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2019 Honda CBR 150R unveiled
Honda has unveiled the updated CBR 150R in the Indonesian market. The 2019 iteration of Honda’s 150cc sports bike features a revised fairing and some mechanical changes as well as new graphics and colour schemes. The 150R now gets a colour back-light for the digital instrument console and a taller windscreen for better protection against wind blast at high speeds. Sharper new dual LED headlamps with LED turn indicators are also new on the CBR. The new colour schemes on offer are Matte Black, Victory Black Red, Honda Racing Red and a MotoGP edition. The 2019 CBR 150R features a muscular fuel tank and a dual-tone finished exhaust. There is also a revised fairing on offer as part of the update. Suspension duties are carried out by a telescopic fork and a monoshock. The new CBR 150R is also said to get adjustable front and rear suspension, but it isn't clear yet what this adjustability involves. In terms of braking, the bike is equipped with petal front and rear discs, ABS and a new emergency stop signal (ESS) which flashes the brake light. The 2019 CBR 150R is powered by a 149cc, single-cylinder, DOHC, liquid-cooled engine that makes 17.1hp at 9,000rpm and 14.4Nm of torque at 7,000rpm. This is a good deal lower than the 19.3hp and 15Nm that the Yamaha R15 V3.0 has to offer. The motorcycle comes mated to a 6-speed gearbox. Prices for the 2019 CBR 150R in Indonesia start at Rp 33,800,000 (about Rs 1.63 lakh) for the standard variant and go up to Rp 38,700,000 (approx. Rs 1.87 lakh) for the MotoGP edition.  Honda hasn't revealed any India plans yet, however, we believe there is a good case to be made for the CBR 150R in India as a rival to the Yamaha R15, if Honda can get the pricing right. It is possible that we may see this bike in our market in 2019.   [...]
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MV Agusta F4 Claudio breaks cover
It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that the MV Agusta F4 took the two-wheeler world by storm when it was first unveiled in 1997 at the Milan motorcycle show. The iconic Italian marque was making a comeback and it couldn’t have asked for a better motorcycle than the F4, a masterpiece designed and developed by the legendary Massimo Tamburini. Over the years, the F4 has adorned many bedroom walls of teenagers, made adults lust after its gorgeous lines and wowed racers with its performance. Despite being over two decades old, the F4 can still make modern superbikes look pedestrian with its presence and the Italian still remains timeless and stunning. However, it’s time that the legend retires and MV Agusta has announced the last hurrah for the much adored superbike – the F4 Claudio. The last edition of the F4, understandably, has been named after the late Claudio Castiglioni, who resurrected the brand almost three decades ago. It has been limited to just 100 units for exclusivity and the bike is based on the MV Agusta F4 RC. To visually distinguish the bike from other limited edition offerings in its portfolio, the F4 Claudio gets a dual-tone finish of black and gold. All the panels on the superbike have been crafted from carbon-fibre and even the wheels are carbon with dazzling gold flakes. For further weight reduction, it employs titanium bolts and screws, along with machined aluminium components and the bike weighs just 175kg (dry weight) with the optional race kit. It also gets a cross-stitched rider seat and the Claudio logo is embroidered in it. Beneath the fairing sits an inline-four motor that churns out 212hp (with the titanium SC Project exhaust system), while 115Nm of peak torque arrives at 9,300rpm. The power figure without the race kit stands at 205hp; MV Agusta hasn’t shared its torque output. MV Agusta’s Reparto Corse (RC) division designed and developed a new head intake and exhaust ports for the motor. In order to reduce frictional losses, the engine gets DLC-treated cam followers and titanium con-rods. The powerplant is mated to a 6-speed gearbox with a bi-directional quickshifter and a wet STM slipper clutch. It features four ride modes - Normal, Sport, Rain and Custom. In addition, the MV Agusta F4 Claudio also gets an AIM dash with full data logging, IMU-controlled eight-level traction control system and MVICS (Motor & Vehicle Integrated Control System) electronic rider aids. Cycle parts as expected are top-drawer units including an Ohlins NIX 30 TiN-coated fork up front and an Ohlins TTX36 shock at the back. Braking hardware consists of dual 320mm “T-Drive” discs up front, using Brembo Stilema 4-piston monobloc radial calipers. The MV Agusta F4 Claudio will make its global debut at the upcoming EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, next month. Given the high demand and exclusivity, it’s highly unlikely that the F4 Claudio will be available in India. We would like to add that this is the second F4 limited edition dedicated to Claudio Castiglioni as the Italian marque had launched the F4 CC in 2006 and even that was limited to just 100 units. [...]
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Every new sedan on discount this festive season
As the festive season is considered a good time to buy a new vehicle, carmakers – mass market ones like Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai, and luxury manufacturers like Audi and Jaguar – hope to increase their sales figures by offering discounts and benefits on their products. If you’re looking to buy a new sedan this month and the next, this in-depth list will help you out: Audi A4   Save up to Rs 7 lakh The rival to the BMW 3-series and Mercedes C-class can now be bought for Rs 7 lakh less. It is available with a 150hp, 1.4-litre turbo-petrol and a 190hp, 2.0-litre diesel, both of which are mated to a mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. The model is known for its cabin quality and overall refinement. Audi A3 Save up to Rs 5 lakh The smallest Audi on offer in the country comes with two powertrain options – a 150hp, 1.4-litre turbo-petrol and a 143hp, 2.0-litre diesel. During the festive season, dealerships are offering a significant Rs 5 lakh discount on the Mercedes CLA rival, and an additional exchange offer of Rs 1 lakh. Jaguar XE Save up to Rs 3.5 lakh Jaguar’s answer to the BMW 3-series and Mercedes C-class boasts of a great ride/handling package and comes with a strong 2.0-litre petrol engine in 200hp and 250hp states of tune. There’s also a 180hp, 2.0-litre diesel engine on offer. Customers can avail a Rs 3.5 lakh discount on the smallest Jag sedan during the festive season. Volkswagen Vento Save up to Rs 1.05 lakh Select variants of Volkswagen’s Maruti Suzuki Ciaz and Hyundai Verna rival are now being offered with a Rs 60,000 cash discount and a Rs 40,000 exchange bonus. The Vento gets four engine-gearbox combinations – a 105hp, 1.6-litre petrol with a 5-speed manual, a 110hp, 1.5-litre diesel with either a 5-speed manual or 7-speed DSG, and a 105hp, 1.2-litre turbo-petrol with a 7-speed DSG. Volkswagen Ameo Save up to Rs 85,000 The German brand’s compact sedan shares its 76hp, 1.0-litre petrol engine with its hatchback sibling, the Polo, though it also gets a 110hp, 1.5-litre diesel with the option of a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. Dealerships are now offering cash discounts worth Rs 50,000, an exchange bonus of Rs 25,000 and Rs 15,000 corporate discount. The rival to the Ford Aspire, Maruti Suzuki Dzire and Honda Amaze is a premium alternative, but falls short on practicality. Toyota Yaris Save up to Rs 50,000 In addition to the Rs 20,000 cash discount on offer, Toyota dealers are also offering a Rs 20,000 exchange bonus and a Rs 10,000 corporate discount on the Japanese carmaker’s Maruti Suzuki Ciaz and Hyundai Verna rival. Unlike its competition, the Yaris is the only midsize sedan to be offered with just a petrol engine – the 107hp, 1.5-litre motor comes mated to either a 6-speed manual or a 7-step CVT automatic. Toyota Corolla Altis Save up to Rs 85,000 Toyota’s Skoda Octavia and Hyundai Elantra fighter now comes with a cash discount of Rs 35,000, along with a Rs 10,000 exchange offer and a Rs 40,000 corporate discount. The Corolla Altis comes with a 140hp, 1.8-litre petrol and an 88hp, 1.4-litre diesel engine, both of which are mated to a 6-speed manual, though the former gets the option of a CVT as well. Hyundai Xcent Save up to Rs 65,000 Hyundai’s Grand i10-based compact sedan may not be a segment leader, but its strengths include the high quality fit and finish and well-appointed interiors. The Ford Aspire and Honda Amaze competitor comes with the same 83hp, 1.2-litre petrol and 75hp, 1.2-litre diesel as its hatchback counterpart. The car is now available with a cash discount of Rs 20,000 and a Rs 45,000 exchange bonus during the ongoing festive season. The commercial version, which comes with the Prime suffix, also gets a cash discount worth Rs 40,000. Maruti Suzuki Dzire Save up to Rs 57,500 The Dzire’s USPs are a comfy ride, spacious cabin and its frugal engines. The Honda Amaze and Ford Aspire competitor is now on offer with discounts worth Rs 27,500 and an exchange bonus up to Rs 30,000. The compact sedan leads its segment in terms of sales and comes with a, 83hp, 1.2-litre petrol and a 75hp, 1.3-litre diesel engine option. 5-speed manual and 5-speed AMT options are also on offer. Nissan Sunny Save up to Rs 72,000 Nissan’s midsize sedan hasn’t set the sales charts on fire. For the duration of the festive season, dealerships will offer a 3g gold coin, a Rs 60,000 exchange bonus, one-year free insurance and a special Rs 12,000 discount for government employees. The Sunny gets two engine options – a 99hp, 1.5-litre petrol (mated to either a 5-speed manual or a CVT) and an 86hp, 1.5-litre diesel (paired to a 5-speed manual). Hyundai Verna Save up to Rs 85,000 Smartly-styled, well-finished and loaded with kit, the Rs 65,000 cash discount now available on the Verna makes it a more promising buy. There’s also a Rs 20, [...]
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Jaguar mulls going completely electric within next decade
Jaguar Land Rover bosses are considering transforming the company into an EV-only brand within the next decade. It is understood that company’s product planners have produced an outline strategy under which Jaguar’s conventional vehicle range would be phased out over the next five to seven years, to be replaced by fully electric vehicles. Under the plans being considered, a full-on luxury electric sedan, replacing the XJ, is expected within two years. It will be a direct competitor for Porsche’s upcoming Taycan, alongside strong-selling cars such as the Tesla Model S. Rethought as an electric vehicle, the new XJ will both play to the strengths of the 1967 original by offering segment-leading refinement and ride and look to the future by completely reinventing the classic Jaguar interior. It is understood that the new XJ will be a no-holds-barred luxury car in every sense, offering customers a zero-pollution alternative to a Mercedes-Benz S-class or even a Bentley Flying Spur. The thinking is that Jaguar will steal a march on rivals by building a true luxury EV in a segment that is probably the most environmentally minded and offers greater profitability per car than lower segments. EVs also fit in perfectly with the brief of a modern-day chauffeur of private hire driver, with excellent mechanical refinement and the ability to enter low-emission zones in cities without financial penalties. As the XE and XF reach the end of their lives in 2023, they could be replaced by an all-electric crossover slightly bigger than Audi’s E-tron. An all-new I-Pace would arrive in 2025 as the E-Pace and F-Pace models are phased out. Jaguar would be nearly all-electric by 2026, with only the flagship J-Pace luxury crossover surviving until 2027 or so. And with no replacement for the F-Type in the works for when it dies in the first half of the 2020s, an electric Jaguar sports car is also a possibility. Early internal estimates suggest that a four or five-model all-electric Jaguar line-up could sell as many as 3,00,000 units per year, benefiting from much higher retail prices and surfing a trend that is expected to see a sizeable chunk of the luxury vehicle market switching to battery power. The electric vehicle proposal has received added impetus from the extremely strong reception for the new electric I-Pace and Jaguar’s continued involvement in Formula E — the new I-Type 3 Gen 2 single-seater racing car has also just been unveiled — giving the perfect introduction to revolutionising the brand, according to insiders. Our sister publication, Autocar UK, understands that although the outline of a reinvention of Jaguar has reached a fairly advanced stage, the project still does not have the green light. JLR’s dramatic plans come against a background of mediocre sales for Jaguar’s three-model sedan car range, which has forced the company to introduce a three-day week for the rest of 2018 at its Castle Bromwich factory. Executives at Tata, Jaguar’s Indian parent company, are said to be extremely unhappy by the brand’s recent performance, given its extensive investment. Although Jaguar sales have been hit by both concerns over the future of diesel and some Brexit uncertainties, the latest sales figures for the XE, XF and XJ – all of which are made in Castle Bromwich – show evidence that buyers are shunning Jaguar’s sedans. The good news for Jaguar is that the E-Pace is now the company’s second-bestselling model, after the F-Pace, although the E-Pace’s August sales were well below those of its elderly Range Rover Evoque sister model. The dilemma facing JLR senior management is clear. As product plans are laid for the company’s next generation of cars based on the MLA aluminium platform, can investment in three replacement Jaguar sedans be justified? Indeed, is there any profitable future for conventional Jaguar sedan cars of any kind? If the XE, XF and XJ models are dropped in their current forms after this generation, what future would there be for a Jaguar brand that amounted to, say, three crossovers? Dealers would probably be unable to thrive with such a small range and sources say that, at that point, the Jaguar brand would be difficult to support as a going concern. All of these reasons are why the JLR board finds itself closely examining a plan that would result in an all-electric Jaguar line-up. Sources say that developing viable battery-powered Land Rover models is very difficult without diluting the brand’s values. Difficulties include the need to substantially change the styling to create a small frontal area and the complexity of making EVs safe in situations such as fording rivers. Many in JLR believe that this radical plan is win-win. It gives Jaguar perhaps its last best chance to grow into a self- supporting brand; it ensures JLR has bespoke entries in the growing global market for [...]
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Volkswagen Passat Connect launched at Rs 25.99 lakh
Volkswagen has introduced the Passat Connect sedan which features the ‘Volkswagen Connect’ advanced telematics and vehicle assistance system. The application enables customers to experience features such as trip tracking, fuel cost monitoring, driving behavior and more. The Volkswagen Connect app allows users to connect their car to their smartphone through a ‘Plug and Play’ data dongle fitted to the on-board diagnostics (OBD) port of the car. Once connected with a smartphone via Bluetooth, the app will enable customers to experience advanced connected features like trip tracking, fuel cost monitor, driving behavior, location sharing, SOS calls and service appointments. The Connect application is compatible with both Android and iOS platforms.   Mechanically, the Passat Connect remains unchanged. There is a solitary 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine on offer which puts out 177hp and 350Nm of torque and is mated to a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. VW claims a fuel efficiency of 17.42kpl thanks to the onboard ‘Think Blue Trainer’ that gives the driver prompts to improve their driving efficiency. The Passat comes packed with features such as nine airbags, hill-start assist and auto-hold, dynamic chassis control, a reverse camera with a 360-degree view, park sensors, Nappa leather seats, three-zone climate control, electric adjustable front seats with heating and massage functions, LED headlamps with DRLs, LED tail-lamps and a hands-free boot opening mechanism. The Volkswagen Passat Connect is priced at Rs 25.99 lakh for the base Comfortline variant whereas the top-spec Highline trim costs Rs 28.99 lakh. The Passat rivals the Skoda Superb, which recently got a new mid-spec Sportline trim, and the Toyota Camry Hybrid in our market. Prices are ex-showroom, India Also see: Volkswagen Polo, Ameo, Vento Connected Edition launched Volkswagen Vento gets side airbags Volkswagen T-Cross global unveil on October 25 [...]
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2018 Maruti Suzuki Ertiga vs Mahindra Marazzo: Specifications comparison
It was at the start of September 2018 that Mahindra launched the Marazzo, an MPV designed to sit between the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga and the Toyota Innova Crysta in terms of size and price, and to lure in buyers from both segments. Only a couple of months later, Maruti is set to fire right back with the launch of the second-generation Ertiga, which, with a more premium feel inside and out, a new petrol engine and more equipment, looks to strengthen its hold on the market. We compare the two to see how they stack up on paper. Dimensions The new Ertiga is longer, wider and taller than the outgoing model. That should translate into more space on the inside, even though the wheelbase stays the same as that on the current-gen Ertiga. That said, despite the increase in size, expect the weight of the new Ertiga to drop thanks to it being based on the lightweight Heartect platform that also forms the basis for the Baleno, Swift, Dzire and Ignis. Yes, the new Ertiga is bigger, but even so, the Marazzo easily dwarfs it in terms of dimensions. It is notably longer, wider and taller, and at 2,760mm, has a longer wheelbase, too. That translates into a good amount of interior space. With all three rows up, you get 190 litres of luggage space, a good chunk more than the Ertiga's 153-litre boot. Despite the Marazzo being closer to the Innova Crysta size-wise, its claimed turning radius, at 5.25 metres, is closer to the Ertiga's 5.2 metres. Also worth noting is the fact that the Marazzo's 45-litre fuel tank is the same size as the new Ertiga's. DimensionsMaruti Suzuki ErtigaMahindra MarazzoLength4395mm4585mmWidth1735mm1866mmHeight1690mm1774mmWheelbase2740mm2760mmBoot space153 litres (3rd row folded: 550 litres, 2nd & 3rd rows folded: 803 litres)190 litres (3rd row folded: 680 litres, 2nd & 3rd rows folded: 1055 litres)Ground clearance 180mm150mm Engines and gearboxes On offer with the new Ertiga will be the all-new, 1.5-litre, four-cylinder K15B petrol engine, replacing the older model’s 1.4-litre petrol engine. The Fiat-sourced 1.3-litre diesel engine will most likely be carried over from the current Ertiga. There is no petrol engine on offer with the Marazzo, and it will likely only be introduced by 2020. For now, what you get with the Marazzo is a 1.5-litre diesel engine; an all-new unit that produces 123hp and 300Nm of torque, which is a good deal more than the current-gen Ertiga diesel's 90hp and 200Nm. In terms of transmissions, the new Ertiga is expected to stick with a 5-speed manual for the petrol and diesel variants, and just like the current-gen Ertiga, there will be a 4-speed automatic available with the petrol engine. There's not much in the way of choice with the Marazzo - there is just a 6-speed manual available. An automated manual transmission will eventually come, but again, only by 2020. PowertrainMaruti Suzuki ErtigaMahindra MarazzoFuelPetrol/DieselDieselDisplacement1462cc/1248cc1498ccCylinders4 cyls/4 cyls4 cylsPower105hp/90hp123hpTorque138Nm/200Nm300NmTransmission5-speed MT, 4-speed AT/5-speed MT6-speed MT Fuel efficiency Unsurprisingly, the Ertiga, being the smaller and lighter MPV here, will likely be more efficient, by quite a margin. Claimed efficiency for the current-gen Ertiga is pegged at 24.52kpl for the diesel, 17.5kpl for the petrol-manual and 17kpl for the petrol-auto, and the new Ertiga will almost certainly improve on those figures. The Marazzo, despite being significantly larger, claims to return an impressive 17.3kpl, but that will likely be no match for the new Ertiga’s efficiency figures. Prices Expect the new Ertiga to cost about Rs 50,000 more than the current model. Even with the hike in price, the new Ertiga will most likely be a superb value-for-money proposition, but it’ll be interesting to see if buyers will instead be tempted to buy the significantly larger Marazzo, especially since prices for it start at Rs 9.99 lakh and go all the way up to Rs 13.90 lakh. Prices (ex-showroom, Delhi)Maruti Szuzuki ErtigaMahindra MarazzoPetrolRs 6.8-9.3 lakh (est)-DieselRs 9.4-11.3 lakh (est)Rs 9.99-13.90 lakh Think the new Ertiga has what it takes to maintain its hold on the market, or is the Marazzo a better value-for-money proposition? Let us know in the comments. [...]
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Mahindra Racing 2018/19 Formula E driver line-up announced
Mahindra Racing on Tuesday said it has signed Jerome d’Ambrosio and Pascal Wehrlein as its two drivers for the fifth season of the Formula E championship. D’Ambrosio, a two-time Formula E race winner who has raced in each of the championship’s 45 races so far, moves from Dragon Racing. Wehrlein, the 2015 DTM champion who returned to the German touring car series this season after two years in Formula One, will make his Formula E debut. “I’m very happy to be joining Mahindra Racing,” 23-year-old Wehrlein said. “I had the first meeting with Dilbagh in the summer and met the team for the first time at a test event. It’s a small team but with really high ambitions and I have the same high ambitions,” the German added. D’Ambrosio said: “I think we have a great team and a really dedicated bunch of people with the possibility of doing something great so I am really motivated to make sure that we achieve the results that the team deserves. I’ve known Dilbagh for the last four years and what the team has achieved in that time is amazing and has shown great progression and I want to make sure that continues,” d’Ambrosio, who raced for the Virgin team in Formula One in 2011, added. Wehrlein and d’Ambrosio replace Felix Rosenqvist and Nick Heidfeld. But, the latter will remain with the team in an advisory role and as a test and reserve driver. Belgian Sam Dejhonge will be the team’s simulator and development driver. Mahindra unveiled the driver line-up ahead of the first pre-season test in Valencia, which kicks off today. The team also took the wraps off their new season five challenger the M5 Electro. The only Indian team on the grid, the outfit has scored three wins, 15 podiums and six pole positions in their four seasons in Formula E. They were in contention for the title in the early part of last season. “Last season we had a very strong start and were in championship contention,” said team principal, Dilbagh Gill. To attract and retain drivers of this calibre shows Mahindra Racing’s future potential and intention and I cannot wait to get out on track in Saudi Arabia to begin our 2018/19 campaign.” The fifth season of Formula E, which will feature radically redesigned and faster cars capable of lasting an entire race distance, flags off in Saudi Arabia on December 15th this year. The season, which runs for 13 races, will end in New York on July 14th, 2019. Abhishek Takle [...]
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Ducati announces festive season offers
Ducati has just announced limited-period offers on the Scrambler 800, Multistrada and Diavel range, across all Ducati dealerships in Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Ahmedabad, Kochi, Kolkata and Chennai. Ducati has tied up with GoPro to offer a free GoPro Hero with mounts on the purchase of any model in the Scrambler 800 range. Similarly, on the purchase of a Multistrada 950, the buyer will get a GoPro Hero 7 silver camera with mounts. Buyers of the Diavel and Diavel Diesel, on the other hand, get an all-expense paid trip to the Ducati Museum in Bologna, Italy. Commenting on the offers, Sergi Canovas, managing director of Ducati India, said, “We are committed to delight our customers, and these festive offerings are a testament to our commitment. The partnership with GoPro will allow Ducatistis to capture their meaningful experiences, thereby adding to the allure of festivity. To further enhance the excitement, a trip to Ducati Museum will be the perfect festive gift from Ducati India to Diavel fans in the country." Also see: 2019 Ducati Multistrada 1260 Enduro unveiled  Best new bike and scooter discounts this month INTERMOT 2018: 2019 Ducati Scrambler range unveiled [...]
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2018 Hyundai Santro CNG to be offered in two variants
Hyundai is set to launch the new Santro on October 23, 2018. It will be available with one engine and two gearbox options; however, the CNG-equipped variants of the car will only be available with a manual gearbox and in the mid-spec Magna and Sportz trims. The petrol-powered Santro houses a 69hp, 1.1-litre petrol engine with a claimed 20.3kpl fuel economy, irrespective of the transmission. However, the CNG-powered version of the Santro will put out a lower 58hp when mated solely to a 5-speed manual gearbox. To keep all the variants within the model's overall price bracket, the top-spec Asta trim will not be fitted with the CNG mill. Likewise, the two Santro CNG models are expected to miss out on features available on the Asta variant, such as the reverse camera, the rear air-con vents and the 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. On the safety front, the Santro will come fitted with ABS, EBD, a driver's airbag and rear parking sensors as standard. Visually, the new Santro takes after its larger brethren and sports the cascading grille. Upon launch, the tall-boy hatchback will be available in seven exterior paint shades. Pricing for the new Santro CNG has yet to be announced but we estimate that it will be priced about Rs 50,000 more than the equivalent petrol variant. dealers are expected to begin deliveries of the car around October 25, 2018 Also see: More Hyundai models to get AMT gearbox options 2018 Hyundai Santro first look video Hyundai Santro AMT to be offered in two variants 2018 Hyundai Santro vs rivals: Specifications comparison 2018 Hyundai Santro review, track drive [...]
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Review: 2017 Hyundai Tucson long term review, fifth report
Smart looks, spacious interiors, punchy engine and frugal nature – these have always been the Tucson’s strengths. They are also the reasons that have made me hold on to this particular long-termer for a while now. Since it joined our fleet in February last year, the Tucson has undertaken plenty of long-distance drives and has even been driven across the border to Nepal! It has definitely earned a reputation for being a great highway cruiser and tops my list in our long-term fleet for whenever I plan a drive out of town. It’s travelled frequently to Nashik, Mahabaleshwar and Goa, and apart from these long drives, I also clock about 60-odd kilometres on my daily commute. Our Tucson is a top-of-the-line GLS variant loaded with features that have really spoilt me. The keyless entry-and-go, for example, is very useful to get into the Tucson and drive off without having to pull out the key from the pocket. What I really find very convenient, though, is that the tailgate opens automatically when it senses the key in close proximity to the boot – quite useful for when my hands are full of bags. I also like the dual-zone climate control which lets me select different temperatures for the driver’s and the passenger’s side. Another feature I have really become used to is Apple CarPlay; it mirrors some of my phone’s applications onto the Tucson’s infotainment screen, from where I can use them without having to fiddle with the phone. The infotainment system has also been integrated with the Amazon Music app, allowing me to use it directly. The Tucson’s headlamps light up  automatically while I drive out of my building’s dark basement parking and the automatic wipers take care of the water leaking from the roof of the tunnel that I pass through on my way to office. A small, but very useful feature of the Tucson are its puddle lamps that light-up as I approach to unlock the Tucson. The door handles too have lights that highlight them, making it easy to place them in the dark. I like the large front seats – they are wide and well-shaped – but the cushioning is on the firm side. There is also a grouse that is common amongst the people riding shotgun – the seat height is positioned too low. Unlike the driver’s seat, it cannot be adjusted and almost feels a floor lower. But these are the faults I see only if I need to point at some. On the whole, the Tucson has always managed to keep long drives comfortable and hassle-free.  It did have its share of small niggles here and there; but to be fair, our Tucson has done some serious long-distance travelling, causing premature wear and tear. It is now nearing the 30,000km-mark and will soon need a routine service. The good thing is that the service will be covered under Hyundai’s 3-years/30,000km free maintenance program. Another long drive needs to be planned soon after it comes back from service. Any suggestions? Also see: 2017 Hyundai Tucson long term review, fourth report 2017 Hyundai Tucson long term review, third report 2017 Hyundai Tucson long term review, second report 2016 Hyundai Tucson long term review, first report [...]
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Datsun Go, Go+ facelift: 5 things to know
The Datsun Go hatchback and Go+ mini-MPV have been on sale since 2014. While these models have got mild tweaks over time, they’ve just received their first full update. Here are five things you should know about the refreshed models. They’ve got a visual makeover The Datsun’s exteriors have received plenty of changes. Their revamped front-ends feature more shapely bumpers, the grilles get a new mesh and top-spec models also feature LED DRLs. Larger, 14-inch wheels (alloy wheels, on the top-spec trim) have also done much to help the stance of the cars. At the rear, both Datsuns get a new bumper and a newly added windscreen wiper. Additionally, they get new body colours – the hatchback gets a new orange scheme and the MPV gets a new brown colour. Heavily reworked interior Datsun has given the interiors a major refresh. The redesigned dashboard gets reprofiled central AC vents and the glove compartment sees a long overdue addition of a lid. An analogue tachometer has been added to the instrument cluster as well but it’s the new 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system (featuring Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity) which is the highlight on higher variants. Creature comforts like electrically adjustable exterior mirrors and power windows on all doors have also made their way inside the cabin. Of other notable changes, the ‘connected front seats’ have been replaced by individual seats for the driver and passenger, which allows for the handbrake to shift from the centre console to the now free space between the two front seats. Sadly, the adjustable headrests for the rear seat occupants are still missing.   More safety kit The Datsun Go was at the centre of a storm soon after launch, when Global NCAP rated the car with zero stars in its crash test. Datsun says the updated Go and Go+ meet India’s latest crash test norms, and has also given the cars a more loaded safety kit ahead of the features becoming mandatory on all cars next year. Dual front airbags, ABS, EBD and rear parking sensors are now standard across the whole variant line-up. This gives the Go a significant leg-up over its competitors like Maruti Suzuki Celerio and Tata Tiago, which do not offer these safety features as standard as yet. Engine-gearbox options remain unchanged Datsun's facelift is primarily a cosmetic one, with no changes seen under the hood. The hatchback and MPV both continue to be powered by a 1.2-litre three-pot petrol engine churning out 68hp and 104Nm of torque. Transmission duties are handled by a 5-speed manual gearbox. There is no official confirmation on an automatic gearbox option so far. They are more value-for-money now With the introduction of the updates, Datsun is trying to position the Go and Go+ as more premium offerings. However, prices for the base and mid-spec versions haven’t changed much. The new top-spec trim cars are more expensive; but given the equipment they come with, they come across as being well-priced. Updated Datsun Go prices range from Rs 3.29-4.89 lakh while the Go+ costs Rs 3.83-5.69 lakh. Also see: 2018 Datsun Go review, test drive 2018 Datsun Go, Go+ price, variants explained 2018 Datsun Go image gallery 2018 Datsun Go+ image gallery Updated Datsun Go and Go+ launched in India [...]
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Review: Arai Chaser-X Shaped Red helmet review
When the time came to replace my race-spec Arai RX-7 after a crash at the track, I wanted to try something a little more street-oriented. Most of my riding is on the street on a variety of motorcycles, but I do make the occasional visit to the racetrack as well. The goal was to find something up to it all, and the Chaser-X has proved remarkably good at this. There are many things the Chaser-X shares with the range-topping RX-7V, including a similar anti-microbial inner lining material and Arai’s new variable axis visor system. Pull it over your head and it feels just as premium, with a remarkably balanced feel that effectively hides its 1,548gm weight. The Chaser-X also offers Arai’s trademark facial contour cheek pads that fit comfortably against your face, and the fit can be fine-tuned by thin layers of foam that peel away from the headliner. I find that most Arai models fit me differently (which is why you absolutely must try them on before purchase) and in the case of the Chaser-X, the head area was a bit too tight at first. The peel-away pads helped, but if you’re looking for more, Arai also sells a number of different sized headliners to make sure you get the fit you’re looking for. On the outside, the Chaser-X immediately comes across as more compact than the RX-7 and I like this. I also absolutely love the Shaped Red graphic design, despite initial apprehension that the helmet looked a bit boring in images. But Arai has a way of working with colours and textures in its graphics and the orange in this scheme absolutely pops in person. It helps make this an attractive design, but without being as loud as a typical race replica graphic. Overall quality is fantastic, right from the paint finish to the feel of the materials, and you are left with no doubt that this is a top-shelf helmet. Ventilation is impressive, especially from the two-stage jaw vent, and Arai’s trademark brow vents, built into the visor, channel the air through ducts above the head. The single vent on the top does a decent job, but there is a noticeable reduction compared to the almost breezy feel that comes with the RX-7V, which has three intake vents on top. On the plus side, the Chaser is much quieter, especially at urban speeds, but earplugs become necessary when riding on the highway. The Chaser-X is a sport-biased helmet and I’ve found that it works well enough on the track too. Unless you’re a professional racer or a track-day refugee, I think this helmet makes for a more rounded performer than the RX-7V. Of course, the Chaser does lack some of the RX-7s features – namely Arai’s latest, peripherally belted, outer shell technology, as well as the emergency-release cheek pads. But like all Arais, the Chaser-X conforms to the company’s stringent in-house testing that far surpasses the mandatory European ECE 22-05 standard, which this helmet is also certified to. Rs 51,000 might seem like a lot for a helmet, but it’s up to Rs 34,000 less than the top-spec RX-7V. Crucially, it is the full Arai experience and makes no significant compromises. An absolute recommend. Where: www.performanceracing.in Price: Rs 51,000 [...]
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Nissan Desert Drive Experience
There’s no better place to view the stark contrast of Dubai than from the 48th floor of the famous Dubai Frame – a 150-metre-high structure that’s won multiple design awards and is, well, quite simply the biggest photo frame in the world. On one side, you have vast, majestic deserts with a traditional middle-eastern vibe, while on the other side is Dubai as most know it today – futuristic skyscrapers piercing the sky and city streets peppered with exotic supercars. The dual landscape was a perfect setting to experience some of Nissan’s best-selling SUVs. We drove four SUVs from their quite potent stable in the Arab Emirates – the flagship Nissan Patrol, powered by a big V8 engine; the iconic Pathfinder, which had a cult following as an SUV but is now more of an urban crossover; the X-Trail, the previous generation of which was part of their Indian line-up; and lastly, the smallest of the lot – the Kicks. Now, while the Kicks is, for the obvious reason, the most interesting one here (set to launch in India next year), this was the UAE model and not the one that we will eventually get. As for the drive itself, we had two days, with the first one being straight out on the dunes; no easing into things here. After a nice, healthy lunch of fresh salads and the staple hummus with pita bread, I was raring to go. Before that, however, was a briefing about Dubai’s stringent driving laws and absolutely unforgiving officials. That didn’t dampen my spirits; but stepping out of the air-conditioned hotel lobby, my excitement simply evaporated in the scorching Dubai heat. The temperature on the phone showed close to 45deg C, and baking in this heat was the entire convoy of SUVs. As luck would have it: the Patrol I would be driving was black. Mumbling expletives, I hopped into the cabin. To my relief, the AC was on full blast; and the icing on the cake: fantastic cooled seats. We left the hotel in the most disciplined manner, straight onto the vast multi lane highways of downtown Dubai. Here, the V8 engine was relaxed and barely broke a sweat. Cruising at 100kph seemed like a cakewalk with none of the usual V8 traits like the burbling, or the raucous engine note. It was silent and almost like an airplane cabin inside. We left the city behind and passed countless camel caravans on a small desert trail until we arrived at our destination – soft sand, wild hot winds and an eerie calmness, soon to be disrupted by 15 growling V8s. We exchanged our rather urban Patrols for slightly tweaked ones to help in the desert. These had the bumpers replaced for a higher approach angle and they also had roll-cages installed for safety. I engaged sand mode, selected 4H on the gearbox for power to all four wheels and turned off traction control for uninterrupted power. A top tip while driving in the desert is to lower your tyre pressures, which results in a wider footprint and prevents you from sinking in. All checks done, we began the dune bashing. The soft desert sand tried to suck the SUV in at all times so I needed to keep the momentum going and have a steady right foot. Too much power will literally bury the wheels in, while too little will make you sink. Getting a good grip on the steering is very essential as well, because the grooves in the sand tend to pull you their way, so you are constantly wrestling with the car. This may all sound quite strenuous, but in reality, it was an absolute blast. I had a big V8 SUV, sand as far as the eye can see, and most importantly, the chance to go flat-out in a controlled environment. Countless jumps and sand-drifts later, it was time to head back. We left the dunes and the setting sun behind us. On the journey back, I chose the Pathfinder. On the desert trails and eventually the highways, the smooth petrol-CVT combo made for a relaxing end to an adrenaline-packed day. It was pitch dark by the time we reached the hotel but the temperature was still hovering around 40deg C. But seeing Dubai under lights is like a seeing a whole different city. The well-lit roads and glass skyscrapers laden with bright lights make for an epic skyline. Day two was quite the opposite of the first day. There were no more deserts or sand dunes to contend with. In fact, we were to drive in the heart of the city and visit some tourist spots including, of course, Dubai Mall. I chose to try out both the X-Trail and Kicks for this city drive. I quickly realised that while the X-Trail had 4WD and was built keeping a certain level of off-road ability in mind, the Kicks was strictly an urban vehicle. The international version of the Kicks is smaller in dimensions and with less equipment compared to the one that will make it to our shores. First impressions were quite positive and it seems to have all the right ingredients. It is light and easy to drive, has a nice and practical cabin with good space on offer, the engine-gearbox combination worked seam [...]
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Rally-spec TVS Ntorq SXR ride experience
The convenience, utility and sheer effortlessness of riding a scooter has ensured it’s never going to be obsolete or irrelevant. A scooter simply gets things done with no fuss or drama. It also eliminates the need to walk anywhere, which is invaluable to someone cocooned in a sedentary lifestyle, such as myself. There is a small bunch of people, however, who think it’s a very good idea to go rallying on scooters, and the TVS Racing team is one of them. If that airborne scooter you see here is anything to go by, it sure is a good idea, eh? I’ll hold nothing against you if you thought this scooter was a TVS Ntorq 125 which blew up its pocket money at the sticker shop, but that’s far from the truth. This scooter is called the Ntorq SXR and, for starters, it’s not even a 125. No, it’s not on sale either, but this is TVS Racing’s entry into the INRC circuit in the scooter category (up to 210cc). There’s the small matter of it having won in its debut rally outing in Nashik earlier this year and a third-place finish at the Sportscraft Monsoon Scooter Rally, a typically unforgiving event, is no small feat either. I spent the first half of the day witnessing Syed Asif Ali, TVS’ off-road ace, raiding the treacherous slushy trail on the SXR and it’s his very own machine I’m supposed to sneak a ride on later in the day. Asif, an incredibly polite and genial chap, isn’t visibly impressed with the thought given that this is his steed for the rest of the season. TVS has re-bored the Ntorq’s motor to suit the classification’s 210cc ceiling, but it won’t (and isn’t bound to) divulge too many details. All I’m thrown at is a ‘20hp’ figure, which is enough to make my jaw drop, putting my few surviving teeth on public display. Asif isn’t visibly impressed with this either. Having partly recovered from the shock, I circle the SXR pensively, trying to absorb the details and looking for any obvious giveaways. The 12-inch pressed-steel wheels, replacing the smart, blacked-out alloys on the production scooter for the benefit of impact absorption, are easy to spot and so are the knobby Pirelli Scorpion MX tyres. All of the Ntorq’s bodywork has been retained, although it sits distinctly higher for reasons of ground clearance, with the front fender raised to good effect as well. The suspension appears stock, if taller, although the internals of the telescopic fork have been upgraded to a seriously high spec, considering the abuse it’s destined for. The exhaust end-can, meanwhile, looks like it was made using tinfoil and in exactly three minutes, but having seen Asif go about his job earlier, I knew it made a rather thrilling racket. Everything else looked bone-stock, if a bit chipped and battered for obvious reasons. After an attempt to give it a wipe-down (pointless, given the weather) for photography’s sake, I was signalled to take over. Unlike the challenges you would usually associate with simply getting on (or into) a racing machine, the Ntorq SXR posed none in terms of hopping on-board. It even featured a key, just like on a standard scooter, and save for the higher saddle height, everything seemed normal. Until the moment I thumbed the starter, that is. The Ntorq SXR makes a loud and racy soundtrack, and it sure doesn’t sound like something you’d want to go buy groceries on. With my fingers crossed (not literally), I hoped that all this noise was the by-product of some serious grunt and, rather mindlessly, squeezed open the throttle twist grip. TVS has endowed the SXR with a quick-throttle, something I learned about approximately five seconds too late. I’ve never seen a scooter dart off the line like such a madman! To be honest, there’s nothing you have to do to keep the Ntorq SXR going and, the basics aside, you don’t need much of a learning curve either. It’s fast, alright, but there’s no new skill you need to acquire or contribute. Rather than intimidating the rider, the Ntorq SXR enables you to do normal scooter things, with the bonus of being able to do it faster and in a more entertaining manner. If you have some experience of riding off-road, you apply pretty much the same principles to riding the SXR – flared elbows, appropriate leg out, and shifting fore and aft in the seat. The sole drawback, if a rather evident one, is the lack of a fuel tank to grip and knee one’s weight into, but the expert league of scooter rally riders substitute the tank with the seat. I didn’t bother, largely because the SXR is hardly disobedient or much of a taskmaster. It’s shockingly confident, in fact. Over a temptingly long straight, I wring the throttle open and the SXR commits to a heady velocity a bit too quickly. A series of disconcerting bumps line the straight, camouflaged by the slushiness of it all. It’s too l [...]
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Tata Tiago NRG receives over 3,000 bookings
When the Tiago NRG was launched roughly a month ago, Tata Motors had said it hoped the new cross-hatch would further bolster Tiago sales, and so far, it has just done that, garnering a notable number of bookings - over 3,000 - since its launch on September 12. Speaking to Autocar India at the launch of the Tigor facelift, Mayank Pareek, President, Passenger Vehicles Business Unit, Tata Motors, said "The response to the Tiago NRG has been wonderful so far. Not even a month has passed since the launch, and we've already got more than 3,000 bookings." Tata Motors will hope this trend continues, as the Tiago continues to be one of its best-selling models. August 2018 was the Tiago's best month in terms of sales, with 9,277 units being sold, with the top-spec XZ trim seeing the highest demand. The Tiago NRG - available only in one fully-loaded trim - could possibly benefit from this buyer preference. To refresh your memory, the NRG is a beefier-looking version of the Tiago hatchback, with front- and rear-bumper add-ons featuring faux brushed-aluminium scuff plates, along with additional trim pieces on the running boards and wheel arches. Other visual differentiators include a black roof, black roof-rails, black wing mirrors and door handles. A big difference between the NRG and the standard Tiago is the raised ride height. The Tiago NRG cross-hatch boasts 180mm of ground clearance, as opposed to the 170mm seen in the standard car. The Tiago NRG is the only Tiago variant available with a 5.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system that doubles as the reverse-camera display. It also gets the Tigor's four-speaker Harman sound system. Engine options include an 85hp, 1.2-litre petrol engine and a 70hp, 1.0-litre three-cylinder diesel unit. The only gearbox on offer is the five-speed manual – the standard Tiago can also be had with a five-speed AMT. At its introductory price of Rs 5.50 lakh for the petrol and Rs 6.32 lakh for the diesel (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Tiago NRG is about Rs 28-29,000 more expensive than the standard Tiago. Tata will bring in the hotted-up JTP variant of the Tiago by Diwali, and it is expected to pack more power than expected. Read all about it here. Also see: 2018 Tata Tiago NRG image gallery 2018 Tata Tiago NRG launched at Rs 5.50 lakh 2018 Tata Tiago NRG vs rivals: Specifications comparison [...]
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Okinawa Ridge+ e-scooter launched at Rs 64,988
Okinawa Autotech has launched a new ‘+’ variant of the Ridge e-scooter at Rs 64,988 (ex-showroom, India). The company says that the new Ridge+ will build on the footsteps of its predecessor, the Ridge. The new scooter has a claimed top speed and range of 55kph and 120km (per charge), respectively. The 800W motor is claimed to be waterproof and features a new removable lithium-ion battery. This will enable people to carry the battery pack into their homes to charge it. Like its predecessor, the scooter continues to feature an anti-theft alarm, keyless entry and a 'find my scooter' function. The scooter also uses the same alloy wheels, tubeless tyres and telescopic suspension as the Ridge. Jeetender Sharma, managing director, Okinawa Autotech, said, “The Ridge+ offers great convenience by providing the detachable battery which makes the charging at ease. Users can take out the battery and carry to their home or office for charging.” He also said that it is equipped with a micro-charger featuring the auto-cut feature that gets the scooter up and running in two hours, flat. Okinawa is targeting to roll out 500 units of the Ridge+ e-scooter in October 2018, followed by 1,500 units in November 2018. We had spent a week with the older Okinawa Ridge, to read about our experience with the original model, click here. Also see:  Is the Okinawa Praise genuinely Indian? Okinawa Praise e-scooter launched at Rs 59,889 [...]
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Hyundai Santro AMT to be offered in two variants
Hyundai will bring out the new Santro on October 23, 2018 with five trim levels, of which the mid-spec Magna and Sportz trims come with both manual and AMT gearbox options. The same variants will also be offered with an optional factory-fit CNG kit, albeit without an AMT 'box. The Santro is the first model from the Korean carmaker to sport an automated manual transmission. Both AMT and manual transmission units will be mated to the same 69hp, 1.1-litre petrol engine. To keep all the variants within the model's price bracket, the 5-speed AMT gearbox will not be offered on the top-spec Asta trim. As a result, the two Santro AMT models are expected to miss out on features available on the Asta variant, such as the reverse camera, the rear air-con vents and the 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. However, safety kit and basic features like a driver’s side airbag, ABS with EBD, rear parking sensors, steering-mounted controls and power-adjustable wing mirrors are expected to be on offer across the Santro line-up, as standard. Prices for the Santro's AMT variants are expected to be about Rs 30,000 more than the respective manual gearbox-equipped variant. As Hyundai is looking at pricing the new hatchback aggressively, expect the AMT variants to be at par with the Tata Tiago AMT (Rs 5.04-5.63 lakh) and will possibly undercut the Maruti Suzuki Celerio AMT (Rs 5.49-5.94 lakh). All prices, ex-showroom, Delhi. Also see: 2018 Hyundai Santro vs rivals: Specifications comparison New Hyundai Santro to be sold in eight variants, bookings open 2018 Hyundai Santro review, track drive 2018 Hyundai Santro image gallery [...]
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Review: 2018 Hyundai Santro review, track drive
WHAT IS IT? The Hyundai Santro, much like its brand ambassador Shah Rukh Khan, is a car that needs no introduction. It's the car that started it all for Hyundai in India. Although it wasn’t very attractive to look at, it had a peppy responsive engine that was light and easy to drive, and it came with many segment-firsts. Now Hyundai has brought its tall boy back; well, sort of. With the new Santro, the brand wants to pick up from where the previous one left off. While the Santro's bigger and more upmarket successors such as the i10 and the Grand i10 have seen a fair measure of success, the Eon – the car which the new Santro should eventually replace – didn't. The new car looks more attractive than the Eon. Gone are loose, flowing 'fluidic' lines and in comes a sharp, almost sculpted look. Hyundai’s ‘cascading' grille, replete with chrome piping, takes centre stage on the front bumper. Placed in a black surround, it gets a pair of neat-looking fog lamps and a sporty 'V' shape. What's particularly interesting, however, is that the headlight and badge (in particular) have moved to the top of the bonnet, and this results in a sporty look. The sharply cut headlamps are swept back and the slight kink in the window line helps give it a bit of an edgy look too. While the Santro carries forward the 'tall boy' DNA (like the Grand i10), it doesn't seem particularly lofty thanks to the increase in length and width, and the cabin doesn't stand out like a sore thumb. There are stylistic cuts on the front and rear fenders, as well as the doors, and the sculpted lines work well around the rear too. The tail-lights don't extend onto the hatch ( a cost-cutting measure), and this does add a bit of bulk to the rear, but the frameless rear windshield, that hint of a rear spoiler and the nicely done cutline along the base make it look neat. Based on the same platform as the Grand i10, the new Santro is 3,610mm long, 1,645mm wide and 1,560mm tall. The 2,400mm-long wheelbase and a wide track also mean Hyundai has made sure there's plenty of space for passengers. The front has a McPherson strut suspension and the rear has a non-independent torsion beam axle. Under the hood, the new Santro is powered by Hyundai’s updated 1.1-litre Epsilon petrol engine. It makes 69hp at 5,500rpm and 99Nm of torque at 4,500rpm, against the Eon's 1.0-litre unit that makes 69hp and 94Nm. The Santro is the first Hyundai to feature an AMT gearbox. The engine can be mated to either a 5-speed manual or a 5-speed AMT, both of which are claimed to deliver 20.3kpl. WHAT'S IT LIKE ON THE INSIDE? As with most Hyundais, the cabin of the Santro is well appointed. It gets a dual-tone look with a premium beige-on-black colour scheme. The dashboard’s key attraction is the 7.0-inch touchscreen, which is a responsive system that comes with a suite of connectivity options such as Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Mirror Link and Voice Recognition. There’s a single USB port at the front along with a power outlet. A rubberised strip of buttons is housed below the screen, with traditional knobs on both sides. The buttons work well and feel nice to use. The instrument cluster houses a speedo in the middle, and is flanked by an rpm meter and a multi-info display. The speedometer features a chequered-print, grey plaque design. Also on offer is a first-in-segment reverse camera and rear air-con vents. There are audio controls on the steering, and in a cost-saving measure, the front power window switches are placed at the centre rather than on the doors. The cabin gets only one dome light. The centre console and HVAC controls feel plasticky to touch, but the finishing on the other surfaces is decent and they also have good texturing. In terms of storage, what you get is decent space. You get a large glovebox with a small storage tray above it. There’s also a storage shelf below the air-con controls, and a storage box in the centre console, which also doubles up as a cup holder. All the doors get pockets with bottle holders (the front passengers get larger ones). The front seats feel comfortable with decent side bolstering and good thigh support. Broader passengers, however, will find the top to be narrow because of the lack of shoulder support. The seating position for the driver is quite elevated, which is a good thing as you don't get height-adjust, and the steering column isn't adjustable either. There is, however, quite a bit of travel to help with legroom. At the rear too, the seat is comfortable. The backrest feels slightly upright but thigh support and legroom are good. The sides are also contoured slightly. WHAT'S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? Start the engine up and the Santro feels smooth at idle for a car in this class. Although [...]
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Mercedes-Benz India sales dip slightly in Jan-Sep 2018
India’s largest-selling luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz India today announced that it sold 11,789 units in the Jan-Sep 2018, down marginally by 0.7 percent from 11,869 units sold during the same time last year. However, volumes in the third quarter of 2018 (Jul-Sep) declined significantly by 20 percent to 3,728 units, from 4,689 units last year. The automaker said factors like rising interest rates, depreciation of the rupee and rising import costs weighed on volumes. It also said a price hike could be on the horizon due to the previously stated factors. | Volumes in the first nine months of the calendar year were driven mainly models such as the long wheelbase E-Class, C-Class sedan and SUVs. “We are satisfied with our sales performance despite experiencing the prevailing micro-economic headwinds and also a high base of 2017, which was a result of the strong built up to the GST roll-out and also the onset of an earlier festive season, posing stiff sales challenges,” Michael Jopp, VP, Sales and Marketing, Mercedes-Benz India said in a company statement. So far this year, the carmaker has launched 10 models in India, the most recent being the C-class facelift and the all new G63 AMG. Going ahead, Jopp said the company foresees a pick-up in sales with the onset of the festive season, which usually sees a spurt in demand for new cars. Meanwhile, Merc’s key German rival, BMW, recently announced that it posted a sales growth in Jan-Sep 2018, delivering 7,915 units (including Mini), up 11 percent year-on-year on the back of upbeat demand for the 6-series GT, the 5-series, the X1 and record sales of the Mini. Moreover, Swedish carmaker Volvo, too registered a significant growth in volumes in the first nine months of 2018, albeit on a relatively lower base. Sales totaled 1,896 units, up 34 percent year-on-year from 1,413 units sold during the same period in 2017. [...]
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New Hyundai Santro bookings to open on October 10, 2018
The all-new Hyundai Santro is all set to get its global reveal tomorrow, prior to the model’s full-scale launch on October 23. Interestingly, bookings open on October 10, albeit through a dedicated online portal only. Dealership bookings will only commence later with the car’s launch. The booking portal will allow buyers to book their car with an online payment of Rs 11,000. Subsequently, the assigned Hyundai dealer will call the respective customer and take him/her through the booking and delivery process. Deliveries are learned to begin on October 23 itself which implies the first lot of cars would be for buyers who’ve made their bookings online. The new Santro is expected to start with a price under Rs 4 lakh, will come with the option of an AMT automatic and will be richly equipped with features such as a touchscreen. The model will take on the Maruti Suzuki Celerio and the Tata Tiago. Also see: 2018 Hyundai Santro image gallery New Hyundai Santro caught undisguised before October 9 unveil New Hyundai Santro: features to be key differentiator [...]
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Review: 2018 Ford Aspire review, test drive
What is it? Ford has taken its time updating its compact sedan, the Aspire. The good news, however, is that it has done a pretty thorough job. It looks more grown up now, that's for sure, what with its more sophisticated headlight and grille combo. Ford has used a lot more bling in the nose, and with the lower part of the chin finished in black, the new Aspire looks sportier too. There aren’t many changes to the rear except for the redesigned bumper, but what Ford has done is upped the wheel size; top-spec Aspires now run on 15-inch alloy wheels shod with 195/55 R15 tyres. The bigger multi-spoke alloys have a simple yet classy design and the wheels now look more proportionate. Also new are the petrol engines and gearboxes (all three). The previous 88hp, 1.2-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine has been replaced with the new 96hp, 1.2-litre, three-cylinder 'Dragon' petrol engine; first seen on the Freestyle. While this engine packs more power, Ford also claims it is more efficient by 2.24 kpl; a considerable amount. In addition the previous 110hp, 1.5-litre petrol has also been replaced by a more powerful 123hp, 1.5-litre petrol (the same three-cylinder Dragon engine that powers the EcoSport). And this time it gets the same auto ‘box as the Ecosport as well; a 6-speed torque convertor unit (used in place of the earlier twin-clutch gearbox). What carries on unchanged, however, is Ford's very tractable and strong 100hp, 1.5 diesel (codenamed Tiger). If it ain't broke, why fix it? Apart from the cosmetic updates and new engines, there are also many changes to the equipment list. Important additions include a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system (finally), two USB ports, an auto-dimming inside rear view mirror (IRVM), auto headlamps and wipers, and a rear parking camera with sensors. What's it like on the inside? Step inside the car and you are greeted by the familiar two-tone black and beige dashboard. The major change on the inside is the addition of the 6.5-inch touchscreen with Ford’s Sync 3 system on the top-of-the-line Titanium+ cars. The unit is seamless in operation, very responsive and offers a level of slickness similar to that of most smartphones. The interface is intuitive and easy to understand, the display goes bright enough for even drives across a desert and what enhances the experience manifold, is the presence of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Even connectivity has been enhanced with with an improved Bluetooth system and an extra USB slot (Titanium+ only). And if you look closely, the dials have now been upgraded too. They now get a carbon fibre like texture; much nicer than the plain looking earlier dials.   With its new rubberised screen control knobs and additional chrome, the cabin has been given a bit of a lift too. The piano black surfaces, carried over from the earlier car, add to the premium feel, there are no badly built bits and most of the plastic bits feel hard wearing. Quality levels are a step down on those seen inside the cabin of the Dzire, and what the Ford also lacks is that sense of space the Maruti cabin delivers. The Aspire's cabin is as practical as ever, especially up front. The door pockets are very accommodating and smartly designed to keep bottles of all sizes, the glovebox is massive and there's even a nicely executed stowage area between the seats where you can keep all sorts of odds and ends. Overall visibility from the driver’s seat is good. Even tall drivers can find a comfortable driving position quite easily and the wide front seats provide good under-thigh and shoulder support as well. Also, importantly, the seats are both soft enough, as well as firm enough, to be comfortable over both long and short drives. Legroom in the rear is good as well due to the Aspire's long wheelbase (the longest in its class) and the seat, though not as good as some rivals, offers good support and a nicely reclined backrest. Headroom is tight for passengers who are above six feet tall though.  What’s it like to drive? The new 1.2-litre naturally aspirated three-cylinder Dragon engine made its debut in the Freestyle and here comes mated to a new 5-speed manual transmission. Producing a very strong 96hp, the highest among petrol-manual compact sedans, the engine is surprisingly smooth and silent for a three-cylinder unit at low revs. In fact, unless you are aware of it, this engine feels as smooth as four-cylinder unit. Low engine speed performance still is a bit lackluster. Yes, it does feel marginally better than the earlier 1.2 at low speeds, and that is important, but it still isn't as responsive as it should be below 2,000 or 2,500rpm. And what makes it worse, is that low speed pulling power isn't great either. This means you either stay in a low gear or be prepared to shift up and down the box often in traffic. Luckily, t [...]
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Tata Harrier diesel engine details teased
Another day and another set of details from Tata Motors on its upcoming Harrier SUV. The latest communication from Tata Motors is centred around the Harrier’s engine. The engine has been christened the Kryotec. Tata says the name is inspired from ‘the Cryogenic rocket engine known for its power and reliability’. Tata Motors hasn’t revealed exact engine displacement or power and torque figures but as is widely known the engine is derived from Fiat’s four-cylinder Multijet 2.0 unit that powers the Jeep Compass. The engine will produce around 140hp on the Harrier though a larger seven seat version of the SUV that is due later will come with the 170hp version of the engine like that on the Jeep. On the Harrier, the engine will come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard and will also be offered with the option of a Hyundai-sourced six-speed automatic. Without delving into the finer points Tata Motors says the Harrier’s engine will feature an electronically controlled variable geometry turbocharger, a low friction valve train and an advanced EGR system. The engine, says Tata Motors, is benchmarked against global standards for performance and refinement.    Tata Motors has also confirmed the Harrier will comes with multiple drive modes that will work in conjunction with ‘Terrain Response Modes of the ESP’. The Harrier will be built on Tata’s Omega Arc platform that has its roots in Land Rover’s D8 architecture, so it’s safe to expect all-wheel drive-equipped Harriers to be competent off-road. Tata Motors has already teased the design and styling of the new SUV and shared details of what to expect on the inside too. The production-spec Harrier itself has been caught testing repeatedly just about everywhere, in the Himalayas and even at the Kari Motor Speedway. The Tata Harrier is set to go on sale in January 2019, and will take on the upcoming Kia SP-based SUV and Nissan Kicks, in addition to the Hyundai Creta and Renault Captur already on sale. From what you’ve seen so far, do you think Tata’s Harrier has the right ingredients? Let us know in the comments section below.   ALSO SEE: Tata Motors reveals Harrier development details Tata Motors confirms harrier bookings yet to open Tata Harrier: 5 things to know   [...]
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PhotoGallery: Peugeot P2x Roadster image gallery
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2018 Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT launched at Rs 7.46 lakh
Suzuki has launched the XT variant of the V-Strom 650 in India at Rs 7.46 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). The adventurer tourer is the third bike from the motorcycle maker to be locally assembled, after the Hayabusa and the GSX-S750. The styling of the V-Strom 650XT is inspired by its larger sibling, the V-Strom 1000. The smaller-engined motorcycle gets premium anodised wire-spoke rims shod with Bridgestone Battlax Adventure A40 tubeless tyres. Its twin-spar alloy frame is suspended on a conventional telescopic fork at the front and a monoshock with rebound adjustment and remote preload adjuster at the rear. The seat height of the V-Strom 650XT is 835mm, as opposed to the 840mm of the its main rival, the Kawasaki Versys 650. At 20 litres, the Suzuki’s fuel tank is quite generous, and the motorcycle tips the scales at 216kg (kerb weight). Commenting on the launch, Satoshi Uchida, managing director, Suzuki Motorcycle India, said, “We are delighted to offer the ultimate adventure-tourer Suzuki V-Strom 650XT ABS to Indian customers as a Completely Knocked Down (CKD) unit, assembled in India. Off late, motorcycles have evolved as an extension of its owner’s personality. Individuals are now ready to invest to get an experience they were longing for. With its all-round capabilities, the V-Strom 650XT ABS is the apt motorcycle for adventure enthusiasts who want to be able to ride the same motorcycle for daily usage as well.” The bike is powered by a 645cc, V-twin engine that makes 71hp and 62Nm of torque, and is mated to a 6-speed gearbox. Meanwhile, the Kawasaki Versys 650’s engine makes 69hp and 64Nm of torque, and also uses a 6-speed transmission.  The V-Strom 650XT gets a three-stage traction control system (two levels and a disengage option). Other features include a three-way, height-adjustable windscreen, Suzuki’s useful Easy Start System and standard ABS (off-road enthusiasts will be disappointed to know that it cannot be disengaged). The Kawasaki Versys 650 retails for Rs 6.69 lakh (ex-showroom, India), which is significantly cheaper than the pricing of the V-Strom 650XT. That said, the Versys 650 sold in India is a more road-oriented model and doesn’t come with the V-Strom's expensive wheels or electronic aids like traction control, and this can work to Suzuki’s advantage. [...]
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Datsun Go, Go+ facelifts to get dual airbags, ABS as standard
Datsun is all set to launch the revamped Go hatchback and Go+ mini-MPV on October 9, 2018. In the lead in to the launch, the Japanese carmaker has announced that both models will get an enhanced safety package, with dual airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), and rear parking sensors as part of the standard kit. So far, a driver-side airbag was a paid option on the models, while ABS was not available at all. Interestingly, the fitment of airbags, ABS and a rear parking sensor on the Datsuns come before the safety features become mandatory on all cars in 2019. The Datsun Go had been at the centre of a storm when Global NCAP rated the car with zero stars in 2014. As part of the update, the Go and Go+ will also get a slew of changes outside and in, including a new 7.0-inch infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. The models are unlikely to see any mechanical changes, however. Expect the facelifts to be accompanied by a bump up in prices. The Go currently retails at Rs 3.38-4.41 lakh while the Go+ has a price tag between Rs 3.95 lakh and Rs 5.25 lakh. *All prices, ex-showroom, Delhi [...]
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Steelbird hires ex-Dainese and AGV helmets R&D Director as Production Head
Steelbird has hired Massimo Varese, a helmet designer with over 25 years of experience, which include some big names in the automobile protective apparel/helmet business. Massimo has been associated with big companies like Dainese and AGV, Pastorfrigor, Nava and Omega in the past. According to the release sent out by the Indian company, Varese will spearhead the Steelbird helmet production in India. Speaking about this move, Rajeev Kapur, MD, Steelbird said, “The appointment of Massimo Varese who comes with such a rich experience will be responsible for expansion of Steelbird helmet’s portfolio including design, development and production for domestic as well as global market.” Massimo Varese said, “This is a great opportunity for me to apply my talent and expertise in the industry which is close to my heart. I am extremely excited to join Steelbird Helmet and to serve Asia’s largest helmet industry i.e. India.” At present, the Indian helmet maker manufactures around four million helmets annually and has ambitious plans to increase that number to 10 million units by the end of 2020. This massive jump over just a two-year period may have something to do with the proposed upcoming (and very controversial) ISI regulations. Also see: Making sense of the non-ISI helmet ban Sale of non-ISI helmets could be banned after two months [...]
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INTERMOT 2018: Suzuki Katana unveiled
The Suzuki Katana was one of the most highly anticipated motorcycle unveils at the 2018 INTERMOT motorcycle show and the new bike lived-up to the hype surrounding it. As expected, the new Katana pays homage to the original bike which debuted in 1981 and is one of the most iconic sportsbikes ever made by Suzuki. The 2019 Katana shares its underpinnings with the Suzuki GSX-S1000 naked bike, and the motorcycle carries forward many of the design elements that was seen on the Katana Concept showcased last year. It features a square LED headlamp housed in a sharp front fairing which is connected to the bottom of the short, but chiselled fuel tank. One drawback of the design is that the fuel tank only holds 12-litres. The floating tail section is minimalistic and adds to the appeal of the motorcycle. Another interesting highlight is that the Suzuki font on the tank is similar to the one used on the original Katana that made its debut 37 years ago. The bold styling of the new Katana is likely to play a key role in pushing sales of the new motorcycle. The all-digital LCD dash is similar to the one used on the Suzuki GSX-R1000R. Powering the new Katana is the same 999cc motor as seen on the GSX-S1000R. The liquid-cooled, in-line-four powerplant churns out 150hp at 10,000rpm and 108Nm of peak torque at 9,500rpm. Transmission duties are handled by a 6-speed gearbox with a slipper clutch. It also features a three-level traction control system that can be turned off too. There was some speculation that the Katana could debut with a new 700cc turbocharged motor, but it appears we will have to wait a little longer to see the first production turbo from Suzuki. Underneath the retro-styled body sits the GSX-S1000's modern twin-spar aluminium alloy frame, which should endow it with likeable handling dynamics. Suspension hardware consists of a fully-adjustable KYB 43mm dia USD fork and a link-type monoshock unit adjustable for pre-load and rebound damping. Anchorage is provided by Brembo radial calipers and dual-channel ABS is standard. The Suzuki Katana will go on sale in Europe by early 2019 and it’s quite possible that Suzuki India will get the iconic motorcycle to our shores, perhaps by the end of next year. The upright and relaxed riding posture, retro-modern styling and the legendary name might make the Katana a popular performance bike for Suzuki in India. [...]
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Renault K-ZE concept previews all-electric Kwid
On the eve of the 2018 Paris motorshow, Renault has taken the wraps off of its ‘A-segment, SUV-inspired, electric vehicle’, the K-ZE. The K-ZE that will get its global unveil at the motorshow is, in effect, the all-electric version of the Kwid. Described as a global model, the production car will first go on sale in China in 2019, before making its way to other markets around the globe. India is one of the markets in consideration for the product. Renault has not revealed full details as yet but claims the K-ZE has a range of 250km in the NEDC cycle. The car features double charging that will be compatible with domestic plugs and public charging infrastructure. The charging port is positioned on the right flank of the car. The K-ZE's look is a development of the standard Kwid’s now-familiar styling. The show car sports narrower headlamps, a restyled ‘grille’ with a larger Renault lozenge and a redone front bumper with a more pronounced scuff plate and larger fog lamps. Flashy (and seemingly larger) wheels as well as blue highlights across the body also help distinguish the K-ZE’s look. At the rear, the show car also carries more detailed tail lamps. Highlights within the cabin include a central touchscreen, a reverse camera and rear parking sensors. The production K-ZE will be manufactured in China by e-GT New Energy Automotive Co, a Joint Venture with Dongfeng Motor Group and Nissan. Don’t expect Renault to be in a tearing hurry to bring the e-Kwid to India, though. Inadequate charging infrastructure aside, costs are a major issue. Renault engineers who we’ve spoken to have said that, at present, a typical EV costs at least 60 percent more to manufacture than its conventional engine-powered version. Until such time that Renault can rein in costs of components like battery packs (partially possible, if the Kwid EV clicks in China) the model is unlikely to come to India, soon.   [...]
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