Life and Style wRap: SUVs, wine auction, Xbox One, veggie diets

MANILA, Philippines – Here are some Life and Style stories you might have missed this week:

Luxury carmakers target urban young with SUV crossover

Luxury carmakers are falling over themselves to tap into a growing trend for crossover compact SUVs, targeting young urban professionals who want a sporty feel with high-end cachet.

Porsche, Jaguar, and Mercedes Benz have all developed models of a car type which has traditionally been the preserve of middle-market standards like Ford Escape, Dodge Durango, and Toyota Highlander.

At the Los Angeles auto show, which opened to the public Friday, November 22, Porsche added its Macan to the growing field of small SUVs aimed at the young and well-off who may be intimidated by the luxury brand's more traditional – and expensive – models.

"Some years ago...the global demand was about 65 million vehicles a year. This is expected to grow till the end of the decade to a figure around about 100 million," Porsche sales and marketing chief Bernhard Maier told Agence France-Presse.

"So it will be an annual increase since the beginning of the decade to the end of approximately 3%, but the luxury part of that growing by 4.5-4.6%."

Porsche has shaken up its range with the 4-wheel-drive Cayenne SUV, but the Macan is "clearly focused on those customers who are living in an urban surrounding, in bigger cities...but also don't want to get rid of an SUV," said Maier.

Anna Kleinebreil, assistant product manager for Mercedes' GLA compact crossover, which it aims to launch next autumn, said the German carmaker is aiming at a "younger group and young at heart."

Its target customers are "people in general that have a very active lifestyle, more urban-focused than some of the other SUVs," she said.


French prime minister puts wine up for auction

UP FOR AUCTION. The French Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, is set to auction off over a thousand bottles of wine.

After a path-breaking wine auction by the French presidential palace of some of the best bottles from its cellar, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will follow suit in December, the Drouot auction house said Friday, November 22.

A total of 1,400 bottles from the prime minister's official Matignon residence in Paris will go under the hammer on December 6, a statement said.

"Stored in optimal conditions, these bottles are estimated between 15 euros and 5,500 euros," Drouot said.

Matignon said in a separate statement that this was the first time it was putting its wine up for sale.

Top-end offers include Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac 2000, a Romani Conti 2004, and a La Tache 1990. 

In May, 1,200 bottles, including some of the world's most prestigious labels, were auctioned by the Elysee presidential palace.

Officially, the purpose of the auction was to liberate funds to rejuvenate the presidential collection, but officials have also said proceeds will be invested in more modest replacements and any surplus will be ploughed back into government coffers.

The conspicuous cost-cutting is in keeping with the tone of Socialist President Francois Hollande's presidency, which has been clouded by a gloomy economic backdrop.

But it has not gone down well with Michel-Jack Chasseuil, one of France's most prominent wine collectors, who wrote to Hollande complaining that he was selling off national heritage.


Xbox One makes hot debut as console war revs up

ALL NEW. A man plays an XBox One - a new video game console and home entertainment system made by Microsoft.

Gamers in more than a dozen countries started snapping up new-generation Xbox One consoles Friday, November 22, as Microsoft battled Sony to be at the heart of Internet age home entertainment.

Keenly-awaited Xbox One consoles launched in countries that include Australia, France, Britain, Brazil, and the United States as day dawned in respective time zones.

Xbox fans queued at consumer electronics shops to be among the first to get their hands on Microsoft's beefed up system that extends beyond gaming to online films, music, social networking, and more.

A man in New Zealand, 24-year-old Dan Livingstone, became the first person in the world to officially own an Xbox One. He said he was immediately retreating for 5 days to play with it.

International time zones meant New Zealand was the first country to launch the console.

Australia was next in the global roll-out. The distinctive Sydney Tower turned Xbox One green and another 3D projection beamed onto the water beneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge to mark the midnight launch.

In California, people were also eager to get one of their own.

"It's a big upgrade, a big change," said 23-year-old Jonathan Guerrero, who staked out a spot at the front of the line at a Best Buy electronics shop in Northern California 13 hours before the consoles went on sale a minute into Friday. 

"You are jumping from okay to super great."


Norwegian army goes on vegetarian diet

VEGGIE DIET. The Norwegian Army's meatless Mondays are set to help fight climate change

The Norwegian military said Tuesday, November 19, it plans to put its troops on a vegetarian diet once a week in a bid to fight a new kind of enemy – climate change.

The army said its new meatless Mondays are meant to cut its consumption of ecologically unfriendly foods whose production contributes heavily to global warming.

"It's a step to protect our climate. The idea is to serve food that's respectful of the environment," spokesman Eystein Kvarving told Agence France-Presse.

The diet has already been introduced at one of Norway's main bases and will soon be rolled out to all units, including those serving overseas, said the army, estimating it would cut its meat consumption by 150 tons per year.

"It's not about saving money," said Kvarving. "It's about being more concerned for our climate, more ecologically friendly, and also healthier." – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com

Photo of vegetables from Shutterstock