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2015 BMW X6

46

First drive of Gen II SAV


in Oman

COVERstory |

42

Timeless classics

Rallying in India with vintage and classic


motoring beauties

52

58

cover story

46-51 2015 bmw x6


68-72 new age supercars staging a comeback
NEXT ISSUE

Oman and regional news

2015
vw cross gte

6-12 pajero adventure, 2014 crop of nissan GT


academy winners particiapte in dubai 24 hrs
refreshed fourth generation 2015 Honda
CR-v launched, refreshed second generation
Volkswagen touareg launched, eintz partners
with american lube brands for oman market, new
first stop tyre care centres inaugurated in seeb
and al amerat

2014 automan coty

14-28 winners announced

brandwatch

30-33 Bentleys new SUV formally named,


McLaren to celebrate the 20th anniversary of
the companys F1 GTR victory, Nissan Altima to go
under the scalpel, more Maybach branded cars
from Mercedes? New entry level Cadillac will be
rear wheel drive, Corvette to influence new Malibu
styling, Jaguar announces F-PACE, production
Ssangyong Tivoli ready, new engineering facility
for Aston Martin, AMG to take on Porsche
directly? Audi vs Fiat: whats in a name? Top level
executive changes at BMW and Volkswagen,
SVR variant for Land Rover Discovery Sport
discounted, Jaguar to phase out R-S badge, China
built Volvos headed for US? BMW engineer joins
Hyundai, India-built Alto is worlds best selling
small car, Rolls-Royce celebrates fifth successive
sales record
34-35 2015 CES Round-up

International news

36-42 2015 detroit auto show report

68

news spotlight

44-46 vintage car and motorcycle rally

First drives

54-59 2015 lincoln mks

72

First ride

60-65 2015 triumph rocket III

preview

66-67 2016 cadillac CTS-V


68-71 2016 ford GT
72-75 2016 acura nsx

MOTORSPORTS

76-77 2015 dakar rally report


78 2015 monte carlo wrc report
79 2015 formula 1 new race venue speculation

Chicane

80 Runaway success and competition

editor-in-chief
Mohammad Al Taie

AL ROYA PRESS & PUBLISHING


PO Box: 343, Postal Code 118
Al Harthy Complex
Sultanate of Oman
Email: automan@alroya.net
Website: www.automan.me
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publisher
Hatim Al Taie

hatim@alroya.net

EDITOR & GM
Raj Warrior

raj@alroya.net

executive EDITOR
Chandan B Mallik chandan@alroya.net
contributing EDITOR
Anne Kurian
annekurian@alroya.net

So then what will it take to get the inbound tourism industry past the next threshold? And
in the process, will we have to trade-off pristine beauty for tourism dollars?
Many questions regarding Omans non-oil economy have been thrown up in the wake of
the sudden dip in oil prices. After all, the economy needs to have certain drivers other
than oil if so much variance can be brought about by a price change. So what will the
next driver be? Tourism has potential, but frankly it will have to scale up by multiples to
become important. Manufacturing is caught in a vice of external making. How do you get
manufactured products to be viable, when traditional manufacturing economies are able
to generate the volume needed to keep prices low, while our volumes will always have a
higher cost associated?
The services sector, unfortunately, is all focussed on internal markets and will therefore be
limited to any growth that the market has. So what will the new direction be for the future?

HEAD OF Design
Antony Karlo
photography
Elvis John Ferrao
marketing
Sayantani Ghosh sayantani@alroya.net
circulation
books@alroya.net
FINANCE & ADMIN
Sumy Mol

A couple of months ago, our team attended an Infiniti drive event based around Jabal
Akhdar and the sands around Al Kamil. While providing its share of interest to us, the
sheer number of positive responses from fly in media is witness to the Sultanates appeal
as a tourist destination. Whether it was the scenic Alila resort on the summit or the Desert
resort in the sands, the infrastructure is slowly but surely catching up with the demand.
There are other drives coming up shortly, from other manufacturers and they all intend to
use Omans varied terrain, its scenic vistas and its natural hospitality as factors.

sumy@alroya.net

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

This month, we declare the winners of our Car of the Year program for 2014. Some obvious
winners are there, with one or two models that sneaked into the race and won our hearts.
As always, our Car of the Year program remains unique in the region because it is the only
one that has no money attached to it, only features cars and SUVs that we have driven in
that year and are available in the local market. We are now into our fifth year, longer than
most car magazines last in the region.
Speaking of which, we have to sadly note the closing of two more franchise auto titles in
the region. Proof enough that the franchise model is flawed, as well as serving to note the
pressures of eyeballs shifting from print to new age media.

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

Now, Automan is available in bookshops in


the United Arab Emirates too! Get your copy
or let us know which outlets you would like
to see us in

Successful editions of
Pajero Adventure held in
the Sultanate

FEB 2015

FEB 2015

Oman & region

think the answer lies in the question itself.


Showcasing the vehicles abilities to those
who own one, amplifies their pride of
ownership and they are our most trusted
and enthusiastic spokesperson. As for
the Pajero more than us pushing to sell a
Pajero, its consumers coming to us for it.
There can be no greater brand building
than the brand experience itself.
Who are the participants and what levels
of skills are required?
The event has one and only one rule. The
participant needs to drive a Pajero. The
group consists of new owners, first timers,
loyalists. No prior experience of driving on
sand is necessary to be part of this activity.
The entire exercise is to make them learn
and drive on their own in a terrain never
ventured into before.
How is safety factored in for novice
drivers?
The entire module consisting of the
briefing, track etc. has been designed
keeping in mind that we will also have first
timers at the camp. From the moment
we depart from the starting point, we
encourage customers to learn the art of
driving in sand in a tried and tested course
and under the supervision of experienced
marshals. Our support team is well versed
with the requirements of participants
novice to experienced.
How popular has been the event since
launch?
The event has come a long way since
inception and not just in terms of time
but also the scale at which it is being
done. Similar events have been launched
in Oman which is complementing the
objectives of Team Pajero. Customers who
have experienced it want to come again
and again and the experience is talked in
local and social media..
What are the key highlights of the event?
Whilst driving is the key element of the
event, the event has been designed to
build bonding, encourage teamwork and
bring communities closer. Whether it be
the dress code or the driving experience,
or the Arabic music experience at the
camp or the bonfire ritual, each element
unites people through their common
thread, the Pajero.

news

usiness challenges for the


automotive industry now are
not what they used to be earlier.
Now, car manufacturers have had
to fundamentally rethink things like
design, engineering in their portfolio
of cars offered, besides working as
brand custodians. And then at retail
level innovative marketing strategies
have to be brought into action to help
brands succeed in a savvy, consumer-led
culture. This has become an emerging
trend in recent times as markets that are
becoming increasingly restrictive in size
and opportunity. Rajesh Sharma, National
Sales Manager at General Automotive
Company speaks to Automan and explains
how events like the Pajero Adventure help
in brand building and customer retention.
What does an event like Pajero Adventure
mean to you and your customers?
Selling the car is the starting of a
relationship. A relationship defined best by
Mitsubishis line -- A Drive for Life. There
are many elements that are instrumental
in building customers for life. The overall
qualitative experience is very important
for this. The Team Pajero event has been
the pioneering event in Oman for us to
build customer loyalty in a car brand
and to illustrate the merits of the brand,
the vehicle and the association with the
respective dealer. Over the years, the
event has been developed to suit the
times and customers and brands outlook.
For the customer, this engagement takes
the brand experience to a greater level,
instilling confidence in the product and the
team.
How and when was the idea conceived?
The Team Pajero events started about
12+ years back for GAC and year-on-year it
has helped showcase Pajeros prowess to
the customers. In the last three seasons,
the event has touched more customers
than ever before with the number of
participants in each camp going up
substantially and more camps being
organized.
Who are the promoters?
The entire event is being organized by
staff of GAC, the dealers of Mitsubishi
in Oman. The completely 360 degrees
management is handled by the staff
supervised by the marketing team. Being
a property of GAC right from the onset,
the ownership is of Zubair Auto. The faces
organizing the same have changed but
the zeal, commitment and the dedication
remains the same or rather has grown.
What purpose does it serve and how an
event like this is advantageous to you in
terms of brand building?
We are often asked why do an event for
those who have already bought a Pajero? I

From Couch Potato


to GT Racer
The GT Academy program run by Nissan along with Sonys Playstation environment
is building on its laurels with this years entry of the worlds crop of Academy
toppers with last years champ in the Dubai 24hrs race.
Author: Raj Warrior

FEB 2015

It has been always my dream


to become a racing driver, and
thanks to the Nissan GT Academy
Challenge Ill be behind the
wheel with the Nissan team in the
24 Hours of Dubai. As my first
international race, I want to put
in a big one for the team. The
whole experience, from the sofa
in the living room playing games
to the international finals at
Silverstone to lining up on the
grid in the great race in Dubai is
life-changing for me said Ahmed
before the race

FEB 2015

Oman & region

After helping bring his team in


second in class, This is awesome.
To be here not so far from home
and surrounded by so many friends
and family and people shouting
my name is amazing. From the
PlayStation on my couch six months
ago to the podium of a major race
against some top international
drivers is incredible. Thanks to
RJN for trusting us to race the
GT-R in such a big race. It looks
like it was definitely the right
decision.

news

Ahmed Khalid, a 25 years old civil engineer from


Riyadh - Saudi Arabia, is the Middle East winner
of GT Academy 2014. Dubai 24 Hours is Ahmeds
first international racing experience, and
its his main prize as a graduate from the GT
Academy. Ahmed will raced for the first time on
a full race specs Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3.

espite pre-race nerves and the


obvious pressure of a first major
task, Ahmed Khalid from Saudi
Arabia was all smiles on race weekend.
He is the regions winner of the Nissan GT
Academy program, an initative designed
to take gamers who excel at the virtual
world of on-screen racing into the real
world. Currently in its sixth edition,
every years crop of winners have been
surprising their friends and families as
well as the program organisers with
their ability to transcend the differences
between racing on simulators to actual
seat-of-the-pants driving.
The program is promoted on social media,
through live interaction at public places
like shopping malls and the like and allows
young enthusiasts to register themselves
in a format that gets them national titles
only to go ahead and compete within their
regions as well - Europe, the Americas, the
Middle East and Asia. And Ahmed topped
this years crop of winners in the region.
A common trait that runs across all the
four of this years winners was a sense
of disbelief at their presence on a global
platform with their upcoming race in the
Dubai 24hrs with the Nissan GT-R GT3

10

FEB 2015

car. Fielded by RJN Motorsports, the race


spec car produces 550bhp and offers
this opportunity as the ultimate prize
for this years winners. The four, Gatan
Paletou (France), Ahmed Bin-Khanen
(Saudi Arabia), Ricardo Snchez (Mexico)
and Nicholas Hammann (USA) were led
into the race by last years winner, turned
racing professional, Florian Strauss.
We met the race team and the people
behind training these candidates to
become racers. Combined with physical
training, psychological conditioning and
actual mentoring on the track, the racers
were taken through an intense course with
exposure to the GT-R and the 370Z.
There is so much more than simply getting
behind the wheel and driving fast. Theres
fitness, mental toughness and self-belief,
diet, knowledge of the technology that
makes up the vehicles and much more.
What takes place off the track is as
important as what happens on it, says
Martin Poole, one of the coaches.
Martin also demonstrated to us the
equipment and processes used to measure
the racers fitness levels including a fullbody mass measurement that told us
not only how overweight we were, but

also how much of that was fat and how


evenly distributed that was over the three
zones of the body. In addition we also
went through an exercise designed to test
our reflexes and reaction time involving
four discs that light up in a randomly
programmed sequence.
After managing to qualify the car on an
overall 14th position for the start on a grid
of 95 cars, Florian anchored the start and
end of the race, bringing in the car to an
enviable second position in the ProAm class
and fifth overall.
Bob Neville, Team Principal of RJN
Motorsports commented, Having been
involved in the GT Academy programme
since the very beginning I probably
shouldnt be surprised any more by results
like these. But when you look at the entry
list that we were up against, it has surprised
me again! This is a great result. We had
a few silly penalties and were unlucky
in timings of a couple of driver changes,
but other than that this has been a near
faultless performance by the team and
our drivers. Second in this class is a very
impressive result and immensely satisfying.
It has been a pleasure, as always, to work
with the latest GT Academy winners.

Oman & region


news

Refreshed 2015 Honda CR-V on


sale in Sultanate

Oman Marketing and Services Co, the distributors for Honda in


Oman has launched the refreshed for 2015 fourth generation
Honda CR-V. The SUV gets cosmetic and feature enhancements
like daytime running lamps, revised grille, new 17/18in alloys,
touchscreen multimedia among others. A new safety feature
has been introduced which is the LaneWatch camera that
displays a wide-angle view of the passenger side roadway on
the display audio screen. Another new feature is the MotionAdaptive Electric Power Steering (EPS) is standard on all 2015
CR-V models. Omasco offers a four-grade line-up including a
2WD option powered with Hondas new 2.4-litre direct-injection
DOHC 4 cylinder i-VTEC engine with CVT transmission. Prices
begin from OMR8,999.00.

Phillips 66 Lubricants arrives in


Oman

Eint Automotive LLC, the automotive aftermarket division of


WJ Towell Group has been appointed as authorised distributor
of Phillips 66 lubricants in Oman. Phillips 66 Lubricants is one
of the largest selling lubricants brands in North America. For
the local Omani market, Eint Automotive will use its distribution
set-up and market theses lubes under brand names Kendall
Motor Oil and 76. The business arrangement represents the
first distributor agreement for Phillips 66 Lubricants in Oman.
Oman offers a strong positive business climate, growing
industrial opportunity and educated consumers that we
believe will appreciate the value of our high quality, made in
USA products, said Bryan Faria, Phillips 66 Manager, Finished
Lubricants.
One of the key product features of Kendall motor oil is that it
contains liquid Titanium protection additive [for both petrol
and diesel engines], as well as high-performance Kendall
transmission fluids. Also offered will be a full selection of 76
Lubricants commercial and industrial lubricants and greases
designed for a wide range of applications, from cars and trucks
to heavy construction equipment and industrial applications.

Refreshed
Volkswagen Touareg
on sale now

Volkswagen Oman, represented by


Wattayah Motors, has announced
the arrival of the new Touareg in
its showrooms. Unveiled at the
SUV world premiere in Beijing in
2014, the new Touareg, has been
redesigned to offer customers new front and rear designs, new technical
features and a wide range of colours and interiors. Thomas Milz, Managing
Director of Volkswagen Middle East said: The new Touareg enjoys a refreshed
exterior in addition to exciting new technical additions such as the Start-Stop
with neutral when rolling. The completely redeveloped second generation
of the Touareg was launched in the middle of 2010. The Touareg now being
presented is based on that generation. It has now been further developed in
accordance with the layout of the Volkswagen design DNA, which calls for very
clear and precise lines with strong horizontal division of both front and rear
sections. The front section in particular, with its remodelled band of radiator
grille and headlights, creates a first link to the Volkswagen SUV concept cars of
recent times.
12

FEB 2015

New First Stop Tyre care


outlets launched

Towell Auto Centre in partnership with


Bridgestone Oman has launched two branded
tyre and oil change centers in Seeb and Amerat.
Branded as First Sotp, these two set-ups
are part of TACs efforts to strengthen their
presence in the retail after services market
with branded global products. This initiative
is another step to offer customized solutions
to all non-franchised service providers thereby
providing innovative solutions to the changing
needs of the customers, said Oomen John,
AGM, Bridgestone Tyre division at TAC. The new
outlets will sell genuine top quality branded
tyres and will perform services like wheel
alignment, rotation, balancing etc. Also oil and
battery replacement services will be available.
These drive-in outlets are conveniently located
with fast track services and hence will offer
motorists fast turnaround.

Automans year-long car evaluation


programme for 2014 comes to and
with the formal announcement of the
winners in their respective categories.
The selection process gets more difficult
each year for the judging team as most
manufacturers seem to have moved
up their benchmarks be it in design,
efficient engineering solutions, innovation,
features packaging or even when
creating a genuine niche. In fact, some
new models we tested are so exclusive
that it was sort of monopoly in view
of no direct competitor being available
and hence these nominees became
unanimous winners! But, such a scenario
is very rare and we are sure that things
will change soon!
Meanwhile, the team at Automan, are
delighted to announce the respective
winners for 2014.

14

FEB 2015

SMALL CAR

MAZDA 3

As a car and SUV manufacturer, Mazda


is extremely cautious the way it has
progressed after its partnership and
stake with Ford Motor Company was
divested by the latter. Between 19792010 Ford almost owned as much of
33.3 per cent of Mazda and under
the administration of Alan Mulally,
Ford gradually divested its stake in
Mazda. Ford currently holds 2.1 per
cent of Mazda stock [as of 2014] and
has severed most production as well
as development ties. In this scenario,
Mazda has meticulously refocused
on its key strengths in design and
engineering and have been remarkably
successful in doing so.
The new Mazda3 building on its awardwinning predecessor. For the segment
it represents, it offers top quality user

expeirience by delivering an unmatched


combination of performance, fuel
efficiency and functionality in a package
thats as safe and practical as it is
stunning. It follows in the footprints of
its new generation forerunners like the
Mazda CX-5 compact SUV and the new
Mazda 6.
Mazda3 gets the full range of
lightweight SKYACTIV-Technology,
optimised like the latest adaptation
of the companys KODO design for a
compacts size and agility. The judges
were content in finding that the car
exceeds expectations at every turn
-- the way the door opens or how the
controls are in exactly the right place,
the man-machine interface in new
interior among others.

Mitsubishi Attrage
In the past, the Mirage has had a very complicated
marketing history. Now, the sedan version of the Mirage
hatchback is called the Attrage. Although it boasts unique
design from the back doors rearwards, and has revised
frontal styling. The car is manufactured at Mitsubishis
Laem Chabang plant in Thailand and is very basic in nature.

Verdict

Mazda has been able to retain


customers as well as newcomers
to the brand, who have identified
Mazdas cars as being a great choice
from both an emotional and rational
perspective. Automan editors were
particularly impressed with technical
and styling refinements made to the
extensively reworked model. It is
also the first model from the Mazda
stable to incorporate the full suite of
Mazdas efficient Skyactiv technologies
which are aimed at reducing mass and
optimizing powertrain efficiency to
maximize fuel economy. A fine balance
of style, technology and conveniences
in a small package.

MG6

The British brand with Chinese ownership still has to catch


up with powertrain technologies, but makes the right
noises by introducing a redesigned from ground up MG6
as a contemporary car with many interesting features.

FEB 2015

15

The second generation Ford Fusion is a


five-passenger, four-door midsize sedan
introduced in 2013 as one of the new
faces benefiting from One Ford global
business strategy. The model also
serves as a replacement of the Mondeo
in some non-European markets. The
Fusion ushers in the next generation of
more expressive vehicles from Ford and
depending on market is the first sedan
to offer gasoline, hybrid and plug-in
hybrid versions. And irrespective of
the versions, each variant is designed
to deliver top fuel economy and an
engaging driving experience.
Unlike the bulky looking cars of the
past, Ford management brought in their
global teams together around a blank
slate with the job to develop a midsize
car with groundbreaking design and
performance efficiencies. As a result,

the Fusion features a sleek silhouette


and fresh face, much in line with the
new Fiesta subcompact andFocus.
Ford has lived up to the market
expectations by ensuring that the
US-built Fusion is a competitive global
family sedan that can make a bold
statement with attractive design,
features and handling. It also narrows
the gap between mainstream and entry
luxury.

Verdict

Its sleek, European-inspired design and


a wide choice of powertrain options
make the Fusion an attractive choice in
a fiercely competitive segment with the
likes of popular global models like the
Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Hyundai
Sonata and Nissan Altima.

Mid Size
car

Ford Fusion

Honda City

Fully redesigned with styling in


line with the bigger models, the
powertrain focus is fuel economy
and frugality. Hence it makes
the grade a good urban car, but
somehow Honda missed the plot
as doesnt offer quite as many hightech features as the Fusion.

16

FEB 2015

Hyundais current status with its car


development can be best described
as innovative, stylish and reasonably
well packaged overall. But thats not
where Hyundai aims to be content
with. It wants its cars to be considered
upmarket and some models even
luxury. And this aspirational aspect
seems to coming up in the new or
refreshed cars that Hyundai has
introduced in the past 1-2 years. The
all-new seventh-generation 2015 Sonata
which was introduced at the 2014 New
York International Auto Show banks on
the incredible success of the outgoing
Sonata and offers a more refined look

through a new Fluidic Sculpture 2.0


design language, stiffer body structure,
better ride quality, reduced noise,
vibration and harshness and advanced
safety and convenience features.

Verdict

For the mid-size class segment, the


new Sonata is able to communicate
premium design, good selection of
technology solutions while taking key
inspiration from the upmaket Genesis
sedan. It is a testament to both quality
of the product and the way Hyundai has
stepped up its game.

Large car

Hyundai Sonata

Hyundai Genesis

Honda Accord

Its no secret that Hyundai has painstakenly upgraded


the Genesis on the lines of its bigger and luxury models
in an attempt to push it into the luxury category. But
more needs to be done by the South Korean carmaker
to overcome the value-for-money luxury impression
amongst badge-conscious consumers.

Hondas perennial best-seller in the mid-size sedan market, the Accord


had everything in its favour till now, while the model wasnt exactly a
pillar of class-busting style, the ninth generation is more luxurious, more
sophisticated, better performing and better equipped than any other
model in the Accords 37-year history. Honda thinks that the new model
has advanced the sense of luxury and craftsmanship for the model.

FEB 2015

17

The current Mercedes initiative seen in


the core sedan range began with the
S-Class, followed by the E-Class and
now the C-Class. Arguably, the all-new
Mercedes-Benz C-Class ushers in a new
chapter in the Mercedes-Benz success
story and sets new standards in the
premium mid range class. The car uses
intelligent lightweight design, has
excellent aerodynamics efficiencies and
most of all a range of new and frugal
engines. Despite competition in the
segment, the C-Class is able to establish
a new benchmark in its class. A range
of high end features and new driver
assistance systems virtually upgrades
the perceived quality of the car which
now feels like an upgrade to a higher
class of travel.
In terms of appearance the new C-Class

Infiniti Q50

adopts a progressive approach with its


clear yet emotional design and its highclass interior. Many other innovations
and interior touches underscore the
sedans energising comfort and refined
sportiness. In all,

Verdict

A tough act to replicate even by the


seasoned opposition. This completely
redesigned car stands out in terms of
design language and technology, and
it is just sporty enough to find buyers
among brand-and-style conscious and
upwardly mobile customers who want
to own a brand-new three-pointed
star car that can carry five people
comfortably. The C-Class has once
again proved its peerless stature in the
segment

This entry level Infiniti gets a fighting chance, thanks to


its technical partnership with Daimler. Despite the new
and somewhat confusing naming regime, the Infiniti Q50
sedan has much to offer someone looking for a unique
alternative to usual German suspects. But to score a
bulls-eye, the brand needs to look into other areas in the
packaging.

18

FEB 2015

Audi A3

Premium
Car
Mercedes-Benz
C-Class

A nice try by Audi to help the brand break into the entrylevel pricing segment. It comes with brilliant packaging but
is nowhere close to the winner as above. It is a winner in
the sub segment it represents elsewhere.

Its no secret in the motoring world


that the Bentley Continental is the
definitive grand tourer. Its effortless
performance, generous space,
handcrafted luxury and all-wheel drive
capability takes its occupants on a
journey in genuine refined style and
comfort. With its engineer prowess,
Bentley has been able to inculcate
more drama and excitement in the
form of sharper, sporting edge in GT
V8 S. Once again, Crewe has shown
that downsizing is possible without
compromise in performance or
features. The GT V8 S coupe dispatches
the 0-100km/h sprint in 4.5secs
onto a top speed of 309km/h. The
performance of the slightly heavier GT
V8 S convertible is equally impressive as

Maserati Ghibli

it does the 0-100km/h sprint in 4.7 secs.


What impressed the judges was that
the increased performance is achieved
without detriment to the V8 engines
fuel economy and CO2 emissions, or
its ability to cover more than [claimed]
805km between fill-ups.

Verdict

When it comes to marrying


technological prowess with innovative
marketing, Bentley has proved time and
again that it can do it successfully and
yet retain its niche stature.
This is a car where we do have to
mention figures despite it being
considered as winner in the luxury car
segment.

The Ghibli is the Italian automakers most important new


model in many years. Cleverly created and positioned,
the Ghibli was launched in 2014 and is smaller and less
expensive than the larger Quattroporte four-door sedan,
while more practical and much less expensive than the
GranTurismo coupe and convertible.

Luxury Car

Bentley CGT V8S

Cadillac XTS V Platinum

Cadillacs top-of-the-line XTS has helped redefine Americas


luxury automakers image to quite an extent but it is short
of the global appeal of either British/German/Japanese
premium luxury brands.

FEB 2015

19

Who would have thought a few


years ago that a top performance
brand like AMG which specialized
in tuning/enhancing V6/V8/V12
powertrain architecture would one
dabble itself into pint sized fourcylinders? Call it marketing niche
or a brilliant strategy, AMG has
successfully exhibited the fact that it
can be done irrespective of cylinders
or displacement capacity. The A45
AMG even outclasses the all-time
favourite, the GTI.

Verdict

AMG proved that it could do wonders even


with a tiny 2.0-litre four-cylinder set-up and in
the forthcoming period we can expect more
cars to follow this route and encourage healthy
competition.

Hot hatch
Mercedes-Benz
A45 AMG

Kia Soul

Kia needs to rework its positioning for this car if it wants


to get the message out right. With the current refresh,
Kia has got its lifestyle aspirations in place, but the
performance punch is lacking. However, that may change
soon as the carmaker and its sibling embark on a new
tuning/performance aspiration chapter.

20

FEB 2015

MINI Cooper

New generation is considerably improved and even with


the JCW kit, the packaging is impeccable. However, it still
remains in the class of lifestyle merchandise more than
anything else. Also, high entry level pricing is detrimental
to its potential sales prospects.

Till now, both generations of


Audis TT have been considered
more as lifestyle merchandise than
anything else. However, that has
now changed. Audis agenda for the
third-generation TT and its variants
has been evident after the car hit
the markets. Using its engineering
prowess, Audi has successfully
elevated the coupe and roadster
even closer to true sports-car
territory.

Verdict

The Audi TT is the epitome of an


authentic design icon and it now comes
with stronger fundamentals and jaw
dropping performance.

Sports Car

Audi TT/TTS

Ferrari California T

In a way this is new territory for Ferrari. The magic of


turbocharging and direct injection has also caught the
fancy of the Prancing Horse after quarter of a century and
it will take some time for the purists to accept the notion
despite the immense benefits this technology application
has to offer.

Jaguar F-Type

With the all-new F-Type, Jaguar pays homage to its illustrious


peers and the carmaker has fast tracked the introduction
of several variants. The 2016 MY Jaguar F-Type Coup and
Convertible range made its global at the 2014 Los Angeles
Auto Show and were introduced with new powertrain and
driveline options including the addition of all-wheel drive and
manual transmission models. And with the introduction of an
F-Type R Convertible, the F-Type range grows from from six to
14 derivatives.
FEB 2015

21

When launched in 2014, the Huracan


replaced Lamborghinis long serving
Gallardo, the single most popular model
in the companys history. The outgoing
low-slung Gallardo was far from perfect,
but it did have a decades worth of
career in the hands of aficionados.
And its no secret that by the end of its
10-year life cycle, besides its tradition
domestic rivalry with Ferrari, it indeed
had grown antiquated when compared
with similarly priced and powerful
exotics like Ferraris 458 Italia and the
relatively new super carmaker from UK,
McLarens 12C and 650S. Lamborghini,
which sold 14,000 Gallardos globally
was in no mood to give up the honours
and hence extensively re-looked into

Ferrari 458 Speciale

every nook and corner when preparing


the battle plan with the Gallardo
replacement. Until the 610hp Huracan
arrived, refinements were never part of
Lamborghinis formula with super cars.

Verdict

Automan editors were impressed by


the Huracans dual nature. On one hand
it comes with pure and unadulterated
design, breathtaking dynamics and
excellent build quality, on the other
hand it delivers unparalleled sports
car experience and the way it unites
performance with a character perfectly
suited to everyday use. The Hurracan
is one of the most influential cars
introduced in its category.

With the 458 Speciale, Ferrari, very much like Bentley went one step ahead
and created a more aggressive variant with dual driving nature features suited
for day-to-day road and or track day performance. However, the Ferrari 458
Italia is approaching its fifth year on the market, but it still looks every inch
the modern, masterful supercar. The driving experience of the Speciale also
places it among the very best supercars ever built. In the interim period,
however, Ferrari has offered little in the way of updates or changes to the
Italias feature and equipment set.

22

FEB 2015

Performance
Car

Lamborghini
Huracan

Maserati GranTurismo Centennial

The current GranTurismo has been around 2009, but


Maserati have been able to keep interest in this beacon
with variants and limited production editions. This is the
centenary year for the brand and what a nice way of
saying good bye as the ground is prepared for its eventual
replacement.

Small SUV

Lincoln MKC

As Lincoln reinvents itself as a credible


global luxury brand, the MKC crossover
SUV which was first introduced as
a concept vehicle at the 2013 North
American International Auto Show in
Detroit and subsequently green lighted
for production represents a critical
milestone in the companys plan to
expand its portfolio of car for niche
global markets.
The MKC may have the German
premium offering in its sights and
though it has been created out of
sharing components [basic structure
and wheelbase] with the Ford Escape,
it is an inch wider and 1.1in longer than
the Ford it is based. And unlike past
Lincoln efforts to create luxury cars, the

SsangYong Korando

MKC feels more distinct. The MKC also


comes with an assortment of cutting
edge technologies that Ford is currently
promoting heavily especially Ecoboost
technologies. Besides these, upmarket
features like stitched leather and real
wood inlays give the MKC character and
quality in the right places.
In terms of performance and handling
as a lifestyle 2WD or AWD crossover,
it seems to offer the right balance.
Lincoln engineers who benchmarked
the MKC with Audis Q5, BMWs X3 and
the Mercedes-Benz GLK throughout the
MKCs development have been able to
produce a well-controlled chassis with
more capability than most drivers will
ever use.

South Korean automajor SsangYong has refreshed the


Korando crossover SUV inside and out and enhanced its
driving refinement. But it still has to compete with a lot of
classier and better-equipped models in the class/segment
and staying low means that the brand has to reinforce its
credentials.

Verdict

Compared the older generation of cars


coming from the Lincoln stable, the
new crop of cars including the new MKC
compact luxury crossover are heading
in the right direction for the brands
market success, especially in brand/
feature led markets like the ME.

Emgrand X7

This cash-rich Chinese brand which also owns Swedish car


maker Volvo is surely moving in the right direction. Geelys
association with Bertone has helped create a decent
looking SUV with nice features. However, the usage of
an older generation powertrain set-up does have its own
impact in the overall packaging.

FEB 2015

23

The segment has been quite busy lately


and even former players are relooking
at it the segment again with offerings.
Kias offering has a distinct advantage
over the new crop of vehicles, some
of which seem to offer conflicting/
confusing packaging. The new Sorento
[offered in 5- and 7-occupant variants]
takes an established engineered
package and not only strengthens it,
but also refines it in such a way that it
actually elevates the model. The new
Sorento represents a complete redesign
for this family crossover. It is bigger
in most dimensions, increasing room
for passengers especially those in the
third row, while also boasting more
sophisticated styling, driving manners
and quality interior features.

Verdict

Kias approach in engineering and


marketing the new Sorento is a fine
example of how things should be done.
The five-passenger version essentially
splits the price difference between the
pricier midsize SUVs like the Ford Edge
and smaller, less-equipped compact
SUVs like the Honda CR-V. Meanwhile,
the pricing of the seven-passenger
versions also start off reasonably less
than bigger models and in general,
the car represents exceptional value.
The redesigned car offers drivers with
undeniable sense of comfort, style,
features and innovation.

Nissans new X-Trail SUV

Nissans new X-Trail SUV represents a great achievement


as far the model series goes. It is bigger, more luxurious
and reasonably well engineered. However, when
compared to whats going on in the segment, the X-Trail
falls short in some areas.

24

FEB 2015

Mid Size
SUV
Kia Sorento

Jeep Cherokee

After a short hiatus, the Cherokee name returned to the


Jeep line-up for the 2014 model year. Engineered on a Fiat
group platform with a bias towards European markets,
this Jeep may come with polarizing looks but it is able
to take forward the Jeep ethos with its ingenious drive
system and a well-appointed interior. The model is trying
hard to establish itself as benchmark for mid-size SUVs.
But quality issues are still a sore point for the brand.

The current Patrol which represents the


sixth generation was launched in 2010
in Abu Dhabi and in 2014 a significant
facelift was introduced. The refreshed
models come with revised tail and
built-in LED headlamps besides a new
tan interior and new set of wheels. The
upgrades also helped the model to
move up the ladder and to reduce the
gap [in terms of luxury feature content]
with its mechanically similar Infiniti
QX80 [formerly the QX56] sibling.
Meanwhile, Nissan have also started
looking at limited edition bespoke
editions in order to attain exclusivity

GMC Yukon

in the segment. This ploy has worked


very well for the commercial success
of the model especially when it came
to re-engineering the feature pack to
enhance its urban. As expected this has
been achieved without compromise
to the models proven off-road track
record.

Verdict

In terms of design, innovation, comfort,


luxury, features and performance, the
Patrol has moved up several notches
and in terms of a value package remains
unbeatable.

GMs SUV only brand GMC has also been firing on all cylinders. GMCs previous
announcement that the all-new 2015 Yukon, Yukon XL and flagship Yukon
Denali models will deliver greater capability and refinement, with more power,
new fold-flat rear seats and a quieter interior have been met. And thanks to a
new family of advanced EcoTec3 engines, the line-up is designed to deliver the
segments best V8 fuel economy. We expect the Yukon family to overtake the
aging opposition in the coming months in the region.
Chevrolet Tahoe

Large SUV

Nissan Patrol

Chevrolet Tahoe

The mechanical twin of the GMC has also been extensively


revisited by GM and now moves a few levels higher in
design, content and handling. Fairly new in the market, we
expect it to also make impressive inroads in the segment.

FEB 2015

25

Premium
SUV
Cadillac Escalade

Getting a premium tag on a full-size


SUV is no easy task and GM seems
have nailed it with its refreshed all-new
fourth generation Escalade. The new
feature-packed Escalade represents a
genuine effort on part of engineers,
designers and bespoke craftspeople
who have put in a superb effort in
helping the car enjoy its pinnacle status.
The closest competitor historically, the
Lincoln Navigator, has recently been
introduced, however its too early to
predict how well it will do or impact the
Escalades prospects. The SUV is offered
with 2WD and 4WD drivetrains, and new
6.2-litre V8 engine that is more powerful

and more efficient than previous


models. Engine technologies include
including direct injection, active fuel
management, or cylinder deactivation,
continuously variable valve timing
and an advanced combustion system.
For occupant comfort during the
ride, theres Cadillacs magnetic ride
control, the worlds fastest-reacting
suspension system, is now standard
and delivers precisely controlled driving
performance. Besides, these a lot of
luxury features from sedans like the
CUE infotainment system which is now
standard and theres a host of driver
assistance/safety systems.

Verdict

Kias approach in engineering and


marketing the new Sorento is a fine
example of how things should be done.
The five-passenger version essentially
splits the price difference between the
pricier midsize SUVs like the Ford Edge
and smaller, less-equipped compact
SUVs like the Honda CR-V. Meanwhile,
the pricing of the seven-passenger
versions also start off reasonably less
than bigger models and in general, the
car represents exceptional value.

Porsche Macan

The German sports car makers first compact SUV


comes as expected with top class engineering,
performance credentials and efficient technologies.
There are only a handful competitive models in
segment also with high benchmark standards in
the region and it remains to be seen in the coming
months how well this model will do commercially
in view of the refreshed Cayenne arriving in most
markets this quarter.

26

FEB 2015

The German sports car and SUV maker


now takes the Cayenne experience
to a new level. The Gen III facelift
comes with the right dose of kit and
efficiency and wide variant spread.
From a marketing perspective, the V8
has been dropped in favour of a more
efficient and smaller displacement
turbocharged V6 [which also serves
in the top spec Macan]. For now it
can hold on its own, but will face stiff
competition from both outside and
within in the coming months.

Verdict

What impressed the judges was


the way the Cayenne manages to
seamlessly blend the best attributes
of a sports sedan and a competent
off-roader, while packaging it all with
a smart exterior and thoroughly lavish
interior.

Performance
SUV

Porsche Cayenne

FEB 2015

27

The sports car makers first compact


SUV which comes with the typical
engineering genes is an impressive
work considering the fact that despite
sharing some engineering with Audi,
theres no trace of Audi influences. A
pure Porsche all out, the car is better
suited for European markets and has
the potential to carve its niche slot
in this region. The name Macan is of
Indonesian origin and means tiger.
For Porsche, it is the brands newest
and smallest SUV armed with high
calibre capabilities. It is an interesting
attempt to ensure that five conflicting

Cadillac ATS

The American luxury brands entry level sedan comes


with capabilities matching German and Japanese
premium opposition. As a debut as a solo model
for the brand, it has made impressive strides, but
the opposition is much stronger in terms offerings
especially when it comes to sporty or performance
variants.

28

FEB 2015

car skills like speed, agility, comfort,


utility, and off-road capability can
be merged into a compact package
successfully.

Verdict

To dig into the massive parts bin


and select the best in technology
applications without any trace of
duplication is where Porsche has
excelled when it set out to create the
Macan SUV. Its a car that appeals to
both purists and new customers to the
brand.

Lincoln MKC

This new model signifies new direction for the


brand and the way Lincoln is moving forward with
its product portfolio, theres a potential winner in
hands. Its just a matter of time.

Best debut
Porsche Macan

Mercedes Benz A45 AMG

AMG proved that it could do wonders even with


a tiny 2.0-litre four-cylinder set-up and in the
forthcoming period we can expect more cars to
follow this route and encourage healthy competition.

Bentleys new
SUV formally
named
Bentley Motors has officially announced
the name of its upcoming utility model
at the North American International
Auto Show in Detroit. Set to debut later
this year, Bentleys SUV will wear the
name Bentayga. The SUVs name was
inspired by the companys namesake
as well as the natural world; Taiga, the
worlds largest transcontinental snow
forest, resides to the North of Bentleys
HQ while the Roque Bentayga rock
formation is to the south in the Canary
Islands.
Bentayga is a name that reflects
what we know our SUV will do better
than any other car in the world combine the best automotive luxury
with outstanding performance to

take the Bentley experience to


new environments, said Wolfgang
Drheimer, chairman and CEO of
Bentley Motors. While no mechanical
details have been revealed, the
Bentayga is expected to benefit
from the Groups engineering bank
including perhaps borrowing elements
of the platform shared by the nextgeneration Volkswagen Touareg, Audi
Q7 and Porsche Cayenne. Bentleys
twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre W12
will be the only motor available at
launch, but a plug-in hybrid drivetrain
will be introduced in 2017. The SUV
will eventually be offered with the
companys 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged
V8.The SUV will hit markets in 2016.

McLaren to
celebrate the 20th
anniversary of the
companys F1 GTR
victory
McLaren will build limited to 50 unit
production a special-edition of the
650S. This car will celebrate the 20th
anniversary of the companys F1 GTR
victory at the 24 Hour of Le Mans. Five
McLaren F1 GTRs finished the 1995 race,
notably accounting for four of the top
five positions. The company previously
honoured the achievement with a series
of five cars badged the McLaren F1 LM.

More Maybach
branded cars from
Mercedes?

Nissan Altima to go
under the scalpel

At the recent auto show, Nissan North


Americas vice president of product
planning Pierre Loing has indicated that
the Altima which is due for a facelift will
receive significant styling changes. Loing
said that the 2016 Altima will receive
a significant update that includes
revised styling and upgraded technology
but also hinted the changes wouldnt
be as drastic as the rebodied facelifted
Toyota Camry.

Ever since the Mercedes-Maybach


division came to life with the top-of-theline S-Class, reports are now emerging
about the possibility of a portfolio
expansion bearing that name. S-Class
project manager Martin Hulder has given
subtle hints that a Maybach badged SUV
is in the making and more recently, ,
Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Steve Cannon
has said that the next model with
chances of being pampered by Maybach
is the E-Class.
First official images of Kia KX3 leaked
into the web
Unveiled last November during the
Guangzhou Auto Show Kias sub
Sportage new crossover model for
China is mechanically based on the

Hyundai ix25. The new addition will be


launched in China soon with a design
that is heavily influenced by the KX3
concept. Compared to the concept, the
production model features a new fog
lights design at the front and different
exhaust pipe configuration at the back.
The cars interior comes with a familiar
cockpit layout with brown leather
upholstery, lacquered trim and a leatherwrapped three-spoke steering wheel.
The KX3 will be powered by two 1.6-litre
petrol engines[normally aspirated and
turbocharged]. Power outputs will range
from 123hp and 151 Nm and 200hp and
264 Nm respectively. The turbo unit will
be offered with a 7-speed DCT gearbox.

New entry level Cadillac will be rear wheel drive


GMs rear-wheel drive Alpha platform will
serve as the base of Cadillacs all-new yet
unnamed model that it plans to slot under
the ATS. While some previous reports
had suggested the model would be based
on the next-generation Chevrolet Cruze,
Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen said
at Detroit that it will feature rear-wheel
30

FEB 2015

drive. The cost and packaging advantages


of front-wheel drive are appealing, but we
want to build our reputation as a purveyor
of high-performance drivers cars, so its
better that we do it off a rear-wheel-drive
architecture. As of now most of the
compact sedans in the market are front
wheel drive machines.

This is true according to General Motors


Vice President of Global Design Ed
Welburn. Welburn revealed recently that
the soon-to-arrive 2016 Chevrolet Malibu
will feature Corvette-inspired styling.
In an interview with media, Welburn
confirmed that the redesigned sedan
will have a number of Corvette-inspired
styling cues. You see it in the form
vocabulary in the body side. It has flare.
It has spirit. It has tension. He also said
the model will have new taillamps which
mimic those on the Corvette Stingray.

New engineering
facility for Aston Martin
Aston Martin is significantly expanding
its vehicle engineering facilities with the
opening of a cutting edge prototype and
vehicle development base at the new
MIRA Technology Park in Nuneaton,
Warwickshire, UK. Aston Martins new
facility will add vital engineering capacity
as the luxury British sports car brand
steps up its programme of new model
development. The 15,800 sq ft building
accommodates a key part of the brands
prototype and vehicle development
operations and represents a significant
investment in support of current and
future model programmes. Ian Minards,
Product Development Director at Aston
Martin, said: The cutting edge facilities
at MIRA, together with its reputation for
quality and excellent security, make it an
ideal place for us to carry out some of
our prototype development work.

Ssangyongs newest model which takes its


name after a picturesque town in central
Italy, will be the most stylish vehicle the
SUV maker has ever offered. The company
says the Tivoli previews its next design
language, indicating that it is preparing
to move closer to the mainstream along
with premium feature content. Power
comes from a 1.6-litre e-XGi four-cylinder
engine that generates 126hp when mated
to a six-speed manual transmission. Sixspeed automatic transmission will also be
offered. The production Tivolis first official
outing will be in March at the Geneva
Motor Show and it will go on sale across
Europe and Asia shortly after.

Production
Ssangyong Tivoli
ready

AMG to take on
Porsche directly?

It seems so, if one believes what AMG


CEO Tobias Moers has recently hinted.
Moers has been talking about the
possibility of coming out with a direct
competitor for the Porsche 918 Spyder.
His indication was in response to media
querry when he was asked whether
AMG was considering a direct rival for
the Porsche 918 Spyder, LaFerrari or

brandwatch

Jaguar announces
F-PACE

news

Corvette to
influence new
Malibu styling

Jaguar has confirmed it will introduce


an all-new model to the Jaguar line-up,
to go on-sale in 2016, named the Jaguar
F-PACE. The Jaguar F-PACE, inspired
by the F-TYPE, represents a perfectly
judged balance of performance, style
and practicality. It offers a unique
combination of Jaguar sports car inspired
exterior design, fused beautifully with a
thoroughly practical and spacious luxury
interior. The F-PACE is our family sports
car, said Ian Callum, director of Design,
Jaguar and added: We received such
an overwhelmingly positive response to
the C-X17 concept car last year that we
just had to make it a reality. The Jaguar
F-PACE couples class-leading interior
space and exceptional on-road dynamics
with five-seat usability to produce a true
performance crossover. It will encapsulate
everything that Jaguar stands for: beautiful
design, precise handling, a supple ride,
luxurious interior finishes and cutting-edge
technology. The car will be made in UK.

McLaren P1. Moers response was: We


want to be seen by the public on the
same level as other sports car maker in
Germany. He went on to specify their
desire now is to make race technology
street-legal but refused to disclose any
exact details about a potential rangetopping model. Whatever it will be,
chances are the flagship AMG-branded
model will adopt an all-wheel drive midengine layout with power coming from
an uprated variant of the new twin-turbo
4.0-litre V8 estimated to deliver 700bhp.
Some technology applications from the
SLS AMG Electric Drive could also be
adopted in helping boosting combined
output of beyond say, the 1,000bhp.
FEB 2015

31

Audi vs Fiat: whats in a


name?
A lot, especially if you have a dedicated
line-up reflecting the same. Audis
trademark stable for its Q model lineup from the series Q1 to Q9 has two
alphanumeric combos missing and Audi is
desperate to get them back. The catch is,
the two numbers -- Q2 and Q4 are owned by
Fiat and what makes it irritating for Audi is
that FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne appears to
have no interest in selling them.
Fiat has used those trim badges as an key

Executive changes

BMW and Volkswagen have announced


respective changes to their global
leadership teams last month. Harald
Krueger has been named as the incoming
chief executive of BMW as the Munich
luxury brands development chief
Herbert Diess moves to VW to head up its
passenger car brand worldwide. At age
49, Krueger is set to become the youngest
CEO and he will replace Norbert Reithofer,
who will step down next May and is now
slated to succeed Joachim Milberg as
chairman. Meanwhile, 56-year-old Dr Diess
will take over from Martin Winterkorn as
chairman of the Volkswagen passenger
brand, effective October 1 2015. Prof
Winterkorn will continue as chief
executive of the broader VW Group, which
also includes Audi, Porsche, Bentley,
Bugatti and Lamborghini.

to identifying whether its product has twowheel or all-wheel drive and the badges
appeared in the Alfa Romeo 159 sedan,
besides the Maserati Quattroporte S and
Ghibli S Q4 sedans. Now, it is speculated,
that theres personal ego involved more
than commercial interests. VW Group CEO
Ferdinand Pich and Fiats Marchionne
have been caught on the wrong foot
several times since 2012 and either is not
willing to compromise. This means till 2018
[Marchionnes planned exit] VW Group
will have to wait and watch. Audi might
have a better chance with Marchionnes
successor.

BMW engineer joins Hyundai


That Hyundai Motor Group is getting more serious about its performance aspirations
is getting clearer each day. However, such aspirations can only been achievable
with the right talent and Hyundai has been on a mission to get the right people
on board. And in a coup-detat of sorts, a former chief engineer at BMW M GmbH
who goes by the name of Albert Biermann has agreed to help the South Korean
automotive brand. Biermann has been working for the Bavarian automaker for
over three decades. As vice president of engineering at the M division, Biermann
was most recently responsible for developing the latest M3, M4 and M6 models.
His engineering strategy has also helped bridge the gap between BMWs regulars
and the M-badge models besides the development of the M Performance range.
The 57-year-old German national has been named the Korean groups new head
of Vehicle Test & High Performance Development. Biermann will be based out
of Hyundais R&D center in Namyang, South Korea, and will be tasked with the
development of new high performance Hyundai and Kia models.

Automans take

The appointment makes Biermann the second high-ranking German executive the
Korean automaker brought on board, after chief designer Peter Schreyer. Hyundai
has recently opened a test centre at the Nrburgring with an eye towards launching
a new N performance line.

India-built Alto is worlds best selling


small car
Indias best-selling car for nine years, Maruti Suzuki Alto, has emerged
as the largest-selling small car in the world in 2014 beating the likes
of Volkswagen Golf in Germany and Daihatsu Tanto, Toyota Aqua and
Honda Fit in Japan. Alto registered overall sales of 264,544 units in India
last year that put it ahead of Golfs sales of 255,044 units in Germany,
Tantos 234,456 units, Aquas 233,209 units and Fits 202,838 units in
Japan. The list this year does not have any entry from Brazil, the worlds
largest small car market, as its best-selling car for 25 years Volkswagen
Gol suffered a near 30 per cent fall in sales and was upstaged by longtime rival Fiat Palio in South Americas biggest car market. Individually,
none of the cars in Brazil crossed the 200,000 unit mark in 2014.
32

FEB 2015

ROLLS-ROYCE MOTOR CARS


CELEBRATES FIFTH SUCCESSIVE
SALES RECORD
Global sales of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars have more than
quadrupled since 2009 and the 2014 sales results suggest even
stronger presence worldwide. For a fifth consecutive year, the
uber luxury British brand recorded sales of 4,063 units during
2014. Strong sales were reported worldwide, with double-digit
growth in most regions, North America (up 30 per cent), the
Middle East (up 20 per cent) and Europe (up 40 per cent).
The United States remained the companys most significant
individual market. Rolls-Royces home market, the United
Kingdom, is the companys fourth largest individual market
(up 13 per cent). The best-selling Rolls-Royce dealership in 2014
was Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Abu Dhabi. In the Middle East,
highlights included Bahrain (up 50 per cent), Kuwait (up 45 per
cent) and Oman (up 27 per cent).

Automans take
Bespoke Collections including Waterspeed, Pinnacle Travel and Metropolitan, and unique creations such as the Maharaja Phantom
Drophead Coup contributed to Rolls Royce sustaining its leadership of the industry in the area of individualisation.

China built Volvos headed for US?


Volvo Car Group plans to export a Chinese-made midsize sedan
this year to the United States, and is starting to weigh the
possibility of building a vehicle factory in the United States,
people familiar with the Chinese-owned automakers plans
said..Both moves would be significant for the auto industry
and Volvos parent, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. So far,
global automakers have chosen not to ship vehicles made in
China to the U.S. market in any significant numbers, and efforts
by Chinese automakers to export vehicles to the United States
have foundered.

Automans take
Volvo is also behind rivals BMW and Mercedes in establishing production in the United States, which insulates the German brands
from currency fluctuations.

SVR variant for Land Rover


Discovery Sport discounted

Land Rover Program Director


Murray Dietsch has said that the
carmaker doesnt have any plans
for a high-performance Land
Rover Discovery Sport SVR variant.
However, he hinted the company
could still offer a performanceoriented model packed with a
turbocharged 295hp 2.0-litre fourcylinder Ingenium engine. There are
also rumours from Europe of a highperformance 2.0-litre turbodiesel
engine that could produce
significantly more than 188bhp
and 420 Nm of torque.

R-S badge to be phased out


Jaguar Land Rover has announced all
future high-performance models will
drop the R-S badge in favour of the SVR
badge. Speaking to media, JLRs Special
Vehicle Operations (SVO) supremo
John Edwards has disclosed plans to
phase out the R-S badge used in highpowered models in order to make room
for the SVR designation Edwards went
on to specify the current range-topping
Jaguar F-Type R Coupe will eventually be
dethroned by an SVR version that will
obviously pack more than the Rs 550 HP
& 680 Nm.

Automans take
The recently introduced Range Rover Sport SVR has already paved the way for the nomenclature change and all models of this kind
will come with extra power, stiffer body structure along with other typical upgrades like sport-tuned chassis and suspension and
bigger braking systems.
FEB 2015

33

2015 CES round-up

Gadgets and technologies galore


Over the years, the Consumer and Electronics Show [CES] in Las Vegas is gaining attention from automotive players
and this years edition was electrifying in terms of content and presentation. Several automakers showcased futuristic
technology applications ranging from autonomous driving to new multimedia systems. Heres a snap shot of key
automotive related unveils.
Jaguar Land Rover

Ford

Volkswagen

Jaguar Land Rover is working closely with


Intel and Seeing Machines to develop
sensing technology that monitors the
drivers face and eyes to reduce distracted
and drowsy driving. Seeing Machines
demonstrating its Driver Monitor System
(DMS) in a Jaguar F-TYPE prototype.
DMS uses attention-monitoring sensors
in the dashboard to detect eye and
facial movements so it can identify if the
driver has become inattentive, either
due to drowsiness or distraction. It is so
sophisticated it can understand the state
of the driver in real world conditions,
including bright sunlight and if the driver
is wearing glasses or sunglasses. Dr.
Wolfgang Ziebart, Jaguar Land Rover
Engineering Director, said, The attentionmonitoring technology we are showcasing
at CES has huge potential for road safety.

Ford president Mark Fields announced


25 mobility experiments and challenges
at the show grouped under Ford Smart
Mobility, a programme of experiments
and challenges is designed to take the
Blue Oval brand to the next level in
connectivity, mobility, autonomous
vehicles and other hi-tech technologies.
Ford has already announced that
innovators will be asked to come up
with a car accessory or phone app to
address the challenges of driving and
also to address specific issues in North
America, South America, Portugal, Africa,
India, China, England and Australia.
The main goal is to enhance driver selfsufficiency in difficult situations, like
electrical failure, hazardous weather and
dangerous road conditions.

VW previewed the cabin of its future


vehicles with its Golf R Touch concept that
swaps the cockpits buttons for screens
and gesture control. VW said its goal was
to develop an interior that reduced driver
distraction but added more functions.
The result is a cabin in which every switch,
button and dial on the cars dashboard
centre console for infotainment, car
settings and climate control have been
removed and replaced by three large LCD
displays. All components of the system
are now completely integrated into the
cars dashboard centre console is a 12.8in
high-definition touchscreen, below it is an
8.0in display, while in front of the driver is
12.3in digital instrument cluster.

34

FEB 2015

brandwatch

Volkswagen

Hyundai

The German tristar brand unveiled its


vision of a purpose-built autonomous car
which it refers to as the F 015 Luxury in
Motion. The car is packed with technology
that allows passengers to work, socialise
and relax instead of controlling the
vehicle, thus transforming a stock car into
a private retreating space. Daimler AG
chairman Dieter Zetsche said autonomous
vehicles such as the F 015 would ease the
pressures of increasing city populations.
The most important luxury goods of the
21st century are private space and time.
Autonomously driving cars by MercedesBenz shall offer exactly that. With the F
015 Luxury in Motion, this revolutionary
concept of mobility becomes tangible for
the first time, said Zetsche.

Volvo unveiled the worlds first wearable


cycling technology which alerts drivers
to a nearby cyclist even if the rider is
around a blind corner. This effort comes
as a result of an all-Swedish collaboration
between the car-maker, extreme sports
equipment manufacturer POC and
telecommunications firm Ericsson who
developed technology which is composed
of a vehicle equipped with Volvos City
Safety system, a prototype helmet and a
smart phone app. By using a fitness app
such as Strava, any cyclist can connect
to Volvos cloud-based communications
system which will work with City Safety
in alerting the driver - with braking if
necessary - when an imminent collision is
predicted. The rider meanwhile is warned
by a helmet-mounted light. Volvo Cars
vice president and Group CIO Klas Bendrik
said that as the system connects cyclist
and driver via the cloud no line-of-sight is
needed to detect a possible collision.

Sometime in the very near future Hyundai


car owners will be able to control some
vehicle functions remotely with the
new Blue Link application and a paired
smartwatch. This was part of the new
technology and innovation presentations
for its future cars. Hyundais presentation
revolved around a variety of new
transportation technologies designed
to make driving safer, more convenient
and more enjoyable with autonomous
driving systems, driver assistance kit
and an updated Blue Link smartwatch
connectivity system. Hyundai says
that many of the new systems rely on
increasingly powerful internet cloud-based
technology which has been developed
with US information distribution
powerhouses.

Tata
Tata Elxsi, a design and technology
services subsidiary of Indias Tata Group
has made inroads into the world of
autonomous driving technology. The
company displayed an assortment
of hardware, firmware and software
solutions for self-parking cars,
infotainment displays that incorporate
wearable devices, app suites that tie
consumer and car together and secured
gateway integration were just a few of the
technologies displayed by the company.

BMW
BMW wowed visitors to this years
Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas
with a host of new technology including
its laser-guided i3 which will park itself
while its occupants go shopping. In
addition, BMW showcased its over-the-air
map updates for the latest generation of
BMWs Professional navigation system.
New map data can transmitted to the
car for free via the internet through a
smartphone app. BMW also demonstrate
its new wireless charging tech which is still
in the research phase.

Toyota
Audi
Audi showcased most of its future
technologies in the Prologue concept.
The not only previews the brands
future styling trend but also advances
in technology such as its 505kW/950Nm
hybrid powertrain, three-part touchscreen
display and light-show interior. Audi
is also working on driverless cars, and
demonstrated its prowess with a rigged
A7 sedan that covered 901km [from
Stanford, in California, to Las Vegas,
Nevada] without a driver. Visitors also got
a chance to see the Q7 SUVs new cockpit
architecture that is likely to roll out in
future Audi models.

Toyota opened more than 5,600 fuel cell


technology patents to free use by its
rivals as part of its push to lift hydrogen
fuel into the mainstream. In return,
Toyota would like reciprocal free access
to hydrogen fuel cell technologies held
by the other manufacturers under a
sharing arrangement. Toyotas senior vice
president of automotive operations Bob
Carter said the company would allow the
use of the globally held patents, some
of which were developed for its recently
revealed Mirai fuel-cell vehicle. About
3,350 patents relate to fuel-cell system
software control, 1,970 are connected to
the fuel-cell stacks, while a further 290 are
connected with the high-pressure tanks
and 70 relate to production and supply of
hydrogen.
FEB 2015

35

news

Mercedes-Benz

Irrespective of the global oil price slump, car makers are focusing
more on efficiency solutions while not totally abandoning all-out
performance machines. At least, thats the message from this years
opening global motor show
Author: Chandan B Mallik

orth Americas most


important car show
is also the first major
global show that gives all
of us an indication whats
in store for consumers
in future. While, the
economies of Europe and
some of the developing
countries are weakening

Acura

and vehicles are becoming


more energy-efficient, the
industry seems to agree
that irrespective of how
the oil markets behave,
more and more consumers
are looking at miles per
gallon than horsepower vs
displacement. And it was
clear that a lot of future cars

will be offered with a host


of efficiency technologies
such as lightweight
construction, hybridization,
all-electric among others.
Like major European players,
the American Big Three are
also now leading in offering
smaller displacement
engines and adopting hybrid

The big news from Honda was a production concept of the


much touted NSX mid-engined sports car. The last time Honda
produced a mid-engined sports car was in 2005 and ever since
Honda has been toying with the NSX [NSX stands for New
Sportscar eXperimental] idea and in the interim period Honda
did keep the interest quotient with a number of false starts. But,
now it is happening and Honda promised that the car will hit US
markets in 2016 where it will be badged and sold as an Acura.
The new NSX is American designed, developed and hand-built
in Marysville, Ohio. The car will be powered by a twin-turbo V6
hybrid drivetrain. Total power output is estimated at more than
550bhp.

The Italian premium sports brand dropped the top from the 4C
Spider. The 4C Spider is nearly identical to the 4C Spider Concept
that was shown at the Geneva Motor Show in 2014. The Spider
comes equipped with an integrated roll bar and a removable
roof panel crafted out of carbon fibre to help keep weight down.
Power for the 4C Spider comes from a turbocharged and directinjected 1.7-litre four-cylinder engine borrowed from the 4C
coupe. It sends 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque to the
rear wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch transmission, enough to
propel the 4C Spider from zero to 60 mph in roughly 4.1 seconds
and on to an electronically limited top speed of 160 mph. An
Akrapovic exhaust system and Pirelli P Zero tires are available at
an extra cost and so will be Track package.

36

FEB 2015

powertrains. The displays


at Detroit said it all besides
some interesting new ideas,
the performance-cumefficiency theme continued
throughout the show at
nearly every stand. Heres a
snap shot of who displayed
what and some of the key
announcements.

Alfa Romeo

Spotlight
news

Audis core message for the audiences at Detroit was the end of
the first-generation Q7 SUV. The second generation version of the
brands first crossover is a far lighter than the outgoing model,
thanks to the use of special steels and aluminium. The Groups
MLB platform will allow the full size Audis to accommodate
a range of engines, including more potent versions of the US
markets 3.0-litre, supercharged V6 and 3.0-litre turbo diesels.

Audi
Following an online reveal about a month ago, BMW introduced
the revised 6-Series family in Detroit. BMW also had on display its
famous 3.0 CSL racing car which was manufactured between 1968
and 1975 by Karmann. The brightly coloured car featured a wide
body kit, oversized rear wing and a distinctive M badging.

BMW

Bentley

Despite expectations, Bentley didnt reveal what its first SUV


in production garb would look like, but Bentley CEO, Wolfgang
Drheimer officially revealed the name of the forthcoming model
as the Bentayga. The chosen name comes after a mountain peak
in Spains Gran Canaria island. At the presentation, Bentley also
released a teaser image of one of the SUVs wing vents, which has
been formed into a shape reminiscent of the Bentley Flying B
mascot. I promise this will be the fastest, the most luxurious and
the most exclusive SUV in the world, said Wolfgang Drheimer,
Bentley chief executive. No engineering details have been
announced and wse are sure that chaps at JLR will watch the Range
Rover rival Bentayga developments with great interest. The Bentley
SUV will be built at Crewe plant in the UK.

Buick introduced the Avenir concept a day in advance of the Auto


Show. The concept provides a glimpse at a possible future Buick
flagship model. The concept is a result of GMs global network
working together. The cars interior was penned by GMs American
design studio, while the exterior design was an all-Australian affair.
The Avenir French for future is distinguished by its premium sports
proportions and all-new interpretations of traditional Buick cues. The
Middle East markets could actually be one of the beneficiaries of this
car [rebadged as Chevrolet] if green lighted for production as it could
also replace the Oz-built Caprice-based Buick Royale/Park Avenue .
Meanwhile, the second car making headlines for the brand was the
open top Cascada which will be the first Buick convertible offered in
the US in 25 years. It goes on sale in early 2016.

Buick
FEB 2015

37

Cadillac
Automans take

Chevrolet

Infiniti
38

FEB 2015

Aimed squarely at the BMW M5 and the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG


in particular, Cadillac unveiled its CTS-V performance derivative.
The car borrows performance technologies from the Corvette
ZO6 and as a result outclasses both key rivals. Under the bonnet
is a supercharged 6.2-litre V8 engine that produces 640hp and
630 lb-ft of torque. The CTS-V has an aggressive front face with a
mesh grille and larger air intakes. The car also has front splitter,
a ventilated carbon fibre bonnet and 19-inch forged aluminum
wheels with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres. Other notable
highlights include aerodynamic side skirts, widened fenders and a
four-tailpipe exhaust system.

Arguably, these figures make the CTS-V the most powerful regular-production car in the
automakers 112-year history.

Chevrolet introduced its second generation plug-in hybrid Volt


with the promise of a raft of improvements and refinements. The
cars new, efficient propulsion system will offer an estimated total
driving range of more than 640km and with regular charging,
owners are expected to travel more than 1,600km on average
between fuel fill-ups. Among the key technology led highlights
are the new two-motor drive units which are 45kg lighter than
the outgoing drive unit besides increased battery capacity.
Chevrolet also produced an EV concept called the Bolt. The
Bolt EV concept is a game-changing electric vehicle designed
for attainability, not exclusivity, said General Motors CEO Mary
Barra. Chevrolet believes electrification is a pillar of future
transportation and needs to be affordable for a wider segment
of customers. The Bolt EV concept leverages technologies
established by Volt and Spark EV and is designed to offer longrange performance. GMs first battery-powered car, the Bolt is
expected to go into production in 2017. The Bolt was fabricated in
the Port Melbourne workshops one of only two such facilities in
the GM universe capable of turning a design into reality.
Trucks are big business for automakers in the US and Chevy
once again showcased its Colorado ZR2 Concept pick-up. The
aggressive-looking, off-road capable Colorado concept was first
showcased at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2014 as a model the
brand hinted it could offer for sale in the future. The ZR2 builds
on the midsize Colorado Z71 production truck. It also builds on
Chevys history with the ZR2, a trim package it first offered on the
S-10 pick-up in 1994 and last offered on the S-10 in 2003 and Blazer
SUV in 2005.

Infiniti would like to present itself as an innovative brand and as


with the past few motor shows continues to showcase design
and technology influenced products or concepts. The star of
the show for the brand was the Q60 Concept. The two-door 2+2
concept hints at Infinitis next sports coupe and communicates
an original and bold reinterpretation of a sophisticated lifestyle
car. The concepts sheetmetal gets organic curves and the
interior also takes a minimalist approach. Powering the car is the
companys 3.0-litre, twin-turbocharged V6 and a seven-speed
automatic.

Fords presence at Detroit this year was by far one of the most
impressive in years. Ford was also in the news for its worst kept
secret -- the launch an all-new GT supercar at the end of next year.
The new GT will be a mid-engined sports coup , designed as a
homage to the original GT40. The GT40 won the Le Mans 24-hour
race four times and the new GT will also be used as a technology
exercise for Ford, with an all carbon-fibre chassis and a 3.5-litre,
twin turbocharged Ecoboost V6 engine in place of the V8.
Meanwhile, on the truck front, Ford introduced its new F-150
Raptor.The new Raptor is lighter by 227kg as it uses aluminium
in its construction extensively. Along with the weight-loss, the
Raptor also hit the gym. Ford has replaced the current trucks
414hp 6.2-litre V8 engine with a next-generation edition of Fords
popular turbocharged 3.5-litre V6 EcoBoost.

Ford

Calling 2015 the Year of Honda, the Japanese brand tried its
best to impress the crowds with an array of innovative products
and technologies. With the FCV Concept, Honda demonstrated
the evolution of its next-generation fuel cell car which is slated
for introduction in the US in 2016. Honda also made several
announcements related to future products that include the
introduction of the HR-V crossover SUV, totally redesigned Pilot
SUV, a new Ridgeline pick-up truck for 2016, all-new battery
electric vehicle and an all-new plug-in hybrid vehicle by 2018
and further application of Hondas two- and three-motor hybrid
systems. And before the end of the year, Honda will begin to
introduce our new 4-cylinder VTEC Turbo engines an extension
of its Earth Dreams Technology powertrain line-up.

Automans
take

Honda

Indeed a busy year for Honda and also its reconnects with F1 as a power unit supplier a 1.6-litre
turbocharged engine and hybrid-type kinetic and thermal energy recovery systems. This will happen
through Hondas partnership with McLaren and drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button,
beginning with the opening race of the series in Melbourne, Australia on March 15, 2015.

Hyundai
Hyundai launched its first
plug-in hybrid vehicle for
the US markets in the
form of a Sonata variant.
This Plug-in Hybrid Electric
Vehicle (PHEV) is expected
to travel up to 32.4km on
electric power alone and can
recharged in two and a half
hours. The car will be built at

the Asan, South Korea plant


and will go on sale in select
markets later this year.
However, the bigger news
from the brand for the US
markets was the surprise
entry the HCD-15 Santa
Cruz Crossover Truck
Concept. This concept
reflects a completely new

interpretation of truck utility


for a new generation of
buyers, especially Millennials,
who represent the secondlargest population of car
buyers. As a result, Hyundai
designers have avoided
the conventional route in
developing this concept.
Instead, they have focused

on the specific needs


of urban adventurers.
Hence, in the flesh, the
Santa Cruz doesnt focus
on all the same attributes
as traditional pickups.
Its designed to meet
more of their desires for
expression, efficiency and
maneuverability.

FEB 2015

39

As expected, Jaguar staged the North American debut of the


XE sedan in Detroit. For the US, Jaguar plans to offer the highperformance XE S which features a supercharged 340hp 3.0-litre
V6 when mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission which
enables the sedan to accelerate from 0-96km/h in 4.9sec before
hitting an electronically-limited top speed of 250 km/h.

Jaguar
Land Rover introduced a new diesel engine option for its Range
Rover and Range Rover Sport luxury SUVs for the 2016 model
year. Both diesel models were on display for the first time at
the Detroit auto show. The 2016 Range Rover HSE Td6 and
Range Rover Sport HSE Td6 will use a version of Land Rovers
254hp 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel V6 mated to an eight-speed
automatic transmission. The V6 diesel promises significantly more
low-end grunt than Land Rovers standard supercharged petrol
V6.

Land Rover

It seemed that Cadillac wasnt the only carmaker at Detroit


gunning BMWs M5.
Lexus, the luxury arm of Toyota also plans a full frontal attack
with its 5.0-litre V8-powered GS F sedan. The large GS F sedan will
be positioned as the second new F-rated sports car in the Lexus
line-up after the RC F coupe. Interestingly, the normally-aspirated
5.0-litre V8 of the GS F makes less power and torque than the
turbo-charged units of its German rivals [423kW/ 680Nm for the
4.4-litre twin turbo BMW M5 and 430kW/800Nm for the 5.5-litre
bi-turbo Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S], at 1,830kg it is also lighter
which helps to narrow the performance gap.

Lexus

Lincoln introduced the 2016 MKX which is mechanically based


on the second-generation Ford Edge. Interestingly, the new
MKX is a carefully toned-down version of the MKX concept that
was presented at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show. The MKX also
introduces two new Black Label lifestyle themes. The first is a
tribute to the lifestyle and the art scene of Paris in the 1920s, while
the second is inspired by high-stakes thoroughbred horse racing.
Buyers can also select either Modern Heritage or Indulgence, two
themes that are already available on select Lincoln models. Power
comes from a 300hp 3.7-litre V6 and theres also an optional 325hp
2.7-litre EcoBoost V6 available. Both engines send power to the
front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. All-Wheel
Drive system is also available.

Lincoln

Heard in Detroit

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne officially announced an all-new Alfa Romeo sedan to be
launched this year. Global head of Alfa Romeo, Harald Wester, said the cars name could be Giulia (and
Giulietta) and will be designed to represent milestones in Alfas history.

Automans
take
40

FEB 2015

We do know that prototypes of the new sedan (codenamed Tipo 952) are being tested in Europe. It
will be based on the Giogio platform and will be slotted in-between a BMW 3-Series and 5-Series for size.
In Europe it will be the successor to 159.

Mercedes-Benz

The key Mercedes-Benz product to be introduced was the 2016


GLE Coupe. Essentially, it is a crossover-coupe that follows the
path created by rival BMW with the X6. The car also ushers
in Mercedes new naming system and will also get highperformance treatment by AMG which will adorn the GLE63 S
badge. The German brands stand also displayed the F 015 Luxury
in Motion concept which it describes it as a self-driving luxury
sedan.

MINI has fully unveiled the production version of the 2016 John
Cooper Works Hardtop which is basically identical to the concept
that was presented at last years edition of the Detroit show.
It stands out from a stock third-gen MINI Hardtop with a more
muscular look accented by a deep front bumper with large air
ducts, black trim around the radiator grille, more pronounced
mudguard flares and a bigger roof-mounted spoiler and the
customary sprinkling of JCW emblems wrap up the overall look.

Nissan

Not to be outclassed by the opposition, Nissan duly rolled out its


new Titan XD which essentially represents a significant upgrade
for this full-size pick-up model. It is now positioned in the halfton-plus category vehicle without moving up to compete against
other manufacturers heavy-duty trucks. Most significantly,
Nissan has partnered with longtime Ram diesel engine supplier
Cummins to offer a 310hp, 555lb-ft 5.0-litre turbo diesel V8 engine
in addition to its current portfolio of petrol V8 and V6 engines.

Porsche introduced its 2016 range-topping Cayenne -- its


fastest and most expensive SUV -- Turbo S. The car features a
re-engineered 4.8-litre V8 biturbo engine that develops 570hp
[+20hp] and 800Nm [+50Nm] of torque. Thanks to these
enhancements, the car now accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in
4.1secs [0.4 secs faster than the previous model]. Top speed is
rated at 284km/h and the Porsche claims that the new SUV has
lapped the Nurburgring Nordschleife in 7:59.74 min. The list of
options includes a sport exhaust system with a switchable sound
symposer that plays the V8s soundtrack in the cabin. The dizzying
array of Porsche 911 variants continues to grow as the automaker
also unveiled its mouth watering 911 Targa 4 GTS.

RAM

MINI

Porsche

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles truck only Ram brand introduced an


off-road ready variant of the 1500 pick-up called Rebel. The new
trim level on the popular pick-up gives it added off-road prowess
and will be available on both V6 and V8 powered models.
Offering an off-road-style package on the Ram 1500 has been
on our to-do list for some time but the right combination didnt
present itself until now, Bob Hegbloom, CEO of Ram at the
show.

FEB 2015

41

Volvo
Automans
take

Volvo is trying to project itself in the sportier side of the market


by offering its all-new XC90 SUV as a tailored version to those
who prefer a sharper styling with a slightly more aggressive
body kit. To be promoted as a member of the R-Design
portfolio, this version will be offered with a revised front grille
and spoiler, integrated dual exhaust pipes, silver matte mirror
covers, bespoke 20-in wheels, silver roof rails and a silk metal
window surround. In addition to the above, Volvo also had an
interesting proposition with a Cross Country variant of its S60
sedan. Compared to the regular version, this variant gets 65mm
increased ride height. Besides these, a China-made Volvo S60L
also made its debut and it will be sold as the S60 Inscription in the
US.
The first model to wear the Cross Country badge was the V70 back in 1997 and over the years Volvo
applied this treatment on several wagons in its portfolio. It may also be recalled that i November 2013 at
the Guangzhou Motor Show in China Volvo showcased the S60L with a stretched by 3.2in wheelbase.

Volkswagen has been toying with the idea of producing a seven


seater SUV for several years and at Detroit the German brand
showcased its third concept presentation -- Cross Coup GTE
concept. It y be recalled that two years ago VW presented the
CrossBlue concept at Detroit and the CrossBlue Coup shown
in Los Angeles in 2013. VW says that the Cross Coup GTE is a
significant development as benefits extensively from the modular
transverse matrix (MQB) platform, plug-in hybrid with all-wheel
drive technologies besides a new design language. The Cross
Coup GTE be offered with 276bhp, 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine,
which is combined with two electric motors delivering 40 kW and
220 Nm (front) and 85 kW and 270 Nm (rear), giving a total output
of 355bhp. It can be driven in five power modes: E-Mode, Hybrid,
GTE, Offroad and Battery Hold / Battery Charge. If the project is
green lighted, it will be produced at the companys US factory in
Tennessee next year.

Volkswagen

Toyota
Playing on the lines of the Big Three American brands big truck presentations, Toyota offered a refreshed Tacoma. The Tacoma
now benefits from some technology applications from the Prius [chiefly combustion wizardry to boost fuel efficiency].

42

FEB 2015

Automan captured
the spirit of an annual
vintage car and
motorcycle rally event in
Kolkata, India
Author and photography: Chandan B Mallik

Braving a rather cold morning, owners,


drivers, family members and guests of the
participating 67 vintage cars, 10 vintage
motorcycles, 82 classic cars and 26 classic
motorcycles lined up their cars and twowheelers at their respective parking slots
at the Parade Grounds of Fort William in
Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal.
As always, it was a day long programme
of automotive nostalgia, pageantry and
competition.
For the competitors it was a two-day
affair with the detailed scrutiny, on
Saturday, the day before the actual
rally. The attendance levels [cars and
bikes] seemed to be less this year as
many familiar exotics didnt turn up for
whatever reason. Some insiders cited
that at the scrutiny stages, some of the
newer judges lacked an understanding of
automotive history and hence the scoring
wasnt perfect. This complaint echoed
sentiments last year too. Irrespective of
these niggles, the show carried on.
The action side saw a shortened route,
which was wholeheartedly welcomed in
view of road works and major detours

44

FEB 2015

in and around the city. The participants


traveled through the main streets of
Kolkata and cheered by fans all the way.
Even, a voluntary helping hand appeared
from nowhere for breakdowns and
quick fixes. Vintage cars representing
mainstream British brands [and some
defunct ones like Morris, Singer, Wolesley,
Austin], Bentley, Rolls-Royce, German
exotics from Mercedes including a very
rare rear-engined Mercedes-Benz 130,
SS100, Adler, Jaguar Mark II, 1906 Renault
Freres, Stoewer, Auburn, Packard,
Buick, Cadillac. And in the classic car
categories entries from Ford [Europe/US],
Volkswagen, MG, Fiat among others were
among the key highlights. In fact, the
number of Austins has grown in the past
years so much so, one of the sponsors
decided to create a special awards
category for it.
On the two-wheeler front, British brands
like Ariel, AJS, BSA, Triumph and Royal
Enfield led the way. The only non British
motorcycle participating was a 1965 Italian
Gilera belonging to Automans executive
editor, along with his rare 1943 BSA C10.

FEB 2015

45

news

Exclusive

Automan executive edito


r
travelled from Oman to
Kolkata to
participate in the rally wit
h his 1942
BSA C10 [class: vintage
motorcycle
#163] and 1965 Gilera Giu
bileo
[class: classic motorcyc
le #185].
Both machines comple
ted the
event without any hitche
s.

46

FEB 2015

2015 BMW X6

48

FEB 2015

Niche
positioning
For 2015, the fairly new Sports Activity Coupe segment gets busy with new models and new players.
Meanwhile, BMW introduces its completely redesigned second-generation X6 SAV with more utilitarian
tweaks. Automan checks out the car in the Sultanate

Author: Chandan B Mallik | Photography: Elvis John Ferrao

FEB 2015

49

MW introduced its first


generation X5-based lifestyle
SUV, the X6 as sports activity
coupe in 2009. It was seen as a highriding performance coupe with room
for four adults in two rows of seats.
As an entirely new idea it was soon
accepted with a quirky sort of appeal!
The commercial success of the model
has also prompted several others to join
the fray in the coming years.
Now, the German carmaker has
introduced Gen II of the X6 and hopes
to repeat the outgoing models success.
Whether it will succeed or not will
depend on the current market situation
where there are more contenders
than before and also first timers like
Mercedes who will soon join the
bandwagon with the all-new GLE.
So what did BMW gain about being
an early risk taker with the outgoing
X6? Well, it has been able to create
and establish a credible lifestyle SAV
with minimum investment as a sizable
percentage of the hardware came from
50

FEB 2015

the donor X5. And despite being based


on the utilitarian X5, the X6s practical
limitations have been mostly overlooked
by punters in favour of its performance,
driving dynamics, handling among
others. In a way, that was the original
prcis for creating this vehicle.
For the second innings of the X6, BMW
has decided to remain faithful to the
core idea by minimizing development
costs and focusing on content
enhancement. As a result, the incoming
X6 is once again based on the new X5
and the plethora of generational design/
detailing changes that we witness in
the new X5 are not so prominent in the
exterior of the incoming X6. In fact, the
profile is unchanged and the new X6
rides on the same 115.5in wheelbase as
the old model but is now slightly taller,
wider and longer. We think that the X6s
styling isnt for everyone, but it does
manages to set itself apart from the
me-too crowd with its fastback sloping
roof line, large wheels and other sporty
styling cues.

Cost cutting is also evident as the new


X6 shares its aluminium bonnet, grille,
and headlight assemblies with the X5.
Weight and materials optimization are
also evident in the car. What we dont
see are the ultra-high-strength steels
inside, but the use of thermoplastics in
the side panels is visible. Lightweight
aluminium has been used in the creating
bonnet and the instrument panel
support is made of cast magnesium.
However, the new car comes with extra
kit and features and hence the gross
weight is almost unchanged. Without
the extra features, around 40kg has
been shaved off.
Since this is a niche BMW product, one
does expect it to arrive prepared to
accept appearance kits and performance
packages.. The X6 is still recognizable as
an X6, and with its huge, chrome twinkidney grille, the X-shaped intersecting
elements on the front bumper, and
a rear haunch now accentuated by a
curved crease. Even in basic trim, theres
evidence of aerodynamic profiling and

we do note the elements that support


the cause like the air curtains/breather
features which help optimise airflow
over the rear, air deflectors on the front
wheel arches, cooling air flaps which can
be actively closed in both the upper and
the lower section of the front end and
an array of other details among others.
As a result, the X6s drag coefficient
depending on model can drop as low as
Cd0.34.
Many elements inside the cabin are
also shared with the X5 and new
trimmings do aim to represent a
marked improvement over those of its
predecessor. First evidence of change is
the revised dashboard design which now
includes a huge 10.3in multimedia screen
paired with the iDrive controller. The
new 3D digital gauges are impressive
and will change its background colour
depending upon the driving mode
youve selected. Sport, for instance,
glows red and displays speed and a full
tachometer, but Eco Pro glows bluegreen and helps to guide the driver to
attain the best fuel economy.
In terms of accommodation front-seat
passengers will appreciate the padded
knee bracing along the centre console
as well as the deep door pockets for
oversize beverage bottles and other
sundries. Rear occupants have much
more legroom than the last X6 and two

full inches more headroom, too. Even


cargo space has been increased as the
rear seat backrests can now be split/
folded 40:20:40 allowing the cargo
capacity to be increased in stages from
580 to a maximum 1,525 litres. This
means there 10 to 75 litres of extra
storage space in the new BMW X6
compared with the predecessor model.
While utility improvement is welcomed,
a certain design led impediment still
needs to be address to. Yes, I am

For the first time, a BMW


gets torque vectoring
in the guise of Dynamic
Performance Control,
which distributes power
between the rear wheels
referring to the after effects of the
radical roof design, which may be fun to
look at on the outside, but when you are
inside, rearward visibility is very much
compromised. And things contributing
are the smaller rear window as well as
the smaller side windows near the boot
which are proportionally smaller than
most SUVs. But BMWs generous kit
comprising of a host of cameras, parking
aids and blind-spot warning technologies
have been designed to offset these
known niggles. Meanwhile, driver

gets fitted as standard Electric Power


Steering including Servotronic speedsensitive power assistance.
For the Middle East markets, the X6 is
available with carry over 3.0-litre sixcylinder and top-of-the-range uprated
V8. All 2015 X6 models receive BMWs
eight-speed automatic, including the
X6 xDrive50i model, which gets a bump
in power over its predecessor. Like
the other models in the BMW stable
powered by the twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8,
the xDrive50i benefits from increased
power, up 50hp and 30lb-ft from its
predecessor to 450hp and 480 lbft. Those extra ponies come from
the addition of Valvetronic variable
valve timing technology, and help
the X6 xDrive50i achieve sub 4.9secs
performance. This means the incoming
model is 0.4secs faster than before.
For the first time, a BMW gets torque
vectoring in the guise of Dynamic
Performance Control, which distributes
power between the rear wheels. Its part
of a handling package, which also adds
Dynamic Drive active rollbars to the rear
to control body roll.
Driving impressions
Although the X6 is presented as
a lifestyle SUV, for a driver there
are plenty of toys to play with. For
instance, BMWs Driving Dynamics
FEB 2015

51

Control system comes standard and


this suite of technologies allows the
driver to select between Comfort, Eco
Pro, Sport and Sport Plus modes. By
clicking through these settings, one
can actually tailor the character of
the X6 to the road conditions or tailor
the car to the personality behind the
wheel. And to give the driver a visual
indication, in Sport and Sport Plus
modes, the background of the 3D digital
speedometer turns red.
In Sport mode, quite a few changes
take place silently. The body roll is kept
at a minimum, and in Sport +, which
turned out to be our favorite setting,
less invasive traction control allows
for a little more slip around corners. In
these modes, the transmission holds
gears at high revs, and allows drivers
to intervene if required. Driver can
change gears manually using the paddle
shifters.
The turbocharged V8 not only sounds
glorious and it moves the 2,500kg
car with ease and poise. Response to
52

FEB 2015

throttle application is as expected and


feedback makes it seem like a much
smaller vehicle. Under its swanky sheet
metal, the X6 is simply a beast when
you decide to floor it. BMWs Efficient
Dynamics ensures guilt-free driving
a V8 in town by optimizing engine
management. As unique as this vehicle
may appear, it drives very much like
the X5, and thats not surprising at all.
Besides, one can play around with the
chassis settings and dial the driving
modes as per individual preferences.
The X6 is designed to be a sporty
SUV too. Even with the suspension in
Comfort mode, this cars suspension
feels taut over rougher road patches.
And given the cars ground clearance,
it is possible to venture out on beach
duties or hit off-road trails without
worrying too much. In hard off-road
trails, rocks and ruts are best handled in
Comfort mode, where the suspension
can soak up the bumps better than in
the stiffer Sport mode. Hill Descent
Control automatically carried our X6

down the hill without using the brake


pedal. We enjoyed the way the
X6 puts up a valiant fight against
physics and counters understeer with
a predictably smooth chassis. Whats
more, the aural delight from the exhaust
is best enjoyed in Sport and sport-plus
modes. And like a true sports car, there
are subtle burble and accompanying
blips to the tap and release of the
throttle.
Verdict
The Gen I BMW X6 itself proved to be
segment game changer and the second
generation attempts to build on the
goodwill and charisma of its predecessor
by not straying too much from the path
set. Punters will cross-shop the X6 against
the likes of the recently refreshed Porsche
Cayenne, Range Rover Sport and perhaps
anything with a certified performance
badge on it. And by comparison, the X6 is
delightfully irrational, immensely quick, a
thorough testament to a no-compromise
attitude.

FEB 2015

53

2015 Lincoln MKS

54

FEB 2015

ral
u
lt
u
C

on
i
t
u
revol

or
in its status as a purvey
ga
re
to
ts
mp
te
at
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tiv
g ac
mid-luxury
Lincoln has been makin
refreshed for 2015 MKS
e
th
ith
W
American luxury brand
s.
et
rk
ma
as
in the US and overse
brand
of luxury automobiles
ct more buyers to the
tra
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at
Ferrao
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s
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ho
| Photography: Elvis John
sedan, the carmaker
Author: Chandan B Mallik

FEB 2015

55

ts not an easy task when you have


to ambitious issues on your agenda
like how to reinvigorate your luxury
brand, widen the existing consumer base
and geographical footprint and most
of all get a serious image player boost.
This basically has been the job profile for
Lincoln think-tanks for the past couple
of year and the results of the efforts are
beginning to show. Lincoln products
are now much better in design, in build
quality and hence becoming aspirational
as the brand begins to grow both
vertically and horizontally.
As a new model series, the MKS sedan
replaced the long serving LS in 2009.
The MKS was mechanically created
on Fords D3-platform which has
also produced the Volvo S80 [when
the brand was with Ford]. According
to Ford engineers, this architecture
has been substantially modified for
various applications over the years
and it meets the current performance
parameters like increased rigidity,
improved noise, vibration and harshness
qualities and most significantly its has
allowed accommodation of an updated
independent rear suspension set-up.
And depending on market it is offered
56

FEB 2015

as front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive


configurations.
Its also no secret that consumer have
become more discerning than before
and badge engineered products risk
entering into the realm of conflict
territory if the packaging thats
supposed to differentiate them is not
convincing enough. The career graph
in first few years of the MKS post
introduction highlighted this weakness
and as a result the first major makeover
for the MKS came in 2010 when it
became the first vehicle to embrace
Lincolns new design DNA. A fumbling
career stabled and then came a major
overhaul as MY2013 which improved the
stature of MKS. The upgrade programme
was impressive by any measure and
included and revised styling inside and
out, cosmetic enhancements, engine
upgrades, suspension enhancements,
additional safety features and more
luxurious appointments in the cabin.
The test car for this article was the
upgraded model. The refreshed MKS,
with an overall length of 204.1in is lightly
longer than before and height remains
at 61.6in. It is a large car, but very-well
proportioned and hence doesnt appear

overwhelming. We are familiar with the


MKS and immediately note that from
the exterior, everything forward of the
A-pillar has actually been revisited. New
detailing includes re-designed grille,
slimmer HID headlamps, and a new
bonnet with interesting sheetmetal
detailing. At the rear, the boot lid has
been reprofiled to lower the lift-over
height and increase its opening.
If Lincoln wanted the MKS to be seen
as a luxury car by punters, it has taken
appropriate measures in ensuring that
befitting kit is visible everywhere in
the cabin and the biggest story out
here besides the usual fare of standard
heated and cooled 12-way adjustable
front seats, adjustable pedals and a
power tilt/telescoping steering wheel,
dollops of soft leather[Lincoln says
the leather for the seats comes from
Bridge of Weir, the Scottish company
that has supplied hides to landmark
establishments like Burj Al Arab in
UAE], genuine re-cycled wood, is
the integration of MyLincoln Touch
system which represents Lincolns
most advanced instrumentation and
controls to date. The cars dashboard
is horizontally laid out and helps

FEB 2015

57

Lincoln is beginning
to keep up with
the competition in
the luxury sedan
segment with
more modern
styling, better
handing and the
latest technology
packaging
creates a sensation of lavish roominess.
Meanwhile, the digital instrument gauges
are reminiscent from the Taurus and
features a centrally placed speedometer
flanked by two full-colour reconfigurable
LCD screens. Content for the 4.2in LCDs
is controlled by five-way buttons on the
steering wheel. An 8.0in multi-function
LCD touch screen dominates the central
console and provides the visual and
control interface for the entertainment
system, phone, navigation and climate
control. Since most of the functions are
touch fed, it may take a little while to get
accustomed to. The test car offered came
with multi-contour seats incorporating
seven computer-controlled air bladders
which offered maximum lumber
58

FEB 2015

adjustments. The switches operating these


were grouped into four sections at the
base of seat. Both driver and passenger
seats featured individual static settings as
well as dynamic massage settings.
Cars with electric power steering set-ups
are becoming common but only a handful
of automakers have been successful in
making it enjoyable for a driver. Like the
Taurus, the feedback to driver from the
MKS electric power steering is important
and engineers say it has been greatly
improved by mounting the steering rack
rigidly to the subframe and sharpening the
ratios.
The standard engine for the car now is
a more powerful and efficient version
of 3.7-litre V6 borrowed from the Ford

Mustang. This set-up now includes twin


independent variable camshaft timing
(Ti-VCT) and the ability to vary camshaft
timing to optimize the opening and closing
of both the intake and exhaust valves help
increase the engines responsiveness and
efficiency. The other figure noteworthy to
look at from the engine is that its output
has been increased from 247hp to 204hp
and torque also improves to 275lb-ft at
4,000 rpm from 270lb-ft. At the same time,
projected fuel economy has also been
increased. The car continues with 6-speed
automatic transmission with manual
SelectShift [Tiptronic]. Paddle shifters
are located on each side of the steering
wheel.
Since the car is designed for comfort

ride, the rear suspension has been given


a fresh look. An all-new independent
rear suspension design features
vertically mounted shock absorbers
mounted at the outboard end of the
suspension arms near the wheels,
maximizing suspension travel and
allowing for more precise suspension
tuning. The MacPherson strut and
rear-facing L-shaped lower control arm
front suspension also was designed
to maximize suspension travel and
tuned to work in harmony with the
rear suspension. As an added benefit,
the new suspension design can
accommodate larger, 20in wheels [18in
stock] and tyres without compromising
ride comfort.
As a family car, it has been designed to
keep its occupants safe with both active
and passive set-ups. Safety features
include dual-stage front airbags plus
seat-mounted side airbags for head
and torso protection, as well as seatbelt pretensioners and load-limiting
retractors. The Occupant Classification
Systems sensor automatically
determines by weight whether the front
passenger seat is empty, occupied by
a child seat or by a small, medium or
large occupant, and deploys the airbag

accordingly. Active safety features


include anti-lock brakes and electronic
stability control, standard. Optional
safety features include all-wheel drive
and a rearview camera that can help
spot a child behind the car when backing
up. The Lincolns growing array of
passive safety features now includes a
Driver Alert monitor.
Driving impressions
Usually, its when you are behind the
wheel and drive a car, you get the
real feel of whats go in as regards to
improvements. The first thing that
gets noticed is a very quiet and serene
cabin with virtually no wind noise even
at highway speeds. The second is the
response to the tap of the throttle and
the drive quality of the front-wheeldrive Lincoln MKS is very balanced
so much so that at times one can be
forgiven for thinking it being rearwheel-drive sedan. Despite the increase
in output from the Mustang-sourced
engine, theres no tendency to torquesteer, as a result theres no unsettling
sensation to expect which usually occurs
when strong acceleration causes the
steering to pull left or right. The revised
suspension also delivers terrific agility

and road feel and as a touring sedan,


the car delivers performance in spades.
In totality, despite the MKS being an
American designed product, somewhere
hidden inside it has a Europe connection
besides the Scottish hide used in the
car. We are aware that electric power
steering is new to the MKS and like so
many cars we have driven with similar
set-ups, it doesnt deliver as much
tactile information to the driver as one
expects, particularly on-centre feel.
The off-centre steering effort builds as
a function of vehicle speed, but actual
road feel isnt part of the equation and
since this isnt a sports sedan, we can
live with it.
Verdict
There was a time when Lincoln lagged
behind serious players in the market.
That has changed and with refreshed
models like the Lincoln MKS, the brand
hopes to regain back some territory. The
cars styling updates give the front end a
more contemporary look, similar to the
new midsize MKZ and the engineering
upgrades contribute to its performance
and handling. The MKS is in a dynamic
stage in its career and from here theres
no looking back.

FEB 2015

59

Triumph Rocket III

e
u
Torq
the Town
of

f engines with
o
t
s
a
o
b
n
a
c
s
le
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y
While many motorc rs, it takes the Triumph Rocket III
ca
outputs matching
sheer volume.
to claim victory in
rrao

Author: Raj Warrior

60

FEB 2015

hn Fe

Photographs: Elvis Jo

FEB 2015

61

ou go through various phases as


a committed bike rider. Usually,
during your greenhorn phase while
you are gaining a degree of confidence,
its all about getting into the flow of
traffic, finding gaps, trying to judge space
around you and hoping that you dont end
up doing something stupid that would
have you trying to keep the bike off the
ground by the sheer strength of your
arm muscles. After more than 30 years of
riding experience, thats exactly how we
felt when we walked into the showroom
to pick up the Rocket III for a test.
There is something about the bike, its
mean black cast, the bulk of its threecylinder engine and the width of its rear
rubber that tells you its going to be too
much. Also, knowing that it tops the
scales at 367kgs can do things in your
mind. But then, across the course of a
weekend, there was only one occasion to
remind us of the side effects of trying to
balance this 800-pound beast.
We are already quite in tune with the
Triumph brand and its products. A
Bonneville sits in the stable, perhaps one
day to make way for a Thunderbird or
Lightning. But somehow, the Rocket III
seems to sit just across an imaginary line
of practicality winning over desire.
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FEB 2015

The company literature does make all


the right noises. Its a well-balanced bike,
with narrow waist and low ride height so
you technically dont have to be too tall
to ride it. But even the Roadster with its
mid positioned pegs and relatively low
seat arent really comfortable if you arent
at least 510 (178cms). And every bit of
muscle you have built up in your biceps
and even triceps is handy when trying
to move the bike when stationary. We
had set out to do the test ride and had
to oblige by getting the bike out the exit
ramp and fuelled up at the neighbouring
fuel pump. It isnt even every bike
salesmans cup of tea.
Being neighbours to a Triumph dealership
didnt lessen the admiration the fuel pump
attendants were showing as they tanked
up the bike. Its tank has a 24-litre capacity,
but all we actually put in was 12 litres. Not
a good start, we thought, for a weekend
on a 2.3-litre engine. But thats one facet
we neednt have bothered about, as the
mileage must have been close to 16kms to
a litre.
The Rocket III does not try to be beautiful.
The current iteration of the marque was
reborn in the late 1990s as a means to get
into the large cruiser class that HarleyDavidson ruled in the US. The original

attempt was to put out a 1500-1600cc


bike but the model finally settled into a
revolutionary three-cylinder longitudinal
layout with 2,294cc displacement. But
there is inherent grace in the design of
this monster from the twin-headlights,
blacked out tank and radiator cowl to
the teardrop taillight sitting on top of the
bulk of the rear wheel, its almost as if the
twin stripes take your eye along a feline
contour.
And anything this big will have to built
extra strong. The stressed tubular frame
has parallel members running NorthSouth to cradle the weight of the engine.
The cylinders fire sequentially in a 1-2-3
order from front to back, with the crank
pins evenly spaced out on the crank.
The balance shaft, input shaft and final
drive shaft all rotate contra to the crank
direction in order to balance it out. The
engine itself is used as a stress member to
stiffen out the frame.
Crank up the starter and you already
expect the dull roar of the engine. The
combination of the three large volume
cylinders and the even spacing of the
thumps as they come out of the 3-1-2
arrangement of the exhaust pipes seems
almost metronomic until you twist the
accelerator. Thats when the engine

rocks to the right despite all the counterbalancing. You can feel the torque trying
to get away. The only way this could
be handled well is in the chosen shaft
drive arrangement, with a low travel stiff
suspension at the rear and alloy housing
for the gear and bevel arrangement of the
transfer.
Gear shifting on the other hand belies
the bulk of the bike. Shifting into first is
almost as smooth as on the Bonneville and
so is second gear. Its only as you get into
third that you get a bit of the Harley clunk
come in, only to disappear in the higher
two gears. Keeping the foot pegs at mid
point makes the shift both down and up as
smooth.
This smoothness is as much a function
of the Lamborghini designed 5-speed
gearbox as it is of the rock solid
engineering that underpins the Rocket III.
Take off is all about the torque on the bike
all 224Nm of it. The engine is typically a
low revving unit, happiest in the 3 to 4,000
rpm range, another characteristic that
compares with cars. Thats also the band
when the torque is on full flow. If you
are in a hurry you can make the tail wag,
especially as you turn and change road
incline at the same time. You wouldnt
expect this heavy a bike to respond so

well to a torque burst, but the Rocket III


obliges at will.
The centre of gravity is so low that you can
really manoeuvre the bike with comfort.
If there is even a little forward motion the
gyroscopic effect of the wheels tends to
take the bike back to vertical, so the lean
in can be perfected for the speed and
intensity of curve that you want. Initially
you feel that the bike wont take a curve,
but then you realise that you just arent
banking it in enough. All the greenhorn
fears start rolling away and after a couple
of quick sharp bends the bike melds with
your natural bodyweight shift.
At speed, the Rocket III is all the roadster
you want it to be. You hear the thump of
the engine as a background score, you
can carve the bike in and out of traffic,
and torque and pickup are in plenty even
in third and fourth gear and the stance of
the riding position is such that you dont
actually feel the distance you ride.
Oh yes, it also helps that the ABS
system on the bike is quick and almost
imperceptible unless you are in hard
braking. The 17 front wheels are
equipped with 320mm four-pot twin
discs while the rear gets an almost as
large 316mm disc albeit with a single pot
caliper. Hard stopping can also get a bit

of tail wag in, but the tyre on the 16


rear wheel is bulky and wide enough to
do the job well.
The instrumentation on the bike is a mix
of the best and worst of tradition and
modernity. It helps that both the tach
and speedo are analogue in layout, but
the monochrome digital panels that sit
at the bottom of the roundels try to
cram in too much information into the
tiny space. The gear position indicator
would have been useful if it wasnt so
small and the lighting, especially the
backlighting needs improvement. Either
that or a revamp in design to clear out
the digital displays from the roundels to
a stand-alone panel under them.
Seat shape is well done, with just the
right amount of padding and the reach
to the handlebars turned out to be just
right too horizontal from the shoulder
point. On a personal level the only
change we would have liked would be
turn indicator switches on both sides to
reduce thumb reach.
Riding the Rocket III on Muscat roads is
a statement in itself. Barely 200 metres
out of the showroom and we had already
got our first hat tip. Cars honk you and
the Goldwing rider who coasts alongside
both appreciates your steed as well as
FEB 2015

63

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FEB 2015

your taste. And the bothersome hotrodder


who thinks that he can bully you is just not
ready for the click, twist and surge of a
quick burst out ahead. No one expects this
bulk to shoot ahead like it does, but the
torque and the 148BHP of power translate
into mile figures of 12-odd seconds and a
top speed of over 200 kmph.
The roads around the capital are the
perfect environment for this roadster. We
prefer the stance over that of the Cruiser,
and the weight isnt communicated when
you can plant both feet on the ground,
albeit having to watch out on the right for
the exhaust headers.
Only at one point did we have an issue
and that was when the bike crested a
small hump in the parking lot, almost at
standstill. As the ground dropped out by a
couple of inches from under the feet, you
could feel the weight shift onto the lower
placed foot and a moment of terror dawn,
bringing all the greenhorn fears back to
top of mind. A twinge and quick move
ahead saved the situation but definitely
point out how exacting the height
requirement is for the rider. Shorter riders
beware.

ENGINE
TYPE Liquidcooled, DOHC, inline
3cylinder
CAPACITY 2294cc
BORE 101.6mm
STROKE 94.3mm
SYSTEM Multipoint sequential
electronic fuel injection with twin
butterflies and progressive linkage on
primary butterflies
EXHAUST Stainless steel 3 into 1 into
2, large volume catalysts in front of
chromeplated silencers FINAL DRIVE
Shaft
CLUTCH Wet, multiplate
GEARBOX 5-speed
OIL CAPACITY 5.9L
PERFORMANCE
MAX POWER EC 148BHP @ 5750

CHASSIS
FRAME Tubular steel, twin spine
SWINGARM Twinsided, steel (houses
drive shaft)
FRONT WHEELS Cast aluminium alloy
5 spoke, 17 x 3.5in
REAR WHEELS Cast aluminium alloy
5 spoke, 16 x 7.5in
FRONT TYRES 150/80 R17
REAR TYRES 240/50 R16
FRONT SUSPENSION Kayaba 43mm
upside down forks, 120mm travel
REAR SUSPENSION Kayaba black
spring twin shocks with 5 position
adjustable preload, 105mm rear wheel
travel BRAKES FRONT Twin 320mm
floating discs, Nissin 4piston fixed
calipers, ABS
BRAKES REAR Single 316mm disc,
Brembo 2piston floating caliper, ABS

MAX TORQUE EC 221NM @ 2750

FEB 2015

65

2016 Cadillac CTS-V

At Detroit last month, Cadillac introduced the third generation CTS-sedan


based 2016 CTS-V, which by far happens to the most powerful product in
the brands 112-year history
Author: Chandan B Mallik

n 2015-16, Cadillac will spearhead most


of GMs new product efforts and the
newest entry in the so-called elite
class of the worlds highest-performing
luxury cars is the 2016 CTS-V. And as we
all know, this performance game is all
about numbers higher, lower all sorts,
besides focused positioning. I specifically
mention this because it is these which are
actually defining how the brand is moving
forward. The small numbers for Cadillac
are the number of models it offers
against opposition chiefly Audi, BMW
or Mercedes-Benz. But where it is short,
it tries to make up with bigger numbers
where it matters.
Take for instance, what the new
supercharged 6.2-liter V8 in the CTS-V
will offer? Cadillac says its tuned to
offer 640hp and 630lb-ft of torque. The
66

FEB 2015

package uses a more-efficient, morecompact 1.7-litre supercharger and


matches it with direct injection and Active
Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation).
This is good enough for the CTS-V to
sprint from 0 to 96km/h in 3.7secs with
a top speed of 320km/h. The powerplant
is paired exclusively with GMs 8-speed
automatic transmission with paddle
shifters and launch control.
So, on the basis of the numbers
theory what does this mean? At least
in theory, there are some interesting
interpretations. The aforementioned
number will help the CTS-V blow
away BMWs 560hp V8 powered M5
comfortably by 0.5sec [the 600hp M5
30th Anniversary Edition posts identical
time]. Meanwhile, the 550hp 5.5-litre
biturbo V8 used in the Mercedes-Benz

E63 AMG 4Matic is faster than the CTS-V


by 0.1secs. Whatever the opposition
numbers, the Cadillac CTS-V should be
able to hold on its own comfortably.
Based on the CTS sedan, the CTS-V is
designed to be faster and more powerful
and hence in its construction it gets
lightweight materials and race-bred
technology. Compared to the stock CTS,
chassis stiffness has been increased by
25per cent. The cars bonnet is made of
carbon fiber and features a functional
vent that extracts hot air from the engine
and helps to create downforce. A larger
front grille opening and larger front air
intakes help with additional cooling.
High-performance equipment like
Brembo brakes is standard on the CTS-V,
along with asymmetric Michelin Pilot
Super Sport tyres. Standard 19in wheels

Improved engine and efficiencies


The secret behind the new CTS-Vs
capability is an all-new, more powerful
6.2-litre supercharged V8 engine that
makes more power more efficiently
than the previous Cadillac supercharged
engine. It employs a more-efficient,
more-compact 1.7-litre supercharger
and matches it with direct injection
and Active Fuel Management (cylinder
deactivation).
The superchargers rotors are smaller in
diameter than the previous supercharged
engine, allowing higher maximum rpm
that enables power-enhancing boost to
be generated earlier in the rpm band.
That boost is achieved more efficiently

via a more direct discharge port that


creates less turbulence, reducing heat
and speeding airflow into the engine.
The Cadillac supercharged engine also
has several unique features designed
to support its high output and the
greater cylinder pressures created by
forced induction, including Rotocast
A356T6 aluminum cylinder heads that
are stronger and handle heat better
than conventional aluminum heads,
and lightweight titanium intake valves.
The shift-response times from the
transmission benefits from the smaller
steps between gears keep the engine
within the sweet spot of the rpm band.

are made of lightweight aluminium. The V


variant CTS gets a revised multi-link front
suspension and five-link rear suspension
that provide increased stiffness and
stability and it also gets as standard the
latest version of GMs Magnetic Ride
Control.
Steering is an electric, ZF-sourced
Servotronic II system, with variable
ratio steering and a stiffer feel versus
other CTS models. Like other cars in this
category, the CTS-V also has adjustable
driving modes, which tweak steering,
throttle and other variables. Choices
include Touring (comfort), Sport and Track.
The CTS-V cabin isnt a stripped out
affair. It comes fitted with standard
20-way heated and ventilated leather
performance seats, while Recaro sport
seats are optional. The variant gets a
unique steering wheel, instrument cluster
display, shifter and pedals. Interior colour
combinations include all-black, black
with platinum accents, or black and tan.
In-car technology includes Cadillacs CUE
infotainment system with navigation and
a Bose premium audio system.
Owners of this car will also be able to
order Performance Data Recorder which
allows them to record high-definition
video, with data overlays, of their driving
experiences on and off the track.

FEB 2015

67

2016 Ford GT Concept

Beginning production in late 2016, the Ford GT will hit the road in select
global markets to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ford GT race cars at
the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Author: Chandan B Mallik

68

FEB 2015

ords biggest statement at the


recently concluded Detroit Motor
Show was the introduction of the
official successor of the GT40 race car
that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans four
consecutive times in the 1960s. The
stunning the all-new GT concept actually
overshadowed many other presentations
at the venue Ford unwrapped details
of Besides the positioning, the mission
statement of the concept is that it is
an ultra-high-performance supercar
that serves as a technology showcase
comprising of smaller turbocharged
[EcoBoost] engines, active aerodynamics
and lightweight carbon fiber construction.
As Ford actively ramps up its performance

The previous Ford


GT was a fairly
conventional supercar,
but many agree that
it was designed more
to pay homage to
Fords Ferrari-slaying
GT40s of the past. In
contrast, the incoming
GT is closer to the
original GT40

division, the GT is one of more than 12 new


Ford Performance branded vehicles hitting
the markets by 2020. The GT will join the
likes of vehicles like the Focus RS, F-150
Raptor, Shelby GT350 and Shelby GT350R.
The production ready new GT was
presented with a mid-mounted engine on
a rear-wheel drive platform. The future
two-door supercars profile is sleek and
aerodynamically influenced. It will be
propelled by the most powerful EcoBoost
production engine ever Ford has produced
-- a next-generation twin-turbocharged
EcoBoost V6 producing more than 600hp.

The engine features an all-new, port/


direct dual fuel-injection setup to improve
throttle response, plus a low-friction
roller-finger-follower valvetrain. The
forced-fed V6 is paired with a seven-speed
dual-clutch transaxle.
As expected, optimized power-to-weight
will be key to the performance and hence
the GT makes extensive use of lightweight
materials, including carbon fibre and
aluminium in its construction. Meanwhile,
the chassis is suspended by an active
racing-style torsion bar and pushrod
suspension, with adjustable ride height.

FEB 2015

69

Callum and the GT project

Moray Callum, Fords Vice President of


Design Ford Motor Company Moray
Callum is brother of Jaguar Design
Director Ian Callum, the man responsible
for much of Aston Martins modern design
language, and for all the recent lovely
Jaguars like the F-Type. Both Ian and
Moray spent large portions of their early
careers at Ford before moving elsewhere.
Moray went on to re-invent the look of
Mazda, moving that brand from tired and
predictable to aggressive and sporty.
Moray returned to Ford in 2006 and the
Ford GT is among the latest creations
under his guidance. Work started on the
GT concept in October 2013 on a blank
sheet of paper. In less than 14 months,
the design team was able to present a
functional concept car 95 per cent ready
for production. To pull this off so quickly,
and to keep it from leaking out, Ford took
things underground. We opened up a
small studio in the basement, literally in

70

FEB 2015

the bowels of the building, refurbished


an old room. The company brought
designers and engineers together,
working closely to pull the car together
with little interference. The team started
by creating scale models by hand, then
scanning the results to create 3D versions.
All of the aero work has been done
digitally, said Callum. That means saving
time by not visiting an actual wind tunnel.
However, the team did have a full-sized
model milled out of foam, just to ensure
the dimensions looked great at scale.
Of all the design details of the car, the rear
is by far the most distinctive and its profile
appears very familiar. The rear of the car
is more open than covered. We wanted
to emphasize the fact that its got a small
engine. We really wanted to get this
fuselage thing, which helps aero anyway,
but actually accentuating that. Getting the
frontal aero down and the V6 EcoBoost
powerplant really facilitated that, said
Callum.
This means, its a big departure in design
from the original car, the GT40. The 2005
GT was very much a heritage car, more
of homage to the original. We wanted
to do it in a much more futuristic way.
The overall shape, the nose detailing, the
front bonnet and the headllamps and
their position, are directly influenced by
the original. The rear view, the rounded
lamps, the round exhausts are also there.
But the rest is new.

The GT is one of more


than 12 new Ford
Performance vehicles
planned to hit markets
by 2020. It will join
models like the Focus
RS, F-150 Raptor,
Shelby GT350 and
Shelby GT350R
The 20in wheels are shod with Michelin
Pilot Super Sport Cup 2 tyres. The GT also
features advanced active aerodynamics,
including a deployable rear spoiler plus
mod cons like SYNC 3 - the latest version
of Fords advanced connectivity system.
The two-seat cockpit is accessed by
upward-swinging doors and driver
gets an F1-style steering wheel setup. Instrumentation is fully digital
and configurable for multiple driving
environments and different driving modes.
Unlike the fixed seat only arrangement
in many super cars, the GTs fixed seating
is combined with adjustable pedals and
steering column to accommodate a very
wide range of driver statures.

FEB 2015

71

2016 Acura NSX

72

FEB 2015

After a long gap,


the reincarnation
of the first real
Japanese supercar,
Hondas US-only
Acura branded NSX
is finally happening.
Automan has the
first details of this
soon-to-arrive
human-centric
super car
Author: Chandan B Mallik

n the automotive world unless you


are an absolute diehard, you wouldnt
bother to wait quarter of a century
for your favourite motoring icon. But,
mention the three letters NSX, and
immediately a supercar profile seems to
appear in the horizon. In short, Honda/
Acura NSX fans are surely in for a treat as
Honda has finally unveiled the production
ready 2016 Acura NSX at last months
North American International Auto Show.
The mid-engined hybrid supercar
started life as a concept in 2012 with
a provocative design, most of which
has been retained on the production
version. Keeping in tune with the modern
sportscar philosophy of ensuring lightest
bodyweight and efficient powertrains,
the incoming car therefore deliberately
moves away from its naturally aspirated
roots. The car will be offered with a
75-degree twin-turbocharged 3.7-litre
V6 engine paired to a 9-speed dual
clutch transmission. The V6 gets a race
inspired compact valve train with dry
sump lubrication system, which Honda
says offers the lowest centre of gravity in
its class. In addition, the NSX gets three
electric motors as in the hybrid system

which uses two electric motors to power


the front wheels each, while the third
fills the gap when the engine turbos
are spooling up. While the automaker
does not admit it, the powertrain on the
new NSX does share similarities with
the Honda F1 engine developed for the
McLaren team. Although the NSX now
has a smaller displacement engine, the
cars hybrid powertrain is expected to
generate over 550hp and herald the
brands return to its performance roots.
Physically, compared to the concept,
there are minor dimensional changes.
The cars aluminium space frame
chassis had to be lengthened by three
inches and widened by another one
inch to help accommodate the needs
of the powertrain and all-wheel-drive
system. The new model is also 45mm
longer, 130mm wider and 45mm taller
than the original model from 2005,
while the wheelbase is significantly
larger at 2,630mm. The car also uses
advanced materials like carbon fibre in its
construction.
On the design front, Honda wanted
to retain the concept shape and also
get close to the originals philosophy.

FEB 2015

73

According to Michelle Christensen, exterior


design project leader: We strove for that,
with the goal of omitting anything extra that
wasnt needed. Interestingly, Christensen
is the first woman in the industry to lead a
design team working on a supercar. While
the original NSX had a very clean design, the
incoming car departs from that aspect and a
lot of the design features as seen have been
influenced by unusual powertrain hardware
and mid engine layout.
The cars interior designers are quick to
point out that the cabin was designed like
its predecessor with a Human Support
Cockpit, which, according to Jonathan
Norman, NSX interior design project
leader, will provide exceptional driver
control, visibility and packaging, but further
advanced to meet the extreme performance
expectations of a modern supercar. That
means that the seats have top-class holding
performance and an exceptional ease of
ingress and egress.
The NSX utilizes a fully independent, allaluminum front and rear suspension and
puts its considerable power down through
ContiSportContact high-performance
tires245/35Z R19 front and 295/30Z R20
rearmounted on 19x8.5 inch front and
20x11 inch rear aluminum alloy wheels.
Powerful, natural and confident braking
performance is provided by 6-piston front
and 4-piston rear monoblock calipers
squeezing ultra-high performance carbonceramic brake discs.
The handling prowess of the car comes

74

FEB 2015

Michele Christensen joined the team


for the production car shortly after
Acura unveiled its NSX concept at the
2012 Detroit show

With the incoming


NSX, Honda/Acura
begins an all-new
chapter in the iconic
supercars history.
The NSX will be
produced at Hondas
facility in Ohio
in the US.

from the tech on-board including the


Sport Hybrid Super-Handling All Wheel
Drive system (Sport Hybrid SH-AWD).
Also on offer will be features like Agile
Handling Assist and Integrated Dynamic
System that allows four driving modes
namely Quiet, Sport, Sport+ and Track
and will adjust the engine, transmission,
chassis response and sound level as per
the drivers liking. The Quiet mode here
translates into all-electric power which
can be driven for short duration, while
the track mode will unravel all capabilities
of the supercar.

FEB 2015

75

Spaniard Marc Coma and Qatari Nasir AlAttiyah were crowned champions for this
years edition in their respective categories

76

FEB 2015

he Dakar Rally 2015 finished last


month after fourteen days of
competition and after thirteen
stages. More than 400 vehicles took part
in the race, but just 53 per cent made it
to the end. The 13th and final stage of the
rally was a shortened affair in Argentina
and torrential rain made for extra
difficult conditions that forced a curtailed
special stage on the route from Rosario
to Buenos Aires. The motorcycles only
reached checkpoint two 101km into the
special before the results were finalised,
while the cars, who set off later, only
completed 34km of their special stage, as
the finish line was rearranged for the first
checkpoint.
Man to beat from the outset of the race
was Nasser Al-Attiyah who comfortably
enjoyed a 35-minute lead over Giniel de
Villiers in the standings heading into the
final day, and the task was made all the
more straightforward for the Qatari, even
if conditions were trickier than normal.
Robby Gordon won the final stage, seeing
off Leeroy Poulter and Emiliano Spataro,
and with Al-Attiyah sixth only losing fiveseconds to fifth placed De Villiers there
was little math needed to declare the
2010 Dakar winner champion once again.
It capped off a dominant 2015 Dakar for
Al-Attiyah.
Ivan Jakes was the stage winner in an
all-KTM podium in the bikes class that

also included Stefan Svito and Toby


Price, but the headlines were taken by
Marc Coma as the Spaniard wrapped up
his fifth Dakar title. Coma started the
day with a 17-minute lead over Paulo
Gonalves in the overall standings, and
with the aim of avoiding any mistakes set
off to bring his KTM home safely. Other
notable performances came from Team
Peugeot-Totals whose first Dakar ended
with an encouraging flourish as Stphane
Peterhansel confirmed an 11th-placed
overall finish, just missing out on the
top-10 following an impressive showing
from the Frenchman and his Peugeot 2008
DKR special throughout. Cyril Despres,
five-times Dakar winner on two wheels,
rounded off his first Dakar in a car by
achieving his goal of completing the event.
As had the cars, the truck drivers took on
a 34km sprint to the final finish line, as
their final stage was also trimmed down
considerably. Hans Stacey took a third
consecutive stage win to round off his Dakar
in style, but despite that the Dutchman
was unable to hold onto fifth in the overall
standings, as Dmitry Sotnikov overtook him.
Stacey was impressive, beating compatriot
Marcel van Vliet by over a minute on the
shortened course, but the day and the
2015 Dakar belonged to Ayrat Mardeev,
who completed the stage podium to stand
atop the final classification as this years
champion.

2015 Dakar Rally

FEB 2015

77

WRC

Volkswagen
dominates
seasons opener
with dream1-2-3
podium finish

78

FEB 2015

vercoming complex
logistics, unpredictable
weather and constant
changes in grip [main features
of Rallye Monte-Carlo]. the
hard-fought season-opener
saw nine-time world champion
(and seven-time Monte Carlo
Rally winner) Sbastien Loeb
return with Citron, but
ultimately it was the VW team
taking a commanding 1-2-3
finish. Sbastien Ogier (with
Julien Ingrassia) finished first,
followed by Jari-Matti Latvala
(with Miika Anttila) in second
and Andreas Mikkelsen (with
Ola Floene) in third, all of them
in the Volkswagen Polo R WRC
that was just updated in time
for the start of the season.
It was only the second time
VW has locked out the podium
since hitting the scene two
years ago, following the
German teams 1-2-3 finish in
Australia last season en route
to its second consecutive
world championship. This also
marked the second year in a
row that Ogier and VW have
won the Monte, after narrowly
losing out to Loeb in 03.
The achievement in Monaco

this weekend made VW only


the fifth manufacturer to
take the top three spots in
the Monegasque capital:
Renault-Alpine became the
first in 1973, followed by
Lancia (with the Stratos) in
76 and then again (with the
Delta Integrale) in 89, Audi
sandwiched between in 84
and Citron with the dream
team of Loeb, Colin McRae
and Carlos Sainz in 2003.
(Peugeot achieved the same in
2009, but that was when the
Monte Carlo Rally had left the
WRC and was run as part of
the less prominent and lowerspec Intercontinental Rally
Challenge.) Not even Subaru,
Mitsubishi, Toyota or Ford - all
dominant forces in their time can claim that feat.
Meanwhile, rising stars,
Hyundai Motorsport were able
to secure a positive two-car
finish in the event. The Hyundai
Shell World Rally Team drivers
Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo
were engaged in one of the
closest battles of the entire
rally, as they fought for fifth
place right up to the final stage
of the rally.

F1

Germany out/Qatar in F1 calendar?

Automans take

mid the financial and


ownership troubles
that Nurburgring circuit
is currently going through,
Bernie Ecclestone, the F1
supremo said it was likely that
Hockenheim would return in
2015 to host the German grand
prix. But officials representing
both German circuits have
responded by saying that they
do not have contracts with
Ecclestones Formula One
Management for the coming
season. So when asked if he
is still confident Hockenheim
will host the race in 2015,
Ecclestone acknowledged:

Not really.
More than a decade ago, the
idea of hosting a Formula One
race in the Middle East was
completely foreign, in more
ways than one. But in 2004,
the Bahrain Grand Prix brought
F1 racing to the region for the
first time, and in 2009 another
was added with the Abu Dhabi
Grand Prix. And soon the
southern shore of the Persian
Gulf could have another in the
form of the Qatar Grand Prix.
Located in between Bahrain
and Abu Dhabi, the emirate
of Qatar boasts the highest
concentration of wealth of

anywhere in the world, and


its been playing an increasing
role in world motorsports. Set
to host the FIFA World Cup of
soccer in 2022, Qatar has held a
MotoGP race since 2004 the
same year that neighbouring
emirate Bahrain started
hosting F1. It hosted the GP2
Asia series and the short-lived
GP Masters series, as well as
this years FIA prize-giving gala.
And now Qatar reportedly
wants an F1 race of its own.
According to European
media, the proposal would
skip the Losail circuit where
the MotoGP race is held and

instead put together a street


circuit, similar to Monaco or
Long Beach, in the planned
city of Lusail, 14 miles north
of the capital Doha. Both the
Bahrain and Abu Dhabi races
are held on purpose-built
closed circuits. The plan would
be to hold it as soon as next
year, but theres one sticking
point. Possibly blocking the
proposal would be Bahrain,
which doesnt have an official
veto, per se, but is said to hold
sway over Bernie Ecclestone,
who ultimately decides which
countries get a grand prix and
which dont.

An F1 race in Qatar? Despite all the media reports to the contrary, we believe that it is only a matter of how soon rather than
if. Yes, Bernie has indicated that he has a gentlemans agreement with Bahrain over exclusivity in the region, but then he
managed to get Bahrain to agree to Abu Dhabi joining the bandwagon. What is to prevent him from getting the three parties
to sit and agree? We have no illusions about Bernie Ecclestones love for money, nor about Qatars ability to dish it out. And
with the single-minded focus that Qatar has lavished on becoming a sort of sporting hub for the region, why would they stop at
Superbikes and MotoGP?
So what does he have in his arsenal to get the two current race hosts to agree, despite their reluctance to cede an additional
race to Qatar? For starters, Bahrain has been on a sticky wicket over the past few years over internal issues and it only needs
a change in mindset to get the F1 administration cancelling events there on security grounds. As for Abu Dhabi the approach
could be longer term, but then we dont know if any agreement actually exists with them for exclusivity.
Unlike in the case of FIFA, where allegations of money changing hands for the vote are still hanging over the deal, any
agreement with F1 will be very much above board and will definitely involve a whole lot of money. The issue that will have to
be addressed then is spectator presence. And the track will need to be upgraded, as will its surroundings and approaches from
Doha. Our bet is on the first Qatar F1 running in 2018.
FEB 2015

79

Runaway success
and consumption
Eighteen billion dollars isnt chicken feed. Despite the numbness that sets into your
mind as you hear about the trillions of dollars newly minted and pumped into the global
economy by the United States over the past few years, billions still manage to catch our
attention. Sadly, this is at a juncture when its little brother the million (it isnt as if 90%
of the worlds population would sneeze at getting a million dollars, but then on a global
level its pass) no longer matters.
After the heydays of global oil majors, it is now the turn of Apple to announce the largest
quarterly profit in history (with a caveat or two). Sadly, this huge profit comes at a time
when most of the worlds economy is caught in the widening gap caused by the oil price
drop. Chinese consumers have risen to the occasion and lapped up the new iPhone 6
in ever increasing numbers. Apple, while laughing all the way to the bank, has to only
decide how it manages to get its other products and services to be half as successful.
Ironically, the oil majors that had all the standout profits till now are reeling with the shock
of dropping prices, with some even mentioning large scale layoffs as a possibility. Oddly
enough, this time around the saying one mans loss is another mans gain becomes a
truism for those countries that have had a huge fuel bill to pay.
Consumer behaviour drives profits on a global scale, but what is it that influences this
consumer behaviour? Why do we now battle our way onto the Apple bandwagon, only to
desert it for a Samsung one tomorrow? And as the world gets wealthier, how does that
influence trends? An interesting news item surfaced recently about WTO related issues
regarding poultry imports from the United States to India. Apparently the root problem
was chicken legs, which American consumers avoid, but which are much loved by Indian
consumers. This single item has the potential to upset an established market, lowering
costs for the consumer and offering a new player and choice. But will authorities allow
it? Not if they can wish the problem away!
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

80

FEB 2015

Disruptive technologies and trends are descending on our markets every day, even if our
market loving the rejects of another one causes the disruption. A new approach to low
cost high volume production as is the case with China, people consuming internet and
social media on their phones (to Apples advantage), or even a populace growing its way
up the protein consumption chain like in India, will all change how we spend our money.
Adam Smith said, Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the
interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for
promoting that of the consumer. So do we then spend governmental time and effort in
protecting the market for existing producers or allow a real capital driven economy that
places the consumers needs above all? In fact, how much can a government influence
a market anymore, especially if we globalise completely? The new Greek government
seems to think it can do quite a bit absolving itself of any commitment to honour past
debts, while seeking new money to pay for taking Greece back into a consumption
mode. The Euro zone itself looks like it will be doing the same in its own way with its
bigger than expected quantitative easing program. Consumption is the goal of every
authority, mirroring Noam Chomskys views on the matter. Seen at a regional level the
secret of Dubais wealth generation is all about consumption. Irrespective of how enticing
it is to work in the emirate, residents usually end up consuming all their income within the
borders itself. Shopping malls, eating out, rents, fines and luxuries all take their toll on
the wallet but add to the bustle and cheer of a thriving economy. Yes, some of that cheer
is due to the record number of Apple iPhones that are sold there even if most of them
eventually find their way to markets around the world.