Nissan Leaf launched in Japan

Nissan Motor Corporation have a technological innovation with them and it is aptly named as the Nissan Leaf in keeping with the theme of it been a green vehicle. This vehicle was earlier launched in the US market to gauge its response and it passed with flying colors. So much so that within its launch, about 5000 bookings were received. Now, Nissan Motor Corporation have decided to launch this car in their hometown, Japan.  It has been launched in Japan on December 21, 2010. It has received 6000 bookings so far and the first vehicle would be delivered to its owner before the end of this year.

For adding more convenience to this vehicle, the company has installed 200-volt normal chargers at their dealerships and mind you, there are around 2,200 Nissan dealers in Japan. 220 of this very high tech outlets will have a facility of quick chargers that can recharge the battery in about 30 minutes and upto 80% of its capacity. The next level for this company would be to get as many as charging outlets so that people buying this car wouldn’t have to worry about their charging points. Nissan Motor Corporation is also thinking of having a JV with Mitsubishi Motors who also have their new electric vehicle namely the i-MiEV EV for having quick chargers which would charge the vehicles for about 70% of their capacity. There are about 70 Mitsubishi dealers who would benefit from this venture. By this deal, the owners of both the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and also the Nissan Leaf would have a ease of convenience wherein which they can get their vehicles charged at any of the Nissan or Mitsubishi outlets.

To enhance the appeal for their car, the company also has a navigation system installed on the Nissan Leaf which would give them direct routes for a charging point. For a flat monthly fee of $18, the company also provides for information about the charging facilities. Currently the Nissan Leaf only has a range of 200 kms on a full charge. The good news is that the Nissan Leaf would soon be launched in the Indian market as well. That they are already are on the thinking path of getting as many as of their vehicles in India is a sure shot way of garnering up their sales. They are also in the process of opening about 3 show rooms in various Indian cities in a month. The pricing of this vehicle would also hold a key since for the price conscious Indian market, it is a make or break for any car manufacturer.

Mahindra Thar, the desert safari finally arrived

Mahindra and Mahindra are famous for their jeeps and off road vehicles. Their recent acquisition of Ssangyong Motors has all the more given them access to international range of SUVs. However what surprised us was their recent launch in India on December 21, 2010. It wasn’t an international SUV but their very own old school SUV, the Mahindra Thar. It would be available in two variants and these are dependent on where you reside. If you reside in the urban areas, you would get the Mahindra Thar CRDe 4×4 version or even the Mahindra Thar CRDe 4×2 version. For the rural public, their off-roading set of wheels would be the Mahindra Thar DI 4×2 and Mahindra Thar DI 4×4 variants. The reason for this has got to do more with the emission norms rather than positioning of the vehicles.

The Mahindra Thar vehicle takes its inspiration from its own range of vehicles namely the MM540/MM550. We do remember going on a safari in the Gir forests with the former and what fun it was. They are actually trend setters in their own category. They are quite reliable as well. The Mahindra Thar also wants to build up on its qualities and is thinking on attaining cult status as well. The Mahindra Thar has a short foot print at 5.25 meters of turning radius. Its departure angle is 30 degrees and its approach angle is 46 degrees. The seating capacity of this off-roader is 7 however the comfortability factor would have to be taken into count considering its an open top vehicle. It would most probably be used for all those filmi stunts wherein the goons are chasing the hero and he is running for his dear life. Jokes apart, it would be lapped up by the people who run desert safaris. The Mahindra Thar CRDe 4×4 version or the Mahindra Thar CRDe 4×2 version would appeal more to the urban hippies and hip hop crowd who would be looking for the cool quotient factor away from those crores that they spend on their set of wheels.

The Mahindra Thar DI 4×2 and the Mahindra Thar DI 4×4 use a 1.5 liter diesel engine producing 63 bhp@ 3200 rpm and 182 Nm of torque at 1540 rpm. Since it would be used more for the rural usage, it is tuned for BS3 emission norms whereas the Mahindra Thar CRDe 4×4 version and the Mahindra Thar CRDe 4×2 version are tuned for BS4 emission norms and make do with a 2.5 liter engine which produces 105 bhp @ 3600 rpm and a cool 252 Nm of torque from as low as 1700-2000 rpm. The former engine is available in the Mahindra Bolero whereas the latter is offered in both the Mahindra Xylo and the Mahindra Bolero as well. The latter would also be one of the most powerful engines offered in India for an open top SUV.

A novelty feature offered in the Mahindra Thar is the AC ducts, inner piping linings and also space for fitting in an AC. Unfortunately these would be after market stuff but wouldn’t void the warranty offered by the manufacturer. The soft top is also designed in such a way that it would be able to take in the load of the AC and wouldn’t allow air to pass through. The Mahindra Thar has been launched in the cities of New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Mangalore, Jaipur, Chandigarh and Cochin. The rest of the country would have to wait till January 2011.

The icing on the cake is that you are getting a true blue off roader at Rs 4.47 lakh for the Mahindra Thar DI 4×2 version and Rs 5.99 lakh for the Mahindra Thar CRDe 4×4 version. All these are ex-Mumbai prices.

MAHINDRA THAR CRDE 4×4

Displacement: I-4, CRDE, 2498cc
Max power: 105 bhp @ 3800 rpm
Max torque: 250 Nm @ 1800-2000 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed manual

STEERING

Type: power assist with Rack and pinion
Turning radius: 5.25 m

SUSPENSION

Rear: leaf springs with Semi-elliptical coil
Front: stabilizer bars and independent with torsion

TYRES: P 235/70 R16, tubeless

BRAKES

Front: Ventilated Discs
Rear: self adjusting Drums

DIMENSIONS

L/W/H (mm): 3930/1720/1940
Wheelbase: 2450 mm
Track (F/R): 1445/1346 mm
Approach/Departure Angle: 46 deg/30 deg

Continuaton of the Nissan ULC project

Earlier we had reported about the Nissan Motors India Limited’s plans about the low cost car. Well, now we have unearthed another part of a scoop wherein the company would not be parterning with Ashok Leyland, their old partner, for this project. The reason given is that Ashok Leyland doesn’t want to be a part of the project. The Hindujas feel that the segment in which they are trying to put their hands is highly competitive and they may end up burning their hands. For this very reason, Nissan Motors India Limited thinks that they may be looking out for a new partner or may even go solo in this project. This small car would be positioned below the Nissan Micra which is been projected as a more up market car. However the car in discussion now would be positioned above the ULC. It would be more on the lines of Maruti A-star, Maruti Wagon R, Maruti Estilo, Hyundai Santro, Hyundai I10 and the likes of Chevrolet and Ford small cars.

This multi crore investment project is aimed at starting a new product range for India with the small car setting off the project. Apart from the Nissan Micra, the company also exports the Maruti A-star under a different name and nose job. This car is known as the Nissan Pixo. It is exported to Europe. As of now Nissan Motors India Limited are doing research, model positioning and product viability. They are also conducting customer clinics to have a view from across sections. Till now, the company has received positive feedback. They would also now have to check out for a new design for this car. For a small car, the quality of materials used and ones befitting the Nissan badge would also have to be adhered to. The new car would be priced between Rs.3.0 – Rs.3.5 lakhs. Watch out this space for more information.

Tata Nano receives the best international design award


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What a better way to receive appreciation than to be appreciated by an international personality. This is the same which happened with one of the Indian cars. Nah, it isn’t one of those big international names doing business in India. It is our very own Tata Motors and the product is none other than the world famous small car, the Tata Nano. This honor was bestowed on the Tata Nano by the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design with the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.

Tata Motors CEO Ratan Tata said in a press statement that this award was conferred on the Tata Nano due to the reason that even though what its small exterior dimensions may suggest, the car still has enough space to seat 4 inside with reasonable comfort. It also has one of the most fuel efficient engines in India. It is even more spacious than the other smallest car in India, namely the Maruti 800. Sales of this car were dented recently due to the car catching fire incidents and some reports of fuel efficiency been not upto the mark thing. However Tata Motors were quick to rectify this situation by adding a fuse to the electrical circuit and also a heat guard over the silencer. To improve the appeal of this small car, the company also recently started giving the car over the shelf and for those opting for finance, the company itself started dishing out a special finance scheme wherein which the prospect can get his/her loan approved within 48 hours.

This is definitely a moment of pride for India wherein the designed in India Tata Nano gets such accolades.

Mitsubishi Outlander in India Test drive

Mitsubishi Motors may have been the top in rallying and other stuff however their Indian subsidiary, Mitsubishi Motors India didn’t quite make an impact with their Indian operations. They did tie up with Hindustan Motors and launched their car, the Mitsubishi Lancer. The Mitsubishi Lancer was quite ahead of its time and the Indian public lapped it up. It was a favorite of the tuner market as well. Carrying on its racing pedigree it even won many of the races, albeit unofficial ones. It had good space however anemic and fuel efficient engines. Mitsubishi Motors India did realize too late that they need to get their cars upgraded to match the modern standards. They did launch the their old warhorse, the Mitsubishi Pajero with a refreshed theme inside and two tone color design. They also slashed its price and made it more competitive. It is one of the best suvs in the Indian market however as was the case with its sedan sibling, it too eventually lost out to more modern and cheaper rivals. Now, the Mitsubishi Cedia, the replacement for the Mitsubishi Lancer is a rare sight in the Indian market. Recently the company launched the Mistubishi Outlander in India and then later on the Mitsubishi Montero. The former is of greater importance now especially since it would be competing with the very desirable Honda CR-V and the Chevrolet Captiva. Well, the gleaming new Mistubishi Outlander in India was brought to our office by one of the PR people from Mitsubishi Motors India and was handed over for a test drive. It actually made heads turn over in the whole parking lot. Here comes the Mitsubishi Outlander test drive report.

Looks

The old Mitsubishi Outlander was a handsome soft roader however Mitsubishi have gone radical and have very much adopted the same design language that the other companies have taken up. It has now got a Evolution series like fighter jet face. Hmm.this is what caught everyone’s fancy. Err…..it is too much in your face styling. Famous Indian designer Rohit Bal has endorsed the new Mitsubishi Outlander in India. The huge gaping nose reminds one of the Audi goatee grille. It has got a chrome outline and a heavy horizontal ridge. The bonnet is quite curvy and swoopy. The bumper is integrated neatly and has a chrome brushed skid plate covering its underneath region.Just above it, housed in their own compartments lie the fog lamps. Oh, lest I forget, the head lamps are those powerful HID units and ones which are elegantly designed.

The outside rear view mirrors now have turn indicators embedded into them.Those flared wheel arches however have only subtle looking alloy wheels in them.They are of the 16 inch Dunlop types.The spare wheel is a space saver unit which is made up of steel. Chrome plated roof rails are also standard. This car features body colored handles and mirrors. There is a black plastic running board and a chrome scuff running across its length.

Ummh, now the rear end has a slightly Honda Jazz type of look. The rear windscreen is also huge and has a single wiper assisting it with the wiping duties. The talking point is the huge stack of LED tail lamps which emphasize the futuristic looks of this car. The Mitsubishi Outlander in India comes with a skid plate at the rear as well and twin tail pipes. Classic is the placement of the reflectors at the rear which actually feel like the stop lamps.

Interiors

Welcoming me to the interiors was the nicely molded lighting. The interiors feature a fresh new theme which takes away the gloom from the earlier car.The instruments are embedded deep in the dashboard. They look sporty and certainly out of a sports car. The three spoke steering wheel has the audio, cruise controls and also the Bluetooth connectivity attached to it. It is also leather wrapped. There are also magnesium cased paddle shifts behind the wheels. Everything inside the cabin looks sporty. The instrument cluster is also tilted towards the driver. The pedals are also aluminium drilled. The steering wheel is adjustable for rake and reach. The interior trim level is also very good and the one I found the most interesting is the 9-speaker 650W Rockford-Fosgate audio system. There is also new door and dash trim with an arm rest for the driver. The head lamps are also of the adaptive lighting types.

The seats as before are comfortable holding my 6 foot 4 inches frame nicely. They are nicely bolstered and have good under thigh support. Not any material seems out of place and this SUV looks well built and would weather the Indian conditions very well in due course of time. The seats are adjustable for height and also have memory functions associated with them. Even the cubby holes{there are many of them} are nicely built and well layered. Moving onto the rear seats, they are remote adjustable. Wow! I spent the first 15 minutes in the back seat trying to gauge what a novelty it is. Speaking of novelty, another one is the panaromic sun roof. The rear seats are comfortable but been a true automobile junkie, I would like to be in the driver’s seat rather than anywhere else. This is a true 5 seater and hence no third row of seats. The boot space is very large and its stands at 560 liters. Enough to stow away the week’s grocery and save some of the space for your neighbors as well. The loading lip is high though but there is no suspension intrusion and helping the matters is also split arrangement of the rear seats. The split tail gate also addes to the convenience factor.

Handling and ride quality

Ahem!this is a soft roader to the core and as of such doesn’t feature any 4 wheel drive mode. It however has a temporary 4 wheel drive mode which helps power the rear wheels if they detect any slippage from the wheels. The steering wheel is light and does weigh up nicely at high speeds. Infact, it is more direct than the one in the Honda CR-V. This also has one of the minimum turning radius amongst the soft roaders at 5.3 meters. Emphasizing on the ride quality is the all independent gas suspension. It is a bit jiggly at low speeds and this must be due to the low kerb weight of the car. The Mitsubishi Outlander in India weighs only 1615.00 kgs. The ride quality increased considerably once the speeds arise. The handling is at par with the others in its class if not better. I have driven a Honda CR-V before and I was pretty much impressed with its dynamics. This car is no different. It doesn’t feel top heavy at all and does have an amazing control over body roll. This can be attributed to the presence of anti roll bars at both the front and rear end. This saying, the active stability control (ASC) also plays a major part in handling. This I felt can easily overshadow the handling offered by the Honda CR-V.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

The Mitsubishi Outlander in India uses a 2.4L, 16 valve MIVEC engine. Unfortunately there is no diesel option offered as of now. I personally feel that a diesel motor would have enhanced the appeal of this vehicle. This petrol motor makes 170 Bhp of peak power at 6000 rpm and a good torque of 226 Nm at 4100 rpm. It is mated with a 6 speed CVT combined with paddle shifters. This engine and transmission combination is brilliant in the city use with the SUV leaping forward with an eagerness found only in V6 powered engines. The throttle response is also good with part throttle inputs yielding results. This SUV leaps from 0-100 kmph in 9.8 seconds and touches a top speed of 176 kmph before running out of breath. The transmission is also a smooth operator inspite of not featuring dual clutch. The paddle shifters also help in deft overtaking ventures. They have a sort of confusing operating mode with push for shifting up and pull for down shifting. Maybe, I have got used to some of the other paddle shifters which do otherwise. Oh, by the way, MIVEC in Mitsubishi parlance means Mitsubishi Innovative Valve and Engine Control. It is the same as Ivtec or valve lift technology adopted by other manufacturers. The engine noise is also nicely suppressed and it is only after 4,00 rpm do you hear a snorty gnarl from the twin exhausts. This is something which I believe none of the owners would be concerned with.

Brakes are the industry norm, the ventilated discs at the front and the solid discs at the rear. Assisting it are the Electronic Brake Distribution {EBD}, ABS and the Active Stability Control {ASC}. Catering for the safety needs are the windows with anti pinch function, child locks, central locking, collapsible steering column, 4 air bags and 3 point seat belts.

Fuel efficiency is not that great inspite of use of friction reducing materials in the engine department. This big car manages 8.9 kmpl in the city and 13.6 kmpl on the highway. It actually burnt a hole in my pocket filling it up for the test. The accountant would also be a worried lot and would have a frown on the face when he sees me{He anyways always has the same for me}. Well, if you can afford a Rs.20 lakhs car then you would definitely wouldn’t care about fuel expenses.

Verdict

Now, I personally like the Honda CR-V and I felt that it is always the bench mark to beat. Now, I have come to love the Mitsubishi Outlander. It might have to do with the car been an exclusive kind and one which would draw attention to itself. Its new look no wonder help it achieve this in spades. It is comfortable and also well built. Enough to weather a storm and back. Has a good engine and gearbox with sufficient performance on tap.The fuel efficiency is not that good however and the service aspect needs attention since Mitsubishi Motors India doesn’t have a viable service network in India. It has that inevitable road presence that buyers in this segment would be looking out for and a sort of exclusivity. Its sticker price in India is Rs.20,95,000. This makes it cheaper by about Rs.3 lakhs from the Honda CR-V. It is also a CBU and later on next year, the company may also think of introducing the diesel power plant in the Mitsubishi Outlander in India.

Mitsubishi Outlander specifications

Engine Type: Petrol
Engine Description: 2.4 liter petrol with MIVEC technology
Engine Displacement(cc): 2360
No. of Cylinders: 4
Valves Per Cylinder: 4
Maximum Torque: 226 Nm @ 4200 rpm
Maximum Power: 170 Bhp @ 6200 rpm
Valve Configuration: DOHC
Fuel Supply System: MPFI
Turbo Charger: Yes
Transmission Type: Automatic CVT with Paddle Shifter
Gear box: Six Speed
Drive Type: Rear Wheel Drive
Front Suspension: MacPherson Coil Springs with Stablizer Bar and anti roll bar
Rear Suspension: Multi-Link Coil Spring with Stablizer Bar and anti roll bar
ShockAbsorbers Type: Independent Suspension 4-Wheel
Steering Type: Hydraulic Power Variable Power Assist
Turning Radius (wheel base): 5.3 Meters
Front Brake Type: Ventilated Discs
Rear Brake Type: Solid Discs
Top Speed: 176 kmph
Acceleration (0-100 kmph): 9.8 seconds
Mileage-City (kmpl): 8.9
Mileage-Highway (kmpl): 13.6
Fuel Tank Capacity (litres): 85
Emission Norm Compliance: BS 4
Tyre Size: 215/70R 16
Tyre Type: Tubeless Radial Tyre
Alloy Wheel Size: 16 inch
Seating Capacity: 5
No of Doors: 5

Mitsubishi Outlander in India on a drive

Hyundai Santa Fe in India


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Hyundai Motors India Limited haven’t fared well with their limited range of SUVs. Nor is Hyundai internationally known for their SUVs. Hyundai Motors India wanted to change this perception and hence have landed the Santa Fe into the Indian markets. The Hyundai Santa Fe has been a top seller in other third world countries and Europe, so it was prudent enough to bring it to India. The Santa Fe is a huge SUV like the Ford Endeavor and Toyota Fortuner. The other Hyundai SUVs like the Tucson and Terracan would be discontinued and would fade into oblivion. How capable is this SUV on Indian grounds is what we set to test out. Hyundai had been toying with the idea of launching the Santa Fe from 2008 but only mustered the courage now.

Looks

Hyundai’s fluidic design concept is displayed in the Santa Fe but not so much as its international cousin the iX35. The grille is a small one with air conditioner like flaps. We thought they can swing as well. The Sonata also features such a grille and the Verna Transform is no exception as well. The air dam is hidden by a black cladding. The fog lamps are of the protruding types. Overall a well balanced Korean look SUV but we felt that Hyundai should have brought on the Santa Fe three years back and now, they should have introduced the iX35 directly. The Santa Fe has more of a rounded look and appeal.

The side profile also acctenuates the rounded feel. The 16 inch alloys look quite good and even the wheel arches are not of the flared types but circular ones. The outside rear view mirrors are big and also have the turn light indicators embedded in them.

The rear is more of clear lens variety and the rear glass area is also huge. It gets a single wiper. The bumpers are also in black plastic cladding and get round reflectors as well. Moreover this stylish SUV has roof rails to give it that macho look. The rear grab handle gets the boot release integrated on to it. New Hyundai Santa Fe has a wheel base of 4660 mm and it looks every inch that big in flesh. The twin chrome tipped tail pipes are huge and project a sporty feel about the car.

Interiors

Sadly, most of your time would be spent inside the car rather than outside. The word SAD has been used because the Hyundai Santa Fe disappoints on the inside. The interior trim looks archaic compared to the outside. Don’t get us wrong, the Santa Fe has good quality materials and also soft feel materials however the overall layout seems dated. Use of false wood on the lines of the dash detract from the luxury feel that one would expect from a car of this segment and price. The first generation Mahindra Scorpio’s interiors are more like the Hyundai Santa Fe’s.

What Hyundai India have done is given the Santa Fe an extensive equipment list. The driver-centric dash is back lit with a soft blue color. You get three circular dials inside a hooded binnacle. The steering wheel is a 4 spoke affair much like the one found on the Outlander. It has audio, Bluetooth and cruise controls on it. You get an aux and USB plug in facility for the 6 CD changer system. The multi information display shows distance to empty, average economy for the drive, two trip meters and some other information. Both the driver and front passenger seats are 6 way power adjustable with memory function. You have three row air conditioning with even the last row of passengers been catered for. Hell, they can even control the air flow with their own individual controls. You get sunroof, Keyless Entry with Security Alarm , all power goodies, climate control, plenty of 12V sockets, tire pressure monitor and even an outside temperature monitor.

Handling and ride quality

We will first concentrate on the ride quality as most of the owners looking out for a Santa Fe would be chauffer driven. The front seats are comfortable and the driver even has lumbar adjust to pamper him. So your chauffer and chaperone are well taken care of. Now its your turn and here the also you are the King and the Santa Fe as your steed, doesn’t disappoint. The seats, though not captain ones, have good bolstering and have loads of legroom. Actually there is so much legroom even for a 6 footer that you feel that it is been wasted. However the Hyundai designers could have done well to give the Santa Fe some more under thigh support.

The third row of seats disappoint outright for a seven seater. Your point of entrance to the third row is by flipping the middle seat of the second row. Probably an ungainly thing to do if you are surrounded by people. It would be proper to say that the third row would suit the vertically challenged. Any Michael Jones clone wouldn’t fit into them. We believe that shaving some of the middle row’s space could have worked wonders for the third row passengers.

The ride is quite comfy. No matter which ever row you choose though. It is like the Sonata sedan. No matter what speed you are running at, the suspension would pamper you. The rear suspension, like the Chevy Captiva, levels itself to adjust according to weight changes. The suspension by the way, is the multi-link one with anti-roll bars at the rear and McPherson at the front.

The handling is at par for SUVs of this class. More so than the rock and roll feel of the Toyota Fortuner and the Ford Endeavor. This SUV is calm and composed and does it job well even around corners. It has a 4 wheel drive system that detects wheel slippage and according adjusts its power delivery.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

The Hyundai Santa Fe in India would come with only one engine option and that is the 2.2 litre CRDI motor pumping out 194 Bhp and about 44.4 Kgm of its peak torque from 1900 rpm. The 6 speed manual is a delight to operate, much like its small cousin, the i20. The steering wheel feels meaty to hold but probably a bit artificial around corners. Hyundai should have engineered some more feel into the steering wheel. The Santa Fe stays put on the highway even at three digit speeds.

The CRDI motor shows little or no turbo lag. It sprints from 0-100 in 9.3 seconds and top spees is about 191 kmph. Think of this, the SUV weighs in at a porky 1913 Kg.This is by far, the best times posted by a sub 30 lakhs SUV.

Feel that all this performance comes up at the expense of fuel economy, then you are mistaken. The Santa Fe delivers 11.8 kmpl in the city and an astonishing 18.6 Kmpl on the highway. This is possible due to its close ratios in the city driving and slightly tall gearing at the highway.

Braking is handled by disc brakes on all 4 wheels. They are aided by ABS, ESP, traction control and a host of other nannies. The brake pedal feel is also good. Safety is taken care by a segment first-10 airbags, SRS seat belts and so on. This is also compounded by the NCAP rating of 4 stars out of 5 for the Santa Fe in crash safety ratings.

Verdict

The Hyundai SUV savior seems to have finally come. The competition either misses out on the Santa Fe’s interior trim or its bomb of an engine. Not to forget its 7 seater capacity as well as stellar fuel efficiency given its performance. The Santa Fe’s only grouse would be that it isn’t exactly a perfect handler and also its price tag. Since it is a CBU{like many others in its class}, the Santa Fe is priced from Rs 23 lakhs to Rs 25 lakhs for the 4*4 version.

Technical specifications of the Hyundai Santa Fe for India

  • 2199cc, CRDi Engine
  • Max Power: 197 Bhp at 3800 rpm
  • Max Torque: 44 Kgm @ 1900 rpm
  • Transmission: 6 Speed Manual
  • Brakes: Ventilated Disc at front and Solid Disc at the rear
  • Suspension:
    Front: Macpherson Struts
    Rear: Multi Link Type
  • Tyre Size: 235/60 R18 Tubeless
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 72 Litre
  • Length: 4670mm
  • Width: 1880mm
  • Height: 1770mm
  • Wheelbase: 2710mm
  • Ground Clearance: 201mm

Volkswagen Vento Review


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One of world’s largest car manufacturer, the Volkswagen group and know in India as Volkswagen India have launched a slew of cars in the Indian market. Clearly they see the Indian market as one big opportunity to double their chances of overthrowing Toyota motors from the top spot. Their Indian operations as an independent entity started in 2007 with the launch of the Volkswagen Jetta followed by the Passat, Beetle, Phaeton, Touareg, Polo and now the Polo based sedan, the Volkswagen Vento. Actually speaking, the Volkswagen Vento is the only sedan in the Volkswagen line-up that has been launched first in India before the global market. This seems to be a good move by the manufacturer and we can’t wait to tell you the details about the new Volkswagen Vento.

Looks

The Volkswagen Vento in India is what we typically call as a hatchback with a boot job, much like the Maruti Dzire and Tata Indigo Manza. However the Vento begs to differ from the fact that its boot is so neatly integrated into the hatchback, that hadn’t you seen the Polo first, you would have always believed that the Vento came in first. It is that superbly executed. The shut lines are neatly done. The only gripe is that the Vento looks like a Polo, viewed head on. There is nothing to distinguish the Vento and the Polo from a distance apart from the lower air dam treatment and also the placement of the fog lamps.

The Volkswagen Vento sports the same teutonic looks of the Polo and it isn’t a bad thing except that the design team could have gone an extra mile to make some changes in the front end. The Vento shares a lot with the Polo other than the looks. Volkswagen India could have done well to integrate the turn indicators into the Vento’s outside rear view mirrors. The mirrors are body colored and are mounted atop black mounts.

From the side, you see the 414 mm of extra length of the Vento over the Polo. Its wheel base is increased by about 96 mm than that of the Polo’s. The wheel arches have the typical undertired look from the Volkswagen group and the Vento is no different. It has 15 inch wheels.The wheels are 7 spoke alloys on the

The rear is much like the Honda City’s but a bit more German in look. The tail lamp cluster is different than the Polo’s. By the way, the rear ends display a Volkswagen new and that is their full name on the boot. The VW logo doesn’t press down as the hatchback and the boot is opened by a key.

Interiors

The interiors are shared with the Polo as well. It shows a use of gray and biege unlike the black and beige for the Polo.The Volkswagen Vento in India is sold in Trendline and Highline variants. Both the variants get the same interior treatment.Starting with the doors, they don’t feel as heavy to shut as the Polo and this shows the cost cutting measure from Volkswagen India. The doors emit a hollow thunk and one which suits the Honda City more than a German saloon. The Volkswagen Vento sits lower than the Honda City and hence you have to crawl inside rather than climb inside. The dashboard is of the non reflective variety however feels built out of hard plastics. This is a far cry from the Volkswagen India group cars, however the plastics seem to be of the durable types and inside the theme of function over form takes precedence. Fit and finish is top notch with no uneven panel gaps or build quality. A glaring omission or should we say two are the lack of steering audio controls, bluetooth and no door locking. Yes, the Volkswagen Vento like the Polo makes do without central or auto locking. In other cars in this price bracket, the doors automatically lock once the car is in motion. In the Volkswagen Vento, you have to manually operate it from the drivers seat. There is a door opening warning missing from the Multi Information Display. The MID shows instant & average fuel consumption, odometer readings, distance to empty, schedule for next service, gear shift indicator, outside temperature and time.

There are a lot of cubby holes and ones built with passion {as the TV Ads for the Vento suggest}. There is a rubber cushion in the cup holders and door pockets. A huge glove box dominates the dashboard and it is also carefully thought of. The driver arm rest is a thoughtful feature however it interferes with the operation of the hand brake.

Apart from the Linea, the Volkswagen Vento in India is the other car in its category to offer rear AC vents. The AC vents- four at the front and two at the rear can be individually controlled and the flaps can also be completely shut off. The climate control present in the Highline variants feature small to read signs. The stock audio system sounds okay but not to impressive.

The driver’s as well as co-passengers seats are fully adjustable. The driver even gets lumbar support. The steering is also rake and reach adjustable. One notable feature is that the rear seat passengers can control the slide of the front passenger seat by a lever which is placed next to the rear Aircon vent.

All the controls fit in easily and it is some quirks that marr the otherwise beautiful cabin. The indicator stalks are on the left hand side of the steering column and should be have been on the right as is the norm. The car has a Skoda-like foldable premium key. The rear quarter glass as well as use of bright cabin materials make the cabin feel airy.

Handling and ride quality

The Volkswagen Vento uses an ubiquitous McPherson strut layout for the front suspension , while the rear makes do with a semi-independent trailing arm. The ride quality is firm but not entirely disconcerting. It is quite compliant over sharp bumps or ruts but low speed ride quality is not that magic carpet like the Indigo Manza. It is more on the firm side as the suspension has been tuned for handling than ride quality. However unlike the Manza, you don’t have to slow down for potholes and ruts on the road, as the suspension takes everything in its stride. The suspension though does announce what it is doing though.

While it might not have the best ride quality, what it does is offer the handling of the Polo hatchback. It displays poise around corners and straights. At the very limit, it would understeer safely and play no nasty tail sliding games. The steering is light and you can use your finger tips to control the car in the congested city traffic. However this isn’t a speed sensitive steering wheel and doesn’t weigh up nicely while on the highway. It feels vague and sort of disconnected from the driver. The NVH is well taken care of with little or no wind noise or for that matter tyre noise filtering into the cabin.

The seats are comfortable and are made of neither a soft or firm clothing. It has just hit the sweet spot between both. Front passenger and driver have pretty much space to play around with and with the Volkswagen Vento’s increased wheel base over the Polo, the rear passengers cannot complain as well. The rear seats can qualify as a 2 seater only since there is a high transmission tunnel intrusion and this pretty much takes up the space for the middle passenger. The boot space is also good at 460 liters though there are suspension mount intrusions. The loading lip is low though and this makes a case for heavy suitcases.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

The new Volkswagen Vento is sold in petrol and engine guises. Each have two variants for the manual tranny and only a 6 speed automatic for the top of the line Petrol motor. The variants are the Volkswagen Vento petrol Trendline and Volkswagen Vento petrol Highline alongwith the Volkswagen Vento petrol Highline automatic. The diesel gets the Volkswagen Vento TDI Trendline and the Volkswagen Vento TDI Highline variants. The 1.6 liter petrol engine makes do with 106 Bhp @ 5,250 rpm and about 153 Nm of torque (@ 3,800 rpm. This is quite low than the competition, read the Honda City, for which the Volkswagen Vento squarely aims for. The petrol feels sluggish to move around with while starting of and throttle responses aren’t that sharp. Special mention must be made of the gearshift, which is one of the slickest in the business and certainly above the Honda City’s. The Polo’s 3 cylinder motor doesn’t hold a candle to the Vento’s 1.5 liter engine. The petrol Vento, viewed alongside the Honda motor isn’t as refined or eager to meet the rev limiter, but does its job well. The gearing is slightly on the taller side to maximize fuel economy and so the motor isn’t that eager in town. The petrol Volkswagen Vento goes from 0-100 in 13.3 seconds. Its top speed is 178 Kmph.

The diesel Vento is in another league of its own. It smokes the Hyundai Verna as well as the Fiat Linea Multijet. The Volkswagen Vento diesel goes from 0-100 in 11 seconds flat and to an estimated top speed of 186 kmph. The gear shift is slightly on the notchy side for the diesel and requires more effort to slot it into the gear than the petrol unit’s. The diesel clatter is quite audible during start up and is quite similar to the Pumpe Duse unit found in sister concern Skoda’s Laura as well as the old Octavia. Once warmed up, the diesel settles into a smooth idle, very much like its common rail engine should. The 1.6 liter TDI engine pumps out 104 BHP (@ 4,400 rpm and makes 250 NM of torque between 1,500 – 2,500 rpm. This is one rev happy diesel and much like the other diesels from its family, doesn’t put out power in a linear way. The MID for the Volkswagen Vento TDI  Highline variant instructs one when to upshift or downshift so as to eke the maximum fuel efficiency as well to limit damage to the engine and transmission. On the run though, the diesel remained calm and composed to its indicated redline of 5,300 rpm. However vibrations through the gear stalk as well as pedals could be felt.

The Volkswagen Vento petrol Highline automatic has a slick shifting 6 speed automatic. This also lacked the initial poke however the gearshifts were smooth and the car feels pretty much easy to drive. Due to the high non-adjustable rear head rests as well as the high boot lid, rear visibility is impacted. The inside rear view mirror is useless as it isn’t auto dimming however the outside electric rear view mirrors help immensely in reversing chores.

Braking is perfect on the Diesel Vento as well as the Petrol Vento. Traditional setup of Discs at the front and drums at the rear retard the car well, though there is some nose diving found on the diesel variants when braked hard. The Volkswagen Vento Highline variants get ABS alongwith EBD and the Trendline has to make do without them. Safety is taken care by two airbags on the Highline variants, collapsible steering wheel and 3 point ELR seatbelts.

Fuel efficiency for the Volkswagen Vento Petrol manual was overall a decent 15.83 kmpl, for the automatic petrol it is 14.4 Kmpl and for the diesel Vento, it was a high 20.54 kmpl. This figures should give the Honda City as well as the rest of the competition some shivers.

Verdict

The new Volkswagen Vento has arrived and in good measure. It has the Polo’s good looks to go with a nicely done boot job. It has a decent pair of engines, a perfect transmission plus a boon with the automatic one. It also gives a good ride and handling package, likeable interiors and fuel efficient engines. The icing on the cake is that the Volkswagen Vento petrol Trendline version starts at Rs. 6,900,00{ex-showroom Mumbai} going upto Rs. 10, 234,20 for the Highline automatic version. The diesel slots in between this price range. This would make it one of the most competent package for a mid-size saloon in the market.

Technical specifications of the Volkswagen Vento

Name: Volkswagen Vento
Model: Petrol/ Diesel Highline
Fuel Consumption: Highway 16.00 kmpl/20.00 kmpl
Fuel Consumption: City 12.00 kmpl/14 kmpl

ENGINE SPECIFICATIONS

Displacement: Petrol/Diesel
1598cc, 4 Cylinder, 8 Valve/ 1596, 4 cylinder TDI
Engine Type: Petrol/ Diesel
Maximum Power: 105 Bhp @ 5250 rpm/ 104 BHP (@ 4,400 rpm
Maximum Torque: 153 Nm @ 3800 rpm/ 250 NM @ 2,500 rpm

OTHER SPECIFICATIONS

Seating Capacity: 5
Tyre Size: 185/60 R15 alloys
Suspension: Suspension struts, wishbone, Anti-roll bar
Boot Space: 500.00 ltrs.
Steering: Electronic Power
Brakes: Front Disc, Rear Drum
Gears: 5 Manual / 6 speed automatic optional on the Highline Petrol
Ground Clearance: 168.00 mm

Tata Nano in India and used Maruti 800 – a showdown


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This is one inevitable comparison, seeing that the Tata Nano in India is newly launched whereas the Maruti 800 is an icon of yesteryears. The latter actually carried the mantle of been the lowest priced car in India and now it’s position has been dethroned. This is because of former which claims to be the lowest priced car not just in India but across the world. Launched in 2009, the Tata Nano has ended the streak of India’s cheapest and best selling car. So much so that, Maruti Suzuki had to stop production of this car. However that doesn’t take away the virtues of this car. Here I have given you a rundown as to why one can opt for a used Maruti 800 or go for a new Tata Nano.

Looks

Tata Nano: Since this is the newer car of both, I would concentrate on it first. The Tata Nano looks like an egg shell. Now I know that I have already mentioned this in the Tata Nano review however I would still like to call it the same. It is more of utilitarian design but nowhere does it look offensive. It has a missing radiator grille at the front and tear shaped fog lamps{the latter is available only on the top variant and there is no space for them on the lower ones.}. The made for Europe Tata Nanos have alloy wheels however the Tata Nano in India make do with steel wheels of size 135/70 R12 for the front tyres and 155/65 R12 for the rear ones. The rear also shows a curved form and reveals the radiator grille. It has a single tail pipe which resembles the one from an humble rickshaw{which by the way costs more than the top variant of the Tata Nano}.

Used Maruti 800: Now, the Maruti 800 has spawned almost 3 decades. Its basic shape has remained very much the same. It was inspired from the 80s and nowhere does it look as modern as Tata Nano in India. Earlier Maruti 800s had that oblong noise with little to comment upon. Actually the cars from that era all looked the same. This car also featured 12 inch wheels with no alloy wheel option. The rear end also underwent many changes during the course of its evolution. The post 2004 models got clear lens blinkers.

The Tata Nano in India wins this round based on its newer design.

Interiors

Tata Nano: Sufficiently roomy is what we would call this cabin. It has better space utilization than the Maruti 800. You would rather prefer to climb into a cabin rather than crouch into it. The seats are comfortable with integrated head rests. The dash board is also very well built with no uneven panel gaps. It is also very smooth. There is a single glove box however don’t expect too much from it other than carrying a few papers. There are also two cup holders. The steering wheel is also finished nicely. The rear seats are also good with enough thigh support and the high roof line. There is ample space for 4. The boot space is barely adequate at 125 liters. The Maruti 800 was the benchmark while making the Tata Nano and this has ensured approximately 22% more space.

Used Maruti 800: Now, anyone who has been staying in India since the past 10 years would definitely vouch that they have seen a Maruti 800 crammed with people. So much so that a 5 seater passenger car has about 7 people into it and the car happily jogging along. It however doesn’t ensure that the used Maruti 800 would have the same space. The dashboard design was pretty much ugly. There would be loose wires hanging from everywhere. The AC controls are also huge and ungainly. The seating is also very low and this means that you would have to crouch to get into the cabin. Moreover once you have plonked yourself into the cabin, you would have to wrestle with the non power steering{most of the cars sold were without this basic necessity, not that the car needed it anyways}. I personally, been a 6 footer didn’t find the seating position comfortable. Even in the rear seats{more comfortable than the front ones, chauffer driven anyone?}. I have this personal opinion that older Maruti 800s carried far more space than the newer versions. What this car does offer is more width and thus seating three wouldn’t be a problem. The low flooring also means that there isn’t enough of thigh support.  The interior quality is way below that of even the Tata Nano in India. The boot space is also bigger than the Tata Nano at 170 liters. However the time many of the used Maruti 800s would have spent on the road is testimony to their build quality.

Somehow it doesn’t feel right but the used Maruti 800 takes this one away primarily been a 5 seater.

Handling and ride quality

Tata Nano: On the ride, this mini Tata has got a highly advanced suspension. This one is composed of independent front suspension. This along with the 180 mm ground clearance means that this car should clear the rough with a smile on its face. The ride is good at low speeds however at high speeds{which rarely anyone with a Tata Nano would attempt} it is affected by the crosswinds. However small bumps at higher speed also affect this dimunitive performer. The handling is also good with the non power steering doing your bidding. It however is a bit heavy than what I expected atleast in this company.

Used Maruti 800: The used Maruti 800 has a trailing type suspension which means that it is pretty much noisy over the rough roads. If anything, Maruti had provided for hard shock absorbers at the rear which lead to a good handling package but would take a toll on one’s back if you are going to sit there for long. The handling is more surefooted than the Tata Nano in this case and since the car sits low, it is less buffeted by the cross winds. The suspension has been revised over the years however the net result always ends up the same. Post 2005 used Maruti cars would have a soft suspension set up.

This is won by the Tata Nano, no questions asked.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

Tata Nano: The Tata Nano in India features one of the smallest engine for a 4 wheeler. It has a 624cc, Rear Mounted, MPFi engine which puts out 34.55 Bhp @ 5250 rpm and 48 Nm of torque @ 3000 rpm. Coupled with a 4 speed gear box and a kerb weight of just 600 kilos, this car shoots from 0-100 kmph in 22 seconds. The top speed limited for it is also 105 kmph. Not serious kick in the gut figures but consider the factor that this car would be used mostly in the cities and not for highway jaunts. For the city use, this car is quite apt. Its gear box is also a smooth shifting unit. The brakes are also front disc and drums at the rear. Safety equipment doesn’t amount to much for this car as it is a built to price car. It has a collapsible steering column with side intrusion beams and a rear mounted engine. Fuel efficiency is very good with the Tata Nano returning an overall figure of 21 kmpl in combined city and highway conditions.

Used Maruti 800: Now you may find used Maruti 800s with different engine configuration and states of tune. This is because over its life cycle the car has seen a 1000 cc engine and also an 800 cc one. It also has got 4 speed and also 5 speed transmission. I would prefer the 4 speed one. Since the 1000 cc engine was a limited edition, I would concentrate more on the 800 cc one. It produced 37 Bhp and 51 Nm of torque. This combined with weight of 680 kgs made this car a good performer as it could do speeds in excess of 130 kph. The gear box was a bit vague though. The brakes were front discs and rear drums. Safety was unheard of in a Maruti 800 and hence I would rather omit this topic. It was always Bhagwan Bharose in a Maruti 800. Fuel efficiency was the talking point in a Maruti 800 until the Tata Nano stepped in. Fuel efficiency would hover around the overall mark of 18 kmpl.

The Tata Nano wins this round as well.

Verdict

Now, this shouldn’t be a tough one considering the factors taken above however looking at the overall reliability and the way that it has served the Indian car buying public, I would happily recommend a used Maruti 800 than a Tata Nano in India. This is because of the Maruti reliability factor plus a used Maruti 800 wouldn’t go up in flames unless you did something stupid in it. For the price of a new Tata Nano standard, you would easily get a 2004 used Maruti 800.

2011 Nissan Sunny in India


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Nissan Sunny India

Japanese car manufacturer Nissan is aggressively introducing a range of cars into the Indian market as it is trying to make up for lost time. It has taken a while for Nissan to realize the full potential that the Indian market has to offer and is planning on releasing the Nissan GT-R, Murano, NV200, Pixo, Qashqai and the Nissan Sunny. These range of cars will make Nissan one of the only manufacturers in India to features its cars in almost all the segments even having two cars in the sports car segment.

The Nissan Sunny has been around for a long time although when first introduced in 1966 it was called the Datsun. The Sunny has been one of Nissan’s best selling cars and following on from the success of the Nissan Micra, Nissan has decided to base the Sunny on the same Micra platform. The new Sunny is essentially an extension of the Micra and is expected to be available in the Indian market in the first quarter of 2011. Nissan is expected to price the Sunny at around the 8 – 10 lakh range and should expect some decent sales of this model.

The Nissan Sunny is a comfortable car to drive and also comes with the latest in safety and technological features. It has all the necessary comforts as well to make this a very enjoyable car to drive whether in the city or on the highway.

Performance – Nissan Sunny in India

The Nissan Micra took the Indian market storm and there were loads of questions asked about a sedan version of it. Nissan took heed to this and voila the famous Nissan Sunny was converted to the Micra sedan. Nissan Sunny has been experiencing a global decline in its sales and Nissan has noticed this. For this reason they have used they new best seller, the Micra to boost sales of its Sunny model. When I say use the Micra I mean that Nissan has decided to build the new Sunny on the same Micra platform albeit making the Sunny more of a family sedan.

The 2011 Nissan Sunny is expected to be released in both petrol and diesel versions and is expected to be a 1.5 liter, four cylinder, 16 valve engine that is capable of producing a maximum of 100 horsepower as well as a maximum torque of 146 Nm. The Nissan Sunny is to be based on Nissan’s V-Platform and the power specs of the Sunny would make it a competitor of the Fiat Linea, Hyundai Verna, Honda City, Maruti Swift Dzire, Tata Indigo Manza and Ford Fiesta.

The petrol version of the sunny could use a supercharged version of the Micra engine and sources from Nissan claim that it could be manufactured at Nissan’s plant in Chennai where presently the Micra is being produced. Fuel efficiency of the Sunny is also expected to be very competitive as compared to other rivals in its segment and it gives 13 km/l in the city and 17 km/l while driving on the highway.

2011 Nissan Sunny Styling

The Nissan Sunny in India has not been disclosed as of yet and there are only a few pictures that we have sourced that reveal the basic appearance of its exteriors and interiors. The exterior of the Sunny is styled quite aggressively with large headlights, broad bumpers, stylish chrome grille and wide lower air intake. The Sunny has a good combination of smooth lines and crisp curves that blend in together well to give the car a touch of class and elegance.

The interiors of the Nissan Sunny from what we can see in the pictures is quite similar to that of the Micra and if reports are to be believed then the Sunny could be produced at the same plant in India that currently manufacturers the Micra. If this was the case then it would make sense that the interiors of the Sunny are quite like that of the Micra.

Saying that, the interiors of the car are very spacious and comfortable, accommodating five passengers very comfortably. The front cabin could be termed as quite basic in terms of its appearance but it has all the essential features, buttons and knobs without making the dash seem cluttered. The front seats are also very comfortable and provide ample support for the passengers.

Rear seating is also spacious and the rear passengers will be happy to know that there is sufficient leg and head room making even long drives comfortable. The rear cabin is also very comfortable and spacious and easily fits three passengers with sufficient leg room and head room. The boot of the Nissan Sunny is also competitive for other cars in its segment and coupled with the rear foldable seats allows for loads of storage space.

The car will be equipped with a great sounding audio system that is CD/MP3 compatible and integrated into the dashboard. The steering wheel has the tilt feature enabling the driver to get into the most comfortable position to drive and also houses the audio controls buttons.

Among the list of the cool features in the Sunny is the same push button start/stop system that is found in the Nissan Micra, in addition to other features like keyless entry, rear parking sensors, power windows, front cup holders, rear wiper, and tinted glass as standard. One thing that may not please potential owners today the fact that the driver’s seat has only manual seat adjustment and with most of the cars in its segment offering this and more as standard, people may feel a bit let down.

2011 Nissan Sunny Pricing and Recommendations

The 2011 Nissan Sunny is a much awaited model in the Indian car market as it follows on the huge success received by the Nissan Micra. Sporting a powerful 1.5liter engine that is also very fuel efficient the Sunny has a stylish exterior and functional and practical interiors.

Expected to be priced around the  8 – 10 lakh range the Sunny should be very competitive and give the Indian buyers a very good choice in the segment. Passenger can expect to have a very comfortable ride as the Nissan Sunny has features all the necessary safety gadgets to make it a safe car while driving even at high speed. It features ABS, EBD with brake assist, impact absorbent body panels, engine immobilizer, central locking, dual front airbags and front and side impact beams.

Handling and control in the Sunny is also very good and the fact that it uses ca combination of a McPherson and torsion suspension makes it comfortable to drive on rough and uneven roads.

The Nissan Sunny has all the makings of a good selling car in the Indian market and seeing that it should be manufactured and based on the already good selling Micra, should further excite not only officials at Nissan but also expectant buyers.

2011 Nissan Sunny India Specifications and Price

Vehicle Category: Sedan
Engines (standard): 1.5 L, 4-cyl inline, 110 HP, 143 Nm torque
Drivetrain: Front engine, 5 passenger, 4-door sedan, FWD
Transmissions (standard): 5-speed manual
Curb Weight: 1369 kg
0-100 kph: 7.6 secs (est.)
Mileage city/hwy: 13 / 17 kmpl
Get Nissan Sunny Price details here.

Fiat Linea T-jet in India


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Fiat India, on the way to a re-emergence in the Indian markets, started out with launching a new Palio and re-badged it the Palio Stile. This may not have gone well with the consumers since the interiors of the Fiat Palio Stile were still out dated than the competition. Fiat then realized that it had its work cut out and now realized that they need to bring their whole international range to India. Out of this thought came the Italian beauty, the Fiat Linea followed by the classic Fiat 500 and then the Fiat Grande Punto. Fiat loyalists applauded Fiat’s efforts by making the Linea, one of the best sellers in its segment. However consumer feedbacks informed Fiat India that the Fiat Linea was lacking in power and especially from the 1.4 liter petrol engine. So out goes that engine and comes in a new 1.4 liter engine putting out more power. Is this engine worth it or is it just a marketing gimmick? We investigated this and came out with the following report.

Fiat Linea T-jet Looks

The Fiat Linea was and still is a handsome car in its segment. Its Italian looks ensure that it turns heads wherever it goes. For the new Linea, the old curves are retained but a slightly re-worked front lamps distinguish it from its diesel sibling. Only the eagle-eyed would notice this. Its front grille is Aston Martinesque and is all chrome lined. Having subtle air dams help in the overall look and housed inside the air dams are one of the best in the business, fog lamps.

Petal shaped rear view mirrors are now present on the Fiat Linea T-jet in India and they also have the side indicators moulded into them. These are electric in their operation as well. The car seems to be decked with chrome as you can see from the side strips and also on the door handles. The T-jet model wears better boots in the shape of the chunkier 205/55 R 16  and also makes do with a new design for its alloys.

Three reflectors at the rear end distinguish the diesel Linea from the T-jet petrol one. The rump is one of the curviest and still makes do with Aston Martin cues. It seems to be very spacious for keeping all the cargo and travel bags.

Fiat Linea T-jet Interiors

The Fiat Linea T-jet in India model gets a two toned superb interior trim. It enhances the feeling of space inside. It is a combination of white and beige and though we know this would make cleaning it all the more harder. It has typical Fiat build quality but with a fashion statement now. The door handles are the first to signify the car’s build quality and we got the same reassuring thunk so reminiscent of the old Linea and even the other cars from Fiat India’s stables.

Contoured and almost flat at one surface poly urethane wrapped steering wheel is still retained from the old Linea. That is not a bad thing since it is a fine unit giving control to the car. It also has audio and Bluetooth controls in it. Inside the Linea cockpit, you get a WRC styled tell tale lights and two circular dials housing the speedometer and the tachometer. Overall, the use of plastics is good, leaving us no grouse with the interiors as well as the build quality. The panel gaps are even and soft touch plastics suitable for this class are present.

The Fiat Linea T-jet Emotion plus model that we tested had the indigenous Blue and Me technology in it. This enables one to sync in 5 Bluetooth enabled phones at a time with the car’s Bluetooth system. The system is quite intuitive to use and works well. The car can read your messages, make and receive calls from your phone. Plus in case, if your phone is lacking a battery charge, there is a 12V socket to take care of that.

The percieveness of ample space in the boot is given out by the figures that it can load  upto 500 liters. However the loading bay is a bit high with some amount of suspension intrusion inside the boot.

Fiat Linea T-jet Handling and ride quality

The Linea always had a good ride and handling package and the new T-jet model is the same in the ride and handling department. The handling has found a sweet spot with the now 16 inch alloys shod with high profile Good year GT3 tyres. The ride quality has lost some of the nervousness now at low speeds and is evenly good even at low and high speeds.

The Fiat Linea T-jet model is one heck of a silent car. The use of sound obstructing material used is commendable as is the absence of road noise even at triple digit speeds.

Seating for 5 people is what the Linea offers and quite comfortably at that.

Fiat Linea T-jet Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

The biggest change is in the heart of the Linea T-jet model. The old 1.4 liter FIRE engine is now assisted by a turbo charger. This bumps the power to 114 ps of power from the previous 90 ps and 207 Nm of torque from as low as 2,200 rpm. Torque has risen by 21.3 Kgm to give the Linea T-jet class rivaling times of 11.2 seconds for the dash from 0-100 kmph. The Linea’s Achilles heel is that its gearbox isn’t in tandem with the engine and it sometimes feels notchy.

The T-jet model now never seems out of poke when pottering around town in 3rd gear at speeds as low as 20 kmph or overtaking on the highway at speeds of 100 kmph. This shows the engine’s tractability. Honda City Vtec better watch out.

Braking has improved significantly with disc brakes all around. It is boosted by EBD and ABS. This is available only in the T-jet Emotion and Emotion Plus package. Safety features remain unchanged from the old Linea.

The Fiat Linea T-jet in India is a very fuel efficient car and actually bringing in a turbo charger has boosted the fuel economy as well for this heavy car. It returns 13.9 kmpl in the city and 20.7 kmpl on the highway.

Verdict

The Linea T-jet model would be sold in the T-jet Emotion and Emotion plus variants. With the Linea T-jet model, Fiat have ironed out the only chink in its armour and that was lack of power for the petrol variants. Now, it is even more value for money and can go heads on with the Honda City, its nemesis.

The Linea T-jet Emotion is priced at Rs. 8.84 lakhs to Rs. 9.29 lakhs for the T-jet Emotion Plus ex-showroom, Mumbai.

Fiat Linea T-jet Technical Specifications

Engine Displacement: 1399cc, Turbo Charged Petrol
Maximum Torque: 200 Nm @ 2500 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Maximum Power: 110 Bhp @ 5000 rpm
Maximum Speed: 191 Km/Hour
0-100kmph: 11.2seconds
Fuel Tank capacity in liters: 49.00
Kerb Weight: 1284.00 kgs.
Max. Horsepower (ps/rpm): 114 PS @ 6000 rpm
Ground Clearance: 171.00 mm
Brakes: Front and rear disc brakes.