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Crazy about crossovers
WHILE some of these sport-utility vehicles are full-fledged off-roaders which can climb more than just a kerb, most are soft-roaders with car-like styling and handling that offer good forward visibility and versatile cabins. Hence, the label crossover.
But whether it's a tall hatchback with front-wheel-drive or a rough and rugged 4x4, the next few pages will preview some of the models arriving in a showroom near you over the next 12 months.
For those who prefer their wheels to come in other shapes and sizes, fret not. You can also expect a wide range of city cars, sleek saloons and super sports models from both ends of the price spectrum to debut this year. After all, 2016 is set to deliver a bumper crop of COEs. Dealers are expecting as many as 90,000 certificates of entitlement that can be allocated to passenger cars to be made available this calendar year. Here are some new models those COEs can be used for.
The new Mazda CX-3 sub-compact SUV will arrive in the second quarter. This stylish soft-roader has sharp styling and good handling. Mazda's SkyActiv technology translates into efficient powertrains in a light but strong body. The CX-3 will be available with either a 1.5 turbodiesel or 2.0 petrol engine to drive the front wheels, although four-wheel-drive is expected to be optional too.
As expected of contemporary Mazdas, there will be a well-equipped cabin with features such as a navigation and entertainment system using a centrally mounted screen operated with a rotary knob.
At the opposite end of Mazda's SUV scale is the new CX-9 seven-seater. Targeted for an end-2016 launch, this full-size SUV will have a new 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine which is smaller and more efficient than the previous 3.7-litre V6.
Opel Mokka X
In future, the X badge will adorn all of Opel's crossovers and SUVs. For model year 2017, the Mokka X also gets a fresh restyle for Opel's handsome little SUV, which means double-wing LED running lights for the headlamps and a brand new dashboard with a new IntelliLink touchscreen and operating system. Under the bonnet will be a new 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine or 1.6-litre turbodiesel to drive the front wheels through a six-speed transmission. It arrives at the end of this year.
Range Rover Evoque Convertible
This is not just an SUV but the world's first luxury compact SUV convertible. The open-top Range Rover Evoque also has a fabric roof that is the world's longest and widest. It stows electrically in 18 seconds at speeds of up to 48 kmh, folding flush with the rear bodywork.
Powered by two-litre petrol or diesel units, it has a large 251-litre boot and rollover protection in the form of deployable rollover bars hidden in the rear bodywork. Wearnes Automotive is targeting a Q3 launch for the Evoque Convertible.
In keeping with the Jaguar brand, the British carmaker's first sport-utility vehicle will have lightweight aluminium architecture for better handling and braking. The F-Pace compact crossover will have four engine variants to drive all four wheels when it arrives in June - a 2.0-litre diesel, and three 3.0 supercharged V6 options. For maximum grip, Jaguar's Adaptive Surface Response (ASR) feature is able to recognise different surfaces.
2016's European Car of the Year will be launched in Q2. The new Astra is offered as a five-door or Sports Tourer with a choice of two engines - a naturally aspirated 1.0-litre with 105 hp or turbocharged 1.4 with 150 horses. This means the former will sit nicely in COE Category A, which is good news for replacement buyers looking for a German alternative.
The 1.0 Easytronic is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission while the 1.4A Turbo gets a six-speed auto. The former is especially attractive for being frugal - Opel claims fuel consumption of just 4.3 litres per 100 km under the combined cycle, or an impressive 23.3 km per litre.
Bigger and beefier than before, the 10th generation of the Honda Civic Sedan also promises to be sportier when it arrives in the second half of this year. There will be two new four-cylinder petrol engines - a naturally aspirated 1.6 and 1.5 turbo - both mated to a continuously variable transmission.
The 1.6-litre model's i-VTEC unit packs 125 hp while the 1.5T has 175 hp. The equipment level is expected to be good, with LED Daytime Running Lights, Smart Keyless Entry and Walk Away Auto Lock, push start button, economy mode, a seven-inch touchscreen display audio and electric parking brake.
The Levante is also Maserati's first sport-utility vehicle. This crossover from the Italian sports car manufacturer will have a Euro 6 3.0-litre turbodiesel under the hood when it arrives here in Q3.
Mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission specially calibrated for the Levante, it drives all four wheels using Maserati's "Q4" intelligent AWD system. Air suspension is standard, with a price tag likely to be slightly above S$400,000 at current COE levels.
It's no surprise that Bentley's first SUV will be big with an even bigger powerplant. The Bentayga gets a 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 producing 608 hp and an amazing 900 Newton-metres of torque to drive all four wheels permanently through an eight-speed automatic transmission. So despite weighing in at 2.44 tonnes with an overall length of 5.14 metres, this luxurious behemoth will zip from zero to 100 kmh in just over four seconds.
The interior is typical Bentley, with acres of wood and leather punctuated by the familiar round air vents and traditional organ stop controls. Launch date: this month.
Is there such a thing as an S-Class with seven seats that can go off-road too? Yes, and it's called the new Mercedes-Benz GLS. The former GL-Class has been renamed and restyled, with the last letter of the new badge signifying its position in the model hierarchy.
Equipped with the latest Airmatic air suspension and the enhanced damping system ADS, the 5.13-metre-long GLS will glide over road undulations. 4Matic permanent all-wheel-drive provides maximum grip, with a nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic transmission mated to a choice of 3.0 V6 or 4.7 V8 turbocharged engines in the GLS400 and GLS500 respectively.
As for the top-of-the-line Mercedes-AMG GLS63, it gets a 5.5-litre V8 and 7G-Tronic. The new GLS arrives in Q3.
Also an all-wheel-drive but hardly an SUV is the Ferrari GTC4Lusso. More than just a renamed and refreshed four-seater FF, the GTC4Lusso gets a more powerful naturally aspirated 6.3-litre V12 with 690 hp (+30 hp) and 697 Nm (+14 Nm) that zips from zero to 100 kmh in 3.4 seconds (-0.3 secs). The 4RM four-wheel-drive system is now integrated with rear-wheel steering to become the new 4RM-S with the fourth generation of Side Slip Control or SSC4 vehicle dynamics.
On the outside, there are new aerodynamics, headlamps and an extra pair of round tail lights. Expect this faster Ferrari shooting brake coupe to be in Ital Auto's showroom by end-2016.
The Citroen double chevron is gone, replaced by the stylish DS logo as a mark of the offshoot brand's independence. The DS4 Crossback is a new variant of the DS with more exciting styling. As its name suggests, it is a crossover with the same basic platform but a raised suspension that equates to 30 mm more ground clearance. There is also sportier kit like roof rails and side skirts. A 1.6-litre turbodiesel drives the front wheels through a six-speed automated clutch gearbox. It arrives in the second quarter.
In line with the renaming of its SUV range, Mercedes-Benz is now calling the old SLK the new SLC roadster to underline its close technology links with the C-Class sedan.
It is actually a facelifted SLK, with a new nose and arrow-shaped bonnet but the same practical rigid retractable vario-roof.
And like the C180, the entry-level model is now the SLC180, with a 156 hp, 1.6-litre turbocharged engine driving the rear wheels through a new nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic transmission. At the opposite end of the performance scale is the Mercedes-AMG SLC43 with a 367 hp 3.0-litre V6. The SLC is due for a Q4 arrival.
Lamborghini Huracan LP 580-2
Lamborghinis these days have all-wheel-drive but the Italian super sports carmaker created the Huracan LP 580-2 with two-wheel-drive as an enthusiast's machine. The rear-wheel-drive version of the Huracan is said to be the manufacturer's purest expression of a Lamborghini to date, with the perfect balance of agility, steering behaviour and driveability. Lighter and more intense, it promises to be more fun to drive with a front/rear weight distribution of 40:60.
Its 580 hp - down 30 hp from the Huracan LP 610-4 - dispatches zero to 100 kmh in 3.4 seconds, while zero to 200 kmh takes 10.1. Top speed is 320 kmh.
The LP 580-2 starts from S$838,888 without COE.
An ultra-luxury convertible that will seat four adults comfortably? It can only be the Rolls-Royce Dawn.
The drophead version of the Wraith coupe has a 6.6-litre, twin-turbo V12 driving the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. With 570 hp and 780 Nm, it takes just 4.9 seconds to go from zero to 100 kmh or from damp hair to dry bouffant.
The Dawn is available from next month and starts from S$1,468,888 without COE.
Audi RS3 Sportback
The hottest Audi A3 hatch hits Singapore roads this month. The five-door Audi RS3 Sportback is the flagship variant with a 2.5-litre petrol engine and quattro all-wheel-drive.
The inline five-cylinder unit is turbocharged to produce a massive 367 hp and 465 Nm, and delivered through a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission. Between 50 and 100 per cent of the torque can be sent to the rear wheels for a more direct turn-in. Zero to 100 kmh is a swift 4.3 seconds, making the RS3 the perfect pocket rocket.
The only premium open-air model in its segment, the new Mini Convertible is now longer and wider although it is still about the same height. The wheelbase is also lengthened, which is good news for those in the back. Even luggage space has improved by 25 per cent when the soft top is up. As expected, there will be Cooper and Cooper S versions, with turbocharged three- and four-cylinder petrol engines to drive the front wheels via a six-speed auto. The Mini Convertible zips into Singapore in Q2.
The standard bearer of the executive saloon segment is set for a late Q3 launch here. The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class showcases new coupe-like styling, with low, stretched-looking side windows.
Inside, the driver has a wide-screen cockpit with individually configurable double display and new nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic transmission.
The three-pointed star's hallmark features have also been enhanced - safety features include a new beltbag for passengers in the outer rear seats, and hushed cabin (the quietest in its class), for example.
Aston Martin DB11
The long-awaited Aston Martin DB11 heralds the British carmaker's distinctive design language with clever aerodynamics that manage airflow both over and through the sensuous bodywork. The all-new chassis and body comprise a lighter and stronger bonded aluminium structure attached to aluminium and composite panels. The 2+2 coupe also has a new in-house-designed engine with forced induction - a 5.2-litre, twin-turbo V12 producing 608 hp and 700 Nm. It tips the scales at 1,770 kg with a front/rear weight distribution of 51:49. The DB11 will arrive by year-end.
It may be the most affordable M model but it should also be the most fun to drive when it comes in Q2. After the 1 Series M Coupe was discontinued in 2012, the Munich-based carmaker was left without a compact performance coupe. The new BMW M2 Coupe arriving in Q2 fills this niche again. The 4.47-metre-long model has a 2,693 mm wheelbase and a newly developed 3.0-litre petrol engine driving the rear wheels through a seven-speed M Double Clutch Transmission (DCT).
The inline six-cylinder unit with a twin-scroll turbo, Double Vanos variable camshaft timing and Valvetronic variable valve control produces 370 hp and 465 Nm. With overboost, the latter is further boosted to 500 Nm.
Launch control is standard and powers the M2 from zero to 100 kmh in 4.3 seconds.
Sub-editor: Vivien Ang Cover design: Dania Amiril Advertising sales: Koh Say Kiong 6319-2105; Cornelius Lee 6319-1007; Michelle Sim 6319-6160; Elizabeth Chua 6319-2483