Bennett Oghifo

The all-new Kia Optima Sportswagon has made its global public debut at the 2016 Geneva International Motor Show (86th Salon International de l’Automobile), ahead of the car going on sale across Europe from Q4 2016.

The Optima Sportswagon was joined on the Kia stand by the all-new Optima Plug-in Hybrid sedan and Niro hybrid crossover, both making their European debuts following world premieres at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show in February.

According to the Chief Operating Officer, Kia Motors Europe, Michael Cole, “These three new models will bring Kia into new segments for the first time, and help drive the brand’s growth in Europe for years to come.

“The SPORTSPACE concept from 2015 signaled a clear direction for the next generation Optima, and the Sportswagon adds an extra level of style and practicality to the well-received sedan. We decided to show our first-ever D-segment tourer together with our first-ever plug-in hybrid in Geneva to demonstrate our commitment to this hugely important sector, aimed at attracting new private and corporate buyers to the brand.

“The Kia Niro will also broaden our appeal to European customers, offering a compelling blend of crossover practicality with the cool, modern styling for which Kia is famous, and an efficient new hybrid powertrain to keep running costs down. The Niro fills a gap in the market for a crossover with low hybrid emissions, and will enable us to attract a new type of car buyer. Hybrid sales have more than doubled in Europe over the last five years, and are forecast to account for approximately 700,000 sales in Europe by 2020.

“The Niro and Optima Plug-in Hybrid will also help us meet our 2020 global target to improve average fleet fuel efficiency by 25% over 2014 levels.”

The Optima Sportswagon, Kia’s first foray into the D-segment tourer segment, has been inspired by the 2015 SPORTSPACE Concept. Manufactured exclusively for Europe, the new Optima Sportswagon offers the striking exterior design and high quality interior of the Optima sedan, with the added practicality and appeal of a tourer.

In adopting a tourer bodystyle, the Optima Sportswagon boasts a series of highly ergonomic features in the boot render the car more practical than many other D-segment tourers. Highly versatile 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats are fitted as standard, enabling owners to slide longer outdoor equipment – such as skis or snowboards – through the central seat, while two rear passengers can still sit in comfort.

Other features include a safety barrier net built in to the back of the rear seats and pop-up sliding luggage rails. A low, flat boot lip, and a Smart Power Tailgate enable owners to load heavy items easily.

The Optima Sportswagon is equipped with Kia’s latest audio-visual navigation (AVN) system, and will be among the first of Kia’s models to feature Android Auto™ for Android phones running 5.0 Lollipop or higher (available from launch), and Apple CarPlay™ for iPhone 5 or newer (available by the end of 2016). Both systems allow smartphone-style use of the infotainment system, with apps, voice control and music streaming.

The Optima Sportswagon will be available with a choice of 1.7-litre turbodiesel and 2.0-litre CVVL (continuously-variable valve lift) gasoline engines, as well as a high-powered 2.0-litre T-GDI (turbocharged gasoline direct injection) engine for GT models.

Also, the all-new Optima Plug-in Hybrid, Kia’s first ever plug-in hybrid electric vehicle has before going on sale across Europe in Q4 2016. The innovative new plug-in hybrid powertrain will be a key addition to Kia’s D-segment Optima line-up, as well as the company’s expanding portfolio of low-emission vehicles.

The all-new Optima Plug-in Hybrid is powered by a 9.8 kWh lithium-polymer battery pack paired with a 50 kW electric motor, allowing it to operate in pure-electric mode for more than 54 km (33 miles or above) at speeds as high as 120 kph, placing the Optima Plug-in Hybrid among the leaders in the D-segment for pure-electric range. Kia’s development teams are targeting combined CO2 emissions of just 37 g/km, which will ensure a low total cost of ownership for private and fleet buyers alike.

The innovative powertrain employs Kia’s efficient 2.0-litre ‘Nu’ four-cylinder GDI engine at its core, which on its own generates 156 ps and 189 Nm. The engine is coupled with the electric motor, which allows the car to operate in charge-sustaining mode once the battery runs out of charge. The powertrain’s total power output is 205 ps at 6,000 rpm, and, with the addition of electric power, torque output is a high 375 Nm (276 lb ft) from just 2,300 rpm.

The Optima Plug-in Hybrid adopts a range of enhancements designed to improve its aerodynamic efficiency, including reprofiled front and rear bumpers and an all-new active air flap grille, which reduces the drag coefficient to just 0.25 Cd (0.27 Cd for the Optima sedan).

The Optima Plug-in Hybrid is equipped with two key technologies to save and regenerate battery power – regenerative braking and an advanced heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, with a driver-only ventilation function to conserve energy. Available to European buyers later in 2016, a new Coasting Guide Control (CGC) function is also currently in development for the Optima Plug-in Hybrid, allowing the Niro to anticipate road conditions to reduce energy use and harvest additional electrical power.

All-new Kia Niro…

Shown for the first time in Europe, the all-new Kia Niro, a low-emissions hybrid crossover, has been produced from a combination of significantly re-engineered existing Kia platforms, designed to accommodate the Niro’s specific set of hybrid powertrain technologies.

The Kia Niro will offer the practicality and curbside appeal of a spacious crossover, together with the high fuel efficiency of an advanced hybrid powertrain. Engineered from the ground up as a dedicated hybrid vehicle, its compelling blend of crossover practicality with the cool, modern styling, for which Kia is famous, will help the car stand out among conservatively-styled hybrid rivals. A target CO2 emissions rating of sub-89 g/km (combined, based on Kia internal testing) will ensure low running costs.

Conceived as a dedicated hybrid model, the Kia Niro HEV will achieve its ultra-low emissions levels and impressive fuel economy with a downsized hybrid powertrain. Kia’s 1.6-litre ‘Kappa’ GDI engine – producing 105 ps and 147 Nm torque – is paired with a 32 kW electric motor and a 1.56 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack. The powertrain’s combined 141 ps power output is applied to the road through a highly-efficient six-speed double-clutch transmission (6DCT), with a maximum 264 Nm (195 lb ft) torque available in first gear.

The Niro is designed to offer high levels of practicality and comfortable interior dimensions despite its compact on-road footprint, with class-leading headroom, 421 litres (VDA) of cargo capacity and a boot of a sufficient size and space to offer a full-size spare wheel beneath the boot floor (depending on market). From Q4 2016, the new Niro will be available with optional towing functionality – rare amongst cars in the hybrid class – allowing owners to tow braked loads of up to 1,300 kg.

The all-new Kia Niro is due to enter full series production in May 2016, and will go on sale across Europe during Q3 2016.

As with every Kia sold in Europe, the Kia Niro, Optima Sportswagon and Optima Plug-in Hybrid will all be sold with the brand’s unique 7-Year, 150,000 km warranty.

Nissan Canvasses Automotive Sector as Alternative to Oil Economy

Stallion NMN, manufacturers and distributors of Nissan vehicles in Nigeria has warned of impending stagnation in the country’s evolving automotive sector unless the Federal Government wholly implements the National Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) and give deserving operators the latitude to function optimally.

Nissan Nigeria Regional Project Director, Mr. Sorin Profir gave this advice in Lagos at a media engagement to acquaint local automobile journalists with Nissan’s achievement since 2014 and her successive plan of action.

Profir, who enjoined the Federal Government to urgently embrace the automotive industry as a viable alternative to oil that is already drably priced said: “the automotive industry is a catalyst of growth in most global economies and we can’t continue to depend on oil – reason why we should explore the inherent opportunities in automotive manufacturing.”

He advised the government to immediately implement the auto policy document; restrict gratuitous importation of vehicles that could be locally manufactured and encourage the establishment of more ancillary industries such as tyre, battery and glass companies to accelerate the inclusion of substantial local contents.

He said it was time Nigeria got its policy direction right, the Nissan regional director said, adding “on no account should the policy document be allowed to be circumvented or discarded for gratuitous reasons as many stakeholders are only waiting for policy direction to enable them kick-start their operations.”

Also commenting on the implication of the automotive policy since inception, Stallion Nissan Nigeria Motors Plant Head, Mr. Prakash Karat said “the plant hasn’t been stretched to its installed capacity since it began operation in April 2014 but we have produced only 3,050 units of four variants of Nissan vehicles including Nissan Patrol, Almera, NP300 Pick-up trucks and NV350 commuter bus.

Stallion Nissan Motors Nigeria plant was inaugurated in April 2014 with three fully equipped assembly lines for SKD (Semi-knocked-down) components and an annual installed capacity for 15, 000 vehicles but could only produce 3,050 vehicles as of June 2015.

The Stallion NMN vehicle plant like all other conventional manufacturing concerns is driven by the principle of supply and demand and could not carry inventory beyond particular level, Karat explained, saying we work according to marketing requirement.

Also, as consequence of the current parlous state of the economy, Karat said: “the Nissan vehicle plant has shrunk its work force to 85 from 131 at inception, but such workers could be recalled soon as the economic downturn improves,” he said.

He enjoined customers to be assured of the quality and standard of vehicles produced at the Nissan plant which according to him compared to similar products manufactured overseas. “We are continuing to train and retrain our service technicians in Nissan ever growing technological advancement and acquaint them extensively in Nissan’s always-changing technology. I am therefore proud to say we have some of the best technicians yet.”

The Nissan plant head, who took the auto media on a guided tour of the plant at Volkswagen Estate along Lagos-Badagry Expressway said plans are underway to transform Nissan Motors assembly plant from SKD II to a CKD tooling plant.

Lagos NARTO Elects Exco

The Lagos State branch of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) has elected a new executive to pilot its affairs for the next four years. The winners in the election held at its Ijora office include, Alhaji Sikiru Kaka-Chairman; and Chief Kayode Odunowo-Deputy Chairman;

Others are Alhaji Abdullahi Inuwa-Vice Chairman (Dry Cargo); Mr. Samuel Kalejaiye-Vice Chairman (Wet Cargo); Rev. Michael Safe-Vice Chairman (Commuter Service); Alhaji Kamaru Oniyide-Treasurer; Pastor Segun Omole-Financial Secretary; Mr. Kamaru Rufai-Public Relations Officer; and Mr. Okeneye Abimbola-Auditor. Alhaji Ibrahim Ajao and Kingsley Ojeme were returned as ex-officio members.

The newly elected Chairman, Sikiru Kaka noted that “Lagos State accommodate the highest percentage of the bulk of transport business in the Nigerian economy, both wet and dry cargoes, as well as commercial buses and as such, the strategic position of the state cannot be over emphasized.”

He added that “transportation, be it road, air or water, drives the economy of any nation, particularly in Nigeria where the road transportation system is responsible for about 90y per cent of movement of goods and people from one place to another. It then follows that such an important sub-sector of the economy must be strengthened, well organised and deepened financially to make it live up to its expectations.”

Kaka who was elected for another term, said his vision was to “make NARTO Lagos State branch excel and repositioned for future challenges,” adding that “we are all aware of the enormous challenges confronting our members in the day to day running of their businesses especially in metropolitan Lagos.”

The challenges he noted include intimidation and harassment by overzealous road traffic management officials, arbitrary imposition of fines and levies, brutality of the motor park touts and area boys among others.

He nonetheless commended the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode “for the provision of basic infrastructure for the betterment of residents of the state.

2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet Debuts, Looking Like a Mini S-Class

The 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet made its global debut the day before the Geneva Motor Show officially begins, taking a lot of cues from its S-Class bigger brother.

Coming in the form of a C300 Cabriolet with RWD or 4Matic and a performance-focused Mercedes-AMG C43 Cabriolet, the two cars are the latest droptops to join the German automaker’s lineup, and the very first convertibles based on the compact C-Class.

The two convertibles come standard with Mercedes’ wonderful AirScarf, a clever neck-level heating system that helps you enjoy open-air motoring even when it starts to get chilly. The climate control system also changes based on whether the top is up or down. If the top is up, it functions as it does in the coupe, and when the top is down, it directs air to the driver’s hands and steering wheel.

With its top up, the C-Class has nearly identical dimensions to the coupe, except it’s a wee bit taller. The multi-layer acoustic soft top helps keeps things quiet in the cabin and comes in four colors: black, dark brown, dark blue and dark red. It takes 20 seconds to open or close and can be operated at speeds of up to 31 mph. The seats are also covered in heat-reflecting leather, so it won’t burn your butt after sitting in the sun for a while, and the car has automatic seatbelt extenders so you won’t strain your precious arm reaching for the buckle.

A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with stop/start will power the C300 and is hooked up to a standard nine-speed automatic transmission. The engine outputs 241 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Zero to 60 mph happens in 6.3 seconds and top speed is limited to 130 mph.

The C43 is powered by biturbo 3.0-liter V6 with 362 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. The AMG can get to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and top speed is 155 mph. The AMG comes standard with 4Matic, but has a 31/69 front/rear bias.

Mercedes also promises that the roofless car has not lost any structural integrity or practicality, as the back seats fold 50/50 and have a pass through to store longer items.

Of course, the C-Class Cabriolets come with all the latest safety technology like attention assist, collision prevention, autonomous braking, adaptive cruise control, a 360 degree camera, and adaptive highbeams.

The C300 arrives in late summer and the AMG model lands at dealers in the fall. Pricing information has not yet been announced.

All New Hyundai Creta Charts New Course in Modern SUV

Hyundai Motors Nigeria has introduced Creta SUV, a new product line from the Korean automaker’s sport utility vehicle stable. The car will cater for a teeming market segment of young couples, emerging business owners and upwardly mobile executives, the Hyundai brand custodian affirmed.

Built to deliver fun and excitement in everyday motoring, Hyundai is pitching the Creta against notable rivals like Ford Ecosport, Renault Duster, Peugeot 2008, Chevrolet Trax and Nissan Juke but hopeful it would be a blockbuster in the compact SUV segment.

Hyundai had developed the Creta with sturdy suspensions to ride effortlessly on bad terrains and soak up bumps without sacrificing comfort and agility.

Although the Creta is novel in concept, the car is powered by four-cylinder GAMMA 1.6Litre engine with 159cc, delivering 121.3bhp @ 6,400rpm and 151Nm of torque mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Prospective customers may have nothing to worry as the new Creta which draws its name from the 5th largest island in the Mediterranean – Crete (creative) isn’t entirely outlandish, having shared basic platform with Hyundai i20. The Creta is currently sold in China as iX25.

The Creta is elegant, sturdy and spacious with inspiringly built cabin packed with equipment and proper SUV proposition. The rear seat for instance gets armrest which has two cup holders.

A cursory look at the Creta casts an image of a diminutive Santa Fe with all the trappings of opulence at the price of a family sedan – thanks to a design that is inspired by the larger Santa Fe.

Also remarkably outstanding are Creta’s tremendously light steering, smooth changing gears and swift response to acceleration which make driving in busy traffic a painless experience.

Surprisingly too, Creta doesn’t tremble in fear at the sight of curves rather it sticks to its ‘Live Brilliant’ attribute and steer perfectly well to get you where you desire to be.

Hyundai Motors Nigeria Head of Sales and Marketing Jatin Nadkarni who said this much in the product presentation explained that Creta’s design proportions and good looks are in line with Hyundai Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design language seen on the i20. “These elements draw attention to its bold and imposing chrome-grilled imbued with LEDs that aren’t daytime running lights,” he said.

The waistline and roof rails add to its strength of design and feeling of agility with an attractive rear chrome garnish above the number plate and an elegantly finished cabin.

The cabin not only offers comfortable seats and a good ride height, it adds a slew of gadget to keep buyers delighted.

Available in two variants – Elegance and Evolution, Creta offers a retinue of equipment as standard including ESC (electronic stability control) that works in conjunction with a vehicle stability management programme; ABS (anti-lock brake system), Bluetooth, park assist, rear air vents, centre arm rest, side repeater lamps, dual airbag among others.

Optional equipment on Evolution are leather seats, back warning camera, console cover leather, smart key (button start) and climate control automatic air-condition.

A member of West African conglomerate Stallion Group, Hyundai Motors Nigeria said the car market may be bearish lately, but the introduction of Hyundai’s newest Creta SUV would be upbeat in the compact SUV segment where some rival brands haven’t exploited optimally.

And from whatever angle you view the Creta, it casts the image of a full-time SUV – raised stance, high roofline with roof rails, black cladding all around and gap between wheel arches with massive 205/65/16-inch alloy wheels. The dimensions are nothing short of an SUV, so Hyundai can’t be wrong when it swanked to corner a significant percentage of the compact SUV market share.

Creta’s elongated headlights and tail lamps which are archetypal of Hyundai Fluidic Sculpture design also grab attention. This is in addition to the dynamic front and distinctive side view with matching rear tail-lights.

Also noticeable is Creta’s heavy doors with exceptionally brilliant build quality that allows good visibility even in hidden corners and places that are inaccessible to the eye sight. Safety features however include two airbags with ABS and EBD.

The dashboard gets silver inserts for vents and edges to make it different and even the gearbox surrounds get the same. Space in the front and rear is also very generous in terms of the legroom, headroom, knee and shoulder room too.

The boot space is good and the seats are comfortable with intuitively positioned pedals to ease driving.

When it comes to sound quality the stereo system is OK. Bluetooth connectivity works well than other Hyundai’s and quicker to respond when demanded. There are two 12v sockets one at the front and rear.

Range Rover Helps Unveil New Virgin Galactic Spaceship Two

Land Rover recently helped Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson unveil Virgin Galactic’s new SpaceShipTwo at a special reveal and naming ceremony at their Mojave Air and Space Port base in California, USA.

Land Rover and Virgin Galactic announced their global partnership in April 2014 against the backdrop of SpaceShipTwo, the world’s first commercial passenger carrying spacecraft, together with Land Rover’s new Discovery Vision Concept vehicle.

The automaker said the partnership demonstrates a shared vision of pioneering spirit, technological innovation and sense of adventure, and illustrates a desire to push the boundaries of travel for the next generation.

Land Rover and Virgin Galactic announced their global partnership in April 2014 against the backdrop of SpaceShipTwo, the world’s first commercial passenger carrying spacecraft, together with Land Rover’s new Discovery Vision Concept vehicle.

The automaker said the partnership demonstrates a shared vision of pioneering spirit, technological innovation and sense of adventure, and illustrates a desire to push the boundaries of travel for the next generation.

A Range Rover Autobiography, the pinnacle of premium SUV luxury, took centre stage at the global reveal, towing out the new SpaceShipTwo – officially christened VSS Unity – in front of the world’s media, special guests and a group of Virgin Galactic’s ‘Future Astronauts.’

Guests at the unveiling ceremony including Virgin Galactic’s stakeholders, VIP guests and Future Astronaut customers, watched on as Sir Richard arrived in the Range Rover and the new SpaceShipTwo made its global debut. The event also marked the special official naming moment of the new SpaceShipTwo, with Stephen Hawking announcing the name VSS Unity via a specially recorded message.

Announced in April 2014, the tow-out of VSS Unity by a Range Rover Autobiography marks the latest milestone in the partnership between the two pioneering brands; a partnership based around a strong British heritage and a true spirit of adventure, but underpinned by a desire to push the boundaries of technical innovation.

A fleet of Land Rover vehicles currently provides valuable support for the Virgin Galactic team at its base in Mojave, and will be an important part of its commercial operations for future astronauts at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

“Since our partnership began in April 2014, Land Rover has become an integral part of the team’s day to day operating environment in Mojave,” said Stephen Attenborough, Commercial Director at Virgin Galactic. “Therefore it was fitting that the Range Rover Autobiography took a staring role in today’s events as our new SpaceShipTwo, Unity, made its global debut. We’re looking forward to more collaborations across the business including STEM programmes as well as engineering, design and product initiatives.”

“This is a significant milestone for Virgin Galactic, and we are proud to be part of it. Helping the team unveil the new SpaceShipTwo not only reflects our supporting role in the Virgin Galactic programme, but it was also an impressive display of the Range Rover’s towing capability,” said Mark Cameron, Global Brand Experience Director at Land Rover. “But we have partnered with Virgin Galactic for many more reasons than simply providing and promoting a fantastic range of SUVs. We share the same long-term vision to invest in innovative design and technology to help us go further and achieve more. Not simply to enable mankind to explore, but to develop this partnership to inspire others. From our tens of thousands of employees and customers to schools and colleges, motivating more young people to pursue careers in engineering, science and technology – and explore new ways of travelling for future generations. This is a very special match of brands based around a shared vision.”

Both Land Rover and Virgin Galactic run significant and highly regarded community relations and STEM education programmes, which encourage young people to aspire to a future in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

2015 marked the 21st anniversary of the Range Rover Autobiography, the pinnacle of the Range Rover model line-up. Across two decades Autobiography has denoted the ultimate combination of Land Rover design, capability, luxury and luxury, adapting with changing customer tastes and preferences to remain a benchmark in the premium SUV market.