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Hyundai i20 facelift: which variant you should buy
The well-rounded Elite i20 has been a hot seller for Hyundai. It’s got great quality and spacious interiors. It’s also practical, looks contemporary and has a set of refined engines too. The Korean carmaker has just given the Elite i20 a minor facelift and shuffled the equipment list across its ten variants. We help you pick the best variant. Diesel or petrol? The price difference between the diesel and petrol i20 varies across the line-up by Rs 1.20-1.40 lakh, with the former being more expensive. If your daily run is a few kilometres in the city, the petrol will do the job just fine and will deliver a satisfactory performance. However, if you drive mostly on the highway, irrespective of your annual usage, we’d recommend going in for the diesel for its punchy and effortless performance. What’s nice is that it is very refined too and the controls are light, so if you need to use it in the city too, the diesel i20 is equally easy to drive. Variant on a budget If on a tight budget, opt for the Magna Executive variant (P/D: Rs 6/7.31 lakh) which costs Rs 58,000-67,000 more than the base Era variant. While you get basic features like dual front airbags, ABS and speed-sensing door locks from the base variant, the Magna Executive gets the addition of a music system with six speakers, rear air-con vents, four power windows, cooled glovebox, electrically adjustable outside mirrors, front armrest and then some cosmetic features like wheel caps, body-coloured door handles and mirrors. Our pick The pick of the range is the Asta variant (P/D:  Rs 7.12/8.36 lakh) that’s Rs 1.05-1.12 lakh more than the Magna Executive and Rs 53,000 more than the Sportz variant. This variant strikes a good balance between value for money and features. It gets 15-inch alloy wheels, 7.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Arkamys Sound Mood, automatic climate control and a tilt/telescopic steering wheel. You also get kit like steering-mounted controls, electric-folding outside mirrors, eight speakers, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, rear defogger, front fog lamps and daytime running lamps (near fog lamps) carried over from the Sportz variant. For those looking for maximum safety kit, there’s the Asta (O) variant (P/D: Rs 7.91/9.16 lakh) that offers side and curtain airbags as well. In addition, this variant gets automatic projector headlamps, keyless entry-go, Isofix child seat mounts, 16-inch alloy wheels, a rear seat armrest, an advance MID; all this at a premium of Rs 80,000 over the Asta variant.  [...]
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PhotoGallery: VCCCI vintage car rally image gallery
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2018 Toyota Yaris: 5 things you need to know
The Yaris is Toyota’s much-awaited sedan which is likely to reach showrooms in a couple of months. Positioned between the Etios and the Corolla Altis, the Yaris will compete with the Honda City, Hyundai Verna, Maruti Ciaz and others. Compared to the Etios though, the Yaris feels a lot more desirable; and while its styling isn’t very exciting, this car packs in just the right amount of kit and comfort to be a practical and very competitive contender in the segment. Here are five things that you should know about this upcoming sedan: Dimensions Compared to cars like the City (4,440mm) and Ciaz (4,490mm), the Yaris is shorter in length, measuring 4,425mm. The car has a slightly shorter wheelbase, too – 2,550mm – as compared to the City’s 2,600mm and Ciaz’s 2,650mm. However, the Yaris is as wide as the Ciaz at 1,730mm. On the inside, space is huge with generous amount of room and ample seating comfort. Engine Toyota will be offering the Yaris with a single 108hp, 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder, petrol engine available with a 6-speed manual gearbox alongside a 7-step CVT (automatic transmission). There’s also a possibility of the Yaris being made available with a petrol-hybrid, at a later stage. This will not only be the most affordable hybrid offering but also a segment-first. Features Toyota is likely to give the Yaris several features so as to compete with its well-loaded competitors. Among most of the kit that we’ve come to expect out of a car in its segment, the Yaris will feature some segment-first features like gesture control for the touchscreen infotainment system, a tyre pressure-monitoring system, 60:40 rear seat split, adjustable three-neck restraints for the rear seat, roof-mounted rear air-con with ambient lighting, a powered driver’s seat and front parking sensors. Safety Not just segment-first gizmos but Toyota has even loaded the Yaris to the brim with a segment-first safety kit. It gets all-wheel disc brakes, seven airbags (including a driver knee airbag), Hill-Start Assist, ABS, EBD and ESP. A similar-specced Yaris has been awarded five stars in ASEAN NCAP crash tests, which is very reassuring. Price The Yaris will be manufactured in India at Toyota’s plant in Karnataka. The plant will also use a high percentage of localized parts, indicating that this car is likely to be priced very competitively with an estimated range of Rs 8.4-13.5 lakh (ex-showroom), undercutting the Honda City’s price of Rs 8.7-13.7 lakh. Also see: Toyota Yaris sedan first look video 2018 Toyota Yaris sedan India image gallery Toyota's Yaris: ready to take on the Honda City [...]
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Electric two-wheelers showcased at Auto Expo
Electric vehicles (EVs) were the talk of the town at the Auto Expo 2018. With the government pushing for electric cars and bikes, it was evident that we would witness much action at the 2018 Auto Expo and we weren’t disappointed! From cruisers to superbike-rivalling motorcycles, there were many interesting electric vehicles displayed at this year’s show and we have picked the important ones out for you. UM Renegade Thor UM Motorcycles unveiled its first electric two-wheeler offering for India at the Auto Expo 2018 – the Renegade Thor. Staying true to the Renegade’s DNA, the Thor is a cruiser, too, albeit an electric one. With a Rs 9.9 lakh price tag, it also happens to be the most expensive electric motorcycle to go on sale in India. The styling of the Thor is typical of a cruiser with flowing lines and dollops of chrome and it’s only when you see the electric motor placed under the faux fuel tank that you figure out that it’s an electric bike. Powering the Thor is a 30kW motor which produces 70 Nm of torque. The Thor is also the first electric cruiser in the world to feature a 5-speed gearbox. According to UM, the 5-speed gearbox (with a belt drive) reduces the load on the powerplant which is beneficial in increasing the range of the bike. UM claims the Thor has a 270km range, 180kph top speed and 80 per cent of the battery can be charged in 40 minutes with the fast charger. Bookings for the Thor will start in April and deliveries will commence by end-2018. Twenty Two Motors Flow Twenty Two Motors launched its first electric scooter in India, and it’s called the Flow. Powering the Flow is a 2.1kw electric motor that delivers 90Nm of torque which enables it to reach a top speed of 60kph. The Flow has been priced at Rs 74,740 and it will be manufactured at Twenty Two Motors’ production facility in Rajasthan. It features an app-based geo-fencing security, which alerts the owner if the vehicle travels beyond the defined geographical boundaries, while providing the option to immobilise the vehicle. The Flow tips the scale at 85kg and gets a Lithium Ion Battery that can be fully charged in five hours, delivering an 80km range. However, there is an option to carry an additional battery which doubles its range to 160km. It also gets features like a reverse gear, cruise control, a hill assist system, a drag function (to help push during a puncture) and regenerative braking. TVS Creon TVS added to its list of impressive concepts with the Creon electric scooter. The Creon, which shared the stage with the Zeppelin cruiser, could be its first step in the electric scooter space given that it wears TVS’ legendary racing DNA on its sleeve. The first thing that will grab your attention is the sporty and sleek styling of the scooter with sleek LED lights and dynamic LED indicators on the apron. Look closer and you will notice details like the TFT screen, aluminium perimeter frame and diamond cut alloy wheels which make the Creon look stunning. Powering the Creon is a 12kW electric motor which is good enough to propel the Creon from 0-60kmph in 5.1 seconds with a claimed range of 80km. It also gets a fast charging option that tops up 80 per cent of the battery in just an hour. For connectivity, TVS has partnered with Intel and the Creon features Cloud connectivity, three riding modes, regenerative braking, park assist, GPS, geo-fencing and safety/anti-theft features. In addition, it gets a smartphone charger and an under seat storage that can accommodate a full-face helmet. It also features a disc brake at either end and gets a single-channel ABS. Comprehensive for a concept, right? Emflux One Leading the charge of electric two-wheelers at the 2018 Auto Expo in terms of performance was the Emflux One. Emflux claims the One is the performance equivalent of a middleweight sports bike. Supporting this claim is another one – how about a 0-100kph dash in 3 seconds and a top speed of 200kph? These figures have been claimed for the version kitted out with the optional (and lighter) carbon fibre panels. It is powered by a 60kW motor which produces 84Nm and claimed city range of 200km. Highway range stands at 150km when ridden at 80kph. The battery pack itself is air-cooled and features battery cells developed by Samsung. Quick charging is available with a 0-80 per cent charge completing in 1hr 15min while optional fast charging will also be available. The bike showcased at the Auto Expo is a prototype and the production bike will be launched next year with deliveries commencing from April 2019. The Emflux One has been priced at Rs 6 lakh and it will be made available in three variants. The bike also features a 7-inch TFT screen that displays real time diagnostics, GPS and there’s also a HD camera to record your rides. Honda PCX Electric After showcasing the PCX scooter at the Auto Expo 2016, Honda now displayed the PCX electric at its [...]
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Auto Expo 2018 show report
Despite the absence of several high-profile names for various reasons, the Auto Expo 2018 had plenty going for it. As expected, there were several new concept cars that debuted at the Expo, along with many production-ready cars as well. Here's a quick round-up: SUVs The craze for SUVs shows no signs of fading and carmakers are bringing in many more of them this year. Headlining the list, is the Tata H5X concept, a striking new SUV based on a Land Rover platform that'll be available in five- and seven-seat versions when it goes on sale later this year. Maruti Suzuki, apart from the e-Survivor concept, has a baby SUV on display, the Concept Future S, which will slot in below the Vitara Brezza when it goes into production early next year. The only new carmaker at the show, Kia Motors, too, debuted the made-for-India SP Concept, a Creta rival that'll go on sale in 2019. Honda displayed the India-bound CR-V, which, for the very first time, will come with a diesel engine. Mahindra had a rebadged G4 Rexton and the Stinger convertible SUV concept at its stand, while Hyundai brought in the Kona SUV, the EV version of which is being evaluated for India. BMW showcased the new X3, which is due in a few months' time. Mini put the new Countryman crossover on display, as Mercedes-Benz strutted its all-electric Concept EQ SUV, alongside the E-class All-Terrain. Sedans There were plenty of important new sedans unveiled at the Expo, starting with the new Honda Amaze, which made its global debut, and the new Civic, which is due later this financial year. Toyota trained its guns at the Honda City with its new offering, the Yaris, which will be launched in the coming months. Kia Motors had the delicious Stinger GT on display, while Tata Motors revealed the sporty, 110hp JTP Tigor. BMW launched the 6-series Gran Turismo, a rival to the Mercedes E-class LWB, while Mercedes-Benz launched a brace of new Maybachs: the S 560 and the range-topping S 650. Hatchbacks There was enough action in the hatchback space, too. Tata wowed the audience with the gorgeous 45X hatchback concept, as well as the sporty JTP Tiago. Maruti launched the all-new Swift, Hyundai introduced the i20 facelift, while Kia showcased its Ceed hatchback. EVs and hybrids This is the space that saw the most activity. Nearly every carmaker had an electric offering of some sort. BMW had the i3s hatch and the stunning i8 Roadster, Honda showcased its Sports EV concept while Hyundai brought in the electric and hybrid versions of the Ioniq. Tata debuted the Racemo EV, along with all-electric versions of the Tiago and Tigor, as Mahindra showcased the eKUV100. Renault brought along the crazy 460hp Zoe e-Sport concept, while Kia displaying several EVs and hybrids, with the Soul EV crossover being one of them. Motorcycles and scooters Every two-wheeler manufacturer had a big launch or unveil this year. Yamaha launched the much-awaited R15 V3.0 along with the updated R3. Honda introduced the 160cc X-Blade alongside the Activa 5G. There were a bunch of new 125cc scooters: Suzuki debuted the Burgman Street, as Hero came out with 125cc versions of the Duet and Maestro Edge. The Piaggio Group was out in full force, launching the Aprilia SR 125 and debuting the new Storm scooter, to go with the hot new RS and Tuono 150s. BMW Motorrad announced the launch of the new F 750 GS and F 850 GS, while announcing plans to bring the G 310 R and G 310 GS to India this year. Also on display were the Hero XPulse 200, Suzuki GSX-S750, Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX, UM Renegade Duty and Thor. These aside, there was also the Emflux One electric sportbike. Also see: Auto Expo 2018: Our star cars Best cars at Auto Expo 2018 image gallery Best cars at Auto Expo 2018 Best scooters at Auto Expo 2018 Best bikes at Auto Expo 2018 [...]
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Renault Zoe e-Sport displayed at Auto Expo 2018
Electric vehicles are the talk of the town nowadays and this trend can be seen at the Auto Expo 2018 as well. Almost every carmaker has an example of electric mobility at their stand in some or the other form. Renault wasn’t one to be left out and has showcased its performance-focused Zoe e-Sport at the motor show. Essentially a more powerful iteration of the Zoe electric hatchback, the e-Sport is a technology demonstrator for the French carmaker at the ongoing biennial event. Drawing inspiration from Renault’s Formula E involvement, the Zoe e-Sport is powered by two electric motors that produce a combined 466hp and 640Nm of peak torque; its claimed 0- 100kph time is a rapid 3.2sec. Though there is no information on when this EV will launch in the Indian market, we had earlier reported that the Zoe hatchback has been spotted testing in Bengaluru. From this, we can infer that Renault is evaluating the EV for an India introduction. The standard Zoe is powered by a new 41kWh battery, up from the 22kWh unit that was used in the previous model. It has a driving range of up to 400km (under the European driving cycle) and takes 65min for an 80 percent charge via a quickcharger. Renault claims a real-world driving range of 300km and also a full-charge time of 8-9 hours using a standard 7kW charger. Also see: 2018 Renault Zoe e-Sport video review Best cars at Auto Expo 2018 [...]
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Auto Expo 2018: Our star cars
Honda Amaze - Hormazd Sorabjee The Honda Amaze has grown up and how. It may be a compact sedan in size, but it sure doesn’t look like one. Not this second-generation car, at least. The Brio-esque grille is gone and replaced by a vertical, chunky bar of chrome which gives it instant big-car cred. The interiors, too, have been spruced up and the new Amaze feels like a mini-City on the inside and not a Brio with a boot. And the cleverest bit is slipping a CVT automatic transmission into the diesel variant, which will no doubt help the Amaze find many new buyers. Kia SP Concept - Shapur Kotwal It takes a while normally for car companies to be on the ball here in India, but one look at Kia’s SP Concept and you know this company is going to hit the ground running. The bright work up front may be exaggerated and even so on the wheels, but this show car, in essence, is what we’ll see on our roads come 2019. The same spot-on proportions, the same fantastic stance and then there’s the tightly stretched skin. The more I looked at it, the more I liked it; especially those subtly flared wheel arches and the seamless manner in which the white roof merges with the rest of the car. Expect a lot from Kia. Kia Stinger GT - Gavin D'Souza There are more powerful sports sedans than the Kia Stinger GT, there are also better looking ones, ones with more desirable badges and more luxurious ones too. If given the option, chances are, many would not give it a second look, and simply put even more money down on something more familiar. But just the fact the Stinger GT exists at all makes it my pick from the 2018 Auto Expo. With 370hp and a 100kph time of 4.7sec, it’s no slouch, and unlike almost every other Kia, this one uses a proper, handling friendly rear-wheel-drive chassis! Kia could have just stuck to its affordable hatchbacks, family crossovers and planet-hugging hybrids, but they went and did this too. Please put it on sale here. Tata H5X - Nikhil Bhatia First up, kudos to Tata’s social media team. I think the cryptic teaser images they released in the run up to the Auto Expo 2018 were really nicely done. They got all and sundry genuinely excited about Tata’s big SUV reveal at the motor show. And you know what? The SUV really lived up to the hype. Bold, chunky and sexy even, the H5X, in my book, just takes Tata SUV design to the next level. I love the design and I love the detailing, and the techy cabin is really cool too. Now if only the final production version can stay true to concept.   Suzuki e-Survivor - Nishant Parekh The Suzuki e-Survivor is my star car of the Auto Expo, not least because the concept is as futuristic as it gets. Distinctive rugged looking exterior, massive wheel arches, huge wheels and four-wheel drive assure go-anywhere ability. An electric motor powering each of the four wheels promises an engaging driving experience. I hadn't even soaked in the exterior fully when the ultramodern-looking dash with its spherical monitor that displays vehicle data caught my eye – I was sold; I couldn't care less about its autonomous driving ability. To me, it's all the car one will ever need. Tata Racemo - Akbar Merchant I had my eyes on this little Tata right from its first showcase at Geneva last year. The ‘Racemo’ attempt by Tata has a really huge potential. The looks that are just right, the two-seat setup and that small, yet powerful engine could give India its own version of the Mazda Miata. Look at it! It’s surely a head-turner! Its combination of just about the right proportions, overall striking and ‘in your eye’ looks, a futuristic and youth oriented interior, and the 190hp motor – I find these to be just the perfect recipe for a unique product from Tata. Give it a few minor interior and exterior tweaks to make it production ready and there we have it!  We've seen the Tiago, the Tigor, the Hexa and the Nexon, and not to forget the stylish H5X and the 45X at the Auto Expo – they have surely made Tata Motors one of the most exciting mass-market car brands in recent times. Although chances are bleak, but I think a production version of the Racemo could just be an icing on that delicious cake that many of us are looking for. Tata 45X - Amaan Ahmed It'd be easy to draw up a list of stunning supercars, fancy sedans and burly SUVs. The list of jaw-dropping hatchbacks, though a short one, would definitely have the Tata 45X figure on it. There couldn't be a better way to introduce the IMPACT 2.0 design language. It's long and low-slung, the face displays just the right amount of aggression, the split rear spoiler looks funky and the detailing is just exquisite. Even the colour was done to perfection, and to add to the effect, Tata had placed it inside a glass showcase, so we were all looking at it like chil [...]
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Mahindra eKUV100 EV showcased at Auto Expo
Mahindra had lots of electric vehicles on display at Auto Expo 2018, one of which was the eKUV100. The all-electric version of the KUV100 hatchback is part of Mahindra’s plans to electrify its range in the future, and it will be launched in India in 2019. The eKUV100 concept on display uses the same 30kW motor and lithium-ion battery pack as the eVerito already on sale. Mahindra claims a range of 140km on a single charge and that the battery is capable of fast charging, with 80 percent being charged in less than an hour. However, the Mahindra Electric official we spoke to said that the eKUV100 could run an updated motor and battery pack by the time it launches in 2019. In terms of design, both inside and out, there isn’t much to differentiate the electric version of the KUV100 from the standard internal combustion model, besides the EV badging and minor detailing. However, the lack of a standard transmission tunnel means there is more space liberated for the front passengers, meaning a six-seat layout is easier to configure. Like the e2o, the Mahindra eKUV100 is equipped with smartphone connectivity, remote diagnostics, cabin pre-cooling and real-time location tracking. The car will also monitor driving styles and calculate battery status depending on accelerator and driving inputs. Also see: Mahindra Rexton first look video Mahindra Stinger Concept SUV and EVs first look video Best cars at Auto Expo 2018 Mahindra Stinger convertible SUV concept revealed at Auto Expo 2018 Mahindra Rexton revealed at Auto Expo 2018   [...]
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New Hyundai i20 facelift price, variants explained
Hyundai has launched the facelift to its i20 hatchback at the 2018 Auto Expo, in Delhi. Apart from minor cosmetic changes to the exterior, the new version also gets additional kit on the inside. The facelift will continue to carry the powertrain options from the previous-gen i20, however, an all new CVT transmission will be mated to the 1.2-litre Kappa engine. This is a replacement, of sorts, for the earlier car's 1.4-litre petrol engine with the four-speed torque convertor. The new i20 offers five variants – the Era, Magna Executive, Sports, Asta and the top of the line Asta (O). Below is the equipment and safety that is on offer in each variant. ERA (Petrol/Diesel) Rs 5.34-6.73 lakh 5-speed MT/6-speed MT Dual front airbags ABS Speed-sensing door locks Engine Immobilizer Gear-shift indicator Manual climate control Body-coloured bumpers Steel wheels Power windows for the front, only MAGNA EXECUTIVE (Petrol/Diesel) Rs 6.00-7.31 lakh Body-coloured door mirrors Wheel covers for steel wheels Audio player with front and rear speakers Front tweeters AUX and USB ports Rear power windows Cooled glovebox Rear AC vents Electrically adjustable ORVM SPORTZ (Petrol/Diesel) Rs 6.59-7.83 lakh Front fog lamps Keyless entry Follow-me-home headlamps Rear defogger DRL (near fog lamp) Turn indicators on ORVMs Electric folding ORVMs Rear parcel tray Height adjust for driver's seat Front and rear tweeters Bluetooth telephony Steering-mounted controls Hyundai iblue remote application ASTA (Petrol/Diesel) Rs 7.12-8.36 lakh Rear camera with reverse parking sensors 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system 15-inch alloy wheels (16-inch wheels on the dual-tone variant) Adjustable rear headrests Sliding armrest Apple CarPlay, Android Auto , MirrorLink Arkamys audio system USB charger Voice commands Automatic climate control Tilt/Telescopic steering adjust ASTA (O) (Petrol/Diesel) Rs 7.91-9.16 lakh Side and curtain airbags Automatic headlamps Keyless entry/go ISOFIX child seat mounts Height-adjustable seatbelts for driver and passenger LED DRL with projector headlamps Cornering lights Chrome door handles 16-inch wheels Leather-wrapped steering with gearknob Steering position reminder with service reminder Rear wiper with washer Hyundai i20 technical specificationsEngine1197cc/1396ccPower83hp at 6000rpm/90hp at 4000rpmTorque115Nm at 4000rpm/ 220Nm at 1500-2750rpmTransmission5-speed manual/6-speed manualLength3985mmWidth1734mmHeight1505mmWheelbase2570mmTyre185/70 R14 - 185/65 R15 – 195/55 R16Boot space285 litresFuel tank40 litresBrakes (f/r)Disc/DrumSuspension (f/r)MacPherson strut/ Torsion beam Also see: 2018 Hyundai i20 facelift first look video 2018 Hyundai i20 facelift image gallery Hyundai may bring back Santro name with all-new budget hatchback Hyundai Kona showcased at Auto Expo 2018 Hyundai Ioniq EV, Hybrid showcased at Auto Expo 2018 [...]
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Kia Cerato on display at Auto Expo 2018
New entrant Kia has a massive display at Auto Expo 2018 and the executive sedan Cerato is one of the models on display at the show floor. The sedan is over 4.5m in length and is powered by a 1.6-litre petrol motor that makes 130hp and 157Nm of peak torque. The car features most of the expected tech like heated and cooled front seats, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and safety features including a blind spot detection system. Although a production-ready car that's based on the Hyundai Elantra, the Cerato isn’t likely to make it to Indian showrooms anytime soon given the segment's performance. Most of the models on display at the Korean company's stand won't make it to our shores, however, Kia does have on display the SP Concept and that points to an SUV due to go on sale in India in 2019. Also see: Auto Expo 2018 car and SUV image gallery Auto Expo 2018 bikes and scooters image gallery New Kia SP SUV concept unveiled at Auto Expo 2018 Kia Ceed displayed at Auto Expo 2018 Kia Soul EV displayed at Auto Expo 2018 Kia Sorento SUV showcased at Auto Expo 2018 Kia Sportage SUV shown in India at the Auto Expo 2018 [...]
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Kia Stinger showcased at Auto Expo 2018
Kia has displayed its popular Stinger sports sedan at the Auto Expo 2018. The Korean carmaker has showcased its entire line-up at the event along with the SP Concept, which previews its Creta-rivaling made-for-India SUV, due in 2019. The Stinger sits at the top of the Kia international product line-up and would have served as a halo model in India; but the automaker decided to not bring it here, following concerns regarding its sales potential in the country. Considering the sports sedan would have to be brought in as a completely built-up unit and would be subject to a horde of Indian taxes, its price would cross the Rs 70-lakh mark. Finding takers at that price would have been a tough task for the brand. Additionally, Kia wants to concentrate on mass-market cars as its core area of focus, in India. In international markets, the Kia Stinger is available in rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive forms. It competes with the likes of the Jaguar XE and BMW 3-series. Engine options include a four-cylinder petrol engine; but the centerpiece is the 365hp, 3.3-litre V6 petrol-powered GT version – which has a claimed 0-100kph time of 4.7sec. Also see: Auto Expo 2018 car and SUV image gallery Auto Expo 2018 bikes and scooters image gallery New Kia SP SUV concept unveiled at Auto Expo 2018 Kia Ceed displayed at Auto Expo 2018 Kia Soul EV displayed at Auto Expo 2018 Kia Sorento SUV showcased at Auto Expo 2018 Kia Sportage SUV shown in India at the Auto Expo 2018   [...]
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PhotoGallery: New 2018 Honda Amaze image gallery
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Porsche 718 Boxster Spyder to use flat-six power
Porsche is developing the most driver-focused version of its current 718 Boxster. The car will be heavily related to the 718 Cayman GT4. In place of its current hottest 718’s turbocharged 2.5-litre flat-four, the new car will use the naturally aspirated, flat-six engine of the latest 911 GT3. The German automaker has now moved testing to the cold climate of the Arctic Circle. Porsche Motorsport has stuck to the formula applied to the car’s predecessors, which have cemented themselves as the driver’s Boxster model since 2009, giving the car a more responsive drivetrain that will make it the most involving Boxster on sale. “Natural aspiration is one of our main USPs,” Andreas Preuninger, head of GT car development at Porsche told our sister publication, Autocar UK, earlier this year. “At Motorsport, we think we can achieve throttle response and immediacy a little bit better with an atmospheric high-revving engine than any kind of turbo.” Output for the 4.0-litre unit is rated at 500hp at 8,250rpm in the 911 GT3. However, the Boxster Spyder’s power may be slightly down on this, in order to leave breathing space for its more expensive sibling. The previous Spyder used a 3.8-litre flat-six taken from the 911 Carrera of the time that was good for 375hp. The recently unveiled Boxster GTS and related Cayman GTS use highly-strung four-pot engines with 366hp. So the new Spyder will need to produce more power to cement itself as the top Boxster – an output of around 430hp seems likely. To signify its driver-focus, the car will be offered with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard; but those after maximum on track performance will be able to select the option of a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission. The Spyder will also go on a hefty diet, ditching cabin insulation, along with its radio and air conditioning. The 718 Boxster’s electric folding soft top will also go. Taking its place is a manually removable ‘tent top’. These weight savings will combine with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber to make the car the sharpest handling production Boxster, yet produced. Much of the design treatment applied the Boxster Spyder will mirror those featured on the GTS. The Cayman GT4 will likely get the same adjustments, along with a more prominent rear wing to signify its even harder status. There is no word on if the 718 Boxster Spyder will come to India. Considering the less hardcore GTS versions of the Cayman and Boxster will not be coming, the Spyder is less likely to do so. [...]
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Drugovich seals 2017 MRF Challenge title
Brazilian driver Felipe Drugovich was crowned the 2017 MRF Challenge champion at the Madras Motor Race Track (MMRT) in Chennai. The 17-year-old completed the first two races of the weekend in third and sixth place respectively, but that was enough to seal the championship. In Race 1, Presley Martono made a good start to lead into the first corner, with Rinus van Kalmthout slotting into second place after passing Drugovich. Van Kalmthout then passed Martono around the outside of the third corner, immediately pulling away as Martono fended off Drugovich and Julien Falchero. Drugovich tried to put pressure on Martono but the Indonesian held his ground. Van Kalmthout comfortably won the first race of the weekend with Martono in second place ahead of Drugovich. During the race, Van Kalmthout also became the first ever driver to break the 1min 30secs barrier as he set a new lap record at the MMRT, with a time of 1min 29.967secs. Before the reverse grid Race 2 started, Drugovich was given a 10 place penalty for a fuel infringement and had to start the race way back from 14th place. Polesitter Alex Karkosik had the perfect start and led into the first corner ahead of Danial Frost. There was chaos at Turn 2 as Manuel Maldonado, Pavan Ravishankar and Perdana Minang all crashed. Falchero, who is in a tight battle for second place in the championship, was forced to retire after making contact with van Kalmthout. There was more action as race leader Karkosik spun out of the lead, causing the race to be red flagged with five cars being out. At the restart, Frost led ahead of Martono and van Kalmthout. However, he ran wide on lap 11, allowing both the drivers to get past. Martono went on to win the race ahead of van Kalmthout and Frost. Finishing sixth gave Drugovich the points he needed to win the title with two races still remaining. “It feels fantastic to win the championship. I have not been happy with the balance of the car today but I just did what I had to win the championship. This year has been great and consistency has been the main reason behind my title win. The weekend in Abu Dhabi stands out as the most memorable moment of this championship,” said Drugovich. [...]
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BMW developing M2 Gran Coupe
BMW is working on a Gran Coupe version of the 2-series that will be headed by a 370hp M variant, which will take on the Audi RS3 sedan and Mercedes-AMG CLA 45. The M2 coupé sibling will retain a longitudinally mounted engine and rear-wheel drive, making it a unique offering compared to its rivals, which use transversely mounted engines and four-wheel drive. The carmaker believes this format will provide the M car with more engaging driving traits than its Audi and Mercedes-AMG competition. BMW also feels there is sufficient scope within its future line-up to accommodate an additional model riding on its widely used rear-wheel-drive platform, and hence the introduction of the 2-series Gran Coupe. New pictures of a development car reveal the body shape and that the Gran Coupe gets rear doors and a raised rear roof section to create a five-door liftback shape, which, in M2 Gran Coupe form, promises to be a more practical performance offering than the regular M2. The need to accommodate two conventional front-hinged rear doors and sufficient rear-seat legroom is said to be the reason behind giving the new car a wheelbase that is between the 2,690mm span of the 2-series Coupe and the 2,810mm of the 3-series sedan. The 2-series Gran Coupe will sport a new interior layout that will be adopted by the successors to the current 2-series coupé and cabriolet that are due in 2020. The turbocharged three-cylinder and four-cylinder engines for the 2-series Gran Coupé will mirror those of the existing coupé and cabriolet. On the petrol side, expect a 136hp, 1.5-litre three-cylinder unit in the 218i Gran Coupe, together with 184hp and 245hp, 2.0-litre four-cylinders in the mid-range 220i and 225i Gran Coupe models, and a 330hp, 3.0-litre six-cylinder in the 235i Gran Coupe. Among the diesels will be 150hhp, 190hp and 224hp, 2.0-litre four-cylinders in the 218d, 220d and 225d Gran Coupe models. As with the 2-series Gran Coupe’s two-door sibling, buyers will have a choice of a standard six-speed manual or optional eight-speed torque converter automatic gearbox, as well as standard rear-wheel drive or optional xDrive four-wheel drive. However, four-wheel drive will be offered with only a limited range of engines. The highlight of the new line-up, though, will be the M2 Gran Coupe. The new M car will use the same 370hp, 3.0-litre turbocharged in-line six-cylinder engine as its two-door sibling. It will be offered with either a standard six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The S55 B30-designated engine is expected to provide the M2 Gran Coupe with a performance similar to that of the M2 coupé, which has an official 0-100kph time of 4.5sec in manual and a limited top speed of around 250kph. Also, there are talks of a 2-series Gran Coupe plug-in hybrid model. It is expected to use BMW’s turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor mounted within the forward section of a standard eight-speed automatic gearbox. And in combination with a lithium-ion battery pack positioned in the floor of the boot, this is intended to provide the new 225e Gran Coupe with an electric range of up to 50km. The 2-series Gran Coupe models will be produced alongside the coupé and cabriolet at BMW's plant in Leipzig. [...]
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New 2018 Mercedes A-Class revealed
Mercedes has taken the wraps off its all-new A-Class hatchback ahead of its world premiere at the upcoming Geneva motor show 2018. The new A-Class will once again be offered exclusively in five-door form It will be the first of up to eight new compact models that are under development and due by the end of 2020. These include successor models to the existing B-Class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake and GLA as well as a trio of new models: an A-Class saloon, an SUV model set to be called the GLB and the all-electric EQ A previewed at the Frankfurt motor show last September. Mercedes boss Dieter Zetsche said at the car's reveal: "The A-Class has been a big driver of change at Mercedes. This last version is not a car that gives much of an impression of entry-level. It's a grown-up A-Class that fully embraces our vision of luxury." The car is is based on a modified version of the outgoing model’s MFA platform and features a 30mm longer wheelbase and 14mm wider front track. The new Mercedes hatch, which has the internal codename W177, is also claimed to offer vastly improved levels of refinement. This is thanks to improvements in the rigidity of its body structure, altered axle mountings and more comprehensive sound-deadening measures. There are also enhanced aerodynamics: Mercedes-Benz claims a class- leading drag coefficient of 0.25 for the new A-Class. The styling of Merc’s new entry-level model, initially previewed by the Concept A saloon at last year’s Shanghai motor show, draws heavily on the look of the recently unveiled CLS, most notably at the front. The two cars share what has been dubbed a ‘predator face’, with an AMG-inspired grille and angular headlights that extend back into the front wings, giving it a distinctly more aggressive air. The newly designed headlights can be specified with optional Multibeam LED technology with adaptive high-beam assist plus, as well as individual city and motorway lighting functions and cornering lights. New LED rear lights help to make the tailgate aperture of the A-Class 20mm wider than that of the outgoing model. Larger wheelhouses also allow Mercedes to offer 19in wheels as an option on non-AMG models for the first time. The adoption of the larger platform has led to an incremental increase in the car’s external dimensions. Length is up by 120mm at 4419mm, width increases by 16mm to 1796mm and height extends by 2mm to 1440mm. The increases have enabled Mercedes to improve the overall practicality of the A-Class. The rear door apertures are larger to ease entry to the back seats, and the boot’s capacity is 29 litres bigger than the old model’s at a nominal 370 litres. It’s inside where Mercedes has concentrated much of its efforts on the new A-Class. The cabin receives a distinctive dashboard-mounted black panel display and switchgear similar to that first introduced on the S-class. The so-called widescreen cockpit comes in three themes: Classic, Sport and Discreet. As standard, there are two 7.0in displays, an analogue instrument cluster and the first touchscreen infotainment system to be offered in a Mercedes model. Alternatively, customers can specify the car with twin 7.0in digital displays. To unlock the full potential of its connectivity functions, the A-Class needs to be equipped with the optional extended version of the widescreen cockpit display, which features twin 10.3in screens, with a digital instrument display and touchscreen infotainment. In this specification, it has a wi-fi hotspot and can also be optionally fitted with high-definition navigation with live traffic updates and car-to-X communication with map updates, a head-up display unit, traffic sign assist, augmented reality navigation and a Burmester sound system, among other functions. The highlight of the MBUX connectivity system is an advanced optional speech recognition system designed to work along similar lines to Amazon’s Alexa voice service. It permits users to provide spoken commands through a “Hey, Mercedes” function that has been developed to recognise conversational language rather than specifically worded commands. The new A-Class will be available with the choice of three four-cylinder engines in the international markets. The A200 petrol is a heavily updated version of the Renault-Nissan-produced 1.4-litre unit delivering 157hp. The more powerful A250 uses Mercedes’ recently updated 2.0-litre petrol engine, with 218hp. As the performance leader of the launch range, it is claimed to have a 0-100kph time of 6.2sec and a governed 250kph top speed. Two more petrol models are expected later: an entry-level unit sitting below the A200 and a mid-range A-Class falling between the A200 and A250. The sole diesel choice from the outset of sales is the A180d, which uses a 1.5-litre unit also produced by Renault-Nissan and delivering 112hp. The A200 is equipped as [...]
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Review: 2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk review, test drive
What is it? There’s an adventurer inside every one of us. For some, this may mean switching on National Geographic, while there are those who prefer to put on their hiking boots and head out for adrenaline-pumping thrills, and the Trailhawk is this kind of on an adventurer. Every model that Jeep builds must have a Trail Rated or Trailhawk (as they are called) version; one that displays better off-road ability than the regular model and comes out on top in tests in five specific areas – traction, water fording, manoeuvrability, articulation and ground clearance. Jeeps are pretty handy off-road, but for the Trailhawks to earn their wings, the cars get modifications like higher ground clearance, low-range 4x4 gearboxes and additional skid plates.   The Compass Trailhawk comes with Jeep’s Active Drive Low 4x4 system, which is basically a system with a low range and a ratio of 20:1, a rear locking differential and an additional Rock setting on Jeep's Selec Terrain system. It also gets hill descent control as standard. Ride height has been cranked up a further 20mm and the car gets differently profiled front and rear bumpers, giving it better approach and departure angles that stand at 30.3 degrees (approach), 24.4 degrees (breakover) and 33.6 degrees (departure). The regular Compass Limited variants measurements stand at 16.8, 22.9 and 31.7 respectively. The Compass Trailhawk also gets underside skid plates, all-season tyres and all-weather floor mats too.   Of course, the Trailhawk isn’t just a mountain-dwelling creature and it lives among us in the city too. And to remind us of its true nature, it also has the signature red recovery hooks, a black anti-glare bonnet decal, unique alloy wheels and the Trailhawk and Trail Rated badging.   What’s it like on the outside? For the uninitiated, this might just be a regular Compass, but for those even slightly inclined towards anything automotive, it will be no tough task to tell this variant apart. The black bonnet decal, the red tow hooks and the badging are the right amount of deco to set it apart and give it that butch off-road appeal. Sure, some might still want more, like massive cladding all around, a winch to bolt onto the bumper, jerry cans for the body, perhaps a ladder over its tailgate, and even massive fog lamps sprouting from the roof. This would not only scream off-road but also take it from being an adventurer to, well, Bear Grylls. But bearing in mind this Compass will live in the city too, it's best left where it’s at.   What’s it like on the inside? Trailhawk versions come with interiors trim and spec differences as well. The car we drove had Trailhawk logos embroidered on the seats, red trim bits around the cabin and an 8.4-inch touchscreen system; the current variants in India get a 5.0 or a 7.0-inch screen. The  Trailhawk specifications for India are still not known, however, it will get additional buttons on the four-wheel-drive selector to select four-wheel-drive low, hill descent and the Rock mode setting too. The rest of it is similar to the regular Compass, and that is a good thing. At first glance, the insides do appear plain, but as you look and poke around you’ll see that it has a quality feel to it, thanks to the generous helpings of soft-touch materials, the beautifully stitched seats and the well-damped switches. Space on the inside is the same; so, while the front is just fine, the rear still isn’t class leading and sitting three abreast will be uncomfortable. The backrest too may feel upright for some. Boot space stands at 438 litres, and what’s nice is that the SUV gets a full-size spare under the boot floor.   What’s it like to drive? For our Trailhawk experience, Jeep had chalked out a drive through a Tasmanian forest trail. But between that and our hotel in Hobart, lay about 35km of some excellent paved twisty Australian roads, perfect to check this Jeep's road manners. I’m happy to report that the Trailhawk behaves pretty much the same, the 20mm ride height increase hasn’t really affected the handling – perhaps a back to back will bring out the differences but, out here on its own, the Trailhawk handled itself really well. Just like the regular Compass, there is body roll but it’s far from sloppy. The steering is nice, direct and well-weighted. The gearbox, however, doesn’t blend in with the rest of the sporty character. The nine-speed torque converter feels like a typical slush 'box. Put your foot down at low revs, and there is a rise in revs but not a corresponding increase in speed and gear changes are slow to complete. Off-road, however, it works just fine; in fact, compared to a dual-clutch auto, the more fluid shifts of a torque converter make for a smoother drive, and with no clutch plate to damage, it’s probably the better setup to have. &nb [...]
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MMRT paddock complex revamped
The Madras Motor Sports Club (MMSC) has inaugurated the updated Madras Motor Race Track Paddock complex. The new complex, consisting of 20 pit garages, a spectator viewing terrace and VIP hospitality suites that can accommodate up to 400 people along the the pit-lane, has been developed at a cost of over Rs 20 crore. A full-fledged, permanent 7.5km rally track is also currently under development, while the MMSC is working with triple Asia-Pacific Rally champion Gaurav Gill to start a driving academy in the near future. Commenting on the development work, MMSC president Ajit Thomas said: “It has been a long journey for MMSC from its humble beginnings 66 years ago. Even after we moved our racing activities from Sholavaram to the new track near Sriperumbudur, we constantly strove to improve, not just in terms of conducting events, but also upgrading facilities over a period of time. “In 2014, the track received FIA Grade-2 certification, but in keeping with our philosophy of ever onward, we decided to refurbish and upgrade the existing facilities at considerable expense. The new paddock and facilities will allow us to host not just racing events but also create a venue that auto manufacturers, sponsors and agencies would be proud to use for their events.” The new pit complex follows on from the upgrade done to the race control room with new hardware installed last year as well as India's first and only bespoke drag strip. A second paddock on the western side with its own short circuit allows the MMSC to effectively split the track into two and host two separate events concurrently. [...]
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Mahindra's showcase at Auto Expo 2018 to include 6 new EVs
Mahindra has revealed that their Auto Expo 2018 stand will have a large focus on the future of mobility – namely, electric cars. The brand has confirmed that stall N-5 in Hall 11 will showcase its future technology, ranging from its new EV tech to mobility and connectivity solutions. The Indian automaker’s display will have six all-new electric vehicles – two of which are new concepts – in addition to its future electric architecture and an electric mobility platform which is expected to provide better-connected experiences for car buyers. Besides the tech showcase, Mahindra’s pavilion will also have a new SUV for global markets and a Stinger concept of one of its popular SUVs. The brand has a history of showcasing exciting-looking concepts at the Auto Expo like the Halo concept and XUV Aero. The new SsangYong Rexton will also be a part of Mahindra’s display at the 2018 Auto Expo. More information will be revealed at the press conference at the motor show on February 7, 2018, at about 4pm. Stay tuned. Also see: Mahindra bets big on online retail for SUVs 2017 Mahindra Scorpio buyer's guide video New Mahindra U321 MPV interior spied [...]
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Budget 2018 impact: Locally assembled cars to get more expensive
Eyeing a premium model from a foreign carmaker? Chances are you’ll have to pay more for one, in the very near future. As per the proposals made in Budget 2018, locally assembled and fully imported cars will see an increase in taxation. Cars which are locally assembled in India are likely to see an increase in cost of between 3 and 5 percent as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley proposed an increase in customs duty on motor vehicles brought to India via the CKD (completely knocked down) route. As per the proposal, the customs duty on imported engine components could be raised from 7.5/10 percent to 15 percent. There could also be a hike in the duty on the vehicle parts that are an element of the CKD kits – from 10 percent to 15 percent. The move is set to impact carmakers such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar Land Rover – those which have dedicated assembly facilities in India. Cars brought to India in completely built up (CBU) or fully-imported form could also get pricier. The government has made a proposal for a rate hike on one section of customs duty on CBUs from 20 percent to 25 percent. This move could drive up the total import duty; which currently stands at an already steep rate of over 180 percent. The finance minister's rate hike proposal met with strong disapproval from luxury carmakers. Country's leading luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz said the increase in customs duty will reverse the growth trend in the segment. “The increase in the basic customs duty of auto parts, accessories and CKD components is unfortunate, and comes as a surprise. It will highly restrict the growth of the luxury car industry," said Roland Folger, MD & CEO, Mercedes-Benz India.  Rahil Ansari, Head, Audi India said the budget lacks focus towards the luxury segment. "Increase in custom duty is going to definitely affect the prices again, which will further confuse the customer The Union Budget 2018-19 is disappointing and against the spirit of partnership," Ansari said, adding that lack of measures towards government's ambitious E-mobility project is surprising. The decision to impose a higher customs duty has been taken to promote the government's Make in India initiative, as it sees a significant potential for domestic value addition within the auto components sector, according to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Sugato Sen, Deputy Director General, SIAM told Autocar India that the move will affect the entire auto industry as most carmakers source components from abroad. "The hike in customs duty on CKD auto parts and components was not anticipated," he said. The term Completely Knocked Down (CKD) is referred to vehicles whose engine or gearbox or both the units are separately imported and are assembled locally into the body shell while CBUs are brought into the destination country as is from the factory of origin. [...]
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Hybrids to remain focus for Lexus despite government's EV push
Japanese luxury carmaker Lexus will continue to launch hybrids in India despite the India government’s clear cut push for full electric vehicles. Lexus officials believe hybrids are not only an important stepping stone towards full electrification, but also an ideal solution to curb vehicular pollution. The brand sees lack of renewable energy generation as a major hurdle in EV adoption. “Apart from the high cost of EVs, generating clean energy is also an issue. We still use fossil fuels and coal for generating 70-80 percent of electricity, so the purpose gets lost. With EVs, we are only moving the problem somewhere else,” newly appointed Lexus India chairman, N Raja told Autocar India. The government's ambitious plan of shifting entirely to electric vehicles by 2030 has faced a lot of flak from various sections of the auto industry, which maintain the view that hybrids are a necessary stepping stone to full battery electrics. Lexus believes in the mid- to long-term, India can promote both hybrid and electric options, because one will lead to better utilisation of the other. "Each has a greater chance of succeeding because this is tied to the cost of the battery and ultimately the cost of the vehicle," a company spokesperson said. Vince Socco, executive vice president, Lexus Asia Pacific expressed concern over the government placing larger emphasis on the desired outcome (of lowering emissions) rather than technology itself. "By including hybrids in our line-up, we are supporting the government’s move to electrification, but they clearly have focused only on battery electric vehicles as their big bet going forward. And that’s fine, but what we are saying is 'please have a broad definition of electrification'," Socco told Autocar India. Going ahead, popularising hybrids is the biggest challenge for Lexus and it has sought the government’s support in making them attractive. Lexus was forced to hike prices of its hybrids, which account for a major chunk of its range in India, post GST as they were subject to a tax rate of 43 percent, up from around 30 percent earlier. Continuing with its push towards hybrid technology, the Japanese carmaker recently launched the LS 500h, its sixth hybrid in the range at a price of Rs 1.77-1.93 crore (ex-showroom India). Also see: 2018 Lexus LS 500h: 5 things you need to know 2018 Lexus LS 500h walkaround video 2017 Lexus LS 500h review video Lexus NX300h priced from Rs 53.18 Lakh 2017 Lexus NX300h video review [...]
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SCOOP! New Audi RS5 Coupe India launch next month
Audi may not be participating in the Auto Expo 2018, but it's doing plenty to stay in the spotlight. The all-new Q5 arrived, earlier this month; and we have now learned that Audi will introduce the new RS5 Coupe at the end of February. The second-generation RS5 Coupe is new from the ground up. It's based on a new platform that sees it grow in size, as compared to the outgoing car. Despite that, when equipped with the optional carbon-fibre roof, the new RS5 is about 60kg lighter than its predecessor. This RS5 is the first model to follow Audi Sport's aggressive new design language; and to that effect, it features new bumpers, a more prominent 'Single frame' grille, 'quattro blisters' that highlight the beefier wheel arches, 19-inch wheels (20-inchers optional), Matrix LED headlights and added air intakes. The big news is its change of heart: the new RS5 foregoes the previous car's 4.2-litre V8 for a new, 2.9-litre, turbocharged V6 – also deployed in the Porsche Panamera. While it may be smaller and have fewer cylinders, the V6 matches the V8's power output of 450hp; and at 600Nm of torque, outdoes its predecessor's output. In comparison, the BMW M4 – the RS5's rival-in-chief – makes 431hp and 550Nm of torque. Also, the M4 is rear-wheel drive, whereas in the RS5, power goes to all four wheels through Audi's famed quattro all-wheel drive system. Only now, it's directed through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which replaces the old seven-speeder. With a drop in weight, a jump in torque and a smarter AWD system, Audi claims the new RS5 Coupe will do 0-100kph in just 3.9 seconds – over half a second quicker than the car it replaces and equalling the original R8 V10's time. Top speed is limited to 250kph but ticking the 'dynamic pack' option will let it run up to 280kph. Inside, the RS5 features the usual RS fare – sport seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, Alcantara trimmings, an RS-specific display for the virtual cockpit system and stainless steel pedals. A Sport exhaust system is optional. Expect the new RS5 to be priced at close to Rs 1.2 crore (ex-showroom). Also see: 2017 Mercedes-AMG C 43 vs Audi S5 Sportback comparison 2018 Audi Q5 launched at Rs 53.25 lakh [...]
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Review: 2018 Force Gurkha review, test drive
What is it? The Gurkha manufactured by Force Motors is a serious off-roader – and by serious, we mean serious; its natural environment begins where other SUVs get stuck. Right off the bat, it makes its intentions clear; how many SUVs have you seen that come factory-fitted with a snorkel? But what exactly is it?  Let’s begin with the looks. Looks are subjective, so the G-Wagen-inspired lines and flat panels (with corrugations) will divide opinion. But yes, all kitted out, the three-door SUV (there’s a larger five-door version as well) with the longish wheelbase, flared wheel arches and wide stance does look attractive in its own way. And say what you will of its origins and ancestry, it does have that much sought-after rugged look sorted. This is especially true on this version; kitted out with all manner of accessories such as a roof-mounted shovel, an axe and a declaration that it’s ‘Built for War’. More significantly, it comes with a hard-top roof, so that there's no buffeting at high speeds that you’d get on the soft-top Mahindra Thar. You can also sleep easier at night knowing that someone can’t just saunter in and pilfer stuff, or just take off with the car. No surprises as to what lies beneath. The Gurkha is built on a ladder-frame chassis though a sticky point for off-road purists might be the independent front suspension. What’s it like on the inside? The right word to describe the Gurkha’s interiors would be 'disappointing'. They look about as contemporary as a black and white movie; and that’s no exaggeration. Sure, everything is functional, the front seats are reasonably comfortable and there is even a small tachometer – but that’s about it. Otherwise the insides look as well put together as something built by bus-body manufacturers. Quality, fit and finish are atrocious to the point of being comical; and all we can say about the rear is that it has seats that face each other, a roof-mounted handle you can easily whack your head on and no seat belts.   What’s it like to drive? The retro experience carries on when you hit the road. Yes, the ride is good even over the most badly bombed-out roads and the Gurkha is actually rather fun when you are on the gas, flying down a dirt road. However, for everyday driving, the Gurkha is way out of its depth. The engine is loud, controls like the gear lever need more than a little effort and performance from the 85hp engine is glacial; but this is no luxury vehicle. Designed to trample across terrain that only tractors and off-road trucks can drive over, the Gurkha only limbers up when you get to a dirt track. Truth be told, finding suitable terrain to challenge it, is a challenge in itself. Putting it through a regular off- road course without sand, slush or snow is like challenging Roger Federer to play against a 10-year old. Most of the time you don’t even need the four-wheel drive; forget low-range or locking differentials. And it didn’t disappoint when we finally found a few serious challenges. The Gurkha is in its element crossing ravines and climbing up steep embankments. The Gurkha’s talking point is its manually lockable differentials on both front and rear axles. Engaging and disengaging the diff locks is a bit of a wrestle with the levers but what you get for your effort is incredible low-speed off-road ability. The Gurkha crawls its way out of seemingly difficult terrain with surprising ease. But some more power from the engine would always have helped. Seat-of-the-pant feel suggests the Gurkha might just be better than the Thar in the rough. The Gurkha is also more flood-ready with a factory-fit snorkel. Should I buy one? If you are looking for a regular SUV that can do a bit of off-roading too, you had better look elsewhere. The Gurkha is a hardcore and very focused off-road machine that scores low on mainstream concerns of comfort and value. At Rs 10.23 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Gurkha is expensive for what it gets you and is also pricier than the Thar, which delivers something of a similar experience. But if you are on the lookout for an off-roader that has your back in the roughest of scenarios, the Gurkha could just be it. Is it the best of the off-roaders though? You’ll have to wait a wee bit longer till we bring the Gurkha and Thar together.   [...]
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Action Express clinch Daytona 24 Hours win
Action Express Racing took victory in the 56th edition of the Daytona 24 Hours, establishing a new distance record in the process. Filipe Albuquerque, Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa completed a total of 808 laps in the #5 Cadillac DPi-V.R, beating the previous record of 762 laps on the current track layout in 1992 and the mileage record established in 1982 on the previous 3.84-mile (6.17Km) configuration. The Prototype race was marked by a high number of casualties among the leading runners, including the Spirit of Daytona Racing (misfire) and Wayne Taylor Racing (spate of right-rear punctures). Both Extreme Speed Motorsport Nissan DPis also dropped out in the night with a gearbox failure and a blown turbo respectively. Meanwhile, a fire and a recurring electrical problem brought an end to the Joest-run Mazda’s race. That meant the race developed into a two-way contest between the two Action Express Cadillacs and Team Penske's pair of all-new Acura ARX-05s. Penske's challenge crumbled just beyond half-distance with an alternator problem for the #6 and a trip to the garage for the #7 when Helio Castroneves made contact with the #31 Action Express Cadillac. That left Action Express with a major advantage and allowed both cars to make late stops to top up their fluids amid concerns of overheating. The Felipe Nasr, Mike Conway, Eric Curran and Stuart Middleton car emerged from its stop in a fight for second with the CORE Autosport Oreca of Colin Braun, Jon Bennett, Romain Dumas and Loic Duval. Braun closed on the fuel-saving Middleton in the final stint but fell short by 21 seconds, as Albuquerque took the flag first 1m10s clear. United Autosports took fourth place with the best of its Ligier JS P217s driven by Bruno Senna, Paul di Resta, Will Owen and Hugo de Sadeleer. They overhauled the #78 Jackie Chan DCR Oreca driven by Alex Brundle, Ho-Pin Tung, Ferdinand Habsburg and Antonio Felix da Costa in the final two hours. Both teams' respective second cars, featuring current Formula 1 stars, hit trouble. Fernando Alonso’s #23 United Ligier dropped out of contention for a potential podium place in the evening with a brake issue that forced a lengthy trip to the garage to replace a master cylinder, before losing more time with a throttle issue and a repeat of the brake problem. Alonso and team-mates Lando Norris and Phil Hanson wound up 38th overall, 91 laps down. In the #37 DCR Oreca he shared with Daniel Juncadella, Robin Frijns and Felix Rosenqvist, Lance Stroll ended up 15th overall and 32 laps down after losing a significant amount of time to repair bodywork and suspension damage after a puncture. [...]
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2018 Triumph Speed Triple teased
Triumph has released a video teasing the upcoming Speed Triple. Even though the overall styling of the bike has not changed, it looks to be considerably revised. Some of these revisions include the new TFT colour instrumentation, five-spoke alloy wheels, redesigned front fender and switchgear. One of the first frames in the video shows the silhouette of the new motorcycle, in this shot the Speed Triple looks identical to the model it replaces. It has the same overall design outline, including the windscreen and headlights. This doesn’t come as a surprise because the motorcycle has only been revised for 2018 and not replaced. However, going by the way Triumph has recently updated its Street and Tiger range, we can expect the new Speed Triple to have a considerable number of changes underneath its similar-looking bodywork. One such update has been clearly given away in the teaser video – the TFT colour screen. This screen is a full-colour unit similar to the one seen on the updated Street Triple RS and Tiger models, and is highly informative. The Speed will also feature new switchgear with the ride mode-switch being larger and easier to use; it will also be backlit. The teaser also reveals other changes like the redesigned five-spoke wheels and a sharper-looking front fender. The new Speed Triple could also come with some mechanical revisions, which could see the bike make a little more power and lose some weight, just as Triumph did with the new Tigers. Along with the new TFT screen, expect to see smarter electronic assists, possibly aided by an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU). Going by how popular the Triumph Street Triple RS has become, we may also get to see the RS badge debut on the Speed Triple this time around. We should have all of the information in a few days’ time. To watch the teaser video, head here. Also see: 2017 Triumph Street Triple RS review, test ride 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster review, test ride [...]
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Review: 2017 Mercedes-AMG C 43 vs Audi S5 Sportback comparison
AMG’s C 43 really did prove that ultimate power isn’t everything when it was launched last year. As far as we’d known, up until then, a hot AMG C-class meant a V8 engine, stiff suspension, a very loud noise, rear-wheel drive, and, as a result, a sometimes-worrying dearth of traction. But then the supposedly lesser ‘43’ came along with all-wheel drive, a bit less power, a softer but still pleasant noise, and comfort like you’d expect from a Mercedes, and it proved to be an altogether more usable package for our roads. But before the C 43, Audi had the old S5 Sportback – albeit for the all-too-brief span of two years. Now that car has been replaced by an all-new model, and it’s everything you’d expect. It’s more powerful, better looking, more spacious, more luxurious and more modern. But is it the better everyday performance car? Or is that the Mercedes? MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE Let’s start with what they have in common – turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engines, torque converter automatic gearboxes and all-wheel drive. And then there’s the fact that they’re both fully imported, so unlike some of their locally assembled stablemates, they are ‘uncorrupted’, which is to say they haven’t been retuned for our market, and that does have an impact on the way they behave on the road. They both also have regular diesel variants (A5 TDI and C 250d) and the sporty visual add-ons that set them apart are small and subtle. The Audi, for example, just has its grille finished in black rather than chrome, the wing mirrors are silver, and though the alloy wheels are a different shape, they’re the same size. The AMG makes a better effort at distancing itself from its mainstream sibling, what with its ‘diamond’ grille, all-new bumpers and, of course, different alloys. It’s also far more generously equipped than a regular C-class, while the S5 has virtually the same equipment list as the diesel A5. But then the price walk from a C 250 d to C 43 is a lot greater than the one from A5 to S5. Which looks better? Personally, I prefer the Audi, with its subtle curves, low roof and greater visual width. Although, the fact that a C-class is a far more common sight than an A5 Sportback probably has something to do with that. On the inside too, the S5 isn’t too different from the A5, save for some carbon-fibre trim and red quilted upholstery, whereas the AMG 43 feels a more significant step up from its lesser sibling, with its black leather, dark matte wood and red seatbelt; oh yes, chunkier steering wheel too. Both cars get heavily bolstered sports seats at the front, though, while the S5’s snug buckets are better suited to skinny ol’ me, I suspect most would prefer the larger, comfier chairs of the C 43. And while we’re talking practicality, they both have 480-litre boots, but the Audi’s liftback opening means the space is more usable, plus, its spare wheel is tucked safely away underneath; the Merc’s sits inside the boot. The back seats are important too; in fact, they are what separate sports sedans from outright sportscars and add some real-world usability. With its sloping ‘Sportback’ roof, the A5 does sacrifice quite a bit of headroom and taller passengers will find it a bit cramped back here. No such issue in the C-class, thanks to its conventional sedan shape, and though it’s a little short on thigh support, it does feel like the more comfortable and spacious back seat. DimensionsAudi S5 SportbackMercedes-AMG C 43Length4733mm4702mmWidth1843mm1810mmHeight1386mm1434mmWheelbase2824mm2840mmKerb weight1660kg1690kgFuel tank58 litres66 litresTyre size (f/r)245/40 R18225/45 R18-245/40 R18 DIET POP Numbers? The Merc’s 367hp plays the Audi’s 354hp, and it’s a similar story with the torque – 520Nm versus 500Nm. The Audi has eight speeds in its torque converter gearbox (that’s right, no DSG this time), while the Mercedes has nine. Launch them both as hard as possible and they are shockingly closely matched, with the AMG just slightly edging ahead. In the sprint to the ton, it gets there in 4.77sec compared to the S5’s 5.01sec, it gets the 20-80kph sprint done and dusted in 3.08sec to the Audi’s 3.16sec and, when bolting from 40-100kph, the Merc does the dash in 3.58sec versus the Audi’s 4.24sec. PerformanceAudi S5 SportbackMercedes-AMG C 430-20kph0.69s0.68s0-40kph1.53s1.46s0-60kph2.46s2.30s0-80kph3.90s3.37s0-100kph5.01s4.77s0-120kph6.80s6.52s20-80kph (in kickdown)3.16s3.08s40-100kph (in kickdown)4.24s3.58s The figures may be as they are, but there are some differences in the way these cars feel on the road, and this is what might make all the difference for many. For instance, while both V6 engines sound really nice, it’s the AMG’s that’s a bit louder and more melodious; the Audi V6 [...]
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Suzuki to showcase 17 models at the Auto Expo 2018
Suzuki Motorcycles’ stand in Hall No. 2 at the Auto Expo 2018 is set to have 17 two-wheelers on display. This line-up will include the upcoming Burgman Street scooter, new CKD motorcycles, the company’s Indian line-up, dirt bikes and the GSX-RR –Suzuki’s Ecstar MotoGP race bike. The Japanese brand has said that the Auto Expo will also pave the way to fulfil its commitment of delivering two new products for the Indian market every year. We expect one of these products to be the new Burgman Street, a premium scooter Suzuki has developed for India. Engine details are unclear at the moment and the Burgman Street could share the 125cc motor from the Access 125. However, there is also a possibility that it could feature a new 150cc engine developed specifically for the application. Currently, the only other 150cc scooters on sale are the Aprilia SR150 and the Vespa 150. We expect the second product to be a CKD motorcycle. It is likely that this bike will be Suzuki’s first sub-1,000cc big bike offering in India, and it could be either the V-Strom 650 adventure bike or the GSX-S750 naked sports bike. The V-Strom 650 uses a 645cc V-twin motor that produces 71hp while the GSX-S750 gets a powerful 749cc, inline, four-cylinder engine that produces 114hp. In terms of pricing, the V-Strom may be priced slightly higher than the Kawasaki Versys 650. But if it’s the Suzuki GSX-S750 that’s launching, it could be priced on-par or may even undercut Kawasaki’s well-priced Z900, while offering similar performance. The Suzuki also offers traction control, which the Z900 misses out on. Both bikes are expected to be displayed, with one launching at the Expo and one later in the year. Besides the company’s Indian offerings and the previously-mentioned Ecstar Moto GP race bike, Suzuki will also have the GSX-RR, the Gixxer Cup racing model, various motocross variants, the 2018 Suzuki RM-Z450, the 2018 RM-Z250 and 2018 DR-Z70 will also be on display. Also see: Suzuki Burgman Street to be launched at Auto Expo 2018 Auto Expo 2018 preview: Scooters and bikes Suzuki to unveil new scooter, CKD motorcycle at Auto Expo 2018 [...]
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New teaser images reveal Tata X451 and H5 design details
Tata Motors sure knows how to get some buzz going around its upcoming X451 hatchback and H5 SUV, both of which will be unveiled in their entirety at Auto Expo 2018. The carmaker has released yet another set of teaser images of the two models today, giving an ever greater idea of what to expect. Stitching together all the images released so far, it’s easy to conclude the new Tatas will look very different to existing models. Tata Motors had already shared highlights of its new Impact Design 2.0 design approach and you can see how the design language will be implemented on the new models. The Hyundai i20 and Maruti Baleno-rivaling X451 hatchback, that will be first product to be built on Tata’s new AMP platform, promises standout looks. The images, which are design illustrations, show strong surfacing and many light-catching features. What the images make clear is a strong ridge on the side that flows down from the A-pillar and then kinks back upwards as it extends to the rear. There also appears to be a darkened and upswept style element under the side windows, as well as prominent contrast colour skirts at the base of the doors. Tata Motors had revealed cars from Impact Design 2.0 will have segment-leading wheel sizes and the latest image, that shows a section of the rear for the first time, reveals as much. The concept to be shown at Auto Expo could feature 17-inch or even larger wheels, though it will be interesting to see what the production models get. The latest image also shows the X451’s well defined wheel arches, sharply cut rear doors, sharp rear windscreen rake and a blackened-out roof spoiler which will lead on from the contrast roof. A character line that leads into the high set tail lamps can be seen for the first time too. Today’s teasers also give us our clearest idea of what the H5 SUV will look like too. The images show an SUV with a bold face characterized by a chunky clamshell-like bonnet and slim high set headlights which could possibly be LED units. The bumper will also be highly stylized with the fog-lamp enclosure featuring what Tata has referred to a ‘tri-arrow’ pattern. Light catching lines will be used to full effect on the H5’s sides too, and there will be chunky cladding at the base of the doors. The H5 promises to have a sporty roofline that slopes downwards towards the rear, but the glasshouse will be far from conventional. The windows aft the C-pillar will be pinched and will ‘open up’ again as they merge with the rear windscreen. Massive wheels, once again, will be seen on the H5 and the manner the wheel arches flow into the rear bumper is something that promises to give the new SUV a very distinctive rear end. The latest teaser images suggest a smoked effect for the wraparound tail lamps and intricate detailing on the lower portion of the SUV’s rear bumper. The H5 SUV will be made on Tata-owned Land Rover’s L550 platform and will be available in five and seven seat versions. Powering the SUV will be a rebranded version of Fiat’s Multijet II diesel engine, that also powers the Jeep Compass, albeit in 140hp and 170hp forms. In addition to the hatchback and SUV, Tata has also released more images of the Tigor Sport, also scheduled for an Auto Expo reveal. The latest images show a contrast roof and a honeycomb design detail on the flanks. Images released earlier showed the Tigor Sport will have a completely redone front bumper with an exaggerated housing for the fog lamps, embellished with red detailing. The Tigor Sport will be powered by the Nexon’s 1.2-litre, three-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine and will get a retuned suspension package for a sportier drive. Also see: Auto Expo 2018 preview: Cars and SUVs Tata Nexon AMT to debut at Auto Expo 2018 Why many automakers are giving Auto Expo 2018 a miss   [...]
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