• Toyota C-HR
  • 2018 Jaguar F-Type 3.0 V6
  • Rolls-Royce Dawn
  • Mercedes-AMG GT R
  • Mazda CX-5
  • MG ZS
  • Nissan Leaf
  • Audi A5 Sportback
  • Mitsubishi GT-PHEV
  • Hyundai RN30

Luxury cars on fire this year

Auto & Audio December 03, 2017 18:47

By Kingsley Wijayasinha
The Nation

Motor expo expected to move 40,000 cars and 7,000 big bikes



Thailand’s automobile marฌket is still some distance short of its 2012 peak – but there are signs of improvement.

Having soared to 1,430,000 units five years ago, the market plunged to less than 800,000 units in 2015, with the “First Car Buyer” scheme introduced by the Yingluck government blamed for declining demand.

Although military governments aren’t well known for boosting consumer confidence, purchasing sentiment is stronger this year, say auto companies.

The launch of attractive new models and comprehensive sales campaigns have helped drive up sales this year, with many observers upping their forecasts from the original 780,000-800,000 units to the 840,000-860,000 level.

Towards the end of the year, the Thailand International Motor Expo serves as a good indicator of the Thai automobile market. The passing away of HM King Bhumibol late last year more or less dealt a blow to the struggling auto market as buyers held back purchases and auto companies postponing new model launches.

Nevertheless, so far this year the auto market has grown by over 11 per cent, and auto companies are looking forward to the Motor Expo for wrapping the final orders of the year.

This year there are two concept vehicles on display from Hyundai and Mitsubishi, both of which always turn up with a concept vehicle, while others put the spotlight on new and facelifted market models, as well as future models that will be officially launched next year, such as the Nissan Leaf EV (Electric Vehicle) and the funky Toyota C-HR crossover.

Organizer Kwanchai Paphatphong says he expects 40,000 orders to be placed for automobiles and another 7,000 for big bikes. Virtually every exhibitor is offering special promoฌtions to lure buyers.

Toyota is hoping to move a large number of Hilux Revo pickup trucks at the Motor Expo and narrow the gap with market leader Isuzu, while on the passenger side it will need to catch up with arch rival Honda. While Toyota is showing off the C-HR that will be sold next year, Honda doesn’t have a new product to offer at this year’s show, highlighting just a red Civic.

The luxury segment is on fire this year, with Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi booth drawing large numbers of buyers even during the press day.

The Thailand International Motor Expo is held at IMPACT Muangthong Thani until December 11.

Concept vehicles

Hyundai RN30

First unveiled at last year’s Paris Motor Show, the RN30 is a racing concept from the Korean automaker, based on the i30 N cars.

The interior is similar to the i30, but the car has been lowered by 84mm while the width has grown by 30mm.

Featuring the regular Hyundai cascading front grille, the RN30, powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine developing 380hp, takes on a racecar appearance with large fenders over each wheel arch that also help improve airflow when working with side splitters.

The RN concept was jointly developed by Hyundai Motor Sport, Hyundai Motor Europe Technical Center and Hyundai Motor’s Performance Development & High Performance Vehicle Division.

Mitsubishi GT-PHEV

Also making its debut at the Paris Motor Show last year, the Mitsubishi GT-PHEV comes in the guise of a high-end plugin hybrid crossover.

Mitsubishi says that in its overall design, the GTPHEV projects the image of a “ground tourer” – a car made for cruising across a vast land – expressing functional beauty, augmented possibility, sculptured dynamism and Japanese craftsmanship.

It boasts three electric motors plus an internal combustion engine, plus Mitsubishi’s latest Super All Wheel Control (SAWC) integrated vehicle dynamics control system.

In pure EV (Electric Vehicle) mode the GTPHEV has a range of 120km, which can be increased to 1,200km when running in combined mode.

The interior features premium leather upholstery and horizontal dashboard design.

Production vehicles

Audi A5 Sportback

Audi Thailand is quickly widening its product portfolio with new models. After recently introducing the A5 Coupe, Audi is following up with the A5 Sportback, priced at Bt3.299 million for the 40 TFSI 190hp and Bt4.299 million for the 45 TFSI S line 252hp, which gets a diamondcut seat pattern with Sline logo and Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system.

 

Jaguar FType 400 SPORT Launch Edition

For the 2018 model year, Jaguar is offering the F-Type 400 Sport, which is an improved version of the current F-Type sports car.

Upgrades include a power increase from 380hp to 400hp from the supercharged 3.0-litre V6, tweaked AWD chassis comprised of the Super Performance braking system, Configurable Dynamics and 20-inch alloy wheels in dark satin grey finish.

Acceleration from 0100km/h takes 5.1 seconds while the top speed is claimed at 275km/h.

The F-Type 400 SPORT Launch Edition, which will be produced for only 1 year, retails at Bt11.999 million, although the FType range starts at Bt8.999 million for the 340hp entry-level model.

Nissan Leaf

Nissan is so excited about selling the Leaf EV (Electric Vehicle) in Thailand next year that it is already showing the car at the Motor Expo.

Representing a new direction in vehicle development by Nissan, the second-generation Leaf is result of Nissan’s vast knowledge in EV technology, which actually started after World War 2.

Expected to be priced above Bt1 million, the Leaf will boast an operating range of 400km with a full charge in its lithium-ion battery. In quick-charging mode, the battery can be recharged to 80 per cent within 40 minutes.

Toyota C-HR

Toyota is hoping to shake the passenger car market next year with the launch of the C-HR crossover, which is making a sneak preview at the Motor Expo.

The C-HR boasts futuristic design and will be offered with two powertrain choices including a 1.8-litre gasoline engine and a hybrid.

The CHR will compete mainly against the Honda HRV and Mazda CX3. Sources say it will also come with precrash safety system with auto brake, radar cruise control, automatic high beam, lane departure warning with steering control, and rear cross traffic alert.

RollsRoyce Dawn

Priced at close to Bt35 million, the Dawn is the quietest convertible from Rolls-Royce and comes with all the luxuries you could ask for, including the 6-layer softtop roof.

The BMW-supplied turbocharged 6.6-litre V12 engine develops 571hp, helping the Dawn to accelerate its 2,560kg mass from 0100km/h in 5 seconds flat.

Buyers can indulge in a world of bespokeness. For example, there’s an endless palette of 44,000 exterior and interior colours to choose from.

 

Mercedes-AMG GT R

The facelifted 911-killer makes a flashy entry into the Thai supercar market in an energy-filled launch event last week.

Developed under extensive testing at the world-famous Nurburgring, the new GT R features a twin-turbo V8 powerplant pumping out 585hp, propelling it from rest to 100km/h in 3.6 seconds and to a top speed of 316km/h.

There’s a large yellow knob for the traction control system, with 9 levels to choose from.

 

Mazda CX-5

Every time Mazda launches a new model, it becomes the talk of the town. The new CX-5 will be no different.

The Hiroshima-based manufacturฌer’s KODO design language gives the second-gen CX-5 a sensuous appeal from the outside, while the outstanding interior quality will make you think of European cars.

Both 165hp 2.0-litre gasoline and 175hp 2.2-litre diesel engines are available with prices ranging from Bt1.29 mlllion to Bt1.77 million. The CX5 comes with all sorts of advanced features ranging from intelligent safety to connectivity and a high-quality audio system with BOSE speakers.

MG ZS

Judging from the exterior design of the ZS, you can easily nickname it “Poor Man’s CX5”.

But you can’t deny that the ZS is a great-looking crossover that offers great value for money due to its low asking price of Bt679,000 for the C trim, Bt729,000 for the D trim and Bt789,000 for the X trim.

The ZS is powered by a 1.5-litre DOHC VTi-TECH 114hp engine that makes you think Honda, mated to a 4-speed auto transmission, and the world’s first Thai-language voice command feature and smart functions that can be operated from smartphones, including vehicle location checks.