Grand hub a dumpling’s toss from curios and culture

The Waldorf Astoria Berlin’s presidential suite. Macalister Mansion, George Town.
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WHILE struggling economies worldwide eye the growing outbound Chinese tourist market, W Hotel is making inroads in the People’s Republic, opening in Guangzhou in February.

In the city that’s historically known as Canton and is the hub of China Southern Airlines, the 317-room hotel in Zhujiang district is close to the Guangzhou Opera House, Guangzhou New Library, and the new Guangdong Museum. Dim sum tea houses and curio shops are also within reach and an ideal counterbalance to the hotel group that’s known for its schmick design.

Alongside the hotel’s spa and gym, the hotel has residences for people wanting to call the W home. Further openings include Beijing and Shanghai in 2014 and Changsa in Hunan in 2016.

See starwoodhotels上海夜网m.

Berlin’s art-deco showpiece

Adding to Berlin’s cool credentials is the opening of the Waldorf Astoria. The hotel’s 232 rooms and suites are within the new Zoofenster skyscraper and include the presidential suite on the top floor.

In keeping with the original Waldorf Astoria, opened in 1931 on New York’s Park Avenue, the art deco style also features in Berlin, a city of about 3.5 million people.

The hotel is close to the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedachtniskirche — a church built as a memorial to the emperor of a united Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm I — and the shopping boulevard of Kurfurstendamm, with Prada, Burberry and Gucci among the high-end boutiques.

French chef Pierre Gagnaire, who has collected 12 Michelin stars, will be in the kitchen at Les Solistes by Pierre Gagnaire, and the Romanisches Cafe, located around the corner a century ago and a gathering place for artists and musicians, now exists within the hotel.

As well as eight treatment rooms in the day spa, there’s an indoor pool, a steam room, sauna, whirlpool, fitness centre and a rooftop sun terrace. On Hardenbergstrasse 28, 10623, deluxe rooms from €280 ($351).

See waldorfastoriaberlin上海夜网m.

Tribute to the governor

A restored colonial building built in the early 1900s has opened as the Macalister Mansion in the heart of George Town, Penang.

The eight suites at the luxury digs on the Malaysian island feature individual artworks that include references to the hotel’s namesake, Sir Norman Macalister, British governor of Penang from 1808 to 1810 . A love sonnet written in old English hangs above the bed in Room 1, while a piece in Room 8 above the sofa alcove by Malaysian-based artist Thomas Powell depicts key events throughout Macalister’s life.

Beyond the suites, the Living Room serves assam laksa and rose lemonade, and the Dining Room, soft shell crab with saffron aioli and gravlax.

At 228 Macalister Road, 10400 George Town, Penang, Malaysia, Macalister Mansion is a member of Design Hotels. Rooms start at 880 ringgit ($276) a night.

See designhotels上海夜网m/macalister_mansion.

Game on for kids

To accompany Britain’s rainy days, Novotel has introduced toy chests to entertain its dim sum younger guests. My Little Pony, Transformers and Monopoly are in the chest at the four-star hotels in London Blackfriars, Cardiff and Ipswich. Rooms start at £39 ($60) a night in Ipswich, £52.50 ($80) at the Novotel Cardiff Centre, and £126 ($192) at Novotel London Blackfriars.

Children under 16 stay and eat for free.

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Send room service items to Jane Reddy at [email protected]上海夜网m.au.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Car pool: Mercedes-Benz CLS 250 CDI Shooting Brake

The car: Mercedes-Benz CLS 250 CDI Shooting Brake
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The price: From $129,000 plus on-road costs

Vital statistics: 2.1-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder; 150kW/5000Nm; 7-sp automatic; RWD; 5.5L/100km, 144g/km CO2

Why we’re driving it

The CLS Shooting Brake has just been added to the Mercedes-Benz line-up, and we’ve secured the least expensive version, the 250 CDI, for a couple of months as a long-term loan car.

Likes

Looks stunning. Comes with plenty of equipment including 19-inch AMG alloys and a full bodykit which add to the visual pizzazz. Standard reversing camera and front and rear sensors, standard sunroof, smart key system with push-button start, leather and wood trim, and seats with electric adjustment and memory function for driver and passenger. Flat-bottomed steering wheel is a funky touch to an otherwise elegant cabin. Good steering feel and response. Rear seat space quite good. Boot is a decent size (590 litres – 85 litres more than the CLS sedan) and has quick release triggers to fold the back seats flat.

Dislikes

Diesel is quite loud under acceleration and also exhibits some turbo lag from a standstill. Silly column-shift gear selector and clumsy foot- and hand-operated park brake. Gearbox can get it wrong every now and then in stop-start situations, and the stop-start system is quite jolting at restart. Eco-mode dulls reactions too much, and Sport makes it too lively and rev-happy – there’s no happy medium. Suspension can be busy over uneven sections of road. Luckily it has the aforementioned camera and sensors because outward vision is not great. Merc’s menu system for the entertainment and satnav is fiddlier than those in BMWs or Audis.

Would I buy one?

I’d have to consider whether having something that looks cool outweighs having a mildly more practical yet considerably more dowdy station wagon. It probably does.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Q&A: Correct mirror positions

Question
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I have a car I drive every day and a second one that stays in the shed most of the time. How often should I drive the second car to make sure its battery doesn’t go flat?Answer

If you are unable to drive your second vehicle regularly, at least a couple of times a week, you may want to invest in a charger for the vehicle.

You can buy a maintenance charger that will trickle a charge into the battery to keep it at 12 volts and in good condition.

We would recommend talking to your local auto electrician and have them supply you with the correct unit, as without this you will eventually have a dead battery.

Most modern vehicles draw a small amount of power from the battery when the vehicle is turned off. Batteries also have a natural self-discharge.

Short trips, stop-start driving, night driving and hot or cold weather all take their toll on batteries; even disconnecting the battery will only delay the inevitable.Question

I like setting my mirrors so I can see the sides of my car, but I’ve heard this can exaggerate blind spots. Is there a right and wrong way to do this?Answer

Mirror adjustment and seating position is something people quite often get very wrong.

If you do a driver training course, the first thing they will teach you is how to sit correctly and how to properly adjust your mirrors.

Having your mirrors adjusted so you can see the sides of your vehicle usually leaves you with large blind spots.

Instead, adjust the side-mirror viewing angle outward until you can see an overtaking vehicle just overlap your rear-view mirror into your side mirror (do this for both sides). You should not be able to lose sight of a vehicle alongside you between both your rear-view and side mirror when adjusted correctly.

This can take a bit of getting used to when you have had the mirrors adjusted so you can see the side of your vehicle, but it works and makes a big difference.

Ask Drive’s experts a question at [email protected]上海夜网m.au

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

First drive review: BMW X5 M50d

BMW X5 M50d.Ten years ago you would have been laughed out of town if you’d suggested BMW would have built an SUV wearing an M (its famous high performance and motorsport division – M GmbH) badge and powered by a diesel engine; a triple-turbocharged diesel engine no less.
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In the recent past if you wanted a performance SUV you needed a petrol-guzzling V8 engine. Not now though. The rise in popularity of both genuinely sporty Sports Utility Vehicles and performance-orientated diesel engines cannot be denied. And running your eyes down the specification sheet it’s hard to argue with the raw numbers.

There’s 280kW of power, a whopping 740Nm of torque, a 0-100km/h sprint in just 5.4 seconds and a claimed fuel consumption figure of just 7.5 litres per 100km for all that performance.

The M50d builds speed faster than the V8 petrol-powered xDrive50i which boasts 300kW and 600Nm and does 0-100km/h in 5.5 seconds; that’s not much slower, but it’s still slower.

In the real world one squeeze of the accelerator is enough to make you a convert. It has effortless pulling power thanks to the three turbos that work sequentially to try and eliminate the lag associated with turbocharged engines. Peak torque – or pulling power – kicks in at just 2000rpm.

That much torque makes taking off from the lights and overtaking a breeze, despite the X5’s considerable size.

But what about the diesel’s biggest hurdle in winning petrol lovers over; the noise? Well, if you have the windows down there’s no mistaking the 50d for anything other than a diesel. It doesn’t sound like a tractor but there is the unmistakable diesel “chug”.

Keep the windows up, however, and the 50d produces a purposeful rumble from beneath the bonnet that has a unique charm.

It is paired with the standard eight-speed automatic transmission that is able to make good use of the flexible engine.

It may not drink petrol but in almost every respect the triple-turbo six-cylinder engine lives up to the famous “M” badge on its bootlid.

But, strictly speaking, it’s not an M model, it is part of the new “M Performance” range that BMW is beginning to spread across its range. In a nutshell that means performance parts (both under the skin and on the surface), but without being a full-blooded performance machine.

The X5 M50d, and its sibling the X6 M50d, get M tuned suspension, a unique aerodynamic bodykit and a sporty steering tune.

The suspension does a good job of trying to make the M50d feel sporty but there is no disguising this is a big SUV – not a sports car. Having said that, the X5 remains one of the most enjoyable and engaging SUVs to drive on the market.

Other unique features for the 50d include 20-inch alloy wheels, Sports seats, Alcantara and leather interior and seat trim, “M” leather steering wheel with paddle shifters, “M” door sills and roof rails.

Standard equipment, which it shares with the 50i over the rest of the X5 range, includes four-zone airconditioning, adaptive bi-Xenon headlights and self-levelling suspension.

The Alcantara on the seats and other parts of the trim help to give the cabin a sporty feel, but the rest of the interior – especially the dashboard – feel like standard X5 fare. In other words, a bit plain for a car that costs $147,500. That’s more than $33,000 more expensive than the next cheapest diesel; the xDrive40d.

It’s also worth pointing out that the M50d is also $13,000 pricier than the 50i; which buys you a lot of petrol.

Ultimately the M50d is an impressive car but whether it is worth the extra spend over a 40d or a 50i is a decision that rests with the buyer.

What isn’t in question is just how far diesel engines have come in the past decade.Vital statistics

On sale NowPrice $147,500Engine 3.0-litre triple-turbo six-cylinder turbo dieselPower 280kWTorque 740NmTransmission Eight-speed automaticFuel consumption 7.5L/100km

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Motor city revival

A renewed US car industry showed the world it’s back on its wheels at the Detroit motor show, with talk of record sales, global expansion and more fuel-efficient vehicles than ever.
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But the home of the US’s big three car makers couldn’t take all the credit. International co-operation and a realisation that the car industry is changing – fast – has forced Ford, General Motors and Chrysler to lean on their overseas operations even more heavily than ever.

At the same time the wacky, front-page concept cars that have typified the first high-profile motor show of the year were largely absent from the American big three’s offerings.

Ford unleashed a surprise – the Atlas concept, a vision of a futuristic F-Series truck. It also revealed a European-inspired van tailored for Americans, and a midsize Fusion (to be sold here as the Mondeo) designed to increase volumes in one of the biggest segments.

Chevrolet showed off a suite of smaller vehicles developed and sold outside the US. The cars are important additions for a manufacturer once heavily reliant on large gas guzzlers.

And some of the stratospheric growth Chrysler-Jeep boasted of while unveiling updated models can be credited to its tie-up with Italian giant Fiat.

Welcome to Detroit 2013 – global style.

Most agree the international flavour being embraced by GM, Chrysler and Ford had to happen. The three companies – two of which, Chrysler and GM, went bankrupt during the GFC – were limited in their repertoire, and producing cars that fewer motorists wanted.

It’s clear that looking beyond the American heartland and embracing small-car expertise has yielded results for car makers on a comeback, which have turned their primary focus from performance and size to fuel-saving, technology and connectivity.

Of course, the muscle-car history of Detroit wasn’t completely overlooked.

There was time for some V8 fun – most notably from the arrival of the all-new, seventh-generation Chevrolet Corvette – in a symbolic reinforcement that the old Detroit hasn’t forgotten its heritage.

And Jeep vowed to produce more of its high-performance SRT models in response to strong global demand.Chevrolet Corvette

Any new Corvette is a big deal, more so when it features lightweight aluminium and carbon fibre and revives the little-used Stingray nameplate. The new angular design harks back to the original Stingray of the second- and third-generation models built between 1963 and 1982.

Chevrolet started with a clean-sheet design for the new Corvette and has produced a lighter, more powerful and more fuel-efficient design.

The new car is powered by the new 6.2-litre, 335kW and 610Nm V8, which can move the Corvette from rest to 100km/h in less than four seconds. The V8 now has direct injection, and will be paired with either a six-speed paddle-shift automatic or a new seven-speed manual transmission.

”Stingray is one of the hallowed names in automotive history,” the vice-president of global design at GM, Ed Welburn, says. ”We knew we couldn’t use the Stingray name unless the new car truly lived up to the legacy.”

The Australian car converter, Performax International, has brought American cars to the local market for 25 years and is committed to selling the new Corvette here, the company’s spokesman, Brett Loweki, says.Honda Urban SUV concept

The popular Honda CR-V will soon be available in a smaller, more affordable size, with Honda confirming it will produce a version of its SUV Concept.

The Honda SUV Concept features bold styling in a high-riding SUV body that has clear design connections to the CR-V, one of Honda’s bestsellers and one of the most popular soft-roaders on the market.

While the concept-car details – radical-looking lights, swoopy mirrors, etc – will be tamed for the production car (from 2014), the overall shape and styling themes of the Urban SUV are expected to remain as per the concept.Infiniti Q50

A new naming strategy and an all-new model add up to the Q50 from luxury newcomer Infiniti that will compete in the booming lower end of the luxury market. Distinctive styling is characterised by a bold grille and character lines of a car designed to rival, among others, the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

The Infiniti Q50 sedan is expected to arrive in Australia towards the end of 2013. The technology-laden Q50 features distinctive design traits such as twin touchscreens – one for media, one for ventilation controls. The car will initially be offered with a choice of either the familiar 3.7-litre petrol V6 or the performance-focused petrol-electric hybrid. Two four-cylinder engines, a petrol and diesel, won’t arrive for ”about two years”, according to the boss of the brand, Johan de Nysschen.Hyundai HCD-14

How would you like a car that allows you to adjust the volume, operate the ventilation system or program the satnav by twisting your fingers in midair? The Hyundai HCD-14 Genesis showcases the technology that ”within a few years” will be on an ambitious Hyundai production car that takes its inspiration from this sleek four-door one-off.

However, Hyundai warned not to draw too many conclusions about the next-generation Genesis – a car that will be sold in Australia – from the concept car’s eye-catching form.

”This isn’t [the next-generation Genesis] – it’s the guiding light for a whole portfolio of premium products that we have coming,” the North America president and chief executive, John Krafcik, says.Volkswagen CrossBlue

The CrossBlue full-size SUV was designed primarily for North America, but Australia will no doubt eye the car that could offer an all-important seven-seat SUV for the brand. The one-off concept in Detroit offers seating for six – a layout expected to make way for a seven-seat layout on the production version.

At the heart of the CrossBlue is a sophisticated plug-in diesel-electric hybrid system first showcased in the earlier Cross Coupe and is expected to be in production by mid-decade. It combines a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel with two electric motors.Nissan Resonance

Previewing the new Murano SUV, the Resonance concept features a radical high-riding wagon body with a bold U-shaped grille leading into edgy headlights and a flowing shape that points towards sharply angled tail lights.

Inside, the look is just as radical, described by Nissan as a ”futuristic VIP lounge”. The Resonance concept is powered by a petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain, something likely to make it into the production car due on sale in 2015.Cadillac ELR

The Cadillac ELR is a Holden Volt plug-in hybrid car with a sharp new suit. It uses the same hybrid powertrain as the Volt – a 1.4-litre petrol engine acts as a range-extending generator for the car’s 16.5kWh bank of batteries.

While the tech-packed two-door is unlikely to make it to Australia, the Cadillac brand is back on the agenda. Speaking in Detroit, the chairman and managing director of Holden, Mike Devereux, admitted the company had been crunching numbers on the brand for months.

”Our team is talking to the global Cadillac group about if and when it would make sense to properly, 100 per cent, both feet in, launch that brand,” Devereux said.

”But we would not do that until the conditions were absolutely rock-solidly perfect.”Toyota Furia

The Furia is the first concept-car glimpse of the next-generation Corolla sedan. Toyota claims the ”ferocious-looking” model will help the brand boost its appeal with young buyers.

The Furia concept sports strong lines and a lengthy appearance thanks to its long wheelbase, giving the car a ”wheel at each corner” stance. A bold, blacked-out grille gives it a more upmarket appearance, while the slimline headlights and tail lights sharpen the look further.Lexus IS

It’s been a long time coming, but the new IS sedan – the entry-level four-door for the resurgent luxury brand – has arrived with a visual bang. It has a much edgier look than the outgoing model, with the now trademark Lexus ”spindle” grille giving it a more imposing presence.

The BMW 3-Series rival will go on sale locally midyear, powered by 2.5-litre and 3.5-litre V6 engines, as well as a petrol-electric four-cylinder hybrid.Jeep Grand Cherokee

The shape is familiar, but a new grille and headlights help differentiate the look of Jeep’s updated Grand Cherokee, which arrives here midyear. Engines are unchanged, with the option of a 3.6-litre V6, 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel and 6.4-litre V8, but a new eight-speed auto improves performance and reduces fuel use.

The interior has also gone more upmarket on Overland and SRT models, with a customisable colour screen instrument cluster, suede roof lining and an advanced infotainment system.Honda NSX

Honda unveiled an updated version of its NSX concept car, and hinted that it could be available in right-hand-drive when it reaches the production stage.

The chief designer for Acura, Jon Ikeda, told Drive he was convinced there would be a right-hand-drive model at some point.

”I’m sure it will be sold in right-hand-drive markets – it’s a global car, that’s what we’re trying to do,” Ikeda said.

The new concept features sleeker lines and bigger proportions, and is envisaged to be offered with a mid-mounted V6 petrol engine teamed with an all-wheel-drive powertrain.

For the first time for the next-generation NSX, the company also exhibited how the interior of the car could look.

Ikeda said the new NSX concept illustrated what the inside would be like, down to details as fine as the depth of the seat cushions.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.