FaceOff: Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid vs Toyota Prius

The hybrid car market has finally begun its bloom in recent years. Although manufacturers have been producing hybrid variants of cars already in their fleet, most car makers avoided ground up development of new models due to the sizable sum required for research. This trend has now seen a shift with manufacturers launching all new models designed specifically for hybrid drivetrains. South Korean car maker Hyundai has showcased its desire to break into the still vastly unoccupied market with the all new Ioniq. We pit the all new Ioniq against one of the oldest members of the segment: the Toyota Prius and see how the South Korean car maker fares in its first all-in venture in the hybrid car market.

Design

Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

Design-wise, the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid is a slight deviation from the car maker’s usual works. While the Ioniq adheres to Hyundai’s Fluidic design philosophy, the hatchback brings in numerous new elements that further enhance its aesthetic. The front end features a pair of aggressively designed headlights that flank the now familiar hexagonal grille. Unlike most Hyundai models, the new Ioniq’s grille sports horizontal slats, that strays far enough from Hyundai’s usual design tactics to produce a sense of uniqueness. The rear windscreen slopes at a low angle to integrate directly with the stubby boot giving the Ioniq a coupe-like side profile. Further aiding the Ioniq’s sporty overtones is the large boot mounted spoiler.

The Ioniq ybrid with its Fluidic Design philosophy seeks to make hybrids cool again
The Ioniq ybrid with its Fluidic Design philosophy seeks to make hybrids cool again

Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius has been around for years now. For the previous generations, Toyota had adopted a more subtle approach to design allowing the Prius to blend in with the traffic. For the latest generation however, the Japanese car manufacturer has launched a more aggressively designed model. The all new Toyota Prius features sharply designed headlights, muscular shoulder lines and a gently sloping roofline that all integrate to create an edgier avatar of the world’s most popular hybrid. While the new Prius is far more striking than previous generations, Toyota’s immense efforts to spark renewed interest in the minds of the public may have taken the hybrid liftback a bit too far. The bulging headlights, disproportionate bonnet length and small wheels do not enhance in the Prius’ visual appeal.

The 2016 Toyota Prius
The 2016 Toyota Prius

Winner: Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

Interior

Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

The Ioniq’s interior presents itself in typical Hyundai fashion with Fluidic Design 2.0 playing a heavy role in shaping its various elements. Similar to most of the mainstream mid-range hatchbacks from the South Korean car maker, the Ioniq features a classy interior with sporty undertones. Passengers are greeted by an all black cabin featuring tastefully designed chrome elements such as the pedals and gear lever that amps up the car’s allure. The dashboard features a well stocked infotainment system that features Google’s all new Android Auto system. With the majority of manfacturers still deploying poorly designed/uninutitive in-house developed infotaiment systems, the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid is well ahead of the curve. Hyundai has also fitted the new hybrid hatchback with a wireless charging dock thus further distancing itself from the competition.

The interior of the upcoming Hyundai Ioniq
The interior of the upcoming Hyundai Ioniq

Toyota Prius

Toyota has adopted an avant-garde approach to the design of the Prius’ cabin. As a result, the Toyota Prius’ interior is rather unique and will definitely garner polarizing opinions. The instrument cluster (now an ultra wide LCD display) has been moved to the center of the dashboard creating an aura of emptiness around the driver. Other notable features include the gloss black finish of the center console and steering wheel and the unconventional placement of the car’s gear stick. Thus similar to the car’s exterior, the interior too is visually striking. However, Toyota’s latest iteration of the Prius fails to make a lasting impression.

Interior of the new Prius
Interior of the new Prius

Winner: Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

Under the Bonnet

Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

Powering the all new Hyundai hybrid hatchback is a four cylinder 1.6 l Kappa engine that churns out 104 hp and a peak torque of 109 lb-ft. The Ioniq hybrid is supplied with an additional 43 hp by the permanent-magnet synchronous AC motor that is powered by a 1.6 kWh battery pack. Power is sent to the front wheels via a dual clutch gearbox.

The Ioniq offers better range than the Prius
The Ioniq offers better range than the Prius

Toyota Prius

Powering the all new Prius is a 1.8 l in-line four cylinder petrol engine that produces 95 hp and 105 lb-ft of peak torque. The engine is coupled with a 71 hp electric motor to send a total of 121 hp to the front wheels through a CVT gearbox.

The Toyota Prius uses an arcane engine
The Toyota Prius uses an arcane engine

Winner: Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

Verdict

The Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid is shaping up to be a major player in the hybrid car market and with engine numbers and features that leaves almost all of its competition in the dust, Hyundai’s upcoming offering looks to be another massive hit. One of the greatest drawbacks of any Hyundai is its driving dynamics. Hopefully the South Korean car maker manages to sort the issues out by the time this model hits the streets.

FaceOff: Nissan Leaf vs Kia Soul EV

Electric vehicles have been around for quite some time now. However, no manufacturer in the budget segment of the industry has managed to launch a vehicle that can actively replace conventional petrol driven vehicles. Cars such as the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Spark EV, Ford Focus Electric and Fiat 500E have made an honest attempt at making their mark in the world but fall short in some department or the other. The latest manufacturer to join the club is South Korean heavyweight Kia. With the upcoming launch of its Soul EV, we may see a winner soon enough. We pit the Nissan Leaf against the newcomer to see how the South Korean electric hatch fares.

Design

Nissan Leaf

The Nissan Leaf was introduced back in 2010. Since its debut, the little electric hybrid has changed little over the years. While the Nissan Leaf’s off-beat exterior may have been appealing a few years ago, it may require a bit of sprucing up to meet the competition. The front end features a pair of large bulging headlights not unlike India’s very own Micra. Nissan has also incorporated the charging port up front for better ease of access. The rear features a pair of long, free-flowing tail lamps that extend from the roof to the bottom of the trunk giving the leaf a bit of zest.

The current generation Nissan Leaf
The current generation Nissan Leaf

Kia Soul EV

Similar to the Nissan Leaf, the Kia Soul EV does not manage to impress. Although the car maker is owned by Hyundai, Hyundai’s Fluidic Design philosophy has not managed to creep into any of its own models. As a result, the Kia Soul EV may not turn as many heads as its Hyundai counterparts. Major differences between the Soul’s petrol driven variant and the electric model are the sealed grille, dual color paint job and revised lower front bumper.

The Kia Soul EV is classified as an UPV (Urban Passenger Vehicle)
The Kia Soul EV is classified as an UPV (Urban Passenger Vehicle)

Winner: Kia Soul EV

Interior

Nissan Leaf

The Nissan Leaf was targeted to be a budget electric hatchback. As a result, the Nissan Leaf does not feature exotic materials or extraordinary design characteristics. However, the Nissan Leaf’s cabin offers the same levels of functionality as its more conventional petrol driven counterparts. The dashboard features a gloss black floating center console that houses a large landscape oriented touchscreen for the infotainment system. Similar to the now discontinued Honda Civic, the Nissan Leaf’s instrument cluster too sports a dual display system. With the primary display housing the details for the battery guage, odometer and diagonostics; the secondary display is a dedicated unit for the speedometer. The three spoke steering wheel features controls for the infotainment system that handles features such as the music system, radio and navigation.

Interior of the Leaf
Interior of the Leaf

Kia Soul EV

The Kia Soul EV features a fairly standard interior with the center console sporting an infotainment system replete with navigation, Bluetooth telephony and automatic climate control. However, the white/beige color scheme of the Soul EV’s interior does induce a bit of dullness that is not present in its Japanese competitor.

The Kia Soul EV's interior is rather poorly designed when compared to its competitors
The Kia Soul EV’s interior is rather poorly designed when compared to its competitors

Winner: Nissan Leaf

Under the Hood

Nissan Leaf

Powering the Nissan electric hatchback is an 80 kW motor that churns out 109 hp and a peak torque of 187 lb-ft. While the power figures may not be groundbreaking, one must keep in mind that the Nissan Leaf is an electric vehicle that was developed from the ground up. As a result, the Leaf manages to utilize every horse in the most efficient way possible. The total claimed range offered by the Nissan Leaf is 84 miles.

The Nissan Leaf houses a fairly underpowered engine
The Nissan Leaf houses a fairly underpowered engine

Kia Soul EV

Unlike the Nissan Leaf, the Kia Soul EV is derived from a petrol model also sold in Kia’s international range. However, an electric model along with its associated requirements was taken into consideration during the design of the latest generation. As a result, the Kia Soul does not make too many compromises with regards to the space and electric range/power. In fact, Kia’s first electric offering manages to dish out better range (93 miles) than most of its competitors.

Kia's offering may prove to be a hit
Kia’s offering may prove to be a hit

Under the bonnet is a permanent-magnet AC motor that churns out 109 hp and a max torque of 210 lb-ft. Power is sent to the front wheels via a one speed direct drive gearbox.

Winner: Kia Soul EV

Verdict

Althought he Nissan Leaf may sport better styling than the Kia Soul EV and can also boast of being developed from the ground up, the little Japanese electric hatch needs significant rework to keep up with the competition. While the Kia Soul EV manages to win this one, both vehicles are in dire need of a radical revamp to produce themselves as serious competition to GM’s upcoming Bolt, a product heralded as a revolution in the electric automotive industry.

Tata Megapixel vs Chevrolet beat Electric

Tata motors have created  much hype with its upcoming electric car that’s going to be named Mega Pixel. This vehicle has (as sources suggest) been specifically designed to cater to the European markets. Bringing quite the futuristic look and feel to the market, this car is the upgraded version of the small car Pixel that is based on Tata Nano.

On on the other side of the competition, presenting the Electrically charged Chevrolet Beat. The beat has been quite a successfully running hatchback car in the Indian hatch segment. The Beat diesel version was the most sought after vehicle that created quite the buzz. With eager anticipation, here is a small review on the upcoming Beat Electric version.

 

Exteriors:

A complete in house house project from Tata motors that adds quite the European design to make it look pretty futuristic. This car was a debutant at the wood festival of speed in UK. The Megapixel surely knows how to impress. This car looks more like a production ready car rather than a concept. The practical designing of this compact hatch is really commendable. The car doesn’t features scissor doors similar to its younger sibling pixel. Instead, it comes with double sliding doors which make it easy for you to go in/out of the car and they look quite attractive also. The single piece face of Megapixel features angular headlights on both sides which gel well with the black colored radiator grille of this car.

The small bonnet of this car leads to its long and wide front windshield which makes it look extremely aerodynamic. The black colored air dam of Megapixel makes it look like a typical Tata car. The bulgy wheel arches and 16 inches alloy wheels add muscularity to Megapixel. The noticeable running lines on its doors nicely merges into the boot of this car. The tall look at the back adds visual bulk to this car. The tall positioned LED tail lights of Megapixel look sporty with its C-pillar. The rear glass eats up most of the space at the back and looks nice with its bulky rear bumper which features black colored air inlets. Overall, it is just the perfect blend of style and sophistication.

Tata Megapixel

General Motors on the other side of the wheel has taken a crack at revving fading customer interest in the Beat. The new Electric version is the essence of massive elegance that made this car so popular. The car features elegant bumpe s, new mirrors, a sporty looking rear spoiler alongside its LED inserts. It’s re-profiled head and tail-lights are quite prominent too. The slim seats give you optimum support and space. Megapixel is perfect for four adults. The double sliding doors not only give you easy access to this car but also improve the space inside. The panoramic roof also enlightens the mood inside and makes it look premium.

The dual tone dashboard of Megapixel will feature a big touch screen at its centre with AC vents on both sides. The instrument console and glove box will also be fitted in this dashboard. Tata may offer this car with door pockets, cubby holes and its spacious floor can also be used as a storage space. The bonnet of Megapixel is likely to act as the boot of this car similar to its younger siblings.

Chevrolet Beat Electric

 

Interiors:

Tata megapixel comes with a futuristic design. Tata Megapixel is likely to get dual tone interiors. The positioning of everything looks quite perfect and the cabin feels quite up-market. The floor and cabin feels quite spacious. The lack of B-pillar is the biggest reason which gives you more space inside this car. The slim seats give you optimum support and space. Megapixel is perfect for four adults. The double sliding doors not only give you easy access to this car but also improve the space inside. The panoramic roof also enlightens the mood inside and makes it look premium. The dual tone dashboard of Megapixel will feature a big touch screen at its centre with AC vents on both sides. The instrument console and glove box will also be fitted in this dashboard. Tata may offer this car with door pockets, cubby holes and its spacious floor can also be used as a storage space. The bonnet of Megapixel is likely to act as the boot of this car similar to its younger siblings.

Tata Megapixel

 

The Chevrolet Beat electric’s cabin looks pretty mum similar to the existing Beat models. With uniquely styled instrument cluster that’s made up of an analog speedometer and a digital pod for the tachometer that resembles a mid-’90s electronic Casio organiser and may not appeal to everyone. The front seats lack a bit of thigh support, but leg room is adequate. From the driver’s seat, the slightly high cowl and smallish rear windscreen hamper visibility, especially for new drivers. The equipment list is adequate. The vehicle sports features like airbags on both the sides, ABS, CD plays along with USH steering mounted audio controls as well as alloy wheels and power windows.

Chevrolet Beat Electric

 

Engine and Gearbox:
Technically, Megapixel is a futuristic and advanced car. Megapixel gets four electric motors, one on each wheel. These are lithium Ion Phosphate 13KWh batteries with induction charging system. They take 30minutes to get charge up to 80%. Megapixel is also equipped with a single cylinder 325cc single cylinder petrol engine. This 4-stroke engine is low on CO2 emission and generates a peak power of 30bhp. This engine is mated with an automatic transmission.

The Electric Beat on the other hand is supposedly powered by a Lithium powered battery with a maximum power of 20 kWh. This vehicle comes with a 5 speed manual transmission.

Suspension and Brakes:
Megapixel is likely to share its suspension system with its younger sibling, Pixel. It will feature McPherson struts at its front with independent coil spring suspension system at the back. The car might feature ventilated discs at its front or it may debut with drum brakes of 180mm on its all wheels. ABS with EBD and brake assist will further help you to stop this car accurately.

The Beat Electric on the flipside is likely to carry McPherson Strut brakes along with Compound Link Type Suspension.

Price:

The Megapixel is likely to carry a price gage between Rs. 5 lakhs to Rs. 6 Lakhs.

The Beat Electric is expected to be around the Rs. 6 lakh ball park.

Bottom Line: 

It is really difficult to decide which car is better than the other. Based on the design, the Mega pixel seems to hold more style. The Beat Electric on the other hand holds promise thanks to its predecessor models.

Hyundai’s Genesis G90 vs Mercedes Benz S Class

The luxury sedan segment has always been a three horse race. Unlike other segments, the luxury sedan section of the automotive market has always been more than just about the car itself; Owning such vehicles has now become a symbol or an aspiration one strives to achieve. As such, a luxury car’s features, design and price are not the only factors for purchase.

The insignia too becomes a vital aspect in the appeal of such cars. However, Hyundai begs to differ. The South Korean car maker has launched a new line of luxury cars under the moniker Genesis to showcase its potential as a luxury car maker. While other car makers such as Toyota, Nissan and Honda have attempted this formula in the past, Mercedes Benz, BMW and Audi have remained unshaken and the hierarchy remains to be challenged. For Hyundai to pose a significant opposition, the South Korean car maker will need to bring more than its fair share to the table. We pit the Genesis G90 against the Mercedes Benz S Class to see how the new kid on the block fairs.

Design

Genesis G90

The Genesis G90 serves as the successor to the Hyundai Equus. However, the new Genesis shares little to no resemblance to its ungainly ancestor. Unlike most vehicles in Hyundai’s range, the G90 and its lesser brother G80 follow a highly refined variant of the South Korean car maker’s Fluidic Sculpture design philosophy. As a result, the G90 exterior is calming mix of sharp lines and smooth contours as opposed to the vortex of chaos normally churned out by the car manufacturer. The front end features a large hexagonal chrome grille with LED/projector headlights flanking both sides. Following the Fluidic design methodology, every end point of the hexagonal grille acts as the starting point from which the car’s defining lines emerge. The lower bumper features a horizontal chrome strip that houses the LED DRLs. The rear features a pair of chrome lined exhaust tips adding a bit of sportiness to the overall theme of luxury.

The G90 will be first product under Hyundai's Genesis sub-brand
The G90 will be first product under Hyundai’s Genesis sub-brand

Mercedes Benz S Class

The Mercedes Benz S Class is a metal creature of gargantuan proportions. Sadly however, its size may be the only thing going for the S Class. Unlike previous generations that made use of subtle curves and sharp yet understated power lines, the S Class is an awkward mix of wild twists and turns that ultimately shocks more than it pleases.

mercedes benz s class
The all new Mercedes Benz S Class’ design methodology is a radical departure from previous generations

Interior

Genesis G90

The cabin of the Genesis is just as elegant as its exterior. The vast swathes of leather wrapped around the cabin is punctuated by elegant aluminium embellishments and wood work. While this may be Genesis’ first outing in the luxury full size sedan segment, the car maker has pulled all the stops to ensure that the G90’s occupants are enveloped in the most luxurious interior possible.

Mercedes Benz S Class

Similar to the G90, the Mercedes Benz S Class houses one of the most exquisite cabins in the automotive industry. One may even be bold enough to claim that the S Class’ interior showcases the pinnacle of design and sophistication in its segment. Some of the main highlights of the Benz flagship’s cabin are the brushed aluminium finishing, free flowing dashboard and large instrument panel cum infotainment system display.

2014 mercedes benz s class interior
The cabin of the Mercedes Benz S-Class

Under the Bonnet

Genesis G90

The all new Genesis product is offered with two engines. Lower variants of the G90 will house a 3.3 l twin turbocharged V6 that churns out 365 hp and 376lb-ft of peak torque while top end models will be driven by the more capable 5.0 l V8 that puts out an impressive 420 hp with a peak torque figure of 383 lb-ft. Both engines send power to the rear wheels via an eight speed automatic. However, an all wheel drive system is offered as an option. 

Genesis will offer only two engines for the G90 sedan
Genesis will offer only two engines for the G90 sedan

Mercedes Benz S Class

Unlike the relatively small range offered by Hyundai for its all new luxury sedan, Mercedes Benz offers the S Class with engines ranging from a mere 255 hp to a whopping 621 hp. Buyers also have the choice between petrol and diesel. The lowest variant of the Benz packs a 3.0 l turobcharged diesel mill that produces 255 hp and an impressive 620 Nm of torque. The smallest petrol variant is propelled by a mammoth 4.2 l that churns out 453 hp @ 5250 RPM with peak torque of 700 Nm coming in at 1800 RPM.

2014 mercedes benz s class engine
Mercedes Benz’s flagship is offered with a varied range of engines

Benz’s top end AMG line of S Class variants include a 577 hp twin turbocharged V8 and the 621 hp biturbo V12 monster: the German car maker’s crown jewel.

Verdict

Although the Genesis has all the makings of an excellent flagship from Hyundai, the car’s limited engine options and lack of brand value may inhibit its growth as a brand. However, that being said, the Genesis G90 is one of the most elegant cars in its segment and poses a sizable threat to the multitude of Japanese and German car makers that populate this segment.

Electric Rivalry: Chevrolet Bolt vs VW e-Golf

Electric vehicles have begun their slow ascent into mainstream markets. With cars such as the Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf kicking off the revolution, big players such as Volkswagen and Chevy too have decided to enter the arena. While some car makers have opted to create electric vehicles from scratch, others have retro-fitted existing models with electric drivetrains. Although Tesla was expected to launch the world’s first truly accessible long range electric car, Chevrolet managed to steal the crown by launching its Bolt hatchback.

The Chevy Bolt competes in a segment heavily populated by other major car makers such as Volkswagen, Fiat, Ford and Kia. However, the low range, high cost and lack of infrastructure still does not allow electric vehicles to be explored as a viable alternative to their fossil powered counterparts. However, with its 200 mile range and affordable price tag, the Chevrolet Bolt may just be the car that acts as a catalyst for the EV revolution. We pit the recently unveiled Chevrolet Bolt against another one of its rivals: the VW e-Golf, a popular hatch in its conventional avatar and see if the American car maker’s latest can take on German engineering.

Design

Chevrolet Bolt

Chevrolet’s Bolt hatchback is a surprisingly conventional machine that closely resembles the most recent Spark (recognized as the Beat here in India). The front fascia presents itself with an all black plastic grille with distinct design elements that add a bit of character to the otherwise inconspicuous road presence of the Bolt. Further aiding in the Bolt’s visual appeal is its swept back headlamps, LED DRLs and contrasting black ORVMs. Unlike the wildly zany design philosophies of current generation Toyota Prius or Faraday Future’s FFZERO1 concept, the Bolt has been designed specifically to remain as contemporary and modern with a bit of flavor that ensures the electric vehicle is pleasing to the eye without running the risk of being offensive.

 

2017 chevrolet electric hatch
Front view of the upcoming Bolt hatchback

VW e-Golf

Volkswagen’s Golf hatchback remains one of the most striking cars in its segment despite its old age. The subtle curves and no-nonsense design philosophy lends the e-Golf a bit of sporty elegance. In keeping with the theme of the e-Golf’s new tech under the bonnet, the Golf’s signature red strip that runs along the front grille has been replaced with that of a blue one.

vw e-golf front three quarter
The VW e-Golf has changed little over its life as a petrol hatch

Winner: VW e-Golf

Interior

Chevrolet Bolt

The interiors of the Chevy Bolt is an impressive mixture of tech and style. The dashboard features a fully digitized instrument cluster and a large touchscreen display unit for its navigation and infotainment system while the controls and display unit for the climate control are located just below the screen. Unlike the hatch’s exterior, the rest of Bolt’s cabin is far from dramatic. Chevy has fitted the Bolt with a standard white/gray upholstery with silver finishes all around.

interiors chevrolet bolt
Interiors of the new Chevy Bolt

VW e-Golf

Similar to the exterior, the interior of the e-Golf features a functional approach to design. As such, the cabin of the VW e-Golf features plain beige upholstery and a neatly organized dashboard. The flat bottomed steering wheel and chrome embellishments add a bit of sportiness to the otherwise somber nature of the e-Golf’s cabin. Unlike the Chevy Bolt, VW has fitted the e-Golf with the conventional instrument cluster that features analogue dials for the speedometer, tachometer and digital readouts for the fuel gauge, odometer and tripmeter. While the e-Golf’s restrained design methodology creates a sense of class, the cabin succumbs to the very same problem that plagues most current generation Volkswagen cars: the design feels far too clinical with no sense of passion ingrained into its development.

volkswagen e-golf hatch interior
The e-Golf’s cabin is decidedly VW

Winner: Chevy Bolt

Under the Hood

Chevrolet Bolt

Powering the Chevy Bolt is an electric motor that churns out  200 hp and a peak torque of 266 lb-ft. The 60 kWh battery powering the Bolt’s motor allows the new American hatch to achieve a whopping 200 miles of range; the best in its class. With fast charging capability, the Chevy Bolt can manage upto 50 miles of range with a mere 2 hours of charge. 

rear three quarter of the chevrolet bolt
The new motor and battery offer an impressive 200 miles of range

VW e-Golf

Powering the e-Golf hatch is a front mounted electric motor that churns out 115 hp and a max torque figure of 199 lb-ft. Power is sent to the front wheels via a one speed gearbox. Power is supplied to the motor through the 24.2 kWh battery Li-Ion battery pack. While these numbers may have been impressive during the time of launch, the Bolt’s immense range and greater power proves to be the makings of a better EV.

2015 vw e-golf engine
VW’s electric motor and battery pack does not offer the same amount of punch or range as its competitor

Winner: Chevy Bolt

Verdict

Although the VW e-Golf is a fairly upmarket hatchback, the car’s few shortcomings (range, power) are also its biggest weaknesses. For an electric car to serve as a replacement for petrol or diesel powered vehicles, the question of range must be answered. As such, the e-Golf fails in this aspect. While the Chevy Bolt may not arrive until 2017, the American hatch has the makings of becoming the catalyst for the electric car revolution.

Lexus LC500 Coupe vs BMW M4

The sports saloon segment in the international market has been completely dominated by BMW over the past several decades. Despite the arrival of various other car makers to this segment, BMW’s M3 remains the benchmark to this day. The years of assimilation and the legacy of previous generations has allowed the BMW M3 to stay well above the competition.

However, Lexus hopes to stir the pot with its all new LC 500 luxury sports coupe. Up until recently, the M3 coupe (now known as the M4) battled it out with its other German rivals: the Mercedes AMG C63 and Audi’s RS5. With the LC 500, Lexus seeks to break into a market populated by car makers that have had years to nurture their products. So how well does the new Lexus fair against Bimmer’s M4? We find out.

Design

Lexus LC 500 Coupe

Leuxs’ LC 500 may be one of the most striking cars in the segment. While Mercedes Benz, Audi and BMW adopt a more subtle approach to design, Lexus has taken a different route. The LC 500’s dramatic design philosophy is reminiscent of Japanese sports cars of yesteryear. Similar to the RC-F launched earlier, the LC-500 too dons the family spindle grille. Unlike most sports cars, the LC 500 features sharp, small headlights accentuated by LED DRLs that generate an aesthetic commonly associated with exotic Italian supercars (read Lamborghini). The theatrical persona of the LC 500 is further increased with the addition of a wide body stance, large air vents on either side and heavily sculpted bodywork.

The Lexus LC 500 is the latest addition to the car maker's sports range
The Lexus LC 500 is the latest addition to the car maker’s sports range

BMW M4

Unlike previous generations, BMW has made significant changes to the coupe variant of the M3. As a result, the M4 features a more aggressive body kit with zany color options. The front end sports a pair of large air vents, chrome grille and a heavily sculpted bonnet. Other notable aspects of the M4’s exterior are the dual pair of exhausts located on either side of the car and the reworked lower bumper. While the aggressive design philosophy may have its fans, one of the major highlights of the previous generations was the subtle approach to the bodywork taken by BMW.

The new BMW M4 is rather brash in design as opposed to the understated elegance of previous generations
The new BMW M4 is rather brash in design as opposed to the understated elegance of previous generations

Winner: Lexus LC 500 Coupe

Interior

Lexus LC500 Coupe

Unlike conventional sports cars that generate an aura of sportiness within, the LC 500 Coupe bathes its occupants in luxurious excess. Every inch of the Japanese sports car’s cabin is bathed in premium leather, suede and aluminium. The cabin also features a distinct divide between the cockpit and the passenger side further laying emphasis of the LC 500’s stance as a driver’s car. Similar to the Lexus LFA, the LC 500 comes with an all digital instrument cluster that features a large central tachometer with auxiliary data displayed on either side. One of the most defining traits of the Lexus LC 500’s interior is the glass bed that encases the infotainment system’s display and analogue clock. While the infotainment system’s display is centrally mounted for easy viewing, the central divide does not allow the passenger complete control of the car’s various features.

The interior of the Lexus LC 500 is a beautiful amalgam of leather, aluminium and cutting edge tech
The interior of the Lexus LC 500 is a beautiful amalgam of leather, aluminium and cutting edge tech

BMW M4

Unlike its Japanese rival, the M4’s cabin sports a slick, all black sporty theme replete with carbon fibre across the dashboard, center console and doors. The driver is greeted by a three spoke leather wrapped steering wheel and an all analogue instrument cluster. Similar to most current generation Bimmers, the M4 also features the familiar iDrive infotainment system.

The M4 features a sporty all black cabin
The M4 features a sporty all black cabin

Under the Bonnet

Lexus LC500 Coupe

The Lexus LC 500 may be one of the few cars still making use of naturally aspirated engines. The front mounted 5.0 l V8 produces 467 hp and a peak torque of 389 lb-ft. Power is sent to the rear wheels via an all new 10 speed automatic gearbox.

Powering the Lexus LC 500 is a now endangered naturally aspirated V8 engine
Powering the Lexus LC 500 is a now endangered naturally aspirated V8 engine

BMW M4

Powering the M4 is a twin turbocharged inline six cylinder engine that produces 425 hp @ 7300 RPM and an impressive 406 lb-ft of torque at 1850 RPM. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a seven speed dual clutch automatic gearbox.

The M4 features a powerful twin turbocharged inline six cylinder engine
The M4 features a powerful twin turbocharged inline six cylinder engine

Verdict

Unlike most cars in this segment, Lexus has opted to give equal focus to both luxury and performance with its LC 500. As a result, the LC 500 may not be able to go head to head with its competitors. However, few can argue that this compromise is a deal breaker. The LC 500 features one of the most beautiful cabins ever fitted into a car let alone a sports car. While enthusiasts will remain loyal to the BMW M4, Lexus will definitely make its mark with the LC 500.

Hydrogen Car Shootout: Toyota Mirai vs Honda Clarity

Investments in alternative energy sources has seen a dramatic increase over the past few years. This is partly due to the mounting concern of the environment and the fast depleting reserves of oils around the world. While most manufacturers have turned to electric or eletro-petrol drivetrains, a few manufacturers have taken a different route. Car makers such as Toyota, Honda and even Hyundai have turned to hydrogen. Although hydrogen was considered a highly unstable source of immense energy back in the nineteenth century, scientists and engineers have managed to store the element within fuel cells; a far safer format. Here, we take a look at Toyota and Honda, two of the biggest Japanese automakers in the world and see how their hydrogen based products fare against each other.

Design

Toyota Mirai

The Toyota Mirai is one of the most striking sedans currently available in the market. The front plays host to sleek, sporty all-LED headlights and vertically stacked LED daytime running lights and a heavily sculpted lower bumper that sports chrome accents along the fog lamp enclosures. The sharp contours and aggressive design language remains close to Toyota’s current philosophy and provides the Mirai with an aura of sportiness mixed with futurism. The side features flared wheel arches that flow into rear and integrate with the tail lights. The singular brake light strip that runs along the width of the Mirai and its taillight cluster design brings to mind a more cyberpunk theme than that of a contemporary one.

The Toyota Mirai
The Toyota Mirai

Honda Clarity

The Honda Clarity’s exterior is far more conventional than the Toyota Mirai. However, despite the unassuming silhouette, standard bonnet and orthodox ORVMs, the front grille features a sliver accent that runs along the entirety of the Honda Clarity’s front end to integrate directly with the headlights. This atypical design style coupled with the vertically stacked LED DRLs provide the Clarity with some much needed personality. The full size sedan also features the headlight design commonly seen on more upmarket models from the Japanese car maker marketed under the moniker Acura.

Honda's Mirai rival, the Clarity
Honda’s Mirai rival, the Clarity

Winner: Toyota Mirai

Interior

Toyota Mirai

The interior of the Mirai sedan plays host to one of the most advanced dashboards ever fitted on a Toyota. With a primary display for the infotainment system and a smaller secondary display unit for the climate controls, the Mirai allows for easy access for the most commonly used features in a vehicle. Both units are controlled by capacitive touch keys while the primary display serves as a touchscreen as well. Similar to a few models available here in India, Toyota has adopted a centrally mounted instrument cluster rather than the more conventional driver side position. The instrument cluster features three separate displays. With the first display feeding the user a summary of important data such as driving mode, fuel gauge, current speed and fuel economy; The secondary display produces a “green” score indicating the efficiency of the user’s driving style while the third display is a conventional LED digital clock.

Interior of the Mirai
Interior of the Mirai

While the dashboard of the Mirai is extremely striking to look at, the rest of the cabin is far more conventional. The all black interior accentuated by silver finishes provides a sporty feel with luxurious undertones.

Honda Clarity

Similar to its exteriors, the Honda Clarity’s cabin is fairly conventional. The all black cabin features a conventional infotainment system and  digital displays for the instrument cluster and climate control. The main unit is a touchscreen system that allows control over climate control and the music system. However, unlike most manufacturers that offer in-house developed music systems, the Clarity comes with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Winner: Toyota Mirai

Under the Hood

Toyota Mirai

Powering the Toyota Mirai is a front mounted synchronous AC motor that is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. Power is sent to the front wheels via a one speed gearbox. Despite its immense weight and the meager 152 hp dished out by the hydrogen fuel cell powered electric motor, the Mirai manages the 0-100 kmph milestone in an impressive 9.4 seconds.

The Mirai's produces only water as exhaust from the engine
The Mirai’s produces only water as exhaust from the engine

Honda Clarity

The Honda Clarity is also powered by a synchronous electric motor that churns out 134 hp and 189 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a single speed gearbox.

The Clarity is one of the few rivals to the Mirai
The Clarity is one of the few rivals to the Mirai

Winner: Draw

Verdict

Although the Honda Clarity fits more people in its cabin, the Toyota Mirai beats its competitor in almost every other conceivable way. The cyberpunk aesthetic, upmarket interiors and LED/projector headlights produce a feeling of luxury and a road presence stronger than even most entry level sports cars. The Mirai is a sign of a bright and interesting future.

Petrol vs Electric: Tesla Model X vs Audi Q7

Hybrid and electric vehicles are increasingly bridging the gap between themselves and conventional petrol or diesel driven vehicles. Cars such as the recently unveiled Chevy Bolt and the more upmarket Tesla Model S showcase the extent to which electric cars have matched their fossil fuel counterparts. The most recent launch from Tesla, the Model X is the company’s and the world’s first fully electric luxury SUV. We compare it to one of the giants of the segment, the 2016 Audi Q7 and see how the American crossover fares against a fully loaded, heavy duty SUV.

Exterior

Tesla Model X:

The Tesla Model X features one of the cleanest designs of current gen crossovers. With only a few distinct lines defining the entire body, the Model X seeks to reduce the aerodynamic drawback of being an SUV. However, Tesla has made no compromises on design. The dynamic spoiler, low-angle wrap over front windscreen and falcon doors make for substantial road presence. Little is borrowed from the Model S sedan. Despite its relatively small size, the Model X is even capable of seating six to seven passengers.

The Tesla Model X
The Tesla Model X

2016 Audi Q7:

The 2016 Q7 is the long awaited revamp of the first generation Audi Q7. Audi’s latest flagship SUV has adopted a few crossover elements to be a better all-rounder than its predecessor. Based off VW’s second generation MLB platform, the all new Q7 has been constructed with more aluminium and revised suspension to offer a more dynamic ride.

The all new Audi Q7
The all new Audi Q7

Visually, the Q7 adopts the same design philosophy as the Audi Q3 and Q5. As such, the new Q7 ditches its slick, sports car avatar in favor of a more conventional butch character. The prominent chrome lined hexagonal grille is flanked by large horizontally stacked full LED headlights provides a towering presence on the streets. Unlike the previous model, the fog lamp enclosures located on the bumpers actually feature fog lamps.

Interior:

Tesla Model X:

Similar to the Model S, the Tesla Model X’s cabin takes a mimalist approach. The interior is a luxurious blend of gloss black plastics and premium white leather. No buttons, knobs, multiple displays or levers adorn the dashboard save for the familiar portrait mounted touchscreen tablet and the fully digital LCD panel that acts as the driver’s instrument cluster. Despite its crossover category, the Model X seeks to seat six to seven passengers with three rows of seats. Unlike conventional middle row seats, the Model X’s middle row rests on movable pedestals to allow easy mount/dismount to and from the third row seats.

Interiors of the new Model X SUV
Interiors of the new Model X SUV

One of the most striking aspects of the Model X are its door mechanisms. Not only can all four doors be opened and closed remotely from the main center console, the rear passenger doors open upwards rather than the concentional side hinge layout. Dubbed falcon doors, Tesla’s implementation is quite unique. Unlike almost all door systems that uses hinges at a single point, Tesla’s falcon door system feature double hinged doors with sensors embedded within the sheetmetal to scan the outside environment. Should the Model X be placed in a tight spot, the doors dynamically adjust the angles at which they unfold to ensure that occupants can exit no matter the circumstance. As the Model X is electric, the SUV features luggage space both at the front and the rear offering the most space in its class.

2016 Audi Q7:

The 2016 Audi Q7’s cabin is a rich mixture of wood, aluminium and premium leather. The dashboard sports two displays for various purposes. While the secondary display is mainly used to view current climate control settings, the larger primary pop up unit displays common infotainment system details such as navigation, music and also doubles up as the rear view camera feed. The driver is greeted by a sporty leather clad three spoke steering wheel fitted with the now conventional steering mounted controls. Similar to most high end luxury vehicles, Audi has replaced the conventional analog instrument cluster with a large 12.3 inch LCD display. Better known as the Virtual Cockpit, the display feeds information to the driver based on context. As such, the instrument cluster can display current route on navigation, speed, tachometer and various other aspects of the environment or car. This configurable display is already in use on the latest TT and R8 sports car models.

The cabin of the 2017 Audi Q7
The cabin of the 2017 Audi Q7

Under The Hood:

Tesla Model X:

The Tesla Model X is a fully electric vehicle that at launch, will be offered with all wheel drive only. Based on the variants, the Model X will have varying degrees of power sent to all four wheels with the range topping P90D model powered by a whopping 762 hp and 713 lb-ft of torque.

The Model X features four wheel drive for now
The Model X features four wheel drive for now

2016 Audi Q7:

The Audi Q7’s range topping model SQ7 variant houses a diesel powered V8 TDi that will be one of the first cars in the market to feature electric turbochargers. However, despite the new technology, the Audi Q7’s total power output ( hp) is still far below the Model X.

The new Q7 has an updated engine
The new Q7 has an updated engine

Verdict

The Model X is easily one of the most impressive cars ever made and serves as a brilliant alternative to gas guzzling full size SUVs such as the Audi Q7.

Mahindra TUV300 vs Ford EcoSport

The compact SUV segment of the Indian auto industry is exploding. Similar to the dot com bubble of the ’90s, our country has seen a massive influx of players in this particular segment. Indian manufacturer Mahindra has always been a major player in the SUV segment for years. However, the car maker did not enter the scene until only recently. With the all new TUV300, Mahindra has finally entered the arena currently dominated by cars such as the Ford EcoSport, Hyundai Creta, Renault Duster and the Nissan Terrano. We take a look at how the new 2016 TUV300 fairs against one of the most critically acclaimed cars of this generation: the Ford EcoSport.

Exterior

2016 Mahindra TUV300:

Indian car makers have never been at the forefront of design. Although it has had its fair share of misses (read Xylo), Mahindra has managed to produce some of the best looking cars to ever hit dealerships here in India. However, the TUV300 is a miss. Unlike the XUV5OO or the 2015 Scorpio, the all new TUV300 features a more retro styling with design cues borrowed from the first and the latest generation of SUVs such as the original Jeep Wrangler and the Renegade. However, in a time where sharp sleek bodies are fast becoming the norm, the TUV300 already feels like a relic of the past.

The 2016 Mahindra TUV300 is one of the only crossovers with an actual focus on off-roading
The 2016 Mahindra TUV300 is one of the only crossovers with an actual focus on off-roading

2014 Ford EcoSport:

The Ford EcoSport has always been a good looking vehicle. One of the first cars to don the American car maker’s new design philosophy mainly characterized by its large grille and swept back headlights, the EcoSport still keeps up in the aesthetics department against the likes of some of the best looking cars currently on sale such as the Nissan Terrano and the more recent Hyundai Creta.

orange ford ecosport
The Ford EcoSport is an urban cruiser that offers little in terms of true SUV capabilities

Interior

2016 Mahindra TUV300:

The interiors of the 2016 Mahindra TUV300 more than make up for its drab outer shell. Mahindra has fitted its latest compact SUV with a familiar beige and black cabin that is complemented by a piano black finish for the center console. While the infotainment system does offer all the standard features of top end media systems, it sports a slightly underwhelming display.

Interiors of the all new Mahindra pseudo-SUV is rather underwhelming
Interiors of the all new Mahindra pseudo-SUV is rather underwhelming

Unlike the EcoSport and other rivals, the TUV300 manages to be a six seater with two foldable seats present on either side of the boot. Although the seats’ small size and lack of proper leg space disallows for absolute comfort, the feature provides the TUV300 with a bit of versatility unseen in its segment.

2014 Ford EcoSport:

The 2014 Ford EcoSport’s interior is a standard affair. The car features the American car maker’s familiar SYNC infotainment system complete with steering mounted controls and standard connectivity options. However, the EcoSport has aged considerably and the small monochrome display and plethora of buttons make the EcoSport feel rather obsolete.

ford ecosport dashboard
The dizzying array of buttons on the center console may prove tiresome to use during travel

The American crossover offers ample head room and an acceptable amount of legroom. However, larger passengers may feel slightly uncomfortable in the back seat.

Under The Hood

2016 Mahindra TUV300:

Powering the 2016 Mahindra TUV300 is a sole 1.5 l m_HAWK diesel engine that produces 84 bhp @ 3750 RPM and 230 Nm @ 1500 RPM. Surprisingly, unlike the EcoSport and other rivals, power is sent to the rear wheels via a 5 speed manual with an option five speed automatic as well.

The TUV300 is one of the only comapct SUVs to provide rear wheel drive
The TUV300 is one of the only comapct SUVs to provide rear wheel drive

2014 Ford EcoSport:

Ford offers a multitude of engines with the petrol range starting with the 109 hp 1.5 l naturally aspirated unit to the 1.0 l EcoBoost engine while diesel enthusiasts have to make do with a sole 89 hp 1.5 l TDCi engine.

Ford's EcoBoost engine is one of the best in the market
Ford’s EcoBoost engine is one of the best in the market

Verdict

Despite the eyeball-grabbing design and wide range of engines available on the EcoSport, the dated interiors and features fail to impress. Although the TUV300 is almost on par with EcoSport in terms of cabin features and fails mostly as a style icon, the TUV3oo’s tried and tested m_HAWK engine and rear wheel drive ensures that the car is enjoyable on the streets.

2016 Toyota Fortuner vs 2016 Ford Endeavor

The SUV craze seems to show no signs of fading. As such, the Indian car market has seen a massive influx of SUVs and pseudo-SUVs since the advent of the 2010’s. To allow for a wider audience, car manufacturers such as Renault, Ford and Nissan have been launching off-roaders in the sub 15 lakh category. Toyota and Ford, two of the earliest entrants in the SUV segment of the Indian market have now launched the latest iterations of their flagship SUVs overseas. Although no news of the exact launch dates for either cars has made it to the internet, expect a 2016 launch for both products. Before the heavyweights clash in the market next year, we take a look at who might come out on top.

Exterior:

2016 Toyota Fortuner:

The 2016 iteration of the Fortuner introduces a radical revamp of its design, both inside and out. Toyota has employed a more contemporary design language not unlike Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture. However, while Hyundai has moved on with Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 which aims at refining its design and introducing an element of sophistication, Toyota’s latest design language is still in its infancy and requires a bit of polish. With the new design philosophy, Toyota has swapped out the SUV’s butch, overtly dominating exterior with that of a stylish, city oriented design. The front is graced by a large Toyota badge, flanked by sleek, swept back projector headlights. Chrome is present all around in the form of fog lamp accents, grille embellishments, door handles and rear number plate housing. While one might argue that the volumen of chrome may be a little on the higher side, it aids in the already substantial road presence of the new Fortuner. The only remnant of the original Fortuner is its boxy silhouette.

The all new Fortuner
The all new Fortuner

2016 Ford Endeavor:

The Toyota Endeavor sticks to its roots and exudes an aura of virility and capability lacking these days in most SUVs. The boxy frame, muscular haunches, large 20 inch wheels and the rather large all chrome grille allows the Ford off-roader to distinguish itself as the company’s flagship SUV. However, the rear feels rather mellow when compared to the aggressively styled front end. Despite its size, the American car maker has managed to keep the drag coefficient at 0.389 allowing the car to reach higher top speeds with reduced risk.

The Ford Endeavor aka Everest
The Ford Endeavor aka Everest

Interior:

2016 Toyota Fortuner:

The 2016 Toyota Fortuner’s interior is a far cry from the current model. With the addition of a large touchscreen infotainment system, silver and gloss black accent elements and a more modern design approach, the Japanese automaker has managed to significantly improve the upmarket feel of the cabin lacking in the previous generations. However, the use of faux wood panels do feel slightly dated. As with previous generations, the upcoming Fortuner SUV provides oodles of space with foldable seats allowing for increased luggage space.

Interiors are more contemporary than the previous model
Interiors are more contemporary than the previous model

2016 Ford Endeavor:

The interior of the 2016 Ford Endeavor is far more contemporary when compared to the Toyota Fortuner. Similar to the previous model, the next gen Ford SUV features a beige cabin with black and chrome finishes all around. A massive touch screen display unit adorns the center console with controls for the traction control system and various drive modes resting beside the gear lever. Ford wears the Endeavor (Everest) moniker with pride evident in the car’s badging across the passenger side dashboard.

The Everest features an upmarket interior with plush materials adding to the luxurious feel
The Everest features an upmarket interior with plush materials adding to the luxurious feel

Under the Hood:

2016 Toyota Fortuner:

Powering the all new Toyota Fortuner is a pair of diesel motors only. Lower models house a 2.4 l four cylinder engine that produces 150 hp from the manufacturer’s all new GD series of engines while higher models are graced with the 177 hp four cylinder 2.8 liter unit from the same family of engines. Although Toyota offers its customers with the choice of a six speed manual or automatic, only the Fortuner’s 2.8 l models are equipped with a four wheel drive system. 

Toyota SUVs have always been renowned for their off-road abilities
Toyota SUVs have always been renowned for their off-road abilities

2016 Ford Endeavor:

The 2016 Ford Endeavor is also offered with two engine options only. Entry level trims are powered by a 2.2 l four cylinder oil burner that puts out 158 hp while higher variants are powered by an impressive 197 hp 3.2 l five cylinder diesel mill. The Endeavor too is offered with a six speed manual or automatic with all wheel drive available only with the 3.2 l engine.

Verdict

While the Toyota Fortuner has been dominating the Indian car market in the premium SUV segment for quite some time now. Partly due to its towering presence and the lack of competition. This time however, the Japanese face stiff competition from the Americans. Ford’s new Endeavor packs a powerful left hook and the current heavyweight champion has lost quite a bit of its muscle. Although this was a close match, the Endeavor manages to win by knock out in the penultimate moment of the final round.