It’s not the first time that such a thing has happened. Platform sharing is very common in the automobile world and even the Rolls-Royce Ghost shares about 20percent of its components with the BMW 7-Series. From amongst cars that you and I can hope to buy, the soon to be launched Renault Pulse is basically the Nissan Micra, the Koleos and X-Trail share more than just their monocoque, so do the Skoda Fabia and the Volkswagen Polo and the same for the Superb and Passat. Most automotive companies that own multiple brands under their umbrella end up sharing platforms to keep costs in check and no one does it better than Volkswagen. The VW Group is massive and includes brands like VW itself, Skoda, Audi, SEAT, Porsche, Lamborghini, Bugatti etc. So when VW launched the Vento last year, it was only a matter of time before Skoda launched its Vento based sedan. The Skoda Rapid is essentially the Vento with a few design changes to the exteriors and interiors. With prices starting from Rs6,82,411 to Rs9,08,913 for the petrol and Rs8,03,752 to Rs9,29,137 for the diesel ex-showroom New Delhi, will this Skoda be able to make rapid strides into the segment?
UPDATE 16/10/2013Skoda has updated the Rapid lineup. From now, they’ll only offer two new variants, called the Ambience Plus and the range-topping Elegance, for the Rapid that adds more creature comforts and features to the Vento-based sedan.
The biggest news coming out of Renault has been the development of the Captur SUV. Built on the Clio, Captur is a mini SUV like the Foed Ecosport and the Duster and this global car will be launched internationally later this year and Renault could introduce the Captur in India later next year.
Peterhansel wins the Dakar for the 11th time. Loeb considering entering next year. Sainz to return too
Stephane Peterhansel doesn’t have much to prove. Neither to himself nor to others. The French driver may not be as well known as F1 driver Sebastian Vettel but Peterhansel is a legend. After winning the Dakar 6 times on a motorcycle while riding for Yamaha, Peterhansel changed to 4 wheelers in 1999 and started to drive for Nissan. Success didn’t come immediately and the French driver struggled to regain his form which saw him win the motorcycle event. Peterhansel then changed his team to Mitsubishi and in 2004 he won the first of now 5 wins while driving a Pajero. Last year Peterhansel won the Dakar for the first time since it moved to South America driving the Mini prepared by team x-raid and the Frenchman repeated his success this year again. His 5th victory puts him ahead of Finnish driver Ari Vatanen who won the Dakar 4 times in the 4 wheeler category.
What manufacturers can’t afford today in the market with such cut throat competition is delay in their launches. Chevrolet had planned to launch the Spark in 2012 but then there was an unscheduled delay which has definitely put a dent in the manufacturers’ aspirations for the hatch as Maruti Suzuki meanwhile launched the new Alto. The Spark was first launched in 2007 and it has had its fair share of success in the hugely competitive entry level hatch segment. Designed and engineered to be a cheap and economical car, the prices for the Spark start from Rs 3.26 lakhs to Rs 3.81 lakhs for the petrol while the LPG version costs Rs 3.82 lakhs to Rs 4.10 lakhs ex-showroom New Delhi. The Chevy Spark comes with a 3 year or 1,00,000km standard warranty and the customers can also opt for the add-on service maintenance package and also the Chevrolet Promise Cost of Ownership Program.
Mahindra is going to soon launch a sub 4 metre Verito to compete with the Tata Indigo eCS and theMaruti Suzuki Dzire. The compact version of the Verito is what the manufacturer is hoping will reignite interest in the sedan but Mahindra is not stopping there and waiting until the launch of the compact Verito and the manufacturer has now launched the Verito Executive Version. This variant is aimed at making the Verito a more premium car and has been priced at Rs 7.75 lakh ex-showroom, New Delhi for the diesel version and a petrol variant in the Executive Version is also available. The top of the line diesel version up until now was launched at Rs 7.19lakhs. Speaking at the launch of the Verito Executive edition, Pravin Shah, Chief Executive, Mahindra and Mahindra, said, ‘The Verito Executive edition will add a premium and aspiration quotient to the sedan. Together with the proposition of space and mileage, which the Verito is already known for, this new edition will provide premium interior and exterior features to our customers. The features of the Verito Executive edition have been carefully chosen to meet the increasing customer demand and aspiration for a stylish sedan. This will clearly take the Verito to the next level in terms of style, premiumness, convenience and comfort.’
The Aston Martin Cygnet is the smallest car in the world which can make you feel like James Bond. At Rs 25 lakhs in the UK market, the Cygnet is as far from a conventional city hatch as it is possible. A small hatch for the city is generally cheap but the Cygnet breaks that rule. The Cygnet is based on the Toyota IQ with who it shares major components like the body, chassis, suspension and engine and transmission.
The Cygent is no marketing gimmick and while Aston has no plans of getting it into India, the Cygnet is aimed to satisfy those with an addiction to luxury brands and we have enough of those in India so perhaps sometime in the future the Cygnet could have an Indian launch too. Aston launched the hatch sighting obvious reasons like the cramped urban conditions and initially Aston had thought that the Cygnet would be only for those who previously owned an Aston but the hatch is now available to anyone.
Click past the jump to read more about 2012 Aston Martin Cygnet
The automotive journalists in India went berserk when Tata bought Jaguar and Land Rover. ‘The end of the raj,’ and so on read the headlines. It was a big moment for India if your interest lay in automobiles. For Jaguar and Land Rover the move to Tata proved beneficial one and both companies have benefited from the money that Tata has been able to pump in. In India alone Jaguar has got a 32 percent growth selling 2393 cars as compared to 1803 cars which were sold in 2011. Jaguar is now definitely going to increase their sales numbers and the manufacturer is going to start the production of the XF saloon in Pune with a 2.2-litre diesel engine. The XF is the entry level Jaguar and with the 2.2-litre diesel engine this XF will become the cheapest Jaguar on sale in India. The XF is also the second car from the Jaguar Land Rover to be built in India after the Freelander 2.
Speaking at the launch of the XF 2.2 diesel sedan Jaguar Land Rover’s vice president for India Rohit Suri said ‘Our best-selling models in India are the Land Rover Freelander 2 and the Jaguar XF and this has driven the move to build these products locally. The Jaguar XF has become very popular with our customers due to its sports car performance, outstanding luxury saloon elegance and contemporary individual styling. Its inspired engineering and technological innovation have helped it to win more than 100 awards internationally. So we are now delighted to offer this car as a locally built product with a new engine for this market, which will enable us to provide our customers with a wider choice of competitively priced models.’ The entry level XF 2.2-litre is priced at Rs 44.5lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai. The 2.2-litre is the second XF on sale in India with a diesel engine but more importantly compared to the 3-litre, V6 diesel the price of the XF has now come down by over 12lakhs. With the XF 2.2-litre Jaguar has now also got a car to compete with the BMW 520d, the Audi A6 and the Mercedes E220CDI.
The Octavia is coming back to India. Skoda later this year will be replacing the Laura with the Octavia and the manufacturer is going to launch the all new Octavia in England in March this year. While the Octavia and the Laura in India both have a premium image, internationally the sedan is known more for being a well-engineered car which provides good value and space. With the new Octavia though Skoda is aiming to make this sedan more premium than before and the manufacturer aims at building on the success it achieved in 2012 when its sales increased by 20percent. Compared to the Laura the prices of the sedan would be higher.
The Mercedes CLA was one of the most significant unveilings in the ongoing Detroit Motor Show. While it is an A-clas with a boot, the CLA is aimed to attract new customers towards Mercedes. Described as ‘design rebel’ this new sedan will be assembled in India and prices should start from just over 20lakhs.
The styling is one of the strengths of the CLA and the design hasn’t changed much from the Concept Style Coupe and marketing boss Joachim Schmidt while described it said, ‘This car gives us the chance to draw in a huge number of customers we didn’t have access to before, especially in markets where the A-class isn’t sold.’ ‘It will be the foundation if our future growth, appealing to Generation Y buyers and those young at heart. In particular those Generation Y buyers will bring down the average age of our customers, and also most likely, be conquest customers from other brands. That is why CLA is so important to us and represents a cornerstone of our growth ambitions,’ he further added.
The CLA is immediately recognized from its diamond styled grille and swooping roofline. According to Mercedes the CLA has the lowest drag of any production car on sale and the styling gets inspiration from the CLS. The exteriors has a sculptured look and the cabin has obvious similarities with the SLS like the ‘bullseye vents’ and ‘tablet-style screen’ with a lot of use of galvanised metal. Space too is good and the rear can seat 2 adults comfortably.
Based on the new modular front wheel drive platform, this is the 3rd car from Mercedesto use this platform and the CLA uses a transverse engine and front-drive layout. The sedan is 4630mm long, 1777mm wide and is 1437mm in height. The CLA will use a 1.6-litre, 4 cylinder petrol producing 120PS along with a turbocharged 2-litre, 4 cylinder petrol producing 210PS. The diesel engine will be the 2.1-litre turbo motor developing 170PS and matched to the engines will be a 6 speed manual or 7 speed dual-clutch gearbox.
The CLA sedan will use aluminium MacPherson struts at the front and multi-links at the rear and you can also change the set up between Sport and Comfort and also alter the ride height.
Indians can be fussy. We want our food to taste how it tastes at home, we relish the chaos in our country and to please us isn’t an easy task. When it comes to cars we can be rigid too. Toyota, Honda, Maruti Suzuki and now even Hyundai can breathe easy. Over the last year years these manufactures have done most things right and have developed a strong reputation for themselves. Reputations for us Indians are essential and somewhere down the line despite the success of the Beat, Spark and the Cruze, Chevrolet still suffers from lack of trust and the reputation that it holds is considered below the Japanese manufacturers and now even Hyundai. The word spread quickly that the Sail is a product from the GM-SAIC joint venture which was designed and in Shanghai, China. People immediately formed an opinion on the Sail and while the hatch has its obvious benefits for emerging markets like ours, the Sail was immediately branded not as premium a product as its eastern rivals. Chevrolet is now launching a sedan version of the Sail hatch next month and though the prices aren’t out yet the manufacturer knows that it can’t price it more than the Maruti Suzuki Dzire, Toyota Etios or even the Tata Manza. Prices will be announced next month but we expect the petrol version to start from just over Rs 6lakhs and the diesel to start from under 7lakhs.
Reports in the media of late have suggested that BMW is not planning a sedan to rival the recently revealed Mercedes CLA and the Audi A3. According to Car Magazine UK however BMW is definitely launching a 1-series sedan which is expected to be launched in 2016.
Like the CLA the 1-series sedan too would be built on a new platform which will support many future BMW models and like the CLA the 1-series sedan will be front wheel drive. Prices of this entry level sedan in the UK would start from well under 20lakhs. BMW last year showed the Active Tourer concept which uses a front wheel drive platform and the manufacturer has also said that it would use the 2013 Mini’s front-wheel drive platform for its cars.
Mini has also confirmed that it would be launching a 4 door sedan by 2015 for markets like India and China and the BMW 1-series and the Mini sedan could share a few things in common. The collaboration with Mini would bring the cost of the sedan significantly down. BMW and Mini aim to manufacturer over will a million compact cars using the new front wheel drive platform and the biggest challenge facing BMW with the 1-series sedan would be to price and position it distinctively separate from the 3-series.
Though it’s only speculative till now but the sedan could use a 3 and 4 cylinder diesel and petrol engines. On offer could be a 1.5-litre diesel in two different states of trims and the 2-litre petrol would also come in 2 different states of trim.
From the renderings on the net it seems that the 3-series would look like a notchback and the styling could resemble the 3-series. In the future a 1-series M variant could also be offered to rival the CLA 45 AMG.
As far as India is concerned there is reason for Volvo to celebrate. From the potion that they find themselves in now, totally and completely dominated by the likes of BMW, Mercedes and Audi, Volvo can only hope to improve. Despite having some nice and well engineered products like the XC60 and the S60, Volvo’s aren’t just selling. At the ongoing Detroit Motor Show its new boss, Hakan Samuelsson told Autocar UK magazine that 8 of its 9 models will be significantly updated in the next 12 months.
The XC90 SUV will get a completely new model next year and it will be the first Volvo to use the manufacturers all new ‘Scaleable Platform Architecture.’ This new platform will form the basis of all further Volvo’s upwards the S60.
Volvo’s share in 2012 decreased from 2011 and according to its boss Volvo is planning to develop a small car platform of its own to replace the current one which is derived from Ford.
The S60 will receive an update in the next 12 months and theV40 is which considered an important car for Volvo would make it into India to compete with the likes of the BMW 1-series and the recently launched Mercedes B-class. Another significant announcement coming out from Detroit is Volvo’s ambitions to develop an engine line-up of 4 cylinder engines which are expected to deliver performance of a 6 cylinder but with remarkably low fuel efficiency.
Helping Volvo bridge the gap to BMW and the other German manufacturers would be the 1.2 billion dollar loan from the China Development Bank and this loan not only helps Volvo repay its debt but also finance the investment.
Volkswagen has unveiled a SUV which is to sit above the Touareg that currently is on top of the ladder when it comes to SUV’s from VW. At the ongoing Detroit Motor Show Volkswagen has shown the CrossBlue concept and this SUV will also influence future SUV’s from the manufacturer. In the US the CrossBlue is to rival the Ford Explorer and the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the SUV is expected to be launched in the US by 2015.
The CLA, ‘design rebel’ entry level sedan fromMercedes Benz has been unveiled at Detroit. This entry level sedan will be launched in the first half of the year and prices if assembled in India could start from just over 20lakhs making it significantly cheaper than the C-class. The cheapest Mercedes Benz on sale in India currently is the B-class Sports Tourer priced at Rs 21.5lakhs.
The styling hasn’t changed much from the Concept Style Coupe which was shown last year andMercedes is planning to market this car aggressively and according to their sales and marketing boss Joachim Schmidt, ‘This car gives us the chance to draw in a huge number of customers we didn’t have access to before, especially in markets where the A-class isn’t sold.’ ‘It will be the foundation if our future growth, appealing to Generation Y buyers and those young at heart. In particular those Generation Y buyers will bring down the average age of our customers, and also most likely, be conquest customers from other brands. That is why CLA is so important to us and represents a cornerstone of our growth ambitions,’ he further added.
If there is a manufacturer which ought to be happy and benefit from our list then it’s got to be Hyundai. Perceptions about Hyundai couldn’t have been more different from what our list suggests. Out of the 9 cars on our list of the fastest accelerating cars to 100kmph in India, 3 are Hyundai’s. In India and internationally Hyundai’s are known to provide value for money amongst other thing. ButHyundai’s aren’t considered to be tailored towards enthusiasts. Surprisingly enough and going against the flow, some of the fastest cars in India are Hyundai’s. There are also 2Skoda’s in our list which isn’t a surprise and the Laura has been praised by all automotive publications for its handling and performance. The Mitsubishi Cedia also finds its way which though might not surprise many readers but it would surprise some who had assumed that the Cedia was now out of production. Volkswagen is represented by the Polo 1.6 which is amongst the few aspirational cars in India. Another interesting entry worth noting is the Volvo S60 T6 which is a highly underestimated car but surprisingly there is only one BMW amongst the nine cars.
Suzuki has launched a more powerful engine in the Swift for the Malaysian market. The hatch now gets a 1.4-litre, 4-cylinder K14B petrol engine which develops 95PS@6000rpm with a maximum torque of 130Nm@4000rpm. The engine with a double overhead camshaft and variable valve technology is matched to an all new Aisin 4-speed auto gearbox.
Acceleration to 100kmph is now under 11seconds which is around 2seconds faster than the 1.2-litre engine. In India theSwift comes with a 1.2-litre K-Series engine with variable-valve technology that produces 87PS and 114 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. The engine is matched to a 5 speed manual gearbox. The 1.4-litre engine is capable of reaching a top speed of 170kmph and comes standard with dual front airbags along with side and curtain airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist. The Swift also comes with additional features like steering wheel-mounted audio controls, front fog lamps, keyless start and 16 inch alloy wheels. On road price for the Swift in Malaysia with the 1.4-litre engine is over Rs 14lakhs.
Maruti launched the 3rd generation Swift in India in 2011 and the hatch in India comes with a 1.3-litre diesel and also a 1.2-litre petrol engine. The manufacturer as of now has no plans of introducing the 1.4-litre K-series engine in India.
The Peugeot 508 sedan will be followed by the 301 but after that what Peugeot has planned for India is a mystery. The 208 is a hatch with massive potential and if launched it could hurt the Maruti Suzuki Swift. Another interesting option could be the 2008 mini SUV. Peugeot has revealed pictures of the 2008 which will be shown officially in March at the Geneva Motor Show. The 2008 rivals the Skoda Yeti, Ford EcoSport which will be launched in India this year and the Renault Captur which we reviewed earlier this year. The 2008 concept was first shown at the Paris Motor Show last year and this is a global car intended to be sold in Europe, Latin America and Asia. To begin with the manufacturer will be manufacturing it in France, China and Brazil. The 2008 is designed and engineered to be an agile and versatile vehicle for the urban youth and if assembled in India prices could start from under 10lakhs which would make it cheaper than the Skoda Yeti.
This is of particular interest to Indian customers who of late have developed a fancy towards mini SUV’s. Renault after the resounding success of the Duster would want to build on the momentum and a possible launch in the second half of the year could be the Captur SUV. The manufacturer has revealed pictures of their SUV which was first shown at the Geneva Motor Show in 2011. The Captur mini SUV will make its international debut at the Geneva Motor Show later this year and the Captur is also the second of six concept cars which were shown at Geneva showcasing the manufacturers future design directions.
Built on the same platform as the Renault Clio, on which the Juke (Renault-Nissan ‘B’ platform) is also built, the Captur is 4120mm long and this global product has been branded as a ‘compact, unaggressive crossover which is particularly user-friendly,’ by Renault’s small car product boss, Benoit Bochard.
Petrol automatics just haven’t been popular enough. Not only are the diesel cars completely outselling petrol hatchbacks and sedans, petrol automatics account for a very small number of sales. That though hasn’t stopped Renault from launching the Scala Auto and the USP of the Scala would be its class leading fuel efficiency of 17.97kmpl which is 1kmpl more than what the manual version gives. Speaking on the launch, Renault India MD Marc Nassif said, ‘With more and more cars on the road as well as frequent stop-and-go traffic, India has been seeing an increase in demand for automatic sedans in recent years. However, despite the growing interest for these cars, petrol automatic vehicles are still limited to a 6% share in the premium sedan segment because they deliver lower mileage and higher cost of ownership. The Scala X-tronic CVT aims to bridge this gap by offering class-leading fuel efficiency, reliability and performance. With the next-generation X-tronic transmission, customers will be able to experience a new technological benchmark in automatic transmission, which offers a smoother ride, convenience and savings, making the Scala CVT an attractive choice for those opting for an automatic premium sedan.’ Renault has launched the Scala last year and the sedan has an 8 percent share in the premium segment market. The Scala has sold 3000 units since its launch and prices would start from Rs 8.70lakhs ex-showroom New Delhi for the automatic version which is a bit under a lakh compared to the manual version.
Sir Alec Issigonis would have never predicted this. Last year lead by the now almost invisible Stephane Peterhansel, Mini, Team X-Raid team won the Dakar for the first time after first entering the event in 2011 with just one MINI. Nani Roma came second and all the fiveMINIs made it to the top 10. The Monster Energy X-raid Team has entered the 35th Dakar again with a mission to defend their title with no less than 6 racing cars. German X-Raid team has been competing in the Dakar for a few years now with earlier the BMW X3 CC and the X5 and apart from winning the Dakar the team has also won 6 FIA World Cup titles. Team X-raid was started in 2002 and was the first team to enter a competitive diesel vehicle in the Dakar in 2003.
For one of the largest automobile manufacturers not to be present in the F1, World Rally Championship or even the FIA GT championship is a surprise. Toyota exited WRC in the 90’s and then last decade F1 too. Now Toyota Motorsports in association with their South African dealer, Imperial Toyota has entered the Dakar. Toyota had last year entered the Dakar too with 3 specially prepared Hilux pickups and finished the event in 3rd, 6th and 11th position.
Toyota has entered the 2013 Dakar with 2 Hilux’s driven by 2009 Dakar winners Giniel de Villiers from South Africa and Duncan Vos. 2012 was the first time that a factory supported Toyota Hilux competed in the Dakar in the top T1 class which was earlier dominated by Volkswagen’s prototype Race Touareg and Mitsubishi’s Pajero. Giniel de Villiers in fact had won the Dakar on a Race Touareg.
VW Golf overtakes Maruti-Suzuki Alto as the largest selling car. Maruti-Suzuki to respond with a diesel engine?
The Volkswagen Gol has taken the title of the largest selling passenger car in the world for a calendar year from the Maruti Suzuki Alto. After emerging as the largest selling passenger car in the world for 2 consecutive years theAlto in 2012 sold 2,86,833 units while the Gol sold 2,93,293 units. The Fiat Uno with 2,55,838 units finished in third spot.
The VW Gol has been the largest selling small car in Brazil for no less than 18 years and has been in production if Brazil since 1980. The Gol is VW’s entry-level car in the South America and in Brazil and Argentina it has sold over 5 million units.
Of interest to the Indian customer at the upcoming Detroit Motor Show would be the luxurious Hyundai HCD-14 concept. Hyundai hasn’t revealed much information on their car but have put out a teaser image on the net and according to the manufacturer their concept car provides ‘a glimpse into future Hyundai premium vehicle design, advanced 3D gesture-based technology controls, and spirited driving dynamics’.
The abbreviation HCD comes for Hyundai California Design and 14 is for the number of cars that have been designed in the studio. The first car from this design studio came in 1992 and the HCD-14 is a four door coupe and some reports suggest that this concept car will form the next generation Genesis. The B-pillar is blacked out and from the picture released by Hyundai on the net you notice the seamless window instead of the regular front and rear windows. The front headlamps have an LED strip and the HCD-14 has a sloping roofline like on the Mercedes CLS and more details will be revealed at the motor show on the 14th January. The concept car has a 5 spoke alloy wheel and if you notice carefully then you can also see the ‘Fluidic Design Language’.
The HCD also represents the transformation of Hyundai as a manufacturer which is now confident of taking on the likes of BMW and Mercedes. The chic looking concept car if it makes into production will use a twin-turbocharged V6.
Generally most of our Mitsubishi reviews start by telling you how much the Japanese manufacturer is struggling. And if we want to be a little more positive about their situation, we mention the rich motorsport heritage of the manufacturer. From their glory days in the World Rally Championship and Dakar to their struggle today, Mitsubishi isn’t in a position of strength that it once was. In India their only car which is getting some attention is the Pajero Sport but there is nothing in the volume segment. The Mirage hatch could make a possible entry in India this year and another option to replace theOutlander which has struggled with its petrol engine is the ASX crossover. The ASX is also known as the Outlander Sport in some markets and this compact crossover lifestyle Utility Vehicle could have a reasonable shot at succeeding in India provided the manufacturer can assemble it in our country. Mitsubishi has given their crossover a facelift and if launched and assembled in India the crossover would be priced at Rs 20lakhs onwards.
The Chinese Great Wall Motors (GWM) Haval Racing Team is entering the Dakar once again. Last year the team finished 6th overall, becoming the first Chinese team to do so. GWM first entered the Dakar in 2010 led by Zhou Yong and Carlos Sousa.
Arguably the biggest motorsport event in the world, the Dakar is considered to be the most challenging event for automobiles and success in this event is almost certain to raise the profile of the manufacturer. Mitsubishi at the start of the century with the Pajero and then Volkswagen after that with the Touareg are two manufacturers which gained exposure with success in the Dakar. GWM is now trying to raise its prolife internationally and have set their sights for a top 10 finish in the Dakar. The 15 day, 8000km event starts from the 5th of January from Lima in Peru eventually finished in Santiago in Chile after crossing Argentina. The event was shifted from Africa in 2008 after a terrorist strike on French nationals in Mauritania after which the Dakar was shifted to South America.
Skoda has unveiled the Laurin & Klement variant of the Yeti crossover which will become the new flagship model of the Yeti in the European market. In India Skoda sells the Laura in the L&K variant and though the manufacturer has no immediate plans of introducing the Yeti in the L&K variant in India yet, there could be a possibility in the future to generate more interest in the Yeti and make it a more attractive and premium car.
The Yeti L&K would come with Bi-xenon headlights, Silver roof rails, 17-inch ‘Annapurna’ alloy wheels, Leather seats, Gloss black trim fir the cabin, Alloy accelerator and brake pedals, L&K door sill plates and badges, Dual-zone air con, Heated windscreen and front seats and an Audio system with 12 speakers.
The ninth generation of the A4 is due to be out in 2014 and this best seller from Audi has been designated as the B9. The B9 will replace the current A4 which has been in the market since 2008. Audi had last year launched a facelift version of the A4 with some changes to the exteriors and interiors and to the petrol engine too but the sedan essentially remained the same. The Audi A4 has been in production since 1994 and internationally the currentA4 is available as a sedan and estate.
The Tata Manza emerged as the 6th most fuel efficient diesel sedan in India and since its launch in 2009 the Manza has now been given its first facelift. Earlier this year Tata had injected new life into the Manza by launching the Manza Club Class and the manufacturer has now given their car an update with styling tweaks and new features to the cabin. Prices for the Manza now start from Rs 5.7 lakh for the entry level petrol with the top of the line diesel costing Rs 8.8 lakh ex-showroom New Delhi. The EXL diesel is the most expensive Manza on offer but the manufacturer has made no changes to improve either the build quality and there have been no tweaking to the engine either.
‘A fresh city concept for Europe,’ reads the tagline on the Tata Pixel’s website for the European market. The Pixel has been in news for a while and has been received with much attention in England for it front wheels that pivot at 105 degrees. It’s the innovation which sets the Pixel apart and other than its manoeuvrability the hatch comes with scissor doors and for the European market it comes with a combined cycle fuel economy of 3.4 litres/100km. Tata is aggressively advertising the ‘Zero Turn Drive’ and the ‘Low Carbon Footprint and High Fuel Efficiency’ of the Pixel to attract the environment friendly European consumer.
The Audi A2 electric car was never meant to come to India but it was an interesting car nevertheless. Audi however has now dropped the idea to get the Audi A2 into production. Built on the all aluminium MBQ platform, the A2 was intended to make it into production by 2015 as both an electric vehicle and also a plug-in hybrid.
Audi was planning to re launch the A2 MPV the production of which was stopped in 2005 and according to Autocar UK magazine the manufacturer would use the experience from the A2 development work in future Audi models. The A2 was to compete with the upcoming BMW i3 and the electric Audi was to use a lithium-ion battery pack in its ‘sandwich floor’ construction. The EV was to have 200km range with its electric battery needing only 4 hours for a full charge and the A2 was first shown at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show.
While the original idea was to manufacturer the A2 with an electric and plug-in hybrid engines, Audi later also contemplated bring in a 1.4-litre and 1.8 TFSI turbo petrol engine and also a 2-litre TDI and a 1.6 TDI. With these diesel and petrol engines the A2 could have made it into India competing against the recently launched Mercedes B-class. Interiors space on the A2 was to be another important factor with space for 5 adults. Cost would have been kept down using the MBQ platform but because of the high production costs Audi has now canned the idea of the A2 electric vehicle.
Compared to the A2 the BMW’s i3 would come with 170PS and in an hour you can charge 80 percent of its battery.
The Ferrari 599GTB is a rocketship. A missile in the guise of a car. The Ferrari F12 is 120PS more powerful than the 599GTB and is 70kgs lighter too. The additional power makes it the fastest and most powerful road legal Ferrari ever made. This alone is reason enough for the F12 to be considered as one of the most exhilarating cars on the planet. F12 is intended to be a replacement for the 599 GTB and is quicker, smaller, lower and narrower. Ferrari with this car is aiming at providing a car for the slightly more matured buyer who is looking for thrills but also a more satisfying experience. The F12 is a front engine, V12 car which is the most regularly used layout by Ferraris and traditionalist would love this. The F12 however comes with space age technology like active brake cooling ducts, new aerodynamic developments which have not been seen of previous Ferrari’s. In India the F12 is priced at Rs 4.2crores.
Maruti has added an automatic transmission to the Ritz and the hatch now competes with the A-star, Honda Brio and the Hyundai i10 hatchbacks which are the other two hatchbacks in this segment with an automatic transmission. The Ritz automatic will come only with a petrol engine and in the VXi variant. Prices would start from Rs 6.15 lakh ex-showroom, New Delhi. Its competitors the Honda Brio automatic is cheaper and is priced at Rs 5.74 lakh to Rs 5.99 lakh, while the i10 auto is priced at Rs 6.16 lakh. The Ritz auto will be launched by middle of January but dealers have started taking booking with a booking amount of Rs 50,000. Compared to the manual VXi prices for the auto have increased by Rs1.5 lakh.
Volkswagen had revealed the limited edition Polo R WRC earlier this year capable of reaching approximately 150kmph. The manufacturer now has hinted at a four-wheel drive Polo for the World Rally Championship (WRC) too. The Polo WRC car is manufactured byVolkswagen Motorsport and VW had plans of entering their car in the Rally d’Italia in Sardegna but they then scrapped their plans to continue on the development of their car.
Based on the Super 2000 regulations, the WRC Polo uses a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine unlike the normally aspirated 2-litre engine which comes on the other Super 2000 cars. Volkswagen though has definite plans to enter their car in the 2013 season in Rallye Monte Carlo and have signed Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala. This is the second time that VW would be entering the WRC and the manufacturer had earlier entered the championship with the Volkswagen Golf GTI between 1983 and 1988.
The WRC car uses the PQ25 platform which will also be used on the Audi A1 quattro and to help VW with the testing they had taken the services of two-time World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz who is also VW’s sporting advisor. Development work had taken place in Norway, Finland, Germany, Spain and Mexico.
The WRC car uses a blue and gray liver and at the front is a front spoiler with enlarged intakes while at the rear too is a spoiler and diffuser. Speaking on the VW plans on their WRC comeback their spokesman said, We’re still new and we have a lot to learn.’ ‘But next year (2013) we’re aiming for podiums, and then, in 2014, wins. With Sebastien [Ogier] and Jari-Matti Latvala, we feel we have the fastest driver lineup out there.’ Sponsorship VW in the WRC would be the energy drink giant Red Bull, which is no longer backing the reigning champion Citroen.
The VW Polo R (front wheel drive) however with the WRC acronym to it uses a 2-liter engine, 4 cylinder engine which produces 220PS and the engine is matched to it is a six-speed manual transmission. The Polo R car accelerates to 100kmph in 6.4seconds and the performance matches the Golf R. VW will build only 2500 units of this car
The BMW 3-series since its launch has been the car to buy in its segment. Dynamically it has no rivals, the petrol and diesel engines deliver class leading performance and for those with an inclination to drive, the 3-series is the obvious choice. BMW launched the all-new 3-series earlier this year in India with a 2-litre petrol and diesel engine and now for the European market the manufacturer has also launched the 3-series xDrive with is a four-wheel-drive and this model is cheaper than the Audi A4 quattro.
Recession is a world which the wealthy of the world haven’t heard. 2013 will see a host of new sportcars and while most of them won’t make it to India, four of the five cars we have featured in this article are possibly headed our way. While most of us would never be able to see these cars on roads, there is a growing number of millionaires in India which have enough space in their garage to fill it up with these supercars.
In 2013 the Renault Sandero and the Lodgy both of which are based on the Logan would be launched in India. Though officially there isn’t anything that has come from Renault on the launch of the two cars, the Sandero and the Lodgy would make perfect sense for a market like ours and are definitely headed our way next year. Originally a Dacia, these two cars with its clever packaging and undeniably good pricing would hope to emulate the success of the Duster. Another interesting vehicle which might come to India would be a crossover based on the Sandero. The Sandero Stepway has some changes to the exteriors along with raised ride height longer suspension travel. There would be no 4WD and the crossover would come with a 5 year warranty and 3 year service plan. If launched prices for the Stepway would start from Rs 7lakhs onwards.
Put your plans of buying a BMW 5-series or a Mercedes E-class on hold. Porsche has almost given the go ahead to the plans of the Pajun sedan and an international launch is expected in 2016. While that may still be a long way away, the Pajun will not be a cut down version of the Panamera and would share more things in common with the 911. The Pajun will be the entry level sedan from the manufacturer and will rival the top of the line BMW 5-series, Mercedes E-Class and the Audi A6.
The styling we predict will be closer to the Panamera with some obvious influences from the 911 too. The rendered images of the Pajun show the now distinctly Porsche narrow rounded headlights and narrow rear lights.
The Porsche 911 would permanently remain an icon and there are no two ways about it. So much so that other manufacturers want to copy it. Maserati is working on a 911 rival which is expected to be out in 2015 and the manufacturer is aiming for their car to be as hardcore as the 911. The 911 rival would be based on the Alfa Romeo 4C’s carbon fibre chassis and the V6 engine which would produce around 455PS is expected to be manufactured by Ferrari. Last year Maserati sold only 6153 cars and have ambitious plans to sell around 50000 cars per year worldwide by 2015.
The styling would have traditional Maserati design bits like the gaping front grille and narrow headlights. The interiors would be more luxurious than a Ferrari and in an interview to UK based Evo magazine Maserati boss Harold Wester said ’The most pure expression of Maserati (referring to the car that they are working on) sportiness possible’. And the inspiration from both a technical and a marketing point of view –is clear. ’Imagine having something like the Alfa Romeo 4C but for Maserati.’ ’It would have a carbonfibre monocoque and a mid-engine layout, just like the Alfa 4C, as this gives the stylists the most freedom to design something really stunning.’
The humble Mini did it last year and now following on its footsteps and hoping to create history is the Renault Duster. The world’s toughest motorsport race, also considered to be the last true adventure, the Dakar, will see in action the Renault Duster. The extensively modified Duster will use a 3.5-litre, V6 petrol engine which would produce 305PS and 435Nm of torque. The Duster would come with AWD and the drivetrain is completely modified. The suspension constitutes of a four-link front suspension and a double-trapeze rear suspension which has been made by developed by Baratec.
Renault would be entering 2 Duster’s which would be driven by Jose Mauricio and Emiliano Spataro from Argentina. The Duster which is primarily an urban commuter to take on the challenge of the Dakar will use a limited slip differential, racing brakes and matched to the V6 engine is a 6-speed sequential gearbox.
The Dakar was originally held in Europe and Africa but in 2008 after the terrorist strike on French tourists in Mauritania the cross country rally-raid was shifted to South America. Now in its 5th edition the Dakar will start from for the first time in Lima, Peru and will finish in Santiago Chile after crossing Argentina. The event will start from the 5th of January and finish on the 20th after covering 8000kms.
Amongst the competitors for the Duster would be the former champion Nasser Al-Attiyah from Qatar on a buggy, Giniel De Villiers from South Africa on a Toyota, reigning champion Stephane Peterhansel on a Mini, WRC legend Carlos Sianz on a buggy and Joan Roma also on a Mini.
Now in its 34th edition, the Dakar was first started in 1978. This year for the Dakar there would be participants from 53 countries which is a record and the youngest participant is all of 19 years from the Netherlands while the oldest participant is 71 years old from Argentina.
Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft driving theLand Rover Defender in the Tomb Raider is an image permanently printed on the mind of every man. Though only 250 of the Defender Tomb Raider LE were built, the Tomb Raider did the best possible advertising for the Defender. Arguably the daddy of SUV’s, this might seem to be an agricultural SUV when compared to the more modern machines around, and the Defender while isn’t sold in India, is widely known amongst those with an inclination to drive off road rather than on road. An icon of our times, there are not many cars in the world with a reputation of the Defender. For the English the Defender is a national treasure and the SUV was initially called the Land Rover Ninety and Land Rover One Ten. Prices for the Defender in the UK start from Rs 17lakhs.
According to Autocar UK magazine the Land Rover DC100 which is expected to replace the Defender has been given the thumbs up by Land Rover. Land Rover is hopeful that the DC100 will prove to be as big a success as the Evoque has been. In a quote to Autocar UK magazine Land Rover’s design director, Gerry McGovern, said, ‘The concept got the thumbs-up. And 90 per cent of the 250,000 people we spoke to loved it.’
The Defender so far has been aimed at the off road enthusiast and while the SUV will remains true to its roots, Land Rover is also planning to now attract the image and design conscious buyer. The consumer that Land Rover is now looking is the urban youth which is different to the traditional Defender buyer. Describing their target audience McGovern said, ‘James Bond needs to be able to kick the hell out of it and it will still be able to get up for more.’
The DC100 concept was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011 and originally Land Rover had worked on the DC100 in 2005 as a possible replacement for the Defender. At Frankfurt the car that was shown has a diesel option and also a more sporty petrol option. Internationally prices for this Defender replacement are expected to be from onwards 17 lakhs.
The DC100 will be an entry level Land Rover. The styling on the production ready model would be a little toned down since some reactions haven’t been particularly positive. The off road potential though that this SUV would possess is expected to be as strong as the Defender. The DC100 would in all probability have a car-like monocoque chassis but the manufacturer is also considering a unique body-on-frame underpinnings.
The interiors on the concept DC100 are cutting edge with a touch screen in the middle, there is also a Terrain Response System and the cabin has generous use of leather. The SUV is eventually expected to make it into production in 2015 while retaining the Defender’s classic boxy shape and round headlamps.
The rumours have been confirmed. Fiat will be manufacturing the 500X which has high probability of being launched in India and compete with the Renault Duster and the soon to be launched Ford EcoSport. Fiat will start manufacturing this small SUV in Italy in 2014 and the manufacturer would have definite plans for its India launch too. The 500X is an important car for Fiat and even the Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Monti was also in attendance when the production plans of the 500X were announced.
If you’re considering buying a car early next year and not now primarily because you’re concerned that the resale would be affected when you plan to sell your car then you needn’t wait. Car prices across all manufacturers are set to rise and assuming you buy your car in 2013 you would end up losing as much money as you hope to save when you plan to eventually sell it
There is now big demand in India for niche utility vehicles. The Renault Scenic could be one such vehicle which has potential and even though the Scenic is pricier than most Utility Vehicles it is premium enough to really make a space for itself in India. The facelift Scenic has been spotted testing and an international launch is expected in 2013. Also on offer would be a 4WD which could compete with the likes of the Mahindra XUV500 and the Skoda Yeti. The Yeti hasn’t been too popular with the Indian customer but with a more aggressive strategy backed by the right pricing theRenault Scenic could break the jinx in the premium MPV segment. The Renault Scenic in 1997 was voted as the European Car of the Year and though Renault has no immediate plans to launch the Scenic if the MPV were to be launched prices would be around 15lakhs onwards.
It is a surprise that only one Maruti Suzuki features in our list of the 10 most efficient diesel sedans in India. Even in the diesel hatchback list only two Maruti Suzuki’s featured. It seems like an improbable situation for India’s largest selling passenger car manufacturer to have only three cars in the 20 cars that we have researched on but that’s the fact. Tata however has been the surprise and have the most efficient diesel sedan and hatch and also the most fuel efficient petrol hatch. There are also three cars which use the same engine (the 1.5dCi is used by the Nissan Sunny, Renault Duster and the Mahindra Verito) which is not a surprise and in the hatchback list 6 cars shared the same engine.
While Land Rover has already started work on the Freelander 3, before that we would get to see the facelift version of the Freelander 2 next year. First launched in 2006, the Freelander is one of Land Rover’s bestselling products and we predict that the 3rd generation of the SUV would make its international launch in 2015. The new Freelander would be bigger with completely new interiors and nearly all of its platform would be made from high strength steel. Land Rover is on an expansion phase aiming to have a bigger hold on the international market and one of the plans of the manufacturer is to introduce no less than 15 products within the next decade.
The star in our list of the 10 most fuel efficient diesel hatchbacks in India is the Fiat manufactured 1.3-litre multijet engine. Used by Tata, Maruti Suzuki, Chevrolet and of course Fiat, this engine is featured in 6 different cars. Ironically the Fiat Punto only features in our list in number 10. Maruti, Tata and Chevrolet engineers have all managed to get better figures than Fiat engineers which is an irony. Also is a surprise that unlike 5 Maruti Suzuki’s which made it to our list of petrol hatchbacks, only 2 were able to make it in this time around.
Surprisingly there is only one Maruti Suzuki in the list of the most efficient petrol sedans in the country. Following up to our list on efficient petrol hatch backs, the sedans are represented by Maruti Suzuki,Toyota, Hyundai, Honda and Ford. We would be coming up with similar list for the diesel hatchbacks and sedans too in the next week.
It ultimately boils down to the fuel efficiency. Price and fuel efficiency are undoubtedly the most important things when it comes to making the choice for automobiles for the majority of us Indians. We have come out with a list of the ten most fuel efficient petrol hatchbacks in India and have taken the figure supplied by the Automotive Research Association of India to help us come up with the list. Out of the cars it is not a surprise that 5 are Maruti Suzuki’s and that’s a testament to how well Maruti understands the Indian market. They are catering perfectly to our needs andHyundai, the second largest passenger car manufacturer in India comes in seconds with 3 entries. Tata has one and so does Chevrolet.
The latest limited edition car in the market is the Maruti Suzuki A-Star Aktiv. For the last two months the market had been flooded by such limited edition cars from Toyota, Volkswagen, Skoda and now Maruti Suzuki has followed them. The A-Star Aktiv is available only in Vxi and Vxi AT variants and not in the entry level Lxi or the top of the line Zxi variant. The A-star Activ is priced at Rs 4.10 lakh and Rs 4.61 lakh for the Vxi A/T and compared to the standard Vxi the price difference is Rs 14,990. Maruti Suzuki however hasn’t yet said how many units of the limited edition A-star it would make or for how long. Speaking on the launch, Manohar Bhat, Vice President, Marketing said, ‘A-Star is one of the most vibrant brands in our product portfolio. Some of its high points such as contemporary styling, dynamic handling and ride quality, best in class turning radius, power, flat torque and superior performance has made A-star a popular choice especially amidst the youth. The stylish modifications in the A-Star Aktiv are in line with our plans to offer our young and energetic customers a sleeker, more stylish and feature packed A-Star. We are confident that this special edition will bring pride to the select owners who get to possess it.’
Finally there is aBMW on our list. The Volvo S60 T6 just managed to edge past the 328i but the BMW 3-series 320d is the fastest diesel sedan to 100kmph under 40lakhs. The all new 3-series was launched earlier this year and the sedan further builds the reputation the 3-series as a true driver’s car. Prices for the 320d start from Rs 28.9 lakhs while the top of the line luxury line variant is priced at Rs37.9lakhs ex-showroom New Delhi. Unlike the Audi A4 which was merely a facelift, the 3-series is completely new and it still is the best option in its segment for the driving enthusiast.
We’ve tried to keep ourselves strictly to the segment in terms of the budget but for this one it made sense to make an exception. The Volvo S60 T6 is priced just a bit more than the 40lakh budget that we have kept and is priced at Rs 40.34lakhs ex-showroom New Delhi. The S60 T6 though in our research is the fastest accelerating petrol sedan to 100kmph, is faster than the BMW 328i and is only marginally more expensive than the 3-series. Volvo has found it hard in India with BMW, Mercedes and Audi getting the bulk of the sales and though cars like the S60 T6 and the XC60 are extremely competent cars, Indians haven’t developed a liking to Volvo’s in general. Volvo would claim that the S60 is their most dynamic car in its 83 year history and is a car that that enthusiasts will immediately take a liking to.
There is still no word on Mazda’s plans for the Indian market but their softroader, the CX-5 has already been seen testing in India and we could expect a possible launch either by the end of 2013 or in 2014. Mazda though would be looking at their hatchback like the Mazda 2 to really be the volume generator for the manufacturer in India and another potentially successful addition could be the CX-3 which is a mini SUV built on the Mazda 2. This mini SUV is an international product and is designed and engineered to take on the Ford EcoSport, Nissan Juke and the Renault Duster and is expected to be launched globally by 2014. A Mazda spokesman was quoted by CarAdvice Australia magazine saying ‘We are now developing a more compact SUV more for Europe and we must imagine emerging markets … Eastern Europe, South America, India….’ ‘It is common sense. We have to develop this vehicle, whether we call it CX-2, CX-3 or CX-4.’ ‘Mazda is a smaller player. Picking the right model to build is very important. What is small? What is the right product for emerging countries/markets?’ ‘We are not Toyota, not Ford, not Hyundai, not Volkswagen … we are Mazda. We believe the smaller the better (for vehicles),’ he further added.
TheSkoda Laura has not only emerged as the fastest petrol car to 100kmph between 10 to 20 lakhs but also is the fastest diesel car in that segment. That position belonged to the Chevrolet Cruze but earlier this year the power on the Cruze increased from 150PS to 166PS which did result in better in gear acceleration but the new Cruze is around .5 of a second slower to 100kmph than before. The Cruze’s loss is the Laura’s gain and aided by the DSG dual clutch automatic gearbox the Laura is the fastest diesel sedan to 100kmph in its segment. Prices for theLaura Automatic start from Rs 15,85,820 to Rs 19,16,818 ex-showroom New Delhi.
Tata has now added a fourth variant to the Vista and the manufacturer has launched the hatch with a 90HP engine. The second generation Vista was launched in the market in 2008 and the Quadrajet 90 engine is available in the VW and the ZX variants only. Prices for the Vista Quadrajet start from Rs 6.03 lakh to Rs 6.63 lakh ex-showroom-Mumbai. This 90PS engine is also available in theManza. The Vista was given a facelift in 2011 and the 90HP version adds a bit more to the hatch which off late have seen a slump in its sales.
Ever since its launch the Skoda Laura has been the obvious choice for those looking for a sedan for around 15lakhs which offers more than just hassle free motoring. The Laura which replaced the Octavia has been the most interesting choice in this segment and while majority of the customers today are going bananas over diesel motors, theLaura 1.8 TSI is a pleasant change in current trend. The Laura with the TSI engine is perhaps the only car in India at under 20lakhs which leans more towards performance and is the only sub 2-litre sedan capable of knocking off the 100kmph mark in under 9seconds. Prices for the Laura 1.8 TSI start from Rs 12,92,111 ex-showroom New Delhi.
We’ve had a few surprises thrown at us while researching for the fastest accelerating cars in India. The Mitsubishi Cedia emerging as the fastest petrol sedan was unexpected and neither did we expect the Hyundai i10 to emerge as the fastest hatch in its segment. Hyundai has now featured for the third time on our list and while the i20 came out as the fastest accelerating diesel hatch in India, the Verna Fluid is the fastest diesel sedan under 10lakhs to 100kmph in the country. The Verna which was launched in India in 2011 marks a giant leap compared to the model that it replaces and prices start at Rs 9,39,379 ex-showroom New Delhi. With the new Verna Hyundai is attempting to give the customer more than just a great value car but also a great looking and strong performing sedan.
This never was a well kept secret and BMW has now made it official. BMW in 2013 will be launching the 4-series which will replace the current 3-series coupe. According to a statement from BMW ‘The ‘4’ doesn’t just mark the start of a new cycle. It marks the start of a model with its own individual character and a stand-alone design.’ The 4-series would compete with the Audi A5 and would be priced over the 3-series. There will also be a convertible version of the four door 4-series coupe and the 4-series we expect would be shown at the 2013 Detroit auto show.
The Mercedes S-class is generally associated with luxury and rightly so. But many of you wouldn’t know that since its launch every new generation of S-class has brought with it ground breaking safety features. In 1959 the sedan was the first to have crumple zones, in 1961 it brought disc brakes followed by ABS which was introduced in 1978, then came the driver’s airbag in 1981 and in 1995 the S-class was the first car to come out with electronic stability control. The next generation of the S-class which is expected to come out in the market in 2013 would come with ‘Intelligent Drive.’
TheMitsubishi Cedia has been long forgotten by perspective car buyers in our country. The Cedia was given a boost with its participation in the Indian National Rally Championship but sales have remained disappointingly low for the manufacturer despite the sedan being a well-engineered package. To boost sales Mitsubishi slashed around 1.5lakhs off the sedan but that hasn’t done much either. But the fact remains that the Cedia has emerged as the fastest petrol sedan to 100kmph at under 10lakhs. The Cedia is now sold only in the Sports variant and is priced at Rs 9.37lakhs.
If you were surprised on knowing that the Hyundai i10 Kappa is the fastest accelerating petrol hatch to 100kmph under 5lakhs then you’ll definitely wouldn’t haven’t predicted that the i20 is the fastest diesel hatchback in India. The i20 is thought of as a practical car for families which provides good space but has never been on the radar of those with a need for speed. What is surprising though is the fact that the i20 is faster to 100kmph than the Maruti Suzuki Swift. Hyundai had given this hatch a facelift earlier this year and prices for the diesel i20 start from Rs 6.92lakhs to Rs8.66lakhs ex-showroom New Delhi.
You needn’t always have to empty your pockets to have fun. Fortunately there is now in the market enough available across the price segment to interest speed enthusiasts. Over the next week we would list out the fastest accelerating diesel and petrol cars in India from different price ranges.
There would be a new addition toAudi’s line up and taking the position away from the Q7 as the most premium SUV in the manufacturer’s line up would be the Q8 which is expected to be launched in 2015. The Q8 would be sportier to the Q7 and would take on the Range Rover Sport and Audi is also planning on bringing a Q2, Q4 and Q6. While the Q2 would be based on the A1, the Q4 could use the platform of the A4 and the Q8 would use the platform of the A8. With the Q8 Audi is targeting niche SUV’s like the BMW X6 and the Range Rover Sport.
There is reason to be excited for off road enthusiasts as Fiat has announced that Jeep would be entering India with the Grand Cherokee SUV next year. It is also almost certain now that Isuzu too would be launching their MU7 SUV in India early next year. The MU7 SUV also shares its platform with General Motors vehicles and was first launched in Thailand in 2004 and compared to the D-Max pickup truck the SUV has a covered rear end. The SUV has already been seen testing at the ARAI in Pune and the MU7 would come in India as a CBU from Thailand. Prices would start from Rs 18lakhs which would put it between the Toyota Fortuner and recently launched SsangYong Rexton. Like the Fortuner this Isuzu SUV aims at providing strong off road performance along with impressive interior space. As is the case with the Fortuner and the Pajero Sport, the Isuzu SUV will also be brought in from Thailand and would in all probability be assembled in India by Fiat.
Brabus, a high-performance aftermarket German tuning company which specializes in Mercedes-Benz would be launching a Power Diesel program. The manufacturer would be introducing the Mercedes 350 CDI Coupe BlueEfficiency with a Brabus D6S Power Diesel engine which would produce 315PS and 690Nm of torque. This engine would be able to accelerate to 100kmph in 5.9 seconds with an electronically limited top speed of 250kmph. The car will also come with a stainless-steel sport exhaust.
The other Mercedes with a diesel Brabus powered engine would be the CLS 350 CDI Power Diesel Shooting Brake. The power output, acceleration and top speed on the CLS 350 CDI Shooting Brake would be the same as the Coupe.
The third Brabus powered Mercedes would be the ML 350 CDI Power Diesel. Apart from the power increase the ML will use Brabus Monoblock R 20 inch wheels and acceleration to 100kmph will take 6 seconds with a top speed of 229kmph. The SUV will also have options to lower the ride height, stainless-steel quad sport exhaust, scuff plates, velour floor mats, aluminum pedals and door-lock pins. The other Mercedes with a Brabus engine would be the GL 350 CDI which is based on the GL 350 CDI.
Founded in 1977, Brabus the second largest Mercedes tuner, the first being AMG. Brabus increases both the horsepower and torque and like AMG also has a range of body kits.
For someone who doesn’t know the difference between cars and clothes the letters TT could mean anything. The TT, a sports car manufactured since 1998 is an enthusiasts dream and is aimed to take on the Porsche Cayman and is the cheapest sports coupe on sale in India. Priced at Rs 50 lakh ex-showroom New Delhi, the TT is cheaper than the Nissan 370Z. The TT was first launched internationally in 1995 and was Audi’s most important car in the 90’s. The styling was unique to it which made it the success that it is today and the second generation TT now has he performance to match the looks. The TT gets its name from the Tourist Trophy held on the Isle of Man and when the second generation TT was launched the manufacturer aptly did it by advertising its Nürburgring times.
England proposes restrictions on new young drivers to reduce accidents. Is there a need in India too
The Indian government needs to take a look at this. The government in England to reduce road accidents is considering a ban on young drivers carrying passengers. If the law goes through then young drivers would face a nine-month ban on carrying passengers. If the teenage drivers are carrying their family members then they are exempted from under the law. The English government is also considering a complete ban on new drivers between 17 and 24 years from carrying any passengers till their probation period is over. One third of the deaths in road accidents in England are of people under 25 as studies conducted by different organizations blame lack of experience as one of the main factors for accidents. A study also shows that someone of 18 years is three times more prone to be involved in an accident than a 30 year old and last year drivers between 17 to19 were involved in over 12000 accidents. Reports in the English media have claimed that 3 out of 4 times when young people have been killed, it’s because of a new driver.
By enforcing the laws the government aims at reducing the number of serious casualties as a research conducted in the country shows that young drivers are more likely to have an accident when passengers in their car are of their age. Some other innovative suggestions to reduce accidents by teenagers is to have a curfew on driving between 11pm and 4am for the new young drivers unless they are going or coming from work. These restrictions are proposed for the first six months when someone between the age of 17 and 24 get their driving license. These proposed laws have received support not only from the government officials but also the majority of the population.
The policy makers in India would do well to take some inspiration from what the English are planning and we now have the dubious distinction of having the maximum road deaths in a year with1,05,725 road related deaths every year. There is a road death in India every minute and in 2010 the number of road deaths increased to 1.3 lakh.
The time is good to be looking for a used luxury car in the market. After BMW and Mercedes, Audi has now entered the used or pre-owned car market in India. All three of the biggest premium luxury automobile manufacturers in India have now entered the used car market in India and while the variants of the cars sold under this programme are limited as of now, this is set to increase in the coming years.
Just because a car doesn’t sell much doesn’t mean it’s no good. Public perceptions are fickle and so is their memory. Like most things in the market the ‘not in sight, not in mind’ philosophy works in the automobile world too. We have listed 5 cars which we believe are excellent value both in terms of price and engineering. All these 5 cars haven’t been amongst the best selling in their segment but their sales figures don’t reflect their true potential. The 3 hatchbacks, the Utility Vehicle and the luxury sedan in the list are all worth a look if you are looking to lighten your bank balance before New Year’s.
If you still haven’t got your head around as to why the BMW X6 exists and has been so popular, you needn’t worry. Most of us haven’t too but that doesn’t take anything away from this Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV). The X6 exists because demand for such a vehicle exists in the market. Launched in India in 2009, BMW has now launched a facelift version of the X6. The X6 is one of the best selling Utility Vehicles from BMW and has been a success internationally. Such has been its success that BMW rivals like Audi is also now planning to launch similar niche vehicles. The 2013 X6 is priced at Rs 78.90 lakh for the xDrive40d and Rs 93.40 lakh for the xDrive50i trims ex-showroom New Delhi. Speaking at the launch, Philipp von Sahr, President, BMW Group India said, ‘There are SUVs and there are coupes, but there is only one BMW X6. This vehicle is like no other. It unites apparent opposites, such as size with agility and sportiness with elegance. It’s a sports car that also feels at home when away from the road. That is why, we have created a separate vehicle category for the BMW X6 – the Sports Activity Coupe. These three words encompass everything that makes the BMW X6 so special and this is apparent at first sight. And there is another certainty. The new BMW X6 will definitely attract attention, wherever it goes.’
Mercedes since the entry of BMW and Audi has been reduced to the fringes. Their market share has dropped and no longer is the manufacturer the obvious choice for those looking for an option in the luxury car market. Mercedes would be launching a facelift version of the E-class in 2014 but until that comes the manufacturer is trying to make up some lost ground to the 5-series and A6. Mercedes has launched another variant of the E-class and the E 220CDI now comes in the Avantgarde variant. With the sedan the manufacturer hopes that it’s providing the customer with added value and more choice. The E 220 CDI is priced at Rs 42.10lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai. Mercedes has also announced that it would now stop manufacturing the E 250 CDI and E 200 CGI models after the current stocks finish. The E350 too will be only manufactured on a made-to-order basis after the festive season.
This one has India written all over it.Peugeot and Toyota have confirmed that they together would engineer a new small car. The new car that the two manufacturers are working on is the 108 and we expect the car to be launched in 2013. The 108 is expected to replace the 107 hatch and would be closely related to the Citroën C1 and the Toyota Aygo. These cars would share the same chassis, engines and transmission but would be different to look to each other. The hatch would be made in the Czech Republic under an agreement with Peugeot, Toyota and Citroen.
The 108 will be available internationally as a 3 and 5 door and would be powered by a 1-litre, 3 cylinder petrol engine. The engine produces 68PS@6000rpm and is expected to accelerate to 100kmph in around 13seconds. The engine has variable valve timing and is amongst the lightest internal combustion engine around. A turbo version could be launched along the way too.
Aspiration means different things to different people. Aspiration is relative like our idea of fun. What might be aspirational for someone might not be to another. The Tata Nano for example is an aspirational car for those who own a two wheeler. At Topspeed we like cars which make us want to drive. Cars which make us dream, cars which want us want to get behind the wheel and remind us why we became automobile enthusiasts in the first case. In our selection of cars we have consciously kept a 40lakhs cap and have tried to pick cars from different segments. Aspirational cars to us would be those which possess dynamic ability, a responsive and eager engine or like in the case of the Mahindra Thar and the Toyota Fortuner SUV’s, cars on which we could go from home to Timbuktu. The Maruti Suzuki Swift and the Volkswagen Polo 1.6 are the cheapest cars that we have chosen and both these cars and could realistically be afforded by a salaried person while the Skoda Laura offers a involving package both dynamically and performance wise at an attractive price. The 6th car, the BMW 328i is an automotive gem and though beyond the reach of most, it makes us fall in love yet again with automobiles.
There is proof now of what many had been claiming all along. The Mitsubishi Lancer has been named the most reliable car of the last 15 years by British based automotive warranty specialists. Warranty direct, which has been in business of the last 15 years, has come to this conclusion by studying factors like car breaks down, costs of repair, fuel efficiency etc. In the same survey the only other cars sold in India that made it to the list were the Maruti Suzuki Alto, the Mercedes E-class and the Honda Jazz.
Amongst cars that scored poorly were the Bentley Continental GT and the Porsche 911. Warranty direct used its data base of the last decade to reach their conclusion
Sometimes clichés just can’t be avoided. The only and best way to describe the Fiat 500 is chic and there is no hiding that. Don’t be mistake by its size, the trendy Fiat 500 has been a cult car, ever since it was introduced in 1957. Like the Austin Mini and the Volkswagen Beetle, the 500 too was engineered to provide functional transportation for the masses and since it was re-launched in 2007, Fiat has sold a million of these hatchbacks. The 500 is a serious car and has always been and a proof of that is its racing history.
At the first and only Liège-Brescia-Liège Rally in 1958 across the dirt roads of the Italian Dolomites, and Yugoslavia, the hatch took the first and second place. All 7 of the 500’s that took part finished the gruelling place which was an achievement itself compared to only 13 of the total 29 competing cars that finished.
When the current 500 was launched in 2007 a couple of enthusiasts embarked on a global expedition on their 1969 Fiat 500 from Australia towards Vladivostok in Russia to their way to Italy for the car’s 50th anniversary. They then continued to Alaska before reaching Australia. On the way they covered 32,000 kilometres and circumnavigated the world in 99 days.
The current 500 is manufactured only in Poland and Brazil and in India the 500 is sold as a CBU. Sold in over a hundred countries the hatch is sold in a few different variants, some of them being limited edition models designed by the likes of Gucci.
This hatch put Italy on wheels during the 1960s and spawned several variants. More than four million were built in a 20-year production run. The 500 was taken in around the world with open arms and entire generations grew up in them. After the second world war finished there was a big demand not only in Italy but across Europe for a small, versatile and economical small car and this was to be the genesis of the 500. With its go kart like handling, the 500 with its practicality soon won over Europe.
If you ask us, automobile journalists far too often use terms like ‘the most important car’, ‘make or break time’ so on and so forth. These are big statements to make and using them far too often dilutes the weight of such statements when they are actually required. But in the case of the Amaze, the sedan based on the Brio and also the first Honda that would come into India with a diesel engine, the term ‘the most important car’ couldn’t be more apt and put enough stress on how important the Amaze is for India. This sub-four metre saloon has been engineered under Honda’s Earth Dreams Technology programme and you can almost feel the anticipation and hype surrounding this sedan. This sedan would be manufactured only for the Indian and Thailand market and its Indian launch is expected in the middle of 2013.
What we need in our market are cars that provide a bit more than practicality. Sure we have cars like the Kia Picanto in the list our nominated cars but the entry of Kia will really spice up things. The Indian customers who is still as price conscious as he was 5 years ago is looking for a bit more than ‘practicality’ but doesn’t want to pay a fortune for that. We have listed 8 cars which we think could be India bound next year and all of which we think would add value to the market. Some of them have been already seen testing in the market while the others we think have definite potential. 2013 nevertheless would be an exciting year if you are an auto enthusiast and you can bet on there being surprises on the way.
If cars have a civilian form then it’s their road going versions while the rally variants so to say would be strictly then for the military. The Fabia you drive is a poor cousin or civilian version of the fully blooded S2000 which is doing the rounds in the international rally scene. Built by Skoda Motorsport, the Fabia S2000 made its debut in 2009 and has also won the Intercontinental Rally Championship. There is an Indian connection to the S2000 and New Delhi based Gaurav Gill, arguably the finest Rally driver to ever come out from India drives this car in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship.
If the plans fall into place then enthusiasts in India and Asia are in for a treat. Tony Fernandes, Caterham boss has said that he wants to make his company ‘Asia’s Porsche’. Caterham is planning an all-out hypercar and some other models specifically with this intention in mind.
There is going to be a mini SUV apart from an already decided MPV based on the Honda Jazz. While the MPV will be competing with the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga, the mini SUV would take on the Renault Duster and the Ford Ecosport. In an interview to Autocar UK magazine, Honda CEO Takanobu said neither is Honda going to sell the Brio outside South East Asia or India and that the manufacturer is also not planning to bring a ‘low cost brand’ exclusively for the European market. The manufacturer is expected to make an international unveiling of the mini SUV in 2 years time and other than the Duster and the Ecosport we could in India get similar cars from Volkswagen, Chevrolet and Peugeot.
The mini SUV will not be based on the Jazz on sale but on the next-generation Jazz and the manufacturer is also targeting theNissan Juke with their SUV. Its CEO described the SUV to be a ‘younger brother to the new CR-V’ and the mini SUV is aimed for the international market. The next Jazz platform is strategically important for Honda as the manufacturer is aiming at increasing its sales globally and the Jazz platform would underpin a whole lot of Honda’s.
It seems that there is no hope after all for Bugatti. They will remain mad. Not content with just the regular Veyron,Bugatti would be launching a new 1600bhp Bugatti Veyron. The supercar will be launched internationally next year and when introduced, will be the world’s fastest car. Images have already been released of the Veyron and believe it or not, the new Veyron will be capable of accelerating to 100kmph in just 1.8seconds.
Bugatti chief vehicle engineer Jens Schulenburg said, “We are working on the next super sports car.” “The big challenge will be reducing weight. We are looking at some incredible technologies, such as wheels made entirely from carbon fibre. We’re considering hybrids, too.”
The top speed is expected at 464kmph. The increase in power and acceleration is significant to the Grandsport which has a top speed of 407kmph, reaches 100kmph in 2.46seconds from its 1001PS and 1250 Nm of torque. The next Super Veyron will be shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show next year and will be powered by the same a 4 turbo, W16 engine. The engine capacity will be increased from 8 to 9.6-litres.The aerodynamics have been improved but the Veyron will use the same distinctive grille and ‘odd’ proportions.
The Veyron which defied the laws of physics when it was launched, will launch only 350 versions of the new Veyron. The new car will use more carbon fibre and at a time when most manufacturers are busy decreasing the engine capacity to increase the fuel efficiency, Bugatti is definitely an exception.
TheBugatti Veyron is officially bought in India if you have got the money and we expect the next Super Veyron to make it into India as well. This supercar was voted at the Top Gear magazine’s 2000-2009 Car of the Decade and is based on the Bentley Hunaudieres concept. The car was launched internationally in 2005.
A new entry to the Dakar Rally this year would be the Desert Warrior 3 which is a Range Rover Evoque based rally raid car. Prepared by British company RaBe Race Cars, this special Evoque would take part in the iconic Dakar rally in South America. There would be 3 Evoques which would be entered in the off road rally and would be driven by Martin Rowe, John Hardy and Andrew Coley. The all British Rally team would be entered by Excite Rallye Raid and the team was recently testing the SUV in Holland. In a statement by driver John Hardy, “The vehicle has a real presence. It’s very well put-together, it’s strong and rugged.” “The thought and attention to detail is mind-blowing; all the dials are at eye level, all the switches are where they need to be and the space in the cockpit will be critical as we’ll be spending hours strapped in.”
Automobile manufacturers are becoming masters and have perfected in ‘filling the gaps’. Where you and I don’t see any room, you can be rest assured the manufacturer does and sure enough is planning a vehicle. 2014 will see the entry of another SUV aimed at those who wouldn’t ever take it off road. The BMW X4 which will slot between the X5 and the X3 will be shown at the Detroit Motor Show in 2013 and that would be a near-production concept. Based on the X3 with which it shares its platform and underpinnings, the designers though have done enough to differentiate the X4 from the X3. Like the X6 and the X5, the X4 and the X3 too will be placed differentially in the market. The manufacturer has been considering a sportier version of the X3 for some time now and we expect it to come into India as well in 2014.
So you could argue that we have the cars now but what about the roads. People are buying all sorts of cars today and every car worth its money can claim to accelerate to over 150kmph. Some touching even 300kmph. But do we have the roads? Our roads are either far too congested or just aren’t paved well enough. If you in search for a stretch of tarmac where you could possibly hope to drive reasonably quickly, we bring you topspeed’s best stretches of road where you could realistically press the accelerator for longer than you need to work on the brakes.
Though in no order in particular, the following are topspeed’s most important cars of 2012. We have kept in mind what the car brings to the table, if it is a game changer for the manufacturer or for the segment or for the industry at large. Volume it generates is essential, so is innovation and pricing. We have tried to include different categories which is why the Pajero Sport also gets a look. It is the festival season going on right now and the customer is definitely spoilt for choice. If you ask us, there is no better time than now to write that cheque. Happy Diwali.
2013 will have over 40 launches. We bring you our list of the 20 most important launches. Nearly every manufacturer has something new to offer and if you have kept your money in your pockets, 2013 is a good year to spend it on automobiles.
With about Rs 2.5 lakhs off on the Laura vRS to attract customers during Diwali, the Laura vRS at that price is a steal. Compared to the regular RS which has an ex-showroom price of Rs 15,81,200 ex-showroom New Delhi, for the month of November the vRS can be bought for Rs 13.9lakhs. The vRS was launched in India in 2011 and in terms of looks it is sportier to look compared to the standard Laura. The chin is different, there is a rear spoiler and the vRS has daytime LEDs, alloy wheels and seven vRS badges stitched around the car. The bumper has a horizontal LED cluster but other than that the design is similar to Skodas with the stretched headlamps, prominent shoulder and waist lines and flared wheel arches.
The cabin of the vRS gets premium Alcantara-leather seats, there are sporty racing pedals, the two-tone upholstery has the vRS logos embroidered into the backrests of the seats. The steering wheel is thicker and there is also a touchscreen stereo.
If rumours and reports are to be believed, Mahindra and Mahindra is in line to acquire British sportscar manufacturer Aston Martin from its current Kuwait based owner Investment Dar Co. The Kuwaiti company owns a 64 percent stake inAston Martin and is planning to sell its $800million stake in the company. Aston Martin was bought over from Ford by Investment Dar Co in 2007 but no conformation has come yet from Aston Martin itself.
The Kuwaiti company is under dept and that’s the reason it is planning to sell its stake in Aston. For Aston itself the sale to Mahindra isn’t a bad idea either since it needs the financial backing of a big manufacturer to develop future cars. Toyota too it is rumoured is interested in buying Aston and has already done a study to see if buying the stake is feasible. Aston sold about 4,200 vehicles last year.
Both Mahindra and the Kuwati company have refused to comment to the sale of Aston. Mahindra last year had purchased Korean manufacturer SssangYong and last month launched the Rexton SUV in India.
Aston Martin entered India last year and Performance Cars which is a division of Infinity Cars has been appointed as the official importer and distributor for Aston Martin.
By the time you finish reading this paragraph there would have been a fatal accident somewhere in India on the road. It unfortunately seems the road accident rate in India is only second to the birth rate. A definite cause of concern. The cliché that on Indian roads you need in equal measure good luck and good brakes isn’t a fact we should be proud of.
Indian is about to overtake China in terms of the national population but in 2006 we overtook China in road fatalities. These facts are even more surprising when you take into account the per capita number of cars in India as compared to the western countries. What is disappointing though is the fact that road deaths are decreasing around the world but in India it’s the other way around. The reasons are manifold. Road rage, no clear cut road policy devised to reduce road accidents, driving ability and skills and the increase in traffic to name a few.
When you’re in the Tigers territory you can be rest assured that you have been seen. You might not be able to spot the apex predator of the forest but this formidable carnivore knows of your presence. Though in national parks like Corbett and Ranthambore you can’t drive your car or SUV into the forest and have to opt for a Jeep Safari, there are still some places where you can drive through the forest and spot the cat provided luck favours you. The National Park is inhabitated by tribes which the government is trying to relocate. Traffic is restricted from 6 pm to 6 am every day and there are lodges are available close to the entry of the park.
The Rajiv Gandhi National Park which is also known as the Nagarhole National Park is in the Kodagu district (Coorg) in Karnataka and was recognized as a tiger reserve in 1999. Part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve this area could be declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the future. Through your drive you would cross forest, streams, hills and valley and apart from the Tiger the other animals to spot is the Elephant, the Indian bison, the Wild Bore and the Spotted Dear. Apart from the animals the reserve is famous for the teak and sandalwood and there are also a sizeable number of Leopards, Wild Dogs, Sloth Bears and the Indian giant flying squirrel.
“Good design must always express a vision. We need something new without breaking from tradition,” said Wolfgang Egger, head of design Audi. The German manufacturer had become far too predictable with their design of late and Audi is now going to chart a new direction. Whether this is a wise decision only time will tell but Audi’s in India and internationally have started to look far to generic and the manufacturer now is going to change that.
Future Audi’s will now have a longer A pillar like what was seen on the Audi Crosslane Coupé concept. The styling of the interiors and the exteriors will resemble the Crosslane Coupé and these changes will be first seen on the Q range rather than the sedans. There will be a three-dimensional trapezoidal grille and the manufacturer is working on a design strategy which would allow them to differentiate between their car range. Audi’s team at Munich is responsible in designing their new look and the manufacturer is now planning to give each model its own distinct personality. In short, the SUV’s will not look like the sedans which will not look like the sportscars.
With most major automobile makers starting to develop their own signature look right from Audi and BMW to Hyundai and Suzuki, Audi’s team is attempting to have a connection ‘between technology and design’. ‘Only when design and technology mesh perfectly does an automobile make a statement for the Audi brand,’ commented an Audi spokesman. The cabins too will be different to each other and it seems that Audi had reached a tipping point where it realized that they needed to move forward in terms of their design. We believe that future Audi’s will look different but will still retain the ‘Audi look’. The Crosslane Coupe is more on the lines of cars we would see from the manufacturer which uses a Multimaterial Space Frame.
The styling will have a similarity and connection between the interiors and exteriors and according to Karl-Heinz Rothfuss, Head of Interior Design, “The cabin opens in the direction of travel and continues as an unbroken line in the engine hood.’
You know a car is special when you run out of adjectives to describe it. The Ford Focus being a case in point. The Focus made its presence felt internationally in 1999 when Colin McRae drove it in the Monte Carlo Rally and in the process set multiple fastest stage timings. The Focus had arrived and the world had taken notice of it. Ford currently uses the Focus in the WRC but this car is very different from the 3rd generation Focus which will be introduced next year.
Though Ford has no plans of launching the Focus RS in India which in the UK is priced almost as much as the Accord, anyone remotely interested in racing or rallying would swear by the performance that the Focus RS has to offer. The 3rd generation Focus now comes with an all new chassis and a new turbocharged EcoBoost petrol engine.
Leveraging form the success and fame of the rallying version of the Focus, the manufacturer also has the RS or Rally Special version of the Focus. Ford on the next RS will be introducing a 2.3-litre, 4 cylinder, EcoBoost engine which produces 350PS and accelerates to 100kmph in under 5 seconds. This is the same engine which would drive the next generation Mustang.
The Range Rover was far too expensive and to premium a vehicle to be taken off road. Think about it, who in their right mind would want to take out their SUV which would cost as much as a sportscar in an area which is sure to leave it a bit shaken to say the least. The other option was the Defender which was seen far too agricultural and basic. The Discovery was engineered to fill the gap between the Range Rover and the Defender. Land Rover first launched the Discovery in 1989 which used the old Range Rover chassis. In 1998 the manufacturer then launched the second-generation of the SUV which basically was an update version of the original Discovery and in 2004 the third and significantly different Discovery was launched. The Discovery now for the first time used a monocoque body under Ford’s ownership. This was a clean-sheet model and was funded during Land Rover’s period of ownership by Ford. The Discovery on sale, which is the 4th generation, was introduced in 2009 and this basically is an extensive facelift of the Discovery 3. The SUV is available in India at a price of Rs 62,03,362.
It’s their engines which have made Honda the colossal automotive giant that they have become. From their F1 engines to the VTEC motors. No one does engines like Honda and the next big thing to come out of the Japanese manufacturer after the VTEC engines has been the development of diesel units and their DTEC engines are what that the Indian market is waiting for.
Honda will now be launching the Civic in Europe with a 1.6-litre DTEC engine and this is the engine which would form the basis of the 1.5-litre DTEC engine which is expected to come into India next year to power the Brio based sedan, an MPV to rival the Maruti Ertiga and probably the City too.
The engine which has an all aluminium construction is expected to deliver its maximum torque at low revs and with a meaty mid range. The size is expected to be compact and the 4 cylinder engine is expected to deliver 120PS at 4000 rpm and 300Nm of torque at 2000 rpm. The manufacturer claims this new motor to be the lightest diesel in the world.
This engine is expected to come into Honda cars by 2013 and according to Honda this is the cleanest and most efficient engine in its class. The 2013 CR-V in India too could get this engine and this unit was was developed in the UK and is matched to a 6 speed manual gearbox.
The general assumption whenBMW bought Mini was that the German automotive giant would kill the spirit ofMini. History is proof that the critics were completely wrong. Mini has flourished under BMW and how. Their sales have increased manifold, so has their presence around the world and the number of models has increased to 6. The Paceman would be the 7th Mini on sale when it goes into production and in India Mini made its official entry earlier this year. The response to their brand at the Auto Expo was exceptional and the manufacturer is steadily increasing their footprint in our country. Mini is now launching the 2013 Countryman in Europe and the car could make its way into India next year too. The Countryman in India is priced at Rs 31.99lakhs.
It’s incredible what the success of only one car can do to the image of a manufacturer. After the setback because of the Logan, then the unflattering response from the sales of the Pulse and the Fluence, it was make or break time for the French manufacturer with the launch of the Duster. TheDuster has been a big success for the manufacturer and it has put Renault into the big league. Renault can now start to feel good about itself in India and their next offering in our country will be the facelift version of the Fluence which has been shown at Istanbul. The facelift Fluence will be launched internationally in 2013 and that’s when we expect the sedan to come into India as well. Renault plans to sell this car in over 55 international countries and there have been changes made to the interiors and exteriors with upgrades to the engine too. Speaking at the unveiling at Istanbul, Hyun-Young Kwak, Project Marketing Manager, Renault Fluence said, "The changes featured on New Renault Fluence 2013 are perfectly in phase with the needs of our key international markets, like Turkey and Russia."
Excess is a very relative word. What is excess for one could be deficit for another. It is as simple as that. But excess is what automobile enthusiasts like. Audi has launched the Q7 with a V12 which makes it accelerate like a sportscar and the manufacturer has now launched its first S version on a SUV. The Audi SQ5 uses a twin-turbocharged 3-litre V6 TDI with dynamically retuned suspension and with all these alterations Audi plans to change the ‘practical’ and ‘simple’ image associated with the Q5. Though it is highly unlikely that the SQ5 will be launched in India, it is a car which does depict the manufacturer’s vision and direction. Audi has made no bones about the fact that it is determined to become the leading luxury car manufacturer globally and to achieve that it is being aggressive with both its marketing and product planning.
The development of a BMW 3-series competitor by Jaguar has been for a while the most widely talked about topic in the automotive circle. Jaguar has confirmed that they are developing its 3-series and A4 rival and this car would be placed below the XF in Jaguar’s line-up. The sedan is expected to be offered both as a rear and four-wheel drive and a SUV based on it to rival the Audi Q3 and the BMW X1 is also being considered. Jaguar has confirmed that it is developing a nine-speed automatic gearbox which is expected to make its way into the car that they are working on and according to the manufacturer its engineers are on track. The diesel engine could be the 2.2-litre motor and a new2-litre, turbo charged petrol is also under production.
This car is important for Jaguar’s long term plans and parent company, Tata Motors has given the green light to this project. This car could be based on the PLA (Premium Lightweight Architecture) which will be also used by the next XF sedan. The 3-series rival has been codenamed as X760 and its dimensions are expected to rival bigger sedans.
Commenting on how important this car is to Jaguar, their brand director, Adrian Hallmark said, ‘We’re clearly looking at that segment – and not only at saloon cars, but no decisions have been made yet on the bodystyles in detail or the build materials. These factors are in serious debate now.’ ‘That would definitely be in the second half of this decade. It couldn’t really be before then,’ he added.
So was the 2nd Indian Grand Prix a success? It most definitely was. A resounding success if we might add. Bernie though so too. The infrastructure and organisation was improved and all drivers felt that the track conditions too were better from last year. The adrenalin charged sport, F1 might well be here in India for the long run. India is an important country for F1 too but we lack the right motorsports hierarchy for kids to make the transition from feeder series to F1. The attendance however has dropped from nearly a lakh last year to 65,000 last week. But this isn’t a surprise and generally all F1 tracks witness a fall in tickets after the first year. F1 is still considered to be an elitist sport and though this does have its obvious benefits like attracting sponsorship and so on, the average Indian however still feels disconnected with the sport.
Everyone at Jaypee Sports were happy with the crowd presence. Remaining true to the script, the so called celebrities were there to make their presence felt and at the race were also Olympic champions like wrestler Sushil Kumar, shooter Vijay Kumar and Gagan Narang. It was Gagan Narang in fact who waved the chequered flag at the end of the race.
Audi’s aggressive tactics have put its rivals on the back foot. The manufacturer is bringing out models at a rate faster than both BMW and Mercedes and has set its sight firmly on becoming the largest luxury car maker in the world. The BMW 5-series has been seen testing in Munich and now the 2014 Mercedes E-class too has been spotted testing. This will be the first facelift given to the E-class since its launch in 2010. According to the manufacturer the changes to the sedan will be substantial and reports suggest the car will be shown at the Detroit motor show in January.