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Interview with Roger Crathorne (Mr. Land Rover)

Yesterday I attended to Jaguar Land Rover’s PR Event. I had the opportunity to experience with various Jaguar and Land Rover models. However, and the most important moment was meeting up with Technical PR Manager of Land Rover, Roger Crathorne (as known as Mr. Land Rover). Roger has been working in Land Rover for 49 years; he started from the junior level and worked in different positions in Land Rover during the years. His nearly half a century of experiences made him the most experienced off-road specialist and engineer in the business. All those years, he worked as engineer for the first generation Range Rover, and developed the four-wheel drive system, transmission and drive train. Later on he was involved with the Discovery project and also took important roles during the development.

He has a well-respected experience and knowledge on four-wheel drive vehicles and currently works at PR department to explain the Land Rover’s technologies to us. You will find more details during the interview. We talked about why Land Rover never introduced front differential lock, the details of the journey from Birmingham to Geneva with the first generation Defender and 1.000.000th Discovery 4, how he perceives the contemporary SUV market and experience at Land Rover. We didn't skip the Mercedes G-Wagon, Porsche Cayenne and BMW X6!

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Land Rover Discovery 4 in Chernobyl

1986 was a normal year like the previous ones, we were getting closer to 1990s; technology was improving, computers started to appear in real life, telephone was still the most favourite communication instrument until April 26.

I was only five-year old at that time, attending to nursing school. I barely remember those days. However I remember one thing very very very clear, Chernobyl. On 26th April 1986, the worst ever nuclear disaster occurred. A nuclear power station exploded.

I remember how my parents, our family friends were concerned about the incident. Actually, nobody had any idea about what had happened and what would happen next, but a silent wave of fear was growing inside everyone. This fear was so strong, at the age of five, I learned the word radiation and for that age it was really hard to understand what does it mean. You perceive the world through psychical objects and the scariest can be a barking dog outside your window, and an invisible object appears in your life.

Many people were talking about the incident on TV, each friend visit had the same conversation all the time, endlessly. So, I learned the word radiation and Chernobyl at the age of five.

Years have passed, we all forgot the incident. Time-to-time there were some documentaries about the incident and they were saying that no one lives in Chernobyl and it is a restricted zone. Until last couple of minutes, I was thinking the same.

But, I have just saw the press release of Land Rover’s fund raising trip of 1.000.000th Land Rover Discovery 4’s trip from Birmingham, UK to Beijing, China through 15 different countries. And they stopped at Chernobyl! I thought I read it incorrectly; it cannot be possible to send a team to visit Chernobyl. I read it again and again but, it was correct. A team of people driving Land Rover Discovery 4’s visited the restricted city and visited the exploded power station. I wish that the team did not expose to anything but the press release mention that, there is still radiation around the area.

This press release just recalled my child memory. I remember one phrase from that time "don't drink tea".

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Land Rover

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Formula 1 is Back to America: Red Bull

This year Formula 1 is going back to US. Nearly for one-decade, Formula 1 did not appear in North of America and they wish to make an impressive return, also increase the awareness. I mentioned impressive because Red Bull's footage to celebrate the Formula 1 is back in USA definitely highlights this. It has a really amazing story, all the details are very well connected with the American culture and reflects the exclusive character of Formula 1.

To understand what I mean, you need to watch the whole footage.

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Red Bull

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Face-lifted Mercedes GLK

Mercedes recently revealed the photos of the face-lifted GLK! GLK is the smallest SUV offered by Mercedes and it has design similarities with the G-Wagon. And in my opinion, GLK is one of the good-looking SUVs on market. Unfortunately, the pre face-lift model was not that good, especially for interior quality and it was quite boring! Again unfortunately, it was covered too much with plastic which lead the problem!

Hopefully, Mercedes realised the problem and reduced the amount of plastic used for interior. I think they also realised that Range Rover Evoque is the biggest selling small SUV on market and GLK could not keep with the competition.

Even with this face-lift GLK is not a perfect substitute for Evoque but it offers a good alternative who are not willing to go for the Evoque. The only problem with the Evoque is, it is too popular! GLK is more rare and can be considered as more exclusive that is related due to it rarity.

Lastly, this GLK reminds me a bit of new B-Class but I liked the design bit especially in the rear stop lights and the front look. Hopefully, they did not amend the muscular look from the side. 

For more photos: Cars & Life Facebook Page

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Audi Design Dilemma

I realised that I was complaining about Audi for a quite long time. My main complaint with the Audi is the design. Probably many people will not agree with me and surely will say, what is wrong the Audi’s design; they all look amazing. I am not saying the opposite, they really look amazing in addition to they look the same! This problem is not emerged by Audi; Mercedes and BMW had it as well. These two brands used to have look-a-like models, which seem to be produced by a photocopy machine. Eventually, Mercedes and BMW got rid of this virus and succeed to create a unique brand identity and unique product identities.

I think this is the place, where the problem starts. A car needs to express two main things through design; brand identify and product identity. When people see the car, they need to realise and remember the brand and at the same time, they need to distinguish the model. For instance, each Mercedes model has a similar front grill but never the same; BMW has the same kidney front grill for each model but it never leads to confuse the models. However, Audi has the same very big front grill for the each model with a very similar front look, and that’s the problem.

When same front grill is commonly used by each model, it helps people to identify the brand easy but at the same time, it reveals the problem of looking the same from the front. So, this leads to strength the brand identify, when you look at the range of Audi, you see the brand identify is very clearly; but product identify a bit blur. However, the exposure of brand identify is risky. When you add too much, it overlaps the product identify and when you add too less, you have totally different products with nothing in common (Previous generation of Kia models are good example for this). And I do know that, it is really hard to adjust this. It may seem easy to judge but a very challenge task to achieve.

Let’s go back to brand and product identify overlap. In order to avoid this, Mercedes and BMW generated different type of front looks, so people can understand the difference even from a distance. That’s the key point, if a car can be recognised from a 200-meter distance by its brand, you have the brand identify. And at the same time if the product can be identified, you achieved perfect combination. Unfortunately, it is really hard to identify the Audi models from distance, sometimes you need to check the back of the car to understand which model it is.

So where is the problem? The problem is, if the cars look the same, where is point of buying the more expensive one? Many customers are not crazy for super cleaver technology, they are excited by the brand and if they could access the brand in a cheaper way, they would definitely good for that! For that reason, you may see many people are saying Audi A4 is a great car and may hesitate to buy A6! Because, they look the same like. Like Aston Martin models!

I do know that Audi realised this problem, and is going to create a new design concept for future models. My suggestion is to make Audi logo bigger and remove that the same looking grills from the design range. Each model should have the Audi DNA in the grill but not the same grill!

Pictures' Copyrights
Audi, Mercedes, BMW

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Photos from Malaysian Formula 1 Race

Here are the results from the Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix.

For more photos: Cars & Life Facebook Page

1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 8 1:41.680 2:44:51.812 25
2 Sergio Perez Sauber 9 1:41.021 +00:02.263 18
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1 1:41.539 +00:14.591 15
4 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 4 1:41.017 +00:17.688 12
5 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 10 1:40.722 +00:29.456 10
6 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 13 1:41.404 +00:37.667 8
7 Paul Di Resta Force India-Mercedes 14 1:41.819 +00:44.412 6
8 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 18 1:41.922 +00:46.985 4
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 16 1:42.173 +00:47.892 2
10 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 3 1:41.760 +00:49.996 1
11 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 5 1:41.342 +01:15.527
12 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 15 1:41.756 +01:16.828
13 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 7 1:41.863 +01:18.593
14 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 2 1:42.100 +01:19.719
15 Felipe Massa Ferrari 12 1:42.051 +01:37.319
16 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 19 1:43.513 lapped
17 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 20 1:44.757 lapped
18 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 24 1:43.803 lapped
19 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 11 1:42.237 retired, 54 laps
20 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 21 1:44.813 lapped
21 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 23 1:45.909 lapped
22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 22 1:46.244 lapped
23 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 17 1:44.202 retired, 46 laps
24 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 6 2:08.464 retired, 3 laps

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Hyundai ix45, Worth to Look!

Everything has a first time! And here it is, Hyundai released the pictures of upcoming SantaFe or ix45 (Europe brand) SUV. I never write about this brand but I cannot ignore the fact that, Hyundai improved so much last one decade. Especially in terms of design and quality, Hyundai’s improvement could not be missed. Therefore, I wanted to share these pictures.

And keep in mind, this car will be powered by a 2,0-lt turbo petrol engine produces 278 PS! 

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Monster is back: Mercedes SL 65 AMG

And it is back. Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG! Honestly, I am not fan of this meaninglessly powerful engine.  Because, it is so powerful and makes so hard to control the car. The previous engine was 612 PS with 1000 nm of torque, this one has more power! 630 PS with two turbos and the same torque level. This torque level is very very high and that's main problem why all 65 family flashes the traction control all the time. Rear wheels cannot cope with this enormous power. Despite this monster engine, the new SL65 AMG achieves to reach 100 kph (62 mph) in 4,0 seconds. In my opinion this engine has to be used only with four-wheel drive, otherwise it is wasting power!

Hopefully, Mercedes got rid of the five-speed auto gearbox and paired this monster with 7G-Tronic automatic gearbox, however it is not double clutch. The main problem is the enormous amount of torque makes gearbox heavy and expensive, therefore Mercedes stick with the traditional automatic gearbox.

Mercedes also produced the boot lid from carbon fibre to save weight, five kg. In overall, this models is not 1950 kg and 170 kg lighter than previous model. But the top speed is still limited to 250 kph.

I still find no point to buy this car, it is better to stick with SL 63 AMG!

For more photos: Cars & Life Facebook Page

5980 cc
Bore x stroke
82.6 x 93.0 mm
Compression ratio
463 kW(630 hp) at 4800-5400 rpm
Max. torque
1000 Nm
at 2300-4300 rpm*
Vehicle weight acc. to EC
1950 kg
Fuel consumption, NEDC combined
11.6 l/100 km
CO2 emissions
270 g/km
Efficiency class
Acceleration 0-100 km/h
4.0 seconds
Top speed
250 km/h*
* electronically limited

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Cars of the Day #47: Porsche Bobsleigh

Car of the day is back! And here is the only Porsche without any wheels!

Click here to buy!

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Who is That Girl on Fiat 500 Abarth Advertisement?

I know that you were looking for the girl at Fiat 500 Abarth Super Bowl advertisement! You wasted your time on Google and Wikipedia and I guess you found her or you couldn’t! So, for the people who did not manage to find her, I did find her :) Her name is Catrinel Menghia from Romania, and she is not Italian but lives in Italy!

Anyway, this footage took place in Vegas by Venom. Venom modified the 500 Abarth and replaced many parts with carbon fibre. Engine is also reprogrammed to produce 160 PS and making puff sound thanks to bypass valve of the turbo.

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Venom, Catrinel Menghia, Fast Lane Car

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Anatomy of Ferrari F12berlinetta

Last week Ferrari released new footages of the F12berlinetta model, which replaced the 599GTB. I don’t want write more, just watch them :)

Focus on the engine

Focus on layout

Focus on the chassis

Focus on aerodynamics

Focus on vehicle dynamics

Focus on design and styling

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Louis Vuitton 2012 Fashion Show with Steam Smoke!

Today I want to share the Louis Vuitton’s Fall Autumn 2012 Fashion Show with lots of steam smoke! This year LV decided on a fashion show concept based on steam-powered train to create a retro feeling. Unfortunately, smoke was fake, it doesn’t have that real black coal burned ashes spraying all around! Honestly, it would be really funny to see that smoke was real and ashes were sprayed all over the place :)

My suggestion to LV, next time use a space shuttle. As the space shuttle are retired now, you can buy one for good price!

Thanks @alisveriscini for the support :)

For more photos: Cars & Life Facebook Page

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Louis Vuitton

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