Volkswagen Ameo Price & Performance

OVERVIEW ;

If you are out looking for a practical compact sedan, there’s a new entry heading your way from the land of the hyper speed autobahns and beer gardens or ‘Biergarten’, as the locals would say.

The Volkswagen Ameo, which will be delivered to customers starting next month, is the long overdue result of VW attempting to crack the escalating compact sedan segment. Essentially a boot-ed version of the Polo, the Ameo is the first ever VW model to be designed purely for the Indian market and the brand has made no bones about the fact that it’s betting big on this car .Check Ex Showroom Price of  Ameo

On paper the Ameo checks most of the right boxes and it certainly looks and feels the part. But going beyond what’s apparent, how well does it behave out on the road and more importantly, is it a worthy alternative to the current crop of compact sedans? A brief drive across the scenic route towards Wai suggests it just might be

EXTERIORS ;

The design of the Ameo. On the outside and for the most part inside the cabin too, the design and layout remains identical to the petrol version. Like is the case also with almost all the other compact sedans, the Ameo looks a bit gawky when viewed from the side. The stubby boot is disproportionate with the front of the car, and the impression that the third box has been slapped on to the rear of the hatchback is inescapable. But, the design doesn’t hurt the eye and in fact, viewed straight-on from the rear, the Ameo’s design actually seems to have a unique character which still ties in well with other VW cars.

All the familiar design elements of the Polo are there in the Ameo TDI diesel too, as also some of the distinguishing tweaks to the design of the airdam, front fender, the new tail-lamps and boot lid

INTERIORS ;

The Volkswagen Ameo diesel has the same interiors as the petrol model and there is nothing to differentiate between the two models except the tachometer which is marked till 6000 RPM on the oil burner. The dual-tone black and beige interiors look very nice and this is nothing but a Polo cabin with slight improvements to the rear headroom due to the re-designed C-pillar. But the rear seat lacks in legroom, knee room and under-thigh support so this isn’t a car you would want to sit behind, specially if you are tall.

The Volkswagen Ameo is equipped with a ton of features, many of them are segment first like rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, window opening and closing using key remote, one-touch up/down for all windows and anti-pinch windows. There are decent amount of storage spaces but the boot is far from being the biggest in the segment. Where the Ameo can’t be matched is the build quality, it feels very solidly put-together and is made like a tank.

ENGINE ;

The Volkswagen Ameo is available with a 1.2-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel engine. The petrol is available with a five-speed manual and the diesel even has an option of a seven-speed DSG. The NVH levels on both the engines are a bit off. There is more than sufficient power in the petrol and the diesel is certainly a lot more powerful. The petrol engine is noisy and the diesel engine has a lot of clatter noise. Overtaking is a breeze with the diesel engine, however the petrol needs a downshift. The automatic version of the diesel is a lot more comfortable to drive and convenient to use.

Drivability is good on both. The sudden boost after 1800rpm is reveling. There is always the joy of driving the diesel engine. Also, the clutch is a tad deeper than the petrol engine. The diesel clutch is heavy, which makes it difficult to drive in city traffic.

DRIVING DYNAMICS ;

Don’t let the sporty looking flat-bottom steering wheel fool you. The Ameo is a compact sedan, after all, and it handles exactly like it’s supposed to. Like all other cars in its class, the Ameo’s suspension set up has been oriented towards comfort. That said, it has got the second best balance between ride and handling, after the Honda Amaze. The steering on the Ameo feels vague around the straight-ahead position and is slow to turn in. It’s initially light but becomes gradually heavier as more lock is applied. All in all, it lacks the consistency in feel that’s to be found in rivals like the Ford Figo Aspire.

The production-spec Ameo rides on 15-inch wheels as opposed to the bigger 16-inchers seen on the show car at the Auto Expo. Nevertheless, the Ameo’s ride quality is quite good – we sampled it across both pothole-ridden city streets and wide open tarmac on the highway. It deals with undulated surfaces rather well despite transmitting some sharp bumps from on the road into the cabin. So what’s not to like in terms of dynamics? Well, the Ameo, like all other compact sedans, has that inherent floatiness to its high speed ride. One has to make constant steering corrections to keep the thing true to its line.

VERDICT ;

The Volkswagen Ameo diesel is a very good package since it comes with great build quality, loaded equipment list, a power packed engine and two really nice gearboxes. The compact sedan does look a bit quirky from certain angles but looks are always subjective. Overall, Volkswagen has got a really fine product on their hands with the Ameo TDI and we really wish it fetches more sales now because the numbers of the petrol Ameo have been far from satisfying.

Ford Ecosport Price & Performance

OVERVIEW ;

Most cars go through a process of design development from the exaggerated sketch on the drawing board to clay mock-up model to a much more watered down final production prototype. However, the EcoSport looks like it just went straight from being a futuristic sketch on the drawing board to its final form. Check Price of Ecosport

Its design is unconventional, but not uncomfortable. It has urban chic written all over it, but it is certainly not metro-sexual. The best part though is that its design works, in an odd sort of way. It brings in a lot of freshness to the compact sports utility segment and it had better, after all, there is a lot riding on its tall shoulders.

To be fair, the EcoSport is an honest attempt at building a relevant urban SUV for the new-age automotive markets of the world like Brazil and India. But it also makes you wonder if it is deception on four wheels.

EXTERIORS ;

The Ford EcoSport is a smart looking vehicle and this updated model that we have over here is no different. There are hardly any changes to the outsides and the SUV continues to flaunt its muscular and aggressive front fascia. The alloy wheels remain unchanged on the Indian model and we would have appreciated if Ford could have provided a different design with this update. It is also good to see that the spare wheel is still mounted on the tail-gate unlike the overseas model. The fog lamps get integrated DRLs while the headlights get light guides which are basically thin strips of white light. The EcoSport now gets a new brown colour which looks pretty attractive. The boot opening button is moved underneath the chrome handle unlike the previous model. Request test drive for Ecosport in Cazprice

INTERIORS ;

The interiors are on the same page as those in the current Fiesta. The seats are comfortable and the red stitching on the black leather seats add a bit of premiumness to the EcoSport. The EcoSport comes well equipped with standard features like climate control; 16″ alloy wheels, steering-mounted controls, six airbags and of course SYNC multimedia system which makes the controlling of the the audio system, phone and other features very simple

ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE ;

There are three engines – the now-familiar 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost petrol, a 1.5-litre turbodiesel with 90bhp, and a 110bhp 1.5-litre petrol four. We’ve yet to test the naturally aspirated 1.5-litre petrol but have driven the other variants offered in the range.

Equipped with the 1.0-litre EcoBoost the Ford is hardly fast, taking 12.7sec to complete the 0-62mph benchmark, but it is smooth. The engine’s now-familiar three-pot note is prominent, but not intrusive, during acceleration – and at motorway speeds it remains audible. As in the Fiesta, it’s a likeable powerplant.

It was also 30 per cent more economical, according to our touring test, and quieter than the EcoSport both at idle and at 30mph. Gaps that size – to an undistinguished mid-class performer, remember – aren’t what we expect from Ford, and they aren’t what its customers are used to accepting, either.

The EcoSport’s 1.5-litre turbodiesel is rattly and coarse at idle, and it only gets noisier and less civil with revs. It responds to the accelerator reasonably well and is mated to a transmission that has a decent shift quality and a pleasant clutch, but it feels short on torque through the mid-range (because it is compared with most small diesels) and both harsh and asthmatic above 3000rpm.

At slower crank speeds and under a gentler throttle, the intrusion is tolerable, but even here there are vibrations through the seat and controls that you won’t find in most small crossovers. Consequently, despite some potential economy and CO2 benefits, it would be hard to recommend the diesel.

The EcoSport’s Goodyear Assurance tyres (a type with which we’re unfamiliar) and disc front/drum rear brakes don’t make for particularly good stopping power, either. There’s no reason why a 1300kg supermini shouldn’t stop from 70mph in less than 50 metres in the dry, or need more than 55 metres to stop from the same speed in our wet surface test.

The EcoSport missed both markers – not just because of a general lack of pure grip, but also because of an anti-lock braking set-up that lacked delicacy and sophistication.

DRIVING ;

Dynamics and Ford cars go hand in hand. The EcoSport boasts of excellent handling capabilities and it is actually a very fun car to drive around. The steering is very precise and it offers excellent feedback and feel. It is moderately weighed, neither too heavy nor too light while it also gains weight significantly as the vehicle’s speed increases. High speed stability is good on the EcoSport and it is fun around the corners but only upto a certain limit. You can never push an SUV as much as a sedan but the EcoSport does feel car-like to drive. There is some body roll too but not as much as other compact SUVs. It is somewhat comparable to what small cars have.

The ride quality on the Ford EcoSport is also very good and the suspension does an impressive job of ironing out all the potholes and craters that Indian roads have to offer. The SUV comes with MRF tyres which have satisfactory levels of grip if you don’t intend to push the vehicle very hard and the brakes also perform in a positive manner, making the vehicle shed speeds without any sort of unnecessary drama.

SAFETY AND FEATURES ;

To begin with, our press demonstrator was the Brown. The Mars Red colour might appeal to several, but I prefer the Kinetic Blue on the Ecosport. This in my opinion looks more upmarket and carries a hint of sophistication. The variant we drove was the Titanium Option. It comes with keyless entry, push start and stop, artificial leather, in-dash music system with Bluetooth, auxiliary and USB connection, reclining rear seats, 60:40 split, six airbags and ABS. In our long-term report, we share the fuel efficiency, performance and the pros and the niggles that we faced with the Ford Ecosport in our daily running.

VERDICT ;

It’s a long time since a new Ford was as bad as the EcoSport. It may not be a European-hailing car and it may be due an early revision to address its failings, but customers won’t care and neither should we.

Its perceived quality is regrettable, its diesel powertrain is rough and flat, and its chassis is so rudimentary that it could even damage Ford’s prized reputation for dynamic excellence.

Anyone who has test driven a rival or two will instantly be aware that the EcoSport just isn’t worthy. Neither is it cheap enough to be unworthy.

Ford’s repost will be that this has already proven a successful car for developing markets, but on tougher roads and catering to different tastes from ours

There have been plenty of great Fords like that over the years – from Mustangs to Broncos to Falcons – but none has cut the mustard in Europe. Neither will this.

 

Renault Captur Features & Specifications

OVERVIEW ;

The Duster has been a smash hit for Renault in India, bringing many new buyers to a brand not very popular until then. The Kwid further established the French carmaker’s credibility and now, Renault hopes to repeat the success with the Captur, a premium SUV with strong crossover DNA.The Captur shares the engine, transmission and chassis with the Duster, which is a good thing as they’ve proved their mettle over the years. But what makes it more expensive than the Duster. We’ll find the answer in this review. Check Price of  Captur

EXTERIORS ;

The Captur’s crossover design may not appeal to all at first glance. But, spend some time with it and the edgy design grows on you. We once parked it next to a Duster at a restaurant and were pleasantly surprised at how mature the Captur looked. Yes, it isn’t as tall as a conventional boxy SUV, but there’s no doubt that it looks like a premium offering. Will you give it a second glance? Oh yes. It’s got a bit of novelty on its side for now, and the bright orange colour our test car wore only aided the eye-ball grabbing. There are some premium car elements here too. That includes the full-LED headlamps and the Audi-like ‘dynamic’ turn indicators. Low beam has a wide spread and a long throw too. But, in terms of illumination – it felt just a bit brighter than the LED projectors we’ve used in the Ignis or the Dzire. Request test drive for Captur in Cazprice

The profile and the rear are a notch understated compared to the face. The design here has some understated French flair, which is going to be an acquired taste for most. That said, the 17-inch wheels look classy, and the 215/60R17 tyres look just right sitting under the flared wheel arches.The two-tone is well-executed, and it’s easy to see why Renault say the Captur was designed to sport a dual-tone paint scheme even since it was conceptualised. Keep in mind that the dual-tone combination will be an option. There’s quite a lot of customisation options on offer as well, which should give you the liberty to deck the Captur up the way you want to. From the rear, the Captur tries hard to shrug off the resemblance to the little Kwid. The tail lamps, the bumper and the windscreen all look like polished, grown-up version of the hatchback. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in our books, though.

INTERIORS ;

While there’s nothing to complain about the chic exteriors, the interiors are a bit of a hit-and-miss. The wrap-around dashboard is a fresh design and certainly feels like a step up from the Duster’s. There are also some great design touches such as the butterfly-shaped instrument cluster that gets a large digital speedometer in the centre, flanked by a tachometer and a fuel gauge. And I really like the ambient LED lighting and design of the air conditioner controls. However, our biggest gripe is the type of materials that have been used for the dashboard and the overall use of hard plastics for the interiors. They don’t feel as upmarket as they should for a car in this category, especially the roof liner which feels like it’s from one full segment below.Then there are some slightly wonky design elements, like the centre armrest – it doesn’t fold away and interferes with the operation of the handbrake lever. We really hope that all variants of the Captur offer hill- hold assist; trying to start moving from a standstill on an incline will be quite tricky otherwise. Then there are the front seats. Only the driver’s seat gets height-adjust, which is fine. What isn’t fine, however, is the fact that even the lowest setting on the seat is so high that it not only gives you a commanding view of the road but also of the entire top of the very large dashboard; this serves as a visual reminder of the basic quality of plastics that populate much of the cabin. And, if you’re on the taller side, say over 6ft, you are going to be uncomfortably close to the roof. The other ‘fit’ issue with the Captur can be found in driver’s footwell. The pedals are well proportioned and placed, but forget a dead pedal, there’s almost no space to the left of the clutch. This means the driver needs to keep his left foot under the clutch pedal when cruising; not an easy transition to make if you have large feet.

Renault made a big deal about its ‘panoramic’ windscreen and minimal A-pillars, along with the quarter windows designed to provide you much better situational awareness of what’s around and in front of you. While the side-to-side visibility is great, sitting so high up behind a raked windshield cuts out a bit of the view of the sky. Now, this isn’t a problem when it comes to driving, but it does give you a feeling of looking at the world through a narrow letterbox.The front seats themselves aren’t too bad though. The two-tone white- and-black leatherette seats look and feel good, and there’s enough support for your back and under-thighs, as well as sufficient bolstering for your shoulders when tossing the car around corners. The design and similar contouring are seen on the rear seats as well. While two adults, or even three in a pinch, can sit fairly comfortably, the kneeroom is nothing to write home about, and the rising window line robs the back of some airiness. The rear cabin space also gets its own set of AC vents which should be useful on hot days.

PERFORMANCE ;

The Captur is powered by the very familiar 1.5-litre K9K diesel engine. Although this 108bhp motor is identical to the Duster, Renault has fine-tuned it, to boost refinement and drivability. Unlike our experience in the Duster which has pronounced turbo-lag under 2000rpm, the Captur feel more linear and there is a nice build-up of power from as low as 1600rpm. It felt significantly more refined too thanks to the better sound insulation. This motor comes in its own beyond 2000rpm and carries on till 4300rpm, after which power tails off. Even on the highway the punchy mid-range makes overtaking just a flex of the right foot away. Although the sixth gear ratio is really tall, it’s a great cruising tool that keeps the engine spinning at just about 2,000rpm at 100kph; great for stretching your fuel tank. The Captur will be a better city run about than the Duster too thanks to the lighter clutch and slicker gearbox. Like the Duster, the Captur’s ride quality is exceptional. It smothers even the biggest of potholes with ease and even on rough roads you can maintain a fair clip. In fact, the faster you go, the better the ride. Also Renault has worked hard on the refinement and it has paid dividends. The cabin is very well insulated from the outside and it’s only when you cross the three-digit mark that there’s some wind noise entering the cabin through the A-pillars.

DRIVING DYNAMICS ;

The Captur is dynamically very sound and it was bound to be since it shares it underpinnings with the Duster. Handling characteristics are very similar to the Duster. The steering offers good feedback, sometimes more than you would like. It still has the mid-turn kickback but can be irritating at times. Nevertheless, this is the best steering in the segment as far as enthusiastic driving is concerned. The Captur is not unnerved in changing direction and while doing so there isn’t much body roll.The Captur offers a very settled ride. It is barely moved by rough and bad roads. At slow speeds, almost every undulation is filtered before it reaches the cabin. At high speeds, the rear passengers did feel a few jolts over very rough roads but overall, the passengers would find no reason to complain as far as ride is concerned. Braking performance is progressive with the pedal offering good bite.

BRAKING AND SAFETY ;

The list of Renault Captur safety features include Front Disc Brakes, Drum on Rear, ABS with EBD, Rear Parking Sensors, Central Locking, Driver & Passenger Airbags, Crash Sensors, Rear Seat Belts, Seat Belt Warning, Power Door Lock, Child Safety Locks, Side & Front Impact Beams, Passenger Side Rear View Mirror, Rear Camera, Centrally Mounted Fuel Tank, Engine Immobilizer, Automatic Headlamps, Follow Me Home Headlamps and ISOFIX Child Seat.

VERDICT ;

So on the whole is the Captur a welcome addition to the market? Yes most certainly. It is stylish, offers unique style and is unlike another product in many ways. The fact that Renault is going to town with personalization options is also great. These span everything from excessive (!) chrome add-ons to theme-based decals, even an array of roof wraps and a cool chrome embellishment for the front grille (kind of reminds me of the A-Class’ diamond grille). Now to the prices – which start at ₹ 9.99 lakh for the petrol and go all the up to ₹ 13.88 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) for the top-end diesel model. The car will compete in the C-SUV space (compact SUV) and that currently sees products like Creta, Compass, etc. All I know is that I would have been surprised if Renault were to price the car at a premium. the current prices are very aggressive – as this is a Duster rival too after all. There are just three variants on offer and the base RXe variant comes with plenty of equipment, as I too pointed out earlier. Is the space hotting up then? You bet! Your move Maruti Suzuki (S-Cross facelift notwithstanding)! Dare I say the Vitara, baby?

 

Tata Zest Features & Specifications

OVERVIEW ;

The past few years haven’t been good to Tata Motors’ passenger car division. It has had a few good products, but there always was something that didn’t sit right. Of course, there were even more things that were brilliant about the products, but desirability, one of the most important things in an economy such as ours where a car still remains in large part a luxury rather than a necessity, was absent. Tata has now recognised this, and has thrown everything they have behind the new range of products that will launch from now on, and it all begins with this small car that will replace the cheapest sedan on the planet – the Tata Zest. Does it manage to deliver what Tata so badly needs? Check Price of Zest

EXTERIORS ;

Tata Zest was designed with inputs from the company’s three different design studios – Pune (India), Conventry (UK) and Turin (Italy). Several designing processes were also carried out by the help of Jaguar Land Rover – company’s luxury vehicle divison, as more than 6000 engineers and technicians worked relentlessly and rigorously across five countries and eleven centres. All the aforementioned hard work resulted in the birth of a distinct and never-seen-before sedan in the form of Zest. Being based on a thoroughly modified X1 platform, The all-new styling of the Zest is based on its new design direction of ‘Confident Dynamism’. As far as the front fascia is concerned, it flaunts the all new company signature grille with the newly introduced ‘Humanity Line’. This front grille is complimented immensely well by the dual projector headlamps with chrome accents, which are standard for every variant, except the base XE. Moreover, the top-end trim XT also enjoys LED daytime running lamps. The front bumper boasts triangle shaped twin fog lamps and double slat air dam. Request test drive Zest in Cazprice

Coming to the side profile of the sedan, it has an enlarged C-pillar which makes the roofline a bit sloppy. The Zest has body colored ORVMs with blinkers and turn indicators, body colored door handles, and body colored bumpers as standard across the entire range of variants. The flared wheel arches have been bestowed with 15″ alloy wheels which, again, are standard feature and offered with each and every variant. At the rear-end of the car, the Zest is the first car in its segment to flaunt LED tail lamps. The whole tail lamp cluster is quite stylish and feature a wrap around design. The boot-lid gets a lot of chrome treatment, particularly around the horizontally positioned strip, company logo and model badging. Tata Zest is being offered with 6 vibrant colors – Buzz Blue, Venetian Red, Sky Grey, Dune Beige, Platinum Silver and Pristine White. In all, Tata has finally succeeded in carving out a niche sedan that is good looking, stylish and sporty. It won’t be an exaggeration to term it ‘The Best Tata Car’ till date in the exterior designing aspect.

INTERIORS ;

Now most of the Indian consumers wants maximum out of their cars interior because this is the place where most of them and their family would spend their time in. Tata has tried to make the interior look new and fresh and we must admit that the interior of the Tata Zest neat and and modern compared to other Tata Motors products.The first thing that catches everyone’s eye when they step inside a car is the dashboard, in the case of Zest compact sedan Tata has fitted a completely new dashboard which looks very modern and premium. Tata have used Java Black & Latte colors. The newly designed three spoke steering wheel looks new.In addition to that Tata also has highlighted some important bits with chrome which overall adds a very interesting and premium finish to the dashboard. The top end variants definitely gets lots of goodies like Harman touchscreen multimedia system with 8 audio speaker, Voice recognition and SMS readouts and even steering mounted controls. The top trim also gets automatic temperature controls which can be operated via the touchscreen interface.

Now coming to the comfort factor the seats definitely feels comfortable while the white colored leather seats make the interior feel plush and appealing. From the pictures it is quite clear that the rear seats has sufficient amount of leg room which will definitely be useful during long journeys but what you will lack are the storage spaces inside the cabin, there is neither any arm rest on the front or even in the rear seats which is bit disappointing though. However at the rear of the car you will get a 360 litre boot which can help you store lot of luggage’s but the Swift Dzire or the Honda Amaze provides even better boot space.The base XE trim gets lot of important goodies like tilt adjustable power steering, air-conditioner with a heater option, front power windows, manual central locking and foldable key but unfortunately you won’t be getting any audio system with this trim. While the top end trim gets Automatic climate control, Multifunction steering wheel with voice command, Rear parking sensors, Electrically adjustable wing mirrors, Driver seat height adjustment, Harman music system with 8 speakers which supports

PERFORMANCE ;

The Tata Zest is offered with the tried and test 1.3-litre Quadrajet diesel engine which produces the same output as it used to earlier. This engine is sourced from Fiat and is also popularly called as the “National Diesel Engine of India”. While offered with a 5-speed manual earlier, it now also gets paired to a 5-speed AMT automatic gearbox, making the Zest the cheapest diesel automatic in the country and also the only diesel automatic car in its segment. The bigger news is the new 1.2-litre Revotron petrol engine, which has been developed by Tata Motors in conjunction with AVL. It’s the first and only turbocharged petrol engine in its class.The 1.2-litre Revotron turbo engine uses an alloy head and a cast iron block, it belts out 90 PS at 5000 RPM and 140 Nm of torque at as low as 1750 RPM (up to 3500 RPM). The Zest gets a clutch lock and once you start the vehicle, you will really appreciate the low NVH levels, the motor is super refined with no vibes at all. In fact, the NVH is so good that at speed with the audio system playing, you can’t hear much of road, tyre or wind noise. Drivability is where the 1.2T Revotron mill truly shines, it offers an excellent low and mid-range punch but lacks top-end thrust. There is no turbo lag and performance is instant too, with power delivery being linear. The engine doesn’t rev quickly though and you do have to work the gearbox for quick overtakes, more so if the RPM drops below 2500 RPM in higher gears (4th and 5th).

So for instance, driving at 90 km/hr in fifth and you stand on the pedal, the motor does take its time to pull, clearly fifth gear is for cruising. Redline comes in just under 6000 RPM with the tacho glowing red once you whizz past 5500 RPM. 100 km/hr comes up in third gear with the tacho ticking in at around 2300 RPM in top gear at the same speed, so the engine is relaxed when you want to maintain cruising speed on the highway. Tata Motors has tested the engine for 3 lakh hours and there are many highlights of this powertrain – 10% faster than the closest rival, highest power and torque density in it class, 23% better peak torque than the closest rival. The engine doesn’t sound sporty but you can hear the turbo whistle. This is not the motor which will put the tarmac on fire as it’s not tuned for high revs but drivability is its forte. Still, it does cut off smoothly when it hits the redline (like European cars) and doesn’t feel jerky there.While accelerating, if you lift off, the RPM doesn’t drop quickly, it increases a bit and then falls very slowly. First gear is good for 50 km/hr while second will see you do 90 km/hr. The engine won’t rev more than 5000 RPM in neutral. The Revotron engine also has a first in class drive mode selector (developed with Bosch), you can choose between Eco, City and Sport. By default, the car is in City mode and a touch of a button on the centre console changes the mode (which is reflected on the 2.5-inch display on the instrument cluster). This change happens on the fly and the Eco mode is aimed at mileage, the Sport mode boosts performance marginally while the City mode gives you the best of both (the throttle response is altered). You can feel the power trailing off a bit in Eco mode while the accelerator feels more instant in Sport, the 0-100 km/hr timings reflect the difference in different modes and the same is significant. The 5-speed gearbox offers smooth shifts and the clutch is light too. We can expect a mileage of 13-15 km/l from the petrol Zest.

DRIVING DYNAMICS ;

The final area where huge strides have been made is the chassis and suspension. Without getting into too much detail, what you need to know is that Tata has managed to find a sublime balance between ride and handling; perhaps even the best in this class. Drive it over any manner of road blemish and it will flatten it out impeccably, and quietly. Even big potholes hardly faze it. Road shocks are cushioned brilliantly and the sense of calm in the cabin even on a really bad surface is amazing for a car in this segment. The only time it comes close to being caught out is when you drive it quickly over large road undulations, at which point, it may pitch a little at the rear. Under very hard braking too, the rear can get a bit unsettled

Amazingly, the relatively heavy and tall Zest darts around corners quite capably too. Its wider tracks help it feel more planted than an Indica, and the body movement is very well controlled for a car that seems to ride quite high. Yes, there is a bit of body roll but the overall balance of the chassis doesn’t make it an issue. The new electric steering unit, borrowed from the Nano Twist, also works really well. It’s pretty accurate and the ‘active return’ feature does subtly make things easier on the move. At speeds, the steering does feel a bit light but doesn’t take confidence away from the driver.

SAFETY ;

The Tata Zest uses a baked hardened steel in its construction. It gets front and side crumple zones along with protection bars for rear passengers. Safety equipment includes dual front airbags, ABS, EBD and Corner Stability Control (CSC). The Zest feels strong, the doors close with a reassuring thud and the thickness of metal is good too. However, the vehicle isn’t tested by Global NCAP yet and we can only comment on the safety of the vehicle after a crash test rating has been given to it. The company has crash tested the Tata Zest at its own facility and it meets Indian regulations.

VERDICT ;

It must be said that Zest is probably Tata’s best and well coveted attempt to target most sort after compact sedan segment. It actually breaks away from what we Indians are used to seeing in Tata Motors product portfolio till date as this sedan brings forward the company’s latest design philosophy and engineering to conquer competition. In sheer performance, the petrol is the one that impresses the most while the availability of an automatic in diesel is definitely going to attract a great number of seekers. The attractive pricing at which the company has launched the Zest into the market, will surely pull a lot of customers towards it, especially when it comes to the first-in-segment diesel automatic variant.

 

 

Audi S5 Facelift First Drive

OVERVIEW

The Audi S5 Sportback is a performance car based on the Audi A5; the latter which has proven to be a success globally, hasn’t been launched in India yet. The ‘S’ brand isn’t as mean or powerful or driver focused as the ‘RS’ brand from Audi, but to underestimate the S5 would be unwise. The V6 petrol engine under the hood is tuned to deliver a mix of both performance and efficient driving. And cars carrying the S badge must be fun and practical in equal measure. So, does the Audi S5 Sportback deliver on these promises? We find out.

EXTERIORS ;

By using a mix of lightweight materials and design, Audi claims to have shed as much as 132.3 pounds, all while increasing the sophistication of the car’s overall aerodynamics. The result is a drag coefficient of just 0.25. According to Audi, the body itself is the lightest in its competitive field, and it’s the segment leader when it comes to aerodynamics.As you can see from the images above, the front end sports a new design. The corners of that unmistakable Audi grille are sharper, while the grille itself appears to be wider and comes with more horizontal slats running from side to side. Down below, the air inlets are taller and slant downward towards the center. A new trim insert adds character to the outside and bottom edges of the air vents. The hood itself is also more muscular, sporting new body lines, but on the side, the biggest difference is the redefined body line between the wheel arches. This body line is now slanted more in the front, giving it a sportier appearance.

In the rear, that little lip in the center of the decklid has been lengthened, and now runs the width of the lid, integrating smoothly with the contours of the rear quarters. The taillights are now thinner and sport a cleaner appearance with a highlight on the outside and upper edge. The rear diffuser now has four vertically oriented fins, but the model still sports dual exhaust outlets in each corner. I’ve never been a fan of how similar Audi’s “S” models are to the standard “A” models, but at least the new S5 can be differentiated by looking at the front andrear fascias.

INTERIORS ;

There are a few ‘Look at me, I’m sporty’ bits. The flat-bottom steering for instance. It is wrapped in leather and is just the right size. Then there are splatters of carbon fiber on the centre console and the doors, which look cool. You get a different instrument cluster and a gear knob from the RS5 with ‘S5’ stamped on it too!The front half gets an extremely busy centre console that is full of buttons. The slab-sided dash houses a rather small, 7-inch screen that acts as the display for the navigation, reverse camera, music system and the drive select as well. The CD player and the dual zone climate control interface sit right below. The barrage of buttons around the gear lever does seem confusing at first. Fiddle around a bit, and you will get used to it in no time. While on the subject, let us point out that using these buttons on the move, is a task in itself.

The test car came equipped with something Audi calls ‘Super Sport Seats’ upholstered in top-class Napa Leather. It’s an option we highly recommend you tick on the list. The seats are super supportive and hug you tightly. They don’t let you slide around even under hard cornering or braking. The seats are easily my favorite bit on the S5. I wish I could say the same about the rear bench, though. With the front seat set to my driving position (which is usually all the way back and as close to the floor as possible), I could barely fit in the rear seat. Legroom is severely limited. Moreover, the headroom isn’t all that great either. The oh-so-pretty sloping roofline eats into the headroom for the rear occupants. If you are a six-footer like I am, the car’s roof will be your new best friend. To sum up, the interiors are standard Audi fare. That’s about it. The changes are minimal here too, and we’d forgive you if you thought there were none. Yes, it does look similar to many other Audis. But hey, why change something that’s not broke? That said, it could use a fresher looking design like the Q7.

PERFORMANCE ;

The Audi A5 Sportback in India comes with only a diesel engine. This TDI mill is the familiar 2.0-litre unit that we’ve seen on many VAG cars. Offered in the higher 190 PS/400 Nm tune, the oil burner is powerful enough for the A5 and makes the Sportback drive with quite a lot of urgency. The engine has some clatter which is audible outside while the insulation in the cabin is extremely good and thus the clatter isn’t really heard inside. The powerplant feels responsive right from lower RPMs with turbo lag being not much of a concern. As the revs increase, power delivery feels swift and progressive and the car touches triple digit speeds in no time, with 0-100 km/hr coming up in a claimed 7.9 seconds.

The diesel engine has good surge till 4500 RPM and due to the huge amount of torque on offer, it never really feels out of breath. The cherry on the cake is that the diesel mill is pretty efficient too, and you can easily get a respectable fuel economy of 10-12 km/l which is good for a car this powerful and heavy. The TDI engine comes mated to a 7-speed transmission with power being sent out to the front wheels. The transmission is smooth in its shifts and there are no complaints on this front. You also get the usual driving modes via Audi Drive Select while the gearbox comes with Sport and Manual modes too.

The Audi S5, on the other hand, comes with a very meaty 3.0-litre V6 TFSI petrol engine. The drivetrain is good for 350 horses and the Ingolstadt-based manufacturer is also offering quattro as standard on the S5. Moreover, the gasoline motor gets an 8-speed transmission. Right from the word go, the TFSI unit feels sharp when it comes to throttle response and the car picks up pace so quickly, that 0-100 km/hr comes up in a claimed 4.79 seconds which is just brilliant. The powertrain doesn’t really have a dead spot in the rev band and goes freely all the way to 6500 RPM. The exhaust also sounds sweet and reminds you that you’re driving a performance car. The gearbox, again, is well-matched to the engine and thus does a very good job of transferring all that power and torque to the wheels.

RIDE AND HANDLING ;

The Audi S5 Sportback is quick to turn and while we had our reservation about the way she will handle the bad roads, the Audi S5 Sportback’s ride quality is not that all stiff. The ground clearance isn’t much (Audi refused to give numbers) but even with four people on board, it didn’t bottom out over the occasional speedbrakers we found on the route. Around bends, the car holds her line well with quattro helping things to a great extent.The Sportback design gives her a low roofline at the back. For tall chauffeur-driven people, the ingress and egress might be a bit of an issue. Once inside, the high belt line too doesn’t help much – you get a bit cooped up feeling. This is a 4-seater at the best. And the car will easily carry the luggage of these four folks – a 460litre low loading lip boot takes care of that.

BRAKING AND SAFETY ;

Braking features of Audi S5 include ventilated disc brakes, electronic stability control, start-stop system and 8 airbags. The electronic stabilization program of Audi S5 includes hydraulic brake assist which makes the drive quite stable even in tough driving conditions. There are fog lights at the front, ABS with EBD, traction control as well as the crash sensor, ISOFIX child seat mounting, anti-theft wheel bolts etc.

VERDICT ;

The S5 is a rather unique proposition, because it has no direct rivals at the moment; at least not in India. At Rs 62.9 lakh, it may seem pricey for its size, but then it’s far cheaper than any of the other performance sedans. It’s also properly spacious, comfortable and practical enough to be used on a daily basis, which solidifies its one-car-for-all-purposes USP. So, if you want a luxury sedan with a healthy dose of performance mixed with everyday comfort and usability, but also want a little more sex appeal than the old S4, the S5 Sportback certainly fits the bill.

 

Honda Amaze Facelift First Drive

OVERVIEW ;

The company’s operations have returned back to normal and production has limped back up since. However, there has been one other deficiency in Honda’s portfolio in India – a very key ingredient for success in today’s skewed market scenario. And, that is a diesel engine in its most vital models.

Honda has always meant petrol for Indian car buyers and that hasn’t stopped them from buying cars such as the CR-V or the Accord. But with the overwhelming majority of small car buyers now choosing diesel over petrol and Honda increasingly relying on its hatches for volumes, a diesel engine in its grasp is being sorely missed. Find best offers on Amaze

Honda has had large diesel engines in its European line-up and its i-CTDi and i-DTEC engines have been around for sometime. With a plan of catering to markets like India, Honda had earlier this year showcased a small 1.6-litre diesel engine. Finally, a slightly smaller (1.5-litre) version of this diesel engine will make it to the Indian market shoehorned into the bonnet of the ‘Amaze’ – the sedan version of the Brio hatch.

EXTERIORS ;

That said, the new Amaze is now on offer with a CVT transmission, only for the petrol version though, a segment first. A facelift usually results in a younger, more appealing looking car, and of late it also includes the addition of newer features and technology. The Amaze gets exactly that. With competitors like the Maruti Suzuki Dzire and Ford Figo Aspire offering more bang for the buck, the Amaze was beginning to feel a bit dated inside out. So it gets a revised front end including a new grille and bumper, and redesigned tail lights at the back. The grille gets more chrome, like the other newer Hondas, especially the Mobilio, extending all the way to the headlights on either side. The bumper is now more muscular thanks to what look like flared nostrils at either end to house the fog lamps. The tail lights look a lot more attractive too, thanks to the new design.

INTERIORS ;

The Honda Amaze gets a major change on the inside. It gets an all new glossy black dashboard with centre console resembling the Honda City. This new dashboard gives the car a premium feel. Now, there is a new in-dash music system layout and even climate control too. A new instrument cluster too has been added to the Amaze., however the same steering wheel is retained. The new Amaze facelift comes with a similar set of features like integrated music system with bluetooth, steering mounted audio controls, dual airbags, ABS, climate control AC being some of them.

Where the Honda Amaze has an advantage over the competition, it is the rear seat space. The rear seat knee room and head room are one of the best in its segment. The Amaze with its 400 litres of boot space is one of the largest in its segment. The Amaze is a practical compact sedan and this is what works in its favour.

PERFORMANCE ;

We’re familiar with the 1.2-litre i-VTEC motor, having driven it extensively in the Brio and the Jazz. Like all modern Honda petrol engines, it is near-silent at idle and has good overall refinement. Like the Brio, it’s available with either a five-speed manual gearbox or a five-speed automatic.

The performance is similar too. Responses low down are great (better still with the automatic and its torque converter push) and it gets off the line eagerly. Unfortunately, it is let down by a weak mid-range, and you will find yourself shifting down every time you want to pick up the pace. This can be very annoying when you’re cruising on the highway, and here’s where you’ll really feel this engine’s lack of grunt. Its real strength is in its top end and it gets a second wind if you rev it beyond 4500rpm. However, here’s where things get quite noisy, and we can’t imagine too many Amaze owners will be gunning it to its redline in everyday driving. The five-speed manual is a delight to use – very light and accurate, with a compact lever and short throws. The clutch is light too, which should be helpful in traffic. The automatic gearbox is closely related to the one used in just about every automatic Honda car in India. Honda uses a CVT automatic for the Amaze (and the Brio) in Thailand, but has opted to use the five-speed torque converter in India to save on import costs. It’s a good thing they have, too, as this ’box works well with the 1.2-litre i-VTEC engine, with smooth and quick responses off the line. There’s a bit of a flat spot in the middle, however, amplified by the engine’s weak mid-range, so fluctuating your pace in stop-go traffic can result in some hesitation in the power delivery. Although the shifts themselves are quick and seamless, the gearbox doesn’t have the sharpest reactions to your throttle inputs. Punch your foot down to overtake and there’s a noticeable pause before it kicks down a gear, but once it does, it’s happy to let the engine soar all the way to its redline before shifting up.

Now, on to the 1.5 i-DTEC ‘Earth Dreams’ diesel engine, which has been derived from the larger 1.6 diesel that powers European Hondas. This made-for-India 1498cc motor is a state-of-the-art four-cylinder engine that features 16 valves and twin overhead camshafts. Honda has focussed on reducing friction and weight as far as possible, and to this effect, has worked with Idemitsu to develop a special low-friction oil just for this engine. Also, the block is all-aluminium, which reduces weight considerably, and the engine sits on liquid-filled mounts instead of standard rubber ones to minimise vibration.

Fire up this engine and what immediately becomes evident is that the great refinement that Honda cars are famous for is more down to its silent petrol engines. You will feel a shudder from the front of the car as the motor rumbles to life, before it settles down to a reasonably quiet idle. But the clatter starts as soon as you get off the line, and it never goes away. The vibrations can be felt in the pedals too. It’s like having a loud, chatty passenger in the car with you. This is a result of the engine block being made of aluminium rather than iron – the less dense material is nowhere near as good a sound and vibration insulator. It’s a bit of a sore point, but thankfully it’s the only one; in just about every other way, this engine is an absolute gem.

Set off, and you’ll notice there’s precious little turbo lag. That’s because Honda has tuned the engine and the fixed-geometry Honeywell turbocharger for better low-end response. Unlike the compact diesels we’ve become used to, it produces its power in a smooth, linear manner, rather than with a sudden burst, and it has a lot of elasticity for a diesel engine. Peak torque of 20.4kgm is produced at 1750rpm, but there’s plenty of shove right from about 1200rpm, and it pulls strongly to about 3800rpm. The power then gradually tails off till it hits a very conservative 4200rpm rev limit. In fact, this diesel engine doesn’t rev anywhere near as high as some of its competition and this is because Honda’s research has shown Indian drivers tend to upshift early. The Amaze managed an impressive 0-100kph time of 12.97sec, but we feel it could have been faster still if not for the rev lock Honda has installed in the interest of engine preservation (it will not rev past 2000rpm when the car is stationary).

The Amaze cruises quite well too, thanks to reasonably tall gearing, and the meaty torque spread makes light work of overtaking on highways. The only issue is that, even at cruising speeds, you can’t get away from the engine drone. At 120kph, the 1.5 diesel turns over at a vocal 2,800rpm

DRIVING DYNAMICS;

When you talk about ride quality, Honda cars usually have a good balance and the Amaze is no different. Honda has set up the suspension for a family car and hence the ride quality is good. The Amaze absorbs most of the craters in the road with ease without making the passengers uncomfortable. With a ground clearance of 165 mm, one would expect the Amaze to bottom out frequently, however this ‘Made for India’ car will truly surprise you. Yes, it did kiss its underbelly on a few occasions but it stayed clear more often than we would have imagined. Handling is predictive and the steering feels quite mannerly at high speeds. The Amaze is certainly not the sharpest car in its class, but it’s one which gives you a healthy dose of fun when driven on the limit.

VERDICT ;

With the launch of new rivals in the compact sedan segment, the Honda Amaze started looking old amongst the fresher lot that come with new styling and latest equipment. However, getting some drastic changes inside out, the Honda Amaze facelift now offers a much more appealing package that can fend off some of its competitors. The heavily revised interiors are a fresh breath of air but the only chink in its armour is the lack of rear parking sensors that are only available as an accessory. The updated front and rear profile get sleek design elements that give it a broader stance and makes the Amaze’s presence felt on the road. Honda has marginally increased the price but it’s worth the extra penny spent.

Audi Q7 Price & Peformance

OVERVIEW ;

The Q7 was the first SUV in Audi’s portfolio, introducing the Q moniker in the family in 2005. The first generation Q7 made a big impact in the luxury SUV segment across the globe and specially in the Indian car market. However, the first generation Q7 was getting quite dated off late amongst the newly updated Europeans but now Audi has finally launched the second generation model in India. The new Audi Q7 gets drastic changes inside out and we explore the new German to see if it really has what it takes.

EXTERIORS ;

This stunner has the same body structure like its outgoing model. However, there are significant improvements on all the facets, especially on its front profile. Its hexagonal radiator grille now gets a thick surround. Also, it has a matte finish, that is rendering it a dynamic character. On either sides, it has a sleek headlight cluster with improved lighting design. This carries LED headlamps, indicators, static turning lights and headlight cleaning system as well. Also, there are double arrow shaped daytime running lights, which further adds to its style. Both the front and rear bumpers are redesigned for a more masculine look. On its sides, there are fenders with curvy detailing and fitted with new design alloy wheels. It is equipped with body colored ORVMs along with door handles and aluminum roof rails. As for the rear, the LED taillight cluster is reshaped and equipped with dynamic indicators. Apart from these, all the other cosmetics are retained from its outgoing model. Also, it has a rear spoiler that compliments its exclusivity.

INTERIORS ;

The interiors of the new-gen Q7 are a big step forward and a major change in design from other Audis. The AC vents run across from the centre console to the left side end. The large AC vent has diffused air and it doesn’t focus into your face. The large Audi MMI screen pops up on press of a button. this doesn’t have a touchscreen but has a high definition display. After being so used to the similar Audi interior this is a welcome change. The brown leather wrapper steering wheel with even the dashboard gets this rich leather. The instrument binnacle is made of a LED screen with two small dials on both the sides for temperature and fuel gauge.

The gear lever is also wrapped in this leather. The lever is thick and it can shift modes with a glide from your palm. The MMI has a large touchpad as well. The rotor doesn’t get the four buttons, rather two that slide forth and back. With regards to space, this gen is a more spacious than the outgoing one. The second row of seats can slide back and forth to adjust the knee room for the third row. Our press demonstrator came with a spare tyre that was attached in the boot. This means only one seat in the third row. The all round visibility of the Q7 and the panoramic sunroof makes it great to drive in city.

PERFORMANCE ;

The Q7 gets both diesel and petrol engine options under its hood. The most powerful engine that is available with the Q7 is a 3.0 Litre TDI unit which produces about 272 Hp of peak power and 600 Nm of torque. This engine unit helps the Q7 to accelerate from 0-100 Km/h mark in just 6.3 seconds while it has a top speed of 234 km/h mark. While the 3.0 Litre TFSI unit produces about 333 Hp of peak power and 440 Nm of torque. This engine unit helps Q7 to accelerate from 0-100 km/h mark in just 6.1 seconds while it has a top speed of 250 Km/h mark.There is also a second variant of the 3.0 Litre TDI also on offer which produces about 218 Bhp of peak power and 500 Nm of torque. While Audi will also offer a smaller 2.0 Litre TFSI engine which will produces about 252 Hp of peak power and 370 Nm of torque which has been specially designed for the Asian and the markets of USA.

What is even more interesting is the fact that the Q7 will also be available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain, the electric motor will be mated to a diesel unit. The diesel unit in particular will produce 258 Hp of peak power while the electric motor will separately develop about 94 Kw of power. Together the e-tron Q7 will deliver about 373 hp of peak power.Beside just the new powertrain option the Q7 also gets a newly developed, eight-speed tiptronic transmission which supplies power to all the 4 wheels.For the Indian market Audi has decided to launch the Q7 with the 3.0-liter TDI unit which is capable of producing about 272 Hp of peak power and 600 Nm of torque and like already mentioned above the engine is paired to an eight-speed tiptronic transmission which sends power to al the 4 wheels via the Audi Quattro all whel drive system.

RIDE AND HANDLING ;

Despite a curb weight of almost 5,000 pounds, the 2017 Audi Q7 is surprisingly maneuverable and nimble. Especially if the optional adaptive air suspension and four-wheel steering are specified, the Q7 drives as if it’s actually a size smaller, like Audi’s Q5. Even without the Adaptive Chassis option, though, the Q7 is sure-footed around turns and instills driver confidence thanks to strong, consistent brakes.This athleticism doesn’t come at the expense of ride quality, either. Rough pavement is effortlessly smoothed over, and the cabin remains blissfully quiet. When equipped with the V6, accelerating to highway speeds or passing is easy, and the responsive eight-speed transmission is a nice added touch. We haven’t had the opportunity to test the four-cylinder Q7 yet, but we will update the review with full details once we get behind the wheelJust as significant as what the driver can draw from the Q7 is what the car can do on its own. Combining existing technologies such as lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, forward-looking cameras and navigation information, the Q7 can help drivers considerably during congested freeway commutes or vast, unpopulated highway stretches by doing much of the driving on its own.

SAFETY AND SECURITY ;

There is a long list of protective facilities available in this model series, which gives maximum protection to the occupants sitting inside the cabin. All the seats have three point inertia seat belts with height adjustment, force limiter and pyrotechnic belt tensioners. There is also ISOFIX child seat mounting available for front passenger seat. This vehicle has full size driver and front passenger airbags with two stage deployment. It also has rear side airbags, while the head airbag system gives side impact protection to its occupants. The highly developed anti theft alarm system includes tow away protection and includes interior monitoring of doors, engine as well as luggage compartment. It includes reversing camera that shows the image on MMI display. The first aid kit is also available, which is quite useful in case of any untoward incident while driving. In addition to these, it includes a day and night anti glare internal rear view mirror, power door locks, tool kit and jack, tyre pressure monitoring display, crash sensor and an engine check warning. All these significant aspects makes it one of the safest vehicles in the country.

VERDICT ;

After driving the new Audi Q7 extensively, we have realised that the German carmaker is targeting a wider audience. That’s because the new Q7 has a multifaceted character that covers most of the important aspects. For instance, it is suitable for the station wagon loving European market offering great practicality and space but with the driving feel of a sedan. The Q7 also manages to conquer rough terrains very well with its hi-tech quattro system, so buyers looking for a capable off-roader can consider the Q7. It is an extremely comfortable SUV for your family specially on Indian road conditions. The new Q7 is quite big in size but once you get behind the wheel, it’s not an intimidating SUV to drive and instead quite fun with its sorted dynamics. Anyone from any age group be it young or old, male or female can easily adapt to the driving manners of the new Q7. However, we still miss the muscular and butch appearance of the outgoing Q7. Otherwise, the new Audi Q7 is a gem of an SUV in this price bracket.

 

BMW i8 Review & Transmission

OVERVIEW ;

Your first impression when you watch the BMW i8 would be “WOW, What a car!” Launched in India in February 2015, there are two reasons for the car’s popularity. The first one is that this is the costliest car to roll out in India from the Bavarian Motor Works stable. The BMW i8price tag is INR 2.62 crores. Secondly, this is the first offering by BMW that boasts of TwinPower technology and an electric motor.The recipient of the World Green Car Award in 2015, the BMW i8 has some fantastic features that offer you the ultimate in luxury and comfort. We shall look at the BMW i8 features in detail in the following paragraphs. One of the smartest looking cars in the market, the BMW i8 specifications are a dream. You have the most innovative driving technology on display that makes the BMW i8 performance absolutely stunning. Possessing one of the strongest engines in the auto industry, the BMW i8 transmission system is of the highest quality. The BMW i8 images show magnificent exteriors. Very few cars can match the BMW i8 interiors. This sophisticated vehicle has some of the stringiest safety requirements making this car the King as far as BMW i8 braking and safety is concerned. The combination of the petrol and electric motor works like a dream with a peak BMW i8 mileage of 47.45 kmpl. The sophisticated technology ensures that you have the best BMW i8 handling experience ever. Overall, one can surely state that the BMW i8 is a car par excellence.

EXTERIORS ;

Describing the exteriors of the BMW i8 isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are multiple design cues, curves and lines. The i8 looks unlike any other car from the BMW stable. You still get the kidney grille at the front which gets blue surrounds. Next to the grille are the thin and sharp headlamps which also look very discrete. The front bumper has a flowing design and it blends seamlessly with the fenders. The side profile is where much of the action is. The scissor doors are the party piece of the i8 and the door handles are concealed slightly out of sight. Another eye-catcher on the side are the razor alloy wheels. Things get even more dramatic at the rear with the bumper getting a very busy and in-your-face design while the tail lamps carry a bold look. Not to forget, there is an abundance of blue accents all around the car.

INTERIORS ;

Another area where the designers were free to style the car. The way the exterior looks, some of that charisma goes missing on the inside. Well, it does stand out from the other BMWs and it is quite technologically advanced. The centre console has a large single AC vent and a large tab-like screen above it. Underneath is this the same climate control, gear knob and iDrive system we find on any other BMW. There isn’t much of a change in the quality and other aspect.The steering wheel is all new and the design is borrowed from the i-range. The i3 also has a similar steering wheel and somewhat similar instrument cluster. There aren’t many elements on the inside that makes the i8 so WOW! on the inside. The seats are similar to the i family, though these hug you and provide better grip. The rear seats, well they are indeed for kids. I as a six-footer tried to sit back making it extremely difficult to move into the position and then step out. The boot is just like a super car, can hold only your boots. This is what makes it like a super car and to be honest I like it. You do not buy an i8 to go out and buy weekend groceries. Its a weekend car for two only.

PERFORMANCE ;

Power for the 2017 BMW i8 comes from a turbocharged 1.5-liter inline three-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor and a 7.1-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The gas engine drives the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission, while the electric motor powers the front wheels through an integrated two-speed automatic. Taken together, these two sources produce 357 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque in an all-wheel-drive configuration.During Edmunds testing, a European-spec BMW i8 sprinted from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, a relatively quick time that’s nonetheless eclipsed by a number of non-hybrid sports cars on the market.The i8’s battery pack can be fully recharged at home through a standard 120-volt garage outlet in about 3.5 hours. Upgrade to a 240-volt charger (or visit a public Level 2 charging station) and you can trim the time down to about 1.5 hours. EPA energy-efficiency estimates for the i8 include 15 miles of electric-only range and a combined (city/highway) fuel economy rating of 28 mpg when the gas engine comes into play. Total driving range is estimated at 330 miles. The EPA also rated the BMW i8 at 76 mpge (miles per gallon equivalent), factoring in both gas and electric operation.

DRIVING DYNAMICS ;

As with any other sports car, the BMW i8 has a stiffly sprung suspension and it gets even stiffer in Sport mode. The car also has a low ground clearance of 117 mm and thus you need to be super careful on uneven speed breakers and sharp craters on our roads. The car comes with a staggered wheel set up and I honestly found the tyres to have excellent grip levels. The steering is one of the best ones I’ve ever encountered. It is superbly direct and precise and offers tons of feedback too. The chassis feels very tight and the i8 is an extremely fun car to tackle corners in. Braking is impressive and the i8 has good stopping power, shedding speeds without any drama.

SAFETY AND SECURITY ;

This luxury sports car gets all the innovative safety aspects that ensures maximized protection to the occupants inside. The company has constructed it with carbon fibre reinforced plastic, which is light, stable and enhances the safety of the occupants inside. It also has an advanced traction control programs that monitors the traction of individual wheels and prevents the loss of traction to improve stability. Apart from these, this car has features including acoustic protection for pedestrians, anti theft package with alarm, intelligent LED light system, eight airbags, ABS with brake assist function, dynamic stability control, electric parking brake, ISOFIX child seat mounting, tyre puncture repair kit and warning triangle with first aid kit.

VERDICT ;

The BMW i8 is not the perfect sportscar — others will thrill you more. Nor is it the perfect eco-mobility solution — you have to be quite controlled with your driving to achieve those amazing claimed range figures. But it is a superb combination of the two, and it’s wrapped in an incredibly desirable and futuristic package. What’s more, these days being environmentally conscious is very fashionable, and what better way to make a statement than with a sexy hybrid sportscar. For all its high tech though, at Rs 2.29 crore (ex-showroom, all-India), it is very expensive, especially when you consider that for the same money, you could get a lot more performance (not to mention bigger thrills) in the form of a Jaguar F-type R, Porsche 911 Turbo or an Audi R8 V10. Still, there’s no doubt, that for a small few, this car’s futuristic styling, techie appeal and green credentials, will be a big draw.

 

 

Toyota Etios Cross Hatchback Overview

OVERVIEW ;

Toyota had cars in the 10 lakh segments. Vehicles like Corolla, Camry, Innova and the Fortuner, not to forget the super premium vehicles like the Land Cruiser and the Prado. Back in 2010 Toyota decided to launch 2 cars in the sub 10 lakh segment with the Etios and the Etios Liva. The Etios being the sedan and the Liva being the Hatch. Toyota wanted to enter the Crossover segment and the Toyota Etios Cross was the answer. Get On Road Price of  Etios Liva

The Toyota Etios Cross was launched in 2014. The body was similar to the Liva but with much more body cladding to challenge Robocop. Toyota being one of the brands known for their service and quality decide wanted to take market share in this segment too. Now little over half a decade over. Let’s have a look as what is in store for us.

DXTERIORS AND DESIGN ;

Etios Cross is the third cross to enter Indian shores after similar styled Fabia and Polo. While the Polo is the smartest looking hatch and Fabia can still make way with its international styling, the Etios Liva unfortunately has nothing to boast of.Plastic claddings, aluminum finished bash plates and a bold name, this is the perfect recipe for a crossover hatchback. Toyota has done the same with Etios Cross. The front face has a handle bar moustache looking grille. Turn indicators have been clubbed with fog lamps. It also gets a skid plate positioned below the front bumper. The hood gets a strong rib section flowing in the middle. Request test drive for Etios in Cazprice

Diamond cut 15″ alloy wheels on the Etios Cross is standard. The new alloy wheels have made the ground clearance rise by 4mm. The wheelbase has been retained whereas the overall dimensions have grown cause of the matte plastic claddings all over. The electrically adjustable ORVMs also get turn indicators. Unlike the Cross Polo, which just gets a sticker, this one gets its name etched on the plastic cladding. It also gets contrasting silver roof rails.

It gets a roof mounted spoiler and the name Etios Cross written in bold on the rear tail gate. Similar to the skid plate on the front bumper, the rear too gets one. Toyota has launched the Etios Cross in 8 different colors. Personally, a yellow would have done for me but then my choice among the different shades would be the Orange and Blue. Even though it is supposed to be an adventurous looking car, it does not come across as an attractive looking car. The brand perception won’t change unless these cars get a complete makeover.

INTERIORS AND SPACE ;

Step inside the Etios Cross and you find yourself in a familiar cabin. The layout of the dashboard hasn’t changed which is dissapointing as the centrally mounted instrument cluster is still not easy to read on the move. That said, the cabin looks much improved thanks to the use of piano black inserts on the doors, instrument cluster and centre console. Quality inside seems improved as well but is still not up to Toyota’s legendary standards. Our test car which had done only 130 kms showed signs of rattling over bad roads, which can be attributed to the light weight of the vehicle.

The other change to the interiors is the Etios Cross badging on the seats. There is ample amount of room inside the cabin, with rear seat passengers having enough space to stretch out in utmost comfort. Even the seats offer good support making the Etios a comfortable car to be in. The boot is reasonably big at 251-litres and it’s when you close the boot lid do you realise the Etios is a very light car. Toyota is offering the Etios Cross in 4 variants – G, V, GD and VD. All variants get a 2-DIN audio system with MP3, FM and USB functions but the top-spec trim also gets steering mounted audio controls and Bluetooth connectivity. The Etios Cross comes loaded with quite a few features even on the base trim but the lack of internally adjustable ORVMs is a shocking omission.

ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE ;

Toyota Etios Cross is being offered in both gasoline as well as a diesel guise. The base variant G, out of the total two variants in the petrol fuel trim, in-houses a 1.2-litre motor that returns a maximum power of 7800rpm at 5600rpm. It is a 4-cylinder, 16-Valve, 1197cc DOHC enabled engine which is also responsible for the generation of maximum torque of 104Nm at 3100rpm. It is mated to company’s traditional 5-speed manual transmission in order to maximize fuel efficiency and performance. On the other hand, the remaining top-end variant V in the petrol fuel trim carries a much powerful and agile powertrain. It comes loaded with a 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder, 16-Valve mill that belts out an incredible power output of 88bhp at 5600rpm along with a peak torque performance of 132Nm att 3000rpm. It carries a displacement of 1496cc and also DOHC enabled. It is too coupled with the same 5-speed manual transmission but to ensure high performance and acceleration.

The compact crossover also comes in diesel avatar and under the hood; it sports a 1.4-litre D-4D motor that produces a maximum power of 67bhp at 3800rpm. It is a 4-cylinder, 2-valves per cylinder (8-Valves), 1364cc, SOHC enabled Common Rail engine with Intercooler who also churns out a peak torque of 170Nm at 1800 – 2400rpm. The company has mated the engine with its conventional 5-speed manual gearbox for the sake of enthralling mileage figures.

RIDE AND HANDLING ;

Toyota’s motives are clear here. A car that can take you from point A to point B. There can’t be anything more clear than the 900 km range for the diesel. The steering is super light and the suspension super soft. But on the flip side the soft suspension and the 170 mm ground clearance make the car top heavy on corners and give a bit of body roll. Though it makes it very easy to ride in daily traffic and highway drives too are good but you can’t push the car around too hard.

The diesel engine is a bit noisy if pushed too hard. If we compare the petrol to the diesel, the petrol is better for quick city stints. And the diesel is an effortless mile muncher, at the same time the diesel has taller gears thanks to the enormous torque hence leading to lesser gear shifts. The option of 1.2 and 1.5 petrol gives you a choice between efficiency and performance. The ease of driving is only proven by the no of cars used by a lot of women drivers.

SAFETY FEATURES ;

The Etios Cross also has been equipped with ABS and EBD.The fog lamps offer better visibility during bad weather conditions. The vehicle also has been fitted with front airbags for driver and passenger, plus bars side impact protection. It also has alarm on all doors beside the engine immobilizer system for anti theft security.

VERDICT ;

The Etios Cross isn’t much different than the regular Etios Liva, as it carries the same underpinnings and engines. With unchanged mechanicals, the performance and dynamics are almost the same. However the Etios Cross is a car which has some attitude and muscularity. While it still isn’t the most polished when it comes to interior design and overall quality, the Etios Cross comes across as a much more appealing Etios. Coming at quite the premium, the Etios Cross is without doubt the best version of the Etios yet but not really worth buying over better cars at that price.

 

Maruti Suzuki Celerio Design & Style

OVERVIEW

Maruti’s small cars are always much-awaited and come pre-loaded with market-shaking potential. It is, however, true that after the Swift, there hasn’t been a hatchback from Maruti-Suzuki that has really rocked the passenger car market. Get Price of Celerio in Carzprice

But, the next small car from Maruti – the Celerio, due out at the Auto Expo next week, looks like it can disrupt the market.

The Celerio has been developed from the ground up on a completely new platform and has been endowed with a special automatic gearbox that Maruti officials believe with revolutionise the way we drive. The design of the Celerio is based on the A-Wind concept that Suzuki showcased at the Thai Auto show.

This new hatch has been built to fit into and complement Maruti’s portfolio of small cars, but it is also meant to take on new competitors in the segment such as the Hyundai Grand i10. The Celerio is just a bit smaller than the Grand i10 in terms of length and width, but matches the wheelbase and is even a bit taller than the latter. Book test drive for Celerio in Cazprice

EXTERIORS

From various angles the Celerio brings to mind the Toyota Etios Liva, especially that smiling grille with the twin smiling slats flanking the Suzuki Logo. In fact, if you took off the Suzuki logo and replaced it with a Toyota badge you could easily fool anyone into mistaking this car for the latter. As it is, driving this car on the busy roads around Jodhpur did not elicit much interest from the very people who would in the near future be buying this car, the aam janta! And let me tell you in the past there hasn’t been a single new car that hasn’t grabbed attention on these drives.

At the front, the bumper is a strong element of the design and looks sturdy and well-sculpted, though the inverted curve to the lower air dam and the single fog lamps scooped inside the bumper continue to remind you of the Etios Liva. I like the hood which has this slight clamshell effect to it and gives the Celerio a sporty character.

The side profile is sculpted with two sweeping character lines that appear running parallel to each other. The one running along the shoulder starts at the fender and sweeps upwards towards the rear window with a sculpted kink. The outside rear view mirrors with integrated turn lamps and smaller indicator lamps on the fenders are the only ornaments that give this profile a sparkle. The rear is my least favourite area. The tallish tail lamps look a bit out of place, though the chunky bumpers look quite in sync with the rest of the body shell. The rear tail gate can only be accessed from the outside and not from within the car.

Where dimensions are concerned, the Celerio is comfortably long and wide, though to put it in comparison, it’s shorter in length than the Hyundai Grand i10 though taller by a few inches. At 2.425 metres, however, both hatchbacks share the same wheelbase and that also means the Celerio has substantial amounts of interior space, especially knee room, just like the Grand i10.

INTERIORS

As with the exterior, Maruti has played it very safe with the cabin. The two-tone dashboard uses a rather basic design, and though the instrument cluster is easy to read, it looks very bland. Plastic quality is good, but still not up there with Hyundai. It scores decently on practicality too, and though the front door pockets are slim, the rear ones house bottle holders. There’s another bottle holder between the front seats, a pair of cupholders near the gear lever and a medium-size glovebox. For luggage, you have 235 litres once you get past the tall loading lip, but you can also split-fold the seat for even more room.

Space is a strong point of the Celerio, with good headroom in all seats. Three adults in the back is a bit of a squeeze, but legroom is decent, and you get a good sense of space too. Apart from a slightly short seat squab and the low-set, fixed head restraints, the seats are really comfortable as well. Even the fixed-headrest front seats, though they don’t look the plushest, serve up a good mix of softness and support. The equipment level is acceptable and this ZDi (O) gets features like Bluetooth, driver’s seat height adjustment, steering-mounted controls, electrically adjustable mirrors, ABS and two airbags.

PERFORMANCE

The Celerio is being offered only with a petrol engine, though there are rumours already that Maruti Suzuki has developed a small, diesel engine in-house for use in the car. The same may be showcased at the Expo and potentially make it to showrooms late this year or early next year.

The engine that the Celerio will be launched with is the same one-litre K 10B engine that is currently available in the A-Star, Alto K10 and the Wagon-R. The engine is being offered in the same state of tune too. (See the Tech Spec box for more info.)

The story of the Celerio is actually inside the bonnet, but if the engine is a carry over, then what is different?

It is the new automatic gearbox that Maruti and Suzuki engineers have developed specially for the car, and which promises to be frugal both in terms of costs and in terms of fuel consumption. The new EZ Drive auto gear shift promises to do just that shift the gears on your behalf and it is a unique solution that is going to lead to a lot of clones cropping up amongst competitors. (Read more about it in the adjoining story).

The Celerio drives like a perfect city car. For an engine in this class, there is enough power and torque available on tap for all sorts of urban driving conditions and some more for the average highway cycle. The car is also offered with a 5-speed manual gearbox.

DRIVING

The suspension is soft enough to iron out road imperfections but the light car that it is, allows Maruti to keep the tune stiff enough for the Celerio to feel composed at high speeds. You don’t feel as nervous north of 100kmph in the Celerio as you would in an i10. The Celerio is a predictable handler too, fun to chuck around corners when you pick up the pace but the tyres could have offered more grip, especially in the diesel as there is more weight up front.

It is a given that a Maruti has to be an easy car to use in the city, and with the Celerio it’s no different. Light steering and good visibility out of the cabin coupled with nearly straight lined sides make for some precision driving when you are weaving through traffic. If there is one drawback in the diesel, it’s the lack of low end punch.

BOTOMLINE

The Celerio CNG is one of the most affordable hatchback in its segment and is the perfect package. The Wagon R’s interiors have started to look aged and the Celerio is a better option to pick as you will look at keeping the car for a period of three to five years. At the price and the mileage, Celerio CNG is a great buy. Wish it was also available in the ZXi variant also