Mahindra KUV100 Engine & Gearbox

OVERVIEW ;

Today most of the automakers are working towards introducing developing new compact SUVs, which are just under four metres. This is one of the fastest growing segments, and today most of the automakers are working on it. However, Mahindra had different plans. The company did introduce the TUV300, which is a compact SUV but it has even got an SUV under that. This is the KUV100 and this is the smallest Mahindra passenger vehicle ever made. We lay our hands on the smallest Mahindra for a quick spin and tell you how good it is. Find best offers on Kuv100

EXTERIOR AND DESIGN ;

The KUV100 (Kool Utility Vehicle One Double Oh) is Mahindra’s newest member in the portfolioand the most compact passenger vehicle they’veever made. The hatchback footprint makes it one of the most compact crossoversaround. The vehicle’s unique styling is meant to appeal to the younger audience. The face features the signature grille that’s sleek, but misses out on the centre bucktooth. A clamshell bonnet gives the KUV a more premium look.

In a passing glance, the headlamps will remind you of the EcoSport, but look closer and you’ll notice some interesting detailing. The lamps wraparound the entire front fender, which is unique and something we’ve neverseen done before. Mahindra says that the design has been inspired from wraparound sunglasses. The extra length meant that the engineers had to split the unit in two sections. While the main section houses the headlamp and LED DRLs, the second part is actually an extension that smartly incorporates the engine badging and side indicators. The lower section of the bumper isn’t body-coloured, giving it a dual-tone appearance. The bumper houses neat fog lamps and a contrasting silver mock bash plate too. Since the grille is small and not as imposing as its siblings, there’s a large blank portion below. This areashould have housed the registration plate in our opinion. The front track is wider than a few hatchbacks and this gives the vehicle added presence.

Move to the side and it does take some time just to get used to the design. The short length and the longish front section make it look less proportionate. There’s a lot of detail on the sides too, like the character line running from the headlamp. The rear haunch is further accentuated thanks to the prominent line that runs upwards from the rear door, all the way to the taillamps. Even the mirror caps get some detailing. The side is more hatchback than SUV. The pillar mounted rear door handles are similar to the ones on the Chevrolet Beat. This gives the KUV100 an appearance of a two-door vehicle. The handle can be operated from both sides and is finished in contrasting silver so it doesn’t go unnoticed. The wheel arches are prominent and there’s cladding too (not available onthe base trim) to give it that rugged SUV look. The 14-inch wheels however, look small. Top variants get alloy wheels as standard and the design is said to be inspired by aturbine. The rear end is quite smart with the rectangular taillamp that protrudes slightly upwardssince it sits below the extended haunch line. An integrated spoiler is standard across allvariants.

INTERIOR AND CABIN ;

Moving to the interiors, the Mahindra KUV100 has a smart looking cabin with nice use of colours and nothing seems overdone on the dashboard which uses beige and piano black to good effect. The fit and finish is also excellent by Mahindra standards and there is not much to complain here. The instrument cluster is simple to read and offers basic information such as gear indicator, trip meter and odometer. There is a distance-to-empty feature available too but it is difficult to find unlike other hatchbacks as it’s in the infotainment system. The steering comes with audio and phone controls and a regular audio system with Bluetooth, USB, AUX-IN connectivity and Blue Sense app compatibility is also offered, audio quality being average with the small screen being out of place in this touch-screen dominated world. The button to turn on and off the audio system is difficult to use as it also offers four other functions, thereby requiring a careful press. Mahindra also offers mood lighting on the top variants of the hatchback and puddle lights on all the 4 doors which do help at night.

The steering wheel feels nice to hold and the front seats offer good levels of comfort. A height adjustment feature is also offered. The travel range of the seats is pretty good. The KUV100 is offered with a 5-seater as well as a 6-seater layout. The 5-seater model comes with adjustable headrests at the front while the 6-seater gets fixed headrests. The rear seats on both the models get three adjustable headrests which is a good thing. On the 6-seater model, it is possible to fold away the front middle seat and use it as a large armrest which is the best use of the extra seat as safety of a third person at the front is questionable with the lap seatbelt (on the 5-seater model, there are a ton of cubbyholes in the centre). The rear seat also comes with an armrest with two cupholders. Even at the front, the number of cubbyholes and storage bins is pretty good (sunglass holder, toll receipt holder below the right AC vent and a lot more). There is a storage bin on the rear floor (in the middle) while the co-passenger seat (only on the 6-seater version) opens up for storage, it has a tray in it too. The gear lever is mounted on the dashboard while the vehicle gets a pull-type handbrake, similar to the Datsun GO. The AC (the controls are vertically stacked) is an absolute chiller and Mahindra has provided two power outlets, one at the front and one in the boot which is also accessible from the rear seat.

Outward visibility from the driver’s seat is good while viewing ahead, while sidewards visibility isn’t the best due to the thick B-pillar. Even the small rear windshield and thick C-pillars cause a bit of a visibility concern at the rear. The rear seats have good kneeroom (thanks to the scooped out rear seatback which also get magazine pockets) but average legroom (the floor might be flat but at the bottom of the front seats, there is a raised floor area) which is much lesser than the Hyundai Grand i10 and even lesser than the Maruti Swift, its two chief rivals. The black cladding which houses the outside rear door knob makes things claustrophobic at the rear which is amplified on the 6-seater model as forward visibility is further reduced by the extra front seat. The headroom isn’t adequate for tall passengers and space for the shoulders is just about decent. The seat belts aren’t height adjustable and are placed low, causing another issue for tall occupants. The boot of the KUV100 is decent but will hardly fit in a weekend’s luggage for 2-3 people (the rear seats fold flat though). The ORVMs are also very small and offer a limited view of what’s behind.

ENGINE AND GEARBOX ;

It was no secret that Mahindra had been developing a new family of small-capacity petrol and diesel engines, and the KUV100 is the first recipient of the new mFalcon range. The petrol engine, called mFalcon G80, is an all-aluminium, 1.2-litre three-cylinder unit, which uses a four-valve head and variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust. Pumping out 81.8bhp at 5,500rpm and 11.7kgm from 3,500-3,600rpm, the petrol KUV doesn’t stand out amidst peers for max power or torque.

However, performance is more than acceptable. Sure, the KUV’s 15.13 second 0-100kph time does put it behind rivals, but if you look at in-gear times, it’s actually quicker than the Swift and Grand i10. The KUV’s relatively shorter gearing undoubtedly helps here. What also works in the KUV’s favour is that part-throttle response is pretty good, which makes ambling around town quite relaxed.

However, it’s when you floor the throttle or want to execute a sudden overtaking move that this engine falls flat, quite literally. Power delivery is flat and lacks any sense of urgency and it’s only when you are in the 4,500-6,000rpm range that you get a second wind or surge. But it’s a bit pointless as average users will rarely ever push the KUV so far into the rev band. Just as well, because the engine gets thrummy and loud at high revs. Engine refinement is a bit disappointing especially the petrol engine which vibrates quite a bit at idle and rocks on its mounts. Clutch engagement could be smoother too, though the five-speed gearbox won us over for its slick and accurate action.

The diesel KUV uses a 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine that Mahindra has labelled ‘mFalcon D75’. A cast iron block and aluminium head make up this engine, while diesel is fed via a common-rail system at a pressure of 1,600bar. The engine makes a respectable 77bhp at 3,750rpm, while its 19.37kgm max torque figure is on par with the larger-hearted four-cylinder Swift diesel’s output. That said, in outright acceleration contests, the KUV won’t keep up with the Swift. The KUV will hit the ton from a standstill in 14.85 seconds, while the Swift will do the same in 1.2 seconds less. But compare the KUV diesel’s performance to the three-cylinder Grand i10 diesel’s, and you’ll find the Mahindra to be significantly quicker.

In everyday conditions, the KUV diesel is actually quite nice to drive. There’s minimal turbo lag and the diesel motor feels quite responsive as the turbo kicks in from about 1,500rpm. There’s a gentle surge that comes in at 1,800rpm and it stays put until 3,500rpm after which, the engine takes its own sweet time to rev harder. If you are patient enough, you can have the engine rev to 4,800rpm, but doing so only increases the noise level without any real rewards in performance. As you would have gathered, this is not an exciting or punchy engine, but one that feels well in tune with the rigours of urban driving. Taking it easy is the best approach here, and one that also keeps the engine noise levels to a minimum.

DRIVING DYNAMICS ;

During its product presentation, Mahindra stated that the KUV100 has a long travel suspension setup for better ride quality over bumpy roads.As it turns out, the KUV100 does have a pliant and comfortable ride, soaking jerks from small potholes and road undulations like a proper SUV.While it may instill confidence, be aware that the KUV100 only has an hatchback-like ground clearance of 170 mm.

The soft suspension may have affected its handling characteristics. Driving around the sharp hairpin corners towards Yelagiri, I found that the body roll and understeer can be a bit nerve-wracking.Given that the KUV100 is not developed to be a cornering machine, its handling capability isn’t too much of a bother.​

SAFETY ;

Mahindra is offering ABS as standard across every variant of the KUV100 while dual front airbags are also offered as optional on every variant except the top K8 variant where they are standard. The hatchback also comes with a 2-year, 1 lakh kms standard warranty which can be optionally extended to 5 years. Mahindra has a good after-sales network across the country while the service quality levels are neutral. While some dealers offer exceptional levels of service, there are some where the quality of work done is below par too.

VERDICT ;

We will definitely update you with more details as soon as the updated Crossover is launched in the Indian market. But with the refined engine and better fuel efficiency and obviously some cosmetic upgrades there is no doubt the Mahindra KUV100 definitely has everything to dominate over this newly formed segment.

 

 

Honda WRV Engine & Transmission

OVERVIEW

With cross-hatches, car makers have kept the formula simple – take their existing hatches, inject some testosterone with thick slide cladding, roof rails, larger wheels and voila! We have an all-new model. The i20 Active, the Etios Cross and the Cross Polo, all seem to toe this line of thought (except the Fiat Urban Cross – but it hardly sells!).With the new WR-V, Honda has made an honest effort to create a Jazz-based crossover that stands out from its donor car. Not just in terms of its SUV-inspired looks, which gives it a different persona, especially when viewed from the front and rear. But also in the way it has gone about tweaking the suspension, raising ground clearance and adding a few more features to differentiate it from the Jazz. Check Ex Showroom Price of WRV

EXTERIORS AND LOOKS

Honda looked through the crosshatch business in India quite closely and created a design that not only tries to minimize the silhouette of the Jazz hatchback on which it is based but also create a sense of desirability in the onlooker. The front sees an uplifted hood with strong bonnet lines and a mega chrome bar thrown in for good measure. The chrome back connects the swooping headlamps to create a cohesive appearance.Thick plastic cladding up front saves the WR-V face from the ruts and rocks on occasional harsh road expeditions. The WR-V front looks nothing like a Jazz, and looks like a completely new car from that angle, but as you go to the side, the picture of a known hatchback becomes reminiscent.

Honda has ensured that image is diminished by throwing in ample plastic cladding and a set of roof rails finished in silver. They have also sized up the wheels. WR-V runs on 195/60 R16 Eco tyres with diamond cut alloy wheels, which look quite similar to the what’s in a BR-V. At the rear, tail lamps have been extended to contribute to a change in the overall design. These extensions include new rear fog lamps, which are quite bright at night to be honest.There is a thicker plastic bumper and silver rear diffuser to create the true essence of a crossover. Suspension setup has been reconstructed to make space for longer suspension travel and higher ground clearance. Honda WR-V sits at 188mm off the ground. WR-V may not look very attractive on paper but it definitely wins over the war of cross hatchbacks when it comes to design. Apply car loan for WRV at Carzprice

INTERIOR AND COMFORT

The WR-V is a bigger machine than the Jazz, but it’s still under 4 metres long. So the space would be just about enough, right? Well, no. The sense of space could obliterate claustrophobia as a concept. While you won’t have that commanding/SUV-esque driving position, you do get the sense you’re sitting in a car that’s longer than 4 metres. That segment-first sunroof just adds to the airy feel. Seating five-up is easy but the middle occupant will want for more shoulder room. Also, the lack of adjustable headrests is just ridiculous and the integrated ones are too small and soft. The seat cushioning is a tad too soft, especially for long jaunts and considering this car’s positioning as something for explorers. After all, unlike the Jazz, this does get cruise control. Heck, you even get a 363-litre boot that’ll accommodate the average adult comfortably (kidnappers/Omni owners please note).

You also get nice touches like a steering that’s adjustable for rake and reach, and a can-holder in front of the driver’s AC vent. Also, modern cars have A-pillars that’re thicker than the US president, so the WR-V’s little quarter glass comes in handy at intersections. Somehow, the quality benchmark is similar for the tech and trim – just enough. There are hard plastics all-round, but nothing you’d call cheap. There’s no leather this or soft-touch that, but the upholstery is of a decent grade. The 7-inch infotainment system has a simple UI and a decent list of connectivity options including MirrorLink and WiFi, which is great. However, the system’s inherent lagginess is annoying and ever present. Moreover, the setup looks like an aftermarket add on. Also, the lack of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay can’t be ignored when there’re cheaper cars that get both. Lastly, the air-con may have a cool touch-panel but using it on the move isn’t all that convenient. You do have to take your eyes off the road to operate it and even the cooling was weak in our 40-degrees Celsius test conditions, which also draws your attention to the missing rear AC vents.

ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE

As expected, the WR-V gets the same engines as the Jazz. That means a SOHC 1.2-litre i-VTEC petrol that produces 90PS at 6,000rpm and 110Nm at 4,800rpm as well as a DOHC 1.5-litre I-DTEC turbo-diesel that puts out 100PS at 3,600rpm and 200Nm at 1,750rpm. The diesel gets a 6-speed manual and the petrol gets a 5-speed manual – however, there is no CVT option like in the Jazz.The diesel engine has got good low-end grunt and with a responsive throttle, it will happily trudge along at 25kmph in third gear. The engine is quite free-revving and the linear power delivery makes the car quite enjoyable, if not exciting, to drive around. The gearbox is typically Honda with a precise ‘click-click’ when you shift gears, while the light and progressive clutch is nice to use in stop-and-go traffic.

Additionally, the 6-speed makes the WR-V a comfortable and effortless highway cruiser. While Honda didn’t give us any figures, they are claiming best-in-class acceleration figures. They are also claiming that the WR-V diesel will offer segment-leading efficiency with a figure of 25.5kmpl. This is 1.8kmpl less than what they claim for the Jazz. Apart from the extra 50kg that the WR-V carries, this could also be down to the gearing which, Honda says, has been optimised for better acceleration. But we’ll have to wait for the road test to get real-world figures.What is obvious is that the engine is still as loud as it has always been. NVH levels are quite poor in the cabin and that’s personally quite off-putting.

On the contrary, the 1.2-litre petrol engine is super refined and creamy. It’s very quiet till around 4,000rpm at which point the sound turns to a nice raspy note which gets louder as you get to the redline. That said, the sound is the only exciting thing about it. The engine feels annoyingly underpowered and you really have to rev the nuts off of it for some decent acceleration and that can get quite annoying especially during overtakes. This, despite Honda saying that they reworked the gearing for better acceleration. That said, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem within the city. The precise gearbox and the light clutch only make the experience that much nicer in slow-moving traffic. Honda is claiming that the petrol WR-V will return an overall average of 17.5kmpl which is quite respectable.

DRIVING DYNAMICS

Honda WR-V offers excellent driving dynamics, ride comfort, enthusiastic driving and punchy engines. Both petrol and diesel engines are very responsive and the level of refinement is impressive even at high speeds. The transmission offers smooth shifts with evenly spaced-out ratios. Power delivery is quite linear with a strong mid-range and an impressive top end. The 1.2-litre petrol engine has good performance in the city as the autobox makes driving in stop-go traffic a breeze, though its low-end performance is not impressive when compared to the competition. The 1.5-litre diesel engine performs better on the highways as you can simply go down a gear or two to make quick overtakes, but it is not very good when it comes to noise, since in spite of improving the NVH characteristics of the car, the diesel motor is quite audible inside. Book a Test Drive for Honda WRV

SAFETY

The Honda WR-V comes loaded with the usual safety features like dual front airbags and ABS with EBD. Honda has a good after-sales network in India and they are panned out across the country even in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. Another positive point is that Honda cars have good resale value in the market

CONCLUSSION

The Honda WR-V is the first sub-4 meter Crossover from Honda which will help the Japanese Auto manufacturer to boost some sales because their other Crossover the BR-V definitely neither did not impress the Indian crowd much after its launch. The Cross hatchback looks loaded with features and although this is the beefier variant of the Jazz hatchback it gets slightly more interior space than the standard hatchback. Apply Car Loan for Honda WRV

 

Maruti Suzuki Baleno Features & Performance

QVERVIEW ;

The Swift was the car which changed the hatchback dynamics in the Indian market when it was launched in 2005 and since then, it has single-handedly dominated the hatchback segment, being the top selling car in its segment, not by a small amount but by a huge margin. The Swift’s popularity and the fact that it was Maruti Suzuki’s best hatchback meant that the vehicle had to deal with more responsibilities, like competing in the premium hatchback space which has cars a segment above. Now to relieve the Swift of its duties in the premium hatchback space, Maruti Suzuki has bought in the Baleno, a car which is bigger than the Swift in every way and has been designed to lure customers who find shortcomings in the Swift. The new Baleno has a lot of significance, it brings back the old moniker used by Maruti’s then flagship sedan (in the 2000s) and the Indian automaker has been entrusted with producing the car for the world. But how good is this Hyundai Elite i20 challenger? Check On Road Price of Baleno

INTERIORS ;

Honestly, I wasn’t very impressed with the interior when I first saw it at the Frankfurt Motor Show last month. And Maruti executives confirmed that the cars given to us in India are closer to production, which explains why it seems a lot more likeable now. The smart all-black cabin looks upmarket and sporty, but there are plenty of parts carried forward from other Maruti Suzuki models, which steals some of the freshness away. We expected the premium-positioned Baleno to use some soft plastic parts on the dashboard and maybe leather upholstery options, which could have made the cabin even better. Apart from this there’s not much to complain about, as the fit and finish is pretty decent for the segment

The front seats are large, comfortable and well bolstered. Thankfully, the driver’s seat is height-adjustable, which helps get a good driving position. In fact, the tilt and reach adjustable steering further helps this cause. The icing on the cake is the positioning of the switches and buttons, all of which are well within reach, making the cabin ergonomically sound. Exchange your old car for Baleno

As desired in this segment, the cabin is spacious and there’s plenty of space at the back too. What’s most impressive is the excellent knee room for the rear seat passengers – something Maruti car buyers were always left desiring more for until now. India being a predominantly chauffeur-driven country, this will not go unnoticed. There’s a spacious boot too, with a very useable 339 litres of storage space.

EXTERIORS ;

The front of the Maruti Baleno is quite stylish and gives a unique presence to the car, one that sets it apart from the crowd. There are daytime running LEDs, but these come only in the top end Alpha variant, which is quite a dampener. The headlamp design reminds one of the Swift. The black honeycomb grille is smart looking and has chrome garnishing on the lower end, which adds some flair. The bumper gels well with rest of the body

From the side the car looks very contemporary and long as well. The side profile does look much better than the competition despite the fact all of them are under 4 metres and the same length hatches. The hood has a nice curve to it and the silhouette looks beautiful. This is certainly the best angle of the car

The rear is also appealing and muscular. There is a rear spoiler as well which is neatly integrated. Maruti follows the liquid flow design for Baleno, which makes it look trendy. The paint job on the Maruti Baleno is of good quality and makes it premium looking. The Maruti Baleno looks longer than the competition and even more premium in styling

ENGINE ;

The car brings to India one of Suzuki’s latest innovations globally – the 998cc Boosterjet direct injection turbocharged engine. This all-aluminium, three-cylinder engine produces a peak power of a little over 100bhp and a maximum torque of 150Nm. It is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. There is no automatic gearbox option, as of now. (Boosterjet combines the two modern automotive technologies: direct injection and turbocharger.)

SAFETY ;

One of the keys to succeed in this segment is to offer plenty of features and driver aids, and Maruti has ensured that the Baleno doesn’t skimp on this front by loading it with some of the latest gadgets you can think of. So higher models gets climate control, colour TFT information screen, a 4.2-inch touch screen with a rear parking camera and satellite navigation system, and segment-first Apple CarPlay which, by the way, is a really cool feature. Apart from this, there are also steering-mounted controls, keyless entry, push button start, USB and AUX ports, and special coating on the glass which prevents UV rays from entering the cabin. Also commendable are the safety features such as ABS, EBD and dual airbags which are offered as standard on all variants

DRIVING ;

The ride of the Baleno car is very good. We have only driven the 195/55R16 (top-of-the-line variant) and yet to experience the other variant that comes shod with smaller tyres. But the ride will more of less remain the same. The suspension absorbs all the bumps with ease making it a smooth ride. On the other hand, the handling of the Baleno is just more evolved than the Swift. The alacrity of the chassis is a lot more superior to the other Maruti products thanks to the lighter weight chassis. This not just enhances the power and efficiency, but also improves the driving dynamics. The steering wheel too is light and feels comfortable to drive in city. It does weigh up a bit making it a joy to drive on the highways too.

VERDICT ;

The Baleno RS has most of the points necessary to appeal to an enthusiast like an eager engine performance, being nimble around corners, have a great straight-line stability and good braking power. And then with a claimed fuel-efficiency of 21.4 kmpl, the Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS is still the most fuel efficient petrol hatchback in its segment. The Volkswagen Polo GT TSI and Fiat Abarth Punto might be a little more powerful than the Baleno RS, but then they are more expensive too. So overall, Maruti Suzuki seems to have played their cards well that should help the Baleno RS to be considered as an interesting proposition in the performance-oriented affordable hatchback segment in India.

Nissan Sunny Engine & Transmission

OVERVIEW ;

The caaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrr has become more affordable now! The Nissan Sunny 2017 is now available at a starting price of INR 7.6 lakhs, on-road, Delhi.This is one of the favorite chauffeur driven cars and offers excellent rear seat comfort and unmatched space. The space inside is nothing short of a Limo. The Sunny was launched in 2011 has been doing fairly well. Nissan had given it a few upgrades recently and now betters it with a lucrative price. Read more on the new Nissan Sunny 2017. Check for Sunny price in Hyderabad

EXTERIORS ;

The Nissan Sunny has never been a looker, it’s a car with neutral styling and the massive length gives it quite the presence on our roads. The Japanese automaker has made multiple changes on the outside which make it look fresh amongst a sea of sedans now vying for buyer’s attention in the C-segment. At the front, the Sunny gets new headlights which are bigger and seem to have taken a slight inspiration from the Altima and Teana with its arrow boomerang shape finishing on the side running deeper into the body. The grille too is new and bigger with thicker chrome surrounds. The front bumper is new as well with a chrome lip while the new fog lamp housing gets a chrome surround. The side remains quite similar, the rear view mirrors are new with side indicators while new wheels caps/alloy wheels (Y-shaped 12-spokes) make a debut.

The rear carries the same tail light while the rear bumper is new with the lower half getting a faux black diffuser to reduce the visual bulk. A sedate rear spoiler is being offered as an accessory, the same is standard on the Sunny in some markets. A new short antenna has been added (shifting the position from the front to the rear), while the boot lid gets a chrome garnish. The Sunny continues to look like its predecessor but the minor changes do make it look appealing. Nissan wants to position the car towards the more mature audience and thus sporty colours (like red) have been discontinued, being replaced by more stately shades, a new black colour has been added which appears purple in the sun. Request test drive for Sunny in Cazprice

INTERIORS ;

This rather cheeky marketing campaign has been quite successful in highlighting its best features- cabin space. The Sunny is extremely spacious on the inside; it almost feels like you’re sitting in a purposefully built long wheelbase model. The 2015 Nissan Sunny offers generous space for five adults and room to spare for their luggage. The car is more refined and Nissan has upped the level of comfort. The dashboard looks and feels premium although, the basic layout has been retained even in this updated version as well however you get an all new Piano Black center console which has made things look interesting inside although the most noticeable change is the addition of new steering wheel (the top end variant gets new leather wrapped steering wheel) which comes with audio mounted controls Yes! My friends the Sunny now has its own steering wheel and no longer shares its steering wheel with the hatch Micra. The on-board 2 DIN Wide-display Audio System entertainment system supports USB and iPod and also comes with Bluetooth connectivity. The top end version gets a display screen for the reversing camera. Now coming to the most important part of the Sunny and this is the reason of its popularity in the Indian market, the facelift Sunny continues to provide the same spacious interiors for its occupants inside like its predecessor in addition to that now the Nissan Sunny comes with a refreshed and premium looking cabin. The new seats fabrics have made things even more interesting. You can also get rear adjustable headrests and leather upholstery with the top end variants. The Sunny provides an impressive 490 litres of boot space at the rear which is also a big advantage for this sedan.

ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE ;

If you are one of those who never forget to carry a stopwatch during their drives, you can leave it at home for this one. The Push engine start key does its job in this one as well. The 2011 Nissan Sunny is not the one that can be termed as the driver`s delight. The Sunny is powered by a 1498 cc, 4 Cylinder, 16 Valves DOHC engine. The power figures are decent 99 PS @ 6000 rpm and a torque of 134Nm @ 4000 rpm.

These figures are not performance oriented, especially if power to weight ratio is considered. For every single bhp it pulls 10.32kgs which makes the car obviously sluggish. The mid range power delivery is not as impressive as its American rival. The gear shifts are not something which would go unnoticed. It`s on the harder side. We did some performance driving but were struggling to reach the top whack.What earns my thumbs up is the low range revving of the motor. At lower revs and at higher gears, The Sunny won’t struggle or knock. It maintains its own calm. The Mcpherson suspensions were not totally tested by us, but still we got a nimble response from it.

DRIVING DYNAMICS ;

The front Mac Pherson strut and the rear torsion bar suspension set-up works well for the Sunny and is a blessing on the kind of roads found in India. It is very forgiving and can take on any pothole or bump without sending you straight to the first spinal cord clinic en route! This works against the Vettel types who would seem to be all at sea with the car wallowing in the high speed corners but then there is always the 370Z and the GTR for this lot. Excellent ground clearance is another major attribute for our terrain, yes, urban and rural and thanks are also due to the 185/65-R15 tyres (ours was the top-of-the-line offering which has this size rubber while the other two versions make do with 185/70-R14 Bridgestones) for the fine poise and the ride quality. Among the other positive attributes of this big ’un in a very competitive segment poised for take-off is the fine and comfortable driving position with ample all-round visibility coupled to a very light yet precise steering. Both of these make themselves felt and count when gliding through traffic on our city roads despite the obvious girth of the vehicle.

SAFETY ;

One area where the Sunny scores is its fuel efficiency. The light weight and moderately powerful engines mean that the Sunny is not particularly thirsty. Nissan India claims the diesel Sunny manages 22 km/l in test conditions and the petrol CVT is close to 18 km/l. Of course, real world figures are lower, but oour experience has been that the Sunny really is among the most fuel efficient mid-size sedans in the country. . VERDICT ;

The Sunny has always been the stepson of the segment, recommended to those who want value rather than features or snob value. No more, not with the features list that is now available with the Sunny. Nissan has gone for a relatively safe strategy and not offered a top-spec petrol (yet), instead preferring to promote the diesel. If Nissan manages to keep the 2014 Sunny within Rs 20,000 of its predecessor, it will make an extremely strong case for itself if you’re looking for an alternative to the segment’s usual picks, the Honda City and Hyundai Verna.

Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 Engine & Gearbox

OVERVIEW

If you do a simple random sampling of a group of Indians who know how to drive, chances are a majority of them would have learnt driving on an Alto. Ever since Maruti Suzuki first launched it in September 2000, as many as 30 lakh units of this entry-level hatchback have been cumulatively sold in the country. The car’s unique selling points have been its remarkable fuel efficiency, peppy engine, attractive price and low maintenance. Add to that Maruti’s countrywide sales network—you can practically buy an Alto even if you live in the remotest town in India! Check Ex Showroom Price of Alto 800

Yet another reason for its success is t hat the Alto has been evolving to reflect the changing India. Over the years, Maruti has been arming it with just the right features a buyer looks for in an entry-level car, and subtle but timely design updates; these have been appealing to customers.

EXTERIORS

The styling of the Maruti Alto 800 looks far from impressive. The old Alto looked cute even thought it has been around for more than a decade. With the Alto 800, Maruti Suzuki has just tried to bring styling from the Japanese Alto and the A-Star, which doesn’t give the Alto 800 an identity of its own. The Alto 800 has very compact dimensions and the company has added new bits to make the vehicle look modern. A new and lighter roof has been added with corrugations to boost stability. New outside rear view mirror has been picked up from the Alto K10 but its shocking too see no left side rear view mirror as standard. The door handles are body colored but the rear view mirror is not. The full wheel caps look good and the wheel arches are slightly flared too. The increased height and high ground clearance makes the Alto 800 look odd. The Alto 800 is thus, no match for the well styled Hyundai Eon. The conservative styling doesn’t appeal much and the Alto 800 ends up looking very disproportionvate. Exchange your old car for Alto 800

INTERIORS

Things are quite different on the inside. You now get a dark grey tone for the dashboard and new upholstery on the door pads and seats. The front seats are decent in comfort while frontal visibility is also excellent. The Alto gets a basic audio system, front power windows, power steering and AC. The AC has good performance and it fared nicely in our hot weather. With the facelift, the Alto 800 now gets a standard left hand side mirror, child locks at the rear and an optional driver-side airbag. At the rear, you have good head room while leg room is also pretty decent thanks to the thin front seats. Shoulder space is decent but fitting 3 passengers at the rear could be a problem. However, the seats are lacking in terms of under-thigh support. You also feel a bit claustrophobic due to the small window area. The rear seats now come with integrated head rests. The rear doors finally get child locks now. There is a bottle header in front of the gear lever which can hold a 1-litre bottle. There is also a small storage area above the glovebox. The boot is pretty compact at 177-litres

SPECIFICATIONS OF ENGINE

Mechanically, the new 2016 Alto 800 remain unchanged. This means that powering the refreshed Alto 800 is the tried and tested Suzuki F8D 796 cc, three-cylinder engine that comes mated to a 5 speed manual gearbox. This motor pumps out a max. power of 47.65 PS @ 6,000 rpm and a peak torque of 69 Nm @ 3500 rpm. The Alto is available in both Petrol and CNG avatars. Maruti could give the engine an ECU remap to further optimize the fuel mileage. As we said, the Diesel model of the Alto 800 won’t be launched anytime soon. However, powering the Diesel Alto will be a 800 cc, twin-cylinder engine that has a maximum power of 47.5 PS and peak torque of 120 Nm.

DRIVING . The Alto 800 has a feedback rich steering though it feels a bit heavy at crawling speeds. However, the steering is very direct and despite being such a small car, the Alto is quite fun to drive. Thanks to its small footprint, you can easily drive it around and tackling too much traffic doesn’t get easier than this. The ride is very flat at low speeds and it tends to get uncomfortable when you hit broken or uneven surfaces at even moderately high speeds. The car remains decently stable at high speeds but it’d be best if it is driven below 90 km/hr. The body feels very light and the super thin tyres have questionable grip levels.

CONCLUSION

Maruti Suzuki hasn’t made many changes to the Alto 800, which is essentially the Alto in fresh clothing, with slight upgrades here and there. What this results in, is a much better Alto overall but is it enough considering this is the first facelift to the Alto in 12-years. While Maruti Suzuki’s brand name is more than enough to keep the Alto’s sales flying high, we were hoping for a vastly improved Alto to compete with the likes of the Hyundai Eon. However, the changes to the Alto are more than welcome and the refreshed exteriors, new dashboard, marginally more space, slightly more eager engine and better quality of plastics is enough to justify the Rs. 30,000/- price hike which is expected on the new Alto

Fiat Linea Price & Performance

OVERVIEW ;

The Italian sense of design and styling is unparallel across the world and the physical proof it is exquisitely cited by Fiat Linea. Designed over the “Centro Stile” platform, Linea is an exclusive piece-of-art that comes with a complete package of power and performance. At present, the sedan is offered with two engine options that include a petrol and a diesel engine. Apart from a beautiful exterior design, Linea incorporates latest safety features and best-in-class comfort features. Fiat presently offers this sedan in five versions that include Active, Dynamic, Dynamic Pack, Emotion, and finally Emotion Pack. Each one of these trims can be availed with diesel and petrol fuel option. Find best offers on Linea

EXTERIORS ;

The Fiat Linea has always been an attractive looking car and in spite of its age, it still manages to look very good and appealing, the vehicle hasn’t dated much even after being launched more than six years back. With the facelift, Fiat wants to inject freshness in the Linea and they have succeeded to quite an extent. While the pre-facelift model will be continued to be sold in India in Linea Classic avatar, the updated model isn’t vastly different in external appearance with most body parts being identical. In fact some even prefer the old car’s classy looks over the new model’s busier styling. What ever said and done, stay with the facelifted Linea for a couple of hours and you are bound to like the new model’s fresher looks.

Up front you get a new grille along with a new bumper which drastically differentiates the face of the car with the pre-facelift model. On the sides there is little to differentiate the old and the new which isn’t much of a matter as the Linea has always had an attractive profile. The key difference on the side is of course the new alloy wheels and the turn indicators on the rear view mirrors. At the rear, revision to the boot and bumper of the Fiat Linea are the biggest changes with faux diffuser sitting on the lower half of the rear bumper. The number plate no longer resides on the rear bumper but is now placed on the boot, between the tail lights. The Fiat logo has been shifted further upwards on the tail gate while the thick chrome strip above the rear bumper gives that premium touch. Overall the Fiat Linea facelift looks fresh and is much more appealing than the old model.

INTERIORS ;

The interiors have the same layout. However, what the Fiat Linea 125S gets are some additional features. For instance, there is now a touchscreen system which also has navigation. The Microsoft Blue & Me is now gone. The new touchscreen is a bit small, but it is good enough. The Fiat Linea 125S gets rich leather interiors and speaks a lot about attention to quality. Where the Linea excels is clean interiors with decent stowage space.

The Linea 125S comes loaded with features like automatic headlamps, rain sensing wipers and in fact this is the only sedan in its segment that still offers the twin-aero wipers, which are a lot more expensive than the regular wipers. The tough build quality and the spacious interiors make Fiat Linea a great sedan. The rear legroom is not in the league of most sedans though. The 500 litres of boot space is also large and offers more loading area due to the hydraulic lifts present. The Fiat Linea 125S has one of the best builds in the

PERFORMANCE ;

The turbo-petrol motor now develops 125PS of power and 208Nm of torque. That’s 11PS and 1Nm over the older T-Jet. Is the extra oomph noticeable? Not entirely. The engine feels just as sprightly as before, and you’d have to really wring the living daylights out of it to make the extra horses sweep into action. Get going, and it picks up pace cleanly till the rev needle hits the 2,000rpm mark. Once past this, you get the 208Nm in one concentrated shot that can easily get addictive. Bury the accelerator pedal into the mats, and the 125 S will torque steer like nobody’s business. Much like the Punto Abarth, the engine has a nice raspy note and the exhaust behaves like its sitting in a church. The engine has plenty of power for you to behave like a hooligan with. Keep the motor on the boil and it’ll reward you by plastering a grin on your face. Sadly, though, the wallet won’t be too happy. The claimed mileage figures have dipped from a respectable 15.7kmpl to a decent 14.2kmpl, but, out in the real world — expect somewhere around 10kmpl for mixed driving conditions.

Is the gearbox still rubbery? Ah, yes. How I wish I could say it was otherwise. Good news is that it doesn’t completely ruin the experience. It takes you a little time to get used to the rubbery action, post which you can stretch the Fiat’s legs. Speaking of legs, the clutch on the Linea can be an absolute pain for the left one. The travel is simply too long and can get plain annoying when you’re stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. Low-speed ride is a strong point with the Fiat. The well-tuned suspension does just enough to not upset the cabin when bad roads raise their ugly heads. Moreover, the healthy 190mm of ground clearance gives you that extra bit of confidence whilst tackling broken terrain. The flipside is that the soft suspension tends to make the ride slightly ‘floaty’ once you move into triple-digit speeds. We’re sure a set of stiffer springs will make the Linea a lot more fun, especially around a set of twisties.

RIDE AND HANDLING ;

This is a firmly set-up car but has a pliant and supple feel over potholes. Ride comfort or ground clearance are both non issues, and the handling is quite engaging. The Apollo Alnac tyres, which earned quite a bit of flak in the more powerful Abarths, feel just about up to the job here. They have good traction, even in the wet, and only tend to spin up easily in first gear.The hydraulically assisted steering wheel is a bit on the heavier side in the city, and the large turning radius can be tedious in the city. Fiat recommends a cold tyre pressure of 36psi for the front and 33psi for the rear. Any lower and the heavier engine in the front will make you work extra hard to steer the car. I think it will really be a close call between the Vento TSI and the Linea when it comes to driving pleasure in this segment as both cars take different routes towards entertaining the driver.

SAFETY FEATURES ;

The Linea 125s gets ABS and EBD as standard while you can also expect dual front airbags as well for the safety of the passengers inside. This car has value-for-money package featuring all the essentials that are required to be a perfect family car. It features an automatic climate control unit with rear knee level AC vents..Cruise control, ambient lighting on dashboard and other functional features make this sedan a tough competitor.

VERDICT ;

The Linea 125s definitely does not get lot of cosmetic upgrades but the subtle changes have actually made the car look more sophisticated. What will appeal to the customers though is the new powerful 1.4 Litre T-Jet petrol engine and all that power and torque that it actually generates from the engine. Hopefully Fiat has also worked on the gearbox as well just like we mentioned little earlier in this article to actually do some justice to the engine and all that power and torque that it generates.

 

Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 Price & Performance

OVERVIEW ;

The current leader in car sales in India is the Maruti Suzuki Alto and fortunately for buyers, there isn’t just one engine on offer but a performance K10 option too. There was a time I really admired the Alto, I remember it being launched in India in 2000 but it was only in 2001 that I really started liking the small car. It was when I was in my teenage years and had gone to get the family’s Esteem serviced. It was then that I first sat in an Alto VXi. Now I mention VXi because the difference between LX and VX wasn’t just features (the latter also had a tacho) but also engine. The VXi was also called as the Alto 1.1 as it was equipped with a 1061cc F10D, 4-pot motor (the Wagon R too used this engine but the Zen didn’t as it was powered by a 1000cc motor, the same that was in the Maruti 1000). This was good enough for 64 PS and 80 Nm, what a rocket that was. Fast forward to 2015 and we have the Alto K10 which has been given a thorough revision and an AMT gearbox (Auto Gear Shift in Maruti speak), does it connect me to those days? Check Ex Showroom Price of Alto K10

EXTERIORS ;

The new Alto K10 sports a completely new look. It still shares it doors and roof with the 800 version but the rest of the panels – the bonnet, the front fenders, the tail gate and even the bumpers are unique to the K10. It has larger, more contemporary looking head lamps; a more aggressive air dam design; and it sits on larger 13 inch wheels. Overall, the new K10 still looks like an Alto as we know it, but it has a younger, sportier aura to it now. And in this top of the line VXI option trim, it also gets body coloured outside review view mirrors and body side moulding to give it a plusher feel. Exchange your old car for Alto K10

INTERIORS ;

The interior of the Maruti Alto K10 is totally fresh when compared to its 800cc sibling. The console and the dash has a black and beige tone with the instrument cluster having features like the USB option and aux input and a mp3 player. The buttons are big and clear and hence easy and convenient to use. This new centre console is a welcome after the old Alto 800 styling, which does look outdated.

The Maruti Alto K10 gets new rich beige fabric seats to add a pinch of richness in the cabin. The cabin space is sufficient and feels airy. The front row seats are comfortable for even long drives. In the second row there is sufficient kneeroom even for tall people and there is enough head room as well, but the thigh support could have been better.

ENGINE ;

The Alto K10 AMT has the same engine and transmission pair as the Celerio, but thanks to a lower weight, the Alto K10 feels a wee bit quicker. It is very sprightly off the line and it’s only when you reach speeds north of 70-80 km/h that the engine starts feeling a bit strained. The biggest talking point here, however, is the 5-speed AMT. This unit feels smooth and the jerks at lower rpms are well contained. When driven with a light foot the gear changes are relaxed and happen at a relatively low rpm

DRIVING ;

On the short 70 kilometre drive the Alto showcased just how brilliant its ride quality is especially in urban areas over some rough roads. The gas-charged shock absorbers on a MacPherson strut assembly at the front and a 3-link rigid axle at the rear give it superb low speed absorption qualities. However, as the speed builds up and the corners get tighter or the surface undulating, you realise just how woefully inadequate this suspension is. There is a lot of body roll and you need to be able to react quickly enough to offset the suspension getting upset at being pushed hard around corners. The Maruti Suzuki Alto therefore is best experienced between the speeds of 60-80kmph and anything beyond is just asking it to perform over and above its station.

The steering too is reasonably precise at lower speeds with enough weight to give you a well connected feel but as you go faster it gets vague and the communication between steering wheel and tyres a bit disconnected.

CONCLUSION ;

The Alto K10 is a move in the right direction by Maruti Suzuki. It has a lot of short comings, but the major flaw of the Alto has been answered, it is no more sluggish and never feels out of breath, something which the 800cc Alto could never boast about. It is the fastest car you can get at that price point and is economical too. The performance of the K10 motor very well makes up for all its short comings and if some one wants a pocket rocket, this is it. Add some good rubber and a few short comings of the Alto K10 will be resolved. There is truly no alternative to the Alto K10 and Maruti Suzuki have opened a new segment, the econo-hot hatch one.

Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS Engine & Gearbox

QVERVVIEW ;

The Baleno RS has arrived as a landmark offering for Maruti Suzuki since it is also a debut of the brand’s first turbocharged petrol motor – a 1-litre, three cylinder unit which shows a lot of promise. For a brand so deeply rooted in diesel power and efficiency, this is a big deal. However, some would say Maruti is simply playing catch-up to the Germans and the Italians (Read: VW Polo GT TSI and Fiat Punto Abarth) in the still-nascent field of affordable hot hatchbacks. Find best offers on Baleno RS

It isn’t common for a mainstream hatch to deliver on speed, practicality and efficiency in equal measure, but the Baleno RS has that specific brief nailed. More on that later though. Coming back to the heart of the matter, in a few years this new turbocharged engine will certainly replace the existing 1.2-litre K Series NA motor. We got acquainted with it earlier this year when we drove the Baleno RS at the BIC, coming away impressed overall. However, now it’s time to gauge the car’s real-world credentials and limitations through a full road test treatment.

EXTERIORS ;

The Baleno RS is the textbook definition of ‘understated’ as far as the exterior design goes. In terms of cosmetic add-ons or upgrades over the standard car, there’s nothing major to report – upfront there’s a slightly different grille and at the back you will find a racier-looking rear bumper and the RS emblem. The alloy wheels, too, come from the standard car but are finished in gloss black for a meaner stance. Lastly, there’s the tastefully executed body kit (including the front lip, side and rear skirts) which goes great with the dark blue paint on our test car

INTERIORS ;

Inside the Baleno RS cabin, there is no change compared to the standard car. We were fairly impressed with the interior of the Baleno, and that is not simply restricted to the way the dashboard or the instrument cluster looks. The all-black look continues to charm, while the materials used and the fit & finish are good for the segment it will play in. The only doubt we have here is whether the consumers would expect some sporty elements in the interiors to go with the RS badge

PERFORMANCE ;

Under the hood, the Baleno RS gets a 1 litre, 3-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine. Now since Maruti Suzuki has never done forced induction petrol engines in the past, the Baleno Boosterjet engine is completely new technology for it. The engine makes a substantial 101 bhp and 150 Nm. Despite being turbocharged, the max power and peak torque output is well spread out across the rev range and the engine almost feels like it is naturally aspirated, with very little turbo lag. Of course what everyone really wants to know is how the car’s outright performance is! And on that front too, the Baleno RS does not disappoint

Power delivery is very linear and the RS accelerates well on its way to three digit speeds. On the back straight at the BIC, we hit speeds of just over 160 kmph in fourth gear with the car still eager to accelerate more. Another point to note is that Maruti has not gone for an automatic gearbox like some of its competition and stuck to a 5-speed manual gearbox only. The gearbox isn’t as short and slick as that on the Swift but still feels very rewarding when shifting extremely quickly. Now if you are wondering why the Indian spec Baleno RS is almost 10 bhp down on power as compared to its global counterpart – blame it on the quality of fuel that our country has to offer. When BS VI fuel comes in, the Baleno RS will have the potential to match its international counterpart’s output at 110 bhp.

Baleno RS does get a slightly retuned suspension as compared to the standard car as it is slightly heavier. But a lower ride height and stiffer suspension setup should have been standard given the car’s sporty claim. That would have definitely differentiated the RS from its competition – and also more substantially from the regular Baleno too. So unfortunately the RS has a lot of body roll, especially when we took it to its limit on the track. The RS does get disc brakes all around – which is a good thing – 14 inch up front and 13 inch at the rear. As a result, the braking on the car has improved by leaps and bounds. On the safety side, ABS and two airbags come as standard – in keeping with Nexa portfolio products.

SAFETY ;

The Baleno RS has been launched as a single variant (Alpha). It is equipped with dual airbags, seatbelts with pre-tensioners and force limiters, disc brakes in all wheels, ABS with EBD, and has ISOFIX child-seat restrain anchorages. Driver seatbelt reminder buzzer with lamp and rear parking sensors with camera are among the other safety features

DRIVING DYNAMICS ;

The Baleno RS has gained 60 kgs over the regular model and the carmaker has retuned the suspension making it a tad stiffer. The steering weighs up beautifully and the handling is much better than the regular Baleno. It now feels more eager to turn in and that inspires confidence at high speeds. To keep up with the performance, Maruti has got rear disc brakes to improve stopping power and the brakes really feel more effectiv

BOTTOM LINE ;

The Baleno RS’s ride quality is very similar to the regular Baleno. The front suspension has been tweaked a bit with stiffer coils to handle the slight increase in weight. But the track isn’t the best place to test ride quality.

What the Baleno Rs. lacks in is drama. I would have liked to have seen more visual differentiators at least. More so, because there is nothing aurally different about the new engine. But, the bottomline is that the Baleno Rs. is still firmly in the premium small car segment; it is just a level sportier than its regular variant. And that is a perfectly good position to be in. At least, it is a start for Maruti Suzuki to plan real RSs in the future. Next, can we get a true blue Rs. on the Swift please?

Renault Duster Price & Performance

OVERVIEW ;

It was the Renault Duster that had kicked off a storm in the affordable SUV segment in India. Before the Duster arrived, the Mahindra Scorpio and Tata Safari were ruling the roost but Renault clearly knew what the Indian buyer wanted. The Duster became quite a success story and it also established the Renault brand in India. However, it’s been almost 4 years since this SUV was launched and it started feeling very outdated, what with rivals coming up with far more polished vehicles. Renault has now given the Duster a new lease of life so let’s see what we’ve got here.

EXTERIORS ;

For starters, the Duster facelift isn’t much different to begin with from the original Duster. You do get blacked out and upgraded headlights that look quite futuristic with it’s distinct cuts and details and a set of new tail lights with a very unique LED lighting pattern. What you also get is a new grille that is better styled than the older one. And then there are the new wheels. Now although some like this blacked out design, we think Renault could have given us a far sportier and slightly larger set of wheels on this new Duster. Find best offers on Duster

You also get a set of silver skid plates on the front and the rear bumper and a chrome exhaust tip that adds to the look. The overall SUV look of the Duster combined with the wide stance are still very much as they are and all these smaller updates actually help accentuate it. Although a little late to the party, the upgrades on the Duster make it look quite nice and modern and personally I prefer the simplistic lines on this car as compared to the over the top design of some other SUVs in its segment. As a final note on the design, we personally love this new and bold orange shade that the Duster now comes in.

INTERIORS ;

The cabin is quintessentially Renault, from the odd-numbered speedometer, the large steering wheel, sub-par plastics to the quirky layout overall. When the Duster was introduced in 2012, poor interior surface feel was one of its main shortcomings. Now, though, Renault has improved the quality of the surfaces, there is still a low-rent feel to the doors and centre console surrounds… more on this later.

Coming to the design and layout, the previous model’s old-school design has made way for a somewhat modern look. The combination of black and brown upholstery and silver highlights across the centre console and the door panels do a good job of hiding the cabin’s age. The centre console’s layout is pretty minimalistic with the central fascia dominated by a touchscreen infotainment system responsible for almost all the functions on board. Rounding out the major changes to the dash are the revised air-conditioning controls which are set painfully low. Mind you, this isn’t the only quirk in here. The driver’s seat height adjuster still requires bit of an effort to operate and having separately placed buttons on the steering wheel and the centre console for the cruise control isn’t the brightest of ideas either. Thankfully, the rear-view mirror controls are no longer underneath the handbrake and are now on the driver’s side panel.

As for space and comfort, the Duster remains unchanged and in no way that’s a bad thing. The front seats are just about the right size and offer enough back and knee support. They also helped us to limit fatigue over a full day of full-on driving. More importantly, the rear-seat space is also plentiful with better thigh support than the competition. What’s noticeably changed, though, is the amount of standard equipment; Renault is finally offering climate control for top-spec variants while other highlighting features include rear-view camera with guidelines and an updated touchscreen infotainment system. All in all, the Duster’s cabin still doesn’t feel as premium as the competition, but there’s no denying that it’s more appealing than before. If anything, it’s certainly more luxurious than its badge-engineered sibling, the Nissan Terrano.

PERFORMANCE ;

The Renault Duster comes with the same 1.5-litre dCi diesel powerplant in two states of tune – 84bhp and 109bhp. There’s also a 1.6-litre petrol engine mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. The biggest addition though is of the automated manual transmission (AMT) on the more powerful diesel version. Renault also claims to have improved the packaging of the engine bay and have strengthened it in key areas to improve safety.

The AMT gearbox is available in the top RxL and RxZ variants and comes only in front-wheel-drive guise. Let’s start with the positives. This is by far the best iteration of the AMT we have experienced till date, across makes. This ZF-sourced system works well on the highway and part throttle gearshifts are relatively smooth. You also get a creep function which is a boon in stop-start traffic

But as soon as you put your foot down you get that typical AMT pause as the hydraulic actuators struggle to downshift quickly enough to keep up the momentum. Even in stop-start traffic, power delivery can be jerky and upshifts at lower speeds feel painstakingly slow. It’s in the manual mode that this gearbox feels the best and there is a way of getting around this drawback by just lifting off before every shift. Unfortunately, this defeats the whole purpose of having an automatic in the first place.

Despite the slow gearbox, performance figures are quite impressive with 100kmph coming up in 13.61 seconds. But it’s in the drivability test where the Duster AMT suffers as it takes 8.08 seconds for the 20-80kmph dash and 10.46 seconds in the 40-100kmph kickdown. This makes it nearly two seconds slower than the Hyundai Creta automatic on both drivability runs.

We also sampled the AWD version of the Duster and as before we came away really impressed. The AWD variant uses shorter gearing as compared to the 4X2 variant and this helps its drivability considerably. There is loads of pulling power from the word go and even at speeds as low as 20kmph you can easily pull away in third gear. Renault seems to have made the clutch lighter too which makes town driving a hassle free affair.

DRIVING DYNAMICS ;

The New Renault Duster AMT is surprisingly a delight to drive. What came to notice instantly is that it responds well to throttle inputs. Drive with a heavy foot and the upshifts get delayed, thereby providing adequate power. The AMT is very easy to drive in the city. The good part is that the usual lag during shifts, that AMTs have, is reduced and is hardly felt while driving in a relaxed manner. Its only when you push the New Renault Duster AMT hard that the lag is evident.

Another impressive thing about the New Renault Duster AMT was that while driving in the manual mode, rev-limiter comes in to play only beyond 5000 rpm. This gives ample room to the driver for maneuvering the SUV as desired and is especially useful while driving in hilly areas and ghats. I would’ve preferred a slightly taller gear selector lever in the AMT. The lever in the New Renault Duster AMT feels a tad short and hence one needs to stretch out a bit more than normal, while driving in manual mode.

SAFETY ;

Talking about safety, the 2016 Renault Duster comes with dual front airbags and ABS. The AMT transmission also gets features like Hill Hold and ESP. There is also a traction control system on offer which does its job pretty well should you decide to have some fun around the twisties. In terms of after-sales service, Renault does have a not-so-good network and it just doesn’t match the quality levels of Hyundai for that matter.

VERDICT ;

Despite the automobile scenario being a bit dull overall, the Duster has still come in at just the right time for Renault India. While it is still going to be a tough task to keep the tempo going for the Duster, it is quite clear that it is not without reason that prospective buyers are queuing up for test drives and causing traffic jams outside Renault showrooms around the country.

Fiat Linea Classic Facelift Review

OVERVIEW ;

The Fiat Linea Classic is a beautiful car, make no mistake about it. The Linea has been sold for quite a few years in the Indian market though it has not really set the charts on fire in terms of sales. However, there’s no denying that it is a beautiful car. However, the expensive price tag of the regular Linea has put it out of reach of the masses. Fiat has now taken a cue from Ford and has launched a version of the Linea at a more affordable price point. The company has chopped prices by removing some features instead of developing a whole new sub 4m Linea. Check Ex Showroom Price of Linea Classic

EXTERIORS ;

Its image is well designed with plenty of aesthetics that make it look very elegant. Its front fascia consists of a bumper which is in body color. This is available to all the variants as a standard feature. While the front radiator grille in the top end is in silver, rest have it in black. Whereas, grille has chrome over its surround. On its either sides, there are dual parabola headlamps integrated. Outside door handles as well as the outside rear view mirrors are painted in body tone. There are steel wheels integrated to all the trims, while the top end is offered with wheel covers. The rear end has a sleek boot lid with a pair of radiant tail lamps surrounding it. This also has a company emblem in the center along with the other standard variant badging as well. Request test drive for Linea Classic in Cazprice

INTERIORS ;

The Linea Classic comes with a grey dashboard with beige seats and accent pieces. The dashboard is quite similar to the Linea T-Jet though several features of the regular car are missing here. The Classic has a conventional knob-type air conditioning system in comparison to climate control offered in higher spec vehicles. The Classic Plus does get a climate control air conditioning option though. The infotainment system also seems to be dated. The Blue and Me Bluetooth setup is missing along with USB and Aux input.The car also gets manually adjusted rear view mirrors instead of electronically adjusted ones. There are no steering mounted controls and the instrument binnacle has been revamped. The seats have also been revamped and are definitely not as comfortable as the regular sedan. However, there is ample space as compared to several vehicles at a similar price point. There is a supersized boot in place as well.

PERFORMANCE ;

When Fiat launched the Linea Classic, we all were skeptical about how it would perform as the 1.3-litre Multijet diesel engine only outputs 75 BHP of power and 190 Nm of torque, which is down on the regular Linea’s 90 HP and 209 Nm. Considering the regular Linea isn’t quick and the Linea Classic also weighs as much, we were expecting disappointing performance. However the Linea Classic has surprised us with the way it moves. The engine lacks VGT which has somehow become a blessing for the car in city conditions. Unlike the VGT equipped Linea diesel, this lower output motor has turbolag well contained which gives it slick performance in the city.

The Linea Classic’s mill is very tractable and power delivery is linear. You will never feel the lack of ponies in city conditions. Want to amble around town at 20 km/hr, sure you can do that in third gear without a hitch. 100 km/hr comes up in third gear near the redline while cruising on the highways in top gear at 100 km/hr will make the tacho needle tick at around 2500 RPM. What further complements the Linea Classic’s drivability is the light clutch with a dead pedal although the gearbox is a bit resistant and isn’t a fast shifting unit. One can expect a mileage of 14 km/l in the city and 16 km/l on the highway with 100% AC usage.

The meat of the performance comes between 2000-3500 RPM and post that the Linea Classic’ powerplant really starts to lose breath. NVH levels are good in the lower part of the powerband but once past 3000 RPM, the oil burner starts becoming audible and is very loud post 4000 RPM. The motor itself is very lethargic in the higher end of the power band and redline comes in at 5100 RPM. This isn’t a car you would want to rev hard as there is no top end power. Thus the Linea Classic doesn’t far well in outright acceleration and 0-100 km/hr takes around 18 seconds. You need to downshift on the highways to get going while overtaking.

DRIVING DYNAMICS ;

With regards to the braking mechanism of this sedan, front wheels are equipped with ventilated disc brakes whereas, the rear ones have a pair of standard drum brakes. It is further integrated with an anti-lock braking system with an electronic brake-force distribution. This will allow the driver to have stronger control over the vehicle over all kinds of roads. In case of suspension, the front axle has an independent wheel whereas, the rear axle is mated with a torsion beam type suspension. These axles are integrated with helical coil springs with double acting telescopic dampers along with a stabilizer bar. A hydraulic based power assisted steering is bestowed for much efficient handling along with tilt adjustment facility. About 5.4 meters of its minimum turning radius is very useful, particularly on narrow roads.

SAFETY ;

The Fiat Linea Classic feature anti-lock braking system in Classic plus and Classic plus alloy wheel variant of Multijet diesel version. The safety features such as engine immobilizer, double crank prevention system, fire prevention system are available in all Linea Classic variants.

VERDICT ;

The Linea Classic is definitely one of the most beautiful, spacious and comfortable sedans out there and the price point is particularly attractive as well. If you can make do with the lack of some features, this is the car for you. To know more about Fiat Cars in India, visit here for more details.