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Smaller sport utility vehicles chart plans to boost market share in city

Mercedes luxes up the GLA while Audi’s stylish Q2 seems practical for HK drivers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 April, 2017, 5:44pm
UPDATED : Friday, 14 April, 2017, 9:10pm

Smaller sport utility vehicles are battling for market share in Hong Kong this week. Mercedes-Benz last Friday drew about 300 people to its launch of the new GLA “compact” SUV at the Mercedes me Store in Central. The new GLA has a beefier body with offroad chassis variants and a luxed interior with new seat covers and more chrome.

Its LED high performance headlights offer daylight-like light and consume “around 60 per cent less [energy] than xenon and approximately 70 per cent less than halogen”, the marque says. Mercedes-Benz offers three four-cylinder models: the 1.6-litre, 156hp GLA 200 (HK$389,000) and the two-litre, 210hp GLA 250 AMG Edition (HK$439,000), and both have a 7G-DCT dual clutch automatic transmission. The range-topping two-litre Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 4MATIC (HK$816,000) belts 381hp via a DCT 7-speed sports transmission and tonnes in 4.4 seconds. The GLA 200 probably suffices for Hong Kong, as it torques 250Nm for 100km/h in 8.8 seconds, and drinks 5.6-5.8 litres of petrol per 100km for 135g/km in CO2 emissions, the marque says.

Meanwhile, Audi Hong Kong offers the 1.4-litre, 150hp Q2 (HK$339,900). Launched in Geneva last year, it arrives with a five-star crash-test rating in Europe and looks posh enough for Jardine’s Lookout. Less chunky looking than the GLA, the Q2 offers 250Nm of zip for 100km/h in 8.5 seconds and a top speed of about 190km/h via a seven-speed S tronic box. The 4.191m front-wheel-drive consumes about 5.2 litres per 100km and spews 119g/km of CO2, but also has a Start-Stop system Cylinder on Demand technology that turns two of its four cylinders off in traffic. The 405-litre boot expands to 1,050l with the second row seats back and options include a power tailgate with cargo through-loading. Its MMI functions can be controlled from the multi-function steering wheel and you get Audi Music Interface and two USB ports too. The Q2’s Bluetooth interface enables audio streaming and hands-free operations.

KIA continues to catch on here. Last month, KIA Motors Hong Kong launched the new KIA Soul and the Optima GT. The fourth-generation Optima (HK$299,900) upgrades its ride and technology and is fitted with a new 2-litre Turbo GDI engine. Its new benefits include hands-free boot opening, front and rear parking sensors and wireless phone charging. It also won a five-star Euro NCAP and US NHTSA safety rating. The Soul was always hip, but the latest model’s easier door access, bolder bumpers and new “Wild Orange” look competitive. Available in two variants, the Two Tone (HK$199,900) and Sunroof (HK$209,000), the Soul has a 1.6-litre T-GDI engine and seven-speed double clutch transmission.

Look out for the Lamborghini Huracán Performante in Repulse Bay. Launched in Geneva last month, it is already stickered by Lamborghini Hong Kong at HK$4.88 million. The 5.2-litre V10 Huracán Performante has 640hp - 29hp more than the Huracán Coupe, according to the dealer’s spokeswoman Jacqueline Leung. It’s also 40kg lighter, at 1,382kg, and has 600Nm of torque for 100km/h in 2.9 seconds and 200km/h in 8.9 seconds via an improved seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. It also tops at 325km/h with improved aerodynamics and downforce, and can halt from 100km/h in 31 metres on P Zero Corsa tyres on bronze 20-inch Narvi forged rims. In October, the Huracán Performante set a new production car lap record of 6 minutes 52.01 on Germany’s 20.6km Nürburgring Nordschleife track, ahead of a Porsche 918 Spyder (6’57.00) and a Lamborghini Avendator S (6’59.83).

Lotus has just launched its latest Elise, the Sprint, which is positioned above the basic Elise Sport models, and below the top-of-the-range Elise Cup 250. Reportedly about 410g lighter than its predecessor, at 798kg, the Sprint is orderable internationally in 1.6- and 1.8-litre versions. The 1.6-litre, 134hp version tonnes in about six seconds and CO2 emissions of about 149g/km. The supercharged 1.8-litre Sprint promises 250Nm of torque for 173g/km CO2. Both models have a new “more direct” gearbox, a new console, and optional carbon sill covers that save 0.8kg in weight and “increase the door aperture by up to 10mm, aiding ingress and egress”, the marque says. The Sprint’s instrument panel offers easier-to-read new graphics, a new in-car entertainment system with iPod connectivity and Bluetooth. A new exhaust also “makes the 1.8-litre supercharged Elise the best-sounding four-cylinder car on the market”, the marque says.