How Computers Help To Design Automobiles?

Global competition in the automotive industry demands for a quality product within a limited time period. Computer Aided Design(CAD) and Computer Aided Engineering(CAE) have drastically accelerated the process of product development which involves concept, prototype, validation and testing. Every automobile manufacture  across the globe, which includes 2 -wheeler, 3 -wheeler , 4- wheeler, trucks, buses, construction equipment vehicles, defense vehicles and off-road vehicles- all of them have to go through CAD and CAE. Motorsports is hugely dependent on computer simulations as they have very short period of time to come up with a better vehicle to race.

Computer Aided Design involves working with vehicle and component design on design software where we can go for solid modeling, surface modeling, assembly of parts and most importantly rendering of the complete vehicle. Computer Aided Engineering is to analyze the designed vehicle or its components through virtual simulations before going to real time testing. Through CAD and CAE, a designer can go for quick changes in the vehicle or component design which results in shorter product development stage.

CAD plays an important in role in getting the feel of the vehicle by looking at it virtually on computers. It allows to provide the dimensions depending on the vehicle category and also  basic know how of cabin space and ergonomics can be understood. CAD drawings provide an ease of manufacturing through CNC (Computer numerical Control) machines where the files are fed in the form of a code through CAD and the final product is obtained.

In automobiles, almost all the areas are virtually simulated using CAE and tested before finally going for production. We would cover some important areas where computer simulation plays an important role.

Aerodynamics:

Aerodynamic Simulation
Aerodynamic Simulation

We need to know that when we are driving a vehicle, we are going through a wall of air which is actually resisting our vehicles motion. The engine spends more fuel to overcome this resistance which directly effects the fuel economy. A computer simulation of air flow over the vehicle is done to finalize the exterior shape of the vehicle. These simulations helps us to change the design on computers very easily and reduces lot of cost involved in practical wind tunnel testing. In real time wind tunnel tests, the vehicle is placed in a big tunnel and air is allowed to flow over it. In order to visualize the air motion, smoke is dispersed in the medium. Various sensors are mounted on the vehicle body for obtaining the results.

Dynamics:

Vehicle Dynamics Simulation
Vehicle Dynamics Simulation

Vehicle dynamics plays an important role in ride and handling. Computer simulations help to understand how the complete vehicle will behave during conditions like  rough roads, lane change, acceleration, braking and steering. Thus before going to the prototype fabrication, a complete vehicle behavior can be evaluated and a better prototype is manufactured. Also component level simulation like shock absorber durability are also performed.

Engine Simulations:

Engine Simulation
Engine Simulation

Engine manufacturers use simulations to refine engine in terms of power, fuel economy and emissions. There are many parameters to be controlled while operating engines. The simulations helps to optimize all these parameters and finally obtain a desired engine. Various engine simulations include air-fuel mixing, structural durability test of whole engine and components like crankshaft, connecting rods, thermal analysis and emission prediction. Engine modifications are done on computers for obtaining desired results.

Vehicle Safety:

Frontal Crash Simulation
Frontal Crash Simulation

Vehicle safety assurance for the customers play an important role in the business of the vehicle. In order to make a vehicle safe, car manufacturers use simulation tools for crash analysis, air bag activation and vehicle structure simulation. All these tests in reality would cause a huge amount of cost and time whereas through computer simulations the desired design can be achieved very easily. Crash test requires setting up of high speed cameras, bright lights, human dummy model and its testing and installation of all sensors. This takes a lot of money and time. Simulations are used to obtain an initial better design and then testing it for further optimization.

Production plant simulations:

Design of production plant is crucial from the business point of view. Every manufacturer desires to have maximum production based on demand. In order to achieve it, various simulations are run during plant design and lay out stage. It involves assembly line design, supply chain, worker ergonomics, free space for transport and testing zone. All these are simulated on computers to achieve maximum efficiency in  production.

Bottom Line:

The extensive use of computer for design and analysis has led to cost effective and better quality pro. Today, the scope of simulation is vast and is going to grow in the near future. This will also result in development of new and efficient technologies in automobiles.

Volkswagen Taigun- an expert Preview

German automaker Volkswagen is known for its build quality, perfection and is considered as one of the leading automobile manufacturers in Europe. It is the most loved car brand by Europeans ( and in many other countries ). The slogan of this company “Das Auto” also conveys the same, as the meaning of this slogan is “Peoples-Car”.  In order to standardize the name and fame of the company in the tough competitive landscape, VW group is planning to release some new crossovers across some European countries and as well as some Asiatic countries like China, India and Singapore. Taigun is one among this line-up.

Volkswagen Taigun:

Volkswagen Taigun was first showcased at the Sao Paulo Auto Show, which was held in the year 2012. Before jumping into the review – these are some technical specifications of this car ( to have a better understanding of what we are dealing with )

Volkswagen Taigun front look

Image Source: www.autoexpress.co.uk

Specs:

  • Engine: 1.0-litre 3cyl turbo charged petrol, Direct Fuel Injection
  • Power/torque: 109bhp/175Nm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • CO2 Emission: 60.1mpg/110g/km
  • 0-62mph/Top speed: 9.2 seconds/116mph
  • Equipment: Air-con, split tailgate, electric windows, LED daytime running lights
  • Will be on sale: End of 2015 or early 2016.

Styling Review

Exteriors:

When it comes to the car exteriors, the car’s masculine looks can impress you in the first glance itself. The Taigun features an overall length of about 3859mm, 1728mm of total width and an overall height of 1570mm, which seems quite good for this segment. The wheelbase has slightly increased to 2.47meters in order to give an aggressive look complementing to the masculine appeal. The car grille is neatly designed with its logo studded at the center ( looks stunning and elegant ). The looks of this car makes this vehicle most suitable for automobile markets like India. The LED daytime running light adds a nice and smart look for the car. The back and front of this car is designed for complementing the masculine looks of this car. The front end looks aggressive, while the rear end maintains a decent profile. The protective cladding on the bumper makes a good safety measure for the car. The 17-inch alloy wheels give the car a trendy look. The rugged appeal at the sides of this car looks even more stylish.

Interiors:

The car interiors also look pretty good with two tone beige and black color scheme, giving an ambient look for the car. The company has stated that the interiors of this vehicle will be equipped with a number of advanced functions and tech add-ons. The seats are covered with premium black beige color upholstery, that gives the car a gorgeous premium look. The car is very spacious and fit for long family rides. The dashboard looks great with well-placed control schemas, AC-vents, MP3/IPod Player, and an LCD screen fitted at the center. When it comes to interior design three things are considered : Connectivity, Luxury& Ease. The power steering system with tilt function can serve for a better driving experience. The boot space also looks big enough to accommodate all the stuff needed while traveling. Many other features such as the Seat heating systems, Smartphone connectivity, Bluetooth audio streaming, bottle and cup holders, fold-able rear seats etc. are quite good too.

Volkswagen Taigun interiors

Engine & Performance:

The car is powered with a 1.0-litre 3 cylinder turbo charged engine with a direct fuel injection system. This engine has the capacity to emit a maximum power of about 108.5bhp at 5000rpm, and it can generate 175Nm of peak torque output at just 1750rpm. This engine is precisely combined with a 6-speed manual transmission gearbox that distributes the torque output to the front wheels in order to get good acceleration, as the car is said to reach 100 Kmph speed mark only at 9.2 Seconds.

Reliability and Safety:

They are speculations that Volkswagen is going to place the car’s front axle with a McPherson Strut type, which is an advanced suspension system for added protection. If this is right then it would be an added advantage for this car. Excluding this, the rear could be protected by a Torsion Beam protective system and some other added safety features such as air bags, side impact protection, ABS with EBD, seat belts, engine immobilizer, central locking system etc. Now, that’s what I call as some of the best safety measures in a car.

Thumbs Up:

Very stylish and elegant body design, advanced engine, Masculine looks

Thumbs Down:

Cost May Be High, Absence of Diesel Variant.

Bottom-Line:

As this is considered to be a future release, some of the features may be changed from the concept model. When it comes to quality, Volkswagen has made Volkswagen Taigun remarkable with impressive design and features.  With competitive pricing, Taigun will sure be a shogun in the Volkswagen line-up.

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

Nissan Qashqai – a review

Nissan is one of the few automobile companies which are known for superior and elegant design. This Japan based automobile company is now targeting the MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle) segment with its new release Qashqai. Nissan Qashqai was one of the first cars to combine 4×4 styling with hatchback running costs and this formula from Nissan quickly turned it into a best-seller concept.

In 2006 Qashqai kick started the year with a cross-over Qashqai (old). With the new version of Qashqai, Nissan is all set to do the same once again. The latest model is built on the same model in par with the old Qashqai model offering more style, sharper handling space, along with better fuel economy and new equipment’s under the skin to make this car more trendy and classy.

Nissan Qashqai premier review

Image Source: www.focus2move.com

So let’s dive in to the review to understand the aspects of the car and come to a point where we can decide whether this car has enough power packed to call it a new cross-over or just an ordinary release.

Before going to preview, here are the technical specifications of the Nissan Qashqai

Specifications:

pic

Image Source: msn.com

Review: Styling

Exterior:

When it comes to the exteriors the new Qashqai has a better design when compared to the old Qashqai with in-detail and sharp looks. In front, the Nissan Qashqai features a sharp nose with angular headlamps and ravishing running lights made from LED. The twin chrome bars adds a new and trendy look and at back the LED tail-lamps wrap around the corners of the car and on the tailgate makes the car more elegant and classy. The Qashqai body is built with a smooth stream line with advanced aerodynamics with active elements. By looking into all this we can observe that Nissan has done a great rework when it comes to the car’s looks. It truly sets a new benchmark for the crossover design.

Interior:

When it comes to the interiors, Nissan has reinvented the aspects of the car to make it more suitable for family rides. Qashqai interiors are neatly designed with plenty of soft-touch plastics. All the controls are cleverly placed so the driver feels more comfortable using them. The car’s raised height level gives the driver an excellent view of the road and by doing this Nissan has certainly raised the driving levels. The dash board is neatly furnished with an LCD monitor from which the user can perform all the actions in the car with ease.

The company has added another innovative feature to the Nissan Qashqai which is called as the Active Grille Shutter system. This intelligent technology maximizes the cars aerodynamic efficiency by closing off the airflow through the radiator when it is not needed. The grille shutter automatically shuts at speeds over 30kph and only opens if sensors detect that the engine needs cooling and when it cools it is automatically shut again. This is a new feature invented by Nissan and is debuting with this car.

Nissan Qashqai expert review

Review: Driving Performance & Engine

When it comes to the engine, Qashqai has 3 variant 1.6-Litres Diesel (High-range), 1.5-Litres Diesel (Mid-range), 1.2-Litres Petrol (Low-range). The 1.5-Litres Diesel engine can reach 0-60mph in 12.4 seconds which is not a considerable range for a car like this. If you are a guy who likes speed and is willing to pay for the speed the 1.6-Litres Diesel is the best choice to give this car a good speed as the 1.6-Litres Diesel engine can reach 0-60mph in just 10.5 seconds while the low end 1.2-Litres petrol can reach 0-60mph in 11.3 seconds.

Both 1.6-Litres and 1.5-Litres Diesel engines are quite good for a car like this, but 1.5-Litres Diesel is worth for its price tag while the high end has a slight high price tag. With this engine the driving experience is smooth and the greatest advantage that lies in this is that the fuel-economy is high. The precise combination of throttle response with 6 speed gear box delivers a great driving at experience. The turnings on the city roads are very smooth due to the raised ground clearance as now the driver will about to get a clear view of the road. The steering grip is high and breaking individual wheels in a precise manner delivers more positive turn-in. The 360 camera assist system is quite handy while parking the car as it gives a 360 degrees view of the backside. But the disadvantage in this system is that its allotted only for the high-end model.

Nissan Qashqai

Image Source: www.autoexpress.co.uk

Review: Safety

Qashqai (old) was awarded with five star rating for the safety measures by test body Euro NCAP. While the new one is also offering the best possible safety measures which includes the individual tire breaking system, 6 Air bags ( 4 for front and two for rear ), and stability control system. The high and middle level Qashqai also offers smart vision pack which includes systems that warn if you’re going out of your lane or in danger of having a collision with obstacles. An image showing the safety test under Euro NCAP.

Running Cost & Rivals:

As far as the price tag goes many prices are specualted in the market, but the actual pricing is not confirmed yet by the company. Even the so called low end model also has the basic features such as iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, Cruise control system, AC-vents which many other companies that don’t offer s for a low end model think. However the mid and high end are equipped with more add-on features. I think Nissan should hold its value better than the rival models from companies such as Mazda, Ford, Hyundai, and Vauxhall.

Bottom-line:

For me the Nissan Qashqai is a power packed car as it has all the features what that are needed. But we have to wait for the official release of the price tag to see how deep a pocket one needs. If the price is set to an affordable range then I am sure that this will be one of the best model to watch out for, as it has all the qualifications which can help to seize the market from its rivals.

The General Motors Recall Fiasco

General Motors has taken the throne for the largest number of recalls in the history of the world wide automotive sector. It has continuously been plagued by recalls right from 2006. Ever since its first recall it has been down hill with the latest recall calling over 8.4 million vehicles world wide and is expected to set the company’s kitty back by over $1.2 billion.

General Motors Logo

The Ignition Switch Snafu

An issue with the ignition key switch was identified and dealerships handed out key inserts to solve the problem to 474 of the cars. Tests almost 5 years earlier by GM engineers showed this problem. So early, that the car was in a pre-production stage. The mechanism that holds the ignition key in place was at fault and it was redesigned.

In 2003, a service technician observed something peculiar. A Saturn Ion was stalling when the car was being driven by several other keys on the key ring. According to his report, “the additional weight of the keys had worn out the ignition switch”

A similar problem started appearing in the Chevrolet Cobalts which share a similar mechanism. A redesign of the head of the key was proposed and this idea was later scrapped because the fix was too expensive. However, the supplier was informed and the change was made to the newer models coming into production from 2007. During this change the part number wasn’t updated so no one at the operations or production stage knew about this fix.

At an auto safety regulations meeting, a 2005 cobalt crash was brought up during which the airbags of the car did not deploy. Over the period of the year, 10 such fatal incidents are discovered by GM.

GM then allocated an engineer to look at why these crashes saw no airbags being deployed. He discovered something shocking, in four of the nine crashes, the ignition switch was not at the run position. They were almost going to be investigated by the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration but the official wanting to investigate was stopped by others in his department citing lack of warrant for the investigation.

In the year 2011, a fresh investigation was started for front crashes involving frontal impacts of cobalts where airbags did not deploy. The ignition switches from the defunct vehicles were picked up and tested. By 2012 the complete fraud involving the change of switches from 2007 model vehicle models were revealed.

Further assessment confirmed that the design was indeed changed for the models produced after 2007. A committee considers the recall of all pre 2007 models of Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5’s.

General Motors Recall Fiasco

The recall was initiated in the first week of February 2014 when over 8,00,000 Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiag G5’s were called in to fix the problem. In a couple of weeks another 6,00,000 vehicles like the Chevrolet HHR, Saturn Ion, Saturn Sky and the Pontiac Solstice were called in.

Simultaneously the U.S. Auto Safety Regulator investigates if GM acted quick enough to fix the problem. The GM CEO, Mary Barra goes into damage control mode by defending how they were managing the recall and promises an internal review.

GM CEO Mary Barra

“We will hold ourselves accountable and improve our processes so our customers do not experience this again. Repairs to recalled cars should start in early April.” – GM CEO

Immediately, they hired a couple of external legal firms and they started investigation into the series of events that led up to this recall.

The justice department too launches a criminal investigation to find out why the recall was delayed as the problem was known at a very early stage.

GM then expands its recall by calling in 8,24,000 cars that were sold in the US. This brought the grand total to over 2.6 million cars worldwide. All for the same problem with the ignition switch.

Barra and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Administrator David Friedman testified before congress this April. She said that she had no idea why it took 10 years to recall the cars and that GM is working on determining how to compensate victims involved in the crashes. Friedman contended that GM was not reveling critical information that would have helped identify this defect.

A Check Plan Issued by GM
A Check Plan Issued by GM

The recalls began in the second week of April where all affected vehicles were repaired free of cost. Three days later, an additional problem is discovered by GM in the already recalled vehicles and the additional part is also replaced to solve the problem.

2014 chevrolet camaro ss

A faulty key for the Camaro saw 5,12,000 units of the iconic car being recalled.

This complete fiasco saw a complete re-structure in their engineering and quality departments, 15 employees being dismissed and saw the company pay a fine to the tune of $35 million to settle the federal probe and a package of $1 million is offered as compensation to the families of victims involved in crashes involving defected cars manufactured by GM.

Last month an additional 8.4 million vehicles, yes, 8.4 million are recalled for a faulty ignition switch.

The Wiring, Seat Belt & Overheating Related Recalls. 

Problems didn’t end for GM with the ignition switch recall. In May, the recalled 3 million cars including the 2004-2012 Chevrolet Malibu, the 2004-2007 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx, the 2005-2010 Pontiac G6, as well as 2007-2010 Saturn Auras.

The wiring problems caused the brake lights to fail and they wouldn’t light up when the brakes are applied and they would light up when the brakes were not depressed. This could also lead to features such as Cruise Control, Traction Control, Electronic Stability Control and Panic Braking Assist to malfunction.

A problem which saw the front seat belt separate from the car during a crash situation saw the recall of 2.4 million cars and trucks in the US that included the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook. 

Further, 2,18,000 Chevrlet Aveos (Optra in the US) were recalled due to the overheating of the DRL (Day Time Running Light) module which had risks of catching fire.

Bottom Line: 

This simply shows that the value of a life is irreplaceable and there is a structure in place in countries abroad to prevent mishaps due to faulty engineering from the companies side. Even the company feels socially responsible to fix such issues.

I wonder how long it will take for such measure to enter the Indian market and how many cases that will come tumbling out of Indian manufacturers who are simply ignorant on such matters. An industry where safety is not even on the list of design objectives and where price, space and fuel economy take precedence over safety.

Maruti Suzuki SX4 S-Cross : Preview

Maruti Suzuki is considered as one of the largest car manufacturers in India and now this leading company is planning to launch several new models in the next 12 months, starting with this line-up Maruti Suzuki India Limited has officially unveiled a brand new crossover for the Indian market named as Maruti SX4 S Cross. This is considered as one of the two crossovers which are going to be released by Maruti while the other one is said to be XA Alpha or iV4. While the SX4 Cross is placed under the compact crossover segment, XA Alpha or iV4 is said to be placed under the Subcompact segment.  The compact crossover SX4 S-Cross carries the same design principles of the SX4 sedan which is considered as one of the best-releases from this company and has received the 5-star Euro NCAP safety ratings for its safety features. Maruti is considering this crossover release to be as successful in par with its predecessor SX4 Sedan. Even the looks of the crossover are are in lines with the SX4 Sedan.

This crossover was first unveiled at 2013 Geneva Motor Show in March and it was also unveiled at 2014 Delhi Auto Show in India. This car was first developed in collaboration with the Italian automobile manufacturer Fiat. The demand for MPV’s and Compact Utility Vehicles are increasing suddenly in India as many people are opting to buy  Compact Utility Vehicles than a Full Fledged SUV considering the affordability factors. With this growing demand in India, Maruti is planning to launch two crossovers in India and Maruti is considering SX4 Cross to be a major trump card to play in this tough competition areana.

So let’s dive in to the review to understand whether this car has the required features to call it as the game changer or a considerable ordinary release??

Maruti SX4 S-Cross

Image Source: www.scrensearch.com

Review: Styling & Looks

Exterior:

The newly unveiled Maruti SX4 S Cross comes with good looks and with a bit of smart and glossy design that can impress you in the first glance itself. The Exterior looks quite similar to the 2006 release SX4 Sedan. The front look gets a three piece chrome plated black grille with the studded Suzuki logo at middle of the grille. The head lights are also similar to the old release except that the new release gets the daytime LED’s and projector headlamps. In addition to this, there is an protective cladding made from aluminium under the bumper that can provide additional protection to the front from sudden strokes and as well as also from minor accidents. The wheels are fitted with a diamond shaped alloy which looks trendy and classy. While the rear end of this car also has a rear bumper with a metal platted finish same as front bumper and the tail lamps have a new classy and edgy design. The side looks are slightly changed with elongated doors for a good entry and as well as exit.

Interiors:

When it comes to interiors it looks neat and well-furnished and the design of the interiors look similar as in the Maruti’s Swift Hatchback model. Especially the steering wheel and the instrument clusters look very similar to the Swift. The dashboard looks quite simple and sophisticated with an integrated infotainment system, gearbox console, AC unit and other control buttons which are placed in smart way so that the user will be able to handle them easily. The seats are covered with premium black leather upholstery that gives a luxurious feel to people seated inside the car. The rear seats can accommodate three people comfortably and will fold down to expand the boot space at the back and the boot space is quite large in order to accommodate all things inside.

Maruti SX4 S-Cross features

Review: Engine & Performance:

When it comes to engine, the SX4 S-Cross comes in both petrol and diesel variants. The petrol version is expected to be powered by a 4-cylinder, 1.6-litre Multi-jet engine (1586cc displacement). It can produce a maximum power of 118Bhp at 5600 to 6000rpm, and this engine can generate a maximum torque output of 156Nm of peak torque at 4000rpm, which is quite impressive. This petrol version is expected to be powered with a 5-speed manual along with a CVT gearbox option. The entry level or low level diesel variants could be offered with a 4-cylinder, 1.3-litre engine having a 1248cc displacement capacity which is also considerably good if the car price is set to minimum.

With these engines the car is set have a good acceleration as the company is saying that the 1.6-Litre Multi-jet engine can reach 100 Kmph speed in just 11.3 to 11.5 seconds. The car can reach up to a maximum speed of about 185 Kmph. While the 1.6-Litre Petrol engine mill is expected go up gear up to a top speed of 170 Kmph and can accelerate from 0 to 100 Kmph speed in 10 to 11 seconds which is also quite impressive.

Maruti SX4 S-Cross review

Image Source: indianautosblog.com

Review: Safety

Safety is considered as one of the maximum priority aspect by Maruti. Hence many Maruti Suzuki cars are equipped with great safety measures. This car also has great safety features such as dual front air bags, ABS+EBD, central locking system, engine immobilizer, seat belts, side impact beams. With all these we can say that the car has  great safety measures.

Rivals:

This car is all set to face its rivals right from Honda to Mahindra and Renault to Ford. The cars which are considerable rivals for this car are

  • Ford Eco-sport
  • Mahindra XUV-500
  • Scorpio
  • Renault Duster
  • Honda Mobilio
  • Nissan Terrano

Key reason to own: Sophisticated body design, luxuriant interiors, Classy looks and After sales support

Reasons to skip: Chance of high Price tag, Not so trendy looking.

Release Expectations & Price:

We can expect this car to be released in second half of 2014 or at starting months of 2015. It is likely to be priced in the range of Rs 8 lakh (low-end) to Rs 14 lakh (high-end).

Bottom-Line:

Maruti is said to be one of the largest manufactures for the Indian market and well known for its good designs. If you want a classy car at a good price then it will be one of the best choices you have. We expect Maruti to release this car at a reasonable price tag so that it can be a tough competitor for its rivals.

2014 German Grand Prix – Rosberg Extends Lead on Home Turf

The race for the Drivers Championship is all intensified at the British Grand Prix as Hamilton kept his championship hopes alive  and finished at the top of the pack and closing in at just 4 points behind the championship leader and team mate Nico Rosberg.

The British GP was followed by mid season testing and then the complete pack moved to Hockenheim for the German Grand Prix.

German Grand Prix 2014

Things didn’t go well in qualifying at the German Grand Prix for Hamilton as he crashed into the barriers at turn 13 due to the front-right brake failure. The Briton was taken to the medical center relatively unscathed.

2014 German Grand Prix

 

Nico took the pole position with the best time for the weekend at 1 min 16.540 seconds. Luckily for Nico, he is fitted with a brake system supplied by a different manufacturer.

The drivers at Williams finished 2nd & 3rd at qualifying and Kelvin Magnussen finished 4th for McLaren. The 3rd row of the grid was occupied by RedBull drivers Daniel Ricciardo & Sebastian Vettel. Alonso of  Ferrari, Daniil Kvyat of  Toro Rosso and Force India Drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez formed the top 10 of the grid.

With the FRIC (Front & Rear Interconnected Suspension) being removed by the teams at the German Grand Prix and people speculating about the speed of the silver arrows because of its competitive advantage, Mercedes continued to be the fasted on the grid.

Race Day:

Rosberg won the German Grand Prix and extended his lead to Hamilton by 14 points! He is the first German to win at Hockenheim after Michael Schumacher’s victory in 2006.

“Wow, what a great day after so many great events for me this week! I came here hoping for a win and it worked out perfectly. My Silver Arrow was so dominant, thanks to the team for this fantastic car. Before the race I was worried that without the FRIC system the gap in the race would be smaller. But we were again the quickest out there.” – Nico Rosberg

Things didn’t go well for Hamilton after the crash at qualifying as after a change of gear box led him to fall further down the pack by 5 places forcing him to start at the penultimate row at 2oth place but Hamilton had an amazing stint by gaining 17 places over the course of the race and finished the race in 3rd place. He couldn’t pass Williams driver Botas at the end of the race as his super-soft tires wore quickly. During this, he also had a little collision with former team mate at McLaren, Jenson Button after which he waved apologies as he passed by. Williams claimed 2nd place making it their 30th podium finish.

“I had a little collision with Jenson. I really thought he was opening the door for me; he has been very good like that in recent races. So my bad on judgement there. – Lewis Hamilton

It was all drama in Hockenheim from the start as Fillepe Massa and Kelvin Magnussen collided in the first corner tipping the Williams upside down calling for the safety car to be deployed.

“Luckily I am ok but I am not happy. I was in front going into the corner, and so to have another race ended by another driver is not easy. I am doing my best, the team are doing their best, and we just aren’t getting the chances we need.” – Fillepe Massa

German 2014 Grand Prix

The battle for 4th place too intensified and saw stints of wheel – to – wheel racing between Vettel, Alonso & Ricardo. Vettel took 4th followed by the Ferrari at 5th and team mate Ricardo at 6th place.

“It was fun with Fernando today – we started maybe where we left off in Silverstone! It was quite entertaining the first half of the race and at one point it was quite tight with both the Ferraris, but we managed to stay ahead.” – Sebastian Vettel

Force India’s Hulkenberg & Perez finished an impressive 7th and 10th adding points to their constructors championship. The McLarens finished 8th & 9th on the grid.

“We were expecting to be stronger in the race today, but the drop in temperatures didn’t help us and both drivers struggled to show the pace we had seen during our long runs on Friday.” – Robert Fernley, Force India Deputy Team Principal

Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen was unable to score any points by finishing 11th on the grid.

“It’s a real shame the way my race went, because this weekend, I felt more comfortable and today, on fresh tires, I was going well. Unfortunately, twice I found myself squeezed between two cars and on both occasions my front wing got damaged and that compromised my race.” – Kimi Raikkonen

Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat’s race ended early at the 46th lap as his car burst into flames to an engine problem. He was visibly frustrated as he was seen hitting the barrier.

“It’s a shame how my race ended today, especially because yesterday went very well. My first stint was looking okay until the contact with Perez, which made me lose ground.” – Daniil Kvyat

German GP 2014

Adrian Sutin of Sauber had a spin at the start-finish straight on lap 50 stalling his car. The race director had to decide if to deploy the safety car which would have led to Rosberg being pulled back. He chose to continue the race and the car was moved in a couple of laps.

German Grand Prix winner

Overall it has been a dream couple of weekends for the German as he married his girlfriend, watched Germany win the world cup, signed a contract extension with Mercedes and have his forth victory of the season on home turf!

Race Standings:

1. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes1hr 33m 42.914s 67 laps  – 25 Points
2. Valtteri Bottas Finland Williams-Mercedes +20.7s – 18 Points
3. Lewis Hamilton Britain Mercedes-Mercedes +22.5s – 15 Points
4. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault +44.0s – 12 Points
5. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari +52.4s – 10 Points
6. Daniel Ricciardo Australia Red Bull-Renault +52.5s – 8 Points
7. Nico Hulkenberg Germany Force India-Mercedes +01m 04.1s – 6 Points 
8. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes +01m 24.7s – 4 Points
9. Kevin Magnussen Denmark McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap – 2 Points
10. Sergio Perez Mexico Force India-Mercedes +1 lap – 1 – Point

11. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari +1 lap 
12. Pastor Maldonado Venezuela Lotus-Renault +1 lap 
13. Jean-Eric Vergne France Toro Rosso-Renault +1 lap 
14. Esteban Gutierrez Mexico Sauber-Ferrari +1 lap 
15. Jules Bianchi France Marussia-Ferrari +1 laps 
16. Kamui Kobayashi Japan Caterham-Renault +2 laps 
17. Max Chilton Briton Marussia-Ferrari +2 laps 
18. Marcus Ericsson Sweden Caterham-Renault +2 laps 

Rtd. Adrian Sutil Germany Sauber-Ferrari 47 laps completed
Rtd. Daniil Kvyat Russia Toro Rosso-Renault 44 laps completed 
Rtd. Romain Grosjean France Lotus-Renault 26 laps completed 
Rtd. Felipe Massa Brazil Williams-Mercedes 0 laps completed 


Fastest lap: 
Lewis Hamilton Britain Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 19.908s Lap 53 

Driver’s Championship Standings:

1. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes – 190 Points
2. Lewis Hamilton Britain Mercedes-Mercedes – 176 Points
3. Daniel Ricciardo Australia Red Bull-Renault – 106 Points
4. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari – 97 Points
5. Valtteri Bottas Finland Williams-Mercedes – 91 Points
6. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault – 82 Points
7. Nico Hulkenberg Germany Force India-Mercedes – 69 Points
8. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes – 59 Points
9. Kevin Magnussen Denmark McLaren-Mercedes – 37 Points
10. Felipe Massa Brazil Williams-Mercedes – 30 Points
11. Sergio Perez Mexico Force India-Mercedes – 29 Points
12. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari – 19 Points
13. Jean-Eric Vergne France Toro Rosso-Renault – 9 Points
14. Romain Grosjean France Lotus-Renault – 8 Points
15. Daniil Kvyat Russia Toro Rosso-Renault – 6 Points
16. Jules Bianchi France Marussia-Ferrari – 2 Points

Constructor’s Championship Standings:

1.  Mercedes AMG Petronas – 366 Points
2.  Infiniti Red Bull Racing – 188  Points
3.  Williams Martini Racing – 121  Points
4.  Scuderia Ferrari – 116 Points
5.  Sahara Force India – 98 Points
6.  McLaren Mercedes – 96 Points
7.  Scuderia Toro Rosso – 15 Points
8.  Lotus F1 – 8 Points
9.  Marussia F1 – 2 Points
10. Sauber F1 – 0 Points
11. Caterham F1 –  0 Points

 

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

Renault KWID Concept – Overview

Renault is considered as one of the most innovate automobile companies around the world. In 2012 one of the renowned news agency Thomas Reuters has ranked Renault among the world’s 100 most innovative companies. Renault follows a principle that makes the company unique from others, as innovation for other company’s mean a lot more expensive R&D that is confined to a group of rich peoples only. But for Renault, innovation means designing and developing an affordable range of products which many people can afford. Renault has a motto of reaching as many people as they can through their innovation. These things make Renault quite different from other manufacturers. In this exploration of innovation, Renault has come up with a new design that can change the future of the automobile industry.

The new concept is called as KWID.

KWID is a concept car unveiled at the 2014 Delhi Auto Show by Renault and it is considered as one of the prestigious concept cars in that Auto show, targeting the new markets for Renault which includes India, and some other western countries. Actually this is considered as a grand release as it was for the first time it was showing a concept outside of Europe. By observing all this, we can come to a conclusion that Renault is considering India as one of its key market place in order to disclose its innovation as surprisingly Renault gives India great importance next to Europe which is considered as the unbeatable arena for Renault cars.

KWID Renault

Image Source: cdn.autoevolution.com

Looks:

When it comes to looks, KWID looks great and is every bit the concept car in its looks. The car is a combo design i.e. it looks a part dune buggy and a part SUV. The dual combination looks very unique, and it stays below 4 meters in overall length. The body of KWID is amazingly designed ( Thanks to the presence of different group of people, such as Brazilians, French and Indians in design team ). The design team comprises of some Indian automobile designers which includes Neha Lad (Color Designer). KWID comes with a mix color that comprises of Grey and Yellow. Neha Lad justifies it saying Grey denotes the earthy nature of India whereas Yellow denotes the hues of Indian spices and flowers like the marigold. The interiors were also designed by yet another Indian Mishu Batra.

Renault KWID review

 Image Source: www.30npire.com

Interior :

The interiors are designed in such a way that it can fit a family quite comfortably. Considerably there are two twists in the interiors which make it very different from all other cars. The first twist is that, the car is a five seater with 3 seats in front and two at the back. The second twist is, unlike all cars the steering wheel is mounted at the middle so we have to find a new name for this ( other than the Left hand and right hand driving ) in order to denote the new driving experience. The interiors are spacious enough to fit any size of people. Rear view mirrors are replaced with cameras and the output from these cameras get displayed at the top ends of the dash. Apart from these the car is also equipped with a dual-zone mock climate control system.

Renault Kwid interior

Image Source: www.mshcdn.com

Tech-Specs:

As it is a concept car, the specification might be change when it turns into a commercial model, and as with the technical specifications, Renault has revealed some of them :

  • The KWID has been powered by Renault’s 1.2 litre H5ft turbocharged petrol engine which has 120 bhp. This motor is similar to Renault Clio and Captur which are from Renault’s European car line-up.
  • Easy Start/Stop engine button
  • 6 speed EDC (Efficient Dual-Clutch) gearbox.
  • Charging socket adaptability to make the car even work with electricity
  • Battery pack for charging.
  • Price tag is not confirmed yet, as it is a concept car still under experimental stage.

I will keep updating the specs whenever they are officially announced or confirmed by the company, so keep this page bookmarked for exclusive updates.

KWID Flying Companion: Most desirable and innovative feature

KWID is accompanied with a flying companion,this flying companion is a remote controlled heli-cam that sits in a niche in the car’s roof. It is camouflaged, as the flying companion also has the same color as the car roof and it is present in a compartment made on the roof. The flying companion acts like a recon drone which is used to monitor the traffic or road conditions that lie ahead. The drone can be controlled manually by using the center mounted LCD screen as a controller or the drone can be set into auto mode so that it can work independently. This makes the whole package real interesting and fun. KWID is considered to have the world’s first built-in quad copter.

Renault kwid quadcopter

Image Source: gizmag.com

Bottom Line:

We have to consider that it is a concept model and still is in the experimentation stage.  I will keep updating the details as and when there are further updates.

Driver less Cars – will hit the roads soon

There has been drastic change in terms of the growth of automobiles from the past era. Today’s automobiles are equipped with modern technologies which makes the vehicle more refined, efficient, comfortable, safe and attractive. Some of the technologies include efficient engines, body styling and aerodynamics, safety features, light weight, improved tire industry, hybrid and electric vehicles and alternative fuels. Thus all these things point to the amount of research that has been put into the automobiles for several decades. Considering limited dependency on conventional fuels petrol and diesel, various future mobility solutions like hydrogen powered vehicles, electric vehicles , solar cars and compressed air powered vehicles are being researched in the global automotive industry.

Mobility Solution:

One more interesting future mobility solution that has come into picture is the Driverless Car. The concept has come up in order to address the accidents on the roads and also the fatigue of the driver during long drivings.  Yes, these are the vehicles which will not be controlled by the drivers and rather will be controlled by automatic mechanical and electronic systems throughout your journey. Just imagine a driver less car on the road which is capable of performing various functions like braking, accelerating, identifying the traffic signals, cornering and changing lanes. It would be really interesting to notice such cars on road!!!

Thus it would behave like a robotic car which will take you to any desired location of yours and you just need to relax and enjoy the ride.Considering the road conditions in which we drive,you might be thinking that how such vehicles will recognize when to brake, when to stop at traffic signals, when to change lanes, when to steer and how much to steer, how to avoid any obstacles on road and many other things. But we need to support the type of research automotive engineers are doing to develop such concepts.Google has come up with a prototype of a driver less car. Apart from Google, car manufacturers like Mercedes Benz, Volvo, BMW and Audi are also working on automation in the driving process.

Driver less vehicles have three basic things to accomplish: Braking, Acceleration and Steering.

Braking:

The vehicle needs to brake during traffic signals, to keep a safe distance from the front car and in case of pedestrian crossing. In order to automate this process , sensors can be installed on the wheels or bumpers for detecting close cars. BMW is working on usage of ultrasonic sensors for detecting objects.  A 3D imaging device is required to get all the images of the environment which is then fed into the algorithm of braking. LIDAR(a radar set up) is used by Google prototype vehicle for capturing the images  and is mounted on the top of the vehicle. Finally the braking algorithm needs to be developed to take in all the data from sensors, LIDAR and provide output for braking.

Acceleration:

It requires the vehicle to understand the traffic patterns, maps and speed limits. Braking technologies will be reused to develop the acceleration algorithm.

Steering:

The vehicle needs to be equipped with inbuilt navigation system for guiding itself. Along with GPS(Global positioning system), the algorithms of braking and acceleration will also play important role in making algorithms for steering functionality.

Thus all these issues needs to be considered for developing driverless vehicles

GOOGLE Prototype Vehicle:

Google Prototype Vehicle
Google Prototype Vehicle

The vehicle looks like a compact city car. It has a stop-go button and no pedals, steering wheel. It can accommodate two passengers and the speed is limited to 40kmph for safe driving. The vehicle is propelled by electric motors. The front of the vehicle is made using a foam like material which will ensure safety for pedestrians. It uses a radar system mounted on the roof top for getting the images from the environment.

It also makes use of Google Road Maps for navigation of the vehicle from one point to another. Google has also announced that these prototypes have been tested for 7,00,000 miles on auto mode and are now focusing on busy street roads. They are also hoping to see these vehicles on road within a year.Also there are several cases where we need to be cautious with respect to this technology. One of which is the situation when the computer does not respond and requires human intervention for driving. The people seated in the car may not pay attention to it and this might lead to an accident. Thus rigorous testing is being done by Google for ensuring that they have covered all the possibilities in the driving scenarios.

Drawbacks of Driver-less Cars:

Bottom Line:

These vehicles have the true potential of bringing a change in the transportation system in terms of safety aspects, reduced pollution and  traffic congestion.  These vehicles have the ability to remove driving error and thereby reduce accidents.
Innovation at its best!