Ford Fiesta Automatic has launched

new ford fiesta automatic
Ford has launched an automatic variant of its Fiesta saloon.

Available only in petrol variant, the Fiesta Powershift automatic comes with a new dual clutch automatic gearbox (Code: DBS6) which is a segment first. The gearbox boasts of tech features like hill start assist, which keeps the brakes engaged for 2.5 seconds after you lift off the brake pedal & neutral coast down which disengages the clutch when the brakes are applied for greater efficiency & precise clutch slip, providing torsional damping of engine vibrations at low rpm (enabling lower lugging limits for improved fuel economy). According to Ford, the Fiesta Auto will deliver an overall fuel economy of 16.97kpl.

There are two variants on offer, a base “Style” version, priced at Rs 8.99 lakh comes with features like Climate control, & fog lamps. The more upmarket Titanium+ is priced at Rs 9.70 lakh & it gets Bluetooth, voice control, alloy wheels, auto power folding ORVMs, reverse parking sensors & a chrome trim on the front grille.

The Fiesta Powershift comes with a 2 year, 100,000km warranty. All prices ex showroom, Delhi.

Review and test drive of new Volvo S60 D3

new volvo s60 d3
Despite having been in India for over four years, Volvo hasn’t really featured on most luxury car buyers’ shopping lists. Ironically, the company’s pursuit of high safety standards isn’t something that really registers with the Indian buyer. And brands like Audi, BMW & Mercedes offer more snob value, which Volvo just doesn’t seem to.

However, as unrelenting as the Indian buyer is, there is no denying the fact that we have a nose for value. It is with this very reason in mind that Volvo has introduced a new D3 diesel engine across its range, accompanied by a price drop. & by a drop in price we mean the ‘chucked out of an airplane without a parachute’ variety. How does an ex showroom price of Rs 23.99 lakh for the base S60 Kinetic D3 sound? This makes the S60 the least expensive Volvo in the country & puts it right in the middle of Skoda Superb & Volkswagen Passat territory. And to think, it’s a CBU!

new volvo s60 d3 interior and steering
The fact that it’s a diesel really tilts things in its favour – diesel being the fuel of choice these days. The new 2.0 litre five cylinder engine is quite powerful & in city driving conditions you won’t need any more power than the 163bhp it produces. The build up of torque is linear & the initial bit of turbo lag isn’t really bothersome. Get past that & you are greeted with a strong mid range, typical of diesel engines, especially once past the 2000rpm mark. In fact the 40.7kgm of torque it makes is only 2.1kgm down on the bigger 2.4 litre D5. From here, ride the substantial wave of torque to 3500rpm, beyond which it starts to tail off. Although the engine is eager & free revving, it’s not a good idea to spin it to the upper reaches. It feels strained & gets quite vocal. So it feels best when you slot the six speed automatic gearbox in D & just punt around town or lazily cruise the highway.

The gearbox goes about its job without being intrusive & shifts are seamless for most parts. It’s meant for relaxed driving, & if you try to pick up the pace in a hurry, it lingers for a while before kicking down. It does have a tiptronic mode but even here, it won’t hold gears at high revs for too long & will upshift as soon as it can. This laidback approach is also evident in the way the suspension behaves. At slow speeds the S60 is comfortable, the ride is pliant & minor road imperfections are dealt with ease. The overall ride though is not very settled & sharp ruts do catch the suspension out. It isn’t the most enthusiastic of handlers either. There is a fair amount of body movement in bends & it isn’t as athletically gifted as a BMW 3 series.

new volvo s60 d3 engine view
What Volvo has done is to not skimp on the equipment that the car comes with. The S60 comes with the City Safety automatic braking technology as standard along with an electric driver’s seat, leather upholstery, climate control, traction control & active headlamps, even in the base Kinetic variant. The interiors feature the same quality materials which, though not class  leading, aren’t bad, especially at this price. The D3 Summum trim gets an electric passenger seat, sun roof, seven inch screen & is priced at Rs 26.99 lakh. The S60 then, is great value for money. It also means you get the usual quality that is associated with a Volvo and, typical of a Volvo, the seats, front & rear, are extremely comfy.

new volvo s60 d3 side view
It is very well loaded, relaxed & comfortable in most conditions & handsome to look at. A well rounded package and, at this price, it is surely going to attract a lot more buyers, especially those who don’t mind the lack of space at the rear. Buy it before the end of this month & you can avail the introductory prices which are Rs 70,000 lesser for the Kinetic trim & Rs 1 lakh lesser
for the Summum.

Review and Test Drive of New Hyundai Sonata

new hyundai sonata full review
We’ve just been driving the new Hyundai Sonata in Chennai & initial impressions are very promising. Hyundai hopes to emulate the success of its first generation Sonata with this car and, going by the looks alone, it is on the right path.

new hyundai sonata front view
The car really is quite stunning. Look at the nose & you can see channels flow outwards from the base of the grille in waves, the heavily raked windscreens allow the cabin to rise & fall gently, & even the heavy crease on the doors seems to be caused by the arc of fluid emanating from the front wheel. The Sonata, known as the i45 abroad, looks even more attractive from the rear, those beautifully detailed tail lights & the spot on proportions of the boot making it look really pleasing to the eye.

new hyundai sonata interior view
The dashboard is clearly divided between the driver & passenger, & Hyundai has used sweeping arches to clearly define each binnacle. Hyundai’s new front seats offer fantastic thigh support & are wide enough to support your shoulders. & even the elbow rests are perfectly placed & well padded.

There is plenty of space at the rear as well, & the seats feel comfortable. The wheelbase is larger than on the current car & as a result the Hyundai saloon almost has the same cabin volume as a Honda Accord. And, like all cars in this segment, you get rear air con vents & a very comfortable elbow rest.

While interior quality levels are not as good as those on the Accord, they are pretty close. Some bits like the black plastic on the centre console, vents, steering wheel & especially the stalks disappoint – their quality is not really up to what you expect.

The 2.4 litre direct injection GDI motor feels refined & develops 198bhp at 6300 rpm, but it doesn’t feel as powerful as the numbers suggest. The engine isn’t quick revving & things only really get frantic after 4000rpm.

new hyundai sonata side view
Hyundai will launch the Sonata with a six speed manual transmission & also a six speed automatic. We drove the automatic which worked well overall but felt a bit indecisive at times. You can opt to use the paddle shifters to stay in the preferred gear & driving in this ‘manual’ mode is actually more pleasing.

Straightline stability is impressive & the ride quality is good too, although it does feel a bit stiff on sharper bumps. The new Sonata gets independent suspension for both the front & rear, important on a car of this size. The handling, like most Hyundais, is however compromised in favour of a softer setup; so while the new Sonata dives into corners very enthusiastically, it lacks the accuracy or finesse of something like a Skoda Superb in corners. However, the steering felt quite nice in the confines of the city.

new hyundai sonata rear view
The Sonata has a spacious & comfortable cabin & Hyundai has equipped the car generously too. Ride quality is comfortable & there will be sufficient performance on hand with the 198bhp GDI motor. It may not be blessed in the dynamics department & may lack the finesse of some of its competitors but assuming Hyundai gets the pricing right, the Sonata will give the Korean carmaker its best shot at regaining lost ground. & since Hyundai will be assembling the Sonata at its Chennai plant, expect the car to be priced at around Rs 21.5 lakh (ex showroom) for this model. If there’s one thing Indians know how to appreciate, it’s value for money, & Hyundai knows that too well.

Kobayashi is fastest as the Barcelona test ends

Kamui Kobayashi put Sauber at the top of the timesheets as Formula 1's second pre season test closed.

The Japanese driver managed a 1m22.312s on Pirelli's soft compound in the final hour of the morning, the fastest time set over all four days in Barcelona.

Having ended the morning fastest, Kobayashi's time came under little threat in the afternoon as teams followed the established pattern of focusing on long runs.

The same was true of Pastor Maldonado, who got within a quarter of a second of Kobayashi in the morning before focusing purely on long runs in the afternoon   in the process racking up 131 laps over the course of the day.

Paul di Resta was the only driver to move up the order in the final session, as a switch to supersoft rubber produced a 1m23.119s   enough to demote Jenson Button & claim third.

Di Resta brought about one of the day's three red flags when he went off into the gravel on the outside of Campsa during the morning. The second & third came in the final 15 minutes, as a result of 'out of fuel' runs for Sauber & McLaren respectively.

McLaren driver Button was the last driver to get within a second of Kobayashi, although the Briton set his fastest time relatively early on in the morning on hard tyres.

Like Button & the three drivers ahead in the timesheets, Felipe Massa's lap chart also broke into triple figures. The Brazilian ended the day fifth fastest in the F2012, & completed several runs of around 13 laps each in the afternoon.

Mark Webber & Jean Eric Vergne both added to their lap counts in the afternoon, but with neither improving their times, stayed sixth & seventh, separated by just 0.018s.

Nico Rosberg achieved 139 laps during the day, second only to Kobayashi, after completing a full race simulation in the morning & several shorter runs in the afternoon.

The German ended the day eighth fastest, ahead of Heikki Kovalainen in the Caterham CT 01.

The Finn's day was interrupted by an electrical problem that forced the team to make an engine change, but he was eventually able to complete 70 laps. His best time came late in the afternoon.

A suspension problem meant Marussia was unable to complete a lap on the final day of testing for its 2011 car; the new MR 01 set to be unveiled in time for the third & final pre season test.

2013 BMW M6 Coupe

Specification Modification Image Review 2013 BMW M6 Coupe
Out of a passion for elite performance and an appreciation of exclusive style comes the allure for which M Automobiles are renowned - and which can now be experienced in two new forms. The new BMW M6 Coupe and BMW M6 Convertible offer top-class performance attributes and an ambience defined by luxury and innovative comfort features. In so doing, the high-performance sports cars developed by BMW M GmbH exude a level of poise and assurance unmatched in the premium segment of the executive class - and reflected authentically in the expressive design of the two models. The precise interplay of their high-revving V8 engine with M TwinPower Turbo technology and 412 kW/560 hp, a seven-speed M Double Clutch Transmission with Drivelogic, Active M Differential, model-specific chassis technology, an ideal weight balance and optimised aerodynamic properties serves up a particularly full-blooded M experience.

The conceptual harmony characteristic of M Automobiles also incorporates the specific features of the two models' body structures. The new BMW M6 Coupe has a dynamically contoured, lightweight roof made from carbon fibre- reinforced plastic. The new BMW M6 Convertible, meanwhile, is fitted with a high-quality soft-top, complete with eye-catching "fin" styling and fully electronic opening mechanism. All of which allows the driver and passengers to enjoy the dynamic performance of a high-performance sports car in harmony with the natural forces of the sun and wind.

As with the previous M6, the new super duper two-doors share almost all mechanical components with BMW's venerable M5 sedan. Power for the new BMW M6 comes from the same drivetrain as the M5: an amped-up version of BMW's S63Tue twin-turbocharged, direct-injection, 4.4-liter V-8. Peak turbo boost of 21.7 psi helps produce 560 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque; the latter delivered in a flat band between 1500 and 5750 rpm. The new mill produces 10 percent more horsepower than the retired 5.0-liter V-10 and is 30 percent more efficient at the same time, BMW says.
A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission transmits that power to the rear wheels, complete with shift paddles on the steering wheel and a launch control mode. BMW claims the M6 coupe will hit 62 mph in 4.2 seconds and the M6 convertible in 4.3 seconds; both are electronically limited to 155 mph.

The four-seat 2013 BMW M6 Coupe and Convertible are both powered by the 4.4 liter high-revving V8 engine with M TwinPower Turbo Technology making 560 hp at 5,750 – 7,000 rpm with a maximum torque of 500 lb-ft (680 Nm) between 1,500 and 5,750 rpm. The rev limiter comes in at 7,200 rpm. Mated to a 7-speed M Double Clutch Transmission with Drivelogic, 0 to 62 mph comes in at 4.2 seconds for the coupe and 4.3 seconds for the convertible. 0 to 124 mph takes just 12.6 seconds for the coupe and 13.1 seconds for the drop-top M6. Top speed on both models is limited to 155 mph.

While the output and performance of the 2013 BMW M6 has been pumped up over its predecessors, the new model consumers roughly 30 percent less fuel due to the introduction of new BMW EfficientDynamics technologies including Brake Energy Regeneration and the Auto Start-Stop function.
The BMW M6 Convertible will hit dealerships in June 2012 as a 2012 model year, while the M6 Coupe will arrive in dealerships in the late summer of 2012 as a 2013 model year. Pricing, EPA fuel-economy ratings, standard and optional equipment will be announced at a later date.,,

Ducati 1199 Panigale review, test ride

 We’ve just stepped off the impressive 1199 Panigale at Abu Dhabi’s sprawling Yas Marina racing facility, where the desert grit is only just settling after successful conclusion of the world launch for this, Ducati’s important new flagship. The Panigale is proudly named after the Italian region that is Ducati home ground, in Bologna, Italy.
The compact, purpose built 1199 looks amongst the most seductive production motorcycles on the planet, its aggressive race-track bred lines and fairing cloaking a bike that pushes the envelope in terms of technology, performance and handling. The sleek 1199 Panigale looks handsome from every angle, it’s taut, fairing skin thoughtfully sculpted with aggressive, flowing lines, and neat detailing. The 1199 rides on darkened, slim spoke alloy rims. Twin silencer boxes exit the fairing belly sides, keeping the motorcycle’s center of gravity close to the deck. The rear cylinder exhaust pipe coils under the split seat, while part of the forward cylinder exhaust pipe peeps through a slit in the fairing. The slim tail-fairing section ends in cleverly hollowed out brake illumination. The Panigale provides all-LED lighting, Ducati typical top drawer grips, switches and levers. Both mirrors are functional, allowing decent rear view.
The 1199 Panigale makes a departure from Ducati’s traditional trellis tubular frame, deploying a monocoque chassis as used on the factory’s MotoGP bike. The engine bolts in as an integral, stressed member of the frame. In the front, adjustable upside down front forks run up to the tastefully cut-out and machined steering clamp, from where the frame reaches to the engine, a massive, alloy single-side swingarm and near horizontal rear suspension.
The 1199 Panigale offers almost every conceivable electronic riding aid, with state-of-the-art Riding Modes controlling the Ducati Traction Control, DTC and ABS brakes. The sporty, full colour, digital instruments are a central command center for this bike, displaying all a rider needs to know, and including Ducati’s latest generation Ducati Data Analyzer, DDA system.
The Panigale 1199 engine is a revolutionary four-stroke, 1198cc, 90 degree L-twin, liquid-cooled engine, named the Superquadro. Radically over-square, bore and stroke measures 112mm x 60.8mm. Power output is an insane on a motorcycle 195bhp delivered at 10750rpm, just under the 11500rpm rev limiter, making this the world’s most powerful twin-cylinder motorcycle engine, with 13.5kgm of peak torque twisted out by the crank at 9000rpm.
Large diameter titanium inlet valves are standard for the Desmodromic valve train, pushed by Polymeric-Like Carbon (PLC) treated, ‘super-finished’ rocker arms.
The camshafts are powered by an unconventional chain and gear drive arrangement, which Ducati found best meet the Superquadro’s demands. The oval throttle body is a massive 67.5mm, and Ride-by-Wire throttle control is standard on this fuel injected motorcycle.
Large diameter gears transmit the 1199’s prodigious power and a wet-type, slipper clutch is standard.
Much of the Superquadro’s engine casing is lightweight magnesium alloy cast. The sturdy, vacuum die-cast crankcases save weight, offering consistent wall thickness and eliminating a joint at the cylinder base otherwise required for the cooling system water-jacket. The Superquadro uses nikasil-coated, aluminium wet-liners inbuilt into its crankcase tops, allowing secure fastening of the cylinder head directly to the crankcase.
We can confirm this Ducati enjoys light clutch-feel at the lever, and the slipper clutch system functions perfectly, never allowing engine deceleration to rob the motorcycle of any stability despite hammering down the gearbox under hard braking. The 1199’s six gears are well spaced, ratios tall enough to allow the powerful new engine to unleash its full potential. Gears shift with a light, crisp and positive feel. The quick shift system works with nothing short of fantastic feedback. Unnatural as this feels, quick up-shifts are perfectly executed under full acceleration by simply pulling up on the gear lever without closing the throttle, or even dabbing the clutch. The clever electronics automatically cut ignition for the fraction taken by the next gear to engage, and takes care of clutching as well. The Panigale twin exhausts sound glorious when giving the bike some whip, loud and bass rich with an exhilarating note that goads you to rev the bike high and hard.    
Ducati’s Riding Modes are available, helping deliver all the 1199’s mega power to the tarmac, appropriately mapping the engine to suit individual riding styles in every riding condition.
The 1199 is a blisteringly quick motorcycle that had us routinely hurtling down the long straight at Yas Marina, effortlessly achieving speeds in the vicinity of 250kph, loads of power in reserve! The front wheel obstinately refused to stay firmly grounded in the first three gears, and it takes a good deal of concentration and expert throttle modulation to keep the bike from lunging into power wheelies until post 200kph. There’s nothing short of fearsome performance on tap at all times, in every gear and this clearly isn’t a bike for the faint hearted. The power band is wide, with cracking throttle response, a seamless surge of brute force beginning from just over idle, reaching all the way up to the limiter and never farther away than a flick of the wrist. The 1199 blasts out of corners with gusto, the L-twin making stressful demands from the rear tyre and putting its traction control system to good use. Four cylinder rival supersports bikes (most suffering a capacity handicap to the 1199) could be hard pressed to match the strong low end grunt of this new Superquadro engine.
The lengthy single side swingarm promotes forward weight distribution on the bantam weight, new 1199. This along with the new frame, optimized chassis geometry and top drawer, ultra sticky Pirelli rubber front and rear (bi-compund, with special profile custom tailored to the Panigale) allow Ducati’s latest superbike to out-handle all its predecessors and match even its most seasoned Japanese rivals. The Panigale isn’t a comfortable motorcycle to pilot, its riding position being outright sporty with a track perfect lean forward into the handlebars that puts significant stress on the rider’s wrists and keeps as much rider weight forward as possible. The steering damped, true clip-on handlebars feel reassuringly wide; always a good thing in our book, more so on a powerful motorcycle like this. The Panigale feels so amazingly light you won’t believe this is a full grown 1198cc motorcycle. It all makes for reassuring handling, and amazing track manners.
The ABS brakes work like a treat, with radial mounted calipers biting into the twin 330mm discs in the front. We never felt the need to use the rear brake at all, throughout all our cautious laps learning a windy Yas Marina circuit, with no more than a couple of fingers squeezing the front brake lever being adequate to effectively bring the Panigale down from 200kph plus speeds.
Set for its Indian debut in no more than a few months from now, the 1199 sits at the enviable pinnacle of its segment with little worthy competition. There’s very few chinks in this fiercely quick motorcycle’s armor and even skilled riders could find it a struggle taking this potent machine close to its full capabilities. Don’t expect comfort though, and don’t buy a Panigale if speed, and massive doses of it, aren’t quite your thing. The 1199 Panigale although makes a perfect machine for Indians on the prowl for a supremely talented track day companion, and it doesn’t get any better than this when speaking top class supersports motorcycles.

Maruti Ertiga preview

The Ertiga uses the Swift parts bin so expect it to be priced competitively, around the Rs 7-9 lakh price bracket.

New Mercedes SL63 AMG revealed

Mercedes-Benz used today’s F1 test session at the Barcelona circuit in Spain as the backdrop for the unveiling of its latest performance car, the Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG.
Set to go on sale in June, the new two seat roadster was revealed before a throng of international press representatives in an uncharacteristic low key presentation in the Barcelona pitlane alongside the German car maker’s new F1 car, the MGP W03, by Mercedes AMG Petronas drivers, Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg.
Building on the developments brought to the standard SL shown at the Detroit motor show back in January, the SL63 AMG is based around a lightweight aluminium and magnesium structure that is claimed to reduce weight by 125kg over its predecessor.
Power comes from AMG’s latest M157 engine. The twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8, already used in the E63, CLS63, S63, CL63 and ML63, has been tuned to deliver 529bhp.
With the reduction in weight, the new car is claimed to possess greater performance than the old SL63, while returning combined fuel consumption savings of up to 30 per cent over the old SL63 AMG.
The new car is differentiated from lesser versions of Mercedes-Benz’s sixth-generation SL through an extensive body kit developed by the head of AMG design Volker Hellwig at the company’s headquarters in Affalterbach, Germany. It’s an aggressive and purposeful looking machine, lacking the elegance and grace of earlier go-fast versions of the German car maker’s up-market roadster.
Hallmark features include a deeper front bumper with larger cooling ducts, AMG-specific LED daytime running lights, a unique double-louvre grille, 'V8 BITURBO' badges along the flanks, widened sills, a subtle boot deck spoiler and an altered rear bumper housing an integral diffuser and four trapezoidal-shaped chromed tailpipes.
As with the last two generations of AMG’s performance roadster, the SL55 AMG and outgoing SL63 AMG, the new one receives an aluminium folding hardtop roof. It retracts back and stows within the top of the boot in 20sec. As with the smaller SLK55 AMG, it is expected to come with Mercedes-Benz’s new automatically tinting Magic Sky Roof as an option.
The 2012 Formula 1 season marks the first time that AMG’s name has been associated with parent company Mercedes-Benz’s F1 program, and it grabbed its first possible opportunity to attempt to link it with its road car business.
Mercedes-Benz plans to release further details, including official performance claims, for the new SL63 AMG tomorrow prior to a planned public unveiling at the Geneva motor show on 6 March.

Review and Test Drive of New Mercedes C220

new mercedes benz c220
‘Face lift’ has grown to be a slightly disliked word at the Zigworks, essentially because of the liberties manufacturers have begun to take just to get their cars back in the public eye. Lightly changed bumpers, the addition of a few vinyls on the body in some cases, & hey presto!, an 'all new' model emerges. so pardon us if we have grown skeptical. If there ever was an exception to this though, it has come in the form of the new C Class, which has forced us to stand up, then sit inside, & take attentive notice.

The tussle between Mercedes Benz & Indian luxury car market leader BMW has now even gone public, but clearly the marque from Stuttgart seems intent on reclaiming its place of prominence very quickly. While the new E Class took the battle into Bimmer territory with improved dynamics & sportier intent, the real boost needed to come from the C Class, which makes up more than half of the company’s sales in the country. The lacklustre interiors of the earlier C however made it feel fairly downmarket, & it was a Rs 30 lakh car that was easy to miss. Not any more though.

new mercedes benz c220 driving
We’ll get to the exteriors later, since you can already see how the car has grown significantly more impressive from the outside in the pictures here. What has transformed the car however is the way it now drives, & the way it feels from the driver’s seat. The C of the past seemed very negligent in terms of the materials, & their use to create a plush design.

The beige interiors were uninspiring, & there were Japanese offerings in the market which could teach the German offering a thing or two about sophistication & packaging. We weren’t quite expecting this to get remedied, so imagine the force with which the car impressed us as we settled into the seats.

It’s all up to good speed when it comes to the interiors now, with a new design that is intelligent, ergonomic & plush. The materials are all sorted, Nappa leather & brushed aluminium making a smart black meets metal theme for the dashboard. The steering wheel gets 12 buttons mounted on it too, which is standard across variants. A whole bunch of cubbyholes all around the cabin make it a more user friendly & feel good space in general.

new mercedes benz c220 in jungle
Get the quiet & refined 2 litre CGI petrol engine running to drive off towards the highway, & the impressions get deeper. This was always a nice engine – silky smooth, high revving & fast – but the same 7 speed G tronic automatic gearbox has been revised to create quicker & smoother shifts, which work well both while driving conservatively for rear bench comfort, or caning the car in Sport Mode.

But here’s what makes the real difference, giving the new C a completely different character – the adaptive suspension that the car now comes standard with. The system adjusts the dampers at each wheel to a harder or softer setting, as the situation demands, ensuring a significantly smoother ride while not losing its composure in corners. Coupled to that gem of an engine, the new C actually makes for a great car to drive hard up broken ghats, & still be driven in over distances in fair silence & sophistication.

new mercedes benz c220 interior and steering
After a quick spin that has the bonnet hot, it is time to look at the car from the outside in detail. The difference in terms of presence is significant, owing mostly to the revised fascia & the panoramic sunroof. Cosmetic revisions on the outside include a chunky new grille, Bi Xenon headlamps, LED daytime running lights, a restyled bumper & new skirts. All of these come together to add some teeth & claws to the C’s appeal, AMG style. The Sport variant even has an option for 18 inch, 7 spoke wheels straight from the AMG skunkworks.

new mercedes benz c220 on terrain
India has always been a country which has held a special place for the three pointed star, & has consequently been a guarded territory for Mercedes Benz. The entry, & now the dominance of its rivals in various segments seems to have incited just the right response from the car maker, & most definitely so when it comes to the new C Class. In its new form, it is a strong performer with style & presence, remains comfortable & sensible, & certainly manages to pamper its occupants. Thumbs up!

Mahindra & Mahindra does not rule out SAAB buyout

As part of its aggressive growth strategy, which includes acquisitions like SsangYong & Reva, Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) could acquire an automobile company that may not be in the SUV space.

Speaking to Autocar India, Pawan Goenka, president – automotive & farm equipment sectors said, “A strategic fit doesn’t mean it has to be an SUV company. A strategic fit may come in different ways like technology, distribution, infrastructure, & assets also”. Goenka was responding to a query on the reported interest of Mahindra & Mahindra in buying bankrupt Swedish car company SAAB.

“The most important thing for us to look at is what would we do that others before us couldn’t do to turnaround a company”, added Goenka. He did not say whether M&M has expressed any interest in buying SAAB or not.

Mahindra & Mahindra will ramp up the XUV 500 production

new mahindra xuv 500 in hills and mountains car
The stronger response to the XUV500 in the 2nd phase of bookings has encouraged Mahindra & Mahindra to contemplate raising the stunning XUV500’s monthly production capacity to 5000 units per month.

The increased capacity should be installed by August & it will entail an additional investment of approximately Rs 100 crore. The initial installed capacity for the XUV500 was 3000 units in a month but with the current level of demand, that is clearly not enough. M&M has received over 25000 bookings in the 2nd booking window for the XUV500 across 19 cities.

Mahindra & Mahindra is also planning a new low cost SUV which the company hopes to launch by Diwali this year.

Porsche's New baby SUV will be called as Macan

Porsche has revealed the name of new baby SUV. It will be called “Macan”. It was earlier referred by a working name “Cajun”. The German carmaker has also released a teaser image of the new Macan.

According to Porsche, the name Macan is derived from the Indonesian word for tiger & combines suppleness, power, fascination & dynamics which will be the core characteristics of this new SUV.  The Macan is part of Porsche’s new model strategy known internally as “Strategy 2018”.

The Macan SUV will be manufactured in Porsche’s Saxony production line in Leipzig, Germany in 2013. This plant is being expanded into a fully fledged production unit including body assembly line & paint shop with an investment of 500 million Euros. This makes it one of the biggest building projects in Porsche’s corporate history. With this expansion, there will be an addition of 1,000 new jobs as well. The Macan will be the 5th model in Porsche line up & will be based on Audi Q5 which is manufactured red at Bratislava.

Porsche describes the Macan as an “entry model” & said it would “attract new & even younger customers to the premium brand along with the Boxster”; such a statement points to a starting price in the same as mid range Q5s. The Cajun’s engine options are likely to start with a four cylinder, turbocharged powerplant & include V6 petrol & diesel engines, plus a hybrid.

Honda has resumed the normal production

honda siel brio plant in Noida
Honda Siel, the arm of Honda Motor Co in India have resumed normal car production after witnessing the lower output since November last year due to Thailand floods that resulted a shortage in supply of components.

Honda has started acquiring the critical components from Japan & China in order to normalize the production at Greater Noida plant. The Japanese manufacturer is aiming to manufacture 370 cars in a day in a 2 shift operation which will increase to 440 cars much soon.

As many as 1500 units of the new updated Honda City have been rolled out of Greater Noida facility. Production of the recently launched Brio hatchback has also resumed while Jazz will start rolling out by end of this February.

Honda motors had stopped the production of new Brio last month due to the shortage in supply of many critical components.

An Updated Ferrari California is coming

new updated at geneva motor show
Ferrari will showcase an updated version of its California droptop at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.

The revised California is now lighter & more powerful. The engine  a 4.3 litre V8 now churns out 483bhp, up by 30bhp thanks to new exhaust manifolds & engine mapping.

Ferrari has built a lighter, more powerful version of the California, & will show off the revised grand tourer at next month’s Geneva motor show. The torque curve has also been modified & is higher across the engine’s rev range, with maximum torque of 51.43kgm at 5000rpm.

The updated car is lighter too as a result of new aluminium fabrication techniques & construction technologies being used in the manufacturing process of the chassis. According to Ferrari, the Califronia’s structural rigidity, is not affected by the weight reduction.

The car’s 0-100kph time is now 3.8sec, about one tenth of a second faster than the previous version.

new updated at geneva motor show
Ferrari has also produced an optional ‘Handling Speciale’ package of modifications for the California. It will feature significant upgrades to steering, dampers & springs in the mould of the HGTE package offered on the 599.

The HS pack will move the easy driving California — which is expanding sales to customers mostly new to Ferrari — into more focused territory closer to Ferrari’s traditional appeal, & has been produced in response to customer demand.

Reprogrammed control software for the California’s magnetorheological dampers & lower friction seals in the dampers will allow the suspension to respond up to 50 per cent faster to bumps.

Ferrari has also tweaked the California’s steering rack to be 10 per cent quicker & beefed up the springs by 15 per cent to improve body control. Together, they should provide a more focused driving experience.

The California will also get new colour options included two tone finishes & three layer paint technology, enabling new levels of personalisation.

Test Drive and Review of New Safari Storme

new tata safari storme at the auto expo
Since Its launch 14 years ago at the 1998 Auto Expo, the Safari has soldiered on pretty much unchanged. Sure it’s had its fair share of upgrades – two engine upgrades, minor facelifts, more equipment – but it’s essentially remained the same under the skin. So, when the covers came off amid much fanfare at the Auto Expo, the first impression was one of huge disappointment. We were all expecting the new Safari to look, well… new. But sadly, the Storme’s looks are nothing more than a face lift, & it’s not a significantly more handsome one at that. More of the same wine, then?

new tata safari storme
Dig deeper though & you will find serious changes. In fact, the underpinnings are all new. The old Safari’s ladder frame chassis has been ditched for a shortened version of the same modern, ladder frame that underpins the Aria (codename: X2). A 200mm reduction from the Aria’s 2850mm wheelbase (the Storme has the identical 2650mm wheelbase of the older Safari) has actually helped in terms of torsional rigidity & weight. The hydroformed chassis of the Storme is 35kg lighter but at the same time a staggering 45 percent stiffer than the old Safari chassis.

new tata safari storme side view
Also improved is the suspension – gone is the old Safari’s torsion beam front end. It’s been replaced by the Aria’s double wishbone & MacPherson struts. Tata has tuned the dampers to suit the Storme’s characteristics. The steering gear is borrowed from the Aria as well & this, along with the 80mm wider track, has helped reduce the Safari’s massive 12m turning circle to a more manageable 10.8m.

new tata safari storme
People who actually head off road will be pleased to know the Storme 4x4 has a separate transfer case with low ratios & a shift on the fly system, like on the old Safari. Tata has wisely chosen not to go with the Aria’s more road biased full time four wheel drive system. Wrapping up the mechanical changes are calibration tweaks to the 2.2 litre DiCOR motor (power & torque are the same as before) to make it more responsive, & modifications to the G76 five speed manual (it is now called the G76 MkII) for better refinement. These improvements were first effected in the Aria & hence are a carry over to the Storme.

new tata safari storme steering and interior
The more obvious changes you can see for yourself. The big, squared off headlights of the old Safari give way to slimmer units housing projector lamps within. Nestled between them is a new, near vertical grey honeycomb grille, which gives the Storme a Land Rover like look. A chrome strip runs above it, livening things up. Completing the front look is the new bumper with a slim air dam which lends it a cleaner, fuss free appearance.

new tata safari storme engine view
However, changes to the front seem out of sync with the rest of the car & when you move to the side you will be hard pressed to notice  the new cladding & wider side footstep. The rear receives its fair share of changes as well. The twin chrome tipped exhausts add a bit of sportiness to the design, aided by the high mounted spoiler. The spare has been relocated to under the floor from the rear door & the door gets a chrome strip & a grey coloured band to liven things up. With all these changes to the design, the Safari retains its recognisable looks, yet appears more grown up, urban oriented & sportier. But, after 14 years, Tata should have given us nothing short of an all new design.

new tata safari storme rear spacing
The cabin however is completely new & quality has been improved as well. Compared to the current car, you could even call the Storme’s cabin plush, & it’s the beige coloured bits that really help in this regard. The plastics are similar in quality to the Aria & even slightly better in places. The new design dash gets a revised centre console with the air conditioner on top & the music system below. However, you only get a single DIN audio system! Why?

new tata safari storme front seating
The interiors too sport a clean look which is minimalist & mature. Fit & finish, which was the Safari’s bane in the past, has improved considerably and, unlike the previous versions which had uneven panel gaps, there is much less of it here. Although there still are a few uneven gaps in some places, the overall quality is at least a couple of notches higher.

Where the Safari excelled, & still does, is in passenger comfort levels. The sofa masquerading as a rear bench is still one of the best in the business at this price. With acres of legroom on offer, it is still a great place to kick back, relax & let the chauffer deal with the traffic. Even if you are the one driving, the firm front seats will keep you just as comfy & are perfect for those long highway drives. High seating affords a brilliant view of the proceedings ahead & looking down at the tiny hatchbacks from a high perch gives you the feeling of being invincible on the road. Making it easier to drive in the city is the steering system which is not overtly hard to turn at parking speeds & also returns more feedback on the move.

 Armed with a new chassis & now boasting a stiffer suspension, the Safari hasn’t lost the plush ride quality that was its hallmark. Its lighter weight & a firmer setup is obvious when taking on corners, with the Storme exhibiting better body control. The high stance & large dimensions mean it still rolls considerably, but it feels more stable.

new tata safari storme engine view
The 2.2 litre DiCOR engine makes the same 140bhp as before, but now feels more responsive. Keep the engine revving above the 1700 1800rpm mark, & you will be rewarded with brisk acceleration – brisk for its size, that is. We will, however, have to wait for a proper road test to find out how much quicker it has become. The gearbox the engine is mated to robs you somewhat of the driving pleasure. It isn’t the slickest or easiest to engage, though throws are relatively short & the clutch is lighter than some other SUVs we have experienced. Slowing down a vehicle of Safari’s size needs considerable braking force & the good news is that the Storme now comes with disc brakes all round & is equipped with ABS. Brake feel though reminds us of having stepped in wet mud. They feel spongy, but the Storme comes to a halt without too much drama.

While it may seem like Tata missed an opportunity in not equipping the Safari as lavishly as the Aria – which gets ESP, climate control & GPS navigation – it would have escalated the price considerably. Not something the buyers would have appreciated.

new tata safari storme at the expo rear view
The Safari started life more than a decade ago & over the years has found lots of loyalists. But with competition in the SUV space ratcheted up several notches with the arrival of the XUV500, is the Storme a case of too little too late? After 14 years, they should have brought out a new Safari, body & all.

What you do get is a more modern car under the old skin. So, if Tata manage to keep the price down because they’ve stuck with the old design, then fair enough. The Safari still has enough appeal in it to be attractive.

Fact File
Price Range (in lakhs)*
Ex-showroom price Rs 9-10 (estimated)
Fuel Diesel
Installation Front, longitudinal
Type 4-cyl, in-line, 2179cc, common-rail, turbo diesel
Bore/stroke 85.0/96.0mm
Power 140bhp at 4000rpm
Torque 32.63kgm at 1700-2700rpm
Gearbox 5-speed manual
Length 4650mm
Width 1965mm
Height 1922mm
Wheel base 2650mm
Ground clearance 200mm
Chassis & Body
Tyres 235/70-R16
Front Independent, double wishbone, coil springs
Rear non-independent, 5-link with coil springs
Front Ventilated discs
Rear discs

Review and Test Drive of new Toyota Camry

new toyota camry
In the global scheme of things, the Camry is one of Toyota’s best selling models. It is seen as a sensible family car that is built to last an eternity. However, in India the Camry sells for its size & luxurious appeal. While the Toyota badge is a big draw for many, the lack of a diesel engine has always been the car’s Achilles’ heel. Moreover, being a CBU import, Camry prices have only risen over the years. Little wonder that Toyota has been unable to replicate the Camry’s global success here in India.

While a diesel engine would have immediately brought the Camry back into contention, the fact is Toyota simply doesn’t have the right engine for the job. So if the Camry is to sell with only a petrol engine, it had better cost less. & that is just what Toyota plans to do – reduce the price of the car by assembling it in India. It’s the car that you see on these pages that will be put on sale soon & we recently got to sample it on the outskirts of Delhi.

One glance at the new Camry & it instantly looks bigger & more substantial than the current car, despite the dimensions remaining pretty much the same. Toyota says every single bit of sheet metal is new & more than 90 percent of the parts have been reworked. So, in essence, the car is brand new, but the inescapable fact is it’s based on the same basic platform. Still, the car looks quite attractive & somewhat like a mini Lexus thanks to the angular headlights & big chrome grille. There is also a nice bulge on the bonnet that adds some character to frontal styling. View the Camry from the side & its upward sweeping beltline will catch your attention. The angular tail section is in keeping with modern design trends.

The resemblance to its Lexus brethren carries on in the cabin as well. The interiors are luxuriously appointed with a generous dose of faux wood & leather to have PETA go up in arms. Quality is improved from the earlier Camry but still not near the class benchmark.

new toyota camry interior view
The front seats are fully electrically adjustable to get that perfect driving position. What most owners though will be more interested in the rear seats which, we are happy to report, are exemplary in terms of thigh & back support. There is more space now & the neat thing is that the front passenger seat can be moved forward using buttons on the seat back. The buttons are within easy reach of the driver so that the fat cat in the back doesn’t have to move a muscle.

The Camry comes with a four-cylinder 2.5 litre petrol motor featuring Dual VVT-i & its 178bhp output is 11bhp up on the previous 2.4 litre unit. It’s matched to a six-speed automatic gearbox & we don’t expect a manual transmission to be offered when it is launched.

new toyota camry rear view
Push the start button & the motor fires up & settles into a barely audible idle. The engine is silky smooth & builds up revs effortlessly. Floor it & the box shifts down after a bit of contemplation & won’t shift up till the redline is reached at 6200rpm. There is also a manual triptronic mode if you want to play boy racer. If only it was in a sportier body; the luxury liner dimensions  of the Camry can’t be expected to handle like a speedboat, & it doesn’t. The Camry felt a bit firmer than before and, though it rolls when cornered, it feels under control & isn’t disconcerting. The steering is also a bit too light & lacks feel, especially at high speeds. The suspension flattens the minor bumps & absorbs broken tarmac, but the car we
drove came with 17-inch wheels, & a switch to 16 inchers & higher profile tyres should further improve the ride, which is not bad to begin with.

While it has never been the fastest or the best handling car in its segment, it is comfortable, luxurious & spacious. When it goes on sale later this year, it should be priced much closer to the competition thanks to CKD assembly, & Toyota has used its arch rival, the Honda Accord, as a benchmark. This may just be the real beginning of the India chapter in the success story that is the Toyota Camry.

Fact File
Price Range (in lakhs)*
Ex-showroom price Rs 23 lakh (est), (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Fuel Petrol
Installation Front, transverse
Type 4 cyls, in-line, 2494cc
Power 178bhp at 6000rpm
Torque 23.5kgm at 4100rpm
Gearbox 6-speed, automatic
Length 4825mm
Width 1825mm
Height 1480mm
Wheel base 2775mm
Chassis & Body
Weight 1510-1540kg
Tyres 215/55 R17
Front Ventilated discs
Rear discs

The new M6 unvieled by BMW

BMW has achieved supercar levels of performance with its new 552bhp M6 coupé & convertible. The two are BMW’s fastest ever two door road cars, with a top speed of nearly 305kph. They’re powered by a twin turbocharged 4.4 litre V8. The new M6 coupe will debut at next month’s Geneva motor show & the cabriolet will be revealed at the New York motor show in April this year.

The latest M6 coupé & convertible are closely related to the recently introduced M5 saloon, sharing its potent twin turbocharged 4.4 litre V8 petrol engine & seven speed, dual clutch gearbox. With 552bhp & 69.4kgm of torque, the engine develops 52bhp & 16.8kgm of torque more than the naturally aspirated 5.0 litre V10 of the previous generation M6.

It has sufficient reserves, says BMW, to compensate for the increase in kerb weight to 1850kg (the previous M6 coupé weighed 1710kg) & to propel the fixed head car from a standstill to 100kph in 4.2sec & to 200kph in 12.6sec

Drive is channelled to the rear wheels via M division’s active differential, as on the M5. In standard form, the M6 reaches a top speed limited to 250kph — or 305kph with the optional M Driver’s Package.

The performance of the new 1980kg M6 convertible (50kg heavier than before) is no less impressive. It posts official times of 4.3sec for 0-100kph & 13.1sec for 0-200kph, together with the same top speed as the coupé.

Exterior changes compared with a regular 6 series are largely functional & aimed, for the most part, at providing sufficient cooling air for the engine. They include a deep front spoiler, widened front wings, a unique front grille, a prominent diffuser, signature quad exhausts & 19in alloy wheels shod with 265/40 R19 tyres at the front & 295/35 R19s at the rear.

BMW has implemented a series of weight saving measures designed to offset the M6’s increased dimensions, higher standard equipment levels & more substantial rear seats. These include a clear lacquered CFRP (carbonfibre reinforced plastic) roof for the M6 coupé, together with aluminium skinned doors & bonnet, composite plastic front wings & a glassfibre composite boot lid for both models.

Underpinning the new M6s is a heavily reworked version of the standard 6 series’ double wishbone (front) & multi link (rear) suspension, with track widths shared with the M5 saloon & unique dampers, springs & bushing.

Among a raft of standard electronic driving aids are uniquely calibrated ABS (anti lock brakes), DSC (dynamic stability control) ASC (anti skid control), CBC (cornering brake control), DBC (dynamic brake control) & DBF (dry braking function) systems.

For the first time on the M6, BMW is also offering the new coupé & convertible with optional carbon ceramic brake discs. Available in combination with optional 20in wheels, the carbon ceramic discs measure 410mm up front & 396mm at the rear & are claimed to weigh 19.4kg less in total than the standard steel items, for significantly lower unsprung masses. The new carbon-ceramic brakes are distinguished by six-piston & single-piston floating calipers painted gold.
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