Skoda Fabia Combi in India

Skoda Fabia Combi Review

Skoda began its association with the Indian car market back in November 2001 when SkodaAuto India Pvt. Ltd. decided to set up a manufacturing plant on the outskirts of Aurangabad in the town of Shendra. This was a milestone not only for India but also for the car manufacturer as it was the first time SkodaAuto had a manufacturing facility out of Europe. SkodaAuto has not looked back since then in India and the brand has been one of the best selling cars in the Indian market.

Skoda continues to keep introducing new cars to Indian audiences almost every year and of not then they keep getting out updated versions of their present line-up. The updated versions of the Laura and Octavia are also soon to hit the Indian market. But apart from these the Czech car manufacturer is introducing a range of cars in India over the course of the next few quarters. SkodaAuto will be coming out with the Skoda Roomster, Skoda Fabia Combi and another Skoda small car. These are being introduced so that Skoda has a range of vehicles that will allow it to compete in most segments.

The Skoda Fabia Combi is being released for this purpose and sources at Skoda reveal that they are hoping that the Fabia Combi will compete in the multiple C and D segments. The Skoda Fabia is a longer version of the Fabia and offers more space and comfort than its little brother. The Skoda Fabia Combi is expected to be released in India in early 2011 with the option of both petrol and diesel engines and should be available for an estimated price of 10 lakhs.

The Skoda Fabia Combi 2011 promises to continue the trend of being very comfortable while also delivering great mileage and performance. The Fabia Combi will face some tough competition from the likes of the Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Optra SRV and Tata Indigo Marina.

Performance – Skoda Fabia Combi in India

The Skoda Fabia Combi when compared to its first generation model is bigger in all dimensions. It has a bigger boot with a volume of 480 liters which is an increase of 54 liters. Exteriors are also bigger with an increase in length width and height.

The Skoda Fabia Combi will be available to Indian buyers in the choice of four engines – two petrol and two diesel versions. The petrol version is expected to be a supercharged 8 valve 1.2 liter TSI, 4 cylinder engine that was first used on the Skoda Yeti, which is another one of Skoda’s recently launched vehicles. The 1.2 liter engine is available in two options as well, one delivering 63 kW of power and the other outing out 77 kW of power. These new TSI engines achieve a better fuel efficiency as well as lower carbon emissions. The TSI engines also ensure a better acceleration and improved top speed than the older atmospheric engines. Both the versions of the petrol engine are mated to a five-speed manual MQ 200 transmission but for the 1.2 liter with 77 kW engine there is a seven-speed automatic DSG transmission that is available as an option.

The Skoda Fabia Combi in India also comes with a range of diesel engines with a 1.2 liter version and two 1.6 liter types. The 1.2 liter engine is a turbo diesel CR with DPF and give an output of 55 kW with a maximum torque of 180 Nm. The 1.6 liter engine is also a turbocharged CR DPF and gives an output of either 55 kW, 66 kW or 77 kW. These diesel engines come with a solid particle filter to ensure reduced emissions and superior mileage.

The engines used in the newest cars introduced by Skoda are technologically advanced and incorporate some clever innovations like high-pressure direct fuel injection, four-valve technology and common-rail system.  This makes the engines smoother, quieter and more fuel efficient.

The transmission used on all the versions of the diesel is also the same precise five-speed manual which offers light, quick gear shifts. The automatic transmission though is all-new and is offered with the very powerful 1.2 liter TSI engine that puts out 77 Kw. This seven-speed automatic transmission with dual clutch DSG replaces the older six-speed Tiptronic system in all Skoda cars including the Yeti, Superb and Octavia models.

The Skoda Fabia Combi will also be available in an RS trim for those buyers looking to enjoy a sporty ride with the comfort and space of a bigger car. The Fabia Combi RS comes with an attractive sports kit that includes 17” original Gigaro wheels and an upgraded 1.4 liter, TSI, duel fuel injection engine that delivers 132 kW of power and is mated to the new seven-speed DSG automatic transmission. The Combi RS is perfect for those who love a quick ride and get from 0-100 in an amazing 7.6 seconds.

The Fabia Combi RS is distinguishable only through some unique badging and emblems. There are door sill protectors which have the RS emblem as well as a stylish chessboard-like design and are not only visually attractive but also serve a practical purpose. The RS also has dual exhaust pipes moulded into the rear bumper and also comes with an Amundsen navigation system.

Skoda Fabia Combi 2011 Styling

The Skoda Fabia Combi 2011 offers a much improved dynamic design on the outside and uses very innovative materials on the inside. It has a whole range of new and exciting colours and the dual 5 spoke light alloy wheels give it a very sporty look.

The front fascia of the Fabia Combi has an optical illusion where it looks expanded because of the horizontal lines in the newly designed bumper. The front end of the car is further accentuated by the new stylish front grille that incorporates the Skoda badge and the front bumper houses the lower air intake as well as the fog lamps. The headlights have also been given a facelift and now combines projector halogen lights. Road illumination has been improved by the optically reflective surface as both bulbs shine simultaneously along with the independent reflectors.

The smooth lines and curves of the front flow smoothly over the high roofline towards the back and gently drape over the liftback. The rear window is large and allows the driver a clear view as it is also fitted with a rear window wiper.

The interiors of the Skoda Fabia Combi in India are designed to give all passengers complete comfort and the upholstery is covered with lively fabric in a variety of colour combinations. The interiors have been designed ergonomically with buttons and knobs positions that make it easy for the driver to make changes while keeping his/her eyes on the road. The front cabin provides a spacious compartment for both passengers and the legroom and headroom is one of the best in its class.

The interiors are also improved aesthetically by the instrument panel which is brightly illuminated and displays the functions and information clearly to the driver. The rear cabin of the Skoda Fabia Combi is a very comfortable place and spacious enough to easily accommodate three passengers. The rear seats are foldable and increase storage space considerably.

The Skoda Fabia Combi also feature a host of essential safety features that ensure all passengers can enjoy a stress free ride and in case of an accident the up-to-date safety elements in the Skoda will respond effectively. The safety features include anti-lock brake system, ESP, front dual airbags, side curtain airbags, three point safety rear seat belts, parking sensors, tire pressure monitoring and a new feature called hill hold control that is common in the Yeti, Superb and Octavia ranges.

Other safety features that could be available in the Skoda Fabia Combi are the fuel flow interruption system and provision to attach ISOFIX child restraint seat.

Skoda Fabia Combi 2011 Pricing and Recommendations

The Skoda Fabia Combi is a very agile vehicle and the steering is very responsive. This makes driving the Combi very enjoyable whether driving in the city or cruising on the highway. The car is firm and planted on the road not the least because of the suspension and the ride is comfortable even on rough, uneven roads.

The Skoda Fabia Combi will cater to those Indian buyers looking for a comfortable small car with the interior space of a family vehicle. This premium hatchback provides not only some much needed competition to the segments but Tata Indigo Marina and Optra SRV but could also give Indian buyers the best choice in the market.

With prices expected to be around the 10 lakh mark, the Fabia Combi is an impressive hatchback that has all the makings of a hit. It includes all the essential features found in Skoda automobiles and should be around for a long time.

2011 Skoda Fabia Combi in India Specifications and Price

Vehicle Category: Hatchback
Engines (petrol): 1.2 L, TSI,4-cyl, supercharged, 77 kW, 180 Nm torque
Engines (diesel): 1.6 L, TDI, CR, DPF, turbocharged, 77 kW, 205 Nm torque
Drivetrain: Front engine, 5 passenger, 5-door hatch, FWD
Transmissions (standard): 5-speed manual / 7-speed automatic
0-100 kph: 11.8 sec
Mileage city/hwy: 12 / 18 kmpl
Skoda Fabia Combi price: Rs.10 Lakh (est)

Hyundai i30 in India


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India’s second largest manufacturer of cars, Hyundai Motors India has a Midas touch to its operations. All its launches have been graciously accepted by the car buying public. Not one to rest on its laurels, Hyundai has launched an all new platform for its cars and their fluidic designs. The platform is called the “I” platform and Hyundai India has various iterations of it in India like the I10, 120 and the soon to be launched I30. The new Hyundai I30 in India is a larger hatch than the I20 but is as nimble and lithe as the I10 and I20. It has a longish snout and a definite fluidic concept look. The rear looks very much like the Hyundai I20 but has LEDs in it.

Its interiors would sport the highest quality trim and would be directly in the Skoda Laura territory. It will have USB, Ipod integration and all the power goodies even in the base trim. It would be a hot hatch that will compete with the likes of the to be launched Fiat Bravo, the much loved Honda Jazz and the understated Chevrolet Optra SRV. The Hyundai I30 measures 4245 x 1765 x 1480mm (length x width x height} and also has a commendable wheelbase of 2660 mm. The Hyundai I30’s boot space is also quite good at 340 liters. Fold the rear seats and you will get a cavernous 1100 liters of space. This is truly Honda Jazz territory.

As with all Hyundai cars in India, the I30 would feature top safety features like 6 airbags, safety seat belt pretensioners, traction and stability control, 4 wheel disc brakes with ABS and so on.

The new Hyundai I30 in India would be available in both the petrol and diesel engine trims{ as is the norm for all Hyundai India’s cars}. As of now, rumors are afloat that Hyundai India will plonk in a 1396 cc 4 cylinder DOHC petrol motor putting out 107.5 Bhp @ 6200 rpm and giving out 137.2 Nm @ 5000 rpm. No word on which diesel motor will be under the hood for the Hyundai I30 and chances are that it will have the 1.5 liter CRDI motor from the Hyundai Verna or the Hyundai I20. Fuel efficiency would be at par with the competition. The I30 would be launched by October of 2011 or even before that.

Hyundai i30 specifications

Name: Hyundai i30

Top Speed: 187 approximately

Fuel Consumption: 12.00 kmpl.
Highway

Fuel Consumption: 9.00 kmpl.
City

ENGINE SPECIFICATIONS

Displacement: 1396cc, 4 Cyl DOHC

Engine Type: Petrol

Maximum Power: 108.5 Bhp @ 6100 rpm

Maximum Torque: 138.2 Nm @ 5200 rpm

DIMENSIONS

Length: 4246 mm

Width: 1765 mm

Height: 1481 mm

OTHER SPECIFICATIONS

Seating Capacity: 5

Tyre Size: 185/65 R16

Suspension: Independent MacPherson Strut and semi trailing link at the rear

Turning Circle: 5.4 mtrs
.
Boot Space: 340.00 ltrs.

Steering: rack and pinion, hydraulic assisted

Brakes: Front Disc and Rear Disc

Gears: 5 Manual or 4 speed automatic

Kerb Weight: 1294.00 kgs.

Used Hyundai Santro in India

If you have super star Shahrukh Khan endorsing your car, then your car has got to be one of the best in this world or atleast in India. That’s what happened when Hyundai Motors India Limited stormed into India with their Hyundai Santro car in India. India’s first tall boy design met with a high success ratio due to its practicality and frugality. That was that day in 1998 and now, Hyundai Motors India Limited have moved onto making bigger cars and is now India’s second largest car manufacturer and the number 1 in exports. The Hyundai Santro in India has become a household name now. Recently to commemorate its 10 years in India, the company offered the Hyundai santro at the same price that it was offered 10 years ago. Globally its replacement may be the Hyundai i10 however in India both co-exist as is the norm. Considering that one wants to buy a used Hyundai Santro in India, here are a few tips.

First of all, the body of the Hyundai Santro isn’t prone to rust and most probably the cars located near the coastal regions would have some rust on them. Usually its hard to find a used Hyundai Santro in India since the car has been so reliable and trustworthy that few would consider selling it. Earlier Hyundai Santros were prone to having their head lights busted so watch out for these when eyeing an used Hyundai Santro in India. The tyres, if showing uneven pattern of wear means that they haven’t been rotated as per schedule or have been in a shunt. It may be even a sign that front lower arm or the one on the back has been bent while negotiating a pot hole. The tyres are good to last till 55,000 kms and if the sample you are checking out has crossed that mark, then be sure to check if the tyres have been replaced or not.

Suspension in the Hyundai Santro is quite pliant and there is standard MacPherson strut suspension set-up in the front whereas coil springs, dead axle and shock absorbers make up for the rear suspension. The front suspension was good enough to have the car corner well however for the rear suspension to cope up with the tall boy design, the car was fitted with shock absorbers and a stiffer spring element. This saying, passengers seated in the rear seats would be treated to a slightly choppy ride. When fully laden, the rear doesn’t bottom out like some other expensive cars and this is when the ride quality improves. If the rear end bottoms out too quickly, it is a sign of worn out or faulty shock absorbers. Hyundai Motors India Limited had changed the suspension set up a bit and it was softened keeping in mind customer feedback. The changes had a dramatic effect with sales of the Hyundai Santro sometimes challenging that of the best selling Maruti 800. The car is powered by a 999 cc motor making 55 Bhp with a 1.1 liter motor putting out 67 Bhp coming in later in 2005 with the Erlx tag attached to it. Both the motors are equally refined as well as peppy. The former is more fuel efficient whereas the latter is more for performance oriented people. There also is a CNG version doing the rounds however chances of finding one is very rare. Both the motors are fuel injected ones and shouldn’t be a trouble till 1 lakhs to 1.5 lakh kms. This however will depend on the maintenance of the motors. Regular servicing, oil and filter changes would ensure that the engine stays in shape well. During a test drive keep an ear for any unusual sounds from the engine bay. If they emanate, do walk away as an engine overhaul would be costly affair.

The Hyundai Santro features a 5 speed gear box which is very slick in its operation. The gearshift axle should also be able to last around the 80000 mark. If the car has crossed this mark, be sure to enquire if the required repair has been done to this effect. The Hyundai Santro is a front wheel drive car and the engine weight is negated by front suspension. The steering of the car is also quite light and can be operated with finger tips. For approximately 45,000 kms, the tie rods and ball joints should be okay and after this they would require only a Rs.848 expense. The interiors of the car use well wearing plastics and upholstery. If buying a used Hyundai Santro with more than 80,000 clicks on the odo, be sure to change its upholstery as the earlier beige ones used to get soiled far too often.

Last but not the least, take a good mechanic with you and one who would evaluate the condition of the vehicle and then accordingly peg its price. Also have a look at the service history of the car. An ill serviced car is the one to stay away from and you can probably look for some other car with a good servicing history. A used Hyundai Santro in India, for a 1998 model would be available for as less as Rs.80,000 whereas ones from 2002 to 2007 can range anywhere from between Rs.1.75 lakhs to Rs.3.30 lakhs.

Chevrolet Sail Review

GM world-wide have gone through a major crisis after the bankruptcy chapter. It also went down as the world’s number 1 car manufacturer. After such an appalling disaster, every one thought they had seen the end of GM. But the General been truly general, rose back for the occasion. GM has started recording its profits and the good thing is that none of the major franchise’s had to be sold during the bankruptcy. In India, GM has tripled their sales for the last year and also launched their all new global platform,the Cruze. Their automatic version of the Captiva is also a runaway success. The Cruze is selling like hot cakes so much that every second car you see on the road nowadays is the Cruze. Moreover, they also launched the small car, Beat, which is also one of the biggest success stories for Chevrolet. General Motors Indian operations President and Managing Director, Karl Slym is said to be the man who made the turn around. Things are looking good for GM at the moment and they are thinking of cashing on this success by introducing 3 more new models. One such would be the Chevrolet Sail. This is available in both the sedan and hatchback guises but the sedan is the one which would make it first in the Indian market. Check on Road Price

Looks of the Chevrolet Sail

The new Chevrolet Sail in India is set to replace the ageing Aveo sedan and probably later on the Aveo UV-A hatchback. The GM cars have all been lookers in their own right and the Sail is no exception. GM earlier had the Sail brand name for their Opel range in India and it is rumored that GM would use the same name albeit now with a Chevrolet bow tie on it. The Sail sedan looks very much like the Cruze but in a scaled down format. It was developed in partnership with GM-SAIC collaboration in China. When launched in China, it was lapped up in no time by the car buying public. GM India expect the same success here as well.

The Sail sports the now famous family face of Chevrolet. The grill is the wide honeycomb piece affair now. It has a body colored ridge running across it and the ridge has the golden Chevy bow tie on it. The head lamps are elongated and wrap around types. The air dam is an affair concentrated on the middle. Two swooping recess announce the arrival of the fog lamps. A prominent bonnet ridge ends on the grill.

The side profile shows a ridge arising from one wheel to another. The wheel arches are flared but not so much as to give bigger brother Cruze the shivers. The 16 inch alloy wheels fill the wheel arches well and give the car a chunky look. The door handles as well as the outside rear view mirrors are body colored. The ORVMS are mounted on black stalks and they arise from the door{old Honda City-like}.

The rear is creaseless and the boot reminds one of the Mahindra-Renault Logan. The tail lamps are boomerang shaped and are single piece units. The stop lamp is mounted at the lower base of the rear wind screen. The tail pipes are hidden from ones view unless you bend over to look at it.

Interiors of the Chevrolet Sail

The interiors are typical Chevy with an increase in the quality of the materials used. The doors open wide and close with a German thunk. The steering wheel feels great to hold and has the usual audio, Bluetooth controls housed in it. The instrument binnacle is a hooded twin dial one. The central fascia is a two tone affair with black and beige used. Only the audio system and climate control are bathed in aluminium. The vents for the AC are circular. One problem is that the glove box isn’t too deep and there aren’t many cubby holes to store your daily quota of things.

Besides the gear knob, you have a slot to put in an Iphone and charge it. The gear lever feels nice to hold and is chunky. The instrument binnacle takes on a funky blue color, as seen in Beat, during the night. There are two arm rests for the rear passengers and two for the front. Rear passengers get their own AC vents. The boot is also commendable at 375 liters and the rear seats have a 60:40 split arrangement.

Overall a pleasing place to be, the Chevrolet Sail sedan.

Chevrolet Sail Handling and ride quality

All the current GM cars launched in India in 2010 are been labeled as even fun to drive and the Chevrolet Sail sedan in India is no exception. Chinese markets reports suggest that the Sail is one of the best ride and handling packages in its class.

The use of a centrally mounted fuel tank, lack of transmission tunnel intrusion at the rear, arch-shaped door panels and short overhangs at the front and rear maximize the space quotient inside. Head and leg room is above the competition and there is plenty of space for three even in the rear. However it can be mentioned that passengers at the front would be more comfortable than the ones at the rear.

The front suspension is a short one whereas the rear one is long in interest of comfort of passengers. This makes it an easy handler and one similar to that of the Ford Fiesta 1.6. The fish-like design of the car helps it in giving air a slip and makes it one of the most aerodynamic cars in its class.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

For the Indian market, like the Chevrolet Aveo sedan, the Sail would be launched in two engine trims. The 1.2 liter S-tec motor doing duties in the Beat and the 1.4 liter S-tec motor found in the Aveo 1.4. The 1.2 liter one punches 82 bhp{2 bhp higher than in the Beat} and the 1.4 rates in at 98 Bhp. It is also rumored that the Sail would have a 1.3 liter diesel engine to take on the likes of Maruti Swift Dzire and the Tata Indigo Manza Quadrajet.

Performance is not so brisk on the heavier Sail sedan with the 1.2 liter engine, as it is tuned more for fuel efficiency than performance. Still it manages a decent 0-100 timing of 13.3 seconds whereas the 1.4 liter engine does the 0-100 in 11.1 seconds. Both the engines as well as the body of the car are made with sturdy but weight saving material. The engines also feature Variable Geometry Intake System (VGIS) for better breathing and they also ensure optimum torque and power delivery at any given speed and gear.

Fuel efficiency would be top notch in the 1.2 liter motor with it going upto 14 kmpl in the city and 20 kmpl on the highways. The 1.4 liter motor delivers 12 kmpl in city and about 18 kmpl on the highway. The diesel is said to have 90 Bhp and will go from 0-100 in 14.2 seconds and have a fuel efficiency of 15 kmpl in the city and 23 kmpl on the highway.

Braking is handled by discs on all the 4 wheels and on all the variants. Assisting them are advanced 4 channel Anti-Lock brakes {ABS} and electronic brake-force distribution{EBD}. Cruise control is a paid option.

Safety is handled by dual front air bags, which is standard on all variants and the car comes with collapsible steering, SRS seat belts with anti whiplash on all the seats and reinforced chassis set to absorb and channelize energy in case of crash. It was given top ratings by the Chinese government and adjudged the safest car in its class. The specs from the Chinese models are unlikely to be changed for the Indian markets.

Verdict

The new Chevrolet Sail in India is set to enter one of the territories which is dominated now by the Tata Indigo E-Cs and the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire. It would have the 3 years GM zero service and maintenance assurance plus it would be priced significantly lower than what the others would be offered at. It has a decent set of engines going on for it, it is spacious, nimble in ride and handling and plus those killer looks lacking in this segment. If GM prices it correctly and makes a good image for it, then this car can be the number 1 in its segment. It should be approximately in the 6 lakhs starting range for the petrol 1.2 liter.

CHEVROLET SAIL SEDAN SPECIFICATIONS

ENGINE: 1198 cc in-line 4 cylinder 1399cc, 4 Cylinder in-line, 1297 cc in-line 4 cylinder Common rail

MAX. POWER: 82 Bhp, 94Bhp, 90 Bhp

MAX. TORQUE: 100 Nm,129Nm, 125 Nm

CAR BODY TYPE: Sedan

SEGMENT: C Segment

FUEL: Petrol, Diesel

SEATING CAPACITY: 5

TIRES: 185/60 R14, 185/70 R14

STEERING: Hydraulic Power steering

BRAKES:

Front:- Disc
Rear:- Disc

TRANSMISSION: 5 – Speed, Manual

Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet

Mercedes Benz India Limited {MBIL} are been credited as one of the first to come in India and establish a name for themselves as a premium luxury car maker. While its position as the numero uno may have been toppled over by the so called late comers like the Audis and BMWS, it still is considered as one of the best in what it does. If you want to announce to the world that you have arrived in life, buying a Mercedes is the best bet. The entry to the 3 pointed star club is a real privilege. Earlier memories of my childhood are clouded with pictures of Mercedes cars moving around and announcing that they bring with them a sense of opulence and wealth. So when I first saw the Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet, in a gleaming blue standing there and begging me to drive it, I was more than consenting. It was as if I was invited for a free raunchy session with Pamela Anderson and get to make my own video as well. So here comes the video oops vide description of my tryst with the Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet.

Looks

A cabriolet design actually wouldn’t work in India given our ever so changing climate conditions. But then you would argue that even super cars don’t work in India given the roads or the lack of it, so why is the Buggati Veyron Grand Sport in India? Forget all these useless discussions because the only way a company can stay in contention is by staying ahead or at par with the competition. Earlier Mercedes products were considered stately and this was the main reason for the brands demise in lieu of the fresher and better looking models from the competition.

The Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet looks similar to the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class launched in India. The Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet has the AMG type grille at the front complemented by the big 3 point star right in the middle of the grille. It is flanked by the two head lamp slots. One which houses the parking lamps and the other, the main beam. Both are HID kits and make daylight of the night driving. The air dams are a subtle affair with it getting bifurcated by two horizontal slats. In placed of the fog lamps are inverted golf club type LED lamps. The bonnet is steep however the windscreen is small as can be expected from a cabriolet design.

The side profile doesn’t have huge flared wheel arches as expected however it does have 17 inch 5 spoke alloy wheels. The outside rear view mirrors are anything but good looking. They however do their job well. There are two lines running across the side and both terminate at the rear wheel. The rear wheel arch is flared more than front one.

The rear end features a rather stubby boot. It has longish horizontally staked tail lamps which are bifurcated by the boot lip. The LED stop lamp is mounted atop the boot lip. Jutting out from the rear bumper are two oblong tail pipes.

Interiors

Typical Mercedes-Benz interiors greet you when you open the door of the low slung Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet. The first thing that you notice is the Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system, dual-zone automatic climate control {do you need one in an open top?}, leather upholstery, COMAND electronics interface and the three spoke steering wheel with all the controls on it. Speaking of the steering wheel, it is dark like the rest of the cabin and is contoured in the right places. The seats are also very good and provide just the right amount of bolstering for every occupant. A novelty gimmick in the Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet is that the moment you sit in the seats, the seat belts automatically extend towards you. Once you wear them, they just fit you snugly.

To access the rear seats, one has to just push a small button near the front seats. The front head rests would automatically fold and the seats would automatically whirr ahead. Spooky, isn’t it? But then that is the charm of owning a Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet. The soft top roof is a party trick and it would retract into its hood within 21 seconds. Getting it back on your head would take it 26 seconds. The rear seats are practically useless and a sub 4 lakhs Maruti Suzuki A-star or better still the Rs.2 lakhs Tata Nano has more space. It is befitting kids or those of you who are vertically challenged.

The dashboard is made of non reflective surface coating. It however feels soft to touch and the build quality is impeccable as well. The Mercedes-Benz E class feels a tad bigger than the Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet. It has the MB-Tex premium vinyl soft top. It seems not too well made and this is surprising coming from Mercedes-Benz family. However what it still does well is isolate you from the engine noise. I have a doubt that there might be a leak or two during monsoons.

The boot is miserable and it is obviously due to the roof retracting into it and all that gimmick. It is now comparable to that of the Tata Nano. For the record, the boot of the Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet is only 120 liters.

Handling and ride quality

Mercedes-Benz have always known to be having a fairly good ride and handling package in all their cars. The Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet is no different however due its body form, handling takes precedence over ride quality. The car would do your bidding across hairpin bends however it would definitely make you aware of what is going on while it is doing it. The steering is strictly okay and not fitting a sports car or one with sporty intentions. It is moderately light in city speeds but doesn’t offer good feedback at higher speeds. It is not as sporty as say, the BMW 5 series coupe or the Audi A6 Avantgarde.

Ride quality is typically stiff and unlike any Mercedes-Benz car that you may have experienced. It is however better than its German competition. The ride would jut over sharp bumps and smother the not so sharp ones.

The Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet is quite a quiet car. Even though it has a soft top, it doesn’t let noise filter through even at high speeds. You can hear that sports car burble but not so much as to disturb your conversation inside the car.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

The Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 petrol engine producing 272 Bhp @ 6000 rpm and about 355 Nm of torque @ 2400 rpm. This might not be sports car power figures however it does propel the 1765 kg car from 0-100 kmph in 6.8 seconds. It reaches a top speed of 225 kmph {restricted}, one which I couldn’t verify on the short drive. There is an AMG slated version putting out 518 Bhp which is doing the rounds of the international market and is rumored to make it to India some time next year. The gearbox is the seven-speed automatic transmission as the bog standard. It doesn’t have paddle shifts and this is a huge glaring omission. Without paddle shifts, the car does feel strained. The gearbox in itself is smooth and does make easy work of driving this big car around.

Braking is achieved via 4 wheel disc brakes coupled with ABS, traction control, Electronic Stability Program {ESP} and Electronic Brake Distribution {EBD} for good measure. There is also a special Driver Assistance Package available which brings in a lane departure warning/correction system, blind-spot warning system and PreSafe braking.

Safety is also taken care with the rigid body shell, designed to take care of dispersing energy in the event of a crash. It is supported by the usual 3 point ELR seat belts, anti whiplashes, PreSafe {this one anticipates a crash and secures the occupants accordingly}, Attention Assist {detects drowsy driver behavior and warns with a gentle nudge on the steering wheel} and 6 air bags.

Fuel efficiency, should you want to know, is 6.2 kmpl in the city and 10.4 kmpl on the highway. This is ARAI certified figures.

Verdict

Even though you would have crores to spare, a Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet isn’t a sensible buy. But then, it isn’t made for the sane person. It is only for those who want exclusivity and wouldn’t care more about all the pan stains, occasional pigeon poop and all. I don’t know if you would ever get to even drive open top given the Indian climate. But, if you ever buy one, you would be the envy of everyone in and around your locality and friends circle. If you are single and very rich, then this should be your choice of drive. Given its price tag of 64,50,000 { Delhi ex-showroom }, you are definitely gonna be exclusive and may be even get one of those dreaded phone calls.

Technical specifications of the Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet

Engine stats

Base Engine Size: 3.5 liters
Base Number of Cylinders: 6
Base Engine Type: V6
Horsepower: 272 Bhp
Max Horsepower: 6000 rpm
Torque: 355 Nm
Max Torque: 2400 rpm
Drive Type: RWD
Turning Circle: 34.9 ft.

Exterior

Length: 186 in.
Width: 70.5 in.
Height: 54.9 in.
Wheel Base: 106.7 in.
Ground Clearance: 5 in.
Kerb Weight: 1765 kgs

Interior

Front Head Room: 37.8 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 53.1 in.
Rear Head Room: 36.5 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 46.9 in.
Front Leg Room: 43 in.
Rear Leg Room: 30.6 in.
Luggage Capacity: 120 liters
Maximum Seating: 4
Transmissions : 7 speed automatic with manual override.
Front tyres/wheels: 245 / 40 R 17
Fuel and consumption combined: 7.6 kmpl
Rear tyres/wheels: 265 / 35 R 17

Skoda Yeti – The abominable snowman

The name of a car is sometimes reason enough to buy it. Sometimes, the name would just actually speel out the qualities of the car much to the likes of the Honda Civic and the car in question now, the Skoda Yeti. Yes, this car has been launched in India within barely 10 months after the display at the Delhi Motor Show in 2010, early on. Skoda Auto India have actually tried to present a car to the Indian car buying public much to their confusion. Which segment does this car actually represent? It doesn’t look like anything on the market now. It can be called a sporty hatchback but its tall stance belies that. It doesn’t have the girth of an SUV however looks like a mini SUV. When I first saw the SUV{should I dare call it that?} in flesh, I was taken aback. This vehicle looked much better in flesh than in the pictures. Here, I am now really tempted to drive this SUV and here goes the review for it.

Looks

Its definitely love it or loathe it. A quick poll in our office{with even the watchmen and receptionist included} showed that every one loved this car. This means that Skoda Auto India have got their first main thing right and that is in the looks department. Viewed from the front, the new Skoda Yeti in India looks like a bigger Skoda Fabia. The head lamps are the first thing that would strike any one. The somewhat square head lamps flanked by round fog lamps. The typical Skoda grille is there giving a family face to the Skoda Yeti. There are also day time running lamps inside the head lamps however those are disabled for India. The air dams are also rectangular and outlined by fiber scuff plates. There are two soft kinks on the bonnet. The windscreen is also sort of raked.

The outside rear view mirrors are huge and chunky and they have the side indicators integrated into them. The sides are actually quite boxy and the waistline is also not that huge. There are huge chunky roof rails as well. The talking point is the 16 inch multi spoke alloy wheels which fill up the wheel arches quite well.

The rear is also quite boxy with a huge glass area with a single wiper doing duties. Actually the car resembles more like an extended wheel base Maruti Wagon R. The tail lamps are also semi circular. The bumper is also quite big and has been integrated neatly with a scuff plate like the front one doing guarding duties. The reflectors are also placed in the rear bumper.

Interiors

Typical Skoda Auto India high quality interiors define the Skoda Yeti. The doors shut with a solid feel, expected only from the Germans. The dashboard looks more like the one from the Skoda Laura. Even the 4 spoke steering wheel is derived from the Laura. The steering wheel however is devoid of steering mounted audio controls. That is not a bad thing after all however like the Toyota Fortuner carrying over the Toyota Innova’s interiors, I definitely feel that such an expensive and up market car should have been given more distinguishable interiors.The dash itself is made of very high quality materials and every surface is soft to touch. A clean line seperates the upper and lower dash. The front seats are way comfortable once you are seated in them. I felt myself a bit struggling to adjust in the driver’s seat because of my 6ft 4 inch frame however once I found a comfortable position, it was all good. The other things adding to this convenience was the 8 way adjustable power seats for the front passengers. The headrests are also of the adjustable types. The steering wheel, hand brake, gear lever and seats are all in leather though.

The rear seats are also comfortable and much in the Honda CR-V ballpark. This is because of the individually reclining seats. When you want just 4 passengers to be seated, the rear middle seat flips forward to act like an arm rest. There is a rear AC vent as well with separate controls. There are many small storage spaces inside the cabin. The rear seats though feel a bit upright. The boot space is a goood 415 liters however the rear seats have a 60:40 split seat arrangement and this liberates a huge 1665 liters of luggage space.

Handling and ride quality

The new Skoda Yeti in India from Skoda Auto is based on the Skoda Laura platform. This means it should be an agile car nee SUV with a good enough ride quality as a plus. This SUV stands at 4.2 meters and isn’t too long. 2 inches short and this would have qualified for an excise SOP. The car gets an all independent high tech suspension system. It however is a bit on the firmer side. This car also uses a full time four wheel Haldex drive system. This one is variable just like the one found in the Honda CR-V. Normally the SUV sends 90% of its power to the front wheels however when the rear wheels begin to slip or lose grip, that’s when more power is sent to the rear ones.

The direct steering though a bit lacking in the feel{we have been spoilt by BMWs recently, I think} is quite a good unit. It does exactly what it is said to. However the Skoda offering can definitely teach a thing or two to the much expensive and highly acclaimed Honda CR-V. This small SUV corners like it is on rails and there is little body roll going around fast corner. However the astonishing thing is that even at high speeds around corners, the ESP rarely cuts in to spoil the fun. All this translates to a slightly lumpy ride around city. The small potholes or sharp ruts do upset its apple cart a bit.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

As of now, the Skoda Yeti is been offered with only one engine option and it is the 2 liter Common Rail Diesel from the Laura. It has a 6 speed manual gearbox. As I know, from previous experience from the Skoda Laura, this engine only has the slightest hint of turbo lag at low speeds. It produces 140 Bhp of power and 32.63 Kgm of torque. This engine isn’t peaky like the unit from the Chevrolet Cruze and this means driving even in city traffic isn’t a chore. The gear box is also very good with its slick movements and the ratios well spaced out. NVH is also well taken care off and there is only a hint of engine noise at very high speeds. For the record, the 0-100 kmph comes up in only 11.2 seconds and the top speed is 162 kmph. The SUV does feel sprightly to drive with the responsive engine and tandem of smooth gearbox.

Halting the 1.5 tonnes of metal is the 4 wheel disc brakes supported by Brake Assist, traction control, ABS and ESP. This is one of the safest SUV in the Skoda Auto India range of vehicles with a wide array of safety features like Hill Holder Clutch, electronic differential lock, 4 air bags, collapsible steering wheel and 3 point seat belts for all the occupants.

Fuel efficiency which is so paramount to the Indian customer is appreciable with the SUV returning 12.5 kmpl in the city and 19 kmpl on the open highway.

Verdict

The Skoda Yeti is really a commendable offering from Skoda Auto India. This is because of the niche clientele it would be catering to. However due to its widespread appeal as a costly hatchback, small SUV and even a sedan it would be well received. This was confirmed by the approximately 1500 bookings that the company received within the first 7 days of its launch. The mini SUV has all that people would want. Its stylish, spacious, has a small footprint, near perfect ride and handling, fuel efficiency and power. The only thing that may go against it is its high sticker price and poor image about Skoda Auto India service part. The Skoda Yeti is been offered in two trims, Skoda Yeti Ambiente and Skoda Yeti Elegance. The 4 wheel drive is standard on both the trims. The Skoda Yeti Ambiente version misses out on auto dimming rear view mirrors, climate control, cornering lights, 6 CD changer and touch screen audio controls. The Skoda Yeti Elegance however gets all these and special versions of the driver aids. The Skoda Yeti Ambiente sells for Rs. 17.03 lakhs{ex-showroom, Mumbai} and the Skoda Yeti Elegance goes for Rs. 19.25 lakhs {ex-showroom, Mumbai}.

Skoda Yeti Technical Specifications

Engine

Engine Type: High-pressure direct injection system in-line, liquid cooling system, Turbocharged diesel engine, turbocharger with self-aligning blades, 16V DOHC, transverse in front
Displacement cc: 1968
Power (PS@rpm): 140 Bhp @ 4100 rpm
Torque (Nm@rpm): 320 Nm @ 1850 rpm
Valve Mechanism: DOHC
Compression Ratio: 18:1
No of Cylinders: 4
Cylinder Configuration: Inline
Fuel Type: Diesel

Dimensions and Weights

Overall Length (mm): 4224
Overall Width (mm): 1796
Overall Height (mm): 1692
Wheel Base (mm): 2577
Ground Clearance (mm): 181
Boot Space (liter): 417
Kerb Weight (kg): 1549
Gross Vehicle Weight (kg): 2072
Number of Doors: 5

Fuel Economy

Mileage Highway (km/liter): 12.5
Mileage City (km/liter): 19
Mileage Overall (km/liter): 15.75

Capacities

Fuel Tank Capacity (liter): 60
Seating Capacity (person): 5

Performance

Maximum Speed: 162 Km/Hour
0-100kmph: 11.2 seconds
1/4 Mile: 18.01 seconds

Transmission

Transmission Type: Manual
Gears/Speeds: 6 Gears

Suspensions

Rear Suspension: McPherson suspension with lower triangular links and torsion stabiliser
Front Suspension: Multi-element axle, with one longitudinal and three transverse links, with torsion stabiliser

Steering

Steering Type: Direct rack and pinion steering with electro mechanical power steering
Minimum Turning Radius (meter): 5

Brakes

Front Brakes: Ventilated Disc brakes with single/piston floating caliper
Rear Brakes: Solid Disc brakes

Wheels and Tyres

Wheel Type: Alloy Wheels
Wheel Size: 7.0 J*16″
Tyres: 215 / 62 R16

Hyundai i10 Road Test


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Hyundai Motors have developed in leaps and bounds and have come to be known to produce some very good small cars. It is because of their ability to manufacture some great small cars that they have gained a lot of popularity and Hyundai’s reputation in the Indian market has grown tremendously. The first offering from Hyundai was the Santro and this was a car that took the Indian market by storm becoming the Korean manufacturer’s best selling vehicle not only in India but globally as well. The Santro was so well received that Hyundai became the largest exporter of passenger cars in India along with reaching the number two spot in terms of car manufacturing in the country. The Santro was instrumental in putting the Korean car manufacturer on the world map and Hyundai has taken the success of the small car and turned it into a big advantage for itself in the small car segment. These days it is hard to argue the fact that Hyundai is one of the best manufacturers of small cars. Check on Road Price

The Santro was constantly being upgraded and received regular improvements to better its looks and feature offerings but over time the model just got outdated and there were cries for a newer model offering. Hyundai addressed this customer requirement by bringing out their new flagship the Hyundai i10 in India. The i10 has been around now for a while and Hyundai had done such a good job with the first model that it is hard to imagine them making it a whole lot better. But that is exactly what Hyundai did by introducing the Hyundai i10 Kappa2. The i10 when it was launched in India was considered the car to beat in its segment and set the bar for what cars in the segment aimed to offer. These days with the burgeoning of the small car segment in India with the introduction of a number of competitors like the Chevrolet Beat, VW Polo, Maruti Swift, Ford Figo and Fiat Punto, Hyundai’s market share was beginning to decrease and they had to do something about it, thereby introducing the i10 Kappa2. The Hyundai i10 Kappa2 is on show this year at the Paris Motor Show and we have had the opportunity to test drive the vehicle extensively and have brought you the following.

Exteriors and Interiors

Let us start with the new look of the flagship i10 Kappa2. The new Hyundai i10 has been upgraded with new modern, trendy looks and gets a new front fascia. The headlights now wrap around the sides of the bonnet and offer a pronounced look to the front of the vehicle. They protrude out a bit more as well and allow the i10 to gain a more defined front shape. The turn indicators have been integrated very well into the headlight cluster and offer a distinct look to the front end of the vehicle. The front end also get the new look Hyundai chrome grille that is supposed to be the family face of all Hyundai cars coming out. The air vent has been pushed a bit lower into the front bumper and also gets a wider profile to give the front some more character and style. The distinctive chrome grille now has a horizontal slat that splits it in two with the Hyundai logo proudly sitting right in the middle. At the back of the chrome grille is a honeycomb matt black grill that add a more aggressive look to the vehicle.

The front bumper has been extensively reworked and has some crisp lines and curves that make it look very masculine and really give the car an aggressive look. The triangular shaped slots at the corners of the bumper house the fog lamps in the trims that have it as an option. The hood of the i10 generally stays the same with only minute creases incorporated above the headlights to add a curvier look to the front end.

The hood slopes upwards and meets the roof where you will notice another change in the new Hyundai i10 Kappa2, the introduction of a small radio antenna positioned in the middle at the front. Surprisingly this small addition does a lot to make the Hyundai i10 more appealing and allows it to get a more international look. This is bound to entice a number of buyers to choose the i10 Kappa2.

Looking at the Hyundai i10 from the side will allow you to see the stylish changes that have been made to make the car more visually appealing. The car now gets body colored door handles and door trim and there is also some extra badging. The left quarter panel gets a VTVT badge and the right panel gets a Kappa2 badge. I will talk about the VTVT in detail in the engine section of the article. The side mirrors no integrated the turn indicators and this is one of the best aesthetic improvements in the new vehicle. Many buyers have been waiting for this modification as it is considered to be quite a desirable feature for Indian customers.

The rear of the car probably gets the most modifications in terms of styling and new look. The rear bumper has a lot to do with this as it get a completely new shape and curve to it. It has wider, bolder more crisp lines that define it better and make the rear of the car get a much need masculine and more aggressive look. The rear bumper is now lower than before and gives the car a more planted, sporty look and a low profile feel. The bumper also houses rear reflectors which are also new additions to the new Hyundai i10 Kappa2.

The shape of the outer cover of the taillights generally remains the same but it gets a new look as the inside cluster has a round lens which is integrated into it. The taillights are split in the middle with the turn indicators and also wrap around the side of the car making the car feel wider at the back. The rear bumper follows on from the front end and also features reverse parking sensors which are a first for the car and make it stand out in this very competitive small car segment.

There are some new styling badges on the boot lid which help differentiate the Hyundai i10 Kappa2 and the top of the boot lid now get a rear spoiler that features a stop lamp integrated into it. This adds a more sporty character to the vehicle. The boot handle remains the same as before along with the shape of the windshield and the rear windshield wiper is ever present. The Hyundai i10 gets an overall more aggressive look with the crisper, sharper lines and curves that also give it a much more sporty, masculine and aggressive image. The older curvy look has been remodeled really well to now add some much needed character to the vehicle and the paint quality and welding finish are also up there.

The older version of the Hyundai i10 had one of the best interiors in terms of gadget offerings and space and Hyundai have decided not to tamper much with this aspect of the vehicle. The first thing you will notice about the inside of the car is that the dashboard gets a new color scheme with a visually attractive two-tone grey scheme adorning the top, bottom and steering wheel of the car. The new dark and light grey scheme give the interior a better feel that the older beige one. The steering wheel has three spokes and now includes buttons that control the audio system as well as a new Bluetooth connection. This is bound to excite prospective buyers and adds to the international feel of the vehicle.

The addition if the audio and Bluetooth buttons increases the safety standard on the vehicle as well as drivers can now concentrate on the road without getting distracted by the need to look away to change volume or talk on the phone. The steering also get the rake and reach feature that will allow the best driving position for any driver.

The instrument cluster has a new all black background with bluish light scheme that add to the attractiveness of the interiors and also allows the driver to get a clear view of the fuel gauge and other important information. The central console houses the audio system at the top of the dashboard and the climate controls at the bottom. The central ac vents flank the audio system and it gets a silver plated curvy look to it. The audio system now also included a USB port and auxiliary port that should be a big boon to those music lovers that enjoy a ride as much as their favorite song. It is MP3/CD compatible as well. The rotary ac vents at the far corners of the dash now get chrome accents that make it stand out just like the new accents on the central console. The rest of the dashboard is similar to the older model and only the inclusion of the ORVM controls, which are also now electrically heated, are new. The availability of the electrically heated mirrors on the Hyundai i10 Kappa2 should come a big surprise to those in the market for a small car as this feature is even absent on some of the larger cars offered in the Indian market.

The front is also fitted with dual airbags that come with the higher end trim of the vehicle along with Anti-lock Braking System and Electronic Brake Distribution. Another quirky feature of the vehicle is the gear lever position which is reminiscent of the Honda family of vehicles and is positioned below the climate control knobs like the Honda CRV and Civic Hybrid. This takes a few minutes to get accustomed to but once familiar with it you will find the large handle firm to grip and visually appealing as well with well integrated chrome accents.

The front seats of the Hyundai i10 Kappa2 are the same as the outgoing model with assimilated headrests that offer unique look but may inhibit comfort for a few taller drivers. The cushioning of the seats is ample and the support they offer is also very good. The rear cabin of the Hyundai i10 Kappa2 is also spacious and the seats are well contoured to support three passengers quite comfortably. Leg room and head room are comparable to other car in its class and will not disappoint unless you are well over six feet. The fabric used on the seats is of high quality which fits in well with the other durable plastic parts and holders which pepper the car. There are a number of bottle and can holders integrated into the door handles and seats to store lots of miscellaneous items.

Engine and Ride

The Hyundai i10 Kappa2 is fitted with the same 1.2 Kappa engine that is found on the previous model but there are small tweaks that improve its performance. The new 1.2 Kappa engine now integrates a Hyundai patented VTVT engine that works on variable timing valve technology that has helped to increase power by 3 PS.

The new Hyundai i10 Kappa2 feels quite different to drive and this is down to the fact that power delivery is more linear now. There is a refinement and smoothness that is brought on by the VTVT. Handling on the i10 was always good and the new Hyundai i10 Kappa2 is a lot of fun to drive as gear rations are also calibrated to ensure maximum power delivery in all gears. Front and rear suspension also remains the same but the added cushioning of the seats provides a more comfortable ride.

The overall build quality of the vehicle has increased along with braking ability and there is now much less rattle and roll noise inside the cabin offering a smoother, comfortable ride and the only negative feedback could be that the steering wheel feels slightly soft and slow to respond. The car is very steady even at speeds in excess of 130kph and the maneuverability of the vehicle is good. Driving the vehicle on the highway or zipping in and out of heavy traffic should be a cinch in the all new Hyundai i10 Kappa2.

Verdict and Recommendations

Hyundai was always confident with introducing the i10 as its new flagship vehicle and the new Hyundai i10 Kappa2 does justice to that extent. It is one of the best offering in the small car segment in the Indian market today although it faces some stiff competition. Offering more for less is one of Hyundai’s main mottos in any case and they pride themselves on being able to attract customers due to their many features not normally found in small cars or in the same rice range.

The introduction of the VTVT engine helps to improve the drive and performance of the vehicle and combined with the new exterior styling features gives the car a very masculine and aggressive feel. Additions like turn integrated ORVM’s, which are electrically heated, Bluetooth connectivity, reverse sensors, etc all point to the fact that the Hyundai i10 Kappa2 is one feature-packed vehicle.

Hyundai i10 Kappa2 Specifications

Vehicle Category: Hatch
Engines (standard): 1.2 L, Kappa2, VTVT,  80 HP, 11.4 kgm torque
Drive train: 5 passenger, Front engine, 5-door hatch, FWD
Transmissions (standard): 5-speed manual
Curb Weight: 1376 kg
0-100 kph:13 secs (est.)
Mileage city/hwy: 15.5 / 19 kmpl
Base Price: Rs.5.01 Lakh (est)

Marching done by General Motors India

General Motors India are one of those manufacturers who have been going about doing their work silently and at the same time achieving big time success. They recently got a new flexible engine facility at Talegaon, near Pune. Flexible because it is the only one of General Motors India or for that matter General Motors across the world, that can manufacture petrol as well as diesel engines at the same time. The inauguration was attended by Principal Secretary of Industries A.M.Khan, Chief Secretary J.P.Dange, President and Managing Director of GM India Mr.Karl Slym and the Union Minister of Heavy industries and Public Enterprises Vilasrao Deshmukh. The company has invested about Rs.1,000 crore and is expected to produce 1,60,000 engines a year. The plant also has provision for further expansion. Notable is the fact that it would produce engines for all of General Motors India’s small cars this side of the Chevrolet Aveo. Commendable is that all other plants by the company have been winning the greenest plant award by the Indian government three years in a row and the new plant at Talegaon would only complement the other centers in this aspect.

The other main news from the company is that they have got a BS4 compliant engine in their old work horse, the Chevrolet Tavera and it would be re-christened the Chevrolet Tavera BS4. The company would be employing ICML’s 2 liter CRDI engine which is BS4 compliant. This engine is actually picked up from Rover and was used by ICML in their Rhino SUV. The new Chevrolet Tavera BS4’s engine now makes 123 Ps of peak power and developing about 220 Nm of torque. This vehicle would be on the road by February or January 2011 by the earliest and may be one of the cleanest MUVs on the road today. The world is becoming a costlier place to live and this is evident from the fact with the rising costs of car manufacturing inputs. In this case, the low priced GM products would be costlier but only by a bit. This is because of the rising input costs of rubber, steel and other raw materials. The new pricing strategy would be in effect from January 2011.

General Motors India are also looking forward to slot in a smaller engine in their bread and butter Chevrolet Spark model. The reason for this was to position the Chevrolet Spark as a more cost effective proposition to the Alto K10 and the smaller Tata Nano. Not that the company would have to produce an all new groundsup engine since they already have one in their overseas Spark model. The current 1 liter one would also doing

duties and would be a more expensive option for those looking for more power. This engine would be launched by January 2011 in the Indian market. To accommodate for the growing number of cars in their portfolio, the General is looking to increase its dealer network by a good 240 units overall. This target should be achieved by end of 2011. The first step to this was taken by Mr.Karl Slym who inaugurated two new sales point and also 4 service points in the Mumbai area recently.

Speaking of new products, the company is all set to strew the Indian car field with its various new models. This is because of the recent Chinese SIAM agreement. Over the period of next 2 years, atleast 6 new cars would be launched in the Indian market. These cars may be entirely from the General Motors stable or from the new Wualing range. One can expect to see  a notchback, small car, hatchback, SUV, a pick up van and also a van on the lines of the Maruti Eeco. The latter car has been already been extensively tested in Nashik in Maharashtra. Going by the look of it, it seems that the car is as spacious as the Maruti Eeco however its interior fit and finish wouldn’t be a patch on the Maruti. The van overall looks very tough and would be priced lower than the Maruti offering. The other new models that we can think as of now would be the Chevrolet Aveo which was displayed at the New York Motor Show. It looks similar to the Chevrolet Beat however more spacious than what the baby could offer. These cars would undergo the homologation process as well as trials in the Company’s Bangalore R&D facility. As far as localization goes, the company would be making this cars with about 90% localisation. This would enable the cars to be priced very competitively. An all new SUV from the Wualing range would be on offer as early as February 2011 and it would go head on with the Mahindra Scorpio and the Tata Safari.

Speaking of the Chevrolet Beat, General Motors India would introducing the much demanded diesel engine under the hood of the small car. Mr. Karl Slym confirmed that there would be a diesel motor under the hood of the Chevrolet Beat as well as LPG variant by April 2011. The diesel motor would be a 1 liter one with 3 cylinders and would be very fuel efficient. This diesel engine has been designed in Europe by GM and would be made at the new recent plant in Talegaon. It would have a heavy percentage of localization and this same car with slight modification would also be exported to the international markets. Another new car which the company is planning to launch in the Eco mindset of the Indian car buying public is an all electric car. This was after the debacle of the joint venture between GM and Reva. The former has been working overtime on getting an electric car to India from their range of international Electric cars to India. The company has taken a leaf out of their short association with Reva and has done their homework in the fact that small towns would like electric cars more. This mini electric car would be on display in the Delhi Motor show scheduled on April 2011. Gauging by the response of the Indian public, GM would think of launching this car in India and at a very competitive price than what the Reva is been offered at.

Mahindra and Mahindra future plans

After the acquisition of Korean manufacturer Ssangyong, Mahindra and Mahindra have pumped in Rs.2,000 crore for the revival of the company. It is a very big investment however as signs go, Mahindra and Mahindra seem to have got themselves a bargain. The first vehicle to be born out of this wedlock would be a SUV and research for it is already underway with the approval from the Korean government. Well, you may ask the reason why there is need for approval from the government? The reason why the company has to take government permission is because the government has taken upon themselves the responsibility of restructuring the company. After this approval, few of Ssangyong’s engineers dropped by in Mahindra and Mahindra’s Chakan plant near Pune. It seems that the company may finally be able to exploit the benefits of acquiring the Korean company soon. The new SUV would be slotted above the Mahindra Scorpio and would be a viable option to the Chevrolet Captiva and Hyundai Santa Fe.

Another company which Mahindra and Mahindra have a controlling stake is Reva. This company is the only one in India making strictly electric cars. The coalition recently launched the Reva electric car in Pune. The company currently manufactures about 35,000 cars in a year. This coalition is now looking out for international playgrounds namely China. The reason for this is that the Chinese government have recently announced attractive tax rebates for companies selling electric cars. To make it more practical, the Chinese government are also making efforts to put in electric infrastructure in all the major urban areas. The electric car numbers are supposedly pegged to grow upto 5 million by 2015. The model that the company plans to launch in China would be the Reva NXG which has 4 seats, 100 kmph top speed and also range of 170 kms. There is also a 15 minutes easy charging facility which would be fitted into the car and also a new technology called as REV-ive. The REV-ive acts in such a way that should the car run out of charge, there would be a reserve mode. Also the Chinese market is known more for durable but cheap items and this could prove to be a boon for Mahindra and Mahindra since they could price the Reva NXG even more aggressively.

Another of Mahindra and Mahindra’s technical partners, Renault have moved out of the partnership but not before giving the former rights to manufacture the Mahindra Logan in India and also for exports. They have acquired the tools and die casting materials from the French manufacturer. Since the car hasn’t been too much of a success due to its high price, the Indian company is thinking of changing the mindset of the Indian public away from the Meru cab thought, one for which the Mahindra Logan is famous for. The design for the car would be changed a bit as well by its Indian owners now. The car is all set to be rebadged and marketed with a fresh appeal for the Indian car buying public. Vivek Nayar, Marketing Head of the company confirmed that there would be a new “Logan for India” campaign. This would start towards the end of December 2010. Unfortunately some other of the company’s products like the Renault Fluence, Renault Megane and other small cars cannot make it to the Indian soil with a Mahindra badge and instead would come with a Renault badge. Yes, Renault would market all their cars on their except for the Logan as it would be now entrusted totally upon Mahindra and Mahindra.

As always and as per tradition, the Mahindra Great Escape event was flagged off amidst much fanfare. The event was held in Hyderabad this year. For those of you who aren’t in the know, the Mahindra Great Escape is an event where customers of Mahindra vehicles can take part in off road events and test the off road capability of their SUVs. The company provides for back up facilities to handle breakdowns, accidents as well as breakfast. This event is flagged off by showing the participants video tutorial of off roading manoeuvres by National Rally Champion Hari Singh and then a go karting session. The very next day, once the participants get a hang of the off-road conditions, they are driven to a 50 kms off road course for the event. This particular course was at Ocean County along the NH 9. It started with a flat smooth road however the road becomes rough after a few kilometers into the trip. Next step is the grass fields, further ahead is the steep rocky descent followed by a hill climb and then a waist deep water lake. This was the course where most of the participants encountered power problems as well as were found lacking in off-road know how. The last and final course was a slush patch with thick vegetation to compound to the problems. There is no winner in this and it is just to show the participants the utility of their SUVs and how they can handle the rough. At the end of this all, the person coming out unscathed is given a prize and maintenance tips for the Mahindra vehicles is also given. The only thing qualifying one for this Mahindra Great Escape event is that you should own a Mahindra SUV or a jeep and should be of the legal age to drive. There were no casualties except for the few breakdowns which happened due to the water entering the tail pipe and so on.

Used Maruti Suzuki Wagon R Buying Guide

Maruti Suzuki India Limited is more famous for small cars and any one looking to buy an used small car would may be look no further than the slew of hatchbacks that the company offers. One such car is the used Maruti Suzuki Wagon R in India. It was the world’s first tall boy design amongst cars however when launched in India, it had to compete with two other tall boys namely the Daewoo Matiz and Hyundai Santro. Sales for the Maruti didn’t take off until 2002 when Maruti Suzuki India Limited decided to refresh the car a bit and also slash the price. That day and this day, the car hasn’t looked back.

This car is roomier than its peers however one has to bear with lower quality of materials. The first batch of cars didn’t have too much of equipment however the post 2002 models have many of the features standard even on the lower variants. The aircon for the car works wonderfully and should be checked if it gives a consistent blow. Timely replacement of the fluid inside should ensure trouble free performance. The lower LXI variant doesn’t get a tachometer and some of the power goodies whereas the top end VXI offers all those and a different interior trim. The electricals should stand well and there isn’t a problem with those. Check out if all the lights and gauges are working properly or not. Interior space is abundant and seating 5 shouldn’t be a problem. The steering wheel is very light for city use whereas on the highway, it feels a bit out of place and doesn’t weigh up nicely. Check for lock to lock and see if there aren’t any abnormal sounds.

Check for the beadings lining on the door as these were weak and tend to give away bringing in all the dust, grime and water inside the car. Replacing these wouldn’t be a costly affair though. Have a look at the engine now. An unusually clean engine bay should be cause for concern as the owner may be trying to mask something. With about 64 Bhp on tap for the older versions, performance was good however expect the engine to be quite vocal at high speeds. At low speeds there shouldn’t be any strange noises coming from the engine bay or the suspension department. A used Maruti Suzuki Wagon R shouldn’t pull to one side while on a smooth road. If it does, it means that the car’s suspension has taken quite a beating and the strut bearing needs to be replaced. The car’s tail pipe shouldn’t emit blue smoke as this is sign of the engine been abused and requiring extensive work. Usually Maruti Suzuki cars are cheap to maintain and the overall routine service cost for a used Maruti Suzuki Wagon R in India shouldn’t exceed more than Rs.2,000 including oil change. If the used car is maintained properly it should provide for years of trouble free ownership experience.  Used car prices should hover around the Rs 2.24 lakhs mark for a 2003 model and about Rs.3 to 3.4 lakhs for a 2005 to 2008 model.