Maruti Suzuki to Now Import Auto Parts from Germany and Thailand

Maruti Suzuki has come out with a new strategy so as to reduce its reliance on Japan when it comes to auto part supplies. They will now source their parts from new locations like Germany and Thailand, a move, which they hope will help reduce their production cost by 5 to 10%.

The move behind Maruti’s new strategy is a result on an increasing yen, which has made importing an expensive operation. This coupled with March’s Japanese crisis disrupting their supply chain. Another reason behind choosing new locations was their impact on production costs. Germany is known for offering tax benefits to those companies which import products from European nations.

Maruti currently imports 20% of their parts either directly or indirectly from Japan. Maruti’s executive officer for managing supply chain, S Maitra, said that they have made a conscious assessment to increase part imports from countries other than Japan, so as to reduce their exposure to the rising yen, which had an adverse impact on their finances last fiscal year.

Moreover, few of their Japanese suppliers also have plants in Thailand, which is more economical than sourcing from Japan. Maruti made a loss of Rs. 361.3 crore because of unfavorable foreign exchange in 2010-11. A recent report by Citibank highlighted the consequence of a rising yen on the company’s profit margins. The report stated that for every 1% rise of the yen beyond 83 against US dollar would additionally impact Maruti’s profit by 0.27%.

Maruti also gives royalty to Japanese based Suzuki Motor Corp, its parent company, for use of their technologies. Maruti has already began importing auto parts for their compact A-Star from Germany. This car is then exported to its European markets. Maitra added that they have a system in Europe, which gives them certain tax reimbursements from the government, if they export cars to Europe which have 40% European components.

Maruti exported around 59,450 A-Star units to Europe in 2010-11. This alone accounted for 43% of their overseas sales. Maitra also said that apart from receiving protection from the rising yen, Thailand also provided cheaper parts compared to Japan. Yesterday, Maruti had reported a drop in net profit by 8.4% at Rs. 2,288.6 crore for the year 2010-11, because of higher costs of input and unfavourable foreign exchange rates.

In 2010-11, Maruti surveyed new locations like Australia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, South Africa, Chile, Brunei, Algeria, Vietnam, Laos and Malaysia. This brought in increased contribution of almost 57% from non-European markets in comparison to 23% contribution in 2009-10.

M&M to Open New Plants in Africa to Boost Production

M&M reportedly the largest tractor manufacture in the world has plans to open new assemblies in South Africa, Tunisia, Kenya, Morocco, Zambia and Ethiopia increasing their manufacturing process to increase their presence in Africa’s fast growing economy.

M&M which already has dependent plants in Mali, Gambia, Ghana, Tchad and Nigeria for producing farm equipment will use their facilities for assembling their Bolero utility vehicle, light commercial vehicles as well as three wheelers for increasing volumes in a place which is steadily increasing people with disposable incomes.

Pravin Shah, M&Ms chief executive for farm equipment, automotive and international operations was quoted as saying that the African market is opportunistic. They are starting from the bottom of the product strategy pyramid, where they plan to influence their product portfolio. This includes LCVs, three wheelers and Bolero so as to expand further into the African market.

They also have big plans happening for the African market as the company plans on appointing a country manager to spearhead their growing expansion plans in the African market. They have also deployed a team of 7 to 8 people in key markets in this continent. Mahindra currently gets 15 per cent of their export volumes from the African market.

They plan on doubling this figure in the span of a year. Shah further added that they are present in 24 countries out of 53 and are the only tractor company from India. They are also among a handful of those companies which have set up assembly facilities in this continent. It was also reported that the company’s Mali based assembly plant was built by Angelique International, an export house based in New Delhi, along with support from the areas local government.

Likewise, Angelique also owns the Tchad based assembly plant. Shah further reported that their strategy is to grow through their partners, who know more about the neighbouring market. Both of these plants will help create jobs for local residents, apart from fuelling the growth of agriculture.

Preview of Aston Martin Vantage in India

We all have grew up watching or reading Bond movies. I have more or less seen or read most of the Bond movies. I will admit it. It was never for the stealth of the spy but for the sheer pleasure that one gets in watching Bond girls. Ursula Andress in Dr No and Halle Berry in Die Another Day are some of the Bond babes that would remain forever etched in my mind. Other than the Bond babes,  the other thing that remains constant is the cars. Man, he had some really drool worthy cars and most of them Astons. At that time, I used to think that an Aston would really be a lust worthy car. I never imagined that they make sports cars also. Agreed, the movies mostly depict sports cars but then they rarely show the high speeds at which these cars are driven. India is very lucky that we can now buy any Aston Martin legally. It was only on April 17th 2011 that Aston has come to India and their most awaited car would be the sports one, the Aston Martin Vantage.

Well, while the Aston Martin Vantage in India wouldn’t be fitted with submerging capacity, rocket launchers, ejecting seats or anti missile properties, it would come in its own gorgeous form. This car is said to be as stunning as all those aforementioned beauties which 007 has left dead or heartbroken in his secret missions. Over the decades, Aston Martin has always associated itself with strong visual points for its car design. It is available in both the coupe and roadster forms. Indian markets would get both the coupe and roadster as also the choice of both the V8 and V12 engine. Yes, there is no V6 speak in the Aston Martin range and it is all about V8 and V12. We are talking about British engineering here. While they say, Aston Martin cars are more about beauty, passion and soul, the functionality form isn’t lost somewhere deep in the woods. The wheelbase of 2600 mm as also the platform is shared by the other cars in its lineup. The 255/35 ZR19 – 295/30 ZR19 tyre section itself feels a strong Lamborghini rival. Speaking of Lamborghini, that is the only name that comes to mind when we speak of sports cars. Not to forget the likes of Ferrari and Porsche. But as they say, exclusivity is the key word when it comes to spending habits of millionaires or multi millionaires. Coming back to the form of the car, it has got LED head lamps with the usual HID lights. The grille resembles that of a car form while the air dam resembles that of any Jaguar cars. Well, the similarity is there because both are British after all.

The outside rear view mirrors could have been integrated with the indicators to give it a classy look however that has been avoided here. The rear in the meanwhile makes do with wraparound tail lamps and individual reflectors on the bumper. The bumper also houses twin tail pipes at the two different ends. One novel feature, is the position of the door handles inside the body of this car. The company eventually achieved what it wanted to and that is narrate the passionate story about the Aston Martin automobiles in a package.

The interiors are no less interesting. Standard parking sensors, screen reversing camera at the rear, 12 CD changer with 18 speakers, automatic climate control, head lamps with washers and high quality leather seats with memory adjustments. High quality materials and especially handmade ones make this an exclusive cabin. However in my personal opinion, it would be very much similar to Bentley Mulssane one that I got to check out at the Surat Auto Show. The array of buttons on the central stack however do take some getting used to and the instrument binnacle however seems very ordinary. The steering wheel is a 3 spoke unit which has the music and Bluetooth controls however those who have been fed on a steady diet of German cars would definitely find the placement of the audio control buttons, a bit difficult. There are paddle shifts on offer as well. For the roadster, the soft top roof opens and closes in the standard 19 seconds time frame. The best part is that it doesn’t take too much of the boot space. But boot space is puny at 143 liters.

We have seen in pictures how the Aston Martin cars respond to Bond’s inputs however what may seem too easy on movies is often the work of many automated things. Some for example, the counter steering or other tricks which Bond is usually shown as trying in his movies is very difficult to perform in real world situations. However all sports cars generally have this tendency to handle beautifully. That’s why they are called as sports cars. However its ride height would have many fretting and fuming in India. But then those buying these cars would have already thought of the different routes where they can actually get to drive this beauty. Ride quality would also be in the league of sports cars.

The Aston Martin Vantage in India would come in both the engine configurations. One V8 and the other V12. The latter engine would be offered in the coupe form and the 6 liter 48 valves V12 engine would produce power of 510 Bhp @  6500 rpm while the maximum torque generated is 570 Nm @  5750 rpm. It will be mated with a 6 or 7 speed automatic. While the transmission is said to be butter smooth, the paddle shifts are a killjoy feature according to some reports. The V8 engine in the roadster would be a 4735 cc one with 36 valves and producing 420 Bhp of power and 470 Nm of torque. It will either come with a 6 speed manual (eeks) or the 6 speed auto from the V12. It is said that both the engines are an enthusiasts delight with their ready turn of performance and aural delight. Each and every Aston Martin is tuned differently for giving an aural blast each and every time the owner floors the throttle. The kerb weight of 1750 kgs, estimated, for the roadster is a bit on the porkier side but then its performance is not blunted by this. Though I don’t have the official 0-100 kmph times, expect the V8 engine to cross the 0-100 kmph run in only 3.3 seconds and a top speed of 279 kmph. The V12 would improve on the times by 0.1 seconds and increase the top speed to 300 plus.

All the necessary safety gadgets would be present in this car, though, I am very doubtful about the reliability of British cars. Early on, due to their non reliability factor, many customers used to shy away from British cars and opt for German or Japanese cars. But then with times, British engineering has developed and now their cars can be called as a bit reliable than the earlier times. Fuel efficiency of the V8 engined car is said to be around 5.6 kmpl overall whereas the V12 engined one would return close to 4.8 kmpl. Would that matter to some one who is paying about Rs 1.28 crores for the V8 car and Rs 1.94 crores for the V12 car? It wouldn’t. But the best part is that, would there be a Bond movie to be setup in India, the next time, Bond wouldn’t have to be driven around in an auto rickshaw. Instead he can take any of the Aston Martin’s current range of cars and shake as also stir them.

Mercedes Benz to Soon Expand to Tier II and III Cities

Currently, India is one of the fastest growing luxury markets and many global luxury manufacturers like Mercedes, Audi and BMW have had witnessed high numbers in sales figures in this market. According to recent reports, Mercedes Benz is now looking at entering two tier and three tier cities.

The CEO and MD of Mercedes Benz, Peter Honegg, said that they are now set to expand their presence in two tier and three tier cities before long and aim on selling at least 50 units per annum in these markets.

Honegg also stated the future plans of the company during a company organized media interaction event on the occasion of the director completing 100 working days, about how they consider expanding their present portfolio, and introducing even more models in diesel variants because of the huge demand for them in this market.

While the company has apparently not yet narrowed down on the selection of their newer markets that they plan on exploring, they will be looking at around 7 to 10 tier II and tier III cities in one year, for a period of three to five years. The luxury auto manufacturer had recently announced about the opening of their financial arm.

Honegg said that right now, it is very early for them to talk about the type of impact this decision will have on their sales figures. However he did state that they think it is better to do things in-house in comparison to dealing with other companies. Although it will be difficult for them to contend with banks, they can easily offer a host of service packages via internal businesses.

Toyota Corolla Altis vs Chevrolet Cruze vs Skoda Laura – the oil war

Oil burners are the need of the hour with mostly every manufacturer turning towards their R&D team for bringing in more and more of oil burners. Some even borrow from their strategic alliances. By this, we mean the Tata Fiat coalition, the Suzuki-Fiat coalition and so on. Every manufacturer worth its salt has got a oil burner in their lineup except Honda. Honda says that their high profile diesel engines wouldn’t suit the Indian fuel. Upon reading this, I am sure many of you would have a string of expletives lined up. Even we think on the same lines. But then this article isn’t about Honda’s business acumen. Its more about crowning the top pick in the D segment diesel car lineup. Except Honda, which we haven’t included in this test, all the other manufacturers have brought in their diesel engines. Public poll says that the Chevrolet Cruze in India with its new look interiors is a huge hit amongst the D segment flashy buyers. The Toyota Corolla Altis in India is for those looking for a reliable way of motoring while the Skoda Laura in India is not more of a showman but its about being a wolf in sheep’s clothing. We have pitted the three against each other here and a winner would certainly be crowned. Read on if you want to know more.

Looks

In the looks department, there is no rivaling the butch and in your face styling of the Cruze. If you want to get second glances every time you take out your car for a spin, then it’s the Chevrolet Cruze for you. Concept car designing along with bold Chevy bowtie on the grille means that this car warrants and screams for attention. 16 inch tyres along with one of the better looking OEM alloy wheel design ensure that it doesn’t lose any ground from the side profile as well. The rear with that chunky tail pipe also looks cool. The Corolla Altis, in its old avatar doesn’t even used to warrant a second glance but with the new look for the diesel, it is gaining more fans than earlier. The front nose job has been done up wonderfully and is similar to the one found internationally on this car. All the three cars here come with outside rearview mirror indicators. The Laura in the meanwhile can be highly confused for the Superb as the family face is getting a bit tacky. Even though this is the case, move to the back of the  car and it seems balanced with the front end. While the Cruze is a hunk with beefed up muscles, the Corolla is much more of a wannabe while the Laura is the middle aged man who has seen it all before.

Our pick on the looks front would be the Chevrolet Cruze followed by the Toyota Corolla Altis and then the Skoda Laura.

Interiors

The new Cruze with the jet black interiors does look a class apart than the rest here. The all black interiors coupled with the high waistline however does make this car look seem a bit claustrophobic. There is however no dearth of gadgets to play around with. There is the reverse camera, push button start, climate control with air sensing mode, airplane like cockpit, electrically adjustable front seats, auto dimming ORVMs and many more. The Chevrolet Cruze in India accommodates drivers of most sizes and shapes. Finding an ideal driving position isn’t  a problem in it. The Toyota Corolla Altis in the meanwhile features gray color interiors with a mix of wooden trim for the central console. Why, even the steering wheel is half wood and half covered by leather. The Corolla Altis diesel is also fully loaded with 6 speaker and CD audio system which is USB as also MP3 compatible, climate control, steering mounted controls, HID head lamps with an auto function and also washer for them. Space in the Corolla is fantastic and a tad better than that of the Cruze which makes one feel, as we discussed earlier, claustrophobic. Now the Skoda Laura boasts of the best interiors in this class. It has got anti pinch power windows, rear parking sensors, twin chillers and a rear privacy screen. However compared to the other two, the Laura is short on features with the main exclusion being that of steering mounted controls. It is a wee bit more spacious than the Cruze in the rear however the backrest is angled more keeping in mind the human contours. The low hugging stance of the Cruze makes ingress egress a bit of a problem which is slightly better in the Corolla followed by the Laura. Boot space however is best in the Laura at 560 liters while the Altis and Cruze follow it with space of 475 and 450 liters respectively. All the cars here come with 60:40 split rear seats which can accommodate a bit more of luggage, should the need arise.

The Toyota Corolla followed by the Skoda Laura and then the Chevy Cruze.

Handling and ride quality

The Toyota Corolla Altis in India is one car which actually surprises with its ride quality. Its ride quality is next to perfection and being a softly sprung car means that it absorbs bumps very effectively. It is relatively unfazed by even the small intrusions which might cause other sedans to lose their composure. However the steering wheel is utterly light and is almost lifeless like that in the Camry. Not only does the Corolla hate to be hustled in a corner, it even shows it with lots of body roll. Not an enthusiastic car though and is more for the chauffer driven rather than the enthusiast. Enthusiastic drivers would want to take a look at the Chevrolet Cruze in India. It delights with its tight body configuration which ensures that the car doesn’t roll much when cornered hard. However the lifeless steering wheel does spoil the party. The stiff suspension however doesn’t take its toll on one’s spine. Infact fully loaded, the Cruze provides for a nice ride quality. The Laura earlier on, was widely criticized for its stiff suspension but Skoda Auto India have done well to soften it a bit and now the Laura can be called as one of the best cars in this segment as far as the ride and handling characteristics go. Its steering wheel is also well balanced and has lots of feedback to deliver. The ride quality has noticeably increased from that of the earlier one.  NVH is lowest on the Laura followed by the Cruze and then the Corolla Altis, though there isn’t much of a difference and the sporty roar that the Cruze brings along with it once the turbo is on full song is something which enthusiasts would welcome with open arms.

It would be the Skoda Laura with its all round capabilities followed by the Cruze and then the Corolla.

Engine, performance and fuel efficiency

The engine under the hood of the Skoda Laura in India is a 2.0 liter common rail diesel one which pumps 110 Bhp at 4200 rpm and is mated with a 5 speed manual transmission. There is a 140 Bhp version of this diesel available however that is available only with a DSG transmission and since we are talking about manual transmissions here, we have omitted it from this comparo. This engine shoots from 0-100 kmph in only 12.7 seconds while seeing a top speed of 187 kmph. This engine suffers from turbo lag but not as much as the one in the Cruze. However the gearing of this car overcomes the turbo lag in the city and makes driving it a pleasurable experience. The gearshift action is also very slick. The engine in the Cruze is the most powerful in this lot. The 2.0 liter engine makes 148 Bhp of power at 4000 rpm while the peak torque of 327 Nm comes in at a high 2600 rpm. Driving the Cruze around in town means changing gears frequently. Moreover the power delivery isn’t as linear but once the turbo is on full song, the car gives a shove in the back with its acceleration. 0-100 kmph is covered in only 9.2 seconds. That makes it blistering fast. The top speed is a cool 202 kmph. If one is ready to forget the turbo lag, then this car should be the one for hardcore enthusiasts. While the engine in the Toyota Corolla Altis in India is one of the smallest in this comparison, it is one excellent performer. This engine makes 87 Bhp of power at 3800 rpm while the 205 Nm of torque comes in as low as 1800 rpm. The 6 speed gearbox is a perfect ally for this engine as it is precise and slots into its gate perfectly, even if the throws are a bit long. The 0-100 kmph figure is more in the ballpark of diesel hatchbacks which have not so potent diesel engines. The 0-100 kmph figure would read as 14.7 seconds and the top speed is also 168 kmph. The engine however is butter smooth in its operation. There is no perceptible turbo lag in the city and the engine is one drivable unit. It goes about its work efficiently and without much fuss.

What is the use of all this power if it cannot be reigned in? To that very effect, all the cars in this comparison come with 4 wheel disc brakes coupled with ABS, EBD and ESP. Stopping power is almost equal however the most undramatic stopping prowess is possessed by the Chevrolet Cruze. The Toyota Corolla on the other hand has a long brake pedal travel which takes some time getting used to. The Laura on the other hand is also a calm and composed machine as far as braking stakes go but its brakes take a wee bit longer than those in the Cruze. Safety aspect is also similar in all the three cars here with the only sore point that the Corolla Altis doesn’t come with airbags in its base version. Simply not accepted from the world’s largest car manufacturer, Toyota.

As far as fuel efficiency is concerned, the Chevrolet Cruze in India delivers an overall mileage of 12.7 kmpl. The Skoda Laura just precedes it with an overall mileage figure of 13.3 kmpl while the Toyota Corolla Altis in India is the star of the lot returning an overall mileage of 17.7 kmpl. 17.7 kmpl overall is hatchback territory and something which is really stupendous of a 1245 kg kerb weight car. All the credit goes to the smaller capacity engine and the overall light weight of this car.

Though it may sound clichéd, it is the Toyota Corolla’s engine which we would prefer for the utter stress free nature that it goes about its work. Second spot is shared by the Cruze and the Laura. The Toyota is also the most fuel efficient of the lot.

Verdict

The Toyota Corolla Altis in India had taken a long time in its coming however as and when it did, it directly went heads on with the segment leader, the Skoda Laura. The Skoda Laura has been presiding over this segment for quite a long time however it was high time that it was overthrown from its perch. Okay, so to put hit the nail right on the head, the Chevrolet Cruze in India would appeal to those looking at adding some flash in their daily lives while getting diesel economy from their car. It is also the most powerful of this lot and is a hoot to drive. It is reasonably spacious and well equipped. It however isn’t a driver’s car primarily due to its vague steering. The Skoda Laura in India with its wide array of engine and transmission options is an alluring buy. It has got the space, pace and fuel economy. However for its price, it offers far less equipment than the other two cars here. Moreover, Skoda’s after sales service has taken quite a hit and Skoda need to rectify it immediately. The Toyota Corolla Altis however provides for acres of space for the chauffer driven as also for the chauffer. It has loads of equipment on offer. The engine may be befitting hatches but it has an ease of driving and also is very fuel efficient. Yes, its not a driver’s car but then the middle aged person would never want to corner at speeds of 100 plus. It provides that all important ride quality and that is what matters the most. It also has the Toyota badge on its nose, something which the others in this comparison simply cannot match. Coming down to the pricing, the Chevrolet Cruze price in India starts from Rs 11.78 lakhs and ends at 13.41 lakhs. It gets an automatic transmission option as well. The Skoda Laura price in India starts from Rs 11.44 lakhs and ends at Rs 15.8 lakhs. An excellent twin clutch DSG is offered as an option. The Toyota Corolla Altis price in India is from Rs 10.88 lakhs to 13.76 lakhs. All these prices are ex-show room, Mumbai.

Our top pick is the Toyota Corolla Altis diesel followed by the Skoda Laura and then the Chevrolet Cruze.

New Carrera GTS Tops the Porsche 911 Series

The Porsche 911 range got one more addition, the Carrera GTS which is powered by a flat six 3.8 l engine which produces 408 PS power, while matching the Carrera S in fuel consumption. The GTS sports a wide body kit from its 4WD versions which has a wider track compared to other rear-drive versions, though it powers only the rear wheels.

The GTS sits on black center mounted 19” RS Spyder wheels with huge 305/30 R19 tires for the rear. It also sports a lot more black detailing on the side skirts, front spoiler edge, and even its alcantara interior which comes in a black colour as a base feature. The GTS’s 3.8 l engine now generates 420Nm torque at 4,200 rpm which is 200 rpm earlier than the Carrera S model, which helps the GTS deliver 100kmph in just 4.2 seconds an a top speed of 304kmph. The GTS is also provided with a standard PDX gearbox.


The new Carrera GTS also offers a manual six speed transmission, while you can also avail of the PDK upon request. It also provides great fuel efficiency because of the manufacturers Intelligent Performance in the NEDC or New European Driving Cycle, so that it consumes the same amount of fuel as the highly efficient Carrera S.

The new GTS will be available at Rs. 49.8 lakh and upwards, which excludes duty charges, with deliveries already begun from January 2011. The new GTS is available as a Cabriolet and Coupe and provides 23 horsepower more than the Carrera S. The GTS was launched in early October during the Paris Auto Show. Depending on the country or region, there will naturally be a difference in the market debut and retail price.

Honda Posts Dismal Q4 Results as Hyundai’s Market Share Increases

Japanese auto manufactures have incurred heavy losses ever since the Japanese coast was struck by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 11. As most of the manufacturers had to decrease production or shut down their facilities. The automobile industry was just recovering from the downturn in economic conditions when they were hit by the destructive tsunami.

Now auto manufacturers do not expect things to return to normal till 2011 end. Honda recently reported a fall of 52% in their quarterly profits because of the decrease in production owing to shortage of auto parts, with the sales decreasing by 2.9%. The operating profits of the first quarter for Honda were $562mn. Meanwhile, other manufacturers like the South Korean Hyundai Motors have benefited as its competitors lost.

The net profits for Hyundai in the Q1 results increased by 47%. Expert analysts suggested that improved product line up, low inventory and high sales of their new models were responsible behind the company’s impressive margins. The Chief Financial Officer for Hyundai, Lee Won-hee, said that Hyundai sought competitiveness and quality in posting great results in spite of the uncertainties which stemmed from the Japanese crisis and high prices of oil.

An analyst, Tae-bong at IBK Securities said that Japanese auto manufactures are most likely to see a decrease of 15 to 30% in their production output this year, which will lead to other competitors like Hyundai gaining higher market share by producing more vehicles by working overtime this year.

In the year 2010, Hyundai had a domestic market share of 45% on global sales figures of 3.61mn units. The auto manufacturer plans to sell 3.9mn vehicles worldwide this year, while aiming for a 47% domestic market share. Japanese auto manufacturers are refraining from projecting annual forecasts as they are struggling to get enough parts needed for increasing their production, which is only 50% of the planned output.

The first quarter results were quite disappointing for Honda. A senior director and managing officer at Honda, Fumihiko Ike, said during a press conference that they foresee the Q2 to be bleaker in comparison to this quarter because even though they witness a rise in production levels, they will still experience a delayed effect at their overseas factories.

In another grim piece of news, he also added that Honda would begin laying off their contract workers at their underutilized factories so as to curtail losses.

Honda Unveils Upgraded Jazz in Malaysia

Honda recently unveiled the new upgraded Jazz in Malaysia. This next generation Jazz received sportier exterior features which make the hatchback stand out in the crowd. Moreover the new upgraded Jazz’s price has remained fairly similar. The CEO and MD of the Malaysian division of Honda said that Honda fans can look forward to the new model providing greater value with enhanced safety, new styling, and practicality.

They have also kept the price of the model almost the same so that their customers receive the satisfaction of owning a valuable and new, premium five door hatchback model. For the safety features, the new Jazz features Vehicle Stability Assist designed for reducing understeer as well as preventing skidding. You can instantly recognize the car by its redesigned rear and front bumpers.

The head lights in the front have also received suitable detailing. While the changes made to the Jazz’s bumper have given the Jazz a dynamic appeal and wider body bearing. The boot spoiler also adds to its sporty appeal. Meanwhile, the interior has received a fresh black- blue colour scheme. The instrument cluster has also received a display for the audio which is accentuated by amber illumination.

The powerplant of the Jazz, however, remains similar, with it being powered by the i-VTEC 1.5 l engine which is mated to an automatic 5 speed transmission to deliver 120 PS power. At present Honda is reeling from a lot of competitor pressure in India. Sales of the Honda City seem to have been declining consistently for some time, while the Honda Jazz has failed to attract buyers because of its high pricing.

One of the main reasons for Honda’s dismissal performance is its lack of a diesel variant in their line up. All of Honda’s competitors like Volkswagen, Fiat, Ford and Hyundai for example, offer diesel engine powered models. With the price of petrol consistently rising, people are opting for diesel powered vehicles, so that they can save on fuel costs.

As Honda does not offer a diesel motor with the Jazz, it is only natural that Honda will continue to take hits in its sales figures. Bringing the upgraded Jazz to the Indian market does not seem like a great idea, especially if there won’t be any diesel variant available. What consumers are looking for is a fuel efficient car, and the upgraded Jazz will not help to increase the hatchback’s sales in India.

Tips for buying a used Chevrolet Forester in India

You would really think me to be an idiot to be giving you tips on buying a second hand Chevrolet Forester. Heck, I am sure that many wouldn’t have even heard of this car. This was the very first car or SUV or crossover from the General to come to India and also to flag off its Chevrolet brand operations. Though this crossover was never a Chevrolet in any other market, India was the only market to get it. In fact it is a Subaru car. Surprise of surprise, though you wouldn’t find much of those used Chevrolet Forester crossovers, I found one at Vipul Motors which is in Vashi. I was just passing by and that is where this cream colored car was displayed as for sale. What GM tried to do is mix the looks of an estate and a SUV and the result was the Chevrolet Forester.

Out now in 2011, if you were to buy a used Chevrolet Forester in India, it would mean that you would end up answering many questions from curious onlookers while some true blue SUV fans would even want to buy this SUV from you. I have got some tips in place for you should you want to buy this gem of an SUV. Starting with the styling, it may not appeal to many and is more for the people who prefer not to let go of a book by just reading its title. The longish snout housed one of the most powerful head lamps from its time. However with time, the head lamps do tend to accumulate dust and by this time, it is highly possible that they would have even blackened out. Sourcing out parts can be a bit of an issue however if you actually place a request at an authorized Chevrolet show room, you can get an original glass after 3-4 months. Prices however are a bit shady and would entirely depend on the quote given by the Chevrolet dealer. The fog lamps also were said to have a short life period and hence would need to be changed. Changing them shouldn’t be a problem as after market ones do just as fine as the new ones.

The outside rear view mirrors are black in color and not body colored. Paint quality of the used Chevrolet Forester should be even and smooth. If the painted surface reveals any bubble or uneven spread, then it means that the paint surface has been scratched and the touchup job has been done poorly. Rust is never an issue with Chevrolet vehicles however the earlier batch of Foresters had reported some sort of rust in their underpinnings and do check if the car you are looking at has got this phenomenon treated. Tail lamps for many cars would also have gone kaput. Replacing them would take the same ritual of waiting for the genuine spare parts to arrive from Indonesia.

Moving onto the interiors, they were from an era when audio controls on steering wheel were still a distant dream. The 4 spoke steering wheel plus the lackluster instrument panel means that the interiors wouldn’t make one go wow. However the highly functional interiors wouldn’t get soiled easily and even if they do, a simple shampoo job would be enough to spruce up things. There are lots of cubby holes in and around the cabin. A used Chevrolet Forester would be a smugglers delight. Plastics were of the shiny type but then there is some clever interior packaging inside this car. It has got cup holders behind the front seats as also near the gear lever. Minor electrical issues are to be expected plus if you have never used a Chevrolet car before, get used to light buttons on the left side of the steering wheel and indicator stalks to the right. Though the Forester may look very big from outside, inside space is at a premium. Other than the front seats both the middle and third row of seats were utterly cramped. Check out for the air-conditioning  ducts and see if they have been clogged or are working properly. AC repairs can be very costly for a used Chevrolet Forester and periodic AC servicing should cost something around Rs 15k. Boot space is just about adequate however the rearmost seats flip forward and hence aid the utility factor.

The Chevrolet Forester was known for its off-roading prowess and general mile munching capabilities. A second hand Chevrolet Forester wouldn’t be much off the mark. It has a low center of gravity plus symmetrical weight distribution. Moreover, it used all wheel drive system and also had a low gear ratio system. Suspension links at the rear however were a bug bear and required a replacement or looking into, every 20,000 kms. If the car you are checking has crossed this mark, then enquire with the seller if this repair work has been carried out. Whilst driving the car with a full complement of passengers, the car would sag a bit however this is to be expected as this car was softly sprung for a SUV. Some of the suspension bushings also had a leaking problem. Though the Forester was a SUV, it had somewhat low ground clearance as compared to other SUVs and was more prone to scraping if the model you are checking out has been used many times for off-roading.

Coming to the engine, the Forester has a 4 cylinder transversely mounted 2.0 liter petrol motor which generated power in the range of 120 Bhp while putting out 18.15 kgm of torque. A 5 speed gearbox was standard while there was no option for an automatic. The engine timing belt requires a replacement after 80k mark, do check if this repair work has been carried out. The engine is a delight which begs to be revved. However with its taller gearing, initial acceleration wouldn’t be a flat out thing. However rev the nuts of the engine and she would delight you with her effortless performance and cruising abilities. Not much troublesome, the engine however if your Forester is from the early 2002 batch then do take a close look at various engine parts. If possible, take a senior GM technician with you while inspecting the car. A Chevrolet Forester returns an overall fuel efficiency of 9.2 kmpl and a used one shouldn’t be off the mark. However with rising prices of petrol, you may want to have a hard look at this one.

Coming to the prices of this car, a used Chevrolet Forester price would range between Rs 5.5 lakhs to Rs 7.3 lakhs. In its heydays, the Forester used to sell for Rs 17 lakhs plus. However enthusiasts would tell you that this car is highly dependable.

Mitsubishi Makes Pajero BS4 Compliant by Reducing Power

The Mitsubishi Pajero with its great off-road capabilities has been not selling well. Coupled with its high emission rates, the Pajero did not go down well with the Indian emission norms either. Most consumers who live in major Indian urban settings were not accessible to the Pajero as Mitsubishi-Hindustan Motors were not quick enough in upgrading the Pajero to meet BS4 norms.

Mitsubishi has now chosen to address the woes of the Pajero by launching a new BS4 compliant version which will meet India’s severe emission laws. This model is already available across the manufacturer’s showrooms in major cities. The dampener though is the Pajero’s engine, which does not provide as good torque and power as is expected.

The strict emission norms seem to have choked the old turbodiesel engine, which has led to decreasing torque and power figures. With an engine delivering 118 bhp, the older Pajero was already underpowered. Now with a further reduced power, the Pajero could be quite difficult to ride around in our cities, a factor which does not make for a good selling point.

The new BS4 compliant Pajero motor produces a measly 108 bhp and a torque of 260Nm. This is a total of 10 bhp and 32 Nm less power than the old Pajero motor. As for the price, it is expected to stay the same, though it might go up because of the added work done on it to make it BS4 compliant.

While making the Pajero BS4 compliant was a great idea, the reduction and in power sounds like the Pajero’s death knell, with only hard core fans of the SUV queuing up to buy an over priced, under powered, though highly efficient off road SUV.