Car Tech 2016

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The most anticipated new models of the year Nissan stokes passion at Nismo Festival Better than four

The automotive and technology worlds continued to converge in 2016, with new automobiles increasingly becoming rolling tech platforms. Here are some of the technology that we witnessed in 2016:

Nissan’s triple technologies

Nissan Serena MPV with ProPilot can accelerate steer and brake itself on the highway, a step towards autonomous cars

Nissan promised a trifecta of automotive technology that will enhance the car ownership and driving experience. Unlike other carmakers, Nissan is rolling out the technology this year in production automobiles. First is autonomous driving. While a fully autonomous car is still at least five years away (at least outside of Tesla), Nissan has released an enhanced driving assistance system with its ProPilot. The ProPilot uses a mono camera to read road markings and monitor traffic conditions. As offered in the all-new Nissan Serena MPV, the ProPilot allows the van to automatically follow a preceding vehicle. The system operates the accelerator and brake, while also controlling the steering to stay within lane. The system does require the driver to keep his hands on the steering wheel. Market acceptance has been good, with 60 percent of Serena buyers opting for ProPilot. Future variants will no doubt offer greater levels of autonomous driving.

Expanding on its initiative with the full-electric hatchback Leaf, Nissan has a hit on its hands with the new Note hatchback with e-Power. The e-Power system is a series hybrid drivetrain. This means that the gasoline engine inside the Note doesn’t propel the car directly but merely recharges the battery. The presence of a gasoline engine for recharging allows the Note to use a much smaller battery than the Leaf while still delivering a full electric vehicle (EV) experience. The Note e-Power has become Japan’s best-selling vehicle, a top spot that Nissan returns to after 30-odd years. Nissan’s long-term goal is to produce more vehicles with zero emissions.

The third enhancement is connectivity. With more computing capability built into cars, they are better able to avoid crashes. They also will automate certain functions such as parking and payment of tolls.

Turbo power thrusts forward

Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet in Miami Blue

2016 saw more than a dozen vehicles launched with power and torque-enhancing turbocharging. This included popular diesel vehicles, as expected. More surprising and just as pleasing is the introduction of turbocharging to popular gasoline vehicles. The highest-profile vehicle in this lineup is the new Honda Civic, which offered a gasoline engine with turbocharger variant, the first time for this model. Turbocharging offers the benefits of increased power and a wider, flatter torque curve for better acceleration. The smaller engine displacement allows for better fuel economy.

In addition to the Civic, other gasoline cars with turbocharging this year included a diverse lineup from SUVs to sports cars. The Porsche Boxster took a risk by reducing its displacement and number of cylinders. But with turbo enhancement, the performance is better and that’s the most important facet. Its sister car the 911 also received turbocharging for even the base model. Other turbo vehicles launched were the Volvo S90, with a similar powertrain to the XC90 SUV. They join other vehicles like the Ford Fiesta, Focus, and Explorer with EcoBoost; and the Chevrolet Trax.

From virtual to real-life

Philippine finalists Quattro Adriano and Richard Dean Jose with the 370Z at the Nissan Playstation GT Academy International Race Camp

Nissan Playstation GT Academy continued to thrill the gaming community in the Philippines as Nissan Philippines ran the search for a champion for the second year in a row. The Philippine top six flew to Northampton UK for a series of challenges both on and off the race track to determine a country and overall winner. The team included the first-ever female finalist. After competing in various race cars, from the Nismo 370Z to the mighty GT-R, Richard Dean Jose was chosen as Philippine champion. A gamer from Mexico, Johnny Guindi Hamui, took top honors as GT Academy champion for 2016.

Kia Autonomous Driving

YOU CAN recall the Kia Soul AV from its parking space by using your smartwatch.

At the beginning of 2016, Kia demonstrated its autonomous driving technology at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The Kia Soul EV Autonomous Vehicle was able to navigate its way around the company’s proving ground in California, including through simulated intersections and city environments. The car is capable of parking itself and picking up passengers when summoned via smartwatch.

Honda Legend’s hybrid drive

Honda Legend

Still a luxo-barge, the Legend packs serious kit to make it a true sports-sedan despite its limousine-like qualities.

Honda has equipped its flagship luxury sedan Legend with hybrid drivetrain. Not just for fuel efficiency, the system in the Legend is designed to enhance acceleration. With three electric motors on board, the Legend has all-wheel drive for better grip and handling, without the extra differentials and driveshafts of a conventional system.

Plug-in hybrid drive in the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe

The Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe combines the looks and some of the handling of a sports coupe with the tall ride height of a crossover. The GLC Coupe has an available plug-in hybrid model, allowing for pure electric driving. The engine provides extra power when needed and recharges the lithium-ion batteries.

Active scent and touch-free controls in the BMW 7 Series

The BMW 7 Series is loaded with technology from innermost parts to the cabin. The chassis uses carbon fiber for some of its structural parts, to cut weight while increasing rigidity. This allows the car to be more fuel efficient while delivering more performance.

The air-conditioning system can waft in selected scents, from citrus to coffee-like aromas, aimed at keeping the driver more alert and the passengers feeling more pleasant.

The hands-free controls for the audio and phone systems allow the driver to wave his hand in the air, like John Williams, to conduct the various controls. Sounds gimmicky? Perhaps, but we suspect you won’t know that you needed such features until you’ve experienced them on a long drive.

Eight-speed transmission in the Montero Sport

Mitsubishi trumps the Korean and Japanese competitors at least when it comes to transmissions. The new Montero Sport is equipped with a eight-speed automatic, promising seamless acceleration coupled with better fuel efficiency.

SkyActiv diesel in the Mazda6 and CX-5

Mazda has been doing unconventional things with the internal combustion engine, under its SkyActiv technology brand. The SkyActiv diesel uses low compression ratios for a diesel, allowing the 6 and CX-5 to zoom along with superior torque delivery and better fuel efficiency.

Surround sound system in the Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Getting stuck in traffic is a bummer, perhaps with the exception of being in the all-new Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Its Burmester surround system with 13 speakers and nine-channel amplifier deliver superb, crisp sound. Whether your preferred beats are by Beethoven or Major Lazer, you wouldn’t want to leave the E-Class until the song is done.

Hybrid drivetrain in the Porsche 919 Hybrid

Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche Team: Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, Marc Lieb

Porsche displayed its 919 Hybrid race car replica in the Philippines, with a viewing of the Le Mans 24 Hour race. This year’s running, probably the most thrilling race in the world, was more dramatic than any movie. The main rivals each used a different propulsion technology: Audi with its diesel, Toyota with its turbocharged gasoline hybrid, and Porsche with its flat-four turbo hybrid.

After 24 hours of cars lapping at near-qualifying speeds, the Toyota was leading until the last possible moment, when their race car came to a halt.

Porsche picked up victory with its 919 Hybrid. Audi announced its departure from the sport, to focus on Formula E electric racing instead.

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