Volkswagen Golf – Preview

Volkswagen have been trying to gain an upper hand in India. Though their attempts have been met with moderate success, the car buying public have always appreciated the Volkswagen group’s attention to detail and quality mindedness. Even though sister concern Skoda are more popular in India, Volkswagen instead of learning a thing or two from them, are in direct competition with them. They first launched the Jetta in comparison with the Laura, then the Passat to compete with the Skoda Superb and now they are launching the world acclaimed Volkswagen Golf in India to go head on with the Skoda’s revamped 1.6 liter Fabia{which has the Polo’s engine shoe-horned into it}. Seems interesting, eh?

Looks

The face of the Golf is similar to the one found on the old generation Jetta. Actually the Jetta is based on the Golf platform. A slight head lamp design differentiates both. The Jetta has a more mature design. The high and low beam lamps are separated by different circular housings. The grille is the corporate one worn by all the cars in the Volkswagen family. The air dam is a wider affair and houses the crystal effect diamond shaped fog lamps.

The side profile sports Polo type looks and you wouldn’t be able to tell a Polo and Golf from the side profile. The wheels are the understated 17 inch alloy wheels and the alloy wheel design is borrowed from the 2011 US Jetta model. The rear is different from the Polo and has a wide rear screen wiper and has elliptical tail lamps. It has a chrome strip inside the tail lamp cluster. There is a prominent wedge for the boot. The exhaust system is of the twin type- a segment first.

Interiors

The Golf has revolutionary interiors. It will make you go wow the moment you step into the cabin. It uses dark color expansively but that somehow enhances the richness of the materials used. The Skoda Fabia’s interiors pale in comparison to those on the Golf. Its 3 spoke steering wheel is a revolution in itself. It has got the cruise controls and audio controls on it. Driver and the front seat passengers get all the power goodies upfront. The seats themselves are adjustable to reach, height and even lumbar support. Its multi function display shows you instant average, the range of the fuel tank, average speed over the trip and gear change indicator for optimized fuel economy on the manual versions.

The dashboard has titanium inserts put into it. It also sports ambient lighting near the footwells, 4 reading lamps, heated and tinted insulated glass. The good news is that many of these are standard and the bad news is that there are not many customizable options.

Handling and ride quality

The Golf is renowned world over for its renowned ride and handling package however for India, it would be leaning more so towards the ride quality. The usual car buying public buy a car for their daily commute and not for taking it to a race track. The ride should be more pliant than its European and North American counterparts. Considering that Europe and US have far more razor smooth roads whereas in India, it is a rarity, the ride height would be jacked up.

As regards handling, expect it to handle like the Skoda Fabia but not anything less than it. The suspension would be the sophisticated McPherson Strut type with helical springs and telescopic dampers upfront while the rear suspension is of the multi-link type.

The car comfortably seats 5 however three at the rear would seem like a crowd but not so as in the Fabia. The seats completely flip over revealing about 700 liters of space whereas with the seats up, the Golf has 300 liters of usable boot space. Only the middle passenger seat can also flip down to make way for long objects. There is an individual AC vent at the rear to keep the rear occupants cool.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

As of now, the only engine option available in the Golf is said to be the the stonking 2.0 litre, 1968cc, common rail diesel engine producing a whooping 170 hp at 4200 rpm and with a peak torque of 350 Nm produced between 1700-2500 rpm. This would be India’s hottest hatchback till now. The transmission is a 6 speed manual while a 6 speed automatic is also on the options list.

This same engine in Europe is the cleanest in its class plus also is the most fuel efficient in its class and delivers quite a punch in everyday driving. Even though it is only a four cylinder unit, it packs in power similar to that of straight six from BMW. The dual clutch used helps in lightning fast shifts in the manual and triptronic function in the automatics.

Expect 0-100 lap times in 8.3 seconds. This should make it one of the fastest diesels in India. The fuel economy is pegged at 14 kmpl in the city and 21 kmpl on the highway. This are stellar figures for a hot hatch. The top speed is an electronically limited 220 kmph.

Braking is handled by vented discs brakes at the front and solid discs at the rear. Aiding them is a whole plethora of driver aids like advanced 4 channel ABS, Stability control program, traction control etc.

The safety aspect is covered by 4 airbags which come in as standard, three point seat belts with pre-tensioner, anti-whiplash restraining head rests, ample crumple zones, collapsible steering wheel and so on.

Verdict

The Volkswagen Golf is what India always wanted. A high performance diesel coupled to a hatch body with enough of space for 5 and their luggage. A tight turning circle and diesel economy make living easier. Plus good ratings across the world for its safety features and also reputation for reliability make it a winner. If only Volkswagen India price it within the 6 lakhs range, it has a win-win situation at hand. It is expected to be launched in January 2011.

The Volkswagen Golf price is expected from Rs.6,53000- Rs.7,80000.

Technical Specifications of the Golf GTD
Volkswagen Golf specifications:

Engine: 2.0 litre, common rail diesel engine
Displacement: 1968cc
Maximum Power: 170 hp @ 4200 rpm
Maximum Torque: 350 Nm @ 1700-2500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual/6 speed automatic with manual override
Top speed: 220 kmph
Acceleration, 0-100kmph: 8.3 seconds

Special Features:
  • Body coloured electrically adjustable side mirrors including turning indicators.
  • Fog lamps
  • Body coloured door handles.
  • Halogen headlights with daytime running lights.
  • Rain sensors.
  • Parking sensors with rear view camera.
  • Tilt and telescopic steering column.
  • Twin exhaust tailpipe.
  • Climatic semi-automatic air conditioning system.
  • Multi function steering wheel.
  • Leather wrapped electro- mechanical steering wheel.
  • Titan black upholstery.
  • Radio/mp3 compatible CD player with 6 speakers.
  • Electric power windows with front one touch up/down control.
  • 17” multi spoke alloy wheels
  • Multifunction computer.
  • Rear spoiler.
  • Electronic Stabilisation Programme (ESP) including Electronic differential lock (EDL), Traction control and Countersteer support.
  • Tinted glass.
  • Anti-lock braking system with Electronic brake-pressure distribution.
  • Front suspension through coil springs with telescopic shock absorbers.
  • Rear suspension with gas pressure shock absorbers and separate springs.
  • Front and rear anti-roll bar.
  • Electronic engine immobiliser.
  • Dual clutch gearbox.

Tata Indica Vista Electric Car

Tata is one of the indigenous car manufacturers across the world. From the first home-grown car in the form of the Indica to the ultra-low cost car in the world- the Nano, they have come a long way. A few days back, Tata launched its much awaited cross-over the Tata Aria. Now Tata is looking out to be environmentally conscious. That the manufacturer already has an electric car in the form of the first generation Indica in faraway Norway is testimony of the fact how Tata wants to percolate its know how all across the world. Tata winning and subsequently annexing the Jaguar-Land Rover deal was an icing on the cake which helped them get access to world-class technology.

The Maini and now Mahindra Reva was always an electric only car with a limited range of about 50 Km. Any chances of increasing the range were met by stiff resistance in the form of no government concessions for reducing the price of the car and battery ineffectiveness. Tata thought of a novel way for this. The new Tata Indica Vista Electric car is an all electric car like the Nissan leaf. It uses a special Prem Magnet Motor which was made in Norway by TM4 and gives 55kw of power and the peak torque of 160 Nm. It is made up of super polymer lithium ion batteries and not of the lead acid types that the Reva uses. In addition to their been light in weight, the batteries have a greater storage capacity and life. They are maintenance free and highly capable.


Been an all electric car means zero emissions and also less of expenditure on petrol or diesel. Regenerative braking takes care of maintaining the battery level. Been an all electric car means zero emissions and also less of expenditure on petrol or diesel. Regenerative braking takes care of the battery charging however before embarking on a journey, you have to ensure that you charge the car for about 8 hours by a plug-in. When you start the car, you would be shocked by the absence of NVH and even when the car is in motion, you would barely notice it.

The car’s instrument panel is a vast change from the normal Indica Vista. The dials have been moved from the center position to the line of the driver now. Instead of a fuel gauge, you get a battery reserve pod. The interiors of the car are now two tone and externally there is not much except the electric badge and body colored alloys to distinguish it from the normal Indica Vista. The range mentioned for this car is an unrealistic 200 Kms on a single charge.

Tata Indica Vista Electric price might range from Rs 5-7 lakhs and launch it around May 2011. This would be a viable transportation option without having to worry about polluting the environment.

2010 Nissan Micra diesel – Preview


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Nissan India started their operations in India just 5 years back in 2005. The first vehicle they launched was the X-trail which was a CBU and still is unabashedly so. Their second launch was the luxury yacht type car, the Teana. The third one is bread and butter, a volumes seller- the Micra. Having Ranbir Kapoor to convince you to buy the car was a good ploy as Nissan Micra cars are just flying off the shelf. It has been reported that about 2200 bookings were already done when Nissan dealers couldn’t even let you know the pricing for this car.

After having tasted success with the petrol only model Micra, Nissan plans to expand its reign by introducing a 2010 Nissan Micra diesel. Now, it is for sure that Indians have a fixation for diesel cars, take for example the fact that the Swift diesel, Indica Vista diesel and even the Linea diesel outsell their petrol counterparts from the time of their launch.

The motor Nissan plans to introduce is the 1461cc, 4 cylinder in-line from their international line-up of cars. It will produce a puny 64 Bhp and 155 Nm of torque. All this torque would be available from as low as 1,800 rpm to 3,200 rpm. One thing is for sure, the diesel has got to be the most refined in its class and apart from that offer stellar fuel economy figures, but all that would have to wait till it is launched. Alongwith the new diesel engine, the car will get some revisions, not so notably on the styling front but with some interior features as standard. The New Nissan Micra diesel interior left some desiring for more especially at this price point and the diesel hopes to remedy those. The wheels are still of steel types and there may not be the alloys even on the options list.

The diesel would be competitively priced from Rs.5,30000 or so. This would put it straight in the swift territory. Nissan has already increased its dealerships to about 20 across India and has plans of adding 3 dealers every month.

ENGINE SPECIFICATIONS

Displacement: 1461cc, 4 cylinder in-line DOHC

Engine Type: Diesel

Maximum Power: 64 Bhp @ 4000 rpm

Maximum Torque: 155 Nm @ 2000 rpm

GIRTH

Length: 3790 mm

Width: 1565 mm

Height: 1540 mm

OTHER SPECIFICATIONS

Seating Capacity: 5

Tyre Size: R13 steel wheels

Suspension: McPherson Struts

Turning Circle: 4.1 metres

Steering: Electronic Power

Brakes: Front Disk, Rear Drum

Gears: 5 speed Manual

Kerb Weight: 1020.00 kgs.

Fuel Tank: 44.00

Maruti Suzuki Cervo Preview

The country’s largest automaker, Maruti Suzuki Limited is set to launch another small car from its stable{how many more to come, considering that there are about 3 Marutis to any other manufacturer’s cars on-road}. This is to ensure that sales which have been affected in the bad way by the launch of the Tata Nano could be regained, making Maruti the choice when it comes to opting for a small car. For this, the new car will sport a lower tag than the best selling car in India, the Maruti Suzuki Alto.

The new car in question is the New Maruti Suzuki Cervo. Don’t ask us, but this is the name by which the car is known in Japan and it is estimated that this name would be carried across to India. It is already making the headlines in Japan and all for the right reasons. It is low cost, the most fuel efficient petrol and quite reliable. These are usually all the values that endorse every Maruti in India as well. But the difference is the killer price here. Maruti Suzuki Cervo price is estimated to be range from Rs.1.3 lakhs to Rs.2.20 for the highest variant. In contrast the Nano starts at Rs.1.10 lakhs going upto Rs.1.75 for the top variant. But been a Maruti, you get the peace of mind associated with it.

The engine would be a 660cc petrol engine similar to the Nano’s but producing a whooping 60 Bhp power. This is more than the Tata Nano’s 33 Bhp. It would have a mono volume design like the Nano and looks very similar to the Estilo. Its cabin forward design wouldn’t win it any crash safety awards but liberates lots of space on the inside plus couple that to the tall boy design and it works wonders. Four people can sit at ease inside but then the Nano has better space utilization.

There would be cubby holes in abundance which the Nano lacks in. Plus a usable boot of approximately 200 liters to the Nano’s next to none. The car would be a lot more livelier to drive than the Nano because of a much better power to weight ratio. It will weigh in at about 800 kg. The steering is also power assisted and the ride and handling is supposedly better than the Nano’s. The meters would be bare basic though and even the interior trim would be more Nano-like. But what else would you expect at this price point. Navigation system, anyone?

The fuel efficiency is slated to be about the best in any car in the country-24 kmpl in the city conditions and about 28 kmpl on the highway. This is all thanks to the VVT technology been used in the new engine. It ensures that the engine run leans all the time. Startling is the fact that Maruti is targeting first-time buyers with a 4 speed automatic transmission. There is no manual version slated however a diesel may make its appearance later on. With the arrival of the diesel, the price tag would certainly increase.

As of now, Maruti hasn’t announced any launch date for the Maruti Suzuki Cervo in India but we estimate it to be around November 2010, come the festive season or latest by December 2010.

Technical Specifications for the Maruti Cervo
  • Fuel Type: Petrol
  • Mileage-Highway(kmpl): 28
  • Mileage-City(kmpl): 24
  • Engine Description: K6A DOHC engine with VVT
  • Engine Displacement(cc): 660
  • Fuel Supply System: Fuel Injection
  • Number Of Cylinders: 4
  • Transmission Type: 4 speed automatic
  • Maximum Power: 60 bhp
  • Maximum Torque: 64 Nm
  • Fuel Tank Capacity(litres): 38
  • Number Of Doors: 5
  • Top Speed: 115 kmph approximately
  • Brakes: disc upfront and drums at the rear
  • Seating Capacity: 5

2010 Hyundai I10 diesel Preview

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India’s second largest car manufacturer, Hyundai Motors, has aspirations to be the number 1 manufacturer in India. Overthrowing Maruti from the top position means a herculean task. Hyundai has been recently giving face-lifts to all of its existing model. Starting with the flagship Sonata to the Verna and now even the best seller I10. It gave it an upgrade in engine technology and slight exterior changes. The interiors were also revamped. The queues outside Hyundai’s showrooms means all these changes have been welcome with the Indian customers.

Now to make the I10 more value for money and to take the fight to Maruti’s camp, Hyundai are planning to launch a New Hyundai I10 diesel. It would be a 1.1 liter CRDi engine. Judging by the success of diesel powered automobiles, we can say that Hyundai already has a winner in the pits. The 1.1 liter will give out 64 bhp and 133Nm of torque. It is been touted as the most efficient small diesel in the country, even overshadowing the famous 1.3 liter multi jet from the Fiat stables and been used in across 10 cars in the Indian scene now.

Hyundai I10 diesel

Changes would be made to the front shock absorbers to accommodate for the diesel engine’s weight. Also NVH would be of prime importance and expect the diesel car to have the same NVH as the petrol powered one.

The 1.1 liter CRDI motor would be a marvel in itself. It would have 4 valves per cylinder however we are awaiting more details from Hyundai on this one. Hyundai will use their Chennai facility to make these diesels however reports have also filtered though that Hyundai would be directly importing the engines from Korea. The diesel variants would differ from their petrol counterparts in the vein that they would sport a CRDi badge at the rear and also a particular color scheme available only for the diesel.

How Hyundai India prices the car is to be seen. Going by Hyundai’s past records, they would definitely price the car bang in the Ford Figo price range. This should be a tough fight in the small car diesel car segment and the one to watch out for. The Hyundai I10 diesel India launch will be probably by May 2011.

Toyota India Etios models preview

Toyota’s brand image as the number one in reliability may have been eroded big time with the recalls regarding the sudden acceleration reports, world-wide. However in India, the case has been so very different. People still perceive quality with Toyota. This has boosted the manufacturer’s ego and they are planning to launch a slew of automobiles in India within the next 2 years. Of prime importance is the fact, that they would officially bring in the full Lexus as well as their Daihatsu sourced small cars.

Of prime importance would be the small cars for which the demand is very high in India. They would be built on an all new platform for India, however these platforms as well as cars are been sold elsewhere in the middle east as well as North America under different names.

Toyota is currently the world’s largest manufacturer however in India, the scene is far from true. Toyota sell only premium cars and hence to gain a good market share of the booming Indian market, Toyota have taken a plunge into the small car market. From the look of the cars at the Delhi Auto Expo 2010, it was evident that Toyota have already won half the battle.

Looks

Both the cars bring a welcome refreshment to their segments as far as looks are concerned. The front end looks imposing yet  has the subtle Toyota corporate image. This is evident from the two tiered chrome grill. The headlamps are of the pear shape and feature multi reflector lights. They also incorporate the same headlamp assembly as the new Corolla Altis, which means they would have legal HID kits. The air dams are a big deal by Indian cars standards. As opposed to the segment norm of having fog lamps fitted into the air dams, the Etios differs by having them on the front bumper. There is also a prominent front spoiler which gives it the look of a tuned Japanese car. Unfortunately the sedan doesn’t feature the spoiler but has the same looks of the hatchback viewed from the front. The bonnet is also a long affair in both the sedan and hatchback in India.

The sedan features side indicators embedded into them whereas the hatch back makes do without them. The wheels were the 15 inch types on both the body types. A flowing crease runs from wheel to wheel. The roof of the hatchback blends smoothly into the Hyundai I10-like rear end. The tail lamps are of the elongated types. The less said the better about the rear end of the sedan though. It looks like the cross of the Indigo Manza and that of the Renault Logan. The tail lamp structure for both the sedan and hatchback are different. Both the cars have a thick strip of chrome at the rear. A rear roof-line spoiler on the hatch back makes it one of the best looking rear for an Indian car. The tail pipes are conspicuous by their absence in both though.

The alloys on both the cars are different. The one on the Toyota India Etios sedan were of the subtle 6 spoke alloys, first seen on the first generation Corolla whereas the ones on the 5 door variant looked jazzy.

Overall, both the hatchback and sedan, from a distance, look like the Volkswagen Polo and Vento respectively.

Interiors

The interiors of both are as different chalk and cheese. For the hatchback, the steering wheel is a two tone affair, one sporting red on the sides and ivory on the straights. It also features audio controls on one side. The upper side of the dash is black and the lower end is ivory. The music system looks space age and probably has navigation controls as well. The instrument cluster is centrally placed and has a Yamaha FZ-like instrument cluster. Though not totally digital, it has that look for sure. The ac vents are of the circular type and one which is adept at directing air flow towards rear passengers as well.

The Toyota India Etios sedan has a more conservative cabin. It looks sort of built to a price thing and the hatchback’s high quality interiors are totally absent in the sedan. The sedan like the outside, also on the inside looks like the Mahindra-Renault Logan, bare basic. It is even devoid of steering audio controls.

Whichever body style you choose, the Toyota wouldn’t disappoint you with its interior space. The sedan has a humongous boot pegged at 450 liters and the hatchback at an impressive 370 liters.

The flat floor at the rear helps in getting a 3rd passenger stuffed easier.

Handling and ride quality

Though we couldn’t take the Toyota India Etios sedan or hatchback for a spin, we can judge by the GOA chassis that both would be safe handlers as also give a good ride. The sedan with its wider foot print would shine more in the ride department than the handling part. Toyota India’s cars aren’t known for their handling but for their ride quality.

As of now, both body types would be offered with a 5 speed manual with an auto tranny on the periphery later.

The 75/65 R14 and 185/60 R15 tyre sizes are at par with the competition and give the car a planted feel.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

The engine for the hatchback is a segment comparable 1.2 liters but one producing 80bhp. It is a 16 valve petrol without the VVT-I technology. Toyota has assured us that the Etios wouldn’t feel out of place without this technology as they have made internal revisions to the engine components to compensate it. The sedan boasts of a 1.5 liter petrol which churns out 102 bhp. Couple this with the 800kg for the hatchback and 920 for the sedan, it should spell some potent performance from both the engines.

The braking for both, would be discs upfront and drums at the rear. However for the higher variants, you can specify discs at the rear as well. Safety features would be at segment par, with two airbags, ABS and traction control. Toyota may offer parking aids as well on the sedan.

Fuel efficiency for the hatchback should be around 13-14 kmpl in city and 18-20 kmpl on the highway. For the sedan, it would be 11-13 in city and 16-18 on the highway. This would be at par with competition. Toyota could do well to shoe-horn the 1.4 liter diesel from its Corolla sedan into both the Etios hatchback and sedan.

Verdict

Toyota Kirloskar India has been long synonymous in India for high quality, highly engineered and good resale value cars. Their car designs may not be the best in the world but they do give you a sense of solidity like none other. The Etios hatchback and sedans are bound to change the feeling of the staid designs, the hatchback noticeably so more than the sedan. Couple that with the expected at par with competition fuel efficiency and probably a killer pricing considering the use of local components to a high level, you cannot go wrong with this sedan-hatchback twins.

Expect the hatchback to start from Rs.4,50000 to Rs.5,90000 for the top end version. The sedan should start from Rs.6,10000 to Rs.7,20000 for the higher variants.

Toyota India Etios specifications

Displacement: 1200cc 16 valve DOHC
Overall Length: 3995 mm
Rear Wiper and alloy wheels
Overall Width Length: 1695 mm
Overall Height Length: 1490 mm
Gears: 5 speed Manual
Ground Clearance: 173.00 mm
Seating Capacity: 5 persons
Front Brakes: Disc
Rear Brakes: Drum

Tata Prima Preview

Tata motors have established a name for themselves in the automotive industry world-wide. They started out with been truck manufacturers{they still do} and been a desi company, thought of launching their first car. Their efforts bore fruit and the Indica was launched amidst much fanfare on 30 December 1998. There were many gripes with the earlier car which was subsequently ironed out in the V2 version launched in 2003. Tata motors have come a long way from that time and now have launched much modern cars like the Indica Vista, Indigo Manza and the new Tata Aria crossover. They also gave the world its own wonder car which sells for as less as Rs.1.30 lakhs and that is the Tata Nano.

Not content with all this laurels, the Indian car maker has been eyeing the luxury car segment. They displayed the Prima sedan first at the 2007 Geneva show. Since then Tata have been hounded with requests from the car buying public to put the Prima into production. Tata has now heeded to this requests by announcing that the Prima would be produced and marketed by mid of next year. Having acquired Jaguar and Land rover, Tata have used their know how and engine technologies in the Prima. The Prima would compete against the likes of Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and the Chevrolet Cruze.

It has been designed this time not by IDEA house{which designed the Indica} but by Pinnafarina. He, who of Ferrari fame, has given a coupe like silhouette to the sedan. It looks a bit like the Grande Punto from Fiat stables{when viewed front on}. The biggest attraction in the front is the LED lights and they have a blue hue about them. This would make it one of the most sought after car for all those night jaunts. It has a big honey comb grille and has a smiley of an air dam set up lower. The wheels are of those 15 inch types and the C-pillar{a Pinnafarina trademark} has been given a low roofline akin to a coupe. It integrates smoothly to the big but stylish boot. The boot is a masterpiece with LEDs staring out of it.

The interiors would also be high-tech with lots of gizmos to please the geek headed young executive who has been just promoted to the status of Jr.Manager. As with all Tata cars, interior packaging would be top notch and it can seat 5 in reasonable comfort. The choice of engines has been boiled down to a new 1.6 or 1.8 liter petrol or a 1.8 liter diesel. Both the engine types would incorporate Jaguar’s technical know how and would be very efficient in their class. The Tata Prima India has a wheel base of 2.72 metres. The Tata Prima launch in India would have Mcpherson strut with stabilizer at the front and Four link Coil spring as the rear suspension. Remove the Tata badge from the rear and stick on a BMW one and the car would very much be mistaken for a BMW. At this point, we can dare say that this is the best looking car from the Tata Motors stable so far.

Safety has also been taken care of with the base versions offering 4 airbags alongwith Rain-sensitive wipers, night sensing lights, Adaptive cruise control, reverse camera and energy crumple zones.

Braking is handled by advanced disc brakes all round with 4 channel ABS, Electronic Brake Distribution {EBD} and traction control {TCS}  as standard. Higher versions would get cornering lights, bejeweled effect fog lamps and reverse parking sensors.

The Prima gets a twin silencer effect and the silencers are similar to the one found on Jaguars. It has been embedded neatly into the rear bumper.  This lends it an overall sporty stance. The driving pleasure for this car would also be highly enhanced if Tata sources are to be believed.

Tata Prima price would be in Rs11- Rs.13 lakh. This would be one of the most expensive Tata cars to be on sale alongside the Tata Aria and expect a launch around October 2011.

Tata Prima price

Maruti Suzuki Kizashi – Preview

India’s largest car manufacturer Maruti Suzuki is known more for its small cars and when they try to launch a staid but competent product like the Baleno and price it close to its competitor, Honda City’s territory, it was bound to fail. But then Maruti realized their mistake and got out the SX4. It was priced lower than the Honda City, but had features as well as engine comparable to the Honda. It sold like hot cakes and still does. Buoyed by its success, Maruti decided to launch a Honda Accord and Toyota Camry competitor. Now, this may seem a rash decision and one that will certainly spell the doom for Maruti however the Suzuki Kizashi, was launched earlier in Japan and North America to check the customers reaction. The car literally stole the limelight in all the markets that it was launched. This seems to be a good start and now Maruti looks set to change its image in the Indian consumers minds. The name would be carried across to India and there would be strange responses from all your colleagues asking you to repeat the name of your car.

Looks

The Maruti Suzuki Kizashi in India would be the flagship model of the Suzuki family and it carries the corporate grill for the family face. Its Audiesque grill looks familiar to the Swift and the SX4. It is split by the bumper cladding and below, it houses the air dam. The face somewhat resembles a U shape. The air dam is also split by the U. It carries two diamond shaped fog lamps in it. From the very stance of the vehicle or even the name{it means “upto something”}, it screams aggressive. Strangely, the fog lamps are placed just above the fog lamps, something which is new to the Indian as well as foreign markets. The head lamps are a piece of work having multi-reflectors and clear lens. They would, by far, be the most powerful units in their class and also first in their class to have day time running LEDs.

Moving on to the side profile, it is devoid of any quarter glass except for the rear window. The car somewhat shrinks from the side view. However its sporty multi spoke alloy wheels look stunning and scream sporty and subtle at the same time. The wheel arches aren’t flared and this shows its conservative nature. Maruti are probably trying to hide sportiness with the conventional family sedan looks. The wing mirrors are also huge but don’t have the indicator lights embedded in them.

The rear is the most interesting part of the Suzuki Kizashi. In the past, we have noticed Maruti’s with good looking faces but the plot seems to be lost when they come to the back side. The Maruti Suzuki Kizashi begs to differ. It seems to be derived from the new BMW 1 series. The stop lamp is not placed atop the rear window but above the boot lid. The boot lid sports a spoiler like bump. Overall, the Kizashi looks hewn from a single sheet of metal. The Tamburini pipe like silencers, coated in chrome look every part from a sports car. Mind you, there are two separate pieces. The use of side skirts all around also help in the sporty theme of the car.

Interiors

The low slung interiors would welcome you and the seats would hug you like an old lover. The interiors are unlike any Maruti in the country and this is to be expected, as this is the flag ship model. Even the quality of materials used is un-Maruti like. Everything has a premium feel to it and not one plastic looks out of place. The US and European spec cars sport leather seats but this may be ditched from the Indian market scene as leather seats get very hot in our climate. A more useful polyvinyl Leatherette would be used. A high end feature of the Kizashi is that it would come standard with keyless entry as well as keyless ignition.

Driver’s as well as co-passenger’s seats are heated and have a 10 way adjustable and programmable memory. The steering wheel is a three piece unit and looks similar to one from the Volkswagen Jetta. It is though bigger than the Volkswagen unit. It houses the usual audio, Bluetooth and cruise controls. The only let down that we felt, was in the dials of the car. They look too simple and a bit out of place with the sporty interiors. A more A-star like pop out rev counter would have helped. Other data like fuel efficiency, tripmeter, distance to empty details are shown by the digital interface housed between the rev counter and odometer.

The rear seats is which, is another disappointing feature. The rear passengers have their individual aircon controls. It has a center tunnel intrusion which makes life bit difficult for the middle passenger. The rear seats recline nicely and offer good under thigh support but it is best suited for only two passengers. Three upright would be quite intimate. This even though the Kizashi been wider than its competition. There are many cubby holes around the cabin as one would expect from a big sedan. The boot space is Camry rivaling at 525 liters. It has less suspension struts intrusion and has a lower loading lip. Plus factor in that the rear seats split and fold down completely to reveal about 1237 liters of space.

Handling and ride quality

The Kizashi is based on the Suzuki Swift platform and that isn’t a bad thing to start with. The Indian Swift handles like a dream, not to mention the numerous awards it has won world-wide. Expect the Kizashi to handle similar to its smaller cousin.

Across the globe, the Kizashi is said to have a handling which is in between the class leading Accord and the Mazda 6. Now, that is speaking volumes of its handling. Its ride is between that of the Camry and the Accord. This means that it rides well over all surfaces but the ride is a bit jiggly around the corners. The suspension is said to be more sophisticated than its competition and it upfront sports a Macpherson strut with coil springs while a Multi-link suspension does duties at the rear. Globally, the Kizashi is available in FWD and AWD but in India, it may sport only FWD.

The NVH has been taken care of by Maruti Suzuki making it one of the vehicles with the lowest NVH in its class. Automobile journalists across the world have applauded the near silent ride of the Suzuki.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

The Kizashi would be launched in India with the only engine option that it is available world-wide with, the 2.4 liter 4 cylinder engine. It produces 185 hp at 6,300 rpm and 177 nm of torque at a low 3,800 rpm. It is a DOHC unit having 16 valves and an aluminium piston block head. This makes it a light engine and hence more powerful and fuel efficient. The gearbox used would be a sweet shifting 6 speed manual or a CVT transmission. Both the options would be available. The 3,240 pound sedan is said to cross the 0-100 kmph barrier in under 8 seconds. Now this speaks volumes of the engine’s tractability and powress.

Been a Maruti, expect fuel efficiency to be top notch. The Kizashi is touted to give 11 kmpl in the city and about 16 on the highway. Couple that with a 56 liters fuel tank and this gives you high range. This is  simply the best figures for a sedan in its class. Bringing in a diesel power plant may help bring the fuel bills down. Maruti may plonk in the 1.9 liter multi jet engine from Fiat into this car. Performance may be blunted but the upside is the running costs.

Braking is handled by discs all-round. The vented ones at the front with the solid ones at rear have a 4 channel ABS, EBD and traction control assisting them in retarding the motion of the car. Safety is also in a class of its own with 8 airbags been offered alongwith Rain-sensitive wipers, Adaptive cruise control, reverse camera and energy crumple zones.

Verdict

Suzuki have ventured into the premium luxury segment and this foray should be a marked success seeing the Kizashi’s capabilities. The very fact that it was shown in the Delhi Auto Expo 2010 says that it would be launched in India very soon. It has fuel economy to boot for, decent interiors, good safety and other features and above all a Maruti badge meaning that maintenance costs would be the lowest in its segment. The ride and handling is supposed to be the best in its class. The only factors working against it would be the Maruti badge, price point it would be pegged and the rear seat been not comfy enough to admit three.

The Maruti Suzuki Kizashi price might be between Rs.14-16 lakhs. Here are some Maruti Suzuki Kizashi specifications :

Technical specifications
ENGINE SPECIFICATIONS

Displacement: 2400cc, 4 Cylinder 16 valve DOHC

Engine Type: Petrol

Maximum Power: 185 Bhp

Maximum Torque: 177 Nm

DIMENSIONS

Length: 4660 mm

Width: 1910 mm

Height: 1460 mm

OTHER SPECIFICATIONS

Seating Capacity: 5

Tyre Size: 18″ Alloys

Suspension: Macpherson strut with coil springs at front and Multi-link suspension at the rear

Steering: Tilt and power assisted

Brakes: Front Ventilated disc and rear, solid disc

Gears: 6 Manual, CVT

Hyundai H800 Preview


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Hyundai, the second largest car manufacturer in India and the largest exporter has been on a roll with launching many cars in India recently. Earlier on, they launched the I20 and then the refreshed version of the Sonata and Verna. Recently they launched the new Santa Fe as well as the i10. All these cars are running successfully. It would be just a matter of time before Hyundai takes the pedestal as the top car manufacturer in India. To realize this goal, Hyundai understands that they need to have a volumes player and tap the market of the migrating bike riders to car buyers public. This segment that is the A segment is dominated by the Maruti Alto, Chevrolet Spark and the segment leader Tata Nano. There is still some time for the Ultra Low Cost{ULC} car from Nissan and Bajaj-Renault alliance.

Hyundai has plans of releasing their small car code named H800 in India by mid of 2011. The car will slot below the Hyundai Santro Xing. It will have a 800cc engine. It is likely to produce around 50 bhp and 63 Nm of torque. This should make it the most powerful in its class, save for the Alto K10. It would sport a 5 speed manual gearbox for starters. It is rumored to have space similar to the Santro Xing but will be missing out on many key standard items as part of cost cutting. Expect the interiors to be also low rent than the Santro Xing. The Hyundai H800 price in India would be around Rs.2 lakhs for starters.

Depending on demand, Hyundai may as well put in a diesel power plant or even a hybrid version. But meeting costs is the meaning of the ULC and putting all of those aforementioned technologies will mean cannibalization for its Santro and I10 range. The New Hyundai H800 is said to incorporate the fluidic design concept adopted by Hyundai and will also have a fuel efficiency similar to the Nano’s.

Image Courtesy indianautosblog

Honda CR-V diesel Preview

Honda has had a long stint in India and still do have with their petrol powered cars. They make highly refined, elegant, comfortable but not value for money cars. Oh, lest we forget, they make only petrol cars. Honda always had this problem and they give the reason that the Indian fuel would harm their diesel cars. Even after the advent of many such premium brands such as BMW, Audi and Mercedes, and all having diesels in their line-up, Honda still stood their ground. Their dominion on the petrol powered motors still was strong in the soft roader segment. That did change recently with the advent of the  Hyundai Santa Fe, Chevrolet Captiva and the Toyota Fortuner. All the aforementioned cars are soft roaders and are available with a diesel power plant. This explains their high sales figures whereas the CR-V had to make do with a lone 2.4 liter petrol motor that isn’t the best in terms of fuel efficiency and moreover had a similar or more asking price than the diesel power plants.

Honda have recently announced that they would shoe horn a diesel power plant into their car-like soft roader. Yes, you read it correctly. Honda have felt the heat from the competition and want to be numer uno in the sales chart again. They have developed a new diesel mill and it is rumored to be a 2.2 liter common rail engine producing 134 Bhp @ 5,500 rpm and a high 347Nm of torque @ 3,300 rpm. This power is less than what the Fortuner and the Captiva or for that matter even the Santa Fe offers but the torque more than makes up for it.

Look-wise the New Honda CRV diesel will look the same as its petrol motored cousin. The only difference would be at the tail of the car which would sport a diesel tag or whatever nomenclature Honda chooses for their diesel. The interiors would have a big difference with the materials used now sporting a very rich and premium feel than the existing one. Minor styling changes would include changes in the alloy wheels design, sturdier front shock absorbers and redesigned bumpers to absorb crash energy at low speeds. The gear box would be revised and would now feature a 6 speed auto transmission. More use of sound deadening material would be used inside the cabin and under the hood to mask the diesel clatter. The diesel is slated to be one amongst the most fuel efficient in its class. It will give an average of 12 kmpl in the city and about 19 kmpl on the highway.

The New Honda CRV diesel would continue with the ride and handling of its petrol brother and this means a good pliant ride and handling like a car. The CR-V is the easiest soft roader to drive in its class and the diesel would carry this image forward.

The biggest point is that Honda CR-V petrol retails at Rs.24 lakhs and the diesel would be pegged at Rs.30 lakh. This would put it squarely in the soon to be launched BMW X1 and the Mitsubishi Montero. Most of the buyers in this segment would be more focused on brand image and that the BMW dolls out in plenty. Worth considering would be its rivals who at about Rs.8 lakhs less, are similarly reliable, have more equipment and also have a good brand image. The Honda CRV diesel in India would be launched in October 2011 and shortly after that, the same engine would be used in the Honda Accord.

Technical Specifications of the Honda CR-V diesel

Name: CR-V Diesel

Car Body Type: SUV

Segment: D Segment

Top Speed: 180 kmph

Fuel Consumption{ Highway}: 19.00 kmpl

Fuel Consumption{ City}: 12.00 kmpl.

ENGINE SPECIFICATIONS

Displacement: 2200cc, common rail diesel, 4 Cylinder

Engine Type: Diesel

Maximum Power: 134 Bhp

Maximum Torque: 347 Nm

DIMENSIONS

Length: 4620 mm

Width: 1790 mm

Height: 1720 mm

OTHER SPECIFICATIONS

Seating Capacity: 5

Steering: Power

Brakes: Front ventilated Disc, Rear solid Disc

Gears: 6 speed automatic

Ground Clearance: 187.00 mm

Kerb Weight: 1635.00 kgs.