Mahindra Renault Sandero Review

')">Renault’s Indian operations started out with their joint venture with Mahindra. This alliance resulted in the birth of the Mahindra Renault Logan. The Logan was a low cost car made for developing countries. It was widely acclaimed in India for its ride quality, handling and also the space and price it was available at. It soon became a favorite amongst the Meru brigade and was then transferred to oblivion. Renault plan to launch more of their cars in India and the Sandero would be one amongst them.

Now, the Renault Sandero is based on the Logan platform and this would help in getting the costs down. Renault plan to market the vehicle badged only as a Renault but through Mahindra’s showrooms. It will compete against established players like Maruti Ritz, Volkswagen Polo, Fiat Punto and the Ford Figo. For the domestic market, its length of 4.02 meters will be curbed to get it under the 4 meter mark and hence make it eligible for excise benefits. It is a handsome looking hatch with seating for 4 people available. It will feature a 1200cc capacity petrol engine and also the 1.5 diesel from the Logan. Mahindra Renault Sandero in India would be manufactured at the Mahindra’s facility in Nashik. Its boot space is pegged at 340 liters and a huge 1018 liters with the rear seats down.

It will have a host of safety features as also state of the art electronic nannies. The only problem seems to be that the 1.2 liter engine may be too small for the heavy car. The pricing factor also has to be kept and we hope that M&M and Renault India have learnt their lessons well with the low cost Mahindra Renault Logan. The 1.2 petrol Mahindra Renault Sandero price would be around Rs.4.3 lakhs and the diesel upto Rs.5 lakhs. It would then certainly be a win-win situation for Renault India with the Sandero giving good fuel efficiency, space, safety and all that is demanded in this segment. It would be launched by April 2011.

Volkswagen Polo 1.6 Highline Petrol In India

Introduction – Volkswagen Polo Highline 1.6 Petrol Review

Europe’s largest car manufacturer Volkswagen launched its Volkswagen Polo 1.2 in Feb of this year. The Volkswagen Polo 1.2 was an instant success and consumers in India were demanding a more powerful engine in the car. Volkswagen Group in India took heed to this and commissioned the manufacturing of the Volkswagen Polo 1.6 Highline at their plant in Chakan, near Pune. This plant is one of only 5 in the world to produce the new generation of Volkswagen Polo Mark V. In September of 2010 Volkswagen finally released the 1.6 Polo with a larger engine making it more powerful and quicker. The Volkswagen Polo 1.6 Highline now has a bigger 1.6 liter, 4 cylinder engine that produces 104 horsepower and 153 Nm of torque.

')">The Petrol model Volkswagen Polo 1.6 Highline in India is a premium hatchback and boasts of some impressive styling perfectly blended with superior comfort, fuel efficiency and most of all safety. Volkswagen has always manufactured cars that were top of the line when it came to safety and the Polo 1.6 Highline is no different. The Volkswagen Polo is a very important car for the Indian market as the effect of its sales will have a much longer lasting effect. The Volkswagen Polo 1.6 Highline Petrol is presently available in Delhi for a price of Rs. 6.16 Lakhs, but prices will vary depending on location in India. If the Polo continues to be a success then it could mean the start of a good relationship between Volkswagen and India and this can only be beneficial for the Indian consumers.

Performance – Volkswagen Polo 1.6 Highline Petrol

The Volkswagen Polo 1.6 Highline is one of the most powerful cars in its range and probably only faces some stiff competition in the power category from the likes of the Skoda Fabia, Volkswagen Vento and Honda City, although the Honda City and Vento are priced higher and the Skoda uses most of the same components of Volkswagen.

The Volkswagen Polo 1.6 Highline comes equipped with a 1.6 liter, inline 4 cylinder, petrol engine that is calibrated for optimum performance and fuel efficiency. It delivers a maximum of 104 horsepower and a maximum torque of 153 Nm. The engine is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission that is quick and easy to use making it a lot of fun for any driver. The Polo has a good acceleration and mid-range pick-up is also commendable. It is a small, zippy, nimble vehicle and these attributes make it a very enjoyable car for drivers even in city traffic.

Moving quickly in and out of traffic is very easy in the VW Polo and it also comes fitted with a good suspension. The front uses a pair of McPherson struts with stabilizer bars and the rear is fitted with a semi-independent trailing arm that makes it smooth for the driver and passengers even on rough and uneven roads. A change in the suspension for Indian models is the softening of the shock-absorbers to suit Indian road conditions. The height of the Polo has also been increased by 16 mm for Indian versions as Volkswagen have taken into account Indian roads and their ability to test out not only suspension but height of some of the most able cars. Braking is also really good in the Polo as the brakes do their job very well. The front is fitted with a pair of disc brakes while the rear gets a pair of drum brakes.

The Polo is a very capable dynamic vehicle and does not mind being thrown around corners with vigor at high speeds. It grips the road using its 15 inch tyres which wrap around 15 inch alloy wheels. The stability of the car is also very good with the steering wheel also feeling light and easy for the driver to make quick sudden movements. Fuel efficiency in the Volkswagen Polo 16 is also very good and it gives 10.5 km/l in the city and 15.0 km/l when driving on the highway. The 1.6 Polo greatly improves on its acceleration and gets from 0-100 km/h in a brisk 11.1 seconds.

Styling

The Volkswagen Polo used to be the smallest car in Volkswagen’s line-up and around 30 years ago that was exactly what it was – small. The new Volkswagen Polo is nothing close to what it used to be in terms of dimensions. The Volkswagen Polo 1.6 is as big now as some of the earlier model VW Golf vehicles and boasts a longer wheel base, wider stance and higher roofline making it much more comfortable for all five passengers.

The exterior of the Volkswagen Polo 1.6 Highline Petrol is beautifully styled with the right creases and lines shaping the car. The amalgamation of crisp lines and smooth curves give the Polo a much more aggressive look than it has had for a number of years now and the styling is much more symbolic of the iconic Golf.

The front end has the large VW logo emblazoned in the middle of the stylish grille and the wide slanting headlights flank the impressive grille. The rear of the car comes as a bit of a disappointment and seems very plainly designed when compared to the front and side profiles.

The interiors of the Volkswagen Polo are typically what Volkswagen tends to offer, which is a combination of functionality and superior quality. The combination of the two tone interiors really sets of the inside of the car and the dash is also adorned with a good mix of durable quality looking plastic and softer trims. The inside is very ergonomically styled and the buttons and knobs are positioned for ultimate driver comfort.

The interiors have been peppered with numerous storage spaces and slots all the way from the center console to the boot of the car. The front seats are very comfortable and provide sufficient back and leg support to ensure that any drive is comfortable no matter how long. The front cabin is one of the most spacious in its class and six-foot plus drivers will find it absolutely no problem to fit in.

The rear of the car is a bit different to the front in terms of space. The rear could have definitely done with a bit more leg room but then Volkswagen has focused on enlarging the front cabin and for this the rear has had to pay a price. Saying this, the rear seats still offer all the support needed as well as good head room and width. It is relatively easy for three passengers to sit at the back comfortably.

The Volkswagen Polo 1.6 Highline Petrol is the only version of the 1.6 Polo that comes standard with an audio player that supports CD/MP3 player, rear wiper, leather seats, central locking, multi-function display, alloy wheels, fog lights, dual front airbags and ABS.

Pricing and Recommendations

The Volkswagen Polo 1.6 Highline is one that Volkswagen are watching quite intently in India and will ultimately decide the car manufacturers fate in the country. If the car manages to sell quickly then Volkswagen will get a great return on its investment in India.

The Volkswagen Polo is undoubtedly German engineering and VW is hoping to provide this at an affordable price to consumers in India. VW has also maintained a good fuel economy with the car which is essential for this market and it competes very well with its rivals on this front.

There are a few drawbacks to the Polo though and the lack of certain essentials will not please potential buyers. The electric steering feels a bit unresponsive at times and at higher speeds would ideally feel better if it was a bit tighter. Starting at a price of Rs.6.16 lakhs the car is a bit higher priced than the Skoda Fabia and may seem overvalued.

Although the Volkswagen Polo 1.6 Highline Petrol does not set a standard for value for money that is not the reason one should buy the VW Polo. This is a premium hatchback and is really well styled, is contemporary and offers a solid comfortable ride that is absent from other hatches.

Volkswagen Polo 1.6 Highline Petrol India Specifications and Price

Vehicle Category: Hatchback
Engines (standard) : 1.6 L, inline 4 cyl, 104 HP, 153 Nm torque
Drivetrain: 5 passenger, Front engine, 5-door hatch, FWD
Transmissions (standard) : 5-speed manual
Curb Weight: 1896 kg
0-100 kph: 11.1 secs (est.)
Mileage city/hwy: 10.5 / 15.0 kmpl
Base Price: Rs.6.16 Lakh (est)

Porsche Panamera S in India road test

Porsche’s innings in India has been met with moderate success. All their models have a virtue of sporty character but low on ergonomics since they are all based on sports car models. Classic example is the recently launched Porsche Cayenne and the high flying sedan, the Porsche Panamera S in India. The latter is the one that I am more interested in since this is the model that I am about to test now. Looking at the car, I felt that it would be befitting a sheikh in Dubai who would go racing on the weekends or on their Jumma. This is the car that I am going to be testing and it is a wonderful pleasure to have been involved in this endeavor which very few in the world would be able to have, that is not counting those lucky few millionaires and multi millionaires. Check on Road Price

Looks

Well, typically Porsche 911 influence reflects on the car right from the beginning. From a distance, not even a trained eye would be able to make out the difference between a Porsche 911 and a Porsche Panamera S in India. Well, the company says that the basic inspiration for the car was from its bread and butter 911 range. Its high set front wings, falling window line and the bonnet shut line are reminiscent of the 911. On a 2 door coupe, this would feel perfectly in sync however for a four door posh sedan, this looks a bit out of place. The head lamps have a huge gap between their placing panels. Don’t be alarmed and think this is an example of bad build quality. It is just a slot designed for better aerodynamics as well as water to seep in while the head lamp washers go about their job. Attention to detail shows in the fact that there is an option for cold or heated water to be thrown on the head lamps as part of their washing procedure. The latter especially should work for people living in India’s capital Delhi. The low bonnet line is so designed keeping in mind the pedestrian safety. The air dam is also a subtle affair like the others in its class and has divided horizontal slats with LED day time running lamps adorning it. The turn indicators are housed just above the day time running lamps.

The side profile also shows up the coupe life sloping roof line and the 18 inch multi spoke drilled alloy wheels. An interesting fact is that both the front as well as rear tyre configurations are different. The front one is the 255/45 ZR19 whereas the rear ones are 285/40 ZR19. Well, speaking of the tyres, there is no spare tyre but only a puncture kit. Wonder how many of the Porsche Panamera S owners in India would be repairing their tyres with the puncture kit.

The rear is the most disappointing aspect since from a distance, one wouldn’t be able to understand if this car is a four door one or a hatchback. It has a bubble gum back complemented by small LED tail lamps and a smallish boot aperture. There is a spoiler or a rear wing which rises automatically at speed. This aids in the aerodynamics department. The two tail pipes are an aural delight.

Interiors

In a Porsche Panamera S in India, one would be greeted by very sports car style low interiors. By low, I mean the seating position. This is even lower than what you would from the other sportier BMW 7 series. One has to literally ease themselves into the Alacantra leather seats. There are separate compartments for the driver, front passenger and the rear two passengers. Yes, you have heard it right. The Porsche Panamera S can seat only 4 passengers and this is due to high central tunnel running the length of the car from front to back. The point is that seats are way too comfortable that is once you seat yourself inside. May be some callisthenics classes would help you. The interior quality would definitely blow you away. It is nothing like what I have experienced so far. Not even in the Mercedes S class or even the BMW 7 series. It is closer to the Rolls Royce Ghost where everything is hand made. The central tunnel is full of buttons which may seem illogical considering that it rivals offer a central command system. However if you are buying a Porsche Panamera S, you would most certainly be a person who listens more to his heart rather than head. However I found myself quite comfortable with the layout and over the period of 2 hours got accustomed to them.

The 3 spoke steering wheel has the paddle shifts, the music controls and the cruise control functions on it. There is a large navigation as well as music system which is touch screen in its operation. The central console resembles that from a high end phone with the positioning of its controls. The chiseled magnesium alloy gear lever is also very handy to use. The dials are similar to that of the Porsche 911 however they are a bit more enhanced here. The dash board is slightly tilted towards the driver echoing that this is a driver centric car. Not a single plastic would feel out of place nor would you see any sort of cost cutting anywhere. Not that one expects any cost cutting from such an expensive saloon.

At the rear, the sloping roof doesn’t pose a problem since the seating is quite low and this enhances the head room. The leg room as well as the under thigh support are excellent and there is nothing lacking with the space inside except the big thing that this is a 4 seater. Claustrophobic people better avoid this car since the small rear windows coupled with the almost non existent rear windshield would make one throw up. Rear seat passengers are also pampered with the 4 zone automatic climate control system and also their own audio controls. The rear seats are adjustable as well and this adds to the convenience factor. The boot space is also quite average at 405 liters however the rear seats fold completely to liberate 1350 liters. The high loading lip however isn’t convenient to load in the luggage.

Handling and ride quality

Well, like any BMW, you can expect a Porsche to handle whatever be its size or girth. It obviously doesn’t have the suppleness of the Porsche Carrera however its only a matter of the right road for it, the car would shrink around the driver, kick its wheels and ditch all the girth that it possesses from its wide body. The Porsche Panamera S didn’t have all wheel drive with all the power going to the rear wheels. This makes the steering ultra light in city conditions whereas it weighs up nicely on the highway. However one would be quite content piloting a BMW 7 series in traffic conditions rather than this car. The reason is the low ride height of the car. Bikers can see eye to eye or in some cases eyeball with you when you are in this car. However caution has to be exercised when reversing since the rear low visibility enhances chances of scraping the rear bumper or better even the tail pipes. There are three ride and handling modes. Those are the sport, sport+ and the comfort modes. The car as it is rides on Porsche Active Suspension Management {PASM}. This enhances the ride height should one need to go over a particulary tall speed breaker. The ride height is enhanced by so much as 25 mm.

With all this cornering skills, one would rightly expect that the car would have a lumpy ride quality however surprise of surprises, the Porsche Panamera S rides very beautifully however that is achieved only in the Comfort mode. The only hitch is that the car feels unsettled at low speed rides. Once the speeds build up, because of the low height, the car feels very stable on the highway. This can also be attributed to the 4 wheels at the 4 corners of the chassis. Speaking of the chassis, it is composed of  active anti-roll bars and air springs. There are wide grades of magnesium, steel as well as aluminium used in the construction of the car’s underpinnings. The fenders, engine compartment lid, boot and even the four doors of the car are made of aluminium to save weight. Magnesium is used to make the door and window frames.

The steering wheel is also made of high quality silica. It is hydraulically assisted and has variable steering ratios.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

The Porsche Panamera S is available in India with only a single motor option as of now. The engine is the 4.8 liter V8 direct injection petrol which makes 400 Bhp and a potent 50.9 kgm of torque. The gearbox is also a 7 speed automatic transmission with paddle shifts on the steering wheel. To make way for a better performance, the car features dry sump lubrication like a racer car, the front drive shafts under through the crankcase and not from under the engine. There is also a magnesium valve cover, lighter crankcase, air intake manifold with thin walls, connecting the engine and transmission are aluminium bolts and also aluminium camshaft adjusters.

There is an optional sports chrono package which enables to have a launch control in this car. Launch control essentially works in such a way that the car automatically skips gears while launching the car perfectly from 0-100 kmph. The 0-100 kmph by the way comes up in 5.7 seconds with the launch control whereas my colleague tested the car without launch control and it crossed the 0-100 kmph barrier in 5.8 seconds. The top speed of this car has been electronically limited to 283 kmph. Derestricted German autobahns have seen this car racing to 315 kmph. The engine is red lined at 7000 rpm and once engaged in the PASM sports+ mode, the engine lets each gear to race till the red line and then upshift to the next one. The essentially smooth gearbox also sometimes skips ratios when down shifting to make way for a better driving experience. Other than the exciting engine, the performance can also be attributed to the PDK or Porsche Dual Klutch. This dual clutch provides for lightning fast shifts. All this makes for a loud car but not so loud as to spoil its luxury car tag.

Bringing this car to a halt is handled by carbon ceramic brakes on all the 4 wheels along with the latest ABS, ESP, traction control, brake assist, brake booster and DTC. This car is at par on the safety gradient as well with the 3 point seat belts for all occupants along with built in anti whip lash aids. The head rests are also integrated ones. The front bumper is so designed keeping in mind pedestrian safety. There is also a radar assisted anti collision device, 6 air bags, anti roll package and the collapsible steering column.

Fuel efficiency may not mean much to buyers in this class and considering the fun on tap with this car. However just to be sure that we give our readers all what they want, I did check the average of this car to satisfy the “average kya hain?” minded people. The Porsche Panamera S returns 5.5 kmpl in the city and 11.2 kmpl on the highway. The improvement in the highway figures is due to the well spaced out gear ratios of the 7 speed gear box. The city figures would have been even more dismal had there not been the stop start technique. This system can be automatically turned off from the dash board however not many would be doing that since it saves a good 5-10 % of fuel in heavy traffic conditions.

Verdict

Senseless is what one would call the person buying the Porsche Panamera S. This is because of the low utility factor. However buyers in this segment deserve a sense of exclusivity and this, the car delivers in spades. Infact, it is more exclusive than even the Jaguar XF, forget the other German luxury car makers. But I did definitely get over its external looks after the 5 hours I spent with the car. Actually the exteriors didn’t matter much to me but the interiors did. They are a world class apart from what the other Germans have to offer. Materials used are of the highest quality, even higher than its German compatriots. Its performance is also mind blowing and handling is world class. Safety features are also top notch whereas the fuel efficiency is not too stellar. It does exhibit the hooligan nature when wanted and can also be driven sanely. Its high sticker price of Rs 1.4 crores {ex-showroom, Delhi} is a dampener though as is the far and few service outlets.

Porsche Panamera S specs

Length: 4971 mm
Width: 1934 mm
Height: 1416 mm
Wheelbase: 2923 mm
Ground Clearance: 150 mm
Minimum Turning Radius: 11.1 meter
Weight: 1745 kgs
Engine Type: 4.8 liter V8
Displacement: 4798 cc
Transmission: 7 speed auto with paddle shifts
Front brakes: Ventilated Ceramic Disc
Rear brakes: Solid Ceramic Disc with auto adjust
Steering Type: Hydraulic power assisted with variable ratios
Front Tyre Size: 245/50 ZR 18
Rear Tyre Size: 275/45 ZR 18

Number Of Doors: 4
Seating Capacity: Four
Fuel Tank Capacity: 80 liters

Tata Aria review


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Tata Motors have been on a roll since the acquisition of Jaguar Land Rover and also the launch of the Tata Nano. Though a small car, it has captured the world’s attention and also has projected Tata Motors and India into the world’s view. People who believed that India can only work in conjuction with MNCs need to bite the dust as the Tata Nano proved to the world that all it takes is some dedication and vision to make the things the way they are intended to. Not quite content with the success of the Tata Nano, Tata Motors have moved on to the other spectrum of the automobile industry. This one is an all unabashed pricey, spacious and premium crossover called the Tata Aria. First showcased as a concept car in the Geneva Motor Show in 2005, few thought that it would be a production car 5 years down the line and more since it was a premium car. Tata Motors in India are not known for cars having classy interiors, low NVH as well as good design cues. They are best known for delivering bang a buck in their cars and the tag line for the Indica “more car per car” is apt for all the cars from Tata Motors stable.

Looks

Now, Tata Motors cars look okay but not segment defying. They have been at best inoffensive. The new Tata Aria changes that all. It is a radical looking car or should I say SUV. It is one of the most eye catching designs from Tata Motors. It is what you would call a proper crossover. Penned from IDEA design house from Italy, the same one which penned the earlier version of the Indica as well as the new Indica Vista, it is a sure shot design. This car is huge meaning the Toyota Innova looks pint sized in front of it.

The head lamps are double barelled and it has a roofline swoop similar to the newly launched Mercedes R-class. Nowhere does it look boxy like the other MUVs in its class.The front grill is all highlighted in chrome and the paint job is also quite glossy. The Tata logo is fitted into the horizontal slats. The wind screen area is also big and has a Civic like kamikaze wipers. The air dams are wide and gaping. They are a single piece unit and house the fog lamps in them.

Viewed from the side, the first striking feature in the Tata Aria’s 2850 mm wheel base is its 17 inch tubeless alloy wheels. They fill the wheel arches well and give the MUV a good ground clearance of 205 mm. This vehicle is after all intended to be used for some off-roading as well and hence the ground clearance is on the higher side. Wonder of Wonders, there are no quarter glasses for this huge cabin and the swooping cabin meets the tail of the car. The door handles are body colored. Special mention must be made of the big outside rear view mirror. They have the turn indicator lights embedded onto them. The mirrors though seem a bit big for their own liking and its very likely that they would brush against the other cars or bikes in the city.

The rear throws a coupe like roof line and has those same vertically stacked tail lamps. Tata Motors could have done well to give it some other kind of look however the current arrangement looks classy as well. The rear windscreen is also huge like the rest of the car and has a lone washer and wiper doing duties. A step forward for Tata Motors is the twin tail pipe unit which are also chunky and first for a MUV in India. There is a chrome strip running along the length of the tailgate handle.

Interiors

A big change and a leap ahead for Tata Motors for what they done with the Tata Aria’s interiors. There are those perfect seats and even leather as an option. Not one thing looks out of place and the cabin has that ambient quality elements in it. It’s loaded to the gill with features like GPS navigation system, cooled glove box, rain sensing wipers, auto head lamps, climate control, Bluetooth pairing, 6 CD changer system with 8 speakers, reverse camera, parking aids and electrically controlled rear view mirrors. There is also no dearth of cubby holed around the dash. There are seven of them on the roof and there are also many bottle holders. There are twin glove boxes on the well sculpted dash. Everything has a soft and premium feel to it. Gosh! We never thought we would be saying this about a Tata vehicle and that too an Indian spec one.

The steering wheel is a new unit and has cruise control, Bluetooth pairing and the audio controls added to it. It feels chunky to hold however could do with some more weight. The steering is rake and reach adjustable. The seats are comfy and have pretty of travel. Even the second row of seats is quite comfortable for seating three upright. The third row of seats can be accessed by pulling a lever next to the second row. Seating at the third row though is not upto the mark and would only be fit for kids. There is plenty of boot space even with the 3rd row of seats in place and flopping over the second row shows a big storage space. All row passengers are pampered with pillar mounted aircon.

Handling and ride quality

Tata Motors passengers cars have been always appreciated for their ride quality and this stands good even for the Tata Aria. It has a pliant ride quality and those independent double wish bone suspensions in the front and 5-link suspension at the back do a great job of isolating one from the road irregularities. It is only jolted by some sharp irregularities at low speeds and rest everything is smothered by the huge tyres.

The handling is also well sorted out with Electronic Stability Program{ESP} which cannot be turned off. Aiding it is also the traction control and the 4 wheel drive system. The new Tata Aria doesn’t do anything funny and is quite sorted out. The lifeless steering is something which Tata has to improve in this MUV. It detracts from enthusiastic cornering. It is too light and this aids in parking speeds. Also Tata Aria feels quite composed even on high speeds and there is no road or wind noise inside the cabin. There is also Automatic Level ride control that keeps the suspension stable, irrespective of the vehicle load. To ensure that things don’t go out of control, Hill Descent control system and Limited Slip Differential are also present. Though it isn’t built for off-road travel, the Tata Aria can fairly well handle the rough with its wide array of off-roading equipment. It actually mates the convenience of an MUV with that of a SUV.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

The Tata Aria uses the same 2.2 liter DICOR engine from the Tata Safari. This means that the Tata Aria gets the same power output of 140 Ps and 320 Nm of torque as the Safari. However due to use of dual flywheel, a cast aluminum stump and fitting of rubber mounts has enabled the Tata Aria to be a better performer. Those mounts ensure that the engine noise is down to minimum. The Aria is quite a performer with 0-100 kmph coming in at 14.3 seconds. This is commendable for a MUV weighing more than 2200 kg. The Tata Aria is also quite sprightly to drive and much in likeness to the Suzuki Swift. The gearbox is also a nice shifting unit with no extra nudge required to slot the gear into its gate. The floor pedals are also aluminium drilled however since the foot well is small, there is no place for a dead pedal.

Brake pedal modulation is also good and features a segment first, disc brakes on all 4 wheels. These are assisted by ESP, ABS and traction control. All these electronic nannies haul the MUV safely without any drama or fuss. Safety is taken care by another segment first, 6 airbags, Hydroformed body chassis, collapsible steering column, seat belt pre-tensioners and active head restraints.

Fuel economy so paramount to Indians is also well taken care of with the Tata Aria returning 9.8 kmpl in the city whereas these figures rise to 14.6 kmpl on the highway run. This makes it one of the better performing MUVs with decent fuel efficiency to boot for.

Verdict

The Tata Aria in India is a giant step for Tata Motors image.  They have been usually associated with low rent interiors, cheap cars. However with the Aria, Tata Motors have changed it all. It has the usual Tata strengths like a good packaging, extensive features list, fuel efficient engine, loads of space in the cabin and good road presence. However the one thing missing is the price quotient. The Tata Aria is offered in 4 variants namely Tata Aria Pride, Tata Aria Pleasure, Tata Aria Pleasure Leather  and Tata Aria Prestige. The price start from 12.4 lakhs {Ex-showroom, Delhi} for the base variant to 16.1 lakhs {Ex-showroom, Delhi} for the topmost one. The price is the fouling factor here as none of the MUVs are so costly in this segment. Moreover, Tata Motors are gunning squarely for segment leader, the Toyota Innova and pricing is in the Ford Endeavour’s territory. We would recommend that you settle for the base variant of the Tata Aria and you still have more equipment on hand than the Toyota Innova.

Tata Aria specifications

Displacement: 2179cc, DiCOR, 16 Valve, 4X4
Engine Type: Diesel
Maximum Power: 140 Bhp @ 4200 rpm
Maximum Torque: 320 Nm @ 1800 rpm
Length: 4790 mm
Width: 1885 mm
Height: 1770 mm
Tyre Size: 235/65 R17 tubeless alloys
Suspension: Independent Double Wishbone at front and 5 Link Suspension at the rear
Turning Circle: 5.80 mtrs.
Steering: Hydraulically assisted and tilt adjustable
Brakes: Front Ventilated disc, Rear solid Disc
Gears: 5 speed Manual
Ground Clearance: 205.00 mm
Fuel Tank capacity: 60.00 liters
Seating Capacity: 7

Hyundai i20 Diesel Road Test


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Hyundai introduced the i20 model after the initial success of its Hyundai i10 model which made it the largest passenger car exporter in the country. The Hyundai i20 in India is targeted at the B and B+ segment customers in the Indian market. Globally the Hyundai has replaced the Getz model but in India the Hyundai i20 will be sold along with the Getz and the Hyundai Getz will be positioned below the Hyundai i20. Check on Road Price

The Hyundai i20 has been designed to meet the needs of the European market specifically and Hyundai’s move of shifting its manufacturing plant from Koran to India has resulted in the Indian market benefiting from it. The plant which is situated in Chennai has the proud distinction of producing up to 30 percent of Hyundai car globally.

The Hyundai i20 was designed based on Hyundai’s larger offering the i30 which has been released in Europe and Korea and is doing really well. Hyundai i20 in India competes with very competitive rivals like the Ford Figo, Honda Jazz, Skoda Fabia and the Fiat Grande Punto. We were lucky enough to get out hands on a Hyundai i20 and take it around for a spin to see how it fares in comparison to its rivals. Read further to find out what we now know…

Exteriors and Interiors

Although this is a test drive, let us start out with the overall look of this very impressive offering from Hyundai Motors. The exterior of the Hyundai i20 is similar to its smaller i10 offering and it features many similar parts as well. It has new muscular, aggressive styling that differentiates it from previous Hyundai cars that were criticized for being very softly styled and tended to lift designs from other car models namely the Honda and Jaguar.

The front of the Hyundai i20 gets a few well placed lines and curves on the hood that accentuate it and all the hood to have a clear definition. The grille gets a touch of chrome plating that adds some further character to the front end. The headlights are designed to be some form of curvy triangle and slope smoothly upwards and curve slightly around the bonnet and they also integrate the turn indicators. The new Hyundai i20 also incorporates turn indicators on the outside rear view mirrors which are also electrically heated, making the i20 one of the only cars in its class to offer this feature. The front is also enhanced by the look of the bumper, which now get a wider lower air intake and accented slots for the fog lamps. The low slung bumper makes the i20 look lower to the ground and gives it a sportier look.

The interior of the Hyundai i20 should be the most surprising part as it features some of the most advanced gadgets found in this class of car not only in India but internationally as well. The Hyundai i20 is one of the largest hatchbacks being offered in the Indian automotive market. There is ample head room as well as leg room for all passengers both at the front and the back and comfortably fits in 5 passengers and their shopping as well. The interior has a lovely two tone brown-beige color and the instrumentation cluster panel is also well lit so the driver has no problem to view it whether day or night. The various audio and climate controls and knobs are ergonomically placed and the center console is tilted towards to driver to enhance ergonomic feel and ease of use. It also has a silver lining that provides a sleek look to the console.

The power steering is well balanced and has some features that reminds of the Honda Civic and houses the audio and climate controls on it making it safer for the driver to concentrate on the road. The steering wheel is also tilt and telescopic and allows drivers to get the most comfortable position while driving. The rear seats are also very spacious and afford maximum space for rear occupants with ample head room and leg room. Another cool feature of the rear seats are the height adjustable rear head rests.

The car is also fitted with numerous storage holders and pockets that allow travelers to sore bottles in the door trim and other knick knacks behind the front seats. The interiors are well adorned with high quality fabric and highly durable plastics and leather finish.

Engine and Ride

The Hyundai i20 is fitted with the 1.4 liter 16 V DOHC, CRDI Diesel 4 cylinder engine that produces 90 horsepower and 224 Nm of torque making the Hyundai i20 a powerful and responsive vehicle. Driving in the Hyundai i20 is very enjoyable and the fact that Hyundai makes some good engine these days unlike the days of old speaks volumes about the distance the company has come. The engine is well refined and silent even when pushed to the limit. Noise levels in the cabin are significantly reduced due to the damping and insulation and this CRDI engine is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.

The gearbox has a nice, smooth feel to it but is not ideal for quick shifting and is more suited to cruising around the streets. The Hyundai i20 diesel comes with a turbocharger that kicks in at around 1900 rpm and when this happens you feel the oomph of torque beneath the hood, which makes you want to floor the accelerator pedal. Driving at high speeds is also safe as the car has very little roll and even at speeds in excess of 120 kmph the driver will feel that he has total control over the car.

Verdict and Recommendations

Comparing the Hyundai i20 diesel with its closest rivals like the Swift diesel, Skoda Fabia, Tata Indica Vista and Fiat Punto we feel that is offers a bit more value for money in terms of its offerings. This is hardly surprising as Hyundai Motors prides itself on being able to offer its customers that little bit extra for a whole lot less.

The Hyundai i20 is a very capable car and for the starting price of 5.75 lakhs could prove to be a real bargain. Handling, ride and safety features are very good and the various options that customers can choose from make it a very attractive vehicle. The Maruti Swift which is probably its closest rival and other top selling car in India is definitely under threat from the newest offering from Hyundai.

Hyundai i20 Specifications

Hyundai i20 Diesel Engine

Engine Type – Diesel
Engine Description – 1.4 litre 90PS Diesel Engine
Engine displacement – 1396 cc
No. of Cylinders – 4
Maximum Power – 90PS at 4000rpm
Maximum Torque – 224Nm at 1750-2750rpm
Valve Configuration – 16V DOHC
Fuel Supply System – Common Rail Diesel Ignition

Transmission

Transmission Type – Manual
Gear box – 6-Speed

Suspension System

Front Suspension – Mc Pherson Strut along with Gas shock absorber
Rear Suspension – Couple Torsion Beam Axle along with Gas shock absorber
Shock Absorbers – Gas-filled, Telescopic Dual acting type

Steering

Steering – Power steering
Steering Column – Rake & Reach
Turning Radius – 5.20 mts. (wheel base)

Brake System

Front Brake Type – Disc
Rear Brake Type – Disc
Fuel Tank Capacity – 45 liters
Emission Compliance – BS III, BS IV (For Metro Cities)

Tyres

Tyre Size – 185/65 R14
Tyre Type – Tubeless
Alloy Wheel Size – 14 inches

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