Fast lane: Refreshed Merc SL

Refreshed Merc SL.
Refreshed Merc SL.PHOTOS: MERCEDES-BENZ, FIAT

Refreshed Merc SL

Mercedes-Benz has refreshed its SL convertible with subtle visual tweaks. More significant, though, are changes to its drivetrain. The car now gets a nine-speed automatic gearbox with five modes, Active Body Control and a roof that can operate at speeds of up to 40kmh. The range now comprises the SL400 with a 367bhp/500Nm V6 and SL500 with a 455bhp V8. There are also two high-powered versions: the SL63 and SL65, which is a V12.


Fiat reveals 124 Spider

This is the most interesting new car from Fiat in a long while. The 124 Spider comes almost 50 years after its famous predecessor was launched. The compact, lightweight and rear-wheel-drive opentop is powered by a MultiAir Turbo engine. The 1.4-litre unit makes 140bhp and 240Nm, sent to the rear via a six-speed manual gearbox. It is also based on the Mazda MX-5.


Google auto car pulled over

California police pulled over a Google driverless car last week for going too slowly. Tech news site CNet reported that the bubbleshaped autonomous vehicle was travelling at 38.5kmh in a 56kmh zone in Mountain View, California, holding up traffic.

"As the officer approached the slow-moving car, he realised it was a Google autonomous vehicle," the Mountain View Police Department wrote in a blog post.

"The officer stopped the car and made contact with the operators to learn more about how the car was choosing speeds along certain roadways and to educate the operators about impeding traffic per 22400(a) of the California Vehicle Code."

For traffic violations, Google has said that it would be responsible for writs of summons.


Ducati’s ‘crossover’

Ducati has unveiled its XDiavel, a cross between a cruiser and a sports bike. The bike has 156bhp and 128.5Nm from its new twin-cylinder Testastretta DVT 1262 engine. It is the first to use belt-drive, a  characteristic of cruisers. It has traction control, anti-lock braking system, cruise control and even launch control.


Beetle Dune

Raise a car by 1cm, slap on bigger wheels and various cosmetic frills and you have a crossover like the Volkswagen Beetle Dune. Available also as a cabriolet, the Beetle Dune sits 1cm higher from the tarmac than the normal Beetle.

It has 18-inch wheels, a large central air inlet and black side strips to give it an offroad appearance. The car  remains a bug-shaped frontwheel-drive powered by a range of VWengines, including three petrol and two diesel engines. The petrol engines produce 105bhp, 150bhp and 220bhp, while the diesel engines develop 110bhp and 150bhp.


Kia Cadenza and Niro

Kia’s new Cadenza is its sportiest model yet. On sale in international markets next year, the car features an  elongated bonnet, a wider, lower stance and sharper lines. The cabin boasts a fresh, luxurious appearance and
layout that offers a sense of width and spaciousness, with higher quality materials employed.

Kia will also be launching a new hybrid crossover called the Niro. It is built on a new platform and powered by a 105bhp 1.6-litre direct-injection petrol engine paired with a 1.56kWh lithiumpolymer battery pack and 32kW
electric motor.


BMW G310 Rand eRR

BMW has launched its first sub-400cc dual-purpose motorbike. The 313cc single-cylinder G310 R sports the classic styling of BMW’s G models, but is now accessible to Class 2A licenceholders.

The four-valve engine with twin overhead camshafts and electronic fuel injection puts out 34bhp at 9,500rpm and 28Nm at 7,500rpm. The bike weighs 158.5kg versus 192kg for the G650 GS, previously the smallest G model.

BMW has also unveiled yet another concept: the eRR. The battery-powered superbike was created with the Technical University of Munich and is based on the chassis of the S1000 RR.


Volvo XC90 gets Polestar

Volvo Cars is offering, for the first time, an XC90 with Polestar tuning. With it, the XC90 D5’s engine output is raised to 233bhp and 500Nm (up from 225bhp and
470Nm), while the T6 gets a boost to 334bhp and  440Nm (from 320bhp and 400Nm). The Polestar enhanced D4 offers 200bhp and 440Nm (up from 190bhp and 400Nm), while the output of the T5 is raised to 253bhp and 400Nm (from245bhp and 350Nm).


Ford gets noise control

Ford will be introducing active noise control in its cars, starting with the Mondeo Vignale and the new Edge. The technology uses three microphones strategically placed in the cabin to detect undesirable noises from the engine and transmission.

The system counteracts those noises with opposing sound waves from the audio system – without affecting music and conversation. Driver and vehicle behaviour is recorded and anticipated, for example, when a driver is accelerating in a lower gear.


Feature-packed Jaguar XE

Jaguar has thrown more features into its recently launched XE compact sedan. All-wheel-drive is now available with its 2-litre 180bhp variant. Jaguar says Intelligent Driveline Dynamics preserves the car’s rear-wheeldrive
characteristics. There is also Adaptive Surface Response, which distinguishes between different types of surface for better traction.

Inside, a 10.2-inch tablet-style infotainment monitor is available, with Wi-Fi connectivity for up to eight devices. There is also the Apple Watch app, which offers remote functions including fuel level check, lock and unlock and remote engine start. Lastly, options include a 17-speaker Meridian hi-fi.


Special Middle East Spider

McLaren has created a special 650S Spider for the Middle East. The 650S Spider Al Sahara 79 features white gold paintwork “inspired by the golden sands which form such a distinctive part of the Middle Eastern landscape”. The paint incorporates 24K gold particles.


Hyundai unveils G90

This is what the new Hyundai G90 luxury sedan looks like. Scheduled to be launched in South Korea next month, where it will be named the EQ900, the range topping model hints at the styling direction of Hyundai’s recently launched Genesis sub-brand. The Korean giant is set to unleash six new Genesis models by 2020.


New Montesa 4Ride

Honda’s new Montesa 4Ride is a competitive offroader made for everyday riding. Based on the Cota 4RT260, it is said to be responsive, light and versatile.

It features completely revised gear ratios – wider than on the trial motorcycles, offering the rider more comfort at a steady speed and improved performance on long routes. It also has a 4.4-litre fuel tank (versus 1.9 litres in similar trial models), giving a range of 120km.


Bentley hits 331kmh

Bentley’s Continental GT Speed has attained its top speed of 331kmh on Stuart Highway, Australia. The Northern Territory road is one of only three unrestricted roads in the world.

Driven by Australian racing ace John Bowe, the grand tourer unleashed its 626bhp, 820Nm W12 to reach 331kmh in just 76 seconds, covering a distance of 9.4km in the process. At top speed, the 6-litre twin-turbo GT Speed was covering 92ma second.

Christopher Tan

PHOTOS: VOLKSWAGEN, KIA, DUCATI, BMW, HONDA, HYUNDAI

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2015, with the headline 'Fast lane: Refreshed Merc SL'. Print Edition | Subscribe