Hyundai Motors rocked 2010 in terms of sales

The year 2010 was a good one for Hyundai Motors India Limited. The Korean company, currently the second largest manufacturer in the Indian market and the largest exporter, has registered their highest ever sales in the Indian soil. While sales figure for December 2009 hovered around the 47 thousand mark, that of December 2011 saw the figure rise by a 1000 odd cars. Currently the company has a share of 28% in the Indian market.

Hyundai Motors India Limited also launched many of their cars in the past one year. Those include the refreshed Hyundai Verna, Hyundai I10, variants of the Hyundai I20 and most importantly, the Hyundai Santa Fe. The company is elated with the response received for the Hyundai Santa Fe so much that just like the Toyota Fortuner, the company is contemplating holding on the bookings as of now. Speaking on the ocassion regarding the performance of the company, its Sales and Marketing Director, Mr Arvind Saxena quoted that all their products have been received well by the Indian public and inspite of the recession along with other factors, the company still recorded a profit and healthy growth rate. He also said that the company would also dominate 2011 as regards the sales quotient and would look to upset Maruti’s position as the number 1 car manufacturer in India.

In the same vein, Hyundai’s exports have come down by 8.5%. This can be attributed to the fact that many of the cars now been exported are already been replaced by new products from the Hyundai stables.

Toyota Fortuner Booking Opens


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Toyota Kirloskar Motors have impressively started bookings for the Toyota Fortuner from the first day of 2011. If memory serves us right, the company had closed the bookings for the Toyota Fortuner since it was unable to cope up with the supply demand feature for the big Toyota. Since its launch in August 2009, the Toyota Fortuner has sold more than 17,000 units in the Indian market and has also maintained a market share of 60% for the mid size SUV segment.

Earlier on Toyota Kirloskar Motors used to produce about 500 units of this SUV per month however now production has been ramped up to make about 1000 units each month. The company claims to have about 3000 units in the backlog as of now from the earlier bookings. Within about 3 days from January 2011, the company has so far received 223 bookings for this SUV. These customers would get their hands on the Toyota Fortuner only by April 2011. The company has thanked all its customers for their patience and for receiving the Toyota Fortuner so well.

Automotive technology bible revisited

We had earlier elaborated on some of the automotive technical terms which one would encounter the moment they enter the automotive world. In this article, we have just continued those terms and have added many topics. These are some of the terms in the series and we assure you that in due course of time, we would add more to this library. Listed below are some of those automotive terms and their meanings.

ABS-

This translates to Anti Lock Braking Stability. Usually when we brake hard, the wheels lock up and this causes the car or bike to tramline. To avoid this, manufacturers have started providing the ABS technology. ABS uses a variety of sensors which help prevent wheel lock up and hence provide the driver better control over the car.

Automatic cruise control-

For starters, it works like cruise control however this is an advanced version of the same. Automatic cruise control uses a radar to maintain a distance between the car in front of you. It accordingly accelerates or brakes your car depending on the driving pattern of the car in front of you. This also depends on the traffic flow.

Attention Assist-

This was introduced first by Volvo Motors and then was later on developed by Mercedes Benz followed by the other companies. This system monitors a driver’s driving pattern and alerts him or her if they start to drive erratically. The driver is usually alerted by a judder on the steering wheel or by an icon of a coffee mug displayed on the center console.

Air Suspension-

Usual suspension is made up of steel springs however an air suspension brings pillows of air in each wheel. According to driving styles, the volume of air in each of the pillows is adjusted in the suspension. This provide for a more pliant ride or handling depending on the preference.

AWD-

This signifies All Wheel Drive. Many of the manufacturers have their own versions of AWD but then the most significant as well as distinguishable one is from Audi, the Quattro system. Power from the engine is directed to all the wheels rather than just the front or rear wheels. In All Wheel Drive mode, the car consumes more fuel but is more stable on the road as well.

Brake Assist-

This is an advanced system which enables that the driver always gets full braking power in emergencies irrespective of whether the brake pedal has been fully depressed or not. This even makes novice drivers look like pros.

CVT-

This is an example of automatic transmission and stands for Continuous Variable Transmission. A CVT contains infinite number of gearing ratios for the driving conditions and also seamlessly shift. Performance lower down is enhanced by using a CVT however for the top end, it feels as if you are just ripping the car apart but still aren’t able to make any progress.

Climate Control-

This is an advanced form of the usual air conditioner found in a car. It sets the car’s cabin temperature at a desired level and maintains it. It is a technology that is found on higher end cars and in some small cars like the Maruti Suzuki Swift Zxi.

Curtain airbags-

In the event of a crash, these curtain airbags drop from above the doors to protect the passengers head. These were newly introduced to the world in 2004, first in the US market.

Cruise Control-

As we have already explained, this now is a rudimentary system which defines a preset speed for the car and runs accordingly. Mostly used on the highways to provide for a relaxed driving without the driver having to prod the accelerator pedal.

Common Rail-

This must be a term many would have heard in terms of diesel car engines. This technology was first introduced in India by Hyundai Motors in their Hyundai Accent CRDi car. This technology allows for more efficient combustion of diesel leading to improved performance, fuel efficiency and also less emission norms. Most of the diesel engines have now adopted this technology.

Direct Injection-

The usual method is to mix fuel with air first and then inject them into the engine’s cylinders. Well, the latest technology namely Direction Injection ensures that a fine mist of the fuel is sprayed directly into the cylinders. This technique is beneficial in the way that it allows for precise quantities of fuel to be used in all situations. This is universal now in diesel engines and fast catching up in the petrol domain as well.

EBD-

Electronic Brake Distribution is what EBD translates to. It is found in conjunction with ABS in many cars and gives better braking power to the wheel with the maximum grip. Especially helpful in preventing slipping of the car in slippery surfaces as also to help stop the car from spinning, EBD plays a major role nowadays in most of the cars.

ECU-

The government of a car, Electronic Control Unit is a small chip which can be found in the engine of a car. It controls the engine’s rev limiter, ignition timing, turbo chargers and valve control. Some of the ECUs are also known to control the seats and air conditioning. Performance enthusiasts often remap the ECU to gain better performance.

EBA-

This is the modified version of Brake Assist and stands for Electronic Brake Assist. In an emergency situation, drivers panic and sometimes apply less pressure on the brake pedals thann required. EBA senses this and applies full brakes until the driver removes his leg off the brake pedal.

Hybrid-

This is the saving grace of the world now. It means the use of a normal engine in tandem with an electric motor. For city speeds, the electric motor takes over and reduces the load on the petrol or diesel motor. At highway speeds, either both the motors work in tandem or only the petrol/diesel motor works away. This mode helps in increasing the fuel efficiency and also reduces the emissions.

Lambda-

This is the oxygen sensor used to determine the levels of oxygen in exhaust gases. These can determine if the fuel/air mixture is been burnt at the current ratio and if not, adjust them accordingly. Failure of this technology leads to expensive repairs in the catalytic converter.

Multi function steering wheel-

It is a typical steering wheel with controls for audio, cruise control and also hands free Bluetooth operation. This ensures that one doesn’t have to take their eyes or hand off the steering wheel to operate other devices.

Particulate filter- Particulates are tiny pieces of carbon which are usually emitted by diesel engines. These cause lung problems. Diesel with low contents of sulphur is required by Particulate filters which help in reducing the particulates. It is also advisable to rev the diesel car on long journeys to get this filter cleaned.

Range Extender-

This term is used only for electric cars which have a limited range. It is basically a generator which holds good in driving the car until you find an alternative source to charge the car’s batteries. It is usually a small petrol motor mated with the electric one however the petrol motor would always be dormant until it is used as a range extender.

Run flat tyres-

Currently the only manufacturer in India using these type of tyres are BMW. These tyres are beneficial for the fact that they allow one to drive at low speeds even after a puncture. To make this a reality, the side walls of the tyres are laden with extra rubber to make them stiff. Due to this, ride quality usually suffers but then the handling prowess increases.

Supercharger-

This is the mechanical equivalent of a turbocharger. It is used in petrol engines and its duty is to feed more air to the engine’s cylinders. This results in increased performance but not at the expense of fuel economy.

Stability control-

This system works in an unobtrusive manner by braking the individual wheels while swerving quickly or cornering. Its main role is to prevent the car from going out of control. It is also known as DSC and ESP.

Twin clutch gearbox-

This technology was invented by the Volkswagen group. They call this as the DSG box. In theory, there are two clutches used. One is for the even numbered gears and the other for the odd numbered gears. This means that given any time, a gear is ready to be used. In practical environment, this means smoother, quicker and more efficient shifts. The other benefit of this dual clutch technology is that it allows the car to be run as an automatic as well.

Understeer-

This can be explained as a lack of traction and excess of speed while cornering. Usually front wheel drive cars fail to turn in enough while cornering and hence they are said to understeer.

Voice Control-

This system allows the driver to use his voice to control many of the car’s features. This is usually found only in high end cars and helps the driver to be focused on the road ahead rather than been distracted by searching for various menus in the car.

Variable Valve Timing-

This technology is now widely used in the automotive world and only for petrol engines. Basically, the technology works in such a way that the air fuel mixture is varied before been sent into the engine’s cylinders. This helps in the engine achieving the best mixture of fuel economy while not compromising on performance. There are many companies using the same acronym namely VVTi, VTVT, VViT, I-vtec and so on.

Wheelbase-

This roughly means the distance between the front and rear wheel. It actually means the size of the car. Mostly likely, the longer the wheel base, more would be the interior space in the car. Some of the cars in India are offered with a long as well as short wheelbase versions. Examples are the Mercedes S class, BMW 7 series, Audi A8 and also the Rolls Royce Phantom.

Honda CR-V, buying a used one

The Honda CR-V was one of the first crossover cars to be launched in India. It was launched in early 2003 and was Honda’s third car in India. This car was more like a saloon to drive rather than been a SUV as its look suggest. In short terms, it was a Honda Accord on stilts. Its raised height means that it can tackle some of the off roads as well but beware that this car isn’t that suited for the off-roads. It is more of an urban player. Earlier on, the Honda CR-V in India was more of a status symbol rather than just been a mode of transport. It was the favourite of all the politicians and hoodlums as well. It is also touted as one of the easiest cars to live with and drive. Its light steering controls make it one of the best handling SUVs this side of BMWs.

Its dimensions were compact enough for it to fit in most of the jammed parking spaces. Earlier Honda CR-Vs had a dark interiors whereas the ones after 2004 featured beige interiors. The beige ones looked more cheerful than the all dark ones. 40,000 kms is the mark wherein the tyres for the Honda CR-V last upto. Do check if the mileage of the car and also the tyre condition match. If they don’t be ready to question the dealer or the seller. If the front or rear suspension emits a clunky sound, it means that the suspension mounts are worn out. It is just a minor repair job and just involves replacing and tightening the bushings. But what is not inexpensive are the spare parts. Just the boot lid and front door would cost upto Rs 40,000 to be replaced. The head light assembly itself would set one back by Rs 14,000. Regular replacement items like the fuel filter would cost Rs 1,300. The air and oil filters would be Rs 1,100 and Rs 700 respectively. Honda been Honda charge a premium for everything.

The Honda CR-V features shift on the wheel 4 wheel drive system. This means that it is front wheel drive however when the car’s electronics detect rear wheel slippage, power is split between the front and rear wheels. If you are looking for a 4×4 for off-roading jaunt vehicle, the Honda CR-V is best avoided. It’s handling prowess as a SUV is legendary. It is the current benchmark as far as ride and handling in the soft roader department go. Body roll is also minimal and infact less than some of the sedans.

The engine trims for the pre 2004 Honda CR-Vs was a 2.0 liter engine which was good for 138 Bhp. Later on, the Honda CR-V in India was offered with a 2.4 liter petrol engine which makes 153 Bhp and is the same engine been offered even now. There is no dearth of power in any of the engines however it is our personal advise to go in for the 2.4 liter engine since the spares for it would be quite readily available now. The interiors also wear well with age and there should be the occassional Honda CR-V with a worn out gear lever without the markings. As is the case with all Honda vehicles, this one also has a bullet proof engine and reliability is also legendary. The automatic gearbox is also very efficient in its operation. Wind and road noise are also well contained in this car and hence it shouldn’t be a problem for the passengers. The petrol engines by virtue of been silky smooth also are NVH free.

The steering though not as communicative is light however its tie rod ends have been known to create problems for the pre 2004 version. It would be advisable to check if there is any steering oil leak and if so detected, would end up in an expensive repair thing. The seats are comfortable both front and back. The hatch is also spacious and can accommodate upto 500 liters of luggage. Regular engine oil change, servicing should ensure miles of comfort driven ownership experience in a used Honda CR-V in India. Expect fuel economy to be around 7 kmpl in the city and 11 kmpl on the highway. Running costs would definitely be higher based on the fact that the used Honda CR-V in India would come only in petrol trim.  Not many examples of a used Honda CR-V in India would abound however the best place to look for one is Honda’s own dealerships. They have a certified pre owned vehicle program and this would ensure that you have some months of trouble free ownership experience. Sure the dealerships would charge a premium than what you would find in some other reseller stores but the premium paid would be well used.

The used Honda CR-V price from the 2003-2006 batch would hover around Rs 6.5 lakhs to Rs 10 lakhs. Post 2006 models were face lifted and would have a hefty price tag upwards of Rs 12 lakhs. The price of a used Honda CR-V would however vary on the mileage and condition.

Jaguar XF 3.0D – The big cat takes a leap

There are those Germans competing it out in the Indian luxury car market and then there is the British nee Indian luxury car marque Jaguar. Jaguar cars are a more exclusive piece than the other Germans. Now, Jaguar Motors have brought in the Audi A6, BMW 5 series and the Mercedes E class rival, the Jaguar XF 3.0D to India. The exteriors speak of British opulence whereas the interiors also reflect the same feelings. The classic feel comes when one thumbs the electric starter and the gear lever emerges from its cocoon with the AC vents also opening up. Using a feather touch, the glove box opens up whereas the front cabin lights also start glowing the moment you touch them.

The Jaguar’s multimedia system gets an intuitive touch screen which is far more easier to use than its German rivals. Due to its coupe like sloping roof line, there isn’t enough head room at the rear. Other than that, the seats front and rear are comfortable. Its ride and handling can be called safe and predictable. That saying, the car isn’t a true drivers car like the BMW 5 series or for that matter even the Mercedes E class. It has a raised for India suspension and this means that it can handle the rough as well as good roads with aplomb.

The motor under the hood is the 3.0 liter V6 which makes 274 Bhp and about 61.1 Kgm of torque. This is enough to propel the big car from 0-100 kmph in just 7.3 seconds. This motor has an electronically limited top speed of 250 kmph. Performance is effortless in this sedan as is the NVH which is even lower than what can be found in its German rivals. This engine is also more powerful and torquier than its rivals. The icing on the cake is the Rs 48 lakhs price ex show-room, Delhi for the fully loaded variant. Even though, they have miniscule operations in India, the Tata group would go all out to promote this car as a worthy alternative to the much established Germans.

Rolls Royce Ghost launched in India

It is a known fact that Rolls Royce cars don’t need any introduction. When you have something which looks and feels like from the age of your great grand fathers, then it would be forever etched into memory. Rolls Royce builds mammoth like cars and the least one would expect from them is to corner. Well, this comment wouldn’t have come into place had one driven a Rolls Royce Ghost. This Ghost is touted as one of the driver’s car in the Rolls Royce stables.

As it is, from the outside, the car looks just like any other Rolls would. The keen eyed would notice the extra length missing. It is still big at 5.4 meters. From the time, BMW have taken over this company, they have been using the BMW 7 series chassis and some of the advanced electronic systems. The steering has its basic stalk and gear from the BMW 7 series one but has been fashioned in the traditional Rolls Royce style. The dials look like from the old age. It has got a 6.6 liter twin turbo V12 engine which has been aligned with an eight speed auto box.

Porky this car may be, but its no slouch in the performance department. It races from 0-100 kmph in only 6 seconds. Its top speed is limited to 230 kmph. The interior features aren’t compromised with the sporty tag attached to it. One does get all those chrome, wood and then some dyed leather made from bull hide. There is enough space for three to be seated in luxury. The doors still open in a suicide fashion and close with the help of a button. The ride quality is good however at low speeds it does let the occupants know what is going on beneath the surface. However owners who have the Mercedes S class wouldn’t feel much of a difference between the interior space between the two. Front seat passengers have got a lot of travel however for the rear ones, it somehow feels restricted.

Rear seat passengers also have been given priority here and they can handle the entertainment and aircon controls themselves. The rear pillars are so designed to give the occupants privacy. It is also customizable to a customer’s preferences. Just that, it would add as an extra to the Rs 2.5 crores price tag that the car sports.

Volkswagen Polo in India price hiked

Starting with the new year, we had already announced that most of the car makers would hike the prices of their cars citing reasons about the increase in price of steel and other raw materials. Guess what! We were absolutely right about this. The first one to take a plunge is the aspiring world’s number 1 car maker, Volkswagen Group. Their Indian subsidiary, Volkswagen India have already hiked the price of their hatch back, the Volkswagen Polo in India. The price increase is to the tune of 3%. As of November 2010, approximately 17,000 units of the Volkswagen Polo are already on the Indian roads. The much capable hatch is already experiencing a 3-4 months waiting period. After this, other car manufacturers would be sure to follow suit and hike the price of their cars.

Mahindra Xylo in India versus Toyota Innova in India – war of the MUVs

The MUV segment in the Indian context has been dominated from the year 2000 by one Mr. Toyota. This was earlier the bastion of another Mr.T and that is Tata Motors. The former with its debut MUV, the Toyota Qualis whereas the latter with its evergreen, Tata Sumo. However after the Toyota Qualis was launched, the Tata Sumo faded into oblivion. It was so much popular that even after it was phased out, the MUV buying public were still craving for more. Toyota Kirloskar Motors on sensing this launched the Qualis replacement, the Toyota Innova in India. Even though it was way expensive than the Qualis that it replaced, people still loved it and it became the top seller from the Toyota Kirloskar Motors stable. Now in 2009, Indian home grown manufacturer Mahindra and Mahindra stood up to the challenge and launched their own challenger to the MUV thrown, the Mahindra Xylo in India. It was a better looking{looks may be subjective} MUV than the Toyota Innova, provided better mileage, many of the interior features, space and the best thing is that it was still cheaper by Rs 3 lakhs than the Toyota Innova. Now, many of the earlier manufacturers tried in vain to usurp the Toyota’s apple cart however none succeeded. We pit the two against each other and see if the new comer would be able to carry away the glory from the current champion, the Toyota Innova in India.

Looks

Mahindra Xylo: The Mahindra Xylo in India carries the same grille as seen on the Mahindra Scorpio or in short, the Mahindra Bolero as well. The Mahindra Xylo has that saber tooth in front along with chrome grilles. It is flanked by wrap around lights. Mahindra and Mahindra have tried hard to not give this vehicle the typical MUV look and yes, they have succeeded to a certain extent. The bumper has that typical slats with the fog lamps been placed exactly near the wheels. The bonnet is also curved. Infact it looks much narrower and thinner than the Toyota Innova. The outside rear view mirrors are also body colored. Mahindra and Mahindra had already briefed their designers to design the vehicle from outside in. They had a predefined shape to work on and then later on they have tried to utilize the maximum space available. The side profile shows 15 inch alloy wheels for the top end E8 version which we tested here. The door handles are also body colored and blend well with the look of the MUV. The turn indicators are nestled just below the ORVMs. The rear end shows a Christmas tree like tail lamps, single wiper, pull handle type door and step up cladding.

Toyota Innova: The Toyota Innova in India is actually the refreshed model, now in the wake of strong competition. The “new” car features a revised head lamp cluster with black inserts, new front and rear bumpers along with revised alloy wheel design. The face of the MUV now features the typical Toyota grille with the Toyota badge. The air dam is slightly bigger than the one observed in the previous generation one. The fog lamps are also pearl shaped and look good. The side mirrors are big and are housed in chrome cases. The wheels are 16 inch alloys on the top end Vx version.The rear now gets wiper, along with clear lens tail lamps and LED mounted stop lamp. For the petrol version, the Toyota Innova has a big tail pipe whereas for the diesel one, there is a slim unit.

We would still go for the bland looking Toyota Innova as the design has aged more gracefully than say the Mahindra Xylo.

Interiors

Mahindra Xylo: While the exteriors may seem compact, the interiors are far from it. There is good space all around. Now, this car can be ordered either with second row of seats or with second row of captain chairs. We of course had the latter. There was a mix of leather and fabric upholstery. The steering wheel seems inspired by modern day Tata vehicles. There is a plethora of features that Mahindra and Mahindra have packed into the Mahindra Xylo in India. The dials didn’t catch our fancy as they were the white on brown types and weren’t to everyone’s tastes. The thing which caught our fancy however was the multi information display or Digital Driver Assistance System {DDAS} in Mahindra speak. It gives the outside temperature, has a digital clock, average fuel efficiency, instant fuel economy, tyre pressure monitor, distance to empty and so on. There are also parking sensors which display any obstacles onto the inside rear view mirror while reversing or even when parking the vehicle. There is lots of space as the front seats have enough travel. The captain chairs is what we liked the most and it stays true to its ad campaign of “Happy Legs”. The rear most seats are also comfortable however for only short distances. With all the seats in place, the storing capacity is only 376 liters whereas with the rear seats flipped up, it increases to 900 liters. Some of our peers have actually lived in a Mahindra Xylo for a week and found it exactly to be a second home.

Toyota Innova: Since the Toyota Innova in India was the benchmark to be beaten, we already knew that this car would be spacious to say the least. The interiors are a mix of wooden as well as high quality materials. The leather wrapped steering wheel has now been provided with audio mounted controls. There is a 12 V charger socket now and also parking sensors. The latter don’t have image projection and just make do with audible signals. Taking a cue from the Mahindra Xylo, even this car now gets option of captain chairs. It has a three row AC system. The outside rear view mirrors are now electrically controlled. The front seats are power adjustable. There is acres of space just as the exteriors would project. The rearmost seats are a tad better than those in the Mahindra Xylo. The boot capacity is also bigger at 400 liters and with the rear seats flipped up, it get an increment of 700 liters.

It is bound to be the Toyota Innova again with its higher quality of materials.

Handling and ride quality

Mahindra Xylo: The suspension setup for the Mahindra Xylo in India is independent coil spring for the front and multi link coil springs for the rear. Like all Mahindras, the ride is a bit choppy at low speeds however as the speeds and load increases, this MUV feels planted and absorbs all the bumps thrown in its way. Its ground clearance of 186 mm give it good off-roading credentials as well. It can handle the rough roads as well as smooth ones with aplomb. The steering wheel is also light and it almost shrinks the vehicle around you. It however lacks speed sensitivity and hence doesn’t weigh up sufficiently when the speeds arise. High speed stability though is commendable. There is no wind or road noise present and the cabin is as silent as it can be.

As far as the handling goes, this MUV is no BMW and due to its tall stature rolls a fair bit. However due to its wider 215/75 R15 tyre size, it does manage to hold onto the road like a leech. There are no traction aids and this is after all a rear wheel drive SUV with no differential locks offered.

Toyota Innova: The Toyota Innova in India is car like to drive. We have experienced that before and are glad to comment that the 2010 model doesn’t deviate from it. Infact, one would be forgiven for thinking that they are driving a hatchback. The front suspension is made up of double wishbones with coil springs whereas non-independent suspension, lateral rod and coil springs with four links make up for the rear. This provide for a pliant ride in the city where nothing would faze this car. Out on the highway, small bumps do upset it and this is the only point of concern. It handling can also be taken as neutral with the MUV ever ready to do your bidding. Body roll is well controlled and the Toyota Innova does ensure that the journey ends comfortably.The steering wheel is sufficiently light and is speed sensitive. This means that not only is it helpful in the city but equally communicative on the highway. NVH is well controlled however as the revs rise, engine noise is very evident in the cabin.

Toyota Innova once again due to the superlative ride and handling package it offers.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

Mahindra Xylo: The Mahindra Xylo in India comes with the company’s new mEagle CRDe diesel engine. This engine features a 2498 cc capacity and makes 112 Bhp and 260 Nm of torque. This engine is Euro 4 compliant as well. The MUV races from 0-100 kmph in 15.4 seconds and crosses a top speed of 158 kmph. The gearbox is slightly rough and has to be forced to be slotted into gears. However once on the move, it smoothens up a bit. The clutch however could be far lighter in its action. NVH for this 4 cylinder engine has been suppressed very effectively. Been a diesel, it is also very tractable with all the torque coming down earlier in the rev range. The gear box lever also rocks a bit. Braking is achieved via discs at the front and drums at the rear. ABS is available now on the top of the line E8 variant along with two air bags for the safety front. Other aspects covering safety are the numerable crumple zones, collapsible steering column and the 3 point seat belts. Fuel efficiency is good for the Mahindra Xylo in India with the car returning 11.2 kmpl in the city and 16.3 kmpl on the highway.

Toyota Innova: The Toyota Innova in India is offered in two engine trims along with a CNG one for the petrol variant. The engine that we tested is the diesel engine. It displaces 2494cc and is a 16-Valve DOHC making 102 Bhp of peak power with the 200 Nm of torque coming in as low as 1400 rpm. The gearbox is a 5 speed one. It is a smooth shifting unit with no let up in power even in the higher rev ranges. The diesel motor even though underpowered on paper, is very good and is known for its reliability in the taxi market. It races from 0-100 kmph in a lazy 17.8 seconds whereas the top speed is 143 kmph. This vehicle carries discs at the front whereas drums at the rear help it in retardation duties. Toyota Kirloskar Motors have however given the Toyota Innova ABS, EBD and traction control for the top variant. It has 4 air bags, the GOA body, 3 point seat belts and also collapsible steering column. All of Toyotas vehicles in India return good fuel efficiency and the Toyota Innova is no exception. It returns 10.8 kmpl in the city and 15.5 kmpl on the highway, a little less than what the Mahindra Xylo returned.

Finally the Mahindra Xylo in India wins this round primarily due to the extra power and fuel efficiency that this MUV offers over its rival.

Verdict

Aargh! The toughest part of them all. We have to select a winner. Going by the look of the contest, it seems to be a single handed one with the Toyota Innova in India winning most of the comparison parameters. However we would still dissect it and check out the real winnner. The real reason why so many Mahindra Xylos are lapped up since the time of its launch is due to the fact that they are bloody cheap and also offer plenty of equipment for the price. They are rugged and going in line with the Mahindra DNA, should withstand the onslaught of time very well. On the other hand, the Toyota Innova looks like a premium to the Mahindra Xylo in India. It has got the better appointed interiors, higher quality of materials and best of all, the Toyota badge which represents reliability in spades. The difference between both is really in the price tag. The pricing for the Mahindra Xylo in India starts from Rs 6,77,000 going up to Rs 9,02,520 for the top end version, ex-showroom, Delhi whereas the price for the Toyota Innova in India is pegged at Rs 8,10,464 and touches the Rs 12,24,758 mark for the top end version that we tested here. If it was for the sheer value for money thing, then the Mahindra Xylo wins hands down however if you want quality, then be ready to pay a Rs 3 lakhs premium.

Technical specifications of the Toyota Innova VX

Engine details: 2494 cc In-Line Engine D-4D Common-rail diesel
No. of Cylinders: 4
Maximum Power: 102 Bhp @ 3,600 rpm
Maximum Torque: 200 Nm @ 1400-3400 rpm
Valves Per Cylinder: 4
Valve Configuration: DOHC
Fuel Supply System: CRDI
Turbo Charger: Yes
Transmission Type: 5 Speed Manual
Front Suspension: 4-link, Coil Springs
Rear Suspension: Independent, Coil Spring, Double Wishbone, with Stabilizer
Steering Type: Hydraulic Power assisted with rack and pinion
Turning Radius (wheel base): 5.4 m
Front Brake Type: Ventilated Disc
Rear Brake Type: Self adjusting Drum
Top Speed: 143 kmph
Acceleration (0-100 kmph): 17.5 seconds
Mileage-City (kmpl): 10.8
Mileage-Highway (kmpl): 15.5
Fuel Tank Capacity (litres): 56
Emission Norm Compliance: Bharat Stage 4
Tyre Size: 205/65 R15
Tyre Type: Tubeless Radial
Alloy Wheel Size: 15 inches
Seating Capacity: 8
No of Doors: 5

Technical specifications of the Mahindra Xylo E8

Engine Type: In-Line 2498 cc, m-Eagle CRDe, 4-cyl. Turbocharged Engine
Maximum Power: 112bhp at 3800 rpm
Maximum Torque: 260 Nm at 1800-2200 rpm
Valves Per Cylinder: 4
Fuel Supply System: CRDI
Turbo Charger: Yes
Gear box: 5 Speed Manual
Front Suspension: Multi-link, Coil springs
Rear Suspension: Double Wishbone type Independent, Coil springs, with Anti-roll bar
Steering Type: Electronic Power Assisted  Rack & Pinion
Turning Radius (wheel base): 5.4 m
Front Brake Type: Ventilated Discs
Rear Brake Type: Self adjusting Drum
Mileage-City (kmpl): 11.2
Mileage-Highway (kmpl): 16.3
Fuel Tank Capacity (litres): 55
Emission Norm Compliance: BS IV
Tyre Size: 215/75 R15
Tyre Type: Tubeless Radial Tyre
Wheel Size: 15 inches
Seating Capacity: 7
No of Doors: 5

Toyota Etios in India versus Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire in India


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Come to think of it, the year 2010 is about to end and its still raining cars and bikes on the Indian market scene. The world’s largest car manufacturer, Toyota have finally smelt the coffee and introduced the Toyota Etios in India. This is a made for India sedan. It was conceived way back in the year 2006 however due to some inadvertent problems was launched in 2010. Along with the backdating of the launch date, its role models also changed. Earlier on, it was a sqaure hit on the Maruti Esteem, one of the highest selling sedans from the Maruti stable, but then the Maruti Swift Dzire in India was launched as also the Mahindra Renault Logan. Priorities were shifted fast enough and this can be one of the possible reasons for the delay in its launch. Now, it has to square off against the best seller in its segment, the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire. The common thing between these two or rather two common things are that both are spawned from hatchback platforms and second, both command a waiting period. Now, thats what I call true competition. I have one of my colleagues Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire and so I wasn’t worried about borrowing it for the test however the Toyota was what worried me. I shouldn’t have worried much, a few phone calls later, there was the white Toyota Etios which was shown to the press and media people and was now in my hands. Lets get down to the chase. Lets compare Toyota Etios vs Swift Dzire.

Looks

Toyota Etios: Now, as we at indiandrives have always done, we have got the top end version of the Toyota Etios in India and that is the Toyota Etios VX . Look wise, from the front end, it is as inoffensive as any Toyota in the country. Toyota Kirloskar Motors have always subscribed to the parent company’s thoughts about making staid vehicles, ones which would age well. It has a slightly V shaped chrome grille and flanked by triangular head lamps. Between the grilles lies the Toyota badge. Infact, it looks like a mini Toyota Corolla. Its bumpers have got a small gap for the air dam and nestled close to them are the slots for the fog lamps. The windscreen gets a single wiper in interests of cost cutting. This however works well and I got a chance to examine it with Mumbai’s unpredictable rains. After some time, there were however swirl marks which took some time to be cleared. The 15 inch multi spoke alloy wheels look classy and fill the wheel arches well. The Toyota Etios VX version gets turn indicators embedded into the side mirrors. The rear shows up a typical Logan like boot with a chrome bar doing duties for the grab handle. The triangular tail lamps also look classy. The tail pipe is hidden from sight and displays its conservative nature.

Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire: I am actually bored with the Swift’s looks. There is a new ad campaign going on now for the Dzire and I see that most of the viewers are least interested in it. Its been over 5 years since the Suzuki Swift was launched. The Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire in India deviates less from the traditional Swift looks. It has that three vertical grilles coupled with quadrangular head lamps and the Suzuki logo sitting between those grilles. The bonnet is curved and the air dams are flanked by small fog lamps. The wheels are 15 inchers and they are alloys for the top end one. The side mirrors are chunky however don’t have the turn indicators on them. Somehow, I feel that the wheels don’t fill the wheel arches completely but then I haven’t heard many of the owners complaining as well. The rear looks like Suzuki borrowed Chris Bangle of BMWs design team to fix it. It has a bulbous rear and the tail pipe is the same thin unit from its hatchback partner.

Well……….. I would choose the fresher design of the lot and go for the Toyota Etios over the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire.

Interiors

Toyota Etios: This is one spacious car man. The doors open wide enough and welcome you. The interiors are really boring and the only things that seem to liven up the cabin is the use of red upholstery. The 4265 mm wheelbase also liberates enough space for all the occupants. The steering wheel is a straight lift from the Toyota Prius albeit with some minor modifications. It is a flat wheeled unit with steering mounted audio controls. To keep costs low, the instrument panel is located at the center of the dashboard. This also has another advantage in the fact that Toyota Kirloskar Motors can export this car to other markets without any major modifications. There is a multi information display below it and this projects the tell tale lights, fuel gauge and a digital tripmeter. Well, the plastic quality as I had iterated on some other part of this website is definitely hard and looks very cheap, especially so in the company of the Swift Dzire now. There are many convenience features like the chilled glove box, fully closable AC slits, many cubby holes and also the two cup holders. For the geeks, there is a 2DIN DVD MP3 AM/FM system albeit with AUX and USB ports missing. Sadly there is no climate control. Rear seat space is comparable with the Mahindra Logan. One of the best features and which demonstrates that Toyota Etios in India has been made keeping in mind the Indian public is the boot space which is a huge 595 liters.

Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire: Now, the first thing that I or rather anyone would notice is that the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire in India has doors which don’t open wide enough and hence one has to somehow manage to get in. It was frustrating to wrestle with the tilt adjustable steering column and those seats to fit in my 6 foot plus frame. The sense of quality is heightened after spending time with the Etios. Yes, you wouldn’t believe it that a Suzuki pips a Toyota for its interior quality. The steering wheel has audio controls but no Bluetooth function {even the Etios doesn’t have it}. The front seats just like those in the Swift are comfortable. The interiors however feel claustrophobic with the use of dark materials and the high waistline. There is climate control and a 2 DIN audio system with AUX input facilities. The rear bench is still not that comfortable however the slightly longer wheelbase ensures that it isn’t overtly uncomfortable like the hatchback variant. The boot space is however less than the Toyota Etios and stands at 430 liters.

This round also goes to the Toyota Etios in India for its sense of space and comfort.

Handling and ride quality

Toyota Etios: The steering wheel for the Toyota Etios in India has been designed to be a light unit keeping in mind that it would be used in the city most of the times. It has variable assist ratios however this hydraulically powered steering doesn’t provide accurate feedback. It is direct but not so much in the face of competition. Ride is quality is the trump card for this car and it is only bested by the Tata Indigo Manza in this aspect. It is even better than that of the Mahindra Logan. It absorbs all the bumps thrown in front of it.  Its only the smaller ones that somehow upset the composure of this car but not so overtly. Keeping in mind its 170 mm ground clearance, this is a good car for the potholed and weather ravaged streets of Mumbai. The handling as a bit is nervous and not that confidence inspiring. It does take corners easily due to its low weight however the chassis seems more tuned for ride quality than handling. As it is Toyota vehicles are known more for their ride than for handling prowess.

Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire: The Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire in India, based on the famous Swift platform has got a communicative steering wheel and an enthusiastic chassis. This translates to a dream handling, this side of a BMW. The steering is razor sharp and helps in placing the front wheels where they exactly should be. The grip from the 15 inch tyres is the only thing which spoils the party. They break traction easily and this is what limits the fun factor. During enthusiastic cornering, the tail of the car often slipped out. The ride quality as a result suffers and it is harsh in city speeds but then is comfortable when fully loaded and on the highway. This is one Suzuki vehicle which is desired more for its handling abilities.

The Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire wins this competition since it managed to induce a smile on my face while driving.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

Toyota Etios: The Toyota Etios in India is currently offered with a lone petrol motor. This is a 1.5 liter 2NR-FE, 4 Cylinder 16V unit producing 90PS of maximum power at 5,500 rpm and 132 Nm of torque at 3000 rpm. The VVT-I technology is omitted for cost cutting purposes and I really think that it should have been available at a cost. It would have done wonders to the car’s performance. It vrooms from 0-100 kmph in just 11.6 seconds and this thrust of speed with its top speed of 175 kmph. The Etios weighs just 930 kgs and the use of light weight materials has helped in ensuring good performance off the block for this car. The gear box is a 5 speed unit and it has a light clutch for company. Though the shifts are smooth, they have a long throw and miss some of the slickness found in its arch rival, the other one in this competition. The wind noise is nicely suppressed so is the engine noise. Its only when it is reaching its top speed that the engine becomes vocal. Due to cost cutting measures, there is less of sound deadening material used. Bringing a halt to the performance of this car are discs at front and drums at the rear. For the top version, Toyota Kirloskar Motors have offered ABS, EBD and also traction control. Safety is also impressive with 2 air bags, a collapsible steering column and also 3 point seat belts. Fuel efficiency is the trump card for this car with it returning an ARAI proven 13 kmpl for the city and on the highway, this figure rises to 18.2 kmpl.

Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire: The Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire in India is offered with two engine options, one is a diesel engine however I chose to omit it due to the reason that the Toyota doesn’t come with a diesel yet. The engine of choice here is the 1.2 liter K series engine which puts out 84 Bhp of peak power and 112.7 Nm of torque. This is one of the most advanced engine in its class. It is mated with a 5 speed transmission which is also the neatest shifting gear mechanisms found in this class. It somehow made me think of a knife slicing through hot butter. The kerb weight of this car is 1035 kgs however this doesn’t blunt performance with the car racing from 0-100 kmph in only about 11.9 seconds and reaching a top speed of 170 kmph. The engine is also very silent in its operation and it really impressed me with almost a very low level of NVH. The addition of a boot hasn’t blunted the performance of this car and it is almost Swift like to drive. Brake pedal modulation is also good and assisting the brakes are EBD and ABS. The ABS is one poorly calibrated unit and it cuts in too early. As regards safety, there are two air bags, a collapsible steering column and three point seat belts. Fuel efficiency as always is good with the car returning an ARAI certified 12 kmpl in the city and 17.4 kmpl on the highway.

Even though the Maruti Dzire was an eager beaver, the Toyota Etios didn’t lagger behind. It has got a bigger engine and oodles of torque. My inclination has shifted to the Toyota now. So, it’s the Etios which wins this round.

Verdict

The Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire in India is the benchmark that others look forward to emulate and it seems that Toyota Kirloskar Motors have done their homework well. The Toyota Etios in India is a well rounded off package. It has inoffensive looks, good ride quality, interior space and most important of all, fuel efficiency. It has clearly got a bigger engine with no lacking in the power or torque department. It however gets interiors which aren’t befitting a Toyota. The engine is also a bit harsh in its operation and NVH is nowhere near to what we expect from a Toyota. The Maruti Dzire on the other hand is an Esteem replacement and is more of a boot job hastily stuck onto the Swift. It has debatable looks but then has the Maruti service promise, lots of interior features, small potent engine with good fuel efficiency. However it is outclassed by the Toyota Etios and I would anytime go with the Toyota badge and certainly at this price point. The Toyota Etios VX retails at Rs.7.13 lakhs whereas the Maruti Swift Dzire Zxi goes for Rs 7.05 lakhs. Both prices are ex-showroom, Mumbai. The winner of the mid segment crown is the new entrant, the Toyota Etios.

Toyota Fortuner in India, the beast


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Toyota Kirloskar Motors are known in India for their docile approach for their launches in India. This was very evident by the launch of the recent Toyota Fortuner. A vehicle which was coming for long onto the Indian soil however could only make it here on 24 August 2010. Now, even the Toyota Prius took a long time to come and was recently launched in 2010. There are many other best sellers for Toyota in their international line up however they are still wary about bringing in all this to India. Wonder what is stopping them? This answers can only be given by the Toyota top management. Well, I am not here to lambast the Toyota management however would like to concentrate more on the company’s achievement. Even though it is a dated vehicle, the very fact that it sells well over a 1000 units per month is testimony of its personality. Now, it may be too late for a test drive of this brutal beast but then as is our motto, we always give you a review of everything that is thrown our way. So, finally, I get a call from the Toyota regional office in Thane and they have agreed to our request for a test drive of the Toyota Fortuner. I have driven the Toyota Fortuner in Singapore before however driving the Toyota Fortuner in India made me realize the difference. Well, here comes the full story.

Toyota Fortuner Looks

Now, if there was anything upwards of the Mahindra Scorpio which could scare the day lights of any other fellow road user, it was the Ford Endeavor. Not any more, all those corporate honchos and politicians nowadays have the Toyota Fortuner as their choice of wheels. It is however those flared wheel arches combined with a raised demeanor that helps in this dominating looks. The typical honeycomb grille with the Toyota logo on top and a chrome strip on top of the bonnet flanked by the buzzy head lamps give it a distinct character. The air dam is partly covered by a black skid plate. The fog lamps are placed just below the head lamps. That bonnet scoop on top looks awesome and adds some detail to the SUV’s typical lines.

The side profile shows 17” sporty alloy wheels with sporty roof rails and also black sporty side steps. The wheel arches and the combination of the wheels don’t go together since it looks undertyred. However any bigger profile tyres would somehow ruin the party, this is what I felt. I have actually never seen any Toyota Fortuner SUV with anything other than those stock tyres so it seems that they work fine. The door handles are chrome layered.

The rear end looks compact with a small windscreen and a single wiper to clean it. It has an upwards type opening tailgate with the stop lamp been mounted atop the roof. The tail lamps are of the clear lens variety and they also feature the turn indicators in them. There is also a small spoiler which adds to the huge feeling quotient. The spare tyre is located under the rear bumper. There is a single tail pipe and it’s disappointing to say the least. Toyota Kirloskar Motors could have very well done to give it a big silencer unit or even a twin unit.

Toyota Fortuner Interiors

Well, even I had to climb inside this car. Coming from a 6ft plus guy, you can expect that from me. Hmmm. Something looks familiar here. What is it? Ah! The interiors are way too similar to something which I have been in earlier, the Toyota MUV, the Toyota Innova. Now, I amn’t sure if this means that the Toyota Innova borrowed the interiors from the Toyota Fortuner or vice-versa. Anyways, familiarity breeds contempt and I think that I have this feeling of contempt from the SUV’s interiors. The dual tone dashboard with its grey and biege alongwith some wooden inserts feels solid built. There is a tilt adjustable steering wheel with audio mounted controls, climate control for all the occupants, optitron meter dials for a more clear and precise way of transmitting information, front as well as rear armrest and a new audio unit with call as well Bluetooth functions.

There is a single MP3 player which has 6 speaker outlets. I found the quality to be strictly okay. As it is, Toyota isn’t a specialist in the audio systems and the Toyota Fortuner in India is no different. There is also a multi information display which gives variety of information like the outside temperature, average fuel efficiency, tyre pressure monitor and also other information. The seats are sort of comfortable with the front ones been adjustable for height and lumbar. Unfortunately they lack in thigh support and after a long time, you eventually feel that you are getting tired. The rear seat customers get their own aircon controls. The rear bench has a bit more of underthigh support which helps in sorting out the mile munching capabilities of this SUV. The rearmost seats are fit only for children and this shows with its lack of leg room and head room. The cargo space with the 3rd row of seats in place is 345 liters whereas with the third row down, it goes upto 678 liters and with the second row also down, it increases to 1243 liters.

Toyota Fortuner Handling and ride quality

The Toyota Fortuner in India has been built with a body on ladder frame and is a true blue SUV much like its siblings in the form of the Toyota Landcruiser, Prado and many others. It has a high ground clearance of 221 mm aided by the use of 265/65-R17 tyres. This gives it a go anywhere ability. This however produces body roll and makes the SUV top heavy. Considering that in mind, it still goes around bends without a winch and changing direction is easy. The steering wheel is a bit heavy and takes some time getting used to. It is however not as direct as one would expect but still did my bidding well. Parking would be a major chore in the city with its gigantic proportions however thank god that Toyota Kirloskar Motors have given parking sensors in this vehicle.

I found the ride to be a bit on the firmer side due to the stiffly sprung suspension. It isn’t bad in the city speeds however seems a bit obtrusive on the highways. It is a little spine juddering and after sometime, I thought of going easy on the car. With a full complement of passengers, the ride quality does improve slightly. For the off-roading junkies, there is ultra low mode and high mode as well. This coupled with the 4 wheel drive ensures that you aren’t stuck in a muddy situation. I got to test its abilities a bit because of the rough road I had to encounter during the test drive. Never once did the vehicle let me down.

Toyota Fortuner Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

The Toyota Fortuner in India comes with only a diesel engine. It is a 2982cc CRDI engine equipped with a variable geometry turbocharger and makes 163 Bhp of peak power and about 343 Nm of torque. It is mated with a 5 speed manual transmission. The gearbox is slightly vague with long throws. There is no dearth of power anywhere in the rev range but still the engine is a bit lazy and it was a hard task spooling it up for the fear of stalling the engine. But it had enough grunt to go around town slotted in 3rd or sometimes even 4th gear at speeds of only 30 kmph.

The car races from 0-100 kmph in 11.4 seconds whereas the top speed I attained was 173 kmph. The engine is very refined at low speeds whereas it is only near its top end, that it feels a bit strained. US Toyota vehicles faced a problem of recall due to sudden acceleration however nothing of that sort for the Indian Toyota vehicles. The specimen I got was a 30,000 kms old one however the motor still felt as fresh as new.

The braking for this heavy vehicle is tended by big ventilated disc brakes at the front and solid discs at the rear. It gets ABS for assistance and also EBD. The brake feel is a little out of place and could do with more feedback. Nevertheless it brings the vehicle to a halt without any drama or fuss. Safety is handled by twin air bags for front passengers, side intrusion beams with the GOA body and also seat belts for all the passengers.

Fuel efficiency is a bit of a dampener for a diesel vehicle. The Toyota Fortuner in India returns 8.3 kmpl in the city whereas on the highway, the figure goes upto 12.6 kmpl. With a fuel tank capacity of 70 liters, this translates to about 660 kms before needing a refuel.

Verdict

The Toyota Fortuner in India may have been launched late however it has already whipped up a storm. Toyota Kirloskar Motors had to stop the bookings for quite some time because they couldn’t cope up with the supply/demand policy. Actually every second SUV now that I see on the roads is a Toyota Fortuner with a fancy number plate and dark glass. This makes me wonder how much wealth the Indian public has got. By the way, for a vehicle like the Toyota Fortuner, I am sure, people would be bringing out their life savings for buying it. That said, it has its inherent flaws as well. It isn’t small by any standards. It has got a parking problem, less of comfort in the interiors, similar interiors to the Toyota Innova and a less efficient diesel engine. It has its own strengths as well and the biggest of them is the road presence that it commands plus its looks, Toyota badge, go anywhere ability and the desirability factor. It commands a starting price of Rs 19,64,320 going upto Rs.23,45,170 for the top variant {ex-show room, Mumbai}. This price is due to it been a CBU and it is rumored that Toyota Kirloskar Motors would be building this vehicle in India soon and the prices may reduce. There would be an automatic option offered later on depending on public demand.

Technical Specifications Of Toyota Fortuner in India

Engine Type: D-4D Diesel, 4 Cylinders In-line with variable geometry Intercooler Turbocharger
Engine Displacement(cc): 2982
Maximum Power: 163 Bhp @ 3600 rpm
Maximum Torque: 343 Nm @ 1400-3400 rpm
Valves Per Cylinder: 4
Valve Configuration: DOHC
Fuel Supply System: Common-Rail type
Transmission Type: 5 Speed Manual
Drive Type: 4WD
Front Suspension: Link with Lateral Rod
Rear Suspension: Double Wishbone4
Steering details: Tilt Steering Column with Hydraulic Power assist
Turning Radius: 5.9 meters
Front Brake Type: Ventilated Disc
Rear Brake Type: Solid disc
Top Speed: 176 Kmph
Acceleration (0-100 kmph): 11.4 Seconds
Mileage-City (kmpl): 8.3
Mileage-Highway (kmpl): 12.6
Fuel Tank Capacity (litres): 80
Tyre Size: 265/65 R17
Tyre Type: Tubeless Radial Tyre
Seating Capacity: 7
No of Doors: 5