Across the past few weeks, several much-awaited models have been introduced in the UAE and other Middle Eastern markets. Here is the low-down on the new Toyota Prado. Audi Q5 and SQ5. Nissan X-Trail. Honda Odyssey. Mercedes S-Class. Audi TT RS Coupé and Rolls-Royce Dawn Black Badge.
TOYOTA LAND CRUISER PRADO
Al-Futtaim Motors has launched the 2018 model and it has been refreshed in more ways than one. One of the Middle East’s favourite SUVs and everyday commuters comes with a more robust exterior, sophisticated and intuitive interior design as well as advanced driving skills on and off road.
The new Prado has a newly designed bonnet, radiator grille, headlamps, front bumpers and fenders but the face of the Prado retains the semblance to structural elements from its heritage. The radiator grille is large for maximum cooling and headlamps are placed high for more usefulness during off-road drives. The in-board placement of the headlamps is protective against obstacles that cross its path. The headlamp clusters of the new Prado offer a choice of halogen and LED /halogen – the latter with Daytime Running Lamps.
Looking from the sides, the front bumper, the rear bumper, the bonnet, fender line are all aligned on the same line horizontally for a more athletic posture. Prado is available in six-spoke 17” alloys and high gloss painted 18” alloy wheels.
Inside, the top of the new centre console has been lowered for better visibility especially while climbing dunes. The precision ‘Optitron’ meters and the 4.2 inch multi-information display provides data on driving, vehicle, navigation, audio, driver assistance and cautionary messages. A high-definition 9” full colour screen brings together navigation and audio-visual support for the rear view camera. A 14-speaker JBL system is an option with the new Prado, and so is a retractable 9-inch rear LCD monitor.
The driver seat has 8-way adjustment and power-lumbar support, while the front passenger also gets a 4-way power seat. The second row seat has 40:20:40 split folding, sliding and reclining convenience while the 3rd row 50:50 split seats are powered. They too get cup holders and has an under-floor storage compartment! Land Cruiser Prado offers three-zone independent temperature control designed for maximum cooling even in extreme climates.
The two engines driving the Prado remain the 2.7 L 4-cylinfder in-line 16-valve DOHC engine with VVT-I and the 4.0 L 24-valve DOHC with dual VVT-i. The former produces 164 hp and up to 246 N-m torque while the V6 generates 271 hp and up to 382 Nm torque. Both the engines rely on a 6-speed automatic transmission with multi-mode sequential shift that allows the driver to select gears manually.
‘Technical’ off-roading capability is supported by the newly developed full time four-wheel drive with TORSEN limited slip differential, which allocates power to the left and right wheels according to the situational challenge including cornering. A central differential lock is available, too. The new Prado comes with Drive Mode Select with choices being Normal, Eco and Sport.
Making off-roading easier and more reliable or the new Land Cruiser Prado owner are Crawl Control System that requires the driver to focus only on steering by taking care of moderating acceleration and brake operations. This prevents wheel spin and wheel lock up providing greater stability in sticky situations. Multi-Terrain Select (MTS) provides optimum traction and vehicle control on five different terrains (Rock, Rock & Dirt, Mogul, Loose Rock and Mud & Sand.) The car prompts the driver to choose H4 or L4 four-wheel drive gear systems. Hill Start Assist and Downhill Assist Control further add steady movement on inclines.
Besides 7 airbags and Vehicle Stability Control, the Prado has pedestrian safety-oriented impact-absorbing structure. The vehicle also offers new age driver Assistance features like Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
The Land Cruiser Prado offers 4 grades in the 5-door version priced between AED 129,900 for the 2.7 L EXR and AED 204,900 for the 4.0 L Limited. It is also available as a 3-door 2.7 L GXR from AED 129,900 onwards.
AUDI Q5 AND SQ5
If Audi Q7 was considered too big by some, Audi Q5 was admired as the right sized SUV. In terms of not only the internal space and the external size but also the engine output and balance between sportiness and crossover qualities. Now, as Audi launches the second generation of their successful mid-sized crossover, they have retained almost all the attributes so far appreciated and added an extra dose of capability to the vehicle – in the case of the SQ5, an extra dose of sportiness as well.
Well summarised in the words of Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management at Audi AG: “With the new Q5 we are setting the bar a notch higher. Among the great innovations are the Quattro drive system with ultra technology, highly efficient engine, the air suspension with damper control and a comprehensive line up of infotainment and assistance systems.”
The face gets a fresh touch-up with the new signature Audi six-face grille. Strongly emphasised wheel arches and pinched shoulder lines add a dash of masculinity with a reference to the quattro permanent all wheel drive. of Dynamic turn signals are optional for the lamps. The models are available in 12 exterior colours other than Audi Exclusive. Besides base, sport and design the equipment variants come in the S Line variants, too. While there is a slight growth in most dimensions, the un-laden weight has been reduced by up to 90 kg, depending on the engine variant, thanks to a clever mix of aluminium and high tensile steel.
Practicality has been boosted in the new Q5, with luggage compartment size ranging from 550 to 610 L depending on the rear seat position (the rear seat back can be conveniently adjusted.)
The Audi virtual cockpit with its 12.3-inch screen is standard for the SQ5 and optional for the Q5. The Multimedia terminal in the centre console has an 8.3 inch display which is a touchscreen. The screen operates in conjunction with a rotary dial that has a touchpad integrated into it (in the top model). Handwritten entries and smart-phone like gestures are recognised.
It is their performance that sets apart the new generation Audi Q5 and SQ5. The Q5 is equipped with a 2.0L TFSI engine having an output of 252 hp while the sportier SQ5 is driven by a 3.0L TFSI that delivers 354 hp. This turbocharged aluminium engine spins 500 Nm across a wide range from 1370 to 4500. The 0-100 km sprint happens in 5.4 seconds. Audi claims that yet the engine consumes only 8.3 L to cover 100 km and has CO2 emissions of 189 grams per kilometre. The four-cylinder version attains a Co-efficient of Drag of .30 with its aerodynamically optimised roof. While keeping the wind noise low, the cars have been rendered powerful, and capable.
NISSAN X-TRAIL 2018
For 2018, Nissan has added several upgrades to X-Trail, one of the top selling SUVs worldwide. Known for its spacious design, the X-Trail is available in 5 or 7 seat versions, and in 5 new vibrant hues. Chrome detailing and full LED lamps mark the signature from the rear while chrome side moulding across the base of the two doors. Boot space has improved in the five-seat configuration tom 550L to 565 L. Nissan’s advancement in autonomy and driving refinement has been termed Nissan Intelligent Mobility. The new X-Trail features Intelligent Rear View Mirror (a built-in LCD monitor displaying images from a camera mounted on the rear), Intelligent Emergency Brakes and Intelligent Cruise Control. Another useful feature new for the model year is Auto Hold Switch that helps the X-Trail to stay stationary on hills.
The new X-Trail 2018 is priced between AED 87,400 to 88,800 for the 2WD models and AED 102,000 to 129,300 for the 4WD.
Gargash Motors announced the launch of the new S-Class last month. The flagship model of Mercedes has been given a facelift and has received a redesigned generation of engines. The new Mercedes-Benz S 560 is driven by a new V8 biturbo that generates 469 hp and 700 Nm torque. The eight cylinder powerhouse is eco-conscious in that in consumes almost 10% less fuel than its predecessor. It is mated to a path-breaking 9-speed transmission with a hydrodynamic torque converter. The S 450 uses a 3.0L V6 biturbo engine good for 367 hp and 600 Nm, a clear upgrade from the S 400 format.
All models are fitted with a new radiator grille. While the previous model integrated safety and comfort as ‘intelligent drive’ the new version benefits from a driver assistance package of complementary safety and comfort features that help relieve driver strain and reduce the risk of accidents. The new S-Class features multi-beam LED headlamps that adjusts to traffic conditions.
The new S-class continues its meticulous attention to luxurious detail with open-pore wood, leather-trimmed door and dashboard. The ambient lighting showcases the interiors in a choice of 64 colours – the settings include ‘glacier blue’, ‘red moon’ and ‘dawn blue’. The energising comfort control, a world-first, can be experienced in every seat and enables the integration of various comfort systems in the cabin. Wireless charging is now available in the S-class.
ALL-NEW HONDA ODYSSEY
As the fifth generation Honda Odyssey greets the Middle East, there are several firsts and fresh concepts in driving efficiency and travel comfort. The 2018 Honda Odyssey is redesigned all over with two new colours (Forest Mist Metallic and Meteor Blast Metallic) and three grades to choose from – LX, EX-L and Touring.
New to the whole segment is a 10-speed automatic transmission with Shift-by-Wire technology for a smooth steering feel and quicker response. This system transfers 280 hp @ 6000 rpm and 355 Nm of torque @ 4700 rpm from a 3.5 L direct injected i-VTEC® 24-valve SOHC V6 engine. The ten-speed makes the shifts quick and short while keeping cruising rpm much lower than a 6-speed transmission. This translates to better fuel efficiency.
While 8 airbags including knee airbags are standard across all grades, Honda Sensing is a whole suite of safety and driver assistance available in the Touring grade. Some of the features in the suite are: Collision Mitigation Braking System, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Road Departure Mitigation System, Blind Spot Information System, Rear Cross Traffic Monitor, Pedestrian Detection System, Lane Keeping Assist, Head on Collision system and Adaptive Cruise Control.
Convenient for both hospitality transport and family commute, the thoughtful features of Honda Odyssey keep evolving. The comfortable interiors can be configured in several ways to suit the space and number of occupants. The new ‘Magic Slide™’ second-row seat and 60-40 third-row seat epitomise this comfort. With the centre seat removed, the second row can move to the centre and forward making for convenient access to the third row. The ‘magic slide’ can be used in four different positions – the buddy mode for instance allows the two outboard seats to be brought closer to each other and in turn, in closer conversation with the front passenger!
Available in the Touring version are some more path-breaking conveniences in its category, like Honda CabinWatch™ that allows the driver to keep an eye on the rear passengers using the Display Audio Touch Screen. The others are Cabin Talk and a Rear Entertainment system with child friendly apps.
AUDI TT RS COUPÉ
An increase of power by more than 1/6th has to be seen everywhere. In the 0-100 timing, the exhaust notes, the whirlwind presence and even the menacing intimations of almost brute strength. The new Audi TT RS Coupé has 400 horsepower, rising from its new 5-cylinder aluminium engine, an improvement on the multi-award winning 2.5 L engine of the Volkswagen family.
The new Matrix OLED lights in 3D design are a first for a production Audi. The full digital Audi virtual cockpit displays all the significant info on a 12.3 inch screen – that includes a spread out map for navigation. For enthusiasts, there is an RS screen that sums up the tire pressure, torque and g-forces. The Quattro receives 480 Nm of torque and the car sprints swiftly to the 100 mark on the speedo. Clocking that at 3.7 seconds, it is the quickest TT ever!
ROLLS-ROYCE DAWN BLACK BADGE
Following the introduction of the Ghost Black Badge and Wraith Black Badge last year, Rolls-Royce has added a third – the Dawn Black Badge, which is now available to commission at Abu Dhabi Motors. This uncompromising expression of open-top luxury is thus given a new and darker sensual dimension.
A deeply intense shade of black defines the exterior. The roof which silently opens to let in the sounds of the night is in black canvas while the rear deck is finished in black leather.
The Dawn Black Badge makes its presence felt with more menacing power for the patrons of noir. The 6.6 L twin-turbo V12 now generates an extra 30 bhp raising the output to 593 bhp. There is 20 Nm of torque as well, available from 1500 rpm onwards now raising the total to 840 Nm, delivered through the ZF 8-speed transmission. The exhaust notes also refine the aural aura.
Read more about the bespoke line of Rolls-Royce motor cars called Black Badge and my drive of the Ghost and Wraith Black Badge versions at the Yas Marina Circuit last year.