TEXT LOW KA WEI AND LIAO XIANGJUN
MOTORING’S NEXT DECADE
Wolfgang Durheimer, chairman and CEO, Bentley, speaking at the Automotive
News World Congress, Detroit, US.
1 The next 10 years will be transformational for luxury car makers.
We will see customer demographics broaden and change dramatically to incorporate millennials; the rising affluent in developing economies; and members of Generation “C” – the connected generation where attitude, rather than age, is the defining characteristic.
2 Customers will demand instant, unobstructed access to technology, information and convenience; have an entirely different attitude towards vehicle ownership; and live in an increasingly urbanised world with all the mobility challenges and opportunities that this presents.
3 But technology on its own is not enough.
Technology in isolation is cold and can never be truly luxurious. The human touch must not be lost.
4 Bentley will use new technology to enhance traditional and authentic materials in new and contemporary ways. For example, Oled screens could be overlaid on wood veneers. These ultra-thin screens would be invisible except when in use, such as to control the audio or HVAC systems.
5 There is a future for more diverse and sophisticated concierge-style services that will enhance the lives of customers. Bentley is investigating a global customer network – a “club” where ownership does not relate to a single vehicle, but rather entitles drivers to a luxury mobility solution in selected cities around the world.
“What’s the concept of transport? It’s not necessarily owning a car, it’s about the mobility of the customer. We want to be in the game of supplying that mobility. I can’t tell you much now, but even in Singapore, we’ve got a (related) project that will come to fruition at end-2017 that’ll allow you to experience an Audi in new ways.”
New cars on the block.
DIAL S FOR SPEED
Dusting off the “S” nameplate that signifies an improved model, last seen over 30 years ago when the Countach ruled in the bedroom-wallposter realm, the Aventador S is Lamborghini’s heavily facelifted flagship. The biggest news for the 350 kmh supercar is four-wheelsteering – a first for the Audi-owned Italian marque – that aids manoeuvrability at low speeds and cornering stability at high speeds.
The revised styling enhances downforce and engine cooling, with the air ducts lending a Countach-esque touch for those too young to have driven the legend back in the day.
THE ‘SPORT’ IN SUV
Mercedes’ model-proliferation plan shows no sign of abating, dividing the customer matrix into even finer segments with the new GLC 250 4MATIC Coupe. Based on the mid-sized GLC 4x4, the model marries SUV practicality with coupe sportiness by designing the roof line to drop towards the rear. The launch car comes with a sweet four-pot turbo good for 211bhp. If that is not enough grunt, a V6-powered AMG model with 367bhp on tap will be available later this year. Both variants come with all-wheel-drive and nine-speed automatic transmission.