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Four-wheeled desires

Tony Tan checks out the exciting new cars launched at the recent Geneva Motor Show

AUDI RS5 COUPE

The 2.9-litre V6 twin-turbo engine and the exterior design formula, which will be used by future Audi Sport models, are the two key changes made to the Audi RS5 Coupe. The new engine produces 450bhp and 600Nm (170Nm more than its predecessor).

The two-door coupe is also lighter by 60kg and with quattro all-wheel drive and wheel selective torque control, it accelerates from 0-100 km/h in just 3.9 seconds, more than half-a-second quicker than the previous RS5 Coupe.

Enticing options include the carbon fibre roof and RS-specific items such as sport suspension, sport exhaust and dynamic steering with RS-specific tuning.

BMW 4 SERIES

The first-generation BMW 4 Series has been refreshed. All three cars: the two-door Coupe and Convertible and four-door Gran Coupe now sport mildly altered front ends, with restyled headlights and air ducts in the lower bumpers on Luxury and higher-spec M-Sport variants. At the rear, changes have also been made to the lights and bumper, mimicking the changes to the front. Inside, the subtle changes include a new steering wheel and electroplated aluminium and chrome trim and the choice of several different dashboard trim finishes.

The navigation system has also been updated, with the Professional unit receiving a new interface with six tile-like icons, as seen on the latest 5 Series.

BMW ALPINA B5 BITURBO

Propelled by a modified version of BMW’s 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, with outputs of 608bhp and 800Nm, the B5 Biturbo chases down supercars with ease.

Put pedal to the metal and 0-100 km/h takes a scant 3.5 seconds, while the top speed is 330 km/h. These statistics make it the fastest accelerating model from BMW Alpina. Four-wheel drive and bespoke ultra high-performance tyres made specially for the car by Pirelli help to transfer all that performance onto the asphalt.

The B5 Biturbo is also the first model to employ active steering to the rear axle, which enables the rear wheels to turn up to 2.5 degrees, thus making it nimbler when cornering.

MAZDA CX-5

Armed with a full complement of SKYACTIV Technology features, the new CX-5 is available with two petrol engines (2-litre and 2.5-litre) and a turbo-diesel engine (2.2-litre). The new model also features G-Vectoring Control, the world’s first system that varies engine torque in response to steering inputs to optimise traction in all conditions. Additional highlights include a windscreen head-up display and a remote-controlled power tailgate. Also new is the striking Soul Red Crystal body colour, which features 20 per cent greater colour saturation and 50 per cent more depth.

PORSCHE 911 GT3

The new 911 GT3 is available with the manual transmission, which was omitted from its predecessor. Many owners reportedly clamoured for its return and the iconic German brand duly obliged.

Mated to a free-revving 4-litre flat-6 engine that is a close relative of the one found in the 911 GT3 Cup, it’s a joy to drive. With 500bhp and 460Nm on tap, it sprints from 0-100 km/h in 3.9 seconds if you are able to work the 6-speed gearbox fast enough. A 7-speed PDK is also available. The car’s chassis has been redesigned and features rear-axle steering. Also included are dynamic engine mounts, carbon fibre rear wing and steering wheel from the 918 Spyder.

PEUGEOT INSTINCT CONCEPT

The Peugeot Instinct concept hints strongly at the French carmaker’s take on autonomous driving.

With four drive modes, two with varying levels of autonomy and two for “normal” driving, the driver can select how the car is to be operated. Active aerodynamic features aside, the Instinct concept sports a typical shooting brake, two-box silhouette.

What is innovative, however, is its cabin technology. Developed in collaboration with Samsung, the car employs the brand’s Artik Cloud platform, which enables the car to learn its user’s lifestyle and preconfigure settings for the driving modes, seat, interface, ambient lighting and audio.

HONDA CIVIC TYPE R

Looking very much like a fighter jet with four wheels, the new Civic Type R is also packed with an arsenal of “weapons” to ensure that it is ready for any kind of performance battle.

From the turbocharged 2-litre 4-cylinder VTEC power plant, with 320bhp and peak torque of 400Nm, to the 6-speed manual gearbox with rev match control system, to the aerodynamic package that includes a smoother underbody, front air curtain, a lightweight rear wing and vortex generators at the roof line, the Civic Type R will be a blistering fast drive on road or track.

For normal driving, select the new “comfort” setting, which eases throttle response, gearshift feel and steering feedback.

KIA STINGER

At every stage of its development, the Stinger has been designed and engineered to be the perfect GT car.

Sporting head-turning looks with ample room to accommodate five people, coupled with a stable ride, nimble handling and responsive power delivery, the new fastback sports saloon will be available with a choice of engines including a 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6, which churns out 370PS and 510Nm.

Its ability to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 5.1 seconds earns it the title of “fastest-accelerating and most powerful car” Kia has ever produced. The Stinger is available with either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive as well as DRIVE WISE active safety systems, an electronically adjustable suspension system (Dynamic Stability Damping Control) and a five-mode Drive Mode Select system.

LAMBORGHINI HURÁCAN PERFORMANTE

Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva (ALA), or active aerodynamics, is the single, most significant reason why the Hurácan Performante demolished the production-car lap record, previously held by the Porsche 918 Spyder, at the Nurburgring-Nordschleife with a blistering time of 6 minutes, 52.01 seconds.

ALA’s party trick is how it increases downforce to assist stability and speed while cornering and how it does the reverse, that is, reduces aerodynamic resistance, to assist acceleration (0-100 km/h in 2.9 seconds) and reach its top speed of more than 325 km/h. The 640bhp and 600Nm from the 5.2-litre V10 engine helps too.

MERCEDES-BENZ E-CLASS CABRIOLET

The new E-Class Cabriolet comes with a fabric soft-top, class-leading comfort for four occupants and the latest technology, which includes smartphone integration with a wireless charging and key function, and a widescreen cockpit. It is also longer (11cm increase in wheelbase) and wider than its predecessor, and roomier too.

As a new feature, the tail-lights also put on a special show for the driver when he approaches or leaves the car. The car comes with 17-inch alloy wheels and it sits 15mm lower than the saloon, thus further accentuating its sportiness.

VANDA ELECTRIC DENDROBIUM

Singapore’s first hypercar, the Dendrobium concept is jaw-dropping from any angle. Its striking design features automatic doors and roof which open seductively like that of a dendrobium flower, a genus of orchids native to Singapore. Other highlights of the exterior are the aerodynamic floor, rear double diffuser and front splitter. Inside, the sports seats with stitching and motifs inspired by muscle fibres take centre stage. Strictly a concept all-electric vehicle when unveiled, performance targets are a top speed of more than 320 km/h and 0-100 km/h in slightly over 2.7 seconds.

VOLVO XC60

Like the larger XC90, the new XC60 showcases Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture. However, the latter is blessed with a lower stance and curvier lines. Powertrain options mirror those of the XC90: turbocharged 2-litre 4-cylinder, turbocharged and supercharged 2-litre T6, and a plug-in-hybrid T8. Occupants will be greeted by a sumptuous Scandinavian interior design with the highlights being the vertically oriented Sensus infotainment system and a crystal rotating shifter that sits between the front seats, flanked by gorgeous open-pore wood trim.