A-CLASS IN TECH AND LOOKS
Fast Lane: A-class in tech and looks Mercedes-Benz A-class. PHOTO: MERCEDES

A-CLASS IN TECH AND LOOKS

Here is the new Mercedes-Benz A-class, with evolutionary tweaks in styling but revolutionary changes to on-board technology. The car has the latest in driving assistance systems with cooperative driver support, giving it the highest level of active safety in this segment with functions adopted from the S-class flagship.

For the first time, the A-class is able to drive semi-autonomously in certain situations. To do this, it has a camera and radar system that allows it to see up to 500m ahead. The car also uses navigation data for assistance functions. Also on board are Active Emergency Stop Assist and Active Lane Change Assist, which were first seen in the E-class.

There are two new four-cylinder petrol engines initially, a 1.4-and 2-litre, both paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Both come with a particulate filter. The car is slated to arrive in the third quarter of the year.

KA-BASED CROSSOVER

Ford's new Ka+ is a subcompact crossover based on the Ka hatch. Assertively styled, the car is packed with features such as a 6.5-inch connected infotainment screen, Quickclear heated windscreen, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlamps. It is powered by a new 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine with up to 10 per cent more torque at low rpm. A 1.5-litre turbodiesel model will also be available.

NEW MAZDA 6 UNVEILED

The latest Mazda 6 features a more mature, elegant and refined exterior design, extensive interior revisions including completely new seating, a more powerful SkyActiv powertrain, enhanced driving dynamics, greater aerodynamic efficiency and more safety features.

It will also feature SkyActiv-X, a spark-controlled compression ignition engine, which is the world's first petrol engine to use compression ignition. It promises to offer the best of petrol and diesel technologies. The car, however, is expected to arrive in Singapore only next year.

SKODA CONCEPT TO PREMIERE IN MARCH

Skoda's latest concept is a hybrid called Vision X, which will be displayed at the Geneva Motor Show next month. By 2025, every fourth vehicle Skoda delivers worldwide will have a plug-in hybrid or purely electric powertrain.

KONA ELECTRIC IS THE FIRST ALL-ELECTRIC SUV

Hot on the heels of its Ioniq Electric saloon, Hyundai has announced a battery-powered version of its Kona crossover.

The Kona Electric will be the first all-electric sport utility vehicle when it is released in the middle of this year in Europe. It will have a range of 470km, as measured by a new and more realistic economy standard.

HIT THE SKI SLOPES WITH NISSAN 370Z

Nissan is getting into the winter sports spirit with a one-off 370Z Roadster snowmobile. Dubbed the "370Zki" - pronounced "370-Ski" - the 332hp roadster on skis is ready to tackle snowy slopes and backwoods trails.

The car's original brakes were retained, but the brake lines had to be rerouted and the exhaust system was modified to fit under the vehicle.

The rear wheel wells were also modified for clearance of the four-foot-long snow tracks.

HYUNDAI SANTA FE GROWS UP

Hyundai has unveiled its fourth-generation Santa Fe, which promises class-leading roominess. The company's largest passenger car is now more modern and elegant, with styling cues seen on its Kona compact crossover. The sport utility vehicle measures 4,770mm long, 1,890mm wide and with a longer wheelbase than its predecessor.

ONLY 15 MINUTES TO CHARGE

Porsche Mission E By 2022, Porsche will invest more than €6 billion (S$9.8 billion) in electromobility, focusing on both plug-in hybrids and pure electric models. Some €500 million will be used to develop Mission E variants, about €1 billion for electrification and hybridisation of existing products, several hundred million for the expansion of sites, plus about €700 million in new technologies, charging infrastructure and smart mobility.

The Mission E is a 600hp sports car capable of a 3.5-second century sprint and has a range of 500km. Thanks to a costly and sophisticated 800-volt charging system, it will take just 15 minutes to juice up the vehicle for a 400km drive.

DRIVERS DO NOT HAVE EYES ON THE ROAD 7 PER CENT OF THE TIME

Peugeot used eye-tracking technology to analyse where drivers look as they drive. It found that motorists have the road in their eye-line 93 per cent of the time. Over a one-hour journey at 50kmh, the distance travelled while the drivers were looking away from the road is equal to the length of almost 32 football pitches.

HYUNDAI TESTS FIRST SELF-DRIVING FUEL CELL CARS

Hyundai has demonstrated a fleet of autonomous fuel cell vehicles. The Nexo cars completed a 189km journey from Seoul to Pyeongchang. It was the longest drive for Level 4 autonomous vehicles - the second highest level of autonomy.

Hyundai plans to commercialise Level 4 autonomous vehicles by 2021 and Level 5 fully autonomous models by 2030.