and full-length side curtain airbags and antilock brake system (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), electronic stability control (ESC). Driving impressions Inside the car, you sit higher than your average car and get a pretty good view up front. Although the car has a wider C-pillar, the oversized door mirrors are there to alert the driver about cars falling in the blind spot zone. In general, accommodation is comfortable with generous leg, shoulder and head room.

The 2012 Kia Soul aims to amplify the funto-drive factor with significant horsepower increases, new six-speed transmissions and the ability to deliver up to 34 miles per gallon on the highway.

24/7. And additional assurance comes from the fact they are equipped with ABS and with EBD, which balances the front and rear braking forces, which in certain panic-stop situations will increase braking and help to deliver a shorter stopping distances. Verdict In many ways, the Soul reminds us of BMW Group’s MINI brand models. MINI has established itself as a fun and lifestyle brand and we think the attributes in the Soul are definitely in this direction. But the biggest plus with the Soul is that it offers exceptional value for money and that also includes industry’s best warranty package. The Soul is an inexpensive box-shaped runabout aimed at Gen Y but perfectly suitable for anyone young at heart. We do have a wish list though – there’s a preppy 2.0-litre also available for some other markets and we’d love to have that as well in Oman!

is sluggish – on the contrary it is quite lively, good enough to meet the needs of drivers in Oman and beyond. In urban driving, the car is fun and nimble to drive around and the electric power steering gives good feedback to the steering wheel. Even at highway speeds the engine is working at low revs with plenty of torque to spare without screaming. As a city car where the driver has to brake a lot, the efficiency of the braking capabilities add to the around-town fun, not because you use them hard in the city, but because they’re smooth, tight and responsive, with pedal pressure that’s just right. And the package comes with the confidence that when you need them they’ll be there on the job

75


n o s a Se igh note for Webber too

ends on a h

Mark Webber claimed his first win of 2012 at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix after Red Bull Racing team-mate Sebastian Vettel was forced to hand over the lead due to gearbox problems.

A

fter another year of fast-paced action and drama came to and end with the race in Brazil – however it wasn’t Sebastian Vettel’s Redbull that crossed the line first. Instead he shared the podium with Webber who won the final race (marking his only win of the 2011 season) and third-placed Jenson Button of McLaren. Webber started from second on the grid and held the position when the red lights went out despite pressure from Jenson Button’s McLaren. Ahead, though, Vettel was through turn one and away. The champion soon built up a solid three-second lead over Webber and the race seemed to be going away from the Australian. But the pendulum swung back in his favour before the first round of stops when Vettel began receiving messages from his engineers that he his car had a gearbox 76

problem. The solution was for Vettel to short shift in second to minimise stress on the gearbox, but that warning soon applied to all seven gears and the champions’ times began to fall away. Vettel soon informed his team that he would allow himself to “fall behind” and on lap 29 Webber pounced, sweeping past to claim the lead and 42 laps later the seventh win of his career. “It would have been nice to have a race with Sebastian all the way through but I think he’s had a little bit of a problem,” said Webber of the seventh win of his career. “It’s a win that you’ll take, for sure, because I’ve had enough bad luck and whatever you want to call it. That’s the way that motorsport goes sometimes. So, very important win for me and the team to finish on a high. I enjoyed the last few laps, to be honest. It’s always nice when

you finally… I could pit a bit later and cover people off and do all that sort of stuff, so that was good. I enjoyed doing the last few laps. That was a nice way to finish.”The Australian added that the victory was a good confidence boost going into the winter break. “I think I can have a stronger season than this year,” he said. “Clearly I started off poorly for lots of different reasons. You’ve got to look at all different areas to get at the highest level, and when the bar’s high it’s obviously not just Seb. I don’t come here thinking about just him, we’ve got some class operators in other teams: JB, Lewis, Fernando… these boys are on the case. So, that’s what makes it rewarding. “It’s a nice little tonic for me to finish the year, that’s why those last few laps for me to feel the car and give the RB7 a bit of a send


Motor sports -F1

Team Pos

Team

Points

1

RBR-Renault

650

2

McLaren-Mercedes

497

3

Ferrari

375

4

Mercedes

165

5

Renault

73

6

Force India-Mercedes

69

7

Sauber-Ferrari

44

8

STR-Ferrari

41

9

Williams-Cosworth

5

Driver Pos 1

tried to keep the gap to Fernando for most of the race and then Jenson at the end. I think we had a pretty amazing season and I think it would be over the top being upset now. We take this second place and a one-two finish for the team, which is great and… yeah, it has been a phenomenal year and a very strong finish as well so now I think we are all ready for the winter and looking forward to the break to recharge our batteries and come back as strong as this year, hopefully, at the beginning of the season next year.” Vettel came under pressure from a flying Jenson Button in the closing stages, but despite sometimes running almost a second per lap quicker than the Red Bull driver, the McLaren man simply ran out of laps and had to settle for a third place that confirmed him as Drivers’ Championship runner-up to Vettel. “I’m happy

Sebastian Vettel

Points 392

2

Jenson Button

270

3

Mark Webber

258

4

Fernando Alonso

257

5

Lewis Hamilton

227

6

Felipe Massa

118

7

Nico Rosberg

89

8

Michael Schumacher

76

9

Adrian Sutil

42

10

Vitaly Petrov

37

11

Nick Heidfeld

34

12

Kamui Kobayashi

30

13

Paul di Resta

27

14

Jaime Alguersuari

26

15

Sebastien Buemi

15

16

Sergio Perez

14

17

Rubens Barrichello

4

18

Bruno Senna

2

19

Pastor Maldonado

1

Season Results off for me because it hasn’t had an amazing amount of memories for me but today was a very special day for me and I’ll have that over the winter. Although some other nice drives as well but Seb clearly had a great year and so did the team, Renault, reliability. We were bomb-proof in many areas and that made it hard for the opposition. So that is important. And I’m looking forward to learning how to surf in the winter and backing off a bit, recharging and then coming back in February and concentrating on the job again.” Despite having to cede the victory to Webber, Vettel insisted that he was not unhappy with the result. “Mark drove a fantastic race, he deserved to win,” he said. “I don’t really like calling this bad luck. Surely, if something like this happens it’s not in your hands. Still, I tried to do my best: tried to stay as close as I can;

Driver

to be on the podium. It’s nice to get my 12th podium this year,” he said. “It’s been a good year, it’s not been a perfect year but it’s been a good year and we can really take a lot from this season, a lot of positives, sort out a few little issues that we had with reliability and I think we will be looking pretty good. “I think for us the main thing is to have a strong winter – we’re not able to drive the car – but have a strong winter at the factory and come out fighting at the first test not at the first race. A big thank you to the guys. I think we’ve really grown as a team this year, I feel a big part of the family of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. They might not look like it from the outside but they do have a lot of passion and they will do anything to win.”

77


ilteoendegd ets Ham uch n

Raikkonen to return with Renault in 2012

am victory in Abu Dhabi

After weeks of speculation Renault confirmed that Kimi Raikkonen will make a comeback to race for the team in 2012. Raikkonen, who left the sport at the end of 2009 to pursue a rallying career, has signed a two-year agreement with the team. “I’m

delighted to be coming back to Formula One after a two-year break, and I’m grateful to Lotus Renault GP for offering me this opportunity,” said the 32 year-old. “My time in the World Rally Championship has been a useful stage in my career as a driver, but I can’t deny the fact that my hunger for F1 has recently become overwhelming. “It was an easy choice to return with Lotus Renault GP as I have been impressed by the scope of the team’s ambition. Now I’m looking forward to playing an important role in pushing the team to the very front of the grid.” The Finn made his Formula One debut back in 2001 with Sauber. He then spent five seasons with McLaren, from 2002 to 2006, winning nine Grands Prix and twice finishing runner-up in the drivers’ championship. He moved to Ferrari for 2007, taking the title that year, but was overshadowed by team mate Felipe Massa the following season.

Nine 2012 driver slots open Formula One racing’s governing body, the FIA, has published the current 2012 championship entry list. As already confirmed, three constructors change their names next season - Renault become Lotus, Lotus become Caterham, and Virgin become Marussia. Five teams have yet to finalise their driver line-ups, with Marussia’s Charles Pic the only rookie confirmed so far. Despite having been announced by HRT, Spanish veteran Pedro de la Rosa is absent from the list, and the team - who ran Cosworth power this year and last - have no engine supplier listed.

78

Vettel may have been chasing records, but with an early exit with a puncture he handed Abu Dhabi GP to Hamilton.

L

ewis Hamilton had the best time in his stint at Abu Dhabi. He was the star attraction at the opening of McLaren’s new sports car showroom near Burj Khalifa in the neighbouring emirate of Dubai and he took the winner’s position at the race in Abu Dhabi. After the first corner at Yas Marina this grand prix looked like business as usual, after the second everything had changed. Sebastian Vettel led off the line and into Turn One. Given that he’s won from pole nine times already this year it did not look good for the opposition – but then Vettel’s Red Bull slid wide and onto the grass, a puncture ending his race prematurely. Lewis Hamilton, having started second for McLaren, inherited the lead and never looked back. “I saw immediately that something had happened to his tyre, and that’s why he was going sideways,” said Hamilton, speaking after the race in the FIA press conference. “I was just making sure that I didn’t collect him as he potentially came across the track. After that, I just saw that I had two very quick drivers behind me and I was just trying to

keep the gap.” The quick drivers in question were, respectively, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. Alonso got a good start from fifth. His Ferrari edged past Mark Webber in the early exchanges and then cleared Button on the back straight. The interesting battle was between Button, Webber and Felipe Massa. Button had predicted the DRS zones wouldn’t make overtaking straightforward here, and he was proved right as Webber and Massa were bottled up behind him. Button, it transpired, was struggling with an intermittent KERS problem. “I had to fend off Webber and also Massa which is quite interesting without KERS,” he said. “In the next stint I was told what I could do to try and get KERS back, and at least we got it back, but it lasted for like two laps at a time and I had to keep resetting it. The problem is not just when you accelerate, it’s when you brake. When you have KERS you have a lot of engine braking from the KERS and when you don’t have it you don’t have any braking performance. Every time I arrived at a corner I didn’t know what I was


Motor sports -F1 Omani scores breakthrough victory in Porsche GT3 Cup series

going to get, either engine braking or not, so it was pretty tricky.” Button’s other challenge was coping with Webber’s decision to switch to a three-stop strategy. It gave the Australian an enormous pace advantage but meant he would be making one extra stop. Webber got ahead but was never able to pull out the gap he needed. Button claimed to be surprised by Red Bull’s decision: “I don’t know if they thought that I had the KERS problem for the rest of the race because when I had the KERS problem I was obviously a lot slower and he was pushing me around for 15 laps. As soon as I sorted the problem out, I would go half a second quicker. It was a strange decision to make but they also made a mistake on the first pit stop, I think, which lost them a lot of ground. I think that really hurt him and he wasn’t able to really challenge after that.” Upfront it was comfortable for Hamilton as he took the victory. Alonso never got close enough to be a serious threat, but equally he never gave up the chase. “I think it was a time trial race, like an individual race, not against the time,” said the Spaniard. “I was doing qualifying laps every lap, trying to

close the gap, but one tenth up, one tenth down for the whole stint, as you said. I think we were dominated by people who were catching slower cars. When he [Hamilton] had some problems, I would maybe close the gap by like two seconds; when I had a problem, the gap increased by two seconds. We were dominated by how easy [it was to pass] or in which part of the track you caught a slow car.” After an eventful sequence of races, Hamilton was happy to have had everything go smoothly. “I’ve had some interesting victories, some better than others,” he concluded. “When I was doing the lap on the way in, I was thinking that this was definitely one of my best, just in terms of my own performance, not making mistakes. I don’t feel I’ve made a single mistake in the race and with the things that have gone, with the pressure that I’ve been under and with the doubt that has surrounded me, I felt just massively proud to have put that kind of performance together and to have come out on top… And it’s my Mum’s birthday, so it makes it even better.”

Oman’s Ahmad Al Harthy recorded a comfortable victory in Round 4 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at Yas Marina Circuit for his first win in the series as the F1 race weekend in Abu Dhabi headed for its climax. Starting in pole position for the second day in a row, Al Harthy led from start to finish and eventually won by 4.2 seconds from Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal who regained his outright lead in the 12-round championship. After his Round 3 victory 24 hours earlier, Saudi Bandar Alesayi had high hopes of improving on his third place on the grid, but he lost that at the start of the first lap to Stephane Lemeret of Dubai-based Al Nabooda Racing, and had to settle for fourth place behind the Belgian. As on the previous day, the top six was completed by Saeed Al Mouri, team-mate of Prince Abdulaziz, and Swiss driver Armin Schmid. Finishing seventh overall, Qatar’s Saadon Al Kuwari, who is contesting the Porsche onemake series for the first time, maintained his 100 per cent record in the Mobil 1 Trophy for drivers over 45. Al Harthy, who is also enjoying his debut season in the 12-round championship, certainly rose to the occasion as the Porsche GT3 Cup cars shared the stage with the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He was fastest in official practice on Friday, and set the two fastest times in qualifying on Saturday morning to earn pole position for both 14-lap GT3 Cup races this weekend. An early mistake in Round 3 let Alesayi through for victory. But Al Harthy was virtually flawless today as he shrugged off some early pressure from Prince Abdulaziz, the driver he will now be chasing in what promises to be a thrilling title race which resumes in

79


Motor sports -F1

s h p m u i r t l e t t e V at inaugural Indian GP

Sebastian Vettel won the first Indian GP with a lights-to-flag victory from pole position that also saw him record the fastest lap. The champion was followed to the flag by McLaren’s Jenson Button and the third-placed Ferrari of Fernando Alonso.

P

eople had questioned whether Red Bull would have the motivation to continue their dominant streak now that both world championships have been secured but with an untroubled 11th victory of the season Vettel laid that notion to rest. “The car is fantastic,” he said after the race in the official FIA press conference. “The team is enjoying it and we have been on a run, basically, since the beginning of the season and it is great. We enjoy every race. The great thing is you walk into the garage every morning and you see the guys and they are flat out. They are pushing very hard and there is no sign of getting lazy and not paying attention to detail. It is really enjoyable to see that knowing that we have already achieved a lot this year, but we are still hungry.” Behind Vettel, Button made ground up in the first four corners of the race. Starting fourth, he passed Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari for third at turn one and then got a better exit onto the long back to pass Mark Webber and convert third into second. And there he stayed, despite Webber’s best efforts to take the place back over the first ten laps.

80

“Then it was basically trying to hang on to Sebastian,” said Button, “but as soon as Seb got into a rhythm I couldn’t do anything about it really – but all in all for the team I think we have done a perfect job today. We couldn’t have done anything else.” Alonso, meanwhile, followed Webber through the first two stints, and then grabbed the final podium place by running two laps longer than the Australian. Webber came in earlier than expected on Lap 37 for the mandatory change to the hard tyre. Given that the soft was much faster, this presented an opportunity. The Ferrari driver hammered out fast laps while Webber struggled on cold, hard rubber. Alonso did two extra laps, dived into his pit and emerged comfortably in front. “We know that with the hard tyres, the first two laps maybe they are not as good as the soft and we were debating on the radio what to do in the second stop,” said Alonso. “Stop one lap before Mark or wait? The team made the right call, waited for Mark to stop and then tried to take advantage of the extra lap or the extra two laps, expecting some warm up

issues with the hard tyre for them.” The result was enough to secure second position in the Constructors’ Championship for McLaren, and strengthen Button’s position in the race to be second in the Drivers’ Championship – though the Briton was nonplussed by that possibility. “Congratulations to the team for second,” said Button. “It’s sad always to say congratulations for second but it does make a big difference to the team, moving into the new season. Second in the Drivers’ doesn’t mean as much as second in the Constructors’: I think when you’ve won a World Championship, nothing else will do except for first place. Second in the Championship? You’ve beaten everyone except one person and it’s that one person that you really want to beat.”


The Buddh circuit - the ups and downs Sahara Force India boss Vijay Mallya has admitted that the Indian Grand Prix is a “dream come true” and an event he did not expect to witness in his lifetime. Connected to the development of the track since its inception, Mallya said that all those involved had proved any doubters wrong. “A lot of people were sceptical, and I think we proved them all wrong, which is very, very nice,” he said of the circuit’s opening. “I drove around the track a couple of times yesterday, I spoke to several drivers. They simply love the track. It’s complete, it’s finished. The race is happening, it’s real, it’s a dream come true. “I have a huge vested interest,” he added. “Over 30 years ago I drove my Ensign Formula One car here in India and I never thought I would ever see a Formula One car race around India in the future. “As the chairman of the ASN responsible for motorsport here, we have been trying to promote motorsport in this country for over three decades and this is like a dream come true. When I acquired the then Spyker team, I re-named it Force India and there was a lot of strategy and meaning behind it, as it was meant to put India on the Formula One map. We have had an Indian team since 2008 on the Formula One grid and now a grand prix here in Delhi. This is unbelievably fantastic.”

HRT driver Narain Karthikeyan has admitted he is looking forward to what will be an “historic moment” to be the first Indian driver to race in Formula One on home soil Karthikeyan had been handed a race seat at the new Buddh International Circuit in Delhi ahead of regular driver Vitantonio Liuzzi and despite the pressures on him as the only Indian driver pencilled in to race, Karthikeyan said he would just try to enjoy himself this weekend, with his main target being just to finish the grand prix. “The realistic thing with our car is to possibly finish the race and beat your team-mate,” he said. “If you do that, I think at the moment, we can’t expect much more. It is an historic and symbolic moment that an Indian driver is on the grid and, of course, there is a lot following Formula One for a long time. There will be a lot of fans here. It will be hard to explain but it is what it is. I want to enjoy the weekend, have a lot of fun, and try and do the best I can do.’ The HRT driver, who made his F1 debut with Jordan in 2005, admitted he had expected to compete in a grand prix on home soil, and that Friday, when the cars take to the track for the first time, will be a “huge day for Indian motorsport”. On race day Karthikeyan managed a 17th spot.

Felipe Massa has called for changes to the Buddh International Circuit after he crashed out in qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix. On his final run in Q3 Massa went deep into turn eight and, on the wrong side of the kerb, grounded the car hard. The impact broke his front right suspension and the Ferrari driver ploughed straight through the gravel traps and into the barriers. “What happened on my last timed lap was a real shame,” he said. “Today, we had the potential to secure a good placing, as Fernando demonstrated and as can also be seen from the fact my sixth best time was set with a rather slow third sector. “I came into turn eight and went over the kerb and the front right suspension gave way in the impact with the raised orange part, which in my opinion is too high at this point. It’s a very fast corner, taken at around 215 km/h and it could be arranged differently. These are details that need improving for next year.

Williams’ Rubens Barrichello began his preparation for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix by playing a console game. For several seasons it’s been an open secret that several of the drivers like to relax by playing the various iterations of the F1 console game in their motorhome rooms. Rubens Barrichello, speaking in the official FIA Thursday press conference, admitted to taking it one step further and building himself ‘a small simulator’ around it at home, on which he’s been learning the new circuit. “He plays it about seven hours a day,” revealed compatriot Felipe Massa. “I did 100 laps on it. You could see the elevation, Turn Three and the opening and so on, so it was quite nice,” said Barrichello. “The team is looking forward to see as Pastor (Maldonado) has been on the Williams simulator with the track and there is a difference in time. We want to see which one is better.” For the record Rubens was recording laps ‘in the high 26s’ with his game, while the Williams simulator was throwing up lap times around three seconds slower for team-mate Maldonado. “It’s just fun but it’s good to learn the lines. It is going to be a little bit different as the track is dusty and the lines should be getting better all the time up until the end of the race. I don’t think we will have the full picture tomorrow.” Barrichello professed himself to be very happy to be visiting yet another new country for F1.

Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari believes the all-new Buddh International Circuit shares many characteristics with last week’s Korean Grand Prix track, albeit with much more speed. I think it’s a very promising track: very fast, very technical,” said Alguersuari after completing his reconnaissance walk on Thursday morning. “Hopefully we’ll have lots of fun, and hopefully we’ll score lots of points. “It’s a little bit like Korea, actually,” he added. “The tarmac looks very similar and the corner profiles look similar. I think you have loads of speed here though, so it’s going to be much higher-speed lap than Korea. There’s long straights and hard braking areas, but also some technical areas… it looks like Korea to me.”

81


{Chicane}

Quid pro can’t I am back on the topic of journalistic ethics and being old-school. There is no single trigger that I can connect to the ramble. Instead, the recent few weeks have been full of small things that seem to coalesce into something larger than I expected. Take for instance the closure of a regional edition of a long-standing car magazine brand. Or the attempt to revive defunct brands in the regional car magazine brand space. No, these are but background. I guess some other triggers are to be cast for - and they are aplenty. I have had a series of conversations with an industry marketing professional, who gives me a view of the magazine industry that is refreshingly different. I am asked why we carry extensive reporting about brands, including some luxury brands, when we aren’t paid for these. Literally, the question was “Who has paid you to give our brand this much exposure?” Yup, their brand - and they have not advertised with us this year. Apparently most other magazines are more radical in their approaches - they send the editorial and marketing staff together for meetings or look for the quid pro quo openly. In this business of getting our backs mutually scratched, we seem to be missing the core reason for our existence. Take the case of the symbiotic presence of the car magazine and the car seller. We are both targeting the same reader/buyer. In the case of the magazine they pay a few dollars - or in our case just 500 baiza. For the typical car we are talking of tens of thousands of dollars. Yet when it comes to communicating with the reader, it seems like the car magazine is treading a lonely path of generosity. As I explained to my counterpart, our business is to give the readers what they want. So we test cars, travel, go to motorshows, interview important industry figures, cover news and motorsports and even throw in concepts and classics to round off the experience. Over the years, we have become experts in this field and are amply qualified to communicate this to readers. We don’t throw in a ‘car test’ in with any number of non-related stories in return for advertising. We talk cars, bikes and other wheeled objects and our core advertisers are with us for that single reason. But how do you convince a car trader in Oman to spend with us? After all, we are doing for free what other media in town are ‘charging’ a quid pro quo for - and gaining much needed advertising Rials. So the typical car trader spends his valuable Rials on buying highly perishable newspaper pages for tactical campaigns, leaving us to be looked after by the folks at the regional offices in Dubai. Now that is a problem since we don’t lie about being panArab, we are expected to be looked after by the self-same dealer. Some of the dealers in town cannot even spare a car for a test drive. So we travel to Dubai, drive the car provided by the regional office and then have the same dealers ask why we don’t have an Oman number plate on the car. There are a handful of professionals in town who understand the value of Oman’s only car magazine and we value their sagacity. In our decade plus existence we have had to prove our worth over and over again, but these hardy souls have been with us all along. Before you think this is a crib-fest let me allay your fears. We have survived and grown for more than ten years. Our reputation is rock-solid and has been hard-won. Our magazine is among the best in the entire region. And our readers approve. Job done - no, job well done! And we have done this all by staying true to our readers, not by using ‘wasta’ to get advertising and press junkets or by plugging press releases and bartering away our integrity in the search for mammon. We give detailed analytical content that stays true to the journalistic ethos of a car magazine and boy, are we proud of that.

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

82


 

I T

H A S

I T

A L L.

AND A TOUCH OF

Y O U. T E S T D R I V E O N E T O D AY !         

   

         

& )! %('- + &("%$##,%# !"            



$ *& )! %(

    

                   



 

      

 $& '-


Automan December 2011  

Automan December 2011

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you