Mahindra confirms XUV700 Javelin edition for India’s Olympic, Paralympic gold medallists

Anand Mahindra has announced that India’s three gold medallists at the recently held Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics will get specially designed XUV700 SUVs. These have been christened Mahindra XUV700 Javelin Edition and could be unveiled in the coming weeks. From what we understand, only three units of the special edition XUV700 will be designed for Neeraj Chopra, AvaniLekhara and SumitAntil who have secured gold medals for team India.

  • XUV700 Javelin to be designed by Pratap Bose
  • Only three units will be made
  • Will be given to gold medallists only

Mahindra XUV700 Javelin Edition: what’s known so far

Mahindra recently trademarked the name ’Javelin’ and today, Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra and Mahindra, confirmed via Twitter that the name will be used on a special edition of the upcoming XUV700 SUV. In the tweet directed towards Pratap Bose, the Chief Design Officer, Auto & Farm Sectors, Mahindra & Mahindra has requested him to build three XUV700 Javelin Edition SUVs.

 

The first unit of the XUV700 Javelin Edition will go to Neeraj Chopra who secured a gold medal in javelin throw for India at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Neeraj is the second Indian to win gold at the Olympics after Abhinav Bindra won in 10m air rifle shooting at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The second unit of the XUV700 Javelin Edition will be felicitated to Avani Lekhara who is now part of the Indian history as the first woman to win a gold medal at Paralympics. She was participating in the women’s 10m Air Rifle SH1 event. The third unit of the XUV700 Javelin Edition will be given to ParalympianSumitAntil who clinched a gold in the javelin throw event at the Paralympics.

While there are no details on what would differentiate the XUV700 Javelin Edition from the standard version, we expect minor cosmetic tweaks or special paint shades for these unique XUV700 SUVs.

Additionally, Mahindra will tweak two of the three units of the XUV700 with special modifications for the differently abled, to aid with better ingress-egress. These two units are expected to be made for Avani Lekhara and Sumit Antil. There are chances that Mahindra could introduce SUVs specially designed for the differently abled for general public in the future.

Mahindra and outstanding sporting performances

Anand Mahindra has been supporting multiple sporting events for some time now. . Six Members of the Indian Cricket team were given Mahindra Thar SUVs earlier this year. These include Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, Shubman Gill, T Natarajan, Navdeep Saini and Washington Sundar for their win in the India-Australia series game.

Mahindra XUV700:  Full price announcement next month

Mahindra has already revealed all details for the XUV700 and has also announced pricing for some variants. We expect the XUV700 full price list to be released sometime next month. You can read our review here or watch our video review here.

Cars and SUVs awarded to Indian Olympians this year

While Mahindra has announced a special edition XUV700 Javelin for the gold medallists, other brands like Tata Motors, Renault and MG Motor India have also announced presenting cars to Olympic participants.

Unlike Mahindra, which is only felicitating gold medal winners, Tata Motors has announced gifts for the Indian athletes, who narrowly missed medals at the recent Tokyo Olympics. The brand has awarded 24 units of the Tata Altroz hatchbacks to these athletes. Additionally, these athletes will get a special edition Altroz, painted in a gold shade. The athletes include captain Rani Rampal and her Indian women’s hockey team members, boxers like Pooja Rani and Satish Kumar. Also, each member of the Indian wrestling team at the Tokyo Olympics was presented with a Xenon Yodha pick-up truck.

Additionally, as of today, MG Motor India has announced that it will felicitate Paralympics silver medallist, Bhavina Patel with one of its models.

Image: Standard XUV700 shown. 

Also see:

Pratap Bose talks about Mahindra’s new logo

Mahindra XUV700 variants – what features do you get?

Mahindra Bolero Neo top-spec N10(O) launched at Rs 10.69 lakh

Mahindra confirms XUV700 Javelin edition for India’s Olympic, Paralympic gold medallists

Anand Mahindra has announced that India’s three gold medallists at the recently held Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics will get specially designed XUV700 SUVs. These have been christened Mahindra XUV700 Javelin Edition and could be unveiled in the coming weeks. From what we understand, only three units of the special edition XUV700 will be designed for Neeraj Chopra, AvaniLekhara and SumitAntil who have secured gold medals for team India.

  • XUV700 Javelin to be designed by Pratap Bose
  • Only three units will be made
  • Will be given to gold medallists only

Mahindra XUV700 Javelin Edition: what’s known so far

Mahindra recently trademarked the name ’Javelin’ and today, Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra and Mahindra, confirmed via Twitter that the name will be used on a special edition of the upcoming XUV700 SUV. In the tweet directed towards Pratap Bose, the Chief Design Officer, Auto & Farm Sectors, Mahindra & Mahindra has requested him to build three XUV700 Javelin Edition SUVs.

 

The first unit of the XUV700 Javelin Edition will go to Neeraj Chopra who secured a gold medal in javelin throw for India at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Neeraj is the second Indian to win gold at the Olympics after Abhinav Bindra won in 10m air rifle shooting at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The second unit of the XUV700 Javelin Edition will be felicitated to Avani Lekhara who is now part of the Indian history as the first woman to win a gold medal at Paralympics. She was participating in the women’s 10m Air Rifle SH1 event. The third unit of the XUV700 Javelin Edition will be given to ParalympianSumitAntil who clinched a gold in the javelin throw event at the Paralympics.

While there are no details on what would differentiate the XUV700 Javelin Edition from the standard version, we expect minor cosmetic tweaks or special paint shades for these unique XUV700 SUVs.

Additionally, Mahindra will tweak two of the three units of the XUV700 with special modifications for the differently abled, to aid with better ingress-egress. These two units are expected to be made for Avani Lekhara and Sumit Antil. There are chances that Mahindra could introduce SUVs specially designed for the differently abled for general public in the future.

Mahindra and outstanding sporting performances

Anand Mahindra has been supporting multiple sporting events for some time now. . Six Members of the Indian Cricket team were given Mahindra Thar SUVs earlier this year. These include Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, Shubman Gill, T Natarajan, Navdeep Saini and Washington Sundar for their win in the India-Australia series game.

Mahindra XUV700:  Full price announcement next month

Mahindra has already revealed all details for the XUV700 and has also announced pricing for some variants. We expect the XUV700 full price list to be released sometime next month. You can read our review here or watch our video review here.

Cars and SUVs awarded to Indian Olympians this year

While Mahindra has announced a special edition XUV700 Javelin for the gold medallists, other brands like Tata Motors, Renault and MG Motor India have also announced presenting cars to Olympic participants.

Unlike Mahindra, which is only felicitating gold medal winners, Tata Motors has announced gifts for the Indian athletes, who narrowly missed medals at the recent Tokyo Olympics. The brand has awarded 24 units of the Tata Altroz hatchbacks to these athletes. Additionally, these athletes will get a special edition Altroz, painted in a gold shade. The athletes include captain Rani Rampal and her Indian women’s hockey team members, boxers like Pooja Rani and Satish Kumar. Also, each member of the Indian wrestling team at the Tokyo Olympics was presented with a Xenon Yodha pick-up truck.

Additionally, as of today, MG Motor India has announced that it will felicitate Paralympics silver medallist, Bhavina Patel with one of its models.

Image: Standard XUV700 shown. 

Also see:

Pratap Bose talks about Mahindra’s new logo

Mahindra XUV700 variants – what features do you get?

Mahindra Bolero Neo top-spec N10(O) launched at Rs 10.69 lakh

Mahindra confirms XUV700 Javelin edition for India’s Olympic, Paralympic gold medallists

Anand Mahindra has announced that India’s three gold medallists at the recently held Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics will get specially designed XUV700 SUVs. These have been christened Mahindra XUV700 Javelin Edition and could be unveiled in the coming weeks. From what we understand, only three units of the special edition XUV700 will be designed for Neeraj Chopra, AvaniLekhara and SumitAntil who have secured gold medals for team India.

  • XUV700 Javelin to be designed by Pratap Bose
  • Only three units will be made
  • Will be given to gold medallists only

Mahindra XUV700 Javelin Edition: what’s known so far

Mahindra recently trademarked the name ’Javelin’ and today, Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra and Mahindra, confirmed via Twitter that the name will be used on a special edition of the upcoming XUV700 SUV. In the tweet directed towards Pratap Bose, the Chief Design Officer, Auto & Farm Sectors, Mahindra & Mahindra has requested him to build three XUV700 Javelin Edition SUVs.

 

The first unit of the XUV700 Javelin Edition will go to Neeraj Chopra who secured a gold medal in javelin throw for India at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Neeraj is the second Indian to win gold at the Olympics after Abhinav Bindra won in 10m air rifle shooting at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The second unit of the XUV700 Javelin Edition will be felicitated to Avani Lekhara who is now part of the Indian history as the first woman to win a gold medal at Paralympics. She was participating in the women’s 10m Air Rifle SH1 event. The third unit of the XUV700 Javelin Edition will be given to ParalympianSumitAntil who clinched a gold in the javelin throw event at the Paralympics.

While there are no details on what would differentiate the XUV700 Javelin Edition from the standard version, we expect minor cosmetic tweaks or special paint shades for these unique XUV700 SUVs.

Additionally, Mahindra will tweak two of the three units of the XUV700 with special modifications for the differently abled, to aid with better ingress-egress. These two units are expected to be made for Avani Lekhara and Sumit Antil. There are chances that Mahindra could introduce SUVs specially designed for the differently abled for general public in the future.

Mahindra and outstanding sporting performances

Anand Mahindra has been supporting multiple sporting events for some time now. . Six Members of the Indian Cricket team were given Mahindra Thar SUVs earlier this year. These include Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, Shubman Gill, T Natarajan, Navdeep Saini and Washington Sundar for their win in the India-Australia series game.

Mahindra XUV700:  Full price announcement next month

Mahindra has already revealed all details for the XUV700 and has also announced pricing for some variants. We expect the XUV700 full price list to be released sometime next month. You can read our review here or watch our video review here.

Cars and SUVs awarded to Indian Olympians this year

While Mahindra has announced a special edition XUV700 Javelin for the gold medallists, other brands like Tata Motors, Renault and MG Motor India have also announced presenting cars to Olympic participants.

Unlike Mahindra, which is only felicitating gold medal winners, Tata Motors has announced gifts for the Indian athletes, who narrowly missed medals at the recent Tokyo Olympics. The brand has awarded 24 units of the Tata Altroz hatchbacks to these athletes. Additionally, these athletes will get a special edition Altroz, painted in a gold shade. The athletes include captain Rani Rampal and her Indian women’s hockey team members, boxers like Pooja Rani and Satish Kumar. Also, each member of the Indian wrestling team at the Tokyo Olympics was presented with a Xenon Yodha pick-up truck.

Additionally, as of today, MG Motor India has announced that it will felicitate Paralympics silver medallist, Bhavina Patel with one of its models.

Image: Standard XUV700 shown. 

Also see:

Pratap Bose talks about Mahindra’s new logo

Mahindra XUV700 variants – what features do you get?

Mahindra Bolero Neo top-spec N10(O) launched at Rs 10.69 lakh

Mahindra confirms XUV700 Javelin edition for India’s Olympic, Paralympic gold medallists

Anand Mahindra has announced that India’s three gold medallists at the recently held Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics will get specially designed XUV700 SUVs. These have been christened Mahindra XUV700 Javelin Edition and could be unveiled in the coming weeks. From what we understand, only three units of the special edition XUV700 will be designed for Neeraj Chopra, AvaniLekhara and SumitAntil who have secured gold medals for team India.

  • XUV700 Javelin to be designed by Pratap Bose
  • Only three units will be made
  • Will be given to gold medallists only

Mahindra XUV700 Javelin Edition: what’s known so far

Mahindra recently trademarked the name ’Javelin’ and today, Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra and Mahindra, confirmed via Twitter that the name will be used on a special edition of the upcoming XUV700 SUV. In the tweet directed towards Pratap Bose, the Chief Design Officer, Auto & Farm Sectors, Mahindra & Mahindra has requested him to build three XUV700 Javelin Edition SUVs.

 

The first unit of the XUV700 Javelin Edition will go to Neeraj Chopra who secured a gold medal in javelin throw for India at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Neeraj is the second Indian to win gold at the Olympics after Abhinav Bindra won in 10m air rifle shooting at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The second unit of the XUV700 Javelin Edition will be felicitated to Avani Lekhara who is now part of the Indian history as the first woman to win a gold medal at Paralympics. She was participating in the women’s 10m Air Rifle SH1 event. The third unit of the XUV700 Javelin Edition will be given to ParalympianSumitAntil who clinched a gold in the javelin throw event at the Paralympics.

While there are no details on what would differentiate the XUV700 Javelin Edition from the standard version, we expect minor cosmetic tweaks or special paint shades for these unique XUV700 SUVs.

Additionally, Mahindra will tweak two of the three units of the XUV700 with special modifications for the differently abled, to aid with better ingress-egress. These two units are expected to be made for Avani Lekhara and Sumit Antil. There are chances that Mahindra could introduce SUVs specially designed for the differently abled for general public in the future.

Mahindra and outstanding sporting performances

Anand Mahindra has been supporting multiple sporting events for some time now. . Six Members of the Indian Cricket team were given Mahindra Thar SUVs earlier this year. These include Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, Shubman Gill, T Natarajan, Navdeep Saini and Washington Sundar for their win in the India-Australia series game.

Mahindra XUV700:  Full price announcement next month

Mahindra has already revealed all details for the XUV700 and has also announced pricing for some variants. We expect the XUV700 full price list to be released sometime next month. You can read our review here or watch our video review here.

Cars and SUVs awarded to Indian Olympians this year

While Mahindra has announced a special edition XUV700 Javelin for the gold medallists, other brands like Tata Motors, Renault and MG Motor India have also announced presenting cars to Olympic participants.

Unlike Mahindra, which is only felicitating gold medal winners, Tata Motors has announced gifts for the Indian athletes, who narrowly missed medals at the recent Tokyo Olympics. The brand has awarded 24 units of the Tata Altroz hatchbacks to these athletes. Additionally, these athletes will get a special edition Altroz, painted in a gold shade. The athletes include captain Rani Rampal and her Indian women’s hockey team members, boxers like Pooja Rani and Satish Kumar. Also, each member of the Indian wrestling team at the Tokyo Olympics was presented with a Xenon Yodha pick-up truck.

Additionally, as of today, MG Motor India has announced that it will felicitate Paralympics silver medallist, Bhavina Patel with one of its models.

Image: Standard XUV700 shown. 

Also see:

Pratap Bose talks about Mahindra’s new logo

Mahindra XUV700 variants – what features do you get?

Mahindra Bolero Neo top-spec N10(O) launched at Rs 10.69 lakh

Review: 2021 Royal Enfield Classic 350 review, road test

The 2021 update also sees the 346cc UCE’s departure, and in its place comes the ‘J-platform’ 349cc engine. This engine is identical to the one that made its debut last year on the Meteor 350, but Royal Enfield has said that the one on the Classic has its own ignition timing, exhaust layout and fueling map. Map? That’s a word my father never used to describe his Royal Enfields. There are many who won’t agree with the use of the modern tech on the Classic, but everyone needs to move with the times and all I have to say is don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

The old Classic’s pushrod-valve system is replaced by a SOHC two-valve head, and while the engine remains air-cooled, there is an additional internal oil circuit within the cylinder head to aid cooling. The new engine has an increased bore, by 2mm, and a reduced stroke, by 4.2mm, while also gaining a primary balancer shaft. Like with the Meteor 350, these changes were made to increase the usable range of torque, while simultaneously stamping out the off-putting high-RPM vibrations, and the results are quite evident.

 

RE-rearIt doesn’t thump like an old cast iron Bullet, but still feels like an RE motor.

 

Royal Enfield wasn’t after performance numbers while designing this engine, but it still gets the Classic to 60kph in 5.25sec and 100kph in 16.23sec, whereas the outgoing one does it in 6.49sec and a lethargic 25sec, respectively. What Royal Enfield enthusiasts will appreciate the most though is that the engine still oozes character. Yes, it doesn’t have the loud thump of the older engines, but it still has a sweet-sounding exhaust note. It’s also quite unique in the way it builds speed and, as you go off the throttle, loses it. Royal Enfield has made sure that the engine braking is very controlled, and that fueling isn’t cut abruptly as you go off throttle, so as to give the bike gradual deceleration.

This is also the first Classic that can sit at around 95-100kph without feeling like it’s coming apart. I would go so far as to say that this bike performs better than my old UCE Classic 500 in every single way. The 5-speed gearbox is smooth and works well with this motor, but the clutch feels heavy, especially in bumper to bumper traffic.

The 2021 Classic doesn’t leave the same long-lasting impression when it comes to the fuel efficiency numbers. At 32.7kpl (city) and 36.7kpl (highway), it delivers similar results as the older one on the highway, but a slightly lower figure in the city.

 

RE-ACTIONAdded ground clearance and more suspension travel means its even more ready for a trip to Ladakh, or a bit of fooling around off-road!

 

Kia Seltos X Line launched at Rs 17.79 lakh

The Kia Seltos has received a new top-spec variant in the form of the recently unveiled X Line trim, which is priced at Rs 17.79 lakh for the petrol and Rs 18.10 lakh (ex-showroom, India) for the diesel version. Kia did preview this model with the  Seltos X-Line concept at the 2020 Auto Expo. The new model is now available for booking via both Kia’s dealer network and website.

  • Seltos X Line gets cosmetic updates on the interior and exterior
  • It is Rs 15,000 – Rs 25,000 costlier compared to standard model.
  • Offered with 1.4-litre turbo-petrol and 1.5 turbo-diesel
Kia Seltos X Line prices (ex-showroom, India)
Variant Price
X Line petrol automatic Rs 17.79 lakh
X Line diesel automatic Rs 18.10 lakh

The GTX+ (previous top-spec trim) petrol-auto costs Rs 17.64 lakh and the diesel-auto costs Rs 17.85 lakh. This makes the new X Line comes at a premium of Rs 15,000 for the petrol version and Rs 25,000 for the diesel version.

2021 Kia Seltos X Line: what’s new?

Kia has given the Seltos X Line a number of cosmetic upgrades to give its own identity, similar to what Tata has done with its Dark edition model. The biggest exterior change is the new ‘Xclusive Matte Graphite’ paint, which is quite unique as no other model in the segment offers matte finish paint.

Additionally, Kia has also given the X Line a ‘Xclusive Piano black’ (gloss black) finish on the front and rear skid plates, ORVMs, shark-fin antenna, tailgate garnish and faux exhaust on the rear bumper. These gloss black inserts are accompanied ‘Sun Orange’ accents on the skid plates, side door garnish and centre caps of the wheels. Speaking of the wheels, the X Line wears a larger set of 18-inch alloy wheels with a matte graphite finish. The ‘X Line’ badge on the tailgate adds futher distinction between the new model and the rest of the range.

2021 Kia Seltos X Line: interior and features

Coming to the interior, the Seltos X-Line sports a new Indigo Pera leatherette upholstery that can be seen on the seats (which have a new honeycomb pattern) as well as the door cards. Besides these changes, the feature list remains unchanged when compared to the previous top-spec GT Line variant. This means it gets a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, connected car tech, automatic climate control, ventilated front seats and a sunroof.

2021 Kia Seltos X Line: engine and gearbox

Mechanical the new Seltos X-Line is the same as the standard SUV. Kia offers the X Line with a 1.4-litre, turbo-petrol that puts out 140hp and 242Nm as well as a 1.5-litre, turbo-diesel that develops 115hp and 250Nm. It is worth pointing out that these engines are only available with automatic gearbox options. Meaning, the turbo-petrol comes mated to the 7-speed DCT gearbox, while the diesel engine comes with a 6-speed torque converter automatic.

2021 Kia Seltos X Line: rivals

As with the regular model, the Seltos X-Line also competes with the other mid-size SUV offering in our market, such as the Skoda Kushaq, Hyundai CretaNissan KicksRenault DusterMaruti Suzuki S-CrossMG Hector and Tata Harrier.

Also See:

2021 Kia Seltos X-Line image gallery

2021 Kia Seltos X-Line first look video

Review: Benelli 502C review, test ride

A few years ago, Benelli showcased the 502 cruiser to the entire world. There were collective gasps back then as its styling was considered a blatant rip-off of the hallowed Ducati Diavel. A scaled down model if you will. But there’s far more to a motorcycle than just the way it looks, and as we discovered over the course of our time with it, there’s more to this Benelli than meets the eye.

Benelli 502C: design 

The positive side of the heavy benchmarking is that Benelli picked a motorcycle that’s become a bit of a modern style icon. That being said, it’s not a complete carbon copy and Benelli has added in a few of its own design elements, and some of these are quite quirky. 

Take the LED headlamp for instance – the DRL’s shape reminds me of the mask you see in Scary Movie. Move to the side and the silhouette is highly reminiscent of the xDiavel, down to the placement of the pillion backrest. In fact, Benelli even gave it a Diavel-matching 1,600mm wheelbase, which is what gives it that long, low cruiser stance. Thankfully, unlike a Diavel, the ground clearance is a very decent 170mm.

seat

Taking a leaf out of the quintessential power cruiser design handbook, all the visual mass is concentrated around the beefy, 21-litre fuel tank, exposed steel trellis frame and the engine. The tail section has been neatly amalgamated with the rest of the motorcycle and elements like the twin-LED strips and the number plate holder with the integrated turn indicators are neat touches. However, it’s only when you move your gaze to the rear that the sense of proportion is a bit lost – the wide handlebar and tank make the 160-section tyre appear narrow. Just like the Diavel uses an oversized 240-section tyre, a 180-section tyre would’ve perhaps filled the gap on the 502 a lot better as well.

All being said, the 502C looks good from most angles and has the road presence to grab a tonne of attention and curious stares.

Benelli’s quality levels have improved in recent times, while the finishes are par for the course. In terms of equipment, there are LED indicators as well as a TFT display, which has a sensor to switch between day and night modes and also layouts. The clutch and brake levers are also adjustable but spinning them around leads to nearly insignificant changes in span. Another gripe is that, going by today’s standards, the display lacks Bluetooth connectivity and it’s also hard to read when the sun is right above.

Benelli 502C: riding position 

Swing a leg over the bike and you immediately get the feeling of being seated on a big machine. The forward-set pegs, the big tank between your legs and the wide handlebar are what contribute to the effect. The handlebar, in fact, is so wide that you’ll have to be careful about knocking someone’s rear view mirror while filtering through traffic. 

The rider’s perch itself is deeply scooped and pretty comfortable over long journeys. The same can’t be said about the pillion seat and it certainly isn’t for larger individuals. While the backrest may help with lending some much needed support to the pillion, unless you’ve got someone with a slim frame to tag along, it’s rather unusable.

Benelli 502C: engine and performance

The 502C’s twin-cylinder engine is a familiar unit and we’ve experienced it previously in Benelli’s other offerings, namely the Leoncino 500 and TRK 502/X adventure motorcycle. 

The performance offered by this 47.5hp, 46Nm engine is decent, considering the 216kg it has to haul. The sprint from 0-60kph took 2.81sec, while the 100kph mark was breached in 6.4sec. The motor also has the ability to hit 150kph without too much effort.

speedo

But that’s just one side of the coin. The bit about the engine that impressed me is the tractability, especially in the city. You can sit in top gear at 35kph, and ride as lazily as you please. This character of the engine goes with the laid back, easy nature of a cruiser. The engine doesn’t get uncomfortably hot in dense traffic either, so riding in our conditions won’t result in barbecued legs. On the highway, this tractable nature mixed with the tall fifth and sixth gears translates to the bike returning 31kpl with a 55kg rider on board and at speeds of around 80-90kph. That’s a theoretical range of about 600km!

action

With the performance and rideability on offer, I think the motor truly offers the best of both worlds. However, since this engine is inherently buzzy, you do feel mild vibrations in the handlebar, pegs and tank. But they don’t become overwhelmingly bothersome at any point.

In fact, you may also choose to ignore the mild buzz because of the way this motorcycle sounds. As is typical of any Benelli, the soundtrack coming out of the exhaust pipes is loud and raspy enough to keep you entertained.

Benelli 502C: ride and handling 

The suspension does a rather decent job of soaking up bumps, undulations, pockmarked roads and what have you. Surprisingly, the monoshock never bottomed out over some of the worst potholes we found. That being said, the ride quality does have a firm edge, so rumble strips, deep craters and wide expansion joints are clearly felt. The reward of this mild firmness in the ride comes to the fore when you encounter a set of twisties. 

The areas in which the 502C surprised us the most is in the way it rides and handles – it’s like Benelli pulled a page out of the Diavel’s playbook here as well!

tyre

With the leverage offered by the wide handlebar, the grip from the Pirelli Angel GT tyres, and decent amount of feedback from the front end, the 502C can go around corners and how. The long wheelbase and swingarm contribute to mid-corner stability, and on the whole, this is a quick, yet predictable motorcycle in the bends. That being said, the firm-feeling fork can give you an unsettling sense of the front skipping if you encounter a large mid-corner bump.

The other area where there could be some improvement is in the braking department. While 280mm discs and radially mounted calipers are adequate to bring the bike down to a halt, the feel through the lever could’ve been better.

Benelli 502C: should you buy one?

The Benelli 502C comes across as a well-rounded motorcycle that offers a unique flavour in the sub-Rs 5 lakh price bracket. It’s relatively easy to ride, fairly practical on our roads and it’s more fun than you might expect. At present, it faces no direct competition, although that will change to some extent once Royal Enfield launches the 650cc cruiser that it is currently developing.

Nevertheless, there’s a lot going for the 502C, especially if you like what Benelli has done with the styling. If the company can ensure long-term reliability and good after sales support, this bike has the potential to do quite well for them.

Review: Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza petrol AT long term review, third report

The 0-100kph test is a universally acclaimed measure of a car’s performance and the yardstick with which geeks and enthusiasts judge cars. But in the real world, it’s bursts of 0-40kph from one traffic light to another or a surge from 10-30kph to keep up with the congestion that really matter. And, after living with our Vitara Brezza for over six months now, this compact SUV performs exactly where it matters. It’s nice and brisk off the mark, part-throttle response is really good, and in fact, this responsiveness at slow speeds, which I have begun to take for granted, was appreciated more after the Brezza played support car for our Kushaq review. The truth is that Skoda’s much-vaunted 1.0 TSI engine and six-speed auto simply didn’t feel as sprightly in heavy traffic as the Brezza’s relatively large 1.5-litre naturally aspirated engine which, despite being mated to a lazy four-speed auto, reacted faster to throttle inputs.

article image
SOAK IT UP: Beefy suspension makes light work of bad roads.

The lesson here is that there’s no replacement for displacement and for 80 percent of your needs, which is when most turbo engines are off boost, the Brezza’s rather mundane powertrain does the job rather well.

But what about the other twenty percent? That’s when you miss a stronger engine. The flat mid range of the Brezza’s 1.5 K-series engine can bog you down, and it’s on an open road that overtaking moves aren’t as effortless as with a nicely wound-up turbo-petrol. In short, the Brezza works best as a city car where you can let the engine play to its strengths. And since, you don’t have to work the engine hard at low speeds, fuel efficiency wasn’t too shabby this time round. During this four-week stint which was primarily in the city, we got a respectable figure of 9.2kpl.

article image
DIALLED DOWN: Analogue dials look basic and outdated.

It’s amply clear that the Brezza’s biggest strength is practicality. It’s a car that’s easy to live with, doesn’t hurt your pocket too much and can do mundane chores quite effectively. The spacious boot came in handy shifting an oddly sized weighing scale which we just picked up. In case you’re wondering, no this isn’t a weighing scale to measure weight distribution of cars but to see how heavy each issue of the magazine is, which has an impact on postal and shipping rates!

Mumbai roads during the monsoon are a good test for any car’s ride quality and the here again, the Brezza impressed us with the way it quietly soaked up destroyed bits of tarmac. The operative word here is quietly because the suspension doesn’t clunk or thunk and it’s only over really sharp bits that it gets audible.

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TOUCH ME NOT: Touch screen lacks slickness and sharpness of rivals.

So, what’s not to like about the Brezza then? Quite a bit actually. After jumping in and out of a slew of new compact and mid-size SUVs, you realise how utterly dated the Brezza’s cabin is. The analogue dials look basic, the touchscreen though easy to use, lacks the slickness you find in newer cars, and the plastics exude a cheapness that pervades the cabin. And that’s a shame, because you expect a nicer ambience from a car that otherwise acquits itself well against stellar rivals.

But that’s expecting too much from a car that’s aimed at what is the lowest common denominator. Keep your expectations low and the Brezza won’t disappoint you.

2021 British MotoGP: Quartararo consolidates championship lead

Fabio Quartararo has returned to winning ways for the first time since MotoGP returned from its summer break three weeks ago. The Frenchman took a dominant win in front of a sold-out British audience and consolidated his championship lead in the process.

  • Quartararo leads championship by 64 points
  • Aprilia picks up its first MotoGP podium
  • Rins takes a well-deserved 2nd place

Brotherly Love

Surprise poleman Pol Espargaro got off to a flying start and took the lead into Turn 1, even managing to eke out a bit of a gap halfway around the first lap. It was his brother Aleix Espargaro on the Aprilia who got a similarly fantastic start from 6th on the grid and slotted into 2nd place behind Pol. He then set about closing the gap back down, while Quartararo ended the opening lap in 4th place, one spot behind closest championship rival Francesco Bagnaia, onboard the Ducati.

Quick Quartararo

Quartararo got past the Italian on lap 3, and the pair of them got past Aleix Espargaro as he made a mistake and ran wide on lap 4. With only Pol Espargaro ahead of him, Quartararo got down to business. He took the lead with a brave move on lap 5, and that was the last anybody saw of him. Because he then proceeded to lay down a blistering pace that nobody could match, eventually taking the chequered flag 2.6 seconds clear of the rest.

Aprilia’s maiden MotoGP podium

Behind him, Aleix Espargaro regrouped and overtook his brother to claim 2nd place, which he held for the middle portion of the race. But that position was eventually captured by a hard-charging Alex Rins, who gradually cut through the pack on his Suzuki, from 10th on the grid to earn a much-needed podium spot. Aleix then had his hands full defending 3rd place from Ducati man Jack Miller, with the pair embroiled in a scintillating last lap battle for the final podium spot.

Maximising the quick-turning nature of the Aprilia, Espargaro managed to hold on to 3rd spot, giving Aprilia their first podium finish in the modern MotoGP era. After featuring in the podium positions early on, Bagnaia’s choice of a soft front tyre worked against him as he steadily dropped back through the field over the course of the race. It was a similar story for Joan Mir who was on the same tyres as Bagnaia.

2021 MotoGP riders’ championship standings

While Quartararo took home the maximum haul of 25 points, his main championship rivals faltered massively. Bagnaia could only manage a lowly 14th place (2 points) while fellow Ducati man Johann Zarco came home in 11th place (5 points), having never had a strong pace throughout the weekend. Reigning champion Mir finished down in 9th place (7 points), denting his chances of retaining his crown.

As a result of this, Quartararo now sits a comfortable 64 points clear of the field, having come into the British round with a 47-point lead. With only six confirmed races still to go, the Frenchman seems to have one hand on the championship already.

 

Renault Triber sees major feature revision across line-up

Earlier this year, the Renault Triber was updated with a handful of new features and a new paint option. Now, Renault has rolled out yet another update, that sees deletion of several features and some minor updates across the board, while adding a few more. Renault has also revised the variant nomenclature of the sub-4m MPV. Let’s take a closer look at all the updates.

  • All trims see deletion of several features
  • Updates effective on bookings made from August 2021
  • Launch of 1.0-litre turbo-petrol version expected soon

Renault Triber: what’s new?

Until now, the Renault Triber is available in four trims – RXE, RXL, RXT and RXZ. First up, Renault has revised the names of the individual variants. While the base RXE remains constant, the RXL, RXT and RXZ have now been revised to RXE+, RXL+ and RXT+ respectively. Let’s take a closer look at what has been added and deleted for each individual trim.

2021 Renault Triber RXE

The base RXE trim of the Triber sees the least revisions. The only major update is that the side under body sill will now be available in body colour instead of the black finish it previously got. The RXE trim also sees the deletion of the ‘Energy’ badge from the tailgate, which is consistent across all other trims.

2021 Renault Triber RXE+ (was Triber RXL earlier)

The second-from-base RXE+ trim (previously RXL) sees the maximum features being deleted. This majorly includes the air-con vents from the second and third rows, cooled cupholders from the centre console, chrome garnish for the front grille, side body decals, chrome surround for the instrument cluster and plastic seat rail covers. Moreover, the body coloured Outside Rear View Mirrors and door handles are now finished in matte black. The gloss black accent on the dashboard also gets a plain matte black treatment.

On the up side, Renault has added roof rails and power windows for the second row. The side under body sill that was previously finished in black is now body coloured. Lastly, the satin trim around the side air-con vents are now finished in chrome.

2021 Renault Triber RXL+ (was Triber RXT earlier)

Moving on to the RXL+ trim, the Outside Rear View Mirrors which were previously finished in body colour get a new Mystery black paint finish. Like all other trims, the black side under body sill is now finished in body colour.

However, features such as cooled glove box, driver side seat back pocket, blacked-out B-pillar, Eco scoring mode from the infotainment system and chrome surround for the instrument cluster have been removed.

2021 Renault Triber RXT+ (was Triber RXZ earlier)

The top-spec RXT+ trim carries over the Mystery black Outside Rear View Mirrors and body-coloured side under body finish from the RXL+ trim. The most notable upgrade on the RXT+ trim is a new design for the gear lever.

The RXT+ trim also sees the deletion of the Eco scoring mode from the infotainment system and black cladding for the B-Pillar. More importantly, the fabric lining for the door arm rest has been swapped with a plastic trim.

Renault Triber: prices expected to remian the same

Surprisingly, even with the feature revisions, prices for the Renault Triber are expected to remiain the same according to dealer sources. As of today, the Renault Triber range is priced from Rs 5.50 lakh to Rs 7.95 lakh. (ex-showroom, Delhi) 

There are no changes to the engine line-up either, with Renault continuing with the sole 72hp, 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, paired with either a 5-speed manual or AMT gearbox.

While there is no clear reason given by the brand for the above variant changes, sources tell us that the updates have been made due to rising input costs.  Additionally, as reported by us long ago, the Triber 1.0-liter turbo petrol is long due and the rejig in the trims and features could have been done to create space for a new top-spec variant of the Triber with the turbo-petrol engine. The 1.0-liter turbo petrol engine is the same unit that sees duty on the Renault Kiger and the Nissan Magnite compact SUVs. 

Renault Triber: competition check

The Triber’s closest rival is the Datsun Go+ (Rs 4.25-6.99 lakh), which occupies a similar niche in the market. In terms of its pricing, the Triber can be seen as an alternative to hatchbacks such as the Maruti Swift (Rs 5.73-8.41 lakh), Ford Figo (Rs 5.64-7.09 lakh*) and the Hyundai Grand i10 Nios (Rs 5.19-7.86 lakh*), as well as a more budget-friendly alternative to larger MPVs, such as the Maruti Ertiga (Rs 7.69-10.47 lakh).

*all prices ex-showroom, Delhi.

Also See:

Renault Kiger RXT(O) launched; Price starts from Rs 7.37 lakh

Magnite vs Kiger comparison video

New Renault 4 EV in development

Skoda Kushaq 1.5 TSI could get more affordable

When Skoda India launched the Kushaq a couple of months ago, the larger and more powerful 1.5-litre TSI engine was made available only with the top-spec Style trim. Now, we are told that the 1.5-litre TSI engine could also be offered on the mid-spec Ambition trim, making the enthusiast’s choice more affordable by quite a margin.

  • Kushaq available in Active, Ambition and Style trims
  • 1.5-litre TSI engine currently only on top-spec Style
  • 1.5L TSI could become more accessible with mid-spec Ambition

Skoda Kushaq 1.5-litre TSI to become more affordable?

The Skoda Kushaq 1.5-litre TSI, with both manual and DSG automatic gearboxes, is expected to be sold on mid-spec Ambition trim as well. There were also talks of an automatic variant of the Kushaq 1.0-litre TSI for the base Active trim.

Here, it’s important to note that Volkswagen is aiming to make the 1.5-litre TSI engine “a lot more accessible” with the upcoming Taigun SUV, which will launch on September 23, 2021. As such, VW is expected to offer this engine with a manual gearbox on the Taigun’s mid-spec trims and also price it pretty aggressively.

Given that the Taigun will be Kushaq’s arch-rival, Skoda certainly wouldn’t want to give that cost advantage to the former. Currently, the Kushaq’s 1.5-litre TSI variants are priced at Rs 16.20 lakh (manual) and Rs 17.60 lakh (DSG). Bringing it down to the Ambition trim could see the prices go down by nearly Rs 1.5 lakh.

The 1.5-litre TSI in question produces 150hp and 250Nm of torque and comes mated to either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed DSG gearbox. A major highlight of this engine is that it features active cylinder deactivation technology, which helps it achieve better fuel economy than even the smaller 1.0-litre TSI engine.

Skoda Kushaq 1.5 Ambition: what to expect?

The Ambition trim doesn’t skimp on features. While it misses out on some niceties such as ventilated seats, sunroof, auto headlamps and wipers, and larger wheels, the Ambition trim does cover all the basics quite well. It gets a 10.1-inch infotainment system with connected car tech, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, automatic climate control, cruise control, keyless entry, ambient lighting, 16-inch alloy wheels, full-LED headlamps and more.

Safety features on the Ambition trim include dual airbags, ABS with EBD, rear parking sensors with camera, electronic stability control, and hill hold control (limited to AT).

Also See:

New Skoda sedan confirmed for 2021 unveil

Skoda Kushaq video review

Skoda Kushaq 1.0TSI AT, 1.5TSI MT video review

Hydrogen Combustion Engines: Will They Ever Become Viable?

Hydrogen has so far struggled to meet its early promise as an alternative road transport fuel, but it’s a subject that just refuses to go away. Its use in hydrogen fuel cells to generate emissions-free electricity still has huge potential, but the impetus behind running internal combustion engines on it has dwindled. Interest remains, though, an example being Toyota’s development of a hydrogen-powered three-cylinder racing engine taken from the GR Yaris and used to power a specially developed Corolla Sport entered in the Fuji 24 Hours.

Although hydrogen is a clean fuel compared with petrol or diesel, it’s only completely emissions free when converted in a fuel cell system to generate electricity. When burned in a combustion engine it isn’t – quite. Although no unburned hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO) or CO2 are produced, nitrogen oxides (NOx) are. Air is 78 percent nitrogen, and in combustion it’s oxidised to produce the toxic NOx – but how much depends on how hot things get in the combustion chamber, and that’s where hydrogen engines can have an advantage.

Hydrogen is much less fussy than petrol or diesel, mixing and burning fully and efficiently in a much wider range of air-to-fuel ratios. As a result, a hydrogen engine can be run very lean (more air, less fuel) and still produce much lower ‘engine-out’ levels of NOx than petrols or diesels. Tailpipe emissions can be reduced to minute levels using existing exhaust emissions tech.

These appealing facts depend on a number of things. Although hydrogen carries a high amount of energy by weight, it’s far less dense than liquid fuels, so port-injected engines, in which fuel is injected into the inlet manifold and mixed with air outside of the cylinders, yield significantly less power running on hydrogen than they do on petrol. Direct injection improves matters and, in combination with variable-geometry turbocharging, makes hydrogen-fuelled combustion engines more viable.

There is still a trade-off, though. Modern direct-injection turbocharged hydrogen engines can produce more power than an equivalent petrol engine by increasing the proportion of hydrogen in the fuel-air mixture – but the NOx levels increase. Otherwise, hydrogen engines are essentially modified petrol engines that, in production form, would have some stronger components and hydrogen direct injection systems. Hydrogen can be stored in the same well-proven 700-bar compressed gas tanks used in fuel cell vehicles.

More recent research programmes suggest there’s a real possibility of running combustion-engined vehicles that are virtually emissions free using technology that suits heavy vehicles as well as passenger cars. Graz University of Technology, in conjunction with Bosch, has produced some encouraging results with a 2.0-litre spark-ignition turbocharged engine and Ricardo is leading a research programme into hydrogen engines for heavy vehicles.

Given the closeness to existing technology and manufacturing, burning this abundant, lighter-than-air gas could offer a useful stepping stone to full electrification and also encourage development of a hydrogen network needed for fuel cell vehicles.

Next-Level Torque Tweaks

 

The potential for one motor per drive wheel in EVs could make torque vectoring more effective than it is. Surrey University has developed a torque-vectoring control system with ‘fuzzy logic’ that can increase the efficiency of EVs as well as improve stability and also prioritise the focus on either, depending on driving conditions. The work is part of the European Union’s Steve electric urban mobility project.

Review: Hero Xpulse 200 long term review, third report

I knew the dreaded phone call was coming, but it was still a sad day when Hero asked for the Xpulse back. Partly since I quite liked the bike, but mostly so because I simply couldn’t spend the right sort of time with it.

Fortunately, I managed to take our Rally Kit-equipped Xpulse to HashTrack52 – a new dirt track that was recently opened outside Mumbai. It was a heap of fun, and just when we were planning to turn this into a weekend regular, the brutal second wave hit. Once the lockdowns lifted, the priority lay in catching up on lost work and before I knew it, it was time to say goodbye. 

Nevertheless, ever since we threw the Rally Kit onto our Xpulse, it felt like a completely different motorcycle. The added capability and the sheer value for money the Rs 38,000 Rally Kit brings is unprecedented. It’s so nice to see an Indian manufacturer that’s majorly involved in off-road motorsport also give its customers a taste of the action – TVS really could take a leaf from Hero’s book here.

RallyRally seat is good for taller riders, more comfy than stock, too.

The Rally Kit is a no-brainer if you plan to start riding at dirt tracks or entering off-road competitions,but don’t want to spend five times the price on a non-road-legal Japanese dirt bike. But what ifyou’re not interested in aggressive or competitive off-road riding? In that case, I’m not sure the Rally Kit is for you, at least not the whole thing. With the tall suspension and aggressive tyres, the 933mm seat height feels taller than a Sherco TVS Dakar rally bike – it’s the only bike I’ve encountered that leaves (6’1”) me on tiptoes. 

The height isn’t the turn-off, so much as the added top-heavy feeling. The standard Xpulse has a playful and innocent charm that the Rally Kit disposes of entirely. The bike now feels much more serious, with all that added grip and ability highlighting its two big weaknesses – a simple engine and weight. 

This is when you realise the Xpulse has nothing close to the performance of a proper 250cc dirt bike and that it weighs about 50kg more. With that in mind, I’d absolutely have the ergonomics of the tall seat and bar risers if I owned an Xpulse, but the tyres and suspension? Only, if the need for them was clear.

XpulseSide stand and its mount got bent, both were replaced.

Beyond that, the bike has run mostly fine, with the BS6 motor’s refinement continuing to impress. Issues? We’ve had a couple of random ‘check engine’ lights, but they tend to disappear on their own. Mainly though, the side stand (the longer unit that comes with the Rally Kit) and its mount were bent – presumably when someone tried climbing onto the bike ADV-style. Both items were replaced, but it’s an issue we’ve heard of on other Rally Kit-equipped bikes as well.

Overall, the Xpulse is a lovely little motorcycle and the customisation options out there are vast, yet affordable. If I was in the market for a bike at this price point, I’d probably have this over all the sporty nakeds that it’s so aggressively priced against. 

Also see:

Hero Xpulse 200 long term review, first report

Hero Xpulse 200 long term review, second report

Review: Honda City long term review, third report

Three days, three different cars, all at around the same price point. The big surprise – it’s the Honda’s City that has the most comfortable driver’s seat. This is not what I expected. Not at all. The City is relatively low slung, it is more difficult to get into and out of than an SUV, and the higher up you sit, in general, the more comfortable it is. Still, as I get into the City’s front seat, all I can think of is just how comfortable it is. The cushioning is just right – not too hard, not too soft, the seat is large and supportive, and what sets it apart is that it has just the right amount of bolstering or lateral support. The faux leather seats are even beautifully stitched and put together.

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WALK IN CUSTOMER: Proximity sensor on key lets you just walk up and climb in.

What I also rediscover after spending a long time behind the wheel around town is that the ride is spot on. The monsoon-ravaged roads in Mumbai pose a massive challenge to any sedan, and with the limited wheel travel compared to SUVs, sedans are at a bit of a disadvantage. Despite this, the new City glides over most broken patches of road with a rubber-footed suppleness not present on any of its illustrious predecessors. Even expansion joints don’t trouble it much. It’s only when I ride over some really bombed-out sections on the outskirts of Mumbai that the City feels out of its depth, and thuds and thumps. Shame about the weedy tyres too.

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HARD CASE: Plastic quality on top of dash isn’t great; often catches your eye.

Even the audio system impresses; I appreciate it much more after my long stint in traffic. The touchscreen still rankles, but once you’ve set up the equaliser and used the fader to reset the front-rear balance, the audio is loud, clear and even has a good amount of punch. A good audio system with a well-specified amplifier and speakers just adds so much to a car. Especially when you spend long hours behind the wheel.

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HOLD MY PHONE: Phone jumps around in shallow shelves and cubby holes.

The heart of the City, however, still remains that naturally aspirated engine that screams past 7,000rpm, and delivers a kick from 5,000 to 7,000 like no other. This is why early morning drives are especially fun, even on a Sunday. First gear is a bit short, but get on an open stretch in second, and particularly third, and the zesty, zingy Honda engine just hits the spot. There is a bit of a resonant buzz on the new City , which is a bit uncharacteristic for Honda, and I can’t stand the oh-so-relaxed low-RPM responses. That apart, this twin-cam engine makes the new City a thrill a minute and loads more fun than any SUV in this class.

New car, SUV launches in September and beyond

With the festive season soon approaching, carmakers are lining up a slew of car launches over the next couple of months. Here is a list of all the new cars and SUVs that are expected to hit showroom floors very soon.

Updated Tata Tigor EV – August 31, 2021

Tata Motors unveiled the 2021 Tigor EV powered by the company’s Ziptron EV powertrain technology this month and it is all set to go on sale on August 31. The 2021 Tata Tigor EV is the second mass-market EV from Tata Motors after the Nexon EV. Based on the ICE-powered Tigor facelift that was introduced last year, the new Tigor EV distinguishes itself with several electric blue accents over the standard Tigor. The advanced Ziptron high-voltage 300V+ architecture uses a permanent magnet synchronous electric motor that produces 75hp and 170Nm of peak torque. The Tata Tigor EV is likely to undercut the Nexon EV in price and could cost about Rs 1.5-2 lakh more than the ICE-powered Tigor, which currently tops out at Rs 7.81 lakh. This also means that the Tigor EV could be the most affordable EV available to private buyers in India.

Hyundai i20 N Line – September 2, 2021

Next upHyundai will be launching of the i20 N Line on September 2. Debuting Hyundai’s N performance brand in India is the i20 N Line, a sportier version of the regular i20. The updates, which are primarily cosmetic, include a sporty exterior body kit and several new sporty touches to the interior as well. It will be powered by the 120hp 1.0-litre turbo-petrol engine and will be offered with two gearbox options – 6-speed iMT and 7-speed DCT. It also gets retuned suspension, steering and a sportier exhaust note.

Kia Seltos X-Line – early September 2021

Earlier this week, Kia unveiled the Seltos X-Line, marking the second anniversary of the brand’s debut in India. Based on the Seltos X-Line Concept from the 2020 Auto Expo, this new top-spec model in the Seltos range gets an exclusive matte graphite colour option with several gloss black and orange accents all around. It also rides on larger 18-inch wheels. The cabin has also been updated with new Indigo blue upholstery. Under the hood, the Seltos X-Line will come with the 140hp, 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine with the 7-speed DCT gearbox or the 115hp, 1.5-litre diesel engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The Seltos X-Line will be a new permanent model in the lineup and will not be limited by numbers.

MG Astor – mid-September 2021

Earlier this month, MG officially confirmed the Astor for India, while also revealing several features and technology that it will come equipped with. The MG Astor is essentially a facelifted, petrol-powered version of the ZS SUV, which is already on sale in India with an EV powertrain. The Astor will come equipped with segment-first Level 2 ADAS features and will even feature a personal AI assistant through a robot-like device on the dashboard. Under the hood, the Astor is expected to come with a 120hp, 1.5-litre petrol engine and a 163hp, 1.3-litre turbo-petrol engine. The car is expected to be launched sometime after mid-September.

Volkswagen Taigun – September 23, 2021

After all the anticipation, prices for the Volkswagen Taigun are finally set to be announced on September 23. The first Volkswagen-badged model under the India 2.0 programme, the Taigun, is the sister model to the Skoda Kushaq and marks VW’s entry into the competitive midsize SUV space. While the two SUVs share cosmetic bits like the doors, roof and glasshouse, the Taigun gets a notably different front and rear end, in line with VW’s design direction. The cabin too gets some similarities, with VW tweaking some elements to help its SUV standout from the Kushaq. Under the hood, the Taigun will share the pair of turbo-petrol engine options on offer with the Kushaq.

Force Gurkha – September 2021

The new Force Gurkha was originally revealed at the 2020 Auto Expo, though the model’s launch has been significantly delayed due to the pandemic. Force has now finally confirmed that the Gurkha will see the light of day in September. While the new Gurkha looks similar to the previous model, it is all-new and sits on an upgraded ladder frame chassis. The cabin too has received upgrades to make it feel more upmarket than its utilitarian predecessor. As before, buyers can expect 4×4 and 4×2 versions of the SUV, with the former getting locking differentials and low range. Power will come from a familiar 90hp, 260Nm, 2.6-litre diesel engine, paired with a 5-speed manual gearbox.

Tata Punch – festive season

The Tata Punch is going to be the carmaker’s first micro-SUV and will be positioned below the Nexon compact-SUV. Tata recently confirmed the Punch nameplate, which has stayed faithful to the HBX concept from the 2020 Auto Expo that it is based on. While only a single image has been shown so far, the Punch has the signature Tata SUV family design language. Based on the ALFA architecture, which also underpins the Altroz, the interior of the Punch will also be very similar to that of the Altroz. Under the hood, the Punch is expected to be powered by an 83hp, 1.2-litre naturally aspirated three-cylinder engine and a turbocharged version of the same. Gearbox choices for the Punch are expected to include both, a 5-speed manual and an AMT automatic option. The launch is expected sometime in September.

Ford EcoSport facelift – festive season

The Ford EcoSport facelift was recently spied testing completely undisguised and is expected to launch in the coming weeks. The spy pictures revealed a completely new front end with a new grille and bumper. Apart from the face, there aren’t many exterior changes expected elsewhere on the compact-SUV. The photographs did not reveal any details about the interior but expect Ford to spruce up the SUV’s cabin with newer textures and more features. Under the hood, the Ford EcoSport facelift will carry forward the powertrain options from the current car. That means it will continue with the 100hp, 1.5-litre turbo-diesel and the 123hp, 1.5-litre, three-cylinder, naturally-aspirated petrol motor.

Also See:

Audi to end combustion engine production in 2033

Hyundai to unveil Hydrogen performance car on September 7

Qatar to get its own version of Geneva Motor Show

Review: Parani M10 Bluetooth intercom review

If you’re looking to buy your first communicator, then you probably want something that doesn’t break the bank. The big brands (Sena, Cardo, etc.) demand a hefty minimum sum of around Rs 12,000. At the opposite end, you can pick up lesser known devices for around Rs 3,000 to 4,000, but these are usually of Chinese origin and they are either badly built, incomprehensible to operate, poorly performing, or a combination of these. Filling the void is the Parani M10, offering a middle ground at Rs 5,999.

Parani is backed by Sena, which ticks the peace-of-mind box. That said, it can’t pair with full-blown Sena devices, so the four-way intercom works only with other Parani devices. The good news is it is truly a four-way duplex intercom system. All four participants can speak and hear each other simultaneously, unlike most cheaper devices that allow you to pair with multiple communicators but only converse with one at a time.

ParaniType-C charging port covered by rubber flap.

With the M10, a two-way intercom connection offers the best sound quality and battery life, while three- or four-way sees a slight, yet discernible drop in both. Setting up a two-way intercom is pretty straightforward, and sound quality is faultless. Noise cancellation and clarity of the mic pickup are excellent – whether you’re talking over the intercom or on a phone call, the person opposite will find it very difficult to tell that you’re aboard a motorcycle. Setting up a three- or four-way intercom is a more tricky affair, but once you’ve got it going, it works seamlessly. Even with four users hooked up, sound quality is more than acceptable, and the battery holds up for at least 5 hours. A full charge takes a little over an hour.

Intercom range is highly dependent on clear line of sight. In dense traffic, you can ride around 300- 400m apart before the connection starts to falter. Out on the highway, with fewer obstructions and straighter roads, the range is closer to 800-900m.

Phone calls are a slightly less satisfactory experience. At city speeds, everything is perfect, but beyond 90kph, it becomes hard to hear the opposite person even at maximum volume. This will differ slightly depending on how good your helmet’s noise insulation is, and how well you’re able to place the earpieces.

Parani-2Mic clarity is excellent.

The quality of music playback is decent enough. Sound is fairly well-rounded but slightly treble-heavy. This can be rectified by the equaliser on your phone, but only to some extent. An underrated advantage of having a system like this is being able to receive navigation prompts while riding. With the M10, they’re delivered clearly and in a timely manner.

As an entry point into the world of Bluetooth intercoms, it’s hard to fault the Parani M10. It isn’t a flawless product, but the fundamentals are in place –it’s well built, easy to use and backed by a big name. With a pretty reasonable Rs 5,999 price tag, the M10 comes across as good value for money too (you’ll have to shell out more than three times the cash to get a four-way intercom compatible unit from Sena). 

Where: http://www.customelements.in

Price: Rs 5,999

Also see:

FreedConn TCOM Bluetooth headset review

Made in India Suzuki Swift scores zero stars in Latin NCAP crash test

The New Car Assessment Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean (Latin NCAP) has crash-tested the made-in-India Suzuki Swift. The hatchback scored a disappointing zero stars in the crash test.  

  • Scored 6.21 points (15.53 percent) in Adult Occupant protection
  • Poor side impact protection and lack of side airbags are behind the result
  • Driver’s and passenger’s head and neck protection was good

Suzuki Swift Latin NCAP crash test results: details

The Swift that was crash tested by Latin NCAP was equipped with two airbags. As per Latin NCAP, the results are valid for both, the hatchback and the sedan (Dzire).

In the crash test, the Swift achieved 15.53 percent (6.21 points) in Adult Occupant protection, 0 percent (0 points) in Child Occupant protection, 66.07 percent (31.71 points) in Pedestrian and Vulnerable Road Users protection and 6.98 percent (3 points) for its Safety Assistance systems.

Latin NCAP says that the 0-star result attributes to poor side impact protection, a low whiplash score, the lack of standard side protection airbags, absence of ESC, the use of a lap belt in the rear centre seat, instead on a three-point unit, and because of Suzuki not recommending CRS (Child Restraint Systems).

Latin NCAP further noted that while the protection offered to the driver’s and passenger’s head and neck was good, the driver’s chest area showed weak protection. Adding to that, the driver’s and one of the passenger’s knees showed only marginal protection as they could have an impact with structures behind the dashboard. The other passenger knee, meanwhile, showed good protection.

In terms of side impact, the head and pelvis protection were good, abdomen protection was adequate but the chest protection was poor, resulting in zero points in this test. Overall, the bodyshell was rated as borderline unstable due to asymmetries and the Swift was adjudged not capable of withstanding further loadings.

Global NCAP vs Latin NCAP crash test results

Interestingly, while this current-gen Swift scored zero stars in the Latin NCAP tests, a similar current-gen model was also tested by Global NCAP in 2018, where it was awarded a 2-star safety rating. The difference in these results is mainly down to the differences in testing protocol of Global NCAP and Latin NCAP.

In Global NCAP’s tests, the cars are subjected to just the front offset crash test. In this test, the cars are driven at 64kph and with a 40 percent overlap into a deformable barrier, which is equivalent of a crash between two cars of the same weight, both moving at 50kph.

As for Latin NCAP, aside from the front offset crash test, the cars are also subjected to more comprehensive tests like the side impact test into a moveable and deformable barrier, and the side pole impact test. It was in the side impact test that the Swift scored zero points, as mentioned earlier. This could be the major reason for the differences in safety rating by Global NCAP and Latin NCAP. However, it is also possible that the cars tested by the two authorities may have some minor differences in terms of specifications and build quality, affecting the result.  

Branded Content: Citroen C5 Aircross – Redefining Comfort for India in 5 Easy Steps

If you’re a Citroen C5 Aircross owner, you needn’t read further. You’re probably cocooned in comfort right now, absorbing the monsoon sky through your large panoramic sunroof while an SUV like you’d never imagined is taking you to a rather agreeable destination – with your loved ones in tow, of course. It’s an enviable life, made all the more delectable with those oodles of French flair the C5 Aircross is sprinkled with. However, if you aren’t, for some incomprehensible reason, an Aircross owner, what you’ll read hereafter is going to leave you a bit, let’s say, uncomfortable.

Now imagine – what if the windows in your car were no longer just glass panes but a layer of comfort and isolation from the chaos of the world? What if you could feel the tufts of snowy clouds, while on a pleasant summer getaway, but without getting your hairstyle ruined? What if you could see every pothole in great detail – even in the dead of the night – and yet, feel nothing as you motored along down the dark highway? If you’re a Citroen C5 Aircross owner, you already have the answers, don’t you? And hey, thanks for being a sport and reading along anyway!

With the C5 Aircross’ Flying Carpet Effect, driving – or being driven around – spells a paradigm shift in the way you experience motoring. Thanks to its fantastic suspension with progressive hydraulic cushions, it makes bad roads nearly disappear (only for you, that is) and offers a superlative ride such as you’ve never experienced before in an SUV. Not anywhere near its class, for sure. Advanced Comfort Seats, with high-density foam in the front row, further enhance this experience and we’re sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find the second row features three individually adjustable sliding seats, just so every one of your occupants gets cocooned in comfort – the way it should always be.

What also heightens the sense of comfort in a Citroen C5 Aircross is the expanse of glass areas, each of which is assigned a purpose that goes beyond convention. The double-glazed front windows, for instance, offer a high degree of sound proofing, so while the world around you may honk away to glory, you can be assured of a quiet, isolated cabin environment. With the C5 Aircross, you also get to live a panoramic life, thanks to the large panoramic sunroof which opens up to let the sky in, while being equipped with dual electric motors and even a blind that lets you control just how much light you want to allow into the cabin. Now that’s going to a level of thoughtfulness you’d never have imagined in any other vehicle in this class.

 

Whichever seat you choose to make your own in the C5 Aircross, you are guaranteed a degree of plushness convention simply hasn’t allowed you so far. And so, be it the bi-zone air-conditioning with an Air Quality System, the standard rear vents, the unique seat design or simply the sheer amount of cabin room on offer, the C5 Aircross will undoubtedly become your new favourite destination itself! With 33 litres of cabin storage, including some clever stowage options, most of which allow you to accommodate 1.5-litre bottles (you could store one in the glove compartment, under the armrest and even in both the front doors!) the C5 Aircross is not only spacious, it’s smart, too. That’s hardly the pinnacle of its intelligence, though. How about we tell you the C5 Aircross offers you a staggering 580 litres of boot space… just to begin with! With the second row of seats tumbled away, what you get is an incredible 1630 litres of luggage space – that’s larger than the average Mumbai apartment. Well, almost. What’s better is that all this room is accessible to you via a hands-free electric tailgate that opens up with the swipe of your foot!

 

For entertainment, you get a 2-litre diesel engine with an 8-speed automatic transmission, which offers a great degree of refinement in the city and just the right dose of punch to make highway drives involving and memorable. Entertainment of another kind is also on offer, thanks to an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen complemented by a massive 12.3-inch TFT instrument display, both of which keep you informed, connected and lend more than just a sense of sophistication to your journeys. And just in case you ever find yourself feeling tired behind the wheel – perhaps after a really long haul across states – the Aircross intelligently detects this and signals a coffee break alert. Right, as if we ever needed a prompt to stop for a coffee!

 

Where the C5 Aircross unlocks the next dimension of motoring, though, is in its array of intuitive technologies. From LED vision projector headlights with DRLs to cornering fog lights that let you keep unwanted surprises in plain sight, the C5 Aircross makes every moment behind the wheel a safe, precise experience. It even has a blind spot monitoring system, that makes lane-changes a seamless act, and even something as tedious as parking is now the equivalent of a walk in the park, thanks to a reversing camera with 180-degree rear vision and even park assist, which does all the hard work for you.

For when the terrain gets unruly, which it does a lot, in India, you can select from among 5 driving modes – Standard (ESC), Snow, All-Terrain (Mud, Damp Grass), Sand and Traction Control Off – which ensure your experience of comfort is uninterrupted, no matter what the surface. That’s in addition to hill start assist and hill descent assist, and for when your adventure for the day comes to an end, you even have an electronic parking brake to ensure your Aircross is at perfect rest – just like you, then. When comfort goes beyond convention, you’ll always be at rest, no matter what the elements throw at you. And that’s what an SUV should be all about, isn’t it?

Maruti Baleno facelift: new interior seen for the first time

We recently brought you the first spy pictures of the heavily updated 2022 Maruti Suzuki Baleno. Now, a new set of pictures give a glimpse of the updates that the car is set to receive on the inside.

  • Revamped interiors
  • Larger infotainment screen
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto expected

2022 Maruti Suzuki Baleno: What do the new spy pictures reveal?

The new spy pictures confirm an all-new interior for Maruti Suzuki‘s i20 rival. The 2022 Baleno will get a completely redesigned dashboard, with the AC vents now placed horizontally in a V-shaped pattern and a free-standing infotainment screen taking centre stage. The unit looks much bigger than the 7.0-inch SmartPlay Studio system and could easily be 8.0-inch or more in size.

Sources have confirmed to us that the infotainment system will be upgraded and will also feature wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, among others. The steering wheel seems to be a new unit as well and looks similar to the one used on the Swift. The climate control switches are also expected to be all-new and will look similar to the ones on the Ignis

As far as the instrument cluster is concerned, the car in these spy pictures is equipped with the same one as the outgoing model, altough we are told that the 2022 Baleno will get an all-new unit. It remains to be seen whether Maruti Suzuki goes for a full-digital cluster like the i20 or a part-digital one like on the Altroz.

2022 Maruti Suzuki Baleno: expected exterior design changes

While we know that the new Baleno’s exterior will see major changes, including sheet metal tweaks to the front and rear fenders as well as to the bonnet, what can also be confirmed is that the front styling will have more of an upright look. It will have a much larger grille with inserts that would look like the ones on the Genesis models by Hyundai. The all-new headlamp units will feature dual arrow-shaped DRLs. Additionally, the new 2022 Maruti Suzuki Baleno will get restyled tail-lamps and a new alloy wheel design, among other changes.

2022 Maruti Suzuki Baleno: will it get any mechanical changes?

We don’t expect the Baleno to get any tweaks under the hood. It is currently powered by two 1.2-litre petrol engines options – one producing 83hp while the other produces 90hp with 12V mild-hybrid technology – and these are expected to be carried over as is. There are talks of a full-hybrid version of the car in the works, but we don’t expect it to be introduced with this update.

Also See:

Maruti Suzuki backs postponement of CAFE II emission norms

Maruti Suzuki fined Rs 200 crore for anti-competitive dealer policies

Next-gen Maruti Suzuki Celerio images leaked ahead of launch

Maruti Baleno facelift confirmed to get all new interior

We recently brought you the first spy pictures of the heavily updated 2022 Maruti Suzuki Baleno. Now, a new set of pictures give a glimpse of the updates that the car is set to receive on the inside.

  • Revamped interiors
  • Larger infotainment screen
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto expected

2022 Maruti Suzuki Baleno: What do the new spy pictures reveal?

The new spy pictures confirm an all-new interior for Maruti Suzuki‘s i20 rival. The 2022 Baleno will get a completely redesigned dashboard, with the AC vents now placed horizontally in a V-shaped pattern and a free-standing infotainment screen taking centre stage. The unit looks much bigger than the 7.0-inch SmartPlay Studio system and could easily be 8.0-inch or more in size.

Sources have confirmed to us that the infotainment system will be upgraded and will also feature wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, among others. The steering wheel seems to be a new unit as well and looks similar to the one used on the Swift. The climate control switches are also expected to be all-new and will look similar to the ones on the Ignis

As far as the instrument cluster is concerned, the car in these spy pictures is equipped with the same one as the outgoing model, altough we are told that the 2022 Baleno will get an all-new unit. It remains to be seen whether Maruti Suzuki goes for a full-digital cluster like the i20 or a part-digital one like on the Altroz.

2022 Maruti Suzuki Baleno: expected exterior design changes

While we know that the new Baleno’s exterior will see major changes, including sheet metal tweaks to the front and rear fenders as well as to the bonnet, what can also be confirmed is that the front styling will have more of an upright look. It will have a much larger grille with inserts that would look like the ones on the Genesis models by Hyundai. The all-new headlamp units will feature dual arrow-shaped DRLs. Additionally, the new 2022 Maruti Suzuki Baleno will get restyled tail-lamps and a new alloy wheel design, among other changes.

2022 Maruti Suzuki Baleno: will it get any mechanical changes?

We don’t expect the Baleno to get any tweaks under the hood. It is currently powered by two 1.2-litre petrol engines options – one producing 83hp while the other produces 90hp with 12V mild-hybrid technology – and these are expected to be carried over as is. There are talks of a full-hybrid version of the car in the works, but we don’t expect it to be introduced with this update.

Also See:

Maruti Suzuki backs postponement of CAFE II emission norms

Maruti Suzuki fined Rs 200 crore for anti-competitive dealer policies

Next-gen Maruti Suzuki Celerio images leaked ahead of launch

Hyundai i20 N Line to launch on September 2

Earlier this week, Hyundai unveiled the i20 N Line in India, debuting the brand’s N performance division in our country. Hyundai has now revealed that prices for the i20 N Line will be announced on September 2, 2021.

  • Hyundai i20 N-Line will be available in two trims – N6 and N8
  • Gets a sole 1.0-litre turbo-petrol engine with two gearbox options
  • Features sportier suspension and steering setup for better handling

Hyundai i20 N Line: what’s new?

The i20 N Line is a sportier version of the regular i20, with the upgrades primarily being cosmetic. On the outside, the i20 N Line gets sportier looking front and rear bumpers, a new grille with a ‘chequered flag’ inspired design, additional front and side skirts, new wheel design, dual-tip exhaust pipes and red accents all around with several blacked out bits. The N Line also gets new colour options.

On the inside, the i20 N Line gets new leatherette seats with chequered flag design, a bespoke N steering wheel, N-branded gear levers and sporty metal pedals. The interior also gets several red accents and red ambient lighting. Hyundai has also added new voice command functions and offers 16 free OTA map updates. Other than these changes, the equipment list is identical to top-spec trims of the regular i20.

Under the hood, the i20 N Line will only be offered with the 120hp, 172Nm, 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo-petrol unit. Transmission options include the 6-speed iMT or 7-speed DCT gearbox, with the latter now getting paddle shifters. While the engine configuration and tune are identical to the standard car, Hyundai has stiffened the suspension and retuned the steering for better handling and a more planted drive at higher speeds. Importantly, the car also gets four disc brakes as against only front disc brakes on the regular i20.

Hyundai i20 N Line: expected price and rivals

With the i20 N Line launching on September 2, it will be the new top-spec model in the i20 range. Currently, the range tops out at Rs 11.40 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the Asta(O) turbo-DCT variant. Expect the N Line to cost Rs 1-1.5 lakh more. For its price, the Hyundai i20 N Line will not have any direct competitors in India.

Also See:

For ‘N-Performance’, say yes

Hyundai i20 N Line Image Gallery

Hyundai i20 N Line first look video

Kia Seltos X Line revealed ahead of September launch

Kia India has released a first set of pictures and details of the new Seltos X-Line. This new range-topping version is inspired the Seltos X-Line concept that was showcased at the 2020 Auto Expo. Essentially featuring cosmetic upgrades over the standard SUV, the Seltos X-Line will officially go on sale in September 2021.

  • Blacked out version of standard Seltos
  • No mechanical upgrades over regular SUV
  • Second special edition Seltos in India 

Kia Seltos X Line: what’s new?

Think of the Seltos X-Line as a blacked-out version of the standard SUV, similar to the Tata Harrier Dark Edition. The biggest highlight of this special-edition Seltos is that it wears a new matte graphite paint option that’s complemented by several gloss black and orange accents all around. The matte graphite paint is exclusive to the X-Line model and is very similar to the original X-Line concept.

Up front, the grille on the Seltos X-Line gets a matching matte graphite finish for the internals, complimented by a piano black frame. The silver skid plate on the bumper has also been replaced with a piano black trim with orange accents. There are new piano black accents around the LED fog lamps as well.

Over to the sides, the Seltos X-Line gets orange accents on the side door garnish and centre wheel caps. Meanwhile, the ORVMs have been meted out the piano black treatment. A major highlight of the X-Line model is that it rides on larger 18-inch alloys. At the rear, the chrome garnish on the tailgate has been blacked out. The rear bumper also gets a new gloss black finish for the faux exhausts and a blacked-out skid plate with an orange highlight. Lastly, there’s a new X-Line logo on the tail gate as well.

On the inside, the biggest and the only major update on the Seltos X-Line is that it gets Indigo Pera leatherette seats with honeycomb pattern and grey stitching. The dashboard is finished in a dual-tone black and grey theme. The equipment list is otherwise identical to top-spec GT Line trims of the standard Seltos.

Kia Seltos X Line: engine and gearbox

There are no mechanical upgrades on the Seltos X-Line over the standard SUV. Kia is offering the 1.4-litre turbo-petrol and the 1.5-litre diesel engines with the Seltos X-Line, but only with automatic gearbox options.

The 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine pushes out 140hp and 242Nm of peak torque. Meanwhile, the diesel mill produces 115hp and 250Nm of peak torque. The turbo-petrol engine comes mated to the 7-speed DCT gearbox, while the diesel engine will be offered with a 6-speed torque converter automatic. 

Kia Seltos X Line: expected launch and price

The standard Kia Seltos is priced from Rs 9.95-17.65 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). Expect the Seltos X-Line to cost a decent premium over the regular model. Interestingly, this is Kia’s second shot at a special edition of the Seltos, following the Seltos Anniversary Edition last year, although this is not likely to be a limited-run model. Price announcement for the Kia Seltos X-Line is expected in September. 

Also See:

2021 Kia Seltos X-Line image gallery

2021 Kia Seltos X-Line first look video

Review: Kia Sonet long term review, third report

I’ve found my perfect city car. Yes, it’s the Sonet and I’ve come to this conclusion after many mind-numbing hours spent in traffic. My office commute is a total of 72 kilometres, and for those familiar with Mumbai, it runs from the Dahisar toll naka to Byculla, thus spanning pretty much the entire length of the city.

So why has the Sonet so endeared itself to me? For starters, it’s the diesel engine. It has consistently returned between 12 and 13kpl through all the traffic, and with skyrocketing fuel prices, this is definitely welcome. Plus, it’s really punchy and gunning for gaps is easy. Then there’s the automatic gearbox – a torque converter that’s really smooth with its shifts and pretty much in tune with whatever you ask of it in changing traffic conditions.

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NO PHONEY BUSINESS: The wireless charging phone tray easily fits a plugged in phone too.

Another element you want in a congested city is a small footprint. The Sonet is a tad wider than some rivals, but on the whole its compact SUV dimensions are easy to manage in the city. That, along with a steering that’s light and feels quite fluid, adds more points to the city-friendly score card.

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BLACK OUT: Only the driver window switch is lit, for all others you have to feel around.

The Sonet is also extremely well equipped, and yes, equipment has a role to play in traffic. A nice big screen throws up Google Maps (and the endless red traffic lines) nice and clearly, it’s responsive to touch and you can quite easily scroll around while looking in vain for a better route. The Bose sound system sounds really good and will keep you entertained while the minutes tick by. Pick a nice playlist, settle back in the cooled seats and you’ll have a much less stressful drive home.

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COOL COMFORT: Cooled seats can be a bit intense, but very welcome on a hot day.

At this point you’re probably thinking: wouldn’t a well-equipped diesel automatic hatch also be ideal in the city? Yes, it would, but Mumbai in particular throws another spanner in the works, and that’s its roads. Potholes, broken surfaces, loose paver blocks, and now with the monsoons, flooded streets as well – they all add another challenge for the city car. And this is where the higher ride height and broader tyres of the Sonet make a difference. You have a few more inches to rely on when wading through waterlogged areas and the broad tyres manage to ride over many of the smaller nicks and cuts in the road. The suspension isn’t plush, for sure, and shaper bumps do come through, but you never feel like they’re wrecking your car and so you can drive through with little worry.

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LITTLE BLACK BOX: Central storage box is very small and not much fits inside.

So, as I said, in the Sonet I’ve found my perfect city car. Of course, it impressed me over a few trips outside the city too, but for that I have other options. As for the city streets, it’s the Sonet all the way.

Also see:

Kia Sonet long term review, second report

Kia Sonet long term review, first report

Refreshed Maruti Suzuki Baleno to launch by February 2022

Maruti Suzuki has begun road testing process for its updated Baleno hatchbackwhich is expected to launch sometime by February 2022. The next update is expected to be an extensive one and not just a minor nip and tuck like on the 2019 facelift of the car. 

  • Major update to Baleno will include fresh looks inside out
  • Expected to get more creature comforts and features
  • May not get any mechanical update.

2022 Maruti Suzuki Baleno: What all will be new

The Baleno made a comeback in hatchback form in 2015 and has stayed more or less the same since then. As reported by us recently in our comprehensive story about updated Maruti models for India, the 2022 Baleno will see a major refresh. The first set of spy shots that have surfaced online confirm that while the overall styling of the body shell will remain the same, the front and the rear fascias will see comprehensive restyling.

Spy shots confirm all-new taillamp design which is more squarish than the rounded ones on the current car, while it cannot be confirmed, the rear fender might get minor design tweaks to accommodate the reshaped taillamps.  Although there are no pictures of the test-mule from the front, we expect major changes especially to its headlamps, grille and front bumper.

Sources tell us that the interior will also see design tweaks mainly to the car’s dashboard and steering wheel among other changes. Chances are the Baleno will receive a full digital instrument cluster and a slightly larger infotainment screen as well, a first for any Maruti or Suzuki model sold globally. It could also possibly see the addition of wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

To sum up, most updates to the 2022 Maruti Suzuki Baleno are expected to be cosmetic with some sheet metal changes and new alloy wheel designs are expected to be thrown in as well.

2022 Maruti Suzuki Baleno: Will it see any mechanical changes?

We dont expect the Baleno to see any tweaks under the hood. The Baleno is currently powered by two 1.2-litre petrol engines – one producing 83hp and another producing 90hp with 12V mild-hybrid technology – and these are expected to be carried over as is. There are talks of a full-hybrid version of the car in the works, however we don’t expect it to be introduced with this update.

2022 Maruti Suzuki Baleno:  competition check

While the Baleno continues to be one of the most popular cars sold in India, the model has seen rivalry from newer products from Tata and Hyundai that do come with more creature comforts and better technology. The 2022 update to the Baleno will not be a full model change but will make the car more competitive to take on the i20, Jazz and the Altroz.

2022 Toyota Glanza, Starlet updates incoming?

The Glanza and its international twin, the Toyota Starlet, are built alongside the Baleno at the Maruti Suzuki plants in India. Given the fact that all three models have high amount of part sharing, we expect Toyota to also updated its Baleno based models subsequently in the near future.

Image Source

Also See:

Maruti Suzuki backs postponement of CAFE II emission norms

Maruti Suzuki fined Rs 200 crore for anti-competitive dealer policies

Next-gen Maruti Suzuki Celerio images leaked ahead of launch

Review: 2021 Honda Amaze facelift review, test drive

2021 Honda Amaze: what is it?

This is the first facelift the Honda Amaze has received since the second-gen model made its India debut in 2018. Honda has clearly gone for the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach, as apart from some cosmetic tweaks on the interior and exterior, the Amaze remains largely unchanged. In its defence though, this is not entirely bad, as the Amaze was a pretty well-rounded package to begin with. This review, then, will be equal parts on what’s new and a recap of what we know of the Amaze already.

2021 Honda Amaze: what’s it like on the outside?

At first glance, you would be forgiven for mistaking the new Amaze for the pre-facelift model. Overall styling is unchanged and the differences are in the details. The grille, for instance, retains the thick band of chrome. But lower down, the mesh has made way for sleeker slats. And while the headlights are familiar, top-spec VX versions now get LED projector units with LED Daytime Running Lamps. The front bumper has also been tweaked with new chrome surrounds for the fog lamp housings.

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LED projector headlights are new for the Amaze and are offered in the top-spec VX trim.

Chrome door handles at the sides add some flash value, but the Amaze’s new diamond-cut alloy wheels do the most to uplift the look. Still, broader tyres would have helped. There are changes at the rear too, with the new C-shaped LED elements at the tail-lights, and a revised rear bumper with a chrome accent at the bottom.

Small as the changes are, they do add up to make the new Amaze look a little more premium than before.

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The C-shaped LED elements in the taillights add to the more upmarket look.

2021 Honda Amaze: what’s it like on the inside?

Save for the incorporation of silver accents on the dashboard, door cards and steering wheel, there’s nothing new to report about the 2021 Amaze’s interior. In a nutshell, this is a practical and thoughtfully-styled cabin that offers a great driving position, good visibility, easy access to controls and lots of space to store small items. The dual-tone black and beige interior colour scheme is carried over from before too and does its bit to make this feel like a relatively premium space, even if the plastics aren’t quite at par with the best in the segment.

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Silver accents help distinguish the interior from the pre-facelift model.

In terms of seating, the front seats offer good cushioning and support, and are quite accommodating even for larger drivers. The seating position is quite good with the height adjustable driver’s seat helping with that. Ergonomics are good for the most part as all the relevant controls fall to hand nicely. However, you’d do well to opt for a front centre armrest that’s on offer as an optional accessory. There are also a number of convenient storages spaces up front, though the slot for storing your phone isn’t big enough to accommodate the largest of phones.

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Front seats provide a good amount of support and are well cushioned.

The rear seats are also very well cushioned, and rear occupants get good levels of knee room and under thigh support. But headroom can be tight for taller passengers. Additionally, while the rear seats could accommodate three passengers, it is best suited for two occupants as it is not too wide. Another quirk at the rear is the positioning of the centre armrest, which is a bit too low for most people to comfortably use. Honda has also missed out on equipping the Amaze with a rear air-con vent, and perhaps more importantly, adjustable rear headrests. The fixed rear headrests are small and will provide minimal support in the unfortunate event of a collision.

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Rear seats are comfortable and offer plenty of knee room, though headroom is insufficient for taller occupants.

Elsewhere, the Amaze’s feature list is par for the course as compact sedans go though like-priced compact SUVs like the Nissan Magnite get you a few more frills. As before, in fully-loaded VX trim, the Amaze gets automatic climate control, steering mounted controls and digital MID. The 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, has also been carried forward. While the screen responds well to the touch and is fairly easy to use, its user interface looks dated and a tad aftermarket.

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Larger phones don’t fit in the storage cubby up front.

In terms of safety, all versions of the Amaze get dual airbags, ABS with EBD, ISOFIX child seat mounts and rear parking sensors. The top-spec’s rear view camera, however, has been enhanced with three views – normal, wide-angle and top-down. Automatic headlights are also part of the package.

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The additional views offered by the rear camera come in handy while parking.

As before, one of the key pulls on the Amaze remains its boot. Measuring 420 litres, the boot can easily accommodate large suitcases making this little Honda among the most practical sub-4m cars you can buy.

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420-litres of boot space is plenty for a few large suitcases.

2021 Honda Amaze: what’s it like to drive?

As before, the Amaze is offered with the same 90hp, 1.2-litre four-cylinder i-VTEC petrol engine and 100hp, 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel engine (80hp with the automatic gearbox). Both engines continue to be offered with a 5-speed manual and CVT automatic gearbox.

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1.2-litre, naturally aspirated i-VTEC engine puts out 90hp and 110Nm.

We got to sample the petrol-manual version, which feels just like it did before. The 1.2-litre naturally aspirated engine is quite refined, especially at idle – with noise and vibrations being well contained. The Amaze petrol gets going easily and will keep up with the flow of traffic with ease. However, the mid-range is flat and this warrants a downshift if you want to make a quick overtake. The tall fourth gear makes this more of an issue at highway speeds.

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The weak mid-range of the i-VTEC motor is most noticeable out on the highway.

True to the VTEC badge, the engine does have an exciting top-end, and on an empty stretch of road you will like revving the engine to its 6,600rpm redline. The 5-speed manual gearbox is also fun to use and slots into gear nicely, though a shorter throw would have made it even better. Still, for city-based owners, the CVT is what one should go for.

Ride is an area where the Amaze has excelled at since its launch and this remains true even for the facelifted model. The way Honda has set-up the Amaze’s suspension, helps it deal with bad roads effortlessly and smoothens out even larger imperfections and potholes. Suspension noise is well contained too but overall noise insulation isn’t great. There is also a fair bit of road noise that creeps into the cabin at higher speeds.

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Ride quality is one of the Amaze’s strong suits.

The Amaze handles pretty well too, as it turns in well and stays stable through the corners. The light steering, though convenient and great for manoeuvring around town, won’t excite keen drivers. That said, the Amaze still feels fairly stable doing triple-digit speeds on the highway.

2021 Honda Amaze: should you buy one? 

So that’s the 2021 Honda Amaze for you. Prices start at Rs 6.32 lakh for the petrol-manual in base E trim with the diesel CVT in VX trim priced at Rs 11.15 lakh.

2021 Honda Amaze Price (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Trims Petrol Diesel
E Rs 6.32 lakh Rs 8.66 lakh
S Rs 7.16 lakh Rs 9.26 lakh
VX Rs 8.22 lakh Rs 10.25 lakh
S CVT Rs 8.06 lakh
VX CVT Rs 9.05 lakh Rs 11.15 lakh

You could argue that similar money will get you a premium hatchback or even a compact SUV. However, there is a large pool of buyers for whom the sedan shape is tied to the image of moving up in life. And it’s this buyer, typically looking for a family car, that the Honda Amaze and other compact sedans cater to without breaking the bank.

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In that sense, the small visual updates do their job of uplifting the Amaze’s look. A Maruti Dzire petrol is peppier, a Hyundai Aura feels a little more premium, a Tata Tigor is more VFM, and a 6 airbag-equipped Ford Aspire might come across as safer. But as a sensible, practical and easy to drive pick, the Honda Amaze continues to score high.

Branded Content: Mercedes-Benz Leads with Customer Delight, Hassle-free Ownership Experience

For most buyers, and especially for first-time customers of the storied brand, buying a Mercedes-Benz is something of a life event. After all, a Mercedes is not just any car – it’s something special, something to be cherished for years. However, thinking of buying an expensive luxury car can also be a bit intimidating for some, given the general perception that these can be costly to run and difficult to maintain. The thought of shelling out large sums of money towards servicing costs and parts replacement can be a deterrent for even the most ardent of luxury car buyers.

Taking these concerns into account, Mercedes-Benz actively works towards alleviating fears regarding the running costs of its cars, dispelling misplaced notions regarding upkeep expenses. The company offers a range of carefully designed aftersales packages for its customers, which help keep long-term servicing and maintenance costs in check. Let’s take a closer look at some of these initiatives.

Star-Ease Service Packages

Star-Ease service products and maintenance packages are designed for customers’ complete peace of mind, with pre-defined model-based maintenance costs, providing complete protection against price inflation. Customers get to avail exclusive benefits like priority handling, a shorter waiting time and quicker processes. With ‘Flexi Plan,’ customers can choose as per their individual requirements. Coverage can extend from as little as two years, going all the way up to 10 years of ownership. Owners can opt for Star Ease program anytime from the moment they make the purchase until the car’s fifth service (scheduled at the completion of five years or 75,000km, whichever is earlier).

With the Compact package, things that are taken care of include onboard electronics check (via XENTRY, an advanced diagnostic tool), replacement of fluids like the engine oil, transmission oil, brake fluid and coolant, and replacement of consumables like the oil filter, air filter, cabin filter and transmission filter. The Compact Plus package includes all of the above, plus the replacement of parts like the brake discs, brake pads and wiper blades. Wheel alignment and balancing are also included in this package, which can extend up to 10 years or 200,000km, whichever is earlier.

For those who did not buy any maintenance package during the first five years of ownership, Mercedes-Benz still has you covered; you can still avail the ‘value service’ option for selected models, which includes engine oil and filter replacement, as well as a comprehensive check-up for as low as Rs 12,999 (plus GST).

Advance Assurance Extended Warranty Program

Brought to you by Daimler Financial Services India, in collaboration with Reliance General Insurance India and ICICI Prudential, the Advance Assurance Program is designed to help you enjoy your Mercedes-Benz without any worries. Under this program, the extended warranty is valid on completion of the standard three-years warranty. Buyers can also choose to extend it for the 4th year or up to the 6th year. The Advance Assurance Program goes beyond your expectations to make for a truly exciting car ownership experience by offering an extension of warranty, wherein warranty terms and conditions remain unchanged as compared to standard warranty terms.

If one misses out on buying Advance Assurance before the lapse of the standard three-year warranty, Mercedes-Benz still has you covered. Certified Assurance, the new break-in warranty, can be bought once the standard three-year warranty expires, subject to the fulfilment of certain terms and conditions. This warranty program covers your car for the 4th and 5th year of operations and offers an array of services, covering unexpected repairs at a price starting from as low as Rs 12,623. Effectively, this works out to less than the price of a single tankful of petrol per year, which is amazing value for money.  

The extended warranty program brings with it a range of exclusive services, including priority handling and express insurance claim processing, is honoured at all Mercedes-Benz dealerships across the country, and is transferable, which also enhances the resale value of the car.

Mobilo 24×7 On-Road Assistance

The road can sometimes spring unpleasant surprises on the traveller, and getting stranded in some remote location can be a big hassle. With Mobilo, the probability of such incidents happening can easily be minimised; customers get the assurance of 24×7 roadside assistance at minimal cost, as one year of Mobilo Plus subscription costs only Rs 3,999 – barely as much as a good pair of shoes or a nice shirt! With Mobilo Plus, on-road assistance is available at over 900 locations across India, for a period of up to eight years, of which the first three are free. Coverage includes comprehensive break-down assistance, with vehicle towing, taxi service and replacement vehicle, which really does make this a great value-for-money package.

Customers also get Mobilo Lite, which offers 24×7 roadside assistance for one year after completion of service by an authorized Mercedes-Benz dealership. This service extends to a range of within 50km from the nearest Mercedes-Benz dealership, with assistance from trained technicians being offered in case of a breakdown.   

Triumph Tiger Sport 660 in the works

Late last year, a leaked image from a dealer presentation revealed that the new Triumph Trident 660 would have two siblings – an adventure bike and an adventure-sports tourer. Triumph has now revealed camouflaged images of the latter.

Triumph Tiger Sport 660 design

Triumph has released a number of images of the upcoming Tiger Sport 660 wearing camouflage. Despite this, there are plenty of details to be discerned. What’s most obvious is that the bike gets a big fuel tank, substantial radiator shrouds, a sizeable windscreen and sleek twin LED headlamps. 

The bike also gets a bigger single piece seat and what looks like a tall and wide handlebar. The seating ergonomics are likely to be upright with a hint of sportiness. 

Triumph Tiger Sport 660 engine

Visually, the Tiger Sport 660 appears to have the same 660cc three-cylinder engine from the Triumph Trident 660. This engine produces 81hp and has a smooth, linear power delivery that will be a nice fit in a motorcycle like the Tiger Sport 660. 

Like the Trident 660, the Tiger Sport will get a six-speed transmission and a bi-directional quick shifter will be available, but whether this will be an accessory or a standard item remains to be seen.

Triumph Tiger Sport 660 chassis

The images show the Tiger Sport 660 has a similar looking black colour Showa USD fork as the Trident 660. It is quite likely that the Tiger Sport will have more suspension travel than the Trident, but whether the suspension will be adjustable is unknown at this time.

Tiger-660

The wheels remain 17-inches at both ends and are wrapped in the same Michelin Road 5 rubber, hinting at this motorcycle’s preference for tarmac. The tubular steel frame appears to be the same, but the bike may get a new rear subframe and the swingarm also appears to be different to the Trident’s.

Triumph Tiger Sport 660 India launch and price

Triumph has never sold any motorcycles from the Tiger Sport range in India so far, but that’s likely to change with this machine. Given how production-ready the bike looks in these images, we expect the international unveil to happen in a matter of weeks. 

Going by tradition, expect an India launch to happen sometime in the first months of 2022, with prices likely to be between Rs 7.5-8.3 lakh, ex-showroom. At this price, the Tiger Sport’s closest rivals will be the more affordable, but ageing Kawasaki Versys 650 and the more expensive Suzuki V-Strom 650.

Kia Seltos has segment best resale value: Autocar India, OLX Autos study

The midsize SUV arena has seen a lot of action, with different players dominating it at some point in time. While the Renault Duster pioneered the segment, it was the previous-generation Hyundai Creta that dominated this space for the longest time. That is till the Kia Seltos made its debut in 2019, and now its new-generation model is what the Creta is fighting back. The Mahindra Scorpio, Maruti S-Cross and Nissan Kicks are also part of this segment, though it was only the Scorpio that marked a significant presence among the trio. 

  • Being the king of the segment for the longest time, it’s no surprise to see the old-generation Creta commanding a fair resale value. It is one of the slowest to depreciate in the third, fourth and fifth year of its ownership. However, the depreciation hit on a 2019 or a two-year-old model is the highest. Interestingly, the petrol-automatic seems to hold its value much better than the other variants.
  • Not having made an impression on the sales charts, the Nissan Kicks unsurprisingly sees low demand in the used car market, and as a result, it loses nearly a third of its value in just two years.
  • Two-year-old Dusters, both petrol and diesel, hold their value rather well. However, in the subsequent years, the resale value drops sharply and more so for the diesel, showing a preference for newer diesels among second-hand buyers.
  • The new kid on the block – the Seltos – witnessed a very strong demand in the new car market. With skyrocketing waiting periods and subsequent price hikes, the Seltos is able to command a strong resale value that is unlike anything else in the segment. And just like the Hector in the executive SUV space, owners are even able to ask for prices higher than what they initially paid. 
  • The venerable Mahindra Scorpio still commands a good grip in the used car market, and in keeping with the brand’s key strength – diesel powertrains – it holds onto its value, bettering even the diesel-manual Creta’s resale value.
  • Despite being a Maruti Suzuki, the S-Cross hasn’t quite set the sales charts on fire. Correspondingly, its resale value drops quite unlike its other stablemates.
Average resale price and depreciation value in 2021
Model Variant MY19 Depreciation % MY18 Depreciation % MY17 Depreciation % MY16 Depreciation %
Hyundai Creta P MT 11.53 20.31 10.73 21.84 9.06 29.34 8.39 31.06
P AT 14.69 10.67 12.90 20.30 10.79 30.27 9.98 35.57
D MT 11.90 26.36 10.84 29.59 9.41 37.35 8.69 41.57
D AT 14.51 16.20 12.79 24.96 10.74 38.73 10.40 38.98
Nissan Kicks P MT 8.33 31.29
D MT 10.32 30.71
Renault Duster P MT 6.47 38.94 5.92 44.90
P AT 10.55 11.34 9.12 23.87 8.66 30.37
D MT 11.29 12.17 8.57 34.12 6.96 49.12 6.26 53.70
D AT 9.80 34.91 8.69 43.39 7.30 51.62
Kia Seltos P MT 15.07 +1.51
P AT 17.12 5.76
D MT 16.69 +12.98
D AT 17.16 4.51
Mahindra Scorpio D MT 14.46 11.26 11.66 26.55 9.63 34.83 9.19 37.73
Maruti S-Cross D MT 9.97 17.48 8.83 25.82 7.24 36.69 5.98 51.33

Notes: All prices in INR lakh. Depreciation percentages are based on original on-road prices

Also See:

Autocar India, OLX Autos team up for comprehensive Resale Value Study

MG Hector has best in class resale value in Autocar India, OLX Autos study

Hyundai i20 N Line India bookings open

Hyundai has finally introduced its N performance brand in India with the i20 N Line being the first N Line model to hit our shores. The Hyundai i20 N Line gets a sportier cosmetic job inside and out, that is accompanied by a sportier suspension setup and exhaust note.

Along with the unveiling, Hyundai also opened bookings for the i20 N Line in India. Customers can book the car online or at Hyundai dealerships for Rs 25,000. Prices could be announced in September.

  • Hyundai i20 N Line powered by 120hp, 1.0-litre turbo-petrol engine
  • Transmission options include 6-speed iMT and 7-speed DCT gearbox
  • Will be available in two trims – N6 and N8

Hyundai i20 N Line: what’s new on the outside?

The most prominent distinguishing factor about N Line models are their sportier cosmetic job on the outside. To that effect, up front, the Hyundai i20 N Line gets a sportier dual-tone front bumper with deep set fog lamp housing and sporty red accents, a sportier looking grille with a ‘chequered flag’ inspired design, a front splitter and N Line logo.

In profile, the i20 N Line sets itself apart with a new design for the 16-inch alloy wheels. It also gets a side sill garnish with red inserts and red front brake calipers. At the rear, the i20 N Line gets a sportier bumper with a prominent diffuser and twin-exhaust pipes, a tail gate spoiler with side wings and a dark chrome garnish connecting the two tail-lamp units.

The i20 N Line is available in four monotone paint options – Thunder blue (new and exclusive), Fiery red, Titan grey and Polar white – and two dual-tone paint options – Thunder blue with Phantom black roof and Fiery red with Phantom black roof. 

Hyundai i20 N Line: interior updates and features

The overall dashboard layout is pretty identical to the standard car. However, the all-black interior has been spiced up with red highlights and red ambient lighting. It also gets a new chequered flag design with N logo for the leatherette seats, sporty metal pedals, a bespoke three-spoke steering wheel and N-branded leather gear knob.

In terms of features, the i20 N Line carries over all the equipment from the standard i20. It comes equipped with a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a digital instrument cluster, wireless phone charging, cruise control, automatic climate control, a single-pane sunroof, 7-speaker Bose sound system and much more.

The i20 N Line additionally gets new voice recognition functions. Hyundai has also updated the Bluelink app to feature 16 free over-the-air map updates. Safety features include 6 airbags, TPMS, rear-view parking camera, automatic headlamps, electronic stability control (ESC), vehicle stability management (VSC), hill assist control (HAC) and more. 

Hyundai i20 N Line: powertrain and mechanical upgrades

Under the hood, as we had previously reported, the India-spec i20 N Line is only offered with the 120hp, 172Nm, 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo-petrol unit. Transmission options include the 6-speed iMT or 7-speed DCT gearbox. The DCT gearbox now comes with paddle shifters for more driver engagement. However, Hyundai has missed this opputunity to introduce a manual gearbox with the turbo-petrol engine on the i20. 

Although the powertrain configuration and tune remain unchanged from the standard i20, it does get a sportier exhaust note. The suspension has also been tweaked for a sportier setup, promising better handling around corners and a more planted drive. Additionally, the i20 N Line also gets disc brakes at all four corners, for better stopping power, while the standard i20 only gets front disc brakes. Hyundai also claims to have improved on-centre steering feel on the i20 N Line. 

Hyundai i20 N Line: expected price and rivals

With the launch expected in September, the i20 N Line will be the new top-spec model in the i20 range. Currently, the range tops out at Rs 11.40 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the Asta(O) turbo-DCT variant. Expect the N Line to cost Rs 1-1.5 lakh more. For its price, the Hyundai i20 N Line will not have any direct competitors in India.

Also See:

2020 Hyundai i20 review, test drive

Hyundai Stargazer MPV to rival Ertiga

For ‘N-Performance’, say yes

Hyundai i20 N line unveiled; bookings open

Hyundai has finally introduced its N performance brand in India with the i20 N Line, which is the first of more N Line models that will follow over the next few years. The Hyundai i20 N Line gets a sportier cosmetic job inside and out, that is accompanied by a sportier suspension setup and exhaust note.

With this unveiling, Hyundai has also opened bookings for the i20 N Line in India. Customers can book the car online or at Hyundai dealerships with the booking amount pegged at Rs 25,000. Prices could be announced in September.

  • Hyundai i20 N Line powered by 120hp, 1.0-litre turbo-petrol engine
  • Transmission options include 6-speed iMT and 7-speed DCT gearbox
  • Will be available in two trims – N6 and N8

Hyundai i20 N Line: what’s new on the outside?

The most prominent distinguishing factor about N Line models are their sportier cosmetic job on the outside. Up front, the Hyundai i20 N Line gets a sportier dual-tone front bumper with deep set fog lamp housing and sporty red accents, a sportier looking grille with a ‘chequered flag’ inspired design and N Line logo and a front splitter as well.

In profile, the i20 N Line distinguishes itself with a new design for the 16-inch alloy wheels. It also gets a side sill garnish with red inserts. Even the front brake calipers are finished in red. At the rear, the i20 N Line gets a sportier bumper with a prominent diffuser and twin-exhaust pipes, a tail gate spoiler with side wings and a dark chrome garnish connecting the two tail lamp units.

The i20 N Line is available in four monotone paint options – Thunder blue (new and exclusive), Fiery red, Titan grey and Polar white – and two dual-tone paint options – Thunder blue with Phantom black roof and Fiery red with Phantom black roof. 

Hyundai i20 N Line: interior updates and features

The overall dashboard layout is pretty much identical to the standard car. However, the all-black interior has been spiced up with red highlights and red ambient lighting. It also gets a new chequered flag design with N logo for the leatherette seats, sporty metal pedals, a bespoke three-spoke steering wheel and N-branded leather gear knob.

In terms of features, the i20 N Line carries over all the equipment from the standard i20. It’s equipped with a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a digital instrument cluster, wireless phone charging, cruise control, automatic climate control, a single-pane sunroof, 7-speaker Bose sound system and much more.

The i20 N Line additionally gets a new voice recognition functions. Hyundai has also updated the Bluelink app to feature 16 free over-the-air map updates. Safety features include 6 airbags, TPMS, rear-view parking camera, automatic headlamps, electronic stability control (ESC), vehicle stability management (VSC), hill assist control (HAC) and more. 

Hyundai i20 N Line: powertrain and mechanical upgrades

Under the hood, as we had previously reported, the India-spec i20 N Line is offered with the 120hp, 172Nm, 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo-petrol unit as the sole engine option. Transmission options include the 6-speed iMT gearbox or the 7-speed DCT gearbox. The DCT gearbox now comes with paddle shifters for more driver engagement. However, Hyundai has missed this opputunity to introduce a manual gearbox with the turbo-petrol engine on the i20. 

Although the powertrain configuration and tune remains unchanged from the standard i20, it does get a sportier exhaust note. The suspension has also been tweaked for a sportier setup, promising better handling around corners and a more planted drive. Additionally, the i20 N Line also gets disc brakes at all four corner whereas the standard i20 only gets front disc brakes. Hyundai also claims to have improved on-center steering feel on the i20 N Line. 

Hyundai i20 N Line: expected price and rivals

With the launch expected in September, the i20 N Line will be the new top-spec model in the i20 range. Currently, the range tops out at Rs 11.40 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the Asta(O) turbo-DCT variant. Expect the N Line to cost Rs 1-1.5 lakh more. For its price, the Hyundai i20 N Line will not have any direct competitors in India.

Also See:

2020 Hyundai i20 review, test drive

Hyundai Stargazer MPV to rival Ertiga

For ‘N-Performance’, say yes

Review: 2021 Audi RS5 Sportback review, test drive

Audi RS5: what is it?

The original RS5 was one of Audi’s icons. Nothing short of a German muscle car with a compact silhouette, a brawny, naturally aspirated V8, and a generous dose of ‘Vorsprung Durch Technik’, it was one of the pillars on which Audi rested its considerable technical bulk.

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All this has changed today. First up, in 2018, Audi chucked out the naturally aspirated V8 and plugged in a twin turbocharged V6. So, bye bye V8 icon. If you thought that was a big change, today Audi only sells the RS5 here as a 4.8m-long Sportback. Compact coupe it isn’t. The Sportback gets four doors, a huge estate car-like boot and loads of added practicality. But can Audi’s baby RS7 deliver both, a ‘pukka’ RS driving experience and loads of everyday practicality?

Audi RS5: what’s it like on the outside?

One thing’s for sure, I think it’s one of Audi’s stunners, a car you can look at endlessly. The low-slung profile gets you first. The arched, tight-fitting coupe-like roof, the pillar-less doors, and fastback rear work superbly together. Then the wheel arches bulge out that extra bit and help give the RS5 a crouching cat-like stance. While the nose has been well executed and has plenty of character with its sharp cuts and creases, it’s the rear of the RS5 Sportback with its arrow like form that really is drool-worthy. The wide hips and subtle spoiler set the tone, and then the strip of decorative  faux ‘metal’ that runs around the big oval exhausts looks just great.

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Audi RS5: what’s the engine like?

Under the hood, the V6 is also a bit special. Co-developed with Porsche, the 2.9-litre, twin-turbo V6 puts out a strong 450hp and has a torque profile that, here, has been tailored specifically to give it strong performance. You get 600Nm from 1,900-5,000rpm. The turbos are placed inside the ‘V’ for quick responses and what makes the engine feel even sportier is that it comes hooked up to a lightening quick 8-speed automatic gearbox. The quattro system also used here makes a huge difference. It uses the sportier crown wheel differential where 60 percent of power is normally sent to the rear, which can be increased up to 85 percent to counter understeer (or a lack of front end grip).

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The suspension is also tailored to give it a sporty drive. It has a five-link setup at the front and rear, and while there’s no rear-wheel steering and air suspension, the steering has been specifically set up to give it a good amount of agility.

Audi RS5: what’s it like on the inside?

The interiors are typically Audi. That is to say they are built to a very high standard and, for the most part, display levels of fit and finish that set class standards. The materials here are all first rate, and what makes the experience inside the cabin feel even more special is that Audi has used new shapes and forms that look great. This is especially true of the metallic carbon-fibre weave that runs in an organically shaped band right across the cabin. Matched by a single decorative band of wide trim on the centre console, it amps up the cool factor of the cabin considerably. And boy, has Audi made the 50 shades of grey cabin work. Subtle glints of chrome sporadically scattered across the cabin highlight the important bits, and the various textures and colours have been layered in an extremely sophisticated manner.

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In addition, you get all the RS regalia and badges. You get logos on the seats, on the centre console, and at the base of the steering wheel. The sport steering wheel now also gets two programmable RS modes. The screen isn’t large enough to impress on its own, but Audi’s MMI user interface (Modular Infotainment Platform or MIB 3) is amongst the best there is. Neat, clean, tidy and intuitive, it is quick to respond and has slick functionality. Audi, in addition, seems to have provided a hardware upgrade, so the speed with which it works also impresses. As this is an RS, the system also delivers performance-related information. You get info on engine and transmission temperature, longitudinal and lateral acceleration, and there’s even software that will give you lap times around a circuit or acceleration from 0 to 100 kph.

Also on the RS5 is Audi’s virtual cockpit or fully digital instrument panel, massaging seats for the front passengers, electrically actuated pneumatic lumbar support (that feels more natural), and enough Alcantara on the door cards, steering wheel and elsewhere to enhance Audi’s cool factor. Other features include Parking Aid Plus, a panoramic sunroof, and a button that allows you to switch the screen off at night; this is important on long night drives, as bright, contrasting lights tend to accelerate eye fatigue. You don’t, however, get cooled seats, wireless charging or wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto.

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The rear seats are a bit compromised because of the low roof, but there’s a decent amount of legroom, the seat back is comfortable, and the big sunroof prevents the rear of the cabin from getting gloomy. This clearly is no A6, though. You are seated a bit low, and if you are above six feet, headroom could be tight. Space and comfort up front are excellent. The sporty seat supports your shoulders perfectly, the lumbar support is very effective and easy to adjust, and after a day of hard driving, the massage function is a welcome addition. I also just love how the seats look. Finished in black and rock grey, with a honeycomb motif, they are superbly done in Alcantara and leather.

Those who value practicality will also be thrilled with the lift-back boot – the access is good, it is wide and deep, and is easy to load. And although boot capacity, at 465-litres, isn’t huge, its uniform shape means you can use every square inch of space. 

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Audi RS5: what’s it like to drive?

On paper, the RS5 doesn’t seem particularly exciting, especially at first glance. It comes powered by a V6 engine and weighs a considerable 1,742Kgs. Get behind the wheel and initial impressions aren’t very strong either. The big turbos need time to spool up, and while it accelerates smartly when you put your foot down, the explosive performance you expect of an RS model isn’t quite there.

Use a bit more throttle and the situation remedies itself very quickly. Two things happen almost simultaneously. First, the reactive gearbox delivers a lightening quick downshift, and with the turbos now blowing madly, the RS5 shoots forward towards the horizon. Before you know it, you hit 7,000rpm, you are up a gear and into the thick of the powerband once again. So quick are upshifts, I’m initially convinced this is a twin-clutch gearbox. The real star, however, remains the engine. Past 4,000rpm, the engine just seems to run away from you, gathering a momentum and energy of its own. The RS5 even has a fun and exciting exhaust note, especially towards the top end. While Audi says 0-100kph comes up in 3.9sec, it feels even quicker! I sure didn’t expect it to be this quick.

What I do expect is loads and loads of grip, even on a slippery road. Yes, the steering is as inert as Helium and I’m not sure if the rear is steeping out minutely or I’m just imagining things. Still, if you are looking for the weapon system with the best ballistics, this is it. The grip is just prodigious, even in the wet, and what I particularly like is that there’s a simplicity and predictability about the way the RS5 goes down the road. Its ability to find grip is in fact so good, it makes a wet road feel merely damp, and a damp road bone dry. How does Audi do it? The quattro system is clearly still a step ahead.

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Once you sync your driving style with the manner in which the quattro system puts power down to the road and up your confidence levels, the RS5 is just massive, massive fun. Unlike the RS7, the RS5 rotates beautifully on turn in, and then what amps it up even more is that it displays the agility of something half its size. It even allows you to put power down early and rocket out of corners. It still won’t do slides, but the more rear-biased differential does allow you to point it into corners more aggressively, and that makes all the difference.

The RS5’s suspension also rounds off a majority of bumps pretty okay and it isn’t too noisy. Audi has, however, deleted adjustable dampers from the features list, so the ride is stiff even in Comfort; on a badly surfaced road, you even get plenty of short and sharp up-down movements. Those driving regularly in traffic will also have to ignore a sometimes snatchy and hesitant gearbox that, despite having a relatively smooth torque convertor, feels highly strung and on edge.

Audi RS5: should you buy one?

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If you are someone who likes to drive, loves performance and wants a car that can seat four in relative comfort and carry a good amount of luggage, the RS5 is a strong candidate for your money. For one, it’s extremely attractive. A lithe athlete dressed in a designer suit, its low-slung lines and fastback rear grab your attention. The engine’s performance is very strong in the top end, the four-wheel-drive system offers massive grip, and handling is so friendly that it goads you into driving harder and faster. Yes, the ride is stiff, the engine doesn’t quite have the bottom end urge of rivals, and it isn’t as well equipped as it should be at its Rs 1.04 crore. Still, if you want one car to do it all, the practical and fun Audi RS5 could just be the one for you.

Also see:

New Audi RS 5 Sportback launched in India

2021 INMRC: Rajini Krishnan, Jagan Kumar win in Round 1

Rajini Krishnan and Jagan Kumar have kicked off the 2021 MRF MMSC Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship (INMRC) with a dominant display, winning both races in their respective categories. Round 1 of the championship was held at the Madras Motor Race Track (MMRT).

  • Rajini Krishnan, Jagan Kumar dominate Pro-Stock races
  • Autocar India’s Soham Thakur wins TVS Media race

Read on to find out how the races panned out in each category:

Pro-Stock 301-400cc

Superbike racing ace Rajini Krishnan won both Pro-Stock 301-400cc races, astride a Yamaha R3. Despite making a poor start in Race 1 and dropping to 7th place, he was able to carve through the field to secure a comfortable win ahead of Rahil Shetty (Gusto Racing) and Anish Damodara Shetty (Race Concepts).

Krishnan put on an even stronger display in the next race, to win easily from reigning champion KY Ahamed (TVS Racing) and Anish Shetty.

Results

Race 1 – Rajini Krishnan (RACR Castrol Power Racing) 11min, 28.636sec; 2. Rahil Shetty (Gusto Racing) 11min 30.050sec; 3. Anish Damodara Shetty (Race Concepts) 11min 30.267sec

Race 2 – 1. Rajini Krishnan (RACR Castrol Power Racing) 15min 15.580sec; 2. KY Ahamed (TVS Racing) 15min 17.169sec; 3. Anish Damodara Shetty (15min 17.977sec)

Pro-Stock 165cc

Defending champion Jagan Kumar also picked up two wins for TVS Racing, riding an Apache RTR 160. Race 1 saw Kumar finish well ahead of Honda racer Rajiv Sethu. But Sethu ensured Kumar would have to work hard for his next win, chasing him through all eight laps of Race 2.

TVS’ other rider Deepak Ravikumar finished 3rd in both the races.

Results

Race 1 – 1. Jagan Kumar (TVS Racing) 11min, 50.845sec; 2. Rajiv Sethu (Idemitsu Honda SK69 Racing) 11min 55.312sec; 3. Deepak Ravikumar (TVS Racing) 11min 57.519sec

Race 2 – Jagan Kumar (TVS Racing) 15min 48.429sec; 2. Rajiv Sethu (Idemitsu Honda SK69 Racing) 15min 48.476sec; 3. Deepak Ravikumar (TVS Racing) 15min 54.822sec

Novice Stock 165cc

Both Novice Stock 165cc races were marred by crashes. AS Motorsports’ Alwin Sundar secured his first national-level win in Race 1 after Allwin Xavier crashed on the last lap. He followed that up with a dominating win in Race 2 the next day.

Results

Race 1 – 1. Alwin Sundar (AS Motorsports) 13min 09.026sec; 2. Anfal A (Rockstar Racing) 13min 09.157sec; 3. Teja TVR Namburu (Gusto Racing) 13min 09.335sec

Race 2 – 1. Alwin Sundar (AS Motorsports, Chennai) 13min 04.324sec; 2. Anfal A (Rockstar Racing, Thrissur) 13min 05.899sec; 3. Jinendra Kiran Sangave (Pvt, Kolhapur)

RACR Castrol Power Racing’s Ryhana Bee picked up a win in the Girls Stock 165cc category , making her return to racing after an injury put her out of competition for a year. The race saw defending champion Ann Jennifer (Sparks Racing) and Lani Zena Fernandez (Speed Up Racing) crash out on the third lap, giving Bee a clear run to victory

Results

Race 1 – 1. Ryhana Bee (RACR) 10min 59.842sec; 2. Baddam Deepika Reddy (Gusto Racing) 11min 21.426sec; 3. Jagruthi Kiran (Sparks Racing) 11min 21.647sec

Honda Hornet 2.0 One Make race

The round saw the introduction of the new Honda Hornet 2.0 one-make series, which saw Kevin Kannan take home wins in both races. Sudheer Sudhakar scored a double podium result.

Speaking with Autocar India earlier, Prabhu Nagaraj, senior vice president – brand and communication, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India, said Honda is looking at opening up the series to customers as well in the future.

Results

Race 1 – 1. Kevin Kannan 13min 28.543sec; 2. Veera Ashwin Lal  3min 49.116sec; 3. Sudheer Sudhakar 13min 52.208sec

Idemitsu Honda India Talent Cup

Over in the Idemitsu Honda India Talent Cup, Kavin Quintal won both races in the NSF250 Open category. Meanwhile, Rakshith S Dave picked up victory in both races of the CBR150 category.

Results

NSF250 Open Race 1 – 1. Kavin Quintal 11min 04.310sec; 2. Varoon Sadasivam 11min 15.762sec; 3. Geoffrey Reviven Emmanuel 11min 16.398sec

NSF250 Open Race 2 – 1. Kavin Quintal 14min 51.472sec; 2. Sartak Chavan 15min 01.335sec; 3. Samuel Martin 15min 09.450sec

CBR150 Race 1 – 1. Rakshith S 13min 12.373sec; 2. Prakash Kamath 13min 17.189sec; 3. Theopaul Leander 13min 21.759sec

CBR150 Race 2 – 1. Rakshith S Dave 13min 20.170sec; 2. Prakash Kamath 13min 26.483sec; 3. Shyam Babu 13min 55.118sec

TVS One-Make Championship

Amarnath Menon and Yashas RL won a race apiece in the TVS Apache RR310 Open category. In the TVS Rookie category, Jinendra Kiran Sangave emerged as the one to beat, taking home victory in both races.

Autocar India’s own Soham Thakur won the first TVS Media race, while Rakshita Srihari Dave won in the TVS Girls’ category.

Results

TVS Apache RR 310 Open Race 1 – 1. Amarnath Menon 12min 18.421sec; 2. Yashas RL 12min 19.175sec; 3. Jagadeesh N 12min 19.737sec

TVS Apache RR 310 Open Race 2 – 1. Yashas RL 11min 54.802sec; 2. Manoj Yesudiyan 11min 57.307sec; 3. Amarnath Menon 11 min 57.376sec

TVS Rookie (RTR 200) Race 1 – 1. Jinendra Kiran Sangave 13min 00.501sec; 2. Zenas Zhotan Bailey 13min 21.271sec; 3, Jagathishree 13min 21.432sec

TVS Rookie (RTR 200) Race 2 – 1. Jinendra Kiran Sangave 12min 58.183sec; 2. Jagathishree 13min 09.244sec; 3. Zenas Bailey 13min 09.286sec

TVS Media (RTR 200) Race 1 – Soham Thakur 11min 56.577sec; 2. Ajinkya Lad 12min 26.279sec; 3. Vishal Joshi 12min 28.684sec

TVS Girls (RTR 200) Race 1 – 1. Rakshita Srihari Dave 11min 21.305sec; 2. Adlin Seles 11min 25.725sec; 3. Nishita Palani 11min 32.585sec

Also see:

Ashish Raorane on tackling Dakar as a privateer and more

Mercedes AMG GLE 63 S Coupe launched at Rs 2.07 crore

Mercedes-Benz has just launched the AMG GLE 63 S Coupe in India, with prices starting from Rs 2.07 crore (ex-showroom, India). The new Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe sits at the top of the GLE range and is the 12th AMG model from the company in India. This comes just a month after Mercedes launched the AMG E53 and E63 S, testifying the brand’s commitment to its AMG offensive strategy for India.

  • 612hp, 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine
  • First AMG V8 model in India with EQ boost tech
  • Most powerful coupe-SUV from Mercedes-Benz India

Mercedes AMG GLE 63 S Coupe: what’s under the hood?

Since this is a high-performance AMG model, let’s start off with what’s under the hood. The AMG GLE 63 S Coupe is powered by AMG’s full-fat 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged petrol V8 engine, paired with a 48V starter-alternator. In this top-spec 63 S guise, the engine produces 612hp and 850Nm of peak torque. This motor also features active cylinder deactivation tech that shuts down four cylinders when it is under less load or if it is in ‘Comfort’ mode.

It is also the first AMG V8 model to feature a 48V EQ Boost hybrid system. This mild-hybrid tech supplies an extra 22hp and 250Nm when required. The powertrain comes mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission. Power is sent to all four wheels via Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel-drive system with variable torque distribution. Mercedes-AMG claims a 0-100kph time of 3.8sec and a top speed of 280kph for the GLE 63 S Coupe. It gets seven drive modes, including a Race mode that is exclusive to 63 S variant.

The GLE 63 S Coupe gets air suspension as standard and even an active roll stabilisation system based on 48V technology. Mercedes claims the system not only improves handling by reducing body roll when cornering, but it also improves ride comfort by balancing out one-sided road bumps. In fact, body movements can be actively and optimally adapted to the driving mode.

Mercedes AMG GLE 63 S Coupe: exterior design

AMG has redesigned the GLE 63 S Coupe in line with its sibling, the GLE 53 Coupe. It has added a bespoke grille and a restyled front end, with a large splitter finished in silver chrome and gaping black air intakes. Compared to the standard GLE, this range-topping version differentiates itself with its chrome-finished ‘Panamerica’ grille and raised ‘powerdomes’ in the bonnet.

The GLE 63 S Coupe sports a steeper windscreen and rear window rake to account for that beautiful sloping roofline. At the rear, the 63 S gains a black performance-style rear diffuser over the standard GLE, which houses a bespoke AMG twin-exit exhaust system. The GLE 63 S Coupe rides on 22-inch alloy wheel as standard.

Mercedes AMG GLE 63 S Coupe: interior design

The cabin of the GLE 63 S Coupe is quite similar to the standard model. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find differences. Both have the same dashboard layout that’s dominated by two 12.3-inch screens (for the infotainment and the instrument cluster) and a raised centre console with integrated grab handles.

However, the interior does distinguish itself with certain AMG-specific elements over the standard GLE. It gets an AMG-spec three-spoke steering wheel, aluminium shift paddles, AMG-specific Nappa leather wrapped seats and several AMG badges all over the interior. Mercedes is also offering a wide range of interior trim elements for further individualisation of the interior. Customers can even opt for optional AMG trim elements in carbon fibre.

Mercedes AMG GLE 63 S Coupe: rivals in India

The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe takes on the likes of the Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Cayenne Turbo and the Audi RS Q8 in India.

Also See:

Mercedes’ Car-to-X tech keeps an eye out for potholes

Mercedes Maybach teases ultra luxurious EQS electric SUV

Mercedes EQE teased ahead of Munich unveil

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe launched at Rs 2.07 crore

Mercedes-Benz has just launched the AMG GLE 63 S Coupe in India, with prices starting from Rs 2.07 crore (ex-showroom, India). The new Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe sits at the top of the GLE range and is the 12th AMG model from the company in India. This comes just a month after Mercedes launched the AMG E53 and E63 S, testifying the brand’s commitment to its AMG offensive strategy for India.

  • Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe uses a 612hp, 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine
  • First AMG V8 model in India to get EQ boost tech
  • Most powerful SUV-Coupe from Mercedes-Benz India

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe: what’s under the hood?

This being a high-performance AMG model, let’s start off with what’s under the hood. The AMG GLE 63 S Coupe is powered by AMG’s full-fat 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V8 engine paired with a 48V starter-alternator. In this top-spec 63 S guise, the engine produces 612hp and 850Nm of peak torque. This engine also features active cylinder deactivation tech that shuts down four cylinders when the engine is under less load or in ‘Comfort’ mode.

This is also the first AMG V8 model to feature a 48-volt EQ Boost hybrid system. This mild-hybrid tech supplies an extra 22hp and 250Nm when required. The powertrain comes mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission. Power is sent to all four wheels via Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive system with variable torque distribution. Mercedes-AMG claims a 0-100kph time of 3.8sec and a top speed of 280kph for the GLE 63 S Coupe. It gets seven drive modes, including a Race drive mode that is exclusive to 63 S variant.

The GLE 63 S Coupe gets air suspension as standard and even gets an active-roll stabilization system based on 48-volt technology. Mercedes claims the system not only improves handling by reducing body roll when cornering, but it also improves ride comfort by balancing out one-sided road bumps. In fact, body movements can be actively and optimally adapted to the driving mode.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe: exterior design

AMG has redesigned the GLE 63 S Coupe in line with its sibling, the GLE 53 Coupe, adding a bespoke grille and a restyled front end with a large splitter finished in silver chrome and gaping black air intakes. Compared to the standard GLE, this range-topping version differentiates itself with its chrome-finished ‘Panamerica’ grille and raised ‘powerdomes’ in the bonnet.

The GLE 63 S Coupe sports a steeper windscreen and rear window rake to account for that beautiful sloping roofline. At the rear, the 63 S gains a black performance-style rear diffuser over the standard GLE, which houses a bespoke AMG twin-exit exhaust system. The GLE 63 S Coupe rides on 22-inch alloy wheel as standard.

Mercedes-AMG 63 S Coupe: interior design

The cabin of the GLE 63 S Coupe is quite similar to the standard GLE. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find differences. Both have the same dashboard layout that’s dominated by two 12.3-inch screens (for the infotainment and the instrument cluster) and a raised centre console with integrated grab handles.

However, the interior does distinguish itself with certain AMG-specific elements over the standard GLE. It gets an AMG-spec three-spoke steering wheel, aluminum shift paddles, AMG-specific Nappa leather wrapped seats and several AMG badges all over the interior. Mercedes is also offering a wide range of interior trim elements for further individualization of the interior. Customers can even opt for optional AMG trim elements in carbon fibre.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe: rivals in India

The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe takes on the likes of the Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Cayenne Turbo and the Audi RS Q8 in India.

Also See:

Mercedes’ Car-to-X tech keeps an eye out for potholes

Mercedes Maybach teases ultra luxurious EQS electric SUV

Mercedes EQE teased ahead of Munich unveil

Toyota becomes first Le Mans winner in Hypercar era

The No. 7 Toyota crew of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez won the 2021 edition of the 24 Hours Le Mans to become the first Hypercar winners at the Circuit de la Sarthe. While this is Toyota’s fourth consecutive triumph at the iconic endurance event, it is the No. 7 crew’s first Le Mans win, after several heartbreaking near misses in the past.

  • Toyota scores a 1-2 finish at 2021 Le Mans
  • WRT wins in LMP2 after late drama
  • AF Corse Ferrari wins in both GTE classes

Toyota secures fourth straight Le Mans win

Despite securing a strong 1-2 finish, it wasn’t smooth sailing for Toyota. Sebastian Buemi in the No.8 GR010 Hybrid had to stop for a system reset after making contact with Olivier Pla in the No. 708 Glickenhaus on the opening lap itself. Both Toyota cars also lost time due to refueling issues as the race progressed.

But the team was able to control these problems and the No. 7 car crossed the finish line two laps ahead of the No. 8 Toyota of Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Kazuki Nakajima. Starting from pole position, the No. 7 crew was in the lead for a majority of the race, completing a total of 371 laps.

With this, Toyota has managed to further extend its lead in the 2021 World Endurance Championship with two rounds to go.

“This was a very hard race and a real team victory, in difficult circumstances. We asked a lot from our drivers and I am amazed by their skill to implement our solution without any time loss. It was a true team effort; we never gave up and the whole team tried everything to achieve the victory,” said Team President Hisatake Murata.

The No. 36 Alpine A480 Gibson driven by Andre Negrao, Nicolas Lapierre and Matthieu Vaxiviere secured the final podium spot, finishing four laps behind the race-winning Toyota.

WRT wins in LMP2

Team WRT also ended up with a victory in the LMP2 class with the No. 31 squad of Robin Frijns, Ferdinand Habsburg and Charles Milesi. But it was a bittersweet win for the Belgian squad.

They looked set to secure a 1-2 finish in the class with the No. 41 car of Louis Deletraz, Robert Kubica and Ye Yifei leading the way. But Yifei stopped on the final lap of the 24-hour race after reportedly suffering a complete loss of power. This handed the No. 31 crew victory after a close battle with the charging No. 28 JOTA belonging to Stoffel Vandoorne, Tom Blomqvist and Sean Gelael. The latter had to settle for 2nd place, finishing just 0.7secs adrift.

The No. 65 Paris Racing Oreca of Will Stevens, Julien Canal and James Allen landed the final podium spot. DragonSpeed USA topped the Pro-Am list with drivers Juan Pablo Montoya, Henrik Hedman and Ben Hanley pulling off a strong recovery drive.

Ferrari defeats Corvette in GTE Pro

The AF Corse Ferrari team won in both LMGTE classes. In the GTE Pro category, the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo secured a dominant win with drivers James Calado, Alessandro Pierguidi and Come Ledogar. The No. 63 Corvette C8.R crew of Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg made some smart strategic choices to stay in the battle, but had to settle for 2nd place.

AF Corse also won in the LMGTE Am category, with the No. 83 squad of Francois Perrodo, Nicklas Nielsen and Alessio Rovera sealing a controlled and dominant win.

Also see:

Karthikeyan, Maini withdraw from 2021 Le Mans due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions

Used car buying guide: Toyota Corolla Altis (2017-2020)

GOOD FOR: Reliability, Comfort

LOOK OUT FOR: Body damage, Brake wear

In today’s age of SUVs, sedans are often overlooked. The Corolla Altis, however, is a sedan that’s renowned world over for being very reliable and comfortable, making it a great alternative in the used car market if you want something other than an SUV. But, before you take the plunge, here’s a few things you should know about the Toyota Corolla Altis.

A rival to the likes of the Skoda Octavia and Hyundai Elantra, the Toyota Corolla Altis got a facelift in 2017, which brought with it sleeker styling. The sedan got a revised front end, new alloy wheels and a tweaked rear end on the exterior. The interior too received updates in the form of a revised dashboard with new circular side air-con vents, new AC controls, new trim pieces, and a new touchscreen.


The Altis gained tweaked LED tail-lights and new alloys with the 2017 facelift.

The Corolla Altis has always been a comfortable car and the 2017 iteration is no different. The seats, front and back, are spacious and comfortable. Legroom in the back is generous and the rear seats can also be reclined. The rear seats can further be flipped down in a 40:60 ratio to expand the 470-litre cargo space.

Two engine options are available with the 2017 Corolla Altis. There’s a 1.8-litre, four-cylinder, naturally-aspirated petrol engine that puts out 140hp and 173Nm of torque. The petrol motor can be had with either a 6-speed manual or a 7-step CVT automatic gearbox. The other engine option is a 1.4-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel motor that produces 88hp and 205Nm. The Corolla Altis diesel is only available with a 6-speed manual gearbox.


The refined petrol engine, coupled with the smooth CVT, really adds to the comfort-oriented experience this car offers.

In terms of mileage, the Altis petrol manual has an official ARAI-rated fuel-efficiency figure of 16.7kpl, while the petrol-CVT version is also said to do 16.7kpl. The diesel Corolla Altis is rated at 21.3kpl. 

The 2017 Toyota Corolla Altis was available in three trim levels (G, GL and VL), with a total of six variants on offer. The diesel is offered only in the G and GL trims while the top-spec VL is available only in petrol-auto form. In terms of equipment, the top-spec Corolla Altis VL gets features like LED headlamps with daytime running lamps, LED tail-lamps, a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, voice recognition and MirrorLink connectivity, automatic climate control, leatherette upholstery, electrically-adjustable driver’s seat, cruise control, automatic headlamps and wipers, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, electrically-folding and adjustable wing mirrors and a rear-view camera.

In terms of safety, the Altis VL comes with seven airbags, ABS, EBD, brake assist, hill-start assist and vehicle stability control. However, it still misses out on some equipment that its rivals get, such as a sunroof, two-zone climate control, ventilated seats and front parking sensors.


There are good quality materials inside; dual-tone upholstery livens the cabin.

Choosing the right one for you will ultimately depend upon the usage. The diesel will offer you a much superior fuel economy figure. However, this engine is not the most refined and is quite audible inside the cabin too. The Corolla Altis with the petrol-automatic powertrain will help you see the sedan in its best light. The refined petrol engine, coupled with the smooth CVT, really adds to the comfort-oriented experience this car offers.

Toyotas are known to be reliable and the Corolla Altis follows in the same vein. Additionally, spare parts are readily available even though it’s now a discontinued model, and with Toyota’s widespread service network throughout the country you should have a peace of mind ownership experience.

Buyer, beware…

Body Damage

Inspect the car you are looking at for any damage to the body panels or the lights. Being an executive sedan, these parts are not cheap to replace on the Corolla Altis.

Brake Wear

Take a test drive to check if the car makes screeching noises while braking, as this is a sign of worn-out brake pads. Especially check the ones on the automatic versions, as they tend to wear out the brakes earlier than on manuals.

CVT Transmission 

While on a test drive, check if the car rolls off the line smoothly. Also ensure that it upshifts and downshifts seamlessly without any jerks. Although not a common issue, a handful of owners have faced some problems with the CVT gearbox.

Also worth knowing

Some owners of the petrol-automatic variants have complained about poor fuel economy, especially in the city. This is worth keeping in mind before you make the purchase.

How much to spend

Rs 10-14 Lakh

Depending on the engine-gearbox combination and the variant, getting a used Toyota Corolla Altis for anywhere between Rs 10-14 lakh represents good value. Being a Toyota, the Altis still commands good resale value. However, as this is now a discontinued model, you can try to haggle and bring the price down.

Factfile
Years Produced 2017-2020
Price when new From Rs 15.87 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Engine 4 cyl, 1798cc, petrol/4 cyl, 1364cc, turbo-diesel
Power 140/88hp
Torque 173/205Nm
Boot space 470 litres

10 new cars at 2021 Pebble Beach Concours

The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance has returned for its 70th year after it was cancelled due to the pandemic last year.

Models from across generations were displayed at the event in California, USA, with several models making their public debut. Here is our list of the show’s most noteworthy new cars from Pebble Beach and the wider Monterey Car Week.

Aston Martin Valkyrie Spider

 

The 1,139hp Valkyrie has gained a drop-top variant, which was presented at the Concours d’Elegance. Despite a marginal change in weight, Aston Martin says the Spider will still top out at over 349kph (or 330kph with the roof off). The hypercar also gains revisions to its carbon fibre tub and aerodynamics, ensuring the Spider closely matches the hardtop’s performance. The Spider is the third derivative of the Valkyrie to be shown, following the standard Valkyrie coupé and the track-only AMR Pro coupé.

Audi Skysphere

 

Attendees of the Car Week earned a first glimpse of Audi’s shapeshifting, self-driving Skysphere concept. The electric roadster is the first of three ‘sphere’ EV concepts that Audi will present over the next few months. Skysphere is a large two-door convertible, which was developed around the principles of Level-4 autonomy. This means that it can drive unaided on roads equipped with the necessary infrastructure. It has a rear-mounted motor that sends 624hp and 750Nm of torque to the rear wheels only for a 0-100kph time of 4.0sec.

Bentley Flying Spur Mulliner

 

Bentley’s most expensive series-production car yet made its public debut at the show. The Flying Spur Mulliner will be the third vehicle from the Bentley Mulliner Collections line-up offered by the Crewe firm’s bespoke coachbuild division, joining top-end versions of the Continental GT coupé and convertible. It will be offered with the 507hp, V8 and 635hp, W12 petrol engines. In a first for the Mulliner division, the Flying Spur will also be offered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

Bugatti Bolide

 

While it didn’t appear in the metal, the Bolide was confirmed to be Bugatti’s next production car in an announcement at The Quail. The French firm will produce 40 examples of the 1,600hp hypercar that will be sold to customers in 2024. The Bolide weighs just 1,450kg and makes use of Bugatti’s quad-turbocharged 8.0-litre W16 engine, powering all four wheels. Its dramatic bodywork is shaped, unsurprisingly, with aerodynamics in mind. Bugatti claims 1,800kg of downforce on the rear wing and 800kg on the front wing at around 200mph.

Ford GT ’64 Prototype Heritage Edition

 

The Ford GT was displayed at the show in a limited-run edition to pay homage to the prototypes that led to the firm winning Le Mans. The GT features racing decals and exposed carbonfibre and appeared alongside the last remaining 1964 Ford GT/105 prototype, of which five were originally built. This led to the GT40, that claimed a 1-2-3 sweep at Le Mans in 1966. Prices and production numbers haven’t been revealed, but the ’64 Prototype Heritage Edition will be available to order in January next year for approved GT customers.

Honda NSX Type S

 

Another limited-run model, the Type S will act as the swansong model for the second-generation Honda NSX. Just 350 examples will be produced (with 300 units reserved for the US market). The car will feature improved suspension and updated exterior styling, including a revised front and a new rear featuring a downforce-generating spoiler. Power has been increased from 573hp to 600hp and torque has gone up by 21Nm to 667Nm.

Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4

 

The Lamborghini Countach has returned as a limited-edition, retro-styled hyper-hybrid. Celebrating 50 years since the Countach was first shown in prototype form, it has a design inspired by the iconic 1974 model. Availability will be limited to just 112 examples, as this number denotes the ‘LP 112’ internal project name used during the original Countach’s development. A majority of them have already been snapped up by prospective buyers. Lamborghini says the Countach can travel from 0-100kph in just 2.8sec – 2.0sec quicker than the most powerful version of its 1970s namesake – and on to 200kph in just 8.6sec. Top speed is capped at 355kph.

Lotus Evija

 

The Lotus Evija was presented in a new livery, this time dedicated to Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna. The bright-yellow paint with blue accents was inspired by the 1987 Type 99T that Senna drove to victory at the Detroit Grand Prix that year. The 1,972hp Evija is Lotus’s first all-electric car. It appeared alongside the Lotus Emira and Lotus-inspired Radford Type 62-2, taking centre stage at The Quail.

Radford Type 62-2

 

The Type 62-2 is the first car from British coachbuilder Radford. The two-seat coupé is inspired by the 1960s Lotus Type 62 sports car racer and was presented in an exclusive Gold Leaf-inspired livery. The Radford team is fronted by 2009 F1 champion Jenson Button, designer Mark Stubbs and automotive broadcaster Ant Anstead. The Lotus-based car is driven by a Toyota-derived 500hp, 3.5-litre supercharged V6. Just 62 examples will be made in total.

Pininfarina Battista

 

The Pininfarina Battista was finally shown in production specification in California two years after being announced at the Geneva motor show. The Evija rival has been described as the “the most powerful road-legal Italian car ever built” and is expected to further the competition in the hyper-EV segment, taking 1,900hp and 2,300Nm from a quad-motor Rimac powertrain. The ultra-exclusive Anniversario edition also appeared in public for the first time. Just 150 Battistas will be produced, five of which will be specified in the Anniversario trim.

Review: Viaterra M200 rain jacket review

You may or may not agree with me, but I don’t like the idea of being drenched to the bones while riding a motorcycle. It takes away the sheer fun of riding in the rain, which is why I got myself this purpose-built rain jacket from Viaterra. 

A disclaimer at this point is required. Up until I got the Viaterra M200, I used to wear a Decathlon sourced Quechua poncho over my riding jacket. It did an okay job of keeping me from getting completely soaked but the fit was loose and I hated the constant flapping of the sleeves and hoodie, while on the move. 

That’s certainly not the case with the M200, with its precurved sleeves and slim cut ensuring a relatively snug fit over my riding jacket. It is available in sizes S to 3XL and the Viaterra website has a handy size chart to tell you which one to choose, based on the size of your riding jacket.

The hoodie tucks inside the tall collar that also acts as a shield to cover your neck against raindrops that hit you like pellets. I’m also a fan of the adjustable Velcro wrist closures that make it easier to wear the jacket over gloved hands. Also, a nifty slit on the back acts as an exhaust vent to help manage perspiration.

M200
Velcro wrist closure for proper fit over gloves.

In terms of waterproofing, the M200 did a pretty good job of keeping me dry. Whether I was riding in moderate rain or on days where the rain gods unleashed their full fury, there was no water ingress. This has to do with some effective techniques that Viaterra has employed in the construction of the rain jacket.

The jacket itself is made of a PU-coated waterproof fabric rated for 5,000mm water pressure. All seams have been hot-air sealed, while the main closure uses a 100 percent waterproof YKK Aquaguard zipper. There’s also a neatly integrated rain gutter behind the zip to prevent rainwater from entering. In all, I’m happy with how well the jacket does its job of keeping me from getting soaked. 

However, there are a couple of areas where there is scope for improvement. Firstly, I wish the jacket was also available in a uniform fluorescent green colour for better visibility, especially on a rainy night. Second, the jacket could’ve had a zippered waterproof pocket to store a phone or small wallet for convenience sake. 

That apart, there is no faulting the Viaterra M200 and with the six-month warranty against material or workmanship defects, it is worth the investment.

Where: http://www.Viaterragear.com

Price: Rs 1,499

Mahindra Bolero Neo top-spec N10(O) launched at Rs 10.69 lakh

Last month, Mahindra launched the Bolero Neo in India with introductory prices starting from Rs 8.48 lakh for the base N4 trim, going up to Rs 9.99 lakh for the N10 trim, both prices ex-showroom, Delhi.

Mahindra, however, did not reveal the price of the top-spec N10(O) trim at the time of the launch. Now, the home grown carmaker has launched the Mahindra Bolero Neo N10(O) at a price of Rs 10.69 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi.

  • Bolero Neo N10(O) additionally gets mechanically locking differential
  • Costs Rs 70,000 more than the N10 trim it’s based on
  • Equipment list identical to the N10 trim

Mahindra Bolero Neo N10(O) – what’s new?

The Bolero Neo is available in four trim levels – N4, N8, N10 and N10(O). The biggest and only differentiating factor on the top-spec N10(O) trim is that it additionally gets mechanically locking rear differential that Mahindra calls Multi-Terrain Technology (MTT).

The Bolero Neo is essentially a rebadged TUV300 facelift. Mahindra has added mechanically locking differential on top-spec Bolero Neo N10(O) following feedback from customers, whose TUV300s have struggled for traction on narrow roads in the monsoon when forced onto slushy shoulders to avoid oncoming traffic. The mechanical locking differential, which diverts power to the rear wheel with better traction, helps improve drivability on loose surfaces.

The equipment list on the N10(O) is otherwise identical to the N10 trim, on which it is based. It gets features like a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth, LED DRLs, 15-inch alloy wheels, steering mounted audio controls, cruise control, air conditioning with Eco mode, front arm rests, height adjustable driver’s seat and electronically adjustable ORVMs.

The N10(O) trim costs Rs 70,000 more than the N10 trim for just the mechanical locking differential, but it also greatly increases the capabilities of the SUV.

Mahindra Bolero Neo: underpinnings and powertrain

The Bolero Neo is underpinned by the third-generation ladder-frame chassis that also underpins the Thar and Scorpio and distinguishes itself as the only compact body-on-frame SUV in its class. It is also a rear-wheel drive SUV, which further sets it apart from other compact SUVs.

Under the hood, the Bolero Neo is powered by BS6-complaint 1.5-litre three-cylinder diesel engine that engine develops 100hp and 260Nm of torque and solely comes mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. The Bolero Neo misses out on an automatic gearbox option. However, it does get engine start-stop technology and the Eco and ESS (micro-hybrid) drive modes for maximizing fuel efficiency.

Mahindra Bolero Neo: rivals

Being a ladder-frame, rear-wheel drive SUV, the Bolero Neo does not have any direct rivals in its segment, but at this price range, it competes with other monocoque compact SUVs like the Hyundai Venue, Kia Sonet, Maruti Vitara Brezza, etc.

Here’s a look at the detailed price list of the Mahindra Bolero Neo.

Mahindra Bolero Neo price (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Trim Price
N4 Rs 8.48 lakh
N8 Rs 9.48 lakh
N10 Rs 9.99 lakh
N10(O) Rs 10.69 lakh

Also See:

Differences between Bolero Neo and Bolero

What the Mahindra Bolero Neo and Maruti Alto have in common

Mahindra Bolero Neo review, test drive

Review: Hyundai Alcazar Vs Tata Safari comparison

If you’ve had your heart set on the Tata Safari but are having second thoughts on seeing the Hyundai Alcazar, this one’s for you. Yes, we will bring the entire three-row SUV gang together, including the MG Hector Plus, once the Mahindra XUV700 goes on sale, but the focus here is on the star performers of the year so far. At last count, Tata had produced its 10,000th Safari while Hyundai had received over 11,000 bookings for its new Alcazar.

The Safari and Alcazar promise to offer the same virtues as the Tata Harrier and Hyundai Creta that they’re respectively derived from, with the added practicality of a third row of seats. By extension, that means these are two very different takes on the three-row SUV formula.

Size Wise

You’ve seen the Tata Safari and Hyundai Alcazar in detail already, so we’ll focus on the key points of difference. And the one that’s most obvious is the difference in size. The Tata Safari, which is a full 161mm longer, 104mm wider and 111mm taller than the Alcazar, will immediately appeal to buyers who like their SUVs big and bold. The higher bonnet line, chunkier tyres and upright tail only add to the Tata’s road presence. The Alcazar might not have the visual mass of a Safari but it is quite sizeable in its own right and even boasts of the marginally longer wheelbase.

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The Alcazar also has some show value, thanks to the Hyundai Palisade-like large, studded grille, but the tail-end styling is best described as anonymous.

Dimensions
Hyundai Alcazar 1.5D AT Signature(O) Tata Safari 2.0D XZA+
Length 4500mm 4661mm
Width 1790mm 1894mm
Height 1675mm 1786mm
Wheelbase 2760mm 2741mm
Ground clearance 200mm (unladen) 205mm (unladen)
Boot volume 180 litres 73 litres
Tyre size 215/55 R18 235/60 R18

The Cockpits

Shifting focus inside, there’s lots and lots to talk off so we’ll go row by row, starting with the Safari. The Tata’s cabin is really well turned out and has its stylish details. The dash is neat and you’ll like how the metal look works with the wood and the gloss plastics on the centre console. The defining factor in a Safari, however, is how large it is. You feel like you’re sitting in a big SUV and there’s a greater distance to your co-driver, which is a boon in our socially distanced times. But for all its space, the Safari has its share of lesser points. The 8.8-inch touchscreen looks small and isn’t the most responsive, and the interior colour scheme is a point of contention too – the light upholstery is a pain to keep clean.

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Safari interior is well turned out and airy. High-set seating gives commanding driving position.

You don’t get the same sense of space in an Alcazar, but its cabin immediately puts you at ease. The dash is very user-friendly, with everything in clear sight and easy to reach. The brown on black cabin theme looks premium too, though there aren’t any soft-touch materials. But what really makes the difference in the Alcazar’s cabin are the feel-good features. The Alcazar gets premium digital dials with three customisable displays, and the screen also relays feed from the very handy blind-view monitors positioned at the wing mirrors. Also slick is the 10.25-inch touchscreen and there’s also a 360-degree camera that comes really handy.

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Alcazar dash is very user-friendly. Large touchscreen and full-digital dials enhance the overall look inside too.

Front seat ventilation, an on-board air purifier, wireless charger, and paddleshifters are some of the other goodies exclusive to the Alcazar. The gadgets and gizmos add up to a lot and make the Hyundai’s interior look and feel a lot more advanced, which is telling given the Safari has only been around for a few months.

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Alcazar’s blind spot camera display is within the instrument cluster.

The Safari does pack in plenty too, like a panoramic sunroof and powered driver’s seat. It’s just that the Alcazar offers all that you get on the Tata and then a whole lot more. In terms of safety equipment, rear disc brakes are standard on both, while top-spec versions of both models get six airbags, electronic stability control and ISOFIX child-seat mounts.

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Safari is down on frills but gets modern-day essentials like a panoramic sunroof.

People Movers

Before we talk middle-row comfort, it’s important to highlight that both SUVs can be had in 7-seat configurations that will appeal to large families. Notably, the Safari, with its wider cabin, is comfier when you have to sit three abreast. In focus here, however, are the 6-seat versions whose individual middle-row chairs will appeal to chauffeur-driven buyers.

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Alcazar has the nicer middle-row seats. It’s got more features at the back too.

There are some clear differences from the moment you open the rear doors. The Hyundai Alcazar doesn’t sit all that high off the ground, to begin with, and there’s a footboard, too, to ease the journey inside. Large windows, generous legroom (with the middle-row seats slid all the way back) and well padded seats with recline make this a comfortable place to be in. Unique to the Alcazar is a fixed centre console between the middle-row seats. While not an ideal armrest (your elbow will be unsupported at the seat’s rearmost position), the console features a useful wireless phone charging bay and offers some storage too. Other amenities to make life comfy at the back and unique to the Alcazar are retractable sunshades and fold-out trays with a recess for your iPad.

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Alcazar’s fixed rear console serves as an armrest. Elbow support could be better.

Shift from an Alcazar into a Safari and you’ll note how much higher the Tata sits. There’s no footboard, making it quite a bit of a step up into the Safari’s cabin. Once settled in, though, there’s lots to like.

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You get more room to sprawl out in a Safari. Seats should’ve been larger though.

For starters, the stadium seating, with the middle-row positioned slightly higher than the one up front, equals great side and frontal visibility. The Tata also offers that little bit more legroom as standard, and then there’s the option to free up even more space. Boss Mode allows you to slide forward a vacant co-driver’s seat from the back so you can really sprawl out in the Safari. It’s a pity that the Safari’s seats are not the widest in the business, which is something larger framed individuals will note. Also, the flip-up armrest isn’t all that well-positioned, so you can’t find that perfect seating position in the Safari. There’s no wireless charging at the back but what’s irritating is that the USB charging slots are positioned low down and out of sight.

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Thanks to Safari’s stadium seating, occupants in all rows get a great view out.

Where the Safari has the clear advantage is when talking of third-row space. In a 6-seat Safari, last-row occupants will need to work their way through the narrow passage between the middle-row chairs, but that cumbersome journey in is worth it. It’s not hard to find a happy legroom compromise with the middle-row passenger and what’s really impressive is that, with a bit of slouching, even six-footers can sit here in reasonable comfort. The high-set vents do obstruct visibility a bit at the very back, but the rearmost windows are still larger than those in the Alcazar. Also, because the vents sit high up, air-con effectiveness is impressive.

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The Safari scores big for its third row. Even large adults can sit in comfort here.

The 6-seat Alcazar, with its tumble-fold middle-row seats, offers far better access to the back, but you’ll need to carefully plan who gets to sit there. Space is adequate for shorter occupants but large adults will be tight on space, even with the middle-row seats at a centre position. The knees-up seating isn’t great either, relegating the Alcazar’s third row for occasional use only.

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Alcazar’s third row isn’t great. Space is tight and seating position is awkward.

Both SUVs miss out on a powered tailgate, but to the Alcazar’s credit, its tailgate is easy to open and also reveals a larger 180-litre luggage area with all seats up. The third-row backrest can also be folded absolutely flat to create more luggage room. Opening the Safari’s heavy tailgate requires effort and, disappointingly, the 73 litres of luggage room with all seats up is only sufficient for a few handbags. Also, the third-row backrests do fold but don’t sit absolutely flush with the floor.

What you get for your money
Hyundai Alcazar 1.5D AT Signature(O) Tata Safari 2.0D XZA+
Price (ex-showroom, Delhi) Rs 19.99 lakh Rs 21.81 lakh
EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST
Airbags 6 6
ESC Yes Yes
Parking sensors/camera Front and rear/360-degree Rear/rear
Blind view monitor Yes No
All 4 disc brakes Yes Yes
Ventilated front seats Yes No
Powered driver’s seat 8-way 6-way
Panoramic sunroof Yes Yes
Digital dials Full Partial
Touchscreen 10.25-inch 8.8-inch
Android Auto/Apple CarPlay Yes/Yes Yes/Yes
Wireless phone charger Front and rear No
Rear window sunshades Yes No
Boss Mode No Yes

Drive The Tribe

Before we get moving, it’s important to talk engines and gearboxes. The Tata Safari is available solely with a 2.0-litre diesel engine that makes 170hp and 350Nm. You can have the engine with a 6-speed manual, though it’s the far superior and, ironically, Hyundai-sourced, 6-speed automatic that’s worth spending extra for. You get more choice in the Alcazar range, including the option of a 2.0-litre petrol engine with manual and auto gearbox options. The petrol engine’s 159hp is impressive but the relatively low 14.2kpl official fuel-economy figure for the automatic could be a deterrent for buyers with lots of running. This set of buyers will find more appeal in the Alcazar diesel-auto and its 18.1kpl efficiency figure. For this comparison, we are considering the diesel-automatic versions of both models. The Alcazar’s 115hp and 250Nm, 1.5-litre diesel engine is no match for the Safari’s on power and torque, but then the Hyundai is also around 400kg lighter than the Tata.

Engine specifications
Hyundai Alcazar 1.5D AT Signature(O) Tata Safari 2.0D XZA+
Engine 4 cyls, 1493cc, turbo-diesel 4 cyls, 1956cc, turbo-diesel
Power 115hp at 4000rpm 170hp at 3750rpm
Torque 250Nm at 1500-2750rpm 350Nm at 1750-2500rpm
Gearbox 6-speed auto 6-speed auto
Kerb weight 1435kg 1825kg
Power to weight ratio 80.14hp per tonne 93.15hp per tonne
Torque to weight ratio 174.22Nm per tonne 191.78Nm per tonne

Let’s move away from facts and figures to on-road feel. Scenario one is driving in town, where the Alcazar quickly establishes itself as the city slicker. You really won’t have an issue with power, and there’s sufficient performance for average city duties. The light steering, good manoeuvrability and great all-round visibility means you always feel very comfortable in your surroundings. The blind-view monitor helps further, and the 360-degree camera and front proximity sensors make tight parkings a whole lot easier. In the same city setting, the Safari will offer a very different experience at the wheel. If you like to tower over other road users, you’ll immediately take to the Safari that has this authoritative “don’t mess with me” vibe about it. On the flip side, the Safari also feels like the large vehicle that it is. You always have to be mindful of its size, particularly at narrow toll booths, the steering is heavier and U-turns require that much more effort. Parking a Safari isn’t as easy either, and when you do have to reverse in, you’ll wish the camera was of higher resolution. The Safari also has the busier low-speed ride, and there’s some side to side movement on speed breakers too. On the move, though, the Safari does feel nice and light on its feet.

Highway Star

Exiting city limits brings us to scenario two – outstation journeys. And it’s here that the Safari comes into its own. Our performance tests conducted with two passengers onboard reveal the Safari to be the marginally quicker SUV. What the numbers don’t tell you is just how effortless the Tata feels while at it. It feels like the larger-hearted SUV with more pulling power and the difference is most apparent when driving with a full house of passengers. You don’t have to press down any harder on the accelerator and there’s ready power when you need it. Sport driving mode only adds a spring in the Safari’s step.

If easy cruising ability is all that you want from your SUV, the Alcazar diesel does its job well enough. But ask any more of the engine and you’ll know that the Alcazar’s is slightly out of its depth. Quick overtakings, for one, are not its forte. Load the Alcazar up with passengers and you can also tell that the powertrain has suddenly got a lot more work to do. The engine sounds busier and the gearbox will keep going up and down the gears to keep it in the meat of the powerband. And given the nature of this engine, you won’t be reaching out to the paddleshifters all that often either.

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Both SUVs have their highlights in the areas of ride and handling. You’ll like how obediently the Alcazar responds to steering inputs, and its predictable handling is likeable. There’s also less up and down movement in the lower Alcazar and this is something your second- and third-row passengers will particularly appreciate. But go over a bad patch of road in the Alcazar and you will feel a judder in the cabin. The shorter sidewalls on the Hyundai’s tyres are to blame here.

In the Safari, it’s the steering that takes getting used to. There is some road shock that filters through to the steering wheel, and at high speeds there’s also an inconsistency at the steering. It’s not the most responsive at the straight-ahead position but turn a bit more and it suddenly darts in; this can catch you off guard. On the plus side, you won’t need to make an evasive manoeuvre to avoid a bad patch of road. The Tata Safari feels absolutely unfazed by broken patches of road taken at high speeds. It drives with an authority and where you’d have to brace for impact in an Alcazar, you can just power through in a Safari.

Performance
Hyundai Alcazar 1.5D AT Tata Safari 2.0D AT
0-20kph 1.09 sec 1.29 sec
0-40kph 2.80 sec 3.13 sec
0-60kph 5.58 sec 5.19 sec
0-80kph 8.90 sec 8.24 sec
0-100kph 13.08 sec 12.09 sec
0-120kph 19.10 sec 17.53 sec
0-140kph 28.61 sec 24.76 sec
ACCELERATION (IN GEAR)
20-80kph (in kickdown) 7.36 sec 7.10 sec
40-100kph (in kickdown) 10.22 sec 9.03 sec

And after a long journey when you find that the road leading to your farmhouse has disappeared, it’s the Safari you’d want to be in. It feels tough and built to take a lot of abuse. Those Land Rover genes come shining through in the rough. The Alcazar feels like an outsider in these settings and doesn’t give you the same confidence as the Safari. Interestingly, there’s not much difference in terms of ground clearance, with the Alcazar’s 200mm just a shade less than the Safari’s 205mm figure. Both SUVs get traction modes and hill start assist, and the Tata even features hill descent control; but don’t expect to or try to go too far off-road in either of these front-wheel-drive models.

Winner Takes All?

Which of these three row SUVs suits you better ultimately depends on your usage. If the bulk of your driving is in town and the third row will only be put to use on occasion and for short stints, the Hyundai Alcazar will fit your requirements better. Sure, the diesel engine isn’t punchy but the Alcazar’s light controls and smaller dimensions make it friendlier to drive on congested roads, the easier ingress and egress counts for a lot, and the goodies also make you feel your Rs 19.99 lakh (ex-showroom) have been well spent.

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6-seat versions of Alcazar and Safari are built to lure chauffeur-driven owners.

On the other hand, if your calendar is full of road trips with the entire family or a lot of your running will be out on the highway, the Safari that, in range-topping XZA+ form, costs Rs 21.81 lakh is the one for you. You’ll have to settle for fewer features but the Tata’s got the far better third row and the 2.0-litre diesel engine is up to the job of hauling six or seven passengers with ease. The general, tough demeanour also gives the Tata a very distinct personality.

Verdict
Hyundai Alcazar 1.5D AT Signature(O) Tata Safari 2.0D XZA+
Verdict Appeals for feature-rich cabin and city-friendly nature. Third row only for occasional use. The one to buy if you use the third row often. Strong engine and tough build are highlights.
Rating 8/10 8/10
Price (ex-showroom, Delhi) Rs 19.99 lakh Rs 21.81 lakh

Ashish Raorane on tackling Dakar as a privateer and more

The Dakar Rally is one of the most unpredictable and dangerous races in the world – you’ve probably already heard this a few times. Now imagine tackling that completely alone, without any support crew or factory backing.

That’s exactly what Ashish Raorane pulled off earlier this year when he became the first Indian privateer to compete in the Dakar Rally. And he’s all set to take on the challenge once again in 2022.

Against all odds

Before we get to Raorane’s Dakar journey, let’s take a look at his equally intriguing journey to the Dakar. The Indian has of late maintained a regular presence in several high-profile events, so it’s easy to forget that he started rallying professionally only six years ago.

He’d harboured a lifelong passion for riding and set out on a journey to see if he could turn that passion into a sustainable career in motorsport, all on his own at the age of 35. The 2015 Indian National Rally Championship’s round in Nashik was his maiden outing and he secured a podium finish straight off the bat. He followed that up with outings in the Raid de Himalaya, Desert Storm and even international events like the Panafrica Rally and Africa Eco race. But all along, he had his eyes set on the seemingly elusive Dakar.

His persistence and hard work – that too in the wake of the pandemic – paid off, and he secured an entry for the 2021 edition, racing in the Malle Moto (Original by Motul) category. This means that he had to brave the harsh conditions of the Saudi Arabian desert completely unassisted, carrying out all the maintenance and repair work on his bike himself.

His marine engineering background helped him get to grips to a certain extent, but nothing can prepare you for the real deal. “Unless you go there, you don’t realise the nature of the Dakar,” Raorane says.

His 2021 Dakar outing ended up being a display of pure grit. Despite crashing out on Stage 5 and suffering some head trauma, he decided to fix his damaged bike to the best of his abilities and returned to complete the rally under the Dakar Experience category.

Facing the beast again

Dakar once again next year, this time with some key learnings from his maiden experience. “I think recovery is one of the key things that I would focus on, how I could recover better given that with Malle Moto you also have that much lesser time,” he explains, asserting that he knows exactly which areas he needs to address.

“You need to be a little bit more disciplined in taking care of your body first because one thing that I realised is the machine can take a lot more than the man can. The rally bikes are built strong; so if there’s a choice between spending 20 minutes more on the motorcycle against 20 minutes of the man recovering or getting the right nutrition, then I think the latter part needs more focus because the stacking effect in the Dakar is just incredible.”

Attempting to offer some perspective on how challenging it is to race completely unassisted, Raorane says: “If people go riding 400-500km in a day on the road and then sleep for 6-7 hours at best and then start riding again and try to do that for two weeks, I think they would probably get to 20-30 percent of what we go through.”

There’s an added challenge that he will have to face, since the 2022 route features sand and dunes more heavily than ever before. With the landscape in India being predominantly hard-pack, a lot of rally racers from here face a steep learning curve when it comes to riding on sand – “It’s going to be very different from what we went through this year.”

“We are at kind of a disadvantage when it comes to training. We have some dunes, but it’s not really the dunes we face out in Saudi or even in Dubai,” Raorane continues, adding that he’ll be adjusting his training accordingly.

He’s planning to use the same KTM 450 Rally Replica once again. But after cutting it extremely close in sorting out all the necessary paperwork and permissions to transport the bike this year, he’s keeping open the possibility of preparing the bike himself.

As for his goals for his second Dakar outing, he speaks from experience: “The goal is still as always – a clean finish without crashes. If you focus on that simple thing, the rest of the things always fall in place. If you start focusing on the results too early, your mind starts going elsewhere and then you start making mistakes.”

A minor hiccup

In a sport as intense as rallying, you can’t be caught slacking and Raorane was back training both, on and off the bike immediately after Dakar 2021. Unfortunately, he injured his knee while training back in April and as a result hasn’t been able to pursue any endurance training.

To avoid aggravating the injury any further, he’s been focusing on his daily rehab exercises and is hoping to get back to normal training by September. But he isn’t letting this dampen his spirits; after all, he’s overcome odds before. Last year, he fractured his ankle and then contracted dengue, just before competing in the Africa Eco rally, only to put up a spirited display at the event.

Dual roles

Racing is expensive; Raorane reveals that his Dakar outing added up to Rs 47.88 lakh (covering entry fees, the bike, spare parts, etc.), while ancillary costs for training, nutrition, etc., added a further Rs 25 lakh – “and that’s on the conservative side!” he quips.

Competing as a privateer means you have to think all the more about how you’re going to finance everything. And this is exactly why Raorane juggles the dual roles of Marine Engineer and rally racer. But this also means that he doesn’t get as much seat time as many of his fellow athletes.

“If I can’t control the outcome then there’s no point worrying about it,” Raorane says. “So, when I’m home, I put in as many hours as I can on the motorcycle and when I’m here [at sea] I focus on most of the endurance training that is required in the gym”.

Encouraging more privateers

Having competed in some of the world’s toughest rallies all by himself, Raorane now wants to take his experience and educate budding racers in India. When asked about what advice he’d give to those looking to follow in his footsteps, he says, “My first advice to privateers is always to get a job.”

“Right now, as a privateer, I think first you really need to think about the financial side of it and then you need to make a long-term plan. It’s important to stay consistent because when you approach sponsors, brands want to see that you deliver on what you promise,”

“I’m sure that if you do these right things, the brands take notice and the right people will invest in you.”

Raorane admits that sponsors are the pillars of motorsport and that’s always been a challenge here in India. But he believes things are changing for the better – “With [CS] Santosh doing so many Dakars and more people coming in, there’s a lot of awareness.”

“So rather than people just getting factory support or privateers like me getting brand sponsorships, the bigger focus should be actually having an ecosystem where the brands feel comfortable and they see value in doing it year after year.”

“I hope there’ll be more privateers racing. Even if it’s not the Dakar, even if privateers start racing small international rallies like Bajas, which are not that expensive. The more the privateers go out and race, that also gathers interest from the industry and then we can hopefully build that ecosystem in India.”

Spirit of racing

At 39 years old, Raorane is living proof that it’s never too late to reinvent yourself. But the journey to Dakar is just as gruelling as the event itself. So why do racers keep going back? “Dakar is an event, but to me actually this is how I’ve always been,” explains Raorane.

“To get there [the Dakar] and the event itself presents you that opportunity to say ‘okay, you talk about never giving up; here – for 14 days we’ll serve you that every day on a plate’ and you can test yourself.”

“When I have challenges at work, the attitude is always what can I do to solve it, not look at an excuse. Rally racing has a very big life lesson and I think that is also what attracts me to it because I like that challenge.”

“I would just like to put out a small thank you to everyone who has supported me at the last Dakar and everyone who is supporting me for the next one,” he adds as a closing remark.

It’s important to have that support and also keep it sustainable because it’s not that I just want to do this one or two times, I would like to be there several times and do better every year.”

Also see:

CS Santosh talks about his recovery journey after Dakar 2021 crash

Review: Audi e-tron Sportback 55 quattro India review, test drive

Audi’s own brief for its e-tron electric SUV, right from inception, was that it should feel conventional, so that buyers transitioning from internal combustion would feel at ease. Be that in the way it drives, how its interior looks and feels, or how comfortable it is. That ethos also extended to the way it looks, which is just like any other Audi SUV, but it’s here that perhaps not all customers would be fully sold. An EV, especially here in India and even more so in the luxury segment, is as much about making a statement as it is about saving the environment or living fossil-fuel-free; if you’ve bought one, you want to stand out from the crowd! Luckily, Audi has thought of that and has launched this Sportback variant of the e-tron alongside the standard one.

Ahead of the curve 

Sportback, of course, is Audi’s term for ‘four-door coupe’, be that in sedan or SUV form. It translates to a roof line that tapers smoothly all the way to the tail end of the vehicle, making for a far more attention-grabbing form. It’s not just form, however – the roof is lower by 13mm, and this has resulted in a slipperier 0.25cd drag coefficient, compared to the standard e-tron’s 0.27cd.

That said, the front-half of the SUV is unchanged, giving you the same large (albeit largely shuttered off), single-frame grille, sharp-looking 20-inch alloy wheels, slim digital Matrix LED headlamps with their four-slat e-tron signature, and twin charging ports on each of the front fenders. Our test car’s colour – Plasma Blue Metallic – is exclusive to the Sportback, but there’s a wide array of paint shades you can choose from. There are no frameless windows here, like you’d find on Audi’s sedan-based Sportback models, but look past that and the sloping roof truly injects the e-tron with a huge dose of style.

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Charging ports on both front flanks.

The roof curves down gently, rather than slamming sharply like in a Q8, and meets the edge of the tailgate with a hint of an integrated spoiler, eschewing the need for one at the roof level. Curiously, there’s no rear wiper, but the rear glass is curved and so heavily raked that water didn’t accumulate there even once on our rain-soaked test days. The now-signature LED tail-lamps joined by a light bar stand out even more on this trimmed-down rear end, and overall, the Sportback look works well with the e-tron’s size and proportions.

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Discreet spoiler is aesthetic & functional.

Open the powered tailgate, and though the boot volume has gone down from 660 to 616 litres, you’ll agree that’s still a huge amount, and it will easily take a couple of large suitcases, should you need to do an airport run. And if you’re worried about rear-seat space being compromised, it’s really not that bad. Yes, you don’t get the vast amount of headroom you do in the standard version, but thanks to some clever scoops in the headliner, there is a more-than-comfortable amount, even for tall passengers. Leg room and seat comfort, too, remain generous.

On the equipment front, it’s identical to the e-tron 55, so you’re well catered to, with the likes of adaptive air suspension, Matrix LED headlamps, four-zone climate control, powered steering adjustment, wireless phone charging, dual MMI screens and Virtual Cockpit digital dials. There are, however, some optional extras too, like 360-degree cameras, a head-up display, soft-close doors and a Bang & Olufsen sound system.

Electric glide

Under the skin, the Sportback is the same as the e-tron 55 we road tested last month. That means a 95kWh battery good for a WLTP-rated range of up to 484km, which should translate to about 350km in real-world usage in our conditions. It can be charged at up to 11kW via an AC charger (or 22kW if you option it while ordering your car), and at up to 150kW on a DC charger. At 11kW on the AC wall box charger that comes with the car, we found it took about 8 hours to charge from 10-100 percent.

The steering-paddle-operated, two-stage regeneration system is a fun trick to play with and, at its strongest setting, apart from recouping the maximum energy, can slow the car to a near-halt without you touching the brakes. We just wish there was more real-time data showing the e-tron’s battery level, rate of discharge, key power consuming factors and more, for the driver. This is key information in an EV, especially for new owners with range anxiety, and what you get on the instrument cluster and touchscreen is far too limited and basic.

Twin motors, one on each axle, develop 408hp and 664Nm, deployed to the road, torque-vectored and near-instantaneously, via Audi’s e-quattro AWD system. Performance is brisk when you flatten the accelerator in Dynamic mode, accompanied by a neat, artificially enhanced electric hum in the cabin, and though we didn’t get a chance to test this one, Audi claims it’s just as quick as its more conventional sibling. We did performance-test that version, and it did 0-100kph in 5.58sec.

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We’re not sure the slightly lowered centre of gravity of this Sportback makes a huge difference on what is a 2.6-tonne, high-riding vehicle, but the e-tron already handled really well for what it is. With the weight concentrated lower down, thanks to the underfloor battery, it shows surprising composure around corners. What’s more, the e-quattro AWD system acts so quickly, it offers grip like no purely mechanical Quattro system can; although, as ever, the steering is nothing to write home about. This could very well be the best-handling Audi SUV that doesn’t wear an RS badge.

Standard air suspension means ride quality is rather good, and the 20-inch wheels even have a pretty generous 50-section profile, keeping shocks from sharp bumps at bay. And though the air springs do let you lift the car so that its underfloor battery pack doesn’t scrape on tall speed breakers, we never found the need to, as the standard ride height provides enough ground clearance.

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255/50 R20 tyres soak up shocks well.

Silent and sleek

Audi has been rather clever by launching the e-tron in three distinct variants. The entry level e-tron 50 may have a smaller battery, less power and a smaller range, but its attractive price will lure in buyers who want the green credentials and use the car in city confines only. The e-tron 55 we tested last month is the best all-rounder, and this Sportback caps the range off by adding a little more style for those who want to make a statement, with a small penalty to practicality. The best part is, at Rs 1.18 crore (ex-showroom, India) it’s just Rs 2 lakh more expensive than the regular 55 quattro, making it almost entirely an aesthetic decision, and less of a financial one. So yes, if you were enamoured by the e-tron but felt the standard model was just a bit too nondescript, you won’t go wrong choosing the Sportback instead.

Skoda Kushaq real world fuel economy tested, explained

The new Skoda Kushaq is the brand’s first model under VW Group’s India 2.0 strategy and is a very important product for Skoda in India. Based on the heavily localised MQB-A0-IN platform, the Kushaq has scored greatly in terms of styling, features, driving dynamics and powertrain. But what about fuel efficiency? Well, we have put all versions of the SUV to the test to find out its real-world fuel efficiency.

  • Active cylinder deactivation aids 1.5-litre TSI’s fuel efficiency
  • 1.5-litre TSI MT offers the best overall efficiency

What is the real world fuel efficiency of the Skoda Kushaq?

The range starts off with the 1.0-litre TSI manual version which returns an impressive fuel efficiency of 11.8kpl in the city and a reasonable 14.3kpl on the highway. When paired with the automatic gearbox, this engine averages 8.5kpl in the city and 12.4kpl on the highway.

Meanwhile, the larger 1.5-litre TSI engine with the manual gearbox returns 11.5kpl and 16.5kpl in the city and highway respectively, which is rather impressive. With the DSG gearbox, the 1.5-litre TSI averages 8.9kpl in the city and 15.4kpl on the highway.

Analysis of Skoda Kushaq’s fuel efficiency

The three-cylinder 1.0-litre TSI gets tall gear ratios in the interest of fuel efficiency. The manual is easy-going due to its wide spread of torque, so you can stay in second or third gear while pottering around town and manage good fuel efficiency. However, when you are on the highway, you will need to work this tiny motor, hence despite having six gears at its disposal, its fuel efficiency takes a hit on the highway. The automatic, on the other hand, likes to upshift early and you’ll often find yourself prodding the accelerator to get a move-on. The constant on-off boost driving and heavy throttle inputs resulted in relatively poor economy in both city and highway.

As for the larger motor, with active cylinder deactivation technology working its magic, the 1.5-litre TSI is often running on just two-cylinders, so long as you are not driving aggressively. Also, stronger low-end responses mean that you don’t have to accelerate too hard to get going, which gives it the best mix of fuel efficiency in the range with the manual. Interestingly, you’ll often find the automatic slipping the clutch when you get on and off the throttle in the city. As a result, fuel efficiency in the city takes a beating. That said, having seven ratios to play with, the DSG is an easy sipper on the highway with promising fuel efficiency.

Autocar India’s fuel efficiency testing

Before our real-world fuel efficiency test, we fill the tanks of our test cars till the brim and maintain tyre pressures based on the manufacturer’s recommendation. These cars are driven in fixed city and highway loops and we maintain certain average speeds. To keep a check on any untoward variation, we always have a reference car driving along, one that we’ve already tested in the past; periodic driver swaps further neutralise variations in driver patterns.

At the end of each cycle, we calculate efficiency by tanking them up till the brim. Throughout our test, there is only one person in each car, running the air-con and other electrical like the audio system, indicators and wipers when required, just like how a regular user would. We take pride in our testing data, which isn’t merely consistent, but also gives users an accurate indication of what they can expect in the real world.

Also See:

New Skoda sedan confirmed for 2021 unveil

Skoda Kushaq video review

Skoda Kushaq 1.0TSI AT, 1.5TSI MT video review

Special Feature: The Road To A Green Future Starts Here

Late last month, on World Nature Conservation Day, Toyota Kirloskar Motor announced an extension of the battery warranty for its Self-Charging Hybrid Vehicles (SHEVs) to 8 years or 1,60,000km (whichever comes first). TKM’s 2021 hybrid electric vehicle battery warranty is the longest warranty period in the industry and is available to all the owners of Toyota SHEVs (existing Toyota SHEV owners will be offered the extended warranty at a special price). This is an unparalleled move in the industry and yet another demonstration of the company’s commitment to sustainability. But it will come as no surprise to those that have been tracking Toyota globally over the decades. Over the years, Toyota hybrid models, including SHEVs, have saved 139 million tons of greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide. And self-charging hybrid electric technology is an important pillar of Toyota’s alternative powertrain efforts – it has so far put over 16 million hybrid cars on the road globally. SHEVs also dovetail into the company’s larger mission called the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050. Announced in 2015, the challenges are aimed at reducing CO2 emissions, conserving water, protecting nature, and achieving carbon neutrality as a company by 2050.


Toyota has sold millions of self-charging hybrid electric vehicles globally.

Chances are that you are a Toyota fan with an eco-conscience, and someone who has always been curious about SHEVs. You would presumably also have a lot of questions: what exactly is a Self-charging Hybrid Electric Vehicle? What is it like to drive? What’s the deal with charging it? How far can it go?


Tree houses at The Machan rise 30 to 45 feet above the forest.

Now, the best way to answer these questions, we think, is by driving an SHEV to a place that has similar goals and values as Toyota. So, hop in as we drive an SHEV – the well-appointed, handsome Toyota Camry Hybrid, to be precise – to The Machan, in Lonavala, which has eco-credentials as impressive as Toyota’s. One of India’s few tree-house resorts, it has been built on a wooded slope in the dense Western Ghats. The Machan is home not just to some 20,000 trees, but also to a variety of flora and fauna. The expansive, plushly appointed tree-houses, located some 40 feet above ground, have no air-conditioning, but, since you are in the middle of a forest, you will never feel the need for one. Machan runs mostly on solar and wind power. You wake up to birds singing and retire at night to the gentle murmur of rain.


The Toyota Camry Hybrid feels at home at The Machan, which primarily runs on solar and wind power.

CITY SLICKER

Now that you are buckled up, let’s get started with the journey and get ready for a deep dive into the world of SHEVs. A Toyota self-charging hybrid electric vehicle uses both, a petrol engine and an electric motor. The electric motor is powered by a battery which the car charges itself. The Camry Hybrid, for instance, has a 175hp, 2,487cc petrol engine that is complemented by a 245V Nickel Hydride battery pack and an all-new, fourth-generation hybrid system motor generator with an output of 118hp and 202Nm.

The charging performance of the latest-generation batteries is better by 28 percent, they are 10 percent more compact, and by relocating the battery from the boot, where it was originally placed, to under the seats, Toyota has freed up even more space in the already commodious boot. Toyota has put in a lot of work and value engineering into their batteries, which have evolved rapidly over the years. And that confidence is reflected in the recently announced 8-year battery warranty.


Toyota has extended the battery warranty on its self-charging hybrid electric models from the existing 3 years / 1,00,000 km to 8 years / 1,60,000 km (whichever is earlier).

The petrol motor engine and electric motor combine forces to produce extra power and responsive torque, just when you need it. So, when you are negotiating traffic in the city, as we are now, the electric motor is the one doing all the work. And yes, that means instant torque and remarkable responsiveness that makes life on city roads a breeze. The petrol engine cuts in automatically when the system senses a need for more power (for example, hard acceleration or when performing an overtaking manoeuvre). If you are a numbers person, you would want to bookmark this: according to tests conducted by the International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT), the Camry uses about 80 percent less fuel than an equivalent petrol engine in city driving, as it is using electric power about 60 percent of the time.

Toyota’s SHEVs come with the legendary reliability and attention to detail that the brand is famous for.

 

We know the term ‘electric hybrid’ often makes people wonder if Toyota’s SHEVs need to be plugged in. The answer to that is a big no, because SHEVs are, well, self-charging and the hybrid system recharges the battery by recovering energy from the braking system while driving. So, in a Toyota SHEV, the battery is always charged (an on-board computer ensures that the hybrid battery never discharges completely. Plus, Toyota’s SHEVs are also equipped with a conventional battery). What’s impressive about Toyota’s technology is that the advanced regenerative braking system it uses also works when you are slowing down or braking on a steep incline. Moral of the story? Toyota’s SHEVs don’t just emit very low emissions, but also help you save significantly on fuel costs.

HIGHWAY STAR

The road that leads to The Machan is a familiar one, but, like many retellings of a great story, the drive only gets better each time we are on it. And the one thing that enlivens the drive is the linear power delivery and tons of grunt the Camry’s engine delivers. What’s remarkable about Toyota’s SHEVs is that the transition from electric to internal combustion is so smooth, you simply won’t notice it. Out on open, winding roads that gird the Western Ghats, SHEVs like the Camry Hybrid are a study in refinement, responsiveness, and balance. And they are pleasantly quiet, because the Toyota Self-Charging Hybrid Electric System uses its electric motor up to medium-speed driving, and even when it switches over to petrol-engine power, it does so without any fuss.


The transition from electric to internal combustion is so smooth, you simply won’t notice it.

The peace in the cabin mirrors the quiet around you, and the engine is barely audible at cruising speeds. Power is available when you need it and it is difficult to not be appreciative of the way the two motors work in tandem and the smoothness exhibited by the e-CVT transmission. (Does the Camry come with paddleshifters? Happy to let you know that the answer is yes!) Some people often ask us about the reliability of Toyota’s Self-Charging Hybrid Electric Vehicles. There are two answers to this, and both complement each other. The first one is that, well, we’re talking about a Toyota product and you shouldn’t be surprised if your son, too, continues to use a Camry or Vellfire that you are looking to purchase. The second reason? Since it launched the Prius, the world’s first mass-produced hybrid vehicle, Toyota has sold over 16 million hybrid electric vehicles globally.


Vroom with a view at The Machan.

We reach The Machan by noon, but it feels like night. There are brooding clouds in the sky, the silence is deafening, and a hundred different shades of green are unfurled all around us. The air, as is the case with every biodiversity hotspot, is so fresh it feels like an elixir. All of this is worth saving, along with our oceans, rivers, and mountains. The Camry feels at home here, and with Toyota’s Self-Charging Hybrid Electric technology, it is a confident step towards a sustainable future.

Review: Renault Kiger CVT review, test drive

Renault Kiger CVT: What is it?

The Kiger, Renault’s first crack at the compact SUV segment, wowed us all when it arrived earlier this year with its competitive pricing and striking looks. The Kiger, which is based on the Alliance’s CMF-A+ platform, is on offer with two 1.0-litre engines. A 72hp, naturally-aspirated unit and a 100hp, turbocharged unit. While we did get a chance to sample the manual gearbox-equipped turbo-petrol at the media drive, we couldn’t manage to get behind the wheel of the Kiger CVT, until now.

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Front-end styling is reminiscent of the Kwid; features LED headlights. 

Since we’ve already reviewed the Kiger in detail, the focus of this review will mainly be on the CVT transmission. You can read more about the Kiger’s styling, interior, features and driving dynamics here. But just to give you an overview, the Kiger is not your typical boxy SUV. The Renault has a raked rear windscreen and a tapering roofline, lending it an almost SUV-coupe like profile. It does look like a beefed-up Kwid from certain angles, but overall, it is an attractive SUV. 

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There’s ample kneeroom and headroom at the back even for six-footers.

The dashboard has a clean design and there’s a greater focus on storage and practicality, with ample pockets and compartments in the cabin. Material quality is acceptable for the price but there still are some low rent bits like the roof lining, sun visors and the internal rear-view mirror. The seating position is high, and the seats are quite comfy and supportive. There’s ample kneeroom and headroom on offer at the back and the Kiger has a best-in-class 405-litre boot.

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8-inch touchscreen gets wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration.

On the equipment front, the range-topping Kiger RXZ has an Arkamys 3D sound system, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless integration for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster, automatic climate control with PM 2.5 filter, ambient lighting, driving modes and a cooled glove box. Safety features include four airbags, ABS with EBD, ISOFIX child-seat mounts, a rear-view camera and parking sensors.

Renault Kiger CVT: What’s it like to drive?

The Kiger CVT is available only with the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine that puts out 100hp and 152Nm of torque. Paired to the CVT ‘box, the turbo-petrol motor produces 8Nm lesser than in the manual (160Nm). However, the CVT makes its peak torque earlier and for a wider power band, compared to the manual. From behind the wheel, you won’t be able to tell the difference in pulling power. article image

100hp, 1.0-litre turbo-petrol engine is quite punchy.

The engine, co-developed by Renault and Nissan, is relatively quiet at idle, but you can feel some vibrations from the three-cylinder motor inside the cabin. However, once you set off, the engine feels much smoother. The boost comes in at around 1,700rpm, but it does so without any prominent spike in delivery, as is the case with some other turbocharged engines. It pulls strongly till about 5,500rpm, after which it tapers off in the last 1,000rpm and sounds rather loud and coarse.

While this engine always felt responsive paired with the manual box, with the CVT automatic it feels better still. The Kiger CVT feels rather sprightly off the line and builds up speed with confidence. What’s also nice is that the flat spots in the engine’s power delivery are well masked by the CVT’s shift patterns. Its power delivery feels smooth, linear and consistent, and it also responds well to part-throttle inputs, making it ideal for urban conditions. 

 

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CVT ‘box doesn’t get a Sport mode but does get a Low mode.

While there is no manual mode or simulated ‘steps’ to shift through like in other CVTs, the Kiger CVT does get an L or Low mode that focuses on providing maximum torque, intended for better hill ascents or descents. As is the case with the manual, the CVT also gets three drive modes – Normal, Eco and Sport, which alter the throttle response and to some degree, the steering too. The Kiger CVT definitely feels most responsive and energetic in the Sport mode. It holds the engine at higher revs than usual for quick responses, and even if you are driving flat out, there’s very little rubber-band effect (an increase in revs without a corresponding increase in speed) from the CVT. However, Sport mode can get a bit too aggressive at times, and you require carefully modulated throttle inputs at times. 

Eco mode, on the other hand, feels much more restrictive. Part-throttle response is significantly dulled down, requiring you to press harder on the accelerator to get going. Interestingly, when you put your foot flat on the floor, the modes are overridden and the engine performs similarly across them; this was also borne out in our performance tests.

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The Kiger’s ride and handling balance is impressive.

The Kiger also impresses with its ride and handling. This compact SUV’s ride has an underlying firmness to it but, it’s not jarring and also deals with bad patches of road with relative ease. At highway speeds too, the Kiger’s body movements are well contained, and it feels quite comfortable cruising at near-triple-digit speeds. The Renault feels good around the corners as well, thanks to its good body control and grip on offer. However, what’s not so nice is the cabin refinement. There’s plenty of road, tyre and wind noise filtering through at high speeds and, at times, you can even hear the suspension hard at work. 

The Kiger’s steering is light and requires minimal effort to operate at low speeds. It is easy to manoeuvre and hence feels right at home in city confines. This, coupled with the convenience of the seamless CVT gearbox, makes the Kiger an ideal urban SUV.

Renault Kiger CVT: should I buy one? 

The Renault Kiger CVT in this top-spec RxZ trim is priced at Rs 9.89 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai). For that money, you get a compact SUV that’s nice to look at, good to drive, comfortable and spacious, and also well equipped with features. Furthermore, the CVT gearbox is not only more convenient but it’s nicer to drive than the manual, and it also doesn’t penalise fuel efficiency much. Where the turbocharged, petrol-manual Kiger is rated at 20kpl (ARAI), the CVT claims 18.24kpl (ARAI). article image

The Kiger CVT justifies the price premium over its manual counterpart.

Thus, the Kiger, even in this CVT guise, remains a good value-for-money package and manages to undercut almost all its competitors. It does so while also offering a more sophisticated CVT automatic gearbox than some of its more expensive rivals’ AMT automatics. In conclusion, the CVT gearbox-equipped Kiger is definitely worth the extra money over the manual, as it just makes it feel like a more rounded package.

Mercedes Benz C Class Estate All Terrain revealed

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class will add a variant suited to off-road travel with several design changes, all-wheel drive as standard and two additional driving modes.

  • Gets 4Matic all-wheel drive and is raised by 40mm
  • Features exterior styling updates
  • Not to be sold in India

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate All-Terrain: what is it?

As the name suggests the All-Terrain is an off-road oriented version of the new C-Class Estate featuring a ride height that is raised by 40mm, larger wheels and the firm’s 4Matic all-wheel drive system. It is the marque’s first All-Terrain model since the E-Class was given the off-road treatment back in 2017.

Mercedes-Benz says the car is now more suited to poor road services, with a multi-link suspension set-up and comes equipped with larger steering knuckles mated to a passive damping system.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate All-Terrain: design

The car receives several exterior styling upgrades like a chrome radiator grille, resistant bumpers and an underride guard at the front and rear. Further design changes include additional chrome trim on the exterior of the car.

It is also available with a choice of 17 or 19-inch wheels with LED lights as standard. Additional off-road lights will allow for wide illumination so the driver can see obstacles in the distance or on corners.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate All-Terrain: interiors

Inside, the All-Terrain is fitted with the Avantgarde interior specification as standard with three brown and black colour schemes available. There’s a choice of 10.25-inch and 12.3-inch digital infotainment displays that can show specific off-road information, such as the incline, decline and steering angle, along with geographical co-ordinates and a compass.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate All-Terrain: engine

Both four-cylinder petrol and diesel powertrains can be had with a mild-hybrid technology for added efficiency and energy recuperation. This is likely to be similar to those available on the standard C-Class Estate, although full performance figures have yet to be confirmed.

Two additional driving modes, Offroad and Offroad+, have been added for the All-Terrain model. Offroad enables easier navigation of terrains such as sand, dirt and gravel, while Offroad+ allows drivers to traverse heavier and steeper surfaces safely, and links to a downhill speed regulation system.

Mercedes-Benz India plans

The German luxury carmaker won’t be bringing the C-Class Estate All-Terrain to our market, given that it doesn’t even offer the regular estate here. However, Mercedes is expected to introduce the new C-Class sedan in our market in the near future.

Additionally, the marque has also launched a variety of new models in India this year, including the A-Class Limousinesecond-gen GLAE-Class faceliftnew S-ClassMaybach GLS 600 and most recently, the AMG E63S and E 53 performance sedans.

Also see:

Mercedes’ Car-to-X tech keeps an eye out for potholes

Mercedes Marketplace allows owners to sell their cars online

Mercedes Maybach teases ultra luxurious EQS electric SUV

Mercedes EQE teased ahead of Munich unveil

Ford EcoSport facelift ready for launch, spotted undisguised

The Ford EcoSport facelift has been spied fully undisguised while undergoing testing on the outskirts of Chennai. The updated compact SUV is expected to be in showrooms in the coming months.

  • Chrome-lined, reshaped front grille, inverted L-shaped DRLs

  • 100hp, 1.5-litre diesel and 123hp, 1.5-litre petrol expected

  • Rivals Hyundai Venue, Tata Nexon and Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza

Ford EcoSport facelift:  what’s new? 

The spy pictures reveal certain key details about the upcoming Ford EcoSport facelift. For starters, it gets a reshaped front grille with new inserts and chrome lining around the edges, a new front bumper and fog lamp housings. Around the fog lamps are the new, inverted L-shaped LED DRLs, while there’s a faux skid plate lower down on the bumper. New alloy wheels are also part of the package. 

Apart from these, there aren’t many exterior changes expected on the EcoSport facelift. The model in the spy pictures appears to have retained the same headlights, tail-lights and ORVMs as the outgoing car. The photographs don’t reveal any details about the interior but expect Ford to spruce up the SUV’s cabin with newer textures and more features.

Ford EcoSport facelift: engine, powertrain details

While there is no official confirmation yet, the EcoSport facelift is expected to carry forward the powertrain options of its predecessor. This means the compact SUV will get the option of either a 100hp, 1.5-litre turbo-diesel or a 123hp, 1.5-litre, three-cylinder, naturally-aspirated petrol motor. Both engines are likely to come with 5-speed manuals as standard, with the petrol expected to retain the option of a 6-speed torque converter automatic from the outgoing model. 

A 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine from Mahindra’s mStallion family was on the cards as well, but those plans are now shelved due to the fallout between Ford and Mahindra’s strategic partnership earlier this year.

Ford EcoSport facelift: rivals in India

The Ford EcoSport facelift will have to contend with other compact SUVs such as the Hyundai Venue, Tata Nexon, Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Toyota Urban Cruiser, Kia Sonet, Nissan Magnite and the Renault Kiger.

Ford EcoSport: an important model for Ford India  

The EcoSport has been in India since 2013 and has received regular updates to its features, equipment, styling and mechanicals, in order to stay competitive in the ever-growing compact SUV market. The EcoSport continues to be an important model for Ford, not just in India but globally as well. The SUV is made in India and exported to multiple markets in North and South America.

Apart from the EcoSport, Ford in India also retails the Figo hatchback, the Freestyle cross-hatch, the Aspire compact sedan and the Endeavour SUV. The American brand recently introduced a new automatic transmission on the Figo

Also see:

Ford GT gets limited-run Prototype Heritage Edition

2021 Ford Figo 1.2 AT review, test drive

2021 Ford Figo 1.2 AT video review

2021 Honda Amaze facelift launched at Rs 6.32 lakh

After a slew of teasers, Honda has finally launched the 2021 Amaze facelift in India. Priced from Rs 6.32 lakh, and going up to Rs 11.15 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the 2021 Honda Amaze facelift is available in three trim levels – E, S and VX. The facelift brings much-needed exterior and interior cosmetic updates, adds some new features, but remains mechanically unchanged.

  • Gets several new features inside and out
  • Available with both petrol and diesel engines
  • Bookings ongoing for Rs 21,000 at dealerships or at Rs 5,000 online
2021 Honda Amaze Price (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Trims Petrol Diesel
E Rs 6.32 lakh Rs 8.66 lakh
S Rs 7.16 lakh Rs 9.26 lakh
VX Rs 8.22 lakh Rs 10.25 lakh
S CVT Rs 8.06 lakh
VX CVT Rs 9.05 lakh Rs 11.15 lakh

Honda Amaze facelift: exterior updates

A majority of the updates on the Amaze facelift are concentrated on its face. The Amaze gets a new front grille that is sleeker than before and gets two additional horizontal chrome strips at the bottom. The fog lamp housing on the bumper has also been revised and gets new chrome garnishes.

The most important exterior update is reserved for the top-spec VX trim, which now gets automatic LED projector headlamps with integrated LED Daytime Running Lamps and LED front fog lamps. It also gets new chrome door handles and 15-inch diamond cut, dual-tone alloy wheels. At the rear, the Amaze facelift gets new C-shaped LED tail-lights, along with new chrome garnishes and reflectors on the bumper.

Honda Amaze facelift: interior and feature updates

On the inside, the design remains mostly identical to the pre-facelift model. However, Honda has spiced things up with new silver accents on the dashboard and the steering wheel which contrasts well with the black and beige interior. Another major addition is a new leather surround for the gear lever on the manual variants.

The Amaze facelift also sees the addition of front map lamps, new chrome finish for the AC vent knobs, dust and pollen filter and a new inside lining on the trunk lid. The top-spec VX trim also gets exclusive new beige seat fabrics with stitching as well as a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Honda Amaze facelift: engine gearbox options

The Amaze facelift sees no change on the mechanical front. That means it continues with the 90hp, 110Nm, 1.2-litre i-VTEC petrol engine that comes mated to either a 5-speed manual or a CVT automatic gearbox. The diesel engine, meanwhile, produces 100hp and 200Nm of torque from a 1.5-litre unit when paired with a 5-speed manual gearbox, and 80hp and 160Nm of torque when coupled with a CVT automatic gearbox. 

Honda Amaze facelift: trims and variants

As mentioned above, the Amaze continues with three trims – E, S and VX. The manual versions of both the petrol and diesel engines are being offered across all four trims. Meanwhile, the petrol-CVT variants are available on the S and VX trims. The diesel-CVT variants – which is unique to the Amaze in this segment – is being offered on the VX trim. The previously offered base diesel-CVT S variant has been discontinued.

Honda Amaze facelift: rivals in India

The Honda Amaze facelift rivals other compact sedans such as the Maruti Suzuki Dzire, Hyundai Aura, Tata Tigor and Ford Aspire.

Also See:

NSX Type S to be the final version of Honda’s supercar

Honda City gets Ok Google voice command feature

New Honda three-row SUV final design revealed via patent images

Review: 2021 Mahindra XUV700 review, test drive

Mahindra XUV700: platform

If you were perplexed with the naming of the XUV700, you wouldn’t be the only one. After all, the car – codename W601 – was to be the new XUV500. It followed the same template – a transverse engine layout, monocoque body and designed with three rows of seats.

There was also nothing wrong with the XUV500 moniker either. Yes, sales have fallen in the decade since its launch, but the name still has good brand value. But seeing just how much of an improvement the W601 was over its predecessor, Mahindra felt it was good enough to be a segment higher. Hence, keeping with the alpha-numeric naming hierarchy, they called it the XUV700. This naming strategy achieved two things; first, it has given the XUV700 a more premium position and second, it has left space below for another product to be badged XUV500.

Underpinning the XUV700 is a brand-new platform and the company says the new monocoque is 80 percent stiffer than the XUV500’s, thanks to an increase in the number of spot welds and adhesive bonding.

Mahindra has worked hard to reduce weight, with the XUV700’s monocoque frame using quite a bit of lightweight high-tensile steel and other weight-saving measures like lighter engines that weigh around 70kg less than before. Overall kerb weight ranges from 1,960kg-2,040kg, which is still heavy but it takes into account the additional equipment features and safety features the XUV700 is loaded with. Interestingly, the rear tailgate is made of composite plastic aimed at weight reduction; but this could pose a practical problem, because unlike sheet metal, which can be easily repaired if damaged in an accident, the plastic tailgate may need to be replaced if you are rear-ended.

Like with the XUV500, the platform is configured for front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive options and this time round, is designed to accommodate a 48V mild-hybrid system too, which could come in the future.

The engine line-up includes a pair of brand-new engines, the latest-gen 2.2-litre mHawk diesel and mStallion 2.0 turbo-petrol, both of which debuted in the Thar. However, power figures have been hiked significantly in the XUV700. The base diesel variants get a 155hp rated motor but this output jumps to a class-leading 185hp for higher variants. Taking the power stakes to a different level is the 2.0 turbo-petrol that, armed with variable valve timing direct-injection and turbo power, produces a class-busting 200hp.

The new platform also makes use of the latest-generation electrical and electronics (E/E) architecture, enabling it to host an advanced infotainment system (from Visteon) and a suite of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) never seen in a car in this class or price. Mahindra is clearly determined to ‘out-tech’ the competition.

Mahindra XUV700: style

The XUV700’s styling is a mature evolution of the XUV500, with cleaner lines and a more balanced look. It sits lower than its predecessor (by 30mm), comes with a muscular bonnet, and a strong new grille with twin vertical bars, which gives it a lot of road presence. A nice touch is the way the outside vertical bars bend and flow into the headlight cluster. Making its debut on the XUV700 and sitting proudly in the centre of the grille is Mahindra’s new ‘twin-peaks’ logo, which interestingly will only adorn Mahindra’s SUV range. The arrow-shape rear tail-lights are striking but the design feels like it belongs to another car; it is an example of the lack of consistency and cohesiveness in the styling, which still has too many fussy elements like the disproportionately long DRLs and the excessive sculpting of the wheel arches that dwarf the 18-inch wheels.

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Its the first model to use Mahindra’s new ‘Twin Peaks’ logo.

However, for the target customer, the XUV700 has the requisite ‘in-your-face’ look and the right stance. The design, though not as refined as the competition, has the required details for those looking for some flash. 

Mahindra XUV700: interior

The interior design is more straightforward and taking centre stage is a display panel that stretches across half the dashboard. This Mercedes-like tablet houses a central touchscreen and an all-digital instrument panel, both measuring 10.25 inches. It looks very premium and will be a big hit with consumers; best of all, it is offered on all versions except the base, which will get a smaller 8.0-inch infotainment unit and a 7.0-inch instrument cluster.

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The dhasboard is dominated by a Mercedes-like dual 10.25-inch screen layout.

 

The dashboard plastics are pretty good and the leather strip looks quite premium, but what is tacky is that instead of extending into the door pads, the beige leather finish gives way to a wood finish that looks cheap and artificial. Also tacky is the piano black glossy finish. The overall fit and finish and material quality though pretty good has some rough edges.

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The wood inserts and glossy piano black finish on the door pads looks tacky. 

 

Mahindra has mercifully retained buttons and dials for HVAC controls, and while the cluster is a carry-forward from the 500, it’s still welcome. The rotary controller on the centre console means you don’t have to use the screen for everything and there’s also a neat looking bank of toggle-like switches for some key functions.

A real clever touch are the two shelves in the central consoles for two phones, one of which is a wireless charger. In today’s mobile-phone era, convenient storage for two phones is perhaps more important than cupholders, which are also present on the console behind the gear lever.

Mahindra XUV700: features

The steering wheel feels nice to hold and the buttons, though not slick to operate, give access to a lot of functions. The jazzy instrument panel has cheerful colour schemes and perhaps more sober graphics and fonts would been in order, but the information is incredibly rich and there are many customisable options for both screens.

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The XUV700 also debuts Mahindra’s new AdrenoX infomatics system which is the most advanced and feature packed infotainment system not just in its class but of several classes higher. It is crammed with features and options, and even has some built-in local apps like JustDial and Zomato.

However, there is a problem of plenty; the segregation and layering of the menu needs a lot of work and it’s not really intuitive and easy to find out where things are. You end up toggling with the switches and fumbling with the menu and sub-menus, which doesn’t bring you back to the same function when you leave it. The infotainment operation though is still in beta stage, so we’ll reserve comment on how slick it is and how well it functions when the system is finally ready in time for the launch.

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The XUV700 also signals Mahindra’s entry into the premium sound arena, with a superb Sony 3D audio system that uses a 13-channel amplifier powering one subwoofer and 12 speakers: including four in the roof. Then there’s Alexa voice assistant, with the 700 being the first car to come embedded with it, making a separate connected device not mandatory. Alexa is also integrated into the full connected car experience, so you can also ask for alerts and updates about your car right from your home.

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Other interesting bits include a powered driver seat with door-mounted switches (inspired by Mercedes), dual zone climate control with an air-purifier system, and connectivity that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Mahindra XUV700: seating and comfort

The seats are large and generous, especially up front, and the cushioning, though a touch on the firmer side, offers good all-round support, keeping you free from aches even after long hours in the cabin. The XUV700 comes in 5- and 7-seater configurations, but it’s the three-row version we were testing. While the legroom in the middle row may not be as generous as the Hector or Safari, there is ample space and even tall passengers will be comfy, despite the thick frame of the massive panoramic sunroof eating a bit into headroom. Despite the 50mm increase in wheelbase over the XUV500, third-row room isn’t that much, and headroom too is very limited here. There are, however, dedicated AC vents and the glass area is quite large.

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Second row offers ample space, even for taller passengers. 

Ergonomics have been a bit of a hit and miss for Mahindra. While the 700 has addressed most points, there are a few issues: the gear lever and rotary controller feel a little too rear set and similarly the power window switches. The third-row reclining mechanism should also have been at the top of the seat rather than behind, as you have to twist around and reach over to pull the handle to adjust your own seat. With the third row up, boot space is limited, but there’s ample luggage room with the third row folded down. Shifting the spare wheel’s location from under the boot floor to under the chassis has also freed up more room, but we are not sure how convenient this arrangement is when it comes to changing a flat.

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Both the headroom and legroom in the third row are limited, despite the XUV700’s 50mm longer wheelbase over the XUV500.

Mahindra XUV700: engines

The petrol and diesel engines on offer get both, the 6-speed manual and automatic gearbox options. While the XUV500’s 155hp diesel carries on in the base version only, higher variants get a more powerful version of the 2.2-litre mHawk unit that cranks out 185hp. This makes the XU700 diesel the most powerful in its class, ahead of the Hyundai Alcazar, with its 115hp, 1.5-litre diesel, and also the Hector Plus and the Safari, which use the same 170hp 2.0-litre Fiat-sourced diesel engine.

The firecracker in this segment, however, is the new petrol engine that replaces the 500’s 140hp, 2.2-litre petrol unit. The new ‘mStallion’ 2.0-litre turbo-petrol puts out an impressive 200hp, and with the Safari a diesel-only offering, Hyundai Alcazar’s 2.0-litre naturally aspirated unit producing 159hp, and the MG Hector Plus using a 143hp, 1.5-litre turbo-petrol, the XUV700 claims the title of being the most powerful here too.

Not surprisingly then, driving the XUV700 is an absolute delight. Mahindra concentrated much of the review drive to its massive new test facility, and with only a short dash from Mahindra Research Valley to the test centre. We would have liked to drive more in the real world, but the high-speed track really let us experience the strong performance from the engines.

Mahindra XUV700: performance

Both, the petrol and diesel engines get the same 6-speed manual and 6-speed auto options, but it’s the 200hp that is quite the firecracker. Put your foot down and the XUV700 lunges forward on the back of a lusty flow of power that comes in thick and fast from as low as 1,400rpm. The engine revs to a high 5,800rpm, thus allowing you to really wring out all that the engine has. What’s nice is that the turbo-petrol unit has a nice and strong torquey, diesel-like character at the lower end too. Acceleration is very brisk and in our preliminary tests, we clocked a 0-100kph time of 9.32sec in the automatic and we expect the manual to be a bit quicker – a sub-10sec time for an SUV around the 2-tonne mark is very impressive. Keep your foot down and there’s no let-up in acceleration, and on Mahindra’s test track it was quite easy to hit upwards of 190kph.

However, it has to be said that both auto and manual boxes aren’t what you’d call quick shifters, the manual isn’t super slick, and the auto has a discernible pause between shifts. That being said, this is only when you are flat out rushing it, while in everyday driving and even slightly spirited runs, it does just fine. What’s also nice is that despite the high torque, both manual boxes have a light clutch, though the engagement could have been more progressive.

The auto box’s shift logic is also very well sorted. While we had limited time in real-world traffic, it never felt like it was in the wrong gear and at no point did I try and reach for the (missing) paddles for manual intervention. Refinement within the cabin is expectedly vibration free.

The gearing on the petrol-manual is a bit on the tall side, which gives it a nice long-leggedness that is great for cruising. Overall refinement of the petrol is just superb. For those wanting a smooth and effortless drive, you just can’t have it better than the XUV700 for the money.

The 2.2 litre diesel too is superbly refined, and while the engine note is audible as you pile on the revs, it isn’t really harsh or intrusive. Performance is also very impressive, unlike the petrol that has no drive modes; the diesel has three, cheekily called Zip, Zap, Zoom. In Zip, power is reduced to 155hp, and this mode is meant for relaxed driving, whilst Zap and Zoom get the full 185hp. The  only difference between the two modes is a sharper throttle response in Zoom, which extracts the maximum performance from the engine.

Performance is something the diesel XUV700 has no shortage of. There is a bit of a turbo lag, but this is only in relation to the strong performance that comes in at the 1,400rpm mark, which from then on stays strong and linear till about 4,000rpm. On the whole, its performance is clearly a strong point, and we registered a 0-100kph time of 10.34sec in the auto.

Drivability is very good too, there’s ample torque, making the engine very tractable, and the manual can easily pick up pace cleanly from as low as 1,200rpm in sixth. Work the box properly though and you will be rewarded with a spirited drive. The gear ratios are well spaced but seem a tad shorter geared, more for performance rather than efficiency, which should work out just fine as the diesel engine is inherently efficient.

Fuel efficiency figures haven’t been disclosed yet, but Mahindra says the XUV700 should be the most fuel efficient car in its class.

Mahindra XUV700: ride and handling

The biggest area of improvement over the XUV500 is the dynamics. Gone is the jittery ride, the torque steer and the sloppy handling, which is replaced by a sure-footed composure and easy and predictable handling. The key to the XUV700’s transformed ride and handling is the suspension system.

Like the Jeep Compass, the XUV700’s front and rear independent setup use frequency selective dampers where two parallel oil flow paths are tuned to deliver a different and optimal damping rate for both high and low frequency ranges. The rear linkages also include an additional control blade link to better define individual wheel movement and it all works well.

Road grip is good and cornering is quite sharp. The electric power steering also has just the right amount of feel – it’s light enough at low speeds but feels secure and stable at higher speeds. Out on the highway, you can also hold your speed over slightly broken surfaces with a good degree of confidence. Speaking of confidence, on the high-speed track, the XUV700 felt quite composed at high triple-digit speeds.

If anything, the XUV700, which still has a high centre of gravity, feels a bit top heavy and rolls a little when pushed hard. Also, the ride is not quite as settled as some of its rivals.

Mahindra XUV700: safety

Lately, Mahindra has put a lot of effort into safety, and its XUV300, which has a 5-star GNCAP rating, can lay claim to being India’s safest car. While the XUV700’s crash rating isn’t out as yet, expect a very good performance here too. More importantly, though, the company has also invested a lot into active safety, and in what is unique in the segment, the XUV700 has a very comprehensive ADAS package.

The system uses both, camera and radar which when linked to Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Autonomous Emergency Brakes (AEB) work very well, we simulated this on the test track and came away quite impressed. Also impressive is the Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), which enables to safely follow a car ahead, and the Smart Pilot Assist or traffic assist (AT only), which can manage stop-start crawls too. The tuning is spot on and changes in pace are quite smooth and natural, the only aspect of the ADAS system that needs fine-tuning is the Lane Keep Assist; it works well in corners but does not keep the car centred on straights. That aside though, the ADAS package is very commendable and revolutionary in this segment.

There’s also a novel personalised safety alert that can be programmed with the voice of a loved one to remind you to slow down when you come to a set speed! How cool is that?

Other active safety features are driver drowsiness detection, auto high beam assist and booster headlights that increase illumination above 80kph; Mahindra says the lumens and spread do not exceed the permissible limit. ABS and ESP round off the active safety bits, while seven airbags, including a knee airbag, bring up the passive features.

Mahindra XUV700: verdict

It’s impossible to ignore prices for the XUV700 and while Mahindra has only released details for four of the lower trim, 5-seater manual cars, the pricing has rocked the market. At Rs 11.99 lakh for the MX petrol manual, the entry XUV700 is priced like a sub-four-metre SUV, and at Rs 14.99 the mid-level AX petrol-manual is still brilliant value.

Mahindra will also have on offer pretty much every powertrain combination and plenty more variants too, so it’s clear then that the company is throwing everything it can into the XUV700. This is the model with which Mahindra is plotting its fightback, after the specialist SUV maker lost ground to Tata Motors, Hyundai and even new entrants like Kia. In that sense, the XUV700 comes at the right time.

Variants and prices aside, the XUV700 still comes across as a very compelling package. Yes, there are some cheap bits inside, it does miss some features like cooled seats and the infotainment system could have been more logically designed. However, these niggles are insignificant in the light of its strengths. The brilliant engines just blow the competition away, it’s easy to drive and live with and if that’s not enough to wow, the incredible list of features and tech certainly will. The XUV700 is best-in-class in so many areas, and when you factor in the knockout prices, it’s clear that Mahindra isn’t just here to play, it’s come for the kill. The competition had better run for cover.

Exotic Lamborghini Urus Graphite Capsule delivered in India

The Lamborghini Urus Graphite Capsule Edition has been showcased in our market, with the first unit of the type being delivered to a customer. The Urus Graphite Capsule Edition gets a number of unique cosmetic touches to stand out from the standard SUV. Lamborghini hasn’t publicly revealed a price for the new Capsule Edition, but it certainly costs a premium over the standard SUV.

These cosmetic updates are similar in nature, to the ones seen on the Urus Pearl Capsule Edition that was launched in India earlier this year.

  • Exterior finished in satin paint shades
  • Buyers offered a number of trim inserts inside the cabin
  • Mechanically unchanged over standard Urus

Lamborghini Urus Graphite Capsule edition: The exterior

As with the Urus Peral Capsule Edition, the Graphite Capsule edition offers buyers the choice of unique paint and trim finishes for the Urus. The Graphite Capsule editions are available in a choice fo four matte-finish paint shades – Nero Noctis (Black), Grigio Keres (Grey), Grigio Nimbus (Grey) and Bianco Monocerus (White) – which buyers can pair with gloss finished inserts on places such as the lower doors, front splitter and rear spoilers. There are four trim colours to choose from allowing for a total of 16 colour combinations. Additionally, the rear diffuser is finished in gloss black and the SUV sits on 23-inch Taigete wheels.

Lamborghini Urus Graphite Capsule edition: Interior

Inside the cabin gets new trim inserts with dark anodized aluminum and matte finish carbon fiber. The seats come finished in alcantara with contrast finished hexagonal stitching and leather inserts. The seats also feature the Urus name and Lamborghini logo embroidered into the seat back and headrest respectively.

Lamborghini Urus Graphite Capsule edition: Engine

There are no mechanical updates to the Graphite Capsule edition. The SUV is powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine developing 650hp and 850Nm. Power is sent to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic gearbox with Lamborghini claiming a top speeds of 305kph, and a 0-100kph sprint time of just 3.6 seconds.

Also see:

Lamborghini Urus India review

Lamborghini Urus production crosses 15,000 units in 3 years

Lamborghini Huracan STO launched at Rs 4.99 crore

Lamborghini sees record sales in H1 2021

Mercedes, Nyck de Vries crowned 2021 Formula E champions

Mercedes-EQ has won both the 2021 Formula E titles, with the squad clinching the teams’ championship and driver Nyck de Vries winning the drivers’ championship. The 26-year-old Dutch driver is the youngest champion in Formula E history.

  • Audi and BMW say goodbye to Formula E
  • Mahindra Racing finishes 9th overall

De Vries wins 2021 Formula E championship

De Vries could only manage 22nd and 8th place finishes in the two races on the Tempelhoff Airport street circuit, but that was enough to claim the crown in the seventh season of the electric single-seater series. 

He entered the weekend leading the championship, but was on the back foot after qualifying just 19th for the opening race. He made good progress early in the race, but a puncture forced him to stop and dropped him to 22nd. That meant de Vries’ championship lead was cut to a single point for Sunday’s season finale, but the Dutchman’s path to the title was eased after early dramas for his main title rivals.

De Vries found himself in the thick of a frenzied battle in the lower reaches of the top ten, but survived several scrapes to finish 8th and clinch the crown.

Dennis and other title hopefuls left in despair

The Berlin event marked the final Formula E event for BMW, and early in the second race it looked like Jake Dennis might claim a fairytale championship for the marque.

The British racer finished 5th in race one, but shortly after the start of the second race he seemed to have a clear path to glory. Jaguar’s Mitch Evans stalled at the start, and Edoardo Mortara ploughed into him from the back, prompting a red flag and eliminating both drivers who were in title contention. That left Dennis in 7th position at the restart. With de Vries well down the order, he was on course for the title until a battery failure while he was lifting caused him to crash into the wall and out of the race.

It was a tough end to what has been a brilliant first Formula E season for Dennis. Amazingly, such was the chaos in race two that Mortara, Dennis and Evans finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the final championship standings.

Mahindra Racing wraps up season with points finish

Berlin was not as kind to Mahindra Racing as the previous round in London, where the team clinched its first win in over two years. However, the Indian squad did manage to wrap up the season by collecting some more points.

Sims finished the first of two races in Berlin in 17th place, but had a far more competitive outing in Sunday’s finale. At one point, the British driver was in contention for victory, but ended up finishing the chaotic race in 5th place to collect 10 points.

London E-Prix winner Alex Lynn, however, faced a tough weekend. A late drive-through penalty in the first race saw him finish 20th, while he finished the last race in 13th place. Overall, Mahindra Racing wrapped up the season with a 9th place standing in the teams’ championship, finishing ahead of Nissan, Dragon and Nio 333.

Mahindra Racing Team Principal Dilbagh Gill summed up the season, saying: “I’m very proud of the whole team and I thank each and every one of them for their huge efforts every day. An unbelievable amount of work goes in to achieve results and we can be proud of what we have achieved this year with a fifth race win to add to Mahindra Racing’s Formula E tally as well as three fantastic podiums. There are definitely moments I’ll never forget and now we look forward to continuing our work in the off season ahead of launching our Season 8 campaign.”  

Audi bids goodbye to Formula E

Berlin also marked Audi’s final weekend in Formula E, and Lucas di Grassi ensured the manufacturer went out in style with victory in Saturday’s race. The Brazilian battled with the two DS Techeetah cars early on, and in the closing laps of the race had to use his attack mode boost to fight past Norman Nato and Mortara for his second win of the season.

Nato ends season in style

Venturi driver Norman Nato excelled in Sunday’s chaotic outing, battling his way to the front and expertly managing a number of restarts to claim his maiden Formula E at the end of his first season.

Formula E’s seventh season was its first as an official FIA world championship, and it is amazing to reflect on how far the car has come since its slow start (with far slower cars) in 2014. While it is yet to win over some racing purists, it has developed its own brand of entertainment along with an enviable calendar of races and line-up of manufacturers.

The calendar becomes even more impressive for the 2021-2022 season that starts next January, with the addition of races in Seoul in South Korea, Vancouver in Canada and Cape Town in South Africa. But the championship will have two fewer manufacturers, with Audi and BMW withdrawing their works support (although BMW will still provide powertrains for current partner) Andretti Autosport. And reports emerged over the Berlin weekend that Mercedes are also set to quit Formula E after next season, which will be the last before the new Gen3 car is launched.

Motorsport championships have always been reliant on the whims of manufacturers, but it is certainly not a positive trend, and one that Formula E bosses will want to address.

Also see:

Audi reveals RS Q e-tron electrified racer for Dakar 2022

Kia Seltos X-line launch next month

The Kia Seltos line-up will soon be expanded with a blacked-out version of the SUV. The automaker has teased the upcoming model under the ‘Project X’ banner. Expect the tough-looking Seltos to take after the X-Line concept that was displayed at the 2020 Auto Expo.

  • Project X to be a blacked out version of the Seltos
  • No changes under the hood
  • Kia’s second attempt at sprucing up the Seltos

Kia Seltos X-Line (Project X): how will it differ from the regular Seltos

The Seltos X-Line concept, showcased in Delhi-NCR last year, came with a special stylistic treatment to set itself apart from the standard model. The pumped-up SUV wore a matte grey paint shade and had most of its body accents blacked out, save for the chrome applique along the sideboards. It sported a dark chrome surround for the grille, gloss black trim on the bumper and bronze-coloured elements for the fog lamp housings.

The rear featured a dark chrome bar between the tail lights, and gloss black and bronze trims on the bumper, in addition to a prominent faux skid plate. And though the alloy wheel design was borrowed from the standard Seltos’ GT Line, it came with a darker shade. The basic profile of the SUV, however, remained unchanged.

Expect most of these design touches to be carried forward to the production-spec model.

Kia Seltos X-Line (Project X): engine-gearbox options

This is not the first time Kia is using the ‘X-Line’ moniker on the Seltos. In late 2019, it had revealed the X-Line Trail Attack and X-Line Urban concepts based on the US-spec Seltos at the LA Auto Show. The models featured a 176hp, 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine with all-wheel-drive (AWD).   

However, the Seltos X-Line for Indian customers is expected to be launched without any changes under the hood, since powertrain modifications will be prohibitively expensive, considering that no Kia model in India gets the larger hearted turbo-petrol or AWD capabilities.

The regular Seltos on sale in our market gets a range of engine options – a 115hp, 1.5-litre petrol with a 6-speed manual, a 6-speed iMT clutchless manual or a CVT auto gearbox; a 115hp, 1.5-litre diesel mated to either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed torque converter auto transmission; and a 140hp, 1.4-litre turbo-petrol paired to either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed DCT automatic gearbox. All versions get a standard front-wheel-drive configuration. It is likely that Kia will offer the Seltos X-Line with the 1.4 petrol and 1.5 diesel engines.

Kia Seltos X-Line (Project X): price estimate

The standard Kia Seltos is priced at Rs 9.95-17.65 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). Expect the Seltos X-Line to cost a premium over the regular model. Interestingly, this will be Kia’s second run at offering a spruced-up version of its midsize SUV, having launched the Seltos Anniversary Edition in limited numbers last year.

When it arrives, the Seltos X-Line will duke it out with the Tata Harrier Dark editionHyundai CretaNissan KicksRenault DusterSkoda Kushaq and the upcoming Volkswagen Taigun in our market.

Also see:

2021 Kia Seltos launched at Rs 9.95 lakh

Kia Seltos X-Line concept image gallery

 

Ola Electric scooter launched, could cost less than Activa!

Ola Electric has launched its S1 and S1 Pro electric scooters at Rs 1 lakh and Rs 1.3 lakh, respectively. These prices are ex-showroom, including FAME II subsidy, but excluding state subsidy.

The highly awaited electric scooter from Ola has been launched at an incredibly competitive price tag. Once you factor in the additional benefits from the various state subsidies, the price will be even lower. With the government’s recent announcement that EVs will not be charged road tax, the base Ola Electric scooter could end up costing less than the likes of even the Honda Activa 125 on-road. The company says deliveries are set to begin from October 2021.

OlaPrices with state & FAME subsidy.

Ola S1, S1 Pro: specifications and range

Ola Electric hasn’t achieved this with cutting costs when it comes to the specifications, as the S1 and S1 Pro have an impressive claimed range of 121km and 181km, respectively; these are likely to be ARAI numbers. Both scooters get fixed batteries, with the S1 getting a 2.98kWh unit and the S1 Pro getting a 3.97kWh battery. In comparison, the Ather 450X has a battery capacity of 2.9kWh. Kerb weight figures, meanwhile, stand at 121kg and 125kg.

Powering the Ola Electric scooter is what the company calls a ‘Hyperdrive motor’, which produces a peak power output of 8.5kW. This is significantly more than the 6kW of peak power the Ather 450X puts out. The S1 has a claimed top speed of 90kph, while the S1 Pro will max out at 115kph. Ola is also claiming a best in class 0-40kph acceleration time of 3sec (S1 Pro) and a 0-60kph time of 5sec (S1 Pro), which is comfortably higher than any scooter on sale in India today. Both scooters have an impressive torque figure of 58Nm.

The Ola S1 gets two riding modes – Normal and Sports – while the S1 Pro benefits from an additional riding mode called Hyper, which will likely be the one in which it hits its top speed of 115kph. The Ola Electric scooter uses single-sided suspension and disc brakes, as well as 110/70-R12 MRF tyres, at both ends.

Ola S1, S1 Pro: features and technology

The Ola Electric scooter features a large TFT display that shows a host of information, including navigation. This display also lets you toggle between rider profiles, allowing for individual customisation. Another neat feature is the read-out that lets you see how much CO2 you’ve avoided.

Like other scooters in the segment, this one gets a reverse mode as well. In addition to that, it has a proximity unlock that starts up the scooter as you approach it. The scooter can be used in silent mode or emit a sound that is customisable – this is likely to be done through onboard speakers, similar to the EV from Revolt.

The S1 Pro variant gets a hill hold function, cruise control and voice assistant functions; these aren’t available on the S1. While both, the S1 and S1 Pro, get all-LED lighting, the former is limited to just five body colours, with the Pro getting 10 options.

Ola S1, S1 Pro: charge time

The S1 and S1 Pro come with a portable home charger that can fully charge the scooters in a claimed 4.48 hours and 6.30 hours, respectively. The company has plans to develop an Ola Hypercharger network, which it claims will be “the world’s largest, densest, fastest 2W charging network with 1 lakh locations across 400 cities.” With this charger, the company promises adding a claimed 75km range in 18 minutes.

Ola Electric scooter vs rivals: price comparison

With a starting price of Rs 1 lakh, the Ola electric scooter undercuts Delhi prices of rivals like the TVS iQube (Rs 1.01 lakh), Bajaj Chetak (Rs 1.42 lakh) and the Ather 450 (starts at Rs 1.13 lakh). 

Ex-showroom Delhi prices for India’s best-selling scooter, the Honda Activa 6G ranges between Rs 69,080-72,325, while the more-powerful Activa 125 will set you back by Rs 72,637-79,760, depending on the variant.

Review: Renault Triber AMT long term review, second report

Our long-term Renault Triber AMT has been steadily munching the miles. Ever since our Lodgy went in for extended repairs, this practical MPV undoubtedly has been the busiest member of our long-term fleet; it has shuttled our camera crew and their equipment to every nook and corner of the city (and outside). This little MPV has crossed the 12,000km mark recently and still feels very new. This month, though, the Triber got a break from its busy duty and was my long-term ride for a few days.

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HANDS FREE: Locks/unlocks the car when you are nearby.

While our office is now partially open, most of my work still gets done from home, which means I use the Triber less on office runs and more for other errands that include short but tedious trips in dense traffic. This is where the Triber shines with its automated manual gearbox. While an automatic gearbox makes driving a breeze in the city, the Triber’s transmission does have quite a bit of unexpected jerkiness. The creep function isn’t consistently linear and the car does leap sometimes when you release the brake pedal while moving from standstill. The steering is very light at low speeds, but the weight build-up at higher speeds is relatively weak. This is something that does become a point of concern once you cross 60-70kph.

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LIGHT AND EASY: Very helpful in the city; especially helpful in heavy traffic.

What I really like about the Triber is the hands-free door operation – it unlocks as you go near the car and locks as you walk away – and that really feels nice and premium. The interior is quite spacious for an MPV of this length. Yes, it’s less than four metres long, but the excellent packaging and wide cabin ensures comfortable second-row seating for three abreast, as well as a huge cargo space if you don’t use the third row.

Some interior bits of the Triber are quite familiar, like the full-digital instrument cluster and the infotainment screen that are similar to my usual long term car, the Kwid Climber.

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STUTTER BUG: Shifts are not smooth and it mars the auto ’box experience.

The water distribution project that I volunteer for had received an urgent request for drinking water as part of flood relief in some regions of Maharashtra. The Triber was thus put into action to transport water from the vendor to the team that was heading to ground zero. Its huge cargo space (with the third row folded) gobbled up almost 300 one-litre bottles easily, something which many other compact SUVs and hatchbacks of this size can’t do.

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POWER DEFICIT: Engine needs to be revved harder to get going from a stop.

The Triber is with me for a few more days, but will soon return to its duty with our super-busy camera crew. While my stint with this clever Renault MPV is a small one for now, the Triber impressed me with its practical nature, a decent features list and city-friendly footprint.

Review: 2021 Jaguar F-Pace facelift video review

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Skoda Kushaq 1.5 TSI fuel economy figures revealed

Following its launch in late June, Skoda has started deliveries of the 1.0-litre variants of the Kushaq from mid-July. The European brand has now began deliveries of the Kushaq 1.5 TSI as well and has also released ARAI-claimed fuel efficiency figures for both the manual and automatic versions of the latter. 

  • Kushaq 1.5 TSI manual delivers 17.95 kmpl 
  • 1.5 TSI DSG automatic gives 17.71 kmpl
  • 1.5-litre TSI engine gets active cylinder deactivation tech

Skoda Kushaq 1.5 TSI – ARAI certified fuel economy figures revealed

Skoda has revealed that the Kushaq delivers a mileage of 17.95 kmpl for the manual and 17.71 kmpl for the automatic transmission variant, with its 1.5-litre TSI EVO engine. Incidentally, these figures are even higher than the ARAI-claimed mileage figures of the smaller 1.0-litre engine. For your reference, the 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine returns a mileage of 17.88 kmpl for the manual version and 15.78 kmpl for the automatic. 

Despite being larger in displacement, the 1.5-litre unit has a few tricks up its sleeve that helps it achieve such great mileage figures. The first is obviously the Active Cylinder Deactivation Technology – a first-in-segment feature – which automatically shuts down two cylinders when the engine load is low, thereby increasing fuel efficiency. We drove the Kushaq recently and can tell you that this feature works seamlessly and one never notices when the engine shifts from four-cylinder to two-cylinder mode or vice versa. The 1.5-litre variants of the Kushaq are also available for test drives and deliveries at all Skoda showrooms across the country. 

 

Skoda Kushaq – what else do you need to know?

The Skoda Kushaq is available in three trim levels – Active, Ambition and Style – with prices starting at Rs 10.49 lakh for the base 1.0 TSI Active trim and going up to Rs 17.59 lakh for the top-spec 1.5 TSI AT Style trim. Apart from the 1.5-litre engine, the Kushaq also comes with a 115hp, 178Nm, 1.0-litre, three-cylinder TSI unit that comes mated to either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed torque converter gearbox.

The base Active trim is solely offered in a 1.0 litre TSI manual configuration. Meanwhile, the 1.5 litre TSI engine – in both manual and automatic versions – is reserved for the top-spec Style trim. The top-spec Style trim is also the only trim to be offered with all the powertrain options. Key rivals for the Kushaq include the upcoming Volkswagen Taigun, the Kia Seltos and the Hyundai Creta.

Image source

Also see:

New Skoda sedan confirmed for 2021 unveil

Skoda Kushaq video review

Skoda Kushaq 1.0T AT, 1.5T MT video review

Review: 2021 TVS Ntorq Race XP video review

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Special Feature: Nissan Magnite – Chic Magnet

Over the last year or so, numerous adjectives have been used to describe the Nissan Magnite. And Nissan’s compelling SUV is deserving of each one of them. The one that really sticks, though, is ‘charismatic’. There is clearly no better word for the SUV that has been racking up sales numbers despite the numerous lockdowns. But surely, the sheer appeal of the Magnite isn’t all that surprising when you consider Nissan’s illustrious automotive heritage: the GT-R, the Leaf, the 350Z, the Bluebird… and now, the Magnite. Suffice to say that superior engineering has been part of Nissan’s DNA for over a hundred years. And so are incandescent looks.


Dagger-like headlights and L-shaped LEDs look ace.

The Magnite is all sharp lines and angular handsomeness, and its aggressive stance is so inviting, you want to get into the car, thumb the starter button and floor the pedal. This visual boldness and aggression is not the only reason the Magnite stands apart from other run-of-the-mill SUVs. What the Magnite has done since its launch in December last year is to overturn traditional assumptions about category, style, and class. Here is an SUV that offers a real explosion for your buck, and thanks to this combination of spot-on pricing and an assemblage of incredible attributes, the Magnite has been a threat to not just other SUVs in its class, but also to sedans and premium hatchbacks.

Take, for instance, the suite of features it comes with. The Magnite is packed with segment-first features such as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and then there is wireless charging and – wait for it – a 360-degree reversing camera and display. All of this, of course, is accompanied by a crisp 8.0-inch touchscreen, Nissan Connect, the company’s integrated audio, navigation, and communication system, smartwatch connectivity, puddle lamps, automatic climate control, steering-mounted controls and a sweet-sounding six-speaker audio system. If you think that’s impressive, you’ll be glad to know that the Magnite doesn’t lack in space either. The SUV’s cabin is a serene space enlivened by quality trim and tasteful textures all around. We especially love the smart air-con knobs, the deconstructed centre console, and the double-stitched ‘denim’ on the door pads and elbow rests. Plus, those of us who practically live in our cars will dig the ginormous 10-litre glovebox.


The Magnite gets 16-inch dual-tone alloys.

The seats are remarkably comfortable and space is abundant, especially at the rear. Which means that, irrespective of whether you are at the back, or in the driver’s seat, you’ll find your time inside the Magnite to be engaging and yet relaxing.

 Since we are talking about driving, prospective Magnite owners will encounter two contenders that could do duty under its hood. These are a 1.0-litre B4D naturally-aspirated petrol engine and 1.0-litre HRA0 turbo-petrol. The former is a naturally aspirated petrol engine that develops 72PS and is offered with a slick 5-speed manual transmission, while the 100PS turbo-petrol comes with the option of either a manual transmission or a CVT automatic. We had a blast with the latter and loved the way the Magnite performed at traffic light grands prix. It’s a lively engine that responds with great alacrity to inputs and is eager to spring out of inertia. This enthusiasm comes in handy especially in urban situations and makes driving practically effortless. Keep going towards – and on – an open road, and two things stand out: linear power delivery and refinement. Should you be in the mood for some fun, simply select ‘Sport’ to make the experience even better and revel in the punch that the engine delivers.


The plush, spacious interiors, studded with several first-in-segment features, deliver a premium experience.

The Magnite is equipped with a pliant suspension, and that means a comfortable ride irrespective of the terrain the SUV is on. The suspension soaks up undulations with ease, and admirably tackles larger threats that rise up from the rain-battered roads of our cities.

As impressive is the SUV’s straightline stability, which inspires confidence at high speeds. Another highlight? The well-weighted steering that makes zipping through traffic and into and out of narrow lanes a breeze. What about safety, you ask? Well, that has always been a priority area for Nissan, and it’s no wonder the Magnite has, apart from ABS with EBD and dual front airbags, features such as rear parking sensors and automatic warning hazard on heavy braking as standard. Plus, you also get electronic stability control, brake assist, ISOFIX child-seat mounts, traction control, hill start assist and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

The Nissan Magnite has clearly left an impression on everyone who has driven one. What we have here is a sharp-looking SUV that makes driving something to look forward to, that’s filled to the gills with equipment and spacious enough for five. Plus, how can one forget that it earned a 4-star safety rating in the ASEAN NCAP tests earlier this year? Now, if you add cost-effectiveness to this mix – Nissan’s capable, stylish all-rounder is the most affordable compact SUV around – you’ll realise that there is nothing quite like the Magnite.

Photography: Gaurav S Thombre

Aprilia RS660 arrives in India, launch expected soon

While it is common knowledge that Aprilia intends to bring its RS 660 sportbike here,a new photograph suggests that an India launch is just around the corner. The photograph was released by company MD Diego Graffi on his Instagram account, showing him sitting on the RS 660, while another unit of the same bike is visible in the background.

  • Launch expected soon
  • 659cc, parallel-twin engine
  • Cornering ABS,TC, adjustable wheelie control

Dealers have been taking unofficial bookings for both, the RS 660 and its naked sibling, the Tuono 660, for a few months now. The Tuono 660 is also likely to arrive in India, either alongside the RS, or soon after.

Both bikes are powered by Aprilia’s new 659cc, parallel-twin engine,which has a 270-degree firing order and produces 100hp on the RS 660 and 95hp on the Tuono. There’s a comprehensive electronics suite on offer, including three-level cornering ABS, adjustable wheelie control, traction control and engine brake control. The bikes also get multiple ride modes, a TFT display and cruise control.

A leaked document suggests that the RS 660, which comes in as a CBU, will be quite highly priced, but this remains to be confirmed.

Meanwhile, Aprilia recently unveiled a third motorcycle on this new 660cc platform. Called the Tuareg 660, it appears to be an off-road capable middle-weight ADV. Click here to read more about this new Aprilia adventure bike.

 

Sunroof equipped MG Hector now starts from Rs 14.51 lakh

It’s been two years since MG Motor opened its doors in India with the Hector SUV. Now, the company has launched a new Shine variant for the Hector. Priced from Rs 14.51 lakh (ex-showroom), the MG Hector Shine has been positioned between the existing Super and Smart trims. In all, the Hector is now available in five trims – Style, Super, Shine, Smart and Sharp.

  • Positioned midway between Super and Smart trims
  • Gets more features than the Super trim
  • Petrol-MT, petrol-CVT and diesel-MT powertrains available 

Here’s a look at the detailed variant-wise price list of the updated Hector range.

2021 MG Hector Price (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Variants 1.5 Turbo-Petrol 2.0 Diesel
Style Rs 13,49,800 (MT) Rs 14,98,800 (MT)
Super Rs 14,16,800 (MT) Rs 15,99,800 (MT)
Rs 14,99,800 (Hybrdi MT)
Shine (new) Rs 14,51,800 (MT) Rs 16,49,800 (MT)
Rs 15,71,800 (CVT)
Smart Rs 16,37,800 (Hybrdi MT) Rs 17,79,800 (MT)
Rs 16,99,800 (DCT/CVT)
Sharp Rs 17,69,800 (Hybrdi MT) Rs 19,20,800 (MT)
Rs 18,69,800 (DCT/CVT)

MG Hector Shine: what’s new?

This new mid-spec variant of the Hector is based on the second-from-base Super trim and gets some additional features. The most important upgrade is a new single-pane sunroof that has been introduced on the Hector for the first time. Until now, the Hector was only available with a panoramic sunroof in its top-spec Sharp trim. Although the Shine trim only gets a single-pane sunroof, it’s now more accessible by Rs 3.18 lakh, something that should be a huge fulling factor for Indian customers.

It also additionally gets keyless entry, push button start, electric parking brake with auto hold, telescopic adjustment for the steering wheel and chrome finished door handles. Apart from the sunroof, it’s worth noting that the aforementioned features will be exclusive to only the petrol-CVT variant on the Shine trim. The Hector Shine rides on 17-inch alloy wheels and misses out on the larger 18-inch wheels available with the top-spec trims. 

MG has also taken this opportunity to introduce a new colour on the Hector – Havana Grey – which will be offered on all trims except for the base Style trim.

MG Hector Shine: engine and gearbox options

The new mid-spec Hector Shine is available with both the 143hp 1.5-litre turbo-petrol and the 170hp 2.0-litre diesel engine options. Both engines come mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox as standard while the turbo-petrol engine can also be had with a CVT automatic gearbox. The Hector’s turbo-petrol hybrid powertrain and the dual-clutch transmission have been given a miss here.

MG Hector: rivals

The MG Hector locks horns with the likes of the Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos, Skoda Kushaq, and the Tata Harrier.

The next major launch from MG in India is expected to be the Astor SUV. Essentially a petrol-powered version of the ZS SUV, in its facelifted guise, the Astor is likely to arrive by September 2021.

Sunroof image source

Also See:

MG Gloster Savvy now gets 7-seater option

14,000 BS6 MG Hector SUVs recalled

Hyundai i20 N Line to get three variants, two gearbox options

Earlier this week, Hyundai officially confirmed its N Line range of cars for India, and as we have reported previously, the first N Line-badged model in India will be the i20 N Line. Ahead of its expected launch we have details of the engine, gearbox and variants of the upcoming Hyundai i20 N Line. 

  • i20 N Line will be available in three variants in India
  • 1.0-litre turbo-petrol engine only powertrain; two gearbox options
  • Expected launch in September

Hyundai i20 N Line – variant breakup for the Indian market

A leaked Type Approval Certificate reveals that the i20 N Line will be available in three variants in India – N6 iMT, N8 iMT and N8 DCT. The N6 trim will be based on the Sportz trim of the premium hatchback while the N8 trims will be based on the top-spec Asta and Asta(O) trims. 

Hyundai i20 N Line – engine and gearbox options

Under the hood, as was speculated, the India-spec i20 N Line will be powered by the 120hp, 172Nm, 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine. Transmission options will include the 6-speed iMT gearbox and the 7-speed DCT gearbox. 

Although the powertrain configuration remains unchanged from the standard i20, it will be accompanied by a sportier exhaust note and suspension setup. That said, this was a missed opportunity for Hyundai to offer a manual gearbox with the turbo-petrol engine, something that would have greatly appealed to enthusiasts. 

Hyundai i20 N Line: exterior and interior upgrades

The N Line models are essentially a sportier cosmetic job over the standard models. Likewise, the i20 N Line will feature several embellishments inside out to give it a sportier look.

It gets a sportier front bumper with deep set fog lamp housing, a sportier looking grille with ‘chequered flag’ pattern, additional front and side skirts, a sportier rear bumper with a prominent rear diffuser, twin-exhaust pipes, larger wheels and more colour options. Several of these elements will be blacked-out as well.

On the inside, the i20 N Line will come with prominent N badging and red stitching throughout, sporty front seats, a bespoke steering wheel, metal pedals and an N-branded leather gear knob.

Hyundai i20 N Line: expected price and rivals

When launched, the i20 N Line will be the new top-spec model in the i20 range. Currently, the range tops out at Rs 11.40 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the Asta(O) turbo-DCT variant. Expect the N Line to cost Rs 1-1.5 lakh more. For its price, the Hyundai i20 N Line will not have any direct competitors in India.

Also See:

Hyundai i20 N image gallery

2020 Hyundai i20 review, test drive

For ‘N-Performance’, say yes

Sunroof-equipped MG Hector now starts from Rs 14.51 lakh

It’s been two years since MG Motor opened doors in India with the Hector SUV. Now, the company has launched a new Shine variant for the Hector in India. Priced from Rs 14.51 lakh (ex-showroom), the MG Hector Shine has been positioned between the existing Super and Smart trims. In all, the Hector is now available in five trims – Style, Super, Shine, Smart and Sharp

  • New Shine trim is positioned midway between Super and Smart trims
  • Gets additional features over the second-from-base Super trim
  • Available with petrol-MT, petrol-CVT and diesel-MT powertrain options

Here’s a look at the detailed variant-wise price list of the updated Hector range.

2021 MG Hector Price (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Variants 1.5 Turbo-Petrol 2.0 Diesel
Style Rs 13,49,800 (MT) Rs 14,98,800 (MT)
Super Rs 14,16,800 (MT) Rs 15,99,800 (MT)
Rs 14,99,800 (Hybrdi MT)
Shine (new) Rs 14,51,800 (MT) Rs 16,49,800 (MT)
Rs 15,71,800 (CVT)
Smart Rs 16,37,800 (Hybrdi MT) Rs 17,79,800 (MT)
Rs 16,99,800 (DCT/CVT)
Sharp Rs 17,69,800 (Hybrdi MT) Rs 19,20,800 (MT)
Rs 18,69,800 (DCT/CVT)

MG Hector Shine: what’s new?

This new mid-spec variant of the Hector is based on the second-from-base Super trim and gets some additional features. The most important upgrade is a new single-pane sunroof that has been introduced on the Hector for the first time. Until now, the Hector was only available with a panoramic sunroof in its top-spec Sharp trim. Although the Shine trim only gets a single-pane sunroof, it’s now more accessible by Rs 3.18 lakh, something that should be huge fulling factor for Indian customers.

It also additionally gets keyless entry, push button start, electric parking brake with auto hold, telescopic adjustment for the steering wheel and chrome finished door handles. Apart from the sunroof, it’s worth noting that the aforementioned features will be exclusive to only the petrol-CVT variant on the Shine trim. The Hector Shine rides on 17-inch alloy wheels and misses out on the larger 18-inch wheels available with the top-spec trims. 

MG has also taken this opportunity to introduce a new color on the Hector – Havana Grey – which will be offered on all trims expect for the base Style trim.

MG Hector Shine: engine and gearbox options

The new mid-spec Hector Shine is available with both the 143hp 1.5-litre turbo-petrol and the 170hp 2.0-litre diesel engine options. Both engines come mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox as standard while the turbo-petrol engine can also be had with a CVT automatic gearbox. The Hector’s turbo-petrol hybrid powertrain and the dual-clutch transmission have been given a miss here.

MG Hector: rivals

The MG Hector locks horns against the likes of the Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos, Skoda Kushaq, and the Tata Harrier.

The next major launch from MG in India is expected to be the Astor SUV. Essentially a petrol-powered version of the ZS SUV in its facelifted guise, the Astor is expected to arrive by September 2021.

Also See:

MG Gloster Savvy now gets 7-seater option

14,000 BS6 MG Hector SUVs recalled

Special Feature: Renault Kiger – From India To The World

Since its launch earlier this year, the Renault Kiger has won applause from experts and automobile enthusiasts across the country. Among the aspects of the Kiger that appealed to car lovers are its visual dynamism, the punch of its turbo-petrol engine, the space all around, and the smart technological features it comes equipped with. It is no wonder then that the Renault Kiger, which has won a bunch of automobile awards, has been rapidly ascending the sales charts and has changed the game in the compact SUV segment. The story of the Kiger, which follows in the tread marks of other Renault heroes such as the Duster, Kwid, and Triber, does not end with India, though.

Jointly developed by Renault’s design teams in India and France, and produced at the manufacturer’s facility located in Oragadam, Chennai, the Kiger was always destined to be, literally, a world-beater and a fleet-footed showcase that demonstrated India’s world-class design and manufacturing capabilities. And in early August, with the commencement of its exports to South Africa, Renault sent out not just the Kigers, but also a message about India’s potential as an automobile export hub.


Venkatram Mamillapalle, Country CEO and Managing Director, Renault India, with the Kigers headed for South Africa.

Venkatram Mamillapalle, Country CEO and Managing Director, Renault India, was right on the money when he said that the Kiger’s exports to South Africa and (earlier) Nepal not only highlighted the company’s “strong commitment to the Make in India mission,” but also “demonstrated the competence of India’s design, engineering and world-class manufacturing capabilities.” And South Africa is merely the first step, according to Mamillapalle.“ We look forward to expanding the exports of the Kiger to many international markets soon, including Indonesia, other parts of Africa and SAARC region, along with growing our customer base in India,” he added.


The first batch of Renault Kigers gets ready to depart for South Africa.

The Renault Kiger is based on the same CMFA+ platform that underpins the Triber. It is available with two engine options: a naturally aspirated 1.0-litre unit that makes 72PS, or a 1.0-litre turbocharged engine that makes 100PS. The SUV is offered in both manual and automatic variants (AMT or CVT). The best-in-segment features of the Kiger are its cabin-storage and cargo space, rear elbow width, turning radius, fuel efficiency and a higher ground clearance.


Renault’s state-of-the-art plant in Chennai has a capacity of 4.8 million units per annum.

Renault’s highly advanced manufacturing facility at Oragadam has a production capacity of 4.8 lakh units per annum. A new car rolls out the plant every 1.5 minutes, and the company has its own water harvesting and recycling facility inside the plant’s premises. Renault India has over 500 sales and service touchpoints across the country, and these include 200+ Workshop On Wheels locations across India, with benchmark sales and service quality. Renault India, of course, isn’t just big on brick-and-mortar ways of selling – it has also pushed the envelope when it comes to digital initiatives. The Renault Kiger Virtual Studio is a case in point. The state-of-the-art virtual studio enables 360-degree views of the car and helps customers to configure, accessorise, and make online bookings.

 

14,000 BS6 MG Hector SUVs recalled

MG Motor India has announced a recall for the BS6 petrol-DCT (dual-clutch auto) variants of its Hector SUV, in order to rectify an emissions related issue. Approximately 14,000 units of the BS6 MG Hector petrol-DCT are affected by this issue.

  • Variations in hydrocarbon and NOx emissions discovered

  • No hardware changes required

  • MG to rectify recalled units by December

BS6 MG Hector petrol-DCT recall

The International Centre for Automotive Technology (iCAT), which is based in Manesar, Haryana, conducted tests on some samples of the BS6 MG Hector petrol-DCT. As the testing agency discovered variations in the hydrocarbon and NOx emissions, the SUV did not pass the conformity of production (CoP) tests. However, according to reports, iCAT found that the issue could be rectified through a software update, without needing to make any hardware changes.

In response to iCAT’s findings, MG announced a recall for around 14,000 units of the BS6 Hector petrol-DCT to update the software. Dealerships have been instructed to contact owners of the affected models. MG plans on re-flashing the software on all affected models by December this year, barring any COVID-19 related issues.

MG Hector: current India line up

The MG Hector is a midsize, 5-seat SUV that competes with the Hyundai Creta, Tata Harrier and Kia Seltos. It also gets a three-row derivative called the Hector Plus, which rivals the Tata Safari and the Hyundai Alcazar.

In terms of engines, the Hector range is available with one petrol and one diesel option. The diesel is a 170hp, 2.0-litre unit that can be had with a 6-speed manual gearbox only, while the petrol is a 143hp, 1.5-litre turbocharged unit. The Hector petrol can be had with either a 6-speed manual, a dual-clutch automatic (DCT) or a CVT gearbox. There’s also a petrol-hybrid version on offer that comes with a 48V hybrid system with a starter generator. 

MG has also announced that it will reveal pricing for the new Hector Shine variant on August 12, 2021.

Also see:

Rajeev Chaba on a sub-4m MG model, 2 years of MG in India and more

MG Gloster Savvy now gets 7-seater option

Review: Triumph Trident 660 review, test ride

Remember when middleweight motorcycles had middleweight price tags? Sadly, that isn’t the case anymore for quite a few models, including Triumph’s very own Street Triple range. In international markets, the affordable mid-capacity naked bike segment is still as alive as ever though, and Triumph has re-entered that competitive space with what you see in the pictures. It wears the iconic nameplate of a bike from half a century ago, but shares its DNA with the latest Street Triple and has potential to become one of the company’s most successful models.

We had been having a run of luck when it came to the monsoon this year, with it pouring just before or after our shoots. Unfortunately, record-setting torrential rain quickly brought that streak to an end. But I wasn’t going to let the torrential weather play spoilsport even if it meant I had to don my garish rain gear and wait for the rain to ease to the point that our photographer was willing to take his camera out. While we played the waiting game, I had not much to do other than stare at the Trident, and I realised that it looks more substantial in pictures than it does in reality, but while it is compact, it does have a good sense of presence and does stand out.

Triumph Trident 660: design

The rounded tank, simple radiator shrouds and front fender are pleasing to look at, but not noteworthy in any way. Triumph’s commitment to the retro theme for this bike is evident from the circular headlight and instrument cluster. The only special and unique element is the minimalist tail with its integrated tail-light and coloured underside, which results in a striking rear end.

Trident-rearThe integrated tail-light and red underside look menacing.

While some will wish it was larger many will admire how unintimidating it is. It’s the smallest bike Triumph makes right now and it’ll feel right at home to people upgrading from the 300-400cc segment. This is just one of the many things that remind you that it’s targeting less experienced riders. The 805mm seat height and 189kg kerb weight will also be manageable for riders of most sizes. As for the riding position, it’s friendly as well, with slightly rear-set foot pegs highlighting its sporty intentions. That said, riders taller than six feet will not be the most comfortable, as their knees will extend to the edge of the knee recesses. Large boots also end up coming in contact with the pillion foot peg holders.

Triumph Trident 660: how does it perform?

While I did take on what felt like a cloud burst during the shoot, I did manage to spend some time with it in more favourable conditions. What you quickly realise is that the Trident does in fact have a unique engine. Its 660cc inline-three has a different bore and stroke than all of the Street Triples, including the 660cc Street Triple S sold abroad. It also runs a lower compression ratio, resulting in a power delivery that is quite different. This engine has a very linear flow of power and it’s completely missing the manic top end that is associated with the Street Triples. Unlike those bikes with their 12,000-plus rpm redlines, the Trident tops out at just over 10,000rpm. That being said, it still puts out a healthy amount of power and torque, and 81hp means it’s plenty fast, but without becoming too much of a handful. This is what Triumph was going for – along with great tractability and its shorter gearing, you can easily hold high gears at low speeds without having to frequently downshift. That makes the Trident a pleasure to ride around calmly at slow speeds. It’s also got the refinement and iconic exhaust note of Triumph’s inline threes. Another positive is that the service intervals are at an impressive 16,000km. However, it’s worth noting that you still have to get the bike serviced once a year and a regular service costs around Rs 9,000, which is about the same as the Street Triple.

Trident-displayThe small TFT display is easy to read, looks classy.

However, it’s not all perfect though as there’s a noticeable delay at low RPMs, followed by a sudden spurt of power as the engine crosses about 3,000rpm. This is accompanied by the slightly heavy clutch pull and throttle action comes in the way of what would have been a really potent machine in the city. 

Another hint at this Triumph’s intentions is that there is no Sport mode – only Road and Rain. Road mode does make all the power available, but the traction control system feels a little too protective and it cuts power unnecessarily at times. Luckily, it has the option to be completely switched off.

Triumph Trident 660: ride and handling

Moving on to another important aspect of the Trident, the ride and handling. I can confidently say that the Trident does well on rough surfaces and it covers large speed breakers without fuss as it sits decently high off the ground. The suspension setup though is a little on the firm side, but not to the point of being uncomfortable. Similarly, the seat is firm but spacious and supportive enough for both rider and pillion.

Trident-rainIt has multiple attributes that are aimed at less experienced riders.

Despite the simple Showa suspension components and steel frame, the Trident can take on a set of corners at impressive speeds. It feels quite light and sure-footed and the Michelin Road 5 tyres offer ample grip. However, the riding position and general character of the motorcycle tend to keep you settled in the seat rather than putting you in an aggressive stance. There’s also enough stopping power on offer from the brakes, but the feedback from the lever is quite dull, with the first half inch or so of lever pull not really doing anything.

Triumph Trident 660: should you buy one?

With a starting ex-showroom price of Rs 6.95 lakh, the Trident costs around Rs 1 lakh less than the Street Twin and around Rs 2 lakh less than the Street Triple R. This fact alone brings a lot of attention to the Trident as it’s the company’s most attainable offering while also being a compelling overall package. As far as rivals are concerned, its competitive price positions it above the Kawasaki Z650, but significantly below the Honda CB650R. Our time with the Trident has revealed that it’s not all perfect, but it is a beginner-friendly, easy-to-live-with and fun machine, all with Triumph quality and at a reasonable price.

Tata Harrier, Safari get new XTA+ variants

The Tata Harrier and Safari are now available with new automatic variants in XTA+ mid-spec trim. Positioned between the XMA and XZA trims, the new XTA+ variants offer a more affordable alternative to the XZA – the Harrier XTA+ is cheaper by Rs 47,000 while the Safari XTA+ is down by a more notable Rs 87,000. The Harrier XTA+ is additionally available with the Dark Edition package.

  • Harrier XTA+ available in standard and Dark Edition
  • Prices undercut higher-spec XZA by up to Rs 87,000
  • Equipment shared with respective XT+ manual variants

Tata Harrier XTA+: what’s to know

Priced at Rs 19.14 lakh for the standard and Rs 19.34 lakh for the Dark Edition respectively, the Harrier XTA+ adds the convenience of the 6-speed automatic variant to the mid-spec XT+ trim for a Rs 1.3 lakh premium over the manual. The XTA+ Dark Edition is now the most affordable Harrier automatic in the Dark Edition line-up with prices down by Rs 1.75 lakh over the higher-spec XZA+ Dark edition.

There is no change to the equipment list compared to the manual XT+ which gets kit such as 17-inch alloys, 7.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay connectivity, key-less go, rear view camera, auto headlamp and wipers, auto climate control, cruise control and a panoramic sunroof. Safety kit includes dual airbags, ABS, ESP and traction control to name a few.

Tata Safari XTA+: what’s new

Similar to the Harrier, the biggest talking point for the Safari XTA+ is the addition of the 6-speed automatic gearbox to the existing XT+ trim. Prices here are also up by Rs 1.3 lakh over the regular manual with no feature enrichment.

Equipment carried over from the XT+ manual includes a panoramic sunroof, auto headlamp and wipers, keyless go, ambient lighting, 18-inch alloys, tyre pressure monitor and a 7.0-inch touchscreen with connected car tech.

Tata Harrier, Safari XTA+: engine and gearbox

Both of Tata’s SUVs use the same 170hp, 350Nm, 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine. In these XTA+ variants, it is paired with a 6-speed torque converter automatic gearbox.

Tata Harrier, Safari: rivals

Coming to rivals, the Harrier goes up against mid-size five-seater SUVs such as the MG Hector, Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos and Skoda Kushaq. The Safari meanwhile takes on SUVs with three rows such as the MG Hector Plus, Mahindra XUV500 and Hyundai Alcazar.

Tata India: future launches

Tata’s next big launch for the Indian market is expected to be its all-new micro-SUV that was previewed at the 2020 Auto Expo as the HBX concept. The HBX will rival Hyundai’s upcoming Casper small SUV and also go up against models such as the Maruti Suzuki Ignis.

Also see:

Dark edition for Tata Tiago NRG a possibility

Vivek Srivatsa on the 2021 Tata Tiago NRG, growing sales over pandemic and more

Tata Safari production crosses 10,000 unit milestone

Yamaha files trademark for R2 nametag

Yamaha has filed an application to trademark the R2 nametag.

  • Could signify an upcoming 200cc sport bike
  • Patent filed in Australia
  • Small chance it could be the bike recently spotted in India

In an interesting turn of events, just last week, Yamaha has filed an application to trademark the word ‘R2’. And unless it has something to do with the robot from Star Wars, it seems like this could be the name for an upcoming Yamaha motorcycle.

Yamaha’s ‘R’ range has always consisted of sporty bikes, and the number succeeding the R usually denotes the displacement. So in this case, it appears that the Japanese manufacturer may have plans for a 200cc sport bike.  But there are a couple of things to note.

This trademark hasn’t been filed in India, but in Australia. Nevertheless, the R series seems to follow a fairly consistent naming pattern across the globe, so if there is indeed an R2 in the works, it’s likely to be sold in a whole bunch of countries outside Australia as well.

Secondly, the trademark mentions R2 alone, and the traditional ‘YZF’ that precedes the R models is missing. For example, Yamaha’s 155cc and 321cc sport bikes are formally called the YZF-R15 and YZF-R3, respectively. But Yamaha has also similarly filed trademarks for the words ‘R15’ and ‘R3’ alone in the past, so this shouldn’t detract from the possibility of a motorcycle carrying this nametag in the future.

The emergence of this new trademark suddenly adds a new perspective to the mysterious Yamaha sport bike that has been spotted testing on our roads recently. The grape vine is rife with all sorts of rumours, from an R15 V4 to an R3. But could there be a tiny chance that perhaps the new R2 is being tested right here in India?

In a recent interview with us, Ravinder Singh, senior vice president – sales and marketing, Yamaha Motor India, disclosed that the company would not be launching any new CKD or CBU products in India this year. But in that same interview, he also mentioned that the brand is focusing on the 150-250cc segment in India, and the hypothetical R2 would slot bang into the middle of that. And it’s not beyond the realm of possibility for Yamaha to manufacture a 200cc motorcycle in India.

But with the R15 already on sale here, would there be enough of a performance gap to justify an R2 as well? As you can probably tell, there are a lot of ifs, buts and maybes surrounding this R2 name at the moment. Time will reveal all.

 

Review: Volkswagen Taigun video review

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POLL OF THE MONTH

With 3-row derivatives of SUVs getting more typical, what are your thoughts about them?

With 3-row derivatives of SUVs getting more typical, what are your ideas about them?

Great – however only if they add more functions to justify the premium.
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Do not like them – 3rd row area is restricted and dangerous in a rear result.
50%.

Like them – they use more performance and flexibility.
30%.

Review: Volkswagen Taigun review, test drive

Volkswagen Taigun: what is it?

The Taigun range starts with the 115hp, 1.0-litre turbo-petrol engine that can be had with a 6-speed torque or a 6-speed manual converter car gearbox. The Taigun GTs are exclusively readily available with a 150hp, 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine with a standard-fit 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch automated option.

Whats remarkable is that the GT handbook and GT automated are specced really differently. A Volkswagen authorities exposed that the carmaker wishes to make the GT handbook “more readily available”, whereas purchasers desiring to get an automatic generally arent averse to spending a bigger premium for the sake of benefit and devices.

The Taigun isnt Volkswagens initially SUV in India nevertheless it sure is its most vital one. Due to the fact that, unlike the Tiguan, Tiguan AllSpace and T-Roc that run in the premium and specific niche areas, the Taigun is here to make a mass effect in the substantial volumes midsize SUV sector. As you might understand presently, the Taigun is thoroughly associated to the Skoda Kushaq, with the midsize SUVs being the very first styles to come from the Volkswagen Groups ambitious India 2.0 program.

Volkswagen Taigun: what is it like on the exterior?

Things at first, the Taigun isnt the biggest of the midsize SUVs on sale in India. A little much shorter and narrower than a Hyundai Creta, the Taigun does not rather have the butch roadway presence that great deals of purchasers might associate with an SUV. That stated, the Taigun is contemporary and stylish and is appealing in the metal.

The Taiguns many unique angle is its tail-end. When lit and appear off of a futuristic principle lorry, the tail-lights look especially appealing.

Heavy dollops of chrome have actually been consisted of to cater to the taste of domestic purchasers.

The most striking aspect is its rear styling, with the infinity LED tail-lamps nestled in an unique smoked bezel.

It looks elegant and modern, nevertheless it does not have the butch appeal that purchasers try to find in an SUV.

The Taigun has a clean-cut shape, with the long wheelbase (a class-leading 2,651 mm) and brief overhang position most apparent in profile. Commendably, its simply at the sides that you may possibly mistake a Taigun for a Kushaq. The 2 designs share, doors, mirrors, roofing system rails, shark-fin antenna and even feature the really same body cladding. Within the Taigun GT line, the automated is appreciable by its 17-inch diamond-cut wheels, while the GT manual uses smaller sized, single-tone16-inchers.

The three-slat chrome grille that sports an oversized VW logo design effortlessly blends into the large headlamp clusters, while the raised, squared-out bonnet quickly connects the Taigun to the more exceptional Tiguan. If you like your German cars and trucks minimized, youll discover theres excessive bling on the Taigun.

Volkswagen Taigun: what is it like on the inside?

Consisting of more colour to the cabin is the 8.0-inch coloured digital instrument cluster thats part of the bundle on the GT auto. The GT handbook variation has much easier analogue dials with a rather essential monochrome MID.

The Taigun makes a positive really first impression the minute you shut the door, which closes with an encouraging thud, something weve come to associate with VW automobiles and trucks. Inside, youll discover yourself in a truly modern Volkswagen cabin.

Red inserts offered with particular exterior paint options; might not have a universal appeal.

8.0-inch digital instrument cluster is simple on the eyes; display options are limited.

Red ambient lighting is tastefully executed.

Backlit automated devices selector looks premium, however it isnt totally fitted and tends to rock side to side.

The Taigun GTs seats are comfy and completely cut, and theres enough adjustment on deal to find the very best seating position. Whats likewise great is that the rear seat is big and theres sufficient light infiltrating, thanks to the low window line. The rear bench is handy and the backrest is well contoured to offer a particular degree of lateral assistance. For India, Volkswagen has actually reduced the height of the main flooring hump (a structure that offers rigidness to the body), added an adjustable head restraint, in addition to a three-point safety belt for the middle traveler. Due to the cars and trucks narrow width, nevertheless, this seat is more fit for 2 grownups, than 3.

There are a lot of storage plans throughout the cabin, like enormous door bins, a big cordless charging pad to hold a smart device, cupholders, seatback pockets, and even the boot is more accommodating than what its 330 litres may recommend. The rear seats divided 60:40, ought to you need more baggage space.

Well contoured, helpful rear bench; suitable knee- and legroom available; however, the seat isnt large sufficient to accommodate 3 grownups.

The fit-finish is decent in numerous places, and although the plastics are hard, they feel strong and built to last. The cabin experience is, however, moistened by the roof system lining, which feels low-rent; the exposed sunroof railings are an eyesore; and the strip of dummy buttons listed below the touchscreen look out of place in an automobile of this sector. While the backlit automated gear selector looks premium, it isnt perfectly fitted and tends to rock about side to side.

Volkswagen Taigun: what equipment does it include?

Whats remarkable is that all variations of the Taigun get electronic stability control as standard, together with required set like ABS with EBD, double air bags and reverse parking noticing systems.

Slick 10-inch touchscreen; cordless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are a welcome addition.

Volkswagens brand-new 10-inch touchscreen is slick to run, and cordless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are a welcome addition. It similarly packs in pre-loaded apps such as Gaana that work using your smart phones web. In addition to these, the GT handbook is similarly prepared with a cordless charging pad, environment control, cruise control, 16-inch alloys and a reverse electronic cam. The GT automatic goes a couple of actions ahead and offers vehicle LED headlamps, 17-inch alloys, push-button start, cars and truck dimming inside mirror, a digital instrument cluster, sunroof, and side and drape air bags. Oddly, the non-GT versions also get oxygenated front seats, while the GT variations do not. These are likely to make it in the gadgets list even more down the line, weve been informed.

Volkswagen Taigun: what is it like to drive?

The Taigun GTs will be the very first port of call for eager motorists. A part of the EA211 EVO engine household, the GTs 1,498 cc turbocharged gas unit develops 150hp at 5,000-6,000 rpm and a max torque of 250Nm at 1,600-3,500 rpm. Drive with a heavy foot on the accelerator and the Taigun does construct rate rapidly, albeit in an actually direct way.

The GT autos 7-speed dual-clutch transmission is an upgrade variation of the DQ200 transmission, which did duty in the old Polo GT TSI and the previous-gen Octavia 1.8 TSI. Whats great is that its smooth character remains the exact same. The shifts are seamless and, in D mode, it feels excited to move to the biggest ratio possible in the interest of fuel efficiency; so youll often discover yourself in 5th or even 6th equipment while pottering around town. In Sport mode, it holds the gears a bit longer for crisper, more immediate actions. The Taigun consists of paddleshifters too and while the transmission works rather well for the lots of part, youll find yourself getting the left paddle just when you unexpectedly put your foot down and the transmission takes a 2nd or 2 to react.

Unwinded cruising or mild drives, on the other hand, will set off the engines cylinder as needed technology, where it turns off 2 of its 4 cylinders to lower fuel usage. The system works so unobtrusively that, unless you take a look at the display screen on the MID, you wont even realise when the engine is working on 2 cylinders. Prodding the accelerator pedal a bit harder has the engine back to shooting on all cylinders (pun meant).

6-speed manual is quite smooth and has short tosses.

When driven with vitality, its chassis is 30 percent stiffer than the present Polos which is very apparent.

The GT handbook variation gets halogen headlamps and smaller sized, 16-inch alloys.

The MQ281 6-speed handbook is the one thatll yank at the heartstrings of driving fans. The short-throw transmission is smooth and makes the job of rowing through the equipments a breeze. And while the engine feels quick with the DSG automatic, it feels a lot more energetic in the manual guise, often egging the driver to spin this engine and explore its power band all the technique to 6,500 rpm. The clutch pedal nevertheless is springy in its action and the weight is a bit more than what you d have actually anticipated in a vehicles and truck of this size.

This MQB A0 IN platform is said to be 30 percent stiffer than the outgoing Polos platform, and the outcome is quite apparent when driving this SUV with vigor. It deals with corners with great grace, in an actually well balanced way, and feels very active from behind the wheel. The Taigun in fact surprises you with the quantity of grip it has around corners, and it does not roll as much as you would have anticipated in an automobile in which you are sat relatively high above the ground. The steering is light, so it is great and basic in the city, and it weighs up sufficiently at highway speeds.

Drive a Taigun on a winding road and the dynamic engine and excited handling are sure to be the big takeaways for you.

The bright side is that trip quality is remarkable and the Taigun takes the holes in its stride rather efficiently. Highway stability is rock-solid and the Taigun keeps its composure at all times, with limited body motion.

Volkswagen Taigun: should you purchase one?

Just a complete blown contrast with competitors will notify us ultimately where the Taigun matches, however if its a solid, advanced and trendy midsize SUV you want, the Taigun might be the one for you.

Within the Taigun GT line, the automated is appreciable by its 17-inch diamond-cut wheels, while the GT handbook makes do with smaller sized, single-tone16-inchers.

See:.

If its a huge and tough SUV you desire, or will be travelling with all 5 seats inhabited frequently, the Taigun wont be the ideal choice for you. That being stated, the Taigun is a comfy 4-seater and it does look stylish, both outdoors and inside.

The Taigun GTs are exclusively available with a 150hp, 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine with a standard-fit 6-speed handbook or 7-speed dual-clutch automatic alternative.

The Taigun isnt Volkswagens first SUV in India but it sure is its most essential one. As you might know currently, the Taigun is closely related to the Skoda Kushaq, with the midsize SUVs being the very first designs to come from the Volkswagen Groups passionate India 2.0 program.

The Taigun isnt Volkswagens initially SUV in India however it sure is its most vital one. Since, unlike the Tiguan, Tiguan AllSpace and T-Roc that run in the premium and particular niche sections, the Taigun is here to make a mass impact in the huge volumes midsize SUV sector. As you might know presently, the Taigun is thoroughly associated to the Skoda Kushaq, with the midsize SUVs being the very first styles to come from the Volkswagen Groups ambitious India 2.0 program.

Skoda Kushaq evaluation, test drive.

The Taigun GTs seats are comfortable and perfectly trimmed, and theres sufficient adjustment available to discover the perfect seating position.

Things at first, the Taigun isnt the biggest of the midsize SUVs on sale in India.

Where the Taigun actually appeals remains in the driving department. The smaller-hearted Taigun 1.0 TSIs likewise assure excellent bang for your dollar.

Within the Taigun GT line, the automatic is appreciable by its 17-inch diamond-cut wheels, while the GT handbook makes do with smaller sized, single-tone16-inchers.

Dark edition for Tata Tiago NRG a possibility

Tata Motors launched the 2021 Tata Tiago NRG in India a couple of days ago, marking the re-introduction of the NRG brand name that was terminated with the shift to BS6 standards.

Speaking With Autocar India at the Tiago NRG launch, Vivek Srivatsa -Marketing Head, Passenger Vehicle Business Unit, Tata Motors – go over future techniques for the Tiago and Tigor household and the possibility for more prominent versions in the range.

Tata to consider a Tiago Dark edition based on market need

CNG variations of Tiago and Tigor definitely in the pipeline

Tata Tiago and Tigor: Dark Editions possible?

Tata Motors just recently widened the dark edition variety with the Nexon and the Altroz, and it has actually been gotten actually positively in the market. This similarly promoted big interest in a Tiago Dark Edition.

The launch of these editions would also help Tata sustain a buzz in the market, offered that after the HBX, the business will have a long space to the next all brand-new design.

Here, it must also be discussed that Tata has presently trademarked the Tiago and Tigor Dark Edition names in India. And while manufacturers frequently brand name but do not introduce them, in this case, supplied the buzz around the Dark Edition designs a launch is highly possible.

To that, Srivatsa stated, “Right now, we have launched the Dark Edition on premium and significant products like the Harrier, Altroz and Nexon. We do not have any plans of a Tiago Dark Edition today, if theres need and consumer belief for such a model in the Tiago variety, we would look into in.”

Tata Tiago and Tigor CNG variations in the pipeline

When adjusted to run on CNG, both the Tiago and the Tigor will continue to be powered by the 1.2-litre, three-cylinder Revotron engine, although power and torque figures may see a very little drop from the present 86hp and 113Nm outputs. Both designs are currently petrol-only– with diesels being dropped in the switch to BS6– the addition of CNG versions will use an economical alternative and should succeed in this period of sky-rocketing fuel rates.

Tata Motors have really long been seeking to inspect out the CNG area in India, particularly provided the success other carmakers have had in this area. Srivatsa said, “CNG is something we are taking a look at. It will become part of our portfolio pretty soon.”

Srivatsa did not specifically point out which product it would be presented in specifying, “it will be provided in some of our products”, it is likely to be in the Tiago and Tigor. CNG variations of both have in fact been found on test on a variety of occasions prior to and the launch is expected to happen in the coming months.

2021 Tata Tiago NRG: rate and details

The 2021 Tiago NRG has actually been launched for a rate of Rs 6.57 lakh for the petrol-MT variation and Rs 7.09 lakh for the petrol-AMT variation, both costs ex-showroom. The Tiago NRG commands a premium of Rs 23,000 over the fundamental top-spec Tiago XZ+ for both the handbook and AMT variants.

The Tiago NRG sets itself apart with cool body cladding all around to give it an unique rugged look. The engine and transmission, however, stay the exact same from the basic Tiago.

See:

Tata Altroz Dark Edition: A close look inside-out

Tata Power combines HPCL to set up EV charging stations

Tata Safari production crosses 10,000 unit turning point

Tata Motors have really long been seeking to check out the CNG area in India, particularly provided the success other carmakers have had in this location. Srivatsa stated, “CNG is something we are looking at. Tata Motors have actually long been looking to explore the CNG space in India, specifically offered the success other carmakers have actually had in this area. The Tiago NRG sets itself apart with funky body cladding all around to provide it a special rugged appearance. The engine and transmission, nevertheless, remain the exact same from the fundamental Tiago.

The Tiago NRG sets itself apart with cool body cladding all around to give it a distinct rugged look. The engine and transmission, however, remain the exact same from the fundamental Tiago.