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Limited editions, luxury and lights: five fossil-fuel burners to tempt Hong Kong’s drivers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 March, 2017, 6:12pm
UPDATED : Friday, 10 March, 2017, 10:06pm

Several marques launched impressive sport utility vehicles at this week’s Geneva motor show. The following five could disrupt Hong Kong’s crowded all-wheel-drive sector – and possibly tempt some of the city’s incentive-capped electric-vehicle pioneers back to fossil fuels.

Bentley is duelling with Mercedes-Benz for hearts of the wealthy. It launched the plush Bentayga last summer, and Mercedes-Benz outstyled it last month with the limited-edition Mercedes-Maybach G 650 Landaulet, which is due later this year. However, Bentley bounced back at the March 7-19 show in Switzerland with the limited edition Bentayga Mulliner, which it describes as the “ultimate luxury SUV”.

Available in Europe this spring, this six-litre W12 promises 600hp and 900Nm of torque for 100km/h in 4.1 seconds. Bentley also says this 5.14-metre, 2,440kg giant, which tops at 301km/h, is the world’s fastest SUV. The model has exclusive features such as a new, illuminated Mulliner Bottle Cooler with Cumbria Crystal flutes; unique seven-spoke 22-inch wheels with floating centres; and the new Duo Tone paintwork. Other design standouts include a unique exterior badge; body-coloured lower paint and bright chromed lower bumper grilles.

The Geneva show car also highlights Bentley’s latest cabin customisation, with fine marquetry and front and rear seats finished in different coloured, hand-stitched leather. The marque also introduces Ombre Burr Walnut Veneer; six mood lighting choices; and a 1,950-watt Naim for Bentley Audio system, which the carmaker describes as the most powerful in its class. The 196-piece dashboard Mulliner Tourbillon by Breitling clock is also offered a choice of three golds, with a mother-of-pearl or ebony face and eight diamond indices.

The show also reminds Peugeot and Citroen to raise their marketing profiles in regionally trendsetting Hong Kong. The Peugeot 3008 was named 2017 Car of the Year in Geneva on Monday, but Sime Darby unit Peugeot Hong Kong still offers 308s (from HK$309,800) and Expert vans (from HK$238,800).

The 3008 has an impressive cabin design and could compete well here with an i-Cockpit system that includes an eight-inch infortainment touch-screen; a configurable 12.3-inch head-up screen; and a multifunction steering wheel. The model also a five-star EuroNCAP crash-test rating with an automatic emergency braking system, adaptive airbags galore, and stability, alert and child safety.

Citroen’s upmarket arm, DS Automobiles, launched the marque’s “new era” with the hybrid DS7 Crossback. The 300hp all-wheel-drive would also stand out in Hong Kong, but the website of Citroen Hong Kong, another Sime Darby unit, still offers just the C4 Cactus (from HK$238,000) and the Grand C4 Picasso (HK$338,000). The DS7 Crossback could encourage DS to sharpen its presence here as the SUV seems Mid-Levels-ready with a diamond-effect grille, an elegant body, and hints of autonomous driving with stop and go, road-marking recognition and self-parking electronics.

Powered by a THP S&S 225hp engine and two electric motors, the DS7 Crossback achieves 100km/h in about seven seconds, the carmaker says, via a front-axle-mounted eight-speed Efficient Automatic Transmission.

DS is big on lights. Its 4.57m SUV’s DS Active LED Vision headlamps go purple when it is unlocked, and its daytime-running lights have vertical beads, scrolling indicators, and “hypnotic”, 3D-like illuminated scales in the rear lights. The Crossback’s interior has several style options and with haute-couture-inspired touches such as pearl stitching and watchmakers’ guillochage and clous de Paris techniques. Passengers also get two 12-inch screens. “The first is an innovation in the world of SUVs, as it works with the navigation system as well as managing the multimedia interface, MirrorScreen and DS Connect functions,” the marque says. “The second is a personalisable screen dedicated to the digital instrument cluster.” The centred dashboard clock is a BRM R180 that “leaves its setting and pivots 180 degrees” when the SUV is started.

Meanwhile, SsangYong SUVs such as the chunky Stavic (from HK$218,000), Tivoli (from HK$198,000) and Actyon Ute (from HK$218,000) have caught on among the New Territories’ small house squirocracy. The South Korean marque this year launches a “tough and masculine-looking” XAVL (for (”eXciting Authentic Vehicle Long”). A potential virility symbol in Tai Mei Tuk, this seven-seat concept “blends advanced convenience and the practicality of a multi-purpose MPV”, and offers more safety and connectivity.

Volkswagen meanwhile says its new, 5+2-seat Tiguan Allspace “closes the gap” between the standard Tiguan compact and premium Touareg SUV’s, largely because its wheelbase has been stretched from 2.681m to 2.790m. The SUV also has 145 litres more boot space, which can be expanded from 760 litres to a potentially van-like 1,920 litres. Available in six engines, the Allspace will be launched with bigger doors in Europe in September.

Fitted with roof rails and a 870mm by 1.364 metre panoramic sliding sunroof as standard, the Tiguan Allspace also has improved phone and USB connectivity, a multifunction steering wheel, electrically operated tailgate – and “a first in this class” gesture control. Unlike many other SUVs, it can also transport four or five adults, and large suitcases to the airport, Volkswagen says.