Carsifu's top picks at 2018 Thailand International Motor Exposition

By JAY WONG | 6 December 2018


BANGKOK: The Thailand International Motor Exposition 2018 recently kicked off with futuristic concept cars and more than 20 new model unveils that will leave residents of the 'Kingdom' spoilt for choice.

One of the highlights of the expo was the unveiling of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan - the British ultra luxury carmaker’s first all-wheel driven sport utility vehicle (SUV), with its bespoke offerings of 44,000 exterior colours, personalised cabin interiors and recreational modules to suit the owners’ lifestyles.

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Powering the Cullinan is a 6.75-litre N74B68 twin-turbocharged V12 petrol BMW engine that is paired to an eight-speed automatic to manage the rated output of 563hp at 5,000rpm and 850Nm of torque from 1,600rpm for its permanent all-wheel drive system. Top speed has been electronically limited to 250kph.

All that sits within an aluminium space frame chassis, which is a version of the company's modular “Architecture of Luxury” platform.

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Driving prowess is bolstered by a four-wheel steering system that is connected to a self-levelling air suspension system made up of double-wishbone front and five-link rear axles, electronically controlled front and rear dampers and electrically-actuated active anti-roll bars.

To enhance comfort levels, the SUV comes with “The Flagbearer”, which uses stereo cameras integrated into the front windscreen to scan the road ahead and adjusts the suspension according to what it ‘sees’ at speeds of up to 100kph.

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Moving on to the Porsche showcase and there sat the newly-minted Macan SUV which made its world premiere in Shanghai, China before being officially launched in Europe in October.

The facelifted Macan boasts of new design elements, extended equipment and added features that include full connectivity options and a modified turbocharged petrol engine.

Although the Macan’s 252hp / 370Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged engine stays its output Porsche officials stated that the combustion chamber's geometry has been improved on, while maintaining its marriage to a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox that manages power delivery to the staggered set of 18-inch wheels (optional 21-inch wheels also available).

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The Macan’s engine performance allows the mid-sized SUV to sprint from 0-100kph in 6.7 seconds and onwards to a top speed of 227kph. Fuel consumption has been rated at 8.1 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.

Changes within the cabin sees it sporting a new three-dimensional LED light panel at the rear and a new fully interconnected Porsche communication management system with a 10.9-inch (previously 7.2-inch) touchscreen display.

Outside, the Macan features the iconic four-point daytime running lights, LED brake lights, an enlarged central air intake at the front, 3D tail lights and a new rear light strip with an integrated 3D ‘PORSCHE’ lettering.

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As standard for the Thai market, the SUV from Stuttgart, Germany receives the Macan Premium Package which throws in a BOSE surround sound system and includes Apple CarPlay with Siri, ambient lighting, Mechanical sun-blinds and auto dimming mirrors.

Still in German territory, Thailand also received the new BMW M850i xDrive Coupe, which makes an entrance with its low and powerful stance complemented by full-LED Laser front headlights and LED rear light clusters as well as enlarged signature kidney-grilles and forward air intakes to name a few.

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Under the hood lies a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 producing 530hp from 5,500 to 6,000rpm and 750Nm of torque from 1,800 to 4,600rpm - allowing it sprint from standstill to 100kph in 3.7 seconds and onwards to an electronically-limited top speed of 250kph.

Five driving modes have been provided in the form of COMFORT, ECO Pro, ADAPTIVE, SPORT and SPORT+ as standard.

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The chassis has been put together with a combination of aluminium, magnesium and carbon-fibre-reinforced-plastic (CFRP) for an exceptionally rigid-yet-lightweight structure.

Also as standard, the M850i arrives with the Adaptive M Suspension Professional, M rear spoiler and 20-inch M light-alloy Y-spoke wheels.

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Inside, the cabin has been laden with a host of goodies that include a fully digital instrument cluster, 10.25-inch Control Display, a 16%-larger heads-up display, M leather steering wheel with paddle shifters, stainless steel mesh interior accents, ‘CraftedClarity’ (glass application) that illuminates the ‘8’ on the gear selector, illuminated door sills with 'M850i' designation as well as redesigned front and rear sports seats (without headrests) upholstered in Merino leather.

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For added safety, the M850i gets fitted with Person Warning with City Braking Function, Rear-collision Prevention, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Detection, Cross-traffic warning rear, Speed limit info, No-overtaking indicator and Parking Assistant Plus for added convenience.

Taking a glimpse into the future, Mercedes-Benz in Thailand showcased its EQA concept to provide viewers with an indication as to how the German automaker will apply its EQ strategy, which refers to its future intelligent electric mobility with an attractive design that promises exceptional driving and maximum safety.

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According to Mercedes-Benz (Thailand) president and CEO Roland Folger, the EQA will possess “impressive agility and an amazingly long driving range of about 400km (depending on lithium-ion battery capacity installed of up to 60kWh) thanks to our well-developed architecture for pure electric vehicles.”

The EQA features two electric motors - one for each axle, with a combined output of 200kW that is able to alter its drive characteristics by varying the permanent all-wheel drive system's front to rear torque distribution accordingly - based on the parameters of the two driving modes of Sport and Sport Plus.

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Depending on drive mode, the faux front grille will alter its looks and will depict a horizontal ‘flaming wing’ when in Sport mode, while Sport Plus mode changes it out for vertical struts in the style of a Panamericana radiator grille.

The EQA is fast-charge capable and can be conducted through the usual wallbox or via induction and payment for charge usage at public charging stations will be made seamless with its Mercedes me-based services.

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Onto the MINI camp and the British iconic automaker showcased its radical John Cooper Works GP Concept that has been built upon the inspirations of the brand’s conquest during the 1967 Monte Carlo Rally as well as the looks of the John Cooper Works GP (2012) and Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP kit.

 

The concept has been coated in a shade of Black Jack Anthracite - allowing the paint to shimmer between shades of grey and black, while being accented with Curbside Red and High Speed Orange.

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The concept also wears claddings of large carbon fibre parts that include the front and rear aprons, side skirts and a rather large roof spoiler to help optimise the car’s power-to-weight ratio and front-to-rear weight balance.

 

Inside, the cabin has been stripped down and fitted with black patinated smooth leather for the head restraints and bolsters as well as a black dashboard that houses the digital interface in the central instrument cluster and everything is set against the backdrop of a bright silver aluminium roll cage.

For China-owned British car maker - MG Motor, the company brought out its sporty E-Motion prototype electric roadster that’s said to have been earmarked for production some time in 2020.

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The all-electric drivetrain is being developed inhouse by Shanghai Automotive and Industrial Corporation (SAIC) and promises over 500km of driving range on a single charge as well as a 0 to 100kph sprint times of less than 4.0 seconds.

Opening the electric roadster’s butterfly-style doors lies its four-seater cabin layout that will be fitted with ‘advanced connectivity’ as well as a touchscreen infotainment system for both front and rear passengers.

Last but not least on our choice picks during the expo is the Mazda Vision Coupe, which CarSifu had the honour of previewing in Bangkok, Thailand during this year's Mazda Asean Design Forum.

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The coupe was flown into the Kingdom from Japan to sit on display to communicate the Japanese carmaker’s design philosophy for the upcoming seventh-generation models that will be introduced in the near future with its ‘new elegance’.

In creating the form of the body, designers at Mazda stripped away the ‘unnecessary’ for that ‘less is more’ philosophy, while its body panels have been intricately and purposefully shaped to give a play of light and shadow across its supple-looking steel surfaces.

Mazda said that the cabin will be symmetrical, with the steering sitting in the centre and everything else to the left and right and sitting  further towards the rear.

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This forms a single smooth line based on the ‘golden ratio’ of classic coupe proportions to help create the feeling of a high-performance machine with a hint of powerful forward momentum.

Also, the interior is said to exude a sense of speed with the centre console, door trims and instrument panels all seemingly intersecting one another without coming into contact.

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Spatially, the cabin encourages air flow throughout for the comfort of its occupants who will also note the lacking sense of confinement.

In terms of technology, the coupe will be fitted with see-through screens that will not hinder its driver’s view and will function as a display if and when it is required with a quick touch/swipe.

The 12-day expo, now in its 35th year of running is being held at the Impact Exhibition and Convention Center in Muang Thong Thani, Thailand from Nov 29 to Dec 10 and has been themed ‘Enjoy Driving! Before Driverless Era’.

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Participants of the expo include 36 car makers from nine countries and 23 motorcycle makers from seven countries.

Organisers of the expo estimate that car bookings may reach 45,000 units as well as another 8,000 units for motorcycles  and everything should generate roughly 55bil Baht worth of transactions from an expected crowd of 1.5mil visitors this year.

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Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV
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Porsche Macan (facelift)
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BMW M850i xDrive
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Mercedes EQ
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MINI JCW GP Concept
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MG E-Motion prototype
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Mazda Vision Coupe
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