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12

Saudi Gazette, Saturday, January 21, 2017

Drive

A

MG – these three let-

ters stand worldwide

for supreme automo-

tive performance,

exclusivity, efficiency and highly

dynamic driving pleasure. In

2017, the company founded by

Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Er-

hard Melcher is celebrating its

50th anniversary. In the course

of this half-century, Mercedes-

AMG has recorded numerous

successes in motor sport and

through the development of

unique road-going vehicles,

thereby repeatedly underlining

its position as a highly success-

ful sports car and performance

brand – and today this is truer

than ever. Today, as a wholly

owned subsidiary of Daimler AG,

the Affalterbach-based company

represents the sporting spearhead

of the Group. In this anniversary

year, with an eye to the future,

Mercedes-AMG will carry on the

exceptional success story of what

began as a two-man company.

For each of the now around 1500

employees, the focus will be on

the brand promise of “Driving

Performance”, which unites the

core strengths of AMG: cutting-

edge technology and a passion

for dynamic, emotively appeal-

ing products. The company from

Affalterbach stands worldwide

for outstanding engine expertise,

which includes not only develop-

ment, but also the “one man, one

engine” philosophy, which means

that each engine is, so to speak,

hand-crafted by one engine build-

er. With almost 100,000 units

delivered in 2016, i.e. over 40

percent growth, and the biggest

strategic model initiative in the

company’s history, AMG heads

into this anniversary year with

record figures under its belt.

Mercedes-AMG expanded

significantly in 2016 as a whole

and, with growth of 44.1%,

again significantly exceeded the

best previous-year figures. With

99,235 vehicles delivered, the

success story of Mercedes-Benz’s

sports car and performance brand

reached a new level. Unit sales

have thus more than tripled since

2013. This dynamic growth was

made possible by continuous

further development of the perfor-

mance models, which are in great-

er demand than ever. Yet the stra-

S

TATE-OWNED Chinese

automaker GAC (Guang-

zhou Auto ) unveiled

three cars recently at

the 2017 Detroit auto show, in

what was the company’s third

appearance at the show. The cars

were the GS7 SUV, GE3 electric

hatchback and EnSpirit concept.

GAC’s first appearance at the

Detroit auto show was in 2013,

when it presented a trio of vehi-

cles including the GS5 SUV that

featured in the movie “Trans-

formers: Age Of Extinction,”

and in 2015 it presented the GS4

SUV. However, in both years the

automaker’s stand was only on

the sidelines of the show.

In 2017, it was the first time

GAC—or any Chinese automak-

er for that matter—had a stand

on the main floor.

The most promising of

GAC’s vehicles on display was

the GS7, an SUV similar in size

to the BMW X3 and designed

to seat five. Under the hood is a

turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4

paired with a 6-speed automatic

transmission, both developed in-

house. Peak output is a claimed

198 horsepower and 236 pound-

feet of torque.

The GS7 will start sales in

China next month under the

Trumpchi brand, GAC’s main

brand for passenger vehicles.

GAC also has the brand Gonow

which sells both passenger and

commercial vehicles.

The North American Interna-

tional Auto Show has established

itself as one of the leading stages

for up and coming automakers

from around the world to dem-

onstrate their technology and

design.

The GS7 Trumpchi five-seat

midsize SUV leads the group

with GAC’s brand-new 198-hp

2.0L engine. The name apparent-

ly pre-dates the U.S. presidential

election. The Trumpchi has LED

headlights and taillights and ac-

celerates to 62 m.p.h. (100 km/h)

in a relaxed 9.5 seconds.

Safety features include for-

ward collision and lane departure

alerts.

Another promising vehicle

was the GE3. It’s GAC’s first

car based on a dedicated electric

car platform. It’s in the form of

a compact hatchback and is said

to have a range of a close to 190

miles on a single charge of its

lithium-ion battery. Drive comes

from a single electric motor that

delivers 160 hp and 214 lb-ft of

torque.

The third vehicle GAC had

on its stand was the EnSpirit

concept car, a plug-in hybrid

SUV with a coupe-like roof pro-

file. The vehicle’s hybrid system

combined a 1.5-liter inline-4

running the Atkinson cycle with

an electric motor. On electric

power alone the vehicle should

be able to travel about 50 mi,

and with the internal combus-

tion engine kicking in this figure

rises to 435 mi.

GAC says it’s hopeful of

starting sales in the United States

in 2018, though the automaker

still needs to obtain certification

for its vehicles and establish a

network of dealerships. GAC

already operates in 14 countries

and in 2016 registered sales of

370,000 vehicles.

More established automak-

ers General Motors Company

and Volvo have already started

selling Chinese-made cars in the

US, and it’s only a matter of time

until we also Chinese-made cars

from Chinese automakers sold

here. GAC very well may be the

first.

— Agencies

F

OR families sticking it out

with minivans, the 2018

Odyssey promises more

convenience, more ver-

satility, and—most of all—more

technology.

From the outside, the latest

Odyssey doesn’t make much of

a break from its predecessor. The

current generation’s stepped belt-

line reappears, although it’s now

further embellished with a down-

swept crease. Another hockey-

stick-shaped character line appears

on the lower body sides—a styling

flourish that’s fast becoming a cli-

ché. There also are new LED head-

and taillights, and the grille now

more closely resembles that of the

Pilot and other recent Hondas.

Under the skin, the 2018 Od-

yssey rides on a new architecture

shared with the Pilot and the Ridge-

line pickup. A 3.5-liter V-6 remains

the only engine offering, although

output increases from 248 to 280

horsepower. The previous six-

speed automatic has been jettisoned

in favor of a nine-speed unit (as

seen in the Pilot), while upper trim

levels get a new, Honda-designed

10-speed automatic that makes its

debut here. The additional ratios,

combined with a claimed weight

reduction of nearly 100 pounds,

should nudge fuel economy in a

positive direction, although EPA

ratings are not yet available.

The new Odyssey takes that

versatility several steps beyond.

First, the middle section can be

positioned farther forward, to put

a little one strapped into that spot

within easier snot-wiping reach

for Mom and Dad. With the center

section removed, the outboard

seats can be snugged up together,

both sliding toward the center. That

allows easier access to the third

row, particularly with child seats in

place, which prevent the seats from

being able to fold and slide out of

the way. For even better third-row

access, either of the outboard seats

can move over into the middle

position, and the side-to-side po-

sitioning happens in increments.

Honda’s trademark term for this

multi-position second row is Magic

Slide seats, and they’re standard on

all models.

The new Odyssey also debuts

several technologies for keeping

tabs on and communicating with

passengers in the rear two rows.

The most intriguing is CabinWatch,

in which an infrared camera—en-

abling the system to work both in

darkness or daylight—located in

the overhead rear-seat-entertain-

ment system can provide the driver

and front-seat passenger with a

view of the goings-on in back. The

image from the camera is projected

on the dashboard’s central display

screen, and pinch-and-zoom capa-

bility allows one to zero in on an

individual rear-seat rider.

Communicating with head-

phones-wearing rear-seat passengers

can be challenging, a situation the

new CabinTalk system is designed

to alleviate. With CabinTalk, the

driver can speak into the micro-

phone and be heard via the rear

speakers or headphones plugged

into the rear-seat entertainment sys-

tem. That system, with a 10.2-inch

screen, now can stream PBS Kids,

iHeartRadio, and Spotify apps via

a new 4G LTEWi-Fi connection.

A feature dubbed Social Playl-

ist enables up to eight passengers

to upload their music from their

smartphones to the audio system—

although, in some families, being

forced to listen to someone else’s

music would be tantamount to child

abuse. An app called HowMuch

Farther? allows passengers to see the

time until a destination is reached,

but it probably won’t completely

eliminate that annoying question.

Another app, CabinControl, lets

users send a destination to the in-car

navigation system as well as control

the rear-seat climate control and the

rear entertainment system.

To help parents keep a watchful

eye on potential troublemakers in

the back, an available CabinWatch

system uses a camera that works

both in day and night projecting

a real-time image of what’s hap-

pening in the back two rows on

the Display Audio system’s front

screen. If things get out of hand,

parents can use the CabinTalk sys-

tem to give kids out back a stern

talking to through the rear speakers

and entertainment system head-

phones so their message is heard

loud and clear.

— SG/Agencies

Half a century of driving success

2016 Mercedes AMG GT3

1971 Mercedes 300 SEL 6.8 AMG

tegic broadening of the portfolio

in recent years has also led to the

successful development of new

groups of customers. Hence, the

company’s global success is not

solely based on the popular eight-

cylinder models of the 63 series.

The compact 45 series models,

along with the wide range of 43

series models, are finding favor

with very many customers while

placing AMG’s modern product

portfolio on a broad, solid basis.

The markets with the highest unit

sales in the most successful year

in the company’s history were

once again the USA, Germany

and China.

“We’re on the road to world-

wide success with our strategic

portfolio expansion and can look

back on a sensational year. The

63 series models still constitute

our core product line, and they

continue to delight auto enthu-

siasts around the world. In addi-

tion, our AMG GT series, which

was developed entirely in-house,

is now available as a broad-based

family, with which we have

impressively demonstrated our

expertise as a sports car brand. At

the same time, our broad portfo-

lio puts us in the perfect position

for further sustained growth. Our

task now is not just to celebrate

the AMG success story, but, in

one of the most exciting periods

of automotive history, to help

shape the performance of the fu-

ture,” says Tobias Moers, Chair-

man of the Board of Management

of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.

2016 saw the biggest strategic

model initiative in the history of

Mercedes-AMG: with over ten

new models being added to the

product portfolio, from January

2017 performance-minded cus-

tomers are able to choose from

over 50 models. In each category,

Mercedes-AMG boasts a compre-

hensive and impressive product

offering: from the most powerful

standard-production four-cylinder

compact to the sportily elegant S

65 with a superior twelve-cylinder

engine, from saloons and estates

in many different output classes,

to a broad range of SUVs and

coupés, to cabriolets and variously

configured roadsters. The avail-

able technology is among the best

on offer in the respective vehicle

categories, ranging from opti-

mized rear-wheel drive to state-

of-the-art all-wheel drive, as well

as from a dual-clutch transmission

to a sporty nine-gear automatic

transmission.

At the same time, the sports

car and performance brand has

won entirely new groups of cus-

tomers with its recently launched

43 series models. The first such

vehicles were unveiled by Mer-

cedes-AMG at the Detroit Auto

Show two years ago. The 43 se-

ries models come with a powerful

and efficient six-cylinder engine.

Other hallmarks of the 43 series

derivatives include special trans-

mission tuning with shorter shift

times as well as AMG-specific

axle designs and suspensions,

powerful brake components and

other various interior/exterior

distinguishing features, confirm-

ing the models as typical AMG

vehicles that fully meet the brand

claim of “Driving Performance”

while authentically representing

the brand in the respective market

segments.

With the Mercedes-AMG GT

series, the Affalterbach-based

company is once again underlin-

ing its status as a highly dynamic

sports car brand. Following the

SLS AMG, the GT models are

the second sports car family to

be developed entirely in-house.

The front mid-engine concept

with transaxle and the intelligent

aluminium lightweight construc-

tion form the basis for a highly

dynamic driving experience. In

2016, AMG added particularly

dynamic and fascinating models

to the GT family in the form of

the GT R and the two open-top

roadster variants, the GT Roadster

and the GT C Roadster. But that’s

not all: following the AMG GT C

Roadster, the Coupé is also avail-

able in the anniversary year with

the same next-level performance

and technology. It is positioned

between the AMG GT S and

AMG GT R and, at the time of

the launch, will be exclusively

equipped as the Edition 50 special

model. At the same time, the Mer-

cedes-AMG GT and AMG GT S

benefit from visual and technical

enhancements.

Alongside its continuing

strategic product initiative,

Mercedes-AMG is setting a fur-

ther landmark in 2017 by giving

a fascinating peek into the future

performance in the form of a

street-legal hypercar. Offering un-

adulterated Formula 1 technology

for the road, the hypercar is thus

the first commercially available

vehicle with F1 hybrid powertrain

and road approval. With a system

output of over 1000 hp and four-

wheel drive with all-electric front

axle, it marks the pinnacle of

what is currently technologically

feasible. In terms of output and

efficiency, this hypercar points

the way to “AMG Future Perfor-

mance”. AMG models are already

among the most efficient in their

class. The latest example is the

Mercedes-AMG E 63. For maxi-

mum efficiency, AMG has, for

example, equipped the V8 engine

in the performance saloon with

the AMG Cylinder Management

cylinder deactivation system. In

addition, a highly intelligent all-

wheel drive system as well as a

transmission optimized for sporti-

ness and efficiency, including a

coasting function, provide the

guarantee of exemplary low con-

sumption and emissions values.

With a total of 18 overall vic-

tories and 32 other podium fin-

ishes, the international customer

and performance teams celebrated

a sensational season in 2016 with

the new Mercedes-AMG GT3.

The GT3 racing car got the season

off to the ideal start. Following

victory in the ADAC 24-hour

qualification race, in the 24-hour

race at the Nürburgring in late

May the new GT3 racing car

posted the greatest victory to date

since the inception of the AMG

customer sports program, with

overall victory, pole position, fast-

est lap as well as further finishes

in second, third, fourth and sixth

place now on record in the annals

of motor sport. The brand’s clean

sweep of the podium places in

the world’s largest car race was

shared by the AMG team Black

Falcon (P1), the AMG team HTP

Motorsport (P2) and the Haribo

Racing Team-AMG (P3).

Also in the customer sports

program, Mercedes-AMG will

keep its foot on the gas in the

coming season, with participation

of the successful AMG GT3 being

extended to the USA. Renowned

teams will contest both the highly

popular IMSA Series as well as

the PWC, the Pirelli World Chal-

lenge. Also in the USA, the teams

will benefit from optimal support

from Mercedes-AMG Customer

Sports.

— SG

Families first for the

new Honda Odyssey

All-new 2018 Honda Odyssey

GAC Motors unveils

GS7 Trumpchi SUV

Guangzhou

Automotive Group

Trumpchi at the

2017 Detroit auto

show