Automotive

Hyundai’s NEXO is a hydrogen-powered SUV

It only emits harmless water vapor

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Hyundai continues to go green.

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, car manufacturer Hyundai Motor has launched NEXO which is the second-generation commercialized fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) from the company. The SUV comes as a successor to the company’s Tucson FCEV and packs new and updated features.

Having your car run on fuel cells has major advantages. For one, it results in higher efficiency than on gas or diesel engines, is way quieter, and since there is no engine, maintenance and servicing costs are much lower.

Oh, and the most important of all: The drivetrain emits nothing but water vapor — making the NEXO a dear friend to Mother Nature.

The new hydrogen powertrain is then supported by special features to further make the SUV attractive. Hyundai is proud to announce its Blind-spot View Monitor which uses wide-angle view of its surroundings to see areas not seen by a traditional rearview mirror. This is an industry-first technology that allows the driver to see video footage from both sides of the vehicle.

Since we’re in the era of smart cars, Hyundai has also equipped the NEXO with semi-automated driving functions.

Lane Following Assist basically keeps you centered in your lane and works at speeds between zero and 145kph on both highways and city streets. While we’ve seen similar tech on other vehicles, it’s a first for Hyundai. There’s also Highway Driving Assist that works with sensors and map data to ensure safe operation and keep your speed in check.

The vehicle doesn’t stop at the ability to self-drive. It is also capable of parking and retrieving itself from a parking space with or without a driver in the car. Additionally, having a dedicated architecture for a fuel cell setup makes it possible to relocate the battery to the trunk and provide more cabin space for the passengers.

The NEXO is powered by a 40kW battery pack that delivers energy to its 120kW electric motor. Hyundai claims that it has enough torque to reach 100kph in 9.6 seconds which is actually impressive for a vehicle that lacks an engine.

Finally, while other battery electric cars take hours to fully charge, NEXO only needs five minutes to fill up its hydrogen storage and can go for up to almost 600km.

Pricing is still undisclosed as of the time of writing but it should be available in select markets around the world starting early this year.

Automotive

Mercedes-Benz GLC and V-Class: Living the fly life

Smooth sailing on the GLC 200 and V-Class 220d

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When we hear the words “upper class” in a market segment, we usually think of luxury lifestyle, extravagant vacations, fine dining, and everything fancy. So when it comes to their means of transportation, we expect nothing less than utmost grandiosity.

With this in mind, some premium car brands will naturally come to mind and one of them is Mercedes-Benz.  This was the idea that Auto Nation Group, the official distributor of Mercedes-Benz in the Philippines, had in mind when they hosted the Media Ride and Drive — a day-long activity that offered participants the choice to drive the new GLC 200 and V-Class 220d or enjoy the comfortable ride and amenities offered inside both these new models.

Mercedes-Benz GLC 200

Instead of usual technical reviews, it was their goal for the participants to experience the affluent life — to be driven to where their consumers would go and do activities they would commonly do.

Scuba diving and the GLC

Of course, I took an underwater selfie

The first activity was a 3-hour course in scuba diving led by accredited PADI diver Igor Subora.  Held at the indoor scuba facilities of The Upper Deck Sports and Lifestyle Center in Ortigas, the activity aimed to give a glimpse into the lifestyle of someone with a spirit of adventure – a persona that perfectly matches the personality and performance of the new GLC.

According to Joseph Ayllon, head of PR Communications, the new GLC is a great match for confident go-getters in life determined to achieve goals. He says that it’s the right vehicle to take out of town or to a quick getaway within the city – like taking the morning off to go scuba diving.

The GLC remains as the best-selling Mercedes-Benz for 10 years with more than 1.6 million units sold. Priced at PhP 4,290,000.00, the GLC 200 is a robust adventure luxury SUV that delivers 197hp and 320Nm of torque from a 2.0 turbo petrol engine mated to a 9G-TRONIC 9-speed automatic transmission.

Its interior is wrapped in premium soft-touch materials, leather, and brushed metal accents. The soft leather seats were exceptionally comfortable, with plenty of head and legroom. In addition, the Burmester surround audio system is impressive and gave crisp & immersive sound.

Looking at the dashboard, it boasts a high-definition all-digital instrument panel along with their intelligent voice command LINGUATRONIC with “Hey, Mercedes” functionality which we found quite useful for a hands-free driving experience.

Sitting at the back, this SUV felt smooth and cabin noise was well isolated. Overall, this SUV is a perfect fusion of adventure and luxury.

R&R with the V-Class

After our scuba diving training and certification, we went our way to our lunch venue at Misto Seda-Vertis North onboard the 2019 Mercedes-Benz V-Class 220d. Priced at PhP 4,690,000.00, this lounge on wheels puts out 163hp and 380Nm of torque from a 2.2-liter diesel engine mated to a 7G-TRONIC PLUS 7-speed automatic transmission.

Mercedes-Benz V-Class 220d

As a passenger sitting on the third row, it didn’t feel like you were in a van; the cabin was unbelievably quiet and immensely comfortable. Everywhere you touch is made of premium quality material and the leather-wrapped captain seats just give you a sense of grandeur — almost like sitting on Queen Elizabeth’s throne.

The interior is spacious with abundant head and legroom. In addition, this model boasts swivel seats with a built-in pullout folding table. Looking out, I just loved how you are surrounded by huge & bright windows, perfect for scenic road-trips.

I have never felt more comfortable riding a third-row seat from a vehicle of this segment. You just feel pampered and EDSA traffic suddenly wasn’t so stressful.

After our bounteous buffet lunch at Misto, it was time to head to the last destination and the day was wrapped up with a relaxing full body massage at the Upper Deck Recovery Spa.

End of the day thoughts

As we ended this unique drive, one thing was made crystal clear to me: Mercedes-Benz really knows who their products are for and the new GLC 200 and new V-Class 220d truly cater to the needs and demands of this market segment.

I have to admit that I was easily spoiled by the activities the company has prepared — kicking it off with a fun diving experience, having a feast, and ending the day with a massage. Although, that’s exactly what they want their customers to feel with these new offerings — pampered and spoiled while getting from point A to point B.

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Automotive

This is Mazda’s electric vehicle — the MX-30

The company makes its first foray into the EV scene

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Mazda just introduced the MX-30 which is its first entry to the EV segment. This vehicle is more than just a means of transportation, it is a lifestyle packed with fun technologies and comfort features designed and engineered for modern urban living.

This 5-seater crossover SUV is stunning both inside and out and stays true to the recognizable Mazda’s styling cues. The exterior is simple, solid, and futuristic in design — boasting its ”freestyle” opening doors reminiscent to the RX8.

Interior design is clean and packed with luxury in addition to the latest innovations. Choice of materials was given particular attention. Parts of the car are made of recycled plastic and cork which emphasizes texture and visual warmth, and at the same time are sustainable and environmentally friendly.

A simple horizontal layout can be seen on the dashboard creating a simplistic look and an introduction to a second touchscreen as an air-conditioning control panel. Additionally, it has a floating floor console that gives a sense of lightness and continuity. Instead of leather seats, you will find fabric made from recycled pet bottles that give off a soft and light touch.

Mazda aims to make the MX-30 an enjoyable driving experience with the introduction of a new electric drive technology called e-SKYACTIV. As a result, the MX-30 is a pure driving pleasure with dynamic performance and seamless operation.

This front-wheel-drive SUV runs on 35.5kWh lithium-ion prismatic batteries and delivers 105 kilowatts of power (142 horsepower) with a maximum torque of 264Nm (192 lb-ft) from the motor.

When it comes to safety, the MX-30 also comes with Mazda’s advanced safety technology called i-Activesense. This includes the company’s new functionalities like preventing collisions at intersections, keeping the car in its lane even without road markings, and a body built to absorb impacts.

For now, the MX-30 will only be available for pre-order in Europe with delivery scheduled for next year. At the time of writing, there are no announcements as to which markets will follow. The price is expected to be under £30,000 in the UK (US$ 39,000) including VAT and government grants.

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Automotive

LG and Qualcomm team up to bring webOS to vehicles

Aiming for a better in-car infotainment system

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Whether you’re the driver or passenger, in-vehicle infotainment systems play an important role to keep us entertained during long drives and heavy traffic.

LG and Qualcomm have seen this importance and plans to be one of the first companies to further improve how we pass the time while inside a vehicle.

LG, known for its televisions and consumer products like smartphones and smartwatches, is already in the automotive industry and has been supplying dashboard panels and other components to different brands. On the other hand, Qualcomm plans to incorporate its AI know-how to improve the system, among other things.

Together, they plan to further develop webOS Auto by leveraging on LG’s recently announced webOS Open Source Edition 2.0 and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Automotive Development Platform or ADP. By sharing resources and features, consumers will soon experience more convenient in-car entertainment.

webOS is a Linux-powered platform using LG’s experience in vehicle infotainment. By making use of its webOS Open Source Edition 2.0, developers can experience new features that will be incorporated in webOS Auto.

Meanwhile, the Snapdragon ADP features top-notch infotainment technologies supported through artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, advanced graphics for high-resolution multiple display configurations, and ultra HD media streaming.

“We very much value this collaboration with Qualcomm expands the ecosystem of the webOS Auto platform and with the latest solutions from Qualcomm such as 5G networks and multimedia, customers will be able to experience the same entertainment at home in connected cars.,” said Dr. I.P. Park, president and CTO of LG Electronics. “Together, webOS and Snapdragon ADP will provide a high-performing, comprehensive hardware and software platform for future vehicle infotainment systems.”

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