2011 Skoda Fabia Roomster in India

Skoda Fabia Roomster Review

Just a little while ago the Geneva Motor Show was witness to the latest face lifted offerings from Czech car maker Skoda. They unveiled the newest look of the Skoda Fabia Roomster and Skoda Fabia Estate along with the modified upgraded engines. These compact car offerings from Skoda have gotten fresh exterior styling, an exciting range of engines which incorporate new technology and touched up interiors as well.

The Roomster and Estate now get new front grilles and “3-D shaped headlights” which gives it a better dynamic look accentuating their stance and giving it a wider look as well. Under the hood will be an upgraded engine portfolio with four units being powered by gas and two being diesel-powered and starting from a range of 60 horsepower up to 105 horsepower.

The 2011 Skoda Fabia Roomster as the name suggests also packs quite a spacious cabin for this MPV car and is comfortable for all passengers. Expected to hit the Indian market in the fist quarter of 2011, the Skoda Fabia Roomster is one of the most eagerly awaited vehicles from the Skoda stable after the Skoda Yeti. With an expected price in the range of 13 to 15 lakhs depending on engine options and features the Roomster should provide Indian audiences with a good choice in the MPV car segment

Performance – 2011 Skoda Fabia Roomster in India

The all new 2011 Skoda Fabia Roomster will offer a range of engines which will either be petrol powered or diesel powered and give between 60 and 105 horsepower. This should make it very exciting to see the response it receives in the Indian market as it will provide the market with various options to suit every buyer’s requirement.

In India one of the main concerns of buyers is mileage and the Skoda Fabia Roomster is fitted wit a range of engines from 1.2 liter to 1.9 liters. This will additionally provide options for those that are looking for high fuel efficiency as well as performance.

The 1.2 liter TSI petrol engine is mated with a seven-speed, dual clutch DSG gearbox and gives the best in the range horsepower. Do not let the size of this engine fool you as with it engineers at Skoda not only extract maximum power but also amazing fuel efficiency. This four-cylinder 1.2 liter engine is available with two power levels delivering 85 horsepower and 105 horsepower. Skoda also provides the option of a five-speed manual transmission mated to this engine.

Other variants of the 1.2 liter engine are the 60 horsepower, 4 cylinder, 6 valve; the 1.2 liter, 12 valve, 70 horsepower and the 1.2 liter TSI, 85 horsepower.

The Skoda Roomster is also available with other petrol versions and has either a 1.6 liter delivering 105 horsepower and 153 Nm of torque or the 1.4 liter which puts out 85 horsepower and 132 Nm torque. These engines will be mated with a five-speed manual transmission and deliver a great combination of fuel economy and performance.

The diesel variants of the Skoda Fabia Roomster will have two types of engines – the 1.4 liter, turbo diesel, common rail putting out 80 horsepower and 195 Nm of torque and the 1.9 liter, turbo diesel, common rail giving 105 horsepower and a peak torque of 240 Nm. The diesel version of the Fabia Roomster will also be mated to a five-speed manual transmission and will also have a ventilated disc brake system and power assisted, speed sensitive steering. The 1.9 liter TDI is the same engine that is presently used in the Skoda Octavia and should continue to be the one of choice for Indian buyers.

The Skoda Roomster provides a great combination of mileage and performance and buyers will be delighted with the latest engine offerings from the car manufacturer. The 1.2 liter and 1.4 liter petrol engines should deliver around 10.2 km/l while driving in the city and around 15.8 on the highway. The 1.6 liter petrol engine should deliver around 9.6 km/l in the city while giving around 15.5 km/l on the highway.

The diesel variants are touted as giving 14.6 km/l in the city for the 1.4 liter engine along with 20.2 km/l on the highway, with the 1.9 liter TDI being able to deliver a mileage of 13.9 km/l in the city and 19.2 km/l while driving on the highway.

Steering in the Skoda Roomster is light and makes for easy maneuverability and the turning radius of the Roomster is also very tight. The power assisted steering makes for a completely enjoyable and comfortable ride whether in the city or on the highway.  The ride quality in the Roomster is smooth and even at high speeds the car is stable and compliant.

Interior noise levels are a bit high as the smaller 1.4 liter engine knocks a bit although the more refined 1.9 liter diesel is quite silent at speed with only road noise tending to filter through.

2011 Skoda Fabia Roomster Styling

The styling of the Roomster is one of its unique features with new modifications to the front end and interiors as well. The front of the Skoda Fabia Roomster has been redesigned to fit in the new engine portfolio and now has a more aggressive styling. The body is an eclectic mix of both straight and curvy lines and incorporates masculine and feminine design features.

The wheel wells of the Roomster are pushed out a bit further and give the car a broader stance. The widening of the car has also increased interior space for passengers to sit more comfortably while also increasing the ground clearance.

The exterior of the car has a much stronger finish to it and the car now has a much sturdier look. The rear door handles are integrated into the black window border and provide a nice touch of class to the car. Front headlights are 3-D styled and flow smoothly into the hood which then cuts sharply upwards to meet with the high roofline.

The rear of the car has those feminine features I mentioned earlier and the wide curvy rear end is accentuated by the wide rear wheel wells. This gives the impression that the car has a large boot, which it does. The taillights are placed mid way up the tail gate and are vertically positioned to provide optimum viewing to other drivers and the rear window is wide and also features a rear wiper.

Interiors of the car are a bit of a let down when compared to the exterior styling but that is not to say they are not good. The interiors are designed and styled keeping in mind comfort and functionality for all occupants. The interiors are dual tone and the dash, seats and instrument cluster look neat and tidy with the black and grey combination.

The front cabin is very spacious and the seats offer good cushioning and support for both occupants. The steering wheel comes with a rake and reach option to offer maximum comfort for driver position. The rear cabin is also very spacious and easily fits three passengers with loads of headroom and more than adequate legroom. The rear seats are also 60:40 foldable and offer increased storage space when required.

Additional features in the Skoda Fabia Roomster include leather wrapped gear knob, power assisted steering, leather seats and upholstery, leather trimmed steering wheel, chrome pedals, climate control, remote fuel cover control and door ajar warning indicator.

2011 Skoda Fabia Roomster Pricing and Recommendations

Skoda has been planning the launch of its multi purpose utility vehicle since mid 2008 and after extensive feasibility studies and extended research and development they have finally decided to introduce the Skoda Fabia Roomster to Indian audiences. This eagerly awaited MPV should put the cat among the pigeons in this ultra competitive segment.

With Indian buyers now being more comfortable using foreign made cars and Skoda actually being one of the better received car brands in the country the Skoda Fabia Roomster is a practical choice with price being very competitive among its other diesel powered rivals.

It is small enough to fit into the price range of the small car segment but the interior space allows it to compete with much more expensive cars. Skoda as a brand always promises good value for money and the Skoda after sales service is now on the up and is also becoming cheaper. Skoda has introduced their extended warranty and sales service for customers to make it easier to get vehicles serviced. They have also reduced their insurance costs making running costs of Skoda vehicles more affordable.

The Skoda Fabia Roomster continues with the Skoda tradition of reliability as well as customer comfort and satisfaction and the Roomster meets all the required safety requisites. Safety features in the Roomster include electronic stability, ISOFIX seats, central locking, dual front and side curtain airbags, ABS and electronic brake force distribution. With the price expected to be between 14 and 16 lakhs we will have to wait and see what kind of impact the car makes on the Indian market.

2011 Skoda Fabia Roomster in India Specifications and Price

Vehicle Category: MPV
Engines (petrol): 1.2 L, 4-cyl, TSI, 105 HP, 185 Nm torque
Engine (petrol): 1.4 L, 4-cyl, TSI, 85 HP, 132 Nm torque
Engines (diesel):
1.4 L, 4-cyl, TDI, 80 HP, 195 Nm torque
Engines (diesel: 1.9 L, 4-cyl, TDI, 105 HP, 240 Nm torque
Drive train: Front engine, 5 passenger, 5-door MPV, FWD
Transmissions (standard): 7-speed manual DSG
Transmissions (standard): 5-speed manual
0-100 kph: 15.9 sec (est.)
Mileage city/hwy (petrol): 10.2 / 15.8 kmpl
Mileage city/hwy (diesel) 14.8 / 20 kmpl
Base Price: Rs.14 – 17 lakhs(est.)

Lamborghini Sesto Elemento Review

Sesto Elemento. What does this mean to you? Probably the 6th element in the modern day periodic table. Wait, if my memory serves me right or to say that I am using my Bsc Chemistry background, it is Carbon. Let me double check. Yipee, I am right. But why would a car be named as carbon in Italy. It has got something to do. The car I am referring to is the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento. Believe me, that’s the coolest name I have ever heard for a car.

Now, Lamborghini showed this concept car named as the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento at the Paris Motor show. The reason why the car is so named is because of the high use of carbon-fibre. Lamborghini management is concentrating more on reducing the weight of a car rather than increase its power. This has been going on through the mind of other super car makers like Ferrari, which amply demonstrated its concept car named as Milli Chille in the 2008 Paris Motor Show. Carbon, as we know is one of the lightest element to be used for building a car. The Lamborghini Sesto Elemento comprises of about 85% of carbon fibre and this makes it one of the lightest super cars. It weighs in only at 999 kgs and this is lighter by the similar motored Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera by about 315 kgs. The engine by the way is the 5.2 liter, direct injection, V10. It produces 570 Bhp of power and about 530 Nm of torque. It is 4 wheel drive equipped. Now that is speaking of volumes about the production techniques used in the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento.

Lamborghini actually used carbon fibre as a component of the car way back in 1983. The percentage of the element used was about 38%. Carbon fibre other than been light also has more energy absorbing capacity. In short, it is more tensile than aluminium. Look inside the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento and you would find that the seats are just cushions fused into the carbon fibre frame. Even inside, everything is black signifying the heavy use of carbon fiber. There are only 3 buttons on the dash namely, the engine start, lights and reverse. There is a red color used for some stitchings as well as on the outside for the rear diffuser and carbon ceramic disc brakes. The tail pipes are made of PyroSic, which is a glass composite having very high resistance to heat. The gear box is also the E- gear tranny, while not preferring the heavy dual clutch to be used in a sports car. The Lamborghini Sesto Elemento races from 0-100 kmph in 2.5 seconds. Same like the Buggati Veyron which is significantly more powerful as well as heavier.

Will it make it into production or not is the million dollar question asked? Sadly, the answer is no. This was confirmed by one of the top management person. He also said that there are chances that only a few would be made and sold at a million dollar price tag. Future cars from the Lamborghini stable would also feature the heavy use of carbon fibre. All they want to do is make cars with the power to weight ratio like a motorbike. The power to weight ratio of the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento is approximately 572 Bhp per tonne and this is definitely one of the most powerful super cars.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class E350 Cabriolet

Mercedes Benz India Limited {MBIL} are going the BMW way of launching niches within niches. This they realize is their only way of sticking in this car business. They have lost their numero uno position 2 years back to BMW and come to think of it, BMW plonked their Indian operations only in 2003 whereas Mercedes were around from a far longer time. The problem was that Mercedes made only cars which catered for comfort and preferred been a little laid back as far performance was related to. Their brand image became one for only comfort as well as state of the art technologies. Mercedes Benz India Limited wants to explain to their customers that they too can build comfortable, sporty  but affordable cars. Their answer lies in the Mercedes-Benz E-Class E350 Cabriolet.

Yes, you read it right. Mercedes Benz India Limited {MBIL}have launched the Mercedes-Benz E-Class E350 Cabriolet in India. Now many may argue that a cabriolet design doesn’t work in Indian climate given its unpredictability but Mercedes Benz India Limited {MBIL} feel that they should give more options to Indian customers to flaunt their exclusivity much to the likes of BMW.

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class E350 Cabriolet has a the same look as the E-class sedan albeit with a more Avantgrade type grilles. It is visibly smaller than the E-class sedan but a tad bigger than the E-class Coupe. It has a staggered 17? twin 5-spoke alloy wheels of 235/45 (F), 255/40 (R) dimensions. It has got a 3.5L V6 Petrol Engine displacing 3498cc and putting out 272 Bhp @ 6000 rpm and 355 Nm between 2400-5000 rpm. It does the 0-100 kmph run in 6.9 seconds and amasses a top speed of 250 kmph. Its fuel economy is pegged at 7.6 kmpl in the city and 11.2 kmpl on the highway. The soft top retracts to the trunk in flat 20 seconds and makes quite a scene at that. In India, it doesn’t have a definite competition as of yet but niches anyways don’t have much competition.

The price for the Mercedes Benz E Class E 350 Cabriolet is put at Rs. 64,50,000 { Delhi ex-showroom price}.

Technical specification of the Mercedes Benz E Class E 350 Cabriolet

Engine and performance

Cylinder arrangement/number: V 6
Displacement (cc): 3498
Rated output (kW [hp] at rpm): 272 at 6000
Rated torque (Nm at rpm): 355 at 2400-5000
Compression ratio: 10.7 : 1
Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s): 6.9
Top speed (km/h): 250
Transmissions: 7 speed automatic with manual override.

Fuel and consumption

Tank capacity/with reserve (l): 66 / 8
Fuel consumption, city in kmpl: 7.6
Fuel consumption, highway in kmpl: 11.2
Fuel consumption combined in kmpl: 9.4
CO2 emissions (g/km) combined: 229 – 235

Chassis (standard) & wheels

Front tyres/wheels: 245 / 40 R 18
Rear tyres/wheels: 265 / 35 R 18

Dimensions & weights

Kerb weight/payload capacity (kg) [2]: 1765
Perm. GVW (kg): 2235
Boot capacity (VDA) (I): 390
Turning circle (m): 11

Hyundai Santa Fe test drive


')">

Hyundai Motors India Limited {HMIL} are well known for been a Korean brand which has established base in India and are currently leading in the small car market. They are second only to Maruti Suzuki India limited. Hyundai Motors India Limited {HMIL}  have a good presence in all the market segments except for the upper luxury segment and the SUV segment. Now, the former would take some time in coming however HMIL are more interested in the SUV segment as of now. As of now, their negligible presence in the SUV segment with the Hyundai Tucson and the Terracan is bothering them. To remedy this, they have introduced the Hyundai Santa Fe in India. Now, we as automobile journalists knew that the Hyundai Santa Fe was long in the coming to Indian soil and were eagerly waiting to get our hands on it. I had the privilege of driving a Hyundai Santa Fe on Indian soil for about 430 kilometers and the following is a complete account of what happened on road. Let’s have a look at Hyundai Santa Fe specifications:

Looks

If this SUV was launched probably 3-4 years back, it would have toppled the SUV segment cart. It looks can now best be described as at par with the segment. Nothing ground breaking as of such. The reason why I am telling this is because we have been spoilt with the Hyundai iX35 crossover’s looks. Now, as they say, “you cannot satisfy every one” stands true with automobile journalists. Hyundai’s global fluidic “design concept” is apparent from the grille of the Hyundai Santa Fe. The grille has horizontal flaps and looks like those from a regular home air conditioner. It is actually a part of the design theme from Hyundai Motors India Limited to give all its cars a family look. Hyundai Motors India Limited’s other cars like the Verna Transform, I10, I20 as well as Sonata sport this look. Exception is that of the Accent, which is actually a decade old design and in its last phase now.

The fog lamps are placed in their own small compartments with blacked out inserts. The air dam is crossed by a horizontal black slat. Overall, viewed from the front, the Hyundai Santa Fe looks big but well rounded off package. The narrow head lamps which have Bi-Xenon projector lights are also housed in blacked out frames. The outside rear view mirrors have the turn indicators embedded into them at the lower base.

Viewed from the sides, the Hyundai Santa Fe looks the part for its 4660 mm wheel base. The door handles are of the tug types. The 16 inch alloy wheels with the multi spoke design also look good and while doing this, they also fill the flared wheel arches well. The roof rails are standard and body colored as well.

Moving onto the rear shows some of the iX35’s design elements. The tail lamps are boomerang shaped but in a horizontal manner. They are split by the heavy looking tail gate. There aren’t LEDs but just the normal lamps with clear lens surrounding them. The roof mounted spoiler also houses the stop lamp. The rear reflectors are mounted on the body colored bumpers. A unique feature of the Hyundai Santa Fe is that it has a large lever to lift its tailgate. This feature is quite convenient as well. The twin tail pipes are chrome tipped and look quite snorty.

Interiors

Climbing{ for people shorter than 5 feet 8 inches} into the interiors, you would find the Hyundai Santa Fe’s interiors to be luxurious enough for this segment. Especially when compared to its competition, the Toyota Fortuner. However considering the newer Hyundai’s in the pipe line, this one certainly disappoints. That saying, the car does have good quality interiors and it is just that I expected it to be more radical. There is plenty of  beige and faux wood used in the interior design. The hooded binnacle houses three circular dials comprising of the speedometer, revometer and the fuel gauge. There are also many tell tale lights inside.

The steering wheel is chunky and has many of the functions in it like the audio controls, Bluetooth as well as cruise control. It also looks and feels good. The entire dash is lit in a soft blue color much like the I20’s. The entire dash in angled towards the driver, showing its driver centric nature. There is an all row automatic climate control system along with a 6 CD changer system and a small clock on top of it. The audio quality was excellent since there are about 8 speakers surrounding the system. The short and stubby gear lever seems derived from that of the Hyundai I20 or otherwise. The seats are made of a slightly firmer material but there was no discomfort observed even on the long drive that I took. My seat was 10 way powered and even the one having our lens man Ismail was powered with memory functions. The steering column is adjustable for rake and reach and finding a good driving position isn’t a problem.

There are plenty of cubby holes in and around the cabin. There is a huge glove box in the sculpted dash. There is also an  USB as well as Aux input for the audio system, not to mention about 3 12V power socket. The multi information display on the dash also gives a plethora of information like outside temperature, tire pressure monitor, distance to empty, trip meter, gear shift indicators and current fuel economy. I felt pampered with the arm rest provided and on the long drive it proved to be a boon for my left hand. The air conditioning was also spot on and the vertical slats can be individually opened or closed. Actually speaking writing about the Hyundai Santa Fe’s extensive features list would take about 2 full pages. I could actually only fit in some of the those aforementioned into this article.

The rear passengers are also pampered no end. They have their own individual AC vents and controls. There is enough room for three at the second row of seats. Even these are quite comfortable. They feature a 60:40 split arrangement. The third row is also sort of comfortable for those south of 5 feet 4 inches. The access to it is tricky though and you would have to slip the second row of seats and then get into the last row. However even the last row of passengers have two AC vents keeping them cool. The boot space is also quite big for a 7 seater. It is 380 liters with the second row of seats up and about 1003 liters with the second row of seats flipped down. The loading lip is also quite low and lined with some soft material so that there are no scratches happening while loading heavy objects.

Handling and ride quality

The Hyundai Santa Fe would mostly be chauffer driven given its proportions, so ride quality is of prime importance. The heavily bolstered rear as well as front seats cushion you from most of the road irregularities. The front suspension does it job quite silently whereas the rear is a bit of soft one and self levelling one sensitive to weight changes. The Hyundai Santa Fe also handled the off-roads that I took it to and didn’t show any signs of fatigue or reluctance on those non-existent roads. Seems that the Toyota Fortuner has finally met its nemesis.

Going fast or around a corner wouldn’t make you spill your morning cuppa or cold drink in the beige colored cabin. Body roll is well controlled with the traditional McPherson at the front and multi-link one with anti-roll bars at the rear end. Its on demand 4 wheel drive system detects wheel slippage and accordingly increases or decreases power to that particular wheel. This is one fast SUV which is quite stable even at speeds in excess of 140 kmph.There is no engine or wind noise inside the cabin and that speaks volumes about the amount of sound deadening materials used under the hood as well as in the cabin. Good glass area aligned with auto dimming rear view mirror and parking sensors make parking chores as easy as they can be for such a big SUV.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

The Hyundai Santa Fe in India is available only with 1 engine option. Hyundai Motors India Limited were right in thinking that buyers in this segment wouldn’t require a petrol motor and so they offered the best diesel engine they could offer in this segment. The 2199 cc diesel engine is an in-line 4 cylinder with variable geometry turbo and a 4 valve head CRDi unit. Maximum power available is 194 Bhp @ 3,800 rpm whereas peak torque is 420 Nm @ 2,200 rpm. Internationally, the Hyundai Santa Fe is available with a choice of 3 diesel engines with the same 2.2 liter capacity however in India, they are offering the most powerful trim. This speaks volumes about Hyundai Motors India Limited’s commitment to the Indian market.

Coupled with this stonker of an engine is the 6 speed manual tranmission which is easy to operate and the gears shift into the gate with a positive feel. The Hyundai Santa Fe is one of the fastest SUV in its class with a 0-100 dash in 9.8 seconds flat. This is coming from a SUV weighing in at a porky 1997 kgs. The steering wheel though is a bit plasticky in its feel. It doesn’t have the directness of say, the Honda CR-V however it still dials in some feel. Some amount of turbo lag is experienced however that is only below 1,700 rpm. The maximum speed I could race this beast was 163 kmph and the claimed top speed from Hyundai Motors India Limited was approximately 188 kmph. I have no qualms about this claim since the car was all the more eager to go past everything in its path with the tractable motor even revving freely till its 5,400 rpm redline.

Hauling this heavy SUV to a complete stop from those speeds is a combination of ventilated discs at the front and solid ones at the rear. Assisting them in this retardation duties was 4 channel advanced ABS, traction control, EBD and ESP. Modulation from the brake lever was also quite positive. Across the world, the Hyundai Santa Fe is one of the safest vehicle in its class. In the Indian market, Hyundai Motors India Limited have introduced a segment first, 10 safety air bags, collapsible steering column, 3 point ELR seat belts, roll-over sensor and tensile steel beams.

Fuel efficiency is all so critical in the Indian market and the Hyundai Santa Fe doesn’t disappoint on this count as well. Considering all the performance on tap, the SUV gave me 11.8 kmpl in the city and 15.3 kmpl on the highway jaunt. Couple that to a 70 liters fuel tank and you get close to 948 kms before a refill.

Verdict

Hyundai Motors India Limited finally seems to have the right spot for their SUV dreams in the Indian market with their new Santa Fe SUV. Its looks are at par with the competition, it has a blow fuse of a diesel engine with performance and the fuel efficiency needed, spacious interiors, good ride and handling package as well as spacious interiors with extensive features list. Its minus points are that it is a CBU sourced from South Korea and is priced slightly higher than others in its class and also Hyundai vehicles lack image at this price point. But if you are looking in the market for a seven seater with all the aforementioned qualities, the Hyundai Santa Fe should be perfect for you. It is available in two variants and the difference between the variants is two and four wheel drive. The Hyundai Santa Fe (4×4) is available for Rs.25 lakhs {Ex-showroom, Delhi} and the Hyundai Santa Fe (4×2) is priced at Rs.23 lakhs {Ex-showroom, Delhi}.

Technical specifications of the Hyundai Santa Fe for India

  • Engine: 2199cc, in-line 4, variable geometry turbo, 4 valve head CRDi unit
  • Max Power: 194 Bhp @ 3800 rpm
  • Max Torque: 420 Nm  @ 2,200 rpm
  • Transmission: 6 Speed Manual
  • Brakes: Ventilated Discs at front and Solid Discs at the rear
  • Suspension: Front – Macpherson Struts & Rear- multi-link type with anti-roll bars
  • Tyre Size: 236/60 R16 Tubeless alloys
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 70 Litres
  • Length: 4670 mm
  • Width: 1880 mm
  • Height: 1770 mm
  • Wheel base: 2710 mm
  • Ground Clearance: 201 mm
  • Front row Headroom: 40.3 in
  • Front row Hiproom : 55.6 in
  • Front row Legroom : 43.5 in
  • Front row Shoulder room : 59.3 in
  • Second row Headroom : 39.4 in
  • Second row Hiproom : 55.1 in
  • Second row Legroom : 36.8 in
  • Second row Shoulder room : 58.7 in
  • Seating: 7
  • Kerb weight : 1997  kgs

Audi S5 Review

Audi India have had a fair share of success in India. They were to known to make modern but sophisticated cars. They overthrew Mercedes as the number 1 premium luxury car manufacturer in India. Now, they compete head on with BMW. Also, India remembers Audi from the Ravi Shastri’s TT model back in the 1983. Audi, one who is fabled for the quattro system isn’t one to rest on its laurels. They have got the pricing and equipment list spot on for India. However they lag behind BMW cars only in some engine trims and lack of enthusiast cars. Don’t get us wrong, Audi does have some wonderful machines but it just happens that BMW has something just that better.

To counter this and to project themselves as a manufacturer of sporty and desirable cars, Audi are slated to come up with their own, like M and AMG versions of BMW and Mercedes. This is the Audi S5. It is a 2 door cabriolet or it can be specified as a 4 door coupe. In the cabriolet version, it looks very much like the Audi TT except that it has a long hood. It carries the corporate Audi grill. The face of the car is nothing much to discuss as it is too similar to the other Audis from its stable. It comes with 19 inch standard alloy wheel wearing high performance tires. Its dimensions read as wheel base of 2763 mm, height of around 1392 mm, width is 1854 mm and length of 4645.5 mm.

The engine which would compete with the Mercedes C AMG and the BMW M3 will be the 4.2L Fuel Stratified Injection{FSI} DOHC V-8 engine pumping out 354 Bhp at a high 7200 rpm. The torque figure stands as 325Nm at 3500 rpm. It would have a 7 speed automatic with triptronic functions. It will also feature a 6 speed manual with the dual clutch R-tronic gear box. This offers lightning fast shifts.

The Audi S5 in India will seat 4 people or 2 depending on its body type. It will have a world class interior similar to no other Audi in the country. It will sport Eight-way power front sport seats of silk nappa leather, three spoke leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls. An Rocksford Fosgate 12 CD player with 16 speakers and ipod and usb slots would be available. This would make it a one off car in the country having such advanced music system. It offers a 4 zone climate control alongwith all heated seats. Navigation control and cruise control are been offered as standard.

The head lamps would be most powerful units in its class. They would be bi-xenons with self head lamp leveling sensors. These detect an oncoming car and automatically level the head lamps so that the other driver is not blinded. It also offers night sensing sensors which automatically turn on the head lights, wipers which sense rain and automatically engage and automatic rear defogger.

Safety is also top notch with the Audi S5 receiving 5 stars in the Euro NCAP ratings and a “Good” from the IIHS in US. It features, auto brakes which work when a vehicle is in close proximity of the car and the driver doesn’t slow down or apply the brakes, 8 air bags and braking is handled by Electronic Stability (ESP), Electronic Brake Force Distribution as well as standard 4 channel ABS. Ventilated Discs at the front and solid ones at the rear ensure optimum braking. Performance is said to be world-class with the Audi S5 reaching the ton mark in 3.2 seconds and at the same time you will also get fuel efficiency close to 8 kmpl in the city, if you drive it with a light foot. It will also feature Audi’s Quattro system which enhances road grip by powering all the 4 wheels at a time. Audi will launch it in January 2011 and it would be costlier than the A4 with a price of Rs.42 lakhs. But you pay for the performance, exclusivity and Audi badge and in short it is all worth it if you are a performance enthusiast.

Audi S5 specifications

Exterior

Length: 183.5 in.
Width: 73 in.
Height: 53.7 in.
Wheel Base: 108.3 in.
Kerb Weight: 3858 lbs.

Interior

Front Head Room: 36.1 in.
Rear Head Room: 37 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 64.3 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 51.8 in.
Luggage Capacity: 325 liters
Maximum Seating: 4

Performance Data

Base Number of Cylinders: 8
Base Engine Size: 4.2 liters
Base Engine Type: V8
Horsepower: 354 hp
Max Horsepower: 7200 rpm
Torque: 325 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 3500 rpm
Drive Type: AWD
Turning Circle: 37.4 ft.

Nissan Micra XV test drive


')">

The baby supermini hatch from Nissan Motors India has been finally launched. It is known by various names across the world like March etc however in India it is christened the Nissan Micra. The earlier production version of the Nissan Micra elsewhere looked much like the Maruti 800 however for 2010, the shape has been given a more rounded profile. Nissan India realizes that Indian market has the potential to be exploited with its given set of opportunities and the first one would be the small car segment. So commercially speaking, Nissan India are right. The Nissan Micra has come at a right time when small cars are just flying off the shelf. Nissan’s global alliance with Renault has ensured that Nissan India has access to Renault’s Chennai facility for making the Nissan Micra. Nissan India’s other launches like the Nissan Teana and the Nissan X-trail are CBUs and hence they aren’t expected to be volume generators. The Nissan Micra fits into the slot perfectly.

Looks

There are 4 variants of the Nissan Micra in India. Those are the base XE, XE+, XL and XV. I as always got to test the top end Nissan Micra XV. Be it in any variant, the look of the car doesn’t change much from the outside. The Micra is as cute as any car can get. Infact, it is one of the cutest cars in India after the Fiat 500 and the much desirable Volkswagen Beetle. The car has a grille resembling that of a half eaten apple whereas the tear drop head lamps acctenuate the cute looks. The much revered striking Nissan logo is placed atop the sloping bonnet. The bonnet is a small unit and one which  guarantees to give one a good view from the steering wheel. It is a deliberate ploy to get all those first time drivers as well as women attracted to the Nissan show rooms.

Moving onto the side profile shows that the Nissan Micra, like the others in its class, looks undertired. Those 14 inchers make the car look smaller than it is. My test Nissan Micra XV had those good looking alloy wheels however the base versions are not so fortunate, making do with steel wheels and in some cases wheel covers. The Nissan Micra XV in India gets body colored door handles and speaking of door handles, you would miss the key slot. Yes, the Nissan Micra XV gets the keyless entry, a first in its segment.The car sits on 4 wheel placed at the 4 corners of the chassis. This gives it a planted feel and something which I would elaborate when I come to the ride and handling section.

The rear profile highlights a quadrilateral shaped glass area. There is also another segment first, a rear windscreen wiper. The boot lid has the hatch opener{not a keyless one though}.

Interiors

That the Nissan Micra XV looks good when viewed from outside is alright however therein lies the fact that you would be spending most of your time inside a car rather than admire it from outside. The rounded design elements are carried forward to the interiors as well where everything is round, save for the rear seats. Even the front seats are rounded. The AC vents are of the round type, the dashboard etc. You name it and it would round. Hell, there is no key fob as well as the Nissan Micra XV in India makes do with a button start and you guessed it right, it is a round one. The plastic pieces are of the soft types and you get inside door handles coated with chrome. The central console is clutter less.

The standard audio system sounds good with its 4 speakers. The seats are made neither of hard nor soft materials. They just seem to hit the right spot. They are made of some polyvinyl material. Been a Chemistry student myself, I could never understand how that makes a seat such good however the fact remains that it is one of the best in the business. There are lots of storage spaces and there is also a double glove box on the curved dash. The dash board is also a highly thought of feature since it has anti-glare properties. Every control and every button falls within easy reach of the driver. This is something which Bollywood starlet Ranbir Kapoor so aptly described in the advertisement for Nissan Micra and its tag line was live simple. The switches all work perfectly. Been a built to price car, some plastics do feel iffy.

The interiors are in a drab black but most of the cars in this segment have the same interiors. The gear shifter unit also looks like it is made of the best quality material. The rear seats are also quite contoured however for the base XE version, the seats are like a flat bench. Unfortunately the seats don’t fold and hence limit the usability of the boot. The boot space is quite usable and one of the best in the segment at 253 liters. There are no suspension mount intrusions and this makes loading the small boot easier.

Handling and ride quality

Based on the global V platform, the Nissan Micra XV has been built with durable yet light in weight materials. It has a kerb weight of 986 kilos and this makes it one of the lightest small cars in the market. To fix to the tight budget, localization of components is upto 80%. The Nissan Micra XV or for that matter any Nissan Micra has been softly sprung and this translates to a good ride quality. The small as well as bigger bumps are dispatched with a disdain. Now, the 4 wheels at 4 corners adage stands good as this leads to better ride quality and gives the Nissan Micra an edge in handling.

The Nissan Micra XV rides like a bigger car and handles like a small one. It is no Suzuki Swift beater however it can be safely said that after the Swift, the next best would be the Nissan. The steering wheel is tuned more for city use. I practically drove it with my finger tips.Once into the highway, the steering doesn’t weigh in nicely and was devoid of any feel. The car however felt very stable at speeds of upto 130 kmph. Its just that it has a slight problem in high speed directional changes. Reverse parking sensors and wide door mirrors help in making parking chores as easy as plucking a leaf from a small tree.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

As of  now, the Nissan Micra XV is been offered only in one engine trim. However I recently heard that Nissan India dealers have been taking bookings for the diesel version which would be out by December 2010. The petrol engine is the 1.2 liter 3 pot motor cranking up 79 bhp @ 6000rpm and 104 Nm of torque @ 4000rpm. Unlike other 3 pot cylinder motors in its class, the Nissan Micra XV is a smooth unit right from idle until its redline. The gear box also feels like a hot knife going through a slab of butter. The gear ratios are also nicely spread out with the first two gears been placed lower for better pick up in the city and the rest three for effortless cruising and economy.

The Nissan Micra XV screams to its redline at 6200 rpm quite effortlessly. Even at this high engine speeds, it’s a silent unit. The accelerator pedal is also cable driven and hence gives more feel while maintaining a lead right foot. The car acclerated from 0-100 in about 13.6 seconds. Its top speed, I attained was158 kmph, quite good for a 3 cylinder motor.

The Nissan Micra XV’s peppy performance is reigned by all wheel disc brakes- again a segment first. The brakes are assisted by ABS, EBD and even Brake Assist. Since the car uses the globally acclaimed V platform, it can be assumed that the chassis is quite competent during crashes. It has been even given a 4 star rating in the Euro NCAP ratings. In India, you get active head restraints, 2 airbags, seat belt pretensioners and 3 point seat belts and all of this only on the XV variant.

Been a small car and one under 4 meters and with a 1.2 liter engine makes the Nissan Micra XV one of the most fuel efficient cars in its class. Our test car gave 14.07 kmpl in city usage where as highway duties saw the economy figures rise to 20.4 kmpl. This is a perfect example of performance with fuel efficiency to match for. This would be manna for the “average kya hain?” public as well.

Verdict

Nissan India are piggy-banking on the Nissan Micra to deliver the goods. The car is reasonably loaded for its class, it has good performance, the looks, is easy to drive and park, best in class fuel efficiency and is a novelty factor as well. What more can one ask for. Probably better quality lower down the mark as well as more standard features on the base variants.Nissan India are also improving their service dragnet by  introducing 3 service centers per month across the metro cities in India. This speaks volumes of their commitment to the Indian customers. Add that to the 5 years anti-corrosion warranty on the Micra, and you cannot go wrong with this car. The base variant{ Nissan Micra XE}starts from Rs.3.56 lakhs {ex-showroom Delhi} to the top end version{ Nissan Micra XV} going upto Rs.5.33 lakhs {ex-showroom Delhi}.

Nissan Micra XV specifications

Engine Type: 3-Cylinder In-line Petrol, DOHC 12-Valve
Displacement (cc): 1197
Bore & Stroke (mm): 78 x 83.6
Max Power (PS)/rpm: 79/6300
Max Torque Nm (kgm)/rpm: 104/4200
Compression Ratio: 9.6
Transmission Type: 5-speed manual
Steering Type: Electric Power Assisted, Rack & Pinion
Min.Turning radius (m): 4.32
Suspension (Front): MacPherson strut with stabiliser
Suspension (Rear): Torsion Beam
Brakes (Front): Ventilated Disc
Brakes (Rear): Solid disc
Tyre size: 165/70R14
Wheels dimensions: 14 x 5.5J alloys
Overall Length(mm): 3784
Overall width (mm): 1666
Overall height (mm): 1532
Wheelbase (mm): 2451
Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres): 43
Boot Capacity (Litres): 253
Kerb weight in kilos: 986
Seating Capacity (Persons): 5

Buying a used Porsche car in India

Used cars are becoming a good option in India. Especially when the economy is showing no signs of recovering and rising costs of almost everything, even common salt is affecting the ability to spend at will. In this scenario, many would hark for smaller more efficient cars, even if they want a second hand one. But there is the select few who would want to get themselves a bit of status quo with cars like the Mercedes or even BMWs. But these have become almost a regular feature on the Indian roads now. However how many would have wondered about a Porsche let alone a used Porsche car in India. Even though there are a handful of Porsche cars on the road, they are finally trickling into the used car market.

Now, Porsche India have recognized this untapped potential and have set up their own Porsche Approved Scheme for these used cars. Agreed that you would get such cars at a very high price than what you would get face to face with the seller, however these cars go through an 111 point check on them even before they are accepted by the company. This ensures that the customers buying these cars are safeguarded from any nasty surprises. The best thing is that you wouldn’t be left saddled with a so-called accident car with a botched up job by some road side mechanic. The Porsche Approved Scheme also offers a unlimited kilometers and 24 months warranty. Now this should really be the icing on the cake.

The most affordable used Porsche car in India would be those Porsche sportscars like Caymans and Boxsters. These cars aren’t cheap by any standards however for all those gold miners, these shouldn’t be a problem. These cars retail for approximately Rs.76 lakhs when new and when they are resold, the value drops to Rs.34 lakhs. Classic example is the case of a 2006 Boxster S which we found for around Rs. 34 lakhs. If you think that the Boxster S is impractical, then a 2004 Cayenne S is been offered only for Rs.32 lakhs. And all these is been offered through the Porsche Approved Scheme. Been a Porsche, these would be ocassionally used and hence not many would have logged high kilometers. The service interval for these cars is 12 months or 10,000 kms. The servicing cost would drop one zero from the cost price of the car purchased. This is excluding the labour charges should any major work pop out. So think twice before having a minor accident with your Porsche. Rs 1.25 lakhs is the amount that you would be spending should you pringe your head lamps. The front bumper would set you back by Rs.48,000. Usual wear and tear bits like the suspension parts as well as dampers would also cost Rs 54,000. We might be scaring you but a test drive of any Porsche would have you hooked onto the car for life.

We would take the case of the 2006 used Porsche Cayman S in India here. It is said to be the easiest and sweetest handling Porsche car around. Moreover it has 2 foldable trunks and is compact. Surprising is the fact that this car has covered approximately 20,000 kms. It is unusual to see Porsches with such high mileage. The other examples were 2006 models with mileage as low as 4200 kms. While one would think that buying such cars would be viable however there lies the catch. These cars would most likely have been ignored and rarely taken out even once in a month. A car lying around unused tends to be more problematic than the one which has been regularly used. A regularly used car will most likely be well cared for and would have set in the pace. However well cared or not, a car especially a used one would sprout repairs and spare part changes. Since the car has been already checked for any engine or accident damage by the Porsche authorities, the first priority would be to take a test drive. This should clear out any apprehensions of how much comfortable you are with this car. The accelerator pedal is a live wire and even part throttle should yield instant response. The brake pedal should also have a linear modulation. However over time, it would require servicing and this should cost around a total of Rs.40,000 including labor for replacing the brake pads.The inner plastics however don’t wear well if the car has been out in the sun too often. The plastics tend to melt under sunlight. The condition of plastics should also be a determining factor whether this car has been well cared for or not. Well, there is one thing that you cannot take away from a Porsche or for that matter any German car and that is its German-ness. All these cars ooze high quality cabin and attention to detail. So much so that even a brand new Honda Accord would feel tinnily built in front of these cars.

A 2006 used Porsche Cayman S in India would be available without the dual clutch that Porsche so lovingly call PDK as well as the engine would be without direct injection. The steering shouldn’t be a cause of worry since it should wear on well till 50,000 kms. Speaking of the cost of spare parts, the tail light assembly goes for a cool Rs.34,500, the timing chain for Rs.12,100, front brake pad for Rs. 15,578, front shock absorber for Rs.54,708 and so on. As of now, the Porsche Approved Scheme has just started and it would take some time before operations start up in full swing. There are only 3-4 used cars available in those show rooms now. At approximately the same prices, you can get a brand new Mercedes E class, BMW 5 series or the Audi A6 but then the exclusivity factor wouldn’t be there.

Chevrolet Captiva vs Nissan X-Trail vs Hyundai Santa Fe


')">

The Indian soft roader scene has become very tough now. Earlier it was the sole dominion of the Honda CR-V with the occasional fight from the Hyundai Tucson. Later on, the Chevrolet Captiva joined the party and due to its diesel power plant and cheaper price tag, it won over the Indian hearts. Nissan India Limited started their operations in India with their world famous soft roader, the Nissan X-Trail. Due to its highish price, it only found takers in the hotel luxury segment. Now enters the fourth and the most recent player of this segment, the Hyundai Santa Fe. It seems that this SUV was long in the coming and we have been hearing about its impending arrival from the year 2006. However Hyundai Motors India Limited chose to launch this car recently. Now, checking out by the target set by Hyundai Motors India Limited for this car in India, they have already exhausted it. Now, the bookings for this SUV have been temporarily stopped and the company is importing more cars into India. With the launch of this new player, things have evidently heated up and it was obvious that we get them all for a showdown and decide the newest king of the soft roader segment. Since the CR-V is one of the those cars which the Indian public nowadays shuns due to its high price, we didn’t include it in this comparo, however, it is still the benchmark to beat. Also the Mitsubishi Outlander wasn’t available as for a test and hence it had to be ignored as well.

Looks

Chevrolet Captiva- This is one of the best looking soft roaders in this country apart from the Honda CR-V. It muscled stance with those soft looks lend it some sort of character. The pictures don’t do justice to this car and it would seem small however in reality this soft roader is big. Infact it is as big as the Hyundai Santa Fe. The head lamps are quadrilaterals and the Chevy bowtie sits atop the partition in the grille. The fog lamps sit just above the meshed air dam. It has a plastic skid plate to protect the bumper from scratches and rocks. The side profile reveals big outside rear view mirrors with blinkers on them. The 17 inch tyres for the Chevrolet Captiva in India also have some sort of substance in them and this lends them a character. The wheel arches also have a plastic cladding over them. The rear shows a coupe like stance with angular tail lamps. The rear bumper also sports the skid plates under which are located the twin tail pipes.

Nissan X-Trail- This is one boxy looking SUV. It has the typical Nissan grille with brick like head lamps. The air dam is almost absent. The fog lamps are placed at both the sides of the wheels as opposed to in the lower bumper. The 17 inch tyres are also elegant. The wing mirrors are also big but are amongst the smallest in this comparo. The roof rails are also subtle and barely protrude from the roofs. The rear end is particularly boxy and has vertically stacked tail lamps. A black plastic covers up the bumper and a single tail pipe protrudes from underneath.

Hyundai Santa Fe-
The newest kid on the block is actually not so new world across. It is actually the seventh generation one. It has Hyundai’s fluidic concept design elements with a horizontal AC slat grille with oblong head lamps and an air dam which has a big aggressive opening. The fog lamps are housed in their own slats and look very nice. The turn indicators are also located in the outside rear view mirrors. The rear in comparison to the front looks a bit heavy. It has those elongated tail lamps with clear lens. Covering the lower bumper is the black plastic cladding and this houses one or rather two of the largest tail pipes in this segment.

This is a tough one however, overall the Chevrolet Captiva in India wins this due to its easy on eyes look.

Interiors

Chevrolet Captiva- The Chevrolet Captiva features a higher stance than the others in this class and hence climbing up should be a bit of a hassle. However once inside the cabin, you would be greeted with a smart dash board. Brushed aluminium strips contribute to the nicely made up central console. The instrument panel looks simple and is supported by a big steering wheel with the Chevy bowtie resting on it. There is a navigation system, of which, the fonts are illegible in the bright sunlight. Unfortunately the quality of materials used seems inferior to the competition. There are some bad plastic bits abounding in the cabin. The gear lever is also half made of leather and the other half of metal. Powered goodies abound however only the driver gets powered seat. The aircon is one of the talking points in the Chevy and it has a microprocessor which filters particulate matter in recirculate mode. The front seats are comfortable however the rear ones seem a bit lacking in under thigh support. The access to the third row seats is quite easy however these are best left for kids. The boot space is also limited with all the seats up however the gas mounted strut tug lever helps in folding the second row of seats flat.

Nissan X-Trail- This is one of the interiors which is subtle at its best. The first thing that you notice is that this car has hard wearing but soft to touch materials. Its 3 spoke steering wheel is devoid of audio controls. The instrument binnacle is one of the best in this segment for the Nissan X-Trail in India. The driver as well as passengers get heated seats. In a country like India, these are redundant however those living in the cooler climes would welcome this feature. The standard audio system has good sound quality and features aux and USB ports. One of the thoughtful touches in this cabin is that it has a chilled bottle holder. Room in the cabin is also abundant in all the rows. Sorely missing though is the lack of third row of seats. The boot space as a result is huge. It even has a washable plastic floor. The second row of seats also get their own AC controls.

Hyundai Santa Fe- The biggest vehicle on the outside also is bigger from the inside. The front seats are way too comfy and would accommodate the biggest of the frames. The steering wheel is a 4 spoke affair and has cruise control, Bluetooth pairing and also the standard audio controls. The quality of materials used is also un Hyundai like and is of very high quality. This however is no patch for the Nissan X-trail’s cabin. What the Hyundai Santa Fe has in oodles is space and equipment. There is also a roof mounted entertainment system, 6 CD and 8 speaker audio system. However the layout of buttons makes the cabin seem a bit cluttered. The second as well as the third row of seats get their own AC controls. Access to the third row is a bit tricky though and the system is complicated than the simplistic one on the Chevy.

The Hyundai Santa Fe is a heavily loaded vehicle with lots of equipment on offer and space in plenty.

Handling and ride quality

Chevrolet Captiva- Been on a car platform, this means that all these soft roaders are easy going in the city. Starting with the steering wheel, it is light for city use however like all the Chevys in India, the Chevrolet Captiva’s unit doesn’t weight up nicely once the speeds rise. This makes it a bit vague. Been on a raised platform means that the car rolls a fair bit. On the sharp bumps, this translates to an unsettled ride quality. Once the speeds build up, the self leveling suspension works its magic. Overall, this can be called as an average performer in this lot and is nowhere near the segment bench mark, the Honda CR-V. Cornering at sedate speeds is acceptable on this car.

Nissan X-Trail-
This is the most car like to drive in this lot. Its well weighted steering wheel is a delight to use and to even hold in the hand. It makes driving an occasion. The levels of the grip in this car is also quite high than its competition. It has less dive on the roll however the softer suspension does make its presence felt time and again by bobbing up and down. The ride is sort of perfect with its good ride quality at low speeds and sort of nervous ride at high speeds. Cornering is better achieved in the Nissan X-Trail in India since it controls its body roll quite well.

Hyundai Santa Fe- The tallest of all these cars does have a stiffness in its suspension. It is also of the self leveling types. However it is rock solid on the highway and doesn’t get buffeted around due to its sheer weight. Absorbing all of the road imperfections are the tall springs. It also corners well however not in the same ball park as the Nissan X-Trail.

It does show a top heavy feeling however that is to be dismissed considering that people aren’t going to take this to a race track. The steering wheel is typically Hyundai with some of the sensitivity lost at high speeds. This saying, it is better than the Chevrolet’s unit.

This round goes to the Nissan X-trail with the Hyundai Santa Fe following closely.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

Chevrolet Captiva- The 4 cylinder 1995 cc turbo charged common rail direction injection diesel motor makes 148 Bhp and 316 Nm of torque. The manual transmission car is offered only with 2 wheel drive mode and hence this means that this car is quick off the block. It has one of the smallest motor and output in this segment. It races from 0-100 kmph in 11.72 seconds. It has a top speed of 176 kmph. The gear box is sort of notchy like the other Chevrolet units but nevertheless slots into gate well. The turbo in this unit is peaky and this means that there is sort of turbo lag at low speeds however get past 2000 rpm and the motor performs with gusto. The motor is also very smooth in its operation.

Hauling this car to a stop are disc brakes both at the front and rear coupled with ABS and ESP. Safety is also taken care by the Chevrolet Captiva featuring collapsible steering wheel, twin air bags and 3 point seat belts. Fuel efficiency due to the shorter gearing is good in the city at 9.5 kmpl and 11.5 kmpl on the highway.

Nissan X-Trail- This car features a 4 cylinder 1995 cc turbo charged, common rail direction injection diesel motor putting out 150 Bhp of power and 327 Nm of torque. It features on demand 4 wheel drive and a 6 speed auto gear box. Both the engine as well as the gear box are a perfect complement to each other. The engine revs sweetly all the way to its 5,200 rpm. This despite it been a diesel. There is little turbo lag however that is dispatched quickly. The clutch action is also quite light and ideal for city driving. The car sprints from 0-100 kmph in only 10.88 seconds and goes on to register a top speed of 201 kmph. This car gets a choice of manual tranny as well. Braking is handled by all wheel disc brakes aided by ESP, traction control and ABS. Safety is taken care by collapsible steering wheel, 6 air bags and also 3 point seat belts.

Hyundai Santa Fe- The Hyundai Santa Fe in India is blessed with a 4 cylinder in line 2199 cc turbo charged engine, common rail direction injection diesel which makes 195 Bhp of peak power and 429 Nm of torque. This is by far the biggest capacity motor in this comparo. It has company in a 6 speed transmission which is slick however not as good as the Nissan X-trail’s unit. This is a dynamo of a motor which powers the 1868 Kg vehicle from 0-100 kmph in 9.61 seconds and reaches a top speed of 190 kmph. The motor is highly refined and doesn’t make one realize the stratospheric speeds that the vehicle is capable of. The only dampener in the package is the heavy clutch which requires a firm shove. Braking is also good however the pedal action needs to be re-calibrated since it requires a push. There is no automatic option as of now however Hyundai Motors Limited India says that they would introduce it very soon. Assisting the powerful disc brakes are ABS, ESP and EBD. The Hyundai Santa Fe in India is also one of the safest SUVs around. It features a roll over sensor, 6 air bags, seat belts with pre-tensioners and a collapsible steering column.

This round squarely goes to the Hyundai Santa Fe.

Verdict

The Indian buyers are spoilt for choices with the number of new or refreshed soft roaders coming their way. Out of the three evaluated here, they have a wide price range difference with the cheapest of the lot been the Chevrolet Captiva followed by the Hyundai Santa Fe and then the Nissan X-Trail. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the latter is the best in this lot. Infact, it sits squarely in the middle. Starting with the Chevrolet Captiva, it is a well rounded package and has the looks to go with all the show. If you are in the market to buy a Captiva now, you would get a discount since the 2011 model is just some days away. Its price for the Indian market for the two wheel drive version is Rs.17.96 lakhs for the two wheel drive manual version whereas for the 4 wheel drive version, it is Rs.21,46 lakhs. The Nissan X-Trail may not seem a logical choice considering the company’s miniscule operations in India however it cannot be ignored since it has many of the good things that one would want in their soft roader. It is very quiet in its operation, has good fuel efficiency and the best of ride, handling package. However its high price of Rs.26 lakhs for the top end 6 speed auto is a dampener. The Hyundai Santa Fe on the other hand is a butch soft roader which can easily pass off for a hardcore SUV. It has got immense road presence, good space, high equipment list and a bomb of an engine. Adding to its immense list of potentials is the fact that it is also one of the safest SUVs around. Its sticker price of around Rs.23 lakhs also make it a sensible buy and hence our choice of soft roader in this segment.

Nissan’s big plans for India


')">

Nissan Motors India Limited have very big plans of making it in the Indian market. That the company has been in India not long ago, since 2004 is a well known fact however not many would know that the company also has been partnering with Ashok Leyland and making trucks in India. This coalition by the company has been the most successful venture for them. Nissan Motors India Limited have launched both its small car, the Nissan Micra in its petrol version as well as the Nissan Micra diesel recently. Both these cars are runaway success inspite of their slightly high price. The diesel version has so far had about 2.300 bookings in only 2 weeks and deliveries would be done only in January 2011. Its petrol counterpart has registered about 7000 units since its launch 5 months ago. We also know that they are planning on launching new mid size sedan based on the Nissan Micra platform as also many SUVs. One of them is an all new compact SUV which would be based on the Dacia Duster H79 platform. The manufacturing process would be in the company’s facility in Oragadam plant in Chennai. This plant can produce about 15,000 units each year. Nissan has plans to first launch this car in India and then once demands pick up, export it to the other markets in the world, however mostly right hand ones.

Recently in conjuction with their plans, the company has signed two MoUs with the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. This is for comprehensive research in cooperation agreement to support the potential engineers. The Nissan Science foundation which aims to groom the talented students in India through the Nissan Foundation Scholar MoU. This agreement is valid till 2015 and aims to provide financial aid to those selected students. The program is to also give them a short training stint at the Nissan Motor headquarters in Japan. The next step would be to give them a 4 month long internship at the Renault-Nissan alliance R&D facility in Chennai.

Nissan Support Program is the second MoU was done keeping in aim the various Management, engineering, science, social sciences and the humanities aspect with the IIT Madras institute of Engineering. This MoU has been signed by Nissan’s own R&D center in India {RNTCBI} and the sole aim is to have a say in all the development projects and also support research details. The validity of this MoU is till March 2013. On this occasion, Director of Nissan Science Foundation as well as fellow head in Nissan Motor, Haruyoshi Kumura, said that there were couple of collaborative projects in conjuction with IIT Madras. This facilitates the Indian public as well since they can give them financial help and also be exposed to the culture in the Nissan world. There is also chance that a made for India electric vehicle on the lines of the Nissan Leaf would be developed soon. The MoU may just about facilitate it.

Ford Fiesta 1.6S vs Maruti Suzuki SX4 1.6 VVT

Well, this cannot be called a true war however both of these fight for the economy chunk that the Honda City leaves behind for them. The Ford Fiesta 1.6S in India is one of the older ones here and the Maruti Suzuki SX4 1.6 VVT in India has been revamped lately with new features and also a limited edition{even the Ford has had that}. All the car companies by the way have it and that is not to be mistaken for a revamp. The thing worth considering is that most of the cars are outclassed by the Honda City and more recently by the refreshed Fiat Linea 1.4 turbo. However since we already had a compare between the Fiat Linea 1.4, Volkswagen Vento and the Honda City wherein the winner was the Fiat Linea with its wide stroke of features and scintillating performance. This war now moves onto the lower economy class and it boils down to between the Ford Fiesta 1.6S in India and the Maruti Suzuki SX4 1.6 VVT in India. Usually the price of the Ford Fiesta 1.6S and the price for the Maruti Suzuki SX4 1.6 VVT are considered.

Looks

Maruti Suzuki SX4 1.6 VVT for India – This car was one of the best in its segment till the Honda City came along and spoilt its party. The Maruti Suzuki SX4 1.6 VVT for India echoes the look of the new face of the company since the augmentation of the Swift. That both are based on the same platform is only a small thing. It doesn’t have a long bonnet unlike the others in the Maruti Suzuki portfolio. The bold pronounced nose has that honeycomb grille with the chrome finished Suzuki logo at the center. The air intake is however not so prominent and alongside it is the fog lamps. The side profile reveals 16 inch wheels with prominent wheel arches and a quarter glass. The outside rear view mirrors are also very big and they do a good job of showing what is behind. These are body colored as well. The rear shows up a hunched up profile and clear lens tail lamps. The boot is also well shaped however has a small opening.

Ford Fiesta 1.6S for India – This was one car which was made for India though its name has been used by Ford Motors cars in the US. It evoked the memories of the Ford Ikon when it was launched. Those fish shaped head lamps are carried over from the old model Fiesta. The front grille is not so big and houses the blue oval. The lower air dam is wider and makes for a bigger intake. The fog lamps are also housed in their own separate pods in the uniform bumper. There are skirts at the front which add to the sporty demeanor. There are side skirts as well and the 15 inch wheels exude a sporty feel. The rear carries a big spoiler with clear lens tail lamps and body colored bumpers.

Round 1 goes to the Maruti Suzuki SX4 1.6 VVT for been a butch looking car with loads of road presence.

Interiors

Maruti Suzuki SX4 1.6 VVT – The high seats in this car make for easy ingress and egress, something which is usually missing in Maruti’s cars. The dash board is well built however the quality of plastics leaves something to be desired. It has the automatic climate control, instrument panel and the audio system. The parts bin is shared with lower segment Swift and its booted brother, the Swift hatchback. There is fabric accents on the front and rear and the top end version comes with leather seats. Silver finish can be found on the door locks and handles. The arm rests are made up of wood though. Space at the front is okay however for any one above 6 foot 2 inches, it is best to avoid this car or if you are so smitten with this car, then you would have to learn aerobics as well to get in and out. The rear seat is also well made however could do with a bit more of the under thigh support. Boot space is also quite big for this segment at 425 liters though intrusion from the suspension mounts can be a problem. Abundance of cubby holes can be found in this cabin as well.

Ford Fiesta 1.6S for India – The interiors of this car reek of sportiness right from the word go. The major giveaway of its sporty intentions is the drilled aluminium pedals. The short throw gear box also looked classy. The twin pod instrument cluster sort of looks primitive however it has a wide array of information that one would ever require. There is no automatic climate control offered however power goodies are in plenty. The quality of materials used is a bit higher than those used on the SX4 and this makes a whole lot of difference to the approach. The front bucket seats are quite comfy however the rear ones aren’t too comfy. The seat backs are too upright and for long journeys, this would be very tiring. Lack of under thigh support adds to this. The boot is nicely carved and store a bit more than what its competitor in this segment can do. The Fiesta’s cabin actually seems cramped in comparison to the others in its segment.

Round 2 goes to the Maruti Suzuki SX4 1.6 VVT again for the level of convenience features and good room inside the cabin.

Handling and ride quality

Maruti Suzuki SX4 1.6 VVT – It would be a common perception that due to the higher ground clearance of the car{180 mm}, the handling would suffer. However this is far from the truth. The car handles quite well and due to its firmer suspension is a hoot around corners. Sure, it lacks the agility of the platform on which it is based but this doesn’t mean that the car is left wanting in the lurch. The promos of the car are really tastefully done and there is no doubting the capability of it. Infact, there is no need to even slow down for those big speed breakers or potholed roads as the car smothers everything in its stride. This doesn’t mean that it is perfect and it’s the ride quality which suffers. It is firm and small pot holes would send jolts into the cabin. Once the speeds rise, the problem is solved. Also a fully loaded car rides well due to its firm damping. The steering wheel is also direct like the Suzuki Swift and it is only on highway speeds that the steering feels a bit disconcerted. Nevertheless, it is one of the better units in this segment.

Ford Fiesta 1.6S for India – Now, every kid in the automotive world knows that only two manufacturers namely Fiat and Ford provide the best suspension setup in India. For the Ford Fiesta 1.6S for India, its no different. The car rides on a softer suspension however for the 1.6S motor, the springs have been shortened leading to a firmer suspension at both the ends. The steering wheel is too communicative and is the best in this segment. It delivers feedback in spades and this ensures that overall, the feel of the car is enhanced. The handling is at par with dare I say, a BMW. It goes well around corners and wouldn’t want its occupants to throw up their lunch or breakfast either. Its low stance {165 mm} also means that it is more aerodynamic than the Maruti SX4. The ride quality is also surprisingly good and it doesn’t break the backs of its passengers. It however lets out audible reminders of what it is going through.

Round three no doubt goes to the Ford Fiesta 1.6S for India due to its far superior ride and handling package.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

Maruti Suzuki SX4 1.6 VVT – This car features the 1.6 liter engine from the M series of the Suzuki family engines. It brings in variable valve timing (VVT) technology which aids in the timing changes inside the engine. This ensures that the optimum power is maintained all throughout the rev range. The peak power output is 104.68 Ps at 5600 rpm whereas the peak torque is 145 Nm at 4100 rpm. This 16 valve DOHC engine is mated with a 5 speed manual or even a 4 speed automatic. The car races from 0-100 kmph in 12.8 seconds and reaches a top speed of 181 kmph. The engine however feels quite strained and raucous at those rpms. The gear box is also notchy and requires a shove. It is better not to hurry the engine and enjoy the surge of torque in its mid range.

Braking is handled by disc brakes in the front and drums at the rear. ABS as well as EBD ensure safe braking. Safety is taken care by ample crumple zones, collapsible steering column, 2 air bags and 3 point seat belts. Fuel efficiency is not so good with 11.2 kmpl in the city which increases to 16.4 kmpl.

Ford Fiesta 1.6S for India – This car has a 1596 cc 4 Cyl. In-Line, 16-V DOHC engine which has SEFI. Maximum power output of this engine is 101 Bhp at 6500 rpm whereas the torque reads as 146 Nm at 3400 rpm. On paper, this figures pale in comparison to the one produced by the Maruti however on the road all that matters is the performance of the car. This motor is very tractable and more so than the Maruti unit. It is rev happy and there is never a stress or strain in the motor, even near its 7,100 rpm redline. Moreover, complementing the superb engine is the 5 speed manual gearbox which is very slick in its operation. It is well spaced out and is an enthusiasts delight. This car races from 0-100 kmph in just 12.5 seconds and maxes out at a top speed of 173 kmph. The induction sound of the engine is enough to tickle the nether regions of the driver. Truly a driver’s car.

Hauling this car to a halt is the combination of discs and drums. These are assisted by the usual EBD, Brake Assist and ABS. The one thing that should be noted is that this car has a spongy brake pedal and one which robs off the feeling of strong braking. Ford Motors India could do well to calibrate this unit and hence enhance the overall feel of the car. Safety features in the Ford Fiesta also abound in the way of the 3 point seat belts with anti whiplash properties, collapsible steering column and also 2 air bags.

Fuel efficiency is a tad better in the Ford Fiesta than its Maruti challenger. It returns 11.6 kmpl in the city and 16.9 kmpl on the highway.

This round is won fairly by the Ford Fiesta 1.6S for India.

Verdict

This is one tough war and for those looking for sedans in the lower strata of the price bracket. Both the cars are equally competent in some field or the other and would appeal to a wide range of buyers. For singles, the Ford Fiesta would be a talking point and more so of a show off in the electric blue color. It would be good for a jaunt with a probable girl since the interiors are not that spacious and would be too close for comfort. You can carry out power slides in it and at the same time driving it sanely would yield double digit consistent mileage figures. On the other hand, the Maruti Suzuki SX4 is more for the family oriented people. It is spacious, unless you have a houseful of 6 footers. It has automatic climate control and many other features that you wouldn’t get in the Ford. Now, the final decider would be the pricing. The price of the Ford Fiesta 1.6S for India is Rs.8,10264 on road in Mumbai whereas the price for the Maruti Suzuki SX4 1.6 VVT is Rs.7,99431 on road in Mumbai.

The winner, unfortunately, depends on one’s preferences. Those who love driving would look no further than the Ford Fiesta whereas those looking for practicality would go for the Maruti Suzuki SX4. The balance shifts to the Maruti’s end due to its wide spread dealer network, ability to cope up with the bad roads due to its elevated ride height and overall low service costs. Ford Motors India are yet to revamp their service point however at this price point, the Ford Fiesta is the poor man’s BMW and a frugal one at that. It loves been thrashed time and again. And it still shines and begs for more. I have picked up my choice here since I love driving and it would be the Ford Fiesta for me.