With the rise of crossovers dominating over every other automotive niche, there was a glaring hole in Honda’s local line-up that cars like the Nissan Kicks, the Renault Duster and the Ford Ecosport have been playing for the past few years. That gap has now been filled with the introduction of the Honda HR-V, reviving a nameplate that’s been dormant here since the turn of the millennium.
A couple of months ago, if you remember (before the whole debacle over Nissan’s CEO pay in Japan that has nothing to do with the products), some new variants of the Patrol Y61 were launched just for the GCC, joining the Patrol Super Safari that debuted a year earlier. We actually drove some of these new models, marking our first time properly driving a Y61 after all these decades in the UAE.
Cadillac debuted their new entry level SUV, the little XT4, at this year’s “Sole DXB” event in Dubai Design District. It is the first model release from their new plan to introduce a fresh model every six months all the way till 2020. The XT4 will sit under the XT5 as the smallest crossover offering.
Ford made headlines a few months ago when they announced that they’ll stop selling sedans and hatchbacks in the United States due to high costs and low profit margins compared to crossovers and SUVs. The Mustang will survive there too, but everything from the Fiesta to the Taurus will get the axe in a couple of years. It is entirely possible that the same strategy will be followed in the Middle East, as the car line-up doesn’t get much attention any more, and the next-generation Focus will not be launched here (which we drove and liked). Anyway,
Audi is late to the electric-car game, although it’s never too late in the Middle East, considering EVs are yet to take off here. So it’s interesting that the German carmaker decided to hold the international media launch of their first mainstream all-electric vehicle — the E-tron — in Abu Dhabi.
The Volkswagen Touareg has always occupied an awkward niche in the midsize SUV segment. Not quite mainstream, but not quite premium either, it’s left to do battle with everything from Jeep Grand Cherokees to BMW X5s, while even targeting lower-end Toyota Land Cruisers and Nissan Patrols in terms of price (and VW admitted as much). Now there’s a new-generation Touareg in town, and its objectives are clearer.
Aston Martin has been moving fast to update their line-up in recent times. We recently had a chance to drive the 2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera, the third release in their “new” lineup. The first being their DB11 grand tourer, followed by the sportier two-seater Vantage.
Redesigns for American pickup trucks come about only once in a blue moon. However, Ford’s F-150 and GM’s Silverado/Sierra twins are raising the bar by reducing the time between redesigns and facelifts, as both have undergone notable changes over the past decade. In that time, the Ram 1500 has remained relatively stagnant, save for a couple of minor under-the-skin upgrades and a brand-name change (remember when it used to be the Dodge Ram? Some people still call it that). There is finally an all-new model for 2019, on sale in the Middle East for a couple of months already, and we got some wheel-time in a couple of variants.
With the crossover market booming over the past decade, with 7-seater options particularly popular in the U.S. market, Volkswagen finally jumped on the bandwagon and created the Teramont, their largest SUV. Built in the States and known as the Atlas over there, the Teramont is a logical addition for the GCC market as well, even if it is confusingly placed between the Tiguan and the flagship Touareg in terms of price.
Audi officially launched the Q8 in the GCC a few months ago as their new SUV flagship, with a drive around Omani mountains. Late to the game when it comes to “four-door coupe crossover” thingies, the Q8 vaguely follows the design theme of the ugly BMW X6 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Coupe models, but does it in a much better job of combining an SUV with a roof design similar to a coupe.
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