Tata has announced the roll-out of the 50,000th Nexon at its plant in Ranjangaon. This landmark has been achieved in less than a year since the compact SUV’s launch in September 2017.
The Nexon has been quite a success for the Indian brand, having helped sales figures considerably. Despite many other carmakers posting a decline in sales growth in July 2018, the compact SUV was one of the models that helped Tata post a growth of 14 percent over its sales last year. In May 2018, the Nexon helped Tata to quadruple its UV market share, which increased by 5.62 percent.
Since Tata’s launch of the compact SUV last year, the Nexon saw the introduction of the AMT-equipped model in 2018 – first only in the top-spec XZA+ trim and then later in the lower-spec XMA trim. The brand also upgraded the software on the compact SUV’s infotainment system recently; it now features AppleCarPlay in addition to the previously available Android Auto.
Recently, the Nexon also managed to get a four-star rating in the latest round of the Global NCAP crash tests, making it one of the safer and yet affordable cars in India.
2018 Tata Nexon AMT video review
2017 Tata Nexon vs Maruti Vitara Brezza comparison
2017 Tata Nexon review, road test
2018 Tata Nexon long term review, first report [...]
McLaren Racing has confirmed that Fernando Alonso won’t be racing in Formula 1 next year. With a career spanning 17 years, the two-time F1 world champion has amassed 32 wins, 22 pole positions and 97 podiums to date.
“After 17 wonderful years in this amazing sport, it’s time for me to make a change and move on. I have enjoyed every single minute of those incredible seasons and I cannot thank enough the people who have contributed to make them all so special,” said Alonso.
“There are still several grands prix to go this season, and I will take part in them with more commitment and passion than ever. Let’s see what the future brings; new exciting challenges are around the corner. I’m having one of the happiest times ever in my life but I need to go on exploring new adventures.”
Alonso’s future in the sport had been in doubt amid frustration over an uncompetitive second stint with McLaren. However, he hasn’t ruled out returning to race for the team in the future. “I know they (McLaren) will come back stronger and better in the future and it could be the right moment for me to be back in the series; that would make me really happy,” said Alonso.
The Spanish driver is committed to competing in the 2018-19 World Endurance Championship super season with the works Toyota team, having won the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours at his first attempt earlier this year.
He hasn’t announced whether he will be competing in any other series next year, but he has been linked to a full-time IndyCar drive. With two Monaco GP wins under his belt, Alonso's Le Mans victory leaves just the Indianapolis 500 unconquered in his bid for motorsport's unofficial 'triple crown'. He was allowed to miss the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix to make his Indianapolis 500 debut, and he challenged for victory in the race before retiring. [...]
Mahindra has been drip-feeding us little tidbits and teasers of the Marazzo MPV in the build up to its launch. The dashboard was revealed a few days ago, and now, the company has revealed the interior in full, showcasing the seating options that will be on offer on the Marazzo MPV.
Unsurprisingly, the seven-seat variant gets captain seats for the second row, while the eight-seater Marazzo gets a bench seat. To access the last row, the captain seats on the seven-seater can be flipped forward, and the same goes for the eight-seat Marazzo, as its foldable bench has a 40:20:40 split.
The images also hint at the boot space on offer, and though it doesn’t look like there’ll be a lot of it with all three rows up, folding the third row should free up plenty of room for luggage. Remember, Mahindra has stated the Marazzo has the biggest footprint of any of its products, and that has been done to maximise cabin space.
As we’d shown you before, the Marazzogets a black-and-beige T-shape dashboard with faux aluminium inserts, leatherette seat upholstery, a 7.0-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system, automatic climate control andAC vents for all three rows.
The Marazzo is the first Mahindra passenger vehicle to be co-developed by its Research Valley, in Chennai, and its North American Technical Centre. Expected to make its debut on the Marazzo is a new, 1.5-litre diesel engine putting out around 121hp and 300Nm of torque. A six-speed manual will be the only gearbox available initially. All variants are expected to get airbags, ABS with EBD, rear parking sensors as standard.
Scheduled to launch in the run up to Diwali, the Marazzo will slot in between the incoming second-gen Maruti Suzuki Ertiga and the Toyota Innova Crysta.
Think the Marazzo’s interior looks promising? Let us know in the comments.
U321 MPV officially named Mahindra Marazzo [...]
Renewable energy solutions service provider, Magenta Power, has set up an EV charging station at Hotel Center Point in Lonavala, creating India’s first EV charging corridor through the ChargeIn network on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway.
In the next phase, the network will then be extended to Bengaluru and Mysuru (through the NH4), allowing electric vehicle users to travel across this stretch in their EV.
ChargeIn will be a fully integrated network of charging points including AC and DC chargers and all the ChargeIn points will be connected via a network for central monitoring and control. It will be an open platform for all EV charging stations. Existing owners of charging stations will have the option to join the ChargeIn network and support this community.
Initially, some of the charging stations will have a fully automated payment system so that users can charge the vehicles using an online OTP based payment system via the ChargeIn app. This payment system will be deployed to all the charging stations in a phased manner.
Commenting on the announcement, Maxson Lewis, the CEO and managing director of Magenta Power, mentioned that ChargeIn, the app solution provider, plans to encompass charging stations for two-wheelers, three-wheelers, passenger vehicles and bus fleets. He believes that while this network of charging stations will open up the ‘electric highways’ in India, it will also provide a unique employment opportunity for charging station owners who can man and support the stations. He also mentioned that Magenta Power understands the challenges with setting up and operating EV charging stations in India given the local context and issues and is prepared with technological and ground level solutions.
Magenta Power is certain that this initiative will encourage OEMs like Mahindra and Tata to deploy more EVs on Indian roads. The company had installed India’s first solar-based EV charging station in Navi Mumbai recently. [...]
Polaris India has inaugurated its 83rd Polaris Experience Zone (PEZ) in the country in Pune. Spread over an area of 100 acres, the off-road adventure track was opened in Sunny’s World at the Tiger’s Eye Adventure, which Polaris India says is the country’s largest adventure resort that has more than 100 activities. The track was inaugurated by Polaris India MD and country head, Pankaj Dubey, along with Sunny Nimhan and Vinayak Nimhan, who are the owners of Sunny’s World.
Customers and adventure sports enthusiasts can experience a raft of Polaris’ adventure vehicles on the dirt track, which consists of specially designed obstacles like a slush pit, humps and jumps, and bits made from sand and stone. Trainers are also available for those who would like to learn how to handle the variety of off-roading scenarios.
Speaking on the occasion, Pankaj Dubey said, “This reflects that the off-roading culture in India is at a rising trend and we are geared up to provide an unmatched experience to adventure sports enthusiasts.”
Polaris Sportsman 500 HO, RZR 800 ATV review
Polaris displays off-road ambulance
Polaris reveals Slingshot tricycle
Polaris India off-road vehicle range displayed at Defexpo 2016 [...]
Hero had showcased two new 125cc scooters, called the Maestro Edge 125 and the Duet 125, at the Auto Expo 2018. Now, however, leaked images of what looks to be a presentation slide reveals that the Duet 125 has been rebadged as the Destini 125.
While the Destini 125 (Duet 125) is positioned as a family scooter offering, the Maestro Edge, on the other hand, targets younger buyers with its comparatively sportier styling. Both scooters use a 125cc motor that makes 8.7hp and 10.2Nm of torque. They also come equipped with i3S (idle-start-stop) tech that, until now, was seen only on Hero motorcycles.
The Destini 125 will also feature an external fuel-filler cap, side-stand warning, service indicator and a pass switch. Furthermore, it comes with a boot lamp and mobile charging point. Styling-wise, the scooter gets body-coloured rear-view mirrors and a dual-tone seat.
As for the Maestro Edge, we will believe Hero will keep that moniker as it is a strong brand for them. Expect more details about the two upcoming scooters to emerge in the weeks to come.
SIC is set to take over from Tech3 as Yamaha’s sole MotoGP satellite operation in 2019. Now, Yamaha Factory Racing managing director, Lin Jarvis, has confirmed that Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo will be racing for the team in its first season in the premier class.
Morbidelli currently races for the Marc VDS Honda squad. His ties to Yamaha, via mentor Valentino Rossi, meant he was always highly likely to join the SIC squad in 2019, although the finalisation of his deal has been delayed by complications arising from his existing Marc VDS contract. Meanwhile, Quartararo will step up to MotoGP after two seasons in Moto2. The 19-year-old, who won his first Moto2 race at Barcelona in June, beat out Nieto Ducati rider Alvaro Bautista and Moto2 racer Lorenzo Baldassarri to become Morbidelli's teammate.
Speaking to MotoGP.com, Jarvis said: “They’re (SIC Yamaha) an Independent Team. Of course, any rider they select needs to be finally approved by us at being at the level and the capacity to ride the M1. So they’ve chosen to go for Franco Morbidelli, who is a rider who is very interesting to us because he’s a World Champion, he’s an Academy rider and he definitely has talent. I think he’ll do better on the M1 than he is doing this year on the Honda so in the case of Franco there was no doubt at all from the beginning.”
“In the case of Quartararo, he will be a rookie, but he’s young – only 19 – and he’s definitely talented. He lost his way maybe for a year or two but he’s showing promise again this year. But I think he could be one of the very good riders for the future.”
The confirmation of SIC Yamaha’s line-up leaves only a few seats on the 2019 MotoGP grid to be confirmed. Honda has yet to announce that Takaaki Nakagami will stay on at LCR for a second season, although this is deemed a formality, while Avintia Ducati's line-up is also not yet fixed. It is anticipated Xavier Simeon will lose his ride, with well-financed Nieto rider Karel Abraham emerging as the favourite to replace the Belgian alongside Tito Rabat. [...]
Ares Design has confirmed the Panther name for its Lamborghini Huracán-based supercar. Due to the complexity of production and demand for exclusivity from buyers, the production run is strictly limited to 21 units, with the first models leaving its factory in Modena, Italy, in October.
A camouflaged development prototype of the Panther is currently being tested on the roads around the company's base in Modena, Italy. Ares Design, headed by former Lotus boss Dany Bahar, has also confirmed that all of 2018's build slots have been accounted for. The model is being produced as the first of the design house's several custom designs based on the Huracán’s platform.
The car’s design influence comes from the De Tomaso Pantera – an exotic Italian supercar produced in 1971. The Panther's fold-down headlights and rear buttresses are clear nods to that car’s shape, but the new supercar receives a modern touch in way of large-diameter wheels and handle-free doors. The Panther will also feature Pirelli P Zero rubber with F1-inspired coloured strips.
Beneath its coachbuilt body, the Panther uses the Huracán's underpinnings and a 5.2-litre V10 engine – the sole mass-produced unit to use 10 cylinders in production – which puts out 641bhp (39bhp more than the standard Huracán) and the same 560Nm of torque as the Lamborghini. No performance figures have been released by the company yet.
In addition to the Panther, Ares Design's recently announced Modena facility will also handle the production of Ares’ growing range of offerings, which recently expanded to include the Mercedes-Benz G-class and Bentley Mulsanne-based models. Bahar’s design company is also creating 53 bespoke Land Rover Defenders in conjunction with the British engineering firm JE MotorWorks.
“Our new facility in Modena works perfectly for the growing market of special requests from car enthusiasts and Project Panther is the first of a portfolio of cars – and other surprises - that we will be presenting at an official opening in January,” revealed Dany Bahar.
Despite its current spot atop Ares’ range, the Panther could be trumped by a higher-ranking model within a year. The company boss has big plans for Ares Design to become a global leader in bespoke car creations and expand to incorporate the complete process of custom car production. Bahar said “there is much more to come” in the next few years. [...]
2018 Mahindra XUV500 petrol AT review, test drive [...]
The Atomic Racing school is a relatively new outfit that has been teaching riders for about a year now. Founded by racer Siddhanth Koundinya, the school teaches in two levels – the Engage platform is for anyone looking to improve their skills while the Elevate programme is catered around racers – current and aspiring. This being my first time riding with Atomic, I started off with the Engage session.
The two-day training programme started off, quite literally, with a walk – a great way to begin things as it gives you a fresh perspective of the race track. A trick commonly used by racers at the start of a competitive weekend, walking the track allows you to fully appreciate its width and pick up more subtle details in the surface and surroundings that could otherwise be missed at higher speeds. It took a good 40min to walk the relatively short 2.1km of the Kari Motor Speedway, but it was time well-spent.
The next two days were spent absorbing theory sessions in the classroom and heading out on track after each lesson to practise. Our calm and insightful instructor, Avinash Premnath, was constantly working with the students to figure out what was causing them trouble and how to fix it. Atomic is clear about the fact that they are a race team and a racing academy – they say as much on their website. This filters down to the style of instruction and much of the education is centred around improving the student’s skills on the racetrack. This not a basic riding school and you are expected to arrive already equipped with the basic knowledge of how to ride a motorcycle. The school will then teach you how to go faster – and more importantly, how to do so safely.
Atomic Motorsports is quite multi-faceted. The team competes in the national racing championship and also provides open-track riding sessions that run on the school dates. A seat in the school costs Rs 17,999, or for Rs 9,999 you can book a slot in the open-track session that runs while the students are in the classroom. Participants are expected to bring their own protective gear and motorcycle, but the team will rent out a bike to those who need one.
Atomic organises school sessions quite frequently at all three racetracks in India and you can keep an eye on their website or social media pages to see when the next session will be. [...]
What is it?
If the fact that the Mahindra XUV500 is available with a petrol engine comes as a surprise to you, you aren’t alone. Mahindra has earned its stripes as a maker of hardy UVs and SUVs powered by diesel engines, so a petrol-powered XUV500 is a bit of an anomaly in the line-up. While the petrol XUV500 has been brought out to cater to the small but growing number of petrol SUV buyers in India, this version has been manufactured primarily for export markets.
The XUV500 petrol is available in only one variant, the G Automatic, and is priced at Rs 15.50 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), which is Rs 1 lakh less than the corresponding diesel variant (W9 AT). G trim means the petrol XUV misses out on features like side and curtain airbags, a reverse parking camera, an electric sunroof, quilted leather upholstery and 18-inch alloy wheels. This one rides on 17-inch wheels.
In terms of design, there is only the badging to tell this version apart from a comparable diesel. In general, the XUV500 does look more upmarket following the recent facelift that brought with it a chrome studded grille and a redesigned tailgate.
What’s it like inside?
The petrol XUV500 follows an all-black cabin theme but there are no soft touch elements on the dash as on the top-spec diesel. Gloss black plastics and brushed silver elements do help uplift the cabin but general fit and finish is not up there with the best in class. What looks rather nice are the shapely tan-finished fabric seats, and the front pair does offer good lateral support. The middle row is big on space and can comfortably accommodate three adults, but thigh support is in short supply. The third row remains a place best used for short journeys.
The petrol XUV500 gets a decent amount of kit. There's standard kit such as dual airbags, ESP with rollover mitigation, hill hold control, and hill descent control, while convenience features include keyless entry, cruise control and a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment unit with Android Auto connectivity. What is sorely missed is a reversing camera, and a sunroof would have also been a nice addition.
What’s it like to drive?
The petrol engine powering the XUV500 is a 2.2-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged unit that, interestingly enough, is built around the same block as the diesel engine. The engine comes mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with power channeled solely to the front wheels. With power at 140hp and 320Nm of torque, the numbers are reasonable for an SUV of this size.
If you’ve been in an XUV500 diesel, you’ll appreciate the enhanced refinement of the petrol version. But it's not the most refined as petrol units go. What is nice, however, is the engine’s responsiveness in low-speed environments. Part-throttle responses are good, and power is delivered in a smooth and linear way. Also helping the experience in average city driving conditions is that the gearshifts are seamless. The turbocharger kicks in at around 1,800rpm and the XUV starts pulling away nicely after that point. Floor the accelerator though and you’ll find the gearbox isn’t very quick to downshift. Shifting to manual mode for overtakes doesn’t really help as the 'box automatically shifts up when above 4,300rpm, which is pretty low for a petrol engine. Also, while the engine is fairly responsive initially, it lacks punch as you go higher up the powerband.
The XUV500 petrol will do the 0-100kph dash in 12.77sec, which makes it just as fast as the diesel XUV that's got an extra 15hp. But you will experience considerable torque steer under hard acceleration. What will be a bigger concern for urban users is the XUV500’s fuel economy. We rarely saw the numbers touch double digits – not a good sign in times of rising fuel prices.
The ride quality is similar to what we’ve experienced on the XUV before. The ride is a bit lumpy at low speeds but it gets better with speed. The XUV500 does exhibit vertical movement at highway speeds but feels composed enough. And, as ever, you can feel the SUV's size in the bends; carry more speed than needed and it will understeer into a corner. There’s pronounced kickback at the steering on big bumps as well.
Should I buy one?
Priced at Rs 15.5 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the XUV500 petrol does get you plenty of SUV for the money. But is it the version to buy? Not really. Sure, the petrol model will appeal to buyers for whom refinement is high up on the list of priorities, and it does work fine for urban use, but the low fuel economy is sure to be a put-off even for the most ardent petrolheads. Our advice would be to go for the XUV500 diesel automatic as it remains the best of the XUVs to buy. [...]
In a recent interview with MCN, Ducati CEO, Claudio Domenicali was quoted saying that there will surely be more V4-powered Ducatis and went on to praise the V4 motor and gearbox. Based on this remark and our previous conversations with the brand, we believe that Ducati will offer some of its more expensive models with a V4 engine. Regardless, it will not completely diverge from its roots and will continue to have many L-twin-powered (it’s a 90-degree V) bikes on offer.
“There will be more V4s for sure. This engine is wonderful; and actually, it is a very strong platform – it is solid. It is obviously very light but the gearbox, the clutch and the engine cases have been built strong. In due time, our top-of-the-range bikes will go this direction,” said Domenicali. While speaking about the new engine, he was quoted saying, “We don’t think that we want to just take this engine and apply it as it is. The new motor will be one that will be based on this technology but will be much more tuned for longer distance and lower maintenance cost – and this is where we will focus our development. It’s taking time because we want to be right, but this is where we are going."
Domenicali’s words clearly state that Ducati is working on a significantly reworked V4 motor for other applications. We may see lesser power figures from the upcoming V4 but will get improved fuel-efficiency and longevity in return. The engine will also likely be tuned differently for each motorcycle it will be used in. For example, if it were something along the lines of the next-gen Multistrada to get a V4, we would most definitely see a lower power figure than on the Panigale, but with a higher torque output. The engine will also be slightly lower-revving and make most of its power much lower in the rev range than on the Panigale V4. Similarly, if the motor were to go into say the next-gen Monster 1100, it would be tuned to suit its sport-naked characteristics. This is not something new, as Ducati’s L-twins from the previous range-topping superbikes were quite different in nature to those used in machines like the Multistrada and Diavel.
However, Ducati has always been known for its L-twin engine layout and their unique nature and exhaust note is well-loved among aficionados – which is why we believe the manufacturer won’t be abandoning this engine layout anytime soon. Ducati will continue making L-twin sports bikes for the years to come and the next-gen baby Panigale (next-gen 959) could continue to be powered by a L-twin. That said, Ducati could even make a more-affordable V4-powered Panigale model while the twin could be carried forward by the likes of the SuperSport.
Another contradicting possibility could be the SuperSport model line-up going the V4 way. Domenicali did say that Ducati is working to tune the engine to cover longer distance and lower maintenance costs; this would fit the nature of the SuperSport models just right. This is just speculation, though, and we will have to wait for either spy images or an announcement from Ducati, itself. Don’t expect to see any new V4 powered motorcycles from Ducati for a while, apart from the 1,000cc Panigale V4 R being built primarily for racing.
What models do you think could get the new V4? Let us know in the comments below.
Passenger vehicles could see a big price hike in the days to come, Pawan Goenka, MD, Mahindra & Mahindra hinted at a press meet in Mumbai. The price increases will be on account of the upgrades required to meet India’s latest crash test and emission norms.
Car buyers will have to brace for some cost implications as carmakers will upgrade their older models to meet safety norms. The more stringent crash test norms came into effect from October 1, 2017, for new cars and will apply to all cars on sale in the country from October 1, 2019.
Additionally, expenses will also come from upgrading cars to meet the BS-VI emission norms that will come into force from April 2020. The cost of migrating to BS-VI emission norms will be higher for diesel cars as opposed to petrol vehicles as the former will have to be fitted with diesel particulate filters and selective catalytic converters. This could significantly impact carmakers, like Mahindra & Mahindra, which have a diesel-heavy portfolio. According to some estimates, diesel car prices could potentially go up by more than Rs 1 lakh in 2020.
Goenka said that the high costs involved in upgrading the models to meet the safety and fuel norms could also mark the end of the road for some low-volume models. However, he stressed that there will be no impact on in-demand models such as the Scorpio and the XUV500.
"When it comes to BS-VI norms, since there is a lot of investment required, there will be a corresponding price increase that might happen along with a price increase due to the safety norms. Hence, we are taking a decision on which models we may decide to not continue beyond March 2020," Goenka said. "Nearly all our models, with the exception of one or two low-volume products, will meet the new safety norms," he added.
The Verito sedan could be discontinued, and there's a question mark around the NuvoSport as well, as Mahindra hasn't produced or sold a single unit of the SUV since April 2018.
All-new Mahindra Rexton (XUV700) showcased in Mumbai
Attractive discounts on pre-facelift Mahindra XUV500, Rexton SUVs
Mahindra dealerships to have special Prime zone for premium models
U321 MPV officially named Mahindra Marazzo [...]
Luxury sportscar manufacturer, Ferrari, has filed a patent with the European Patent Office for a new Targa removable roof system. This 'Targa Top' design could signal a potential return to the body style for the Italian carmaker after a 20-year hiatus.
The patent application refers to “a car with a ‘Targa Top’ body” that features a “coupé body with a rigid roof that is removable and is supported at the front by the upright of the windshield and at the rear by a robust, full-width roll bar”.
The Targa top style that Ferrari refers to is similar to that currently used by Porsche on the 911, but the new patent refers to the specific design and engineering involved. It proposes decreasing the aerodynamic turbulence associated with Targa tops by increasing the height of the windscreen upright, with a possible false insert that is installed when the roof is removed.
Ferrari claims that a Targa-style production car of its design would be “free from the aforementioned drawbacks” as well as being “easy and inexpensive to manufacture.”
Although it’s not known yet whether an existing Ferrari model will benefit from the new removable roof design, the patent drawings illustrate an old F430 for reference. That mid-engined V8 model is a predecessor to the 488 GTB.
The 355 GTS from the 1995-1999 time period was the last Targa-style Ferrari in mass production, although limited-run models such as the 575 Superamerica and LaFerrari Aperta were produced in small quantities since that car. A Targa-topped 488 would sit alongside the existing GTB and Spider convertible in the range, expanding a line-up that makes up a significant proportion of Ferrari’s annual sales.
Lawrence Allan [...]
As part of a renewed effort to promote Indian racing talent, Honda 2Wheeler India will be launching a new motorcycle racing series in 2019. Set to run parallel to existing national championships, the one-make championship will see participants compete on the Honda NSF 250R Moto3 racer – a bike which helped Honda clinch the Moto3 constructors’ title in 2015.
Developed by Honda Racing Corporation in 2011 as a replacement for the two-stroke Honda RS125R, the four-stroke NSF 250R is powered by a 249cc engine assisted by a ram-air intake system. Commenting on the introduction of the Moto3 racer in India, Prabhu Nagaraj, Vice President, Brand and Communications, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt Ltd. said, “Setting a new benchmark, the highly successful NSF 250R starts a new chapter in Indian motorsports. Acknowledged globally as a stepping stone for budding champions, NSF 250R will be a huge step up for Indian riders. Riding experience on purpose built racing motorcycle will help them gain competitive edge bringing them at par with international racing at an early stage of their career.”
The NSF 250R is a very serious race bike that has competed at the highest international level for this engine class. It’s a highly commendable move for Honda to introduce this motorcycle to Indian racing. It will help take the talent pool a step forward towards preparedness for competing internationally.
Honda 2Wheeler India has also announced three new teams exclusively for Asian riders in international racing championships. The first of these will be the Honda Asia Dream Racing team, which will compete in the Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Race and the JSB1000 class of the All-Japan Road Race Championship. The IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia and Honda Team Asia teams will compete in the Moto2 and Moto3 class of the FIM Road Racing Championship respectively – both classes serving as important stepping stones to the premiere MotoGP class.
“It is my dream to see an iconic Indian compete in Grand Prix level racing. With a clear development path and structured approach to nurture riders in place, we now want to take Indian motorsports to the next level. Honda will introduce the Moto3 machine NSF 250R as competition bike in India next year. India’s best racers from Honda India Talent Cup and national championship will be racing on NSF 250R in a separate series running parallel to existing national championships. Motorsports has a bright future in India and Honda will continue to take such steps to support racing talent,” said Minoru Kato, President and CEO, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India Pvt Ltd. [...]
In a bid to boost the appeal of its WR-V crossover, Honda has just introduced a special edition of the model with a bit more equipment that enhances the vehicle's safety and comfort.
Offered on the base S trim of the WR-V, the Alive edition is priced at Rs 8.02 lakh for the petrol and Rs 9.11 lakh for the diesel. Both the versions are priced Rs 23,500 higher than the standard S variants. (All prices, ex-showroom, Delhi)
Additional features on the WR-V Alive edition include 16-inch diamond cut alloy wheels, rear parking camera, rear parking sensors, premium steering wheel cover and seat cover with a special edition logo. Additionally, WR-V customers also get a one-month subscription to Honda Connect. The app offers features such as service bookings, insurance and PUC reminders, impact alerts and trip analysis.
Moreover, Honda has also introduced a new exterior paint shade dubbed Radiant Red, which is also available across the entire range.
There are no mechanical changes to the special-edition WR-V and it continues to be offered with a 90hp, 1,199cc, petrol engine and a 100hp, 1,498cc diesel mated to a five-speed manual and six-speed manual gearbox, respectively.
Apart from the WR-V, Honda has also launched a special edition of the City and BR-V. The move is aimed at improving sales ahead of the festive season, which typically witnesses a spurt in car buying.
Honda City Edge edition launched at Rs 9.75 lakh
Honda BR-V Style edition launched at Rs 10.44 lakh
Honda HR-V facelift showcased at GIIAS 2018
All-new 2019 Honda Brio revealed [...]
SAIC-owned Wuling motor company has unveiled a new SUV, which is its own rendition of the Baojun 530. The company has showcased this new SUV at the ongoing GIIAS motor show in Indonesia. For those who don’t know, the Baojun 530 SUV will form the basis for the first model from MG Motor India which will be launched sometime next year.
Wuling has not yet revealed the market name of this new SUV and is simply calling the model “Wuling SUV” in the Indonesian market. The vehicle has same body panels as the Baojun 530 but gets subtle changes, all around. The grille on this SUV is different, replete with a large Wuling logo that sits at its centre.
The India-bound Baojun 530 made its China debut in March 2018. Measuring 4,655mm in length, 1,835mm in width and 1,760mm in height, the 530 is slightly bigger than a Jeep Compass. With its large dimensions and long equipment list, MG India is confident of pricing its first SUV just under Rs 20 lakh.
On the inside, the Baojun 530 sports a dual-tone colour scheme. The design of the dashboard is neat and tidy and houses a free-standing touchscreen infotainment system.
In China, the Baojun 530 is available with the option of a pair of petrol engines – namely a 1.8-litre naturally aspirated unit and a 1.5-liter turbo-charged one. For the Indian market, MG is expected to source a Fiat 2.0-litre diesel engine option from FCA India.
MG Motor is currently working on heavily localising the restyled and redesigned Indian Baojun 530 SUV. It will be produced at SAIC’s plant (formerly owned by General Motors) in Halol, Gujarat.
Apart from the Wuling SUV, the company has also showcased the E100 small electric car at the show that was also seen testing on Indian soil recently.
The BMW Group has announced a new €1 billion plant in Debrecen, Hungary, to expand its European operations. The factory will have an annual production capacity of 1,50,000 units and will produce BMW-badged cars.
The factory will employ over 1,000 people and take the total number of the brand’s plants to 18, with 13 of those in Europe. This makes sense, given that Europe takes nearly half of all BMW Group sales.
It’s not yet been announced which models will be produced at the plant, but, given that BMW has factories in the US and Asia, it’s likely that the plant will cater to European demand.
BMW Group boss Harald Krüger said: “The BMW Group’s decision to build this new plant reaffirms our perspective for global growth. After significant investments in China, Mexico and the US, we're now strengthening our activities in Europe to maintain a worldwide balance of production between Asia, America and our home continent. Europe is the BMW Group’s largest production location. In 2018 alone, we're investing more than €1 billion in our German sites to upgrade and prepare them for electric mobility.”
The Hungarian plant will be future-proofed by being compatible with production of electrified cars as well as conventional models, said BMW production boss, Oliver Zipse.
It hasn't yet been announced when the first cars are expected to roll out of the plant.
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Kawasaki India launched the locally assembled Ninja ZX-10R and the Ninja ZX-10RR a few months back. By locally assembling the motorcycles, prices for the Ninja ZX-10R dropped by Rs 6 lakh, while the Ninja ZX-10RR is now Rs 3.1 lakh more affordable than the CBU bikes. The drop in prices made the Ninja ZX-10R, the most affordable 1,000cc superbike on sale in our country. And it didn’t come as a surprise that close to 100 bikes allotted for India in the first batch sold-out in record time. Now, both the locally assembled superbikes have arrived at dealerships and deliveries have begun, with Anzen Kawasaki already delivering one of each bike on August 3.
The locally assembled ZX-10R and 10RR will be sold as single-seat versions in our market. By offering both the motorcycles without a pillion seat; Kawasaki can avoid homologation requirements in terms of engineering a saree guard for the bike. Both the litre-class motorcycles will be equipped with a rear cowl, but will not have pillion footpegs. However, customers do have an option to add a pillion seat as an accessory, which will cost them around Rs 38,000.
Powering the Kawasaki superbike is a 998cc, in-line four motor churning out 200hp at 13,000rpm and 113.5Nm of torque at 11,500rpm. It features a six-speed gearbox and a quickshifter as standard fitment. It gets electronic aids such as traction control (S-KTRC), multi-level power modes, launch control (KLCM), ABS control (KIBS), cornering management (KCMF) and an engine braking function (KEBC) – all of which are controlled by an inertial measuring unit (IMU).
The ZX-10RR is a more track-focussed version of the standard superbike and gets superior Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tyres, which are wrapped around lighter 7-spoke Marchesini forged aluminium alloy wheels. Finally, the engine gets a different head design that can accommodate race-spec cams.
The ZX-10R and the 10RR are the most powerful and expensive motorcycles from the Japanese brand’s portfolio to be assembled in our country. Both the motorcycles are CKD imports and will be assembled at Kawasaki’s Chakan plant. The Japanese two-wheeler giant also has plans to make India its export hub and might launch low displacement motorcycles in our market in the future. [...]
KTM may not be using the word ‘recall’ here, but customers of the 2017 and 2018 390 Duke have been asked to bring in their bikes for what the company is calling a 'Monsoon Kit Fitment'. This kit involves a new ECU bracket, pillion seat damping bushes and a fix for the headlamp vibration issue many customers have been facing. If necessary, the company will also flash a software update on the bikes that face the issue of the headlamp randomly turning off, a fault that's been public for over a year now. All of these updates will be carried out free of cost.
The new ECU bracket comes with a cover that will protect the unit from water and other elements. The pillion seat damping bushes have been redesigned to increase the gap between the seat and the tail-light, as the older setup led to the cracking of the light with a heavier pillion onboard.
The India-built KTM models don’t have a stellar reputation when it comes to quality; there have been a number of fixes and updates since their debut. Interestingly, back in January this year, dealers had informed us that the 390 has had a few technical updates for the 2018 iteration. Part of the technical changes includes the updated software for the instrumentation and the increased idle rpm. The idle speed was changed to 1,200-1,800rpm from the older model's 1,200-1,600rpm. At the time, we also heard that the design of the radiator shrouds has been tweaked for better hot air management.
The 2018 390 Duke is powered by the same 373cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder unit, with the power figure unchanged at 43.5hp at 9,000rpm and peak torque at 37Nm at 7,000rpm. The motorcycle comes with a Bybre 320mm front disc, chomped on by a radially bolted four-piston caliper, and a 230mm rear disc, bitten down by a single-piston floating caliper and armed with switchable two-channel Bosch-developed ABS.
The all-new Amaze is turning out to be a hit for Honda. In July 2018, the Amaze sold 10,180 units –the highest recorded monthly sales for a Honda model in India, yet. The Amaze contributed 51 percent to Honda’s July 2018 sales of 19,970 units. Additionally, July 2018 has proven to be the best-selling month for the Japanese carmaker.
As we’d reported earlier, the petrol-manual in the mid-spec S trim accounts for a majority of the car's sales – but when you look at combined sales (petrol and diesel), it’s the V and VX variants that are performing better. There’s also been healthy demand for the automatic variants of the new Amaze, with initial trends revealing a 74-26 sales split between the manuals and automatics. Only the S and V trims of the Amaze are offered with the option of a CVT, which is also one of the reasons why the S variant is in demand.
The launch of the new Amaze has definitely given Honda a boost, given that sales for the Japanese carmaker were almost flat prior to the introduction of the new model. Honda’s July 2018 sales of 19,970 units are a growth of 17 per cent, against the 17,085 units sold in the same month, last year. In the April-July period this fiscal, Honda grew 12.5 per cent in the domestic market, selling 62,579 units against 55,647 units in the same period, last year. Other than the Amaze, the City and WR-V are two other products adding a notable figure to the volumes.
Honda launched the Amaze in May, this year, at an introductory price of Rs 5.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). The introductory price has certainly helped the new Amaze find many takers, but with prices going up, it will be interesting to see if the Amaze can continue to rack-up the numbers in the face of strong competition from the Maruti Suzuki Dzire and the Hyundai Xcent. [...]
Some years ago, it was unimaginable to spend over a lakh on an India-made motorcycle (barring Royal Enfields, of course). Today, this Rs 1-2 lakh segment is one of the fastest growing in the Indian market. Unsurprisingly, this bracket also encompasses some of the most interesting, fun and relatively accessible motorcycles in the country. And as always, we’re looking at the ex-showroom prices, not the final on-road costs.
Note: All the prices mentioned here are post-GST.
After years of waiting for Yamaha to launch a quarter-litre motorcycle in India, it finally surprised us this year with the FZ25. The bike sports a squat, muscular stance much like the FZ16 and manages to look quite pleasing, albeit not as intimidating as some of Yamaha’s larger streetfighters. It gets a 249cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled motor that not exactly is a shining example of power and performance, but does dish out a healthy dose of refinement and linear power delivery. Weighing 148kg, the FZ25 is among the lighter bikes in this class, which makes for acceptably sprightly acceleration. And with a claimed mileage of 43kpl, it certainly seems to be one of the most efficient motorcycles in this segment as well. It is sprung a bit on the stiffer side, but that does endow it good handling characteristics, although it is not the best in class. It doesn’t get features such as ABS yet, however, it does pack an LED headlight as well as an all-LCD instrument cluster. The FZ25 might not be setting benchmarks in this category, but with its practicality, comfort, refinement and charming design, it is certainly one of the most easily likeable bikes here.
Power: 20.9hp at 8,000rpm
Torque: 20Nm at 6,000rpm
Price: Rs 1.19 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Also read: 2017 Yamaha FZ25 review
Bajaj Pulsar RS200
The Pulsar RS200 is the company’s flagship model and the only faired motorcycle in its range. It has been around since 2014, and its last noteworthy update came in 2017 with the arrival of the BS-IV emission norms. To refresh your memory, the RS200 is summarily the faired version of the NS200; which, in turn, is Bajaj’s spin on a fun motorcycle produced by its Austrian counterpart – the KTM 200 Duke. However, the RS200 is more than just another motorcycle with a lot of bodywork. The bike has a completely different frame and suspension set-up than the KTM and is a seriously fast and capable motorcycle in its own right. Underneath the fairing sits a 199.5cc motor paired to a six-speed gearbox. This liquid-cooled, four-valve, single-cylinder engine is similar to the KTM but uses a unique triple-spark-plug SOHC layout. The result is a healthy 24.5hp output at 9,750rpm with a peak torque of 18.6Nm at 8,000rpm. Like some of its competition, the RS misses out on LED headlights. However, the projectors it is equipped with do a very good job of lighting up the road.
The Pulsar also has decently sized brakes – 300mm up front and 230mm at the rear – and also offers a single-channel ABS. That being said, all is not perfect with the RS200. The fit and finish levels need to improve and the styling is not to all tastes.
Power: 24.5hp at 9,750rpm
Torque: 18.6Nm at 8,000rpm
Price: Rs 1.26 lakh (non-ABS), Rs 1.38 lakh (ABS) (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Also read: 2018 Yamaha YZF-R15 V3.0 vs Bajaj Pulsar RS200 comparison
Bajaj Dominar 400
Thanks to Bajaj, we got the first India-made power cruiser last year – the Dominar. Styled to look like the Ducati Diavel’s baby sibling with its low-slung, muscular stance, the Dominar packs quite a bit of road presence. There are some very interesting design choices as well, such as mounting the tell-tale lights on the fuel tank in a secondary instrument dashboard rather than around the all-digital primary instrument console. And it has the performance to match its beefy looks as well, as it packs a motor derived from the 373cc mill found in the KTM 390. Sure, it only gets a single camshaft, so it does lack a bit of the top-end performance of the orange machine. But thanks to three sparkplugs in the head and an engine specifically tuned for bottom-end performance, you get improved fuel efficiency and a whopping 28Nm (of the total 35Nm) of torque coming in at just 3,000rpm. This means brisk low-speed acceleration; and the Dominar can also manage to cruise comfortably at speeds of 120-130kph. It stops short of being a long-distance tourer, thanks to a small fuel tank, capacity of 13 litres, and a stiff suspension. But because of its setup, it does manage great handling characteristics; and with optional dual-channel ABS, stopping power isn’t an issue either. The Dominar promises and delivers a very thrilling riding experience.
Power: 35hp at 8,000rpm
Torque: 35Nm at 6,500rpm
Price: Rs 1.62 lakh (dual-channel ABS) (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Also read: 2017 Bajaj Dominar 400 re [...]
Renault has launched the refreshed Kwid range in the Indian market. Prices for the 2018 Renault Kwid remain unchanged and start from Rs 2.66 lakh for the base 800cc variant, going up to Rs 4.59 lakh for the top-spec 1.0-litre trim.
On the outside, the updated Kwid gets a new grille design with chrome trim on the higher variants. The car comes in six exterior paint shade options. Emergency Locking Retractor (ELR) equipped rear seat belts now come as standard on the Kwid. The top-spec Kwid RXT (O) comes with a reverse camera, while the Kwid AMT gets Traffic Assist feature, which is similar to the creep function seen on AMT vehicles sold by other manufacturers.
The Kwid RXL trim now comes with front power windows and remote central locking as standard. Additionally, higher trims like the RXT (O) get a 12V socket and chrome trim on the centre console, along with a rear centre armrest.
The Kwid is now available with a four-year/1,00,000km warranty, which include the regular two-year/50,000km extended warranty package.
This update for the Kwid is actually one of many planned by Renault and, down the line, safety features like ABS and rear parking sensor are expected to be added to the model. Additionally, Renault has also begun work on a major facelift for the Kwid that will also make it crash-test worthy before the new norms make it mandatory in 2020.
The Renault Kwid takes on the likes of the Hyundai Eon, the Maruti Alto range and the Tata Tiago in the Indian market.
Launched recently in August 2017, the Hyundai Verna is in the early stages of its life cycle and isn’t due for a mid-life facelift for the next couple of years. But, given the long lead time needed for product development in the auto industry, Hyundai has already begun work on the refreshed Verna, which is slated for launch in the second half of 2020.
The updated Verna will have more than the usual change of soft parts like bumpers, grilles, typical of most facelifts, and will come with extensive sheet metal changes which, according to company sources, “will make it look like an all-new car.” A new bonnet, new fenders and possibly a new boot lid are some the changes expected, and the interiors too will be revamped with fresh instrumentation and the next-gen infotainment system that incorporates advanced telematics.
“Connectivity is of growing importance and our next area of focus will be telematics,” said a company source. The next generation of telematics, which the Verna facelift will eventually use, will make its debut in the Hyundai compact SUV (Codename: QXI) that goes on sale in the first half of 2019.
The big news, however, is under the hood, where the 1.6-litre diesel engine will be replaced with an all-new 1.5 diesel which will comply with the new BS-VI emission norms that'll come into effect on April 1, 2020. This new engine, apart from being cleaner, is expected to be more refined and fuel-efficient but could be down on power. It is reliably learned that to meet the more stringent emission norms, the max power output has gone from 128hp to 115hp, while torque too is down from 260Nm to 250Nm.
An all-new 1.5 petrol motor is on the cards too, and it will eventually replace the current 1.6 unit, but we have no details on the power and torque outputs. What is for certain, however, is that the new petrol motor will be packaged to take a 48V hybrid system to be future-ready for 2023 and beyond when the emission norms are likely to get even tighter.
The all-new 1.5 petrol and diesel motors will first make their debut in 2019 and most likely in the production version of the Kia SP Concept SUV that is due to go on sale in the first half of 2019. However, the Kia engines won’t be BS-VI compliant at launch.
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Suzuki has taken the wraps off its refreshed Vitara SUV for the international market. The facelift model is likely to be named the Vitara Series II in a few markets, like Australia.
The new Suzuki Vitara is now fitted with two new turbo-petrol drivetrains, with 1.0-litre and 1.4-litre displacements. These engines replace the 1.6-litre petrol mill that powered the old, pre-facelift model.
The Suzuki Vitara facelift with the 1.0-litre petrol engine churns out 110hp; meanwhile, the 1.4-litre petrol powertrain delivers 140hp.
There will be no diesel engine option available on the updated Vitara, globally.
In addition to this revised engine line-up, the Vitara facelift gets a subtle refresh in exterior styling as compared to its predecessor – with revised light clusters, grille and bumper at the front, as well as more intricate tail-lights at the rear.
Inside, higher-quality materials have been used on the dashboard, while a colour screen is now fitted to the redesigned instrument cluster.
The car's safety equipment has been given a boost, as well. The higher trim now gets standard automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and assistance, traffic-sign recognition, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
The Suzuki Vitara is the company’s flagship SUV and has also been spotted in India more than once undergoing tests (not to be confused with the Vitara Brezza compact SUV sold in India). The Suzuki Vitara SUV, if launched here, can be a direct rival to the Hyundai Creta and the Mahindra XUV500 in the Indian market.
Rajini Krishnan endured a tumultuous weekend at Round 2 of the Malaysian Superbike Championship, but came through to achieve a top 5 finish in both races, including a second place finish in Race 1.
Having qualified in second position for the first race of the weekend, Rajini started well but was unable to maintain the pace of the leader. Using the stock brakes on his Yamaha R1 race bike, he struggled with brake fade and brought the bike home in second place, fetching him 20 valuable championship points.
Race 2 was even more eventful - Rajini found himself leading the early stages of the race, but his brake issue came back to haunt him. He ran wide at the final corner on lap 3, and this dropped him to fourth place. Rajini had to readjust his brake markers to compensate for his brake issues, and rode strongly to recover to second place by the penultimate lap.
However, a screw came loose on his foot peg and caused a false neutral, causing Rajini to once again run wide off the track and fall back to fourth place, where he eventually finished the race.
The next round of the MSBK Championship will take place from the September 14 to 16, giving Rajini and his team enough time to regroup and find a solution to his unfortunate brake issues.