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September 2, 2014

Land Rover Discovery Sport revealed—claimed to be most versatile, capable premium compact SUV

Jack Yan/23.22

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Tata’s Jaguar Land Rover unit has released the Land Rover Discovery Sport, the successor to the Freelander.
   Land Rover has abandoned the Freelander name, which mainly had support from the UK market, but was less known elsewhere. By using the Discovery name, the new model can trade off the larger, more established SUV’s goodwill in more international markets.
   The compact SUV sector continues to be strong, especially in markets such as China, which has seen many launches over recent years.
   The Discovery Sport is the company’s most versatile entry in the compact sector, rivalling the Audi Q5—yet is shorter than that model while managing to have three rows of seats as standard (in the UK).
   BMW’s X3 and Volvo’s XC60 will also be in the Discovery Sport’s crosshairs.
   The styling combines elements of the existing Freelander’s design language with its clamshell bonnet—which can trace its origins to the Range Rover—and the thick C-pillar, but expressed in sleeker terms. Land Rover’s exterior design challenge was to give the Discovery Sport its sporting appearance—putting the S into SUV—while maximizing interior space.
   Land Rover says it has tried hard to ensure that the Discovery Sport is comfortable for urban use, while maintaining the sort of off-road abilities people have come to expect from its brand. It claims that the vehicle is more suited off-road than its immediate rivals in the compact premium SUV sector, aided by improvements in its Terrain Response software. The Discovery Sport has approach, departure, and breakover angles of 25, 31 and 21 degrees respectively, says the company, and can wade to 600 mm.
   Revised multi-link suspension at the rear has allowed greater space, while making the third row a reality.
   The bodyshell uses steel and aluminium, the latter to reduce weight.
   The interior features high-quality materials, an eight-inch touch-screen system, four 12 V power points, and the option of six USB charging ports for all three rows.
   The launch engine is Land Rover’s 2¡2-litre turbodiesel with stop–start, developing 190 PS, with both nine-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmissions. A two-wheel-drive turbodiesel with carbon dioxide emissions of a targeted 119 g/km will be released in 2015.
   The digital reveal of the Sport was at Spaceport America, alongside a Galactic Discovery competition, which will see four winners head to space with Virgin Galactic.—Jack Yan, Publisher










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August 26, 2014

Volvo releases details of second-generation XC90

Jack Yan/15.03

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Volvo has released official information on the second-generation XC90, replacing the original SUV that first caught the public’s attention in 2002.
   The new XC90 is aimed at a more affluent audience while preserving traditional Volvo values, as the Swedish brand aims to increase its international sales as a prestige marque, especially in China.
   The XC90 is the first car from the Swedish brand, now a subsidiary of China’s Geely, developed after its sale by the Ford Motor Company.
   The engine line-up features D4 and D5 diesels, producing 190 and 225 PS respectively, and T5 and T6 petrol units, developing 225 and 320 PS. A Twin Engine T8 is the flagship of the range, with 400 PS and a hybrid driveline (petrol engine driving the front wheels, an electric motor driving the rear), in line with Volvo’s loftier ambitions for its big SUV, while showing its social commitment. Volvo says a three-cylinder unit is in the XC90’s future.
   Size has increased, too: length is up to 4,950 mm (compared with 4,807 mm), with a wheelbase up from 2,857 mm to 2,984 mm, ensuring the new car is more commodious. Width is 2,008 mm, an increase from the current model’s 1,936 mm, helping distance it from the mid-sized XC60. Height is now 1,775 mm, the only measure which has decreased from its predecessor, by a mere 9 mm. The tracks are also wider, front and rear, by 3–4 inches.
   Volvo’s new design language, already previewed on the Concept CoupĂŠ, Concept XC CoupĂŠ and Concept Estate, is a sportier, simpler expression of many of its traditional cues, but shakes off Swedish restraint for a more expressive, aspirational feel. The iron logo has been reinterpreted to appear more solid, with the ribbon at a lower angle. The sides are straighter, with the waistline more parallel with the ground.
   The SUV is on Volvo’s new SPA scalable architecture, which will form the basis of future Volvo models.
   The interior has also been rethought with a new design language, with a large Sensus screen in the middle of the dashboard, divided into GPS at the top, media and phone in the middle, and climate control settings at the bottom. Cloud-based services can also be accessed through the Sensus system, with compatibility with Android and Apple, including Google Maps and Spotify through those OSs. A head-up display is also available. The interior is also more luxurious, with more sumptuous, redesigned seats. Volvo claims the third row of seats provides class-leading room. The Bowers & Wilkins sound system is unique to the XC90, and features an air-vented subwoofer.
   In safety terms, Volvo dĂŠbuts two features. The first is automatic braking when turning left (turning right for RHD models) into oncoming vehicles. Secondly, Volvo launches an active safety feature in cases where, should the car begin to depart from the road, it will tighten the front seat belts to hold the passengers in place. Meanwhile, its engineers have developed an energy-absorbing function between the chair and chair frame to dampen the vertical forces, helping to prevent back injuries.
   Volvo Car Group CEO Hakan Samuelsson says, ‘This is one of the most important days in our history. We are launching not only a car, but we are also relaunching our brand. Today begins a new era in our company.’
   The first-generation model continues in China as the XC90 Classic.—Jack Yan, Publisher

















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GBK’s garden party: primping for the 2014 Emmy Awards

Elyse Glickman/2.34

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On two hot, sunny afternoons at Beverly Hills’ L’Ermitage Hotel, Gavin Keilly and his intrepid team were blending pre-Emmy Awards’ primping and wellness, exotic post-awards escapes and down-to-earth charity fundraising, transforming a small ballroom and courtyard into a colourful canvas of food for thought.
   In the spotlight were the GO Campaign, a grant-making organization addressing problems faced by orphans and vulnerable children around the world by partnering with local celebrities and role models to deliver local solutions; Cops 4 Causes, the first non-profit organization to be created to collectively highlight the philanthropic efforts of law enforcement; the Environmental Media Association, a non-profit dedicated to harnessing the power of the entertainment industry and the media to educate the global public on environmental issues and motivate sustainable lifestyles; Mutt Match LA K-9 Rescue Ranch & Sanctuary, which rescues neglected and discarded dogs from LA’s high kill shelters to rehabilitate and place in loving homes; and StarPower, providing fans backstage access and one-on-one engagement straight from their favorite celebrities via social media while supporting the causes they care about.
   In terms of featured wellness products, the star of the show was featured sponsor Michael Todd True Organics, which introduced their new Soniclear Antimicrobal Cleansing System, the world’s first antimicrobial sonic skin cleansing system. What sets this product and its skin care line apart from the competitors is the care put into the rotary and sonic systems, according to company president Lewis Hendler. He added that the dermatological team at Michael Todd set out to create an effective cleaning system without the worry of bacteria that can affect the performance of the tool and the products. After extensive research, the result was a revolutionary sonic cleansing brush that thoroughly cleanses the skin and then protects itself against microbial contamination leaving the brushes cleaner, fresher for longer.
   The strong supporting cast in the wellness act of the show included the Kind soap company, serving up bath and body care products in gorgeous earthy packaging; Brow Art 23, offering press an overview of their product line and make-up touch-ups; and Skinny & Co. Coconut Oil Company, providing their skinny coconut oil, 100 per cent raw and hand-pressed, and poised to be the next great super-food.
   There were also stylish and affordable sunglass frames from Foster Grant, LG’s Tone Infinim bluetooth headset, developed in collaboration with Harman/Kardon to deliver amazing sound quality and comfort in a range of pretty metallic pastels and an Intuition Blueprint Reading from Joanna Garzilli as well as a copy of her second edition of Unleash the Psychic in You.
   As most GBK parties would not be complete without a goody bag of surprises, the Artisan Group was on hand with their welcome surprise packages full of original costume and semi-precious jewellery, photography, stationery, soaps and other eye-catching and crafty accessories. Certainly, the stylists from top nominee shows and ratings hits such as The Voice, Scandal, Parenthood and The Vampire Diaries think so! My bag was particularly delightful this go round with beautiful jewellery from Benee Rubin, Rock and Hardware, Designs by Diane (Sowers), ImagiNature Art Glass, Nineteen Seventy-Four by Pamela Roskin, BkdSignature, Jewelry by Lucinda de Castro, Nan Gates Designs cosmetic bags, Specifically Random head wraps. Charities the Artisan Group supports includes the Animal Rescue Fund and Let’s Move Together–the Arthritis Foundation.
   Celebrities snapped at the event included Alicia Witt, Angela Bassett, R. J. Mitte, Sam Trammell, Selenis Leyva, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Viola Davis, Edie Falco, Vanessa Marcil, Madeline Brewer, Corbin Bleu, Dascha Polanco, Gary Cole, Joey King, Mariel Hemingway, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Bob Eubanks, Teyonah Parris, and Shanola Hampton.—Elyse Glickman, US West Coast Editor
















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July 31, 2014

Audi releases A3 Sportback E-tron, its first plug-in hybrid

Lucire staff/15.11

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Audi, Volkswagen’s premium brand, has launched a plug-in hybrid for the European market, based on the A3 Sportback.
   The Audi A3 Sportback E-tron will be sold through 410 dealers in Europe, including 105 in Germany. The German retail price is €37,900. A leasing plan sees the A3 at €319 for a 36-month term. First deliveries will take place this winter.
   The vehicle has an 8¡8 kWh lithium–ion battery pack for its electric motor with a range of 50 km, but combined with its 1¡4-litre petrol engine, it can manage 900 km. The combined power output is a claimed 150 kW (204 PS), with fuel consumption at 1¡5 l/100 km (188 mpg Imperial) and carbon dioxide emissions at 35 g/km.
   The A3 Sportback E-tron’s battery is under the rear seats, allowing maximum cargo space, while the car weighs in at a reasonable 1,580 kg.
   Early reports indicate a seamless switch between electric and petrol modes, but some noticeable road noise from the standard tyres and the quiet electric motor.
   Audi plans for every E-tron dealer in future to have a charging station for customers, who can use it even after purchase. For the German market, Audi will offer an installation service where a technician checks the electrics at a customer’s home, makes the necessary adjustments, and installs the charging dock, for charging the car safely.
   Customers can even opt for what the company calls ‘Audi Energy’, essentially electricity generated from hydroelectric sources in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
   Wayne Griffiths, Audi’s head of sales in Germany, says there is high interest among dealers and customers for the new model: ‘The combination of efficient drive technology and a sustainable energy source is really what the market is looking for.’

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July 9, 2014

Opel Corsa E breaks cover, as GM releases ofcial details

Lucire staff/7.37

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GM has released details of its fifth-generation Opel Corsa (Vauxhall Corsa Mk IV in the UK), promising that the new model will set benchmarks for its class.
   It will have to: it joins a talented segment with cars such as the Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, Honda Fit, Toyota Vitz and Peugeot 208.
   The Opel Corsa E is virtually identical in length to the outgoing model, with much of the cabin space cleverly used in its 4 m.
   There is a new platform, dubbed Gamma II in GM-speak, with no carryover components from the Corsa D. The new sheetmetal has greater differentiation between three- and five-door models, with styling by Brit Mark Adams. A panoramic roof is optional. Other options include blind spot alert, lane departure warning, and a rear-view camera.
   The new interior has a redesigned instrument panel and dashboard, including Opel’s Intellilink in-car system, already seen on the Adam subcompact, which is on a shorter version of the Corsa E’s platform. Intellilink features a seven-inch colour touch-screen, which can be controlled via apps on the Apple Iphone and Google Android.
   Appealing to the Corsa’s urban drivers, there is a revised speed-sensitive power steering, with less understeer. Ride and handling have also been improved, says Opel.
   Opel has joined the trend toward three-cylinder petrol engines, with a one-litre Ecotec direct-injection turbo as the smallest unit, developing 90 or 115 PS. It is combined with a stop–start system to lower fuel consumption.
   A 1¡3 turbodiesel, a 1¡2 and 1¡4 petrol engine, and a 1¡4 turbo are also on offer, mated to new six-speed manual and automatic gearboxes.
   The Corsa will not be sold in Australasia or North America, where the Korean-made Chevrolet Aveo (under various names), also on the Gamma II platform, is GM’s entry in the B-segment.



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Filed under: design, living, Lucire, technology
June 23, 2014

Net-a-porter offers Diane von Furstenberg-designed Google Glass as rst third-party retailer

Lucire staff/14.47

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Net-a-porter has announced that its US customers can purchase a Diane von Furstenberg-designed Google Glass through its online store today, making it the first third-party retailer of the much-hyped product.
   The DVF Made for Glass design, available in five colours (black, green, plum, brown and white), retails for US$1,800, and includes a frame, shade, earbud and case. A limited number is available.
   Founder Natalie Massenet said in a release, ‘We are thrilled to offer Glass to our tech-savvy customers who are true leaders and innovators in style and lifestyle. We pride ourselves on leading the way in delivering the best in service, product, and technology and we are excited to bring Google Glass to our US customers, ahead of the Glass consumer release.’
   US buyers can visit Net-a-porter’s DVF Made for Glass page at www.net-a-porter.com/Shop/Designers/DVF_Made_For_Glass. Due to Net-a-porter’s geography-based serving, non-US buyers will be asked to sign up for updates, and cannot purchase.
   All data recorded by Google Glass are stored by Google, including photos, videos, audio, and location. Users can record pictures and video offline if they prefer. Google has not announced if it would use these data for ad-targeting purposes as it does with some user data from Gmail.

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May 1, 2014

Sponsored video: don’t follow the rules—Microsoft Surface launches business promotion

Lucire staff/12.16

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A Lucire special promotion


Microsoft is keen to get businesses into its Surface tablet series, and over the last few years has even redesigned its flagship Windows operating system around touch-screen technology.
   But what is surprising is how Microsoft is almost an underdog brand among a mid-2010s world where Apple’s I technology and Google Android have become mainstream terms. Some might even choose Microsoft because it has cachet—after all, its founder, Bill Gates, is now perceived as a humanitarian hero, a 180-degree change from the image he faced two decades ago.
   So it makes sense for Microsoft to team up with another company that has an established record, yet sees itself as somewhat antiestablishment: The Guardian.
   Its latest promotion, Uncompromise, a.k.a. The Rise of the Renegade Professionals, looks at businesses that have opted to use Microsoft Surface. They’re also businesses that refuse to follow the rules.
   Honest Burgers of Brixton was started by two best friends, Tom Barton and Phil Eeles (above), who believed there was a market for gourmet burgers—at a time when they couldn’t even get deliveries of premium meats into the area.
   Kerry Roy, founder of Camp Katur, saw a market for glamping—luxury camping holidays—again at a time when no one saw a niche for the business in Yorkshire.
   In each case, Microsoft Surface’s portability, and compatibility with the well known Office software, aided the business.
   Along with The Guardian, Microsoft will produce a short film about a business that also refuses to follow the rules—there’s an entry form for entrepreneurs who are interested in being showcased.
   We’re loving this idea because Lucire itself would not have existed if our founders followed the rules. In 1997, there were people who thought a web fashion magazine was a lousy idea and could not understand it.
   And when we wanted to branch into print, there were just as many doubters.
   By checking out this link, you can read more about Honest Burgers, Camp Katur and others—inspiring, original businesses who decided not to compromise.


Video sponsored by Microsoft

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April 16, 2014

GBK’s 2014 MTV Movie Awards’ celebration: tech and trends

Elyse Glickman/11.29

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Leave it to event planning master and philanthropist Gavin B. Keilly to transform SLS’s ballroom into a more intimate space showcasing great charities and some choice must-haves for summer.
   As usual, funds and awareness were raised for some worthwhile charities, including Los Angeles Youth Network (which aids abused, neglected and homeless adolescents in becoming sufficient through street outreach, food, emergency shelter, a transitional living programme, and educational enrichment programmes), the Santa Monica branch of the American Red Cross, and Autism Speaks.
   Lambda Legal, going strong after four decades, provided press a real scoop on Day 1 of the suite about their West Coast Liberty Awards, taking place June 13 at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire. Scandal’s Dan Bucatinsky (who won an Emmy for his work as James Novak, elevating and broadening America’s conversation on LGBT issues), will be honoured with a Spotlight Liberty Award. He joins an industrious group that includes Lance Bass, Margaret Cho, Kathy Griffith, Alan Cumming and Judith Light. The awards show bolsters Lambda Legal’s efforts to encourage equal and fair treatment of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.
   Even with a more relaxed vibe than GBK’s dos for the Oscars and Golden Globes, the spotlight is, true to form, on luxuries big and small that bring convenience and style to one’s home and social life. A coffee-table book by internationally renowned interior designer Sandra Espinet is perhaps one of the most aspirational gifts offered at the suite—pages and pages of global chic put together by a woman whose travels and life story are as enviable as the rooms she’s created for her top-tier clientèle. Onkyo USA provided a nice aural balance to that with its sleek and chic headphones merging precision hi-fi technology with an IOS-certified 6N copper cable designed to control media playback and accept or reject calls from compatible Apple devices. Its titanium drivers reproduce an exceptionally wide dynamic range, resolving hidden details and creating a spacious atmosphere.
   Fashionistas who prefer their earbuds more discreet would appreciate Audiopark’s Audiowrap, fashioned with beads and bling that camouflage the buds and coil up into a snappy bracelet. Qupid, meanwhile, provided fashion-forward shoes made from “vegan” leather, and Thursday Friday translated designer bags and runway-inspired graphics into a canvas carry-all format. Adding to the list of eco-friendly chic was Pono Woodworks’ Surfrider watch, transforming rare Hawai‘ian koa wood into a stylish, unisex beach to boardroom timepiece.
   After a short hiatus, the Artisan Group was back and better than ever, with a display of gorgeous, statement-making baubles, bracelets, earrings and accessories. While the luck is in the draw of whatever surprise goodie bag you are given, there were some particularly wonderful things in mine from Lucinda de Castro, Shirleybird Jewellery, Andrea Designs, Firefly Myst and Gamiworks.
   Nibbles on hand included decadent treats from Barry’s Gourmet Brownies, Jackson’s Honest Potato Chips and wonderful spirits from Deep Eddy Vodka, an Austin, Texas brand made with real ingredients and 10 times distilled vodka. Guests received a four-pack of Deep Eddy Vodka (50 ml each of Straight, Ruby Red, Sweet Tea, Cranberry). Ripped Cream, a natural protein coffee creamer, offered a jolt of flavour and energy to balance out the caffeine buzz of one’s favourite coffee.
   Celebrities on hand during day one included Omar Epps (House, Resurrection), Paige Turco (The 100), Tiya Sircar (The Crazy Ones), Tara Holt (Californication), Percy Daggs (the Veronica Mars movie), Rebecca Mader (Once Upon a Time), Shannon Beador (the newest cast member on The Real Housewives of OC), Caitlin Carmichael (Chosen), Carlitos Olivero (The X Factor USA), and Donna d’Errico (Baywatch).—Elyse Glickman, US West Coast Editor

















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