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Kvyat to make F1 return with Toro Rosso
Scuderia Toro Rosso has confirmed that Daniil Kvyat will be joining the team next year in place of Pierre Gasly, who has been promoted to Red Bull Racing. This will be Kvyat’s third stint with Toro Rosso, having raced for the team in 2014 and then again from early 2016 after being demoted from the senior Red Bull team. He was dropped from the Red Bull driver programme after the 2017 United States Grand Prix and joined Ferrari as a development driver, but has been freed up to return to his original backer. "First of all, I would like to thank Red Bull and Toro Rosso for giving me this opportunity to race in Formula 1 again and I am particularly pleased to be returning to a team I know very well. Toro Rosso has always made me feel at home and I'm sure it will still be the same next season,” said Kvyat. “I would also like to thank Ferrari for trusting my driving skills which allowed me to stay connected to F1 as their development driver. Even if my duties were primarily simulator based, I've learnt a lot, and I now feel stronger and better prepared than when I left Toro Rosso. I never gave up hope of racing again, I am still young and I have kept in good shape to always be prepared in case another opportunity presented itself. I will give my best to deliver what the team expects from me and I can't wait for everything to start again." Commenting on the team’s decision to sign Kvyat, Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost said: “I believe he (Kvyat) deserves another chance in Formula 1. Daniil is a high skilled driver with fantastic natural speed, which he has proven several times in his career.” “There were some difficult situations he had to face in the past, but I'm convinced that having had time to mature as a person away from the races will help him show his undeniable capabilities on track. We'll push very hard to provide him with a good package, and I feel the best is yet to come from his side. That's why we are happy to welcome him back to our team, to start a successful season together." The news of Kvyat’s signing leaves just a handful of seats up for grabs on the 2019 F1 grid, including the second seat at Toro Rosso since the team has yet not confirmed whether Brandon Hartley will continue racing with them next year. [...]
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Rolls-Royce Cullinan India launch in November 2018
EXCLUSIVE Rolls Royce will launch its first-ever SUV, the Cullinan, in India in late November 2018. India deliveries will commence in 2019, along with other markets in Asia. There is no official word on pricing yet but Autocar India has learnt Cullinan prices will start at Rs 8.75 crore (ex-showroom), although optional extras can easily add Rs 1 crore or more to the price. Certain features, offered as options abroad, will be offered on India-spec cars as standard – including a rear-seat entertainment system. The Cullinan is powered by a 6.75-litre, twin-turbocharged V12, which produces 571hp and 850Nm of torque. Aside from being the marque’s first SUV, the Cullinan is also the first all-wheel-drive offering from Rolls-Royce. Also part of the package is trick self-levelling air suspension, which Rolls-Royce claims will help provide the famed 'Magic Carpet' ride quality across any terrain. Inside, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan is near-identical to the Phantom. It gets a smaller steering wheel with a thicker rim, an all-digital instrument console, the trademark analogue clock on the dash, a touchscreen infotainment system – a first for Rolls-Royce – and the rotary Spirit of Ecstasy controller on the centre console. Buyers will also have a comprehensive menu of hides and colours to choose from. SUV-shape aside, the Cullinan’s presence and ground clearance are what could make it a hit amongst Rolls-Royce models in India. It has the makings of being the luxury carmaker’s best-seller in this market, just as the Urus is on the course to becoming one for Lamborghini.   [...]
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Automobili Pininfarina PF0 to be powered by Rimac
Automobili Pininfarina today announced that it has partnered with Rimac to use the electric hypercar maker’s powertrain and battery tech in its upcoming PF0 hypercar. The announcement follows an earlier scoop by Autocar India, which revealed the PF0 would use modular underpinnings co-developed by the Croatian electric supercar maker and the Mahindra Racing Formula E team. The fledgling car maker claims the PF0 hyper GT will arrive with power and torque equal to 1,900hp and 2,300Nm, for a potential top speed of over 400kph. It will be capable of going from standstill to 100kph in “less than two seconds”, while delivering a “potential zero emissions range of over 483km”. Those figures tally with Rimac’s recently revealed C_Two, which produces 1,915hp from four electric motors and can achieve 0-100kph in 1.85sec. The partnership will see Rimac provide its battery and drivetrain expertise through both hardware and software. A maximum of 150 examples will be produced and sold globally after it launches in 2020. “We are very excited about this challenge,” Rimac founder and CEO Mate Rimac said of the partnership. “This partnership is a big milestone for both companies and we are looking forward to bringing this incredible machine to life together.” Speaking to Autocar, Pininfarina CEO Michael Penschke said “there are not too many in the industry who can do package solutions including high-performance battery packs and cooling, as well as EV motors that have up to 500kW outputs. “There were three or four companies we could have looked at, but it was Rimac that surfaced. They have done the Koernigsegg Regera, the Aston Martin Valkyrie, and the investment from Porsche created a lot of confidence for us,” he said. Former F1 racing driver Nick Heidfeld has also joined the team as development driver, ahead of the start of a vehicle dynamics program in early 2019. “We have a specific strategy in place to develop road car technology inspired by motorsport,” Pininfarina CEO Penschke said. “Nick Heidfeld has more experience racing in Formula E than any other driver and we are delighted that from next year he will help deliver race-bred, electrifying performance in the PF0.” Previously released sketches have previewed the car's all-carbon design from the rear and interior, showing a minimalist and driver-focused layout for the two-seater. Further details have yet to be revealed, but the production car will be priced to compete with the hypercar elite, including the Bugatti Chiron. It'll act as a halo product, being the first of several all-electric models in Automobili Pininfarina's product plan. Automobili Pininfarina’s management team was bolstered with several new hires to coincide with the powertrain news, with former Porsche and Faraday Future engineer Dr Christian Jung becoming chief technology officer, and ex-Bugatti engineer Peter Tutzer becoming senior technical advisor. Jung was previously engineering project lead on the Porsche Mission E, while Putzer played an integral role in the development of the Bugatti Veyron. SUVS TO FOLLOW Previously referred to as Project Montana, Automobili Pininfarina will follow its top model (which could take influence from the H2 Speed) with three SUVs that are all set to arrive within five years. The biggest, codenamed PF-One, will be a high-performance answer to the Lamborghini Urus. The other two will be rivals to the Porsche Cayenne and Porsche Macan respectively. All will use their own version of the same modular underpinnings. The fastest SUV will offer around 940hp from a battery pack of about 140kWh, enabling a 0-100kph time of less than three seconds. Its smaller SUV siblings are likely to use lower-output versions of the same powertrain but their performance will still be at the sharp end of their segments. [...]
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India's safest cars under Rs 10 lakh as rated by GNCAP
Global NCAP’s campaign to draw attention to car safety in India has been going on since 2014. Over the years, the organisation has tested more than 25 mass-market models and variants that are made and sold in India. Earlier today, Global NCAP released results of the latest round of crash tests it has conducted on Indian cars. Of the two cars tested, the Renault Lodgy fared poorly with a rating of zero stars, while the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza came away with a solid four star rating, making it one of the best performers yet. Which are the best cars tested so far? Read on to find out. 5. Volkswagen Polo The Polo was one of the first made-in-India cars to be tested by GNCAP, back in 2014. While the model with no airbags did not meet crash test norms, the model that was equipped with two airbags scored a solid four stars for adult occupancy (12.54 out of 17)  and three stars for child occupancy (29.91/49), despite not having Isofix child seats mounts. This result also pushed VW to offer airbags and ABS across the Polo range in India. 4. Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza A feather in Maruti Suzuki’s cap, the Vitara Brezza compact SUV received a four-star rating in the latest round of Global NCAP’s crash tests, for adult occupancy (12.51 out of 17). However, the SUV only managed two stars for child occupancy (17.93 out of 49) because of the forward facing position of the 18-month old dummy in the test and as the markings for the Isofix anchorages did not meet Global NCAP testing protocols. All variants of the Brezza are equipped with two airbags, ABS with EBD, front seat belt with pretentioners, a driver’s seat belt reminder and Isofix child seat mounts. 3. Tata Zest While the first round of tests for the Zest compact sedan had it rated with a zero stars, Tata was allowed another opportunity and introduced an upgraded compact sedan, which was crash tested in 2016. This model scored an impressive four-star rating (11.15/17) in adult occupancy and two stars in child occupancy (15.52/49). It came with two airbags and a seat belt reminder for the driver, but was later updated with ABS, EBD and corner stability control. 2. Toyota Etios Liva The Etios Liva hatchback was one of the few models that registered a commendable four-star rating in its very first crash test. Tested by Global NCAP back in 2016, the hatchback was given four stars for adult occupancy (13/16) and two stars for child occupancy (20.02/49). While it was updated later with more safety kit such as ABS with EBD and Isofix child seat mounts, the model tested only had dual-front airbags and front seat belts with pretentioners. 1. Tata Nexon Tata’s compact SUV recently achieved a four-star rating from NCAP for adult occupancy (13.56/17) and three stars for child occupancy (25/49). The organisation rated the Nexon's body shell integrity as ‘stable’ while providing good protection for the head and neck of the driver and the passenger. All variants of the Nexon come with two airbags, ABS and Isofix child seat mounts as standard. [...]
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Isuzu MU-X facelift to be unveiled on October 16, 2018
Isuzu will unveil the India-spec updated MU-X SUV on October 16, 2018. The refreshed MU-X has been on sale internationally for some time and will finally see a market introduction and a price announcement late next month. The facelifted SUV will sport projector headlamps with LED daytime running lights and subtle changes to the front bumper. Other noticeable changes include new alloy wheels, LED elements inside the tail-lamps and a slightly restyled rear bumper. The rest of the car remains largely unchanged. The big changes are likely to be inside the car, with a slightly redesigned dashboard that will now have a two-tone beige-and-black colour theme (that’ll replace the all-black version) and will get artificial wood trim to lift the cabin’s appeal, along with some soft-touch bits. The centre fascia on the dash is also likely to get a silver surround and a new touchscreen infotainment system will also be on offer. That aside, Isuzu will also add some new features to make the MU-X more appealing. Under the hood, the model is likely to continue with the same 177hp, 3.0-litre diesel motor. A BS-VI ready engine could join a little later. Also see: Isuzu MU-X facelift spied testing in India [...]
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Mercedes-Benz to export made-in-India GLC to the US
The trade stand-off between the United States and China has resulted in the emergence of an unlikely beneficiary - Mercedes-Benz India. You see, US President Donald Trump's administration has levied high tariffs on products imported from China, and to get around the taxation issue, Mercedes-Benz is now shipping its midsize SUV, the GLC, to the US, from India. According to an Automotive News report, utilising its plant in Chakan, Pune (which has an annual production capacity of 20,000 units), Mercedes-Benz India is now exporting the GLC to meet high demand in the North American market – where the GLC is its highest-selling model. Currently, Mercedes' facility in Bremen, Germany supplies the GLC to the US, and Mercedes reportedly has no plans to produce the SUV at its plant in Alabama, US. This makes Mercedes-Benz the first luxury car manufacturer in India to be shipping locally-produced models to the US, and is a move that will elevate India’s position on the world stage. Mercedes-Benz is expected to debut a facelifted version of the GLC sometime next year. You can read all about it here.   SOURCE [...]
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Antonio Giovinazzi to join Sauber F1
The Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 team has announced that Ferrari protege Antonio Giovinazzi will be partnering Kimi Raikkonen at the team next year. Giovinazzi was runner-up to Pierre Gasly in the 2016 GP2 title race, and his 2019 deal will be his first full-time racing chance since his GP2 campaign two years ago. He raced for Sauber twice last season as a stand-in for the injured Pascal Wehrlein. This year he is carrying out a programme of Friday grand prix practice outings with the team, and has also tested for both Haas and Ferrari. A Sauber statement said the decision to sign Giovinazzi fitted the team's "tradition of discovering and nurturing young talents" and "is particularly significant in the scope of the project" with title sponsor Alfa Romeo. “I am delighted to be joining the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team. This is a dream come true, and it is a great pleasure to have the chance to race for this team. As an Italian, it is a huge honour for me to represent a brand as iconic and successful as Alfa Romeo in our sport,” said Giovinazzi. Commenting on the team’s decision to sign Giovinazzi, Frédéric Vasseur, CEO of Sauber Motorsport and Team Principal of the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team, said: “We are very pleased to reveal the complete driver line-up for the 2019 season. We first signed Kimi Räikkönen, an extremely experienced driver who will contribute to the development of our car and will accelerate the progress of our team as a whole. Together with Alfa Romeo, we are delighted to welcome Antonio Giovinazzi, who will take the place of Charles Leclerc. We have already had the opportunity to work with him in the past and he has proven to have great potential. We are very determined and motivated. Our target is to continue progressing and fighting together for positions that count.” Meanwhile, Sauber’s current driver Marcus Ericsson will continue to work with the team next year as a reserve driver and brand ambassador [...]
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PhotoGallery: 2018 Royal Enfield Interceptor, Continental GT 650 image gallery
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Royal Enfield 650 twins' US prices out on September 26
Royal Enfield has just announced that it will reveal US prices for the new Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT 650 on September 26, 2018. Indian prices will be announced soon after. The bikes are generating a huge amount of interest amongst enthusiasts, especially in India, thanks to the large fan following the brand enjoys. The RE Interceptor 650 is a retro-styled street motorcycle and is straightforward in its layout. It features a one-piece quilted seat that’s pretty much completely flat and should be comfortable for both, rider and pillion. A conventional handlebar and mildly rear-set foot pegs make for an upright riding stance. This changes on the Continental GT 650, which features clip-on handlebars and a solo seat with a dual-seat option, similar to what we have seen before on the Continental GT 535. Both new bikes are powered by a 648cc, air-cooled, SOHC, fuel-injected parallel-twin motor which produces 47hp at 7,100rpm and 52Nm of torque at 4,000rpm. The engine is paired to a 6-speed gearbox with a slip-assist clutch. We also recently found out that the engine has been tuned to have a healthy torque curve, with 80 percent (over 40Nm) available from just 2,500rpm. On the other hand, power peaks at just over 7,000rpm, which means it should be quite rev-happy too. The bikes also have a claimed top speed of over 160kph and an overall fuel efficiency figure of 25.5kpl (WMTC). The kerb weights for the Continental GT 650 and Interceptor 650 are 198kg and 202kg respectively. The fuel tank on the Interceptor is also slightly larger, at 13.7 litres, compared to the 12.5-litre tank on the Conti GT. The seat height and ground clearance on both motorcycles is identical, at 804mm and 174mm. These Royal Enfields are equipped with a conventional telescopic fork and gas-charged twin shock absorbers. Braking is addressed by a single 320mm disc up-front, and a smaller, 240mm disc at the rear with dual-channel ABS as standard. The bikes also share the same wheel and tyre sizes. The wheels are 18 inchers and the tyres are 100/90-18 at the front and 130/70-18 at the rear. Also see: 2018 Royal Enfield Interceptor, Continental GT 650 image gallery Royal Enfield Classic 350 base variant gets rear disc brake Five-year insurance rule: Updated Royal Enfield price list 2018 Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 seen with accessories [...]
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1962 Lambretta Li 150 vs 2018 Aprilia SR 150
Bet you thought we brought the wrong scooter along for a comparison test! But that’s actually not the case. These scooters may look eras apart – and they are – but there’s a reason why we’ve brought them together; and, no, it’s not just because they happen to be Italian. This duo, separated by 56 years, did what few other scooters could do in their time – give motorcycles a tough time! This came with some compromises on practicality in the favour of style and fun, of course, but what else do you expect from a country as passionate as Italy? One of these scooters, if you haven’t guessed already, is the Aprilia SR 150 that I borrowed and rode to Dahanu, Maharashtra, to introduce to the other scooter, the Lambretta Li 150. Why Dahanu? Well, that’s where the Li lives – it happens to be my own pride and the very scooter I learned riding on at my family farmhouse. The Li 150 first came to life in 1958, with a headlight that sat on the nose. Mine, however, was produced four years later (1962) and its headlight resides on the handlebar. What gives away the model year further are telltale signs like the beakier mudguard and the round nose grille. The Aprilia here is a little special too and you can tell by its racing-inspired graphics that make it stand apart from the regular SR 150. They may be separated by over half a century, but these two pretty scooters were built for exactly the same reason – to thrill. You see, scooters may seem dull and utilitarian, but they actually play a vital role in many young lives. All my colleagues and I spent the larger part of our teenage years riding scooters. These were the machines that gave us our first taste of motorised two-wheels and, more importantly, freedom. Tearing the throttle open on a scooter, all the way to the stop, quickly became muscle memory and we obliged at every given opportunity. After all these years, the Lambretta is still delightfully dependable. It was lying unused for three whole months but promptly clattered to life after the second kick. It immediately overpowered the idle of the SR 150 (gruff by today’s standards but beautifully refined before the Lambretta) with its rickshaw-like exhaust note. While it isn’t the most hair-raising, two-stroke exhaust note out there, it did have a really nice perk – when it’s at high revs, people hastily move out of the way. The Li 150 doesn’t accelerate as well as the SR 150 or even a Vespa of its period, but it is at home when it gets up to speed. Not surprising, when you consider that the Li 150, when new, made 6.5hp, which was a lot for its time. I’m always game for a revisit of my young, throttle-wide-open days, and what better way than to hoon around on a secluded beach. The Lambretta with its low-set handlebar, fluctuating headlight beam, and raspy horn feels old and brash but also oh-so-cool. Come to think of it, the 10km blast we had ahead of us to the secluded beach was ideal for both these scooters. Our journey snaked through slender roads passing through the soulful part of old Dahanu that was built in the early 1900s. Funnily enough, the town and the people looked quite period-correct from the Lambretta’s perch. We scooted past encroaching vegetable vendors, collapsing houses, and cattle – our light-footed scooters, the perfect dance partners. And dance we did, primarily in an attempt to gracefully avoid every pothole that came our way. The simple trailing-link suspension on the Lambretta and the firm telescopic fork on the Aprilia are both unforgiving, to say the least. Passing the last of the houses, we were instantly greeted by wider tarmac that smoothly flowed to the ocean’s edge. It was almost like we went through a portal made for motorcycle enthusiasts that ended up running alongside kilometres of alluring and seemingly endless beaches. This stretch of road finally allowed a taste of the Li 150’s fourth gear, which, strangely enough, can only be slotted into without using the clutch – one of the many peculiarities of this scooter. Meanwhile, the Aprilia, being the fastest scooter in the country was merely using half of its potential and could leave the Lambretta behind at will. But I’m not surprised that Arun chose to calmly sit behind and take in the view; I would have too. That said, I am sure I was the one having more fun given that I was living an experience that most people could only have had if they were born in the ’50s. We then approached a set of twisties and knowing that both these Italians were created to take them on really well boosted our morale. They are, after all, scooters with the largest wheels of their times. Yes, we didn’t carry MotoGP cornering speeds, but we were a hell lot faster than the average scooter. The Aprilia with its 10.5hp motor and grippy tyres was attacking corners in a way that would give many motorcycles a ru [...]
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Review: 2018 Mercedes-Benz C 300d India video review
Also see: 2018 Mercedes-Benz C 300d India review, test drive [...]
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Maruti Swift limited edition launched at Rs 4.99 lakh
In order to cash in on the festive season, Maruti has introduced a new Swift Special edition. Priced at Rs 4.99 lakh (ex-showroom), the model costs the same as the base-spec Swift LXi/LDi but comes with additional equipment as part of the special edition package. Maruti has added a single-din Bluetooth stereo with two speakers and black painted wheel caps on the base Swift variant at no extra cost. Additionally, the car comes with front power windows, ABS, Dual front airbags and rear parking sensors as standard equipment.  The special edition Swift is available with either a 1.2-litre petrol or a 1.3-litre diesel engine option. AMT gearbox is not on offer on this variant. The Swift takes on the likes of the Hyundai Grand i10 and the Ford Figo.   [...]
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Review: 2018 Lexus ES 300h India video review
Also see: 2018 Lexus ES 300h review, test drive [...]
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Skoda India appoints Pavel Richter as production technical director
Skoda India has announced that Pavel Richter has been appointed the Production Technical Director of the Volkswagen Group’s Skoda-led India 2.0 project starting November 1, 2018.  The 46-year-old will be responsible for the production of all the models that roll out of VW’s plant in Pune. The company says re-organising the responsibilities at the management level is an important step in implementing the ‘India 2.0’ project. Commenting on Richter’s appointment, Dr Andreas Lauermann, managing director and president of Volkswagen India, said: “I am delighted to welcome Pavel Richter to our team in Pune. With his experience, he will play a crucial role in achieving our common goal of further strengthening the Volkswagen Group’s position in the strategically important Indian market.” Gurpratap Boparai, managing director of Skoda Auto India and head of the ‘India 2.0’ project, said: “Pavel Richter has known the company for many years and has considerable expertise in the international automotive industry. With his capabilities, he will play a key role in making the ‘India 2.0’ project successful.” Pavel Richter has been working at Skoda Auto since 2000 and has performed various managerial roles in the many international markets. In 2011, he became head of the Skoda’s production facility in Kvasiny, Czech Republic. From 2014, Richter was responsible for the production of the Octavia, Rapid and Karoq models at the company’s headquarters in Mladá Boleslav. Also see: Skoda hires outsider from Tata Motors as head of engineering for ‘India 2.0’ project Next-gen Skoda Rapid, VW Vento coming in 2021 Skoda CEO confirms localisation of VW 1.0 TSI petrol Skoda's 'India 2.0’ project to bank heavily on localisation Skoda to take charge of VW Group model development for India [...]
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Volkswagen launches Digital Workplace across dealerships
German carmaker Volkswagen has launched the Digital Workplace application in all 121 dealerships across 104 cities in India. Dealerships will be equipped with tablet computers along with a pre-installed Digital Workplace application in order to digitise and simplify the buying experience. The Digital Workplace app is mean to aid VW consultants in lead capturing, provide 360-degree views and vehicle presentations, videos, competition comparison, financing solutions, register test-drives and more. The app also allows the technicians to showcase and explain the repair work required on their vehicles to customers. A six-step procedure will send timely notifications to customers via SMS about their vehicles right from the time it enters the workshop, until completion of the work. At the end, the customer can choose to either pick up their vehicle or ask the dealership to drop it at their doorstep. Furthermore, the app will enable dealers to create a customised product brochure for customers with their preferred vehicle and choice of features. Speaking about this initiative, Steffen Knapp, Director, Volkswagen Passenger Cars said, “People are at the centre of Volkswagen’s business and with the Digital Workplace initiative, we aim to enhance the sales and after-sales processes as well as digitalize the customer buying experience. As the country moves a step forward with the Digitalize India campaign, this is yet another enterprise to fully integrate our dealerships and provide a premium user experience. It is our endeavour to offer our customers, all of Volkswagen’s services at the comfort and convenience of their homes.” [...]
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TVS announces Mexico operations via Torino Motors
TVS Motor Company has announced that it will start operations in Mexico. The Housur-based two-wheeler giant has partnered with Torino Motors, a subsidiary of Groupo Autofin. Torino Motors will be the official distributor for the TVS brand in Mexico. In the first year of association, Torino Motors will work with TVS to open 40 dealerships across the Central American nation. Torino Motors will distribute the following TVS two-wheelers in Mexico – the entire TVS Apache range including the flagship Apache RR 310, TVS XL100 HD, TVS HLX 150 (150cc commuter), TVS Stryker (125cc commuter) and step-through offerings such as the TVS Rockz and Neo. The TVS Ntorq 125 and the Wego scooter will also go on sale in Mexico. Commenting on this association, R Dilip, Senior Vice President – International Business, TVS Motor Company, said, “We are delighted to partner with a reputed, well-known company such as Torino Motors, who come with over 40 years of experience in Mexico. We look forward to the market knowledge that they will bring on board. Their insights will allow us to personalise our offerings to suit the customers of Mexico and their vast network of distribution will ensure maximum reach in the country. Together with Torino Motors, we are determined to create customer delight in the country.” TVS is already present in over 60 countries and is among the leading two- and three-wheeler exporters in India. Also see: 2018 TVS Apache RTR 200 4V Race Edition 2.0 review, test ride 2018 TVS Ntorq 125 long term review, second report [...]
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Mahindra Y400 SUV launch delayed
Mahindra has pushed back the market launch of its upcoming flagship SUV which is still known by its codename 'Y400'. A few days ago, we had an exclusive report about the model reaching showrooms on October 9, 2018. According to sources, the Marazzo MPV was recently launched on September 3, 2018 and dealers wanted the MPV to enjoy more floor-space as the brand’s newest launch before introducing more new products. By launching the Y400 on October 9, Mahindra would essentially leave only around a month-long gap between both launches. Secondly, most Mahindra dealerships are under renovation and upgrade along with an addition of the Mahindra Prime Zone at the moment. The Mahindra Prime Zone, as reported by us earlier, will cater to the brand’s newer launches like the Marazzo MPV and the Y400 SUV. A third model in the form of the S201 SUV is likely to join the “Prime” line-up a little later. Apart from the above, Honda has already announced the CR-V market launch on October 9, 2018. Additionally, there is another automotive event scheduled around that date which is why the company has decided to launch the SUV a little later – likely around the end of October. The new Mahindra Y400 SUV will sit above the XUV500 in the company's India line-up and will be a replacement for the first-gen SsangYong Rexton. The SUV will come with a 2.2-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel engine producing 187hp and 420Nm of peak torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a 7-speed torque converter automatic transmission, although all-wheel drive will be on offer with its higher-spec variants. Estimated prices for this new Mahindra Rexton are expected to begin at Rs 22 lakh (thanks to a significant degree of localisation). This means that it will undercut its segment-rivals – the Toyota Fortuner, the Isuzu MU-X and the Ford Endeavour. Also see: 2018 Mahindra Marazzo: Which variant should you buy? Mahindra to go carbon neutral by 2040 Mahindra to ramp up Roxor production [...]
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Mahindra to go carbon neutral by 2040
Mahindra has announced its commitment to become a carbon-neutral company by 2040. India’s leading manufacturer of utility vehicles has stated that it will focus on energy efficiency and the use of renewable power to achieve this target. Residual emissions will be addressed through carbon sinks. “We are doing our part in the global fight against climate change with this ambitious new target,” said Anand Mahindra, chairman, Mahindra Group. “Mahindra will leverage the latest technological advances and its recently announced Carbon Price to work towards being carbon neutral by 2040.” “Targets based on science are the only effective way to meet the challenges we face,” added Mahindra; and it is known to face environmental challenges head-on. Mahindra was the first company in the world to commit to doubling energy productivity of the automotive business by signing on to The Climate Group’s program EP100 and is now almost 12 years ahead of schedule. The farm equipment business is also ahead of schedule in achieving its goal and is more than half-way there. The company was also the first Indian company to announce its internal Carbon Price – $10 per tonne of emitted carbon – to fund investments required to pursue the path of carbon neutrality. Mahindra assessed the goals for energy efficiency and renewable energy that it set for itself; and decided on its carbon price based on what was required to meet these goals. International benchmarks were also factored into setting the price. The company has more than 10 years of experience in creating carbon sinks. It looks forward to using this experience to deal with residual emissions in a manner that is world-class and follows the best established protocols. The automaker says it will be working on its carbon-neutrality commitment with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), an international non-profit organisation that works with leading companies to raise the global bar for corporate sustainability leadership. It will continue to work with EDF and other leading partners as it implements actions towards achieving carbon neutrality. Mahindra is also a signatory of the 'Science-Based Targets' initiative which provides companies with a clear pathway for reducing emissions in line with the goals of UNFCC's Paris Agreement – limiting global warming to well below 2degC above pre-industrial levels. These existing commitments prove helpful for the company on its path to carbon neutrality. [...]
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2019 Suzuki GSX-S300 spotted undisguised
Back in April 2018, leaked patent images of Haojue’s HJ300 had surfaced. Now, pictures of the production-ready bike have leaked from what looks to be the assembly plant. The bike, as expected, features DR300 badging which will most likely be replaced by GSX-S300 ones for the international market. The motorcycle is rumoured to be equipped with a 299cc, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin engine with output figures of around 30hp and 25Nm of peak torque while using a 6-speed transmission. The new images also reveal the same aggressive design language seen in the patent images as well as an upside-down fork, petal disc and aluminium swingarm. ABS equipment is also evident in the leaked images. The new Suzuki GSX-S300 is likely to make its global debut at the 2018 INTERMOT fair in Germany or at EICMA in Italy, later this year. That being said, it is unlikely that this 300cc Suzuki will make it to our market. Instead, Suzuki is working on a more-affordable, single-cylinder 250cc bike to rival the Yamaha FZ25. Even though the 250 will be completely different mechanically, we expect that it will share similarities in terms of design. Suzuki could go with a new nomenclature system for the 250 and call it a GSX, but the Gixxer brand is now a strong and recognisable name in India, so we expect the new 250 to carry it forward. Also see: Five-year insurance rule: Updated Suzuki price list Suzuki to launch four dirt bikes in India   IMAGE SOURCE   [...]
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Review: Santro: The Car That Built A Company book review
BVR Subbu and the Santro are both extremely important bits of Indian automotive history and folklore. On the face of it, the little Santro didn’t look like it was headed for success when it was showcased back in September 1998. In fact, as Subbu says, “most didn’t give it a snowball’s chance in hell.” The design was unconventional to say the least, the company was unknown and the Koreans who first came to India knew almost nothing of the market. This then is the story of the Santro, from the inside, from the man who did more than any other to make it a success. And it is a fascinating story, told with tremendous passion and, it must be said, respect for his Korean colleagues. Subbu starts off with some very interesting revelations about the Indian car industry in chapter 1 or ‘The world as it was then’. Oh no, I said, history lesson, but it isn’t. Stick with it, there are some real eye-openers here. Stuff like how Mercedes-Benz penned the first Indica, how Tata Motors almost started its car-production journey with Audi’s DKW 900, how Maruti went into liquidation in 1977 and how Tata Motors, in 1986, took the dimensions of the Honda City from Autocar (UK) and built a test mule! Then starts the best part of the book, where you, the reader, get a seldom-seen insight into how the Santro was turned from an unattractive but well-engineered car into a sales success. Subbu’s memory, field of vision and clear definition of the battlefield paint a vivid picture. Some highlights include how the styling was changed for India, how he emphasised the need for a larger and more powerful engine by demonstrating what he called ‘the Peddar Road Syndrome’ (where a loaded car has to power up a long slope in a city like Mumbai), how the performance of the air-con unit was bumped up to meet the demands of Indian car buyers and how Hyundai contributed to the Army Wives Welfare Association during the launch of the car.  Subbu often quotes Mao, quite effectively, draws parallels with military strategy and explains his approach and solution to a problem by often going back to his days in Tata Motors, who he says “taught him everything he knows”; something I’ve often heard him say in person. And then there’s how he turned the introduction of Euro-II emission norms into a showcase of the Santro engine’s technical sophistication. Subbu has also dedicated a lot of space to how Shah Rukh Khan was convinced to be Hyundai’s brand ambassador, with a fascinating insight into the man, his approach and why and how he played his part in the Santro success story. It’s clear from the book that Subbu thoroughly enjoyed his Hyundai journey and it is clear he enjoys telling the Santro story too. A must read if you are interested in the Indian car industry, and what makes it tick. Also see: Hyundai AH2 hatchback to be launched on October 23 Hyundai Santro discontinued after 16 years WagonR vs Zen Estilo vs Santro [...]
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Nissan Sunny Special Edition launched at Rs 8.48 lakh
In anticipation of the upcoming festive period, Nissan has launched a limited edition Sunny at Rs 8.48 lakh (ex-showroom). The Sunny Special Edition comes with certain stylistic elements on the exterior which sets it apart from the regular Sunny. This car gets a black roof wrap, new body decals and blacked-out wheel covers. It also gets a new rear spoiler. Inside, the Sunny Special Edition gets premium seat covers finished in red and black and a two-tone colour scheme. It also gets a 6.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone mirroring as part of the package. The Sunny is also equipped with NissanConnect which is an integrated connected car technology, with more than 50 features, for the owner's  security and convenience. Features like geo-fencing, speed alert, curfew alert, nearby pit-stops, Locate My Car and Share My Car Location address the safety and car security concerns, along with the well-being of drivers can be accessed via this application . Keyless entry and push-stop-start via intelligent Key, and ‘Lead Me to Car’ which guides people to their cars, add a layer of convenience to the overall drive experience. Safety kit like dual airbags, speed-sensing door lock and a driver seat belt reminder is standard across all variants. The Sunny Special Edition is available in two powertrains. A 99hp, 1.5-litre petrol and an 86hp, 1.5-litre K9K diesel engine. While both engines are mated to a five-speed manual, a CVT gearbox is also offered with the petrol variant. The Sunny rivals the likes of the Fiat Linea and lower-spec variants of the Hyundai Verna, Honda City, Volkswagen Vento and Skoda Rapid. [...]
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Maruti Suzuki Ignis limited edition launched
Maruti Suzuki has launched a limited edition of its funky-looking Ignis hatchback. The Ignis is Maruti’s lowest selling model after the Gypsy and the company aims to capitalise on the upcoming festive period and boost sales by offering more equipment on the model. The Ignis limited edition boasts of accessories worth Rs 45,000, which will be dealer fitments. The package includes exterior changes like side door cladding with ‘Ignis’ branding, a body kit with silver moulding on the side skirts and both bumpers. It also comes equipped with a tailgate-mounted spoiler. Inside the limited edition Ignis, premium seat covers are a part of the package. This model is based on the mid-spec Delta variant, which already features plenty of kit. It comes with ABS and airbags, a 2-DIN audio system with Bluetooth, electrically adjustable ORVMs and keyless entry as standard. Maruti is yet to disclose the official pricing of the Ignis limited edition but, we expect it to cost a slight premium over the standard Delta variant of the car (Rs 5.28-5.83 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi). With the diesel Ignis being discontinued earlier this year, the car is now available with only the 1.2-litre petrol engine that makes 83hp and 113Nm of peak torque. It comes mated to either a 5-speed manual or a 5-speed AMT gearbox. The Ignis competes with the Ford Freestyle and Mahindra KUV100 NXT in the market. Also see: 2017 Maruti Ignis long term review, second report 2018 Ford Freestyle vs Maruti Ignis comparison Maruti Suzuki Swift vs Baleno vs Dzire vs Ignis [...]
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India-spec Ford Aspire facelift leaked ahead of October 4 launch
Ford is gearing up to launch its refreshed compact sedan, the Figo Aspire, on October 4, 2018. The Aspire facelift has been spied testing earlier and now, a new set of images have been leaked online. These show that the car shares a number of design cues with the Freestyle cross-hatch which was launched back in April and with the international-spec Ford Ka+. The Aston Martin-eqsue grille, also seen on Ford’s cross-hatch, gets a chrome surround and so do the revised fog lamp housings. The headlamp units are the same but now get a blacked-out effect with redesigned internals. However, it does not get LED DRLs. The front bumper has been slightly altered as well. Viewed from the side, the only major visible change is to the alloys wheels, now 15-inch multi-spoke units which are shod in 195/55 R15 rubber.  The cabin of the refreshed Ford Aspire gets the Freestyle’s new dashboard along with a 6.5-inch touchscreen display with Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system, which is expected to feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. From the images, we can also see that Ford has equipped the new Aspire with a push-button start, two USB ports at the front, steering-mounted audio controls and an automatic climate control system. However, a rear AC vent seems to be absent. The top-spec Titanium+ trim is expected to get six airbags and ABS with EBD. A highlight of the new model is that it will be powered by the new 96hp, 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine which made its debut on the Freestyle. The motor will be mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox (again, from the Freestyle), but there is talk of replacing the current 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with a more cost-effective torque convertor unit. The 100hp, 1.5-litre diesel engine will continue unchanged. A diesel-automatic combination is not expected to be offered in the compact sedan facelift at launch. The compact sedan segment has recently seen the introduction of the second-gen Honda Amaze (Rs 5.81-9.11 lakh), while Maruti Suzuki’s Dzire (Rs 5.60-9.45 lakh) has been the segment stalwart. Hyundai’s Xcent (Rs 5.61-8.61 lakh) and Volkswagen’s Ameo (Rs 5.62-10.02 lakh) are also contenders in this burgeoning segment. Expect the Aspire facelift to carry a slight premium over the current model which retails at Rs 5.82-8.79 lakh for the petrol models and Rs 6.93-8.56 lakh for the diesel variants. All prices, ex-showroom, Delhi Also see: Ford EcoSport recalled in India Ford India crosses 1 million unit sales milestone 2018 Ford Freestyle vs Maruti Ignis comparison Drag Race: Ford Mustang GT vs Audi RS5   IMAGE SOURCE [...]
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Mercedes reveals new autonomous vehicle concept
Mercedes-Benz’s commercial vehicle division has revealed a new autonomous mobility concept ahead of its public debut at the upcoming IAA commercial vehicle show in Hannover, Germany.   Called the Vision Urbanetic, the new concept has been conceived to eliminate the separation that currently exists between people moving and goods transport through the adoption of a self-driving, electrically powered skateboard-style chassis that can accept different bodies – it can be a roomy ride-sharing vehicle or a goods transporter.   As a ride-sharing vehicle, the Vision Urbanetic can accommodate up to 12 passengers, while the cargo module can be divided into two levels and transport up to 10 EPAL pallets within a load space of 10 cubic metres. A load length of 3,700mm fits into a total vehicle length of 5,140mm.    The different bodies can be changed either automatically or manually, according to Mercedes, with the automated process claimed to take only a few minutes. Further body derivatives are under development and expected to be shown in the future.   The autonomous chassis to which the bodies are attached incorporates all the hardware required for the driverless features to function, allowing the Vision Urbanetic to travel to locations without a body attached. The new concept also showcases an IT infrastructure that analyses the supply and demand of ride-hailing passengers or goods within a defined delivery area, all in real time.     Mercedes says the Vision Urbanetic’s electric powertrain makes it highly suitable for city centres and areas subject to legal access restrictions. Its near-silent operation also presents new options for night-time deliveries, the firm says. [...]
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2018 Tata Tiago NRG launched at Rs 5.50 lakh
Just a week after pictures of Tata's first production cross-hatch were leaked online, the company has today launched the Tiago NRG at an introductory price of Rs 5.50 lakh for the petrol and Rs 6.32 lakh for the diesel (ex-showroom, Delhi).  As you'd expect from a cross-hatch, the Tiago NRG is largely identical to the standard hatch but features a full body kit in a contrasting black shade, aimed at adding a bit of SUV flavour to the package. The body kit consists of front- and rear-bumper add-ons with faux brushed-aluminium scuff plates, along with additional trim pieces on the running boards and wheel arches. 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. It is marginally longer, wider and taller than the standard hatchback as well, but that is due to the addition of exterior elements. In terms of appearance, the Tiago NRG sports a black front-grille with no chrome detailing, a black roof, black roof-rails, black wing mirrors and door handles, and an additional black plastic trim on the tailgate. The NRG also gets headlamps with projector lens and black inserts (similar to the ones seen on the top-of-the-line Tigor compact sedan), and a new design for the 14-inch alloy wheels. On the inside, the model gets contrasting trim elements finished in orange for the dashboard. Additionally, it is also equipped with electrically adjustable wing-mirrors and a cooled glove box. 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. Mechanically, the Tiago NRG is exactly the same as the standard hatch. Engine options include an 84hp, 1.2-litre petrol engine and a 69hp, 1.0-litre three-cylinder diesel unit. Interestingly, the only gearbox on offer is the five-speed manual – the standard Tiago can also be had with a five-speed AMT. At this price, the Tiago NRG comfortably undercuts the Ford Freestyle but is also one size smaller. Only a full comparison will tell us which one is the better cross-hatch. In the meantime, do you think the NRG is an attractive alternative to a standard hatchback? Leave your thoughts in the comments. Also see: 2018 Tata Tiago NRG vs rivals: Specifications comparison [...]
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Next-gen Honda City to come by 2020
Honda has begun work on the next-gen Honda City sedan, which is expected to hit Indian showrooms by 2020. The fourth-gen City, currently on sale, made its public debut in 2014.  While details on the fifth-gen City are scarce as of now, one could expect the car to get sharper styling cues and more upmarket materials, similar to the upcoming Honda Civic, which would also be on sale in India by the time next-gen City arrives.  Sources tell us that Honda is also readying a petrol-hybrid version for the City. This variant will be a mild-hybrid alternative and won’t get costlier, fully-fledged hybrid technology that is available on other Honda models sold abroad. However, a decision of launching the mild-hybrid City will depend on the government's auto policy on future mobility. The next-gen City will also have an updated engine line-up under its hood. Honda is ready to bear the high cost of upgrading its current set of diesel engines to clear stringent BS-VI norms that come into effect in 2020. The company has already begun road testing the BS-VI ready engine on Indian soil. Honda will simultaneously upgrade its petrol engine line-up too. Also, as reported by us earlier, the next-gen City is also likely to come with the diesel-CVT configuration just like the Amaze. Adding this engine-gearbox setup to the City will help Honda take on its arch rival, the Hyundai Verna diesel-auto, more aggressively since the current-gen City does not have a diesel-automatic option. The next-gen City diesel will also take on the likes of the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz, which is expected to come with Maruti's in-house BS-VI ready1.5-litre diesel engine. The City has been the backbone for Honda in India and given the fresher competition in the segment, Honda will keep the next-gen midsize sedan up-to-date in terms of refinement and equipment levels in order to continue its three-way battle with the Verna and the Ciaz.  Also see: Honda records sales of over 15 lakh units in India Honda Civic India launch in early 2019 New Honda CR-V India launch on October 9, 2018   IMAGE SOURCE [...]
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Review: 2018 Suzuki Ertiga review, test drive
Engineering a car is a massive exercise. And, often, getting it right boils down to the little things – a few inches here, a few centimetres there. It’s all about finding the right compromise. Case in point, Maruti’s Ertiga, the one currently sold in India. Designed to be light, compact and seat seven, Maruti today knows it took things a bit too far, made it a bit too compact. This is why the all-new Ertiga I am about to get behind the wheel of features both, more space in the cabin and a larger engine under the hood; 100mm longer and 100cc larger (130mm and 88cc more to be precise), it promises much. But do these and the other changes help take the Ertiga’s ride and drive experience to the next level? The traffic-free roads on the outskirts of Jakarta beckon. BIGGER AND BOLDER I can’t resist a bit of a walkaround when I see the MPV in the flesh for the first time. It sure does look bigger and bulkier. MPVs are all about space on the inside after all, but that also makes life difficult for the designers. This isn’t a new problem. Truth be told, the battle between aesthetics and practicality has been raging for millennia. Sat at opposite ends of the ring, Kipling said: “Never the twain shall meet” and that could be the case here too. To understand just how difficult this is, take a long hard look at the plump-as-a-partridge profile of the new Ertiga. Still, Suzuki and Maruti designers have put in a stellar effort to make this Gen-2 MPV look more attractive. First up, they’ve given it more of a cowl. While the current Ertiga sold in India is very ◊ ∆ ‘mono-volume’, this new one has a distinctive nose that protrudes out like on an SUV. Similar to the Innova Crysta in profile, the new Ertiga’s stand-up bonnet is attractively detailed too. The sleek-looking wraparound headlight enclosure gets chrome and metallic highlights, the projector unit is beautifully finished, and though there are myriad surfaces and shapes where the headlights meet the grille, the execution is so neat, it looks very classy. Even the massive ‘C’-shaped brackets that house the fog lamps give the chin a robust look, and the rising swage line that runs through the door handles makes the new Ertiga look a bit tipped-forward too. I walk around the rear, and here, too, the ‘floating roof’ and ‘L’-shaped tail-lights work quite superbly. The designers at Suzuki have also widened the base to make it gel better with the bulk of the car. If only the profile were nicer; and to compound the issue, the 15-inch wheels look two sizes too small and ruin the stance. These lines and details would have looked so much better on an SUV. FORWARD MARCH To counter the added bulk, Maruti has put a larger, more powerful engine under the hood of the new Ertiga. Larger in capacity by 88cc than the 1.4 that currently powers the Ertiga in India, the new K15B also puts out substantially more power – 105hp compared to 92hp. And torque, with the increase in cubic capacity, has, of course, gone up too. What has remained unchanged, however, is the character of the engine. I set off at a relaxed pace as what I’m keen to test initially is not flat-out performance but this engine’s improved pulling power. The 1.4 engine has always been very tractable and pulled cleanly from low speed, and now this larger 1.5 is identical in character too. In fact, with the additional torque and gearing that is only marginally taller in the lower gears, the new Ertiga pulls forward in an even more energetic manner. This means I can potter around at low speed in a high gear, and pull away cleanly whenever I need to. Nice. Particularly useful in start-stop traffic, of which there is no shortage in downtown Jakarta. Yes, when fully loaded, you will need to downshift more often, but here, just three up, the Ertiga pulls so well from just about any engine speed, it’s quite relaxing to drive. Power and torque delivery is also quite linear. There’s no sudden step up in power and there’s no spike in the mid-range, but torque keeps building and building until you get to the peak at 4,400rpm. And the new Ertiga also has a lot more oomph in the top end. The engine revs until just 6,200rpm, but spin the motor past 4,500rpm and there’s loads and loads of power, and then the new Ertiga feels reasonably quick; the strong top end is particularly satisfying to use if you are in a hurry. The new K15B engine, however, isn’t the most refined unit around, especially at higher engine speeds. Cross 4,000rpm and the snarl from under the bonnet starts to sound strained. And go past 5,000rpm and the din rises further. Also, no way is this engine as smooth as the 1.5 unit of the Honda City, or for that matter, as eager to rev. More insulation is needed here for sure. STILL A HATCHBACK We need to negotiate a long stretch of dense [...]
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Mahindra to ramp up Roxor production
Mahindra rolled out its new Roxor off-road utility vehicle for the US market back in March 2018 and started production for the side-by-side powersports offering in April. Speaking to our sister publication Autocar Professional, Rajan Wadhera President, Automotive Sector, Mahindra & Mahindra said that the brand is already planning to increase production of the Roxor at its new Detroit facility as it is expecting to see demand for the vehicle increase. In order to support this ramping up of production, the Indian brand is also looking at expanding its market presence in North America from its current network of 300 dealerships. Additional outlets have been planned for California state and even in neighbouring Canada, where it is expected to launch in showrooms next year. Wadhera also revealed that the brand has so far produced 800 units of the Roxor, all of which have been dispatched to the brand’s dealers. Of these 800, 400 have already been sold through Mahindra’s US network. The two-seat Roxor is based on the Mahindra Thar, and looks quite a bit like the lifestyle SUV sold in India. It features a steel body on a boxed steel frame and is powered by a 64hp, 2.5-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine that powers all four wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox. Top speed is limited to 72kph. The Roxor is not a road-legal model and rivals the Polaris RZR ATV and the Kawasaki Mule Pro series. While the Roxor is assembled at Mahindra’s Detroit facility, about 50 percent of the model’s parts are sourced from India. The model has recently become embroiled in an intellectual property rights dispute with FCA. Also see: Mahindra Marazzo to get customisation packages 2018 Mahindra Marazzo vs rivals: Specifications comparison 2018 Mahindra Marazzo review, test drive In conversation with Anand Mahindra, executive chairman, M&M video [...]
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