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No 121

SEPTEMBER 2011

Omans Best Automotive Resource

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ORY RIT TER NEW


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ALL OUR REGULAR FEA TURES INCLUDING

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J 3.0 & JAGUAR X 350 TESTED -BENZ S ERCEDES M

R, BY FA NT S E SEGM AITHFUL F MOST

BRANDWATCH

Visit us online at www.automanweb.com

editor-in-chief
Mohammad Al taie

Smaller engines, anyone?


We know it is a sign of the times when new models are rolled out with a bulk of the product information package packed with information about the new body, styling, interiors, trims, potential market and the like. The space that used to be devoted to extolling the virtues of a bigger, more responsive engine seems to have dwindled away. After all, you cant blame manufacturers for feeling apprehensive about how the public will take the news, let alone how regulatory authorities are likely to do so. But that is the way the wind blows. It isnt just that the price of petroleum is rising. No, we havent quite felt the sting in Oman or the GCC in general due to government generosity. But elsewhere, disparate events like financial crises, currency fluctuations and the odd war or two are doing their bit to make fuel costlier and people are voting with their purchases of smaller engined, more fuel-efficient cars. What is increasingly happening is that the new markets in terms of volumes for
hatim@alroya.net

AL roYA PreSS & PUBLiShinG Po Box: 343, Postal code 118 Al harthy complex Sultanate of oman email: automan@alroya.net Website: www.automanweb.com editorial office: tel: +968 24479888 extn 300, fax: +968 24479889 circulation office: tel: +968 2456 2360, fax: +968 2456 2194 PUBLiSher hatim Al taie editor & GM raj Warrior

most global manufacturers are in countries like China, India and Brazil where fuel costs and the subsidies on them are under pressure. People do feel the pinch, with retail cost of fuel almost the same as a customer in highly taxed Europe pays for it. You also know that the trend is well and truly set when flagship models start sporting engines that are smaller in volume than variants they have left by the roadside a decade ago. Take the two flagships we have tested this month - the XJ and the S-class. Both have 6-cylinder engines under their bonnets, but dont arent limited in what they offer in terms of comfort and performance. Jaguar sees the 3.0litre as critical to establishing volumes in the segment even here in the GCC and we know that Mercedes are working at even smaller alternatives that are likely to come in the future. In the meantime Audi have also signalled the production of their A8 hybrid and while that is a whole new ballgame, the 2.0-litre TFSI engine at the heart of the petrol-electric hybrid is a popular inclusion already in their smaller cars. This is an alternative that may just catch on with other manufacturers, leading to more 4-cylinder engines in large flagships. By means of using the hybrid path, Audi is already looking at a sub - 6 litre per 100 kms fuel consumption while retaining the 0 to 100 sprint in below 8 seconds. This is where the market is - not looking at whether people will buy for saving money at the pump, but making sure they dont lose performance in the bargain. Now the biggest proviso is ensuring that volume manufacture lowers the cost of all the new technology, ensuring that the upmarket customer, whether he be in Muscat or Mumbai, will buy the car for the whole package. We think that entails beefing up the engine information in future media packs, for there is a whole new story waiting to be told.

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execUtive editor chandan B Mallik chandan@alroya.net deSiGn Sawsan Al Muharbi

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heAd of MArketinG Maged Aziz maged@alroya.net circULAtion books@alroya.net finAnce & AdMin Abraham daniel daniel@alroya.net Sumy Mol sumy@alroya.net WeBSite & it Mohammed f draz

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in this issue
News
FACE TO FACE
Can you explain, using a specic corner, the difference in cornering technique with the Repsol Honda RC212V and next years machine? Its really hard to explain, because theres basically no two corners in the world that are the same. So to ride them in the same way, I think, may be what sets me apart sometimes from other riders, is the fact that Ill attack each corner the way it needs to be ridden. Therell be different patches, different surfaces in different areas. And sometimes the ideal line wont be the ideal line on that particular corner, so its adapting yourself to each part of the track, whether you can use part or you cant. How youve got to get through each corner is quite difcult. At each track you go to you cant just ride in the method that you know and youve actually got to ride it to the way it needs to be ridden. It sometimes can be a bit tricky. With the 1000 I think its going to be a little less dependent on that sort of riding, because youre going to be able to make up a little bit of power. But at the same time, just concentrate more on getting out of the corner, rather than getting through it quite as fast. Its still going to very dependent on getting through the corner, but I think more in getting into the corner and getting out of the corner than those lines in that particular area than we had on 800s on the way through the corner. Itll change the way people ride a little bit. Will it change the way the race is run? Yes and no. Im not really sure. I think the way 1000s were beforehand, there was still a tire battle and there was a tire battle for the rst part of 800s, which produced some great races and passes back and forth and all the rest of it. Now with 1000s, its not going to be a lot of difference. Ive ridden the 1000 again and I went from 1000 to 800 and there wasnt huge differences. The main thing you notice is in the higher gears, fourth, fth on the 800, you basically dont have a lot of power to spin, so when you spin youve got to be on the edge of the tire. But with the 1000 youre still able to spin, even when you pick the bike up its still trying to spin a little bit. That part will be slightly different when youre riding in the wet in different situations. I also think the way you control wheelies is going to be a little bit different. The 1000 is going to want to pop wheelies through more gears rather than what the 800 does, in second and third, sometimes fourth. But a 1000 will want to pull a wheelie in just about every gear, so youre going to have to control that a little bit more. But other than that, riders will adapt to the way it needs to be ridden. The people that are up at the front are there for a reason and theyll adapt quickly. Some riders believe that with more torque, you may be able to make a pass off a corner. And also with more top speed itll change the brake markers, and most of the passes are done on the brakes now. Will it open up passing opportunities? I think its not the bikes that are reducing the passing, I think its just become such a professional sport that riders dont make mistakes like they used to. Everyone has to train their butts off now just to ride these bikes. In the past, if you go back long enough, people were smoking before they got on the grid and they werent tired at the end of the race. These bikes physically take a lot more out of you. And I think the level of rider, in comparison with another era, has just picked up, because everyone knows what you need to do now. And so youre not seeing people run wide and other people duck up in the inside. Theyre making the line, theyre hitting their points, and theyre not having the problems like they used to. So, I dont really think its going to change a lot. Even Dani (Pedrosa) on the same bike as me is able to out-accelerate me just because of the way he rides. So that strength is his. But then hes got some weaknesses in his way of riding. So theres a lot of different ways to ride, different techniques to use, but I think racing in general was always going to develop and go in this direction. How does the 1000 compare to the 990 from 2006? Its more or less the same, I think. Its got more grunt. Like I said, when I went from 1000 back to 800, I didnt notice a huge difference, just a slight difference, especially in the taller gears, because you couldnt put that power done quite as much anyways, but the 800s still got plenty to spin up and theres only so much you can put down. So, yeah, getting back on the 1000 was very similar to what I had. Youre carrying that speed a bit more down the straight, youre able to say run a taller gear, because that you got that much torque down the bottom. So you can ride it in a few different options. Rather than with this option, you can still run it in those options, but in the higher gears youll be able to play around with it a bit more. You seem to be able to get on the gas sooner than most riders. It was noticeable in the rst turn in Qatar, where you could get off the gas and back on faster than anyone else. Is that one of your strengths? I have no idea, to be honest. Its difcult to know unless youre looking at data what your strengths and weaknesses are and that of other people. I very rarely or ever look at data unless my team tell me I can do something a little better here or there. If I feel that I dont know where Im losing the time, then theyll show me. But we basically never do that. I always know where I need to improve, where I need to get better. Turn one in Qatar, I dont know. I normally feel quite good on that corner. Since being with Honda, Ive got a lot more feedback than what I had with Ducati and I immediately felt better. And, yeah, I was able to crack the gas open quite early I guess and, yeah, that helped me drive through the corner rather than try and take the big wide line, and wide sweep through it. Other riders believe your corner entry speed is off the charts. Do you feel the front end of the Honda allows you to do it with more condence? With the Honda Ive denitely got a lot more condence in the front end. Not always, but when weve got it working right then we know what its doing. If it does go, it normally gives you a bit more of a warning as well. The whole chassis will ex in a different way. Youll feel the front go and youll be able to pull it back. And so its quite refreshing to be on a Honda this year and be able to push into corners. I know that when the front does go its pretty much going to give me a warning rst and thats something easier for me to live with because Im able to pick up the bike a bit quicker and stay upright. My corner entry used to be one of my weakest points. When I arrived, my rst year in MotoGP, 250 and 125 period, my braking point was one of my worst. So now Ive made it one of my best and being able to trail brake all the way in and get the bike turned in the middle. Ive worked on a lot of things that I knew I needed to get my weak points stronger. I think the best thing you can be as a rider is admitting where youre weaker and working on those areas rather than just blaming other things and blaming your equipment. What are you working on now? Thats for me to know. Thats something race by race, weekend by weekend you work on whatever area youre struggling through the most or what you need to work on. Corner by corner its different on every track, so you need to work on those areas. Braking was one of my biggest weakness, but it was a big weakness compared to the rest of my riding. So really concentrated on that, getting the right set-up, getting a better feel for it and it became one of my strongest. I havent really got a big weak point now, not like I was with braking, so now I can just sort of work on all of them to try and balance it out as much as I can.

FIRST DRIVE

Sweet revenge

Even a seasoned motoring critic is divided when it comes to deciding an outright street rocket as an outright winner from a list of potential candidates especially when the parameters are very close. Meanwhile, Audi claims that its all-new 2012 RS5 Quattro is far superior than any rear wheel drive equivalent. Automan has an interesting riddle to solve
Author Chandan B Mallik Photography author and Nabeel Ferzan

Oman International

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News feature

Pebble Beach Concours

curtaiN raiser
ear wheel drive vs all-wheel drive architecture? Which one is better in a spirited sports car and why? Carmakers have been ghting over this issue for years now and each has an individual opinion about it. Ask BMW and Mercedes-Benz [along with their inhouse tuner designed merchandise] who will argue for the former, while Audi, whose arsenal is based on its rally-bred success of the Quattro [all-wheel drive system] will opt for the latter. Whatever the package and the ground reality, theres at least one ground among the rivals that has remained undisputed till now. If you wanted power, you lost on fuel economy and also its true the other way round. And for years automakers have been trying to bridge the gap between these two ends of this conict. Thats not all. Somewhere in the background, Audi also has a score to settle with its rivals which seem to have had an upper hand on track. Audi thinks it is ready to rebound with a winning strategy that offers best of both worlds t performance and economy in one package -- the all-new 2012 RS5 coupe. To properly understand how this has been done by the creators of this car, one has to divert a bit and delve a little into the German carmakers engineering roots. More specically,

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STONER TALKS ABOUT THE 2012 1000CC PROTOTYPES

asey Stoner is the most successful rider of the 800cc era. Since the 800cc motors were introduced at Qatar in 2007, where Stoner celebrated his rst premier class victory, through last weekends Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, Stoner had won 27 races. The majority came in 2007, when he collected ten race victories en route to the 2007 MotoGP World Championship. With a brilliant start to this season, the 25-year-old Australian has continued to add to his tally. Through the rst eight races Stoner has four wins, a second, and two thirds. The only time hes failed to nish on the podium was at the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez when he was knocked out of second place early in the race. Stoner has been called the fastest rider by a number of his peers, including teammate Andrea Dovizioso. His ve poles in eight races bear that out. But now that the 800cc era is drawing to a close, we thought wed get Stoners thoughts on the move to the 1000cc era.

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one needs to look into the engineering background of a specic model from the past that has actually helped in paving the way to successfully conceive and execute the latest RS5. Audi acionados will have no problem in identifying the model that we are referring to. Its the Audi Coupe Quattro that started life as a homologation special in the early 80s which was supposed to have a production run of 400 units. The car was conceived with the idea to prove that all-wheel drive [what we know as Quattro today] was the sure shot recipe for success in highly competitive cross country rallying. Although, the Audi Coupe Quattro was twice as expensive as any other Audi at the time, it was acknowledged as a sensation when it debuted at Geneva in March 1980. For the four ring brand, the medal haul including four world rally championships was a turning point for the model. And almost 15 years ago the RS2 Avant reafrmed that the foundation of a revolution in the mid-size class was happening. In the interim period, Audi reinvented itself from being Audi NSU Auto Union AG and was virtually reborn with the current tagline Vorsprung durch Technik (Progress through Technology). Very much like its predecessor, the RS5 is based on the S5 which

Frankfurt Motor Show

braNdwatch
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Honda to invest more

{ROAD TEST}

{ROAD TEST}
Performance and handling

Author Chandan B Mallik

Photography Nabeel Ferzan and author

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<< The stylish new XJ was conceived and developed during the
Ford ownership. With the Tata Motors involvement and firm commitment, the XJ was released in to the global market. Its fine packaging inside out assures once a again reaffirms the British luxury car maker right back on top of the league >>
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<< Trailblazing innovations in the areas of comfort and drive


engineering combined with state-of-the-art technology for enhanced safety consolidate the Mercedes-Benz flagships position as the brands innovation driver and underscore its pioneering role in the automotive industry as a whole >>
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ALSO DRIVEN

FIRST RIDE

Classic end game

BABY DUKE
Photography Chandan B Mallik Photography Nabeel Ferzan

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Automan checks out the finale for the current-generation 911 series, the 2011 Carrera GTS in UAE and returns back with pleasant memories of what is soon to be revered as a collectors motoring icon
Author Chandan B Mallik Photography author and Nabeel Ferzan

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{COVER

STORY}

CLOSER TO PERFECTION

ery few car companies have ever come close to the levels of success that Ford has had with its Explorer SUV. It is estimated that worldwide there are still more than four million Explorers on the road. The Dearborn, US carmaker created the foundation of a midsize SUV in early 80s when it re-engineered a Bronco pick-up chassis and added two additional doors and started selling it as the Explorer in 1991. Besides pioneering the segment and weathering a controversy [over roll over problems due to faulty tyres in the US] the best-seller is still acknowledged as one of the vehicles instrumental in changing consumer perception about mid-sized SUVs. Thats past and since then a lot of water has passed under the bridge. With the uctuating oil prices and economic instability and new consumer priorities, car makers responded to the market needs with a new genre of efcient SUVs. While advances in technology now allow carmakers to offer crossovers in various shades and hues, Ford was quick to grasp the ground reality that the career of the Explorer which had a heavy body-on-frame chassis and thirsty V8 was coming to an end and hence decided to hook up its engineering talents once again. The new chapter for the Explorer began with a fundamental structural migration from ladder frame chassis to a modied car-based D-segment platform which currently underpins the Taurus sedan and Flex MPV. Despite being a crossover in its construction, the Explorer has grown up in dimensionally and its almost as big as a Toyota Land Cruiser. Among US key rival models from Dodge and Jeep, the Explorers dimensional growth is largest -- it is now more than seven inches longer than the Grand Cherokee and nearly half a foot wider. At 197.1in, the Explorer is 3.7in longer than the old vehicle and is 5.2in wider, at 78.9 inches. From a marketing perspective, theres been a shift in direction for the Explorer. In the earlier iteration, the top end was the Eddie Bauer version. In the new avatar, the Limited is the top trim level. Meanwhile, Eddie has taken retirement and hence the XLT and the base model sit below the Limited. From a prole and styling perspective, the new Explorer hits the nail on all points. It ts the family portrait with its new look thats more in line with current Ford models such as the Edge or Flex rather than evolving a design from its predecessor. The wraparound headlamps, three-bar grille, and trapezoidal lower grille are now a Ford design trademark that helps keep the Explorers design credentials intact. Besides, LED tail lamps, there are dual chrome exhausts tips that come standard on every model.

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cover story 56
Author Chandan B Mallik Photography author and supplied
121 | Sep 0 s GS35 Lexu 2013 tember 2011

The all-new 2011 Ford Explorer has not only been tailored with a business objective in mind. It also reflects a contemporary vision of what customers today want in a modern SUV, observes Automan

Addressing a delicate change

How does a luxury carmaker such as UKs Bentley Motors redefine an icon which its core customers dont want it to change? Automan checks out the second generation allnew 2011 Bentley Continental GT in detail once again and returns with some answers

When it comes to horsepower, the S-Class is somewhat more powerful than the XJ and due to its much higher torque, the engine of the S-Class does a much better job of transmitting power to the wheels smoothly than the XJ. The chassis and suspension of the Merc are more luxury oriented while the XJ is a bit sportier. But the XJs performance as a sporty car shines through in a straight line and sharp curves, part in thanks to its aerospace-like riveted and bonded aluminium structure that helps make it leaner than its rivals and the combination of the new continuously variable damping air suspension as well as quick-ratio power steering. The S-Class is more suited for urban runs and has a smaller turning radius than the XJ, allowing drivers to more easily manoeuvre in and out of tight spots. The ofcially claimed value of a drag coefcient Cd = 0.29 for the XJ compares well with the Mercs 0.27, but the latter is more quieter on the move.

Verdict [Raj] Jag XJ 3.0


The Jaguar is a fabulous, unapologetic and aggressive. The cars agile and a bit naughty. The engine copes well with the demands of the sporty chassis and sharp suspension which combine to give this big cat the agility it has always been known for. The fun factor quotient gets a nice bonus with the new entry level set-up. By far, the action-oriented gearbox is the high point of this car.

Verdict [Chandan] M-B S350 L


Whether from the inside or the outside, the S-Class has changed little in appearance since the current generation made its debut in 2007. Smooth, rened and classy. Even with a smaller engine, this close to two-tonne car is a perfect city runner. The arrival of new and efcient technologies will also enhance the car over all.

We think that at least one serious question has been answered for the medium term. The careers of big cars such as the XJ or S-Class are denitely not restricted anymore. With the new technology development and its application, acionados who appreciate such merchandise can breathe a sigh of relief that their favourite cars will now be soft on the pocket and also perform without compromise. Overall, on an apple on apple basis, Daimler has an immediate technology advantage over Jaguar that is in the hybridization application and the company is still working on its revolutionary Diesotto engine. Meanwhile, Jaguar is catching up fast and we can expect some interesting developments soon. Some indication to what is to come has been revealed as part of the business plan. We can also expect some of the technology applications ltering down to existing models after Jaguar launches the much awaited but limited to 250 production units of the C-X75 hybrid supercar which will mate an internal combustion engine with electric motors and offer less than 99g/km CO2 emissions.

Automans take:

first drives tested

2012 Audi RS5 24 2012 Porsche Carrera GTS 34 2012 Jaguar XJ V6 2011 M-B S Class 2011 Bentley CGT 2012 Toyota Prado 2012 Kia Optima 2012 Honda Accord 2012 Geely Emgrand
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automaN select

ts a well-known fact that KTM has earned its reputation as a builder of hardcore offroad racing motorbikes, street motorcycles and quads. The Mattighofen-based Austrian brand has enjoyed unprecedented success around the world and can boast the current Dakar Rally bike champion as well as numerous 2011 world titleholders. Now, KTM takes some inspiration from its successful 690 and 990 Duke models and created an all-new baby the Duke 125 in a joint venture with Indias Bajaj Auto [which also owns 40 per cent of KTM]. Although, its single-cylinder four-strike pot just displaces 125cc, it comes at a time when the European learner legal crowd [the largest maket for KTM] has to comply with regulations and restrictions in a 125cc machine. And this led KTM to design a small bike that looked and felt bigger. The chassis is a mix of Trellis and forged oval steel tubes and is lightweight, yet strong enough. The front suspension uses inverted

speed transmission in the package. Final drive is chain. As with the downsizing trends, most newcomers in this segment are being designed to look larger with enhanced dimensions and things like a larger rear tyre. Overall, with the corporate orange colours and bold stickering and striking alloys sporting particularly wide tyres for a 125cc, being 110/70 R17 up front and 150/60 R17 at the rear, we cant really complain about the bikes minimalistic clean looks. Theres a bit of bling tailored in to the package such as LED indicators and tail lamp and licence plate, fully digital multifunction cockpit display which has a plethora of functions and information, including speedo, rev counter, clock, gear indicator, total kilometres travelled, journey time, two trip displays, fuel gauge, fuel consumption indicator and even distance to next service. Unladen weight of the bike is 118kg.

The 125 Duke follows in the tyre tracks of the hugely successful bigger siblings. Designed especially for first-time riders, it also benefits from premium build quality, cutting-edge and futuristic design
Of particularly note is the mid mounted, cartridge, a rarity in the 125cc segment and the over all design suggest mass concentration under belly stainless steel exhaust, which is [weve seen this before in Buell sports bikes] placed between the swingarm and engine. KTM and the short wheel base further conrms says much development work went into the our observations. It shows that KTM has production of this which is a unique patented been aware of its new genre of customers three chamber with catalytic converter. inexperience and has factored in ride stability as a key priority. Both disc brakes are from Bybre, an offshoot of Italian specialist Brembo. Since EU strict norms are to be followed, hence the engine cannot be boosted beyond its legal-learner The KTM 125 Duke is the rst all-new product cap of 15hp at 10,500rpm and 12Nm jointly developed with Bajaj Auto Ltd, in India. of torque at 8,000rpm. But that The bike is manufactured in Chakan, near Pune. hasnt stopped KTM in putting in a In 2007, Bajaj Auto picked up a 14.9 per cent four-valve head with two overhead stake in KTM and increased to 40 per cent. cams, liquid-cooling, Bosch fuelinjection, a balancer shaft and six-

cover story Preview bikes

2012 Ford Explorer Toyota Yaris Hatch News KTM 125 Duke

The Bajaj connection

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Casey Stoner

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Formula One, WRC, MotoGP Journalistic ethics

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regional news}
NissaN Juke arrives iN the sultaNate of omaN
issans radical new Juke crossover, was revealed at Suhail Bahwan Automobiles Nissan Qurum showroom amidst fanfare. The new arrival according to Nissan claims will appeal mainly to younger and fun-loving buyers, has no direct rivals in todays car market. Designed and engineered in Japan and UK, the car is a crossover based on the Qashqai/Murano platform has resized and reengineered as a top B-segment contender, very similar to the new crop of models coming out of Europe such as the Mini Countryman Cooper S and Peugeot 3008 [both models available in ME now]. Designed in the UK at Nissans Paddington Design Centre and Japan, the Juke uses SUV styling proportions and will offer a considerably more advanced mechanical make-up than conventional B-segment models. The lifestyle oriented car is powered by either a normally-aspirated or turbo charged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine delivering top whack of 188hp via XTronic CVT transmission with six-speed manual mode. The Juke will also be available with four-wheel drive and a torque vectoring system, the likes of which has only been available until now on cars such as the BMW X6.

Price guide: OMR8,000 onwards

ramadaN offers iN omaN


Its never been so good for consumers to invest in a new vehicle as several authorized car retailers in the Sultanate are offering some pretty good deals. Heres a round-up. As one of Zubair Automotive Group members, the official importer-retailer of has Volkswagen models offers special Ramadan packages across its range. The special deals commenced on July 25 and will run up till September 15. The best part of the deal is the five-year extended warranty on all models and up to five years/75,000 km service and up to five years roadside assistance. Customers buying the all-new Jetta, Touareg, Tiguan, Golf GTI and Passat will all receive the benefits of this deal during the promotion period. James Oliver, General Manager of Wattayah Motors said: We wanted to give our customers something sustainable this Ramadan. Instead of just giving away a free gift we decided that we would give our Ramadan customers the best gift of all the support they need to keep their cars new for up to five years. Price guide: from OMR 7,350, the all-new 2011 Jetta [launched in Oman in May] Wattayah Motors also represents Audi and customers purchasing an Audi A1, A4, A6, A7, A8, Q5, Q7 or TT, will have access to a host of special Ramadan deals depending on the selected model including complimentary insurance, registration, extended service packages of up to 105,000 km and warranty up to three years as well as complimentary Apple iPods and Apple iPad 2 gifts. Ramadan promotion period. The offer is valid on all new 207CC and 308CC models. New customers will be able to cruise around Muscat in style for a long time to come thanks to the added value packages we have on offer this year. The extra value we are giving customers means they leave the showroom relaxed and assured that they will be taken care of for a up to five years when it comes to warranty and servicing which is a huge weight off peoples minds, said Bob Seshadri GM of European Motors.

Dhofar Automotive
As the official distributor of Ram, Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands, the set-up will be helping Ram customers by offering competitive and affordable pricing and City Centre vouchers with every new purchase. The new Dodge Ram 1500 Series is available in three different variants including the Laramie Crew Cab, Regular Cab and Quad Cab. Powered by a redesigned 5.7-litre HEMI VVT engine with Multi Displacement System (MDS) for fuel savings, theres enough power and torque available to surge through terrain as varied as the sands of the Wahiba Desert, as well as the most demanding Wadi beds located in and around Omans mountain interior. The new Ram Laramie Crew Cab is the next step up for those with a strong affection for driving the traditional SUV.

Automans take
Instead of handing away freebies to attract new customers to the showroom, Peugeots strategy to give their customers something sustainable, real value for money and peace of mind should help in raising the ownership experience level as well as resale values of used vehicles.

Mitsubishi
Zubairs showrooms all over Oman began the promotion on July 25 and it run through the busiest period of the year ending on September 30. The value packed deals on offer include six years unlimited mileage warranty and roadside assistance, free servicing up to 100,000km, free insurance and registration and either a Mitsubishi approved satellite navigation system or a gift voucher. Models included in the promotion include the Pajero, Outlander, Crossover ASX, variants in the Galant and Lancer range and single and twin-cab variants of the L200 pick-up and the L300 van.

Automans take
A little over two years ago the Dodge brand has been reoriented towards youthfulness and fun and a new sub brand Ram was created to focus on truck customers and emphasize trucks and commercial vehicles. According to Ralph Gilles, Dodge president and CEO, the Ram spinoff is designed to separate the Dodge brand from its long association with trucks. Hence, Ram branded new products should not be confused with Dodge Rams previous range of commercial vehicles.

Peugeot Oman
Peace of mind for up to 1,825 days of ownership seems to be the key theme this year for the French brand cars sold in the Sultanate through Zubair Motors during the

Wattayah Motors

automan souq
Ducati and Tudor join hands for lifestyle merchandise
In the run-up to the Italian round of the MotoGP championship held at the circuit of Mugello, Ducati and Tudor announced the start of a prestigious new partnership. Ducati, the iconic Italian motorcycle manufacturer famous for style and state-of-the-art technology, have entered into an all-encompassing partnership with Tudor, the maker of prestige Swiss sports watches who take on the title of Timing Partner as Ducatis official watch. Tudor launched the agreement with a commemorative timepiece dedicated to Ducati and perfectly aligned with the exciting world of speed, motorcycles and racing. It enhances the new range of sports chronographs presented recently at Baselworld 2011. Known as the Fastrider collection, the series of stainless steel chronographs incorporate the Tudor 7753 self-winding movement with a power reserve of 46 hours in a 42mm diameter waterproof casing with satin-polished finish. Various versions are available with leather strap, stainless steel bracelet or black fabric strap featuring three stripes in contrasting colours, a look that has become one of Tudors signature style details which, for this collection, will also be echoed on the dial. Tudor wanted to feature a specific reference to Ducati and this is evident in the Fastrider model, a true commemorative series which maintains the same technical characteristics from the collection, but with Ducati red on the vertical stripes of the strap and dial, which create a striking colour contrast with the black fabric and counters. The sporting spirit of these chronographs is further highlighted with black PVD-coated buttons set in the casing to resemble the pistons of an engine and by the tachymetric scale engraved on the bezel. These items will be available from October in the GCC countries.

automan souq

Sony VAIO E Series


The all-new VAIO E Series comes with second generation Intel Core i5 Processor and AMD Dual-Core Processor. The enhanced processing ability of the Intel Core processor and power efficiency of the AMD Dual-Core processor enable sharp and clear videos, realistic and responsive games, and allow the notebooks to run longer between battery charges. Sony also takes cuttingedge styling to new extremes through the VAIO E Series. The surface of the notebooks features a truss pattern where several small triangles construct one large hexagon. The texture covers the exterior as well as the palm rest. Ergonomically designed for ease of use, fingerprints and smudges are less noticeable due to the three-dimensional pattern. The screen size of the VAIO E Series ranges from 14- 15.5in. The VAIO E series features the graphics provided by NVIDIA GeForce 410M GPU, AMD Radeon HD 6310 Graphics or Intel HD Graphics 3000. While the VAIO E Series is preinstalled with several applications and utilities, many of which are launched through a one touch button including the WEB button for quick web access and the VAIO button that launches the media gallery, the touch pad with multi-gesture control supports Flick, Tap and Scroll to facilitate easy navigation around web pages and application screens.

Lumix GF3
Panasonic has introduced its new range of Lumix G Series professional digital SLR cameras in the Sultanate. The GF3 is the worlds smallest and lightest digital SLR, featuring higher image quality and advanced AF system. The GF3 weighs just 222g which breaks the world record making it the lightest DSLR. The new GF3 is powered with a 12.1 mega pixel MOS sensor. This camera also records full HD videos. High speed precision contrast AF system, of the Lumix G Micro System realises the worlds fastest level of approx 0.18 seconds. This camera also has a touch screen operation.

Xperia neo, the first GreenHeart


The new Xperia neo runs on the latest Android 2.3 Gingerbread platform that gives users access to over 200,000 applications for an augmented communication experience. Facebook inside Xperia, a unique application that allows instant communication and advanced social media experience, is also included. The smartphone boasts a unique shape and is equipped with 8.1 mega-pixel camera that boasts Sonys awardwinning Exmor R for mobile sensor. The CMOS sensor allows the capture of high-quality, bright pictures and HD video recording even in poor light conditions that can be shared on an HD TV via the built in HDMI-connector. It can also be viewed on the 3.7in screen featuring Reality Display with Mobile BRAVIA Engine, which delivers exceptional visual brilliance and a crystal clear image.

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Pride and glory

the 61st edition of Pebble beach concours delegance was in full swing last month with its unusual eclectic mix of classic, vintage and modern machines

hile Pebble Beach Concours dElegance is that venue where the motoring world from the past, present and future converge, this year there is no shortage of news. Those who have a passion for classic, vintage and rare cars got their fair share, while modern motoring aficionados also got a glimpse of things to come. Aptly, two big names in the automotive business wasted no time in using this extra ordinary venue to reveal concepts and new product debuts. GMs luxury brand Cadillac used the exclusive Tehema Golf Course to take the wraps of the stylish Ciel Concept which it says revives a classic tradition. Meanwhile, Lexus has been teasing the masses with the images of new GS unveiled the car out here for the first time. Toyotas supremo Akio Toyoda shocked the crowd when he admitted that he was initially opposed to the fourth-generation GS. I have to be honest: initially I did not want to proceed with this project, referring to the new GS. He went on to explain that the world markets were so passionate about the GS, they said he was crazy to hesitate. In the end, Toyoda said he was won over by the enthusiasm for the car around the world. . The design teams were instructed to make it bolder, stronger, and more confident. Inspiration was taken from the LFA supercar. During the reveal, Toyoda also announced that the new 2013 GS is just the beginning. The mid-sized sedan signals a new styling direction for the Japanese luxury manufacturer. While, the concours is by far the most prominent event during the Monterey Car Week, but the hottest ticket in town is a visit to the Quail Motorsports Gathering. Set on the picturesque lawn of the Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley, the event follows the philosophy of less is more. That is fewer people and cars packaged in the name of exclusivity. As with many other events during the week Jaguar dominated Quail this year where it celebrated in style the 50th anniversary of the E-Type. As expected some incredible examples were on display, and even a few of the race cars from Laguna Seca took a trip down to Carmel Valley to make an appearance at the show. Legendary American race car driver Phil Hill was also honored with 2011 marking the 50th anniversary of his Formula 1 championship. Also on display were a Ferrari TR/59 that he drove at Riverside in 1959, as well as the 1950 Jaguar XK120 that he piloted to victory in the very first Pebble Beach Road Race. Additional highlights included a a class dedicated to the Ferrari Superamerica and a Bugatti Veyron gathering.

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Legends of the AutobAhn

the legends of the autobahn returned for its third year

he BMW-centric event has opened up its lawn to both Mercedes-Benz and Porsche for the first time in Monterey and it was a delight to see the unity amongst the German rivals. Interestingly, this German-car-only concours was born in 2007 more by accident than planned. Actually it owns its origins to a rather disastrous event at a local airport

and now the event attracts over 400 cars. Its popularity is growing strong by the year and and attendance has doubled in since 2008, according to the organisers. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the E30 BMW M3 was the featured model and over 30 examples were on display at the grounds of the Rancho Caada golf course outside Carmel. Equally good

were the E30s, which included an impressive collection of pristine 328s, Isettas, 2002 Turbos and an immaculate 1982 Alpina B7S Turbo, one of only 10 remaining of the 30 produced. The Mercedes and Porsche contingent was out in force as well, with a handful of 300SL coupes and roadsters, 356s, dozens of 911s from every era.

10

Rafael Nadal
Tennis Player
WINNER OF NINE GRAND SLAM

Ready to take on the world

product design award

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Ms luxurious brand will expand its model lineup in 2012 with a new entry in the compact luxury segment codenamed ATS. General Motors North America

and DTS. Analysts suggest that GM will use the same Epsilon II platform that underpins the Buick LaCrosse, which also gives the flexibility of both front-wheel and all-wheel

activates to recharge it. In a statement, Cadillacs vice president of marketing said Like other milestone Cadillac models of the past, the ELR will offer something not

President Mark Reuss released this sketch of the model at the Center for Automotive Researchs Management Briefing Seminars. The small Cadillac will begin production next summer at Lansing Grand River, the same Michigan assembly plant that builds the award-winning midsize Cadillac CTS sedan, coupe and wagon. The car we codenamed ATS is being developed to be a drivers car on an all-new Cadillac-specific RWD-AWD architecture, Reuss said. We have extensively and exhaustively studied the competitive segment, and we have benchmarked the best. And when this car comes out, that will be readily apparent. While the ATS takes care of the entry-level offering, the top slot still remains vacant. There are some suggestions that with a reasonably favourable feedback from the XTS Platinum Concept that debuted at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show [and also shown in Abu Dhabi], there are pretty good signs that it will make into production. If it does, it will single-handedly replace the aging STS

drive systems. Meanwhile, future Cadillacs will not run on petrol alone. The innovative Cadillac Converj Concept, a dramatic luxury coupe with extended-range electric vehicle technology, is moving forward as a production car that will be called the Cadillac ELR. Since, development of the ELR is just underway, so details on performance, price and timing are not available as of now. However, the model will be a rangeextended electric vehicle that uses the Voltec powertrain which consists of a T-shaped lithium-ion battery, an electric motor and a four-cylinder engine. Like the Chevrolet Volt, the ELR will travel primarily on electricity until the battery becomes low and the engine

otherwise present - the combination of electric propulsion with striking design and the fun of luxury coupe driving. Cadillac selected the name ELR to indicate the cars electric propulsion technology, in keeping with the brands 3-letter international model naming convention. But, the hottest and unexpected news from Cadillac relates to the Converj Concept which according to Ed Welburn, GM vice president, Global Design sparked the idea of combining the desirability of a grand 2+2 touring coupe with electrification.

12

auto show season seems to arrive earlier each year and the rumours are starting to swirl about who is planning to bring what. automan has some inside information to share.
Brand Alfa Romeo Model 4C concept Significance Alfa Romeo has teased the 4C again - this time
ahead of the sport coupes next concept version. The new teaser image doesnt tell much, as the 4C looks the same as the concept we saw at Geneva. The initial concept came with a four-cylinder 1,750cc Turbo Multi-Air unit with an output of 197bhp.

Frankfurt showstoppers

Brand Audi Model Urban Concept Significance Following last months spy shots of the new urban

concept caught on a film set in Berlin, Audi released a set of official sketches of the all-new 1+1-seat vehicle. Audi has claimed that the concept attempts to combine the elements of a racing car, a fun car and an urban car the concept exploits new lightweight manufacturing processes.

Brand BMW Model i3 and i8 concepts, World Premiere: 1 Series 5 Doors and 5 Series Significance Norbert Reithofer, BMW Groups chief executive is fond of saying that an environmentally friendly auto should not be a vow of poverty on wheels. While BMW fans decide for themselves whether the company has delivered on its promise, futuristic concepts that will form the foundation of BMWs i sub-brand plug-in hybrids have been laid. BMW is keen to introduce production version in 2013 and 2014 respectively. The i3, presented as a city car gets rear-wheel-drive and more details are expected to be released at the show. The i8 is also a riposte to the Audi R8 E-tron and Mercedes-Benz SLS E-Cell.

Brand Chevrolet Model Miray and the Colorado Rally Concepts Significance Over the course of its 100-year history, Chevrolet has created
and refined an array of startlingly beautiful car designs. Some of these have moved on to become true road legends, such as the Belair, the Suburban, the Corvette, or the Camaro. Though Chevrolet cars are very diverse in their appearance, reflecting the different uses they have, there is a common design and brand DNA and a set of exterior and interior features that distinguishes them from competitors.

13

Curtainraiser
Brand Eterniti Model Concept Significance
A new luxury brand out of Britain has teased its Frankfurt debut with this single sketch, which looks like a musclar, luxury SUV/crossover coupe. Some reports from UK suggest that the SUV/crossover is based on the chassis of an existing model and will use elements from other vehicles. The vehicle is meant to be a rival to the forthcoming Aston Martin Lagonda.

Brand Ford Model Concepts Significance Unlike many car makers who trickle out PR information
prior to motor shows, the blue oval badge company is keeping tight wraps on info about what cars will be unveiled specifically. One of the cars, Ford says, will showcase a major new design concept. Going by the European fascination for performance Focus derivatives, one can expect a new Focus ST with a EcoBoost inspired powertrain.

Brand Jaguar Model Concept Significance


Penned by Ian Callum, Jaguar released the first sketch of the C-X16 concept ahead of its debut. The coupe has more than a passing resemblance with an Aston Martin Vantage and is said to preview the forthcoming XE in 2013. Both coupe and convertibles are planned.

Brand Kia Model Concept Significance


Kia released several images of a new four-door, four-seater sports sedan concept. The images show a lot of detail and what we see is an Audi A7-esque four-door sport coupe with some bold, sometimes boxy lines. In line with previous reports, Kia says the concept is a rear-wheel drive sedan that takes the automaker into a new chapter in its history but its tough to see this car going to production anytime soon.

Brand Peugeot Model Hybrid HX1 MPV concept and 508 Significance
The French automaker hopes marks the future of MPV/crossover vehicles with plug-in hybrid models. The HX1 is a lowslung and stylish MPV/crossover. Also the new 508 will be on display.

14

Brand Porsche Model 911 Carrera Significance


At 48, the Porsche 911 Carrera is younger than ever: The completely redesigned generation of the sports car icon is stepping into the limelight with its flat, stretched silhouette, exciting contours and precisely designed details.

Brand Renault Model Twingo facelift, Frendzy concept Significance Renault released the first images of the next-generation
Twingo a few weeks before its official debut at Frankfurt. The compact new Twingo hatchback is the first production model of the brand to be based on the new design identity. The new designs have been progressively introduced in a number of concept cars such as the DeZir, Captur, Frendzy and R-Space. The revised Twingo features an enlarged Renault badge on the front fascia and a rounder, open mouth grill than on the previous model.The Frendzy is fully electric and comes with an asymmetrical design.

Brand Model

Suzuki Swift Sport

Significance Looking almost identical to the Geneva concept

that was revealed earlier this year, the Swift Sport will feature a high performance 1.6-litre engine developed exclusively for the car. The fourcylinder petrol unit will deliver 134bhp and 160Nm through its six-speed manual gearbox. Suzuki has promised more responsive handling for the car as a result of a new rear-suspension design.

Brand Subaru Model XV crossover Significance Subaru released a teaser sketch of its Impreza-based

new model. It may be recalled that the XV Concept had actually debuted at Auto Shanghai back in April. Subaru has promised that the final production version of the XV will remain true to the concept which gets a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder Boxer engine DOHC engine coupled to CVT transmission.

Brand SsangYong Model XUV 1 concept Significance


The near bankrupt South Korean SUV specialist thats been bought by an India-based conglomerate [not Tata Motors], is planning an assault at the entry crossover level with their the XUV 1 (Excellent User Interface Vehicle 1) concept. Some sketches were released and it is described as an innovative compact crossover, the model has a wraparound windscreen, a floating roof and a prominent C-pillar. Inside, theres a 1+1+2 or 1+3 seating arrangement .

15

world news}
rapper defaults oN paymeNt of exelero
n May, famous rapper Birdman confirmed via his Twitter page that he bought the one and only Maybach Exelero for a cool $8mn. He was even planning to paint it red, but up to now European entrepreneur Arnaud Massartic, the current owner of the Exelero, has not received a single dollar from the co-founder of Cash Money Records. Birdman, a known connoisseur of exotic cars has a Maybach Landaulet worth $1.5mn and a Bugatti Veyron worth $2mn in his stable. A representative of the current owner confirmed that the rapper is yet to pay for the car, leading to speculation that the multi-millionaire musician may have some liquidity issues. It may be recalled that the Exelero was originally conceived as a concept car for Fulda Tires and later it appeared in a Jay-Z video.

ford fiesta is 35 aNd goiNg stroNg


he compact Fiesta from Ford is celebrating two milestones in the summer of 2011 -one reaching its 35th birthday and secondly, a total of 15mn cars produced worldwide. But despite turning 35, Fiesta is showing no signs of a mid-life crisis. In fact, it looks sharper than ever inside and out thanks to a refreshing facelift. The Ford Fiesta reached the production landmark last month, a figure boosted by the popularity of the latest generation model. Ford has built a million of the current model since it debuted 28 months ago. And to keep the cars customer appeal

as fresh as ever, Ford is introducing a number of exterior and interior styling changes. The very first Fiesta was produced in Valencia, Spain, in 1976 as Fords practical and economical response to a fuel crisis that was gripping the world, and it immediately tapped into a small car demand in Europe and around the world. Valencia continues to build the current Fiesta production with Fords manufacturing plant in Cologne, Germany, now producing the majority of new Fiestas. The Fiesta also is built in Nanjing, China, Rayong, Thailand, and Cuautitln, Mexico.

eNd of the ruN


Mazda RX-8
Production of the worlds best-known rotarypowered vehicle still in production came to a halt last month when Mazda stopped building its RX-8 sports car as a result of poor demand for the car. The Wankel engine, first introduced into Mazdas lineup in the 1967 Cosmo, might not be entirely gone as Mazda is said to be working on ways to keep the innovative compact rotating motor in production.

toyotas all-New Camry breaks Cover

Ram Dakota pick-up


Chryslers Warren Truck Plant built its last Ram Dakota last month and the decision to discontinue the Dakota mirrors Fords abandonment of compact pick-ups, which have low profitability and sales [compared with lucrative full-size pick-ups]. Chrysler executives havent finalized plans on a possible replacement for the Dakota in Rams lineup for now. Fords outgoing Ranger compact pickup wont have a replacement after the St. Paul, Minn., plant that builds it closes this year. The automaker hopes to lean on small cars and the V6 versions of its F-150 to serve the compact-pickup market. General Motors plans to end production of its Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon when its factory in Shreveport closes by June 2012. GM plans to sell a next-generation Colorado in the US. Colorado production is expected to move to Wentzville where it currently builds full-size vans.

fter a string of teasers on social networking sites, the latest seventh generation, Camry has finally been unveiled. The new Camry is pitched on a new level, the first ever flavors for all version of Toyotas ubiquitous sedan. Toyota says it is looking to woo cross shoppers who havent considered a Camry and also buyers who place a little more emphasis on driving enjoyment and also those who really want a hybrid but dont want the practical compromises of a car like the Prius. With this agenda in mind, theres change in the air in a traditional conservative package.

On the styling front, the model has a familiar design with sharper lines and angular headlights. For US, three engines options will be offered. The entry-level is a 2.5-litre fourcylinder producing 178hp 230Nm of torque, moving up to a 3.5-litre V6 with 268hp and 336Nm. Both engines are carried over and are mated exclusively to different six-speed automatics. The SE version gets newly standard paddle shifters. A hybrid version uses a 156hp 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine with a 141hp electric motor. This setup enables the car to accelerate from 0-96km/h in 7.6sec.

16

lexus lauNChes all-New gs at pebble beaCh

after marChioNNe, who?

ad it not been overwhelming support from GS fans all over the world, the all-new third generation GS might have not happened. This startling fact was revealed by a top corporate executive from Toyota during the production models first public outing last month at the Pebble Beach Concours dElegance in California. The incoming car which goes on sale in a few month rides on a revised platform that has a wider track [up 40mm front and 50mm at rear). Design wise it is based on the LFGh concept which was revealed earlier in the year in New York. The new car features much bolder lines that its predecessor and key

features include a prominent trapezoidal grille that the company says will be a trademark of all future models, deep-set headlamps with L-shaped LED daytime running lights and an aerodynamic body that brings to mind the smaller IS. Lexus Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class challenger will be offered with a choice of three V6-based powertrains. Final specifications havent been released officially yet, but choices are expected to include a 2.5-litre, a 3.5-litre and a hybridized 3.5-litre. Lexus has promised that with a tighter body, ssuspension tweaks and refinements in the GS will provide drivers with more engaging driving experience and superior cornering abilities.

siNgapore billioNaire JoiNs mClareN board


cLaren Automotive, the new highperformance sports car company based at the McLaren Group headquarters in the UK, has announced that Singapore-based businessman and billionaire Peter Lim has completed a significant investment in the company. Lim, a successful business leader and philanthropist in Singapore, joins the McLaren Automotive Board of Directors with immediate effect. In 2010, Peter Lim shot into fame after he offered US$507 million to buy Premier League soccer team Liverpool, trumping an accepted offer from the Boston Red Sox ownership group. With Peter Lims investment, McLaren marks another major milestone in its global growth strategy. The introduction to the McLaren Automotive board of an influential and well respected partner in Asia will strengthen the

companys corporate and trading influence in the region at a time of encouraging demand for the companys first pure McLaren sports car, the MP4-12C. Demand is strong with the retailers in the Asia-Pacific region confirming orders that account for around 18 months of production. With the launch of the first in the range of McLaren sports cars, the MP4-12C, through a brand new global retail network, McLaren is establishing itself as the worlds most exciting new sports car company. An initial network of 35 experienced retailer partners with a reputation for excellent customer service, and a passion for McLarens vision, will represent McLaren across 19 countries worldwide in 2011, including Hong Kong, Japan, Middle East and Singapore. Meanwhile, customers in the UK and mainland Europe have started getting deliveries of their MP4-12Cs.

uring last months management briefing sessions in Traverse City, Michigan, Sergio Marchionne hinted at the possibility of stepping down from the position of Chrysler CEO within the coming years. While talking about Chryslers future plans, Marchionne said they will be up to go the guy after me after 2015 or maybe a year later, Automotive News reports. Recently, a single management team for all of Chrysler/Fiats properties was announced, with Marchionne taking the top role for Chryslers operations here in North America. Marchionne also currently holds the position of CEO for Fiat, Chryslers controlling shareholder. There will be a Chrysler after me, Marchionne stated. The CEO also said that Chrysler should have little trouble adjusting its product line-up to meet the stricter fuel economy requirements for the year 2025. Saad Chehab named as CEO for the Chrysler and Lancia Following Fiats acquisition of majority ownership of Chrysler Group LLC, a range of strategic organisational moves, all designed to create sustainable long-term success, have been announced - the latest of these has seen Beirut-born Saad Chehab named as Chief Executive Officer for the Chrysler/Lancia brands and appointed as a member of a new Group Executive Council (GEC) that has been formed in-line with the objective of enhancing operational integration of the two companies.

uae New Car sales suffer due to baNk loaN Clause


ven as UAE leads the Arab countries in average car sales growth, a Central Bank directive for new automobile loans continues impact new car sales in the country. It is estimated that sales of new cars in the UAE have fallen by 20-30 per cent [in some cases as high as 50 per cent] after the new regulation came into effect according to local media reports in May. Several top car dealers in the country have also reported a steep drop in sales since May when the Central Bank stipulations first kicked in. Top officials at Al Habtoor Motors, dealers of Mitsubishi, confirmed that car sales sunk in the last two months by about 25 per cent. Individual buyers have been bogged by a 20 per cent down payment rule. The company will continue to create new offers to improve sales of their automobiles similar to the one recently launched, which allows customers to pay low monthly premiums, with the possibility of replacing their car with a new one every two years, Hugh Dickerson, Senior General Manager of Al Futtaim Motors, dealers of Toyota in the UAE said.

17

world news}
Not tough eNough
he Canning Stock Route in Australia is one of the toughest and most remote tracks in the world. It runs to Halls Creek from Wiluna, both in Western Australia. With a total distance of around 1,850 km it is also the longest historic stock route in the world which retraces the steps of early Western Australian explorers from the late-19th and early-20th centuries. The usually hulking G-Class, which is also the longest-serving MercedesBenz model series has enjoyed superstar status in the region with special editions such as the Arabia 100 Limited Edition, met its mettle in the Australian Outback a few weeks ago with six vehicles experiencing mechanical damage and breaking down during a demonstration drive along Western Australias notorious Canning Stock Route. The mid-point at day seven of the planned 14-day off-road journey from Wiluna to Halls Creek proved the breaking point for the six of the seven vehicles five of which were G 350 wagons, the other a military-grade utility. The only vehicle in the group to survive the trip was the G-Professional a military-style vehicle with a revised suspension setup. Mercedes-Benz team on the Route had zero concerns about the vehicles ability to complete the trek and support team and technicians changed a number of shock absorbers to suit the job. The G-Class is usually more than up to the challenge of taking on this kind of treatment.

volvos Car eleCtrifiCatioN programme progressiNg well


olvo Car Corporation is now taking the next step in the companys electrification strategy by producing test cars with range extenders. Technically, range extenders are electric cars that are fitted with an independent combustion engine to increase their effective

range. These internal combustion engines are not part of the drivetrain and their role is limited to generating electrical energy for the battery pack. The projects, supported by the Swedish Energy Agency and the EU, encompass three potential technology combinations. Tests of the various concepts will get under way in the first quarter of 2012.

This is an exciting expansion of our increasing focus on electrification. Battery cost and size means that all-electric cars still have a relatively limited operating range. With the range extender, the electric car has its effective range increased by a thousand kilometres - yet with carbon dioxide emissions below or way below 50 g/km, says Derek Crabb, vice president, powertrain engineering at the Volvo Car Corporation. The companys technological developments in this area currently encompass three different technology combinations, with threecylinder petrol engines being installed to complement electric drive to the front wheels. All variants feature brake energy regeneration. The engines can run on both petrol and ethanol (E85). Two of the solutions are based on the C30 Electric and Volvo is said to be testing both series and parallelconnected range extender systems. Although, commercial sales have not been ruled out at a later stage, Volvo will begin leasing these electric cars soon in Sweden.

hoNda drops aCCord pre-fix from Crosstour


he story out here seems to remind one about BMW Groups much touted 5 Series GT which was later re-designated as the GT. Designed to look like a coupe and drive like a car but function like a crossover vehicle, the Honda Crosstour, similar in concept is easily the most polarizing vehicle in Hondas current product line-up. Sales in the US, traditionally Hondas biggest market has been disappointing to date. Analysts suggest that poor sales are due in part to the unconventional styling, compromised rear headroom and unimpressive fuel economy. Hondas not ready to write-off their controversial crossover just yet and as part of a revised strategy wants to disassociate the model from the highly commercially successful Accord badge. So, its not surprising that the Crosstour returns for the 2012 model year with a few key changes. First, Accord is dropped from it name, and as far as trims go, the model will continue to be offered in three major variants, including the base front-wheel-drive EX, the FWD EX-L and an EX-L version with Hondas Real Time four-wheel-drive system.

all-New Crossover from iNfiNiti


fter Infiniti released a total of six teaser images prior to its JX crossover concept unveil at Pebble Beach, now we have some details to share. The production model, set to debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, is expected to hit dealers in early 2012. It seems that the organic styled JX will adopt front end styling cues from the newly freshened FX, which itself was inspired by the Essence show car. The SUV appears less polarizing than the FX crossover and adopts the same swoopy lines used on the G and M sedans. Of course Infinitis signature chrome bar grille is present, complete with the companys logo front and centre. The JX will slot in above the five-seat FX and below the seven or eight-seat QX. This is an interesting slot currently occupied by models such as

Mercedes-Benz GL-Class and Audi Q7. Infiniti has an advantage here in offering a true three-row crossover to luxury buyers. Most rivals have stuck with either five-seat models or more utility-oriented SUVs like the Lexus GX 460 and Land Rover LR4. Although Infiniti has shifted to rear-wheel drive in recent years, the JX is expected to ride on Nissans front-wheel drive D platform. Nissans D platform underpins vehicles like the Maxima, Altima and Murano, and will give the JX the ability to be engineered with all-wheel drive. Although Infinitis 3.7-litre V6 is certainly a possibility for the JX, but a number of trademark filings including JX20, JX25, JX25h, and JX30 suggests Infiniti soon joining the downsizing trend. We are aware that a downsized 2.5-litre G sedan is arriving in the next couple of month.

18

brandwatCh
Hondas uphill journey
onda has just announced it will build a new assembly plant in a suburb of Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico. This will be Hondas eighth assembly plant in North America and third in

Honda Automobile Company Ltd]are ranked No.1 and No.2, respectively, in authorized dealer after-sales service in the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2011 China Customer Service

the vehicles in Canada, Mexico, China, South America and Middle East. Without the updated software, the automatic transmission secondary shaft bearing in the affected

Mexico, and is being built for the production of fuel-efficient subcompact vehicles for the Mexican and North American markets. Honda will invest $800mn in the new plant which is expected to be completed in 2014. While we dont yet know what it will build, the plants estimated annual capacity will be 200,000 units, which raises Hondas North American production capacity to 1.83mn vehicles annually. According to the company, 87 per cent of all Honda and Acura vehicles sold in the US are now made in North America. The smallest vehicle Honda currently builds in the US is the Civic, which is made in both Indiana and Ontario, Canada. It is expected that the new Mexican plant will used to build a model under the Civic, something on the lines of the Fit [or Jazz] or City which are Hondas compact global models. The small cars that Honda sells in the US are actually hybrids, the Insight and CR-Z both which are built in Japan. And reports from China have suggested that its affiliate Honda Motor (China) Investment Co., Ltd which looks after Hondas automobile production and sales joint ventures [Guangqi Honda Automobile Company Ltd and Dongfeng

Index (CSI) Study. So far, so good. As a conservative Honda plans and moves forward cautiously, the journey ahead isnt going to be that smooth. At ground level, recalls and quality issues indicate all is not so well and is probably draining quite a bit from profits. For past three years or more, Honda seems to be plagued with issues ranging from quality of paint, plastics, software glitches and more seriously safety. Just last month, the carmaker announced a massive 2.5mn worldwide recall of three of its key models to address complaints of engine stalls and vehicles that shift out of park. Out of those, the recall includes 1.51mn vehicles in the US alone. In this current recall, Honda will update software that controls the automatic transmission to ease the transition between gears and prevent damage. It has received several complaints from motorists covering engine stalls and also for vehicles shifting out of park. Models involved include the 2005-10 four-cylinder Accords, 2007-10 CR-Vs and 2005-08 Element MPV[note sold in ME]. Although, no injuries or deaths have been reported in connection with the issue, Honda spokesman Chris Martin said the automaker also was also recalling

vehicles can be damaged if the transmission is shifted quickly between each of the reverse, neutral and drive positions, as may be done in an attempt to dislodge a vehicle stuck in mud or snow. A damaged bearing can cause the engine to stall or lead to difficulty engaging the parking gear. The software update will ease the transition between gears to reduce the possibility of damage, Honda said. The Japanese automaker told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration it has been investigating the issue for several years. It may be recalled that in 2010, Honda recalled 437,000 vehicles to its 15-month old global recall for faulty airbags in a quality problem to hit a Japanese automaker. The company replaced the drivers side air bag inflator on the cars because they could deploy with too much pressure, causing the inflator to rupture and injure or kill the driver. Japans # 2 automaker originally announced the recall to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in November 2008 and the total of number vehicles recalled since then has crossed one million. The airbag recall included cars sold in the US, Canada, Japan, Australia and Asia.

Automans take A few years ago, Hondas credentials were impeccable. It was regarded as a highly capable brand with a broad portfolio of innovative products. But somehow, Honda seems to be losing the plot, especially at a time when South Korean brands are overtaking the game at an impressive pace. Honda really needs to understand global realities and consumer demands for quality and competitively priced products. Besides that, the carmaker also has to ramp up its quality control efforts, very much like Hyundai or Kia and also work on low cost production sites soon.

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CR takes a hardened stance on the ninth generation all-new Honda Civic


onda launched the all-new Civic a few weeks ago with a lot of market expectations. The reason is understandable. This is the first Japan-produced new model to come out after the devastating March earthquake and Tsunami aftermath. Surprisingly, the image and ratings of the highly anticipated redesigned ninth generation Honda Civic have been disappointing. While the predecessors have often been among Consumer Reports highest rated small sedans as well as Top Picks in five in the last 10 years, the incoming model has taken a severe beating. The new model scores are too low to even qualify for a Recommended tag by CR, the leading authoritative automotive testing

organization in the US. The redesigned Civic LXs score dropped a whopping 17 points to a mediocre 61 from the previous generations very good 78. It scored second-to-last in CRs ratings of 12 small sedans, followed only by the recently redesigned Volkwagen Jetta. Consumer Reports testers found the 2012 Civic to be less agile and with lower interior quality than its predecessor. It also suffers from a choppy ride, long stopping distances, and pronounced road noise. On the positive side, the Civic provides decent rear-seat room, and it achieved 30 mpg overall, which gives it the second-best fuel economy in its classbehind only the Toyota Corollas 32 mpg. Competition in the small sedan segment is

intense with many new or redesigned entries this year. The redesigned-for-2011 Hyundai Elantra tops CRs ratings with its impressive fuel economy, roomy interior, and strong value. The new-for-2011 Chevrolet Cruze is much more refined than previous General Motors small cars but fuel economy suffers from its heavy weight. Redesigned for 2011, the Volkswagen Jetta, like the Civic, dramatically dropped in overall score in CRs Ratings. Some older-design small sedans, like the highlyefficient Toyota Corolla, the roomy and quiet Nissan Sentra, and the sporty Mazda3 remain competitive.

Counterpoint: American Honda Motor Co responds to CR findings

In a broad sense, we disagree with Consumer Reports findings. Without question, the small sedan segment is more competitive than ever. In virtually every way, the completely redesigned 2012 Civic is a step forward. The new Civic excels in areas that matter to smallcar customers, including fuel efficiency, safety, and reliability. Among the Civics greatest competitive strengths, is a smooth and efficient

powertrain that, in Consumer Reports testing returned,... an impressive 30 mpg overall on regular fuel and 47 mpg on the highway. Also noted in Consumer Reports findings, the Civic excels in the area of safety, with a long list of important features standard on all trim levels, and a class-leading Top Safety Pick rating from IIHS. Lastly, the Civic has a stellar reliability history with Consumer Reports, and we are confident that the new Civic will be a reliability leader as well.

Ferrari design contest winners announced

ED Turin graduate Samir Sadikhov took second place in recent the Ferrari World Design Contest with his Xezri concept. Sadikhov explains that Xezri was named after, a local wind which is in the western part of Caspian sea, and that it exemplifies an innovative, high-technology solution to the needs of a lightweight car for both the road and track. It is, he says, a synthesis of its technological knowledge and its sporting experience, that embodies, the quintessence of Ferrari past and present and looks to the Ferrari of the future.Sadikhovs main focus in the design was on increasing downforce through aerodynamics, the deletion of wing mirrors and other drag-inducing components, a flat underbody and deforming aerolastic winglets inspired by the Ferrari 458 Italia. The young designer from Azerbaijan attempted to reduce weight through extensive use of carbon-fibre on both the exterior and interior. He wanted his design to be seen as, very original, elegant, pure, modern, simple, as well as, dynamic and, lightweight, simple

and striking. Like Rolls-Royces Spirit of Ecstasy, the Xezri is, supposed to look like beauty fluttering in the wind. Unique features abound, like the centrally-mounted F1 / jet fighter inspired cockpit with room for only the driver and twin touch-screens in place of wing mirrors and analogue buttons / switches. There are also two horizontally mounted air propellers that generate electrical power for the interior and gauges when the Xezri is on the move. And that great silver wing, that dominates the designs top-down view, doubles as both an air intake and an adjustable aerodynamic spoiler. It is truly an inspired design, and one of the best Sadikhov has produced so far. This is how he describes the design philosophy: Xezri [is] designed for [the] owner for whom the priority is on uncompromising on-road performance [and] occasional track day capability, but who still demand a car that is useable in day-today driving like all Ferraris models.

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KODAs Octavia vRS has become the latest member to join Bonnevilles legendary 320km/h club. The 500 bhp salt spec challenger built to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the iconic vRS performance flagship badge pushed its way through the top speed barrier, four days ahead of schedule. In doing so the car, dubbed the vRS Bonneville Special, has become the fastest KODA ever. The Octavia vRS achieved an impressive 313. 9km/h on its first run of the day. On the cars sixth official outing at Bonneville Speed Week last month, the Octavia vRS propelled itself to an impressive 323.44km/h. Ahead of the event at the world famous salt flats the brands UK technical team who prepared the car in Milton Keynes - arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah to finalise months of hard work and preparation. In an environment where bhp is king and traction loss is your nemesis, the car underwent a rigorous dyno programme with the assistance of performance software and tuning outfit specialist REVO Technik. Driven by journalist Richard Meaden, the Octavia had demonstrated its potential on 14 August as it powered its way to 305.6km/h securing all four speed licenses required before
The Octavia vRS Bonneville Special

heading to the magical 320km/h barrier. Robert Hazelwood, Director for KODA UK, said: Months of rigorous planning, testing and preparation have all been worthwhile. At 13:24 on Monday 15th August, we took our Octavia vRS past the 200 mph barrier. The entire team has done an outstanding job. Our special thanks go to Richard on an incredible

drive. This marks another exciting milestone in the brands motorsport achievements and is a great way to celebrate 10 years of the vRS range and commemorate 110 years of KODAs participation in motorsport. In the remaining days the team focused its efforts on closing the gap on the 2.0-litre production car record which stands at 345.5km/h.

The car is a factory-fresh production Octavia vRS, with some changes made to improve aerodynamics and performance. That includes lowering the ride height to run almost 80mm closer to the ground and a new sub-frame which houses a race prepared intercooler. It retains its production-standard 2.0-litre four-cylinder TSI petrol engine, with the standard turbo replaced with a large unit from respected component

firm Garrett. Generating over 500bhp, and producing 30+ PSI of boost pressure, the Bonneville Octavia vRS drinks high-octane race fuel (with water methanol mix) rather than unleaded petrol. The unique racer has been built to stringent Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) safety regulations, which means a reinforced roll cage, parachute, fire extinguishers and window cage.

Hyundai Motor named among worlds top global green brands of 2011

nterbrand, the global brand consultancy, ranked Hyundai as one of the worlds greenest brands, citing the automakers Blue Drive eco-friendly strategy and its industry leadership in zero-emissions hydrogen fuelcell vehicle development. Interbrand ranked Hyundai 11th among the agencys 50 Best Global Green Brands, a new global report by the agency. Hyundai placed fourth among the seven automotive brands that made the survey. The company is so confident in its fuel efficiency that starting this year it is reporting monthly fleet fuel efficiency figures in the US, Interbrand wrote in the survey. Hyundai has

recently seen strong improvements in energy, GHG emissions, water, waste, and toxic emissions. The survey, which questioned more than 10,000 respondents in 10 countries, examined each companys environmental record and how the company is perceived by consumers. Companies were judged based on their performance, their environmental impact, their sustainable growth strategy and their corporate social responsibility programs. Hyundais Blue Drive sub-brand, launched in 2008, encompasses all of the companys eco-friendly technologies and products that contribute to higher fuel efficiency and lower emissions, including gasoline, diesel, electric,

hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell engines. Hyundai rolled out the Avante LPi hybrid in 2009 and the Sonata hybrid in 2011. Hyundai plans to bring plug-in hybrid vehicles to market soon, while the company is currently operating test fleets of its hydrogen fuelcell electric vehicles and pure-electric vehicles, c a l l e d BlueOn.

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GMs marketing Guru wants Chevrolet to become Apple

eneral Motors held its second annual Global Business Conference for investors. And during the presentation, GMs chief marketing officer, Joel Ewanick, said that he wanted to retool the Chevrolet brand to be more like that of Apple. Ewanicks exact words -- noted on a slide -- were: Our direct competitors are Toyota, Volkswagen, Hyundai, and Ford; however in the eyes of consumers, its time for Chevrolet to clearly differentiate our brand and align closer to the worlds true global brands like Apple. In his verbal explanation of that slide, Ewanick pointed to Apples focus on consumers and said, Were going to become one of the most consumer-centric brands in the world. And thats fine. Focusing on the consumer is a great idea, since thats generally what forprofit businesses do: design products to meet consumer needs. Citing Apple as the brand to emulate, however, is a little off-the-mark. True, its the most valuable company on the planet right now, but Apple and Chevrolet are miles apart i n several very important ways. A s we pointed out during the financial crisis, using Apple as a benchmark for car companies -- particularly Chevy -- would be weird at best, misguided at worst: 1. For starters,

Apple is elite; Chevy is anything but. Apple is great at whipping its fans into a frenzy. Its products are hip, and possessing them gives owners entree into a kind of special club. That brand cachet is enviable, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with Chevrolet. Chevy creates cars for Everyday Joes and Janes. That doesnt mean that theyre not awesome rides -- the revamped Camaro is one of the baddest cars on the block -- its just to say that Chevrolets are built for a range of drivers, from the ultra-hip to the hopelessly square. Chevy is egalitarian, a product of grassroots America, while Apple is more like, well, a private condo building in a gated community in the Sultanate of Brunei: a little remote. 2. Apple is technologically shut off from the rest of the world. The great thing about Chevy vehicles is that theyre so accessible. Sure, like other cars, theyre becoming more complex over time, but you can still tinker with them, tune them, and take them to your favorite garage when they need an overhaul. Try that with a proprietary Apple product (i.e. any of them), and youre liable to break it and void your warranty, all in one fell swoop. 3. Apple is marketing-driven; Chevy is (or should be) market-driven. There are basically two kinds of products in the world: those that are marketing-driven and others that are marketdriven. Marketing-driven products depend heavily on marketing to educate consumers.

Think of the iPad: when it launched, Apple had to do a lot of marketing to explain how the iPad works and why consumers needed another device in their life. Market-driven products, on the other hand, are developed in response to proven demand from the market -- from consumers. Chevrolets gas-sipping Cruze Eco is a good example of a market-driven product, created to address consumers well-documented worries about high prices at the pump. None of this is to quarrel with Ewanicks assumption that Chevy should be listening to consumers. If the company did more of that, we mightve been spared some seriously disappointing rides (e.g. the Cobalt), and GM might not have found itself so far up Crap Creek in 2008. Nor is that to say that Chevy shouldnt be pushing the envelope. The Volt is an amazing car, and even though its clearly meant for early adopters, its being produced in correspondingly small volume (and being gobbled up, might we add). This is only to say that as brands go, Chevy and Apple are miles apart, and they should probably stay that way. It might be nice to link them in investors minds, but from where we sit, it would be mistake of William Tell (or William Burroughs) magnitude for Chevy to aim directly for Apple. General Motors plans to increase its sales across India by shifting its focus on smaller towns. The American automaker plans to open 50 new outlets in ties 3 cities by the end of the year. The company has managed to grow by 60 per cent this year, compared to the market which grew 30 per cent in the same year. GM is also planning to export diesel engines to Europe after it satisfies the demand of the local market. This will help the company boost its profitability amidst rising interest and input costs. In smaller towns, the impact of slowdown is very little as people there dont rely much on car loans. With good monsoon in the hindsight and good signs this year too, people in rural India are much comfortable. A couple of years back, we would have our 60 per cent per sales from metros and 40 per cent from non metros. But now the figures have been reversed. Now with even deeper penetration in smaller cities, we expect the sales contribution from smaller centers to go up to 70 per cent, Karl Slym, MD, GM India, said.

Karl Slym, MD, GM India

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Beating all odds

in an exclusive tete-a-tete with automan, mike lee, marketing manager, hyundai middle east shares some rare insights of this rising brand
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Theres usually a closely guarded secret behind any success story. To understand just how far Hyundai has come in the past few years, look no further than the new range of cars such as the allnew Sonata, Azera, Elantra, Accent or Tucson. Hyundai is having a great 2011 so far, with sales numbers reaching new heights seemingly every month even in tough marketing conditions. On the quality front, one of the key focus areas at Hyundai, the South Korean automaker earned 793 points this year, which is

a 33-point improvement over the JD Powers 2010 APEAL study [eds note: this study looks at automotive performance, execution and layout, and this analytic look at makes and models is tallied up within a 1,000-point scale]. The average score for the entire industry currently sits at 781, which is an improvement over last years average of 778 and thus puts the Korean automaker well above the industry average.
Author Chandan B Mallik

Has the recession been good or bad for you? Actually, recession has been good to us for the reason that it has allowed us to explore other avenues of the Middle East markets as well as our consumers and business practices more closely. During a time when people are more careful with the purchases which they make, we have taken this opportunity to provide vehicles that are high quality and come with great value at a reasonable price. How are you managing to emerge from the recession? We have been mindful of keeping operating costs down and focusing on using our yearly budget more efficiently to increase sales. This has allowed us to continue being profitable without having to worry too much about unnecessary expenses. Whats the renewed momentum strategy? With the recent launch of the Sonata and the Tucson during 2010 in Oman, we have kept the momentum going by introducing other vehicles this year such as the new Accent, Elantra, Azera as well as the upcoming launch of the Genesis facelift and the all-new Veloster which are both set to debut at the forthcoming Dubai Motor Show. So it has been very busy, but a very exciting time. Has recession made your business better or worse? Business has been good during the recession, where as many of the competitors sales took a hit during this time, our sales have been steady in some areas in the Middle East while there has been growth in others. Has the situation forced you to take a hard look at every facet of your operation? Yes, we have had to look closely at our operations especially our marketing activities. With a tighter budget, we had to make sure that we were as cost effective with our advertising as possible. One of the big challenges is the diverse Middle East market with so many different cultures. We have had to look at every market and to determine the

most effective way to reach a huge numbers of people with our messages within the limited budgets which we have. Is the company weaker or stronger now? We have learned much about what we are capable of going through a tough economic times and as a result have maintained a strong position in the market, therefore we believe that this time has made us stronger than before. What have been the key realizations as far as product positioning is concerned? Some of our models such as the Sonata, the Tucson, Accent and the Elantra -- all have a sportier look which makes them more attractive and appealing especially for the younger professionals. Has there been any realization the traditional positioning of products need to be redefined? If so, give details of before and after? With our previous positioning, we were going with the flow and basically competing with the top car manufacturers in a segment where most of the cars pretty much look the same and have the same features. With our new slogan, we have moved away from the traditional and are basically doing our own thing within the segment which has proved to be a huge change for us in the Middle East. People are embracing Hyundais new vision. How different is your product positioning vis--vis your closest rival on a product on product basis? Most of our competitors have taken the conventional route when it comes to the cars they offer. We wanted to think out of the box and do something different with our cars hence why we have adopted the slogan, New Thinking, New Possibilities We wanted to take any conventional process and redefine it in our own way. This was a big risk for us, considering that the Middle East market appears to be more favorable towards conventional approaches, however, our new vision has worked brilliantly to our advantage in this region.

From a customer perspective, what have been customer expectations beyond the badge? Customers expect high quality, good looking, reliable cars filled with as many features as possible. We believe we have delivered on this and will always continue to do so by listening to what our customers expect and want from us. Have these been categorized and met? One example is our new Elantra. In the past, it was expected that a compact car did not offer the luxury of so many features available to the customer, nor was it expected for compact cars to have a spacious and relaxing interior. We wanted to take all these conventions and turn them around to offer our target market a compact vehicle unlike any other and a first for the compact car market. This is now paying off since the compact segment is popular in the Middle East region. How has your communication been redefined? Our communication has been redefined through social networking. Previously, communication with the consumer was mostly one way. We had to rely on our dealers to hear back from our consumers. Since Social Networking has boomed in the Middle East, this has given us the opportunity to reach out to our consumers and to hear their feedback and let them know directly what is going on. How would you define the key to your brands success and ensure at the same time that it remains true to its essence? The key to our brands success has to do with modernizing our vehicles and keeping ideas flowing by constantly challenging convention that says something should be a certain way. Furthermore, with our cars winning so many awards, we were careful to communicate this to the public. Slowly but surely, we are very pleased with the success the brand has seen as a result.

Breaking News

Hyundai has unveiled this first official rendering of the upcoming 2012 i30 ahead of the models debut next month at the Frankfurt show. The 2012 i30 image here shows the current Hyundai design language making it to the updated i30, in particular that hexagonal-shaped front grille. Hyundai calls the design paradigm fluidic sculpture. The next-generation i30 was designed and

developed at Hyundai Motor Europe Technical Centre in Rsselsheim, Germany, and Hyundai always goes to great lengths to emphasize the German/European DNA of its models. The model will compete in the largest segment in Europe - the C-segment dominated by the likes of the Volkswagen Golf, Opel Astra and Ford Focus for generations.

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Sweet revenge

ear wheel drive vs all-wheel drive architecture? Which one is better in a spirited sports car and why? Carmakers have been fighting over this issue for years now and each has an individual opinion about it. Ask BMW and Mercedes-Benz [along with their inhouse tuner designed merchandise] who will argue for the former, while Audi, whose arsenal is based on its rally-bred success of the Quattro [all-wheel drive system] will opt for the latter. Whatever the package and the ground reality, theres at least one ground among the rivals that has remained undisputed till now. If you wanted power, you lost on fuel economy and also its true the other way round. And for years automakers have been trying to bridge the gap between these two ends of this conflict. Thats not all. Somewhere in the background, Audi also has a score to settle with its rivals which seem to have had an upper hand on track. Audi thinks it is ready to rebound with a winning strategy that offers best of both worlds t performance and economy in one package -- the all-new 2012 RS5 coupe. To properly understand how this has been done by the creators of this car, one has to divert a bit and delve a little into the German carmakers engineering roots. More specifically,

one needs to look into the engineering background of a specific model from the past that has actually helped in paving the way to successfully conceive and execute the latest RS5. Audi aficionados will have no problem in identifying the model that we are referring to. Its the Audi Coupe Quattro that started life as a homologation special in the early 80s which was supposed to have a production run of 400 units. The car was conceived with the idea to prove that all-wheel drive [what we know as Quattro today] was the sure shot recipe for success in highly competitive cross country rallying. Although, the Audi Coupe Quattro was twice as expensive as any other Audi at the time, it was acknowledged as a sensation when it debuted at Geneva in March 1980. For the four ring brand, the medal haul including four world rally championships was a turning point for the model. And almost 15 years ago the RS2 Avant reaffirmed that the foundation of a revolution in the mid-size class was happening. In the interim period, Audi reinvented itself from being Audi NSU Auto Union AG and was virtually reborn with the current tagline Vorsprung durch Technik (Progress through Technology). Very much like its predecessor, the RS5 is based on the S5 which

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even a seasoned motoring critic is divided when it comes to deciding an outright street rocket as an outright winner from a list of potential candidates especially when the parameters are very close. meanwhile, audi claims that its all-new 2012 rs5 Quattro is far superior than any rear wheel drive equivalent. automan has an interesting riddle to solve
Author Chandan B Mallik Photography author and Nabeel Ferzan

editorial audi rs5

NomiNee

sports Ca

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first drive

The upper corners of the single-frame grille in high-gloss black are beveled and the grilles lateral bars and the Audi rings appear to be sculpted

was originally penned by Walter deSilva. As tuner Quattro GmbH house has been involved in the job, theres evidence of it everywhere such as the oversized air inlets and extra bulges around the wheel arches besides the LED fed daytime running lamps. Mind you, the body bulges arent just cosmetic -- they have been done to accommodate the wider asymmetric wheels. While, the wheel-arch extensions help to express its muscularity, so does the integrated pop-up spoiler showcase sporting aspirations. What we like overall in the design package is its clean execution, although detailed but we would rather refrain from describing it as ostentatious. Step inside the RS5 and what immediately strikes is the cabins keenly defined features which do suggest it is driver biased. The bright red test car had black and red contrast leather

and Alcantara interior with real carbon fibre trim inserts. We think the cabin is a mixture of flashy styling and outstanding craftsmanship. The dashboard is covered in black leather with chrome accents. The car has sporty seats up front, while the rear stock seats are from the S5 and are comfortable. Since this is a proper four-seat coup, it hasnt lost its practicality altogether which extends to the generous boot and storage space. From a kit perspective in a sports coupe, Audi as always is extra generous. Driver gets a perforated leather multifunctional steering wheel. The instrument binnacle has black gauges and white lettering with distinctive scaling and the driver information system integrates a lap timer for recording circuit times and an oil-temperature gauge. In powertrain department, Audi demonstrates

that performance and fuel economy can indeed go hand in hand. The car has been endowed with a high-revving 4.2-litre V8 which has been programmed to deliver 450hp at 8,250 rpm and between 4,000 to 6,000 rpm offers maximum torque of 430Nm via the S-Tronic 7-speed transmission to the wheels. The ultrapowerful eight-cylinder engine averages 10.8litres of fuel per 100km. Quattro all-wheel drive is quite flexible in this car as the ratios can be changed. This flexibility is a result of a system called Audi Drive Select which comes as standard. This feature allows the driver to tailor the shock damping, the torquevectoring rear differential, the active power steering, and the dual-clutch transmission from the cockpit. There are three increasingly aggressive settings for each system: comfort, auto, and dynamic.

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Among the high-end features in the model series is Audi drive select. In the basic configuration, it adjusts the power steering boost, the accelerator characteristic, the shift points of the transmission

The S5 chassis exhibits a sporty configuration when it comes to the springs, shock absorbers, elastokinematics and the anti-roll bars set-up. The RS5s chassis has been lowered by 20mm when compared to that of the Audi A5. While, 19in alloy wheels fitted with 265/35 tires are standard 20in wheels with 275/30 tyres are also available. The braking package includes large 365mm ventilated discs up front and front axle. In order to maximize the dissipation of heat, the steel friction rings are perforated and connected by pins to the aluminium brake discs and the front calipers are fitted with eight pistons each. Audi also offers 380mm ceramic carbon-fiber brake discs. Meanwhile, the electronic stabilization program (ESP) integrates a sport mode and can be switched off entirely.

Driving impressions Within a few kilometers of driving on open and twisty roads in the UAE, the RS5 qucikly conveys the message that means business. As the car sits 20 mm lower than the standard A5, the effects and benefits of aerodynamically inspired packaging is clear. The spoiler in the tailgate automatically extends at a speed of 120km/h and retracts at 80 km/h and the car remains very stable as it gathers speeds in excess of the limits. Of the three modes we found that comfort provided the smoothest ride and worked best on the UAE roads, but even in this mode the car still feels slightly harsher and seems to offer less suspension travel than what one would generally expect in other cars. Dynamic is so firm that it makes you feel as if you were driving a go-kart.

While the steering is firm and precise, we simply could not find 100 per cent steering satisfaction. In dynamic mode, it felt far too quick and eager to bite into corners. Dialing it back to the comfort setting kept the steering light on-centre, but when effort finally arrived, it came in too late and too abruptly. Auto mode put the steering somewhere between too fast and too artificial. While theres no disputing that this is a brute of a car and while there are vast reserves of grip and traction, it lacks a little finesse. It needs a lot of time to get adjusted to. However, we did enjoy the cars dual-clutch transmission which is quick-shifting and nearly as smooth to engage a gear from a stop as a torque-converter automatic. Acceleration of this 1,725kg car is blistering with 0-100km/h coming up in just 4.6secs. To actually get the

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Inset: the original 1981 Quattro coupe in action

4.6sec 0-100km/h performance one has to use the transmissions launch-control feature. Basically, set the transmission to dynamic, disable stability control, and brake-torque the engine from a stop. The V8 revs to 5,500 rpm and then dumps the clutchforgoing launch control adds about a half-second in the run. Unlike many sports cars with restricted top speed, the top speed of 250km/h can be increased to 280km/h [upon request]. While power peaks just 50rpm shy of the 8,300-rpm rev limiter, and when its stainless exhaust flaps open, deep staccato blasts can be heard kilometers away and the downshift blips invite track day performance. While one does appreciate the engineers effort to find the perfect front rear axle balance of 50:50 front:rear in sports cars, sadly, this Audi arrives with a disadvantage of having all eight of its cylinders mounted completely forward of the front axle line. That means the RS5 has an axle weight disadvantage of 56.3 per cent front and 43.7 rear, an in theory thats a sure shot recipe for understeer. However, spirited drivers trying to play with the nose heavy car will find the electronics thwarting their efforts most of the time. Audi engineers knew this quite well and to counter the after

effects of the nose-heaviness, they have incorporated a few chassis fixes that aim to give the RS5 a rear-drive feel. Hence fighting the biggest enemy that is understeer is brilliantly calibrated stability-control system that attempts to stop front-end plow before it happens. It squeezes the brakes on the inside wheels to effectively drag those tyres enough to pull the car into the corner. Theres also an active rear differential that can apportion power between the rear wheels to create a similar effect, or even oversteer. In normal conditions, all-wheel drive delivers 60 per cent of the engines torque rearward, rising to as much as 85 per cent, depending on conditions. The net effect of the add-ons is that the RS5 feels more balanced and precise. But when the car is pushed and approaches the limit, the nice thing is that the chassis is still able to acts more like a front-wheel drive car by exhibiting a higher degree of understeer. While the RS may be supremely easy to drive quickly, but its traditional rival the BMW M3 and new competitors such as the Cadillac CTS-V or Lexus IS-F, despite having slightly less grip, offer better-balanced rear-wheeldrive chassis. None of these rivals understeer

as much or try to pound their front tyres into dust. Although we havent had a chance to get the RS5 on track and try drifting, we are pretty sure that the Quattro set-up would be a limiter vs say the rear wheel drivers, which in our opnion should be far better track cars than the RS5. But in real time, one might be tempted to answer the question of how often does one hang the rear end of a car on the street? Verdict When it comes to comparing apples with apples, Audi will try to tell you that the RS5 is truly unique. We could accept that to some extent, but what interests us more is that both extremes [performance and economy] have been well packaged in the RS5. The 2011 Audi RS5 is the latest car to benefit by association with the original Quattro and while the Coupe Quattro was a revolution, the RS5 is a collage of everything Audi knows. And those in the business of cars know very well that Audi has been working overtime to avenge the RS4s loss to an M3. The Audi RS 5 is available in the Middle East starting from US$95,368.

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editorial NomiNee 2012 Jaguar xJ v6 luxury Car

Small is also BIG


when Jaguar and mercedes-benz decided to downsize displacement capacity in their respected d-segment offerings, there was a legitimate case behind this move. automan checks out both models: 2012 XJ and s-class and clears the debate
Author Chandan B Mallik and Raj Warrior Photography Author and Shakeel Al Baloushi

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n the US, the worlds second largest car market, car specifications are now decided by an agreement between automakers, environmentalists, the state of California and the White House. US President Barack Obama is pushing the envelope for efficient cars and environmentalists drastic reductions in emissions. As per a recent announcement, a new corporate average fuel economy standard has been agreed in principle which states that by the years 2025, cars and light trucks will have to achieve a 54.5 mpg fleet average compared to the current 27.5 mpg. While we wont go into the complex calculation methods that CAFE uses to reach this figure and its eventual translation in real time motoring, what we do know that the effects of these rules are already beginning to show worldwide. In theory, automakers, particularly those

who build big cars with powerful V8, V10 or V12 engines should be a worried lot, but the reverse is true. The automotive industry is one of the most competitive in the world and while oil prices fluctuate between $72-100 as a result of the global economic downturn, innovation has long been an industry hallmark and barrel, so efficiency has emerged as the latest way to move forward in the highly competitive arena for car sales. Now, this brings us to an interesting point. In the immediate future is the career of a large car threatened to the point of extinction? Not really and heres why. Consumers of big cars are beginning to look at performance and are not bothered too much whats underneath the bonnet as long it can satisfy their needs of performance or economy. In fact, the industry has responded pretty fast and now cars are being designed to accommodate a wide range

of powertrains from entry level to outright brutal. And then there are commercial considerations also. We take a look at two such examples the Jaguar XJ with a new 3.0-litre V6 and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, also with a V6 displacing 3.5-litres.

The packaging
The XJ comes in four models: XJ, XJL (long wheelbase), Supercharged and Supersport. The line-up is offered with a choice of three V8 engines, one normally-aspirated and two supercharged. To keep interest in the XJ in Jaguars developing markets such as Russia, China and the Middle East, JLR introduced this entry-level model with a 3.0-litre V6. The 3.0-litre V6 generates usable 238hp and 293Nm of torque and sends power to the rear wheels via six-speed automatic transmission.

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This engine also finds place in the smaller XF sedan. The engine owes its base design to Ford and Jaguar have revised it with their version of variable-valve timing helping it offer better fuel economy and a better power spread across the rev range. The 2012 Jaguar XJ 3.0 is not potato slouch. Its capable of doing the 0-100km/h sprint in around 8.5 secs and consumes a rated 10.9 litres per 100 km. Top speed is 235km/h. The flagship 2011 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is offered in five variants, each with distinctly different powertrains. The cars are powered by a choice of V6, V8 or V12 engines, and theres a hybrid V6 also. The entry level gets a normally aspirated 3.5-litre V6 that pumps out 272bhp at 6,000rpm and torque of 350Nm between 2,400-5,000rpm. Power is routed to the rear wheels through a seven-speed

automatic transmission. This car is 1.3sec faster than the base XJ in the 0-100km/h sprint and has a limited top speed of 250km/h. For 2012, models sold in Oman will also feature the carmakers cutting edge Blue Efficiency technologies which were introduced in February this year. The Blue Efficiency applications helps S350 gain 29bhp and 20Nm of torque allowing an improved sprint timing from 0 to 100km/h in a claimed 6.9secs.

Comfort and convenience


Due to its greater rear head- and legroom, backseat passengers will be able to stretch out a lot more in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class than the Jaguar XJ. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is a favourite with taller drivers due to its greater front head- and legroom than the Jaguar XJ. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is a little narrower

than the Jaguar XJ, so youll have an easier time getting in and out of the car in a tight parking spot. When looking at overall length, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class takes up about the same amount of space in your garage as the Jaguar XJ. Both cars are fine examples of bespoke craftsmanship and materials. The interior also got the full XF treatment, with a more modern design, piano-black and chrome surfaces and a rotary controller to shift gears electronically. In terms of seating youll be able to fit the same number of people in both the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the Jaguar XJ. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has a roomier cargo area for holding your bags or other items than the Jaguar XJ. The S-Class has a traditional and conservative feel. The gear shift is where it should be and is also electronically operated.

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Performance and handling
When it comes to horsepower, the S-Class is somewhat more powerful than the XJ and due to its much higher torque, the engine of the S-Class does a much better job of transmitting power to the wheels smoothly than the XJ. The chassis and suspension of the Merc are more luxury oriented while the XJ is a bit sportier. But the XJs performance as a sporty car shines through in a straight line and sharp curves, part in thanks to its aerospace-like riveted and bonded aluminium structure that helps make it leaner than its rivals and the combination of the new continuously variable damping air suspension as well as quick-ratio power steering. The S-Class is more suited for urban runs and has a smaller turning radius than the XJ, allowing drivers to more easily manoeuvre in and out of tight spots. The officially claimed value of a drag coefficient Cd = 0.29 for the XJ compares well with the Mercs 0.27, but the latter is more quieter on the move.

<< the stylish new XJ was conceived and developed during the
ford ownership. with the tata motors involvement and firm commitment, the XJ was released in to the global market. its fine packaging inside out assures once a again reaffirms the british luxury car maker right back on top of the league >>
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Verdict [Raj] Jag XJ 3.0


The Jaguar is fabulous, unapologetic and aggressive. The cars agile and a bit naughty. The engine copes well with the demands of the sporty chassis and sharp suspension which combine to give this big cat the agility it has always been known for. The fun factor quotient gets a nice bonus with the new entry level set-up. By far, the action-oriented gearbox is the high point of this car.

<< trailblazing innovations in the areas of comfort and drive


engineering combined with state-of-the-art technology for enhanced safety consolidate the mercedes-benz flagships position as the brands innovation driver and underscore its pioneering role in the automotive industry as a whole >>
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Verdict [Chandan] M-B S350 L


Whether from the inside or the outside, the S-Class has changed little in appearance since the current generation made its debut in 2007. Smooth, refined and classy. Even with a smaller engine, this close to two-tonne car is a perfect city runner. The arrival of new and efficient technologies will also enhance the car over all.

We think that at least one serious question has been answered for the medium term. The careers of big cars such as the XJ or S-Class are definitely not restricted anymore. With the new technology development and its application, aficionados who appreciate such merchandise can breathe a sigh of relief that their favourite cars will now be soft on the pocket and also perform without compromise. Overall, on an apple on apple basis, Daimler has an immediate technology advantage over Jaguar that is in the hybridization application and the company is still working on its revolutionary Diesotto engine. Meanwhile, Jaguar is catching up fast and we can expect some interesting developments soon. Some indication to what is to come has been revealed as part of the business plan. We can also expect some of the technology applications filtering down to existing models after Jaguar launches the much awaited but limited to 250 production units of the C-X75 hybrid supercar which will mate an internal combustion engine with electric motors and offer less than 99g/km CO2 emissions.

Automans take:

first drive

assic Cl end ame g

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editorial NomiNee 2011 porsChe Carrera gts sports Car

automan checks out the finale for the current-generation 911 series, the 2011 carrera Gts in uae and returns back with pleasant memories of what is soon to be revered as a collectors motoring icon
Author Chandan B Mallik Photography author and Nabeel Ferzan

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first drive

Porsche labelled the Gts as a new car when it was introduced earlier this year and this description will soon run out when the superannuated 997 generation of the 911 is launched this month

here are currently 23 known derivatives of the current 911 available in the Middle East and Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller wants to increase the number of variants as a key business strategy to help double sales by 2018. This according to Muellers interpretation is to improve coordination between the model line product life cycles by launching new models annually. At the time of writing this piece, we were in an interesting transition phase where the superannuated 997 generation of the 911, one of the key introductions from the brand was introduced at the Frankfurt Motor Show this month. And then next year, adding to the kitty are the redesigned Boxster and Cayman.
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Does this mean we are talking about a car thats had a short lived career and was just a marketing ploy? Actually no, when you follow how Porsche engineers have met the unique marketing propositions in the Carrera GTS and hence to us, its not surprising when Porsche labeled the GTS new when it was introduced earlier this year. While we are aware that this adage has been applied to many members of the current 911 family, its a treat of sorts as it comes from a range of models that vary in character from readily tangible to all but subliminal. This now leads us to the question: what the Carrera GTS is specifically? Is it a modded rear-wheel drive 911 Carrera S with the wider

rear track and muscular wheelarches inspired by the all-wheel-drive Carrera 4 with centrelock RS Spyder type wheels combined with a lavish GT3-style interior treatment, specific exterior styling treatments and extra punch in horsepower? It may sound a bit complicated, but thats the plain truth at this juncture. Well look at the numbers first and then come back to the fine point points. If we consider a percentage increase, the extra output from the naturally aspirated 3.8-litre flat-six boxer engine in the GTS which also propels the Carrera S is nominal when you consider 408hp vs 385hp. This also confirms that fact that the GTS is essentially a boosted version of the rear-drive Carrera S with an

additional 23hp helped by engine mapping cleverly to help offer a wider torque band. Tweaks that have helped in additional output is a new intake manifold with vacuum-actuated flaps designed to flex and help chip in torque delivery or in top-end revs, maximum output. One of the nice things about this package is that it is tailored to meet upcoming and future emissions requirements over the next decade or so. And thats not all. The GTS powertrain package also benefits from Porsches now famous Doppel-Kupplung (double clutch) seven-speed automatic transmission also known as PDK in short. Three driving modes are available to the driver normal, sport and sport plus and these have to be activated

electronically by a simple switch operation on the dash. The GTS is also offered with the Sport Chrono package and launch control as optional. Our test car also had the active sport suspension package also known as PASM. Considering how it sharply changes the cars driving characteristics, it would be hard to imagine anyone without this feature at an autocross or track-day outing. The GTSs major visual identity clue is its wide-body flares which are inspired from the Carrera 4. Up front, LED indicators round off the corners and the vertical ribs brace the central air intake are unique to this car. Glossy black paint shades those centre-mount wheels, and a few strategically placed GTS logos

on the sheetmetal. Inside the cabin, theres accommodation for four adults and refined modcons such as Alcantara leather interior, climate control, red dialed instrumentation, vastly improved navigation and audio systems, complete with an SD card slot for semipermanent music storage among others. Fit and finish have drastically improved over the years and continues with the new arrivals.

Driving impressions
Porsche has provided to us an amazingly smooth and responsive powertrain. The actual fun begins at 1,500 rpm, where there is 236 pound-feet of torque available right up to the maximum of 310 lb-ft at 4,200 rpm. What this
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first drive

means is that drivers get a wide 3,000rpm band to play with and it also means that frequent gear shifting isnt required nearly as often and the driver can actually focus on driving. Pushing the throttle through corners for a fast exit is not something weve usually experience in a non-turbo Porsche 911. While power curve is impressive you can feel the reserve horsepower that can be easily tapped in this free-revving set-up even as high as 7,300rpm where the car is heinously quick and vulgarly fast and posting sub four seconds sprint time for the 0-100km/h sprint with lowered suspension [0.75in lower than standard 911]. While torque in the GTS is identical to that of the S, the new manifold in the GTS which now allows peak torque show up early to the party, is the key signs off in the character of the GTS along with the superbly configured PDK double-clutch gearbox which also contributes for sporting drives and Porsches execution is just about flawless in this respect. I remember the pre-PDK days, you couldnt really exploit a 911 fitted with the five-speed automatic Tiptronic without feeling a deep sense of disappointment at the compromise you made in not choosing the clearly-superior manual. While the car is remarkably calm when you drive it in normal mode it progressively gets aggressive in sport or sport plus modes.
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Actually, in sport, you get all the gears to hold longer with as a result of remapping of the rev band. But in sport plus while you continue to get extra torque to play with you also lose one cog in the bargain. Actually, its a clever piece of engineering combined with electronics that go a long way in ensuring that the overall business objective isnt diluted. We think, its the track where the third setting is best utilized! Another feature not to be missed in the sport and sport plus modes is the exhaust which sizzles and makes for one fantastic soundtrack all its own especially during manual shifting. One thing a driver has to get used to pretty fast is the push-pull paddle shift changers. Much like a muscle car, power is delivered straight to the door step and what could be disappointing is the comfort penalty for this level of athleticism if the car hadnt offered the flexibility to adjust the chassis settings via PASM. Just as the steering conveys precise information about inputs, the suspension makes occupants aware of every pavement nuance and imperfection, an info stream that quickly becomes tedious on public roads. When it comes to the dynamics of a bigtyred, wide-rear-ended car, we acknowledge Porsche commitment and execution of stability and traction systems in such high performance cars and theres no way the 911 would have achieved its handling bliss without

all the electronic assists and interventions applied to its steering, transmission, throttle and suspension. Even the brakes feel better and hidden behind the asymmetric front 235/35Z R19 and rear 305/30Z R19 tyres are four-piston calipers attached to large diameter perforated and ventilated discs.

Verdict
We are pretty convinced that Porsche wants the current 911s to go out on a high note more as a connoisseurs car than anything else. While the 911 GTS is tweaked in several departments to be a little more neutral and a bit sportier than the Carrera S, it also gives a fair indication what to expect from the incoming new models. As an overall package, the Carrera GTS actually occupies an interesting slot in the 911 family and is also able to carve its distinctive identity and top field credentials. In our view, when considered against other members of the current family, we think its fair to slot in immediately below the GT3, which many acknowledge it as the ultimate representative of the series. While the GTS isnt quite as potent, but at the same time its not quite as extreme and this middle order character makes the car more enjoyable in day-to-day situations than say the Cayman R [which is more aggressive and a bit ruthless]!

{road test}

Addressing a delicate change


Author Chandan B Mallik Photography Nabeel Ferzan and author

editorial NomiNee 2012 beNtley Cgt sports Car

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how does a luxury carmaker such as uks bentley motors redefine an icon which its core customers dont want it to change? automan checks out the second generation allnew 2011 bentley continental Gt in detail once again and returns with some answers

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horse-shoe design motif which we think is again inspired by the new Mulsanne. The signoff at the rear is the flared elliptical exhaust tailpipes. Inside, the CGT is a traditional Bentley, discreetly updated and the ambience is familiar but in terms of features and refinements is even more sumptuous than before. The redesigned seats and the instrument panel are quite prominent in the package and theres a good reason for this as well. First, the striking Cobra design seats are supremely comfortable and the built-in seatbelt anchors have been removed from the back of the seat and repositioned on the B-pillar. Besides offering extra legroom for rear occupants, the rearrangement has helped shave 35kg [out of total 65kg] of mass. Bentley says that the seats can be also be specified with frontseat ventilation as well as a state-of-the-art massage system with 10 individual massage cells. Secondly, theres a wonderful mix of craftsmanship and technology all around. The basic architecture of the central console returns, as do the billeted aluminium Organ Stop climate control vents. Meanwhile, supple leather finds its way into virtually every square

ver since we drove the new Bentley CGT during its first global ride and drive event in Oman last year, we have been asking ourselves several questions in views of the rapid changing motoring scenario where marketing definitions are being re-written and customer loyalty extremely valued in the highest echelons in the industry. One of the questions that we have been struggling to answer is about a motorcar that has been packaged so well that its users want no further change in it. But despite what the customers think, serious and innovative minded motor car companies will not just sit on laurels and let things go by to wake up one fine morning to discover that the plot has been lost. We are pretty sure that Bentley Motors at some point of time has faced a similar dilemma, especially when the eight year old Continental GT was due for its eventual replacement as it was approaching its end of product life cycle. Bentley think-tanks approached people who knew the outgoing car best its owners and extensive qualitative and quantitative research with focus groups including current and past Continental GT buyers suggested that although the present package seemed quite adequate, it could be improved under the skin with performance upgrades and improved features while keeping the existing cars profile untouched. Armed with this information, Bentley product engineers went on with the task of creating the second generation Continental GT under the watchful eyes of an engineering and design team led by Dr Ulrich Eichhorn, member of the board for engineering and Dirk

van Braeckel, director of design, respectively. Bentley has obliged its customers by not tampering the new CGTs design profile. But it has incorporated the next level of technology application in the aluminium body components. After the successful application of superforming, a technology usually reserved for the aerospace industry in designing the complex form of aluminium mudguards of the Mulsanne [normally impossible to achieve with normal stamping techniques], Bentley decided give the design refinements to the new CGT using the very same methods. It works both ways first the component, in this case the mudguards are lighter and stiffer while allowing the designer to create a superb surface character definition. Compared to the outgoing car, despite a carryover chassis, dimensions have changed. The car looks much more planted, ground hugging, thanks to the wider by 41mm up front and 48mm at rear tracks and large 20in wheels [21in optional] that sit tightly in the wheel wells. The body also gets some aerodynamic tweaking and its coefficient of drag has been reduced to 0.33Cd and the lift at the front and rear axles has also been reduced to create greater stability at higher speeds. Meanwhile, the classic Bentley matrix radiator grille is more upright, while the new headlamp design continues in traditional fourlamp format but includes jewel-like detailing including eye-catching, LED daylight-running lamps. At the rear, Bentley signature floating LED lamps extend around the corners of the mudguards and the trunks lid gets double

inch of the cabin along with the latest in infotainment and MMI. The new touchscreen

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infotainment system features state-of-the-art navigation, Google Maps and entertainment modes. Other simple yet practical features not to be missed include a powered boot as standard, Electronic Park Brake with Move Off Assist and newly designed, leather-lined door stowage bins with an integrated bottle holder. Perhaps the most stylish new storage device we think is the exquisitely designed, folding, removable case. While, the cars chassis and suspension has been carried over along with the standard all-wheel drive, but the biggest news is the way the torque split has been reworked and changed. In the older car it was 50:50, now it is split 40:60 front: rear, and the system allows for 85 per cent or more of torque to be dedicated to either axle. For the Continental GT, it seems that the powertrain team responsible for the revised set-up, were seeking to achieve high levels of torque at low revs. Although, the outgoing car wasnt lacking for it, Eichhorns team softly massaged the 6.0-litre bi-turbo W12 for additional 14bhp and 50Nm of torque where most of the output [567bhp and 700Nm] is available all the way from 1,750 to 5,200rpm. With its power output raised, the result is a six per cent improvement in the new GTs power-to weight-ratio, making it capable of accelerating from 0-100km/h in 4.6sec with a top speed of 318km/h.

Although, a ZF six-speed gearbox has been mated to this revised and upgraded engine, the new Quickshift facility enables double downshifts and software revisions have further sharpened the shift times by 50 per cent. Our niggle at this point was the absence of an eight-speed gearbox, but Dr Eichhorn (see accompanying interview) gave us an indication that it would be available with the smaller displacement V8, when it arrives in late 2011. Interestingly, the W12 also has some green credentials too. Thanks to advanced FlexFuel technology, the CGT can also run on both standard unleaded petrol and sustainable bioethanol (E85) or any mix of the two.

Driving impressions

At 2,320kg, the new CGT should be a chunky lump of car, but on the move you hardly feel the weight. The W12 engine tugs this massive ride along with buttery, long-winded force, and gearshifts are virtually imperceptible. A deep exhaust note is always present, but never obtrusive. Throttle release creates some rather pleasing bass notes from the rear, and switching to Sport mode amplifies the exhaustthese are some delicious sounds. The drive in UAE for the test drive period was quite rewarding. The W12 forced fed engine is certainly grand and commands respect from even the most critical driver. To access the endless stream of lag-free torque, all you have to do is tap down the right foot, grab the

beautifully handstitched multifunction steering wheel and just move on. Although, there are steering column-mounted shift paddles, but they in our view are the only sore points as they are too far away for easy use and the fixed placement has also altered the position of the indicator column. The drive through the stunning Al Ain and winding roads around Jebel Hafit allowed us to explore the revised ZF gearbox which still very much like that of the outgoing Continental GT [Super Sports in particular], but is capable of double-downshifting from, say, sixth gear directly to fourth. We found the shifts at 200milliseconds to be reasonably crisp and direct, but it was possible, especially at higher revs, to get the transmission to hesitate for a split-second. The best part of the drive was experiencing the solid chassis and suspension responses. Although, the designs have been carried over along with the standard all-wheel drive, the revised torque split arrangement has altered some of the cars handling character. We felt at times that the new car is perhaps a little easier to oversteer than before, also, although easily corrected, as we learned while lapping some empty roundabouts. Also satisfying was the cars ability to change direction. The light steering wheel turns with very little effort and though the on-centre feel is surprisingly responsive the car effortlessly took on the tightand winding roads. We did have opportunities to pushing
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{road test}

the car closer to its limits, and this didnt seem to bother the car at all. Of course, we are aware somewhere under the sheet metal theres a bit electronic trickery at play proof of the pudding is that the ESP in this car works relatively seamlessly. Switch into Dynamic mode, and you might start to feel a bit more mortal as you drive into a fast corner. Its great to have the option of selecting a less intrusive stability control setting, although I would hardly expect a gentleman Bentley driver to pursuit a weekend autocross role with this car. But frankly, I wouldnt be surprised and got to admit, I didnt switch off ESP completely as a safety precaution.

Overall, as promised, the new Bentley Continental GTs chassis is able to deliver both optimum ride and handling balance in one go. The introduction of the wide front and rear track helps in the agility and handling departments, while the solid aluminium cast-forged, high-stiffness front suspension uprights and aluminium gravity die castings at the rear work in conjunction with a redesigned front anti-roll bar and retuned spring and shock absorber settings. The result, we did feel was the improved road response and stability at all speeds. Meanwhile, the cars electronics responsible for handling also seem to work in tandem with the demands. Most

evident was the Continuous Damping Control (CDC) system which constantly monitors the cars attitude and poise. By adjusting the suspension settings hundreds of times a second it can provide a remarkably supple ride at low speeds and increased control as speeds climb. It also lowers the car in V-Max mode for enhanced stability at the recommended top speed. During our tenure with the car, factoring in the usual desert perils, the cars interior turned out to be a big hit, especially the massively improved sat-nav system that uses a crystal-clear eight-inch screen. Unlike the Audi-derived system with the all-in-one

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the new continental Gt coupe builds on the success of its iconic predecessor by capturing its Gt spirit with even higher standards of design, engineering, luxury, craftsmanship, dynamic performance, everyday practicality and refinement

controller used in the new Mulsanne, the CGTs infotainment architecture is VW-based, and as such, employs touchscreen controls for greater ease-of-use. Although as a package, its a major improvement, but we still wish Bentley had raided its corporate parts bin and used the new A8s brilliant new MMI system, touch pad et all.

Verdict

As a motoring journalist, accustomed to major changes in each generation of a car presented, at first glance, it may have seemed disappointing that Bentley chose to extensively

refresh the Continental GT instead of outright updating it. Its a better than what it was and is a highly desirable car with the ability to please connoisseur and critic alike. The dual nature of the car luxury handcrafted opulence with hassle-free on-demand performance is what impressed us most and it once again reinforces Bentleys history where iconic grand tourers have forged the marques reputation. In the 1950s the beautiful R-Type Continental set new standards of performance and style. In 2003, Bentley Continental GT revolutionised the luxury coupe market, combining supercar performance and dynamism with remarkable

everyday practicality with a jewel and in 2011, the second generation takes it a few notches higher.

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automan seleCt

Fourth generation Prado is based on an all-new platform and though it resembles its predecessor and has the same powertrains as before, everything has been tweaked for improved performance and efficiency. Altogether a virtually unbeatable package. Author Chandan B Mallik Photography Raj Warrior

2012 Toyota LC Prado

editorial NomiNee 2012 toyota prado mid-size suv

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Score card
Styling Engineering Powertrain options Interiors & features Handling & performance

Ratings

Body type:

SUV
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automan seleCt
Key highlights
What is it? Technically, the Prado is a mid-size four-wheel drive and also the smallest Land Cruiser family member. The current Prado is in its fourth generation and is based on Toyotas J150 platform. While a majority of manufacturers of mid-sized SUVs have switched over to crossover platforms, the Prado remains faithful to its case with ladder frame and a two-speed transfer case. The current generation was introduced in late 2009 in the Middle East and depending on the markets, there are two body versions: a five-door variant and a three-door. The fivedoor variant is most popular in the general market and is offered in a wide range of grades to suit the markets specific appetite for this highly popular model. This generation of Prado, by far features the most advanced 4WD capabilities and an array of electronic gadgets and is marginally bigger, more aerodynamic and more powerful than the model it has replaced. It is perhaps one of the very rare models in the segment which has earned its popularity through a combination of looks, ruggedness, luxury and comfort, and finally performance and bullet-proof reliability of Toyotas legendary engineering. Key highlights While the SUV retains similar profile of its predecessor, the body is now 80mm longer, 10mm wider and 15mm lower. The lower ride height, in conjunction with a host of aerodynamic undertrays, helps reduce the Prados drag coefficient from 0.37 to 0.35. Body styling is heavily revised with a new grille, new bumpers, new light clusters and new sheetmetal all around. Toyota offers the car as either a two-row five seater or three-row seven seater with two powertrain options based on normal aspiration. Entry level models get a 2.7-litre V6 and topof-the-line models are powered by a 271hp 4.0-litre V6 DOHC with dual VVT-I and EFI. The powertrains are carried over from the previous model, but have been upgraded significantly with efficiency as the priority. The 4.0 litre V6 benefits from the addition of its VVT-i variable valve timing system on both inlet and exhaust cams which in turn bumps power output up by more than 10 per cent. Groundbreaking EFI is oriented towards optimizing fuel efficiency in normal driving conditions. Six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic manual is offered. The transmissions gear change points have been changed for maximum fuel economy rather than maximum performance, even in Sports mode. Also included in the hardware is full time AWD with centre differential with limited slip function. Instead of a terrain controller, the driver is offered independent switches for Lo or Hi range selection and separate switches for damping control [three pre-tuned settings] and air suspension for height control. All the systems are interlinked and depending on mode selected are geared to offer maximum traction off-road besides an extra off-road terrain pre-select menu option. Traction control can be switched off manually. The cars sophisticated off-road package also includes crawl control and multi terrain ABS. Suspension has also been revisited and revised for 2010 with claimed improvements in handling, stability and ride comfort, utilising a new Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) that automatically adjusts the front and rear anti-roll bars. Other mod cons include navigation system, stop/start engine switch with smart entry, navigation system, dual automatic airconditioning with tri-zone climate control. Third row seats are electrically operated and split-fold flat to help increase cargo space. However, the removable third row three-seat of the J120 [previous model] which have been replaced by fold-into-floor seats is also responsible for some loss of cargo capacity and usable height in the cargo compartment. On the higher end VX and VX Spl models, there are six camera positions enabling viewing to the front and down, to the side both front and rear, and to the rear. Meanwhile, rear hinged door glass opens as hatch (in versions without rear mounted spare wheel) and theres a commendable safety feature incorporated in the rear door which is a lockable guide which allows the rear door to be opened or closed at any body angle without hurting anyone. The interior design is comprehensive without being flashy and richly appointed with top-level material and trims. Build quality is impeccable! Variants and trim levels In the Sultanate, from the trim level perspective, the bigger V6 is offer as entry level TX9, TX-L7, TX-L7 Spl, VX7, VX-L7 and VX-L7 Spl. Safety Seven airbags are fitted as standard, including two-stage drivers airbag, drivers knee airbag, front-passenger front airbag, front-seat side airbags and side curtain-shield airbags. Frontseat head restraints are standard, improving occupant protection in a rear-end collision. Key rivals Mitsubishi Pajero, Nissan Pathfinder and Land Rover LR4 Driving impressions The Prados revised suspension package and well-weighted steering is impressively responsive when coupled with the revised output from the powertrain easily allows the driver to handle and control the mid-sized SUV with surprising ease. The electronic driving aids are flawless and do their bit in helping keep the car steady. On road, when you try and change direction quickly or attempt to slow down through a sharp corner, the mass cant avoid a bit of wallowing, but this is quickly checked ensuring a confident ride. The cars tyres do a great job gripping the road but even these cannot contain the laws of physics sometimes and this is not unaccepted. On the contrary it is within acceptable limits. Off-road, the joy of driving this car cannot be better. Infused with pretty good hardware and software plus the ability to raise the suspension from standard 220mm to a maximum wading depth of 700mm, it even makes an average driver a class leader off-road. Even in the Sport mode, we observed that KDSS seems to simply firm the shocks, opposed to improving body roll and ride quality. Off-road its a similar story. The system reacts quick enough to prevent the body from rebounding too much and unsettle its occupants. The torque delivery is beautiful and one doesnt really have to push the car.

The Prado is designed to be rugged and stylish at the same time. Its a rare breed of a car that still holds on to its bullet proof architecture and engineering while getting substantially upgraded and modded to meet any challenge it may face. While crossovers may be gaining popularity due to lifestyle applications and efficiency they are compromised when it comes to performing hardcore off-road duties. The Prado virtually takes out the entire opposition single-handed and with aplomb. For diehard aficionados of the Prado, the skies are just that little bit brighter as nothing in this car has been compromised for the sake of change. While toughness and reliability are everything what 4x4 seekers, this Prado delivers it in spades and more.

Automans take:

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One of the first new cars under the design direction of Peter Schreyer, the Optima is now more classy, prestigious and upmarket. In terms of positioning and pricing, KIA seems to be projecting this car as an entry luxury model.

Photography Raj Warrior

2011 Kia Optima

editorial NomiNee 2012 kia optima mid-size Car


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Score card
Styling Engineering Powertrain options Interiors & features Handling & performance

Ratings

Body type:

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Key highlights
What is it? This is Kia Motors mid-sized sedan that now speaks class. As a significant model in the lineup, the new Optima continues to lead in Kias design-led transformation, while revealing a completely new and stunning design language for Kia, highlighted by a dynamic and streamlined profile that conveys elegance and athletic confidence from every angle. Kias new sedan is known as the K5 in Korea and Optima in all other markets. As a global model, it was designed at Kias studios in Frankfurt, Germany and Irvine, California. The Optima is longer, wider and lower than the Magentis/Optima it replaces and is based on an all-new midsize platform that allows for distinctive dimensions and proportions. Key highlights Its not just the looks that matter only. Kia Optimas groundbreaking spirit continues under the bonnet with the introduction of new powertrains. The Oman market offers a choice of two a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder DOHC dual CVVT offering 163hp and a slightly bigger 2.4-litre DOHC, also with dual CVVT offering additional 15hp. Both engines are mated to six-speed transmissions. Both powertrains are designed to offer class-leading power with highly competitive fuel economy. Over all, the Optima is spacious and cosy with a dashboard angled slightly toward the driver. The A-pillar has a steep rake but allows the driver a sporty view. The interior design is fresh, appointed with top-level material and trims. Build quality is very good, so to speak. Variants and trim levels In the Sultanate, theres only one variant in the 2.0-litre category which is the LX. However, Kia offers a wider choice in the bigger variant with LX, EX and SX grades. In terms of kit even in the base model theres a nice balance between luxury, comfort and convenience. Common to all, features include multifunctional steering wheel, keyless entry, Bluetooth connectivity, drivers seat adjustment for height and lumbar support, cool glove box among others. Moving up to the EX, theres panaromic roof, reverse camera, dual zone air-conditioning, ABS, split rear seats, 17in alloys. The SX grade adds some lifestyle kit to the package such as sports bumper and grille, smart key, push button start, hill start assist, 18in alloys, spoiler and mood lighting besides other accoutrements. Safety The Optima not only looks and feels good, its advanced unibody construction and safety kit has helped it earn maximum 5-star NHTSA and NCAP safety ratings. A high level of safety features comes as standard and depending in trim, the package can include as many as six airbags (dual front airbags, front-seat mounted side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags), front active headrests, side-impact door beams, height-adjustable front seatbelts with pre-tensioners and force limiters, threepoint seatbelts for all seating positions. Safety driving systems on the Kia Optima will include anti-lock brakes (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS), Brake Assist System (BAS) and Hill Assist Control (HAC). Key rivals Its a very busy segment with an array of models from Japan, Europe, US and South Korea. Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, Mazda 6, VW Passat, Skoda Superb and Chevrolet Malibu are some of the main competitors of this Kia model. Driving impressions Our test car, the 2.4-litre EX felt quite right with a sweet, powerful-yet-economical engine, great steering, and a quick, nimble feel overall. The direct-injected four-cylinder engine generates adequate horsepower besides offering top city and highway fuel efficiency. While the Optima and is mechanically similar Hyundai Sonata share the same MacPersonstrut front and multilink rear suspension, so we werent surprised to find that the two cars offer a similar feel on the road. All the while the ride quality is marginally on the firmer side, but overall the ride is fairly comfortable. The pleasing part in the Optimas driving experience is that the cabin is a quiet and refined place to be.

Automans take: It would be unfair not to mention that Kias global design team has been able to pen a vehicle that stands apart
from everything else in its segment including seasoned players from Japan. Features remain a key strength throughout the Kia line-up and the Optima is no exception to the rule. Customers get a lot of value for the money, and highly desirable features such as Bluetooth and iPod connectivity which arent limited to the top models in the line-up only. Even mid level EX trims get things like dual-zone climate control and a smart-key system. On the downside, we were expecting the top trim to offer navigation in the package.

Toyota Camry

Honda Accord

Skoda Superb

Nissan Altima

The current 2011 Toyota Camry isnt at the leading edge in any way, but it remains one of the smartest midsize sedan picks. Theres a all-new generation Camry on the way soon.
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The current generation Accord is imported from US for Oman. The car has received some minor upgrades. Honda, like other Japanese carmakers is also bearing the brunt of the rising yen.

Mechanically based on the VW Passat, the Superb is among the usually pricier European alternatives.

The current Altima is offered with Nissans CVT transmission mated to a 2.5-litre engine. Safety ratings are slightly lower than the Kia.

Chevrolet Malibu

Mazda 6

Hyundai Sonata

VW Passat

The 2011 Chevrolet Malibu isnt edgy or high-performance, but it has everything that most mid-size sedan shoppers seek.

Most Mazdas are stylish and the 6 is no exception. The car offers balanced performance and is well kitted for family users looking for comfort, boot space or ride quality.

The mechanically similar Sonata has also moved up in its status with its attractive fluidic sculpture design and improved safety and powertrain engineering.

The conservatively styled Passat is one of VWs global models offered with a variety of powertrain set-ups.

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Score card
Styling

Ratings

The current generation Honda Accord soldiers on as a key member of the line-up. The car has been freshened with some additional features. The big news is that it is now imported from USA and not from Japan.

Engineering Powertrain options Interiors & features Handling & performance

2012 Honda Accord

Body type: Key highlights


Styling Even if its design is no longer fresh, the 2012 Accord looks stylish and remarkably handsome. Most shoppers will find the Accords styling refreshing compared to traditional rivals, but somewhat outdated when compared with the fresh crop of designer models from South Korea, Europe or US. Most of the expected features for a roomy family sedan are there, but some more are desired. However, in its last major refresh last year, Honda gave a few of the controls a fresher look and feel. A USB connector is now standard across the line-up, but you still cant get a factory Bluetooth hands-free option. The rakish instrument panel looks great, but the placement of the buttons and controls sometimes feels as if it was done by stylist than ergonomic experts. Engineering The Accord is more enjoyable to drive than most other mid-size sedans or coupes, even if its specs arent all that much different than before. Common to all models is a nice command view for the driver and occupants. The entry level continues with the 2.4-litre engine with some minor changes and a higher rev limit. It delivers 178hp and 225Nm of torque we noted with the automatic transmission this engine is good on downshifts and responsive during overtaking, but needs a little prodding for upshifts. Since, theres no Tiptronic-type option, one is limited to using between D or D3 modes. Interestingly, across the trim levels, the ride-handling vs balance varies marginally. Interiors & features As always, the Accord has been liked for its conservative approach in design but by todays standards it is poor on features. Handling & performance Common to all models is a nice command view for the driver and occupants. The entry level

Sedan

engine is good on downshifts and responsive during overtaking, but needs a little prodding for upshifts. Since, theres no Tiptronic-type option, one is limited to using between D or D3 modes. Interestingly, across the trim levels, the ride-handling vs balance varies marginally. We found the LX which runs on 16in tyres as the softest-riding model. Actually, of all the trims, the LX is also the lightest and so appears the best balanced model in the lot. Although, it doesnt feel like a Camry it usually stays relatively flat in fast corners. While, it doesnt nosedive under braking, steering feel is light, direct, and makes good work of a quick U-turn. The EX model feel a bit sporty since they have slightly firmer suspension calibrations and run on lower profile 17in tyres. The flip side is that theres more noise and vibration from lane dividers or expansion joints filtering in the cabin.

Automans take: Although the 2012 Honda Accord now has one of the more dated four-door sedan designs and some mod cons
still are elusive, the car holds its spot as a result of its comfortable interior and refined performance.

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Chinese automotive brand Geely returns to the Sultanate with a change of dealership. Geely shot into fame after purchasing Volvo. In 2009, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group created three sub-brands for its automotive division representing various aspirations Dihao, Shanghai Englon and Emgrand.

Score card
Styling Engineering Powertrain options Interiors & features Handling & performance

2012 Geely Emgrand EC8

Key highlights
The entry luxury Emgrand EC8 sedan which is roughly the similar to Mitsubishis Galant in dimensions has recently been launched in Oman with two four-cylinder-based powertrain set-ups displacing 2.0- and 2.4litres respectively. The entry level engine is from Mitsubishis MIVEC family, while the larger engine [codenamed JL-4G24] has been developed by Geely in-house using Mitsubishi knowhow. The latter engine produces 115Kw and 213Nm of torque and is mated to a fourspeed automatic gearbox. Emgrand represents entry luxury models in domestic and global markets. Styling The car which boasts a length of 4,905mm with a wheelbase of 2,805 and width of 1,830mm is pleasantly proportioned. The profile seems to be influenced by US demands and hence space for occupants and cargo has been well looked into. The styling is a mix of American and European and looks decent enough to stand on its own. Build quality and panel gap tolerances are impressive for a first time attempt. The interior is loaded with features and leather and wood trim. Instrumentation is at par with industry standards and the central console is well designed and hosts controls for air-conditioning, audio among others. Comfort and Convenience Accommodation is generous for front and rear occupants. Five adults can travel in a comfortable and cosy environment as the car offers well bolstered seats and dual climate control zones. Driver gets power adjusted seats, mirrors and windows. Bluetooth and MP3 connectivity is offered along with satnav. A high end branded audio system is also standard. Performance and handling The car uses a modern independent McPhersonbased suspension system and hence the ride is soft enough to offer a pleasant ride while absorbing most road imperfections. The engine is responsive and needs a little tap. The gearbox could use one or two extra cogs for better response and economy. Hydraulic power steering feels good and turn-in is nice for a car of this size. Rivals Geelys first step in entry luxury territory will compete with the Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Passat, Honda Accord, Mitsubishi Galant, Nissan Altima, Volvo S40, Hyundai Sonata, KIA Optima, Mazda 6 and Chevrolet Malibu. Safety Being conscious with the Volvo connection, the EC8 2.4-litre occupants are protected by a rigid body structure, standard dual front, side and side curtain airbags, front row seatbelt pretensioners, besides ABS with EBS and a blow-out monitoring and braking system on board. Price Guide For 2.0-litre RO 6,500, 2.4-litre RO 7,200

Automans take: Who says car buyers in the popular midsize sedan market cant have style, safety and reasonable performance,
as well as functionality and practicality in a budget? The Emgrand EC8 combines all of these attributes and more in a single package and we think it should appeal to pragmatic consumers looking for good value for money.

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Closer to perfeCtion

ery few car companies have ever come close to the levels of success that Ford has had with its Explorer SUV. It is estimated that worldwide there are still more than four million Explorers on the road. The Dearborn, US carmaker created the foundation of a midsize SUV in early 80s when it re-engineered a Bronco pick-up chassis and added two additional doors and started selling it as the Explorer in 1991. Besides pioneering the segment and weathering a controversy [over roll over problems due to faulty tyres in the US] the best-seller is still acknowledged as one of the vehicles instrumental in changing consumer perception about mid-sized SUVs. Thats past and since then a lot of water has passed under the bridge. With the fluctuating oil prices and economic instability and new consumer priorities, car makers responded to the market needs with a new genre of efficient SUVs. While advances in technology now allow carmakers to offer crossovers in various shades and hues, Ford was quick to grasp the ground reality that the career of the Explorer which had a heavy body-on-frame chassis and thirsty V8 was coming to an end and hence decided to hook up its engineering talents once again. The new chapter for the Explorer began with a fundamental structural migration from ladder frame chassis to a modified car-based D-segment platform which currently underpins the Taurus sedan and Flex MPV. Despite being a crossover in its construction, the Explorer has grown up in dimensionally and its almost as big as a Toyota Land Cruiser. Among US key rival models from Dodge and Jeep, the Explorers dimensional growth is largest -- it is now more than seven inches longer than the Grand Cherokee and nearly half a foot wider. At 197.1in, the Explorer is 3.7in longer than the old vehicle and is 5.2in wider, at 78.9 inches. From a marketing perspective, theres been a shift in direction for the Explorer. In the earlier iteration, the top end was the Eddie Bauer version. In the new avatar, the Limited is the top trim level. Meanwhile, Eddie has taken retirement and hence the XLT and the base model sit below the Limited. From a profile and styling perspective, the new Explorer hits the nail on all points. It fits the family portrait with its new look thats more in line with current Ford models such as the Edge or Flex rather than evolving a design from its predecessor. The wraparound headlamps, three-bar grille, and trapezoidal lower grille are now a Ford design trademark that helps keep the Explorers design credentials intact. Besides, LED tail lamps, there are dual chrome exhausts tips that come standard on every model.

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editorial NomiNee ford explorer mid-size suv

the all-new 2011 ford explorer has not only been tailored with a business objective in mind. it also reflects a contemporary vision of what customers today want in a modern suv, observes automan
Author Chandan B Mallik Photography author and supplied 59

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despite some family similarities, what fundamentally differentiates the explore from the edge is the way the car is packaged with extra third row and dial-a-terrain ability

The sheetmetal gets more detailing in the doors with a nice interplay of flat and concave body panels which are close in execution with the Taurus. Some sporty inspiration comes from the Mustang in the wheel arch flaring which in turn morph into the sculpted bumpers. The cars side window detailing is also impressive. It appears continuous thanks to the blacked-out A- and B-pillars. Compared with the outgoing model, window height is shorter and front overhang also appears shortened. Rear overhang however is much longer which we think was needed for the extra interior space than off-road needs. The cars new design also focuses on aerodynamic efficiency with a lower air dam in conjunction with the rest of the sheetmetal provides a best-in-class drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.35. Front A-pillar is also sharply raked and despite some styling similarities with the Edge, what fundamentally differentiates the Explore from the Edge is the way the car is designed and packaged with extra third row and real time dial-a-terrain ability. But its the cabin of the car that is dressed to impress. The new dimensions and slightly cab forward architecture has released a generous interior which translates to more head and shoulder room in the front two rows, as well as 21c-ft of usable luggage space behind the third row. The outgoing model offered marginally higher cargo capacity behind the front seats compared with the new one. Theres generous space for occupants along with lots of head and legroom. Accommodation is on the cosier side with soft cushioning with lots of bolstering. Build quality for the vehicle has improved considerably inside out and some of the interior is made out of recycled content. In fact, the seat foam is made from an environmentally friendly soy-based content. The instrumentation, digital display, multifunctional steering wheel and Sony Sync system are from the Edge, but the wraparound dashboard is an evolved stylish interpretation than the Edge. The dashboard is similar to the trendy Edge and theres quite a bit of similarity in both cars the multifunctional steering wheel, MyFord system with two LCD screens in the instrument cluster, an eight-in touchscreen besides Ford SYNC. The level of standard kit has also moved up and includes an air filtration, a media hub and Fords MyKey system. Our top-of-the-line test car also came with dual-panel moonroof, and dual-zone climate control, remote starting, ambient lighting, adjustable pedals, a Sony audio system with 12 speakers, park assist, adaptive cruise control, collision warning, rain-sensing wipers, and last but not least, HID headlamps. User-friendly features also

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Whats in? whats out?

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Architecture/platform Started with a clean sheet design on an existing D-segment crossover platform. The heavier ladder frame has been discontinued permanently. Body styling Completely redesigned, it blends a

modern, aerodynamic design with pleasant proportions, overhangs and a family face. Several design cues seem to be influenced by the Taurus sedan. Interiors If the Edge was seen as a benchmark in interior design then the new Explorer takes to a new level in terms of design,

execution, features, fit and finish. Ford designers benchmarked the new cars interiors against Europes finest. Wood, soft-touch dashboard materials and a cosy and comfortable three-row interior is the result. MyFord Touch and Ford Sync driver technologies blend Sony audio tech with HD, Bluetooth and navigation functions. Powertrain With a focus on efficiency the 4.0-litre V8 has been dumped in favour of a 3.5-litre V6. Among other things, theres a claimed 25 per cent increase in fuel economy, a full 5 mpg more than the outgoing model. While most performance parameters have been maintained or exceeded, the only drop is in the cars towing capacity.

Ford Explorer vs competition


gmC aCadia GMCs first crossover mid size SUV was introduced in 2007 and is perhaps the oldest in the lot. Powered by a single direct injection 3.6-litre V6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, the Acadia is available in five trim levels: SL,SLE, SLT-1,SLT-2 and Denali. Each trim is available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. While the Acadia is about the same width as the Ford Explorer, it can haul more equipment or luggage than the Ford Explorer. toYota land Cruiser The venerable Land Cruiser is still a body on frame model and where the Explorer comes close, is in dimensions and comfort. Off-road prowess and towing, the Toyota is virtually unbeatable. Jeep grand Cherokee After Chrysler LLC was formed, the Jeep Grand Cherokee was one of the first among the new models to come out. It also follows the crossover path using a co-developed Mercedes-Benz M-Class chassis and some mechanicals. Besides efficiency and practicality, Jeep has also focused on the sporty performance side with help of in-house tuner setup SRT. This makes the range wider. The Explorer is based on the same Volvo-derived D4 platform that underpins the Taurus and Flex. The Pentastar V6 3.5-litre V6 offers best of both worlds

GMC Acadia

Toyota Land Cruiser

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Dodge Durango

dodge durango Dodge and Ford both launched all-new seven passenger SUVs within weeks of each other. The current Durango was also created in a parallel engineering programme and hence theres quite a bit of bin parts sharing. Durangos interior is nearly as stylish as the new Charger and since its wheelbase is 7.5in longer than the Explorer and those extra inches pays off with a more subtle and refined ride. Also available with the V6 3.6-litre Pentastar engine and a bigger Hemi V8, when it comes to towing, the Durango has a clear advantage over the Explorer. 62

considering the car now has a 112in wheelbase and 4,700-pound curb weight, it is not a medium suv anymore

include a programmable lift height for the power tailgate. On the powertrain side and engine displacement in particular, Ford is following the current trend in downsizing [both displacement and cylinder capacity], and its not surprising since it has a pretty good arsenal to offer. As of now V8s are out, normally aspirated V6 and forced fed inline four are in, but the chapter for Middle East bound Explorers open with new 3.5-litre V6 that offers 290hp and 255lb-ft of torque with a standard six-speed automatic transmission. As of now, theres no word on the smaller Ecoboost powertrains for ME. In a dramatic shift in concept, unlike the outgoing Explorers which were rear-wheel drive, the new Explorers are now front-wheel

drive or all-wheel-drive system. The torque biased is towards the front wheels in normal driving in the AWD, but the system can transfer up to 90 per cent of available torque to the rear whenever needed. The car also comes with hill-descent control and terrain management, system which is the AWD setup remarkably similar to the system offered in Land Rover. Through a rotary controller at the base of the central console it offers four driver-selectable terrain management modes: normal, mud/ruts, sand, and snow. We vividly remember the handling issues in some of the older generation Explorers which were built on the pick-up chassis and used an ancient twin I-beam front suspension and a live rear axle. Technically, these were flawed and when Firestone tyres started failing

catastrophically in the US, it also revealed a damaging consequence: a tendency to roll over. On the safety front, we can empathise Ford being extra cautious in the new Explorer. The car now employs hydroformed front frame rails to help shorten the front overhang and simultaneously improve crash-worthiness. Spacers have been used to widen the track and the suspension has been totally reworked. Now it has a control-arm suspension at the front and a multilink layout at the rear. Up front, theres a new cradle for the suspension and engine, along with new control arms, knuckles, struts, and wheel bearings. At the back, theres a new upright and the driveshafts are beefier. Electric power steering replaces a hydraulic rack and besides an array of airbags and sophisticated stability-control programs,.
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Driving impressions
As a crossover, the Explore delights in most departments. Ride height is good, hip points for entry and exit are convenient and while perched high, theres command view all round, but theres also a design related niggle which sticks out as a sore thumb which is the rather obtrusive base of the A-pillar. To compensate the blind spot weakness due to this, the test car had blind-spot management system builtin its side mirrors. On the move, in the new set-up, the size of the car is not felt at all. Part of this is because its a crossover and part because the steering wheel is very light. In general, the cars cabin is quiet on the move and despite its apparent bulk, wind noise is exceptionally taken care of. In fact, it feels so light when driving that it can be mistaken for a Taurus on stilts! Its smooth on the highway and remarkably composed in the corners with minimum wallowing, thanks to the Advance Trac stability and curve control, which are less intrusive electronic stability systems that help guide the driver through a turn if the entry speed is too high. Although, the Explorer has a tendency to understeer due to its front-wheel drive bias,

but impressively it doesnt have the body lean of its predecessors, thanks to better suspension packaging and efficient coil correction rebounds from the shock absorbers. Theres no doubt in our minds that when compared to the previous Explorer, or even with some of its contemporary rivals, this new crossover actually feels smaller, agile [despite having grown in size] and extremely enjoyable to drive. Off road, the usual low range of a typical 4WD isnt really missed as the Terrain Management System takes over the job electronically. While for the most part, the system and the Explorers low-slung body and road-biased tyres are best suited to fire normal roads, we selected the sand mode and immediately could feel a change in throttle response and transmission shifts, as well as the tractionand stability-control systems. It does the job as programmed and takes away the usual hassles nicely such as offering enough torque to the wheels enabling the car pull through even through loose sand. The whole system really works well for light off-roading duties and we are sure most for everyone but a few hard-core off-road enthusiasts

One of the new features found in high-end cars such as the new Audi A6 is the automated parallel parking. The Explored around town offers a reasonable turning circle, but for drivers who still find the idea of parallel parking just too cumbersome, Ford offers the option of an automated parking system that will do most of the work for you. The system works flawlessly and all the driver has to do is indicate which side of the parking the car has to go.

Verdict
In less than a decade, we think the biggest difference between then and now in the large and medium SUVs segments is evolution. The truck-based Ford Explorer debuted in 1990 and is by far acknowledged as the pioneering vehicle that more than any other rival actually was responsible for getting SUVs accepted as urban cars.Over all, we think the new Explorer is better suited to real life as its comprehensively well executed in the way of most modern Fords. It also will satisfy most of the needs of existing Explorer users and the bonus being the sophisticated lifestyle interiors and features.

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preview

Small iS StyliSh
In designing the new Yaris hatchback, Toyota has produced a look that is bolder, sharper and more dynamic, while remaining true to the principle of compact outside, spacious inside that has characterised the car since the original model broke cover in 1999
Author Chandan B Mallik

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n the words of chief designer Dezi Nagaya the exterior has a keen appearance, witnessed particularly in the all-new front end with its slim, horizontal headlights and prominent, deep lower air intake that anchors the cars wide stance, broadcasting a low centre of gravity. In profile, there is still the distinctive, steeply sloping belt line running the length of the vehicle, while at the rear, the familiar Yaris Y-shaped graphic is retained, but expressed in distinctive new styling. Detail touches include a larger front quarterlight, with the A-pillar moved further forward, giving a more steeply raked windscreen. And the rear side windows have been rendered smarter, by taking away the vertical bar that previously divided the glazing. Shorter front and rear overhangs, a 50mm increase in the wheelbase and more prominent wheelarches give the car a sportier look. Overall new Yaris hatchback is just 100mm longer than the previous model, which means it keeps its urban-friendly tight turning circle of just 4.7m. The width is unchanged, but trimming the height by 20mm to 1,510mm adds to the cars lower, more purposeful appearance, while the efficient aerodynamic qualities of the body deliver a class leading drag coefficient of Cd 0.287. New Yariss bolder look is completed by new 15 and 16in alloy wheel designs and a choice of 10 colours for the body, including two completely new shades Deep Aqua and Burning Red. There is an equally fresh approach to the interior, with a new focus on creating a cockpit environment for the driver. The principal meters have moved from the centre of the dashboard to sit directly in the drivers eyeline behind the steering wheel, which itself has a more upright angle for a more engaging driving position. The strong horizontal lines of the new dashboard emphasise the generous width of the cabin 30mm greater than before with a new soft-padded dash section with matching upper door panel pads. The colour of these padded sections co-ordinates with inserts in the seat upholstery, reinforcing the general high quality feel of the interior. A panoramic glass roof is available (standard on the top-of-the-range model) that increases the spacious feel of the cabin. Tactile, premium details add to the quality look and feel, with gun metal trims around the drivers instruments, the multimedia touchscreen and air vents, and chrome detailing on the controls and switchgear. The front seats are new, with increased vertical adjustment and, on some models, an arm rest for the driver. Their design gives both better body holding and comfort, with wider, higher sided cushions that have a raised front edge which can help combat tiredness on long journeys. Thinner seatbacks for the front seats mean more kneeroom for those sitting in the rear a class-leading 645mm. A similar design treatment for the rear seats has helped increase loadspace depth by 145mm to 710mm another best-in-class figure. Overall luggage capacity has grown to 347 litres (to roof line) with the rear seats in place, 768 litres when they are folded flat. And to make the job of loading up easier, the tailgate is 20mm wider than on the previous model.
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bike news}
Nudas comiNg
usqvarna has taken all there is to love about the beating heart in the BMW F800GS. Engineers stripped it, cranked up the heat and stuck it in a new super moto. Meet the 2012 Nuda 900R. The 900cc parallel twin now turns out a heady 100hp, and at 385 pounds dry, the bike is guaranteed to the kind of machine momma warned you about. Solid details beyond those scant specs are still scarce at the moment. Its unclear exactly which markets will get the joy of calling the Nuda 900R their very own or how much the bike will cost when lands. There are bright chances that this creation will have an easy time locking horns with the likes of the Ducati Multistrada!

Ducati riDer sets motorcycle recorD at Pikes Peak

hile Monster Tajimas 9:51.278 drive was the most notable record-breaking time at Pikes Peak this year, the addition of new paved sections also allowed a new best time to be set for the motorcycle class. Carlin Dunne, the owner of Ducati Santa Barbara in California, dominated the motorcycle division in a stock Multistrada 1200, completing the 12.42 mile course in 11:11.32. Dunnes fellow Ducati riders didnt fare so well. Six-time winner Greg Tracy fell on the slippery, gravel-covered pavement, and Mark Cernicky, after qualifying second, suffered a flat tire just a few minutes into his run. The record for an electric motorcycle was also broken at Pikes Peak this year. Chip Yates laid down a time of 12:50.094, besting the record set last year by more than four minutes.

BMW M technology in Motorcycles


e are aware that several analogue technologies have been used with great success in BMW performance cars such as in the BMW M3 and BMW M5. Now, it seems that BMW Motorrad wants to get this remarkable technology on its bikes as a synergy deal. However, its easier said than done as there are unique challenges to take care of. The key challenge is to adapt or redesign the system meeting the specific requirements of motorcycle physics and integrating this in the relevant control systems. DDC is a semi-active suspension system which reacts automatically to manoeuvres like braking, accelerating, and cornering on various road surfaces and analyses the situational parameters provided by sensors to set the correct level of damping
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Hero Honda is now Hero Corp


ero Honda, one of corporate Indias oldest and most successful joint ventures , with the two founding partnersIndias Munjal family and Japans Honda Motor Corporation have finally agreed to part ways and terminate the 26-year-old relationship. Differences had been brewing for few years before the split over a variety of issues, ranging from Hondas reluctance to fully and freely share technology with Hero (despite a 10-year technology tie-up that expires in 2014) as well as Indian partners uneasiness over high royalty payouts to the Japanese company. Another major irritant for Honda was the refusal of Hero Honda (mainly managed by the Munjal family) to merge the companys spare parts business with Hondas new fully owned subsidiary Honda Motors India. Under the terms of the deal, Honda will sell its 26 per cent stake said to be worth around $1 billion to the Munjals. In India, Honda Motors also has an independent fullyowned two wheeler subsidiary called Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI).

at electrically actuated proportional damping valves. DDC is linked to the traction control system DTC and ABS via the CAN bus. The damping is adjusted at an electrically actuated, proportional damping valve that features a variable ring gap and therefore variable flow cross section for the damper oil. The inversely proportional adjustment to flow rate and pressure gives rise to a change in damping force within milliseconds to adapt to new conditions. Unlike ESA II, the dynamic damping control system DDC does not make use of characteristic curves, but characteristic maps that provide the optimal damper tuning within a defined range. Selected at the press of a button, three characteristic maps for the basic configurations Comfort, Normal, and Sport let the rider realise his own wishes on this system too. As known from ESA II, the selected configuration is displayed in the instrument cluster. Analogously to ESA II, DDC also features variable spring rates. Lets hope we see this soon.

first ride

BABY DUKE
Photography Chandan B Mallik Photography Nabeel Ferzan

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ts a well-known fact that KTM has earned its reputation as a builder of hardcore offroad racing motorbikes, street motorcycles and quads. The Mattighofen-based Austrian brand has enjoyed unprecedented success around the world and can boast the current Dakar Rally bike champion as well as numerous 2011 world titleholders. Now, KTM takes some inspiration from its successful 690 and 990 Duke models and created an all-new baby the Duke 125 in a joint venture with Indias Bajaj Auto [which also owns 40 per cent of KTM]. Although, its single-cylinder four-strike pot just displaces 125cc, it comes at a time when the European learner legal crowd [the largest maket for KTM] has to comply with regulations and restrictions in a 125cc machine. And this led KTM to design a small bike that looked and felt bigger. The chassis is a mix of Trellis and forged oval steel tubes and is lightweight, yet strong enough. The front suspension uses inverted

speed transmission in the package. Final drive is chain. As with the downsizing trends, most newcomers in this segment are being designed to look larger with enhanced dimensions and things like a larger rear tyre. Overall, with the corporate orange colours and bold stickering and striking alloys sporting particularly wide tyres for a 125cc, being 110/70 R17 up front and 150/60 R17 at the rear, we cant really complain about the bikes minimalistic clean looks. Theres a bit of bling tailored in to the package such as LED indicators and tail lamp and licence plate, fully digital multifunction cockpit display which has a plethora of functions and information, including speedo, rev counter, clock, gear indicator, total kilometres travelled, journey time, two trip displays, fuel gauge, fuel consumption indicator and even distance to next service. Unladen weight of the bike is 118kg.

the 125 duke follows in the tyre tracks of the hugely successful bigger siblings. designed especially for first-time riders, it also benefits from premium build quality, cutting-edge and futuristic design
Of particularly note is the mid mounted, cartridge, a rarity in the 125cc segment and the over all design suggest mass concentration under belly stainless steel exhaust, which is [weve seen this before in Buell sports bikes] placed between the swingarm and engine. KTM and the short wheel base further confirms says much development work went into the our observations. It shows that KTM has production of this which is a unique patented been aware of its new genre of customers three chamber with catalytic converter. inexperience and has factored in ride stability as a key priority. Both disc brakes are from Bybre, an offshoot of Italian specialist Brembo. Since EU strict norms are to be followed, hence the engine cannot be boosted beyond its legal-learner The KTM 125 Duke is the first all-new product cap of 15hp at 10,500rpm and 12Nm jointly developed with Bajaj Auto Ltd, in India. of torque at 8,000rpm. But that The bike is manufactured in Chakan, near Pune. hasnt stopped KTM in putting in a In 2007, Bajaj Auto picked up a 14.9 per cent four-valve head with two overhead stake in KTM and increased to 40 per cent. cams, liquid-cooling, Bosch fuelinjection, a balancer shaft and six-

the bajaj connection

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first ride

With maximum torque being achieved at 8,000 rpm and max power at an even higher 10,500 rpm, you need a free revving engine to keep the motor spinning above at least 7,000 rpm to get the real best out of it.

Ride height is above average and handle bars almost straight

Chassis is a mix of Trellis and forged oval steel tubes. The front suspension uses inverted cartridge, a rarity in the 125cc segment

Instrumentation is all digital, but the display characters are too small to be read on the move

Fuel tank takes 11 litres and the consumption is in the range of 2.6 to 3.4 litres per 100 km depending on riding conditions

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Riding impressions
On the road, unless youve just leapt off a bigger bike moments prior to mounting the 125 Duke, it is a slow mover. In 125cc terms it doesnt feel any slower or any faster than a typical commuter bike, but it has a large bike feel. The flat seat and deeply sculpted 11-litre tank and comfortably positioned 750mm wide handlebars ensure riding position is mostly upright and thats good insurance against backaches after long rides. Starting is electric and engine ticks comfortably at idle. Clutch modulation is good and its easy to engage the gear or find neutral. Chassis balance is very good and agility in corners is outstanding, thanks to the wide handlebars. Actually, the bike responds very well to the riders weight shifting. Gears also shift well both ways in the lower and middle power range where you can feel the torque. However, the drawback of this bike is its power delivery, especially at top end where the powertrain needs to be pushed really hard. With maximum torque being achieved at 8,000 rpm and max power at an even higher 10,500 rpm, you need a free revving engine to keep the motor spinning above at least 7,000 rpm to get the real best out of it. It was a bit of a struggle between speeds of 89-109km/h and we felt that the bike was having breathing problems. However, despite this limitation, we wont entirely blame the engine or its digital management, but somewhat point to the limitations in general that small displacement [usually under 150cc] four-stroke engines usually face. Meanwhile, the brakes are pretty good with plenty of feel and grip. In general, the engine is smooth, but can be noisy at times. The other niggle is that the although the LCD display easily falls to view, the display characters are too small to be read on the move.

Verdict
Saddling on a motorcycle from one of the worlds popular bike manufacturers, KTM at entry level with the new 125 Duke is an interesting proposition. The big question it has been priced at Dh16,500 in the UAE. What remains to be seen whether this India-built bike is able to command this premium price tag. We think it will.

Breaking News

Rumours of the KTM-Bajaj alliance churning out an 200cc model has been doing the rounds of the internet ever since the first KTM 125 was shown last year. The companys top man Stefan Pierer has gone on record about the Austrian bike makers strategy for the Indian motorcycle market. Pierer recently confirmed that the Mattighofen-based firm will introduce a 200cc variant of the KTM 125 in the Indian market during the 11th Auto Expo, which will be held in Delhi from January 7, 2012 to January 11, 2012. He also made an announcement that a bigger 350cc variant, again an India-specific model was on the anvil

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faCe to faCe

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Stoner talkS about the 2012 1000cc PrototyPeS

asey Stoner is the most successful rider of the 800cc era. Since the 800cc motors were introduced at Qatar in 2007, where Stoner celebrated his first premier class victory, through last weekends Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, Stoner had won 27 races. The majority came in 2007, when he collected ten race victories en route to the 2007 MotoGP World Championship. With a brilliant start to this season, the 25-year-old Australian has continued to add to his tally. Through the first eight races Stoner has four wins, a second, and two thirds. The only time hes failed to finish on the podium was at the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez when he was knocked out of second place early in the race. Stoner has been called the fastest rider by a number of his peers, including teammate Andrea Dovizioso. His five poles in eight races bear that out. But now that the 800cc era is drawing to a close, we thought wed get Stoners thoughts on the move to the 1000cc era.

Can you explain, using a specific corner, the difference in cornering technique with the Repsol Honda RC212V and next years machine? Its really hard to explain, because theres basically no two corners in the world that are the same. So to ride them in the same way, I think, may be what sets me apart sometimes from other riders, is the fact that Ill attack each corner the way it needs to be ridden. Therell be different patches, different surfaces in different areas. And sometimes the ideal line wont be the ideal line on that particular corner, so its adapting yourself to each part of the track, whether you can use part or you cant. How youve got to get through each corner is quite difficult. At each track you go to you cant just ride in the method that you know and youve actually got to ride it to the way it needs to be ridden. It sometimes can be a bit tricky. With the 1000 I think its going to be a little less dependent on that sort of riding, because youre going to be able to make up a little bit of power. But at the same time, just concentrate more on getting out of the corner, rather than getting through it quite as fast. Its still going to very dependent on getting through the corner, but I think more in getting into the corner and getting out of the corner than those lines in that particular area than we had on 800s on the way through the corner. Itll change the way people ride a little bit. Will it change the way the race is run? Yes and no. Im not really sure. I think the way 1000s were beforehand, there was still a tire battle and there was a tire battle for the first part of 800s, which produced some great races and passes back and forth and all the rest of it. Now with 1000s, its not going to be a lot of difference. Ive ridden the 1000 again and I went from 1000 to 800 and there wasnt huge differences. The main thing you notice is in the higher gears, fourth, fifth on the 800, you basically dont have a lot of power to spin, so when you spin youve got to be on the edge of the tire. But with the 1000 youre still able to spin, even when you pick the bike up its still trying to spin a little bit. That part will be slightly different when youre riding in the wet in different situations. I also think the way you control wheelies is going to be a little bit different. The 1000 is going to want to pop wheelies through more gears rather than what the 800 does, in second and third, sometimes fourth. But a 1000 will want to pull a wheelie in just about every gear, so youre going to have to control that a little bit more. But other than that, riders will adapt to the way it needs to be ridden. The people that are up at the front are there for a reason and theyll adapt quickly.

Some riders believe that with more torque, you may be able to make a pass off a corner. And also with more top speed itll change the brake markers, and most of the passes are done on the brakes now. Will it open up passing opportunities? I think its not the bikes that are reducing the passing, I think its just become such a professional sport that riders dont make mistakes like they used to. Everyone has to train their butts off now just to ride these bikes. In the past, if you go back long enough, people were smoking before they got on the grid and they werent tired at the end of the race. These bikes physically take a lot more out of you. And I think the level of rider, in comparison with another era, has just picked up, because everyone knows what you need to do now. And so youre not seeing people run wide and other people duck up in the inside. Theyre making the line, theyre hitting their points, and theyre not having the problems like they used to. So, I dont really think its going to change a lot. Even Dani (Pedrosa) on the same bike as me is able to out-accelerate me just because of the way he rides. So that strength is his. But then hes got some weaknesses in his way of riding. So theres a lot of different ways to ride, different techniques to use, but I think racing in general was always going to develop and go in this direction. How does the 1000 compare to the 990 from 2006? Its more or less the same, I think. Its got more grunt. Like I said, when I went from 1000 back to 800, I didnt notice a huge difference, just a slight difference, especially in the taller gears, because you couldnt put that power done quite as much anyways, but the 800s still got plenty to spin up and theres only so much you can put down. So, yeah, getting back on the 1000 was very similar to what I had. Youre carrying that speed a bit more down the straight, youre able to say run a taller gear, because that you got that much torque down the bottom. So you can ride it in a few different options. Rather than with this option, you can still run it in those options, but in the higher gears youll be able to play around with it a bit more. You seem to be able to get on the gas sooner than most riders. It was noticeable in the first turn in Qatar, where you could get off the gas and back on faster than anyone else. Is that one of your strengths? I have no idea, to be honest. Its difficult to know unless youre looking at data what your strengths and weaknesses are and that of other people. I very rarely or ever look at data

unless my team tell me I can do something a little better here or there. If I feel that I dont know where Im losing the time, then theyll show me. But we basically never do that. I always know where I need to improve, where I need to get better. Turn one in Qatar, I dont know. I normally feel quite good on that corner. Since being with Honda, Ive got a lot more feedback than what I had with Ducati and I immediately felt better. And, yeah, I was able to crack the gas open quite early I guess and, yeah, that helped me drive through the corner rather than try and take the big wide line, and wide sweep through it. Other riders believe your corner entry speed is off the charts. Do you feel the front end of the Honda allows you to do it with more confidence? With the Honda Ive definitely got a lot more confidence in the front end. Not always, but when weve got it working right then we know what its doing. If it does go, it normally gives you a bit more of a warning as well. The whole chassis will flex in a different way. Youll feel the front go and youll be able to pull it back. And so its quite refreshing to be on a Honda this year and be able to push into corners. I know that when the front does go its pretty much going to give me a warning first and thats something easier for me to live with because Im able to pick up the bike a bit quicker and stay upright. My corner entry used to be one of my weakest points. When I arrived, my first year in MotoGP, 250 and 125 period, my braking point was one of my worst. So now Ive made it one of my best and being able to trail brake all the way in and get the bike turned in the middle. Ive worked on a lot of things that I knew I needed to get my weak points stronger. I think the best thing you can be as a rider is admitting where youre weaker and working on those areas rather than just blaming other things and blaming your equipment. What are you working on now? Thats for me to know. Thats something race by race, weekend by weekend you work on whatever area youre struggling through the most or what you need to work on. Corner by corner its different on every track, so you need to work on those areas. Braking was one of my biggest weakness, but it was a big weakness compared to the rest of my riding. So really concentrated on that, getting the right set-up, getting a better feel for it and it became one of my strongest. I havent really got a big weak point now, not like I was with braking, so now I can just sort of work on all of them to try and balance it out as much as I can.

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200 proves lucky for Button

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motor sports -f1

ne thing that Jenson Button has proven all along is that he has the skill to win races. However, in Hungary in seemed like it was his team mate Lewis Hamilton who would lead the race or indeed Sebastian Vettel from the Red Bull team as they took turns swapping the lead before Button came into his stride. Consistent drizzle made for a slippery track which undid Vettel as Hamilton grabbed the lead in the fifth lap as Vettel ran wide in turn two. Added to Vettels woes was having Button grab second from him in the process of changing tyres to slicks in lap 11 and 12. From that point on it seemed as if Hamilton would take the race, with Button holding of a rampant charge from Vettel. Hamiltons choice of super-soft tyres in his pit stop on lap 40 served to change the pace as Button and both the Red Bull drivers chose to remain on softs, in the hope of allowing them to take that set of tyres right through to the end of the race. But it was the rain that sealed the standings, with Hamilton losing an almost 6 second lead over Button when he spun on a chicane in lap 47, allowing Button to get ahead. Fortunately Hamilton was able to spin back onto the track to continue the race. In the process he came in the way of Force Indias Paul di Resta, forcing him to take avoiding action and delaying him in his attempt to finish in the top seven. In a see-saw of happenings, Hamilton managed to grab back the lead from Button only to have Button take it back. In the heat of this battle Hamilton had to pit again on lap 52. Now, however, like Webber on Lap 51, Hamilton opted for intermediate tyres, but it was a mistake as it started to dry again. Both had to stop yet again for soft tyres, on lap 54, and Lewis had a final stop to serve a drive-through penalty on Lap 56 for the incident with Di Resta. From that point onwards, Buttons luck held, allowing him to lead the race on his previous choice of soft tyres, avoiding the pitfalls of choosing the intermediates his team mate got stuck with. Added to that was a glitch that Sebastian Vettel had with his brakes in the closing stages of the race, allowing Button to close out the race pretty much like he had done on his first win in Hungary in 2006. Hamilton couldnt make the podium after

all as Ferraris Fernando Alonso managed through a four-stop pit strategy to shake off the early bottle-neck of being stuck behind Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher and later on being stuck behind Mark Webber in his Red Bull. However, Hamilton did manage to salvage a fourth spot by chasing and overtaking Webber in the 63rd lap

and leading him in to the finish with a second and a half to spare. Sixth spot was taken by the other Ferrari driver Felipe Massa after he lost places on an early spin and Paul di Resta managed his seventh place finish with some crucial points for Force India. After the race Button said, I want to say a big, big thank you to the team today. The car worked a treat in all conditions, and we made all the right strategy calls. We deserved this win and it felt great to stand alongside my race engineer Dave [Robson] on the occasion of his first appearance on the podium. The race was

a brilliantly eventful one. I had a good battle with Lewis when we were running one-two. We were both driving on the limit and the gap ebbed and flowed, depending on the traffic. It was good fun and I was sorry that we werent standing up there on the podium together at the end of it all. This was the perfect way to celebrate my 200th Grand Prix, and the team can enter the summer break with a spring in its step. We know we have a good car, so lets enjoy our holidays and come back even stronger at SpaFrancorchamps. Im excited about that race already. Vettel added, I was struggling a little in the first stint on the intermediate tyres. Lewis was a bit faster and then I went into Turn 2 too deep, it was quite tricky he was pushing quite hard and I tried to be on the edge. At some stage I realised it would be too late, so I opened the car because I know the white lines and the green paint afterwards is very slippery, so its easy to have a spin, and I lost the lead. After that the track surface was drying. I think we could have maybe come in a lap earlier and then I was on the super-softs I was feeling quite good initially, but there was quite a lot of drop off, I think it was the same for all of us. In the last stint, I did feel I had more speed in the car, but with 20 laps to go it was difficult to know how hard it was going to be at the end, so I couldnt push as hard as I would have liked, but still, second today is an important step. The McLarens are strong in all sorts of conditions and its clear that for two races now they have made a step forward; we need to make sure we come back strong for the next race. Vettel extends his world championship points lead with 234, while Webber remains second on 149, with Hamilton third on 146, Alonso fourth on 145 and Button closing in again with 134. Red Bulls lock on the constructors championship shows no sign of waning with 383 points to McLarens 280 and Ferraris 215.

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Ogier leads another Citroen one-two in Germany


he Citron Total World Rally Team clinched its third one-two of the season in the last leg of Rally Germany. Sbastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia scored their first win on tarmac in front of Sbastien Loeb and Daniel Elena. Citron racked up its 78th success in the FIA World Rally Championship becoming the manufacturer with the highest number of wins in the sport. The DS3 WRCs eighth victory beats its own record of consecutive wins. Competing against championship leader Loeb, Ogier began with an advantage of over a minute before the last days five stages, with Loeb having suffered a puncture on the previous days final test. However that only meant that Loeb was all the more eager to make up lost ground and thus pushed himself through the final stages including the power stage, clocking the fastest times. Ogier stayed ahead with a more cautious approach. That was enough for Ogier to win the rally and break Loebs unbroken run of eight wins of the Rallye Deutschland, ever since the country joined the WRC circuit in 2002. In the process, he has also managed to get himself into second position in the drivers rankings, coming in 25 points behind Loeb. With only four rounds left, Citroen leads the manufacturers rankings with an 89 point lead over Ford and this win has also allowed it to beat Ford in the number of WRC wins, with Citroen now having 78. There was also reason to cheer for Team

MINI, with Dani Sordo taking the third place podium spot after Loeb. MINI has made good strides in the little under a year since they started preparing for the WRC. Mikko Hirvonen in his Ford came in fourth. Sordo had a really long battle with the Ford of Mikko Hirvonen and after 19 stages and 359.59 kilometres of competition finished 48.1secs ahead of him. After the race Dani Sordo said, I am really, really happy for me and the team. For the first rally of the car on tarmac this is very good. This is a surprise and the times were so close to Ford and Citroen that we have a lot of confidence for the next rally. The car is really good on tarmac. We have a good setup and the suspension is perfect. Obviously we can improve and get the car better and better but this weekend it was okay. We shall now work a lot to try and beat Citroen as well. I tried to push hard on the power stage and it was great to be third, but I didnt want to take any risks. The mechanics have worked really hard and not made any mistakes so I hope to spend some time with them tonight. In the first stage, Dhrontal, there were only a few damp spots. The Citron Total World Rally Team crews did not take risks and consolidated their lead over their rivals losing a few seconds in the process. The next stage, Moselwein, was completely soaked. The choice of soft tyres enabled the two Sbastiens to avoid all the traps in this sector. We made the right choice this morning, said Ogier when he came back to the service

park. I stayed in the middle of the road and did not cut the apexes to avoid punctures. Were nursing our lead while trying to stay concentrated. No worries. Im just happy to drive, added Loeb. As it looks like the rains going to continue were going to keep the soft rubber for the second loop and the power stage. Loeb set the quickest time in stages 17 and 18 and was concentrating all his attention on the final stage that awards bonus points. The seven-time world champion really went for it in the streets of Trier and bagged three additional points by setting the quickest time while Ogier added two to his tally. I have to say that there was no way that victory in this rally was a foregone conclusion as I was up against Seb who has never lost in Germany and is always very quick on tarmac. Im absolutely delighted with this win as weve proved that were quick on this surface. Its boosted our motivation for the end of the championship. Im not perhaps in the best position but Ill fight as long as Ive still got a chance, commented Ogier. After my eight wins in Germany on the trot, theres no way I can be pleased with second place, frowned Loeb. Ive been saying for the past few years that this series would come to an end and it has! We were unlucky but thats racing. Mathematically speaking my second place and the points from the power stage mean that we still have a victory in hand.

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motor sports -wrC

Staying with the winners


itron and Sbastien Loeb have decided to continue their fantastic sporting relationship into the 2012 and 2013 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) seasons. Seven-time World Champion Sbastien Loeb, who has been with Citron since 2001, has decided to continue his collaboration with the French make for another two seasons, and fight for more victories at the wheel of the DS3 WRC with his faithful co-driver, Daniel Elena. Loeb is already bubbling with enthusiasm about this new challenge: With the arrival of other manufacturers in the championship, the competition is going to get tougher in the years to come. The rule changes concerning the starting order coming in 2012 mean all the drivers will be fighting on a level playing field. To take the fight to them Im putting my trust in Citron, a team I know inside out, and also the DS3 WRC, the car that I helped set up with Citron Racing.

Frdric Banzet, the Citron General Manager, commented: Sbastien Loeb is a great ambassador for Citron. Today, his image and ours are intimately linked. He

Kimi to miss Rally Australia

imi Raikkonen will reportedly not be making a presence at Rally Australia this year, despite having originally intended to be part of the rally. Going under the term logistical and organisational difficulties, the lack of substantial sponsorship has meant that Raikkonen will not be able to go to Australia. Major sponsors like Red Bull have scaled back

incarnates the daring, sporting spirit and the love of competition, values that are very dear to us. Were proud of his loyalty to Citron, and of the fact that hes continuing his career with the team thats supported him since his debut.

NEW FORMULA RENAULT 3.5 UNVEILED AT SILVERSTONE

s Silverstone hosted the first ever Formula One Grand Prix and is one of the most iconic circuits in the motorsport world, there was no better place to unveil the new Formula Renault 3.5. Teams and drivers were introduced to Renault Sport Technologies brand new single-seater on Saturday, while the British public caught their first glimpse of the car on Sunday morning. They heard the roar of its new V8 530 bhp engine for the first time in an exciting, on-track demonstration by Romain Grosjean. The new Formula Renault 3.5 will make its competitive debut next season in the World Series by Renault. The Formula Renault 3.5 was first launched

in 2005 as part of the World Series by Renault and has received several modifications over the years. However, the newest version of the single-seater developed by Renault Sport Technologies and its various technical partners promises to take the series to a whole new level. The new Formula Renault 3.5 is more powerful than its predecessor and boasts a number of cutting-edge features, whilst complying with the latest safety regulations and fitting comfortably within season budgets. It shares even more common features with a Formula One car, making it the ideal vehicle in which to prepare drivers for the unparalleled demands of F1 competition.

their level of involvement with the sport due to cost cutting and this has seen some fallout on participation. Especially where it involves long haul movements, smaller teams and privateers are having a tough time meeting the costs. Last year Raikkonen contested 12 rounds, missing only Rally New Zealand during the first half of the year, but also competed on some smaller regional rallies as tests. This season he will have entered nine world championship rallies, with a best result so far of sixth in Jordan (compared with fifth in Turkey last year). After missing Australia, Raikkonen will compete in France, Spain and Great Britain: all rallies that he has entered before (although he was forced to miss the Catalunya round last year following a shakedown accident). The 31-year-old Finn is yet to finalise his plans for next season, but has not ruled out the possibility of a full WRC campaign in 2012. Other possibilities in the frame include a return to Formula One or an extended NASCAR programme. He is currently eighth in the drivers rankings.

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moto gp

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{ChiCane}

The Truth of the Matter

How much journalistic licence is allowed in making a story? And at what point does it cross the line to fabrication?

being a keen observer of events unravelling around the world, I usually find my mornings filled with the sight of smoke rising from bombed out buildings in Iraq, Afghanistan and of late Libya. Then there is the fair share of economic crises happening around the world - US debt, Greek debt, Irish debt and so on. Then we have the odd government change, elections, papal visit and maybe a pop singers death to round off the news stream. In all this one point I take for granted - that what I am seeing on the TV or reading in the newspaper is the truth. Truth in mainstream media - now that is something to think about. Mahatma Gandhi said There is no God higher than Truth and he lived up to his ideals. On the other hand take what Gustave Flaubert, french author of Madame Bovary has said, There is no truth. There is only perception. I bring this up because of two rather unsavoury news items in the past month centred on the media. In the first place, allegations were published in the British media that world-famous car show presenter Jeremy Clarkson was guilty of not doing his own filmed drives. It was said that he did the presentation and then hired professionals would race the car around the circuit for the cameras. Hmmm... Of course there were the clarifications issued by BBC producers that Clarkson did all the driving and that sometimes standby drivers were used to film sequences where Clarkson was off-camera. That is an extremely logical and believable reply. In the second instance reporters of an Australian TV channel were found guilty of claiming to be hovering in their news helicopter over a crime scene, while they were filmed hovering over their studio or closeby. In this case heads rolled and a promise of better editorial guidlines and practices was issued. The question is are we as viewers or readers getting the truth? And how important is it over perception? Did it make any difference to the quality of the reporting in either case. Clarkson is a household name for his presentation style and expertise. How does it matter that he is paid too much to act the chauffeur for the film crew? It isnt as if we havent seen some lies being played out on TV take the case of the live feed interviews and expert comments from around the world where the subject is talking in front of a view of the Whitehouse, Eiffel Tower or India Gate. We dont ask ourselves how they managed to put their studios in these vantage points? We dont need to, because once in a while the scenery loop ends and the giant LCD TV behind them goes blank or worse shows a Samsung or Panasonic logo. The question that then arises is are these people actually in the claimed country at all? Why cant we have a so-called cross-world debate all happening in front of various LCD screens in one studio? What will really get your goat is that even if that happened, you would still believe that the news you got out of it was true. We arent even ready to accept that governments, businesses and the agenda of the media houses themselves always influence how a story is handled. British newspaper publisher Lord Northcliffe may have stretched it a bit when he said, News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising. That was in the early 1900s. Today we would call that Public Relations. What does that say about us? As a consumer of news, I need more than one source to hone my perceptions. As a member of the media, I try to stay as close to the Gandhian concept of Truth as possible. It doesnt make for having too many friends with interests who would like to see a story presented in a different manner, but I hope that my reader would be more receptive to the end result. And as for PR just give us a good product to drive and we will give you good reviews. What we all need to do is call a spade a spade, not an instrument for the displacement of soil or other items. In my own case, any TV channel that wants me to anchor the show need only call. You can knock a few zeroes off Clarksons fees and I promise to do all my driving myself. Deal, anyone?

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

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