Hottest deals on Indian cars till December 2010

Honda Jazz-

Honda Siel Motors India’s big hatch back offering, the Honda Jazz was never meant to be the bread and butter model for the company. It never caught the fancy of the car buying public mainly due to its Honda City rivaling price. However in lieu of the festive season and to clear stocks, Honda Siel Motors India is offering up to Rs.21,000 worth of free insurance and also straight out cash savings of Rs. 38,000 on all of the Honda Jazz variants except the freshly launched Jazz X variant.

Honda City-

The Honda City with its high price always had enough buyers to be the bread and butter model for Honda Siel Motors India. Well, Honda Siel Motors India is in a generous mood and is offering first year’s insurance free on all the variants of the Honda City. This translates to about Rs. 28,000 savings and makes the Honda City more accessible to the car buying public.

Honda Accord-

Just another highly desirable Honda with a discount and this is a big one at that. It also gets the same first year comprehensive free insurance and that amounts to discounts ranging from Rs. 57,000 to Rs. 77,000, depending on the variant selected. This would ease of some amount from the premium, the Honda Accord commands over its rivals.

Hyundai i10-

India’s second largest car manufacturer Hyundai Motors India Limited have the Hyundai i10 as one of its best selling car models. They launched the face-lifted Hyundai i10 recently and hence aren’t offering any discounts on it. If you are a first time car buyer, then this would dishearten you however if you are going to trade your old car for the Hyundai i10 at the Hyundai showroom, then you can avail of the Rs.10,000 exchange bonus.

Hyundai Accent Executive-

Hyundai’s long in the tooth warhorse and one which has been globally replaced by the Hyundai Verna, the Hyundai Accent Executive isn’t offered with any cash discounts as of now. However to compensate for this, Hyundai Motors India Limited are offering the Hyundai Accent Executive with a free MP3 player and 4 front speakers. These items otherwise purchased as a dealer option would cost you Rs. 8,000. The same deal of exchanging your old car at a Hyundai showroom for a new Hyundai Accent Executive will fetch you an exchange bonus of Rs.10,000.

Hyundai Verna Transform-

Hyundai’s slow selling Hyundai Verna Transform is been offered with a flat cash discount of Rs.10,000 and not to mention the Rs.15,000 on the Hyundai Verna Transform petrol and the Rs.10,000 on the Hyundai Verna Transform diesel if you chose to trade in your existing car at the Hyundai showroom. This makes a good deal on what is an underestimated car.

Hyundai Sonata Transform-

From the time it has been launched, the Hyundai Sonata Transform was never offered with a discount. However things have been changed and now Hyundai’s flagship in India is been sold with attractive cash discounts of Rs.30,000 on any variant that you select. There are a variety of variants on sale and we reckon that this is the right time to buy a Hyundai Sonata Transform.

Maruti Suzuki A-star-

Maruti Suzuki India Limited’s small car offering, the Maruti Suzuki A-star is been offered with a flat cash discount of Rs. 12,000 on any variant, the exception been the 4 speed automatic version. And similar to Hyundai’s offer, the Maruti Suzuki A-star makes do with a Rs.10,000 exchange bonus if you are trading your old car for an A-star at the Maruti Suzuki showroom.

Fiat Punto-

Fiat Motors India limited are not one to be left behind in the discount scheme and hence are offering Rs.24,000 of comprehensive insurance free for the first year on the Fiat Grande Punto. It is said that some dealers are even ready to offer Rs.2,000 more on outright purchase. However these generosities don’t extend for the recently launched 90 Hp diesel variants.

Tata Safari-

Tata Motors old warhorse, the Tata Safari is also been offered with a discount. One can take advantage of the Rs.15,000 exchange bonus if you trade in any of your old cars at a Tata showroom and purchase the Tata Safari. In a competitive mood, some of the dealers are also throwing an additional Rs.5,000 cash discount and that too on all the variants available.

Mahindra Scorpio-

Mahindra & Mahindra’s flagship model, the Mahindra Scorpio is been offered at a flat cash discount of Rs.15,000 across all variants save for the Mahindra Scorpio Automatic. You also get an additional exchange bonus of upto Rs.10,000 on exchange of any old make car for the Mahindra Scorpio.

Ford Fiesta-

Ford Motors India Limited have been concentrating more on marketing of its small car, the Ford Figo and the Ford Endeavour that they conveniently forgot the Ford Fiesta. To remedy this and to move more Ford Fiestas out of the show rooms, Ford are offering Rs.20,000 worth of free first year’s comprehensive insurance package. Plus you get an additional exchange bonus of Rs.10,000 if you plan on exchanging an any make car at the Ford dealership for the Ford Fiesta. There is also Rs.15,000 cash discount or an equivalent of accessories up for grabs. This totals the discounts offered on the Ford Fiesta to approximately Rs.45,000. This brings it to within 8% of the base model’s on-road price.

Mahindra Xylo-

Mahindra & Mahindra’s Xylo is a good option to Toyota’s worthy Innova. There were no discounts on the Mahindra Xylo till now however for the festive season, Mahindra dealers are offering upto Rs.5,000 off on any variant of the Mahindra Xylo. Moreover, if you plan to trade in your existing car for a Mahindra Xylo, you plan to gain Rs.10,000 as an exchange bonus. Some of the Mahindra dealers are also offering 50% discount on the first year’s comprehensive insurance and this works out to be Rs.15,000 in discounts.

Chevrolet Aveo U-VA-

The slow selling and especially so after the arrival of its younger cousin, the Chevrolet Beat, the Chevrolet Aveo U-VA is been offered with a cash discount of upto Rs.15,000 and also a corporate discount of upto Rs.4,000 plus Rs.8,000 worth of accessories. This should enable car buyers on a tight budget to gravitate towards the Chevy. It is a good combination of space, practicality and the addition of the discount makes the deal sweeter.

Volkswagen Jetta-

Not one to be left behind especially in the competitive Indian market, German automobile major Volkswagen are offering first year’s comprehensive insurance free on the Volkswagen Jetta. This would mean savings of upto Rs.50,000 to Rs.70,000 on the Volkswagen Jetta depending on the variant you choose. Buyers interested in the finance option get an additional 6% finance discount. This would be our deal of the month for all the aforementioned vehicles. All this is been done to make way for the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta model which is slated to hit the show rooms soon.

2011 Fiat Grande Punto in India

Fiat Grande Punto Review

Fiat India Automobiles Limited (FIAL) is coming out with the new version of its latest Punto. The Fiat Grande Punto is the best selling car from the Fiat range in the Indian market and Fiat is looking to further increase sales and capture a greater market share in the small care segment. Competing with the likes of the Hyundai i20, Maruti Swift, Hyundai Getz and Chevrolet Aveo UV-A in the B segment, the Punto is the most powerful diesel hatchback in its class with 90 horsepower.

The Fiat Grande Punto is an excellent car offering a wonderful driving dynamics, ride, braking, handling and fuel economy. With prices expected to be between 4 lakhs and 7 lakhs the Grande Punto is a very competent and competitive vehicle for those looking to own a small car.

Fiat is launching two new variants of its Punto the 1.2 Dynamic and 1.2 Emotion and being an Italian model prides itself on being one of the best styled cars in its segment as well.

Performance – Fiat Grande Punto in India

The Fiat Grande Punto is being released in India as a joint venture between Fiat and Indian car manufacturer Tata Motors. The Punto has received rave reviews globally since its introduction in 2005 and has won accolades like “car of the year 2008” in Brazil. Safety features in the Punto are also at a premium and it enjoys a 5 star rating from the Euro NCAP tests.

The Fiat Grande Punto is going to be introduced to the Indian market with three types of engines – a 1.2 liter petrol, 1.4 liter FIRE petrol and 1.3 liter multi-jet turbo diesel. Being smaller than 4 meters it fits into India’s category of a small car and benefits from a number of reductions in excise duties.

The Fiat Grande Punto will be available with both petrol and diesel powered engines. There are two types of petrol power engines, one which is a 1.2 liter and the other a 1.4 liter engine. The petrol version of the Grande Punto comes in a choice of 5 trims, with the 1.2 liter model available as 1.2 Active, 1.2 Dynamic and 1.2 Emotion. The 1.2 liter, FIRE petrol engine produces 68 horsepower and 96 Nm torque and is one of the most fuel efficient engines on Indian roads today.

The 1.4 liter engine is available in Emotion and Emotion Pack trims and is also powered by the FIRE petrol engine which produces a max output of 90 horsepower and 115 Nm torque.

As opposed to the petrol versions of the Grande Punto, the diesel models come with different versions of Fiat’s 1.3 liter multi-jet diesel engine. This engine further improves the fuel efficiency of the Grande Punto allowing it to do 14 kmpl in the city and 19 kmpl of the highway. The engine also uses a variable geometry turbocharger to improve the performance. The 1.3 liter, Multi-jet VGT diesel engine puts out a max power of 93 horsepower and 209 Nm of torque and is more powerful than the base version of the 1.3 liter which puts out only 76 horsepower and 197 Nm of torque. The diesel engine models also come with various trim options of Active, Dynamic and Emotion.

Just because the Grande Punto is powered by what looks like a small engine it does not mean that the car is sluggish. The Punto has a decent acceleration the 1.2 liter FIRE petrol engine powers the car from 0-100 kph in about 14.5 seconds while reaching a top speed of 155 kmph. The 1.4 liter petrol engine with that added power helps get the Punto from 0-100 kph in 10.9 seconds and helps it achieve a top speed of 178 kmph.

The 1.3 liter diesel version with Multi-jet VGT also provides good acceleration allowing the vehicle to reach the 100kmph mark in only 13.6 seconds while giving it a top speed of 165 kmph.

Styling

The Fiat Grande Punto is available to international markets with the option of two body styles, the three-door hatch and a five-door hatch, but buyers in the Indian market will have to make do with only one version the five-door model.

The interiors and exteriors of the car are very striking and are bound to take people by surprise as they incorporate some unique design features. The Italian design heritage comes through the updated look with its fluid lines, steep hood and curved roofline. The front fascia is further accentuated by the grille which adds to the vehicles aggressive look and the smooth, vertically sloped headlights give the car an almost curvy look.

The sharply sloping front windshield, that leads from the roofline and joins with the hood also give the car a hunched down, low slung almost crouched look like it is about to spring up and jet off. The rear of the Punto is also freshly designed with the c-pillar smoothly integrating with the lift back that incorporates the long taillights and also has a slight lip spoiler to aid with down force.

The Grande Punto is fitted with 15 inch wheels that come in both steel and alloy variants. The base models of Punto, the Active and Dynamic come with the steel wheels but the top line Emotion pack has the ultra sporty and sleek alloy rims. Tires provided are tubeless, puncture resistant, all weather R14’s or R15’s.

Interiors of the Grande Punto are also designed neatly and have typical Italian influences. The front cabin is not cluttered with unnecessary buttons and knobs and the red speedometer and tachometer display gives the car a cool, chic, trendy look that would no doubt attract younger buyers. The controls on the dashboard are ergonomically placed for maximum driver comfort and the steering wheel also has the audio and climate controls embedded in it.

Other styling features of the Punto that make it exciting are the leather wrapped steering and gear knob, steering wheel one touch controls, adjustable driver’s seat and Bluetooth connectivity. The Grande Punto is the first car in its segment to offer hands free Bluetooth connectivity.

The Grande Punto has a very open and spacious cabin and allows both the front and rear passengers ample headroom and legroom. The rear sets are 60:40 foldable split seats and ensure additional space if required although the boot is pretty spacious as is.

The Punto is also loaded with a powerful audio system that supports MP3, inbuilt USB port, auxiliary port and has six-speakers. The climate controlled air conditioning is also powerful and enhances the comfort levels in the Grande Punto.

Fiat Grande Punto Price and Recommendations

The Fiat Grande Punto is one of the best options presently available in the Indian small car segment. It provides maximum safety incorporating safety features like Dual front airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution (EBD), fire prevention system (FPS) to automatically shut off fuel supply in case of a collision, Fiat Code System (FCS) with immobilizer to prevent theft, Crash Severity Algorithm (CSA) which calculates the severity of impact and deploys airbags accordingly and Early Crash Sensor (ECS) that makes the airbags deploy early and prevents passengers from hitting the dash and steering in case of a heavy impact.

It has all the necessary requirement to make it a very comfortable car, while offering the best power in its class. The fuel efficiency of the 1.3 turbo diesel is also impeccable and combines economy with great looks. The Grande Punto will be available in six exciting colors – Minimal Grey, Electric Blue, Exotica Red, Boss Nova White, Medium Grey and Hip Hop Black.

Fiat has had a history of being appreciated for its quality and the Grande Punto continues in the same vein. The impressive interiors are also satisfying and fit in well with the overall feel of the car. The Fiat Grande Punto is a very strong contender in this competitive segment and the safety and performance upgrades should continue to make it one of Fiat’s best selling cars in India.

2011 Fiat Grande Punto India Specifications and Price

Vehicle Category: Hatchback
Engines (petrol): 1.2 L, 4-cyl, FIRE, 68 HP, 96 Nm torque
Engine (petrol): 1.4 L, 4-cyl, FIRE, 90 HP, 115 Nm torque
Engines (diesel): 1.3 L, 4-cyl, Multi-jet, turbocharged, 93 HP, 209Nm torque
Drive train: Front engine, 5 passenger, 5-door hatch, FWD
Transmissions (standard): 5-speed manual
0-100 kph: 11.5 sec (est.)
Mileage city/hwy: 12/ 16.2 kmpl
Fiat Grande Punto Price: Rs.4 – 7 lakhs(est.)

Ford Endeavour 4×2 automatic test drive

Ford India have only one SUV, the Ford Endeavour, in their Indian portfolio whereas internationally, Ford Motors have a wide range of SUVs as well as the pickup trucks on which they are based. The Ford Endeavour has been the favourite of the SUV buying public, looking for a full size SUV, this side of Rs.20 lakhs. There was the Mitsubishi Pajero later on to give it competition however it was too dated to be any threat. Ford India have always refreshed the Ford Endeavour’s booty to keep its dominion intact. However the real threat for Ford India and for the Ford Endeavour came from Toyota and in the form of the Fortuner SUV. Its dimensions were the same as the Ford Endeavour however due to the Toyota badge, the SUV started selling like hot cakes. In a bid to keep its perch intact, Ford India have given the botox treatment to the Endeavour and now are offering an auto transmission on it as well. Earlier the 4×4 was given the same treatment and now the 4×2 has been given same pill. I couldn’t resist this opportunity to get my hands dirty with the Ford Endeavour 4×2 automatic. Here comes the rest of the story from my view of the new SUV……..

Looks

The Ford Endeavour 4×2 automatic comes with the same face lift as seen on its 4×4 auto brethren. It has a far more sober and rounded design than the first generation Ford Endeavour doing duties in India. Curves are in and boxes are out is the now Ford Mantra. Some elements of the Ford India’s “kinetic design theme” filter onto the new SUV as well. The head lamps are wrap around ones and have got clear lens as well. 5 horizontal chrome ringed slats line the grille. The Blue Oval logo sits in between this grille. A bull bar like bumper is now present and flanking it are the low set, clear lens fog lamps. The air dam is a two piece affair and adds to the overall aggressive face of the Ford Endeavour 4×2 automatic. The bonnet is one of the longest on an SUV and I sorely missed a scoop on it.

Viewed from the side, the first thing that comes to mind is the huge tyres. They are 16 inch multi spoke alloys and are chunky. However they fail to fill the flared wheel arches. Nevertheless, the Ford Endeavour 4×2 automatic still looks big. The huge glass area gives a hint at the space inside. The roof rails are chrome misted ones and complement the butch look of the SUV. There are side skirts as well as chrome running boards to help the vertically challenged ones into the cabin. The outside rear view mirrors are huge and in sync with the bigger the better theme. They are housed in chrome casings and have the turn indicators fixed in them. There are many body graphics doing the round and I personally liked the Black color of the Ford Endeavour 4×2 automatic and its sort of pinkish graphics. Overall, the side profile does display the Ford Endeavour 4×2 automatic’s wheel base of 2861 mm and the 210 mm of ground clearance is capable for most off road ventures and those dirt safari trails.

The rear hasn’t changed much from the first generation Ford Endeavour however the Ford Endeavour 4×2 automatic now has clear lens tail lamps which are vertically stacked. The huge rear glass sorely misses out on a a rear wiper however a rear defogger and demister are available and these compensate for the lack of the former. A huge spare wheel is present and it is covered with a poly urethane covering. The huge door covering the rear is flanked by a chunky door handle coated in chrome. The bumper is body colored and two reflectors along with the reverse lights. The stop lamp is mounted high up on the rear glass.

Interiors

Gone are the dark cabin interiors of the Ford Endeavour. The new Ford Endeavour 4×2 automatic has got a beige cabin along with lots of fake wood inserts and brushed aluminium. The leather seats are of the same soft material as found in some of the premium cars like Skoda Laura. They have the right amount of bolstering however they could do with a little more thigh support for tall drivers. The steering wheel is a 4 spoke one and unfortunately doesn’t have any audio controls on it. It is also big but not truck like and is adjustable for rake and reach. Three circles inside the hooded binnacle consists of the speedometer, revometer and also the fuel and temperature gauges. They are chrome ringed as well. In keeping with the theme of the car, there is also a navigation system thrown in for good measure. There are many cubby holes inside the cabin and the glove box is also quite big.

Three rows of air conditioning vents with a 4 speed adjustment ensure that all the occupants are comfortable during the journey. The pedals are done in brushed aluminium and are drilled for a better sporty effect. The driver would miss out on his seat adjust though. There is a roof mounted DVD screen and a 6 CD changer system with a touch screen option. Overall, all the passengers would have plenty of room to stretch out, except for the ones in the last seat. It seems more like a make shift arrangement one and suitable only for kids. With the rearmost seats in place, the boot space is quite okay at 363 liters. Flip the rear seats down and you would get a huge 823 liters boot space, enough to load a mountain bike. We would have preferred a bit more of equipment like the automatic climate controls, a chilled glove box and some more but then nary do all the wishes get fulfilled.

Handling and ride quality

The front suspension is made up of Independent Double Wishbone and the rear is Progressive Linear Rate Leaf Spring. The rear springs show the Ford Endeavour 4×2 automatic’s truck roots. The ride quality is quite good at the front and middle row. I didn’t expect this ride quality from the middle seats due to the leaf spring suspension however surprise of surprise, this is a Ford after all. Only in the rear most seat would you feel the bob of the suspension whenever it goes over a big pot hole. The handling is at par with others in its competition though the Ford Endeavour 4×2 automatic does feel a bit top heavy. There is nothing disconcerting in this though as it is to be expected with a vehicle this heavy. As with all Ford India cars, this one shrinks around the driver and doesn’t make one realize about the size of the car. Its only in heavy traffic conditions or in parking speeds that you feel the girth of this vehicle. As in any other Ford India car, the steering is direct and is a speed sensitive hydraulic unit. It points the front wheels in exactly the direction that you want to place this SUV in. The lockable differential comes into play in the dirt trail and give some sembalance to the handling. The reverse parking sensors help in easing the load while parking this SUV.

The cabin is also a quite place to be though speeds of 130 kmph and above does bring in some wind noise and also the harshness of the engine.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

The biggest change is one in the Ford Endeavour 4×2 automatic’s heart. It has the 3.0 liter engine from the 4 wheel drive version. This 3.0L Turbocharged Diesel VGT I-4 with a DOHC and Crdi technology is a stonker of an engine. It belches out 156 Bhp of raw power and a shattering 380 Nm of torque. Due to the Variable Geometric Turbocharger, the engine can easily move around at 20 kmph in 3rd gear and even have decent top end power at the same time. The transmission is a 5 speed auto and shifts quite well however not as perfectly like the ones that the Japs have in their cars. Use of Crdi and also high performance Piezo electric injectors gives the engine high tractability. The torque is evenly spread out across the rev range and while selecting D on the auto transmission, the Ford Endeavour 4×2 automatic just lunged forward with a zeal and gusto belying its 2014 kg kerb weight. The tranmission does let you know when it is shifting though.

The 0-100 kmph run was warped in a good 17.2 seconds. I made it touch 165 kmph on the Mumbai-Pune highway. The engine doesn’t seem lacking at any speed and has a wide power band. Hauling this beast in a timely manner are 4 wheel disc brakes coupled with ABS (Anti-Lock Brake System) and EBD. For the safety conscious, there are 4 air bags, anti-whiplash head restraints, collapsible steering column, child safety locks, seat belts with pre-tensioner and crumple zones built with the usually high Ford Safety Standards.

The fuel efficiency that I derived from the behemoth was an amazing 10.2 kmpl in the city and 14.4 kmpl on the highway run. This is in compliance with the ARAI given figures for the Ford Endeavour 4×2 automatic. Add the 71 liters diesel fuel capacity to the equation and you have a high 781 kilometers range to go before needing a refill. Been a diesel means lower running costs as well, perfect fit for the long distance traveller.

Verdict

Ford India in a bid to retain their market share for full size SUVs are enticing the car buyers with more and more options. In short, going the BMW way by filling up niche segments. They have the auto tranmission for both their 4×4 as well as 4×2 versions. This makes it an easy decision for the SUV loving public. It has good space all around, quality interiors, Bluetooth integration with phone and many features, decent performance as well as good fuel efficiency from a 3 liter engine. Now, it has an asking price of Rs. 16,3889 {Ex- showroom, Delhi}. This makes it completely value for money and in the bargain, you get a full seven seater SUV. There is going to be an all frills one version of this SUV and it would be called the Ford Endeavour 4×2 automatic XLT.

Technical Specifications of the Ford Endeavour 4×2 automatic as driven

No. of Cylinders: 4
Number of Valves: 16
Displacement: 2953 (cc)
Compression Ratio: 11.3:4
Fuel pumping: Common Rail Direct Injection
Performance figures (0-100) km/h: 17.72 (secs)
Valvetrain: DOHC
Transmission Type: 5-speed Automatic
Drivetrain: Rear Wheel Drive
Max. Power: 156 Bhp @ 3200 rpm
Max. Torque: 380 Nm @ 2500 rpm
Overall Length (mm): 5063
Overall Width (mm): 1789
Overall Height (mm): 1825
Ground Clearance (mm): 211
Wheelbase (mm): 2861
Kerb Weight (kgs): 2016
Fuel Tank Capacity (litres): 71
Trunk Capacity (litres): 823
Seating Capacity: 7
Front Brakes: Ventilated Disc
Rear Brakes: Solid Disc
Antilock Braking System and EBD: Yes
Min. Turning Radius (m): 6.3
Steering Type: Variable Power  assist Ball and Nut, hydraulic unit
Front Suspension: Independent Double Wishbone
Rear Suspension: Progressive Linear Rate Leaf Spring
Shock Absorbers: Tubular Gas-Filled
Wheel Type: Alloys
Wheel Size: 16″
Tyres: 245/70 R16  (Tubeless)
City (kmpl.): 10.2
Highway (kmpl.): 14.4
Overall (kmpl.): 11.8
Fuel Type: Diesel

2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist – The Secret is Revealed

General Motors has been working on an updated part-hybrid system for its D-segment sedans and the car manufacturer was reluctant to reveal what car would get the first powertrain. The 2010 LA Auto Show was chosen as the location to reveal that the Buick LaCrosse is going to be the lucky vehicle to be fitted with the new eAssist system. All models of the LaCrosse will come with the eAssist system and the 2012 models will feature a 2.4 liter, inline 4 cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

The same powertrain is already available in the 2011 LaCrosse, but the eAssist system is used to improve fuel economy further and current estimates claim an EPA rating of 25 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway, which is quite an improvement from the current 19 mpg and 30 mpg in the city and highway respectively.

The eAssist system now uses a lithium-ion chemistry in the battery pack, which increases horsepower during acceleration by 15 horsepower and can also recover 15 Kw of electricity through the regenerative braking system. The car is not designed for complete electric driving like full hybrids, but is more suited to be driven in conjunction with the gasoline engine. The battery pack is also used more to provide a power assistance to the engine than to actually store power and propel the car forward through that. It is an extension of the current internal combustion engine rather than a complete replacement.

The Buick LaCrosse with eAssist should be available in dealerships by the middle of 2011 and although prices are yet to be finalized, initial estimates point to a base price of around $30,000 for the CX model.

Mazda Shinari Concept – From zoom zoom to Soulful Motion

The Shinari is the latest design theme from the Mazda stable and finally puts an end to the Nagare design language that Mazda was persistent to follow. The new Shinari design them is based on the Kodo concept, which essentially means ‘soul in motion’.

The LA Auto Show was host to the Shinari concept being unveiled and the noticeable differences were the absence of the Nagare’s strakes and the smoother flowing lines of the Shinari. The Shinari concept is a five-door sports hatch and is a collaboration of engineers and designers from U.S., Germany and Japan. The impact of having a new design language means that production cars in Mazda’s stable will now be getting touches of the new Kodo concept, so executives at Mazda are keeping a tight lid on when the concept will make its debut.

Mazda is doing extensive research and development on a new platform, new six-speed automatic transmission as well as a new Sky engine that is more fuel efficient. The Sky engine will be available in both gasoline (Sky-G) as well as diesel (Sky-D) and they incorporate some innovative engineering solutions. The gasoline inline 4 cylinder is a 2.0 liter engine that Is normally aspirated and will produce more power than the current inline-4 and reduce emissions by more than 15 percent.

The Sky-D on the other hand will feature a 2.2 liter turbocharged inline 4 cylinder with a two-stage turbo system and fuel injection. It also features a revised combustion chamber that will help deliver 20 percent more power than the current diesel engine. Both engines are mated to the six-speed automatic ‘Sky-Drive’ transmission. Mazda is aiming to play with the boys at BMW and Audi and is also making a host of changes to its interiors to improve quality and design.

2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet – You think you know convertible..think again

Nissan has been threatening us with a convertible version of its Murano vehicle for sometime now but until recently these were always shrugged off as rumors. Nissan has used the LA Auto Show to unveil the Murano CrossCabriolet and this madcap vehicle is well on its way to becoming a production model.

Sources at Nissan do not expect the vehicle to be a volume seller but according to Brian Carolin, Nissan’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, “there’s a degree of bravery for us to bring out a car like that right now. It will surprise a lot of people.”

The Nissan CrossCabriolet is supposed to be the first of its kind all-wheel-drive, two-door convertible. It blends the utility of an SUV with the sophistication of a sedan and the obvious fun of driving with the top down. All that is good but engineers had the tough task of increasing the rigidity of the vehicle in the absence of the B-pillars and came up with the idea of strengthening the A-pillars. Other small but significant structural changes were also made with longer front doors and a glass incorporated canvas roof. The new configuration does not affect aerodynamics and it remains at a respectable 0.39 Cd as compared to the 0.37 Cd with the Murano.

The Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet will only be available in one trim level and this means that Nissan has pulled out all the stops with the model. When the car goes on sale next year it will feature High Intensity Discharge bi-xenon headlights and Light Emitting Diode (LED) taillights and 20-inch five-spoke wheels with titanium finish among other standard features. The interiors also feature a heated steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, Bose audio system and other extras as standard.

The Murano CrossCabriolet will feature a 3.5 liter V6 All-wheel-drive that gives a maximum output of 265 horsepower and maximum torque of 248 pound-feet and the engine will be mated to an Xtronic CVT gearbox. The Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet opens up a whole new segment but we will have to see if it is worth it.

Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport launched in India

The Baap of all cars has been introduced in India, namely the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport. Not every road car can touch 400 mph and also finish 100 liters of petrol in a flat 12 minutes. In India, it is marketed not through Volkswagen’s dealer networks but by a sole dealer in Delhi. The Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport is an everyday super car and does 0-100 kmph in 2.7 seconds and reaches its top speed of 407 kmph in a scant 35.4 seconds. Unlike the Audi R8, this car is not so low slung yet due to its 4 wheel drive system ensures that it corners like it is on rails.

The grille of the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport is made up of titanium and it is shaped like a sort of horse shoe. There aren’t too many visible aerodynamic units like the Audi R8 however there are about 200 aerodynamic elements present to aid the top speed of the car and there is an innovative rear spoiler which pulls itself into use once the car is above 300 kmph. The Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport is a mid engined 2 seater car however the engine can be seen through a glass pane at the rear.

The interiors of the car are more comfortable than the Audi R8. It seats 2 quite comfortably. The very fact that everything has been hand-made gives it a sense of personalization. The length of the car is about the same as the Indian Honda City. Yes, going by the pictures, the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport may seem very big however when you try driving the car, that’s when you realize that this car actually shrinks around the driver. The driver’s seat isn’t electrically adjustable and you have to manually find a comfortable position.

The Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport weighs 1789 kilos and uses a W16 64 valves in all, 7993cc quad turbo engine. This develops 1001 Ps of power and a staggering 1,250 Nm of torque. It has a 7 speed dual clutch automatic gearbox and one which has shift times of less than 150 milliseconds. The cost of the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport in India is a staggering Rs.16.4 crores (ex-showroom, Delhi).

Technical specifications of the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport

Engine capacity: W16 Cylinder 7 993 cc quad turbo engine Euro 5
Maximum Power: 1001 Bhp at 6100 rpm
Maximum torque: 1250 Nm from 2100–5400 rpm
Gearbox: 7 speed Dual clutch automated
Length: 4563 mm
Width: 1997 mm
Height: 1224 mm
Wheel base: 2710 mm
Kerb weight: 1789 kilos
Front suspension: Double wishbone
Rear suspension: Double wishbone
Front Brakes: 400 mm Carbon Disc
Rear Brakes: 380 mm Ceramic Disc
Fuel tank capacity: 100 liters
Seating capacity: 2

BMW X5 revised

BMW India have given their premium SUV, the BMW X5 a Botox treatment. The changes to the exterior are miniscule however apparently there is a lot more under the skin of the new BMW X5. The front bumpers have been given a touch up. There are new air intakes as well and the head lamps have LEDs in place of the earlier Corona rings. Apparently all this makes the SUV go out of the odd ball mode and be back as an SUV for the family.

The interiors have been tweaked a bit as well. They now have many features as standard equipment like dual zone climate control, 12 speaker 6 CD changer system, front powered leather seats, Idrive system as well as electronic nannies like ESP, ABS, lane veneer warning as opposed to the old model. Majority of the changes have gone under the hood and the BMW X5 petrol gets the more powerful 4.4 liter twin turbo engine punching in 408 Bhp and a huge 440 Nm of torque. The 3.0 liter diesel now gets some revisions to make it develop an extra 10 Bhp and about 20 Nm of more torque. This might sound like very minor changes to the 2150 kg diesel powered BMW X5 however the it crosses the 0-100 kmph in a quick 7.6 seconds. Its top speed is 210 kph.

Both the variants now get a 8 speed automatic transmission which is even slicker than the earlier 6 speed unit. This one maximizes the BMW X5’s cruising capabilities and makes it a serious mile muncher. The ride and handling of the BMW X5 remains the same as the old model and this isn’t a bad thing.

The best part is left for the last and that is that the BMW X5’s base petrol as well as the base diesel are now cheaper by about Rs.3 lakhs than the outgoing model. This makes it a fantastic value for money for those looking for a no nonsense SUV with good handling and luxury at its best.

BMW engines to power Spyker cars

Spyker, the denims company have purchased General Motors Saab division. Since General Motors was going through a cash crisis during the recent recession, everyone thought that Spyker had actually dug their own grave by purchasing the ailing Saab Motors. One couldn’t have been more wrong. Under the umbrella of the Spyker brand, Saab Motors have flourished and big time. So much that they are already planning on launching 5 cars in the following year.

After all this though the Saab Motors cars were run by General Motors engines. Even after the annexation, this trend continued. However Spyker have been in recent talks with other car manufacturers for sourcing out their engines for the Saab cars. BMW was one such manufacturer which was approached by Spyker and they have agree to supply Spyker with the N18 series of engines. A 200 Bhp version of this 1.6 liter straight six turbo charged engine would power the new Saab 9-3. This new Saab 9-3 would be going on sale by December 2010. This engine currently does duty in the Mini range of BMW cars.

Apart from the engines, Spyker would also be getting some technology information from BMW. This would include BMW’s regenerative braking system and also their stop and start technology to save fuel and improve the efficiency of the car. Saab Motors in itself is well known to tinker with engines and make them into performance ones using their advanced turbo charging systems, powerful Trionic engine systems and also direct ignition technology. BMW is expected to supply Spyker with about 2 lakhs of the 1.6 liter N18 engines for the year 2011. This engine may also do duty on the next gen 9-5. This car is expected in the year 2015. BMW has got award winning engines in their line up and it is estimated that most of the small capacity engines would find their way into the Saab Motors cars in the near future.

For the Indian market, the good news is that BMW group have joined the auto finance business in India and the operation would be through their finance arm known as BMW Financial Services. This move will allow dealers to boost sales as also give customers the much needed finance for their favorite BMW cars. The initial investment into the 100% wholly owned subsidiary of BMW Group, the BMW Financial Services is estimated to be Rs. 250 crores. This would also include the auto insurance sector for BMW cars. The headquarters of the BMW Financial Services would be in India’s capital, Delhi. Gurgaon to be precise.

Audi A6 2.7 Tdi with engine down-size

Audi India have been always considered the middle road for those seeking a fine combination of luxury and performance whereas its counterparts like BMW and Mercedes are at the higher spectrum of performance or luxury respectively. The only sore point was that all of Audi’s cars were priced at a sizeable premium than the other two manufacturers. This lead luxury car buyers to either settle for the BMW or Mercedes cars. The Audi A6 is one of the highest selling cars from the Audi stables and to get this figures up and at the same time keep the Audi pride, Audi India have introduced a new Audi A6 2.7 Tdi with a down sized engine.

Audi India knows that most of the customer in this price bracket are usually chauffer driven and would care a nary about the car’s engine configuration. They would be more interested in the ride quality, interior features and been an Indian, fuel efficiency. The Audi A6 2.7 Tdi is a looker like the rest of its stable mates. There are no changes visually for this new car and the only giveaway is the 2.7 badging at the rear. The interiors are also carried forward from the now extinct 3 liter engine. This means that you get the 3rd generation MMI system, easy to read gauges and the innovative red colored tips for the needles, excellent build quality and unfortunately still a bit difficult to understand dash controls.

There are lots of cubby holes and a big chilled twin glove box at the center. There is good ride quality and one which is yet to be bettered in this segment. Neither the Mercedes E class or the BMW 5 series can provide the kind of cosseting ride quality that characterizes the new Audi A6 2.7 Tdi’s air suspension. There is no feel of been thrown around while going through sharp bends or corners. However the electronic power steering doesn’t encourage enthusiastic driving as much as the Mercedes or the BMW. The handling is also not at par with its other dynamic rivals due to the soft suspension set up. The only problem is that the NVH character inside the new Audi A6 2.7 Tdi is far more than the BMW 5 series or the Mercedes E class. There is significant amount of tyre and road noise in ton speeds. Low speed rides are well insulated though.

The major change which happened under the hood is the introduction of the 2.7 liter V6 diesel as found on the Audi A4. This engine makes 190 Bhp @ 5,200 rpm and about 360 Nm of torque @ 2,200 rpm. This figures are down by about 90 Bhp and 100 Nm of torque from the previous 3 litre engine. This deficit doesn’t manifest itself while on the go with the Audi A6 2.7 Tdi racing from 0-100 kmph in a scant 8.63 seconds and for the city run, the 0-60 kmph shows up in 3.92 seconds. The gearbox offered is also a 7 speed CVT with manual override. This provides for lightning fast shifts and is quite efficient in its operation.

The Audi A6 2.7 Tdi gives 10. kmpl in the city and about 14.2 kmpl on the highway. These are some of the best figures achieved by the Audi A6 and are at par with the competition. The good news is that the Audi A6 2.7 Tdi will fit into most luxury car buyers pockets due to the fact that it has been priced lower by Rs.8 lakhs than the 3.0 liter Audi A6 diesel engine. The revised price is now Rs. 38.4 lakhs { ex-showroom, Mumbai} and bang in the territory of the BMW M3 and the Mercedes C AMG.

Technical Specification Of Audi A6 2.7 TDI

Engine Description and type: 2.7L 177bhp V6 TDI with turbocharger
Maximum Power: 190 Bhp @ 4,250 rpm
Maximum Torque: 360 Nm @ 2,200 rpm
Valves Per Cylinder: 6
Valve Configuration: DOHC
Fuel Supply System: CRDI
Fuel Type: Diesel
Transmission Type: 7 Speed automatic CVT with manual override
Drive Type: Front wheel drive
Rear Suspension: Independent Trapezoidal link with air cushions
Front Suspension: Four link, double wishbones with anti-roll bar
Steering Type: Electronic Power Assisted Rack & Pinion with Tilt & Telescopic function
Front Brake Type: Ventilated Disc with ABS, EBD and ESP
Rear Brake Type: Solid Disc with ABS, EBD and ESP
Top Speed: 223 kmph {Electronically Limited}
Acceleration (0-100 kmph): 8.63 seconds
Mileage-City (kmpl): 10.0

Mileage-Highway (kmpl): 14.4
Fuel Tank Capacity (litres): 72
Emission Norm Compliance: Euro IV
Tyre Size: 245/45 R 17 alloys
Alloy Wheel Size: 17 inches
No of Doors: 4
Cargo Volume: 548 litres
Seating Capacity: 5

A trip to Mercedes AMG factory

AMG as we all know is the performance division of Mercedes Benz cars. They have made some awesome cars out of the ordinary luxury cars from Mercedes Benz passenger cars. The name AMG stands for its founders namely Aufrecht, Melcher and Großaspach. After seeing its popularity, Mercedes Benz annexed it in 1999 and renamed it as Mercedes AMG GmBH. Before that, it was known as a tuning firm which made the already powerful Mercedes cars, to have a better ride and handling package. We had the fortune of actually visiting the AMG factory located at Affalterback on the outskirts of Stuggart.

It is note worthy that though AMG takes the basic car from its parent company Mercedes Benz, it develops an engine of its own. This is considered a vital part of any car and hence is hand built. These engines have only one person designing the entire lot. From 2004, every AMG engine coming out of the posh factory premises carries the signature of the engineer who built it. As of now, there are 64 engineers working in the entire 2 shifts and each one of them build about 4-5 AMG engines per day. There is a new 5.5 liter, dual turbo engine been made and hence the factory unit has been expanded recently. A testing facility and one which is full fledged with a dyno has also been added. They even test the engine’s reliability factor after all these modifications by keeping it running close to its red line for 48 hours. It can be noted that any after market modification to a Mercedes car just gets you void of its warranty however if tuned by AMG, then the cars would still retain their warranty.

Just besides this main factory, AMG have set up a Performance Studio which takes care of all customization orders from Mercedes Benz  as well as for AMG customers. Here one can even request for any specific stitching thread for their car seats, leave alone body parts, customized wheels and also upholstery. The detailing going into every AMG car is very painstaking and one which includes even the car’s acoustics. For this very purpose, AMG have appointed even sound engineers who listen to the sound of the exhaust pipes and then tune them so that they would be music for those on the inside as well as the ones standing and gawking at the AMG cars outside.

AMG is not only a tuners factory and they are making their own car. They have designed it from scratch and very little help was taken from parent company Mercedes Benz in this regard. However to gain this project, AMG had to walk the extra mile and prove to Mercedes Benz that they were capable of building their own car. For this, Mercedes asked them to design two prototypes namely the SL63 Black and the SL65 Black. These test was passed in flying colors by AMG and hence they got the go ahead for the now famous SLS AMG. The gull winged SLS AMG is a hard to believe yet positive attempt by AMG and deserves a standing ovation. We were so at loss of words after seeing the AMG facility as well as their indigenious SLS AMG car that our respect for those “tuners” has grown manifold. Kudos to AMG.

2011 Kia K5 (Optima)

The new offering from Kia the K5 has been unveiled at the L.A Auto Show that is currently ongoing and is one of the most eagerly awaited cars in Kia’s line-up. This is because the Optima was one of the odd cars in terms of design and styling (it did not have any). The new 2011 Kia K5 takes on a new persona in the D-segment and has a unique concept to its name as well. In Korean the word for the number ‘5’ sounds a lot like ‘oh’ and this would make the K5 a ‘K.O.’, well at least that’s what Kia hopes it is.

Looking at the new Kia K5 it is easy to come to the conclusion that Kia has got off to a great start if they are planning on making the K5 a knockout. The K5 does not look like any of the previous Optima’s and this present generation model has very aggressive styling and a certain appeal that really makes it stand out. For those of us who are true car connoisseurs though a closer look will reveal some amount of design discord and it seems as though Kia has put in loads of crisp lines and creases to increase the masculinity of the vehicle but they may have been overdone.

One of the main visual drawbacks is probably the chrome door strip running from the top of the windows, crossing the rear door and ending at the trunk. As it passes towards the rear quarter panel it creates a disharmony of lines that look like ‘Attila the Hun’ was having a bit of fun. The rear of the car features some more disarray in design as the taillights that seem to be inspired from the Audi blend in with the trunk lid decently from distance but then seem to go off on a tangent and form a lip mid way down the boot giving the rear an unpleasant ‘Bugs Bunny’ bucktooth look.

The front of the car also displays come non cohesive elements and the front grille, fender and hood have lines and curves that seem afterthought at all levels. The current fad which are LED lights do not blend in well with the fog lights as the white light of the headlamps clashes against the yellow light from the incandescent fog lamps. Also the fog lights are positioned weirdly and do not follow the contours of the vehicle.

The inside of the 2011 Kia K5 is impressive if you have one-dimensional eye-sight. What I am trying to say, is that if you look at each element individually then you may be impressed. What designers at Kia look like they have done, is given each part of the interior to a different designer without sharing the designs of the other elements. This results in there being no cohesiveness between; say the dashboard and the door panels. It seemed that Kia designers never thought these areas may appear together. The door panes are in themselves a non-thought out affair with the speakers protruding like a sore thumb and make the door look very lop-sided.

The steering wheel is also smaller than you would expect and is cluttered with a dozen buttons that make the Airbus A380 look like child’s play. Saying that a quarter of those buttons are meant for the K5’s cruise control, which is not normally found in mid-sized Korean cars and should make the engineers at neighboring Hyundai quite jealous as both their mid-sized offerings the Sonata and Grandeur do not have the cruise control option.

Another cool function of the steering wheel is the fact that it is heated, but you would need a map to find the activation switch as it is well hidden and obscured by the four spoke steering wheel. The K5 again is one of the only Korean made cars to have it. All seats are also equipped with the same heating facility and use a special anti-bacterial polymer called Heatex that supposedly provides a more uniform heating while using infrared waves to help stimulate the occupants internal organs. In countries where there is enough heat provided by the outdoors and your internal organs do not need any more stimulation the Heatex option can be switched for cooled seats. These work effectively and quickly but can be a tad noisy when the car is idling at a stoplight or likewise.

Driving the Kia K5 is quite comfortable and the front seats are very accommodating although they could do with a bit more bottom cushioning as the seat position is low and this could lead to some discomfort on long drives. The front cabin space if very good and offers ample legroom and head room. The rear of the car is also very spacious with adequate legroom although head room may feel tight owing to the lower roof line of the K5 than its rivals the Camry, Sonata and Accord. If I were to be picky, the outside view from the rear seats is restricted as the windows sweep upwards. Combining this with the relatively low roofline could make occupants at the back feel slightly claustrophobic.

The passengers at the rear also enjoy the luxury of having their own a/c vents, but you would have to opt for the automatic transmission for your rear seat occupants to get that benefit. Nonetheless the rear vents add a touch of class to the Kia K5. Ride in the K5 is comfortable overall and noise levels are also kept to a minimum. The engineers at Kia have actually done quite a bit to make the cabin quiet and have added more insulation than some of the cars from their siblings at Hyundai. Saying this, the feel of the interior is still at the lower end of the luxury stakes, and is lacking in coherence and cohesiveness on all levels.

The Kia K5 employs the same 2.4 liter GDI unit that does its job in the Hyundai Sonata although a keen observer will notice a few subtle changes under the hood. The Kia K5 has a single gas strut inside the front wheel arch as opposed to two used on the Sonata and it also has a lower, wider, better integrated air intake than the Sonata. There are also some key engineering elements that are used to reduce noise levels like more insulation near the firewall as well as a differently shaped cowl near the wipers.

The 2011 Kia K5 will undoubtedly be quite a hit for the Korean car manufacturer as it is generally quite an attractive looking vehicle which is well equipped and moderately priced. But that is just what it is. You do not get any more than you expect out of it and that may tend to disappoint buyers. It does not have the necessary refinement that is required in D-segments vehicles and will make it difficult to compete with its rivals like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. There are those niggling elements that would not have taken a genius to refine like the placement of the KIA logo on top of the grille instead of in it, blacked out roof looks out of place and alloy wheels look like cheap hubcaps. Driving dynamics are quite close to the Sonata but it falls short of being the expected K.O. that Kia would be hoping for.

The Kia K5 falls short on a number of front and is not a sporty car not is it a complete easy riding sedan. It will appeal in terms of its styling and design to those who are not too concerned and picky about refined looks as it has lines and creases all around (even if they are not coherent). The engine could do with a bit more power and it is more likely that buyers would prefer the better looking interiors of the Sonata over the Kia K5. We will have to wait and see how well the K5 does in the U.S. and only time will tell.

2011 Kia K5 Specifications

Vehicle Category: Sedan
Engines (petrol): 2.4 L, 4 cylinder, GDI, 200 HP, 345 Nm torque
Engine (petrol): 2.0 L, 4 cylinder, Turbo GDI, 274 HP, 420 Nm torque
Drive train: Front engine, 5 passenger, 4-door sedan, FWD
Transmissions (standard): 6-speed auto
Curb Weight: 2389 kg
0-100 kph: 6.8 secs (est.)
Mileage city/hwy: 9.3 / 11.8 kmpl
Base Price: $ 25,000 (est.)