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Jaguar E-type EV stars at the Royal Wedding
Royal Wedding ceremonies are a pretty classy affair, and the cars that are part of the proceedings are quintessentially British. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding this past weekend was no different. This time, their ride of choice was a Jaguar E-type; but what made this E-type special was that it was the Zero – a one-off, all-electric concept from Jaguar's Classic division, which was revealed last year. To refresh your memory, the E-type Zero is a restored Series 1.5 Roadster. It’s identical to the original in its specifications, but gets LED headlights, as well as redone instruments and fascia. An electric powertrain developing 220kW (299hp) was specially designed for the E-type Zero. Its lithium-ion battery pack has the same dimensions (and weighs the same) as the XK six-cylinder engine used in the original E-type. That being said, it's actually 46kg lighter than the original. The Jaguar E-type Zero is quicker than an original E-type: 0-100kph takes a claimed 5.5sec, which is about a second quicker than a Series 1. The car uses an electric powertrain which has weight and dimensions similar to the original's petrol engine and transmission. This means the car’s structure – including the suspension and brakes – haven't been changed. Jaguar says the E-type Zero shares some technology and components with the I-Pace, Jaguar Land Rover’s first production EV. The E-type Zero has a ‘real world’ range of 270km, but Prince Harry only needed to drive it for about 3km for the evening reception, from Windsor Castle to Frogmore House. Jaguar has stated that it will "investigate bringing this concept to market”, and you can be sure that if it does, it'll feature at many more weddings in the future.   [...]
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Hyundai cars set to become more expensive from June
Rising fuel prices and an increase in duties on CKD components have begun taking a toll on car prices. Hyundai has announced an increase in prices across its product range by up to 2 per cent, citing similar reasons. “We have been absorbing the increase in input costs with increase in commodity prices, freight rate increase with hike in fuel prices and also the increase in custom duties of certain components. We are now constrained to pass the same to customers in our products with increase up to two per cent from June 2018,” said Rakesh Srivastava, director - sales & marketing, Hyundai Motor India Ltd. This price hike will, however, not include the new Creta facelift which was launched on May 21, 2018. The 2018 Creta’s pricing possibly incorporates the price revision since the Korean manufacturer skipped following the trend of introductory prices, like it did for the 2017 Verna. This isn’t the first time Hyundai has announced a price increase this year. In January this year, during a series of price revisions by automobile manufacturers, Hyundai had also increased prices across its product range by up to two per cent. Also see: Hyundai Creta facelift launched at Rs 9.44 lakh 2018 Hyundai i20 CVT launched at Rs 7.04 lakh [...]
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2019 Dakar Rally to be held only in Peru
For the first time in its history, the Dakar Rally will take place in only one country next season. With Chile having dropped out of a potential return at the last minute, Peru will be the sole host-nation for the 2019 event. The 2019 Dakar Rally will comprise 10 stages and a rest day, all within Peru, starting and ending in Lima, its capital city. The event will begin on January 6 and finish on January 17, 2019. Rally organiser ASO had initially hoped for a route starting in Chile and ending in Ecuador, but was unable to reach an agreement with either country to join Peru. Talks were also held with Bolivia before it made a late decision to withdraw as well. Rally director Etienne Lavigne is confident of a strong entry courtesy the beaches, dunes and Peruvian tracks, despite the lack of countries interested in hosting the Dakar. "We know that we will attract the top drivers of this discipline because every year it is the highest level reference event," he told Autosport. "We are going to build more technical and difficult stages because in this type of geography, of sand and dunes, we cannot develop 400km special stages. It's too difficult. We will have at least 70 per cent of stages of sand and dunes and that, in the history of the Dakar, is unique. The last few years, we did not have as much percentage of dunes." Another change for 2019 is that competitors in the car and truck classes will be able to rejoin the action in the second week if they retire from the first week, but will have their own classification so they do not interfere with the starting order. This does not apply to bike and quad riders, however. [...]
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Aston Martin DB11 AMR revealed
Aston Martin has unveiled the new DB11 AMR, the successor to the DB11 V12. The race-inspired variant gets the latest chassis-tuning first used on the V8 model, and enough firepower though its uprated V12 engine to fight it out with its most potent rivals – the Bentley Continental GT W12 and the V12 Mercedes-AMG S 65. Replacing the two-year-old DB11 V12, which accounts for 40 percent of annual DB11 sales, the DB11 AMR’s uprated twin-turbocharged 5.2-litre powerplant develops 639hp at 6,500rpm and 700Nm at 1,500rpm. While the latter remains unchanged, the former represents a significant boost of 30.4hp over the outgoing V12. Not only does that ensure the hottest DB11 now has 129hp of breathing space compared with the entry-level AMG V8-powered car, it also provides the DB11 AMR with muscle to worry its archrivals, including the 635hp Bentley Continental GT W12 and 630hp V12 Mercedes-AMG S65. As suggested by the AMR moniker, an acronym for Aston Martin Racing, the new model gets more than just a power boost. It also sends grunt to the rear axle via a retuned ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox and breathes through a new and less restrictive exhaust system, engineered to give the car a racier tone. The combined results are a new 0-100kph time of 3.7sec, two-tenths better than before, and a top speed of 335kph, a gain of 13kph. The chassis development team, led by chief engineer Matt Becker, has provided the AMR variant with the more agile suspension and geometry set-up of the younger V8 model. Aston claims the improvements have enhanced its responsiveness but had no noticeable effect on the car’s ability to be a comfortable grand tourer. To signify its range-topping position, the DB11 AMR gets exposed carbon-fibre trim and gloss black detailing on its exterior. Chrome has also been swapped for monochrome, with dark surrounds on the headlights and smoked tail-lights. This more aggressive theme continues inside, where there’s more monochrome trim and Alcantara upholstery, along with a lime central stripe on the leather-wrapped steering wheel. Alongside the regular trim options for the AMR, which now includes a new carbon-fibre steering wheel, there are three so-called Designer Specifications available. Buyers can also specify a matching tailored luggage set. At the car’s launch, Aston is offering a limited-edition version of the AMR with Stirling Green and lime livery that mimic the look of the division’s racing models. This variant gets more carbon-fibre detailing and an interior trimmed with Dark Knight leather and contrasting lime details. Just 100 are due to be made. [...]
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Top Class: California Superbike School experience
A good education, as my dear aunt – who’s an educator herself – would frequently remind me, comes down to the calibre of the teacher. The syllabus taught never really changes, and no matter how you swing it, two plus two always equals four. But the difference comes in how the lesson is taught. You’re either taught this with an intention to make you understand or you’re told to stop asking stupid questions and accept that’s just how things are. Alright, perhaps the trauma of my dealings with mathematics in my younger days is tempering my tone just a little, here but the truth is, I probably hated the subject because I wasn’t taught it very well. But life itself is one long, glorious learning process; and no matter the skill in question, it takes years to reach the top, or anywhere close. There are no exceptions to this rule. Happily, though, there are a number of ways to safely speed-up the process and in the joyous world of motorcycles, riding schools are the best way to do so. Among the many riding schools out there, the California Superbike School is highly regarded as one of the best there is.  You’ve probably heard about CSS, by now – the school has been coming to India once a year, since 2010. However, I only got to experience it last year. The lessons were so eye-opening and the information provided so vast, I left with big improvements but also an uncertainty about whether I’d fully grasped all that was taught. So, when the opportunity to attend this year’s session came up, I simply couldn’t say no. With less to process this time around, I had a freer mind to focus on what I felt were my issues on the bike. I also had the capacity to analyse what it is that makes this school so good and surprise, surprise – it doesn’t come down to what they teach you so much as how they teach it. We motorcyclists all tend to make the same mistakes. Over the years, legendary riding guru and CSS founder Keith Code distilled this information down and came up with a set of solutions. These have since been taught to all forms of students – from casual enthusiasts to semi-professional riders like myself and full-time racers at the top of their game. But simply finding out you what you should and shouldn’t do on the bike isn’t that hard any more thanks to the internet. The difference here is how the coaches find your problems and help you solve them. A read of the interview on the following page will reveal just how hard it is to be accepted as a coach at CSS, as well as how intensive and extensive the training programme is – and the results show. The coaches are out riding all day long, keeping an eagle eye on the students, spotting mistakes you have no idea that you’re making and finding the necessary fixes. Every student has their own set of problems, for example, my height is an issue on the smaller motorcycles we tend to ride. My coach Martin Plunkett diagnosed that the toe of my boot on the outer peg rested at a wrong angle, which resulted in me not being able to properly lock onto the bike with my outer leg. This meant I was clenching the handlebars too tightly. All of this was resulting in unnecessary fatigue, which I complained about in an earlier session. Martin identified this by riding behind me for just a handful of corners, before going on to follow his other students to identify their issues and help them with personalised solutions. Mind you, there are such five riding sessions per day where we practise the different lessons taught in the classroom, and three different batches of students. That means all the on-track coaches like Martin are doing this fifteen times a day for three days straight. It’s nothing short of incredible. The above example is just one of the many such revelations I had on the race track during my three days at CSS. Of course, the coaches can only help you understand what mistakes you’re making and identify the solutions. Finding the time and space to safely practise these lessons and making them an instinctive part of your riding is up to you. However, it’s only when you experience the school for yourself that you truly understand and appreciate how intricately thought-out and refined the coaching system really is. It is the result of decades of meticulous study and deep analysis. This near obsession to constantly push the boundaries is what makes the CSS truly world class. Q&A GARY ADSHEAD - SEMINARIST AND CHIEF RIDING COACH, EUROPE It’s how we communicate at the school, work with the students and get them to understand that sets us apart. What does it take to be a CSS coach? Well, first of all, to be a coach you have to be a good student. There are two ways into the coaching program. If your coach thinks that you are a good student, you understand the technology and are a good communicator, you could be invited [...]
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PhotoGallery: Range Rover Evoque Convertible India image gallery
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PhotoGallery: 2018 Indian Navy Surf to Snow rally image gallery
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Volvo India opens spare parts warehouse
The wait time for spare parts of Volvo cars is set to come down, as the Swedish carmaker has inaugurated a National Parts Warehouse (NPW), in Bhiwandi, on the outskirts of Mumbai. The warehouse in strategic alliance with a supplier of transport and logistics services, DSV. The opening of the NPW promises to change the dynamics of spare parts availability and overall service for Volvo cars. "Previously, spares for Volvos were ordered from Sweden and had to be shipped into the country. Now, with the convenience of being able to stock and deliver parts from inside India, we will be able to reduce the distribution times dramatically," Martin Persson, vice president of Global Customer Service, Volvo Car Group, told Autocar India in a recent interview. When it comes to deciding which parts to keep at the NPW and in what quantity, Volvo will take stock of all the cars it has sold in India, categorising each model and analysing its history to get an idea of the spares that could be needed in the future. Volvo hopes the establishment of this NPW will help boost customer confidence and lead to the brand doubling its share in the luxury car space by 2020. “This will provide world-class customer service and support our ambition of doubling segment share by 2020. With DSV as our partners, I am confident we will reduce the turnaround time for our customers. The warehouse increases liquidity at the dealers and enables them to concentrate on customers even more,” Charles Frump, managing director, Volvo Car India said. Also see: New S60 to be Volvo's first diesel-free offering Volvo XC40 India launch in July 2018 2018 Volvo XC60 review, road test [...]
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Harley-Davidson to sell pre-owned motorcycles
Harley-Davidson is considering setting up a pre-owned motorcycle business in India. The company’s Managing Director, Peter Mackenzie was quoted saying that the Harley has already been trying this concept out at some of its dealerships. The American motorcycle maker will soon begin offering pre-owned bikes at all of its 27 showrooms in India. The company’s dealer network is also expected to expand to around 30 showrooms by the end of this year. This decision comes from making an effort to make Harleys more accessible in the country and also to make it more convenient for existing customers to upgrade within the brand, itself. At present, there has been no word on the kind of warranty and service packages Harley-Davidson will offer for the used motorcycles. In similar news, March 2018 saw Royal Enfield launching its first pre-owned motorcycle store in Chennai. Coined 'Vintage', the Vintage store is part of a new format that will deal only in pre-owned, refurbished and restored motorcycles. It is designed for existing and potential Royal Enfield customers looking for quality-tested and certified pre-owned options. SOURCE [...]
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Amittrajit Ghosh to compete in ERC 2018
Indian National Rally Championship (INRC) racer Amittrajit Ghosh has announced that he will be competing in the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC). Ghosh will become the first rally driver from India to be participating in the ERC. He will be accompanied by co-driver Ashwin Naik, alongside whom he has been racing for many years and won various competitions. Ghosh will commence his journey by participating in Round 3 of ERC – the EKO Acropolis Rally. The rally will be held in Lamia, Greece, between June 1-3, 2018. The Indian rally driver will compete in select rounds of the championship, given the high expenditure involved, and his main focus will be to get acclimatised to the new rally car and the various circuits. As part of the preparation for ERC, Ghosh will participate in Rally Talsi 2018, a round of the Latvian Rally Championship, later this week. “I am treating Rally Talsi as a test event to get used to the car. Like they say, there is no better practice than match practice,” Amittrajit Ghosh said. Ghosh will be behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta R2 rally car. The car has been heavily tuned for rally duties and features a 172hp engine mated to a five-speed sequential gearbox. It will be maintained and serviced by the crew of the Latvia-based Baltic Motorsport Promotion. 2018 seems to be a good year for Indian rally drivers, so far. A month ago, Gaurav Gill confirmed that he will be competing in the WRC 2 category of World Rally Championship (WRC). [...]
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Ampere Vehicles launches new e-scooters, lithium-ion charger
Ampere Vehicles launched two e-scooters – the Ampere V48 and Reo Li-Ion, priced at Rs 38,000 and Rs 46,000 (ex-showroom, India), respectively – along with a lithium-ion battery pack charger on May 11 in New Delhi. There is no additional registration fee applicable on the electric two-wheelers as they offer a maximum speed limited of 25kph. Since the launch of its low-cost charger for lead-acid battery scooters in May last year, the company has been working on indigenously developing electric motors, battery controllers, as well as chargers for lithium-ion battery powered scooters. The e-scooters get a 250W brushless DC motor, powered by a 48V lithium-ion battery pack. While the Ampere V48 is capable of carrying 100kg of maximum load, the Reo has a hauling capacity of 120kg. The e-scooters offer a range of 65-70km per charge, with the full-charge time varying from 4-5 hours. Ampere Vehicles has also introduced its newly developed Li-ion charger, which was unveiled by the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, at a ceremony organised by the Technology Development Board on the occasion of National Technology Day (May 11). The advanced lithium-ion charger, priced at Rs 3,000, is designed with a two-stage charging profile. Its charging voltage and current level can be changed based on the battery manufacturer’s specifications. The microcontroller-based control and monitoring systems provides active battery reverse-polarity protection, over-temperature cut-off and output short-circuit protection. Its battery capacity rating is 48V, 20Ah or 24Ah with a charging time of 4-5 hours. Weighing 1.65kg, the Li-ion charger’s input voltage ranges between 185Vac to 265Vac, and it operates between temperatures of 0 to 50 degC. The charger is also enabled with input and output overvoltage protection. The scooters are set to go on sale from the company's 150 dealers present in 14 states across the country, with a major focus being on Tier-2, -3 and -4 towns. The company has sold close to 35,000 scooters since it rolled out its first product in 2008. The two new models could also be credited as being the first homegrown lithium-ion scooters having their key components – the electric motor, battery controller as well as the charger – all being indigenously developed at the start-up's R&D labs in Coimbatore. Ampere Vehicles, however, is sourcing the battery packs on these offerings from Taiwan and China. MAYANK DHINGRA [...]
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PhotoGallery: 2018 Maruti Vitara Brezza AMT image gallery
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New Honda Amaze variants explained
The new Honda Amaze will be on sale from May 16, 2018. Bookings are in full-swing with dealers promising deliveries by end of this month. There will be four powertrain options at launch –  the 90hp, 1.2-litre petrol and the 100hp, 1.5-litre diesel will both get the five-speed manual and CVT automatic as an option. Interestingly, the power and torque figures in the diesel-auto option are 20hp and 40Nm less than in its manual counterpart. As reported by us earlier, the new Amaze will be available in four trim levels – the base E-trim, S, V and VX. The features available in each variant are listed below. Honda Amaze E Dual front airbags Isofix child-seat anchors ABS with EBD Day/Night rear view mirror Rear parking sensors Power steering 4.0-cm multi-info display All four power windows Front 12V accessory socket Honda Amaze S Body-coloured, power-folding and adjustable wing mirrors with turn indicators. Body-coloured door handles Full-wheel covers 2DIN audio system with Aux/Bluetooth/USB Steering-mounted audio and telephony controls Central locking Power door locks with Keyless entry Rear 12V accessory socket Height-adjustable driver’s seat Rear armrest with cupholder Tilt-steering Adjustable front seat headrests Honda Amaze V Available with optional CVT gearbox (petrol and diesel) LED daytime-running lamps 15-inch alloy wheels Front fog lamps Keyless go with push-button start Automatic climate control 7.0-cm Multi-info display Rear defogger Paddle shifters (on petrol CVT only) Honda Amaze VX 6.7-inch Infotainment system with capacitive touchscreen GPS with turn-by-turn navigation Android Auto and Apple CarPlay Reverse Camera Steering-mounted voice controls Cruise Control Honda is likely to price the Amaze slightly higher than its predecessor. Key rivals to the new Amaze include the Maruti Dzire, the Hyundai Xcent and the Volkswagen Ameo. Also, Honda will offer special introductory price for first 20,000 bookings of the new Amaze sedan.  [...]
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Volkswagen unveils 290hp Golf GTI TCR
Volkswagen has previewed a brawny 290hp version of the seventh-generation Golf GTI with the unveiling of the TCR Concept at the annual Wörthersee fan meet in Austria. The carmaker provides factory support to privateer teams at the Touring Car Racing (TCR) championship with a dedicated 350hp, track-based version of the Golf GTI developed by Volkswagen Motorsport. The new performance version of the GTI hatchback celebrates VW's participation at the championship. While still billed as a concept, the front-wheel-drive Golf GTI TCR has been confirmed for production later this year, with VW officials suggesting that its volumes will not be restricted. However, with the development of the eighth-generation Golf already at an advanced stage and slated for a 2019 release, the road-going Golf GTI TCR appears to be set for a relatively short production life. Being the latest in a long line of Golf GTI-based concepts, the car is powered by the same turbocharged 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine used by the earlier Golf GTI Clubsport. Speaking to our sister publication, Autocar UK, Volkswagen confirmed that the GTI CR will use this engine in combination with a front differential lock and a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. It will also come with a particulate filter and the titanium Akrapovič exhaust system as standard, which was previously only available on the four-wheel-drive Golf R. The engine puts out 290hp at 5,000rpm in overboost mode – that's 45hp more than the less heavily tuned engine used by the standard Golf GTI fitted with the optional performance package. Torque builds to a peak of 369Nm between 1,600-4,300rpm, as offered by the strongest of the standard Golf GTI models. As with the standard model, the driver can choose between four driving modes: Eco, Normal, Sport and Individual — the latter of which permits specific tuning of the steering, engine mapping and gearbox software, as well as the optional adaptive damping system and Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC). VW has yet to reveal a kerb weight or the acceleration claims for the GTI TCR, but it has revealed that its limited 250kph top speed can be raised to 270kph through an optional pack. As a point of reference, the Golf GTI Clubsport is claimed to weigh 1,375kg and boasts a 0-100kph time of 5.9sec. Among the chassis tweaks accompanying the performance upgrade of the new model is a 20mm reduction in ride height, standard 19-inch wheels and upgraded brakes featuring larger discs and callipers than those in the standard model. A series of styling changes – all aimed at enhancing its performance, according to VW – sets the GTI TCR apart from the standard Golf GTI. These include a reprofiled front bumper (featuring altered outer ducts to cool an additional radiator within the engine bay), a more prominent front splitter element, wider sills underneath the doors and a large full-width diffuser element at the rear housed between two chromed Akrapovič tailpipes. Buyers will be able to discern TCR decals over the rear of the sills, a body side foil featuring the honeycomb shape reflected in the design of the grille and puddle lamps that project a TCR logo to the side of the car when the door is opened. VW says that it intends to offer the latest model in five exterior colours – a new pure grey hue, along with the traditional GTI colours (pure white, tornado red and deep black pearl effect). On the inside, the GTI TCR adopts new microfibre upholstery for the sides of the sport seats and door inserts. The design of the upholstery for the seat centre has been developed specifically for this model. Meanwhile, the flat-bottomed steering wheel and gear knob receive a red marker at the 12 o’clock position as homage to the racing version of the Golf GTI TCR, of which VW Motorsport claims to have delivered up to 100 units since 2016. Also see: 2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI review, test drive Volkswagen mulling over new Polo GTI’s India launch 2017 Skoda Octavia RS vs Volkswagen GTI comparison [...]
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New ultra-capacitor tech may drastically boost EV range
A fast-acting carbon ‘ultra-capacitor’ is currently under development in France. This tech is expected to be capable of taking 30 percent off the weight of a lithium-ion EV battery pack. It is built using carbon and graphene nanotechnology and is claimed to store and discharge electrical energy much quicker than a standard lithium-ion cell. “Our advantage is the speed of charge and discharge,” said Ulrik Grape, chief executive of NAWA Technology – the company responsible for the development of this device. “Our carbon battery can pick up energy from regenerative braking and supply it back to the motor very quickly.” Ultra-capacitors offer very fast energy transfer but don’t have a large storage capacity (for now). According to NAWA, the ultra-capacitor could be integrated into a lithium-ion battery to provide instant power for improved performance, while reducing the number of charge and discharge cycles the main battery performs, thus extending the overall battery life. It is claimed that a simulation on the battery pack of a Formula E racing car – which was modified to include a NAWA ultra-capacitor – demonstrated the same performance and range but weighed 30 percent lesser than its original weight. The design of this ultra-capacitor is said to be unique. Compared to its rivals, it offers higher energy density storage. NAWA is looking at developing this design for production. The company said that it is targeting premium European car firms first with the “aim of full production in 2022” – although it expects to start making capacitors for power tools and material-handling firms, next year. One option is to mould the nanotubes into the body panels of the car. Last year, Lamborghini showed the Terzo Millennio concept, which was built in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This concept car had bodywork made of carbon nanotube ultra-capacitors. [...]
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Heaven freezes over: Riding to the Himalayas on Royal Enfields
I’ve been stuck on a motorcycle on a high-altitude pass before. I’ve been in -40deg Celsius at the Arctic circle a few years ago, and I’ve even woken up on a sack of flour in a dingy dhaba in the middle of a snowstorm and cried because it was so cold. So I like to think that I am pretty qualified for this crazy ride that Royal Enfield has planned. This time, there is one crucial difference. All my previous such adventures have been for a day at the worst and an hour at best. This time, they say it will be nine sustained days of teeth chatter and no, my amma won’t be able to come save me when I’ve had enough. I quickly pack Rs 7,000 worth (in excess baggage) of warm clothes and riding gear and buy enough thermals to own a controlling stake in Decathlon. This is not the usual cold-weather adventure, it can go very wrong. Also sending chills down my spine is when Royal Enfield delays the start of the trip by a couple of days because they want us to be in Kaza for the heaviest snowfall of the season. Hang on a minute! Don’t normal people try to avoid bad weather? I quickly make another trip to Decathlon and arrive at the starting point with my best frosty smile pasted on. The start point is in Shimla and I’m told there will be seven slightly modified Royal Enfield Himalayan Sleets (see box) waiting for us. We will then attempt to ride to Kaza in Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh, via the only route that is open/maybe open at this time of the year. The e-mail from Royal Enfield promises minus polar bear temperatures, lots of black ice on the road and a small side note that tells us that a hot bath at the end of a cold ride will be impossible once we cross over into Spiti Valley. Am I nervous? You bet I am. I know from past experience that snow and ice are the most difficult surfaces to ride a motorcycle on. You need to be fit because every inch of progress on zero-traction surfaces like these is like clawing back victory from the icy fingers of winter. The problem with snow and ice is that they have this ability to make you go from full CS Santosh control to sliding on your donkey ass in exactly 0.1 milliseconds. Oh well, like Vijay Parmar (India’s Thierry Sabine for those not in the know) said, I asked for this. GLOBAL WARMING So far, that e-mail has failed to live up to its veiled threat. The sun is out but it is cold and for once, I seem to be wearing the right warm riding gear. That changes slightly when we get to the high point on the road. The first sign I get is when my toes start freezing. Painfully. The frosty bite of winter is seeping in through my boots and woollen socks and robbing my toes of feel. I am also a very clever fellow obviously, because, in my bid to take a few photographs at the helipad at Nako, I’ve exposed my fingers to the knife-edged wind that is blowing through the place. I now have frozen toes and fingers. I look back now and thank god I didn’t feel the need to answer nature’s call at that point. I quickly stuff my hands into the rain mitts that have been fitted on the Sleets and turn on the heated grips to 80 percent heat. It takes a while for the grips to warm up and in that while, every clutch pull and every two-finger front brake application is agony. A few kilometres up, there is ice on the road at Malling Nallah – the crossover into Spiti. We finally seem to be leaving the everyday comforts we take for granted behind. I’m told we can forget about heated hotel rooms and running water. From now on, the water I brush my teeth with is so icy it scalds, and every time I smile at the face of adversity, my dry lips crack painfully. No amount of slathered Burt’s Bees helps (Vaseline does a better job, though), and anyone using anything other than a BSNL network can forget about their daily social media updates. I am surprised that the usual signs of AMS – the slower thought process, slight nausea, the mild headaches – aren’t hitting me. Vijay Parmar tells me that because it is so cold right now, the air up here is denser. We are, in effect, breathing like a K&N cold air filter. How cool is that! That night at a homestay in Tabo, we huddle around a bukhari sipping on soup and rum. I learn certain rules of a mountain home chief, of which is that if you leave the room for whatever reason, you close the door behind you and when you come back, you bring two logs of wood from the pile outside to keep the fire going. I step out and stare in wonder at the diamond carpet high above me before my rapidly depleting body heat forces me under three blankets, a down jacket and uneasy sleep. There is still no sign of snow. WE WILL GO AND FIND IT THEN Apparently, when it snows, it isn’t as cold as when it is not snowing. Either that or you are working so hard to get the bike through deep snow that you forget how cold it is. I think it is the latter because I’ve been [...]
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KTM 790 Adventure spotted testing
The KTM 790 Adventure was first revealed in prototype form at EICMA 2017 as an adventure bike that will sit below the large 1090 and 1290 Adventures. A test mule was then spotted in February, an indicator of the swift progress being made by KTM to get this bike ready for an official launch. Now, a revised prototype has been spied testing once again, in a much more production-ready guise, with various modifications. As we saw with the original concept, the motorcycle features wire-spoke wheels measuring 21 inches at the front and 18 inches at the rear. Long travel suspension comes in the form of an upside-down telescopic fork at the front and a monoshock at the rear. The monoshock is mounted directly to the frame, without any linkages. Braking hardware consists of dual discs up front and a single disc at the rear, with callipers coming from Spanish manufacturer J. Juan, a specialist in motocross, trials and enduro braking systems. The 790 Duke also features a similar set-up. The powerplant will be shared with the 790 Duke, which was the first motorcycle to run KTM’s brand-new LC8c 799cc parallel-twin motor. In the Duke, this engine is claimed to produce 105hp and 87Nm of torque at 8,000rpm. It is likely that KTM will alter this engine's state of tune for the 790 Adventure, with a stronger focus on low-end tractability. However, some noticeable changes have been made to the motorcycle since it was spotted in February. The new prototype features a much larger front screen and a redesigned front fender, as well. While the February test mule featured a beak-like fender mounted just under the headlight, the new prototype has a more traditional fork-mounted fender, close to the front tyre. The spied motorcycle continues to feature the unusual, bulbous bodywork structure on either side of the engine bay, ahead of the rider’s shins. It is still unclear whether these are low-slung fuel tank extensions, stowage compartments or some sort of crash protection. With the prototype looking quite close to being production-ready, we can expect an official reveal later this year, either at the EICMA or the Intermot Cologne motor shows. Once launched, this motorcycle will go up against the likes of the BMW F 850 GS, the Triumph Tiger 800 XC range, and the Honda Africa Twin. It will also be KTM’s smallest ADV motorcycle till the highly anticipated 390 Adventure breaks cover. We expect to see a 390 Adventure concept sometime this year, as well. IMAGE SOURCE [...]
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Maruti to offer free vehicle health check for fleet and taxi owners
Maruti Suzuki has announced a free vehicle health check camp for corporate fleet and taxi owners from May 10-25, 2018. This service camp will be conducted over 2,000 workshops across the country. Beneficiaries of these camps will receive a complimentary car health check, perfume and top-wash. They can also avail discounts on service and labour charges, and car accessories. Cars in a fleet or running as taxis have a comparatively higher running time on a day-to-day basis. This nearly continuous usage is responsible for a higher rate of wear and tear in the car's components as compared to passenger vehicles. Regular services are a way to keep these cars running healthily for a longer period of time; and the company would be aiming to offer some help in this department. The service camp will likely help the fleet and taxi owners to maintain their cars at a reasonable price. Speaking about the service campaign, Mr. Partho Banerjee, Executive Vice-President (Service), Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. said, “The service camp is one of these exceptional efforts to ensure health of corporate fleet and taxi vehicles. This camp will help in ensuring a healthy business for the owners of fleet and taxi vehicles in the upcoming holiday season. We are sure this camp will benefit our customers by providing them with necessary care and maintenance”. [...]
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India-spec Jeep Compass Trailhawk details revealed
As is widely known, Jeep is readying the Compass Trailhawk for an India launch. The Trailhawk is the rugged version of the Compass, and will get upgrades to make it more suitable for off-road use, chief among which is Jeep’s Active Drive Low-range 4WD with a new 'Rock mode' for the Selec-Terrain 4WD system. However, we can now confirm that in addition to the off-road hardware, the Trailhawk will also get a few feature upgrades to distance it from the standard Compass. It will be the first Compass in India to get a panoramic sunroof as well as cruise control – high-demand features that were so far missing on the Compass. Also unique to the Trailhawk will be its all-black cabin theme.     The Trailhawk will also be the first Compass in India to be offered with a diesel automatic engine-gearbox combination. The engine in question is the same 2.0-litre diesel unit that powers the Compass already on sale, but what will be new is a nine-speed automatic transmission. On the outside, the Trailhawk will be identifiable by its reworked bumpers (for enhanced approach/departure angles), new 17-inch alloy wheels, a dual-tone black and silver exterior finish, red recovery hooks, a black-painted anti-glare bonnet decal and underbody skid plates. The Trailhawk also sits 20mm higher than the standard Compass, helping give it better approach (30 degree) and departure (33.6 degree) angles; its breakover angle stands at 24.4 degree. The SUV also gets hill descent control as standard. Jeep dealers are accepting bookings for the Compass Trailhawk for an amount of Rs 2.5 lakh. The Compass Trailhawk is likely to be priced Rs 32 lakh (on-road, Mumbai). Other SUVs available at this price point include the Hyundai Tucson AWD and the Volkswagen Tiguan. What would be your prime reason to go for the Compass Trailhawk? The added features, the convenience of an auto or its off-road ability? Let us know in the comments section below.    Also see: 2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk video review 2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk review, test drive [...]
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Volvo to have Google Android in its next-gen infotainment system
Volvo Cars has announced that its next-generation Sensus infotainment system will be based on Google’s Android operating system. The brand is working with Google to embed the voice-controlled Google Assistant, Google Play Store, Google Maps and other Google services into the Sensus system. This partnership of Volvo Cars with Google aims to further enhance how Volvo customers engage with their cars. Other than Google's default apps and services, the Sensus infotainment system will have access to thousands of additional apps via the Google Play Store, which is optimised and adapted for Android-based car infotainment systems. A huge advantage of the next generation of Sensus is that since it will run on Android, new apps and software updates will be available in real-time and can be applied automatically. This means that future Volvo cars will be able to react to their customer's needs and offer Volvo drivers up-to-date information as well as predictive services. “Bringing Google services into Volvo cars will accelerate innovation in connectivity and boost our development in applications and connected services,” said Henrik Green, senior vice-president of research and development at Volvo Cars. “Soon, Volvo drivers will have direct access to thousands of in-car apps that make daily life easier and the connected in-car experience more enjoyable.” Google's apps come with a convenient set of features. Google Assistant provides a central voice interface for the car. This allows drivers to control in-car functions such as the aircon, use apps to play music, and send messages to people. The integration of the Google Assistant contributes to reducing distractions for drivers and allows them keep their eyes on the road at all times. Google Maps on the next-gen Sensus will also be able to provide real-time, refreshed map and traffic data, thus keeping drivers updated about upcoming traffic situations and proactively suggesting alternative routes. Meanwhile, Volvo also continues to develop its own apps, software and connected services within the Volvo Car Group, using its growing force of software engineers. “The Google partnership to be entered into is an important strategic alliance for Volvo Cars,” Henrik Green said. “The Android platform, Google services and Google’s working relationship with app developers in-house and worldwide will help us further improve the Volvo car experience.” [...]
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PhotoGallery: Autocar Price Checker: How does the Maruti Vitara Brezza AMT stack up?
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Maruti Suzuki announces service campaign for Swift and Baleno
Maruti Suzuki has announced a service campaign on its Nexa website to inspect and fix a possible issue with the car's brake vacuum hose. The manufacturer will contact owners via their dealers starting May 14 to replace the possibly faulty part which was fitted on the Swift and Baleno hatchbacks that were manufactured between December 1, 2017 and March 16, 2018 – a total of 52,686 units. As is usually the case in mass recalls such as these, if a replacement is required, it will be performed by the automaker, free of cost. Owners of the Swift and Baleno models can use this link to find out if this mass recall affects their car. All they need to do is fill their car’s chassis number into the form provided. In other news, the company is expected to launch a number of models this year, including the second-genation Ertiga MPV, an updated Vitara Brezza compact SUV and the third-generation WagonR – Maruti’s tall-boy hatch.   [...]
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2018 Spanish MotoGP – Marquez rules Jerez
A bad qualifying performance couldn’t stop Marc Marquez from winning in front of his home fans at the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez on May 6, 2018. A day prior, in the qualifying round, it was Cal Crutchlow who had grabbed pole position with a stonking impressive lap that broke the long-standing lap record held at Jerez. When the race in Jerez commenced under the blazing sun, Crutchlow couldn’t capitalise on his pole position and dropped down to fourth place, closely followed by Marc Marquez. It was Jorge Lorenzo, however, who made a brilliant getaway to lead the race going into Turn 1. He was followed by Dani Pedrosa and Johann Zarco at second and third, respectively. Rider positions remained unchanged for the next few laps; but Marquez, eager to make his way to the front, squeezed his way to second with 20 laps remaining. Lorenzo was the only rider in the leading pack to opt for soft compound front tyres – a decision that helped him to maintain his race lead. Frenchman Johann Zarco was struggling with his tyres and he ran wide on two occasions, which dropped him down to seventh place. Marquez finally saw his opportunity to pass Lorenzo at the end of lap eight and proceeded to take the race lead. With track temperatures soaring, grip levels varied. Tyres struggled for grip on the track and Alex Rins was the first to fall victim to this. He was soon followed by Crutchlow, who lost the front of his Honda, putting him out of contention. For a while, it seemed that the reigning MotoGP champion will be able to magnify his lead on Lorenzo with each passing lap. That wasn’t the case, though, as the Ducati rider was trailing him closely. It was a four-way battle between Marquez, Lorenzo, Dovizioso and Pedrosa for the race win as they broke away from the remaining riders. Despite Dovizioso’s best effort, he couldn't pass Lorenzo, who was able to manage his soft compound tyres with the help of his smooth riding style.  With 10 laps remaining in the race, Marquez put the hammer down as he started to increase his race lead, which at this point was over 2sec in the span of two laps. Dovizioso knew that he couldn’t waste much time behind his Ducati team-mate and let Marquez amplify his lead. The Italian rider tried to out-brake Lorenzo and ran wide. Lorenzo, in turn, missed his braking marginally and tried to correct it by cutting back into the corner to regain his position. However, Pedrosa had taken the corner perfectly and was at the apex when Lorenzo collided into the Repsol Honda rider, resulting in a high side. Pedrosa was thrown off his bike. Lorenzo’s bike then hit the rear of Dovizioso’s and both Ducati riders crashed out of the race, spectacularly. Despite three riders finding themselves on the tarmac, it wasn’t easy to blame a single rider for the carnage – it was simply an extremely unfortunate racing incident. The crash promoted Zarco to second place and Andrea Iannone rode determinately to grab the final podium finish. Marquez cruised his way across the finish line to register his 37th premiere class win and equalled legendary rider Mike Hailwood’s win record. It was an entirely forgettable race for factory Yamaha riders, as Rossi ended the race in fifth and his team-mate, Maverick Vinales rode in at seventh position. The factory Yamaha riders struggled to win when track temperatures soared, last year. The same problem seems to persist in 2018 and they desperately need to find a solution. The incident involving the Ducati duo and Pedrosa helped Marquez lead the championship standing by staying 12 points ahead of Zarco. Ducati will be disappointed that they have to return home empty-handed as they looked set for twin podium. The incident involving the crash of these three riders could play a pivotal role in deciding the riders' championship standings – but we are pretty sure Marquez wouldn’t be complaining.   [...]
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Waiting for a BS-VI-compliant diesel car
I want to buy a diesel car. Should I wait for one that’s BS-VI compliant or should I just go for a BS-IV-compliant car? What will be the effect of using BS-VI grade fuel in a BS-IV car? Aashish, Panchkula AAA BS-VI diesel has a sulphur content of 10 parts per million compared to 50 parts per million of the current BS-IV diesel. This makes BS-VI diesel much more environment friendly. HC and NOx emissions are also reduced by 50 percent, along with a five-fold reduction in particulate matter. However, there are some long-term implications of using BS-VI fuel in a BS-IV vehicle due to the difference in sulphur content and some chemical properties – a result of more complex refinery methods used to make the fuel cleaner. The fuel injectors need sulphur in diesel for chemical lubrication, so due to the lower content, there is a possibility of internal scoring or wear and tear in the long run. However, past experience in other countries has shown that this problem is more theoretical and not a major issue. If your heart is set on a new car, we recommend you go ahead and buy it. [...]
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Ford develops smart car window prototype for blind passengers
Ford has developed 'Feel The View' technology – a prototype smart car window that uses vibrations to ‘illustrate’ the view to blind passengers. The technology was created by Ford's Italian division in partnership with tech start-up Aedo. It converts a visual image into vibrations of varying intensities so that a blind or partially sighted person can feel the landscape. The prototype takes a picture of the view on the other side of the window, then converts it into a black and white image. Each of the varying shades of grey in this image is then represented by a vibration of varying intensities, with 255 intensities in total. Although only a concept at this stage, the technology illustrates the further-reaching role that cars could play in a future. “We seek to make people’s lives better and this was a fantastic opportunity to help blind passengers experience a great aspect of driving,” said a Ford spokesman. “The technology is advanced, but the concept is simple – and could turn mundane journeys into truly memorable ones.” Ford’s investment into alternative technology was ramped up recently, as part of the new efficiency-boosting measures rolled out across the business. Ford is freeing up $11.5 billion (about Rs 768.03 billion) from existing programmes to fund the development of new propulsion systems and other alternative technologies. Part of the carmaker's cost-adjustment process will result in the Fiesta and all sedans being dropped from Ford’s US line-up by 2020. [...]
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Review: 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander video review
Also see: 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander: 5 things you need to know [...]
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Review: 2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI review, test drive
What is it? Grand Touring Injection or GTI has served as the Volkswagen performance moniker for over 40 years now, with its first model, the Golf GTI widely credited with starting the ‘hot hatch’ segment. The car's ensuing success meant that, pretty soon, other VW cars bore the GTI moniker, including the Polo. And that’s where India got its GTI introduction; in November 2016 Volkswagen launched the fifth-generation Polo GTI, imported in the three-door format. And now, with the Polo GTI moving into its sixth-generation MQB platform, we head to Spain to see just how much of a step ahead it is. What’s it like on the outside? The new Polo GTI has a few changes but it still looks pretty much the same as before. The headlights remain horizontal units with twin beams, the grille gets the same honeycomb pattern and the fog lights are in the same place. At the rear, too, things are quite similar, with the tail-lamps remaining square-ish, the numberplate set into the bumper and the twin pipes offset to the left. The changes then really are in the proportions and contouring differences, which gives the new car a more rounded look, and also in small details, like a double-creased shoulder line, the lower of which runs around the back, and the red pinstripe that's now at the centre of the front grille instead of the bottom. Also new are the 18-inch alloys with their sharply cut angular spokes finished in steel and black look massively better than the rims of earlier car sold here. What’s it like on the inside? In the older car, the highlights were the traditional chequered seats and the flat-bottomed steering wheel with the 'GTI' logo and red stitching. The dials, vents, doors and dash were a pretty bland affair. Thus, the bar was set very low. The new car's interior, however, is pretty neat. The steering is carried forward; which is great, but the rest of the dash is new, the styling is sharp and angular, and there is a large swathe of red across its entire length, which gives the cabin good character and does not look over the top. The look is very modern and sporty, and what I really like is that the dash and centre console are tilted slightly towards the driver, giving you a feeling of being in a cockpit. In fact, the outer edge of the centre console is higher than the inner one, further accentuating the driver-focused cockpit.  The instrumentation and infotainment system, which is now all digital, has taken a big step forward. You get a nice, large touchscreen that's set higher up in the dash and a digital panel for the driver instrument display that – like Audi’s Virtual Cockpit – has customisable views, including navigation display. Quality of controls and switchgear is typically Volkswagen and everything feels wonderfully damped; even the AC vents have just the right amount of resistance to help you adjust them precisely and easily. Having one car allocated to each journalist meant I spent all my time driving, just as I suspect would every owner. The front seats are nice and deep with enough side bolstering, and, despite my narrow frame, they held me well in place even during hard cornering on the laps we had at the Ascari race track. As far as space in the cabin goes, there's more than enough head- and legroom for my 5ft 8in frame. Moving to the rear, with the MQB, VW has been able to build the Polo bigger and it's quite telling here; there's more than enough legroom for those seated here, even if there's a slightly tall driver at the front. What’s it like to drive? It is a hot hatch and so quick pace and sharp handling is something you would automatically expect, and, to that effect, VW has endowed the Polo with a lot of extra bits over the previous GTI or even the regular new Polo. For starters, it gets the larger 2.0-litre turbocharged direct-injection petrol motor from the Golf GTI, tuned to produce a lower 200hp and 320Nm of torque, (245hp and 370Nm of torque in the Golf). There is also an electronic diff, what VW calls XDS, which on a turn, brakes the inside wheel tricking the regular differential into sending more power to the outer wheels; the result is a crisper turn-in. Also, thanks to the MQB platform, the chassis is now 28 percent stiffer than before, and aids handling stability. Driving it out of the airport and in and around the village we were put up at, the car was very drivable, unlike other hot hatches that can feel a tad over eager. VW claims a 0-100kph time of 6.7sec, and while we couldn't test that, it did feel sufficiently fast out on the motorway and the track. One aspect of hot hatches that has bothered me is the harsh ride. Remember, these cars also live everyday lives; in cars like the Abarth 595 and the Mini Cooper S, the ride is harsh enough to convince you that you’ve broken something going over rough surfaces. In the Polo, however, it is diff [...]
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New car launches around the corner
Four months into 2018, both high-end and mass market carmakers have launched a number of new models in India. Toyota brought out a facelift for its Land Cruiser Prado, while Ford introduced a new top-spec trim on the EcoSport compact SUV and the new Freestyle cross-hatch. The 2018 Auto Expo saw Maruti and Hyundai launch the third-gen Swift and a facelift for the i20, respectively. Premium manufacturers BMW and Mercedes introduced a slew of new models at the 2018 Auto Expo; the former brought out the 6-series GT and the X6 35i, along with the new M3, M4 and M5, while the German carmaker launched the Maybach-badged S 560 and S 650. Going forward, this year is expected to see quite a large number of new introductions to the Indian market. Here’s what you can look forward to in the coming months: In case you'd like to know which cars have already launched this year, check out our new cars and SUVs launched in 2018. Honda Amaze (May 16, 2018) Making its global debut at the Auto Expo 2018, Honda’s second-gen compact sedan shares design cues with its larger siblings, particularly the Accord. When it arrives, the new Amaze will be powered by the same 90hp, 1.2-litre petrol and 100hp, 1.5-litre diesel engines available on the current model. The five-speed manual is also expected to be carried over, though the new bit will be a CVT-automatic option on the diesel. Output figures on the diesel-CVT model drop by 20hp and 40Nm, respectively. Also see: 2018 Honda Amaze review, test drive New Honda Amaze image gallery India-spec Honda Amaze details revealed New Honda Amaze image gallery Hyundai Creta facelift The refreshed Creta has been spied testing in India recently and will sport styling similar to that of the South American-spec model. The mid-cycle facelift will also carry forward the current set of engines which includes the 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines. The upcoming Renault Captur-rivalling model will get segment-leading cabin equipment. It is also expected to get a sunroof. Also see: Hyundai Creta facelift bookings open Jeep Compass Trailhawk Bookings have opened for the new top-spec trim of Jeep’s Mahindra XUV500 rival – the Trail Rated Compass Trailhawk. Already manufactured at FCA’s plant in Ranjangaon, the model is currently exported to Australia and Japan. The off-road-spec SUV gets 4WD technology from Jeep’s selection. Although the big news is that a diesel-automatic variant will be on offer for the first time. The 170hp, 2.0-litre diesel motor will be mated to a nine-speed automatic, rather than the six-speed manual offered on the current top-spec trim, the Limited (O) 4x4. Also see: 2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk video review 2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk review, test drive Jeep Compass Trailhawk image gallery Maruti Ertiga Spied recently, the new Ertiga is longer and slightly wider than the outgoing model. Its longer rear overhang should mean more space in the third row. Up front, this second-generation model also gets a more upright stance, with a high-set nose and front bumper. Wheels are expected to go up to a size of 16 inches. Maruti is likely to offer the new 104hp, 1.5-litre petrol and a 1.3-litre diesel at launch, with a 1.5-litre diesel engine – currently under development in-house – replacing Fiat’s 1.3-litre diesel engine at a later date. Bentley Continental GT The third-gen sporty grand tourer from Bentley uses the Porsche-developed MSB (modular standard drivetrain) platform that’s also used in the new Panamera. The Bentley Dynamic Ride – a 48V electric active roll-control system from the Bentayga – also features on the new Continental GT. This, along with weight savings of about 85kg, makes the car even more agile than before. Propulsion is courtesy of a 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12 petrol engine that’s capable of doing 0-100kph in 3.7sec and reaching a top speed of 333kph. The insides are typically opulent. Honda CR-V Honda had brought the new CR-V to Auto Expo 2018; its USP – the seven-seat configuration. This third-gen model will replace the current one on sale and, unlike its predecessor, it will come with a new 160hp, 1.6-litre diesel engine option. A new nine-speed automatic may also be on the cards for this Hyundai Tucson and Jeep Compass rival. Also see: 2018 Honda CR-V review, test drive 2018 Honda CR-V diesel video review Mahindra MPV (U321) After being spotted testing frequently all over the country, Mahindra’s all-new three-row MPV will finally go on sale in the first few months of 2018. The company’s first monocoque-bodied MPV will be powered by a new 130hp, 1.6-litre mHawk diesel engine. We expect pricing [...]
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