Maruti Suzuki Swift 2011 test drive


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Way back in 2005, I as a scrawny youngster, fresh out of college, joined Maruti Suzuki India Limited as their salesman. Back then all the cars were familiar to me as I had been seeing most of Maruti’s ageing lineup since the time I was born. But then the novelty of the thing hit me when I saw the Maruti Suzuki Swift in the very showroom where I was working. My first reaction was that it was a BMW Mini but then on second thoughts it struck me that it is only the design. The interiors also reeked of a freshness which was devoid even in the top of the line Baleno. But then, as luck would have it, I wasn’t assigned to the Swift team since there already was a waiting list for that vehicle and there was no need to push the sales for it. Cut to the present, I have the Maruti Suzuki Swift 2011 with me on a test drive almost 6 years after the original one was launched in India. We all knew that it was in the offing but then so long wasn’t predicted. Nevertheless, Maruti Suzuki India Limited have been kind enough to get us a sneak preview of the new Maruti Suzuki Swift 2011 model before its official launch in India.

Visually it isn’t much of a difference between the two but then headson, one can see the clear lens head lamps with their unique peeled back design. The snout of the car has grown a bit. By the way, Maruti or rather Suzuki have elongated the chassis to take care of the less interior space issue, but then more on it later. The grille as well as bumper ‘s however remain the same. It‘s good that Maruti have stuck to the adage “If it ain’t broken, then why fix it”. The appeal for the Swift was always its good looks and the Maruti Suzuki Swift 2011 model tries to stick to that formula with success.

The blackened A-pillar and the now more bulging wheel arches amplify the style statement. Though the car that I had with me for test came shod with 16 inch alloys, I am being told that this may change by May 2011 when the car would finally be launched. The most likely configuration would be 15 inch tyres as seen on the current top end version of the 2010 Maruti Suzuki Swift. I would have liked a Chevrolet Beat like hidden rear door handles on the new Swift but then that isn’t so. From the side profile, the new Swift somehow reminds me of the Hyundai i20 and the Nissan Micra. I think it is the boot shadow which makes me think of this. It is slightly bulging as opposed to the flat one on the 2010 Maruti Swift. The tail lamps are clear lens unit stretch along the length of the car. The major complaint amongst the Swift owners that it didn’t have a rear wiper has now been addressed to in the 2011 model.

The Maruti Suzuki Swift started the quality revolution in the Maruti stables. The Maruti Suzuki Swift 2011 promises to take it to an all new level. Starting with the steering wheel, it is a slightly bigger unit than the old one and gets the much desired steering mounted controls as well as cruise control. I think I forgot to mention that it also has Bluetooth connectivity. The meter dials have been changed and the needles now exude the feel of the Honda City. Like the Polo, there is a new multi information display in the center flanked by two big circles which in turn are flanked by smaller ones at the extreme for displaying the fuel gauge and temperature parameters. The new Swift also gets a dead pedal. The ORVMs are now electrically adjustable. The one touch anti-pinch power windows are also a new addition. The dashboard as a whole has become more useful with its various cubby holes. Lots of Kizashi influence can be seen on this new car and it is a big thing considering that the Kizashi is available at approximately three times the cost of the Swift. The gear lever is something which has been carried forward from the old Swift. Build quality has improved to a certain extent but not much as I had expected. The Germans still make one of the best cabins around. Moreover, it is likely that Maruti would carry over the same black theme even for the new Swift. They had previously burnt their fingers with the Swift Glam edition which had an all beige interiors.

Front seats were excellent by any proportion for the older Swift but now they can accommodate even 6 foot plus individuals. I remember how I was ridiculed in Maruti 6 years back when I was trying to demonstrate to a customer about the internal boot release mechanism and had to clamber inside the car (without success). The back seats in the old Swift were the points of criticism for Maruti detractors. The wheelbase has been increased by 50mm and now the rear seat is a bit more bearable than the older one. Though my knees still banged against the front seats, they weren’t so forceful as to hurt the backsides of the front passenger. Maruti could do well to have some arrangement like scoops at the back of the front seats, like in the Alto K10, which would liberate more legroom. Head room was also just about sufficient and were it not for the hard gell that I had used for my hair that day, it would have been messed up. The rear bench now stands better inclined. It has got better underseat support and also the right foaming materials. Boot space issue hasn’t been addressed and if boot space is what stands as your priority, the go buy an Indica Vista or the Etios Liva. Boot space is just 204 liters.

Ohh, I forgot to tell you the novelty part of it. Maruti is mulling over to bring in keyless stop start atleast for the top variants. This is keeping in mind that the only other car in this segment which offers this is the Nissan Micra. The car I drove had this mechanism.

Handling was always the forte of the old Swift and the new one doesn’t disappoint either. The steering wheel now gets a new variable ratio as well as low play joints. It is direct like the older unit but a bit more taut now. But then once I turned in the steering, it felt dead for a moment and then regained its composure. Should be fine with the earlier Swift users but for new customers, it might take some time to get used to. The longer wheelbase doesn’t play around with the handling characteristics of the Maruti Suzuki Swift 2011 and this means that the car still handles like a dream. The 16 inch tyres that the test car had didn’t hamper its handling a bit. The chassis has been made more rigid now thanks to the use of high tensile steel in its construction. The suspension is still the old one and it means MacPherson struts in the front with torsion beam at the rear. The latter one is now lighter due to a better design and at the same time provides for a better roll stiffness.The torsion beam bushings also have 50% more lateral rigidity. I am not surr of the final tyre specifications of the Swift which would be launched in India but then 16 inchers are a visual treat as well as provide for better handling.

Ride quality which was somewhat compromised in the earlier versions has now been addressed. Infact, I can go as far as to say that it makes for a nice compromise between ride and handling. When you want good ride quality, it wouldn’t disappoint you and when you are in the mood to been a hooligan, it wouldn’t say no either. Though I couldn’t test it on the offbeat track, due to time limitations, its superlative ride quality to the earlier one left me impressed. NVH was something which is also down by a certain degree than the older car. This is because of the use of more sound deadening materials under the hood.

Engines would be carried over unchanged from the 2010 version. This means the choice of a 1.2 liter K series engine making 85 Bhp of power and peak torque of 113 Nm. The diesel engine would be the famed multijet from Fiat which is a 1.3 unit making 75 Bhp of peak power and 190 Nm of torque. Both the engines are mated to a 5 speed manual transmission which is one of the best units to be found in a small car. This time around, the car that I got was the diesel version unlike the 2010 Swift petrol that I had reviewed not long back. Needless to say, the car was sprightly to drive and with the free revving multijet diesel it was a hoot to drive around. Somehow the peak torque ratings would be altered for a bit more pizzazz before the car is launched. This is what a Maruti insider told me. Expect 1 or at the most 2 seconds to be shaved off the current timings of the old car. This in lieu of the weight chopping been done around. Fuel efficiency would also be stellar than the current one. Braking is the usual discs at front and drums at the rear with ABS and EBD thrown in. Unlike the earlier Swifts where the ABS was poorly calibrated, this one had good tinkering with ABS and this ensured safe braking distances. Safety is handled by the rigid chassis, 2 air bags, 3 point ELR seat belts with pretensioners and the side intrusion beams.

Another Swift gremlin namely the presence of squeaks and rattles has been eliminated to some extent. It didn’t seem like any plastic would fall off soon or over the years. Everything seems to be pretty well screwed up together. The earlier Swifts also had a problem of the boot rattling while going over bumps but not this one. I do hope that this sense of quality persists over the years. As of now, Maruti Suzuki India limited are tight lipped about the launch but then the insider pointed out that it would be near about May 2011, when the first car was launched 6 years ago. The Maruti Suzuki Swift 2011 price in India is expected to start from Rs 4.30 lakhs and would end at Rs 5.75 lakhs. All these are speculated price point considering Maruti’s earlier price offerings for a new car (forget the Kizashi and the Baleno).

It’s tapping into the untapped by Mahindra First Choice Wheels

Mahindra and Mahindra, the Indian auto major has just pulled another trick to lure the customers who are not classy enough to afford a new car, but yearn to own one. With this in mind the auto maker has inaugurated its first and largest pre-owned car showroom in New Delhi and is dubbed as the super store. The showroom is hosted on a 30,000 sq ft land and has got enough space to showcase at least 100 cars at any given point of time. The location of (Superstore) Mahindra First Choice Wheels is at Nangloi Rohtak road, opposite Metro pillar no 344 and Surajmal stadium.

The new store was inaugurated by the group HR and after-market, Mr. Rajeev Dubey who is also the president and a group executive board member. Mr. Rajeev Dubey was quoted as saying that the company is very delighted by this new multi-brand display room in the capital, where the company already has 16 outlets. He revealed that the current market size of Delhi made it an ideal location for the superstore, which was pegged at 20,000 cars a month. He promised that the customer experience in the superstore would be nothing less than superlative and cars of varied range will be displayed. The superstore would offer a range of services through a single window, including comfortable ambience for documentation, assisting in paperwork, accessories ofor car’s fitment, insurance and car finance, sale and purchase of pre-owned vehicles.

Mr. Dubey further added that the superstore at Delhi was the ninth across India which is nothing but a clear rationale of the success this format has achieved.

This format offers a refreshing and new sales experience for the potential customers with its customer-centric and innovative approach. The superstore is built in order to host a wide range of automobiles ranging from luxury and high end premium cars to entry level cars. The first of its kind Superstore was launched in the month of August 2010 at the financial hub of Mumbai. At present the company has a total of 8 such outlets across the country, with additional in pipeline and tentatively scheduled to be launched in March 2011.

The total market size of pre—owned car sector in India is pegged at 2.2 million automobiles per annum, and is translated into monetary terms at Rs 25,000 crores. According to reports, the growth rate of this sector is calculated at 20 percent which is indicative of the colossal potential for players which are organized like Mahindra First Choice Wheels. The superstore is India’s one and only multi-brand showroom and is touted as the preferred car mart for pre-owned vehicles. Mahindra’s First Choice Wheels has about 134 outlets across India spread in 82 towns. The company is contemplating to expand this figure to the tune of 300 outlets during the next 3 years. This means that consumers will very soon be able to opt from an assortment of pre-owned certified cars across the country, which will include cities, tier-2 towns and the metros.

A great deal of attention is solicited towards the detail in order to make sure that each and every pre-owned vehicle meets a towering echelon of quality. Prior to purchasing the vehicle, a duly trained engineer inspects the automobile thoroughly and also makes sure that all the statutory papers are in the rights shape. Post purchase of the car by the company, each and every car is revamped and it undergoes a wide-ranging 118 point quality test by a duly trained engineer. This is an inherent part of the certification process by the company which is very robust in nature. The objective underlining the diligence and care is to offer the buyer with a vehicle which is in mint condition.

In simple terms there is a whole lot of advantages while buying a pre-owned vehicle from the stable of Mahindra First Choice Wheels including safety, assurance, hassle-free experience and last but not the least, quality. The company also offers 24×7 assistance on road side and also extends warranty for its certified cars. The warranty is subjected to various terms and conditions and it cover the vital parts of the vehicle. The road side assistance also is subjected to various terms and conditions but chiefly is about the assurance that a certified pre-owned car has to be given assistance in the event of a breakdown. The road side assistance and warranty is a source of great peace for the buyers mind.

Mahindra First Choice Wheels has strategic tie-up with various NBFCs and major banks in its bid to provide retail financing to its customers. As a first in the industry, Mahindra First Choice Wheels and Syndicate bank have inked a partnership to offer retail finance to consumers at the same rate offered to new cars. www.mahindrafirstchoice.com is the official website for Mahindra First Choice Wheels which puts forward in front of consumers the luxury of selling and buying pre-owned vehicles from the console of their houses.

Buyers Guide for Skoda

Skoda has by far been one of the most successful automobile brands in India, even though it has met with many criticisms. One of such all time famous criticism is that the Skoda company has a real bad after sale service. As I said earlier even after such heavy criticism the company has managed to do well in the market. It has been possible only because of the various excellent vehicles this company has delivered over the years. This company was established in India in the year 2001. Their first offering, Skoda Octavia was also their first runaway success. The pricing strategy that the company had adopted at that time made it possible. Also this company has been famous to lure customers with their amazing offers and marketing techniques. But this is not what makes this company so big, it is its vehicles which have managed to create its say in the market and that is the topic for today.

Skoda Fabia

Ok. So what is Skoda Fabia? Skoda Fabia is a confused soul who is confused about its own identity. Yes, there has always been a problem attached with Skoda Fabia in the Indian automobile market. It was hatch back with distinct features for sure but people were still not ready to pay such price for hatchbacks. So, recently the company decided to cut the price in order to make it more affordable. Anyways, this car is well built with features that can give run for their money to even some of the sedans available in India. Ride quality of this car is amazing, space is indeed good when compared to any other hatchbacks available in India. This car is available in three engine options where two are the petrol variants and one is the diesel variant. With the new improved price and marketing strategy it seems that Skoda Fabia will be one of the bestseller under its category.

Engine Options:
1198cc\ 1199cc (diesel)\ 1598cc

Powertrain:
5 speed manual

Power:
75 Bhp @3700 rpm\ 70 Bhp @4000 rpm\ 105 Bhp @5250 rpm

Torque:
11.3 Kgm @3800 rpm\ 18 Kgm @3800 rpm\ 15.6 Kgm @3800 rpm

Thumbs Up:
Space and ride quality

Thumbs Down:
Price and the under powered engine

Head on Competitors:
Honda Jazz, Hyundai i20 and Volkswagen Polo

The Catch:
Rs 5.1 lakhs to 6.2 lakhs

Skoda Laura

For quite a while Skoda Laura had created a monopoly of its own under its segment. Reason was very clear that Skoda Laura is the only car in this category which is available in a diesel option and not just any diesel option it’s the power pack 2.0 litre diesel engine. This engine is mated with either the 6 speed manual or automatic transmission. Besides the diesel engine, this car is also available in 1.8 litre petrol engine. Both the engines perform exceptionally well. Skoda Laura in looks is quite similar to Skoda Superb. The interiors of this car are class apart. As far as the comfort of one and all is concerned, with the awesome ride quality this car is also available with the various comfort features. I know there is a tough competition between Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Jetta and Honda Civic but according to me the clear winner is  Skoda Laura.

Engine Options:
1798cc\ 1968cc\ 1968cc (AT)

Powertrain:
6 speed manual\ 5 speed manual\ 6 speed automatic

Power:
158.5 Bhp @4500 rpm\ 110 Bhp @4200 rpm\ 138.5 Bhp @4000 rpm

Torque:
25.3 Kgm @1500 rpm\ 25.3 Kgm @1500 rpm\ 32.5 Kgm @2500 rpm

Thumbs Up:
Engine performance and ride quality

Thumbs Down:
Uncomfortable rear seats.

Head on Competitors:
Volkswagen Jetta, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla Altis

The Catch:
Rs 13.1 lakhs to Rs 17 lakhs

Skoda Yeti

This four wheel drive and five seater all new SUV has managed to grab enough eyeballs to rack up the bookings for it. When I first heard the name I was expecting a big and muscular SUV but then I came to know that it is one of the compact SUV’s available in town, so I think they could have done much better to find a suitable name which lives up to its identity. Anyways, this SUV looks simply beautiful with its finely crafted compact body. Though the aggressive looks are missing but still this SUV manages to grab enough attention. This SUV is designed on the same platform as that of Skoda Laura, so as an effect, this SUV is also blessed with the same diesel engine. The off road ability of this vehicle is really good and also the ride quality. What I sorely missed in this SUV is the automatic transmission option. Also the seven seating arrangement if available, will boost its sales prospects even more.

Engine Options:
1968cc

Powertrain:
6 speed manual

Power:
140 Bhp @4200 rpm

Torque:
32.7 Kgm @2500 rpm

Thumbs Up:
Performance and handling

Thumbs Down:
Seating option and the unimposing stance.

Head on Competitors:
Tata Aria, Premier Rio

The Catch:
Rs 15.1 lakhs to Rs 17.1 lakhs

Skoda Superb

Ok what will you get if we add, the space of Mercedes S Class, features of Mercedes E Class and a reasonable price against it? The answer is Skoda Superb. The looks of this car is simply elegant and upmarket. This car is available in three engine options. All the three engines deliver excellent performance especially the V6 engine with all wheel drive option. The overall performance of this car is again amazing. Besides the ride quality of this car is really good and to add to that this car is available with a comfortable seating option with lots of space. It won’t be wrong to say that this car has been truly christened according to its performance or rather I should say that this car truly lives upto its name.

Engine Options:
1798cc\ 1968cc\ 3598cc

Powertrain:
6 speed DSG\ 6 speed automatic

Power:
158.5 Bhp @4500 rpm\ 138.5 Bhp @4000 rpm\ 258 Bhp @6000 rpm

Torque:
25.3 Kgm @1500 rpm\ 32.3 Kgm @1750 rpm\ 35.3 Kgm @2500 rpm

Thumbs Up:
Performance of all three engines, ride quality and handling.

Thumbs Down:
After sales service

Head on Competitors:
Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Passat and Nissan Teana

The Catch:
Rs 18 lakhs to Rs 26.8 lakhs

All about Driving License

Section 9, of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 and rules 14 to 17 of the Central Motor Vehicle rules, 1989 deal with the grant of a driving license.

Under S.9 of the act, as is the case with learners license, person who shall make an application to the licensing authority which has jurisdiction over the area where either his house is situation or which is his principal place of business.  The application needs to be in the form prescribed the Central Government and shall be accompanied by the documents and fee prescribed by the same.

Rule 14 of C.M.V. rules, 1989 prescribed for the form and other requisite of an application for a driving license.  The application is to be made in form 4 which is available with the licensing authority.  The application in form 4 shall be accompanied by:

  • A valid learners license to drive the vehicle of the type to which the application relates
  • Appropriate fee as is specified under rule 32. (Rs. 40 plus any additional charges prescribed by the licensing authority).
  • Three copies of applicants recent passport sizes photograph
  • Driving certificate from the driving school or establishment from where the applicant has obtained instruction.
  • Medical certificate (in certain exceptional circumstances)
  • Any other relevant document that the licensing authority may require and ask for.

As is the case with a learner license, even in case of driving license, as prescribed by S.8 the applicant has to pass the test prescribed by the Central Government.  The nature and scope of this test has been laid down under. Test Of Competence : To Drive,  R. 15 of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989 stipulates that any applicant for a Driving License must pass a ‘Test of Competence to Drive’ to be conducted by the Licensing Authority or a person authorized in this behalf. The applicant can appear for the test only after having held a Learner’s License for at least 30 days. The test has to be passed in a vehicle of the type to which the application for the driving license relates. In order to pass the test the applicant must convince the authority conducting the exercise that he is capable of: –

  1. Fiddle with the rear-view mirror;
  2. Taking adequate preventative measures before turning on the engine;
  3. Move away smoothly and safely straight while maintaining an angle, and in the same vein reaching the top gear with relative ease;
  4. To change to lower gears in a swift motion from the ultimate gear when the traffic situation calls for such a change;
  5. Swiftly change to lower gears while treading downhill;
  6. Stop and re-start the automobile on an inclined road with the optimum use of the hand brake or the foot-brake or the throttle without sliding back.
  7. Turn left and right corners in a correct fashion and make the optimum use of rear-view mirror prior to signaling;
  8. Overtake or allow being overtaken, cover or meet the path of vehicles on the road safely and take timely measures with proper signaling;
  9. Indicate proper traffic signal at the proper time in unmistakable and clear manner by electrical indicator or hand;
  10. Changes the path with due care and proper signals;
  11. Bring to a halt the vehicle in an emergency situation or otherwise, for the latter bringing the vehicle to a rest at proper course on the street safely and give appropriate signals;
  12. In events where the car has a reverse gear, driving the car in the backward direction in to a narrow opening to the left or right with reasonable accuracy and control;
  13. Make the car face in the reverse direction by virtue of reverse and forward gears;
  14. Take prompt and correct action by relating to traffic signals, policemen, traffic controller, traffic lights and take proper actions on the signals given by  the rest of the vehicles on the road
  15. Act in an appropriate manner at pedestrians who are crossing, which may not be regulated by the traffic lights or traffic police;
  16. Always keep left while driving normally;
  17. Change the speed according to traffic and road conditions;
  18. Demonstrate the general control over the car by smooth gear shifting and confident steering and braking appropriately;
  19. Make appropriate use of the rear-view mirror prior to signaling, altering course, moving away, maneuvering, beginning, stopping, turning and overtaking;
  20. Use the appropriate side while turning left or right at any junction of driving straight on the road;
  21. Make appropriate use of horn, steering, brakes, gears, clutch and accelerator;
  22. Able to anticipate the future actions of drivers and pedestrians of cyclist and other vehicles;
  23. Demonstrate a good presence of mind and being not distracted and be able to concentrate while driving;
  24. Show consideration and courtesy for the convenience and safety of others on the roads, such as pedestrians, drivers of other motor vehicle or cyclists.

Under S.8 (7) of the M.V. act, when the application is duly made and the applicant has satisfied the authority of his competence to drive, the licensing authority shall issue the applicant a driving license (unless the applicant is disqualified from holding a license). As per rule 16 of the C.M.V. rules, every driving license shall be in form 6.  However, if the authorities have the necessary apparatus for the issue of a laminated card type driving license, such card type driving license shall be in form 7.

Tata Safari Dicor in India Review


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What do you do when you want to relax? This ain’t an interview question but then a general one. Many would say that they watch TV, catch up with friends and blah blah blah. My personal way to unwind is to go on long rides or drives and that too alone. Not everyone gets the privilege to do so. But then your choice of wheels also decide if you are going to office or just unwinding. Think of any car and you would be hard pressed for choices for a set of wheels which would do both the chores with ease. My choice of wheels would have been a Tata Safari. The reason been that it does look like an expensive vehicle which can be taken out on weekends and even regularly for office. Why not a Scorpio? Just because it is too intimidating for everyday use. Just to check the same thing, I got a loan Tata Safari Dicor from Tata Motors. This vehicle was with the Indiandrives team for a week. Now, the Tata Safari Dicor in India needs no introduction since it has been famously associated with carrying many dignitaries as well as not so much distinguished people. So here is the review of the SUV which changed the mindset of the Indian car buying public. Check on Road Price

Looks

The Tata Safari 2010 model would be the last one to sport this design. It has been often reported that the Tata Safari 2011 model would be a complete revamp though the engine option will remain the same. The Tata Safari Dicor model that I had was the 2010 model. The looks of the SUV have remained virtually unchanged from the time it was introduced in the Indian market. The grille is the typical chrome unit with the Tata logo on it. The head lamps over the years have become clear lens units. The fog lamps are placed in the bumper of this vehicle and have a unique triangular shape to them. There is an aluminium skid plate located underneath the bumper signifying the SUV’s off-road capabilities.

The ground clearance of 205 mm is amply demonstrated from the side view. The 235/70 R16 tyre size of this SUV fills the wheel arches well. Moreover, the alloy wheel design has also remained more or less the same from yesteryears. The rear end also hasn’t undergone much change, more or less it has become curvy now. There is now a rear wiper. The spare wheel position has changed over the years and now it is back on the rear hatch. The chunky reflectors are now on the bumpers. On the rear climb cladding, there is a camera.

Interiors

This is where the sea change over the years have happened. If you happen to go over any automobile forums, you would realize that people are complaining of bad quality interiors which have a problem withstanding the rigors of time, bad plastics and the likes, in the Tata Safari. But then, I can tell you that Tata Motors are changing big time. Don’t trust me, have a look at the Tata Aria and you would come to know. Hop onto the interiors of the Tata Safari Dicor 2010 and you would realize that the interiors have actually changed. No, they still have a lot of catching up to do as far as the Germans are considered but I would still consider it as a stepping stone. The leather seats are the best this side of the Honda CR-V. I very much doubt if the Honda would retain its post as having the best seats in the business.

The 4 spoke steering wheel feels good to hold but then unlike the Mahindra Scorpio, it doesn’t boast of steering mounted audio controls. It has got that two slightly oval dials for the instrument cluster. Touch the surfaces and the softness from the materials is evident but then prod them and you would realize that they are made of hard substances. The central fascia boasts of a cheap looking (like the Logan) aluminium inserts. The gear stick lever is housed in a pod surrounded by aluminium inserts. For a 6 footer, adjusting into the seats of any car is a problem. But then not in the Tata Safari. Behind the front head rests for the middle row of passengers, there are DVD screens. The single CD changer system boasts of AUX and USB input. The sound output was good but then if this was my personal vehicle, for a lifestyle image, I would put in more speakers or upgrade the unit. The rear seats are the best in the business.There is a central arm rest now for the passengers. AC vents from the pillars help cool the atmosphere inside pretty quickly. The last row of seats are opposite facing ones with hinges. With all row of seats been used, there is practically only 120 liters of boot space but then fold the seats and tumble down the middle row and you get a humongous 1380 liters of boot space.

Handling and ride quality

The Tata Safari 2010 model has torsion bar up front with independent double wishbones and at the rear, coil spring suspension with 5 links. The Tata Safari in India is built on the body on ladder frame used typically for SUVs. The steering wheel in the earlier Tata Safaris was vague enough but not in the 2010 model. It has got some feedback dialed into it at high speeds. Piloting the Tata Safari around in town is quite a handful. This can be attributed to the heavy front end and the DICOR engine’s weight. If you go with less expectations from this vehicle, the more happy you would be. Due to its top heavy nature, this SUV rolls and then rolls some more while going around a fast corner. Don’t be fooled by its big tyres. I actually saved myself from an accident during one of those hooligan antics that I was trying on this SUV. Thank God.  The shift on fly 4×4 mode doesn’t want you to stop the SUV and then engage it. As the name suggests, you can shift it on the go with no speed restrictions.

The best thing that you can expect is the ride quality. It is top notch and all smothering. Be it in the town or on the highway, nothing can ruffle the Tata Safari’s chassis. The best thing is that the engine is also quiet till the 100 kmph mark but then onwards it takes on a gruff note. Unlike the Indigo XL where you put the blower on full speed and it becomes noisy at the rear, the Safari’s unit is muted enough. Under heavy braking duress, the vehicle has a tendency to pitch and bob.


Engine, performance and fuel efficiency

Tata Motors have done well to remove the older 3 liter as well as 3 liter diesel engines, not to forget the 2 liter petrol engine as well from the Tata Safari’s arsenal. It now gets a single 2.2 liter VTT  DICOR engine. It is a 16 valve unit which produces 140 Bhp of peak power @ 4000 rpm and a huge 320 Nm of torque from as low as 1700 rpm. It is mated to a 5 speed manual transmission. Gone is the lazy demeanor of the earlier motors, this motor actually shows an eagerness. Where words like the sleeping giant were used for the earlier motors, this one is entirely different. The 0-100 kmph mark is decimated in only 15.8 seconds whereas the top speed that it punches stands at 158 kmph. The best thing that this motor does is, cruise all day long at 100 kmph. The gearshifts are still a bit rubbery as well as long but then the ratios are optimised. To overcome the slight turbo lag, the first three gears are paired shortly whereas the last two are a slight long to help in cruising comfortably. Idle was a bit of gravelly but when the SUV did warm up, the noise vanished.

Brakes, a Tata’s time honored problem has been rectified to quite an extent but then it still remains. The travel is long before anything actually happens. But then shove them hard and the wheels won’t lock up as in the earlier models. This is due to the presence of ABS and EBD. The ABS hasn’t been exactly calibered to be a perfect unit. So relying only on the ABS to sort out things would infact make the situation worse. Safety has gone up notches with 2 air bags, collapsible steering column, tailor banked metal sheets and the 3 point seat belts. Not to forget the reverse camera as well.

Fuel efficiency has increased manifold with the Tata Safari DICOR engine now boasting of 11.2 kmpl in city and 16.4 kmpl on the highway.

Verdict

The Tata Safari DICOR in India is an example of how a homegrown SUV can take on the likes of foreign ones. It is a complete product and one which boasts of having a feature list long enough to rival the Skoda Yeti. It has that superb off-roading mechanism. The fly in the ointment would be the reliability factor, plastic and build quality. Tata Motors have done well to eliminate most of the turbo lag present in this vehicle and have also got the Tata Safari to have a nice ride quality. The Safari now feels nice to drive. With all this legacy behind it, the Tata Safari 2011 model would have an uphill task. In a bid to clear the existing stock of the old Tata Safaris, the company have slashed prices across the range. The Tata Safari price starts from Rs 7,15,165  to Rs 11,84,504. All these prices are ex-show room, Mumbai. The Tata Safari price would be the single factor as of now due to which it may be selling in good numbers for the company. There are 12 variants of this SUV and all have material as well as 4×4 platform difference.

Honda’s all-new Jazz seen jazzing around the capital

The latest pictures, captured by an automobile buff, of the all-new Honda Jazz doing a stray on the streets of Noida shows a taped-up frontal side of the face-lifted model. But the fog lights and the narrow grille on the chin are evident to the eyes even on a partially hidden car. The face-lifted Jazz in other markets around the word has restyled tail-lamps, but the latest test car captured on a roll had contemporary tail-lamps. Rear end of the car seems to be left alone during the face-lifting process. Barring India, the Honda Jazz is equipped with 1.5 liter engine with minor tweaks been done to improve the fuel economy. We are not sure if the Indian one would sport a 1.5 liter engine from the City. Other improvements in the mechanics department includes the steering set up and the suspension settings to improve the sense of the car. With the CVT transmission already in other markets, it is highly likely that the new-Honda Jazz will be fitted with it here as well.

Old wine in a new bottle, C-class to be re-launched with minor face-lifts

The C-class saloon from the German auto major Mercedes-Benz will be officially launched in the month of March this year. The pictures revealed by the company is a United States-specific model, and the car that will find its way to the Indian shores is expected to retain its features and attributes almost intact. The updates that have been done on the car are very modest to say the least for a new model of the year. Most of the changes that have been ordained are under the cover. With this regards,  Mercedes-Benz will offer a range of all-fresh diesel and petrol engines. Tweaks in the design are limited to LED lamps down at the bottom, faintly restyled headlamps and a new aluminum hood. The updates on the aesthetic parts of the rear are barely evident. On the interiors, the all new C-class gets a new surface granule and integrated screen in the restyled dashboard. In tune with the next generation Telematics, the new car will be available with Hi-Res color display in the gadget huddle. Apart from the latest engines, the saloon gets new DAS (Driver Assistance Systems) such as Parktronic help, Blind Spot Assistance, Lane keeping Assist and Attention Assist to keep a vigil on the road. The face-lifted New Mercedes-Benz C-class will be unveiled next month at the motor show in Geneva.

For Mercedes enthusiasts, the sales figure of the car in the month of December 2010 was 141 units.

The Dooms day predictor is here, CHANGER to be launched on 15th February

With global warming on a rampage creating havoc all over the world, the world leaders are mulling on how to plug the ever increasing green house gases. For our first time readers, Green house gases are those gases which traps the sunlight and do not let it refract from the others in atmosphere and in the process heat up the biosphere. This leads to a rise in temperature of air and oceanic water causing cyclones, hurricanes, floods etc.

Various technologies have been floated around to stop this menace. But here come a master of all the dooms day predictor, it may be dubbed as “CHANGER” a calculator, to measure the green house gases designed and developed by Switzerland based IRF (International Road Federation), will be made public at the capital on 15 February.

The calculator is capable of assisting in estimating the emission levels of greenhouse gases at the stages of road construction procedure. Methane, carbon-di-oxide and some other gases comprises the majority of green house gases.

The calculator is the flagship venture of the IRF and it stands for “Calculator for Harmonized Assessment and Normalization of Greenhouse Gas Emissions” and match up to a hoary need on the part of specialist in the industry for a reliable and comprehensive instrument for appraising unswerving greenhouse gas emanation which are created during the procedure of building roads, with a vision to curtail the gas emanations.

Chairman of IRF, Mr. K.K.Kapila was quoted as saying, albeit easy and simple in usage and affordably priced, CHANGER bears incredible guarantee with respect of its prospective to rally a global quarter round efforts to accomplish cumulative diminution in greenhouse gases on a level, proportionate with the echelon and exigency of the confrontation  our planet is facing.

Budding nation states counting India have to erect a colossal system of infrastructure in the next 10 to 20 years to trim down the voyage distance and time for moving products, people and other materials from one place to another . Nevertheless, for each kilo meter of this new-fangled but conventionally assembled roads, thousands of pounds of resources such as amassed steel, bitumen, concrete and stone, are needed, shunning  all of the diesel energy vital to power the equipment and to transfer resources, to and from the development site. This releases tonnes of greenhouse gases and swallows valuable natural assets.

The information war on cars heats up in the virtual world

Vizisense, the platform for advertising measurement and online audience from Komli Media, has just released a tailored description on the online consumer behavior of probable car buyers in the country. The report is said to have scrutinized the online commotion of a group of 5000 users. The report was titled as “The virtual world of Car Buyers”. The survey was conducted over a span of 6 months from amongst the Indian panel of Vizisense, which numbers 1, 10,000 users.

According to the report, automobile portals in the country- including autonomous websites such as cardekho.com and carwale.com and also the indigenous websites of the car makers- saw a tremendous flow of traffic which was an increase of over 50 percent in the year 2010. During this period the passenger car sector witnessed a growth rate of 31 percent, according to statistics made available by SIAM (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers).

For the purpose of the study, Vizisense has considered those as potential buyers who have either frequented more than unitary number of automobile sites in a month, or have frequented a particular automobile site more than one time in a given month, or those who have searched for a specific car model or brand.

The regularity of new car offerings in the year 2010 and the never-out-of-focus digital parlance by car makers around these initiations also guaranteed greater toe-hold in frequency of visits to their respective websites.

The surge signifies the use of virtual display-rooms by probable car buyers to gather information and make informed decision with respect to their purchase.

Key revelations of the report included:

  • A colossal 33% of all prospective online automobile shoppers are attracted in cars exceeding Rs 6 lakhs mark.
  • Coimbatore, Indore and Chandigarh are the important cities further than the top 8 metropolis which oversaw high concentration from prospective online car purchasers.
  • Personal ownership familiarity – similar to word-of-mouth in the offline virtual world – of a fresh car buy, and service and dealership experiences was a larger influencing factor for prospective online car consumer than ‘expert’ car assessment (no offense to the pundits here).
  • Among the car makers, the Tata Motors online chattels witnessed the utmost interest in the midst of prospective online car shoppers.

Vice President and General Manager of Vizisense, Mr. Amit Bhartiya was quoted as saying that the current class of car shoppers search for more information with respect to cars, would like to match up features and attributes from corner to corner across segment and also seek out immediate ownership experience to formulate nippy, conversant decisions. Automobile portals play a colossal character in assisting to get information, evaluation of features and attributes athwart segments and personal car holder’s experiences. They have surpassed the moment of truth of in general of car buying sequence. The freshly closed purchase of Carwale.com is a testimony to the ever more imperative role of the internet in swaying purchase decision.

Buyers Guide for Mitsubishi

The year 1998 has been marked with the entry of one of the famous and one of the largest car manufacturers in Indian market, Mitsubishi Motors. This company is a joint venture of Mitsubishi Keiretsu Motors of Japan and Hindustan Motors of India. All the vehicles of this company have their own distinct characteristic. Though Mitsubishi has always been famous for the pricey vehicles and is also termed as one of the less competitive brand because of the same. So today lets explore that why is it so that this brand has marked each of its vehicle a bit higher than their peers.

Mitsubishi Evo-X

Ok so tell me what do you expect out of family car, sedan to be specific? Average interiors, average power, average ride quality and average features, right? So, in a way this car becomes one of its kind cars. This car is tagged as the family car by the company but this car delivers a 300Bhp of maximum power, has the ability of crossing the 100 kmph mark in just 6.4 seconds and what not. I simply don’t understand the need to term it as a family. Even the looks of this car is one of those sports cars available in the market. But still the demand of this car is less than expected. Oh what did you say just now, Rs 51 lakhs ok, thank you bye bye. May be this is the reason behind its not so happy sales. Anyways, this car possesses amazing looks, like the cars seen in those gaming arcades. To top it up this car is blessed with the ultimate grip and handling like those of super cars. The cabin provides a luxurious feel though it isn’t tagged as one. Ultimately this car is a purchase directed from heart but not mind because if you are going to use your brain then I’m sure you’re not going to take this car home.



Engine Options:

1998cc

Powertrain:
6 speed automatic

Power:
290 Bhp @3700 rpm

Torque:
37.3 Kgm @3500 rpm

Thumbs Up:
The ultimate driving experience it delivers.

Thumbs Down:

Price

Head on Competitors:
Mercedes E-class, BMW 5 series

The Catch:
Rs 51 lakhs

Mitsubishi Pajero

Launched in 2002 this car has grown old enough to leave the market for the new and modern SUV’s in town. But this car still holds the sales department in its category. Why? The reason is simple this car has what these modern SUV’s lack. This SUV has enough grunt to keep these newly manufactured vehicles at bay. Also this car is a darling when we talk about the off-road ability of it. Though this SUV sings another tune on road but still this car is definitely  amongst the best SUVs available in India. This SUV is available in only a single engine option. The engine performs really well but ‘still can do better’ tag is attached to it. The ride is little bit bumpy, interiors are little out of date and the dynamics makes you realise that this is not a modern SUV. Anyways if you have the real passion for driving off roads, then this is amongst the best possible option.

Engine Options:
2835cc

Powertrain:
5 speed manual

Power:
117 Bhp @4000 rpm

Torque:
29.7 Kgm @2000 rpm

Thumbs Up:
Off road skills

Thumbs Down:

Interiors, lacks in power

Head on Competitors:
Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour

The Catch:
Rs 20.1 lakhs

Mitsubishi Outlander

Mitsubishi Lancer has been famous for its handling, ride quality and steering feedback.  The same can be assured about the Mitsubishi Outlander as it has been developed on the same platform as that of Lancer. This SUV delivers an ultimate on road performance unlike Mitsubishi Pajero which also falls under the same price tag. The petrol engine of this SUV is very efficient. This SUV has been blessed with the aggressive and sporty look. Interiors of this SUV are really comfortable and offer a quality ride. The problem of this car is the very feature that makes it unique from others which is the CVT. Also this continuously variable transmission makes it a less fuel efficient vehicle. So, this SUV is good but it can still do better, I mean I would still prefer Mitsubishi Pajero over it anytime.

Engine Options:
2360cc

Powertrain:
CVT with paddle shifts

Power:
167 Bhp @6000 rpm

Torque:
23 Kgm @4100 rpm

Thumbs Up:

Appeal, ride quality, handling and engine performance

Thumbs Down:
CVT seems to be a bit irritating, not very fuel efficient.

Head on Competitors:
Honda CR-V and Nissan X-Trail

The Catch:
Rs 20 lakhs

Mitsubishi Montero

One of my friend said that Mitsubishi Montero comes for a price of Audi Q7. I didn’t believe it but it’s somewhat true. This seven seater SUV from one of the largest manufacturers is available in the range of Rs 38 lakhs to Rs 41 lakhs. Except for the Toyota Prado, this is the only big size SUV which is available at such price. This SUV is a well built and well crafted vehicle. This SUV is well known for its ability on highways. It is one of the perfect vehicles for off road experience. Ride quality is a bit average but to compensate that the inside has been equipped with many comfort features which will keep you engrossed to forget about the ride quality. So it delivers less but charges more. Rest you are capable enough to understand.



Engine Options:

3200cc

Powertrain:
5 speed manual\ automatic

Power:
165 Bhp @3500 rpm

Torque:
39.3 Kgm @2000 rpm

Thumbs Up:
Off road ability and the comfort.

Thumbs Down:
Price

Head on Competitors:
Audi Q5, Toyota Prado and Land Rover Freelander 2

The Catch:
Rs 38 lakhs to Rs 40.5 lakhs

Mitsubishi Lancer

Mitsubishi Lancer is according to me, the oldest Mitsubishi vehicle in India. Still this car manages to scrape through the sales figures. No, it’s not still out from the market yet, as it is still available in the BSIII cities. The age marks are clearly visible on its body and the signs of its ageing are quite prominent. No wonder there are many other options available in town as it is just available in BSIII cities. This car was earlier known for its overall performance but now under the influence of better and newer vehicles in this category it is nowhere even close to the good overall performance tag. The best features about this car would be the space provided inside and the ride quality it offers. Beside the rest of the things are shady for me, you decide yours.

Engine Options:
1468cc\ 1998cc

Powertrain:

5 speed manual

Power:
88 Bhp @5500 rpm\ 67 Bhp @4500 rpm

Torque:
12.9 Kgm @3000 rpm\ 12 Kgm @3000 rpm

Thumbs Up:

Space and ride quality

Thumbs Down:
Style and overall performance

Head on Competitors:
Suzuki SX4

The Catch:
Rs 7.5 lakhs to Rs 8.5 lakhs

Mitsubishi Lancer Cedia

Unlike its predecessor, Mitsubishi Lancer Cedia is one of the coolest sedans available in town. This car is available in only a single engine option. But this engine works absolutely fine for this car. Performance is really good. Unlike just the Lancer, Lancer Cedia has a great overall performance. The look of this car is sporty and aggressive. But then the price of this car is a bit of hesitation for its purchase decision. I guess the company should start rethinking over its pricing strategy in order to be more competitive in the market. Anyways, as far as the negative aspects of this car are concerned, it is bit pricey and also has a bit of bumpy ride quality.



Engine Options:

1999cc

Powertrain:
5 speed manual

Power:
114 Bhp @5250 rpm

Torque:
17.2 Kgm @4250 rpm

Thumbs Up:
Overall performance

Thumbs Down:
Bumpy ride and its price.

Head on Competitors:
Skoda Octavia and Honda City

The Catch:

Rs 9 lakhs