Sunday July 8, 2012
Tale of three cars
By GEORGE WONG and HONG BOON HOW
Three marques show off their latest toys for different market segments.
IT seems like half the year has gone by in a flash. Just last month, three new models were introduced. The BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé is a grand tourer with practicality as a selling point for the sports-oriented driver. In the gung-ho corner is the all-new Ford Ranger which caters to the middle ground and is billed as an all-rounder, able to forge through challenges, on and off-road.
Meanwhile, the Audi Q3 is a compact premium urban SUV targeted at young families, single executives and the young at heart.
BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé
BMW Group Malaysia launched its first four-door 6 Series on June 29, its foray into this niche sector to compete with the Mercedes-Benz CLS, also a four-door coupe.
Its low-riding height and long bonnet coupled with a coupe roofline gives it a sleek elegant look as befits a grand tourer.
Touting the car as the most attractive yet practical coupé, the five-seater is qualified by BMW saying that the person sitting in the middle would find the journey comfortable only on short trips, owing to the presence of a raised centre console that stretches from the front all the way to the back.
Leather upholstery all around relays a luxurious feel and switchgear enhances the premium look further.
Sit in either of the outer rear seats and it would be quite comfortable with sufficient legroom. The outer rear seats are sporty individual seats that are angled to let each person sit deep into the rear. There’s still enough headroom at the back though the driver will find rearward visibility limited on the road.
This is the third variant of the 6 Series to be launched in Malaysia following the convertible and two-door coupé variants.
Featuring an in-line six-cylinder engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology, the 3.0-litre power unit produces 320bhp and a maximum torque of 450Nm, enabling it to complete the 0–100kph dash in 5.4 seconds and hit a top speed of 250kph.
Power is put down to the wheels via an 8-speed sport automatic transmission that comes with a Auto Start/Stop function and Driving Experience Control. This allows a choice between comfort, sports or ECO PRO mode, in other words between relaxed, sporting agility or a more efficient style of driving.
Fuel consumption is rated at 7.8 litres per 100km and CO2 emissions of 181g per kg.
What’s also interesting is the third brake light that spans the entire width of the rear window, giving this variant its uniqueness and setting it apart from the other 6 Series.
The car comes with a premium package option that comprises leather Nappa upholstery with contrast stitching, instrument panels with leather finish and 19” light-alloy wheels with W-spoke design.
Staying in touch with the outside world is made possible with such ConnectedDrive functions as full colour BMW Head-up Display, office functions and Internet access, along with Facebook and Twitter apps.
Available in black sapphire, vermillon red, havanna, space grey, orion silver, deep sea blue and mineral white, the retail price (on the road, without insurance) for the latest 6 Series variant is RM788,800.
The premium package option is RM35,000 extra.
Ford designers call the new Ranger styling “21st Century Tough”, defining it as a vehicle with a taut and muscular body, while offering a contemporary look and feel with features and comfort normally found in passenger cars.
The latest Ranger is based on a new global compact pickup truck platform.
As a result, everything is new – engines, gearboxes, frame, suspension, steering system, brake system, chassis, exterior sheet metal and vehicle interior.
The list continues with brand-new features for safety and passenger comfort.
The truck is available in three variants: a Duratorq TDCi1 2.2L Variable Geometry (VG) Turbo diesel engine with six-speed automatic transmission (6-AT); manual transmission (6-MT), and a Duratorq TDCi 3.2L VG Turbo diesel engine 6-AT.
Close up, the latest Ranger looks the handsome workhorse that should also appeal to those who will never step offroad and are happy to use it to commute to work or undertake the seasonal balik kampung trips.
Truck makers these days are turning the interior from mere utilitarian to amenities- and conveniences-packed akin to those in passenger cars to broaden their appeal.
New and standard on XLT variants, for example, are Bluetooth with Voice Control connectivity while the Wildtrak variant has a Dual Zone Climate Control as an added feature.
Part of the advantage of owning a macho pick-up like the Ranger is its high ground clearance, very useful when it comes to crossing flooded areas.
Ford said it is among the best in the segment in water-wading capability with the XLT and Wildtrak models being able to wade through up to 800mm of water, even when fully laden. It also boasts outstanding payload capacity of more than 1,400kg on some variants.
The Ranger’s Duratorq TDCi 2.2L VG Turbo engine delivers 150 PS and 375Nm of torque. It offers fuel consumption of 8.1L/100 km2.
Equipped with the Duratorq TDCi 3.2L VG Turbo engine, the Wildtrak offers a power output of 200 PS with a hefty 470Nm of torque. The fuel consumption of the five-cylinder diesel engine in a combined cycle is a leader in its class with fuel consumption at 8.91L/100 km2.
Safety is also improved with Anti-lock Braking System, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, and Load Adaptive Control for optimal vehicle stability to help drivers manage their load.
The top-end Wildtrak gets additional goodies such as Hill Descent Control, Hill Launch Assist and Roll-Over Mitigation to better tackle offroad terrain.
There is a waiting period of one year for the Wildtrak variant and three months for the XLT. All variants are in double cab format. Since the Ford Ranger entered the Malaysian market in 1999, a total of over 35,000 Rangers have been sold. The XLT manual, XLT automatic and Wildtrak are priced at RM89,888, RM95,888 and RM116,888 (OTR with insurance) respectively.
The Q7 and Q5 are now joined by a baby Q in Audi’s luxury SUV line-up.
Launched at the Subang Skypark Terminal in Selangor, the five-door compact sports utility vehicle with comfortable leather seating for five, features an eye-catching coupe-ish body styling with Tron-like front and rear LED light strips.
Its higher ground clearance of 170mm, and a robust front and rear multi-link suspension system allow the Q3 to transverse on rough and unpaved roads. Not that this Audi is going to do that on a regular basis.
Designed with cargo space in mind for short trips, its 460-litre luggage compartment can be increased to 1,365 litres by folding down the rear seats.
Under the bonnet is a 2.0-litre TFSI turbocharged direct injection engine with 170bhp and 280Nm of torque mated to a seven-speed dual clutch S-Tronic transmission that delivers punchy performance.
The SUV can sprint from 0-100kph in 7.8 seconds and has a top speed of 212kph.
Apart from performance, the Q3 claims a fuel consumption of 7.7-litre per 100km, making it the most efficient SUV in the Audi range.
This savings come from its efficient powertrain system, lightweight construction with aluminium bonnet and tailgate, and an automatic start/stop feature that shuts down the engine when the car is stationary at traffic lights.
The four drive select modes of Efficiency, Comfort, Auto and Dynamic, when selected, alters the Q3’s throttle response and electric power steering assistance from easy driving to sporty driving.
The Efficiency mode, which emphasises on better fuel economy, even allows the Q3 to “free wheel” by disengaging the clutch from the engine when the vehicle is coasting. This allows the engine to idle at a lower 800rpm and save fuel.
The inclusion of Audi’s famed quattro permanent all-wheel drive system promises a higher level of driving confidence and traction even on difficult and slippery road conditions.
Features include six airbags, anti-lock braking system, electronic stability control, voice control for audio and Bluetooth telephony, xenon headlights, 6.5-inch TFT colour display, Audi sound system with 10 speakers, leather steering wheel with multi-function control and paddle shifters, and 17-inch wheels.
Priced at RM258,000 on-the-road without insurance, the Q3 can be enhanced with the S Line package worth RM21,000.
This package comes with S Line grille, front and rear bumpers, side skirts, one-size up 18-inch wheels with twin spokes, Alcantara leather seats, front sports seats, three-spoke steering wheel and gear knob with perforated leather, and sports suspension that lowers the vehicle by 20mm.
Other optional customisation include smart entry comfort key (RM2,500), pearl effect paintwork (RM3,500), Bose Surround Sound with 465watt and 14 speakers (RM5,000) and panoramic glass roof (RM6,000).