The BMW 3-series is a rear-wheel-drive compact luxury sedan that has always been designed and engineered with the driver in sharp focus. Now in its seventh generation globally, BMW says the new 3 is more luxurious, better equipped and more comfortable than the current car. And that's not it – BMW even claims it's the best 3-series to drive ever. So expectations are high. With the 320d and 320i likely to be in showrooms only in July next year, are they worth waiting for?
What is it?
The new 3-series is truly all new. Based on BMW's Cluster Architecture (CL AR) – first used on the 7-series and later the 5 – the new 3-series is around 55kg lighter, a massive 50 percent stiffer, and longer and wider than the current car. It also gets a 10mm lower centre of gravity for better agility, a wheelbase that's longer by 41mm and the track, in general, is up by 30mm too. Unlike the 5, however, the front wheels of the 3-series are not suspended by double wishbones; it gets the more affordable McPherson struts. And it also has an all-new damping system that offers greater control of the spring (it uses an additional piston in the damper to control rebound over bumps).
The design of the exterior also seems to dovetail nicely with the more sporty fundamentals. The design is more aggressive and edgy, there are sharper lines and cuts, and the larger wheels give it a more planted look as well. While the basic silhouette of the 3 remains, the nose of the car is all new. The oversized kidney grille is now much wider, the wraparound headlight clusters seem to emerge from under the grille and there are some exaggerated cuts on the bonnet. It works nicely, but I can't help but feel some of that old BMW visual magic is gone; remember the narrow nostrils, round headlights and the hooded brows? The new 3-series also gets three different chins. The 320d's (the white car) is the neatest of the lot and the least aggressive, and the NACA ducts on the air dam work particularly nicely. At the rear, all 3-series get twin tailpipes, the 320d included. The design of the rear, however, is a bit too simple and anonymous. Remove the blue and white badge and it could be anything.
What's it like to drive?
Let's start with the ride, especially over bad roads. While the roads in Portugal are much better paved than the ones we have back home, I did encounter some nasty patches, and it is here over some large ruts and sharp bumps that BMW's new damping system clearly impressed. Yes, as ever with the 3-series, you can feel a hint of stiffness in the springs and there is still some up and down movement at speed. But the new system works so well, the suspension still smothers most bumps like they barely exist. The suspension is silent and never crashes, and what's impressive is that even small road imperfections are dismissed easily. This should be the best riding 3-series we've ever had in India, especially once the Indian car get a slightly raised rough road suspension and taller profile tyres.
The new 3-series also has massive amounts of grip. The chassis is much stiffer, the centre of gravity is lower and the wheels are placed wider apart (you can feel that from behind the wheel). In fact, grip levels are so high and the car feels so planted, it feels completely nonplussed, even though initially you think you are driving close to the car's limits. The steering is very relaxed and measured, and the new 3 isn't quite as agile as the current car, but there's just so much poise and stability, you need to up your pace considerably if you really want to get the rear of the car sliding. Find the right road, like we did, get 'up to speed' with the higher levels of grip, and the new 3-series will deliver a driving experience that is a lot more superior to its rivals, to easily be the best driving car in its class. And what's impressive is that the harder you drive, the more agile and better it gets. Still, you do miss the current car's low-speed agility and sense of playfulness.
Performance is also a small step up on the current car. The diesel engine makes an identical 190hp but performance in the mid-range feels more muscular and stronger. The engine is more refined, insulation is better and it even feels more responsive at low engine speeds. A lot of these changes are because BMW has gone from using a single twin-scroll turbo to twin sequential units – one large and one small. Thankfully, the engine still revs all the way to 5,000rpm and pulls hard all the way to 4,700rpm or so. So you are never left wanting for performance. The 320d, in fact, does 0-100 in just 6.8sec, almost as quick as the original E30 M3 from the late '80s at 6.5sec. BMW's diesel, however, still isn't as smooth or as quiet as Audi's, and it's not as responsive either.&nbs [...]
Known for being the architect of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, Carlos Ghosn was arrested in Japan in November having been accused of under-reporting his salary and using company assets for personal use. Japanese TV station NHK now reports that he has now been indicted for under-reporting his salary, and re-arrested over similar allegations dating back several years.
Ghosn was stripped of his roles as chairman of Nissan and Mitsubishi after the allegations emerged. However, he maintains his position as chairman and CEO of Renault.
NHK also reports that Nissan has been charged by prosecutors as a corporation involved in the case. Former Nissan representative director Greg Kelly, arrested at the same time as Ghosn, has been indicted as well.
Prosecutors believe that Ghosn had made arrangements to receive the difference between his documented salary and what he was actually paid, post-retirement.
Ghosn has not issued any public statement following his arrest, but he is reported to have denied said allegations to prosecutors.
Royal Enfield has revealed the complete price list for the official accessories of both, the Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT 650. Like the motorcycles themselves, the prices are very competitive and range between Rs 600 (handlebar brace pad) and go up to Rs 6,000 (soft pannier pair). The prices include the labour cost for fitting the parts.
For reference of what these accessories might look like, here is a spy image of Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 testing a few months ago with a number of accessories installed. The Continental GT 650 seen in the image is equipped with the short flyscreen (Rs 1,500), large engine guard in black (Rs 2,900), fork gaiter kit (Rs 850) and pannier mounting kit (Rs 1,600). Royal Enfield is also offering other accessories for the Continental GT 650, like a single-seat cowl in multiple colours (Rs 2,500), a single seat (Rs 3,200), heel guards coloured in black (Rs 1,200) and compact engine guards (Rs 2,600 for it in black and Rs 2,900 for it finished in chrome).
There is also a taller flyscreen available, priced at Rs 1,700. An aluminium sump-guard will cost Rs 1,850, while a set of soft panniers will set you back by Rs 6,000. Meanwhile, a single soft pannier (right-hand side) will cost Rs 4,000. Royal Enfield is also offering some of its components like the oil-filler cap (Rs 775), brake-reservoir cap (Rs 675) and bar ends (Rs 1,100) in a machined finish.
Most of the accessories and the costs remain universal across the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 and Continental GT 650. Like the Continental GT, the Interceptor 650 can also be installed with a large engine guard, compact engine guard, either short or tall flyscreen, aluminium sump-guard, fork gaiters, panniers and pannier mounts and a handlebar brace pad. The only different accessory on the Interceptor 650 is the heel guard. It is shaped and priced differently (Rs 800) and available only for the right-hand side. Water-resistant bike covers are available for both models at Rs 900. For more details and images of the accessories, you can head here.
Royal Enfield has also launched new riding gear which will be available at RE dealerships, the RE online gear store, Myntra, Flipkart and Amazon. The new riding gear includes four new jackets, a new pair of riding pants, a helmet and short-cuff motorcycle gloves.
2018 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 India review, test ride
2018 Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 India review, test ride
Interceptor 650 vs 390 Duke vs Ninja 300 comparison video [...]
BMW Motorrad India are running a year-end scheme on their G 310 R and G 310 GS models in the form of three benefits – cash discounts, free insurance and reduced interest rates on their financing options.
For the duration of the offer, the bikes are available starting at an on-road price of Rs 3.39 lakh for the G 310 R and Rs 3.93 lakh for the G 310 GS in Delhi. However, the ex-showroom prices of the bikes remain the same, starting at Rs 2.99 lakh for the naked G 310 R, and Rs 3.49 lakh for the adventure-oriented G 310 GS.
We called a number of dealers across the country and they informed us that customers can save upto Rs 40,000 – free insurance worth close to Rs 15,000 and cash discounts of up to Rs 25,000. The brand has also brought down the Rate of Interest (ROI) on these bikes to 3.10 percent, with some dealers having slightly higher ROI, depending on the duration of the loan. This is a significant reduction from the standard loans which vary between 14-18 percent from dealer to dealer.
While the free insurance is being offered pan India, some dealers are offering either the cash discount or the reduced interest rate in addition to it. The few that are offering all three benefits claim savings of up to Rs 70,000 – which will be the product of saving on EMI.
The G 310 range is the first product from the TVS-BMW collaboration in India and both bikes are powered by the same liquid-cooled, single-cylinder 313cc engine that produces 34hp at 9,500rpm and 28Nm of torque at 7,500rpm. Both bikes use 6-speed gearboxes.
The offer is valid until December 31, 2018, or until stocks last.
BMW G 310 R buyer's guide video
2018 BMW G 310 R, G 310 GS video review
2018 BMW G 310 R, G 310 GS review, test ride [...]
The 2020 BMW M3 is expected to use an extensively updated version of the carmaker’s twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six engine producing around 471hp.
Officials at the 2018 Paris motor show, including company boss Harald Krüger, confirmed that a new M3 was under development, although they declined to give details. It is understood, however, that engineers have been set the target of giving the new M3 a power boost over the M3 CS, which produced 460hp.
It is believed the additional performance is likely to come from the use of a water injection system, like that used by the M4 GTS, to enable reduced cylinder temperatures for more efficient running. The only obstacle to this system being employed is believed to have centred on the issue of effective packaging, but that is now thought to have been overcome.
The additional weight of the water injection system is minimal and unlikely to compromise BMW’s goal of making the car lighter than the 1,585kg M3 CS. This is thanks to the savings already made with the basic structure of the new 3-series, as well as the potential benefits of using carbon-fibre parts, including the roof.
Both a four-wheel-drive system, similar to that used on the M5, and any form of electrification, are believed to have been vetoed because they would add too much weight, complexity and cost. However, persistent reports suggest that the 2020 M3 could be the final M model to be launched without some form of electrification, which is necessary due to the increasing priority of meeting fleet-average CO2 targets.
There are no further details about the new M3’s potential performance, but the lighter, more powerful car will eclipse the current M3 CS’ 0-100kph time of 3.9sec. It will be sold with a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed automatic, with the latter enabling better performance figures due to a built-in electronic launch control system.
The M3 will also benefit from the increased rigidity offered by its part-aluminium, part-high-strength-steel CLAR underpinnings. This is a key reason why BMW is already making class-leading claims about the dynamic abilities of the base 3-series. The regular car’s wider track and uprated suspension systems should also give engineers the foundations for a dynamically more capable M3.
As well as offering greater performance potential, the stiffer chassis should reduce the amount of vibration transmitted into the car to enhance overall refinement. It should also allow engineers to adopt softer spring rates to give the M3 a more compliant ride in its most comfortable mode without hampering the car’s overall dynamic ability.
Inside, the next M3 will follow in the M5's footsteps and swap its dash-top infotainment screen for one that’s more tidily integrated into the dashboard. The iDrive system is expected to retain a rotary control knob because it has been praised for its ease of use in current cars. The M3 will also gain significantly more advanced driver assist features, but former sales and marketing boss Ian Robertson has hinted to our sister publication, Autocar UK, that most BMW models will steer clear of the full autonomous hardware suites to be used on i5 and i7, due from 2021. M models, in particular, will still possess a very driver-centric character.
The M3 will continue to form the basis for the technically identical M4 coupé, while M-worked 3-series models will lend their hardware to a two-door M440i M Performance coupé and M440d M Performance coupé. These models are also due to arrive in 2020 and are part of a 26-model onslaught of M division-tuned cars that aims to more extensively rival the growing ranges of Mercedes-AMG and Audi Sport.
It remains uncertain whether the car will feature an active rear-wheel steering system to enhance agility and boost high-speed stability. Although it is under consideration, the business case for developing the system for the M3 only is believed to be under debate.
The car, now testing on public roads in development form and due to go on sale in 2020, would inherit the active technology from the 5-series and 7-series. If the hardware does make the cut and is fitted to the super-saloon, the M3 would be the only car in the upcoming 3-series range to feature it. [...]
Mercedes-Benz will introduce the V-class in India in January 2019. The model is one of multiple products that the German brand has lined-up for the Indian market next year.
The current-gen Mercedes V-class MPV was first revealed back in 2014. The model is currently built in Europe and will come to India via the CBU route. This will be the third foray for the brand in the Indian luxury MPV space after the R-class MPV and older MB100 and MB140 vans.
The latest-gen V-class has been restyled over the past few years and the look is in line with the latest Mercedes design language. The new V-class's cabin is luxuriously appointed with high quality bits on and around the dashboard, along with the latest iteration of Mercedes Comand infotainment system. Unlacquered wood and Napa leather provide the cabin with a proper upmarket feel. The V-class shares some of its switchgear and the steering wheel with newer Mercedes models like the C- and S-class sedans.
The V-class is 5,170mm long in the standard form and also comes with an extended length option that stretches the MPV to 5,370mm. Two seating configurations are expected to come on the India-spec version. Additionally, the V-class comes with a luxury sleeper option too, where the rear-most seats fold to form a bed. However, it remains to be seen whether this option makes it to the Indian model.
The V-class in India will be sold with a single diesel engine option – the latest OM654 motor that also powers the recently updated C-class and the E-class All-Terrain in India. It gets a diesel particulate filter (DPF), a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) unit and an AdBlue tank – all of which make this motor meet the stricter, cleaner BS-VI emission standard, even while running on regular BS-IV diesel. The engine is a 2.0-litre four cylinder unit that generates 194hp and 400Nm of torque.
Apart from standard safety features, the V-class will also come with Crosswind Assist and a fatigue detecting attention assist system. Expect Mercedes to price the V-class in India in the range of Rs 75-80 lakh (ex-showroom).
New Mercedes V-class MPV image gallery [...]
A Bajaj Pulsar equipped with ABS has been spotted testing. The bike is said to be the Pulsar 150, but could possibly even be the updated 180. While that remains uncertain, what isn’t, is that both the 150 and the 180 will have to get the safety feature before the government’s deadline of April 2019.
The bike in the spy image features a belly pan similar to the one that has recently made its way (along with updated decals) to the Pulsar 150 Twin Disc. That said, Bajaj could also be working on an updated version of the Pulsar 180, which will also use a similar belly pan, and get other cosmetic updates along with the inclusion of ABS.
Another Bajaj bike that was also spotted testing the safety feature is the 220F. We believe the 150, 180 and the 220F will be equipped with a single-channel ABS unit, similar to the one found on the NS200 and the RS200.
For reference, the ABS-equipped RS200 costs around Rs 12,000 more than the non-ABS model. However, we will not be surprised to see a smaller price hike for the ABS models of the Pulsar 150, 180 and 220, given how important they are to the brand and also because they operate in a more price sensitive segment of the market.
Other manufacturers, like Royal Enfield, KTM and Honda, have already begun launching ABS versions of their current models.
IMAGE SOURCE [...]
Euro NCAP has just released the test result of the latest iteration of Jeep’s Wrangler, with the SUV only getting a one-star rating. The rating, which is valid for the entire Wrangler range, was given because a lack of some essential safety features that other modern cars carry. Missing features include automatic emergency breaking, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring and knee airbags, to name a few.
Jeep has claimed that the Wrangler will sport Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) in early 2019, however, the cars that were tested did not have AEB. According to the tests, the Wrangler achieved 50 percent in adult occupancy, 69 percent in child occupancy, 49 percent in vulnerable road users and 32 percent for safety assist features.
The Wrangle does, however, get some basic safety equipment such as six airbags, a speed assist system (which includes speed warning and speed limiters), a belt pre-tentioner and so on as standard.
The previous-gen model, which is on sale in India, is priced from Rs 58.74 lakh and comes with either a 284hp, 3.6-litre V6 petrol or a 200hp, 2.8-litre diesel motor. The new-gen Wrangler is expected to arrive in mid-2019 and is likely to introduce a new 2.0-litre turbo-petrol and a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel, along with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon video review
2018 Jeep Wrangler image gallery
2018 Jeep Wrangler review, test drive
2018 Jeep Wrangler first look video [...]
Volvo’s track record at the Euro NCAP’s crash tests has been very good and the new S60 sedan and V60 estate are no exception. Both models have been given a five-star rating by the crash test agency and join the rest of the Volvo range which also boast a five-star result.
The S60 and the V60 are built on Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), which is the same platform used by the larger XC60, as well as the XC90. These cars are equipped with a host of safety features such as whiplash prevention, pedestrian warning, ABS, EBD, stability control, collision mitigation, and so on.
While the V60 estate is not expected to make its way to the Indian market, the new S60 sedan should arrive sometime next year. When it launches in India, the S60 will have petrol and hybrid powertrain options, eschewing diesel engines altogether, and rival the likes of the Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-class and BMW 3-series.
2019 Volvo S60 review, test drive
2018 Volvo S60 image gallery [...]
This year saw mass market and premium carmakers try and make a greater impression in the Indian market by introducing a large number of facelifts and all-new models. 2019 is expected to see the same trend continue. Tata’s much anticipated Harrier is scheduled to arrive along with Mahindra’s proper competitor to the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza and Tata Nexon. Luxury brands such as Audi, BMW and Porsche are also expected to launch a few new models during the first three months of next year.
Here’s our list of the cars and SUVs you can expect to be brought to showrooms from January to March 2019:
Nissan Kicks (January 2019)
While it may be larger outside and inside than its international-spec counterpart (thanks to shared underpinnings with Renault’s Captur), the India-spec Nissan Kicks looks quite similar, if one discounts a few minor cosmetic changes. Nissan is expected to equip the Kicks with a 7.0-inch ‘floating’ touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and segment-firsts like a 360-degree camera and a telematics-enabled smartwatch. Expect the Kicks to share the 106hp, 1.5-litre petrol and the 110hp, 1.5-litre diesel with the Renault Captur. In order to rival the Hyundai Creta, Nissan is expected to price the Kicks between Rs 9.4 lakh and Rs 15 lakh (ex-showroom).
Nissan Kicks to be showcased at Autocar Performance Show 2018
Nissan Kicks to get segment-first features
2019 Nissan Kicks vs rivals: Specifications comparison
2019 India-spec Nissan Kicks first look video
Tata Harrier (January 2019)
The new Harrier is expected to make quite a statement, thanks to its attractive styling, large dimensions (in part due to sharing the Discovery Sport’s platform) and spacious interiors. While it will only launch in front-wheel drive format with a single diesel-manual powertrain option (the 140hp, 2.0-litre engine and 6-speed gearbox have been sourced from Fiat), it will come with a terrain select mode, similar to what its rival, the Jeep Compass gets. The Harrier will also be well equipped for its class and be priced competitively for what it is – an on-road price tag of between Rs 16 lakh and Rs 21 lakh is expected.
Tata Harrier vs rivals: Feature comparison
Tata Harrier first look video
Tata Harrier variant breakup revealed
Tata Harrier official details revealed
Tata Harrier: 5 development secrets
2018 Tata Harrier image gallery
Toyota Camry (Janaury 2019)
The new Camry shares its all-new front-wheel-drive platform with the Lexus ES 300h that launched recently in India, which means its wheelbase has increased, thereby liberating more room inside. Probably the sportiest looking Camry yet, the cabin now gets a dashboard with a sweeping design, and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system incorporated in the centre console. The new Camry is expected to come in petrol and hybrid forms – the former is a 176hp, 2.5-litre engine while the latter combines the same petrol motor with a 118hp (88kW) electric motor, taking total output to 208hp.
India-bound ASEAN-spec Toyota Camry unveiled
Next-gen Toyota Camry spied in India
New Toyota Camry India-bound in 2019
Honda Civic (February 2019)
While the India didn’t get the latest-gen Civic, it will finally arrive in facelift form with a 140hp, 1.8-litre petrol engine and the CR-V’s 120hp, 1.6-litre diesel motor. The former will come mated to either a 6-speed manual or an automatic transmission while the latter will come with a a 6-speed manual only. The rival to the Hyundai Elantra, Skoda Octavia and Toyota Corolla Altis looks far more stylish and is much better equipped than the previous model that was discontinued a few years ago in India. This should help Honda make a bigger dent in the segment this time around.
2019 Honda Civic spied in India
2018 Honda Civic diesel review, test drive
Jeep Compass Trailhawk (February 2019)
The coveted diesel-automatic version of the Compass will finally launch here after quite a few delays. Besides having a new 9-speed automatic, the Compass Trailhawk is also much more capable off-road as it sits 20mm higher than the standard model, better approach (30 degree) and departure (33.6 degree) angles and has a an additional 'Rock’ mode for the Selec-Terrain 4WD mode selector.
India-spec Jeep Compass Trailhawk spied
2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk video review
2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk review, test drive
Porsche Macan facelift (March 2019)
The refreshed Macan may not look all that different compared to the outgoing mode, but there are minor styling tweaks along with changes on the inside that include an updated infotainment system. Like its [...]
Jeep dealers are now offering discounts and benefits on their models in a bid to clear the old stock of cars. Buyers can now avail these offers and get themselves a Jeep SUV at discounted rates or with other benefits. Before buying a Jeep vehicle, take a look at how much you can save on each model.
JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE
Save up to Rs 6 lakh
Jeep’s flagship SUV, the Grand Cherokee, has not been a sales sensation in our market. Hence, Jeep dealers are offering the petrol Grand Cherokee Summit variant with a sizeable discount of Rs 6 lakh. The 3.0-litre V6-equipped diesel Grand Cherokee too is being offered with a Rs 3 lakh discount for the limited variant. The performance-focused SRT Grand Cherokee is powered by a 6.4-litre HEMI V8 motor that puts out 461hp and 624Nm of torque. This variant is currently available with a Rs 3 lakh discount from dealers. Prices for the Grand Cherokee start at Rs 78.82 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Save up to Rs 8.50 lakh
The Jeep Wrangler is a rugged off-roader with go-anywhere capability. Jeep has brought the Wrangler to India as a CBU unit, which is the cause for its expensive price tag. Right now, Jeep dealers are offering a Rs 5 lakh discount on the diesel-powered Wrangler. The petrol version of the Wrangler is also offered with Rs 5 lakh discount for the 2018 model year and a massive Rs 8.50 lakh off for the 2017 model year. As prices for the Wrangler start at Rs 58.74 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), you’ll be able to save about 10 percent with these deals.
Save up to Rs 73,400
The Compass has been the manufacturer’s best-seller in our market and is available with 170hp, 2.0-litre diesel and a 160hp, 1.4-litre petrol engine options. The Longitude 4x2 and Option variants are being offered with a Rs 50,000 cash benefit (or on an exchange offer) as a part of the brand's year-end discounts. The Limited 4x2 and 4x4 variants are available with a Rs 25,000 cash discount or Rs 50,000 as a part of an exchange offer. Similarly, the Limited Option 4x2 and 4x4 models have a Rs 58,400 cash benefit or a Rs 50,000 exchange bonus. Dealers are offering the most cash benefits on the Limited Option Black Pack variant of the Compass SUV. Both the 4x2 and 4x4 versions have a Rs 73,400 cash discount with a Rs 50,000 exchange bonus as a part of year-end discounts. The rival to the Hyundai Tucson is priced at Rs 15.40 lakh for the base petrol trim and Rs 22.90 lakh for the top-spec 4x4 diesel variant.
Compass deals are not applicable on the Sport Petrol MT, Sport Diesel, Limited Plus 4x2 and 4x4 and 1.4 DDCT variants.
Disclaimer: Discounts vary from city to city. Please check with your local dealer for exact discounts, which may not match figures quoted here.
Year-end discounts on Innova Crysta, Fortuner, Yaris and more
Year-end discounts on Baleno, Ciaz, S-cross and Ignis
Year-end discounts on Renault cars and SUVs
Upcoming Jeep Low-D SUV for India will share Compass platform
India-spec Jeep Compass Trailhawk spied [...]
Jaguar Land Rover will not participate in the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, as part of cost-cutting measures after its business suffered a serious blow due to low sales in China and waning diesel demand in Europe.
One of the largest shows in the automotive calendar, the Geneva Motor Show showcases a flood of innovative technology and advanced design from various automakers. Even the production version of JLR’s 400hp all-electric I-Pace and the Range Rover SV Coupé made its debut at the 2018 edition of the motor show in the Swiss city.
Following heavy losses in the previous quarter, Jaguar had announced that it will undertake steps aimed at driving a two- to three-year turnaround to improve profitability and cash flow. In fact, the carmaker recently conducted a two-week shutdown at its plant in Solihull.
The British carmaker posted its second successive quarterly loss in the three months ending September 2018, with a post-tax loss to the tune of 101 million pounds (around Rs 908 crore). JLR sold 1,29,887 vehicles between July and September, recording a 13.2 percent decline year-on-year. Revenues declined 11 percent to 5.6 billion pounds (around Rs 50,201 crore).
JLR said the recently begun trade war between China and US created consumer uncertainty and hurt demand.
In an ironic turn of events that depicts a reversal of fortunes, JLR’s parent company and homegrown carmaker Tata Motors is expected to occupy a bigger space than usual at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. The carmaker marked its 20 years at the 2018 edition of the motor show, with the global unveiling of the sleek all-electric EVision Sedan Concept.
JLR, however, won’t be the only carmaker conspicuous by its absence as reports suggest Swedish carmaker Volvo could also give the 2019 Geneva Motor show a miss. [...]
As the Autocar Performance Show 2018 draws closer, here’s news of a brand new SUV that’ll be present at the show – Nissan will bring the Kicks SUV to APS 2018, making this the first time the SUV will be on display for enthusiasts in Mumbai.
Revealed in October as a rival to the Hyundai Creta, the India-spec Nissan Kicks retains almost all the cues that are present on the international model we drove in September. What’s new on the India-spec Kicks is a redesigned front bumper with faux air inlets above the fog lights and an aluminium skid plate, all of which is meant to add a dash of toughness to the Kicks' appearance. Also present on the India-spec Kicks are LED headlights and a new honeycomb mesh design for the grille, flanked by a more angular ‘V-motion’ chrome band.
Size-wise, the India-spec Kicks is bigger than the international model. It measures in at 4,384mm, 89mm longer than the model sold abroad, and is wider (1,813mm) and taller (1,656mm), with a longer wheelbase (2,673mm). It's based on an updated version of the Alliance's M0 platform (and not on Nissan's V platform), which also underpins the Renault Captur. Interestingly, while the Kicks is longer and taller than the Captur, it has the exact same wheelbase. Ground clearance on the India-spec Kicks is rated at 210mm.
While the interior remains under wraps for now, what we can tell you is that the India-spec Kicks will have more space on the inside compared to the international model thanks to the increase in size, and will also likely have more boot space than the international Kicks' 432 litres. A 7.0-inch ‘floating’ touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be part of the package, as will several other segment-firsts such as a 360-degree surround-view system and a telematics-enabled smartwatch.
It is likely the India-spec Kicks will likely have the same engine and gearbox options as the Nissan Terrano, Renault Duster and Captur: the tried-and-tested 110hp, 1.5-litre diesel motor, and a 106hp, 1.5-litre petrol engine. Gearbox options could include a 6-speed manual for the diesel and a 5-speed manual for the petrol. A CVT gearbox on the petrol and an automatic transmission on the diesel engine will be offered with the Kicks, though some time after it has launched.
As it will be positioned above the Terrano in Nissan's line-up, expect prices for the Kicks SUV to range from Rs 9.4 lakh to 15 lakh (ex-showroom) when it is launched in January 2019. The Nissan Kicks is set to take on the Hyundai Creta.
2018 Autocar Performance Show dates announced
Autocar Performance Show 2017 report
Autocar Performance Show 2017 image gallery
Nissan Kicks to get segment-first features
2019 Nissan Kicks vs rivals: Specifications comparison [...]
To question a motorcycle’s relevance is usually a sign of trouble (or worry, depending on which side you’re on), but allow me to explain. The Monster, you see, is essentially a 25-year-old idea. Sure, it saved Ducati from extinction and made its former owners, the Texas Pacific Group lots of money at the start of the new millennium, but it never was an engineering marvel. The Monster was essentially built from scraps of other Ducatis nobody seemed to want at the time. This worked in 1993 because it came at a development cost that was the equivalent of a team lunch, but the times are so very different today.
The burden of this realisation descended upon me the instant I swung a leg over the shiny new Monster 821. I couldn’t grasp the needless outstretch demanded by the nearly flat handlebar, and the very premise of having just two cylinders at my service – when other marques offer between three and four – didn’t appeal too brightly either. The naked motorcycle of today is all about pushing the performance envelope in a supremely accessible package and the Monster didn’t quite come across as the flag-bearer of this philosophy. I pressed on, hoping something would change my mind during the course of the sweltering day.
In about 20 minutes, I felt calmer. Ducati’s L-twins have an addictive quality about them and the newest generation – across all its models – is particularly likeable for retaining a mechanical character despite the leaps in refinement. I was beginning to enjoy the creamy layer of torque and the fact that I could rapidly alter my speed of travel at any rpm, in any gear, with a simple twist of the wrist. The 821 sounds nice, too, leaving a raspy exhaust note in its wake as you indulge in bursts of acceleration. An hour later, the Monster had begun working its charm. I was having fun now, enough to not notice that it had, in fact, shed a sliver of its output figures in the process of getting BS-IV compliant. Now left with 108.7hp and 86Nm of torque, the Monster 821 still proved entertaining if not exactly explosive, unlike its peers.
With Sport mode engaged (the other two being Touring – same power but milder responses – and Urban, which cuts down power to 73hp), the Monster is brisk. It’s at ease sustaining triple-digit speeds and has just about enough brawn left even towards the tail-end of its rev range. What those with prior Monster experience will appreciate is its polished low-speed performance; the progressive clutch action and crisp throttle supplement the smooth layer of low-end torque admirably. Another good thing is, in modern Ducati tradition, the Monster 821 comes with an impressive electronics package and you can customise the rider assists (eight-level traction control, three-level ABS) to suit your appetite. Unfortunately, doing so isn’t most intuitive; I spent what felt like an hour buried into the new (and fantastic) colour TFT display, trying only to disengage traction control using the left-hand-side switchgear. Now, I’m no tech-wizard but I do know an intuitive interface from one that isn’t.
Once you do manage to set up the 821 to your liking, there’s no other disappointment headed your way. The suspension is supple (albeit on the softer side) and absorbs most bumps delightfully, and you can adjust the offset monoshock for preload. The 320mm twin-disc setup offers confident braking and lever progression is good, too; your arms, however, do get stressed under hard braking forces, due to that handlebar. The best bit is the chassis itself – it masks its 206kg kerb weight beautifully and also goes on to deliver a seamless handling package that is, in every way, a step up from the Monsters before the 821.
However, true as that may be, it still can’t quite hold a candle to its peers. The Monster is, perhaps, too deep-rooted in tradition to ever be able to outdo any of its existing competitors again. Its very premise, revolving strongly around minimalism, dictates the course of its evolution; it’s never going to be a raging fireball that is the Street Triple RS, or even just a sharp pocket knife like the GSX-S750. However, at Rs 9.51 lakh (Rs 9.65 lakh for the Ducati Yellow, ex-showroom, India), the Monster 821 is a motorcycle-sized chunk of Italian art and heritage wrapped in an exciting, if not completely insane, package. And you can’t really wheelie a Leonardo Da Vinci painting, so it’s a fair deal, right? [...]
Maruti Suzuki introduced the new-gen Ertiga to the Indian market on November 21, 2018. The MPV got a new 105hp, 1.5-litre petrol engine from the Ciaz sedan along with Maruti’s trusty 90hp, 1.3-litre diesel mill. Both engines are mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox with a 4-speed torque converter automatic available with the petrol motor.
The new MPV’s accessories list has revealed that petrol variants can be equipped with a dealer-level sequential CNG kit. The kit has a capacity of 14kg, same as the last-gen CNG Ertiga, and is offered with a one-year warranty from the dealer as well. The CNG kit is priced at Rs 65,000, including charges for RTO and insurance.
The new Ertiga will be equipped with a factory-fitted CNG kit, but that model is still some months away from launch. In the meantime, customers can avail the benefits of the low-cost fuel by installing the dealer-level CNG kit.
Prices for the new Ertiga range from Rs 7.44 lakh to Rs 9.95 lakh for the petrol variants and Rs 8.84 lakh to Rs 10.90 lakh for the diesel-powered versions. The MPV is available in 10 variants and is being retailed from the Maruti Suzuki Arena showrooms. The Ertiga competes against the Mahindra Marazzo and the Honda BR-V in the MPV market.
Prices, ex-showroom, Delhi
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New Maruti Suzuki Ertiga vs Mahindra Marazzo: Specifications comparison [...]
Buzzwords, don’t you love ‘em? A new one seems to surface almost every day. And while some make sense, the vast majority only serves to infuriate. The often overused ‘downsizing’ is one such. Meant to describe a reduction in capacity of an engine, or the downward trend in engine size, we’ve been getting ‘downsized’ engines for years.
The theory behind downsizing is simple enough. A smaller capacity engine, even with a turbo, will consume less fuel. Problem is, this isn’t always completely true; what works in the lab often doesn’t work in the real world. And the automotive world is rapidly discovering this. The difference between the two is said to be around 35 percent! And it isn’t just downsized engines, we’ve also have our fair share of engines with downsized power outputs; a double whammy.
Yes, a couple of successfully downsized engines have been introduced here. VW’s super 1.2 TSI comes to mind, and there have been others, but, by and large, downsized engines haven’t been very successful here.
Let’s see; Honda got its fingers burnt with the second-gen City that put out just 77hp as against the 100-odd horses back in 1998. Honda fixed this soon and got in a proper 100hp VTEC under the hood after three years. And then, on the third-gen City, the underpowered i-DSi was dropped altogether. The City hasn’t looked back since. Maruti, normally a company joined at the hip with Indian customers, has fallen into the same pit, several times. Its 48hp, two-cylinder diesel Celerio bombed so badly the car was quickly withdrawn. And pulling out a model is something Maruti almost never does; see the Omni, Gypsy, etc. The Baleno RS got a downsized engine next, and, truth be told, the 102hp, 1.0 litre, three-cylinder Boosterjet engine could have worked. But since the engine hasn’t been localised, Maruti has to charge a premium for it. It begs the question – why hasn’t Maruti invested in manufacturing the Boosterjet locally? Well, for one, it would be more expensive compared to the 1.2K Series, and then, fuel economy on these turbocharged petrol engines tends to go south as soon as boost from turbo comes in. And that sort of negates the very fuel-efficient driving style of Indian drivers. This is also the reason Ford hasn’t used the EcoBoost engine in more cars here. What it has done, in fact, is introduce the all-new 123hp, 1.5 Dragon engine for India; an upsize. Or, as some like to call it, a ‘right-size’.
Maruti has done some ‘rightsizing’ of its own. The Ciaz facelift came with a larger and more powerful 105hp, 1.5-litre engine that finally allows it to compete better with cars like the Honda City. The same engine has replaced the 1.4 in the Ertiga as well. Yes, we will continue to get a trickle of smaller-capacity engine, like VW’s recently introduced 1.0 petrol, but apart from these missteps, it’s fair to say downsizing is dead. [...]
Kia’s third-generation Soul has debuted at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show in an all-electric guise. The new Soul gets design tweaks and updated technology, as well as a significantly uprated powertrain (compared to the previous model) from the e-Niro crossover.
Under the hood, the new Soul borrows the battery packs and motors from the top-spec variant of the e-Niro. This means it has a power output of 204hp and 400Nm of torque, which is 110Nm of torque more than the outgoing model. Although performance figures have yet to be revealed, it is safe to assume the lighter Soul EV will beat the e-Niro’s 7.8-second 0-100kph time. The 64kWh water-cooled battery back has a much higher energy density than the older car and while an official range hasn’t been revealed, it should match the claimed 484km range of the larger e-Niro. All the Soul EV’s will be fitted with fast charging capability.
The third generation of the Kia Soul has retained the boxy silhouette that it predecessors carried, but it has been majorly restyled front and rear ends. The most eye-catching of these changes is definitely the new wrap-around tail lights. The new headlights also look much more modern and sharp. Despite retaining its boxy design, the new car has a smooth appearance with the battery charging port neatly integrated in the front bumper. The car is also gets unique five-spoke 17-inch wheels.
The new Soul is equipped with an independent rear suspension and it also receives four driving modes and to regenerative braking to help optimise and increase range.
The insides of the new Soul have been overhauled significantly, with more emphasis on standard equipment and quality of fit and finish. The model comes with a 10.25-inch infotainment screen, which supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a voice recognition system and a dial style gear selector. Kia has also fitted it with its ‘UVO’ telematics system that allows the customer to receive car information on a smartphone via an application.
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Kia compact SUV to debut at 2020 Auto Expo [...]
EV Motors India launched its first "PlugNGo" electric vehicle charging outlet in the country recently, in association with Delta Electronics, ABB and DLF.
Located in Gurugram, the outlet consists of three charging stations – two DC fast chargers and one AC normal charger, with output ratings of 15kW and 3.68kW, respectively. Both use the GB/T Chinese charging standard. The former can charge a 15kWh battery pack in as little as an hour, while the latter will take about six-seven hours to accomplish the same task.
The charging outlet is open for public use and can be located through the "PlugNGo" app available on Android and iOS platforms. Electric vehicle owners can use the service for topping up their batteries free of cost till March 2019.
Talking about the capital expenditure involved and the future plans of the company, Vinit Bansal, Managing Director, EV Motors India, said, “The cost of each outlet depends on the number of charging stations installed within it and can vary between Rs 7 lakh and Rs 50 lakh. We plan to set up 20 charging outlets in Delhi-NCR over the course of the next 12 months. We are ultimately aiming at introducing 6,500 such outlets across 15 Indian cities in a period of five years, with a total investment of USD 200 million (about Rs 1,400 crore).”
The EV Motors India start-up was founded in 2016 and is trying to expand the EV charging infrastructure in the country through a technical partnership with Delta and ABB. Delta Electronics, a multinational corporation headquartered in Taiwan, specialises in the field of power electronics. ABB is a Swiss engineering giant in the heavy electrical equipment sector that is better known among motor racing enthusiasts as the title sponsor of Formula E.
Of late, there has been an increase in concerted efforts to strengthen the charging infrastructure in India, which is nowhere near as robust as it is in other countries around the world. To put things into perspective, as of 2016, the United States, Japan and China were already home to almost 42,000, 40,000 and 1,50,000 charging stations, respectively.
The paucity of charging options across the country, in addition to other factors like lower range and higher cost of EVs vis-a-vis their combustion engine counterparts, is dampening the spirits of the Indian car buyer towards electric vehicles. According to the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV), sales of electric cars declined by 40 percent in the previous fiscal year. The establishment of a widespread charging infrastructure could play a significant role in combating this negative growth by building consumer confidence in EVs.
India's electric car sales dip 40 percent in FY2018
Can India go all-electric by 2030? [...]
Service quality and high maintenance costs have for long been a prickly issue for Skoda customers in India. The Czech carmaker understands that well and has made improvementof customer experience its top priority, Gurpratap Boparai, MD, Skoda Auto India and designate head of VW Group India told Autocar India in an interview.
"In the intervening time, till the new products come (as part of India 2.0 project), service is top priority for us. A lot of work has already happened in the recent months and also the last couple of years but we are not where we need to be even on the ground. But we are getting there," Boparai said.
He said not just Skoda but the VW Group is putting a lot more focus on "after sales and on helping the brands' address technical issues in the field more quickly." The carmaker has accelerated some of its after-sales processes and warranty procedures and is looking at how effectively it can address complaints that dealersare unable to resolve.
Interestingly, in our exclusive spare parts survey published in the November issue of Autocar India, we did note progress in Skoda’s efforts at lowering ownership costs. The Rapid was found to have a spare parts price basket cheaper by about Rs 10,000, compared to our survey in 2016. In fact, the front bumper and the tail-light assembly of the Rapid are now the cheapest among cars in the mid-size sedan segment. We also found that from our last study, the Volkswagen Vento showed a reduction of about Rs 20,000 in its basket price.
The Skoda Superb's overall spare parts prices have also seen a drop of over Rs 96,000 with the sedan topping its segment, which comprises of Accord Hybrid, VW Passat and Toyota Camry Hybrid.
"I think some of our users are already seeing the service bills coming down, even for the regular service," Boparai said adding that "work has already started to localise our parts and components and on an average we brought down our cost of ownership by 10-12 percent. For some models, the cost has reduced by as much as 25 percent."
Although this initial decline in cost of spares is a commendable start, the carmaker still has some way to go before it completely turns around its poor reputation for aftersales service. Besides, the Octavia and Kodiaq still continue to have the priciest spares in their respective segments. Despite most of Skoda and VW cars offering a strong engine, good interiors and sturdy build quality, weak aftersales has kept many buyers away. [...]
KTM has just launched the 125 Duke in India at an introductory price of Rs 1,18,163. Taking into consideration that the 125 Duke has no direct rivals, we’ve compared it to two bikes in the same price bracket – the Yamaha R15 S (Rs 1,16,746) and the TVS Apache RTR 200 4V ABS (Rs 1,10,805). The new 125 Duke is the most affordable KTM bike to go on sale in India and, unlike the international-spec model, the Indian version is based on the KTM 200 Duke. The Yamaha R15 has been at the forefront of the sub-150cc, performance inclined market ever since its launch. We’ve added the Apache RTR 200 4V to the mix as its ABS variant’s pricing falls in the same category. While we are yet to ride the KTM 125 Duke, this spec comparison will give you an idea on how these motorcycles stack up, on paper.
The KTM 125 Duke is powered by a 124.7cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled DOHC engine that produces 14.5hp at 9,250rpm and 12Nm of torque at 8,000rpm. The Yamaha R15 S, on the other hand, uses a slightly larger single-cylinder, liquid-cooled 149cc engine that makes 16.6hp at 8,500rpm and 15Nm of torque at 7,500rpm. The Apache RTR 200 is the clear winner here, seeing as it is powered by a 197.75cc single-pot motor churning out 20.5hp at 8,500rpm and 18.1Nm at 7,000rpm (for the carburettor variant). The 125 Duke has more sophisticated Double Overhead Camshaft (DOHC) engine compared to the SOHC motors in the R15 and RTR 200 4V. The powerplant on the Duke and R15 are mated to a 6-speed transmission, while a 5-speed gearbox does duty on the TVS.
PowertrainKTM 125 DukeTVS Apache RTR 200 4V ABSYamaha R15 SEngine124.7cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled197.7cc, single-cylinder, oil-cooled149cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooledPower14.5hp at 9250rpm20.5hp at 8500rpm 16.6hp at 8500rpmTorque12Nm at 8000rpm18.1Nm at 7000rpm 15Nm at 7500rpmTransmission 6-speed5-speed6-speed
The 125cc motor of the India-spec 125 Duke sits on the same trellis frame as the 200 Duke that is currently on sale here. It’s the only bike in this comparison to feature an inverted fork, while a monoshock unit is common to all the three. The Yamaha R15 uses its signature ‘Deltabox’ perimeter frame and a telescopic fork. The KTM 125 Duke, despite its lack of bodywork, weighs in at 148kg, while the R15 S is the lightest at 134kg. The Apache is the heaviest of the lot at 149kg, but considering the extra power on tap, it has the highest power-to-weight ratio. The Apache also gets a unique split double cradle frame, with the engine acting as a stressed member.
The 125 Duke is the first motorcycle in its class to get ABS, however, it’s a single-channel unit. It gets a 300mm disc in the front and a 230mm disc in the rear. The Yamaha gets its stopping power from 267mm and 220mm discs at the front and rear, respectively. The R15, however, does not come equipped with ABS even as an option. TVS offers a dual-channel ABS as an option on the carburettor variant of the RTR 200 only. Braking hardware on the TVS consists of a 270mm disc in the front and a 240mm disc at the rear. The tyres on the KTM 125 Duke are the widest with 110/70-17 front and 150/60-17 rear rubber. The R15 S gets thinner 90/80-17 front and 130/70-17 rear tyres, while the Apache is shod with 90/90-17 front and 130/70-17 rear tyres.
Dimensions KTM 125 Duke TVS Apache RTR 200 4V ABSYamaha R15 SWheelbase1366mm1353mm1345mmWeight148kg149kg134kgSeat height818mm800mm800mmFuel tank capacity10.2 litres12 litres12 litresGround clearance175mm180mm160mmFront suspensionUSD forkTelescopic forkTelescopic forkRear suspensionMonoshockMonoshockMonoshockFront brake300mm disc270mm disc267mm discRear brake230mm disc240mm disc220mm disc
Styling and features
The KTM 125 Duke for the Indian market gets its styling cues from the 200 Duke, unlike the European-spec bike that is heavily influenced by the current 390 Duke. It also loses out on the large full-colour TFT dash and WP Suspension, in an effort to price it more competitively. The KTM and TVS offerings feature an all-digital dash, while the Yamaha employs a semi-digital instrument cluster. The RTR 200 4V is the only bike here to get a slipper clutch.
The KTM is a modern sport-naked that has an engaging, yet not too aggressive riding position. It features sharp and aggressive lines complemented by bright new colour schemes. The Apache RTR 200 4V is also a naked motorcycle that has been designed keeping track performance in mind. Although that may be true, it has the least demanding ergonomics of the three, being slightly more relaxed than the Duke. The Yamaha R15 S shares its styling with the now discontinued Version 2.0, but, despite the age, the bike still looks sharp. The Yamaha offering has the sportiest riding position with clip-on bars and mildly rear-set footpegs.
Summing it up
The 125 Duke punches above its weight and is equipped well enough to take on the R15 S and other [...]
Lexus has announced that their new flagship SUV will be launched in 2020. Toyota's luxury vehicle arm showcased its new SUV in concept form at the Detroit Motor Show, earlier this year, as the ‘LF-1 Limitless’. The concept was a luxury crossover SUV with a sharp and futuristic design.
The concept car had dimensions of 5,014mm length, 1,986mm width, 1,605mm height and a wheelbase of 2,974mm. The production version of the SUV is expected to have marginally more conservative dimensions and would use the LNGA platform, which is essentially Lexus’ version of Toyota’s TNGA platform.
The production-spec SUV is expected to carry over the 3.5-litre V6 layout from the 'LS' flagship sedan which produces 424hp. There is also a possibility of a hybrid variant in the works, fitted with dual electric motors.
However, the main buzz is surrounding the 660hp, twin-turbo V8 engine currently powering the ‘LS F’ which may also power the production-spec LF-1 Limitless. This 'F' variant of the Lexus SUV will compete against other high-performance SUVs like the Lamborghini Urus and the Bentley Bentayga.
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Maruti Suzuki’s new Ertiga is one of the nine cars from the brand that meet the upcoming Bharat NCAP safety norms. Thanks to the lighter, yet stronger Heartect platform that underpins the new MPV and the addition of more safety kit across variants, the new Ertiga should be safer than the model it replaces. Maruti claims that the new Ertiga is compliant with Bharat NCAP’s frontal offset impact, side impact and pedestrian protection tests.
Besides its use on the Ertiga, the Heartect platform underpins a number of Maruti Suzuki cars like the Swift, Baleno and Ignis. The new platform helps the new Ertiga shed about 10-20kg (depending on the variant) compared to the older MPV, yet is claimed to be sturdier. It also helps increase the car’s dimensions, making it 99mm longer, 40mm wider and 5mm taller. While the wheelbase is the same as the older MPV, the increase in overall size has liberated more room inside, especially in the third row.
Unlike the previous Ertiga, the new model gets safety equipment such as dual-front airbags, ABS with EBD, Isofix child seat mounts, speed sensitive door locks, a speed warning system and rear parking sensors as standard across the range. Higher-spec trims add safety features like height adjustable seat belts in the front. The top-spec gets a rear parking camera and the automatic versions come with ESP and a hill-hold function.
The new Ertiga has launched (priced between Rs 7.44 lakh and Rs 10.90 lakh) with a new 1.5-litre petrol engine (making 105hp and 138Nm) that comes with a dual-battery, mild-hybrid setup and the previously available 90hp, 1.3-litre diesel with mild-hybrid tech. Both engines are mated to a 5-speed manual as standard though the petrol also gets the option of a 4-speed automatic.
Maruti’s new MPV sees competition from the likes of the Mahindra Marazzo (Rs 9.99-13.90 lakh) and Renault Lodgy (Rs 8.63-12.12 lakh) and even the Honda BR-V (Rs 9.45-13.74 lakh) to a certain extent.
Prices ex-showroom, Delhi
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Valentino Rossi’s autobiography is a fantastic read, even if you aren’t among the racer’s innumerable and aggressively loyal fans. One thing that stood out, in particular, was the love-hate relationship Rossi talks about when it comes to endurance racing, particularly the prestigious Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance race. This annual Japanese event is the final round of the FIM World Endurance Championship, but it towers ahead of the rest of the races as one of enormous pride for the big quartet of Japanese manufacturers.
Winning here is a matter of great honour, right up there with winning a MotoGP championship. To this end, the manufacturers often factor into contracts that their top riders must represent the factory in Suzuka at least once, if not more. This creates the unique situation of MotoGP riders slugging it out on the same grid as riders from other top championships like WSBK, BSB and more. But eight hours of racing a motorcycle shared between three racers is absolutely brutal on the mind, body, and machine. It’s this gruelling challenge that both attracts and repels the best riders in the world and makes endurance racing as romantic as it can be cruel.
Things aren’t quite so intense in India, but endurance racing is not completely unknown here. Earlier this year, the MMRT played host to a 90-minute endurance race for two-wheelers called the AVT Gold Cup Million Endurance Race. Compared with the eight hours at Suzuka, a 90-minute AVT race sounds trivial, but when you consider that the average motorcycle race in India is around 15 minutes long, the usage of the term ‘endurance’ is justified.
Having done a little racing myself, I know that 15 minutes flat out on the track has me completely drained at the end of a race. So when Suzuki sent out an invite for an endurance race designed especially for wannabe-racer journalists, I knew the proposed 75-minute competition time would be no joke but that the race would be a great laugh either way.
It was good to hop back on the Gixxer Cup bike. Not much has changed in the three years that this championship has been running and the race bike is still based off the friendly Gixxer SF. Modifications come in the way of low-set clip-ons and more aggressive rearsets, and the engine benefits from a new air filter, a re-jetted carb, and a freer flowing exhaust. Power is up by around 1.5-2hp, but considering that the stock bike makes a humble 14.8hp, it’s no surprise that this tiny little race bike is all about corner speed – you’ll be lucky to see over 120kph on the main straight.
Since this was an endurance race, we were put in teams of two that were decided by a draw of chits. I was paired with Sukesh Suvarna from Drivespark and our starting grid position for the race was decided as a combination of our individual qualifying times. This was Sukesh’s first outing on a racetrack and our individual times were at the two extremes of the timesheet. Together, we qualified 8th out of 9th place.
The rules for the race were simple enough. We were to share one bike, with each rider having to set a minimum of one riding session and no session could last longer than 25 minutes. Since our race had a delayed start, the organisers reduced the duration from 75 minutes to 60 minutes flat. Rider swaps were to happen in the pit lane and this is where the most time stands to be lost. With that in mind, we decided to go for the bare minimum of a three-session strategy. I’d start the race, Sukesh would run the second session and I’d bring the bike home to the chequered flag – if all went well, that is.
Perhaps the most fun part of the race was the Suzuka-style running start. In this format, the riders sprint across the track when the lights go green and hop on to the bike being held upright by the teammate. I managed a clean start and was in the lead by the third corner. The priority was to pull as big a gap as I could and hand the bike over to Sukesh. Exactly 23 minutes later, Sukesh took over and he stayed out for about 15 minutes before handing me the bike for the final run.
I had no idea where we were positioned throughout the final session, so I concentrated on setting as clean laps as possible without pushing too much, to avoid the easy trap of exhaustion. It’s funny how the brain starts to wander after the initial rush of adrenaline wears off, and the big challenge was to stay focused and avoid mistakes. Finally, as the muscles started to seize up and my brain cried for mercy, the chequered flag came out and we made it to the end!
Back at the pits, a happy surprise awaited in the announcement that we’d finished in third place. I don’t think anyone expected it – least of all us, considering that our combined qualifying lap time was a whole 8sec off the riders on pole. But keeping the rider swaps do [...]
Gone are the days when a sub-four-metre sedan meant a hatchback with a stubby boot slapped on. Today’s compact sedans are emerging into independent sedans in their own right, with neatly integrated boot sections, and even differing bodywork from the hatchbacks on which they are based. Take, for example, the third-gen Dzire; it is well-proportioned and with body panels that are different from the Swift. Then there’s the second-gen Honda Amaze that’s been developed from scratch on an all-new platform.
Ford, too, has done a decent job of integrating the boot section, but compared to the Dzire and the Amaze, the Aspire has a lot more in common with its hatchback sibling. Now, in a bid to take the fight to the segment champ, the Dzire, and the increasingly popular Amaze, Ford has updated its compact sedan. Its gets a facelift, an all-new petrol engine, new gearboxes, more equipment and is aggressively priced, too. So at least on paper, the Aspire has the ammunition to put up a good fight. But how good is it in the real world? Does it deliver what compact sedan buyers are looking for? We’ve gathered the petrol variants with manual transmissions of the three contenders and driven them back-to-back to pick a winner.
DimensionsFord Aspire 1.2P Titanium+Honda Amaze VXi VTECMaruti Suzuki Dzire ZXi+Length3995mm3995mm3995mmWidth1704mm1695mm1735mmHeight1525mm1501mm1515mmWheelbase2490mm2470mm2450mmKerb weight1043kg924kg895kg
The Aspire’s new 96hp, 1.2-litre, three-cylinder Dragon engine replaces the older 88hp, four-cylinder unit. Refinement is excellent and it doesn’t portray any three-pot characteristics, like vibrations at idle or a thrummy engine note. The Dragon also has the most power and torque but how does that translate into performance? Initial responsiveness of this engine is much better than the car it replaces, but it still doesn’t feel as eager as the Dzire. Rev it further and power delivery is flat, and although it will spin freely until 6,900rpm, it does so without too much gusto.
The Amaze’s i-VTEC system, on the other hand, impresses when spun hard. In fact, beyond 5,000rpm is where this motor comes into its own, and pulls the strongest. Sadly though, as enjoyable as it is at higher revs, it disappoints at lower and mid revs. It leaves you wanting more punch, especially while driving around in the city. Out on the highway too, once the momentum breaks, this motor begs for a downshift in order to build speed again. Interestingly, though, while it is slightly slower than the Aspire in the run from 20-80kph in third and 40-100kph in fourth, because of the Amaze’s stronger performance at higher revs, it is 1.2sec quicker than the Ford to 100kph from a standstill.
Maruti’s 1.2-litre K-series is the least powerful in the group with merely 83hp, however, in terms of sheer performance, the lightweight Maruti is far superior. Not only is it the fastest when it comes to outright acceleration, but even with respect to in-gear times, the Dzire leaves its competitors behind by around 2sec, which is significant. This motor doesn’t feel weak at lower revs, and there’s always performance on tap to fill in the gaps in traffic. The Dzire’s clutch is the lightest of the lot and gearshifts are extremely smooth, making it the easiest car to drive, here. And while the Amaze also has a very smooth gearbox, its clutch has a longer travel and springy action. The Aspire’s controls don’t feel as light as the others, though.
Powertrain & performanceFord Aspire 1.2P Titanium+Honda Amaze VXi VTECMaruti Suzuki Dzire ZXi+Engine1194cc, 3 cyl, petrol1199cc, 4 cyl, petrol1197cc, 4 cyl, petrolPower96hp at 6500rpm90hp at 6000rpm83hp at 6000rpmTorque120Nm at 4250rpm110Nm at 4800rpm113Nm at 4200rpmTransmission5-speed manual5-speed manual5-speed manual0-20kph1.25s1.14s1.19s0-40kph3.07s2.75s2.52s0-60kph5.58s5.01s4.83s0-80kph8.60s7.86s7.41s0-100kph13.06s11.87s11.50s0-120kph18.72s17.12s16.48s20-80kph (in third gear)14.19s14.31s12.77s40-100kph (in fourth gear)21.00s21.40s18.50s
Soaking it up
The Ford Aspire’s steering is light yet very precise; the turn-in is sharp and now with the wider 195mm tyres, it feels even more connected to the road. Grip levels are great and if you enjoy driving, it is the Aspire which will plaster the widest smile on your face. A special mention for the brakes; they feel sharp and the strong bite adds to driver confidence while driving briskly. Ride comfort is excellent with the suspension quietly soaking up most of the road imperfections.
Honda has tuned the Amaze for comfort, so it does well at low speeds, but it crashes through some of the sharper bumps. Because of its soft nature, the suspension compresses a fair bit when the car is fully loaded with passengers, so even though it boasts a ground clearance of 170mm, it has a tendency to scrape its underbelly. This isn’t a car th [...]
Compared to its other illustrious countrymen, Maserati could be accused of keeping a low profile. That, however, could soon change. With a new rule that will do away with the homologation requirement and the current price and engine restrictions, Maserati says it could expand its portfolio with a petrol Levante and Ghibli too; diesel is the only choice of fuel for both at present. So, naturally, when Maserati invited us to Cannes in France to test drive a petrol Levante, we happily packed our bags.
Besides sampling the petrol engine, this was also a chance to the drive the new MY19 Levante. The changes are mostly cosmetic, but with one lip-smacking bit – the introduction of V8 power with the 590hp Trofeo and 550hp GTS versions. Sadly, though, the joy was short-lived as these weren’t approved for Europe, which meant I drove the next hottest model – the V6 S.
Available in two trim offerings, the GranSport and GranLusso, Maserati, for MY19, has further differentiated between the two. The Sport gets a more aggressive styling that’s shared with the new V8 versions, while the Lusso gets more chrome exterior bits at the front and rear, new alloys and a few cosmetic tweaks, like a rear spoiler in body colour. There are two new body colours for the Levante – Rosso Potente and Blu Nobile (the one I am driving). It’s a deep blue shade with embedded metal flakes that shimmer in the sunlight and it did look quite impressive and unique. The rest of the SUV remains the same curvy crossover-like-SUV that it is.
On the inside, the Levante gets new graphics for the 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system and a redesigned gear lever. While this may sound like a minor update, it’s actually a big improvement over the earlier gear lever which required you to shift it into ‘Park’ position; the rest of the shifts were not very intuitive either. The new unit has the ‘Park’ button located at the top of the lever, with shorter travel for shifts and a manual mode can be used by simply tipping the lever sideways into a separate lane; the earlier unit used a button to make this switch. Along with the lever, the driving mode button cluster has also been redesigned and now has two buttons – for Sport driving mode and Sport suspension setting.
Cabin materials have always been a strength, and the designer Ermenegildo Zegna Silk interiors
of the GranLusso are carried forward to the new car as well; these natural-fibre mulberry silk inserts are used on the seats, door panels, roof lining, sunshades and ceiling light fixture. Taking things further, Maserati has introduced new Pieno Fiore natural leather to the upholstery. In terms of space, as you would expect, it isn’t large, and is just comfortable enough; the materials create a sense of cozy luxuriousness.
SUV the Levante may be, but our driving in France was solely on tarmac over some lovely twisty mountains roads, city streets and the highway too. The 3.0-litre, twin-turbo V6 petrol motor puts out 430hp at 5,750rpm and a peak torque of 580Nm at 2,000-4,750rpm; and the route did allow us to stretch its legs. The engine pulls nicely to its 6,500rpm redline; while doing this, the Ferrari-developed and built motor sings a nice tune, accompanied by Maserati’s active sports exhaust system. Compared to the diesel, the petrol Levante feels expectedly quicker, with a claimed 0-100kph time of 5.2sec against the diesel’s 6.9sec.
On the whole, Maserati cars are more luxury tourers than outright sportscars and the Levante is no different. It cruises along effortlessly and in a relaxed manner. In normal mode, it’s easy to manage in the city and you have to depress the throttle pedal a fair bit to get a rapid change of pace; move it to ‘Sport’ though and power is pretty much always on tap.
The ride and handling balance is what you’d expect from a maker of sporty cars. It may not be a class leader, but in Sport mode, the air springs deliver a good balance without actually crashing too hard over ruts and broken surfaces. Through the twisty mountain roads on the outskirts of Cannes, the car was entertaining enough for both me and my car-sharing partner to want to drive it for longer. Normal mode delivers a higher ride height, thus more cushioning, which is easily noticeable. The steering feel is nicely weighted in this mode as well, although on the highway, the lane-keeping assist did deliver steering input in a rather intrusive manner at times. The trouble is that the lane-keeping aid (part of ADAS - Advanced Driver Assist System) wants to keep you centred, while at times you do want to position yourself off-centre within your lane, in relation to traffic on either side of you.
So should you buy one? If you’re looking for the sportiest SUV or the most space or perhaps even the best off-road ability, you won’t f [...]
Land Rover has taken the covers off the newest iteration of the Range Rover Evoque SUV. A much-needed update, the first-generation Evoque has been on sale in international markets since 2011 with only minor updates along the way. Land Rover has not strayed too far from the recipe of the much-loved previous model.
The new Evoque receives a host of updates that are aimed to increase its appeal for customers. On the mechanical front, the new car receives a new platform that has been built from ground-up with electrification in mind. It is powered by JLR’s Ingenium range of 2.0-litre engines available in both petrol and diesel. The new motors come in varying states of tunes which include 148hp, 178hp and 237hp turbo-diesels, and 197hp, 246hp and 296hp turbo-petrol units. Almost all variants come equipped with four-wheel drive as standard, with only the base diesel receiving a two-wheel-drive layout. The new engines are mated to a 9-speed ZF automatic gearbox. All the four-wheel drive versions are equipped with a 48V mild-hybrid system. Land Rover will launch a plug-in hybrid model later. It will mate a new three-cylinder, 197hp, 1.5-litre Ingenium petrol engine to an electric driver motor, and offer a yet-unspecified electric-only range.
Coming to the styling, the new car is easily recognisable as an Evoque, but with sleeker styling and more stylistic tie-ins with its larger sibling, the Velar. The new car has a completely redesigned front-end, new rear styling, new LED headlamps and tweaked wraparound tail-lamps. It is also equipped with pop-out handles that are reminiscent of the larger Velar.
On the inside, the new Evoque looks more modern and luxurious than the outgoing model. It also makes use of new colours and textures, including a durable and luxurious wool-blend textile called ‘Kvadrat’ that is designed to appeal to buyers who prefer non-leather trim materials. The Evoque also comes with a new dual touchscreen layout seen on its more expensive siblings.
There is no word yet on when the new model will come to India. The current Range Rover Evoque competes with the likes of the Mercedes GLC, Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60 in our market.
2019 Range Rover Evoque image gallery
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Maruti Suzuki has launched the new Ertiga with a starting price of Rs 7.44 lakh. The new Ertiga is 99mm longer, 40mm wider and 5mm taller than the outgoing car. The larger footprint has made the cabin more spacious and the third row in particular has been a big beneficiary. Speaking to Autocar India, Dr C V Raman, Executive Director - Research & Development, Maruti Suzuki India said, “We tried to squeeze the engine space, so that has been reversed and we have been able to get 70mm of leg room in the third row, which makes it much more comfortable for passengers.” The middle row bench (there’s no captain’s chair option) can be slid forward to further increase rear legroom.
Like the old Ertiga, the third row can also be folded flat (50:50 split) to maximize luggage room when needed. However, a welcome addition on the new Ertiga and across variants is the third row seat recline which does its bit to enhance overall comfort.
The new Ertiga is available in ten variants and two engine options – a new 105hp, 1.5-litre petrol and a 90hp, 1.3-litre diesel. The Ertiga diesel is priced from Rs 8.44 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).
New Maruti Suzuki Ertiga CNG to launch within six months
New Maruti Suzuki Ertiga price, variants explained
New Maruti Suzuki Ertiga launched at Rs 7.44 lakh
2018 Maruti Suzuki Ertiga image gallery [...]