First Drive

First drive: 2021 Nissan X-Terra in the UAE

First drive: 2021 Nissan X-Terra in the UAE

Many folks will fondly remember the Xterra. It debuted as a sister model to the older body-on-frame Pathfinder, meant to be a playful more-capable alternative to its sibling, and taking on the Jeep Wrangler and the Toyota FJ Cruiser. It came in bright paintjobs and was a smaller vehicle than the Pathfinder, although both were based on versions of the Nissan pickup platform. And then the Xterra was cancelled a few years ago, for various reasons. It’s back now, as a completely different beast with a hyphen in its name.

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First drive: 2021 Fiat Abarth 695 70th Anniversario in the UAE

First drive: 2021 Fiat Abarth 695 70th Anniversario in the UAE

The current Fiat 500 has been around for a decade now with almost no visible changes. While the car is long in the tooth, the good thing is the sportier Abarth 595 versions are still around. And there is yet another new variant this year in an attempt to keep the model fresh on the unchanging showroom floor. The latest “special edition” is the 695 70th Anniversario (as it is customary for Fiat to rebadge yearly special models as “695”).

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First drive: 2020 Bugatti Divo in Italy

First drive: 2020 Bugatti Divo in Italy

If ever there were roads least suited to a hypercar, here they are. The ribbon of tarmac that stretches ahead is littered with an assortment of lumps and bumps, with some sections of bitumen having crumbled away altogether. The snaking route is also so narrow in parts that there’s just enough space for two cars to pass in opposing directions without rubbing shoulders.

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First drive: 2020 Haval H2 in the UAE

First drive: 2020 Haval H2 in the UAE

We have been following the rise of Chinese cars in the Middle East with a lot of interest now. The barrage of new brands and models has been ongoing for the past decade now, but all the offerings have been lacklustre in one way or the other. They are getting better with every iteration though. So when we got the new Haval H2 for a test-drive, we were hoping China’s carmakers have finally caught up to the competition.

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First drive: 2020 Volkswagen Passat in the UAE

First drive: 2020 Volkswagen Passat in the UAE

Hard to believe that it’s been 8 years since the Volkswagen Passat’s last full redesign in 2012. That was the year when the European Passat and the American Passat diverged into two distinct cars, as the latter became a larger car with class-leading space for a midsize sedan, but also less sophisticated in terms of execution and features. The GCC market gets the American one. And it’s now on its second facelift, the first one being back in 2016.

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First drive: 2020 Mazda 3 in the UAE

First drive: 2020 Mazda 3 in the UAE

Mazda has built a bit of a reputation with enthusiasts on a budget. Building cars that drive well, no matter what category they play in, it is popular among certain younger buyers. Of course, the problem is most buyers aren’t of the enthusiastic variety, and Mazda has always been way behind when it comes to the basics of space and comfort, thereby giving up market share to brands which understand their respective segments better. Does the new Mazda 3 change that?

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First drive: 2020 Lincoln Nautilus in the UAE

First drive: 2020 Lincoln Nautilus in the UAE

The Lincoln Nautilus is basically the facelifted version of the outgoing MKX. As the Ford-owned American luxury brand steers clear of the ill-conceived “MK-whatever” naming convention that was introduced just a decade ago, proper names are back on the tailgates of Lincoln models, all of which are now taking design cues introduced on the flagship Continental sedan and made familiar with the new Navigator.

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First drive: 2020 Chevrolet Malibu 1.5T Premier in the UAE

First drive: 2020 Chevrolet Malibu 1.5T Premier in the UAE

The midsize sedan segment is a competitive one dominated by the Japanese. But Chevrolet has had a competent entry for a few years now that hasn’t gained traction, even with competitive pricing. The current Malibu garnered a decent review from us when it was launched in late 2016, but then the well-known Japanese trio all got redesigns as well, raising the bar for what a midsize sedan can offer. The Korean-built Malibu received a quiet facelift for 2019 though, along with a new engine that’s a huge improvement.

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