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The perfect car for a cruise in nature: The Infiniti QX30

A long winter reigned over Lebanon this year, it wasn’t until April that the weather cleared out. This weekend, I looked outside my window and I could clearly see the birds singing, flowers blossoming and the aroma filled the air; it was definitely springtime.

I had to hit the road and was in a mood for a cruise alongside trees and the beautiful scenery of the Lebanese mountains and what would be the perfect car for such a cruise other than the Infiniti QX30.

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The Infiniti badge on the front grille defines the nature of the car, it is the definition of Japanese premium cars, QX means that this car is made for on-road driving with an adventurous side hidden in its gems, it may not be an extreme off-road vehicle but it has capabilities to give you the pleasure of discovering nature in its fine formats.

This small crossover equipped with a 2.0L turbocharged engine producing 210 horsepower delivered a smooth ride uphill while I was enjoying my favorite tunes on the Infiniti Infotainment System displaying all the info I needed on my 7” screen and pumping my beats on the clear sound 10 Speakers Bose system.

All of a sudden, an herb of sheep crossed my path and gazed into the human eye-shaped headlights “Infiniti signature lights” and I felt like nature is calling and had to take that turn into the offroad path at that specific moment for that sense of freedom that you can only get with unplanned trips.

Entering that pathway, I couldn’t but think out loud, discovering new roads in nature is simply satisfying but doing so indulged with premium leather, stitching, and the premium material cabin is another Infiniti experience.

One thing I regretted while driving the Infiniti QX30, is the fact that I was alone enjoying that spring experience as despite the fact of being a small crossover, this vehicle is more than capable of fitting a group of friends into its cabin sitting comfortably and still have enough space to carry their backpacks needed for a hiking ride or some time alone away from the noise of the city.

On my way back to civilization, I came to realize that the Infiniti QX30 is not just made for off-roading and adventure seekers, it is also the perfect car for the city with a very comfortable steering and suspension systems turning your ride into a joy able experience, adding to it the tons of technological features that will surely make your life easier such as Start/Stop function, Cameras….

If you are looking for a small premium crossover and love that aggressive yet elegant looks of an Infiniti then the QX30 is your choice.

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Renault’s unstoppable SUV – the all-new Duster – arrives in the Middle East

Renault All-new Duster

Renault Middle East is welcoming the all-new Duster – the unstoppable SUV – to its Middle East line-up. Already on-sale in Lebanon and Egypt, and available in Jordan from August, the new Duster will be arriving across the GCC and Saudi Arabia from September and will be on sale in Iraq in late 2018. While offering a range of high-quality, new features, the reinvented SUV will still retain the same level of affordability that the name ‘Duster’ is celebrated for.

The all-new Renault Duster boasts brand-new exterior styling, delivering a distinctly assertive and robust look, as well as an upgrade in perceived quality with a totally redesigned interior for a comfortable and user-friendly driving experience.

Since its global launch in 2010, more than 2.45 million Duster models have been sold across the world under the Renault and Dacia brands. The SUV for everyday motoring has been popular with drivers across the globe, with exceptional sales results recorded in Russia, India, Brazil and the Middle East.

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The Duster’s roominess, affordability and off-road capabilities have long been recognised as the model’s strengths and the all-new models continues to carry these desirable attributes.

The SUV’s exterior has been given a more robust look thanks to the addition of a wide chrome-finish grille which extends to the head lights positioned at the car’s front corners. A front skid plate reinforces the Duster’s adventurer credentials and ensures that the vehicle never loses its smart looks. Finished with Renault’s signature C-shaped lighting with LED daytime running lights the Duster is a modern SUV with a rugged personality.

Inside, the Duster is equipped with new, high-quality, driving aids and new equipment, making it a genuine adventure-ready SUV which offers the versatility and comfort for everyday driving. On stepping inside the cabin, the noticeable difference in quality is instantly recognisable – packed with ‘Easy Life’ features like Hill Descent Control, Multiview camera and Blind Spot Warning, 4×4 monitor, automatic air conditioning, Remote Engine Start (GCC only), seven-inch touchscreen tablet and Renault smart card with keyless entry system – as well as quality trims and materials.

The all-new Duster is available in both 2WD and 4WD specifications and offers among the market’s very best off-road capability. With a choice of two petrol engines; 1.6L (4×2) mated to a CVT automatic transmission, and 2.0L with automatic transmission (4×4), the Duster is an SUV equipped for any terrain.

Commenting on the launch of the all-new Duster, Marwan Haidamous, Renault Middle East Managing Director said, “Before the arrival to the region of the original Duster in 2012, there was little awareness of the Renault brand in the Middle East; the original Duster was responsible for boosting the brand’s awareness. Now, six years on, we are welcoming the all-new Duster which will, again, reinvent and reinvigorate the brand to new levels of performance and positive opinion – pushing us further towards our goal of being ‘best in class’.”

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Hyundai Ready to Write Next Chapter in its SUV Success Story

Since the launch of the original Santa Fe in 2000, Hyundai’s SUVs have become symbolic of the company’s rise as a global automotive force. The mid-size Santa Fe and compact Tucson consistently rank as top-sellers for the brand, and top-sellers in their market segments. For consumers, the Hyundai name is now closely linked with its popular SUV offerings.

Now the Korean carmaker is preparing to write the next chapter in this long SUV success story with the two new models, the next-generation Santa Fe and the all-new Kona, due to arrive in Africa and Middle East markets during summer.

“The original Santa Fe took Hyundai in a new direction and changed the way people saw our brand,” said Hyundai’s Head of Operations for Africa and the Middle East, Mike Song. “We have achieved stunning success in a premium part of the auto market. We also played a large role in driving the growth of SUV sales worldwide, from being a niche segment to become a mainstream choice as more people saw the advantages of light SUVs and crossovers as practical family cars.

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“The new fourth generation of Santa Fe will take its place at the front of the family SUV segment, with Hyundai’s distinctive combination of premium features, high quality, and outstanding value, in an extremely competitive market. The Kona takes these premium values into the sub-compact B-segment, optimized as part of a sporty and active urban lifestyle.”

The original Santa Fe was not the first Hyundai SUV. That honor belongs to the Galloper, launched in 1991, but the Santa Fe transformed Hyundai into a global leader for the segment. Already the new-generation Santa Fe is Hyundai’s top seller in South Korea, the first market to receive the new model. In Africa and the Middle East, Hyundai is aiming to repeat the stunning success of the current third-generation Tucson and the Creta.

The Tucson, which will also receive a design update to the current model this year, is considered one of the most important sales-drivers for the Hyundai brand globally. In many markets, including Europe, the Tucson is the top-selling Hyundai model. In Africa and the Middle East, the Tucson is Hyundai’s top-selling SUV, and in the Middle East more specifically it was the top-selling SUV of any brand during 2017 according to figures from the Middle East Automotive Council (MEAC).

The smaller Creta has exceeded all sales expectations in the region, offering a very strong value proposition to family buyers. The Kona will supplement the Creta in showrooms, with premium features and more fashionable design to set it apart.

“The Creta and Kona will appeal to very different customer groups, so there is room for both in our model range without them taking sales from each other,” said Mike Song. “We have already achieved something similar in the small sedan and hatchback market, where the sporty Veloster supplements our more general offerings, attracting younger, more style-conscious buyers to our brand.”

As new models establish themselves in the market, Hyundai will continue to set ever more ambitious goals for developing its SUV products. Very importantly, SUVs and crossovers will play a substantial part in the company’s plans for environmentally sustainable mobility – another area in which Hyundai is establishing itself as an industry leader.

Internationally, the Tucson is already built as a fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) and was the first fuel-cell vehicle offered as a standard production model. Hyundai is following up this landmark achievement with the NEXO, the world’s first dedicated hydrogen-fueled SUV model, now on sale in Korea. This year will also see the international launch of the Kona Electric as an electric version.

“Hyundai is a company committed to the future, and to sustainability,” said Mike Song. “With innovation and technology, our SUVs are helping lead the way forward.”

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THE NEW BMW X2

With its unmistakable design and sporty, urban feel, the BMW X2 breaks new ground for BMW as a unique and exciting addition to the BMW X model range.

The car’s chassis and xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system delivers the ideal balance between sporting dynamics and efficiency. The digital services from BMW ConnectedDrive and BMW ConnectedDrive Services – both of which are now available in freshly updated form – add further depth to the overall BMW X2 experience.

Design.
Even next to its bigger brothers, the BMW X4 and X6, the BMW X2 makes a distinctive impression. The car’s exterior design combines the low-slung proportions of a coupé with the robust core of a BMW X model.

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The BMW X2 is two centimetres shorter and more than seven centimetres lower than the BMW X1, yet has the same wheelbase. Featuring short overhangs, it also has a stretched, coupé-style roofline and slim window graphic.

The kidney grille has always been an identifying feature of a BMW. On the X2, however, its outline is wider at its base than at its top. The X2 is the first modern BMW to feature this design cue, and it gives the new car a broader, more distinctive and sportier appearance. Below the grille, the hexagonal surface treatment in the bumper further reinforces this impression. The high-gloss black grille provides sharp contrast with its chrome surround.

Full-LED headlights as standard on Sport, M Sport and M Sport X models. The bi-LED light for low beam and high beam is highly effective at illuminating the road, while also accentuating the BMW X2’s sporty character. The headlights display precise detailing, achieved in part through 3D Icon LED daytime driving light and laser engraving.

The M Sport and M Sport X models are available with wheels in sizes up to 20-inch, a standout feature in this segment. As standard, both models are fitted with 19-inch wheels. The standard rims for the SE model are 17-inch V-Spoke style light alloy wheels, but ten other rim designs can be specified as an option.

The side skirts of the BMW X2 are among its signature features and contribute to its rugged good looks. The cladding is black on the SE and Sport models and Frozen Grey on the M Sport X. The C-pillars host two characteristic BMW features: the hallmark BMW Hofmeister kink and, for the first time on a BMW X model, the BMW roundel.

At the rear, a spoiler provides a flourish to round off the BMW X2’s roofline and contributes to the BMW X2’s drag co-efficient of just 0.28. Together with the width-enhancing rear bumper, this creates a powerful rear view.

On the SE and Sport models, the rear bumper comes in the vehicle colour and matt black. The M Sport models feature a diffuser-look cladding inlay in Dark Shadow metallic. M Sport X models, meanwhile, get a bespoke diffuser insert in the contrast colour Frozen Grey.

The horizontal design lines of the BMW X2’s rear-end emphasise the car’s width and its strong character, with these lines continuing into the high-set rear lights. The LED rear lights contour and the L shape familiar from BMW coupés.

The car hints at the power of its BMW TwinPower Turbo engines through the design of the tailpipes. All X2 models come with a twin exhaust arrangement 90mm diameter.

Interior and equipment.
The class quality of the BMW X2 and its levels of equipment, even in the SE model, are both instantly apparent. The instrument panel has contrast stitching as standard, while the centre console features materials including Sensatec also with contrast stitching.

The interior of the M Sport model comes with a Micro Hexagon fabric Anthracite/Alcantara combination, with the M Sport X adding leather upholstery as standard. Eye-catching highlights can be added by opting for the new perforated Dakota leather in Magma Red or the Micro Hexagon fabric Anthracite/Alcantara combination upholstery with yellow contrast stitching to match the Galvanic Gold metallic exterior paint shade.

The new BMW X2 combines style with generous everyday practicality. The boot has a capacity of 470 litres, meaning it can handle leisure activities, from shopping sprees to a skiing weekend or mountain-bike tour. This functionality manifests itself in the passenger compartment too, thanks to features such as a door design featuring large storage pockets.

The cabin is driver-focused, with the design of features such as the instrument panel binnacle directed at the road ahead. All controls are positioned to allow the driver to assimilate their information with a single glance and operate them with ease.

The soft-finish instrument panel is pleasant to the touch and gains further visual appeal with contrast decorative stitching. The M Sport model comes with Micro Hexagon fabric Anthracite/Alcantara combination upholstery with M piping in blue or yellow with contrast stitching on the instrument panel and the centre console as standard. The M Sport X model comes with Dakota leather with contrast stitching. Further sophisticated upholstery variants are available as options, including as many as five Dakota leather variants with part-perforation and coordinated contrast stitching. The choice of trim finishers, including High-gloss Black, Aluminium and matt Oak Grain variants, underlines the high-quality credentials of the BMW X2.

All functional controls in the centre console are set in high-gloss black as standard, giving the interior a touch of sophisticated elegance (excluding SE).

An optional lighting package within the Plus pack allows drivers to set a stylish lighting mood for the interior of their BMW X2 by choosing from the colours Orange, Lilac, Mint, Bronze, Blue and White. The LED lighting in the trim surfaces of the instrument panel and door panels forms a continuous band that extends all the way around the cabin to the rear. One of the most distinctive options on the list is the panoramic roof, which adds to the sense of spaciousness inside the BMW X2. The front section of the panoramic roof tilts and slides open, just like a conventional sunroof. 

Driving dynamics.
The TwinPower Turbo engines within the BMW X2 range team with the car’s refined chassis to endow it with class-beating handling qualities, exceptional agility and superb feedback.

The common denominator of all BMW X2 models is a chassis that transfers the core responsiveness of the BMW engines to the road. The car’s driving responses can be adapted by using the Driving Experience Control switch, allowing the driver to choose between default COMFORT mode, efficiency-enhancing ECO PRO mode and SPORT mode. The pre-programmed set-up available via SPORT mode gives the car even more dynamic steering and powertrain responses.

If the optional Dynamic Damper Control is specified, the car’s suspension can be adjusted even more precisely to individual requirements. Drivers can choose between two settings – COMFORT or SPORT – using the Driving Experience Control switch. The result is sporty suspension offering solid road holding and reassuring comfort over any surface.

The M Sport suspension fitted as standard on the BMW X2 M Sport and M Sport X is a particularly good match for these two models and includes tauter spring and damper tuning. BMW X2 M Sport and M Sport X models offer suspension which is 10mm lower than the standard suspension.

Digital services in the new X2.
All of the BMW ConnectedDrive and BMW Connected elements in the new BMW X2 have once again been designed to assist, inform or entertain the driver at the appropriate time using just the right services.

The new X2 offers its driver three different ways of interacting with their car, as the sixth generation of the iDrive control concept now supplements the familiar iDrive Controller and optional voice control (within Tech pack) with touchscreen operation as standard for the Control Display . The touchscreen can also be used comfortably by the front passenger.

Standard specification for every BMW X2 includes a 6.5-inch Touch Control Display with navigation system. The display concept is designed to provide the driver with a quick summary of the most important information at any particular time by means of, for example, the live tiles that appear in the display’s main menu. Its operation emulates the intuitive touch control principles familiar from smartphones.

For even greater safety and convenience in the BMW X2, there is the option of the full-colour BMW Head-Up Display, also featured within the Technology Pack, projects all important driving information and navigation/assistance system readouts onto the windscreen and therefore into the driver’s field of view – in high resolution.

BMW Connected+ provides a digital bridge between smartphones and the car. It delivers the next level of in-car personalisation and smartphone content integration on the Control Display of the X2. This makes display and operation in the vehicle simpler than ever. One example of a new Connected+ service is Share Live Trip Status which allows the driver to share their current location and time of arrival with business partners, friends or family.

Among the other highlight features enabling connectivity anytime, anywhere are the optional WiFi hotspot preparation (available in Tech Pack), which equips the BMW X2 to host a built-in WiFi hotspot with LTE speeds, and the optional telephony with wireless charging (available in Tech Pack) for compatible smartphones. Apple CarPlay® (available retrospectively from the BMW ConnectedDrive Store), meanwhile, enables easy, wireless in-car use of selected iPhone functions.

Not only does the BMW X2 offer drivers a wide selection of driver assistance systems, it also comes with highly advanced technologies.

The camera-based assistance systems available for the new BMW X2 help to deliver assurance and safety in different driving situations. The optional Driving Assistant (within Drive Pack) includes Lane Departure Warning, Speed Limit Info with No Passing Info display, anti-dazzle High Beam Assistant, as well as Collision Warning and Pedestrian Warning with City Braking function. In addition to these functions and as an upgrade to the Driver Pack, the Driving Assistant Plus also features the Active Cruise Control system with Stop & Go function – which maintains both a desired speed between 19 and 87mph entered by the driver and the safety distance to vehicles travelling ahead – and the Traffic Jam Assistant. At speeds up to 37mph, this function takes over both proximity control and lane-keeping tasks from the driver. The Traffic Jam Assistant uses steering assistance to keep the car reliably in the middle of its lane, but the driver needs to have at least one hand on the steering wheel for the system to work.

Standard rear Park Distance Control and the rear-view camera (within Vision Pack), whose images are transferred onto the Control Display, make precise and comfortable manoeuvring that much easier. The optional Park Assist (also within Driver Pack) also helps the driver to find and make use of parallel parking spaces.

ENJOY THE VIDEO BELOW:

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A Snow retreat onboard the upgraded 2018 Nissan X-Trail

For this weekend drive and before winter was over and the snow melts down, we wanted to go on our yearly snow retreat. It was time to hit the snowy ski slopes of the Cedars mountains in Lebanon. For the occasion, we wanted a family SUV, young in its spirit and capable in its features to deliver fun and safety throughout this long driving journey of snow, light off-roading and adventure.

We have chosen the 2018 upgraded Nissan X-Trail, although we have previously driven this SUV in its regional launch event a few months back however we wanted to put it to the real test and see it in action.

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The New 2018 Nissan X-Trail has undergone several major upgrades on its exterior to give it a more robust design while still maintaining its sculpted and muscular styling. The “V-motion’ grille extends further downwards for a much more aggressive look coped with a redesign of the bumper underneath. From the sides, the major change is the addition of chrome side moulding across the base of the two doors creating a more luxurious yet sporty appeal on the X-Trail profile. Moving to the back of the car, the totally re-designed rear view is a sight to see, with chrome integration and rear lamp signature which are now full LED gives the X-Trail a more athletic design. On the roads, the 2018 Nissan X-Trail perfectly reflects its identity of a forceful family SUV.

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Kids in the back, ski gears and needed luggage for the weekend stored perfectly and we are ready to go. During long trips, families face two major issues: at first, prolonged driving distance can cause discomfort for the driver and the front row passenger, however with the spacious five-seater we were driving on city streets, highways and curvy bumpy mountainous roads seated comfortably throughout the whole journey as the new Nissan X-Trail comes equipped with the fatigue-reducing Zero Gravity front seats, secondly kids in the back can be a real source of discomfort in those long trips, once more the Nissan X-Trail solved the issue with its 2nd row seats that slides and reclines, providing Easy Flex Seating so the rear passengers can enjoy a comfortable sitting setup with enough leg room for everybody and yet still have enough cargo space for the stuff we threw in the trunk, noting that the New Nissan X-Trail has also increased its cargo capacity from the previous model.

As the trip progresses, we were having fun enjoying our choice of music through Bluetooth connectivity. Reaching the mountains and as the weather started to change, a light fog carpet was covering the roads, this is where the new shaped rectangular fog lights and the full LED lamps with wider high beam pattern on the new Nissan X-TRAIL came in handy for a better visibility and enhanced road safety.

Depending on your choice of available trims (X-Trail S, X-Trail SV, X-Trail SL), the new SUV comes loaded with safety and technology features that amplify Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility philosophy and provide Intelligent Power, Intelligent Driving and Intelligent Integration to increase a driver’s confidence and trust in their new Nissan X-TRAIL. Some of these features are included in the X-Trail for the first time such as Intelligent Rear View Mirror, Intelligent Emergency Brakes, Intelligent Cruise Control, opening panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, privacy glass, dual-zone automatic air-conditioning, roof rails, Intelligent Around View Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Warning technology, Intelligent Cruise Control, Intelligent Trace Control, Nissan’s Hill Start Assist (HAS), Anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution and stability control and much more.

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On the drivability level, the 2018 Nissan X-Trail comes equipped with a 2.5L 4-Cylinder engine coped with an CVT XTronic automatic transmission producing 170 horsepower. Our vehicle came equipped with 4-WD using the Intelligent 4×4 system that is responsive and adapts to roads’ changing conditions. We took the 2018 X-Trail on various types of gravel, mud, snow and anything you can think of and the SUV performed perfectly and was capable of overcoming any surface that we crawled on. We had a blast splashing it through water, muddy pools and most importantly snow.

Other new upgrades were also part of the 2018 Nissan X-Trail that makes an impression on every driver upon door entry, I personally liked the new steering wheel which is now higher on the top part and D-shaped on the lower part for a sportier look and feel and at the same time is more functional when it comes to viewing the dashboard meters and in exit and entry of the SUV. In addition to the newly used materials and design of leather, gloss black and more for a higher-quality ambiance and increased refinement of the inside cabin.

The 2018 new Nissan X-TRAIL is a spacious five or seven-seat crossover designed for young families and adventure-lovers seeking a more premium style and refined driving experience. I Know because I tried it.

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MG ZS crossover now on sale across the Middle East

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MG Motor has announced that its new MG ZS crossover is now on sale across the Middle East, bringing premium style, without the premium price tag, to customers across the Gulf region. Prices for MG’s new crossover start at around US$12,000 (depending on market) for the entry level 1.5L STD model.

The new MG ZS enjoyed its Middle East show reveal at the Saudi International Motor Show in December, and is now available in three high value trim levels – 1.5L STD, 1.5L COM and 1.5L LUX – the perfect option for buyers seeking a good-looking, well-equipped, well-built car at a sensible price.

The arrival of MG’s new crossover marks an exciting new era of design for the famous British car brand with the introduction of a totally new design philosophy. Based on ‘Emotional Dynamism’, this more expressive design language showcased by the MG ZS is set to feature across all upcoming models, and emphasises the premium experience and commitment to quality of the ambitious brand.

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Commenting on the new model, Mr. Tom Lee, Managing Director SAIC Motor Middle East, said: “The new MG ZS features a stylish new design language and a host of hi-tech features tailored specifically to the needs of the younger generation and the female market. All of which makes this a very strong entrant into the regional SUV sector, while at the same time helping to spread the message that MG is a key player on the international automotive field.’’

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A distinctive grille, increased MG branding and a delicate front end give the car a refined look that carries through its sweeping corners to the robust rear end. A combination of quality and a premium finish have been at the heart of MG’s design philosophy for the MG ZS, with every surface, material and fitting selected for its visual impact, as well as durability and longevity.

Commitment to design excellence is continued in the interior of the MG ZS, with touches that nod to a dynamic and exclusive space for the driver, while being accessible and user-friendly for any passengers. More than 80 percent of the exposed surfaces are covered with soft materials, and a colour contrast from the dark grey base creates a layered effect.

A trend for ‘bigger’ connectivity means MG’s inkaLink system, with 8” infotainment screen and Apple CarPlay, will become a signature of MG going forward as it looks to target a younger generation. A remote smart application will allow the driver to operate vehicle functions such as remote start and stop, manage air conditioning, vehicle tracking and aftersales appointments. It even reminds owners of the services needed for the car.

The MG ZS provides some of the most generous shoulder, leg and headroom capacities in its segment, ensuring a premium travelling experience for driver and passengers alike. A massive 448 litres of boot capacity plus a split-level boot provide plenty of room for all manner of luggage, while there are numerous compartments throughout the car for additional storage. It offers a classic dual colour leather interior and an optional panoramic sunroof (available soon).

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The MG ZS has undergone rigorous testing and received a 5-star rating in the C-NCAP crash tests, offering customers additional peace of mind. All models benefit from a strengthened high duty steel passenger safety cage, ESP, ABS, EBD and a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS), while rear cameras and parking sensors are also available.

With a New Generation NSE Major 1.5L engine it can travel 100km on just 5.8 litres, giving it unrivalled fuel efficiency for its class. When it comes to performance, this efficient petrol unit delivers maximum power of 119 hp and 150 Nm of torque. Delivering true driving excellence, the MG ZS offers three power assisted steering modes – Urban, Normal and Dynamic – which are designed to give the driver complete control. It is equipped with a 4-speed automatic gearbox.

Standard features on all models include one-button start, power adjustable wing mirrors, manual air conditioning, a 60/40 rear seat, height-adjustable steering column and a front armrest. Contributing to the new model’s impressive safety credentials, ABS, EBD, ESP and a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) are also standard.

Moving up to the COM model, buyers can look forward to adding cruise control, power assisted steering modes, parking sensor, InkaLink system, side airbags, LED Daytime Running Lights, a premium multifunction steering wheel and a roof rail to the specification list. The top-of-the-range LUX model swaps 16” alloy wheels for 17” dual colour alloys, and adds automatic air conditioning and a rear camera.

Last year MG’s parent company, SAIC Motor, was listed in the Forbes Fortune 500 list for the 13th consecutive year, ranking #41 overall and 7th amongst all global automakers – the highest ever ranking for SAIC Motor. With global sales revenues of $113.86 billion in 2016 the company is investing heavily in the MG brand.

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Test Driven Weekend Drive

The Cadillac XT5 is more affordable than you think

For this weekend drive, we took on a mid-size luxury crossover SUV made by Cadillac: the Cadillac XT5 (short for Crossover Touring 5).

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The XT5 was introduced back in 2015 at the LA Auto Show and Dubai International Motor show and made a huge impact on their audience. General Motors the American Car manufacturer replaced one of his best-selling vehicles the SRX crossover with a totally new vehicle the Cadillac XT5, so was it worth it?

Our journey initiated from IMPEX, Cadillac’s dealership in Lebanon, showroom to pick up this crossover SUV and witness its impact on the streets of Lebanon.

Our first stop was the busy streets of Beirut on a Saturday morning, the XT5 cuts a dashing silhouette wherever it goes. The exterior of this crossover SUV was a true magnet. The bystanders were admiring the ravishing beauty of this XT5. The front was at the same time aggressive and elegant, the large chrome grille centered by Cadillac’s emblem and sieged from both sides by the swept to the sides headlights with LED dripping downwards to form a continuity in design with the vertical fog lights were more than the eye can handle. From the back, the XT5 reminded us that this a true Cadillac as it resembles a lot the magnificent ATS and CTS and the all-mighty Escalade with its Cadillac’s signature vertical taillights and a slight hug to the rear fenders coupled with the twin exhausts tips to give the XT5 a family yet sporty design.

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From the inside, the XT5 screams Cadillac all over. The design is simple yet elegant and has Cadillac written all over it, the synthetic leather upholstery used on the seats and dashboard adding to it the brushed aluminum trims and the layout of the screen and dashboard are made to perfectly fit the drivers’ needs. I personally liked one of the coolest phone slots in the business, tucked under the console-compartment lid. Your phone is kept largely out of sight with just the top edge sticking out and yet is still handy. That not only makes it less obvious to thieves should you leave your phone behind, it may help keep weak-willed phone junkies from playing Words with Friends on the road. Plus, the compartment doubles as a wireless charging station for those with compatible phones. For everybody else, dual USB ports keep devices charged without cords draped everywhere, while standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay add to the convenience.

What is also noticeable about the XT5, is the layout of the rear seats. Those riding in the rear will enjoy seats that slide and recline, as well as two back-seat USB ports. And what makes it more of a family luxury SUV is the fact that you can fold the back seats creating a flat floor needed when there’s a large amount of huge cargo to fit in the back for that long trip you are planning with the wife.

Seated comfortably in our leather seats, we enjoyed the 14 speakers surround-sound system for that acoustic refined experience (the XT5 comes standard with eight-speaker Bose stereo system) as we cruise to our weekend getaway countryside house. The XT5’s CUE infotainment system uses a vibrant 8.0-inch high-resolution touchscreen which made our ride a lot easier and accessible to be connected at all times.

Cruising down the countryside roads heading to our destination, the 3.6L V6 engine coped with an eight-speed automatic gearbox shooting a 310 horsepower was exactly what we need to push this crossover SUV now 126 Kg lighter than the previous SRX. On top of that, Cadillac featured on the XT5 the first application of GM’s Electronic Precision shift which replaces the standard hydraulic shifter with the electronic controller. The driving sensation on straight lines as well as curvy turns was exhilarating and provided a super comfortable driving experience.

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Driving through the beautiful scenery of the Lebanese countryside roads and just before reaching our destination, I noticed the perfect shooting spot with amazing nature-made rock statues and had to stop for a memory photo that will last engraved in our minds. The road to that spot was a combination of gravel and dirt, despite the fact that if you own an XT5 off-roading is not on your mind, however, we had to try since the XT5 driven was an All-Wheel drive (front-wheel drive is the standard option). With enough ground clearance and the AWD system in action, we crossed the narrow out of tarmac pathway and pulled over for that perfect shot.

With no room to make a U-turn, the reverse was our only option. Set the gear in reverse and the video rear-view mirror with a 360° view backup camera made the backward experience as easy as it could be. Afterwards, we were on our way to finish our journey, and we actually kept the streaming video rear-view mirror on for a safer driving experience and a better view of what’s behind us.

Moreover, The XT5 comes loaded with safety and technology features to name a few: A rearview camera and rear parking sensors, front parking sensors, rear cross traffic alert, a safety alert seat, forward collision alert, a following distance indicator, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, forward and reverse automatic braking, front pedestrian braking, Intellibeam (Cadillac’s name for automatic high beams), a rear-camera mirror, a surround-vision camera, a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, active park assist and so much more.

In order to compete with the growing segment of mid-size luxury crossover SUV, Cadillac has put an affordable price tag on its standard XT5. Those Cadillac lovers can now own their XT5 without thinking twice about the price. And for those seeking to take it up a notch with a more luxurious vehicle, General Motors has released the XT5 in four trims standard, Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Platinum.

Thus, if you’re searching for a luxury SUV that’s affordable, elegant, and comfortable, the Cadillac XT5 could be a good fit.

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World’s Best-Selling SUV, Nissan X-TRAIL 2018

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World’s Best-Selling SUV, Nissan X-TRAIL 2018 Launches in the Middle East with Upgraded Enhancements

The Nissan X-TRAIL, the world’s best-selling SUV has launched its new 2018 model in the Middle East and is now available with a range of upgrades, which further enhance its quality and refinement. The changes include a distinctive and robust redesign of the exterior, a higher-quality interior with new features, additional practicality for owners and innovative technologies to make life on the road more enjoyable and safer.

Globally, Nissan has sold over 835,000 units in FY16, making X-TRAIL the highest-selling SUV worldwide and a customer favourite. New upgrades to the new 2018
Nissan X-TRAIL give young families and adventure-seekers more premium style options and features to enhance the driving experience. Customers can choose from the five or seven-seat version of the new Nissan X-TRAIL as well as five new vibrant exterior vehicle shades, while still indulging in the unrivalled space and comfort.

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Kalyana Sivagnanam, President for Middle East & Regional Vice President for Africa, Middle East and India, Nissan, commented: “There is a constantly growing demand for crossovers in the region and as the leader in global SUV sales, the new Nissan X-TRAIL is a testament to our commitment to customer satisfaction. The enhancements to the new Nissan X-TRAIL focus on and deliver more of what our customers want in an SUV – upgraded design, space, comfort and the ability to handle a range of terrains. The Nissan X-TRAIL’s versatility makes it the ideal car for family adventures and group activities.”

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Nissan Intelligent Mobility is the name for the brand’s strategy which make its cars more desirable by redefining how they are driven, powered and integrated into society. Powered by a range of Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility technologies, the new X-TRAIL is equipped with three new driver-friendly innovative features for the first time – Intelligent Rear View Mirror, Intelligent Emergency Brakes, and Intelligent Cruise Control. The goal is to make Nissan drivers feel more confident, excited and connected, while also enhancing road and passenger safety.

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“Today, drivers are looking for the latest technologies to help power their journeys and provide a safer route to their destination. Nissan’s new X-TRAIL is a
customer-centric SUV with the latest technologies and upgrades, yet still has the traditional benefits of a crossover.” Added Sivagnanam.

The new Nissan X-TRAIL 2018, will have a price ranging between $23,800 to $24,200 for the 2WD models and $27,800 to $35,200 for the 4WD models in the region. Prices per market will be revealed at their respective launches and will vary from market to market.

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