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Ford EcoSport replacement expected in 2020
Ford has been testing a new small SUV that will replace the EcoSport in 2020. The prototype being tested abroad sports heavily disguised Fiesta hatchback-based bodywork, but with a clear SUV-style raised ride height. The as-yet-unnamed model, which could continue the EcoSport nameplate or take on a new identity more closely aligned to the Fiesta hatchback that’s sold abroad, will serve as a replacement for the ageing EcoSport as the smallest model in Ford’s SUV range. Linking the styling of the new car closer to the Fiesta could help Ford increase its competitiveness in the fast-growing crossover market. The car is set to share a platform – and likely an engine range, including the popular EcoBoost petrol powertrains – with the Fiesta hatchback. That means it's expected to be front-wheel drive, although a four-wheel-drive system could potentially be carried over from the current EcoSport. Also see: 2019 Ford Explorer revealed Ford Figo facelift ready for launch 2018 Ford EcoSport S video review 2018 Ford EcoSport S review, test drive [...]
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NITI Aayog pitches zero road tax on EVs
Energy Storage India (ESI) is a leading international conference and expo that addresses the need for energy storage, micro-grids and electric vehicle solutions in India. It is organised annually by Customized Energy Solutions (CES) and Messe Düsseldorf India and powered by IESA (India Energy Storage Alliance). The event is supported by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Ministry of Science & Technology, MNRE, Government of Kerala, and NITI Aayog along with key industry conglomerates. The 2019 iteration of the event saw assurances made by policy makers that right support is being provided for the smooth transition into electric mobility and Make in India. Meanwhile, the OEMs highlighted the unique challenges and the right direction to be taken by the government in the country. The two-day conference saw participation from eminent industry leaders, think-tanks, scholars and policy makers. Speaking at the Make in India session at the event, Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog said, “We have proposed to the chief secretaries of the states that there should be no road tax for electric vehicles and issuing green permit for EVs. When the EV revolution happens, India would be impacted in the biggest way. These initiatives are being taken to bring the ownership cost of EVs at par with combustion vehicles. For India to successfully move away from fossil-fuel dependence Oil companies should become the Energy Companies of the future.” "Energy storage can also fuel public transport revolution in a big way. We have proposed pay per kilometre model for buses to transform the public transportation system. Also a huge opportunities lies in the conversion of goods mobility fleets to clean fuels such LNG as 78 percent of goods in India are transported through lorries. India must seize the 81 percent value that lies in battery manufacturing. Energy storage and battery present a huge opportunity which we should capitalise since India will be driving the growth of the auto sector in the future,” added Kant. Anil Srivastava, director general, NITI Aayog, and Chairman of the EV 360 session at Energy Storage India 2019 said, “There is a genuine question from the people regarding the implementation and usability of the EVs, but there is a massive disruption that will happen fairly soon. A lot of policies have been made to accommodate advance products and systems but success cannot be achieved till we reach the scale our country has to offer. With over 20 favourable policies in place, not a single part used in e2Ws is being made in India. We are here to support the industry in every possible way so as to encourage indigenous manufacturing.” “With the anticipated launch of the National Energy Storage Mission and by creating polices for an accelerated energy storage adoption in the country, we can create significant interest for local manufacturing and system integration capabilities,” said Dr Rahul Walawalkar, executive director, India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA). “We anticipate the energy storage market in India to grow to 300 GWh by 2025. Both Indian and global supply chain is gearing up to supply to this market. This could result in over $5 billion (Rs 35,257 crore) of investment in this sector by 2020.” Thomas Schlitt, managing director Messe Düsseldorf India, said, "ESI 2019 is the biggest stage to debate, deliberate and discuss on key issues and opportunities for energy storage, smart cities, electricity to all, make in India, EV transformation and infrastructure needs of our times. This event has gained global attention and is getting bigger and better with every edition. With more than 500+ industry experts, 80+ speakers, 50+ partners and exhibitors participating from over 25 countries, ESI 2019 is certainly the driving force for National Energy Storage Mission.” “Globally storage has moved from the periphery of the electric market and closer to centre stage; enabling greater concentrations of renewable generation, moving EV’s into the top tier of car sales, improving grid resiliency, and enabling a more distributed electric ecosystem. In no place in the world is the opportunity for adoption of energy storage greater than in India,” said Stephen Fernands, founder and president, Customized Energy Solutions, speaking on the potential of India’s energy storage market. Also see: Government lists all steps taken to promote EVs [...]
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Mini’s all-electric hot hatch scheduled for 2019 reveal
Mini has decided that, for its first-ever all-electric vehicle, it will not focus on economy and range, but will instead prioritise performance. When it is revealed later this year, the EV is likely to be called the Mini Cooper S E, to affirm its place at the performance side of the carmaker’s line-up. This will also make Mini the first company in the industry to manufacture a mass-production all-electric hot hatch. As the name suggests, the Mini Cooper S E will be based on the company’s three-door ‘S’ hatchbacks’ platform. Though the platform wasn’t originally designed for an electric powertrain, Mini has adapted it to accommodate EV technology. The Cooper S E is will retain most of the Cooper S’ styling, except for a few key distinguishing design elements to mark it as the electric version. It is currently speculated that the Cooper S E will use the same 183hp electric motor found in the BMW i3 S. However, it may be in a different state of tune. In any case this figure isn’t too far off the current 2.0-litre Cooper S’ 192hp, and the extra weight from the batteries is expected to be off-set by the instant torque from the electric motors. This also means similar 0-100kph times for both cars. The lithium-ion battery pack is also expected to be borrowed from the BMW i3 S, meaning we can expect a range of around 322km. Mini’s electric hot hatch was first shown in concept form at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show. The Cooper S E is likely to be revealed in the second-half of 2019, around the 60th anniversary celebration of Mini. There has been no official statement by Mini regarding an India launch as of now. Also see: 2019 Mini Electric details revealed Mini Electric concept image gallery [...]
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Blog: No driving for me
I grew up worshipping cars and my childhood cupboard back home is still slathered with posters from back in the day. Bikes caught my fancy too, but cars were always on top for me. Years later, when I first started off in this business, I was still a car guy who just so happened to know all about the theory of riding motorcycles, but had almost zero experience actually doing so. Along the way, I swiftly discovered the delights of having two wheels less, but the big switch came when I moved to Mumbai. The city fully drained the joy of driving and I steadily moved towards bikes. Today, I’m at the point where I consider myself blessed to be making a living from riding motorcycles for the top auto magazine in the country. Given the job description, I almost never drive in Mumbai anymore. It’s either motorcycles or Uber for me in the big city, and it’s happily been that way for nearly two years now. That, however, changed recently when I needed to drive the family to Pune, and so I borrowed a car from the office. On the drive home that evening, I found myself wondering why I’d avoided them for so long. Having a nice comfy seat, air conditioning and music - it was all great! Eventually, a traffic snarl slapped me back to reality and I sighed, ‘Ah, that’s why…’ But I was wrong. Over three days and about 500km in the city and on the highway, I realised it wasn’t the traffic jams that bothered me so much. What actually boiled my blood was enduring the incredible nonsense that goes on on our roads. ‘Wrong-side’ oncoming traffic, people reversing into traffic to avoid having to drive a little further ahead for a U-turn, random vehicle stoppages in the middle of the street, morons cutting into toll plaza queues, the mass inability of drivers to hold a lane, a complete lack of understanding and/or disregard for the rules in general, the rude and incessant honking, the aggression and outright lack of courtesy, the appalling planning and maintenance of our road infrastructure... this ramble will go on and on. That’s when it hit me. I hate driving here because, in a car, you’re a prisoner to these situations, whereas on a bike, you can almost always just ride around them and carry on. Driving shoots my blood pressure up and I consistently get home in a foul mood, which is just no way to end the day. So yes, I will happily endure the heat, the pollution, and the very real risk of a small accident resulting in much more than just bent bumpers. After all, somehow, there is still joy to be had when you’re commuting on two wheels. [...]
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Government lists all steps taken to promote EVs
In response to a question in the Rajya Sabha, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has listed out the steps taken by the government to promote the use of electric vehicles in the country. In order to promote electric vehicles, the government had notified for retro-fitment of the hybrid electric system or electric kit to vehicles and has specified the type approval procedure of electric hybrid vehicles. In addition, to provide EVs with a distinct identification, the registration mark for battery operated vehicles is to be on a plate with green background. To encourage the usage of electric two-wheelers of up to 4.0KW motor, the ministry has allow granting licence to age group of 16-18 years to drive gearless e-scooters and bikes. When it comes to facilitating charging infrastructure, the Ministry of Power had issued a policy on charging infrastructure and has clarified that charging electric vehicles will be a service that does not amount to sale of electricity, which will enable stakeholders to set up the charging infra easily. In addition, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has made amendments in the Urban and Regional Development Plans Formulation and Implementation (URDPFI) guidelines to provide for electric vehicle charging stations in private and commercial buildings. On the other hand, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has commercialised the indigenously developed lithium-ion battery technology and has already selected 14 companies for transfer of technology, which will promote localisation of the technology, thus lowering the TCO for EVs. The government's premier think-tank body, NITI Aayog, has taken an initiative to provide a Model Concessionaire Agreement (MCA) document for introducing electric-bus fleet in cities for public transportation on Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode on operational expenditure (per km basis) model rather than paying the upfront capital cost. This move is said to enable manufacturers as service providers, thus leading to lower capital expenditure for the government. Additionally, for promoting the adoption of electric mobility in the country, the government had launched the Phase-I of FAME India Scheme [Faster Adoption of Electric (& Hybrid) Vehicles in India] with effect from April 1, 2015. This was initially for a period of two years and has subsequently been extended till March 31, 2019. All electric and hybrid vehicles, including public transport, registered under the scheme are being incentivised under the demand-creation focus area of this scheme. The Phase-1 of FAME Scheme at present, which will be available up to March 31, 2019, is available for all registered electric vehicles with lithium-ion batteries. On October 18, 2018 the Government released a notification granting an exemption for battery operated transport vehicles and transport vehicles running on ethanol and methanol fuels from the requirement of any permit. [...]
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Production-spec Kia SP Concept to be feature-loaded
Kia Motors is readying the production version of the SP Concept for an India launch in August 2019. And the Korean carmaker wants to make a big splash in the crowded SUV space with its first offering for the country. An upright SUV design – something Indian buyers like – aside, Kia will also rely on an upmarket and feature-loaded cabin to draw buyers in. In reply to a question from Autocar India on whether the production model’s cabin will bear resemblance to the concept’s from Auto Expo 2018, Manohar Bhat, head of marketing and sales, Kia Motors India simply said, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” It is understood Kia is striving for best-in-class features for its first product for India. And going by sources in the know of things, the list of probable features is a long one. A powered driver’s seat and ventilated front seats aside, the SP Concept is also expected to feature an advanced touchscreen with voice recognition and telematics system. On-board Wi-Fi, a 360-degree camera and wireless charging could also make it to the SP, which clearly points to a strong focus on connectivity to attract a younger buyer. Head-up display, an ambient lighting package, and fully digital instruments (as seen on the concept) are also items said to be on the cards for the top-spec version of the final product. Moreover, paddle shifters for the automatic versions of the petrol and diesel engine SPs are also expected.   While it remains to be seen how much Kia will manage to pack in while still keeping pricing competitive, it is interesting to note that the Korean carmaker’s decision to load the SP Concept with features is in line with the popularity of high- and top-spec variants in the segment.   Spy pictures of the SUV on test suggest the production model will bear a strong resemblance to the SP Concept from Auto Expo 2018. The production-spec SP Concept will launch with the 1.5-litre petrol and diesel engines and, as confirmed recently, will be priced in the Rs 10-16 lakh (ex-showroom) bracket. [...]
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New Porsche 911 Cabriolet revealed
Porsche has revealed the new 911 Cabriolet, the second member of its new 992-generation 911 family. The new soft-top shares its launch line-up with the new 911 coupé, which means the rear-wheel-drive Carrera S and four-wheel-drive Carrera 4S models will also be offered. Power for both cars comes from the same 3.0-litre, flat-six twin-turbocharged engine, which produces 450hp at 6,500rpm and 530Nm of torque between 2,300-5,000rpm. When equipped with the optional Sport Chrono Package, the Carrera S can crack 0-100kph in 3.7sec and the Carrera 4S in 3.6sec. The Carrera S’ top speed is 306kph, while the four-wheel drive car can reach a maximum of 304kph. The 911 Cabriolet’s folding soft-top roof is of a new design and can be raised or lowered while the car is moving at speeds of up to 50kph in just 12sec, the fastest yet for a 911 Cabriolet. The roof's design includes an integrated glass rear window and technology that prevents it from ballooning at higher speeds, and there's an electrically extendable wind deflector can be deployed when the roof is down. Chassis-wise, Porsche claims that new engine mountings make the 911 Cabriolet stiffer than its predecessor. A first for the model is the option of Porsche’s Active Suspension Management system, which brings with it stiffer, shorter springs, a 10mm-lower ride height and stiffer anti-roll bars. As with the new 911 coupé, the new 911 Cabriolet gets a wide-body design only. Its basic exterior design is also shared with the coupé, save for the changes necessitated by the adoption of its retractable roof. The interior design, new technology features and options are also shared between the coupé and Cabriolet, including the new Wet driving mode that detects when the car is travelling on a wet surface and primes the chassis and its electronic systems accordingly. Also see: 2019 Porsche 911 Cabriolet image gallery Smashing the BIC lap record in a Porsche 911 GT3 Breaking the BIC lap record in a Porsche 911 GT3 video 2019 Porsche 911 first look video EXCLUSIVE! Porsche could do a 911 SUV [...]
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Tata confirms seven-seat Harrier to launch within 2019
EXCLUSIVE! Even as it gears up to launch the much-awaited Harrier on January 23, it’s an open secret that Tata Motors is concurrently readying a seven-seat version of the Harrier. But now, it’s official - the company has confirmed the news, and also mentioned a timeframe for the launch of this bigger variant of the Harrier. Speaking to Autocar India, Guenter Butschek, CEO & MD, Tata Motors, said the seven-seat Harrier will be part of a “firework of launches in calendar year 2019”.  Now to tell you what we know about it. Just like the five-seat version, the seven-seat Harrier will be based on Land Rover’s D8 platform (which also underpins the Discovery Sport), and freeing up space for two extra passengers should be easy enough. We can also confirm that the seven-seat version of the Harrier will have a 62mm longer rear overhang compared to the standard Harrier (taking the overall length up to 4,660mm) to accommodate a third row of seats. But while the length will change, both SUVs will have the same 2,741mm wheelbase. Styling aft the C-pillar is expected to be slightly different with the Harrier’s pinched rear quarter windows likely to make way for a larger glass area.    What will be different is the name. The seven-seat version of the Harrier will carry a different name in order to differentiate it from the five-seater.  More importantly, the seven-seat SUV will get a more powerful, BS VI-compliant version of the Harrier’s 2.0-litre Kryotec diesel engine, and it could make in excess of 170hp and 350Nm of torque. This engine will also likely make it to the five-seat Harrier at around the same time. Transmission options for the seven-seat Harrier will include a 6-speed manual and a Hyundai-sourced 6-speed torque convertor automatic gearbox. With the five-seat Harrier estimated to be price between Rs 16-21 lakh (on-road), expect the seven-seat version to sport a premium price tag. Which features missing from the Harrier would you like to see on the seven-seat variant? Let us know in the comments. Also see: Tata Hornbill micro-SUV concept to debut at Geneva Tata Harrier vs rivals: Specifications comparison 2019 Tata Harrier review, test drive 2019 Tata Harrier video review [...]
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Blog: Modern Classics Daily
Modern classic cars have a charm of their own. They are as reliable and easy to drive as contemporary cars and yet make you feel special every time you drive them. Modern classics are being highly sought after today, and with their demand and popularity soaring, you may ask how practical they are to use as daily drives. Having owned a number of modern classics over the years, I’ve realised these cars do have their limitations. Driving them in crowded places or in heavy traffic and parking them in tight spots without parking aids can be stressful. You wouldn’t want to risk getting a ding or scratch on your pride and joy. That’s why they aren’t as easy to live with as regular contemporary cars. Other things you miss in modern classics are convenience features like keyless entry, reversing cameras and automatic wipers. You also don’t have infotainment systems like Apple CarPlay, which are common even on modern hatchbacks today. Of course, you can retrofit a number of such features to your modern classic, but that would sacrifice the character and originality of such a car. Maintaining a modern classic is also more painstaking than a modern car. Preventing them from rusting, as well as getting minor repairs can be difficult and expensive, with parts not always available at your local dealership. I do not recommend leaving your modern classic parked unattended in public places either. They can be mechanically temperamental, and if you are unlucky, fixing a mechanical problem at times can cost you more than the car’s market value. What really deters you from using any modern classic as a daily drive is that these cars aren’t as replaceable as current-generation cars. For example, it is easier to buy a new or pre-owned current-generation (F30) 328i or 330i than to find a good example of an (E46) 328i or 330i. Good examples of modern classic cars are getting increasingly difficult to find and their resale values are growing literally every morning when you wake up. Nonetheless, if your daily running consists of driving on some fantastic roads, with a nice parking in a controlled environment, you can consider using a modern classic every day by all means. However, if you want a car that’s hassle-free, stick to using a regular contemporary car with driving aids, infotainment systems, a comprehensive zero-depreciation insurance policy and extended warranty as daily drives, and restrict using your modern classics to late-night or early-morning drives and other leisurely outings. There are plenty of modern cars you can buy and use as daily drives, and I really recommend buying the higher-spec variants for all their bells and whistles. For me, I think I’ll stick to using modern classics as often as I can for their sense of occasion, because regular contemporary cars just aren’t as exciting! [...]
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2018 Shell Eco-Marathon India report
With roots going way back to 1939, the Shell Eco-marathon has taken its time to come to India. This time around, the focus is on “Powering progress in mobility, together.” So what is the Shell Eco-marathon, and should you be interested? Well to that, I’d say, totally! With fuel efficiency a mantra in India this competition pushes students into developing innovative solutions for the same. Participants have to achieve the maximum mileage on one litre of fuel and they do this in bespoke built cars by shedding weight, minimize rolling resistance and improving aerodynamics. Now that might sound quite intimidating; and I can assure you that it is. They also have to choose between two categories – Prototype and Urban Concept – classified by factors such as weight, dimensions, and more. Furthermore, there are three sub-categories based on engine type – Internal Combustion, Battery Electric and Hydrogen Fuel Cell. This event saw the participation of 20 teams; 19 of which were from India, and the one from Oman. Each team had their vehicle and its team members set-up in the pit garages of the MMRT, working and perfecting their car for the marathon. Apart from just testing their cars at their college and on track, their vehicles also had to go through a rigorous technical inspection by the people at Shell, only after which they could qualify to take part in the Marathon. Scrutiny done, it was time for the participants to head to the track where each participating car had to do 4 laps. After some intense tiptoeing with everyone trying to extract the most fuel efficiency out of the last litre of their fuel, the results were added up. The on-track awards were given to three teams – Team Eco Titans, who managed 129.2 km/litre in the ICE Prototype category; Team DTU Supermileage, who managed a whopping 154 km/litre in the ICE Urban Concept category (imagine that: Mumbai to Pune on just one litre of fuel; amazing!); and finally Team AVERERA, who managed an astonishing 362.5 km/kWh in the Battery-Electric Prototype category. The event has given young and passionate engineering students a strong platform to showcase their talents. With electrification, efficiency and emissions being important keywords thrown around these days, competition amongst students is just what would make all these a distinct possibility. ETHAN MASCARENHAS [...]
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Mahindra TUV300 added to Andhra Pradesh police fleet
The police department of Andhra Pradesh has taken delivery of a fresh batch of Mahindra TUV300 SUVs. Recently, at IGM Stadium, Vijayawada, some TUV300s were recently flagged off by Andhra Pradesh chief minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu. These are some of the 242 TUV300s that have been recently inducted into the Andhra Pradesh police fleet. These newest additions to the patrolling police vehicle fleet of Andhra Pradesh are powered by the carmaker's own mHawk 100 engine. If the Andhra Pradesh police are getting the same T4+ variant as the models that joined the Mumbai police fleet last year, the new police vehicles may come with a manual air-con, central locking, power windows and manually adjustable wing mirrors. The T4+ variant also gets ABS and dual front airbags as standard. The 84hp, 1.5-litre mHawk diesel engine pushes the TUV300 from 0-100kph in around 19sec – considerably faster than the Mahindra Bolero (a model also used by the Andhra Pradesh police), whose 63hp, 2.5-litre diesel takes over 25sec to the hit 100kph. The TUV300, thanks to its compact dimensions is becoming increasingly popular in the government and private sector alike. It has been used as an emergency airport service vehicle as well as a fleet vehicle in the Mumbai police. [...]
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Nissan to showcase new, interactive connected-car tech
At next week’s CES 2019 trade show (January 8-11), that'll be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Nissan will unveil its future vision for a vehicle that helps drivers ‘see the invisible’ by merging both real and virtual worlds, creating the ultimate connected-car experience. i2V will support drivers by merging information from sensors outside and inside the vehicle with data from the cloud. This enables the system not only to track the vehicle's immediate surroundings but also to anticipate what's ahead – even showing what's behind a building or around the corner. To make driving more enjoyable, guidance is given in an interactive, human-like way, such as through avatars that appear inside the car. By tapping into the virtual world, i2V opens up endless possibilities for service and communication – making driving more convenient, comfortable and exciting. "By helping you see the invisible, i2V enhances your confidence and makes driving more enjoyable," said Tetsuro Ueda, an expert leader at the Nissan Research Center. "The interactive features create an experience that's tailored to your interests and driving style so that anyone can enjoy using it in their own way." Connected driving i2V is powered by Nissan's Omni-Sensing technology, which acts as a hub gathering real-time data from the traffic environment and from the vehicle's surroundings and interior. Nissan's SAM (Seamless Autonomous Mobility) technology analyses the road environment through relevant real-time information and the ProPILOT semi-autonomous driver support system provides information about the car's surroundings. The technology maps a 360-degree virtual space around the car to provide information about things like road and intersection status, visibility, signage or nearby pedestrians. It can also monitor the people inside the vehicle by using interior sensors to better anticipate when they may need assistance with finding something or a coffee break to stay alert. i2V can also connect drivers and passengers to people in the Metaverse virtual world. This makes it possible for family, friends or others to appear inside the car as three-dimensional, augmented-reality avatars to provide company or assistance. More support during autonomous or manual driving During autonomous driving, Nissan says the i2V can make the time spent in a car more comfortable and enjoyable. For example, when driving in the rain, the scenery of a sunny day can be projected inside the vehicle. When visiting a new place, the system can search within the Metaverse for a knowledgeable local guide who can communicate with people in the vehicle in real time. Information provided by the guide can be collected with Omni-Sensing and stored in the cloud so that others visiting the same area can access the useful guidance. It can also be used by the onboard artificial intelligence system to provide a more efficient drive through local areas. During manual driving, i2V provides information from Omni-Sensing as an overlay in the driver's full field of view. The information helps drivers assess and prepare for things like corners with poor visibility, irregular road surface conditions or oncoming traffic. The driver can also book a professional driver from the Metaverse to get personal instruction in real time. The professional driver appears as a projected avatar or as a virtual chase car in the driver's field of vision to demonstrate the best way to drive. Not only will i2V display information about congestion and estimated travel time, but it can also communicate unique details to inform the driver about the road ahead, removing unknowns to ease driving stress. The tech will give alternative suggestions, even down to the best-moving lane in heavy traffic, by using real-time local data mapping via Omni-Sensing. Upon reaching the destination, i2V can access SAM to scan for parking spaces and park the vehicle for the driver in situations requiring difficult parking manoeuvres. [...]
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Nissan Kicks to launch on January 22
Nissan will officially launch their Kicks SUV on January 22, 2019. Bookings for the Kicks had begun back in December 2018, with the booking amount set at Rs 25,000. Customers can book the SUV at Nissan dealerships or on the brand’s website.  As we mentioned earlier, the India-spec Kicks is larger than its international counterpart as it is based on an updated version of Renault’s M0 platform, rather than the Nissan’s V platform. It measures 4,384mm in length, 1,813mm in width, 1,656mm in height, and has a 2,673mm long wheelbase. Powering the Nissan Kicks are the same engines found under the hood of the Renault Captur. There is a 1.5-litre diesel motor that churns out 110hp and 240Nm of torque (mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox) and a 1.5-litre petrol engine putting out 106hp and 142Nm of torque (mated to a 5-speed manual). Nissan is likely to introduce automatic gearbox options for both engines in the future. Inside, the Kicks features a few segment-firsts in terms of equipment. It gets a large 8.0-inch floating touchscreen infotainment system, which doubles as a display for the 360-degree camera. The SUV also gets leather inserts on the dashboard – another segment first. Other features include automatic LED headlamps, automatic climate control, cruise control, automatic wipers and 17-inch alloy wheels. When it arrives, the Kicks will take on the likes of the Maruti Suzuki S-cross, Renault Captur and the current segment leader, the Hyundai Creta. In order to be competitive, expect Nissan to price the Kicks between Rs 9.4 lakh and Rs 15 lakh (ex-showroom). Also see: Nissan Kicks e-Power in the works India-spec Nissan Kicks: 5 things to know Nissan Kicks video review 2019 Nissan Kicks India review, test drive [...]
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BMW clocks 13 percent sales growth in 2018
BMW Group India today announced that it sold 11,105 vehicles (including MINI) in 2018 (Jan-Dec), registering a growth of 13 percent year-on-year. Of the total, BMW models accounted for 10,405 units, up 11 percent year on year. BMW said that growth was lead by the 5 Series and the 6 Series GT. The German carmaker also saw its locally-assembled SUV range contributing over 50 percent to its overall sales with strong demand for the X3. Presently, BMW's Chennai plant, which locally assembles the X1, X3 and X5 is expected to begin assembly of the X4 and X7 this year, according to the carmaker. As we reported exclusively in our January 2019 issue, BMW is readying a model assault for India this year which includes 10 new models and two facelifts. Its 2019 innings is likely to commence with the launch of the X4 and will include the new 3 Series, the new X5, X7, X6, X4M, X3M, Z4, M8 Coupe, M8 Cabriolet, 7 Series facelift and X1 facelift (in no particular order). The MINI brand sold 700 units in 2018, posting a growth of 66 percent, albeit on a low base. The Countryman accounted for 60 percent of overall volumes, according to the carmaker. For BMW’s two-wheeler division, BMW Motorrad, volumes totaled 2,187 units. The company said that launch of the much-anticipated BMW G 310 R and BMW G 310 GS in the third quarter boosted sales, contributing to over 75 percent of the total motorcycles sold. So far, Swedish carmaker Volvo is the only other luxury carmaker to announce its sales results. It recorded a 30 percent sales growth with volumes totaling 2,638 units in 2018. India's luxury car market is currently led by Mercedes-Benz, which will soon announce its sales results. Although both BMW and Volvo have managed to buck the trend, demand for passenger vehicles - including those in the luxury segment - faced a challenge in the form of high interest rates, depreciation of the rupee and rising import costs in the second half of 2018.     [...]
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All-new Maruti Suzuki Wagon R ready for launch
Maruti Suzuki is all set to introduce the next-gen Wagon R in our market on January 23, 2019. Designed and engineered to take advantage of the tall-boy dimensions – something the car pioneered – the new Wagon R is now wider, slightly longer and more substantial. Sat on a larger footprint and built on a modified version of Suzuki’s fifth generation platform (Heartect) that is lighter but safer, it is a car that has been designed with the upcoming and future crash test norms firmly in mind. A NEW LOOK What’s come as a bit of a surprise, however, is that the design of the new Wagon R bears little or no resemblance to any past or current Wagon R. Of course, the boxy dimensions are still present and, in profile, the silhouette is clearly that of a Wagon R, but the nose is now more fleshed out, wider and SUV-like. Also, now the headlights are taller and wrap around the fender in an interesting manner, and the grille and lower bumper section finished in matte black, give it a bit of a rugged look too. Around the side, the B- and C-pillars are blacked out, and, what’s interesting is that, like the Swift and new Ertiga, this car also has a ‘floating roof’. At the rear, the new, more expensive looking tail-lights arc inwards and the new car isn’t nearly as slab-sided. FOUR-CYLINDER ENGINE  What pictures also reveal is that the Wagon R will go back to using a four-cylinder engine. Clearly visible under its hood are the more powerful, 1.2-litre K12 engine’s four individual pencil coils, one for each cylinder. This definitely means a bump up in power from the 1.0’s 68hp to 83hp, and an increase in torque, up to 113Nm from 90Nm. Maruti Suzuki will also keep the 1.0 engine for lower, more affordable variants and there will, of course, be a CNG version as well. However, which version will be powered by CNG isn’t clear. The current 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine suffers from a weak bottom-end when running on gas, and Maruti will certainly look at fixing this problem; so either a vastly improved 1.0 three-cylinder motor or an upgrade to the 1.2-litre, four-cylinder is possible. Like the current model, the new Wagon R will also come with an AMT gearbox; this version has also been spotted testing. EVEN MORE SPACIOUS Pictures of the new Wagon R's interior also point to a substantial upgrade. Now clearly wider on the inside and equipped with a touchscreen (on this higher-spec version), the car also gets a two-tone interior and steering-mounted audio controls. On the flip side, cost-cutting measures are also evident. The headrests are now fixed (but pretty large to protect you from whiplash), the tachometer dial has been deleted and for engine temperature, you are only likely to get a warning lamp. As ever, what will make the Wagon R extremely comfortable to sit in will be the upright seating position and the clever use of vertical space. However, there is now even more legroom and shoulder room in the rear, the seats look more substantial and larger, the door pockets look like they can hold more, and there's even more boot space; so now Ubers and Olas can carry more luggage despite the presence of a CNG cylinder. If only the dash were better designed. MORE TALL BOY Larger on the inside and better equipped, the new Wagon R – especially the one powered by the 1.2 K series engine – is likely to cost a bit more. You will get a lot more car though. Insiders say that when it comes to comfort, there is a substantial improvement over the current car, and that it is also more efficient and even nicer to drive. And for those on a budget, there's still the 1.0 K-series-powered version. Price it competitively, between Rs 4.5-6.5 lakh (estimated, ex-showroom), and Maruti could have a Santro killer on its hands. Make sure to catch our first impression and drive of the new Wagon R before the end of this month. Also see: 2019 Maruti Suzuki Wagon R image gallery All-new Maruti Suzuki Wagon R leaked in full [...]
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Jet fuel now cheaper than petrol and diesel
Due to a decline in international rates, Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) prices were cut by a record 14.7 percent on January 1, 2019. The price reduction has made ATF cheaper than petrol and diesel in most parts of the country. As per a price notification issued by state-owned oil companies, the price of ATF was slashed by Rs 9,990 per kilolitre (14.7 percent), to Rs 58,060.97 per kilolitre. This marks the largest single price cut ever for the fuel in India. Jet fuel prices were reduced earlier as well on December 1, 2018 by Rs 8,327.83 per kilolitre (10.9 percent). For comparison, a litre of ATF will now cost Rs 58.06 in Delhi as opposed to the Rs 68.65 and Rs 62.66 charged for petrol and diesel, respectively. Similarly in Mumbai, petrol costs Rs 74.30 per litre and diesel costs Rs 65.56 per litre, which is significantly higher than the Rs 58.01 per litre being charged for ATF in the city. The two consecutive price cuts have brought down ATF rates to its lowest point in a year, providing relief to cash-strapped airlines. ATF rates are revised on the first of every month by state-owned fuel retailers. The rate is based on average international oil rate and the Rupee-US Dollar exchange rate in the preceding month. (Petrol & diesel prices are as on January 2, 2019) [...]
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Carmakers report moderate sales despite year-end discounts and offers
Passenger Vehicle (PV) manufacturers revealed their monthly despatch details for the last month of 2018 and it is quite clear that buyer sentiment is down and rather sharply at that. Given that the bellwether of the PV industry – Maruti Suzuki India – posted a flat 1 percent growth in December 2018, expect overall PV industry numbers to mirror the leader’s performance. The PV industry has been feeling the pace of slowing sales right from July, which went on to impact the festive season – July (2,90,960 units/ -2.71 percent), August (2,87,186 units/ -2.46 percent), September (2,92,658 units/ -5.61 percent), October (2,84,224 units/ +1.55 percent), November (2,66,000 units/ -3.43 percent). As the festive months of October and November turned out to be anything but festive, December despatches have ranged from low to moderate as manufacturers look to optimise leftover inventories at dealerships. Maruti Suzuki India clocked an overall domestic despatches of 1,19,804 units, registering marginal growth of 1 percent (December 2017: 1,18,560 units). A notable decline comes from its entry-level cars – down a sizeable 14 percent, with the combined sales of Alto and Wagon R declining to 27,661 units (December 2017: 32,146 units). A big reason for this could be the minimal production of the current-generation Wagon R, which is nearing its end of life, as Maruti is all set to introduce the new model on January 23, 2019. The quintet of Baleno, Celerio, Dzire, Ignis and Swift too saw a sales slump, but relatively lower at 3.8 percent with cumulative sales of 51,334 units (December 2017: 55,336 units). Maruti’s premium Ciaz sedan, on the other hand, registered smart 98.7 percent growth, with 4,734 buyers choosing the car, as against 2,382 customers in December 2017. Maruti’s vans, Omni and Eeco, sold 15,850 units and registered a good 38.8 percent growth as well (December 2017: 11,420 units). The compact crossovers, including the Vitara Brezza, Gypsy and the S-cross, saw a moderate growth of 4.9 percent, with sales touching 20,255 units, marginally up from the 19,276 units sold in December 2017. Hyundai Motor India registered cumulative domestic sales of 42,093 units last month to record a marginal growth of 4.8 percent (December 2017: 40,158 units). Its Grand i10 and Elite i20 hatchbacks, Verna sedan and Creta SUV remained key performers all through the year. And while the company revived the Santro brand in October, it is yet to be seen how the car has actually fared with the masses it’s meant for, considering it has been slightly optimistically priced by Hyundai this time around. Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), which has recently launched its new flagship, the Alturas G4, and the Marazzo MPV, has reported PV despatches of 15,901 units in December 2018, down 3 percent on year-ago numbers (December 2017: 15,543 units). For April-December 2018 period, cumulative PV sales total 1,77,074 units, flat YoY growth of zero percent (April-December 2017: 1,76,875). Commenting on the performance, Rajan Wadhera, president, Automotive Sector, M&M, said, “We are happy to have ended the first nine months of the year on a positive growth of 13 percent (PVs and CVs, domestic and exports), and are particularly buoyed by our ongoing strong performance in exports. However, in the domestic market, challenges relating to tight liquidity and low buying sentiment continue the de-growth for December. We hope to see good performance in Q4, owing to the anticipated rural demand because of the harvesting season and the launch of our new XUV300 in February 2019.” Tata Motors, which has been having a good off-take at the showrooms for the past year, also saw numbers slow down. The company’s Passenger Vehicles (PV) division recorded a flat growth of 1 percent, at 14,260 units (December 2017: 14,180 units), albeit demand continues for its new-generation PVs like the Tiago, Tigor and Hexa. Nonetheless, Tata Motors has reported a robust sales performance for the April-December 2018 period: 1,56,397 units, up 21 percent YoY  (April-December 2017: 1,29,229). Commenting on December sales, Mayank Pareek, president, passenger vehicles unit, Tata Motors, said, “In December 2018, we strived to maintain our growth trajectory during what was a rather sluggish period for the entire auto industry. Despite the challenging environment last month, Tata Motors’ PV business outperformed the industry with a growth of 1 percent, fuelled by the good performance of our new-generation products like the Nexon, Tiago, Hexa and the new Tigor. We are gearing up to introduce our much-awaited Harrier SUV on January 23.” Honda Cars India, which is seeing strong demand for the new Amaze and CR-V, has reported a 4 percent growth in sales in December 2018. The company despatched a total of 13,139 units in December 2018 (December 2017:  12,642 units). In the first n [...]
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BMW X7 spied in India
BMW's all-new X7 has been spotted in disguise undergoing testing in the country. As we reported earlier, the German carmaker is set to launch its new flagship SUV, in range-topping M50d guise, on January 31, 2019 at the India Art Fair in New Delhi. The new X7 will slot above the X5 in BMW’s lineup of SUVs. The new flagship model was unveiled at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2018 and its launch in India just two months later shows how important the Indian market is to the brand. The X7 measures 5,151mm in length, 1,990mm in width and 1,805mm in height. As the X7 will first arrive in M50d form, it will be powered by a quad-turbocharged, 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder diesel engine that puts out 400hp and a massive 760Nm of torque. The 340hp, 3.0-litre straight-six turbo-petrol engine in the xDrive40i variant and a 265hp, 3.0-litre straight-six turbo-diesel in the xDrive30d will arrive in India sometime in September 2019.  All engines will come mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox and have BMW’s xDrive four-wheel drive system with surface-specific modes. On the inside, the X7 is similar to the new BMW X5. But what’s different is that the X7 comes with three rows of seating, in six- and seven-seater configurations. Features inside the cabin include a large 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a digital instrument cluster, four-zone climate control, a three-piece glass sunroof, park assist and a reclining function for all three rows. BMW is expected to launch the X7 M50d at Rs 1.6 crore (ex-showroom) as a CBU. The more mainstream X7 xDrive40i and X7 xDrive30d variants will arrive later as BMW is working on localising assembly for the new model. When it goes on sale, the X7 will compete with the Mercedes-Benz GLS and the Land Rover Discovery. Also see: BMW lines-up 12 new launches for 2019 2019 BMW X7 image gallery IMAGE SOURCE [...]
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Petrol in Mumbai drops to Rs 74.47 per litre
With 2018 drawing to a close, the beleaguered Indian motorist and the automotive industry have good reason for cheer. While India citizens have had to suffer wallet-burning fuel prices for most of 2018, the end of the year has seen prices steadily declining thanks to a similar decrease in the cost of global crude oil. As of December 31, 2018, petrol prices in Mumbai have dropped to its lowest this year at Rs 74.47 per litre. At this price, a litre of petrol costs Rs 3.40 less than it cost on January 1, 2018, at Rs 77.87 per litre. When compared to the price of petrol on October 4, today’s price is a whopping Rs 16.87 less! Diesel now costs Rs 65.76 a litre – while not the lowest, this price is a fair bit below the highs it scaled in 2018. On January 1, 2018 diesel cost Rs 63.35 a litre and rose to its highest, like petrol, on October 4 to Rs 80.10. The price differential between the two fuels as of today is Rs 8.71 a litre. For reference, 2017 began with petrol being priced at Rs 76.91 per litre and ended at Rs 77.87 with the highest being Rs 79.99 a litre on October 3, 2017. The lowest price at which the fuel was sold in 2017 was Rs 72.66 per litre on April 1, 2017. In 2014, the highest price that petrol had scaled to was Rs 82.07 per litre. The lowest price that motorists paid was Rs 62.75 on March 10, 2016. As per our sister publication Autocar Professional’s analysis of fuel prices since then, the price of petrol has not fallen below the Rs 65 a litre mark and has continuously marched upwards. Even as motorists will tank up with a smile today and in 2019, there clearly is scope for a higher level of price cuts on petrol and diesel given the high level of state and central taxes on fossil fuels. [...]
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Ducati India track day experience 2018
 A 1:12 Ducati Panigale scale model is one of the first things I look at every morning. It sits at the centre of my TV unit, and to own and ride a Panigale has always been a dream of mine. While owning one still very much remains a dream, I recently had the opportunity to ride one on a racetrack! And it was all thanks to the first Ducati DRE Track Day in India. The experience was overwhelming and humbling, and it only made my craving for a shiny red 1:1 Panigale stronger. DRE or Ducati Riding Experience promises to offer ‘a very high level of teaching and instructors, prestigious locations, the entire Ducati range and great fun’, and let me tell you that they didn’t fail to deliver. Alessandro Valia, Ducati’s chief test rider was the instructor. The location in question was India’s only F1-spec track – the Buddh International Circuit and the bikes we took turns riding were the SuperSport, 959 Panigale and the dreamy V4 Panigale. Now I know what you are thinking: Riding Ducati motorcycles on a Formula 1 circuit has to be an expensive affair, right? The tyres themselves cost about half a lakh rupees. That wasn’t the case, however. Registration costs for all Panigale V4 owners were waived off. And as for other Ducati owners, the track day was priced at just Rs 10,000. In addition to this, owners could also enjoy a 20min session on the Panigale V4 for Rs 5,000, the 959 Panigale for Rs 3,000 and the SuperSport for Rs 2,000. But this wasn’t just for the Ducatisti, even non-Ducati owners could be a part of the event, as long as they had a motorcycle with over 600cc. They were also given the option to test ride the Ducati motorcycles, albeit for a higher cost – Rs 16,000 for the V4, Rs 12,000 for the 959 and Rs 10,000 for the SuperSport. Our riding experience didn’t begin with riding but instead with learning. Alessandro Valia’s classroom presentation included almost everything you would need to know before heading out to the track. He explained how we should enter and exit corners, find the correct lines, throttle and braking control, and optimum body position, in the most entertaining and animated way. He also proudly explained all of the electronic wizardry on his ‘love’ – the V4, and told us that we should give the slide control tech a go. That is when I thought everyone would chuckle, but no one did because he was being serious. This got me a bit worried because I felt like I didn’t know what I was in for. We then walked towards the pits where there were about three dozen pretty Ducatis sitting, waiting to be unleashed. But the view wasn’t the only thing I was enjoying – I can’t forget the glorious sounds of the L-twins and V4s out on track, echoing against the grandstand. Visual and aural bliss, to say the least. While I was still busy looking around, Hiya from the Ducati PR team signalled (because the human voice was no match for engines at 14,000rpm) that it was time to ride. My first session was on the SuperSport S, Ducati’s sports tourer. It wasn’t designed for track times, which is why it took time getting used to. It was also my first time on a high-capacity motorcycle on a racetrack and I made almost every possible beginner’s mistake on my first two laps – ran wide, accelerated too early out of a corner, missed shifts and even went off the track. But my third and fourth lap took a turn for the good, quite literally. After a 30min break, it was time for our second and final session, and because of the high demand the V4 was in, I was given a choice of either riding it for one lap or the SuperSport for four laps. Without the slightest hesitation, I chose the Panigale V4 – the centrepiece on my table back home. One lap of the 5km track was enough to blow my mind. Thanks to the electronics and the more-focused chassis, the bike was so much easier to corner than the SuperSport. I touched 255kph on the back straight but was still one of the slowest riders there; I was so overwhelmed by the performance of the motorcycle that, after getting off it, I needed to sit down and take it in. What an experience! When you buy a motorcycle like a Ducati, you are buying into the brand and its culture. An event like this not only allows you explore the potential of your motorcycle in a safe and fun way, but also brings together like-minded owners and enthusiasts, and gives outsiders a taste of the brand as well. This is why I would recommend attending the second edition of the DRE track day when it returns to India next year. [...]
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Lamborghini Aventador SVJ 63 headed to India in 2019
Close on the heels of India’s first Aventador SVJ being delivered to a customer in Bengaluru, Lamborghini has confirmed that it is set to expand the SVJ line by introducing the limited-edition SVJ 63 in our market in 2019. “We delivered India's first Aventador SVJ on December 17, and it’s not just the first in India, it is among the first few in the world. 2019 is going to be a very exciting year for us. We will start the year with the unveiling of one new exciting product apart from the SVJ and during the year we will also have the SVJ 63 coming to India,” said Sharad Agarwal, head, Lamborghini India, to Autocar India in an interview. Unveiled at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the special-edition SVJ 63 pays homage to Lamborghini’s founding year of 1963. It is produced in a unique configuration with bespoke colour and trim and also highlights the rich use of carbon fibre. It is powered by Lamborghini’s most powerful series production V12, which puts out 770hp at 8,500 rpm and 720Nm of torque at 6,750 rpm. The SVJ accelerates from 0-100kph in 2.8sec and from 0-200kph in 8.6sec. It is capable of touching a top speed of over 350kph. Total production of the Aventador SVJ – including 63 units of the SVJ 63 – is limited to 900 units. Just like the Aventador S, the SVJ is also fitted with four-wheel steering, but the new car builds upon the standard car’s agility with a second-generation active aerodynamics system (ALA 2.0). Improvements over the first-gen system include redesigned air inlets and aero-channel designs. Lamborghini claims the SVJ’s downforce is 40 percent greater than that of the Aventador SV – the Italian carmaker's former performance flagship. Moreover, the chassis is tweaked to provide 50 percent additional stiffness as compared to the Aventador SV. IN CONVERSATION WITH SHARAD AGARWAL, HEAD, LAMBORGHINI INDIA On the response to the Urus. The Urus has truly been a game changer for us in India. We always anticipated a two-fold increase in sales with the Urus but are now expecting growth to increase by up to three-fold this year. About 70 percent of Urus customers are first-time Lamborghini owners. On the long waiting period for the Urus. We are doing our best but the challenge is that the Urus has got a phenomenal demand across all markets, where the waiting period is about 9-10 months; and in some markets, it’s even more. So while I don’t see the waiting period coming down soon, we are trying to maintain a consistency with other markets. On plans for the SVJ. We delivered India’s first Aventador SVJ on December 17, 2018. You will see a very exciting number of SVJs coming to India in 2019. Also see: Lamborghini SC18 image gallery Lamborghini Urus customers bring a unique challenge [...]
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BMW lines-up 12 new launches for 2019
BMW India had a slow 2018 with only a few new model introductions. However, for 2019, the German carmaker is firing on all cylinders and has lined up no less than twelve new launches for our market. This story was first published in the Autocar India January 2019 issue which is already on stands.  BMW’s biggest SUV, the recently unveiled X7 will be introduced on January 31, 2019. The new flagship SUV from BMW will take on the Mercedes GLS in our market. The X7 comes with all the bells and whistles, and gets the option of a six-seat or seven-seat layout.  It is 5.1m long and promises adequate legroom for all three rows of seats. The new X4 is likely to be the next in line for India. To be assembled from CKD kits, the SUV-coupé is likely to come with a 252hp, 2.0-litre petrol engine and a 265hp, 3.0-litre diesel motor. The performance-oriented BMW X4M and the X3M are also lined-up for launch in 2019. BMW will also not waste any time bringing in the latest 3 Series sedan (G20) to India. The model should be available by the middle of 2019. The new 3 Series will come with the current car’s engine options – a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol in the 330i (but with a bit more power and torque now up to 258hp and 400Nm) and a 2.0-litre diesel producing 190hp and 400Nm of torque, both mated to 8-speed gearboxes.  Around the same time, the all-new X5 will launch too – with a 340hp, 3.0-litre turbo petrol engine and a  the 265hp, 3.0-litre turbo diesel mill. The yet-to-be-revealed next-gen BMW X6 is on the cards as well. The latest iteration of the original SUV-coupé will sit on the X5’s underpinnings. BMW could also assemble it in India, just like the X4. BMW will also bring the new 8 Series to India, though the range will be limited to only the M8 coupé and cabriolet. The models are expected to see a world premiere at the Frankfurt motor show 2019, and will be powered by a 4.4-litre V8 churning out more than 600hp. The new BMW Z4 will make it to our shores this year. The folding hard-top model will likely be offered with two engine options – a 340hp, 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol and a 2.0-litre, petrol unit good for 258hp. Aside from the new launches, BMW will also roll-out mid-cycle updates for the X1 and the flagship 7 Series. The luxury limo will come with more features and is expected to get updated styling including an oversized kidney grille. [...]
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Back in time: Road tripping with the Renault Captur petrol
The walls are peeling, the furniture is frayed and the cups are chipped, but it wasn't always like this. It is hard to believe that once upon a time this decrepit hotel was a pit-stop for everyone from film stars to business magnates to political bigwigs. Anyone travelling from Mumbai to Pune would make a stop at Hotel Ramakant and you had to wait to get a table. The only sign of its glory days is a board in Marathi that documents its history from cart to shop, including all the celebrities who have come here. Today the hotel is empty except for a couple sharing a vada pav. So what happened? To understand the fate of Ramakant, we have to go for a drive. Not just any ordinary drive, we will go where no car (other than one specially modified 1982 DeLorean) has gone before – a drive back in time. The car we're driving is the new petrol-powered Renault Captur. It’s rather appropriate, since a quarter century ago most cars were driven by petrol motors and diesel was reserved mostly for commercial vehicles; and the drive between Mumbai and Pune was then an adventure that called for careful planning and preparation, along with a big dollop of luck. But before we begin this drive, let’s establish the present scenario. THE EXPRESSWAY THAT CHANGED IT ALL Imagine you got an assignment to do a travelogue from Mumbai to Pune. What would you write? "Battled traffic and dug-up roads till Kalamboli. Hit the Mumbai-Pune Expressway after break at McDonald’s. Paid Rs 230 toll at Shendung. Then reached Pune a little after an hour on the road." In short: boring stuff. It’s a drive I do regularly and perhaps the most exciting things on this road are those colourful hoardings put up to beautify the landscape and shift the drivers’ attention away from the road. Sarcasm aside, we need to thank the folks who built expressway connecting the two cities. This Captur takes me door-to-door from Mumbai to Pune in less than three hours thanks to this Expressway. I remember a time when it took me anywhere between five and 10 hours to do the distance. Today, I can travel from Mumbai to Pune for a 9am meeting, arriving fresh and raring to go; whereas before the Expressway opened in 2000, you had to reach out for a bar of soap and a towel after the trip. True my first-generation Maruti 800 had no air-conditioning and this Captur has stuff like automatic climate control and a touchscreen – all of which I would then have imagined was sci-fi. While a lot of credit goes to modern car technology that has made our drives more comfortable, we shouldn’t forget the roads that made it possible; and the Mumbai-Pune Expressway was the first of its kind – a 93.1km, access-controlled, concrete, six-lane, high-speed expressway that changed the way we travel. THE NEW JOURNEY ON AN OLD ROAD For my drive back in time, I decide to take the old Mumbai-Pune National Highway 4 which has now been re-numbered to NH48. It was predominantly a two-lane highway with just a few sections broad enough to host four lanes. At Kalamboli, you can either enter the Expressway or take the NH4 / NH48 / old Pune highway (whatever you call it). The first popular pit-stop on this route was the 'Dutta Vada Pav' shop as you exit Panvel. I've never stopped there and I don’t stop now. My first stop was Khopoli, at the base of the Bhor Ghat. The jewel in Khapoli’s crown was Ramakant hotel, with its vada pavs and poori-bhaajis. Today, it exists as a sad shell of a once-glorious past. Khopoli, for travellers, was once akin to the Everest Base Camp for mountaineers – a break to renew your energy, check your equipment (your car) before you took on the challenge that is the narrow steep road ahead. Since cars then didn’t have an effective handbrake, you could burn your clutch while balancing the car on it and your accelerator while trying to stop it rolling back in bumper-to-bumper traffic led by overloaded trucks lumbering uphill at a glacial place. And in case a vehicle broke down, which was quite frequently, all you could do was find some rocks to wedge behind your tyres and hope your passenger was someone with an opus of entertaining stories. Today, there is hardly any traffic and the drive uphill is uneventful. I don’t know if they have changed the road’s gradient or the Captur’s, 106hp engine is making it look easy. It doesn't have the strongest mid-range; but it does the job and the fearful ghat is now a tame puppy. And without the traffic it’s an enjoyable road to drive on – much more engaging than the Expressway. I’m starting to love it. While you are driving through the ghat, you might spot a train making its way through the hills. If you are interested in history, Google the history of Indian railways and Bhor Ghat. All I will reveal is that it was a feat of engineering that took 24,000 lives before the Mu [...]
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All-new Maruti Suzuki Wagon R leaked in full
What you see here are images that show the all-new 2019 Maruti Suzuki Wagon R in full, well before its official reveal on January 23, 2019.  What’s immediately clear is that the Wagon R for India is quite different to the one on sale abroad, as has also been the case in the past. While Maruti’s popular hatchback sticks to the high roof ‘tall boy’ silhouette, the styling is quite different to what we are used to. Up front, the new Wagon R gets wraparound headlamps which are curved towards the grille and also get distinctive kinks on the far ends. The grille is simple and trademark Suzuki, with a large logo sitting at the flanked by a chrome strip. A simple bumper with angular housings for fog lamps can also be seen in the pics.  The model spied seems to be mid-spec V trim and hence does not get fog lamps. Moving on to the sides, the new WagonR looks longer than before however the slab-sided appearance still remains.  According to sources, additional legroom for the second row along with reclining seats can be expected. The latest Wagon R also gets a floating roof design similar to that seen on the Ertiga, along with subtle creases to the front and rear fenders and doors, which make the overall styling more appealing. At the back, the Wagon R gets much larger tail-lamps which are now mounted high up the C-pillar, helping give the hatchback a more crossover-like look. The new Wagon R is expected to continue to be based on the outgoing model's platform, which will be tweaked to clear the latest crash test norms. The current 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine will continue as well, albeit tuned for better refinement. Also likely to be offered right from launch are an AMT auto gearbox version as well as a CNG-powered one. There is buzz that the Wagon R will get many features for the first time to compete with newer rivals. Maruti is likely to include the SmartPlay touchscreen infotainment system on fully-loaded versions. A driver’s side airbag and reverse parking sensors as mandated by law from April 1, 2018 will also be part of the equipment list. The Wagon R has been a fixture on the best-sellers list in India. You can bet Maruti will hope to keep it that way with the new model. The new Wagon R will compete with the Hyundai Santro, Datsun Go and Tata Tiago among other models. Expect pricing to be competitive and in the Rs 4-6 lakh (estimated, ex-showroom) bracket. Like what you see? Let us know in the comments section below. Image source   [...]
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BMW X7 M50d India launch on January 31, 2019
While we had previously reported that BMW’s new flagship SUV, the X7, is headed to India soon, Autocar India can now confirm that the range-topping X7, badged as the M50d, will be launched in our market on January 31, 2019. BMW will launch the model at the India Art Fair, held in New Delhi from January 31 to February 2, 2019. The new flagship SUV in BMW’s range (slotting above the X5) made its public debut in full production form at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2018, where it was displayed with a 340hp, 3.0-litre straight-six turbo-petrol engine (xDrive40i), a 265hp, 3.0-litre straight-six turbo-diesel (xDrive30d) and a sporty, quad-turbocharged, 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder diesel engine that produces 400hp and a colossal 760Nm of torque (M50d). BMW will introduce the more mainstream variants in India, in the form of the xDrive40i and xDrive30d, in September 2019. The nine-month long gap between the launches of the M50d and the lower-powered variants is so that the X7 can be localised. On all three variants, power is sent to all-four wheels as standard via an 8-speed automatic transmission and an off-road package is expected, which will have four surface-specific drive modes. Meant to combine the luxury of the 7 Series with the X5’s versatility, the seven-seat SUV’s cabin follows the smaller SUV’s design. A multi-layered dashboard houses a standard 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment display and there’s also a completely digital instrument panel. Standard kit is expected to include four-zone climate control system, soft-close doors, a three-piece glass sunroof, a park assistant function with a reversing camera and a reclining function for all three rows. In international markets, BMW offers the X7 in a seven-seat layout (with a bench seat in the middle) along with a six-seat configuration (with captain seats in the second row). Expect BMW to price the X7 M50d at about Rs 1.6 crore (ex-showroom). The X7 range in India, which will be complete in September 2019 with the arrival of the more affordable, mainstream variants, will rival other seven-seat luxury SUVs like the Land Rover Discovery and the Mercedes-Benz GLS. Also see: 2019 BMW X7 image gallery [...]
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Royal Enfield Classic 350 Redditch ABS launched at Rs 1.52 lakh
In August this year, Royal Enfield began equipping its full range of motorcycles with ABS in a phased manner. Its latest bike to get this much-needed safety feature is the Classic 350 Redditch. The inclusion of dual-channel ABS comes at a reasonable hike of roughly Rs 6000, which sees its cost rising from Rs 1,47,464 to Rs 1,52,900 (ex-showroom Delhi). The bike now costs Rs 1,74,400 on-road in Delhi. The 350 Redditch is powered by the same 346cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled engine found in the rest of the Classic 350 range. Output figures, too, remain unchanged at 19.8hp at 5,250rpm and 28Nm of torque at 4,000rpm. The bike comes in three colors inspired by the models built during the 1950s at the Redditch factory in UK. Royal Enfield has now equipped most of its portfolio with ABS with only the standard-colour variants of the 350 Classic and the Bullet series yet to receive the feature. The addition of ABS on the Classic 350 (Signals, Redditch and Gunmetal Grey variants) helps it further rival the Jawa and the Forty-Two which were recently equipped with a rear disc brake and dual-channel ABS. The ABS-equipped Jawa has been priced at Rs 1.73 lakh, while the similarly-equipped Jawa Forty -Two has been pegged at Rs 1.64 lakh (all prices ex-showroom), which is a considerable premium over the ABS-equipped Classic 350s. Also see: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350X ABS priced at Rs 1.63 lakh 2018 Royal Enfield Classic Signals 350 ABS launched at Rs 1.62 lakh Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500X ABS launched at Rs 2.13 lakh  [...]
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UM DSR Adventure 200 ABS to be priced at Rs 1.39 lakh
2019 is shaping up to be the year of off-road focused bikes in India. In less than a month, we have seen Benelli testing the TRK 502 X, Royal Enfield testing its Classic 500 Scrambler, Yamaha testing the XTZ 125 and most recently, KTM’s highly-anticipated 390 Adventure. The latest two-wheeler manufacturer to become part of this list is UM Motorcycles. Leaked images of what appears to be presentation slides reveal UM’s plan for the entry-level adventure motorcycle segment. The brand's new entry-level motorcycle will be called the DSR Adventure 200 ABS and will be priced around the Rs 1.39 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) mark. The leaked images also reveal the bike's technical specifications and some of features that will be on offer. The UM DSR Adventure 200 ABS has a tall stance and features adventure-bike styling elements which are similar to the ones on a Polish motorcycle called Romet ADV 125FI Pro. The UM that was spotted in India also features panniers and a top box like the international-spec Romet. Either UM plans to offer a rebadged Romet with a larger engine in India, or both Romet and UM are selling bikes coming from a third manufacturer that we aren't aware of. A similar incident occurred when we discovered that the Okinawa Praise was, in fact, likely to be a rebadged scooter from Chinese manufacturer, Luyuan. Powering the DSR Adventure 200 ABS is a 196cc, air-cooled, 2-valve, carburetted, single-cylinder engine that makes 16hp at 8,500rpm and 16Nm of torque at 6,500rpm. This motor comes paired to a 6-speed gearbox and has a 14-litre fuel-tank capacity. The seat height on the DSR is 780mm – which is low for an adventure bike. While the motorcycle features disc brakes at both ends, it is equipped with only single-channel ABS. Like the Romet, the UM DSR Adventure 200 ABS rides on 17-inch alloy wheels and comes equipped with tubeless tyres. There is also an image of the bike that has surfaced along with the presentation slides. The bike in this image features most of the equipment seen on the slides, aside from the tall windscreen. The slide has also revealed the four colours the adventure bike will be available in – Olive Green, Midnight Black, Brick Red and Octane Blue. If and when launched, the UM DSR Adventure 200 ABS will go up against the upcoming Hero Xpulse 200, which, in turn, is likely to be priced at around the Rs 1 lakh mark. Also see: 2019 Hero Xpulse 200, Xpulse 200T spotted testing in India    SOURCE [...]
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Best and worst James Bond cars
Since he first appeared on the pages of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale over 60 years ago, Commander James Bond has taken his choice of company car almost as seriously as his choice of hand gun, champagne and, er, companion. Despite his cars having been modified with missile launchers, ejector seats and amphibious capability, he’s made some questionable and some great choices for cars. Let’s take a closer look at the motors behind the myths to see which, if any, really are worthy of the attentions of the world’s least secret agent and some of those his nemesis’s used too… Bentley 4.5 supercharged (Casino Royale, the book, 1953) Although Aston Martins have become signature Bond cars, Ian Fleming’s first choice of wheels for the secret agent was the blown behemoth known as the Bentley 4.5 supercharged. However, the ‘blower’ Bentley wasn’t a great car even when it was new in 1929, let alone 24 years later when Bond got his hands on it. Even WO Bentley hated it, saying to supercharge one of his cars was “to pervert its design and corrupt its performance”.   The Bentley didn’t win a single important race either, largely because it broke down much too often. Due to the large Amherst Villiers supercharger slung out in front, it was slow and cumbersome too. Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger, 1964) Some believe that the DB5 is not quite as good as its legend would have you believe and if it wasn’t for its starring role in Goldfinger, the car would now be considered merely one of Aston’s better efforts. While the DB5 does have those landmark looks, a classic interior and a pleasantly characterful engine, it doesn’t have a particularly fun driving experience. It was made when Aston Martin had progressed away from thoroughbred, race-proven sports cars and was designed in the 1950s, as a gentler, softer, more touring-oriented model. Wonderful to park outside the Gstaad Palace Hotel, less of a joy to drive over the mountains to get there. Toyota 2000GT Convertible (You Only Live Twice, 1967)   An almost perfect Bond car, the Toyota 2000GT is gorgeous and fascinating to look at. Its importance as Japan’s first truly credible sports car can’t be underestimated either. The 2.0 six-cylinder engine was decently powerful for the time thanks to a Yamaha twin cam head and triple carburetors. It even handled, rode and steered beautifully for the era. And then they discovered Sean Connery was too tall to squeeze comfortably into its cosy cabin, a problem they solved by simply sawing the roof off to turn it into a terminally cool convertible. Sadly, this is likely also to have had a catastrophic effect on its rigidity and turned a taut, finely-honed sports car into a wobbling mess with all the structural integrity of a sandcastle. Lotus Esprit S1 (The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977)   The early Esprit was sleek, sexy and handled like a dream. In reality, however, it was also plagued with teething issues and was inexact in its construction standards. Brilliant at dodging trucks and exploding sidecars, but if one really had dived into the sea, it would have needed not only fins in its wheel wells but aqualungs in its glove box too. Remember that scene where Bond drops a fish out of the window as he drives up the beach? How did it get in to begin with? It probably came in through the panel gaps. Citroen 2CV6 (For Your Eyes Only, 1981)   Lovers of the 2CV will see no fault in this flawless, thrilling icon of style and driving pleasure. Others would look at it as a yellow shed full of bullet holes (at least in this particular case), but for fans of inverse snobbery, the 2CV was actually a very clever and quite cool choice. Some would feel lukewarm about 2CVs and, thanks to handling that looked appalling but was actually closer to inspired, the car made an entirely credible anti-hero. Less credible was its ability to outrun a pack of bad guys in Peugeot 504s. BMW Z3 (Goldeneye, 1995)   Had this been a Z3M coupé instead of the convertible, it would have been an excellent addition to Bond canon. Filmed before the car went on sale, the Goldeneye Z3 had a 1.9-litre four-cylinder engine and, while it was only on screen for a matter of seconds, that was long enough to show that those who chose Bond’s car at the time were far more interested in which company paid the most rather than which car would best suit Britain's intrepid civil servant. Aston Martin Vanquish (Die Another Day, 2002)   While this movie is considered by Bond fans to be one of the weakest of the lot, the car chosen by the secret agent was perfect Bond fodder. Take away the preposterous invisible cloaking and the Vanquish was different from other Aston Martins in Bond movies. It was fast, loud and beautifully balanced and a touch intimidating too. The fact that it’s truly flawed [...]
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