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+

2014 Ford Fiesta: First Impressions

American auto giant Ford recently released the next gen Fiesta also called as 2014 Ford Fiesta for the Indian market. First unveiled back in 1999 as the Ikon, the Ford sedan fast became one of the biggest success stories of the Indian automotive industry and cemented the American automaker’s reputation here in India.

Although the Ikon was an impressive car to drive, stricter emission norms led to Ford discontinuing the product, to introduce a more fuel efficient and budget friendly model in the form of the Fiesta. Although the sedan’s successive iterations did not make as big an impact as the original Ikon, the Fiesta was praised for its impeccable driving dynamics and value for money. Ford has now released the next generation Fiesta, now fully loaded to compete with the likes of the Hyundai Verna and Honda City.

2014 Ford Fiesta Facelift
The 2014 Ford Fiesta

Exterior:

Many criticized the outgoing model for its overly stylized headlamps and disproportionate body. This time however, Ford has drastically improved in the design segment. While keeping the large, swept back headlamps, the Fiesta now sports the hexagonal split grille first seen on the Ford EcoSport adding a touch of class to the car. The power lines running along the bonnet and angular styling of the front bumper add to the Fiesta’s sporty charm that was lacking in previous models. The pushed back fog lamp cluster design and flared wheel arches make the front end of the Ford a looker from any angle.

2014 Ford Fiesta Facelift front
Ford’s Kinetic Design 2.0 Endows The Fiesta With An Aggressive Front Profile

Sadly the rear leaves much to be improved upon. While the front end of the sedan is all sharp creases and angles, the rear makes use of blunt curves and rounded edges. The radical transition from the front end’s design methodology does leave a lackluster impression of the back. Although the Fiesta makes use of stylish elements such the raised boot lip and chrome lined lower bumper, the overall design is quite unsatisfactory if the Fiesta seeks to take on segment leaders City and Verna.

2014 Ford Fiesta Facelift rear
Rear View of the 2014 Fiesta Facelift

Interior:

The cabin layout has been carried over from the previous generation Fiesta. However, the 2014 Facelift makes use of better quality materials to improve the upmarket appeal of the sedan. The futuristic center console is now sports a gloss black finish that further improves on the aesthetic appeal of the interiors. The three spoke steering wheel comes with steering mounted controls for the infotainment system. One of the Fiesta’s major selling points is the manufacturer’s AppLink system that adds Voice Control to the list of options. Although Voice Recognition systems of the past did not seem to favor Indian accents all too much, the new system has been claimed to work seamlessly with almost any accent.

The AppLink system also promotes developers to create apps for the Ford Fiesta. The American car maker officially promotes the development of apps for the car’s system. This means that over the course of the next few years, AppLink will have its own ecosystem of apps not unlike that of Android or iOS. Although possibilities are quite limited right now, with the inclusion of a larger screen with more options, we can certainly hope to see an advanced Ford EcoSystem complete with a multitude of apps created by indie developers.

2014 Ford Fiesta Facelift push start
The New Fiesta Seeks To Provide a Far More Handsfree Experience With Features Such as AppLink, Voive Control and Keyless Entry and Go

As with the EcoSport, the Fiesta comes with an boundless number of cubby holes and bottle holders to keep any miscellaneous items. The cabin offers ample space, both at the front as well as the back. Knee room and leg room are more than sufficient to seat four adults and one child. The American car maker has also improved the noise and vibration levels to keep the cabin as insulated as possible. However, the choice of colours for the seats could have been a tad bit better.

2014 Ford Fiesta Facelift interiors
Interiors of the 2014 Fiesta

The blue backlit instrument cluster is large and uncluttered and offers good visibility, engine temperature, outside temperature and trip meters are all integrated into one digital console located between the speedometer and rev counter.

2014 Ford Fiesta Facelift instrument cluster
Instrument Cluster of the New Fiesta

Engine:

The 2014 Fiesta Face-lift will only be offered with a diesel engine. With the ever increasing fuel prices, the dropping of the petrol engine does make sense; However the Fiesta is now left inaccessible to an audience that enjoys the pleasure of driving. Hopefully we may see the company’s critically acclaimed 1.0 L EcoBoost engine on its way later in the Fiesta’s lifetime.

The traditional 1.5 L TDCi engine puts out 90 HP and 203 Nm of torque. Although these may be segment leading numbers, the power is more than ample and allows the Fiesta to achieve a mileage of 25.01 km/L.

The Drive:

The Ford nameplate ensures a well rounded driving dynamic and the Fiesta is no exception. Although the engine is a bit down on power, steering is accurate and clutch pedal is easy to use. However, the design of the rear wind shield has not been made with too much thought and reversing may be a hassle as it provides low visibility.

2014 Ford Fiesta Facelift  rear prodile
The Rear Does Not Offer Optimal Visibility

Despite this however, a Ford Fiesta will always be a good buy regardless of how little features it packs solely for its unbeatable driving dynamics. Although the Honda City may have similar characteristics, the Fiesta packs more for less. And that will be the sedan’s true selling point.

2014 Ford Fiesta Facelift headlights
Although the New Styling Does Look Good, The Unstable Design Philosophy May Not Age Well

Image Source: Ford India

Face Off: Skoda Octavia vs Volkswagen Jetta

The Indian car market is one of the fastest growing markets in the world. With a multitude of cars available in each segment, the Indian buyer is spoil’t with choice 🙂 However, with the SUV craze of the masses hitting its peak in recent times, popularity of some segments have declined so much so that manufacturers are silently pulling out models from showrooms. One such segment is the D segment of sedans. Although the segment does have its fair share of well-engineered cars, the segment has only seen two recent launches over the past few years. Both the Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Jetta are incredibly good cars. However, which one is the better buy? Lets take a look at the 2013 Skoda Octavia and its VW brother, the Jetta.

Engine:

Skoda Octavia: Skoda’s products have always been well engineered cars and the Octavia is no exception. On offer for the Indian market are two petrol engines and one diesel engine. The petrol variants are powered by a 1.4 L TSI engine and an extremely powerful 1.8 L TSI while the diesel variant houses a 2.0 L turbocharged mill.
[caption id="attachment_1308" align="aligncenter" width="500"]skoda octavia tsi engine The TSI Petrol Engine Used in the Octavia Petrol Variants Is The Same One Used in VW's Jetta[/caption] While the 1.4 L turbocharged petrol engine produces 138 HP and 250 nm of torque, the 1.8 L TSI unit puts out an incredible 177 HP and 250 nm of torque. While most cars in this segment make do with tiny engines, Skoda has seen fit to endow the Octavia with an engine that can rival that of an Audi A4. A fitting engine for the return of a legend. VW Jetta: The Jetta’s engine options pales in comparison to the Octavia’s. Although Volkswagen has provided the very same 1.4 L TSI and 2.0 L TDI engines found on the Octavia, the German car maker has omitted the more powerful 1.8 L TSI unit for the Indian market. Although one may argue that the 1.4 L TSI provides more than enough power, the Jetta will fail to impress driving enthusiasts. Round 1 Winner: Skoda Octavia !

Design:

Skoda Octavia: The Skoda marque has always had a knack for creating cars with an understated elegance about them. Although VW follows the very same design philosophy, the Czechs have always made the right mix of sharp lines and subtle curves to create beautiful cars.
[caption id="attachment_1306" align="aligncenter" width="1280"]skoda octavia front The Skoda Octavia Is Simply Beautiful[/caption] The fusion of the new butterfly grille, LED daytime running lamps and the gentle crest of the bonnet atop which the Skoda emblem sits cannot be described as anything else but "otherworldly". The embodiment of tranquility, Skoda has once again created another beautiful iteration of the legend. The designers have moulded soothing overtones with traces of aggressive elements to create a car that is equal parts subtle and passionate. Volkswagen Jetta: Although the German auto-giant follows the very same minimalist approach to its cars, the Jetta feels far too clinical in terms of design. Despite having all the right curves at all the right places, the Jetta lacks soul. However, the Jetta does have an executive characteristic, a trait most buyers from this segment look for.
[caption id="attachment_1309" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]2014 volkswagen jetta front Although The Jetta Maybe A Good Looking Car, The Skoda Is The Clear Winner[/caption] The no nonsense approach of Volkswagen with the Jetta has resulted in one of the cleanest exteriors of any car from this range. Despite this, there’s no escaping the fact that the Octavia is the clear winner in the looks department. Round 2 Winner: Skoda Octavia !

Interiors:

Skoda Octavia: The understated elegance of the Octavia’s exterior is carried over to its interiors as well. The panoramic sun roof and beige cabin gives the interiors an airy feel. The center console is finished in black and hosts a fully loaded infotainment system complete with a touchscreen display. Physical controls are made of premium plastics and sport chrome accents adding to the car’s upmarket feel. The four spoke steering wheel comes with controls for the entertainment system as well as for the user’s Bluetooth connected phone.
[caption id="attachment_1307" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Interior of the Skoda Octavia Interior of the Skoda Octavia[/caption] Legroom, headroom is ample with enough space to fit five passengers. As with most German saloons, the ergonomics of the interiors are driver centric with all the controls for the entertainment system, rear view mirrors and the like in perfect positions.
[caption id="attachment_1312" align="aligncenter" width="500"]2013 skoda octavia steering wheel The Four Spoke Steering Wheel of the 2013 Skoda Octavia[/caption] Volkswagen Jetta: What the Jetta lacked on its exteriors, it more than makes up for with its cabin. The combination of plush leather, faux wood, quality plastics and silver finishes all around the interiors greatly improve the aesthetics of the car.
[caption id="attachment_1311" align="aligncenter" width="500"]interior of volkswagen jetta Interior of the VW Jetta[/caption] The Jetta comes with a more sensible three spoke steering complete with mounted controls. The Jetta’s interiors don a darker shade of black adding a sporty facet to the executive sedan. Unlike the Octavia, the Jetta instrument cluster is less cluttered and offers better readability. [caption id="attachment_1310" align="aligncenter" width="500"]volkswagen jetta center console The Jetta's Center Console[/caption]   Round 3 Winner: its a Draw !

The Drive:

Skoda Octavia: It goes without saying that the Octavia is a splendid car to drive. Despite its large size, one can throw the Skoda into a corner with utmost confidence. The suspension maybe set for a comfortable ride but the Octavia is more than capable of taking a sharp corner. Cabin noise insulation is one of the best in its class. Similar to most new releases, the Octavia comes with an electric power steering. While the new steering system helps in heavy city traffic conditions, the new system lacks the decades of development that conventional hydraulic steering had undergone. As a result, the steering leaves much to be desired. Volkswagen Jetta: The Jetta’s driving dynamic is almost identical in most aspects to the Octavia. However, the Jetta’s engine has been configured for an almost linear power delivery and the Jetta needs to be really pushed hard for it to misbehave. VW’s D segment sedan is a car that’s meant to be driven in and hence this may not come off as a negative aspect to many. Similar to the Octavia, the Jetta also comes with the new electric steering system which does not provide adequate feedback to the driver. Round 4 Winner: its a Draw again !

Verdict:

Although the Volkswagen Jetta is a well balanced offering from the German car maker, cars such as the Chevy Cruze and Hyundai Elantra have been placed in a far more reachable price bracket. As a result, the Jetta hasn't enjoyed its well deserved success in the Indian market. The Octavia too succumbs to this fate. With the Indian consumer's ongoing obsession with SUVs, sedans such as the Octavia and Jetta that are more car for the same price as most entry level SUVs fail to to be recognized for the superb cars that they are. The Czech automaker has always been the underdog in the Indian market. While the Octavia may offer the perfect blend of style and sophistication, the company's notorious after sales service and expensive spare parts swerves buyers to alternatives. However, when it comes to its sublime driving dynamic, features and sheer elegance in its simplicity, the Octavia knows no rival. Liked this post? Please help us spread the word - generously SHARE 🙂

Mercedes Benz CLA45 AMG: First Impressions

German car maker Mercedes Benz has been launching a barrage of cars for India in a bid to reclaim the title of no.1 luxury car manufacturer. One of the first luxury marques to enter the Indian market, Mercedes Benz’s popularity has steadily declined with the arrival of Audi and BMW. This was partly due to the image of the brand’s lineup. While BMW and Audi’s lineup appeal to the youth, Mercedes Benz has always been a bit of an “old man’s” car.

In the hopes to destroy that brand image, Mercedes Benz abandoned Bruno Sacco’s school of design for a more youthful, zealous design philosophy. With the latest design methodology, Mercedes Benz soon garnered quick attention. Cars such as the new A-Class, B-Class and E-Class soon became best sellers. However, the fight to get to the top is a fierce one and Benz will need all the models it can bring in to fight off its German rivals.

Mercedes benz cla 45 amg front
The CLA 45 AMG Serves As An Entry Level Model For AMG Enthusiasts

One such area of the market, still untouched by luxury car makers is the entry level sports car segment. While Audi, BMW and Mercedes Benz all have cars such as the RS7, M6 Gran Coupe and the E63 AMG in their lineup of sports saloons, the number of manufacturers catering to the entry level sports car segment is almost zero. Benz has taken advantage of the situation and will soon release the CLA45 AMG sports sedan for the Indian market. Set for a July 22nd launch date, the CLA45 AMG will have no direct competition and will surely be one of the most popular sports cars till date.

Engine:

The CLA45 AMG serves as an entry point into the mad world of Benz’s skunkworks division, AMG. Despite being a mere entry level model, the CLA45 AMG is powered by the most powerful four cylinder engine in the world. The 2.0 L four cylinder turbocharged petrol engine produces 355 HP and a tarmac shredding  450Nm of torque. Although the very same engine is used on the smaller A45 AMG hatch, the CLA 45 AMG is light enough to still make potent use of the incredible engine. Power is sent to all four wheels via a 7 speed DCT gearbox, similar to the one found on the SLS AMG. Needless to say, Mercedes Benz has not skimped on its baby AMG.

mercedes benz cla 45 amg engine
The 2.0 L turbocharged mill is the most powerful four cylinder engine ever made

Exteriors:

The CLA 45 AMG is undoubtedly one of the best looking cars from the Three Pointed Star yet. Following the new design methodology, the CLA 45 is one of the most aggressive looking cars Mercedes has ever made. The front end features a silver air dam above which sit two massive air intakes on either side. The aggressive body work from the CLA sedan has been further reworked to provide adequate cooling for its souped up 2.0 L engine.

mercedes benz cla 45 amg front
Front View

 

Despite being a four door coupe, the sloping roofline will not allow tall passengers to sit back in adequate comfort. One of the most interesting bits of the CLA 45 AMG are its frameless doors. The five spoke alloys sit on run flat tyres and its red brake calipers add to the overall sporty look of the CLA 45.

side of mercedes benz cla 45 amg
Side View

The rear features a large, beautifully styled wing shaped tail lamps along with a silver diffuser. The chrome tipped quad exhausts, two mounted on either side of the rear bumper integrate perfectly with the overall silhouette of the car.

mercedes benz cla 45 amg rear
Rear View of CLA45 AMG, The Latest Car To Enter The Indian Luxury Sports Car Segment

Interiors:

The interiors are as expected of a Mercedes. The entire cabin is finished in black, maintaining the sporty theme inside as well. The center console features a host of controls for the music system, air conditioning and other drive settings. The infotainment system’s main screen is located atop the dash, just above the three central air vents. While this may simply look sporty, the ergonomically placed display also aids better visibility for the driver. The three spoke steering wheel is wrapped in premium leather and finished with silver accents. As with all upmarket cars, the CLA 45 AMG also comes with a host of steering mounted controls for the infotainment system.

Mercedes benz cla 45 amg interiors
Interiors of the CLA 45 AMG

Despite being released in a highly conservative market such as India, the CLA 45 AMG retains the recaro seats, red seat belts and contrasting red stitching throughout further establishing its AMG DNA. One of the most striking bits of the interiors is the gear lever. Unlike traditional knob shaped gear sticks, the CLA45 makes use of an interesting design.

Mercedes benz cla 45 amg gear knob
The Gear Knob Is One of The Unique Aspects of The Car’s Interiors

Bottom Line:

With an expect price point of around Rs. 50 – 60 lakhs (ex-showroom), the CLA 45 is an ample mix of pedestrian and track ready beast for an unbeatable price!

Image Courtesy: Car and Driver

Fiat Punto Evo: What’s New?

Italian car maker Fiat has been known for churning out enthusiast cars since the launch of the first generation Palio here in India. Although the car maker maintains a good reputation for building driver oriented cars overseas, Fiat failed to make a mark in the market despite being one of the earliest arrivals to the Indian automotive scene. This was partly due to lack of a good service network and expensive spare parts. Sadly, the Italian marque retired from the Indian market soon after.

Fiat however, not one to back down, made its big comeback a few years ago with their critically acclaimed Punto hatchback and the Linea sedan. However, with the advent of the Fluidic i20 and Volkswagen’s big debut in India, the Italian car maker was overshadowed once more.

The 2014 Delhi Auto Expo saw Fiat introduce the Avventura Crossover concept indicating that the manufacturer may add another car to its Indian portfolio. The Punto based crossover brought in numerous new elements that spruced up the rather conservative design of the Punto. This new aggressive design philosophy will now be implemented on the next generation Punto. Dubbed the Punto Evo, Various spy shots and leaked images suggest the hatchback is near completion and will hit showrooms by September/October of 2014. This model named as 2014 Fiat Punto facelift alias Fiat Punto Evo.

Fiat punto evo

Exteriors:

The main difference between the standard Punto and the Punto Evo is the all new front fascia. The restyled headlights are far more aggressive in design. Based off the standard Punto, the new swept back headlights grace the car with a stronger road presence. The chrome lined front grille and fog lamp enclosures add the much needed upmarket feel to the hatch.

The Chrome Garnish Along the front bumper adds a touch of class to the car
The Chrome Garnish Along the front bumper adds a touch of class to the car

The rear end sees an introduction of clear lens tail lamps and a redesigned bumper that sports chrome garnishing along the lower section of the bumper. The car will also sport revised alloy design.

2015 punto evo alloy wheels
The Revised Alloy Design

Interiors:

Although the interiors have been revamped, the cabin has been redone to match that of the manufacturer’s Linea sedan. The cabin is now more upmarket with the dashboard featuring a new dual colour scheme of beige and black. However, the Punto Evo’s most powerful avatar, the 90 HP variant will sport an all black theme in keeping with the sporty appeal of the hatch. Significantly more upmarket than the current gen model’s, the interiors of the Punto Evo now features chrome embellishments on the AC vents, instrument cluster and various other regions of the cabin.

center console of fiat punto evo
The Center Console Now Looks Far More Upmarket and Makes Use of Quality Plastics

Fiat Punto Evo_Interior

The Punto Evo also offers a rear AC vent for the passengers at the back, one of only two hatchbacks available in the market to sport such a feature. Although spy shots suggest that the AC vent does not have controls for exposure levels.

Under the Hood:

Fiat will not be introducing any new diesel engines for the latest gen Punto. The Evo will carry over the same petrol and diesel options from the current hatch. The petrol engine is a 1.2 Lfour cylinder unit that produces 67 bhp @ 6000 RPM and 96 Nm @ 2500 RPM while the diesel variants will have the same 1.3 L turbocharged multijet engine available in two states of tune. The Sport variant will use the more powerful form that produces 90 HP and 209 Nm of torque while the other, less powerful variant produces 89 HP and 115 Nm of torque.

Power is sent to the front wheels via a 5 speed manual transmission. However, no news of an autobox or AMT variants any time soon.

2015 punto evo gear lever
The Gear Lever of the Punto Evo

Though the Fiat Punto offers superb drive dynamics, the hatch fails to look the part and with competitors such as the VW Polo and the Hyundai i20, the Punto Evo has some tough battles ahead. While the Polo facelift has already been launched, both the Punto Evo and next gen Hyundai i20 are yet to be unveiled.

Bottom Line: With multiple leaked images of the completed Punto Evo doing the rounds all over the internet, it seems Hyundai may be the last to enter the fray. However, the market leading i20 may best its competitors once again if Fiat does not deliver its hatch with the most desirable price tag and after sales support.

Image Source: Indian Autos Blog; Autocarindia

2015 Volkswagen Polo Unveiled

The 2015 Volkswagen Polo has been officially launched. Although the new face lifted Polo is not a total revamp of the popular hatch, the new model adds a touch of flash that was lacking in the previous generation. Sadly, the India bound model was not endowed with the stylish Passat inspired LED DRLs or the impressive, upmarket music system, the new Polo features an all-new engine lineup that is sure to draw a lot of attention to this German hatchback.

Let’s take a look at what the new model has to offer.

2013 volkswagen polo
Current Gen Polo Used As Reference

Exteriors:

Styling wise, the 2015 Volkswagen Polo more or less remains the same. With sharp straight lines and neat creases across the body of the hatch, the Polo makes for a very clean design. The introduction of smoked headlights on the previous model helped build its reputation as a youth icon. The 2015 face-lift also features redesigned front and rear bumpers. The front end now sports a slightly reworked grille along with a dash of chrome along the lower bumper as well as the lower half of the grille. The 15 inch alloys now feature a revised design, however, the choice of design may not prove to be too popular among buyers. The most distinguishing trait of the rear end is the revised tail lamp cluster design. The new Volkswagen Polo will also be introduced with an all-new orange paint job.

Interiors:

The interiors have received a major revamp with one of the biggest changes being the steering wheel. The three spoke design has evolved into a sportier flat bottom style wheel complete with an array of steering mounted controls. The wheel also sports a gloss metal finish further improving the overall aesthetic of the car. The center console is now finished in brushed silver that adds contrast to the all back dashboard. Each A/C vent is now adorned with chrome garnish and the instrument cluster now sports a white back light as opposed to the deep red of the outgoing model.

Safety:

The recent NCAP tests performed on some of the cars here in India have shed valuable light on the sheer lack of interest that most manufacturers have when it comes to safety. Somewhere between the manufacturers’ zest to cut costs and our Government’s apathy, the Indian consumer was forgotten and as a result, was provided with a dizzying selection of cars that are far below the required safety standards. Although manufacturers cannot be fully blamed for the poor standards adopted by the automotive industry, the companies’ lack of sentiment to the future of the consumer did not aid in the building of a safer future.

Thankfully, Volkswagen has understood this, better than most manufacturers and has equipped dual airbags as standard across all variants of the new Polo. The range topping model also comes with ABS for even better safety.

Engine:

Volkswagen has also made a few changes under the bonnet as well. While both the standard petrol as well as the GT TSI variants will not feature any new engine updates, the diesel unit now sports an all-new 1.5 L mill. This new 1.5 L four pot will replace the rather noisy 3 cylinder turbocharged engine in the standard diesel variant. The new engine comes with the latest in tech including a variable geometry turbo that improves performance and provides a flat torque curve without sacrificing fuel economy. The new engine is more powerful and less noisy. Producing 90 PS @ 4200 RPM and 230 Nm of torque between 1500 – 2500 RPM, the new engine is far more powerful than the outgoing model. Power is sent to the front wheels via a five speed manual transmission.

Prices for the new Volkswagen Polo start at Rs. 4.99 lakhs (ex-showroom price Delhi), however considering the heavy taxation rates across the country expect to pay a price well above the stated. The all new 1.5 L diesel Volkswagen Polo will start at INR 6.27 lakhs with the range topping variant available at INR 7.37 lakhs.

Face Off : Hyundai Verna vs Honda City

Hyundai has been on a roll, ever since the launch of the Fluidic Verna – here in India. Unleashing a barrage of new models in every possible segment, the South Korean automaker has managed to displace market veterans Honda and Maruti from their top spots in various segments.

hyundai-verna-rear

With the lack of a diesel engine, Honda’s sales steadily declined and with ever increasing fuel rates, the situation looked bleak for the Japanese car manufacturer. However, with the recently introduced i-DTEC diesel engine, Honda quickly regained momentum and sales of the diesel Amaze quickly that put the car maker back on the map. The release of the new City with a diesel option marked the beginning of Honda’s return into the premium sedan segment.

front-3-quarters-honda-city-2014

We have put two of the best sedans in the market right now against each other and see how they fare.

Design:

Honda City:

The latest gen Honda City builds on the sporty appeal of the previous gen models. The front end has been tweaked to give the sedan a sleeker look. The front headlamps are now thinner and longer aiding to the car’s aesthetic appeal. The aggressively styled fog lamp enclosures and tail lamps are a huge improvement from the outgoing model. Honda has also added a sunroof, a feature not available even on the top end Verna.

front-head-lights-honda-city

Hyundai Verna:

Hyundai debuted its fluidic design philosophy with the Verna in India. The South Korean car maker’s edgy design, paints an image of an entity in perpetual motion. Honda may have brought the City back into fighting shape, but few sedans come close to the new Verna’s striking exterior. The aggressively styled front end is a far cry from the spiritless shape of the previous generation model and the car definitely stands out in a crowd.

hyundai-verna-rear

Round 1 Winner: Hyundai Verna

Interior:

Honda City:

The City’s interior is an attractive blend of beige and black. The piano black centre console complete with a touchscreen system is stunning. The touch sensitive controls for the air conditioning is also a nice touch. The touchscreen infotainment system is the only one in its class and doubles up as the rear parking camera display as well. However, the piano black finish around the center console is prone to smudges and fingerprints. The silver accents along the steering wheel and various other regions around the cabin combined with leather upholstery to improve the car’s upmarket feel.

Cabin space is good with four adults being able to sit comfortably. With an increased wheelbase, the new City offers as much space as the Nissan Sunny. However, the City could do better with a pair of rear AC vents.

interiors-honda-city

Hyundai Verna:

The Hyundai Verna’s interior is as impressive as its exterior. The cabin is large and roomy but does not provide the same amount of space as the City. However, quality of materials used are superb.  A combination of faux woodwork and premium plastics endow the Verna with a cabin that can even rival luxury car makers.

However, the infotainment system is quite old and lacks a multi-function touchscreen display.

interior-hyundai-verna

Round 2 Winner: Its a Draw !

Under the Hood:

Honda City:

For the first time ever, the new Honda City comes with both petrol and diesel options. While the petrol variant is the familiar 1.5 L i-VTEC engine that produces 117 HP at 6600 RPM and 145 Nm of torque at 4600 RPM, the diesel engine is the engine you’d buy the new City for. The 1.5 L i-DTEC engine produces 99 HP at 3600 RPM and 200 Nm of torque. While that may not be tarmac shredding figures, the main aim of the new diesel engine is fuel efficiency and it definitely delivers. With a mileage of 26 km/L, the new Diesel City offers the best in class fuel economy.

Both engines are mated to a six speed manual gearbox with the petrol offering a five speed automatic as well. Safety wise, the City offers dual airbags, ABS and central locking.

Hyundai Verna:

The Verna also offers a petrol and diesel. The petrol engine is a powerful 1.6 L unit that produces 121 BHP @ 6300 RPM and 155 Nm of torque @ 4200 RPM. The petrol Verna is equipped with both – a five speed manual and a four speed gearbox.

Hyundai offers two diesel engines for the Fluidic Verna. While one is a more economical 1.4 L oil burner, the other is a more powerful 1.6 L unit. The smaller engine produces 89 HP and 224 Nm of toque while the more powerful unit produces an impressive 126 HP and 260 Nm of torque. However mileage takes a hit with the diesel variants giving 23.5 km/L and 22.32 km/L respectively. Both numbers far lower than that of the City’s.

The top end variant sports all sorts of safety features such as six airbags, ABS, EBD and brake assist.

Round 3 Winner: Its a Draw again !

The Drive:

Honda City:

As with all Honda cars, the drive is simply superb. The suspension setup is soft but stiff enough to take around a corner. Steering sensitivity is well proportioned allowing for better confidence around twisty roads. The diesel motor however, is quite unrefined and the cabin succumbs to a large amount of noise from the engine. However, we did find that the reverse gear caused a few issues at times.

Boot space is more than ample. With a class leading boot space of 510 L, the City is perfect for those long family vacations.

Hyundai Verna:

Here’s where the Hyundai Verna loses out. While the South Korean car maker has focused on packing more features, it has failed to work on the car’s driving dynamics. As a result, the Verna comes off as a mixed bag. Though the power under the bonnet is impressive, the soft suspension has been tuned for comfort rather than out for speed. As with the i20, the driver in you might be a little disappointed.

However, the softer suspension means a better ride over the pot hole ridden streets of India.

Round 4 Winner: Honda City

Verdict:

Both cars are excellent, however, the City has a slight edge over the Verna. While both sedans are the segment’s best sellers, there is a reason why Honda managed to displace Hyundai from its top spot. The City has always been a long standing favorite of the Indian consumer. Offering the right mix of driving dynamics, style, space and reliability, the Honda City’s only drawback was the lack of a diesel engine. Now, with the new Earth Dreams diesel mill, the City is back with a bang!!!

Visit the Hyundai India websitehttp://www.hyundai.com

Visit the Honda India website : https://www.hondacarindia.com

Audi A3 – a Mean Machine

German car maker Audi is about to release an all new sedan for the Indian market. Based off the A4, the new A3 is a smaller, budget offering from the German manufacturer to rival the Mercedes Benz A-Class and the BMW 1 Series. Internationally the A3 rivals the CLA Class and 2 Series sedan, however, as BMW and Benz have not released their entry level sedans here in India, the compact sedan will compete against its hatches.

Audi has always made products that make sense for the Indian market. With the most number of models available in numerous segments, the German automaker has managed to claw its way to the top of the luxury car market. However, with Mercedes Benz launching their aggressive campaign to regain market monopoly, Audi needed another budget offering to take on the Three Pointed Star. Currently the Q3 sits at the bottom of the Audi price range. Despite being one of the best luxury compact SUVs on offer, the Q3 is still a pricey offering. The A3 however, with a expected price range of Rs. 24 – 29 lakhs (ex-showroom) has the makings of a bestseller.

 

audi a3 front view
Front View of the Upcoming Audi A3

Based off Volkswagen’s MQB platform, the new A3 sports the same innards found on the next generation Passat, current gen Octavia as well as a slew of other cars under VW. This new modular platform ensures lightweight construction, improved cost reduction which means all future cars will be cheaper and more economical. The new A3 is quite a classy looking car. With its typical Audi LED daytime running lights and the silhouette composed of sharp lines and creases, the A3 makes an extremely formal design statement as opposed to the youthful vigor emanating from the A-Class. However, some may argue that the A3 looks a bit too strikingly similar to the A4.

 

audi a3 rear view
The Audi A3 Makes A Formal Design Statement That The Older Generation Might Take a Liking To

The executive sedan maybe smaller than the A4 but the cabin provides an aura of luxury. The all black cabin adds to the sporty appeal of the car. The dashboard and center console make good use of premium plastics and chrome accents to improve the A3’s upmarket feel. Despite the A3 sitting at the bottom of the Audi range, the sedan is packed to the brim with features such as a pop up display for the infotainment system and the German car maker’s latest MMI controller. The music system is a 180 W ten speaker system that sports traditional features such as AUX IN, USB, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity. The steering wheel comes with an array of mounted controls to make use of the music system and the user’s Bluetooth connected phone.

 

dashboard 2015 audi a3
The Dashboard of the 2015 Audi A3

The international model of the A3 sees it in both petrol and diesel avatars. With the diesel variant powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged unit that produces 141 HP and 320 Nm of torque, the petrol variant makes use of a 1.8 L TFSI engine that puts out an impressive 177 HP and 250 Nm of torque. While both these engines are more than likely to arrive for the Indian market, Audi may introduce detuned variants of the same to improve fuel efficiency. Both engines are mated to a seven speed dual clutch gearbox (VW’s critically acclaimed DSG gearbox). The German car maker will not be introducing the A3 with a manual gearbox. In time however, Audi may also introduce a budget variant of the A3, similar to the Q3S that sports a traditional manual ‘box. The budget offering however may not sport the automaker’s signature LED lights as well, a feature quite popular among buyers these days. 

 

audi a3 2.0 l tfsi engine
Audi Will Be Introducing the 2.0 TDI and 1.8 L TFSI Engines For the India Bound Audi A3 albeit In Lower States of Tune

The A3 will be brought in as a completely knocked down unit (CKD), however if customer response is good, then Audi may consider localization of production to cut costs down even further.

 

audi a3 interior
The Audi A3 Features The German Car Maker’s Motorized Pop Up Display

Image Source: Car and Driver

Bottom Line:

Although the A3’s main rivals are the 1 Series and the A-Class, Audi is hoping that A3 will trump both cars in terms of space and features. Needless to say, the A3 may be the A-Class killer.

Visit Audi’s India page: www.audi.in

 

Face Off : Hyundai i20 vs Maruti Suzuki Swift

The Hatchback segment is a heavily contended area of the Indian market. Although a multitude of cars from various manufacturers have entered the fray over the past five years, two names have managed to always stay on top:  Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai. The Swift and i20 have been clashing against each other for years now and with both offering a host of features and space at a reasonable price point, the battle in this segment eventually became a two horse race between the Suzuki Swift and Hyundai i20.

Lets take a look at what makes both these hatchbacks so successful and what may be the better choice for you as a buyer.

Exterior:

Swift:

The current gen Swift is more of an evolution from the previous generation than a full blown facelift. As a result merely the dimensions of the headlights and taillights have been changed. While many consider the new look to be more contemporary, the Swift falls a little behind the competition in this department. However, the finish and choice of colours have greatly improved over the first model and the car makes for a far more premium offering.

Verdict: 7/10

i20:

Hyundai’s latest fluidic design philosophy greatly aided the ailing company’s fortunes around the world. With the launch of the Fluidic Verna, the company revived its sales figures to even displace Indian heavyweight Maruti from the top spot in multiple segments. Following the phenomenal success of the Verna, Hyundai applied the very same design methodology to the i20. While the previous generation i20 was criticized for its plane Jane looks, the new i20 is far more edgy in terms of design. Free flowing lines emanating from the hexagonal grille run across the body of the hatchback add to the hatchback’s “fluidic” nature.

Verdict: 7.5/10

Interior:

Swift:

Maruti has made tremendous strides with the interior of the Swift. Replacing the conventional beige and grey colours with an all-black cabin vastly improved the car’s upmarket feel. The dashboard has been thoroughly redone with high grade plastics and quality buttons. However, we do find some evidence of cost cutting with some areas where fit and finish isn’t entirely perfect.

The integrated music system is far more appealing and features steering mounted controls. Although the peak volume is quite impressive, cabin acoustics could have been fairly better. Though this can be fixed with after-market speakers.

Cabin space is good but not exceptional with even tall passengers sitting at the back in adequate comfort.

Verdict: 7/10

i20:

The i20’s interiors are one of the best around. The premium plastics and chrome touches across the dash improve on the premium feel of the car. The blue ambient lighting is quite pretty when compared to the rather low key white light of the Swift. The music system features the conventional USB, iPod, AUX In inputs, however, the car’s acoustics are excellent and give the passengers an immersive experience.

One major flaw of the i20’s infotainment system is the positioning of the rather small monochrome screen. The size, position and control units for the display is simply not ergonomically sound.

Verdict: 7/10

Under The Hood:

The Swift and i20 are powered by both petrol and diesel units. For the purposes of the comparo, we will be considering the petrol variants of both cars.

Swift:

The Swift is powered by an updated 1.2 L engine that features variable valve timing that improves performance and fuel efficiency. The new chassis has improved weight reduction, which means the power to weight ratio of the current gen Swift is one of the best in its class. The petrol mill churns out 85 HP @ 6000 RPM with a peak torque of 114 Nm hitting at 4000 RPM. Although the claimed mileage is 18.6 km/L, the Swift gives about 14 – 16 km/L in the real world. Still a commendable job from the little hatch.

Verdict: 8/10

i20:

The i20 is powered by a similar specked engine and also offers the latest in tech wizardry to ensure maximum fuel efficiency and performance. The 1.2 L four cylinder engine puts out 82.8 HP @ 6000 RPM and 113 Nm of torque @ 4000 RPM. However, the Hyundai hatch is much larger and heavier and as a result performance takes a big hit. Although claimed mileage is 18 km/L, the i20 gives about 12/13 km/L in city traffic conditions. Despite the lack of power, the engine is extremely refined and quiet even beyond 4000 revs. Hyundai has done an impressive job with cabin noise insulation as well.

Verdict: 7/10

Performance:

Swift:

One can argue that the Swift does not posses the refinement of the i20 or the features, however despite its shortcomings in build quality and the like, the Swift runs circles ’round the i20 when it comes to the drive. The Swift has always been a tuner’s favorite and for a good reason, with a superb rev happy engine and good power to weight ratio, the Swift is an absolute blast to drive. Brakes are strong and responsive and react well when put under test. Gear shifts are smooth and the gearbox works with minimal fuss. The turning radius is better than the i20 and the car also offers good rear visibility. Given that it is a Maruti, spare parts are also easily accessible and cheap.

Verdict: 8.5/10

i20:

The i20 is a bit of a disappointment here. With a hatchback this large, you would think that Hyundai would put a more powerful engine under the bonnet. Sadly however, the 1.2 L petrol mill provides poor low end torque and as a result the car fails to pull away when you need it the most. Although noise insulation is impressive, Hyundai has skimped on the engine to provide more features. While many may consider a feature loaded car as a value for money product, the i20 fails to impress as a driver’s car. The brakes, despite providing adequate braking capability, feel spongy and lack the bite that the Swift offers.

Verdict: 7.5/10

Verdict:

While both cars are placed in the same segment and cost about the same, the Swift and i20 belong to totally different worlds. While one tugs and pulls at your heart, the other makes a whole lot more sense. One is meant to be driven while the other is meant to be driven in.

maruti suzuki swift
The Maruti Suzuki Swift

So for the better driver’s car, it has and will always be the Maruti Suzuki Swift. However, for the more feature loaded and spacious of the two, our pick would definitely be the Hyundai i20.

2012 hyundai i20
The Hyundai i20

Image Sources: Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai

Visit Maruti Suzuki India Website: http://www.marutisuzuki.com

Visit Hyundai India Website: www.hyundai.com/in

2015 Volkswagen Passat Unveiled!

The Volkswagen Passat has always been a bit of an odd ball for the Indian market. With a price tag that rivals entry level cars from luxury car makers, the Passat was always be part of one of the toughest segments in the market. While the current gen Volkswagen Passat does offer a slew of features and oodles of space and comfort, the sedan lacked the brand image to take it to the top. With the first generation’s lackluster organic design, the car failed to look the part; A condition most buyers look for in a car this pricey. All this improved with the current generation.

Despite this However, Volkswagen is slowly building on its reputation as a company that produces more than just quality C segment cars. With the growing popularity of the Jetta and Polo GT, the German manufacturer is slowly climbing the ladder in the pricier segments of the market.

2015 volkswagen passat
The Next Gen VW Passat Has Been Unveiled for the Europe Market

The 2015 Volkswagen Passat was unveiled earlier this week for the European market. Building on the previous generation’s focus on build quality and features the new Passat seeks to be more of a premium offering than the outgoing model. With Volkswagen’s aggressive model release campaign still going strong, it is highly likely that the new sedan will make to Indian shores sooner rather than later.

vw passat front view
The Headlights Are Far More Striking To Look At in The Latest Passat

While the current gen model followed a rather understated design philosophy, the new Passat seeks to be a far more dominating character on the roads. As with most Volkswagen’s , the 2015 Passat is a sharply designed sedan that exudes an aura of class rivaling that of the Skoda Superb. The chunky headlights have given way to a far more sleeker set and the LED daytime running lights integrate perfectly with the thin strips of chrome along the front grille. The fog lamp enclosures have been spruced up with a chrome line that runs along the length of the lower bumper.

2015 volkswagen passat rear
Rear Two Third of the Next Generation Passat

The roofline takes a gentle dip to merge with the largely unchanged rear end. However, the plunging roofline may be a hindrance to tall passengers at the back. VW has more or less retained the overall shape of the current gen Passat’s tail lamps with minor tweaks made to the rear lamps’ dimensions. One of the most striking bits of the rear end are the integrated dual exhaust tips. Located on either side, the chrome lined exhausts bring to mind a sportier coupe which comes as no surprise considering the fact that the earliest Passat sketches indicated that a coupe version was in the works.

interior of 2015 passat
Interior of the Next Gen Passat

Interiors are typical of a Volkswagen with form following function. While one might argue that the interiors are quite dull, the interiors are one of the most ergonomic in its class. The combination of white and beige gives the new Passat an airy feel to it. With the dashboard and center console finished in black, the new interiors improve on the upmarket feel of the car’s exteriors. The center console features a fully loaded infotainment system that comes with a touchscreen display. The analogue clock that sits dead center of the dashboard is an excellent touch. One of the most interesting parts of the 2015 Passat’s interior are the A/C vents. The front A/C vents are directly integrated along the dash of the car so much so that the vents are almost indistinguishable. the premium quality plastics and leather finish is deserving of a car at this segment.

dashboard of volkswagen passat
Dashboard of the 2015 VW Passat

The new Passat will be offered in both petrol and diesel options. However, India might see only the  diesel variant arriving on the market. The range topping diesel unit is a 2.0 L four cylinder engine that produces a whopping 240 HP while the top of the line petrol mill is a 2.0 L TSI unit that churns out a massive 280 HP. While these specs are impressive, the India bound Passat is highly unlikely to sport such power under the hood. Volkswagen will most likely bring in the Passat with a detuned variant of the 2.0 L turbo diesel mill. While deliveries of the new Passat begin later this year for the European market, the German car maker is yet to make a call on the tentative launch dates for the Indian market.

Source: Images via Volkswagen

Visit Volkswagen India Website: www.volkswagen.co.in