Weekend Warrior

Psst! Weekend Warrior isn't really his name. Chirag is an automotive journalist for TurboZens, one of the fastest growing autoblogs in India. if you can't find him tearing up clubs (his backyard) every weekend, you can always try Google+

Face Off: Hyundai Creta vs Renault Duster

Hyundai is notoriously good at launching disruptive products into the market. The Elite i20, Verna, Grand i10 and Eon have allowed the South Korean car maker to completely dominate the Indian market. Hyundai seeks to do it again with the all new Creta. Set for a launch later this month, the Creta will enter the compact SUV/crossover segment, a section of the car market that was popularized by the Renault Duster here in India. Still the largest selling crossover in the country, the Duster has failed to give up its crown for over three years. In this face-off we pit the upcoming Hyundai Creta against the undisputed champ to see if the Duster still manages to hold its ground.

Design:

Hyundai Creta:

The Hyundai Creta is a derivative of the full-size Santa Fe SUV. Save for a few differences, the Creta is almost identical to its bigger brother. The aggressively styled headlights, all chrome front grille and LED DRLs make for an impressive exterior and endow the Hyundai SUV with a strong road presence.

front view of hyundai creta
The Creta has a strong road presence

Renault Duster:

Unlike most car makers that have opted to go for sleek, contemporary design language, Renault has gone old-school with the Duster. The SUV’s boxy exterior is a far cry from the dynamic, sporty nature of its rivals. Nevertheless, the large chrome grille, flared wheel arches and prominent Renault badge endows the Duster with a butch character that is unique in its segment.

Renault Duster
The Renault Duster

However, over the course of its lifetime, Renault has made virtually no changes at all to the car’s design and the Duster has begun to age.

Winner: Hyundai Creta

Interior:

Hyundai Creta:

Similar to all Hyundai models, the Creta too comes with an impressive cabin. The combination of beige and black ensures occupants do not feel too claustrophobic. The center console is graced with a large 7 inch touchscreen entertainment system that comes with satellite navigation, Bluetooth telephony and the conventional connectivity options such as CD, AUX, USB and iPod.

hyundai creta suv interiors
Official images of the upcoming Creta have not been released

Renault Duster:

The interior of the Renault Duster is a very ordinary affair. The crossover comes equipped with a 2DIN entertainment system that features CD, AUX IN, Bluetooth connectivity andAside from the silver surround for the center console and A/C vents, the Duster presents a rather uninteresting cabin.

Interiors of the Duster
Interiors of the Duster

Winner: Hyundai Creta

 

Under the Bonnet:

Hyundai Creta:

Hyundai will offer Creta with a sole petrol engine and a pair of diesel engines. The petrol engine on offer will be a 1.6 l four cylinder mill currently in use on the Verna. The CVVT petrol engine churns out 125 hp @ 6300 RPM and 151 Nm of torque at 4200 RPM. The Hyundai Creta diesel lineup includes a 1.4 l unit and a more powerful 1.6 l engine. The 1.4 l oil burner churns out 89 hp and 220 Nm of torque. The 1.6 l motor produces 131 hp and 260 Nm of torque.

The petrol engine is mated to a 6 speed manual transmission while the diesel variants are offered with either a six speed manual or a speed auto’box. Hyundai will not launch a four-wheel drive variant of the Creta crossover.

Renault Duster:

The Renault Duster is offered with only two engines. The petrol powered Duster houses a 1.6 l engine that produces 102 bhp @ 5850 RPM and 145 Nm of torque @ 3750 RPM. Renault’s 1.5 l DCi unit is offered in two states of tune. Lower variants of the diesel Duster churn out 84 bhp @ 3750 RPM and 200 Nm @ 1900 RPM while higher variants produce 108 bhp @ 3900 RPM and 248 Nm @ 2250 RPM.

Renault is the only car maker that offers a four-wheel drive variant of its crossover here in India making the Duster a viable option for true off-road enthusiasts.

Verdict:

The Renault Duster was initially introduced as a lifestyle vehicle. The French automaker targeted a sector of the Indian buyer base that was looking for a status symbol to be seen within the city. Here in India, the vehicle that acts as this status symbol is an SUV. As a result, the low cost of the Duster and its SUV characteristics helped catapult the automaker into the big leagues.

Soon after however, Renault also launched the 4×4 variant of the Duster, an SUV that can truly go off the beaten path. The Hyundai Creta serves as a city vehicle and only a city vehicle. Although the South Korean crossover provides far more in terms of design and features, the Duster caters to a group of individuals that can explore the full potential of an all wheel drive vehicle.

Face Off: 2015 Honda Jazz vs Fiat Punto Evo

The Honda Jazz’s first outing in the Indian market proved unsuccessful due to the hatch’s absurdly high price tag and lack of diesel engine. However, Honda has resurrected the Jazz and this time the Japanese automaker hopes to demolish its competition with its attractive price tag, zany styling and powerful engines. We pit the new Jazz against the Fiat Punto Evo and see whether the Japanese hatch has what it takes.

Design:

2015 Honda Jazz:

Honda cars have always had a wide appeal here in India. The car maker’s engineering prowess and aggressive design language had generated a huge fan base in the country. However, in an attempt to catch up to rivals such as Hyundai and Maruti, Honda slowly sacrificed what it stood for. An unfortunate consequence of competing in the ruthless arena that is the Indian car market. With the Jazz however, Honda has gone back to its roots. Combining aggressive styling with peppy color options, the Jazz is quite an interesting little hatchback. The wrap-around headlights, sharp cuts across its doors, LED tailights and stylish alloys manifest into a road presence unrivaled in its class.

rear 2015 Honda Jazz
Rear View of the Honda Jazz

Fiat Punto Evo:

The Punto Evo is another consequence of striving to stay relevant in the ultra-competitive Indian car industry. Fiat has ditched the Punto’s classic looks for a more in-your-face approach. Key changes from the previous generation include new “reindeer” headlights, clear lamp talilights, revised grille and new alloys. The Italian car maker has made generous use of chrome in an effort to increase its upmarket appeal. Chrome finds its way on the grille, front fog lamp enclosures, rear fog lamp enclosure as well as the door handles. Although chrome does improve the overall premium feel of a car, Fiat’s overuse of chrome has diminished the car’s aesthetics.

2014 fiat punto facelift
The All New Fiat Punto Evo

Winner: Honda Jazz

Interior:

2015 Honda Jazz:

The interior of the Jazz borrows heavily from the City. The new Jazz features the same upmarket touchscreen infotainment system and touch sensitive A/C controls that is mounted on the piano black finish center console. Honda has also fitted the new Jazz with steering mounted audio controls; an attribute that is fast becoming the standard in this segment.

2015 Honda Jazz cabin
Dashboard of the all new Honda Jazz

Fiat Punto Evo:

The new Punto Evo also features a sporty all black interior. Unlike the hatchback’s exterior, Fiat has managed to provide a rather tastefully designed cabin for the occupants of the Evo. The amber hue that decorates the car’s instrument cluster and center console melds harmoniously with the various shades of black found around the cabin. The inclusion of an ambient lighting system greatly increases the overall premium feel of the new Punto.

2014 fiat punto evo cabin
Interior of the Punto Evo

Although the Punto’s cabin emanates a certain charm unlike any in its segment, the dated entertainment system and poor quality plastics allows the Jazz to get ahead in this section as well.

Winner: Honda Jazz

Under the Hood:

2015 Honda Jazz:

Few rival Honda in the field of engineering. If the manufacturer isn’t developing engines for F1 teams or its road cars, its team of engineers are showcasing their capabilities in the field of artificial intelligence. The 2015 Honda Jazz is offered in both petrol and diesel avatars. The petrol powered Jazz houses the familiar 1.2 l i-VTEC engine that churns out 87 hp @ 6000 RPM and 110 Nm of torque @ 4800 RPM while the diesel variant is powered by the all new 1.5 l i-DTEC motor that produces a whopping 98 hp @ 3600 RPM and 200 Nm @ 1750 RPM. While the petrol variant can be purchased with either a 5 speed manual or a CVT automatic, the diesel Jazz is offered with only a six speed manual transmission.

2015 Honda Jazz
The 2015 Honda Jazz

Fiat Punto Evo:

The Fiat Punto Evo offers the widest range of engines in this segment. The 2014 Punto Evo is offered in four different engine configurations. Base variants of the petrol Punto Evo are powered by a 1.2 l engine that puts out 67 hp @ 6000 RPM and 96 Nm @ 2500 RPM. The more powerful petrol mill on offer is the 1.4 l unit that churns out 89 hp @ 6000 RPM and a peak torque of 115 Nm @ 4500 RPM.Diesel options include a single 1.3 l Multi-Jet engine available in two states of tune. Lower models produce 75 hp @ 4000 RPM and 197 Nm of peak torque @ 1750 RPM while the top end diesel variant manages to push out 90 hp @ 4000 RPM and 209 Nm @ 2000 RPM.

All engines are mated to a five speed manual gearbox.

2014 fiat punto rear
Engine Options Remain The Same in The New Punto

Winner: Honda Jazz

Verdict:

The Honda Jazz is simply the better package. Until Fiat introduces the next big facelift, the Punto Evo will remain outdated.

Face Off: Hyundai Creta vs Ford EcoSport

hyundai creta suv interiors

The compact SUV segment has seen phenomenal growth over the past two years. With huge profits raked in by the Duster and EcoSport for its respective car makers, other manufacturers are slowly jumping the bandwagon. Hyundai’s entry into the compact SUV segment of the Indian market will be the Creta.

Although Hyundai is yet to launch the Creta, the South Korean car maker’s SUV has already been on sale in many parts of the world for quite sometime now. We take a look at what the Hyundai Creta has to offer against the Ford EcoSport, one of the most popular cars of the segment.

Design:

Hyundai Creta:

The Hyundai Creta borrows heavily from its bigger brother, the Santa Fe. The South Korean SUV’s aerodynamic profile, aggressive headlight design and 17 inch diamond cut alloys all add to its upmarket feel. Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture design philosophy has done wonders to its SUVs. While past models were awkward and ungainly in size and posture, its new off-roaders including the Creta are far more appealing.

front view of hyundai creta
The Hyundai Creta’s top end variant comes with diamond cut alloys

Ford EcoSport:

While many consider the EocSport to be quite a formidable SUV, its rather stubby wheels, short, fat stature do not add to the American SUV’s aesthetic appeal. The EcoSport SUV’s exterior may be striking, however, it is in no way the prettiest car in its segment.

ford ecosport
The Ford EcoSport

Winner: Hyundai Creta

Interior:

Hyundai Creta:

Hyundai’s strictly adheres to its Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design philosophy. The Creta’s cabin is based off the same design language and once again borrows heavily from its elder sibling. The second iteration of the car maker’s design language brings order to the mix. Although the Creta’s interior is a stunning mix of sharp cuts and curves, it also emanates an aura of structure that provides restraint and a bit of sophistication. The inclusion of a media-nav system and a touchscreen display makes the Creta one of the best equipped cars in this segment.

hyundai creta suv interiors
Official sketches of the upcoming Creta SUV

Ford EcoSport:

Ford’s strategy with the EocSport was to provide the most pocket friendly SUV out there. As a result, compromises had to be made. Although Ford’s infotainment system packs some impressive features, the small monochrome display and the rather difficult to reach button layout is quite inconvenient for the driver to control the settings. The sub 4m requirement has also resulted in a small cabin.

ford ecosport dashboard
Dashboard of the Ford EcoSport

Winner: Hyundai Creta

Engine:

Hyundai Creta:

The Hyundai Creta will be offered with three engines. Petrol variants of the Creta will be powered by a 1.6 l four cylinder engine that churns out 122 hp. The SUV’s diesel engine lineup include a 1.4 l and a more powerful 1.6 l engine. The 1.4 l oil burner produces 89 hp while the 1.6 l diesel mill puts out an impressive 127 hp. The 1.6 l diesel variant will be offered with both manual and automatic while the other two engines are offered in manual format only.

 

rear view of white hyundai creta
The Creta will be offered in manual and automatic formats

Ford EcoSport:

One of the biggest selling points of the EcoSport was its 1.0 l EcoBoost petrol engine. Producing an impressive 123 hp @ 6000 RPM and 170 Nm of torque at 1400 RPM, the 1.0 l EcoBoost engine is one of Ford’s most technologically advanced engines it has ever created. Ford also offers the EcoSport with a 1.5 l petrol and 1.5 l TDCi diesel mill. The 1.5 l Ti-VCT petrol mill churns out 109 bhp @ 6300 RPM and a peak torque of 140 Nm @ 4400 RPM while its diesel equivalent produces 89 bhp @ 3750 RPM and 204 Nm of torque @ 2000 RPM.

orange ford ecosport
Although the EcoSport May Be Marketed As A Capable Off Roader, the compact crossover lacks an AWD option

Winner: Draw

 

Verdict:

Although the Ford EcoSport was touted to be a game changer back in 2013, the lack of supply to meet the immense demand dealt a huge blow to the car’s sales figures. Despite the manufacturer did putting its Chennai plant into full swing to make up for lost time, the damage had already been done.

With the Creta, Hyundai ups the ante once more. Hopefully the South Korean car maker will not make the same mistakes its American rival committed and will prepare its manufacturing and assembly plants well in advance for the onslaught of bookings.

Face Off: 2015 Honda Jazz vs Hyundai Elite i20

honda jazz front

Japanese automotive heavyweight Honda has finally made its big comeback into the premium hatchback segment here in India. Honda hits the hatchback market with its eagerly awaited next gen Jazz. The first generation Jazz performed quite poorly in India thanks to its exorbitant price tag and the lack of a diesel engine. This time however, Honda has increased localization levels and introduced its all new i-DTEC EarthDreams diesel engine that is already in use in the Amaze, Mobilio and City.

We take a look at how the new Japanese hatch fares against one of the biggest selling cars in India – the Hyundai Elite i20.

Design:

Honda Jazz:

The new Honda Jazz sports an interesting design. While Hyundai has adopted a restrained and sophisticated exterior for the Elite i20, the 2016 Honda Jazz gives the impression of being the life of a party. The laid-back design, zany color options and the name itself produces an aura of vivacity around the Japanese hatchback. Unlike the Mobilio, City and Brio, Honda has opted to drop the unnecessary all chrome grille and replaced it with a simple black plastic unit that is complemented by a simple silver line that runs from end to end, a welcome change in design. The overall silhouette of the Jazz is a cross between a large hatchback and a compact MPV. The body style has allowed for Honda to pack in oodles of interior space.

honda jazz front three quarter
The Honda Jazz’s smart layout allows for maximum interior space

Hyundai Elite i20:

Hyundai’s Elite i20 is graced with the South Korean car maker’s all new Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design philosophy. While the design language’s first iteration focused on striking looks, version 2.0 seeks to polish itself to add a touch of refinement and class to Hyundai’s range. The hexagonal grille, headlight design and beautiful rear end all meld together to form a shell that appeals to both the executive class as well as the youth.

2014 red Hyundai Elite i20
The 2014 Hyundai Elite i20

The design of both cars can only be described as outstanding and it all boils down to a matter of preference.

Winner: Draw

 

Interior:

Honda Jazz:

Honda’s high levels of localization has allowed the manufacturer to cram as many features as possible without bumping the price up. Similar to the City, the new Jazz features a fully loaded touch screen infotainment system with satellite navigation and standard connectivity options such as Bluetooth, AUX and USB input. Similar to the The dashboard features the typical asymmetric Honda design that is driver-centric allowing for the driver to easily reach the necessary buttons and knobs.

Hyundai Elite i20:

Similar to its exterior, the Hyundai Elite i20’s interior is uncluttered and classy. Unlike the previous model that featured an all black cabin, the new Elite i20 features a combination of beige and black to provide a less claustrophobic cabin. However, with its main competition migrating from a conventional music system to a fully loaded touchscreen infotainment system, the Hyundai may feel slightly dated to some.

Interiors of the Hyundai Elite i20
The Elite i20 makes use of a combination of beige and black plastics to provide an airy feel to the cabin

Winner: Honda Jazz

 

Engine:

Honda Jazz:

Although Honda cars may not be as popular as they once were back in the early 2000’s, the manufacturer’s engineering prowess has not diminished. The 2015 Honda Jazz’s engine lineup is a testament to that statement. Powering the petrol variants of the Japanese hatch is the manufacturer’s 1.2 l i-VTEC engine that churns out 90 PS and 110 Nm of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a 5 speed manual or CVT gearbox.

maroon honda jazz
The 2015 Honda Jazz offers both petrol and diesel this time

The Honda Jazz’s diesel engine may be one its most interesting selling points. The Japanese car maker has fitted the hatch with the very same oil burner found on the City, Mobilio and Amaze without any changes to the performance numbers. As a result, the Jazz provides a whopping 100 PS and 200 Nm of torque, the best in its segment. The 1.5 l i-DTEC engine is mated to a six speed manual and manages an impressive fuel economy of 27.3 km/l.

Hyundai Elite i20:

Hyundai has not made any mechanical changes to the new i20. As such, the South Korean hatchback is still powered by the 1.2 l petrol and the 1.4 l CRDI diesel engines. The 1.2 l petrol mill produces 82 hp @ 6000 RPM and 115 Nm of torque. The CRDI unit churns out 89 hp and 220 Nm of torque.

drive new 2014 i20
The Elite i20 could use a more poweful engine

Winner: Honda Jazz

 

Verdict:

The second gen Honda Jazz has been eagerly awaited by car fans. The peppy styling, powerful engine and feature loaded interior will make the Jazz one of the hottest selling cars in this segment. Honda’s revival in the Indian market has begun full swing.

honda jazz front
The Honda Jazz is the winner

Face Off: Renault KWID vs Hyundai Eon

Front view of the Renault KWID

The budget hatchback segment has not seen too many models off late. Although the Maruti Alto was the segment leader, the Hyundai Eon quickly displaced the Japanese auto giant from the top spot. With the Eon’s rampant success, no manufacturer has dared to enter this price bracket for quite some time now. French automaker Renault has finally decided to step up and take on the South Korean manufacturer.

The KWID is Renault’s answer to the hugely successful Eon. How well does it fare against the Hyundai Eon? We find out.

Design:

Hyundai Eon:

The Hyundai Eon was one of the earliest models in the South Korean manufacturer’s range to don the Fluidic Design philosophy. As we have mentioned time and and time again, Hyundai’s latest design language is one of the best in the auto industry. With the launch of the Fluidic Verna and i20, Hyundai gained an immense fan following here in India and soon displaced Maruti Suzuki from some segments of the market.

front of the Hyundai Eon
Front View of the Eon Hatchback from Hyundai

The Eon is a quite the eyeball grabber with its aggressively styled headlights, sharp angles and bright color options. With the Eon, Hyundai proved that great design need not come with an exorbitant price tag. However, the Eon has been around for quite sometime and its charm has slowly started to wear off.

Renault KWID:

Renault proposed an interesting twist to the formula for an entry level hatchback with the KWID. With the SUV and crossover fever showing no signs of subsiding any time soon, Renault has taken the advantage to bring out an SUV crossover in the budget segment of the market. The KWID’s high ground clearance, heavy duty plastic cladding, flared wheel arches and muscular lines infuses the little French hatch with a bit of SUV DNA. A refreshingly different approach to a segment populated by orthodox body structures.

Front view of the Renault KWID
Front view of the Renault KWID

Winner: Renault KWID

 

Interior:

Hyundai Eon:

The interiors of the Hyundai Eon is absolutely stunning. However, the beautiful interiors come at a cost. Although the Eon offers quality, it compromises on space. Tall passengers may feel slightly uncomfortable at the back and the fixed headrests may not be to everyone’s liking.

Interiors of the Hyundai Eon
The interiors continue the implementation of the Fluidic Sculpture design philosophy

Renault KWID:

Hyundai set an all new benchmark in terms of design and quality with the Eon’s interiors. Although Maruti Suzuki did introduce a minor facelift of the Alto to compete with the South Korean hatch, it failed to garner the same level of praise as its competitor. Renault understands that good interiors are important and managed to provide the KWID with an impressive cabin. Although not as radical as the Eon’s interiors, the KWID’s cabin is a mature blend of minimalism and style. The sporty three spoke steering wheel, quirky air vent design and the fully-digitized instrument cluster add to the charm of the car. The KWID also features an infotainment system that comes with a 7 inch screen. A first for this segment.

Winner: Renault KWID

Engine:

Hyundai Eon:

Hyundai offers three engine options for the Eon. The LPG and 800 cc engine provide the same power output of 55 hp at 5500 RPM and peak torque of 75 Nm at 4000 RPM while the more powerful 1.0 l variant churns out 68 hp @ 6200 RPM and 94 Nm of torque at 3500 RPM. All engines are mated to a 5 speed manual gearbox.

rear hyundai eon in white
The Hyundai Eon is powered by an 800 cc three cylinder petrol engine

Renault KWID:

Renault has not released any details about the KWID’s engine specs. However, if rumors are to be believed then the budget hatch will house an three cylinder 800 cc engine that produces around 57 hp and 90 Nm of torque.

renault kwid rear view
The KWID is also powered by an 800 cc engine however, Renault’s three cylinder petrol mill is expected to produce slightly more power

Although Renault is yet to fully release the KWID’s drivetrain details, it is unlikely that the manufacturer will introduce a 1.0 l engine in the hatchback’s lineup.

Winner: Hyundai Eon

 

Verdict:

The Hyundai Eon proved what could be of budget hatchbacks. The South Korean car maker may have been the first to introduce premium features in this segment however, Renault has taken it one step further with its KWID hatch. Offering more creature comforts than any other car in its range and the interesting design makes the Renault KWID a guaranteed winner.

Face Off: Honda Mobilio vs Renault Lodgy

2015 Renault Lodgy front

The MPV segment is no longer the small, largely unpopulated section of the Indian car market. The massive success of the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga breathed new life into the stagnating MPV segment. This new class of vehicles, dubbed compact MPVs offered the space and comfort of conventional SUVs without the high price tags. As a result, customers swarmed in numbers at the prospect of owning a car that could double up as a family vacation getaway vehicle.

Here in India, the compact MPV segment is currently led by the recently launched Honda Mobilio. The car’s stylish exterior and its revered Japanese background helped displace Maruti Suzuki from the top spot. With the massive success garnered by Honda’s first foray into this segment, French manufacturer Renault has also introduced its own Lodgy MPV from the Indian market. Extremely popular overseas, the Lodgy hopes to loosen the strong foothold held by the Japanese here in India.

Design:

Honda Mobilio:

Honda offers the Mobilio with an unconventional set of variants. Aside from the regular petrol and diesel models, the Japanese automaker also offers a diesel only RS version that adds tastefully done cosmetic changes. We take a look at what the range topping RS version has to offer in terms of aesthetics.

2014 honda mobilio rs
The Honda Mobilio in its RS trim is one of the most stylish MPVs currently in the Indian market

The Mobilio RS sports projector headlights with LEDs, high end alloy wheels, tailgate spoiler and generous bits of chrome all around. The RS variant massively improves on the MPV’s aesthetics.

Renault Lodgy:

The Renault adopts a radically different design philosophy as compared to the Mobilio. While the Mobilio features signature Japanese styling that greatly appeals to the youth, the Lodgy adopts a far more neutral styling approach that is not targeted at any specific . The only defining characteristics of the French MPV are the large Renault Badge and a three strip chrome grille.

2015 Renault Lodgy front
The Renault Lodgy could have used better styling

Winner: Honda Mobilio RS

Interior:

Honda Mobilio:

The Mobilio’s dashboard is quite minimal. The signature asymmetric layout and analogue dials for the air conditioning may not be to everyone’s liking. However, what the Honda MPV lacks in terms of creature comforts, it more than makes up for in terms of space. The MPV offers more space than any of its competitors by significantly reducing the thickness of each passenger seat’s back support. While this increases interior space, the comfort is sure to have been compromised.

honda mobilio interior
The Honda Mobilio offers oodles of interior space

Renault Lodgy:

Renault offers a rather premium interior for the Lodgy MPV. Diamond quilted leather seats, adjustable headrests for all passengers, touchscreen infotainment system and arm rests for the front and middle passenger rows add to the upmarket feel of the French MPV. The Lodgy’s beige and chocolate brown color scheme that may not go with every paint job on offer.

2015 Renault Lodgy cabin
Renault has endowed the Lodgy MPV with upmarket interiors

Compared to the Honda Mobilio, the Renault Lodgy offers a far more upmarket feel in terms of interiors. The feature loaded center console, symmetric dashboard and thicker backrests are sure to provide a far more comfortable ride experience.

Winner:  Renault Lodgy

 

Engine:

Honda Mobilio:

The Japanese car maker offers the Mobilio is both petrol and diesel versions. Honda has fitted the diesel variant with an engine from its all new i-DTEC series of engines. The 1.5 l diesel mill seen earlier on the Amaze and City produces 99 hp at 3600 RPM and a peak torque of 200 Nm @ 1750 RPM. Power is sent to the front wheels via a 5 speed manual gearbox.

The petrol variant is powered by the manufacturer’s 1.5 l i-VTEC engine that produces 117 hp @ 6600 RPM and 145 Nm torque @ 4600 RPM. Honda has also paired the petrol Mobilio with a 5 speed manual ‘box. Sadly however, Honda has not released any news of an automatic variant.

Renault Lodgy:

While the Honda Mobilio caters to both the petrol and diesel customer base, Renault has opted to focus only on the diesel MPV market with the Lodgy. All variants of the Lodgy MPV are powered by a 1.5 l dCi unit. However, to allow for a wider price range across its models, the French car manufacturer offers the diesel in two states of tune. Lower variants produce 84 bhp @ 3750 RPM and 200 Nm of torque at 1900 RPM while the more expensive variants produce 108 hp @4000 RPM and a peak torque of 245 Nm at 1750 RPM. The 84 hp variant is paired with a 5 speed manual while the more powerful model is paired with a 6 speed manual.

Honda has always been known for its engineering ingenuity and the Mobilio is no exception. Although the Japanese automaker has created the Mobilio MPV with parts borrowed from other cars in its lineup, the combination works beautifully. Renault’s lack of petrol engine may prove fatal in the long run.

Winner: Honda Mobilio

Verdict:

The face off ends in a draw. The Honda Mobilio and Renault Lodgy complement each other. What one lacks, the other has. While the Lodgy isn’t the most stylish option in this segment, it offers more creature comforts than its Honda counterpart. At the same time, the Lodgy could have used more versatile engine options to service a wider audience.

Face Off: Audi A3 vs Mercedes Benz CLA Class

2014 Mercedes Benz CLA Class front three quarter

Audi’s entry level sedan, the A3 had no direct competitors here in India during the time of its launch. Mercedes Benz, not one to allow its rival to establish a monopoly, has recently unveiled the stunning CLA-Class for the domestic market. The understated Audi takes on the unapologetically  brash CLA-Class. Who wins? We find out.

Design:

Audi A3:

Audi’s range has always been about understatement and the A3 is no exception. The A3, as with the rest of the automaker’s range features the brand’s signature trapezoidal grille and LED DRLs. The A3 will no doubt be mistaken for its bigger brother the A4 quite often. However, while the current gen A4 is rather drab and far too clinical, the German car maker has endowed the baby sedan with a little bit of flair. As a result, the A3 pulls off an impressive blend of style and sophistication. With the launch of the new cabriolet model, the A3 gets a bit of zest that is so hard to find from the German car maker.

white 2014 audi a3
The New Audi A3

Mercedes Benz CLA-Class:

The CLA-Class adopts a completely different route than its Audi rival. With its seductive curves, coupe like body and stunning headlight design, the CLA is an absolute showstopper. While many may not agree with Mercedes Benz’s latest design philosophy, the CLA’s scintillating body will surely appeal to a younger buyers base, the section of the market that this car was designed for.

2014 Mercedes Benz CLA Class front three quarter
The Mercedes Benz CLA-Class

Winner: Mercedes Benz CLA-Class

 

Interior:

Audi A3:

Form follows function in the new Audi A3. The all black cabin swathed in leather and premium plastics is characteristic of Audi. The interiors follow the same design philosophy as the sedan’s exteriors with the German car maker paying more heed to functionality than styling. An analog instrument panel and a steering wheel complete with mounted controls greet the driver. The A3’s MMI system features an advanced unit with a pop-up displa. Users can control the infotainment system via a single knob located in the center stack. The knob also doubles up as a touch pad with character recognition technology for ease of typing.

audi a3 dashboard
The A3 sports an ergonomically balanced cabin

Other notable features include a 20 GB buit in hard disk and dual zone climate control.

Mercedes Benz CLA-Class:

The drama continues on the inside with the CLA featuring an all black cabin with chrome accents gracing the dashboard, instrument cluster and A/C vents. The sporty silver accented three spoke steering wheel is reminiscent of units found in the brand’s high end AMG range. Everything about the CLA-Class exudes a bit of flair. The air vents too feature a unique design styled to resemble propellers.

interior mercedes benz cla sedan
The interior of the CLA

Mercedes Benz’s infotainment system however is not quite as advanced and does feature the same levels of functionality as the A3’s.

Winner: Mercedes Benz CLA-Class

 

Under The Hood:

Audi A3:

Available in both petrol and diesel, the A3 will appeal to both the enthusiast as well as the long distance commuter. The diesel variant is powered by a 2.0 L TDI unit that churns out 140 hp @ 3200 RPM and 320 Nm of torque @ 1750 RPM. The 1.8 L TFSI petrol mill on offer produces an impressive 178 hp @ 5100 RPM and 250 Nm of torque @ 1200 RPM.

While Audi offers a seven speed DSG for the petrol, the diesel has to make do with a six speed DSG gearbox.

Mercedes Benz CLA-Class:

Mercedes has never been one to fit its entry level models with high caliber engines and the CLA is no exception. The German automaker will offer a four cylinder turbocharged 2.0 L petrol engine that produces 135 hp and 300 Nm of torque while the diesel engine is expected to be a  four-cylinder 2.2-litre mill that churns out 100 hp and 300 Nm of torque. Although power figures pale in comparison to the A3’s, the massive torque produced from both variants will keep the driver entertained.

Both engines are mated to a seven speed dual clutch gearbox.

Winner: Audi A3

 

Verdict:

The CLA-Class’ alluring sheetmetal is one of the best in the business. Sadly however, Mercedes Benz has opted to design a car whose beauty is only skin deep. The A3 offers far more under the hood and inside the cabin. Although the Audi could have used a bit more drama, the A3 is the definite winner.

audi a3 rear three quarter
The Audi A3 is better suited for those who do the driving

Tuner Shootout: Brabus Rocket 900 vs Alpina B7

Mercedes Benz Brabus Rocket 900 Interior

Geneva sets the stage for one of the most spectacular motor shows of the year. High profile and boutique manufacturers alike from across the globe showcase the very best they have to offer. However, car manufacturers are not the only ones of note that arrive at this arena. Hitting the stage with a barrage of horsepower and insanity are car tuners and modders.

Some of the most notable ones even work hand in close association with major car makers. Two of the biggest German tuners, Brabus and Alpina showcased their flagships at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. Dubbed the 900 and B7, the two cars are based off the Mercedes Benz S65 AMG and the BMW 7 Series respectively. We take a look at two of the finest super luxury speed demons.

Exterior:

Brabus Rocket 900

Major differences between the Brabus Rocket 900 and its Benz derivative are a few extra frills on the outside to handle the tremendous power under the hood. Key changes include a carbon fibre aero kit, lowered suspension and Brabus badging all around. While the S65 AMG was made to be an elegant, understated figure on the roads, the 900’s large 21/22 inch alloys, carbon fiber aero kit and  revised back end command the kind of attention customary to an 887 hp beast.

Mercedes Benz Brabus Rocket 900 Front Three Quarter
The Brabus Rocket 900 has been derived from the Mercedes Benz S-Class

Alpina B7

The Alpina B7 is based of BMW’s flagship sedan, the 7 Series. Similar to the 900, Alpina has revamped the sedan’s shell for improved aerodynamics and better cooling for the car’s revised engine outputs. The new B7 features a new front bumper, cooling vents, revised quad exhausts, lip spoiler and the tuner’s signature 20 spoke alloys.

 

BMW Alpina B7 Rear
Subtle aerodynamic mods help the BMW Alpina B7 retain its business like appeal

The changes made to the BMW 7 Series keep to the German car maker’s design philosophy and allow the B7 to sport a more coherent design language while the Brabus 900 is a chaotic mix of assertion and sophistication that does not work in the super sedan’s favour.

 

BMW Alpina B7 Front View
The Alpina B7 is one of the expensive German supersaloons currently in the market

Winner: BMW B7

Interior:

Brabus Rocket 900

Changes made to the interiors are minimal. Brabus has swapped out the stock S-Class multimedia system for its in-house developed “iBusiness” infotainment system. The new system features an iPad Mini control unit located between the rear passenger seats on the center console. The iPad can be detached from its dock for ease of use and is connected to a Mac Mini found in the trunk of the car.

 

Mercedes Benz Brabus Rocket 900 Interior
The Rocket 900’s interior is a beautiful mix of leather and premium woodwork

Other notable changes include a 15.6 inch TFT screen that serves as the iPad’s primary display and revised leather interiors.

Alpina B7

The Alpina B7 is a slightly more outdated model. Although the sedan still competes in the same price bracket as the Brabus Rocket 900, the tuned 7 Series fails to impress. The car features no major changes made to the cabin save for a few Alpina badges sprinkled around the cabin. The dull beige interiors, conventional steering wheel and minimal use of wood makes for a conservative if not uninteresting cabin.

 

BMW Alpina B7 Interior
The B7’s interior is not as impressive as the Rocket 900’s partly due to the fact that the 7 Series has been around for quite sometime now

Winner: Brabus Rocket 900

 

Under the Hood:

Brabus Rocket 900

The Mercedes Benz S65 AMG is one of the most powerful super sedans in the world. Housing one of the largest engines of its class, the S65 AMG is a car unparalleled in numbers. Despite sporting a 621 hp twin turbocharged V12 under the bonnet, what Brabus decided the S65 AMG needed was more power. The result of which is a 6.3 l twelve cylinder motor that churns out a whopping 887 hp and 1106 lb-ft of torque.

 

Mercedes Benz Brabus Rocket 900 V12 Biturbo Engine Bay
The Mercedes Benz Brabus Rocket 900 sports a twin turbocharged V12

The new engine helps propel the staggeringly heavy Rocket 900 from 0 to 100 kmph in a mere 3.7 seconds and hits a top whack of 350 km/h.

Alpina B7

Alpina’s B7 offers something slightly more toned down. The luxury sedan is powered by a twin turbo charged 4.4 l V8 that produces an impressive 540 hp @ 5200 rpm and a peak torque of 538 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm. The massive power output from the V8 shoots the Alpina flagship from a standing halt to triple digit figures in 4.2 seconds.

 

BMW Alpina B7 V8 Engine
Alpina’s tinkering has led to a 540 hp BMW twin turbo V8

Although the folks at Alpina tinkered with the Bimmer’s V8 as much as they could, like the old motto goes, there is no replacement for displacement and the Rocket 900 annihilates its competition. 

Winner: Brabus Rocket 900

Verdict:

The BMW 7 Series has slowly begun to age and so has its supersport derivative. Despite being more than able to carry its own weight around, the B7 pales in comparison to the astronomical numbers that Brabus’ offspring produces. With the recently launched 2015 7 Series, we may see Alpina go back to the drawing board to match or even surpass the Rocket 900’s utterly unimaginable performance figures. Until then, the Brabus 900 wins this battle.

Mercedes Benz Brabus Rocket 900 Front Fascia
The Rocket 900’s aesthetics may not be for everyone but its utterly bonkers power figures more than make up for it

Top Automaker Commercials In India

jaguar xj

The Indian auto industry has bloomed over the past decade with an astonishing number of automakers entering every facet of the market. With manufacturers regularly launching a dizzying number of models each year, car makers need an efficient way of marketing. Although the main medium of consumption has now become the internet, a large population of our country still heavily rely on their TVs for their daily dose of saas bahu drama. Over the years, manufacturers have created some of the most breathtaking commercials to grab the attention of viewers. Although one might argue that television commercials do not truly influence a serious buyer’s choice, a good ad most definitely sparks interest in the product. Here, we showcase some of the wildest, most interesting TVCs produced by car makers for the Indian market:

 

8. Honda Brio

The Brio is Honda’s entry into the premium hatchback segment. The ad released for the Indian market mainly focuses on the one of the most important aspects of owning car: the bond developed between a car and its driver. Honda has given its own little twist on the classic tale of a man and his pursuit of love. Coupled with a great little song made especially for this commercial, the ad beautifully summarizes the depth of the man-machine relationship.

Honda Brio
The Honda Brio

7. Mercedes Benz Intelligent Drive

A rather hilarious advert for the German giant’s new suspension system, Mercedes Benz’s “Chicken” commercial went viral in early 2013. Mercedes’ all new suspension design for the 2013 S-Class uses a complex amalgam of infrared cameras, sensors and high speed CPUs to scan the road ahead and dynamically change the car’s suspension on each wheel to provide the utmost comfort a car can offer. The system maintains the cabin at a steady position despite numerous undulations on the road. The German automaker provided an easy to comprehend analogy via the chicken and its independently moving head.

mercedse benz s class
The all new S-Class features Magic Body Control technology

 

 

6. Jaguar’s Retort

Car rivalries have persisted since the inception of the auto industry. Car makers such as Audi and BMW regularly take digs at each other all over the globe through advertising space. However, English automakers such as Jaguar and Land Rover have largely maintained civility with their marketing campaign. That is, until now. The recently launched “Chicken” advert by Mercedes Benz created the perfect setting from an attack by the “Jag”. The English automaker’s absurd (and comical) retort will have definitely left Mercedes Benz red faced.

jaguar xj
The Jaguar Xj, the English automaker’s flagship sedan

 

 

5. Tata Safari DICOR

An SUV has always been a symbol of a free spirit. One of India’s fastest growing sections in the auto industry is the SUV segment. With numerous price brackets to choose from, car makers need to perfectly advertise the merits of their product. Most manufacturers often advertise the space or comfort the car offers. However, instead of showcasing the car’s superficial elements such as style and features, Tata opted to showcase the Safari has an agent of change; A means to break free.

tata safari dicor
The Safari DICOR was one of the most accessible off-roaders available in the Indian market

Another one of Tata’s superb Safari ads worth honorable mention:

 

4. Honda Jazz:

Reliving childhood memories is always a pleasure. Be it going as fast as possible on a playground swing or racing shopping carts across the aisles of the local supermarket, everybody has a fond memory of their youth.

honda jazz
The Honda Jazz

 

3. Mercedes Benz CLA45 AMG

Power is a beautiful thing. Mortals stand in awe when they experience a phenomenon far greater than themselves and that is the philosophy behind AMG’s absolutely mental speed demons. Sculpted to please and designed to enrapture, the CLA45 AMG serves as an entry point into the Mercedes AMG lineup.

mercedes benz cla45 amg
The CLA45 AMG was released late last year

 

2. Renault Fluence

A quirky and well made mini ad, Renault’s Fluence commercial emphasizes on the phrase “Never Settle”.

renault flunece
The Renault Flunece did not perform well in the market

 

 

1. Tata Safari DICOR

One of the most spectacular ads ever developed for the Indian market. This ad from the early 2000’s is one of the best out there. While most ads from this era featured mulitple Amitabh Bachhan’s talking to each other or Shah Rukh Khan dirt biking across a construction site, Tata managed to bring out an ad that spoke to the soul. Money, stability, prosperity have always been prime goals in most people’s lives. However, everything comes at a price and the price for this kind of life would be the sacrifice of adventure, mystery and discovery. The concern that one may be taken over by the seemingly mundane has a lot of us sitting on edge. Tata’s ad perfectly plays on the eternal “What if?” question and ends with what has now becomes the Safari’s signature tagline: Reclaim your life.

Face Off: Datsun Go+ vs Maruti Ertiga

The MPV segment is fast becoming one of the most heavily populated segments of the Indian market. The incredibly successful Toyota Innova has slowly moved up the price bracket and as a result, manufacturers are swooping in with compact, inexpensive compact MPVs to fill the void. The latest to join the fray is the new all new Datsun Go+. The Japanese MPV will go toe to toe with much bigger names such as Honda, Maruti and Chevrolet. We pit the Go+ with the popular Ertiga and see how the new kid on the block fares.

Design:

Datsun Go+:

The Go+ is an extended version of the Go hatch. The front end sports a large honeycomb grille surrounded on either side by well designed headlights. The rear features well integrated tail lamps and a neat, uncluttered bumper design. The boot sports an interesting design element where the Datsun logo sits atop a crest. Although Nissan/Datsun has done an above average job with the Go+’s styling, the manufacturer has not made any attempts at covering up its cost cutting methods. Things such as the numerous panel gaps, loosely connected exhaust pipe showcase the extreme levels of compromise the Go+ had to be put through to keep its prices as low as possible.

 

datsun go plus front three quarter
The Datsun Go Plus

All in all, the Go+ is a good looking albeit unexceptional looking thing. The MPV will not stand out in a crowd.

Maruti Suzuki Ertiga:

Maruti Suzuki has always had issues with porting designs from one body style to another (Think first generation DZire). This time however, the manufacturer has done a good job with the design transplant. Although the Ertiga sports similar elements to the Swift, the design has adapted to better suit the MPV body style. The compact MPV sports a cutesy front end with no distinguishing traits. The rear features well integrated tail lights that sport a wrap-around effect. The Ertiga’s exterior too is very plain jane in character.

2014 maruti suzuki ertiga
Front view of the Suzuki Ertiga

Despite the very neutral styling of the both the Ertiga and Datsun Go+, cost cutting is blatantly evident in the latter giving the Ertiga an edge over the Japanese MPV.

Winner: Maruti Suzuki Ertiga

Interior:

Datsun Go+:

The cost cutting continues on the inside as well with the Go+ completely missing panels in some places altogether. The lidless glovebox, lack of a proper music system and cheap plastics all hint at the primary goal of the Go+: to be a budget offering. However, for a driver, the Go+ is rather well equipped. Apart from the good engine, the Go+ comes with a digital tachometer as well as a distance to empty, average and current fuel consumption readouts. Extremely useful features lacking in its competition. The speedometer also has useful though crude markings for optimal gear shifts.

datsun go plus interior
The interior of the Go+

Datsun has made maximum use of the cabin’s space with a multitude of cubby holes for miscellaneous items. The front row seats feature the controversial single unit seats that allow for a child to sit between the driver and front passenger. Although Datsun maintains that this is a USP, in reality, this poses a major safety issue as there is no protection during the event of a crash.

The combination of cheap plastics and beige and gray colour scheme leaves much to be desired, However, when one keeps in mind that the Datsun GO+ has been designed to keep costs low, many of its shortcomings can be forgiven. Despite this, the lack of airbags, ABS or any other safety mechanism on any variant is a disappointment and only serves to strengthen the belief that manufacturers care more about market share than the safety of its customers.

Maruti Suzuki Ertiga:

The Ertiga is a slightly more premium offering than the Datsun. Like the Go+, the Ertiga borrows heavily from the hatchback it is based on. The Maruti MPV’s cabin is a mixture of beige and grey. Unlike the Go+, the Ertiga comes with a fully loaded infotainment system complete with steering mounted controls for the driver. The MPV also features electrically adjustable ORVMs, power windows, and a conventional glove box.

Interior suzuki ertiga
Interior suzuki ertiga

The Ertiga offers a lot more than the pocket friendly Go+.

Winner: Maruti Suzuki Ertiga

Under the Hood:

Datsun Go+:

The Go Plus is powered by a 1.2 L petrol engine that produces 67 bhp @ 5000 RPM and 104 Nm @ 4000 RPM. Power is sent to the front wheels via a 5 speed manual. Despite its large size, the Go Plus’ low weight allows the 1.2 L mill to deliver more than enough power for easy driving. The small engine and light frame means that the Go+ delivers an impressive 20.62 kmpl (ARAI).

Datsun does not currently offer the Go+ in diesel.

Maruti Suzuki Ertiga:

Suzuki offers the Ertiga in petrol as well as diesel. The petrol powered variant houses a 1.4 L engine that produces 94 bhp @ 6000 RPM and 130 Nm @ 4000 RPM while the Fiat sourced 1.3 L diesel engine churns out 89 hp @4000 RPM and 200 Nm of torque @ 1750 RPM. Maruti Suzuki offers a CNG variant as well.

Winner: Maruti Suzuki Ertiga

Verdict

The Datsun Go Plus is a budget offering. As a result, the MPV makes severe compromises on various fronts. Though the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga is unquestionably the better car, the Ertiga is a better choice for more than just its features and design. The philosophy behind the Datsun Go+ is that of “cheap and best”, a philosophy widely followed by the Indian society. Citing lack of interest, the Japanese automaker has completely omitted basic safety features such as airbags and ABS. The former now being adopted as standard by a growing number of brands in India. Despite what many buyers believe, a car’s safety level is one of its prime aspects. Especially in our country. The recent NCAP tests and its horrifying results have showcased the kind of deathtraps our cars can be. While the apathetic nature of manufacturers and poor government regulations are mainly at fault, our outlook towards the entire situation is partly to blame as well.

If we as a community begin to understand the importance of safety and demand for better manufactured products, then the industry will slowly change its ways. Hopefully the automotive industry gains enough empathy to improve its own standards before our passive government finally wakes up.