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2019 BMW G 310 R gets new colour options
As part of the 2019 update, BMW will offer the G 310 R in a new shade of Racing Red. The G 310 R also gets a HP Motorsport paint finish (pearl white metallic with "HP" lettering), while Strato Blue Metallic has been discontinued. Cosmic Black One will probably be carried forward to the 2019 range of the G 310 R. This announcement comes just a few days before the G 310 R goes on sale in India on July 18, along with the G 310 GS. It’s likely that the bikes launched in India will be offered with the new colour options. Apart from the two new colour options, no changes have been made on the G 310 R. The BMW G 310 R has been designed and developed by BMW Motorrad and is manufactured in India by TVS Motors. It’s the most affordable motorcycle in the German brands portfolio. It has been rather long wait for Indian two-wheeler enthusiasts as, despite being built in our country, the bike was never launched in our market. According to BMW Motorrad, the India launch was delayed because they wanted to expand the dealership network prior to the bike going on sale. The G 310 R was first unveiled to Indian audiences at the 2016 Auto Expo, while the G 310 GS made its maiden India debut earlier this year at the 2018 Auto Expo. Powering the BMW G 310 R, and its sibling, is a 313cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder motor producing 34hp of power and 28Nm of torque. Transmission duties are handled by a six-speed gearbox. Both bikes also get tubular steel frames, five-spoke alloy wheels and ABS. While there is no word on pricing, according to sources the G 310 R will retail for Rs 3.5 lakh, while the G 310 GS will be priced at Rs 4 lakh (both prices are on-road, India). As we will be reporting live from the launch event, watch this space for more details. Also see: BMW G 310 R, G 310 GS: 5 things to know BMW G 310 R, G 310 GS India launch on July 18 BMW G 310 R, G 310 GS bookings open on June 8 [...]
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Ducati announces DRE Off-Road Days
Ducati will be hosting the first edition of Ducati Ride Experience – Off Road Days in India on August 4-5, 2018. The DRE – Off Road Days event will be held at the Off-Road Adventure Zone (ORAZ) circuit in Gurugram and is open to both Ducati and non-Ducati owners. The event is free-of-cost for owners of the Ducati Scrambler, Multistrada and Hypermotard range of motorcycles. Non-Ducati riders (who own or ride a 500cc and above motorcycle) can avail the early bird passes for Rs 5,000 before July 15, after which a slot will cost Rs 19,500. Each riding slot for a non-Ducati entrant entails the rider a Ducati motorcycle for the event, the supervision of a DRE-certified trainer, breakfast, DRE certification and a goody bag. Participants can register themselves on the Ducati India website and 20 slots are available on each day (10 for Ducati owners and 10 for non-Ducati riders). The riders will be trained by certified DRE instructor Vijay Parmar, who is also the founder of the legendary Maruti Suzuki Raid de Himalaya rally. According to the organisers, the off-road course has been designed keeping in mind the varied riding skills of participants. So whether you’re a newbie or an old hand at off-road riding, the DRE – Off Road Days event will have you covered. All participants will also receive exclusive Ducati DRE merchandise and a certificate of completion. [...]
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Volvo Car India registers record half-yearly sales
The Indian subsidiary of Swedish carmaker Volvo has announced that it witnessed record H1 sales growth during the calendar year 2018. The carmaker delivered 1,242 units in Jan-June 2018, a significant growth of 33 percent year-on-year, albeit on a lower base. The capable XC60 SUV spearheaded sales for Volvo, contributing to 25 percent of the total sales volume. "Successful addition of S90 to local assembly and aggressive network expansion led to the best ever H1 (first half) sales performance for the company," according to the company statement. Moreover, the carmaker is set to witness a significant growth in sales with the roll out of its newly launched small SUV, the XC40. A new entry-point to Volvo's SUV line-up, the carmaker expects the model to bring new customers to its brand.   “We are extremely happy with our growth pace and intend to keep up the momentum for the rest of 2018. The recently launched XC40 is our first offering in the entry level SUV segment and we expect the XC40 to build a new customer base for us and drive sales,” Charles Frump, managing director, Volvo Car India said. India's luxury vehicle market has seen robust growth in the first half of 2018 as German luxury marques Mercedes and BMW reported record sales. Market leader Mercedes-Benz sold 8,061 units, registering a growth of 12.4 percent, year-on-year, while sales of BMW and Mini combined totalled 5,171 units, up 13 percent, year-on-year.  [...]
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BMW India registers record half-yearly sales
The first half of the calendar year 2018 brought cheer for German luxury carmaker BMW Group as the brand reported record sales for both BMW and Mini cars combined. Overall volumes in Jan-June 2018 touched 5,171 units, up 13 percent year-on-year. Of the total sales, BMW brand models accounted for 4,890 units (up 12 percent) and sales of Mini range of vehicles were at 281 units (up 30 percent). The growth came on the back of some big ticket launches such as BMW’s luxurious liftback , the 6-series GT and the X3 SUV. The latter led the sales charge for the luxury marquee, as demand for SUVs in India continues to be robust. In fact, the company said its SUV segment or SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle), as it calls it, has grown over 26 percent from last year. A rival to the Mercedes GLC and Audi Q5, the third-generation X3 was launched in April in two variants and a single diesel engine option. The 6GT was BMW’s answer to the popular Mercedes E-class, which has only been introduced in India as a long wheelbase for the standard, non-AMG variant. Both the 6GT and X3 models are locally assembled at BMW’s Chennai facility. “The BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo and the BMW X3 have already exceeded our expectations and we see remarkable sales contributions coming from both in the future. Moreover, introduction of Euro VI petrol engines in our product portfolio has played an important role,” according to Vikram Pawah, president, BMW Group India. The Mini brand saw the introduction of the Countryman in May 2018, which is expected to help double Mini's sales this year. BMW said that its two wheeler division, BMW Motorrad, has sold 208 motorcycles within the first half of the year. It did not disclose the percentage sales growth. Although India’s luxury vehicle market continues to record healthy growth – with most players having successfully overcome GST blues, the government's decision to hike customs duty in Budget 2018 is expected to keep sales under pressure. [...]
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Sponsored feature: Savsol takes an eco-friendly leap
The ‘Green agenda’ is in the mind of the entire automobile industry. While automakers are gearing up to meet stringent BS-VI norms, there is also a lubricant company that sees “going green” as a good differentiator from the competition. Savita Oil Technology is re-launching its 11-year-old motor-oil brand, Savsol, with the addition of what the company is calling a “Green Performer.” Gautam N. Mehra Managing Director and Sunil Aima CEO - Lubes division, give us an insight of how their new lubricating oil is eco-friendly and talk about their future plans. Savsol has been in the market for 11 years. What is the need of re-launching the brand? Mehra: We launched a Biodegradable Transformer Oil last year, which received a favourable customer response. Hence, we thought that we can launch a similar product for automobiles, too, which would be a good differentiator between us and other brands. So what exactly is a ‘green performer?’ Aima: We are now working on a farm oil-based product having two special attributes – first, it is renewable, coming from a farm; and second, these oils are also more biodegradable. Our first plan is to launch a biodegradable product in the Motorcycle Oil range. The push back is that they are expensive, so pricing is an issue. Still we hope that the trend will find favour with the customers. As you mentioned, the greener products also bring a cost burden, and in the motorcycle segment, penny saving is common. So are you targeting the more aspirational segment – which is 150cc and above – or is the commuter segment also on your mind? Aima: People skipping regular services is true but for many there are a lot of personal touches that go into motorbikes. These are the people who want the best for their bikes and are concerned about the environment. We got research done through an ad agency, the findings of which surprised us. We not only spoke to customers but also to local mechanics. Interestingly, mechanics who work at the lowest level were too eager for the product, as they are the ones most exposed to the pollution. On the other hand, the buyers whom we spoke to were also willing to pay a slight premium as their share for the environment. Talking about the premium, what would be the difference in the prices of a fossil-based lubricant and the Green Performer? Mehra: I guess it will be less than double, about 40-50 percent more. And when we are talking bikes, it’s just one litre while in cars it’s four litres, on an average. Trucks take around 11 litres. So in a motorcycle it’s still affordable, being just a premium of under Rs 200. Is their any emission advantage also? Since that’s the criteria to measure on a green parameter. Mehra: Strictly speaking, there will be lower emissions but the impact won’t be very dramatic. So the main greener effect comes from the fact that it’s more biodegradable. For example, if there is a leakage or if the mechanic, while changing the oil, spills some of it, it won’t impact the surface and will be less harmful for the environment. You earlier talked about being ready with products that will meet the requirements of mobility in the future. What are the kind of products you are referring to? Aima: We are soon going to launch a product for the diesel engine, which may not be a lubricant but something that will help meet the upcoming BS-VI emission norms. [...]
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Maruti Vitara Brezza sales crosses 3,00,000 unit mark
Maruti’s Vitara Brezza, which already enjoys the distinction of being India’s bestselling SUV, has added another feather to its cap by crossing the 3,00,000-unit sales mark. The carmaker says that this makes the Brezza the fastest SUV to reach this milestone in the country, achieving the feat in just 28 months. A regular in the list of the Top 10 selling passenger vehicles in India every month, the Brezza has not only boosted Maruti’s overall UV sales but also enabled the country’s biggest carmaker to dethrone Mahindra to become the largest UV maker. With sales of 2,53,759 units in FY2018, Maruti’s share grew to 27.53 percent from 25.69 percent, while Mahindra’s UV share (2,33,915 units) dropped to 25.38 percent from 29.20 percent in FY2017 when it was the market leader. Maruti recently updated the SUV, giving it an all-black interior, the option of a new orange paint and enhanced safety features. But the notable change was the option of AMT gearbox, which gave the Brezza's popularity a further boost. In fact, Maruti says the AMT has been well received, accounting for over 23 percent of fresh bookings since its launch in May 2018. We drove the Brezza AMT recently and found that the SUV was convenient and easy to drive around town with a linear creep function minus the jerk that is typical of most AMTs. “The contribution of the top variants in the total sales of Vitara Brezza has risen to 56 percent. Vitara Brezza continues to be the most loved SUV despite several new entrants in the segment,” R S Kalsi, Senior Executive Director (Marketing and Sales), Maruti Suzuki, said in a company statement. The Brezza sold 15,629 units in May, up 26 percent year on year, and 1,48,462 units in FY2018, recording a growth of 36.66 percent. [...]
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Suzuki Burgman Street India launch on July 19
Suzuki has announced the launch of the new Burgman Street on July 19, which was first showcased at the 2018 Auto Expo. In terms of pricing, the new Suzuki 125cc scooter is expected to cost Rs 5,000 to Rs 7,000 more than the Access 125 SE, which retails for Rs 60,580 (ex-showroom, Delhi). Suzuki sells the Burgman with various powerplants ranging from 125cc to 600cc in international markets. However, the Burgman Street, like the Suzuki Intruder, is an India-specific product. The Burgman Street takes design inspiration from its sibling sold in international markets and has a maxi-scooter styling. The design highlight is the imposing front apron with LED headlight (a first for any Suzuki scooter in India). Another Burgman family trait, wide and comfortable seat (with a minor step) has been carried forward on the new 125cc scooter. It gets features such as a multi-function key slot, generous underseat storage, a 12V charging socket and an LED tail-lamp. The Burgman Street is also the first Suzuki scooter in India to feature a fully-digital instrument console. It’s powered by the Access 125-sourced 124.3cc motor producing 8.6hp at 6,500rpm and 10.2Nm at 5,000rpm. Cycle parts are also similar with the new scooter employing a telescopic fork and a monoshock for suspension duties. Braking hardware consists of a disc unit at the front and a drum unit at the rear. Since it’s a new product, the Burgman Street will come equipped with CBS as standard, a feature that Suzuki recently introduced on the Access 125.   [...]
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2018 Toyota Crown revealed
Toyota brought out the latest generation of its flagship luxury sedan in the Japanese market. Currently in its 15th generation, the Crown is also among the first generation of cars that will be equipped with Toyota’s Data Communication Module as standard; the other car being the recently revealed Corolla Sport. The brand’s new connected car technology offers 24x7 connectivity services focused on safety, security, comfort, and convenience based on real-time driving data. The data communication module helps connect with other cars, and infrastructure as well, to aid in safer driving. The car also gets Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 – a suite of features that includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, intelligent cruise control, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, and even auto high beams. The Crown is underpinned by a new platform, which is based on Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA) strategy. The powertrain options include two hybrid systems and a turbo-petrol engine. The 2.5-litre petrol-hybrid system has a combined output of 226hp, the bigger 3.5-litre V6 petrol-hybrid system puts out over 359hp and is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, while the turbo-petrol engine makes 245hp and 350Nm of torque. All the powertrains have been placed lower in the body to achieve a lower center of gravity. The ;models were tested on the Nürburgring circuit during its development. The car has a low slung nose and has a long sleek profile that runs all the way to the boot. There is also an RS variant on offer which offers 18-inch aluminum wheels, four exhaust tailpipes, a rear spoiler and black door frames. The interiors feature a clean design dashboard with dual displays. An 8-inch display sits at the back for viewing information while driving while a 7-inch screen is placed at the bottom for easier operation. There has been no official word about the Crown coming to India; however, the all-new Corolla which is based on the same TNGA platform will make it to our country. [...]
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Nissan and Italdesign unveil GT-R50 prototype
To celebrate 50 years of the GT-R and Italdesign, Nissan has revealed a GT-R prototype which was created in collaboration with the design house. Named the GT-R50, the one-off collaboration is based on the GT-R Nismo. The development, engineering and building of the car was all Italdesign’s work, while the design itself was a project undertaken by Nissan’s London and San Diego design centres. No element of the car’s outward appearance remains untouched – even its roof line has been lowered by 54mm. The prototype is longer, wider and lower to the ground than the Nismo on which it’s based. Gold highlights have been used throughout the exterior, which seems to have undergone a dramatic restyle. Meanwhile, the car’s original features have been exaggerated and improved on an aerodynamic level, including its huge adjustable rear wing. With respect to performance, the car’s 3.8-litre V6 engine now produces 720hp and 780Nm of torque – up from the 600hp and 652Nm of the ‘regular’ GT-R Nismo. Its performance has been boosted, given the car’s special prototype status. It has also been fitted with race-spec turbochargers, a larger intercooler system, adjustable dampers, and heavy-duty crankshaft, pistons, bearings and connecting rods. Its intake and exhaust systems have been tweaked to achieve the 120hp boost from the Nismo’s figures.  “How often do you get to ask, ‘What if we created a GT-R without limits,’ and then actually get to build it?” said Nissan design boss Alfonso Albaisa. “This is a rare window in time when two big moments intersect: 50 years of Italdesign shaping the automotive world and 50 years of Nissan generating excitement through our iconic GT-R. So to celebrate this convergence, Nissan and Italdesign created this custom GT-R to mark 50 years of engineering leadership.” The Japanese carmaker quickly clarified that the car is not related to the next-generation GT-R (due around 2020) but wouldn’t comment when asked whether Italdesign would be involved in the next GT-R’s development. The next-gen GT-R is expected to have a high-output hybrid powertrain and retain its four-wheel-drive drivetrain. Also see:   [...]
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Review: 2018 Audi Q5 45 TFSI video review
Also see: 2018 Audi Q5 petrol India review, test drive 2018 Audi Q5 diesel India review, test drive 2018 Audi Q5 India video review [...]
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Truth and dare
Since this is a family magazine, we can’t tell you about the bet that set the wheels rolling on this road trip. Long story short: our two protagonists, Ouseph and Rohan, had a bet and Ouseph lost. So, Rohan got to choose the mode of transport for this trip and Ouseph got to pick the route. There’s more to this. See, Rohan has lived all his life in Mumbai, dresses stylishly even when he goes to the loo and pays serious attention to his appearance. He isn’t very familiar with the outdoors, thinks camping is for gypsies and cannot imagine answering nature’s call in the great wide open. Ouseph knows this and decides that it is high time Rohan got some grime under his fingernails. Cut to a tiny Himalayan town call Bairagarh in Himachal Pradesh. Ouseph caught the bus to get here and Rohan arrived late at night in his chosen vehicle – the new Renault Captur. The plan is to drive 30km up to the top of the 14,000ft Sach Pass, continue down into Pangi valley and find a nice place to camp. Ouseph’s been to Pangi valley before and knows a couple beautiful spots they can go set up camp. The only problem is that he knows that the roads ahead are difficult and narrow. You see, Pangi valley is still rather off the tourist map, so the roads aren’t as well-maintained as the roads around Manali and Shimla. The dangers that they face ahead include (but are not limited to) freak landslides, tyre-slicing rocks, boulder fields, possible snow storms and drops big enough to give an eagle serious vertigo. Ouseph is a bit sceptical when he sees the front-wheel-drive Captur in the morning. The past few times he’s been here, he’s come this way in a four-wheel-drive vehicle and he’s not sure if the Captur will make the road. Rohan, on the other hand, is fully confident of the Captur’s abilities. Ouseph rolls his eyes but decides that this can be an interesting challenge. In the boot is a two-man tent, two folding chairs and the road ahead promises treacherous terrain and real adventure. What better way to find out if both Rohan and the Captur are made of strong stuff. The road up to Sach Pass is narrow at places, has deep sand in others and, runs quite steep, up to the top. If all goes well, they expect to be at another remote village called Killar, deep inside Pangi valley. Ouseph knows a good spot above Killar that has running water nearby and flat ground to pitch a tent on. They cross the Satrundi checkpost on the way up to Sach and are immediately thrown into the deep end. The road is narrow and climbs through dense pine forest and somewhere along the way is when they run into a hoard of taxis bringing tourists back from the ‘snow point’ just below Sach Pass. Ouseph has to reverse a fair bit to where the road is wider and he loves the Captur’s reverse camera. For two cars to pass each other on this road, you need to use every inch of available space and the reverse camera helps Ouseph do just that. The taxis get through and the boys continue the climb to Sach. Rohan gloats a little as Ouseph comments on the strong on-boost torque of the Captur. He can see Ouseph slowly falling for the Captur’s many charms. They climb steadily past 10,000ft and Ouseph knows that all cars lose power up here, so he is careful to not lose momentum and keep the turbo spinning away happily. On a couple of occasions, they are forced to stop and assess the ground they have to traverse and it is here that the Captur’s hill-start assist makes starting off on steep inclines easy. Ouseph comments about how the Captur makes this difficult terrain look rather simple. Rohan marvels at the landscape as they climb above the treeline while Ouseph can’t believe how the Captur sails over big rocks that have fallen on the road. See, on most other roads, the road is wide enough to drive around obstacles. Not up here. Up here, there simply isn’t enough space between the mountain side and a free fall is guaranteed if a wheel is placed wrong. Also, good ground clearance is essential and the Captur’s 210mm means Ouseph can confidently sail over rocks and deep ruts left by trucks without the fear of gouging out vital bits of the Captur. They go through a couple of streams fed by glacial melt, swing a left through the ice tunnel that remains from last winter and get to a small temple at the top, with an even smaller sign board that says Sach Pass. Ouseph is in wonder of the ease with which the Captur made it up here but he knows the road down the pass is even more treacherous. A couple of celebratory selfies later, Ouseph starts to get nervous. The weather up on a pass is very unpredictable and can change in minutes. A dark grey cloud is rolling in and the temperature drops as wind rushes through the pass. They retreat into the comfort of the Captur’s warm climate-controlled cabin and head to lower altitudes. A tight turning [...]
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New Audi A1 a possibility for India
German luxury carmaker Audi could bring its Mini-rivalling small car, the A1, to India. The head of Audi's India operations, Rahil Ansari, hinted at the possibility of introducing the A1 if the government relaxes import norms for luxury cars. The government is mulling over allowing foreign carmakers to import vehicles without having them undergo homologation if the vehicles have already been certified by international testing agencies, according to a report by Times of India. The move, which will allow automakers to import 2,500 units per annum, is reportedly aimed at encouraging local manufacturing and will enable them to test waters for their models and gauge customer response before establishing local assembly operations. Ansari told Autocar India that he hopes the move is passed, as it will give the company a great opportunity to test the demand for its models, especially in new segments. "It is a favourable development and we hope it is passed soon because it will also allow us to give customers the choice of a wider variety of cars," he said. The recently revealed second-generation A1 is expected to draw new and young customers to the brand in international markets with its low-slung proportions and sporty styling further accentuated by elements such as twin tailpipes, larger air inlets, and a larger rear wing. The A1 gets an infotainment system with a 10.1-inch MMI touchscreen on the higher trims, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and wireless charging. Powertrain options include a 95hp, 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol, and a 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol units making up to 200hp. Audi is not offering a diesel engine. The introduction of the A1 could heighten activity in the luxury hatchback segment in India, which currently has models such as the Mini range, which has seen decent success, as well as the VW GTI. Would you be willing to pay upwards of Rs 20 lakh for an Audi hatchback? Let us know in the comments section below. [...]
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Review: 2018 Audi Q5 petrol India review, test drive
What is it? With petrol-powered cars making a comeback in the luxury segments, Audi announced a renewed focus on petrol cars in India, some time ago. Last year, India got the Q7 with a petrol engine; and now it’s the Q5 that the brand has made available with the petrol engine on offer. The engine in question is the same 2.0-litre turbo-petrol motor that produces a strong 252hp in the Q7. Interestingly, this Q5 45 TFSI-badged petrol makes 62hp more than the only Q5 on sale up until now – its 35 TDI's 2.0-litre diesel counterpart that puts out 190hp. Despite its power variance, the TFSI costs exactly the same as the TDI. What’s it like on the inside? The Q5 petrol is identical to the diesel on the inside, so there’s really nothing new to report. What you do get is a well-finished cabin that’s big on space and comfort. The dash is low and gives a good view out, the front seats are comfy and you are also sat very comfortably at the rear. Like the Q5 diesel, the Q5 petrol is available in two trims – Premium Plus and Technology. The feature-list is not class-leading for its segment, in general; but you do get quite a lot of kit. Equipment on the top-spec 45 TFSI Q5 Technology variant includes automatic headlamps and rain-sensing wipers, powered front seats with a memory function for the driver’s seat, three-zone climate control, digital instruments and smartphone connectivity compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. What it’s like to drive? The petrol engine under the Q5 is a 1984cc, four-cylinder turbocharged engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The power is transmitted through the Quattro all-wheel-drive system which transmits power to all the wheels when the car detects loss of traction. The Q5 does feel slightly hesitant when starting-off. There’s a bit of lag from the engine; and from the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox as well (the Q7 gets an eight-speed torque converter), which makes driving around in traffic a little jerky. Build up the revs, though, and the engine responds well. The turbocharger kicks in at just above 2,200rpm with a surge of gratifying power. Gear shifts become smoother, too, and it’s only when you pay close attention that you notice the dual-clutch isn’t quite as smooth as the Q7’s torque converter unit. Still, upshifts are precise and the gearbox keeps you in the right gear at the right time. The downshifts when you floor the accelerator are correctly anticipated and quickly executed. There is also a Sport mode which keeps the engine in the upper reaches of the powerband and gives the SUV readier access to power. Like all the latest Audis, overall refinement levels are very high on this version of the Q5, as well. The calm demeanour of the engine means that you won’t realise when you’re cruising at triple-digit speeds. The only real giveaway of the sort of pace you’re doing is the tyre noise that creeps into the cabin. The Q5 is stable at high speeds and agile enough for quick lane changes and attacking corners. Switch the drive mode to ‘dynamic’ and you can feel the suspension set-up getting slightly stiffer, and it does add dynamism to the package. The Quattro system does its job well – it provides the necessary grip; but as ever, the Q5’s steering simply doesn’t give enough feedback around corners. Driving around the city means dealing with potholes; and the adjustable dampers work extremely well in going over the regular ones with ease. The tall 60mm sidewalls of the 18-inch alloy wheels also play an important role in this. You can glide over some of the bad roads without slowing down much; and there is not much of vertical movement. Although, do make sure that you avoid the bigger potholes on the roads – those will be felt sharply, regardless. Should I buy one? The Q5 petrol has been priced at Rs 55.27 lakh for the Premium Plus variant and Rs 59.79 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the top-spec Technology trim. These price tags are identical to equivalent variants of the diesel Q5. So, the question is: should someone interested in the Q5 go for the petrol or the diesel variant? If performance is a priority for you, the Q5 petrol is easily the one to buy. It’s quick and more involving to drive, yet holds onto all the strengths that make the Q5 such a well-rounded package. The Q5 45 TFSI makes for a good buy, as is; but is it the best of the petrol mid-sized SUVs you can buy? That’s something we will only find out when it goes up against the Mercedes-Benz GLC300 and the new BMW X3 xDrive 30i in our upcoming comparison. Stay tuned. Also see: 2018 Audi Q5 diesel India review, test drive 2018 Audi Q5 India video review [...]
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July 2018 issue out on stands now
Action in the mid-size luxury SUV segment is hotting up with three new entrants in the last few months, and the July 2018 issue features a mega comparo involving the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Volvo XC60, Mercedes-Benz GLC and the Land Rover Discovery Sport. There’s also an exclusive drive of Kia’s hot sedan, the Stinger GT and our first taste of Jaguar’s first-ever electric model, the I-Pace. Also part of this issue are reviews of the new Audi A6, Hyundai i20 CVT, Ford EcoSport S and a comparo involving the new Honda Amaze, Maruti Suzuki Dzire and Volkswagen Ameo. Here are the highlights: Mid-size diesel luxury SUV shootout Not your full-size 4x4 giants, but not the entry-level crossovers either; the mid-size luxury SUV segment is where the real action is unfolding. But which one is best - the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Volvo XC60, Mercedes-Benz GLC or the Land Rover Discovery Sport? Amaze vs Dzire vs Ameo With their unique gearbox types, the second-gen Honda Amaze, Maruti Suzuki Dzire and Volkswagen Ameo are three distinct takes on the diesel-automatic compact sedan. We tell you which one gets the formula right. Kia Stinger GT After a drive in the sleek and swift Stinger GT, we’re convinced that it would make for a great halo model for Kia in India. Jaguar I-Pace Just when we got used to the idea of a Jaguar SUV, in comes an all-electric one in the form of the new I-Pace. We’ve sampled what is easily the most revolutionary Jaguar ever. New Audi A6 The all-new Audi A6 looks like a scaled-down A8, and feels like one, too. And it’s not solely about comfort this time around - the new A6 is more dynamic and engaging to drive as well. Porsche 911 GT2 RS It’s only the most powerful 911 ever built and only the fastest road car ever, and we got a chance to drive it as part of Porsche’s 70th anniversary celebrations. Mustang meets its forebears The sixth-gen Mustang harks back to the golden era of the late ‘60s. We drive down to Indore to meet it and its ancestors. Ather 450 Is this the breakthrough electric scooter we’ve all been waiting for? We investigate Ather Energy’s first product over a ride. Hero Xtreme 200R Has Hero nailed its sporting ambitions with the Xtreme 200R? We ride it at the Buddh International Circuit to find out. Yezdi in Udvada In this month’s edition of Classic Take, we help a charming, old Yezdi 250 CL II retrace its roots in Udvada, the holy land of Parsis, in India. Click here to subscribe [...]
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KTM 390 Adventure – new spy shot emerges
Yet another picture has emerged of the KTM 390 Adventure being tested and, this time, it looks very close to being production-ready. The test mule features an LED headlamp, indicators, mirrors and even a rear number plate, hinting at its ready-for-production status. This prototype is rolling on wire-spoke wheels that appear to measure 19 inches at the front and 17 inches at the rear, in contrast to KTM’s larger Adventure models that feature a 21-/18-inch combo. The early prototype, first spied in 2016, also appeared to be running a 21-inch front wheel. The wheels are wrapped in moderately knobby rubber that seems to be quite off-road oriented. Another element that’s noticeably different from the 390 Duke is the exhaust system. There appears to be a downtube from the cylinder head that feeds into a collector box underneath the swingarm pivot, which then flows into a large side-mounted upswept end-canister. The headlight looks similar to the unit seen on the 390 Duke, but the surrounding shrouding appears to be different. Above the headlight is a clear screen that may be adjustable. Flanking the headlight on either side are clear panels that help in giving the bike a slimmer-looking profile while providing some level of wind protection. We have seen KTM use this technique to good effect on the RC range as well. There also appears to be a larger radiator shroud, and while the fuel tank has a different-looking shape it doesn’t seem dramatically larger than the Duke’s. Nevertheless, a slight increase in fuel capacity is possible given the long-distance-oriented role of the motorcycle. The exposed trellis subframe seen on the Duke has been covered up to some extent with bodywork on the Adventure. The seats on the Adventure appear to be roomy and the step up to the pillion seat isn’t very exaggerated. In the image, we can see a relaxed and upright riding position despite, what appears to be, a fairly tall test rider. The footpegs don’t seem to be as high up and rear-set as they are on the Duke, and the handlebar seems taller as well. Another interesting element is the spindle offset on the front fork, fairly evident in the image. This means that the front axle is placed slightly ahead of the fork centreline, which has the effect of decreasing trail. Since the fitment of a larger front wheel will increase the trail, the two should cancel each other out to some extent and the overall effect shouldn’t be too pronounced. Although the bike in the image doesn’t have any form of crash protection or even an engine bash plate, it is safe to expect these features on the production motorcycle, at least as options. As we reported earlier, it is quite possible that the 390 Adventure will come in two variants - a road-oriented version with alloy wheels, and a more off-road focused variant with wire-spoke wheels. With that in mind, it’s still not a certainty that the 390 Adventure will come with spoke wheels as standard when first launched and that will only become apparent in time. The mirrors and hand guards appear to be shared with the Duke and so is, of course, the engine. The engine covers seem identical to those seen on the 390 Duke and RC 390 as well.  Another element expected to be shared with the 390 Duke is the colour TFT screen, and we expect the electronics to be at least as advanced as the Duke, if not more. The Duke gets Bluetooth connectivity that allows you to manage phone calls and music from the screen. ABS at both ends is a certainty and there will likely be a Supermoto (or in this case, Off-road) mode as well, which will engage ABS only at the front wheel. Excitement for the 390 Adventure is reaching fever pitch, with Bajaj recently confirming that the bike will be launched in 2019. We expect to see a production-ready bike at Intermot (October 2018) or EICMA (November 2018).   IMAGE SOURCE [...]
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Ducati Multistrada 1260 Pikes Peak launched at Rs 21.42 lakh
Exactly a week after the launch of the Multistrada 1260 and 1260 S, Ducati has gone ahead and launched the top-spec 1260 Pikes Peak in India. The Italian manufacturer has priced this variant at Rs 21.42 lakh (ex-showroom, India) and made it available in India, in limited numbers. The difference in pricing between the standard 1260 and the Pikes Peak model is Rs 5.43 lakh in India and Rs 4.29 lakh ($6,300) in the United States. So far, Ducati has not elaborated on exactly how many bikes will be available in India. However, deliveries for the 1260 and 1260 S have begun; deliveries for the Pikes Peak will begin in mid-July. The Multistrada Pikes Peak gets the same 1,262cc, liquid-cooled, L-Twin motor as its other two variants. This motor produces 158hp at 9,500rpm – a 6hp increment over the 2017 Multistrada. Its torque, too, has gone up by 1.5Nm, bringing the total up to 129.5Nm, delivered at 7,500rpm. The new engine features what Ducati calls Desmodromic Variable Timing (DVT). When combined with Desmo valve actuation, it results in good low-end torque. This tech also helps make the engine Euro-IV-compliant. Additional features over the standard model includes an Ohlins suspension at both ends, a Termignoni exhaust system, a bi-directional quickshifter, cornering ABS and various carbon-fibre bits (like the windscreen, front mud-guard and air intake covers). Ducati says that the Pikes Peak edition also benefits from different chassis dimensions, which include new front-end geometry and a longer swingarm. However, according to the specification sheet, the bike has the same wheelbase, rake and trail as the standard 1260. Along with a race-inspired colour scheme, the Multistrada 1260 Pikes Peak comes equipped with newly forged aluminium wheels which are even lighter than those of the Multistrada 1260 S. The Pikes Peak also sports all of the features seen on the 1260 S, like back-lit handlebar controls, automatic turn signal cancellation, four riding modes (Sport, Touring, Urban and Enduro), Ducati Wheelie Control, cruise control and hands-free connectivity. In addition to the above features, the colour TFT display for the instrument cluster, full-LED headlight and cornering lights are exclusive to the 1260 S and the Pikes Peak. The Pikes Peak is also the lightest of the three models with a kerb weight of 229kg. Meanwhile, the 1260 and 1260 S variants weigh 232kg and 235kg, respectively. In terms of competition, the motorcycle takes on BMW’s S 1000 XR Pro, priced at Rs 19.90 lakh (ex-showroom, India). Also see: Ducati triumphs in heavyweight class at 2018 Pikes Peak Ducati Multistrada 1260 vs rivals: Specifications comparison [...]
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Review: Arai RX-7X Pedrosa helmet review
Japanese manufacturer Arai is one of the most recognized and revered names in the world of helmets and this is their top model. The RX-7 is the very same helmet worn by numerous MotoGP stars and this one is in the colours of Repsol Honda star Dani Pedrosa. Let’s break it down. Why Arai? Arai strongly believes that a helmet, no matter how good it is, cannot fully absorb the impact of a direct high-speed impact. Instead, a helmet’s ability to protect you is equally defined by how well it can glance off an object on impact. This is why Arai tries to make its hand-built helmets as smooth and round as possible, using what it calls the R75 shape where the shell incorporates a continuous curve radius of at least 75mm. All the external plastic spoilers and vents are designed to break off under heavy impact to keep the helmet as round as possible, giving it a better chance at glancing off. The RX-7 is built using Arai’s proprietary resin and super-fibre materials in a construction the company calls the Peripherally Belted Structural Net Composite. Each helmet takes 27 steps and 18 man hours to build and it goes through five quality control stages along the way. The company sets such a high standard for itself that it tests its helmets over and above the tests mandated by external testing agencies like DOT, ECE, SNELL and Sharp. This is a beautifully premium product and quality is excellent. The paint is thick and lustrous and a metal flake effect makes this loud graphic scheme look far more captivating in the flesh. If you’d prefer something else, there are dozens of graphic schemes available, and given Arai’s rich heritage, some lovely rider replicas too. These include the likes of Kenny Roberts, Freddie Spencer, Mick Doohan, Maverick Vinales, Randy Mamola and many, many more. Solid colours are also available at a lower price. Arai stresses that these are not mere visual replicas, but are exactly the same helmets worn by today’s top racers. Tech spec Arai avoids the usual recessed visor mechanisms as it sees them as a weak point in the shell, since the shell has to be thinner at that point. Instead, the company offers removable flaps that provide access to the visor removal mechanism. These are more tedious to use than the typical external visor mechanism and they tend to produce more wind noise too, but as with all things Arai, safety comes first. The two-step visor-lock mechanism also deserves mention and it is derived from Arai’s Formula 1 helmets.  Under the high-tech external shell lies another pioneering technology, a multiple density liner. This has enabled the company to engineer five different density zones within the single EPS liner, each offering the ideal level of absorptive protection at different areas of the helmet. Some areas of the liner are soft enough to compress with your finger, while others are surprisingly hard. Comfort The comfort liner is made from a soft and plush anti-microbial material. With the last RX-7 update, Arai gave in to customer requests and it now provides removable speaker pockets for those who like to use Bluetooth communicators. Fit is quite adjustable - the position of the temple area and cheek pads can be fine-tuned by 5mm ‘peel away’ foam pads. Arai also pioneered the emergency release system in helmets (something many other helmets now offer, too) and the RX-7 gets two small pull-tabs on either side that release the cheek pads, allowing emergency workers to carefully remove the helmet in case of a crash. Massive attention has been paid to the ventilation scheme, which includes a three position chin vent, brow vents built into the visor, three vents at the top of the helmet, two closable exhaust vents at the back and also one exhaust vent built into the bottom of the comfort liner. The RX-7 also comes with a small, patent-pending spoiler at the back that adjusts in 4 steps. I suppose this will help aid stability at extreme speeds on the racetrack, but I haven’t had enough time in these conditions to experience it. With so many vents, air flow is quite impressive on the go. Wind noise is a usual by-product of heavy venting, but it’s been kept under control. While this isn’t the most quiet helmet out there, it’s not uncomfortably loud either. Fit Fit is a crucial part of buying an Arai and in my experience, each model fits slightly differently. Further, shell shapes vary from market to market so as to better match the average head shape of that region. My helmet came from Japan, which is why it is called the RX-7X and it fits slightly differently to the American spec version known as the Corsair X or the Euro-spec RX-7V that is also sold in India. It is therefore, an absolute must that you try before you buy. One thing that is immediately apparent when you wear the helmet is the weight distribution and the way it fits with a wonderfully balanced feel. This [...]
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New Lexus ES 300h India launch in August 2018
Lexus will launch the latest-generation ES 300h sedan in India in August 2018. The model made its global debut in April this year. The new ES is built on Lexus’ front-wheel-drive Global Architecture-K, which is a derivative of parent company Toyota’s TNGA platform. The new ES’ look is bolder with Lexus’ trademark spindle grille having grown in size. The headlights, too, are larger and sharper in look, and there’s a clear visual link to the full-size Lexus LS. Lexus has also added more dynamism to the ES’ tail with a nicely sculpted boot and slickly detailed LED tail lamps. On the inside, the new ES looks far more modern than the car it replaces and comes with a dashboard that’s slightly angled towards the driver. Taking pride of place on the dash is a 12.3-inch infotainment system that can be operated via a touchpad and voice-recognition tech. The gauges are digital as well and the ‘buds’ atop the instrument binnacle for the drive modes are a design element you can find in the LS sedan as well. The new Lexus ES will come to India with more features than its predecessor, including a power-recline feature for the rear seats. Also new to the ES will be the option to slide the front passenger seat forward via a button on the B-pillar to free-up legroom at the back. Also included is a Mark Levinson 19 speaker sound system. There is a pure-petrol version of the ES sold abroad but India will only get the ES 300h hybrid. Drive comes from a hybrid powertrain that’s based on a new 2.5-litre petrol engine. The combined system output is 218hp. Like the earlier model, the new ES 300h will be imported into India as a completely built unit from Japan, so it will be subjected to full duty. Prices will be in the vicinity of the current car’s Rs 60 lakh (ex-showroom), which means the Lexus will continue to be more expensive than rivals like the BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz E-class. Also see: 2017 Lexus ES300h video review   2017 Lexus ES300h review, test drive [...]
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Ducati Panigale V4 joins UK police vehicle fleet
It seems as if police forces across the world are in the process of one-upping each other when it comes to showing-off their rides. The Emiratis have their Lambos, Ferraris and Bugattis. The Japanese have just got a brand new GT-R and now, the UK police have taken a different – and what could be the ultimate – approach to policing. BikeSafe, a police-led motorcycle project, they now have access to one of the world’s fastest (and probably coolest) road-legal motorcycles – the Ducati Panigale V4. To give you an idea of what this Ducati is capable of, here are some mechanical details. The Panigale V4 is the first series production Ducati motorcycle to be equipped with a four-cylinder engine. Derived from the MotoGP Desmosedici race bike, the 1,103cc, 90-degree V4 produces 214hp at 13,000rpm and 124Nm of peak torque at 10,000rpm. The bike also has a new design and frame that helps keep the kerb weight down to 198kg, which gives it a mind-boggling power-to-weight ratio of 1,080hp/tonne. That figure is far higher than even the Emirati police Veyron. That being said, this police bike will not be used for any high-speed chases for marketing purposes, instead. BikeSafe’s police Panigale will be used to “promote riding being fun" while improving skills, knowledge and hazard awareness. Also see: 2018 Ducati Panigale V4 S video review 2018 Ducati Panigale V4 S review, test ride 2018 Ducati Panigale V4 launched at Rs 20.53 lakh [...]
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Volvo produces one-off XC60 plug-in with recycled parts
In an attempt to reduce its impact on the environment, Volvo has announced that from 2025, 25 percent recycled plastic will be used in the production of its cars. To illustrate the potential of raw material reduction, the automaker has already produced a one-off XC60 plug-in hybrid using recycled parts. This one-off XC60’s centre tunnel console is made from renewable fibres and plastics taken from discarded fishing nets and ropes. The car's carpets contain fibres made from PET plastic bottles and a cotton mix created by recycling offcuts from clothing manufacturers. PET fibres were also used to produce the seat fabric and material from used car seats was used to make the sound-absorbing material under the car bonnet. In January, Volvo also announced that the Skövde production site in Sweden had become carbon-neutral. The brand hopes that all of its facilities will follow suit by 2025. Last month, it committed to remove single-use plastics from all of its premises and events by the end of 2019. “Volvo Cars is committed to minimising its global environmental footprint,” said CEO Håkan Samuelsson. “Environmental care is one of Volvo’s core values and we will continue to find new ways to bring this into our business. This car and our recycled plastics ambition are further examples of that commitment.” Volvo is also investing heavily in electric technology in the face of skyrocketing demand for zero-emission vehicles, particularly in China, the home market of its parent company Geely. The firm recently announced its attempt at electrifying for 50 percent of its total sales volume by 2025. Toyota is another major car manufacturer to recently announce emissions-fighting changes in its processes. The Japanese brand is producing a Megawatt hydrogen station to provide hydrogen cars, (such as the Mirai) passing through the Port of Long Beach in California with carbon-neutral energy. Audi has also claimed that the production of its upcoming E-tron SUV will be completely carbon neutral, thanks to the use of renewable energy and offsets for its carbon output. Also see: 2018 Volvo XC60 review, road test 2018 Audi Q5 vs Lexus NX300h vs Volvo XC60 comparison [...]
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Yamaha Aerox 155 India launch not on the cards
The Yamaha Aerox 155 was first spotted in India just before the 2018 Auto Expo, but the company didn’t showcase it at the show. The scooter is, again, the matter of online chatter as it has been spotted at few Yamaha dealerships across our country, giving rise to rumours that it will be launched soon. We believe that Yamaha has no plans to launch this product in our market anytime soon. The moto-scooter has been brought down to India for promotion and brand building, and is being displayed at a few dealerships to gauge customer interest in a large, powerful and premium scooter. The Yamaha Aerox 155 is a futuristic looking thing, with sculpted body panels and an aggressive face that houses a large LED headlight. It is loaded with features such as 5.9-inch all-digital instrument console, mobile charger and offers a generous 25 litres of underseat storage space. The higher-spec Aerox 155 S variant gets keyless ignition, a start-stop system and single-channel ABS. The Aerox is powered by a Yamaha R15-sourced 155cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine that uses variable valve actuation technology to produce 15hp of and 13.8Nm. If it ever makes it to our market, expect a price tag of around Rs 1 lakh (ex-showroom). Also see: Yamaha R15 V3.0 MotoGP edition launch in August [...]
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RACR riding and racing school to be held on July 15
RACR (Rajini Academy of Competitive Racing) is holding its next school on July 15, 2018. It will be a one-day event and be open to riders of all levels – beginners, intermediate or skilled. The cost for the session is Rs 13,500, but there is an early bird offer available till June 30, which will reduce the price to Rs 12,000 (both prices, excluding 18 percent GST). The price includes training, refreshments and photographs. Safety gear is also available on rent, but students are expected to carry their own helmets. RACR recommends DOT, ECE, Snell or JIS-certified helmets. The school will be held at Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore and be open to everyone above the age of 11. Both, theory and practical sessions will be held at the racetrack. Students can either rent a TVS Apache RTR race bike or bring their own motorcycle with the only requirement being that its engine displaces 100cc or more. For more details regarding the school, head here. You can also read our experience of when we attended this school here. [...]
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Dune-bashing in Jaisalmer with two 6x6s
Fluids have no form. They flow, they change shape, and because they have very low density they can’t support any mass. Now sand isn’t a fluid, but here in the Sam, out in the middle of nowhere, it sure is behaving like one. I scoop up a handful, but when I open my fingers even slightly, it runs right out. This isn’t like moist beach sand at all. And when the wind picks up, it even flows, with ripples and circular eddies.   I trudge up one of the tall dunes, my feet sinking in, all the way to my ankles. And the higher I go, the softer the sand becomes. This is going to be tough. That piece of metal behind me weighs 15 tonnes; it will sink like the Titanic. There are two fundamental problems here. Number one is staying ‘afloat’, and the only way to do that is to distribute weight. And then there’s the difficult job of finding traction. Bunch the sand up under your wheels and it will compress and you can move. But how’s that even possible here? Now conventional wisdom says a 4x4 is absolutely the best way to tackle sand. But I can’t help marvel at how easily the inch-long scarab scampers over the golden sand on its six legs. It falters at times, and often a couple of its legs slip, but because the others are still pulling forward, it continues moving. And that’s exactly why a 6x6, despite the extra weight of an additional axle, should be better. It’s time to drive up to the area where I’m meeting Rahul, who’s also with a 6x6. Thing is, he’s riding a quad-based Polaris and is expecting me to turn up in something similar. He’s going to fall over when he sees this 15-tonne monster bearing down on him. And bear down on him I will; I plan to drive right up to him before I stop. THE BEAST MAKES ITS MARK I don’t want to get stuck before we even get going, so I’m going to skirt around the periphery of the dunes. Even a regular truck needs a big step up to the cab, but this one is more like a hike. Starting up is easy enough, but what I have to pay attention to are the width and the length. And then there are the eight gears. I ask the man from Ashok Leyland if I can skip gears, and he just shrugs. “No problem sir,” he says, totally nonplussed. So I start the beast and head out.  It isn’t smooth, there’s a lot of resonance and loads of diesel clatter, but compared to a regular truck engine, this 360hp common-rail diesel is quite refined. What takes some getting used to is the narrow powerband; truck engines like this max out at 2,500rpm. And peak power is even lower. This is due to the extremely heavy engine components and massive reciprocating masses. So I let it growl to around 1,400rpm, double-declutch and shift to the next gear. I start in first, go up to third and then slot fifth. And apart from some severe ‘head-nodding’ due to my poor clutch action, everything else seems okay. My passenger smiles. We are off the highway, on to a dirt road, and looking back in the rear-view mirror, I see the double rear axle leaving its imprint in the sand like a tracked vehicle. Crazy. IT TURNED, EVENTUALLY Unsurprisingly, I feel none of the ruts and stones below. We must be riding on at least a foot and a half of air, and with six wheels, the huge off-road tyres, and weight of the truck, pretty much everything is being steamrolled. The rear axles feel supple and malleable because the load each axle has to carry is halved. And with truck riding on so much air and rubber, the ride at speed is actually super.   I stoke it up to around 70kph and this feels quite effortless, but then come a few scary moments. You’ve heard of turbo lag, but this thing at speed seems to have steering lag. Of course, I don’t mean literally, but there’s so much momentum here, it just wants to carry on going straight before finally turning. And the steering is slow. The big manhole-sized wheel is pretty driver friendly but there are many, many turns lock to lock, and that is an issue in tight turns initially. Still, this over-assisted power steering is light and easy, even if you have to make those big sweeping arm movements. UNDER PRESSURE Then, finally, the dunes. And up ahead, Rahul, sitting on the Polaris 6x6, looking into the distance, bored. Guess he’s waiting for me. I have to lower the tyre pressure for the dunes, but if I stop I’ll lose the element of surprise. The tyres are currently in highway mode, at around 70psi, but for sand, we have to use the on-board system to drop them to around 20. Still, the man from Ashok Leyland says it’s okay to drive up the initial bit. So, I motor straight in, select a low gear and start chugging up the dune. Rahul looks on in interest, but can’t see inside. “Wow, an army truck in full battle camo,” he must be saying. Out comes the phone to take a picture. And still, [...]
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PhotoGallery: 2018 Mercedes-AMG C 43 Coupe image gallery
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Ford, Volkswagen to explore strategic alliance
Volkswagen and Ford have announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to explore a partnership in various areas, including their respective commercial vehicles segments in international markets. The German and American brands hope to leverage each other’s strengths in order to extend their capabilities, be more competitive and better serve their customers. Both companies have confirmed that the strategic alliance between them would not involve equity arrangements, including cross ownership stakes. While neither brand has entered the commercial market in India, the MoU could potentially have repercussions across other segments. While this development will primarily affect international markets, closer to home, our market has not been the kindest to Volkswagen. The German brand is in consolidation mode in India and is not expected to launch any new models here in the near future. It will be sister brand Skoda that will lead product development for both companies and is expected to launch a wave of new models sometime after 2020. Meanwhile, Ford India has joined hands with Mahindra to co-develop two new SUVs (possibilities include a sub-4m model and a XUV500 replacement) and share EV technology, which may result in a Ford Aspire electric compact sedan. [...]
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Cleveland CycleWerks India launch delayed
American motorcycle brand Cleveland CycleWerks made its debut in India at the 2018 Auto Expo with a plan to start operations by June 2018. However, it has now announced (on Twitter) that the launch has been pushed to October 2018. Cleveland hasn’t given any reasoning for the delay; but we suspect the lack of a suitably set-up dealership network has deferred the launch. The American brand has partnered with Hyderabad-based Laish-Madison Motor Werks for production and distribution in India. At Auto Expo 2018, the company shared that the motorcycles launched in India will be imported as CKD kits from China and will be assembled at the bike maker's Pune facility. Cleveland had showcased four new models for the Indian market – Misfit, Ace Deluxe, Ace Scrambler and Ace Cafe. Of the four motorcycles, the Cleveland Misfit is the most interesting looking motorcycle with its cafe racer styling. It is powered by a 229cc; single-cylinder, air-cooled engine with a power output of 15.4hp at 7,000rpm, and its peak torque of 16Nm arrives at 6,000rpm. The engine is mated to a five-speed gearbox. The Misfit employs a tubular, steel-backbone-type dual-cradle frame, which is suspended on a USD fork and twin shock absorbers at the rear. It employs 18-inch steel spoke wheels on both ends which are wrapped with a 100/90 section tyre at the front and a 120/90 section tyre at the rear. The Misfit gets a 320mm disc with a four-piston radial mount caliper at the front and a 220mm disc at the rear. It gets a 15-litre fuel tank and it tips the scale at 144kg (kerb weight). The Ace range is more conventional in comparison to the Misfit, but is offered in three different body styles. The powertrain on the Ace range is similar to the one found on the Misfit. The Ace range features a square-section single-downtube frame. The Ace Cafe 250 and Deluxe 250 sport USD forks, while the Ace Scrambler 250 has been equipped with a conventional telescopic fork. Twin shock-absorbers at the back remain common for all the three Ace motorcycles. While the Ace Cafe 250 and Deluxe 250 run on 17-inch aluminium spoke wheels at either end, the Ace Scrambler gets 18-inch aluminium rims. Braking hardware consists of a single 298mm disc with twin-piston callipers at the front, and a 210mm disc with a single-piston caliper at the rear, for all the Ace models. All three Ace models feature a 14-litre fuel tank and have a similar kerb weight of 133kg. Cleveland CycleWerks plans to sell 5,000 units in India by 2019 and the Ace range and Misfit are expected to be priced between Rs 2-2.5 lakh (ex-showroom). Watch this space for more updates. [...]
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HPCL, AGS TTL launch contactless fuel payment solution
Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) and AGS Transact Technologies have launched HP-Fastlane, a contactless fuel payment solution that automatically identifies registered vehicles via RFID and uses a prepaid wallet for cashless payments.  The company has set a target of issuing 1,00,000 Fastlane fuel tags across Mumbai. Currently, there are 18 HP-Fastlane pumps across Mumbai, Vashi and Thane, which will be opened for end-consumers by July 1 this year. Subsequently, the company will install its Fastlane solution across 200 HPCL outlets across India, in a phased manner. The HP-Fastlane fuel solution can be accessed over the Internet or through a HP-Fastlane mobile app, available on Android and iOS platforms. It enables customer to register their vehicle details and load money in the prepaid HP-Fastlane wallet as and when required. When the registered vehicle reaches an HP-Fastlane enabled petrol pump, the RFID ring fitted in the vehicle’s fuel tank ensures just the right amount of fuel dispensation, thus avoiding fuel proliferation. After fuelling, the driver can simply drive away without having to make payments through hard cash. HP-Fastlane components, according to the two companies, are intrinsically safe and certified by Petroleum Explosives and Safety Organisation (PESO) to be installed in hazardous areas. [...]
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Datsun Go, Go+ facelift India launch in September 2018
Datsun took the wraps off the facelifted Go and Go+ in early May 2018. We can now confirm that the refreshed models will go in sale in India in late September this year in the run up to the festive season. The Datsun Go hatchback and Go+ MPV facelifts will be identifiable by their revised styling package. While it is not yet clear if the versions for India will sport the same body kit as the facelift models unveiled in Indonesia, the cars will get reprofiled headlamps and restyled front bumpers with integrated daytime running LEDs. A different mesh and perhaps even chrome detailing on the Datsun hexagonal grille are also expected. Higher-spec versions of the Go and Go+ will also make the switch to 14-inch alloy wheels; both models get only plastic wheel covers at the moment. Datsun is said to be striving for a more premium look for its models and the updates should help to that end. However, it's the Datsun Go and Go+'s cabins that will see the biggest change. The basic dashboard of the current models' will make way for a new dash. Sure, there will be carryover elements like the high set gear lever and the shape of the side air-con vents, but the larger look is new. There's a new design for the central vents but taking a pride of place on the new dash is a new 6.75-inch touchscreen. The instruments cluster will also get a revision and will see the addition of an analogue tachometer. Moreover, the new dash will also get proper lids for the glovebox. The exposed storage bay of the original models drew flak from buyers. What will also help spruce up the look, will be new front seats. The conjoined bench-like front seats will be replaced by individual chairs for the driver and co-driver. And with the update, Datsun will also do away with the antiquated pull-type handbrake at the dash and replace it with a more convenient and conventional lift-type unit between the front seats. The Datsuns will also get feature upgrades with the addition of electric mirror adjust, rear power windows, rear wash/wipe and rear parking sensors. Steering-mounted audio buttons and a defogger are not expected, though. We have learned that Datsun will also up the safety quotient on these models with the facelift. It is expected that a driver's side airbag and ABS will now come standard, while passenger side airbag will be part of the kit on higher trim cars. It is not known, however, if the cars will receive structural enhancements for safety too. Notably, the Datsun Go had received a zero star Global NCAP crash test rating in 2014. The updated Go and Go+ will continue to be offered with the current three-cylinder, 1.2-litre petrol engine, mated to a five speed manual transmission. Datsun sells a CVT-equipped Go in the Indonesian market but it is unlikely to make it to India. AMT versions could be on the cards, however. The updates will come at a price. Expect the facelifted Go and Go+ to cost anywhere between Rs 25,000-50,000 more than the current models. At present, the Go costs Rs 3.35-4.26 lakh, while the Go+ is priced at Rs 3.91-5.04 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). The move up the price ladder will also bring with it fresh competition from the likes of the Tata Tiago, Maruti Suzuki Celerio and Hyundai's new small car that comes out later this year. Besides the updated Datsuns, there's more to come from the Renault-Nissan alliance in India. Come January 2019, Nissan will launch the Kicks crossover and later that year Renault will also be out with its new compact MPV. Are the updates enough for you to consider a Datsun Go and Go+ as your next small car? Let us know in the comments section below.  Also see: Datsun Go, Go+ facelift image gallery [...]
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