The Honda Accord has been doing perennial battle with the Toyota Camry and the Nissan Altima. Somewhere along the way, the Accord gained a reputation for being a “bit more premium,” possibly due to higher pricing or because the other two started showing up in taxi fleets around the UAE. But while all previous Accords really were just direct rivals to the other two, the new-for-2018 Accord really does pull out all the stops, and finally justifies its rep as being a “bit more premium,” as we found out on our short drive.
It seemed a no-brainer that Ferrari would launch the Portofino in the picturesque northern Italian fishing village after which it is was named. However, company execs say Portofino is a ghost town in winter – everything shuts down – so instead we find ourselves in Puglia, in the south eastern tip of Italy, for our maiden acquaintance with Maranello’s all-new drop-top that replaces the California T.
Believe it or not, China’s state-owned SAIC is actually one of the biggest carmakers in the world, as they are wildly successful in their fast-growing home market. About a decade ago, they purchased MG Rover, turning the once-British maker of family cars, sports sedans and iconic sports cars into a mainstream maker of, well, family cars. MG’s first crossover was the GS, launched in the GCC a couple of years ago. They’ve now added to the portfolio with the RX5 and the ZS, both compact crossovers roughly the same size as the existing GS.
Volvo is on a roll at the moment. Since it was taken over by Geely back in 2010, some skeptics thought it was the beginning of the end for the semi-premium Swedish car manufacturer. But since the launch of the XC90, Volvo has come back on the radar in a big way as a properly premium brand. After launching the impressive XC60 recently, the Swedes have taken on a new segment, the lucrative Compact SUV market, with the launch of the all-new Volvo XC40, currently dominated by the Germans.
Audi’s slinky A7 Sportback has carved a small but solid niche for itself since its 2010 launch, targeting buyers who want the space and functionality of a large sedan, yet aren’t keen on the formulaic three-box proportions that come with the traditional four-door format.
The Mitsubishi Eclipse has been around since 1990, until a green one with unlimited manual gears was popularised in the first The Fast and the Furious movie in 2001. While that movie franchise is still ongoing, the Eclipse sports coupe took a break in 2012. It’s back now as the 2018 Eclipse Cross, embodying Mitsubishi’s committment to become an SUV-focused carmaker. We took it for a stroll around the Dubai Autodrome at its UAE launch.
There are certain things that happen only once in a lifetime. One of them is the chance to drive a Bugatti of any sort. When the Veyron was new in 2005, George W. Bush was still the U.S. president and the iPhone was still a passing thought in Steve Jobs’ mind. Of course, now we have the Chiron. Our resident journosaur Gautam Sharma drove one at the global launch event in Portugal last year. And this winter, I was offered an exclusive drive of the exact same car right here on the roads of the UAE, with 1988 24 Hours of Le Mans champion Andy Wallace as co-driver.
Infiniti chose the 2017 Dubai Motor Show to debut its facelifted 2018 QX80 a couple of months ago. It wasn’t just a fluke. The Middle East is apparently the QX80’s second-largest market after the United States. No time was wasted in bringing the new model to the streets either. We took it for a spin around Ras Al Khaimah, after flying there from Dubai by helicopter, courtesy of Infiniti.
After creating quite the hype with the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, we weren’t exactly sure what to expect from the Stelvio Quadrifoglio – the performance version of their first SUV – since we haven’t driven the Giulia QV. The Italians also called it the fastest SUV ever, having recorded a blistering 7-minute 51.7-second lap time at the Nurburgring. The global debut was actually held right here in Ras Al Khaimah, so we got a chance to take the Stelvio QV on one of the best roads in the UAE, up and down the Jebel Jais in Ras Al Khaimah, which is also the highest point in the Emirates.
When the Porsche Cayenne was first announced by the German manufacturer, everyone thought it will be beginning of the end of a brand which had a long heritage of building legendary sports cars. Fast forward 14 years later, and the Cayenne is one of their top selling models, and now with the introduction of the third-generation model, Porsche just makes it drive even more like a sports car.
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