What you are about to read are our first impressions of the 2022 Toyota Land Cruiser, based on a quick lunch-break visit to the showroom as well as a very short spin of a private car on city streets. We weren’t invited to the media launch event held in the UAE, which was seemingly attended only by “agreeable” scribes and influencers, but taking a closer look at one of the most hyped new cars to be launched in the Middle East in 2021 (after the latest Nissan Patrol Nismo earlier this year) gives us some insight on why Toyota is trying to control the messaging so tightly.
There have been several high-profile post-lockdown car launches that set the internet on fire. The Nissan Patrol Nismo, the Chevy Tahoe and the upcoming Ford Bronco featured prominently among them, but those were all SUVs. The only small car to “trend” is the Volkswagen Golf GTI, which shows that cars might be giving way to SUVs, but the legendary O.G. hot hatch is always going to be around.
The Volkswagen Teramont didn’t make sense on the surface when it debuted a few years ago, considering the Touareg was still around. But it made perfect sense when you delved deeper into the specs sheet — compared to the 2-row Touareg, the Teramont had a third row of seating, and was actually larger and cheaper. While the latest Touareg moved even further upscale, the Teramont is holding the fort in the meat of the mid-size SUV market, going up against Ford Explorers and Nissan Pathfinders. And it has just received a nip-and-tuck for the 2021 model year.
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.
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”).
The Chevrolet Tahoe is probably GM’s best known SUV. As one of most popular big SUV’s in this region, this latest generation of the Tahoe is a long time coming, especially as the outgoing model was left wanting while its rivals transformed into near-luxury vehicles.
The 2020 Land Rover Defender 110 recently made its way to our local shores as one of the most anticipated cars of the year, received with mixed reactions before its limelight was stolen by far more retro Ford Bronco and maybe the upcoming Jeep Wrangler V8. We had a go at it on UAE sand to see if the modernised new model does justice to the nameplate.
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.
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.
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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