When we were young students of literature, we were encouraged to read from the masters of story-telling the world over. Even to write like them. The hope was that some day, the writing would evolve into what could be called original and perhaps even masterly. I guess the same holds true for carmaking. Emulating the masters – read the Germans, the Americans and Japs in their own separate rights – could one day result in making cars that are original and as good as what the masters make. Or so believes the whole of Far East. The Koreans are showing us that the formula kind of works. The Chinese have taken up the beacon from them in continuing the legacy of legitimate imitation. With a sprinkling of what’s original to the Chinese upbringing: frugality.
As AutoChina drew to a close yesterday, the abundance of Chinese mastery in this artful imitation was rampant in the models but not without a dash of originality in design and functional convenience. The show brought together 1125 vehicles, and saw the global debut of 120, and several mind-blowing concept cars from the world over. DriveME brings you a selection – from the scandalous URUS to the Chinese customized Aston Martin dragons.
Aston Martin 88
Aston Martin showed its interest in evolving China beyond the 11 showrooms it plans across the year – it snapped open the cage to let out three fiery dragons. Dragon 88 special editions of the DBS Volante, Virage coupe and V8 Vantage S coupe made to please the Chinese millionaire who has been bred on an ample dose of 007. With nine garages of Aston Martin already running in China, the plan is to build China as its third biggest market globally.
New engines for the Jag
All the attention on Jaguar came from the inside story – details of the V6 that will power the F-type and the four-cylinder, Ford Ecoboost petrol engine that will drive the XJ. It also unveiled the AED 738,500 XJ Ultimate, its aluminium luxury car fitted with a champagne cooler, a pair of massaging back seats and iPads for the rear passengers.
Besides the XF and XJ saloons, the new quad-cam V6 will also power the new F-type, Jaguar’s newly announced sports car which will cost around AED 327,000 slotted between the Porsche Boxster and 911. It is expected to heat up our road next year, around the same time. The V8 will also be offered in the F-type.
Jaguar’s new V6 comes in two power-specs, both super-charged producing 375bhp/339lb ft or 335bhp/332lb ft. The more powerful model is for the F-type, while the 335bhp version is what’ll appear in Jaguar’s saloon and estate range. The XF or XJ will hit 60mph in 5.7sec now. The V6 engines are in line with today’s environmental calling and will feature stop-start as standard.
Ford’s 4C for the Jaguar XJ
The new 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine that will alternatively drive the XJ is supplied by Ford, the same Ecoboost engine that drives the mundane Mondeo. But this time, it will generate 237bhp and 251lb ft. The naturally aspirated 3.0 V6 says goodbye to both XF and XJ.
The four-cylinder, and new V6s, will come with ZF’s eight-speed automatic transmission, in preparation for the hybrid module that the Jaguar-LandRover team is working on. Land Rover will switch to hybrid tech first, with Jaguar following close behind.
The Lamborghini URUS
Of all the unsightly adaptations of ultra-luxury marques or super cars, the URUS is the one that takes your breath away, for the right reasons. It’s the sign of Volkswagen Group’s daring to create something that rubs shoulder-lines with Range Rovers and Porsche Cayennes. 4990mm long and 1660mm tall, it’s closer to a coupe than a desert avenger.
This four-door, four-seater crossover keeps the best of the Lambo, while it can be raised by several inches quite like Land Rover stance. Unlike the Bentley’s controversial attempt, this one has a menacingly low-slung design, which features variable ride height for a drive through the Prairies or a zip through Hatta’s winding climbs. While fitted with a 600bhp V12 powertrain, the extensive use of carbon fibre composites to reduce weight promises’ the lowest CO2 figure of all comparable vehicles.’ There aren’t many that fit that description and we know what does – don’t we?
The company plans to build around 3000 units when it does, so at least we can be sure of booking one right away instead of speculating if it is ever gonna be built. Don’t confuse the name with Ursa the constellation – Urus carries the charging bull’s legacy. Also known as Aurochs, Urus is one of the wild ancestors of the homely bull. Urus bulls could stretch to 1800mm across the shoulders – a good association to have with the new Lambo’s stance!
Interesting trivia: the TFT screens replace exterior mirrors.
Inspired by a visit to the Longbridge facility of MG and the sensual experience of old-time MG icons, the SAIC top brass ordered a visit to the past – or so the legend goes – and MG’s Icon was born, at least in concept if not corpus. As the current MG patrons has envisaged it, the car is a compact, 4m long SUV-meets-coupe with no central B-pillar to slow down your access to the quilted red leather seats.
The rear lights echoes the vertical ‘over-riders’ that added to MG’s old-school charm while the homage continues in the semblance to the old wire wheels. Yet the MG Icon stil feels fresh and modern, MG’s design guru Steve Harper likens it to the London’s skyline – where the old and the new meet in an organic, natural way. This is based on the MG 3 drive train and would make a very saleable proposition alongside the MG 6 (read http://drivemeonline.com/mg-6-turbo-review-fastback-and-furious/).
Seat Cupra Concept
The Spanish auto icon Seat has a long history of spinning the spirals for speed on its Ibiza supermini. Cupra was launched in 1996 and the next oneis scheduled for arrival by the end of 2012.
The VW Group’s much-utilised 1.4-litre four-cylinder TSI engine will power this sportster, double-refined by both a turbo- and supercharger. Like earlier, 178bhp is at hand with a seven-speed DSG twin-clutch transmission adorned with fingertip shift paddles for that F1 feeling.
Controlling 250 Nm of torque at the front axle is VW’s XDS electronic differential, which holds back any vagrant wheelspin. There’s not a mechanical gear in sight – it’s all sheer electronics.
The Cupra is known to share the same quirky taste for colours with the rest of the Sets and this concept car is bright custard, dubbed Crono Yellow, as against the smoked-black of the sunroof and door mirrors. This is a three-door based on the Ibiza SC bodyshell. The wheels are production-ready 17in items and the rear sports a centrally mounted exhaust trapezium, nestling in a finned diffuser-effect rear apron.
The Cupra concept is expected to impress the young Chinese big time as Seat sets off wooing the limelight country with 15 dealers across selected cities for now. Sales start with the Leon and soon the rest of brand-wagon.
We meet SAIC motors for the second time in this article as it ambitiously aims to take on the 5-series with Roewe, an offspring of the company’s tie-up with GM. It’s based on a Buick Lacrosse and is as polished and executive-worthy.
Rear legroom is a key decision maker in this market and Roewe promises just that even more than a Lexus or an Infiniti. The boot compliments the hugeness. A 2.4-litre four-cylinder or a V6 engine plus a range of hands-free operation make it high-tech and powerful for the Chinese buyer, who will weigh this one on the basis of its opulent vastness.
Porsche Cayenne GTS
Porsche please those with a penchant for naturally aspirated engines with its GTS variant of its benchmark Cayenne. What’s that they say about striking colours? Peridot Green is the same hue which debuted on the Cayman R. Lurking behind the Turbo-inspired grille is an upgraded Cayenne S 4.8-litre V8, sending 420bhp to all four wheels via an eight-speed Tiptronic S transmission.
Ride height has been lowered by 24mm and includes Porsche Active Suspension Management to enhance the damping on the stiffer suspension. Inside, sports seats complement the leather and Alcantara-trimmed cabin while Paddleshifters on the SportDesign steering wheel accentuate the sporty calling. The GTS coughs out a fairly respectable 251g/km of CO2 from its standard-fit sports exhaust.
Audi Q3 RS concept
Audi stunned the Auto China visitors with a themed vehicle based on the Q3 – the RS Q3 concept. Its engine, a 2.5 TFSI with 360 hp of power, and its body – lowered about 25 mm and widened with sharp visual details – explore the potential of the Q3 model series in a new way.
From 2,480 cc of engine displacement, it generates 360 hp of power. The car catapults itself from zero to 100 km/h in 5.2 seconds, and its propulsive force takes it to a top speed of 265 km/h. A seven-speed S tronic transfers the forces of the sonorous 2.5 TFSI to the quattro permanent all-wheel drive on its 20” wheels.