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Porsche 911 GT3 breaks records, Ferrari GTC4Lusso drives profit, Mini Countryman raises roof on strong results

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 May, 2017, 4:45pm
UPDATED : Friday, 12 May, 2017, 9:33pm

Several marques highlighted their best cars last week as they delivered their first-quarter results for 2017.

On May 3, Volkswagen Group said its sales revenue for the quarter rose 10.3 per cent year on year to 56.2 billion, just as its new Porsche 911 GT3 lapped the 20.8km Nurburgring Nordschleife in 7 minutes, 12.7 seconds – 12.3 seconds faster than its predecessor.

“A few years ago, lap times like this could only be achieved by thoroughbred race cars with slick tyres,” said Andreas Preuninger, Porsche’s GT product line director. Launched last month in Geneva and keenly awaited in southern China, the street-legal GT3 smashed the lap record with the 911 GT3 Cup race car’s 500-horsepower, four-litre flat-six engine, rear-axle steering, and a seven-speed Porsche double-clutch transmission on Michelin Sport Cup 2 N1 tyres, Porsche says.

The 1,430kg GT3 tonnes in about 3.4 seconds, tops at 318km/h and sits about 25mm lower than the 911 Carrera S. A Track Precision app also enables GT3 drivers to display, record and analyse their driving data on their smartphones.

Ferrari reported on May 4 that it had shipped 2,003 units in the first quarter of 2017, a year-on-year increase of 121 units or 6.4 per cent. Of these, 161 came from China, an increase of 3 per cent from the same period a year earlier.

“This achievement was driven by a 50 per cent increase in sales of our V12 models, partially offset by the V8s, which posted a 3 per cent decrease,” the marque says. “The V12’s strong performance was led by the GTC4Lusso, LaFerrari Aperta as well as the F12tdf, partially offset by the F12berlinetta, at its sixth year of commercialisation, phasing-out while [the] California T is at its fourth year of commercialisation.” Net revenues for the first quarter were 821 million, an increase of €146 million “or 21.5 per cent [up] from the first quarter of 2016”, the company said. Its adjusted net profit was “up 1 per cent to 124 million and its net industrial debt was reduced to 578 million”.

Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz sold 180,599 vehicles worldwide in April, a 10.1 per cent increase on the year. Of these, 47,627 were sold in China, a year-on-year increase of 35.3 per cent. The marque says its bestseller worldwide was the C-Class, with 33,666 units, including “best-ever sales figures” for the long-wheelbase China version last month.

The C200 (from HK$439,000) is a fine drive for the increasingly congested streets of Hong Kong, because the 4.686m, 1,465kg saloon looks like a “proper” Mercedes and has a two-litre, 184hp engine that tonnes in 7.3 seconds and consumes a combined 5.3-5.6 litres of petrol per 100 kilometres. Many self-driving Hongkongers prefer the C200 to the similarly powered but more spacious and heavier E200 (from HK$564,000).

BMW Group on May 4 said its deliveries of BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce brand vehicles rose by 5.3 per cent to 587,237 units. The group’s first-quarter revenues were up 12.4 per cent at 23.4 billion and profit amounted to 2.6 billion, up 7.7 per cent on the previous year.

Meanwhile, BMW’s Mini has teamed up with Italian roof-tent maker Autohome to make a Countryman for outdoor-loving Hong Kong couples.

The car features a black or white 2.1-metre-long, 1.3-metre-wide tent that is stored inside a conventional fibreglass roof box, and can be mounted on to roof rails and reached by an aluminium ladder, the marque says. “Inside, there is a high-density mattress with cotton cover, two doors and two windows with zips, close-meshed mosquito nets at all openings and a battery-operated LED interior light, as well as luggage nets and pockets.” Equipped with an aluminium ladder, the Mini Autohome seems built for sunrises in Shek O.

Ford on May 5 said it sold 93,967 vehicles in China last month, an 11 per cent increase on April 2016. Of these, Changan Ford Automobile sold 62,382 vehicles, up 6 per cent year on year; Jiangling Motor Corp sold 25,404, a 15 per cent rise; and Lincoln sold 4,533, a 95 per cent jump. The remaining vehicles were from imported Ford brands.

The firm says its best-sellers last month were the Ford Escort, the Focus, the new Mondeo and the Taurus, whose combined sales were up 10 per cent on April 2016. “The Ford Edge remains a top performer, with sales up 19 per cent in April, while Kuga sales rose 9 per cent,” the marque says, saying it expects to “gain momentum as the year continues” with new models such as the Edge EcoBoost 245 Sport and Focus CTCC Edition.

The Fords to watch over the border, however, are the new generation of hybrid and electric vehicles, beginning with the Mondeo Hybrid, which was launched by Changan Ford in November. Built in Chongqing with a smaller, lighter lithium-ion 1.4-kilowatt-hour battery, the Mondeo Hybrid has improved regenerative braking “which captures up to 95 per cent of the energy lost during braking and recharges the vehicle’s battery pack”. Ford also produces the C-MAX Energi hybrid as a fleet vehicle, and is working on a small electric SUV with a 450km range “within five years”.

Changan Ford will also start making the Mondeo Energi plug-in hybrid in Chongqing in early 2018. “Easily charged at home or the office”, the Mondeo Energi will have a battery range of 50km, and “allow drivers to use battery power around town and gas for longer trips”, Ford says.

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