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Mumbai gets 99 octane petrol
Mumbai now gets the highest octane-rated petrol in India, with Hindustan Petroleum (HP) launching its premium Power 99 petrol at the company’s Auto Care Centre retail outlet at NS Road. The fuel, which has an octane rating of 99, is targeted at high-end cars and two-wheelers to help increase their engine life. Power 99 is already available in Bengaluru and Pune, where it has received a good market response. According to the company, Power 99 can withstand a greater rise in temperature during the compression stroke of an internal combustion engine without auto-ignition, which will then result in lower engine knocking and damage. This makes it an ideal fuel choice for high-performance cars and two-wheelers. It is also claimed to reduce equipment failure, it does not contain any harmful heavy metals and sees reduction in emissions due to superior combustion of the fuel. The company says that Power 99 can also be used in other types of vehicles. HP’s sales research has revealed that 93 percent of motorists in India use normal or regular petrol and the balance rest 7 percent use premium petrol. Regular petrol in metro cities has an octane rating of 91 and those looking for higher octane fuel could find up to 97 octane at certain fuel pumps.   [...]
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Volkswagen mulling over new Polo GTI’s India launch
Volkswagen’s Polo GTI is now moving into its sixth generation and the company is mulling over its India launch. The company is facing a challenge with the hot hatch’s pricing, as import duties and the car’s MQB platform could make it expensive. The other option is to launch the car after the local MQB platform (MQB A0 IN) is developed, though this would mean a delay of two years or more.   The Polo GTI was imported and launched in November 2016 at a rather exorbitant Rs 26 lakh, and while the company moved the first lot of 100 units quite quickly, the second batch brought in had to be discounted towards the end. With the Polo, and thus the GTI version, now moving into the sixth generation with a new platform (MQB) the company needs to reevaluate its launch in India.  The hot hatch was imported in the three-door format and Volkswagen admits that its steep pricing did keep potential buyers away. However, it believes that, if priced right, there exists a good enough market for it. Additionally, the company is very keen on launching the new car to maintain the nameplate continuity. It could thus end up importing the new GTI straight away; however, it would become an issue in keeping the price competitive against its rivals, like the Mini. The VW Group had recently announced plans to develop a low-cost version of its modular MQB A0 platform, dubbed the MQB A0 IN. This locally developed platform will underpin cars for both brands – Volkswagen and Skoda. However, its development work would take some time and priority would be given to vehicles from higher volume segments, with the first product expected to be a small SUV to take on the Creta. Given the scenario, company sources tell us that that they are also mulling doing both, bringing in the import now and later moving to local production. Also see: 2017 Skoda Octavia RS vs Volkswagen GTI comparison 2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI, Polo GTI R5 image gallery [...]
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Byton previews new concept electric sedan
China-based start-up firm Byton has announced that it will unveil a concept version of its second vehicle, an electric sedan, in June at CES Asia in Shanghai. It has released the first pictures to preview its design. Even though the images only feature outer lines, they suggest that the model will feature a sleek look akin to its SUV sibling. The sedan is likely to follow the example of the SUV with a focus on interior comfort and connectivity. Like the SUV, the interior will also be dominated by a large touchscreen, with a digital tablet built into the steering wheel. While the SUV is due to go on sale in China in late 2019 (with US and European sales following in 2020), the sedan is set to be launched in 2021 – most likely with an initial focus on the Chinese market, again. The machine will be built on the same platform as the previously shown concept SUV. It is the second of three EVs that will form the firm’s early line-up, with a seven-seat MPV set to follow. Benoit Jacob, Byton’s design chief who previously worked at BMW’s 'i' division, said that using the same platform architecture for all three models is what allowed the new firm to launch them relatively quickly without straining the company's production process. Byton plans to build all its vehicles at its new plant in Nanjing, China, which is also due to be officially opened in June. That facility will have a capacity to produce around 3,00,000 cars a year. Byton may also open a localised plant in the United States, depending on what trade restrictions are in place at the time. [...]
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Nissan Sylphy Zero Emission unveiled
Nissan has revealed a new Leaf-based electric car for China – the Sylphy Zero Emission – at the Beijing motor show. The Sylphy will be built and sold exclusively in China, later this year. The car has a longer wheelbase than the Leaf in order to provide extra leg room – a unique demand made by Chinese buyers. The Sylphy's design has clear links to the Leaf, especially with the similar V-shaped front section. However, it has a liftback rather than a regular hatchback. Power comes from the same lithium-ion battery used in the Leaf, with an electric motor driving the front wheels. Nissan claims that the Sylphy can eke out 338km on each charge, according to Chinese official tests. The Leaf is good for 378km on Europe's old NEDC test. Nissan says the Sylphy's audio and infotainment can be controlled using a smartphone, although it has refrained from revealing further details about the in-car technology. It’s likely that the Sylphy will use at least some part of the Leaf’s dashboard, which itself takes heavy influence from the latest Micra’s cleanly designed cabin. It has a centrally mounted touchscreen to house the infotainment. Nissan is one of several brands that have launched China-only models at the Beijing motor show. The market is the world’s biggest buyer of new cars, and Nissan has plans to introduce 19 further electric models there by 2022. To preview its future electric cars, Nissan also showed its IMx Kuro concept car at Beijing. The electric crossover, which was first revealed at the Geneva motor show, last month, features the brand’s brain-to-vehicle technology, which analyses a driver’s brainwaves and uses them to enable the car to react more quickly. Also see: Nissan Leaf SUV expected to breakthrough to the mainstream New Nissan Terra SUV officially revealed 2018 Nissan Leaf review, test drive Nissan keen on bringing Leaf to India [...]
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Review: 2018 Honda Amaze video review
Also see: 2018 Honda Amaze review, test drive New Honda Amaze image gallery New Honda Amaze launch on May 16, 2018 India-spec Honda Amaze details revealed 2018 Honda Amaze to get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto [...]
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Preparing for a road trip: 10 things to check before you hit the road
First, let’s get the obvious out of the way – get your car serviced and make sure everything is as it should be; top up or replace oils, coolant, lights, wiper blades and tyres; and carry all your car’s documents. Okay, now that we are now done with that, let’s talk about some not-so-obvious guidelines to make your drive safer and more comfortable. This is the most important point in this article. Everyone in the car, including rear-seat passengers, must be belted up at all times. Not only can it save your lives in an accident, it will also save you from getting bruised if you speed over an unmarked speed breaker (found aplenty in India) and hit your head on the roof or those hand grips over the windows. It’s always good to have a second driver, just in case you fall ill on the way or get tired. You wouldn’t want your passengers to get stuck in the middle of nowhere, is there is no one else to take over. This is especially important if it’s a long drive, or a challenging one, like the drive to Ladakh. Carry a spare key, but don’t keep it in the glove box or in a bag stored in the boot. Keep it with you, but don’t keep both the keys together. It’s a good idea to let someone else hold on to the spare key. Carry a couple of old newspapers as they make excellent window cleaners and also act as effective carpets for muddy shoes. Preserve the toll receipts till the end of the trip. That’s because if you are stopped by the authorities for driving an out-of-state registered vehicle, the toll receipts will prove that you are passing through and not a permanent resident of that state. Yes, your driving license and car papers should prove that, but keep the toll receipts too as another line of defence.  Follow all the rules of traffic. You wouldn’t want to get your license confiscated by the traffic police so far away from home. Also, some places might have particular rules that you may be unaware of. For example, in Chandigarh you can be fined for smoking while driving. Motorists have been stopped by the Gujarat traffic police for not having a yellow strip on their headlamp. In Karnataka, pillions are prohibited on bikes with less than a 100cc engine capacity. If you want to reach your destination faster, making fewer stops is more efficient than stepping on the throttle. So try and minimise your stops if you want to make time. Carry liquids and snacks to have on the go. Though you will find fuel pumps along all major national highways, finding pumps on state roads might not be so easy. Get your tank topped once the needle drops below half a tank. Actively scout for a pump if your fuel level drops to a quarter of the tank. Also remember that all pumps will have diesel, but some of them may not have petrol. Here’s a rough rule of thumb to plan your drive with respect to the time it will take. On the highway, you will take an hour for every 50km, so a 200km drive should take about four hours. This is just an approximation. And while on the subject of planning your drive, it’s a good idea to leave at first light, as the traffic is lighter and the weather will be better. Moreover, it will give you a buffer time in case you have a breakdown or a puncture.   While we have some fantastic roads criss-crossing the country, what’s missing are clean washrooms. While it may not be too much of an issue for men, it can be a real issue for women. So when you come across a clean washroom, make use of it because you don’t know when you will find the next one. And yes, carry toilet paper. ‘Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photographs’. Don’t throw anything out of the car. Please keep a bag inside for all your waste and dispose it when you reach your destination.  That brings us to the most important point in this article. Indian roads are the most dangerous in the world. It’s a fact, accept it. Vehicles will come at you from the wrong side, bikers will suddenly swerve across the road in front of you, there will be unmarked obstructions, pedestrians and animals will jump out on the road from behind bushes and no amount of shouting profanities at them will help. What you can do is stay vigilant every moment. Leave your ego and anger at home. Keep yourself calm and patient. Remember, you want to have a nice holiday and not spend your time at the police station, a workshop or a hospital. Have a safe driving holiday. Engine oil and coolant The engine oil keeps the engine components lubricated while the coolant keeps the temperature under check. Both fluids play an integral role in the motor’s working, and need to be checked prior to the trip, especially since coolant levels can drop during long drives. GPS/Maps When taking trips to far-off places, it always helps if you plan the route and your itinerary beforehand. Maps [...]
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VW Motorsport India to provide cars for all three INRC categories
Volkswagen Motorsport India announced that it will be developing and building customer cars for its customers to compete in FMSCI India National Rally Championship (INRC). It will be preparing cars to compete in all three categories of the championship – INRC, INRC2 & INRC3. To showcase the performance of their cars, the German brand will officially compete in the INRC and INRC2 categories in the first race of the season in Chennai, this weekend. The INRC car will be driven by former FMSCI President and national champion, Vicky Chandhok, while Phalguna Urs will pilot the INRC2 car. Chandhok will compete for only one race but Phalguna will continue driving the Volkswagen Polo INRC2 car throughout the 2018 season. Chandhok, who will be returning to motorsports after 18 years, will be driving the Volkswagen Polo R2 rally car; his co-driver for the race is Chandramouli, from Benglauru. According to the 61-year old veteran, he will take the decision of racing in the following rounds of INRC depending on his performance in the first race. His son, Karun Chandhok, is the second Indian driver after Narain Karthikeyan to compete in F1 and had also raced at the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans, last year. Commenting on the announcement, Sirish Vissa, head of Volkswagen Motorsport India said, “After our global success in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) for four years on the trot, Volkswagen Motorsport changed its focus to developing customer cars globally and we followed suit here in India, too. We have developed cars for potential customers across all three categories, for individuals who wish participate in competitive rallying.” [...]
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New Hyundai Lafesta revealed
Hyundai has taken the wraps off a new sedan at the Beijing motor show, the Lafesta. The model, only to be sold in China for now, is based on the Hyundai Elantra, though it features a different suspension set-up. The car’s styling takes more than a few design cues from the radical-looking Le Fil Rouge concept that was displayed just a month ago at the Geneva motor show. The Lafesta is a four-door sedan but sports a coupe-like swoopy roofline, and looks decidedly sporty. Expected to launch in China’s market by the end of this year, Hyundai plans to target younger affluent buyers with this model. While the Le Fil Rouge concept was a larger-looking high-end model, the Lafesta, with its 4,660mm length and 2,700mm long wheelbase, is larger than the Elantra but smaller than the Sonata, and is expected to slot between the two in Hyundai’s China range. It will be powered by two engine options – a 1.4-litre turbo-petrol and a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol – in varying states of tune from 130hp to 240hp. Both are paired to a seven-speed automatic transmission powering the front wheels. While there is no word on Hyundai bringing the Lafesta to India, as the model is based on the Elantra sold here, it has potential for our market. Do you think Hyundai should bring this model to India? Let us know in the comments below. IMAGE SOURCE [...]
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PhotoGallery: Autocar Price Checker: How does the Toyota Yaris stack up?
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All-new Mercedes A-class sedan could be India-bound
Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the definitive production model of its A-class sedan at the 2018 Beijing motor show. The sixth member of Mercedes-Benz’s compact car line-up – which goes under the internal codename Z177 – draws heavily on the earlier Concept A sedan unveiled at last year’s Shanghai motor show. Its appearance combines the distinctive front-end styling of the recently introduced fourth-generation A-class hatchback, while its rear end is reminiscent of the latest third-generation CLS. Although the A-class sedan sold in China (or the A-class L sedan as it is officially named) receives a 60mm longer wheelbase than what the automaker has planned for sale global markets (at 2,279mm), officials confirm the two variants of the new four-door boast the same styling. The shorter wheelbase reduces its length to 4,549mm, making it 91mm longer than the Audi A3 sedan. The new Mercedes-Benz model is specifically aimed at rivalling the Audi A3 sedan. Not to be confused with the yet-to-be revealed second-gen CLA, the A-class sedan is one of eight compact new compact models planned by the German carmaker. The other seven including the new A-class hatchback as well as successors to the existing B-class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake and GLA. A new compact SUV is also in the works and likely to be named the GLB another yet-to-be-confirmed model is also planned. Inside, the new A-class sedan adopts the same high-quality dashboard and advanced infotainment functions as the new A-class hatchback, including Mercedes-Benz’s new MBUX operating system that introduces touchscreen control, conversational speech recognition and the ability for two users to connect simultaneously. In China, the A-class sedan will initially be sold with a turbocharged 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 136hp in base form or 163hp in a mildly higher state of tune. It will be joined shortly after the new four-door’s introduction by a more powerful turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol unit with 190hp. Both engines will be offered exclusively with a standard seven-speed dual clutch gearbox. India launch under evaluation As we reported in February 2018, Mercedes is conducting a study evaluating the possibility of introducing the new A-class(standard wheelbase) in India. It has to decide between the new A-class sedan and the yet-to-be-revealed next-gen CLA as both models have their strengths that will appeal to Indian buyers. While A-class is more practical and has a greater back seat usability, the CLA has a coupé-like exterior that lends the model a sporty look. The current-gen CLA has found reasonable success in India. However, the cramped rear seat of the CLA has left some prospective customers asking for more. Merc's team conducting the study for India will have to evaluate some key points such as, are owners in this class only looking for a self-drive car at this price point? Will the greater practicality of the sedan’s back seat appeal to them? If the new A sedan is vehicle of choice for India, it could take the German carmaker up to a year to introduce it in the country.  Also see: 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-class sedan image gallery [...]
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India-spec Honda Amaze details revealed
With a launch expected on May 16, Honda is gearing up to launch its new Amaze compact sedan. The Japanese brand had showcased the model at the 2018 Auto Expo and has also officially started accepting bookings. The new Amaze will be available in four trim levels – the base E, S, V and VX. The highlight of the new Amaze is that it will be offered with four powertrain options at launch – both the 90hp, 1.2-litre petrol and the 100hp, 1.5-litre diesel will get the five-speed manual and the option of a CVT automatic. The option of a diesel-automatic in its range will make the Amaze more competitive in its segment, as the Maruti Suzuki Dzire is currently the only car to offer the same combination. However, the diesel-CVT combo is unique in its class. Interestingly, the power and torque figures in the diesel-auto option are 20hp and 40Nm less than in its manual counterpart. ARAI rated fuel efficiencies for the variants are as follows: 19.5kpl for the petrol-manual, 19.0kpl for the petrol-automatic, 27.8kpl for the diesel-manual and 23.8kpl for the diesel-automatic. The CVT automatic will only be offered on the mid-spec S and V trims and not the top-spec VX variant. In terms of styling, the compact sedan borrows its design from its larger siblings, particularly the Honda City. Unlike the previous model, the new Amaze’s rear styling is neat, with the rear windscreen melding into the boot in a balanced manner. The kerb weight of the new compact sedan ranges between 905kg and 1039kg. Overall the new Amaze’s dimensions have increased – it is 5mm longer at 3995mm, 15mm wider at 1695mm and has a wheelbase that is 65mm longer at 2470mm. However, the height has reduced by 5mm to 1500mm. There is a difference in the turning diameter of the petrol and diesel models as well, with the petrol posting 9.4m and the diesel posting 9.8m. Lower-spec E and S models get 14-inch steel wheels while the V and VX get 15-inch alloys. However, both are shod in similar 175/65 profile tyres. Another highlight of the Amaze is that the dual-tone interiors will sport a new Digipad 2.0, 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system that is Android Auto and Apple CarPlay-compatible and comes with features like MirrorLink and a Wi-Fi connection to a synced phone for live navigation info. The insides of the new car are more spacious than the outgoing model with 45mm more shoulder room and 10mm more headroom at the rear. Thanks to the longer wheelbase, the distance between the front and rear seats is now 25mm more, liberating more room for the rear occupants. Boot space has also increased from 400 litres to 420 litres. Expected to cost a small premium over the outgoing model, which was priced between Rs 5.59 lakh and 8.54 lakh, the new Amaze will be slightly pricier than its rivals, which includes the Hyundai Xcent (Rs 5.46-8.57 lakh), Maruti Suzuki Dzire (Rs 5.56-9.43 lakh) and Ford Aspire (Rs 5.71-8.46 lakh) (all prices ex-showroom, Delhi). [...]
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Google Maps will soon guide you using landmarks
Google Maps will soon guide you by the most prominent place on-route towards your destination. In a bid to make navigation easy, Google is planning to integrate a new feature in its Maps, which will use landmarks like restaurants, temples, shopping malls, etc. as a reference to guide the user. In the future, be prepared to hear "turn right after KFC" instead of “turn right towards Dr. Annie Besant Road”. Google is testing the feature in New York City, but has not said anything yet about rolling it out in a wider area. The tech giant has taken New York as a sample to check the viability of the feature, before making it applicable worldwide. Based on feedback from Twitter users, the new feature initially confused commuters. Eventually, many city dwellers started liking it since it helped them commute more efficiently instead of fidgeting to find the correct street or lane.  [...]
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New Mercedes A-Class sedan leaked
The forthcoming Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon has been leaked onto the internet ahead of its world debut at this week's Beijing motor show. A single image has been posted online showing the car's front three quarters, although unconfirmed by Mercedes-Benz, and it appears to match the design of development cars that have been spotted recently. The A-class sedan will share the rest of the engines with the A-class hatchback. Inside, the sedan is expected to be almost identical to the hatchback and will feature Mercedes’ full-width digital dashboard and infotainment display. The S-class-derived driver assistance systems are also to be included, which will allow the car to steer and brake autonomously, up to certain speeds. Mercedes will also unveil an all-new CLA next year. Not to be mistaken with the CLA, the A-class sedan will be a separate derivative. For example, its conventional roofline is unlike the swoopy coupé-like design seen on the CLA. Both cars will offer a three-box shape in similarly-sized packages; but a Mercedes spokesman told our sister publication, Autocar UK, that both cars will appeal to different customers. Evidence for this, they said, comes with the E-class and CLS.     [...]
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Review: Fiat Abarth Punto long term review, third report
First gear is all but useless. Shift to second, and it gets a bit better. But here too, go past half-throttle and you are back to square one – all you get is wheelspin, wheelspin and more wheelspin. This despite the considerably stiffer Bilstein shocks and wider 205 Yokohama S-drives (yes, we’ve just fitted 205mm tyres on a hatchback). And this is no mild-mannered wheelspin. The ramp up in power is so steep and the torque is so hard-hitting that the wheels just spin and spin, like they are running on ice. So, if you want to enjoy that rush of acceleration, as the Abarth is catapulted forward you have to short-shift to third, as absurd as that sounds. Sure, there’s a bit of a wait as the boost builds past 2,000rpm, and 50kph, but wait a bit more,  until around 2,500rpm, and you can feel it swell. The wave breaks soon after you cross 2,500rpm, and then all hell breaks loose. The boost and a thick wad of torque just comes flooding in, charging through the gates, and then all you can do is hang until you hit 140kph and 6,500rpm. Wheelspin now is quite mild and manageable at these higher road speeds, and, as long as you have a good grip on the wheel and keep it pointing straight, it feels like you are riding a rocket with a slow fuse. Execute a quick shift to fourth and there’s no real dip in the long lusty pull, as the Abarth reels the horizon. Do this and the Abarth delivers a straightline rush no car even twice its price can; I even got our TV-show host Renuka to jump out of her seat on a long, empty stretch of road. Oh, did I tell you the motor now puts out 170hp and 270Nm of torque, compared to the earlier 145hp and 212Nm? We did it the right way. The ECU was sent down to Peter Chacko of Pete’s Performance in Cochin, where boost pressure, ignition timing and fuelling were ‘tweaked’.  We’ve got a BMC replacement filter we have yet to use and we’ve still not run the car against the clock – can’t wait. Of course, it isn’t very efficient. Pull it hard regularly and efficiency easily drops below 5kpl. But, considering the performance on tap, I think it’s well worth it. Just how much better is our modded Abarth compared to the stock car? This and other questions answered in future issues. Also see: Fiat Abarth Punto long term review, second report 2016 Fiat Abarth Punto long term review, first report [...]
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2019 Byton electric SUV concept unveiled
Byton has unveiled a near-production-ready version of its first model – a high-tech, premium electric SUV – at its European launch at Milan Design Week. The concept shown at the event in Milan was described by company boss Carsten Breitfeld as being “85 percent there”. Minor modifications are likely needed to meet legal requirements, although Breitfeld described the touchscreen-dominated interior as being “series production-ready”. The new concept builds on the version that was revealed at CES, earlier this year. The firm says the focus of the machine is on allowing drivers to ‘enhance’ the time they spend in the car, rather than its on-road performance. Byton says the main focus of the brand will be on ‘the coming era of truly shared, smart mobility and autonomous driving.’ Byton showcased the concept for its brand stores at the event in Italy, and says they will offer ‘added benefits’ to traditional dealerships by allowing customers to ‘immerse themselves in a range of topics where Byton is at home’, including digital products and services. The first brand store will open in Shanghai at the end of this year. The car will be available in two powertrain configurations – either a single 272hp electric motor driving the rear axle to produce 400Nm of torque, or a four-wheel-drive version with motors driving each axle. The two motors in the four-wheel-drive version combine for 475hp and 710Nm of torque. Power will be stored in modular lithium-ion batteries that form part of the vehicle chassis. Though Byton hasn’t revealed the capacity of the batteries, the company does say the car will have a range of 399km, which can increase to 520km with an upgraded battery pack. The concept is 4,850mm long, 1,940mm wide and 1,650mm high and runs on 22-inch wheels. At the front of the car, slim LED headlights top what Byton refers to as a ‘smart surface’. In place of door handles, the concept features facial recognition cameras that check biometric data and will only unlock the door to authorised users. The interior is dominated by a 1,250mm x 250mm ‘Shared Experience Display’ that fills the dashboard. It is comprised of three panels, which can be customised. It is also used to show images from three rear-facing cameras. Two cameras take the place of the wing mirrors, with a third mounted in the car’s rear. The brightness and background colour of the display adjusts automatically to suit lighting conditions. The Shard Experience Display features gesture and voice control and can be operated by a smartphone app. There are two displays for passengers in the rear, with the same control methods. The main driver information, including navigation systems, is displayed in a touch-controlled 8.0-inch Driver Tablet integrated into the steering wheel. The edges of the display feature buttons for the drive selectors, indicators and infotainment volume. Each seat features a facial recognition camera that will identify the user and allow personalised settings to be transferred to any seat. The front seats can swivel by 12 degrees. Byton's SUV will come equipped with driverless car technology provided by industry expert Aurora. Aurora is headed by Google's former autonomous driving boss, Chris Urmson, and several pioneers of the autonomous car industry. Its technology enables Level 4 autonomy, meaning it will be able to drive itself without any human input. The automaker said its SUV will feature driver assistance systems based around Aurora's suite of hardware, including cameras, ultrasonic sensors, radar and laser scanners, along with features such as biometric recognition and a large infotainment display that works in conjunction with a ‘Byton Life’ cloud-sharing platform. The car has been designed to allow components to be upgraded as technology develops. The vehicle architecture is designed for 5G mobile data connection, with speeds of up to 10GB per second. Based on the same platform as the SUV, a sedan (which will be previewed in a concept, this June), and an MPV are due to follow. The new China-based company has development offices in the USA and Germany, and its senior management team includes several experienced car industry executives. The firm is headed by Carsten Breitfeld, who joined from BMW’s i division along with designer Benoit Jacob. The firm’s marketing chief, Henrik Wenders, has also joined Byton from BMW’s i division. As with other new start-ups (such as the Geely-owned Lynk&Co), Byton will forego traditional dealerships in favour of a focus on online and a series of ‘brand stores’ that will be set up with partners. The first prototype version of the upcoming SUV was completed at Byton’s factory in Nanjing, China, last week. A small batch is now being built now for crash tests, with the first development pr [...]
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Porsche engine boss Kerner arrested following raid
Porsche’s powertrain development head, Jörg Kerner, has been arrest following a raid on offices and homes belonging to high ranking officials from the German car maker. The raid was conducted by lawyers and staff of the Stuttgart public prosecutor’s office and the German police. Based on information from the Stuttgart public prosecutor’s office, the 48-year-old German engineer was taken into custody on April 19, 2018 on suspicion of fraud related to the dieselgate emission manipulation scandal. Earlier this week, German media reports suggested Porsche R&D head, Michael Steiner, was also among the officials being investigated for possible involvement and/or knowledge of matters related to the manipulation of diesel emission figures via secret software programs. An official statement issued on Friday regarding the allegations levelled at Porsche employees relating to the fitment of so-called defeat devices in various diesel models, including the Macan and Cayenne, Porsche chairman, Oliver Blume said, "Porsche does not develop or produce any diesel engines or diesel software. The prosecution has accused Porsche of being aware that impermissible control equipment was installed. We reject this accusation." [...]
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PhotoGallery: 2018 Mini Countryman India image gallery
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Petrol prices hit 55-month high in Mumbai
The price of petrol Mumbai has hit a new high in 55 months and costs Rs 81.96 for a litre in the financial capital. This is the highest it has reached since September 14, 2013, where it had cost Rs 83.62 per litre .  In 2014, the highest price that petrol had scaled was Rs 82.07 per litre. The lowest prices that motorists paid – and happily at that – was Rs 62.75 a litre on March 10, 2016. After this date though, as per our sister publication Autocar Professional’s analysis of fuel prices in the past two years, petrol prices never fallen below Rs 65 a litre, and have continuously marched upwards. The year 2017 began with petrol being priced at Rs 76.91 a litre and ended at Rs 77.87 a litre, with the highest being Rs 79.99 a litre on October 3, 2017. The lowest price at which the fuel was sold last year was Rs 72.66 a litre on April 1, 2017. As of today, the price differential between the two fossil fuels, petrol and diesel, is now Rs 12.40 a litre. Diesel at its highest ever price If you thought diesel vehicle owners are a happier lot when it comes to tanking up, then it’s worth doing a rethink. Today, in Mumbai, diesel costs Rs 69.50 a litre, the highest ever the ‘common man’s’ fuel has ever cost in India. The previous highest was Rs 67.26 a litre on August 31, 2014.  On March 10, 2016, the price of diesel rate in Mumbai was Rs 53.06 a litre, rose to Rs 55.64 a litre on August 16, 2016, and from then on, Mumbai never bought diesel at Rs 55 to a litre. The price rally has now hit Rs 69.50 litre today, the highest ever recorded. Even in the other four key metros, today’s diesel price is the highest in their respective history, with Delhi paying Rs 65.18 a litre, Kolkata Rs 67.88 and Chennai Rs 68.76. In 2017, the lowest recorded rate for diesel in Mumbai was Rs 58.19 a litre and the highest was Rs 64.89 a litre at the start of the year. [...]
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All-new Suzuki Ertiga leaked ahead of unveil
Autocar India has got its hands on details and pictures of Maruti’s all-new second-gen Ertiga, soon to be revealed in Indonesia. Set to be showcased at the upcoming 2018 Indonesian motor show in Jakarta, the new car is longer, wider and taller, but will be built on the same 2,740mm wheelbase. New Ertiga design The second-gen MPV isn’t just bigger; it even gets a more grown-up design. The nose looks wider and more substantial, the rear has been beefed up with new tail-lights that make the car look wider, and the new C-pillar is so similar in design to the Toyota Innova, it’s hard not to infer this is inspired. And this is true of the longer slot-like headlights as well, with their individual elements all neatly lined up. The bit that will get your attention first, however, is the wide C-shaped bracket that contains the foglight, and what looks, for all intents and purposes, like a spoiler on a sportscar, designed to shape the air flow. New Ertiga dimensions The second-gen Ertiga is 99mm longer and 40mm wider than its predecessor, with an identical wheelbase of 2,740mm. But what’s clear is that the added length and width will surely translate into better legroom for all three rows. As far as luggage capacity goes, the new Ertiga has only 153 litres of space, with all three rows up, which is less than the current car's 185 litres. Fuel tank capacity is the same at 45 litres. The Indonesian-spec car has a ground clearance of 180mm, while the current-gen India-spec Ertiga's is at 185mm. Like all the newer Marutis, the new Ertiga also moves to the new Heartect platform. Suzuki says the car now has a more rigid and reinforced underbody, which works better in a crash; this could mean the new Ertiga will be lighter than the earlier car and deliver better performance and fuel economy.  New Ertiga engine and specifications Under the hood is a new 1,462cc K15B 1.5-litre petrol engine that puts out 104hp. Suzuki says this motor delivers 18.06kpl when coupled with a five-speed manual transmission, and 16.73kpl when equipped with a four-speed torque converter automatic gearbox. Stopping power comes from ventilated discs up front and drums at the back. The new Ertiga comes with 15-inch alloy wheels shod with 185/65-R15 tyres, exactly like the outgoing model.  New Ertiga interior The new Suzuki Ertiga’s instrument panel and flat-bottomed steering are similar to those seen on the new Swift and Dzire. The bottom half of the dash is finished in beige and the top half in black, and the centre AC vents are now vertically aligned. There’s a new 6.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system and the Indonesian-spec car even comes with cooled cupholders. But while the Indonesian spec-MPV doesn’t come with climate control system, spy pictures reveal that the India-spec Ertiga will get this feature. Expect Maruti to bring the new Ertiga to India around Diwali. [...]
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2018 Range Rover, Range Rover Sport bookings begin
Land Rover started accepting bookings for the upcoming 2018 Range Rover and the Range Rover Sport. The British marquee is giving a mid-cycle update to its flagship SUVs, with the most significant changes made to the exteriors and the interior. As before, the refreshed Range Rover will get a long-wheelbase version, along with the regular version. The refreshed Range Rover initially made a debut at the last LA Motor Show and was later spied testing in India, wearing a heavy camouflage. On the outside, the 2018 Range Rover has received significant changes to its face. It gets new Pixel-laser LED headlamps that inset into the gloss black fringes of the refreshed grille, which is designed in a new Atlas mesh pattern. In addition, the new Range Rover models also get a different bumper design, tweaked tail-lamps and a more tapered rake for the rear windscreen. On the inside, the cabin is quite a departure from the previous car and replicates the Velar to a large extent. For instance, the new Touch Pro Duo infotainment system sports two 10-inch touchscreens on the centre console (the top one being adjustable for angle) that allow access to a vast range of features inside the cabin, similar to the Velar. However, there are features which remain exclusive in this flagship, like the new front seats with heated armrests, up to 17 connecting points for charging and multimedia, a deployable centre console at the rear, hot stone seat massage function, gesture-controlled sunblinds, cabin air purifier, 4G Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity for up to eight devices and adaptive cruise control with the queue assist function. Though equipment and design updates are extensive, the flagships remain the same at their heart and continue to derive power from the same petrol and diesel engines that did duty in the outgoing models. Their engine range starts with the 247hp, 3.0-litre V6 diesel and goes up to the 551hp, 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol. Prices of the pre-facelift Range Rover that retails in India start at Rs 1.66 crore and goes up to Rs 3.61 crore (ex-showroom). When it arrives, the new model will rival the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GLS, BMW X5 and the Audi Q7.  Also see: 2018 Range Rover Sport SVR facelift review, test drive In conversation with Ralf Speth, CEO, Jaguar Land Rover [...]
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Difficult opener for Aditya Patel at Blancpain GT Series Asia
Aditya Patel got a new start to the 2018 Blancpain GT Series Asia season with OD Racing Team WRT at the Sepang International Circuit. However, the first two races did not go as planned, for the team. The Audi R8 LMS GT3 was doing well in race 1 until the car’s hose pipe broke, costing the team what could have been a podium finish. In race 2, however, it was the higher temperatures that proved to be the problem. Both Aditya Patel and Mitch Gilbert had to drive a little more cautiously to finish the race and collect a single point. Gilbert started race 2 from 11th position on the grid, after which he fought hard to gain a few sports but the brakes were wearing too quickly causing him to lower the pace. However, he kept his place and passed the car over to Aditya Patel in 12th position. After this, a smooth pit-stop and steady pace allowed Patel to make up two places and finish the race in 10th. Gilbert was quoted saying, “I thought we were making progress over the weekend but we just keep coming across issues. We still have some work to do and we have a month to figure out what to do for the next round. At least we scored that one point today, and yesterday we could’ve scored six or seven points or more. So when we have a tough weekend we just have to make sure that we keep scoring points.” The next race will be held on the 12th and 13th May, at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand. [...]
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Ford EcoSport Titanium S to launch next month
Ford will introduce a new EcoSport Titanium S variant in the Indian market in May. The new trim will sit at the top of the current EcoSport line-up. Ford had only recently rejigged the EcoSport line-up with equipment changes across variants. The EcoSport Titanium S will come with a sunroof – something which is becoming an increasingly sought-after feature in India. This new variant will also come in a unique alloy wheel design with gun metal finish, black grille, black fog lamp housing and headlamp inserts, and a dual-tone exterior finish. On the inside it will come with all-black interiors with exterior colour-coordinated inserts which will set it apart from the lower trims. The instrument cluster of the Titanium S also features chrome rings unavailable on the other variants. Aforementioned cosmetic changes aside, the Titanium S trim is expected to debut a new six-speed gearbox. This new gearbox will eventually replace the IB5 five-speed unit seen in all current variants. Additionally, Ford is also readying another special edition of the EcoSport that will be called the EcoSport Signature Edition. Also due for a launch in coming months, this Signature Edition of the EcoSport will get unique graphics on the exterior and a different alloy wheel design, along with a rear spoiler. While the addition of a sunroof and added features on the EcoSport Titanium S variant is sure to entice buyers, what remains a question mark for now is its pricing. Should Ford price the version significantly higher than the current Titanium+ trim, the EcoSport could find itself competing with SUVs from a segment above. Interestingly, of the larger SUVs the EcoSport Titanium S could compete with, the Hyundai Creta is due to sport a sunroof with the arrival of the facelifted version, this May. Image source [...]
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PhotoGallery: Honda X Blade image gallery
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Review: 2018 Toyota Yaris video review
Read our Toyota Yaris review [...]
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PhotoGallery: 2018 Toyota Yaris sedan India image gallery
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New Honda Amaze spied ahead of May launch
The new Honda Amaze has been caught in final production-guise ahead of its May launch. The vehicle was spotted by Autocar India staffers at its video commercial shoot on the outskirts of Mumbai. This is the first time the car has been seen on public roads after its global unveil at the 2018 Auto Expo earlier this year. Our staffers report the car appeared identical to the models displayed at the motorshow. What that means is styling is more grown-up than the current Amaze's and there's lots of new-age Honda cues to the look. While the cabin remained hidden from view, it is expected to remain unchanged from the show car. That means the Amaze will sport dual-tone interiors with top versions coming loaded with features like a touchscreen infotainment system, push-button start and cruise control, to name a few. The Amaze will also ace on space with rear room enhanced on the already spacious generation 1 Amaze. The new Honda Amaze will come with four engine-gearbox options. There will be a 1.2-litre petrol engine with the option of a manual or a CVT gearbox, as well as a 1.5-litre diesel with the option of a manual or CVT gearbox. The unique diesel-CVT combo is a first in the segment and should help the Amaze offer class-leading fuel economy. Like the petrol-CVT, the diesel-CVT will also offer paddleshifters.  Honda is expected to launch the new Amaze sometime in the second half of May, though bookings opened last week. The booking amount stands at Rs 21,000. Dealers are expecting the first lot of cars to be delivered by the end of next month.   [...]
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Mahindra launches high-performance EV brand Automobili Pininfarina
Mahindra & Mahindra today officially launched its new high-performance EV brand, Automobili Pininfarina that will "design, engineer and manufacture high technology, extreme performance, luxury electric vehicles". The announcement comes nearly three weeks after Autocar India exclusively broke the news.   Ex-Audi India head Michael Perschke will lead the new EV company, which will develop its first model – a Pininfarina-badged electric hypercar capable of accelerating to 100kph in 2sec and 300kph in less than 12sec – in 2020. While Mahindra hasn't provided any further details, our exclusive story revealed the hypercar will have the performance to rival the 1,500hp Bugatti Chiron and use modular underpinnings co-developed by Croatian electric supercar maker Rimac. Perschke, however, has revealed the electric hypercar will cost a little under 2 million Euros (around Rs 16 crore).   The model run will be limited to 100 units, and the line-up, which will also have SUVs, including a Lamborghini Urus fighter, will be equipped with Level 3 autonomous driving technology. Vehicles developed by the new company will leverage legendary design house Pininfarina's automotive design expertise.     The formation of Automobili Pininfarina fulfils the dream of Pininfarina's founders to make a road car under its own brand name. "This project helps me and my family to realise my grandfather's dream of seeing outstanding innovative cars, solely branded Pininfarina, on the roads," Paolo Pininfarina, chairman, Pininfarina SpA said.   “We will always remain at the high end of the luxury market. There will be no Tesla Model 3 equivalent from us,” said Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra Group. He further added that the company will develop "a rare collector's item" that will be "an innovative and pioneering product".   Today's announcement has been made on the eve of the Rome round of the Formula E series, in which Mahindra Racing is one of the front runners.   With operations based in Europe, the new Pininfarina car-making firm will work independently of its parent’s EV division, Mahindra Electric, in a conscious bid to create an all-new eco-system and culture that is required in this fast-paced business. The new company is said to have received an initial investment of around $100 million (around Rs 647 crore) from Mahindra, after which it will look for outside investment to scale up operations.   Also read Michael Perschke to head new Mahindra EV subsidiary Mahindra's high-performance EV start-up: 5 things you need to know   [...]
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VW Group appoints Herbert Diess as new CEO
Herbert Diess has taken charge of the Volkswagen Group as its new CEO, and will also continue to serve as Volkswagen’s brand chief. Previous group head, Matthias Müller, had been serving the company since the emissions scandal began in September 2015. The move is part of sweeping changes at the group, which includes Volkswagen, Skoda, Seat, Audi as well as luxury brands Bentley, Bugatti, Porsche and Bentley. Under the new structure, the car brands will be separated into three core divisions – volume, which will include VW, Skoda and Seat; premium, which features Audi; and super premium, which includes Porsche Bugatti, Lamborghini and Bentley. According to VW, the new structure has been created in order to streamline group management, leverages synergies in the individual operating units and speed up decision making. "Audi is the core brand for this competitive segment, which features BMW, Daimler and Lexus," Diess said, when asked whether Audi is the sole premium car brand. "Audi plays an instrumental role within the whole group. Our super premum segment is specifically for car enthusiasts who like to spend a lot of money on cars - people who really love cars and are petrolheads". Diess said that he will work to increase the efficiency of synergies across the group's companies, highlighting the importance of streamlining decision making processes in order to adapt to the fast-changing car industry. "My most important task will now be to join with our management team and our group workforce in consistently pursuing and pushing forward our evolution into a profitable, world-leading provider of sustainable mobility," he said. "In a phase of profound upheaval in the automotive industry, it is vital for Volkswagen to pick up speed and make an unmistakable mark in e-mobility, the digitalization of the automobile and transportation as well as new mobility services. "We believe we cannot control and manage this century, but our group activities will be co-ordinated and our political relationships will be well maintained," said Diess, when asked how the company plans to stay ahead of a constantly evolving car industry. Müller’s departure had also left a vacant space on Porsche’s board which has been filled by Oliver Blume, the current CEO of the brand. Müller led the Volkswagen Group through one of its toughest periods as it faced fire for its emissions cheating scandal. He inherited the top role from Martin Winterkorn, who resigned when the scandal broke. SAM SHEEHAN [...]
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