Awards time for Mercedes Benz for achievements in 2010

Mercedes Benz India Limited which had been struggling for the past few years has now finally got retribution. The ressurection process began in 2010 and finally the company’s achievements in this regard have been duly noted by the automobile industry. Mercedes indeed seem very keen on regaining their lost number one position from BMW. It has been recently reported that Mercedes India have been showered with awards from the various automobile magazines, online portals and television channels. The award tally closes in on the number 8. This figure actually represents the appreciation that Mercedes India have received from the automobile afficinados and also stamps the authority that Mercedes cars are far superior to the others in the industry. Speaking of the awards that the brand received, those included the Performance Car of the Year for the Mercedes SLS AMG car and also the Sports car CBU import of the Year by BS Motoring and ET Zigwheels.

The SUV of the year was conferred on the Mercedes GL 350 by TopGear whereas the CNBC Overdrive were happy to give the Mercedes SLS AMG, the Performance Car of the Year award. Car and Bike India also gave the same award to the SLS AMG. Auto Bild gave the Mercedes E-class the favorite chauffer driven car award. Next came in the Auto India Best Brand award for the Mercedes brand as a whole. Since 2011 marks 125 years of automobile innovation from Mercedes, Peter Honegg, the Managing Director & CEO of Mercedes India feels that the awards couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. He says that the company never believed in taking the middle path and it was always nothing or the best that Mercedes offered to its customers. He was also very thankful of the various Indian customers who have accepted Mercedes models with an open heart.

Clarification by government on CKD units

The Indian government has finally woken up and smelled the coffee. The Indian automobile industry as a whole and SIAM had requested clarification from the government regarding the exact meaning of CKD unit. The government in their response now has said that Completely Knocked Down units would mean that every component of the car has to be assembled in India. Most of the CKDs come with their engine already assembled from their mother plants abroad. However as per the new government directive, vehicles which don’t have their engines also assembled in India would face higher taxation. This in essence means that most of the luxury cars in India would now be priced higher than what they already are. The earlier budget constitution hinted at a 60% increase in price however the government has taken heed of the requests from the Indian automobile industry and have now increased the tax from 10% to 30%. The 60% hike would have meant that CBU and CKD units would cost the same.

Now cars assembled in India with fully imported gear boxes and engines would attract a duty percentage of 30%. Semi Knocked Down or SKD units could have a different duty structure. This means that the Germans like Audi and BMW would have to bear the higher taxation rates. Entry level luxury cars like the Audi A4 and BMW 3 series would now be charged about Rs 3-4 lakhs more than what they used to cost earlier. Well, if you are thinking that we aren’t mentioning Mercedes, then the reason is that Mercedes have been in Indian for quite a long time and during this time, they have already started assembling their own engines. It is only for the S-class that they have to import the engine as a whole. This means that prices for the C-class and E-class are unlikely to waver from their current pricing.

Tata Indica eV2 in India test drive

')">Finally I can lay claims on driving one such car in India which no one would have even thought of or would have rather dismissed it because of its ubiquitousness. That car is the Tata Indica eV2 in India and yes it’s a new one. Well almost new. While I am writing about this, the other article regarding the tie up with Wasan Motors would already be live on the website. Yes, our special association with Wasan Motors now gives us access to cars from all the four manufacturers (Tata, Fiat, Ford and Toyota) at the drop of a hat. First of all, when I reached that spot, I saw both Wasan Ford and Wasan Tata side by side. Temptations do take over and we could literally check out the cars from both the brands, some which I have actually reviewed or test driven over the months. So finally the car test drive challan filled up by my CEO, since I couldn’t drive due to an injured foot, we were off for the test drive. Since Wasan Tata had only one eV2 at their disposal, we couldn’t have the car for a review. However very soon, there may be a comparison in the offing. Check on Road Price

About the looks of this car, yes, they have made some slight modifications. The Tata smiley has gone and now its replaced by a more somber looking face. Unfortunately since this was the lower end version, there wasn’t chrome slats on the grille but only one on the upper end. Head lamps are now clear lens and feature a tear drop design. The air dams are now more prominent as also is the new apple green color that we had on the test car. There are fog lamp inserts and the top end variant gets fog lamps. The bumpers are body colored for the front and rear however the side mirrors are in black and only body colored for the top end LX/GLX version. The major change which one can notice is alloy wheels, yes the same brushed aluminium alloy wheels as seen on the 90Hp Indica Vista. Moreover, the tyre size has increased from 13 to 14 inchers. Underbody paint quality near the wheel arches seemed a bit iffy. Door handles are also body colored on top end version. The high mounted stop lamp and the somewhat toned down tail lamps make sure that one doesn’t mistake this Indica for anything else. The Tata Indica eV2 in India gets rear fog lamps as well, albeit on the higher end version.

Enough of the looks and now time to move into the interiors of this car. Has anything changed? Yes, pretty much. The dashboard is still of the same design however the quality has improved a bit, though not in the Vista league. The glove box handle and lid looked as if they would just fall off. The door map pockets however don’t bruise one’s fingers and seem a bit deeper than the ones on the older Indicas. For the higher end Tata Indica eV2 LX variant, there is a wooden finish central console. There is a two CD music system which has got USB as well as Bluetooth function. Though I couldn’t check out the music quality due to the lack of the option in lower end trims, the prospect of pairing up my phone with the system’s Bluetooth seems wonderful. There is a power outlet which comes in as standard however power windows come in only the LX version. What the Tata Indica eV2 promises is lots of space and that is for any variant that one buys. Front seats are comfortable as also the rear ones for seating three along. The slight intrusion of the transmission tunnel can cause a bit of fiddling around with feet at the rear however it isn’t a major irritant. Boot space at 232 liters isn’t great however the inclusion of a parcel tray and 60:40 split rear seats (for the LX) gives some flexibility for this small hatch. Ohh! I forgot to mention that the air conditioner works perfectly fine by cooling up the cabin within 34 seconds. However up the blower setting and you would be greeted with the whoosh noise from the AC vents.

As regards the ride and handling, I would say for sure that this car has pretty good ride quality. However the ground clearance of 165 mm would pose a slight problem in our country’s potholed roads. Not that we encountered any problem during the course of the test drive. One thing while you crank up the engine is the absolute lack of NVH. Yes, this diesel engine is very much silent and though we couldn’t do any top speed runs or spirited driving, I am pretty much sure that this engine would hold its guns even for the top speed blasts. Build quality is also up from the previous Indica V2 and apart from the iffy glove box, there wasn’t any other thing which looked as if it would just fall off. My CEO, who was driving the car said that there was no perceptible change in the way the new Indica behaved but then he was quick to add that the 4 spoked steering wheel felt lot more precise now. Ride quality was also stellar with the two or three pot holes that we encountered, dispatched without even a whimper from the suspension.

The biggest change that has happened is under the hood of this car with it now getting BS4 common rail engine with a cubic capacity of 1396 cc. The power figure is up to 70 Bhp from the 53.5 Bhp earlier. Torque has almost doubled at the 140 Nm being produced now. The transmission is a 5 speed unit which does away with the old rubbery feeling from the Indica V2. It slots in precisely but doesn’t encourage spirited driving though. The clutch feeling is a bit heavy though and the accelerator requires a bit more than a prod to keep on moving smoothly. The diesel variant is the one which gets the tachometer for the eV2 series. Keeping in line with the smoothness of the engine and the general lack of NVH, there is a clutch to start feature given. This clutch to start feature prevents the engine from being cranked again when it is on. Then there is the auto drive assist which helps while climbing gradients. This feature doesn’t stall the car even when one doesn’t press the clutch pedal while climbing up gradients. Brake feel is a lot better than the older Indica however with no ABS or EBD, I am sure that panic braking would cause wheel lockup. As regards safety, there are still no airbags as standard however one can get a Tata Indica eV2 in India fitted with airbags on order. The usual 3 point ELR seat belts, child safety locks, collapsible steering column provide some feeble protection in the event a crash were to happen.

Tata Indica eV2 Photo Gallery

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Fuel efficiency is the biggest thing that Tata Motors is banking on the CR4 diesel for. The claimed fuel efficiency for this car is 25 kmpl. Well, I couldn’t validate the claim however going by safe estimates, this diesel engine should be pretty much frugal.

Car handed back to Mohammad Shaikh, the friendly sales person, we set out to analyse this car. One question that my CEO had was whom is this car targeted at and my pat answer was the call center public. What they want is affordable motoring with lots of space and the Tata Indica eV2 diesel in India doesn’t disappoint on that count. If you want a more personalized form of transport, then the Tata Indica Vista awaits you. If you cannot afford the Vista, then the new eV2 is the cheapest BS4 diesel that you can buy now. The Tata Indica eV2 price in India starts from 4 lakhs and goes upto Rs 5 lakhs for the fully loaded variant. The various other variants of the Tata Indica eV2 are Indica eV2 L, Indica eV2 LE, Indica eV2 LS, Indica eV2 LX.

Indiandrives tie up with Wasan Motors

In a first of its kind initiative, Wasan Motors, one of India’s largest distribution outlet for various reputed car brands like Tata, Toyota, Fiat and Ford has tied up with www.Indiandrives.com, to sell new cars. Indiandrives would now feature all the test drives and reviews from the cars supplied by Wasan Motors. The first baby out of this wedlock is the test drive of the new Tata Indica eV2 which would be posted on the website shortly. The Tata Indica eV2 is one such vehicle of which only Indiandrives has taken an exclusive test drive as of now.

Wasan Motors boasts of various show rooms for the different brands in all parts of India and is one of the most trusted dealership names in the automobile scene in India. The very fact that top quality players like Toyota and Fiat have their distribution network through Wasan Motors is testimony enough of the commitment that Wasan Motors has towards its customers.

While the Indiandrives team visited the Chembur show room of Wasan Motors, their Tata show room, we were greeted very politely, made to fill up the challan for the Tata Indica eV2 test drive. The staff there, was all about courtesy and Mr Sayyed Alam, the Assistant Manager of Wasan Motors Chembur ensured that we were taken care of. He personally supervised the test drive proceedings and ensured his utmost co-operation for all further reviews and test drives. We are sure that this association with Wasan Motors would go a long way in the future. Plans are on to provide special deals on cars sold by Wasan Motors for Indiandrives’ followers. We would keep you posted on the same.

Strike continues in GM’s factory in Halol

The General is certainly very upset about the revolt occurring in its Indian operations and the revolt has come from within its manufacturing unit in India, in Halol to be precise. A few days back we had reported that workers in General Motors’ Halol plant have been on a strike demanding better working conditions and also some cut in the work assigned to them. This is the 6th consecutive day when the striking workers haven’t taken a respite. Latest reports say that about 350 workers have started their work again whereas the rest are still carrying on with the strike. As of now, GM has faced a loss of upto 534 cars from so many days. The Halol facility has a capacity to produce about 190 cars every day.

We happened to speak with one of the workers today who confirmed that most of them are still on strike however a few have resumed work. The worker on conditions of anonymity said that the rest of his brethren who have reported to work are in the general shift as of now and the plant is now manufacturing BS4 Taveras. As to whether he thinks if the strike is a valid one or not, the worker refrained from making any comments. The State Labor Government is having a word with the union backing this strike, INTUC and is pressing them to reach an amicable solution with GM. The issue is mainly about the unfair work practices being followed in the Halol plant. It is said the work in this plant is done on a charity case where the workers are made to work 30 mins to 1 hours extra each day and still are denied any allowances or overtime wages. The health hazard thing stems from this very same fact that long working hours in the standing position would result in spinal injuries and also severe back pain.

Fiat Grande Punto vs Nissan Micra vs Hyundai I20 vs Maruti Ritz vs Volkswagen Polo vs Skoda Fabia


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Since doing a 4 bikes comparison on our bikes page, I am being forced to conduct one such comparison here for the cars. This actually left me pondering as to how to go about comparing 4 cars at a time. However not one to be stuck, I roped in some of my colleagues from office and set about the big task of conducting a comparison. But here we outdid ourselves with not 4 but 6 of India’s most desirable cars. Yes, you read it right. It is a 6 cars comparison that we have got here. And what best to compare than the diesel small cars and ones which claim to be macro hatches. So without further ado, here is the comparison of all these 6 cars on Indiandrives.com.

Looks

Well, I am not going to categorize the cars based on their names and then point out each detail. Instead it would be a mix of which car will appeal to the prospective customer. Out of the 6 cars here, it will be the Volkswagen Polo and the Nissan Micra which would be brought basically for their looks. A Volkswagen Polo in India in red color is similar to Pamela Anderson in bikini. For the Nissan Micra in India, it is more like the Minnisha Lamba in throngs. The Polo’s strong Teutonic designs and solid German engineering lend it an air of flamboyance. The Micra on the other hand cuts across as a cute figure with that half eaten apple look for a grille. The Fiat Punto in India used to be the design king but no longer. Its lines are ageing now and especially in some colors, the Punto looks just like the Palio. The Skoda Fabia in India has undergone a bit of a mild refresh however it still looks like a Fabia and gets a more functional boxy form. The Maruti Ritz in India is more of a crossover hatch and has CR-V like tail lamps with A-star like front end. The Hyundai I20 in India is the forbearer of the “fluidic concept” design language echoed by the Korean manufacturer nowadays. Not enough to attract the eyeballs but like the others, highly functional form.

So the winner of this round is the Volkswagen Polo followed closely by the Nissan Micra, Hyundai I20, Skoda Fabia, Fiat Punto and the Maruti Ritz.

Interiors

You wouldn’t buy a car just for its looks and there are many other factors which count in. Most importantly for Indians, it has got to be space. So, the ones giving maximum space in the interiors are welcome. So the ones who won the beauty pageant step down and now it would be the reverse order. The Maruti Ritz in India by virtue of its tall boy design gives more head room than the others. Even for taller passengers, it is very easy to get in and out. Quality of materials used is also good and the 236 liters of boot space is also very usable. Next comes the Hyundai I20 in India and one can easily notice that this is the biggest hatch in its category and all this translates to good interior space. There are many goodies on offer too and it is the only car in this category to have steering mounted audio controls and also AUX input. Sitting three along isn’t a problem for this hatch. Boot space is the second largest in this comparison at 290 liters. The Skoda Fabia in the meanwhile gets the best front seats in the house and overall German engineering which means the layout of the dash is pretty simple and intuitive. Back seat space is at par with the Ritz, though the Ritz with its taller proportions has overall good space. Boot space is the biggest in this lot at 315 liters. The Fiat Punto in India has good front seats and solidly put together interiors however somewhere down the line, the use of materials is a bit iffy. Rear seat space is marginally better than the Polo and boot space of 280 liters is marred by suspension intrusions. The Volkswagen Polo in India has very supportive front seats and a better finish than sister concern Skoda Fabia. The overall ambience inside the cabin is excellent with good fit and finish and the use of beige and dark plastics. The rear seat space however is at a premium and taller passengers would be pressing their knees against the front seats. Boot space however is a tad lower than that of the Skoda Fabia at 294 liters. The Nissan Micra in India also uses a better space utilization inside the cabin than what its small footprint outside may suggest. Rear seat space however is more than what the Polo and Punto have to offer. Boot space however is the smallest in this test at 226 liters.

The Hyundai I20 wins this round followed by the Maruti Ritz, Skoda Fabia, Nissan Micra, Fiat Punto and Volkswagen Polo.

Handling and ride quality

All the cars here feature almost similar layouts as far as suspension is concerned. Out of all the cars here, the Nissan’s motor is the most silent followed by the others. Modern day diesels have been so engineered to give their petrol cousins the run for the money. The Nissan Micra has a somewhat jittery ride quality but given its small size, the handling is okay but would enthuse the enthusiast.However for those looking for ride comfort, it is the Hyundai I20 which dishes it out in dollops however the smaller Maruti Ritz provides both in equal doses and that is given on any condition of the road. The Fiat Punto has that typical Fiat firm ride quality however in the handling stakes, it is behind its petrol powered sibling with body roll being very pronounced while going around corners. The steering wheel doesn’t give too many inputs as of such. The Hyundai I20 also suffers from the same problem and body roll is more than the Punto. The steering wheel is ultra light in the city but has that lifeless feeling on the highway. Alarming sometimes. Engine noise is also on the higher side. The German twins have a firm ride quality but the dampers on the Skoda Fabia are a bit more pliant. The Polo is the one to go for pure handling thrills. Its steering wheel is a bit imprecise but the chassis more than makes up for it. The Skoda Fabia in the meanwhile is not much of handler but can handle the handling duties when called upon. It is the more silent of the Germans here as well.

Opinions would be divided here but then the overall ride and handling package goes to the Ritz with is virtue of being one of the most silent cars in this comparison.

Engine, performance and fuel efficiency

Most of the cars here share engines like the Maruti Ritz and the Fiat Punto, though the peak power output is different. The Skoda Fabia and the Volkswagen Polo share their engines in the same state of tune. The Hyundai I20 and the Nissan Micra have 1.4 liter engines but with a contrast in the power figures. The main motive behind all these engines however is fuel efficiency, driveability and low NVH. The Maruti Ritz is the complete package which achieves all this and without much effort. Its 1248 cc Multijet engine brings in 76 Ps of peak power at 4000 rpm whereas the torque figure reads as 190 Nm at 2000 rpm. It is mated to a 5 speed manual transmission. Since I have extensively test driven, compared or even reviewed all these cars elsewhere on our portal, I would refrain from making any high speed runs or performance figures. I would focus more on driveability. So the Maruti Ritz diesel does make sense as far as the latter is concerned. Its calm and composed manner as also the way it handles at speeds makes it a very good car here. The gear shifts are also butter smooth. Next is the Hyundai I20. Now, the I20 has a weak bottom end and a peaky power delivery. Like the 1.5 CRDi in the Verna, this engine also doesn’t have a linear power band. It is the only car here to feature a 6 speed manual transmission. This car however doesn’t like to be hurried. Next up is the Fiat Punto. The Fiat Punto has the same 1.3 liter engine but on papers puts the maximum power output out of all these cars here. It rakes in 93 Ps of power with 210 Nm of torque. It has got driveability akin to the Ritz but its gearshift lags behind that of the Ritz. The gears feel a bit notchy and don’t encourage spirited driving.

Next up is the Nissan Micra. The Micra however from its 1.4 liter engine only has a peak power of 64 Ps and torque of 160 Nm. It gets a 5 speed gearbox which sometimes baulks. However for the majority of times, it is smooth. The engine revs up nicely and this car is also good as far as driveability stakes go. The German brothers have a engine which makes do with massive turbo lag and driving them in traffic can be a bit of chore. The saving grace is that both have superb gear boxes which try to eliminate the turbo lag as far as possible. Even then smooth progress isn’t their forte.

All these cars have good brakes with ABS, except for the Nissan Micra. For the safety thing, all cars are evenly specced with the Hyundai I20 being the cream of the lot with 6 airbags and other safety gadgets.

As far as fuel efficiency goes, all these cars have fuel efficiency in excess of 17 kmpl on an overall however the Maruti Ritz in India and the Hyundai I20 steal the honors for the top fuel efficiency stakes.

Overall, it is a tough fight between the Maruti Ritz and the Hyundai I20 as far as engine configuration comes into picture. However the Maruti ekes forward by a slight margin due to its driveability quotient.

Verdict

The toughest time. All these cars are equally competent in one way or the other. If its safety that is bothering you, the Hyundai I20 is the safest thing that you can lay your hands on. If its looks, it’s the Volkswagen Polo. If its looks and interior space, then it is the Skoda Fabia. If cuteness appeals to you, then the Nissan Micra will tickle your funny bones. If utility is your forte then the Maruti Ritz would be your grand prize and if fun to drive characteristics along with decent space is your cup of coffee, then the Fiat Punto is up for grabs. However diverse characters that they may display, there has to be a winner and there is one. It is the Maruti Ritz. The Maruti Ritz price in India is also the lowest at Rs 5.35 lakhs with the highest price tag commanded by the Hyundai I20 at Rs 7.33 lakhs. The others slot in neatly in between. The Nissan Micra retails at Rs 6.33 lakhs while the Skoda Fabia is available for Rs 6.82 lakhs. The Volkswagen Polo Highline is for Rs 7.01 lakhs while the Fiat Punto Emotion is for Rs 7.02 lakhs.

So the Maruti Ritz in India is the new diesel king.

2012 Mercedes C63 AMG will see best performance

Mercedes have been left behind in the performance arena by BMW’s M series and Audi’s RS cars however not one to be outgunned, Mercedes have revealed their most potent weapon, the 2012 C63 AMG coupe. This yet to be released car is said to carry the company’s patented 6.2 liter V8 engine which is normally aspirated and would produce 480 Bhp of peak power with its AMG performance package whereas the torque figure would read as 61.24 kgm. Without the performance package from AMG, the coupe will make 451 Bhp with the same torque figures rolling by. The transmission used is a seven-speed Speedshift automatic. This is irrespective of the Performance package chosen or not.

To distinguish the interiors from the usual Mercedes cars, Mercedes have given the new car launch control, Alcantara performance steering wheel, AMG sports seats, upholstery in Dinamica which is actually a man made fibre, metallic trim as also on the instrument panel, a piano black finish. Outside, the car gets LED daytime lamps, AMG front splitter, rear diffuser, AMG alloys with 5 spokes and dual chrome tipped exhaust outlets. The Mercedes C63 AMG car also gets a multi link rear suspension with the front ones sporting three links. The track has been also widened at both the ends. The damper rates as also springs have been revised whereas there are now thicker anti roll bars with negative camber. It is said that the normal AMG car would shoot from 0-100 kmph in only 4.3 seconds whereas if one has got the performance package , then the .2 seconds would be shaved off the timings.

This car is expected to be launched at around July 2011 and India could also be a part of the global launch.

Audi on road to developing Audi Q6

The BMW X6 when it first broke cover received numerous criticisms from auto afficianados the world over. However its success story is one which many models in the BMW lineup are yet to emulate. Seeing its success, many companies have now got plans for developing their own versions of the BMW X6. Prime amongst them is Audi with their Audi Q6. Like the BMW, even this one is said to be a 5 seater and would have the hunky typical Audi proportions. Recently Audi’s CMD Rupert Stadler, gave hints at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show that Audi is thinking of a crossover which would be slated between the Audi Q5 and the Q7. This 4 wheel drive model would have styling like a coupe and would use the same platform as the parent company Volkswagen uses for the Touareg and the Porsche Cayenne. This same platform also forms the basis of the Audi Q7.

It seems that the main reason for Audi to think about a X6 rival was because of the very fact that many of its Chinese as also North American subsidiaries are calling into the head quarters with a request for foil for the sales of the BMW X6. Even here in India, the BMW X6 sells almost 30 units every year since its launch. The engine options in the Audi Q6 are rumored to rival BMW’s V6 and V8 engines both in petrol and diesel format. Going one step above, Audi would also be offering the V6 petrol motor with a hybrid option. Needless to say, the company’s Quattro system would also be present on this car. Like the M version of the X6, there would also be a RS model from Audi for the Audi Q6.

Volvo S60 in India test drive

“Finally the Rock has come back”. These were the words of Dwayne Johnson or to be more precise “The Rock”, a few weeks ago in WWE’s Raw edition. What has it got to do in an automobile portal would be the question that many would be asking. The answer is nothing actually but everything if you take it in the right sense. Volvo has returned to India with a bang and the bang resonates with Volvo S60 in India. A few days back, I remember keeping you folks updated about the Volvo S60 in India launch and also a preview of the same car some 3-4 months back. What I have managed now is a coup de stat and that is getting the Volvo S60 for a test drive. How I managed that is another big question. It is more like eat the fruits and why worry about the seed. Only last night I happened to check out a movie on Star Movies and it had the older iteration of the Volvo S60. The difference between the two, in terms of looks is very much however without even looking at the badge, I could take a guess that it had to be a Volvo. So here is the Volvo S60 in India test drive report. Reviews are far and few to come by since this car is a new entry into India and would then be passed onto several other automobile magazines and portals. Check on Road Price

Starting with the looks, Volvo has been widely criticized for making boring looking cars however with the advent of the XC60, it has changed and some of those factors have been also bored down to the S60. The S60 will definitely manage to turn heads in its segment which is dominated by the three pointed star, the goatee grille and the twin kidney grille. The car gets an overall coupe stance which is now been brought into light for the new 2011 Mercedes C class. Its wrap around beak like head lamps along with the stash like daytime running LED lamps at the sides cut a distinct figure amongst the horde of Germans running around. The sleek, stylish grille gets the usual Volvo’s diagonal strip of a logo. The new car doesn’t have provisions for fog lamps but as of such has individual slots for the air dams outlined by chrome. The bonnet is also a swooping figure for pedestrian safety rules. The 17 inch multi spoke alloy wheels fill the wheel arches well and the side profile also shows the coupe like silhouette. The outside rear view mirrors may seem a bit small however once on the inside, they seem quite a handful. They have the turn indicators embedded in them as well. The rear is somewhat reminiscent of the old Volvos with that sickle like design of that LED tail lamps along with spelled out Volvo logo. There is a black rear bumper cladding and this houses the twin tail pipes.

The interiors is where the Volvo S60 in India gets some cues from both the Japanese as well as the Germans. The latter for the solid build quality whereas the interior materials comes from the former. The materials used wouldn’t shame an Audi either but then the use of beige and gray somewhat assures that this cabin is a good place to be in. The 3 spoked steering wheel has a number of buttons on it which are nicely spaced and moreover the leather stitching on its makes it very grippy to hold. The white faced dials are easy and legible to read and more or less reminds one of the Mercedes dials. The steering wheel boasts of having cruise control, audio controls as also Bluetooth functions. The waterfall central console as Volvo would like to call it gets its share of a small touch screen readout which shows the climate control details, music system display as also the parking sensors. There are too many buttons to deal with however it isn’t a problem given the fact that I could master them within half an hour of sitting inside the car. The glove box boasts of incredible space to stow away the nitty gritties. The front seats have a relaxed position and one which have every size fits in proportions. The rear seats in the meanwhile, though not as big as the Audi A4, definitely have more space than the BMW 3 series. Comfortable for 5? You bet it is. Boot space is at par with rivals, if not a bit more. The climate control works perfectly fine with its sublime on touch operation.

Now for the asli part of the journey and that is driving the car. Firing up the engine showed that there is not too much of engine noise and infact it was only when I revved the engine hard enough did I get to actually make it sound audible but then it was also more like a cat purring. Impressive enough. First the ride quality. It is awesome to say the least. Even for the short test ride that I had, I could sense that this suspension would make mince meat out of the Indian roads rather than the other way round. It is perfectly tuned for the Indian roads and neither was it too soft or overtly hard. The Volvo S60 in India comes with the C-chassis system from Volvo Motors which boasts of having the Comfort, Sport or Advanced modes for chassis configuration. Only in the Advanced mode would you be mildly jolted out of your reverie. The steering wheel, along with being nice to grip is also very responsive unit. Though no point and shoot object, it still manages to get the job done without having the heavy feeling of the BMW 3 series steering at low speeds. The all wheel drive system is the latest one from Haldex and just makes the S60 hold its line even under hard driving. I forgot to mention that the S60 is the only other vehicle in its class which gets AWD other than the Audi A4 4.2 FSI. BMW is very happy with its rear wheel drive configuration.

Volvo S60 Photo Gallery

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The variant that I had on test here was the petrol variant as the diesel variant has been done to death on many other Volvo cars. The Volvo S60 in India petrol engine is called T6 and it is a twin turbo unit. The 304 Bhp of peak power and the torque of 44.6 kgm make this car a real scorcher. Couple that with the 6 speed auto transmission and you have a BMW beater there. The gear box is utter responsive and I am sure that this engine will have the BMW 330i creamed whereas the Audi 4.2 FSI would also be gasping for breath behind it. Featuring a twin turbo does eliminate some turbo lag which is typical of turbocharged engines but then the keen driver would notice some turbo lag at city speeds. The gear box ratios however eliminate most of the turbo lag and the car is quite driveable in city as well.I don’t have the 0-100 kmph figures but expect it to shave off more than 5 seconds than what the BMW 330i can manage. The auto box is also highly responsive however wish that it had paddle shifters behind the wheel. While taking a corner at high speed, if you need to change the gears then it is a bit laborious and risky to be taking your hand off the steering wheel for a moment and changing gears.

Brake feel didn’t leave anything to be desired and the fade free nature of the brakes even after repeated high speed stops make them the best in their class. There is ABS, EBD and many other electronics working overtime to ensure that things don’t get out of hand. There is a long list of safety features, both standard and optional. There is the City Safety package, 6 air bags, lane departure warning system, adaptive cruise control system and also active braking. There are many more safety features and this car be judged as one of the safest cars in its category and one above. As far as fuel efficiency goes, Volvo cars aren’t known to be too fuel efficient and moreover with this short test drive, I couldn’t calculate the fuel efficiency either.

Summing it up all, the Volvo S60 in India is a worthy alternative to the BMW 3 series, Audi A4 and the Mercedes C class. It has got the right mix of both performance and also handling. Ride quality is superlative to the Germans as well. Interiors are in a different league and ensure that the car wouldn’t be mistaken for a German one. There are two engine options on offer, one diesel and the other petrol. If there was something which Volvo could have improved, it is the putting paddle shifts behind the steering wheel plus giving a different name for the different variants. Like Summum seems too radical and is sure to evict bad responses similar to the name Laura in North India. There are a total of 3 trim levels for the Volvo S60 here and those are the Volvo S60 T6 Summum, S60 D5 Summum and the S60 D5 Kinetic. The Volvo S60 price in India starts from Rs 27 lakhs for the diesel variants and for the one that I tested here, the Volvo S60 T6 Summum, the price is Rs 34 lakhs.

Two VW India MDs quit

Volkswagen Indian recently announced that they are going to pump in more cash for their Indian operations and this was only regarding the parent company and not subsidiaries. However it seems that the company’s top brass didn’t approve of this and two of the company’s top level executives have quit. The executives in question happen to be the Vice President and Managing Director of VW India whereas the other one is the MD of Volkswagen passengers cars in India. The reason for their resignation is not yet known and Volkswagen India is not letting out any other details as of now. The former was earlier associated with Toyota Motors and had recently joined VW in 2008. His name is K K Swamy. The latter is Makham Dhalivaal and he was earlier responsible for network development in Bentley Motors. He was the Global Director then.

In 2008, the Volkswagen Jetta launch in India was Mr Dhalivaal’s brain child. Volkswagen’s other enterprises in India have been a huge success however the parent company is yet to taste success on a big scale in India. Currently it has Audi, Bentley, Skoda and Lamborghini brands under its umbrella here in India. All these brands are a huge success in all the categories that they are present in. However Volkswagen on their own have got only two hot selling models and they are the VW Polo and the VW Vento. The replacement for the top level executives is on and Volkswagen India would announce the new personnel at the earliest.