Archives March 2020

KIA Carnival: Fit Your World inside

March 17, 2020 / 0 Comments / 307 / ROAD TEST REVIEWS, Uncategorized
kia sak

The Indian Automotive industry is 70 years old. During this time there were handful of cars that set a benchmark so high that it became extremely difficult for the competition to match it. One such brilliant product is the Toyota Innova.

After 13 years of ruling the road, we have a new MPV which has the potential to displace the Innova from its throne. But, Would someone pick this over a car which is sworn by its reliability? Let’s find out.

Kia Carnival has been launched at a price of 24.5 lakhs (ex-India)

Exterior

When I first saw the Carnival, I was wondering if we could still drive it using a normal Driving license, because it is that Massive. Its not only longer and wider than the Innova Crysta, but its just 30 cm short of Tempo Traveller. What’s really surprising is inspite of the rocketing dimensions, KIA has managed to style it really well. Infact, it looks much better than the Mercedes V-Class.

First look at the front and you would wonder if its actually a sibling of the stylish Seltos. But, your misconceptions are put to rest when you spot the tiger nose grille of the KIA family. The Headlamps are projectors with integrated turn indicators and neatly laid out DRL’s. You get the front parking sensors which are very helpful in manoeuvring this SUV in the city. KIA has definitely decided to play safe with the styling to align with the MPV proportions of the Carnival.

The rear of the Carnival is nothing fancy to write about. You get the stylish large tail lamps which are neatly integrated in the tail gate with a chrome strip running around. Not to forget, the boot is electrically controlled.

The party starts when you move to the side. These sliding doors look like they are inspired by those humungous SUV’s of the Western world. The best part is they open in style, let me show this to you. Don’t worry, you won’t have to put in all the effort to close them just like the Maruti Omni. Oh, that’s a horrible comparison.

Interior

Once inside, you would be left spellbound by the acres of space inside. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next IPL is held inside this car. The rear seats offer brilliant comfort, it’s one of the best I have ever seen. a lot of legroom and pretty good under thigh support. Since the carnival is extremely huge, you do get the roof mounted AC vents which does the job really well.

The cabin is made with good quality materials and the piano black inserts on the dashboard, steering wheel and the door pads uplift the premium appeal of the car. The 3-spoke multi-function steering wheel is identical to other Kia cars and has plethora of buttons for music control, cruise control and voice commands but the instrument console with a MID display in between looks very sporty. The dashboard is dominated by a massive 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with all sorts of smartphone connectivity options along with navigation and reverse camera. The performance of AC is just brilliant, it makes you feel like a native of Antartica in no time.

Space

There is a lot of storage space on offer. You get the sunglass holder, cupholder, USB charging socket and a lot more. One of the most sensible feature of this Carnival is that the rear doors can be Shut and Opened using a button here. How cool is that.

One thing that I must really appreciate is the amount of space and comfort offered in the 3rd row. There is no second thought that its better than the competition. Thanks to the large wheelbase of mm which means the wheelbase is longer than the entire length of M800. However, its not the best place to be in if you plan to sit here for a very long time.

Open the massive bonnet with all the horsepower available with you because there aren’t any hydraulic struts. The engine bay is well insulated to prevent the clutter from entering the cabin.

Drive

The carnival is powered by a 2.2 L CRDI Motor that churns out 190 bhp and 440 nm of Torque. Don’t get carried away by the numbers, let’s find out how does it drive.

Tap the accelerator and the Carnival takes a progressive approach to reach a ton in 11 seconds. Firstly, the Carnival feels very refined inspire of this being an oil burner. The low range is good, the mid range is brilliant but beyond that it reminds you that its not an AMG, so set your expectations right. There is a slight turbo lag from the 8 speed automatic but its not that severe to actually bother you. The steering feels slightly lighter at low speeds but this being an MPV I give it the benefit of doubt and not look at it from an enthusiasts point of view, for once.

The Carnival is a heavy car. To be precise, it weighs just over 2 tonnes. This coupled with its MPV stance means that a slight body roll is part of your breakfast. But I am pretty sure, you won’t be buying this to push it on the corners. One USP of the Carnival over Innova Crysta is the phenomenal ride quality . It absorbs the potholes very very well. Hello Innova, are you listening?

Carnival Vs Innova

Would I pick the Carnival over Innova? Definitely yes. It’s stylish, it rides better, has a lot of features and probably, I could build a house inside it too. Having said that, It will be challenging for KIA to push this off the showroom floors like the Seltos. That’s because in India we do not accept MPV based vans with open hands. Nissan tried it with the Evalia, Mercedes tried it with the V class and the rest is History.

Mahindra Desert Survivor: Dare to Survive

March 17, 2020 / 0 Comments / 343 / Experience Drives, Uncategorized
scropiyo

Epilogue

2017: Mahindra Great Escape, GOA

2018: Mahindra Great Escape, Wayanad

2019: Mahindra Great Escape, Sakleshpur

2020: ???

After participating in 3 of the countries biggest off-road experiences, my quench for adventure wasn’t over. I wanted to reclaim my life. But, not exactly in terms of driving the Mahindra Thar in the lush green jungle trails or slush, but, this time an experience very unique to itself. Something, that I had never imagined in my wildest dreams. Driving my all-time favourite Mahindra Scorpio in the most pristine sand dunes of Jaisalmer. Oh wait did I mention driving at night?

I reached  the Bangalore international Airport at 3:30 am for a 5:20 am Spice jet flight to Mumbai. I was greeted by the front desk with a big smile around their face. Time flew and we were in Mumbai by 8:30 dot, of course the T2. Before I could settle-in I was reminded of the fact that I had to travel to the Blue city – Jodhpur as it was time for Adventure. 

Another connecting Spice Jet took us to Jodhpur where we weren’t greeted by front-desk smiles at the Airport this time but ballistic missiles hugging the fuselage of Sukhoi 30-mki waiting to be fired off to the enemy targets just miles away.

After the Hangover of black coffee of Spice Jet, it was time to hop into the seat of Scorpio which was waiting for us just outside the exit of the Jodhpur airport. I opened the rear door of the Scorpio and I could see 2 dudes with expensive sunglasses which doubled up as sunscreen to do the job of controlling all the Harshest ultraviolet rays entering the Scorpio. I smashed the door and walked into the front co-driver’s seat. Mercury was my new best friend.

After half an hour into the drive which was the straightest road I have ever been to in my Life, I gently asked the Driver to swap seats and he was more than happy to do so. Then, it was time for me to tap the gas and get as far away as possible from the Jodhpur Airport because Jaisalmer wasn’t close either at 200km which took just over 5 hours.

Trust me, the roads were Arrow-straight.

Before we reached the final destination I was completely stunned by the sand dunes on either side of the roads that lead us to our camp. We reached the camp just before dusk, it was a picture worth thousand words.

Artillery for the day: 10 Scorpios and a Thar.

Before we unpacked, we were asked to assemble for the briefing. Manish Saresar, the lead from Mahindra Adventure took us through the entire vocals for a good 30 minute and helped us with strategic points, just like a briefing at War takes place to hit the enemy target. We were assigned car numbers and refreshments were stocked up as we had absolutely no living being in the Desert apart from us, forget buffet-restaurants.

The course structure was as follows:

  1. Practice session at night in the Dunes + Mild Dune Bashing
  2. Dune bashing in the morning with a higher difficulty level

As Me and Bilal (Carwale) started driving in the convoy of Mahindra’s a sense of nervousness engulfed us as we were driving down to the dunes which are not accessible by civilians without prior permission. The road was straight for about 25 km before we took a diversion in no man’s land and drive through the wildest flora and fauna of the drought-prone desert.  Before that, our tyre pressures were lowered all the way down to 16 psi to ensure wider contact of the tires with the sand thus enabling better traction and grip. The sand dunes welcomed us with a massive slope, I was surprised to see none of the underbellies being scraped, thanks to the massive ground clearance. 

Things started to get very tricky as we traversed deeper into the sand dunes. The particles were loose and this accompanied with the slightly heavy Scorpios meant the trouble was awaiting us. Just as the convoy started to get stuck, the marshall communicated over the walkie talkie that we should switch to 4L to gain the maximum traction and keep the momentum going in the sand. From what i learnt in my experience in dune bashing, momentum holds the highest order of importance. It is important to note that momentum does not necessarily mean accelerating hard on the gas it would make the matters very worse, the tires would spin at a very high speed, inturn creating a borewell for us. Yes, we did experience this. The biggest question however arises is the presence of light during off-roading at night. You guessed it right, the only source of illumination apart from the half moon and twinkling stars were the halogens of the Mahindra army. It was nothing short of an IPL playground. 

Cars got stuck, the Thar winched them out in a jiffy in most of the cases, while most of them were lucky some walked away with broken bumpers, thanks to the approach angle. The night was cold and dark and this asked for some campfire along with mocktails under the gazling skies of Rajasathan.

Day 2: While I was sipping the first of many chai’s of the day, I was confident that it is going be nothing short of a roller coaster day. We left the camp around 11 in the morning, courtesy the delayed arrival from the dunes last night. To me, it was not just another day, it was a day where I was more confident than yesterday. We hit the dunes with all the participants still relishing over the yesterday’s adventure. Broad day light ensured we had ample visibility till the horizon. But all we had to do was focus on the obstacles and put in our best efforts to crawl through the desert. Trust me, it is easier said than done. 

Inspite of the instructions by the expers, it was not an easy task, and the participants stated to get stuck inspite of their 4L coming to their rescue. The Thar which was one of the 2 vehicles equiped with winch did not have any free time to breathe for itself as the dunes get harsher with more cars getting stuck and helplessly waiting for the ship of the desert to arrive for their rescue, fortunately it wasn’t camel but it was the Thar. We headed to the buffet lunch in the desert which was lip smacking vegetarian/non-vegetarian food – Rotis, Rice, Papad, Gravy and ofcourse Indian food is incomplete without a sweet for dessert.

Post lunch, infact heavy lunch we headed back to our vehicles and this time I swapped my scorpio for the Thar for a while. The dune bashing continued insanely and we had absolutely free time. The cars were bashing helter-skelter in the dunes while I had sand bath in midst of the desert as I tried to capture some beautiful moments through my Nikon hanging around my shoulder. We finally reached the sunset point and all the Scorpio’s lined up to take a group picture. With 10 vehicles, 25 participants and 5 marshalls, this was nothing short of an adventure straight from the tapes of National Geographic.

We headed back to the camp at night and we were greeted by traditional Rajasthani fork singers who kept us entertained with their melodious vocals and dance steps. We had our dinner by the open ground and headed to the cottage while stared up at the 4-blade fan which reminded me of the Bridgestone’s rotating in the Desert. 

As we woke up the next day, we collected our participation certificates and  bid goodbye to Jaisalmer and boarded the Scorpio back to Jodhpur via Pokhran. Although the route was exactly the same, our car was filled with memories. 

 

Tips to drive in sand:

1. Switch to 4L (4 wheel drive low ratio). If your car is a 2WD or even AWD, leave it in the parking lot. You don’t want Akshay Kumar to Airlift it
2. Lower the tyre pressure to 16 psi, this will enable better grip of the tyres in sand
3. Move the car in 2nd gear, 1st gear has more than abundant torque which will cause the wheels to spin more than crawling. Upshift to 3rd, 4th ASAP.
4. Momentum is your new best friend. The most crucial metric of driving in sand. If you are loosing momentum, go back a little and drive again
5. Lane discipline? what’s that? it’s not a Yamuna expressway. Follow the tyre marks of the car ahead if you. This simple logic will save you from half the trouble
6. Not 99% but it’s 100% sure that you’ll get stuck, in that case reverse the car immediately atleast 50 meters back, the more you wait for the luck to favour you to get you out, the deeper it will dig for you
7. FOCUS- On the throttle input and steering movement simultaneously. It’s important to slightly fiddle with the steering movement continuously in the terrain
8. Do not tap the gas completely while driving. It’s extremely important to moderately input the gas. Sand hates heavy throttle input. it will cause wheels to spin terribly.
9. Do not brake hard. It will create a crate of sand ahead of the front tyres which will cause trouble in moving the car after standstill
10. Do not wander alone. We aren’t Tarzans of the desert. Ensure that there is a recovery vehicle with you with a ‘working’ winch. The winch of our recovery vehicle went kaput and it’s a different story for another day
Note: Once you’re done with dune bashing, set the tyre pressure back to original and get the car underbody wash. Sand is prone to rust the body of the car.

Good luck 👍

Log in to www.mahindraadventure.com to participate in various events hosted by Mahindra adventure.

This Thar was the sole saviour for the entire Convoy as the Winch of the only other rescue that went Kaput due to extreme workout in the battlefield.

A big thank you to Mahindra Adventure for hosting us for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go dune bashing with their best of the SUV’s.

The Scorpio undoubtedly did justice to its maiden punchline – Nothing else will do!

Stay tuned and Drive safe.

MG ZS EV: India’s Best Electric Car

March 14, 2020 / 1 Comments / 307 / ROAD TEST REVIEWS, Uncategorized
mg sectrer

A decade ago if someone told that me could drive an electric car in India for a range of 300 km, I wouldn’t believe it. But, that’s what technology is all about. Delivering what seems to be impossible. Moving forward to 2019, we have a new entrant into the electric vehicle space which promises to deliver phenomenal performance while being relatively lighter to the environment.

My 2 cents on the fully electric MG ZS ev:

Pros: +

The best electric vehicle you can buy in India. Period.
+ Rapid charging option of 80% in just 50 min (availability of this charger is scarce, will have a dedicated post for charging options/infra)
+ Phenomenal performance. The sprint to 100 kmph in 8.5s with the winning noise of the motor is addictive
+ Looks stunning from every angle, at least 10x more proportionate than the Hector
+ Healthy claimed range of 350 km, Expect 300 km in the city realistically
+ Offers Space, space and more space. Negligible floor hump in the Rear makes it a good contender for 5 seater and not a pseudo
+ That m-a-s-s-i-v-e panoramic sunroof covers 90% of the roof. Haven’t seen a bigger one in my life
+ Built quality and interior quality on par with the europeans, if not Germans. Lot of interior switches/knobs borrowed from VW (MG has a partnership with VW in China).
+ Euro NCAP safety rating of 5 🌟 Massive Respect
+ ‘Relatively’ environment friendly. Will explain the usage of ‘Relatively’ in another post. Unfortunately, Instagram has word limit

Cons:

– I can live with the absence of electric boot release, auto dimming IRVM, automatic climate control and even the absence of Fog lamps but absence of Rear A/C vents is a concern in the scorching summers of our Country where Mercury levels reach 48 °C
– Currently availability in 5 cities only – Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad. Doing some basic math, its just 5% of our Population. Cities like Kochi, Chennai, Kolkata & Guwahati are an opportunity missed
– Poor under thigh support spoils the rear seat party, long distance travel is a concern
– Steering is light on parking speeds and heavier as it gains speed but the weight feels slightly artificial and not very direct
– Plastic quality is inconsistent. kind-of soft touch on the dash but hard plastic on the doors.

Exterior

I would love to call the ZS EV a crossover more than a SUV. Its not as fierce and menacing as the Hector. I really love the way MG has got it spot-on with the design. MG scores some extra brownie points for actually retaining the grill in spite of this being an EV. First glance at the grille and you would mistake it for a Mercedes A class with those studdings all around. However, unlike the A class this grille opens up to reveal the charging port. MG claims that the ZS EV can be driven for a 372 km in the city on a full charge which is phenomenal considering the current EV space. Open the bonnet and You can see a plethora of wires running around like a marathon. The ZS EV is powered by a 44.5 kWh battery producing 143 PS of power and 353 nm of Torque. The bigger question is how long does it take to charge battery completely?

You have 3 options to  choose from:

Connect it to the conventional 3-point home socket and it would take 12 hrs

Fast charger would take about 7 hrs for a full charge

You would also have the rapid charger which would need just 40 min to charge it to a good 80%.

Interior

As soon as you step inside the ZS EV you are greeted by this large panoramic sunroof which makes the cabin feel extremely airy. The interiors feel very premium especially with double stitches running across the dash. Plastics have a soft touch feel and feel very sturdy and soft at the same time, the brushed aluminium ascents complement the premium feel of this car. MG has decided to play it safe this time with the ZS EV unlike the unconventional instrument cluster of Hector which takes some time to get used to. You also get an Air filter, which will be very useful if you are living in one of the polluted cities. While the grille seems to be lifted off the A class, the AC vents seem to be borrowed from the Audi A3.

The infotainment system helps you in determining the charge left with the approximate range. There are 3 Driving Modes to choose from, Eco, Comfort and Sport. While the ECO Mode focuses on maximising the efficiency and range, the sport mode takes the behaviour of the car to a whole new level. KERS is used to regenerate the energy that you have stored while braking Gear knob and shutter for the cup holders reminds you of the Jaguar family. The visibility from the drivers seat is pretty good from a crossover’s point of view. The rear seat feels really spacious especially when you pitch it against the chief competitor, the Kona. It offers good comfort with enough legroom and headroom. However, one thing that I sorely miss is the rear a/c vents. This should have been present in a car of this size. This is a concern in the hot and humid summer of our country. With a boot space of 470 litres, be assured that your trips to airport are not at all a problem. Because, I doubt if you would be doing your dream road trip to Ladakh in this crossover.

Drive

So, let’s see how it feels to drive an electric motor which promises to be on par with the fossil fuels. There is one particular area where the electric vehicles beat the conventional vehicles hands down, that’s the instantaneous power delivery. The peak power and torque are achieved from the word Go! You do not have to wait for a particular power band to extract all the juice from the electric motor. The ZS EV sprints to 100 in just 8.5 seconds. The ZS EV can eat most of the small sized potholes and speed breakers for breakfast, but things get a little complicated when the you push the car into bigger potholes, that’s when it shakes you off from the drivers seat. The ZS EV loves to be pushed around corners. The steering feels heavy but slightly artificial at the same time. The car feels planted on the road when you are doing high speed corners. While the interiors do feel a great place to live in, the ZS however is short lived by the amount of noise that enters into the cabin through the whining of the electric engine at higher rpms, A pillar and tyres. Inside an electric car you expect absolute silence.

Verdict

Is the ZS EV the answer for electric revolution India has been waiting for? It ticks most of the boxes right, the style, the performance, range, the quality to top it all. However, just like any other car in the World, it does suffer from some shortcomings. For example, the top speed is limited to 140 kmph this paired with the fact that the rapid charging option is currently available in select cities which means you would have to spend at least 8 hours to recharge. All this, coupled with the fact that you would have to shell out a lot of premium for the EV tag, is something that would only grow with time.

Volvo XC 40 R-Design: The Safest compact SUV

March 11, 2020 / 1 Comments / 349 / ROAD TEST REVIEWS, Uncategorized
nissan f
Pros:
+ The Safest car not only in this segment, but a segment above. Please watch the YouTube video of XC40 being crash tested and rollover. After 3 flips is when the body shell starts to destroy. The steel used in the center for occupants protection is of the highest grade in the world. I always believed that Airbags are overrated. Its the body shell and seatbelts that matter more.
+ This car screams quality everywhere. Phenomenal, built like an artillery Tank
+ Massive ground clearance of 205mm means you would never touch a speed breaker. (XE, are you there?)
+ Those brakes are lit, Mahindra please hire their brake engineer too. (While I write this, the XUV goes for 5th brake pad replacement in 70k km)
Cons:
– The steering feedback is ‘okay’ at higher speeds but at lower speeds, I would rather prefer to sit in the rear
– Oh wait, I was kidding. Under thigh support is less and so is the space in-spite of having the longest wheelbase in class
– The XC40 is strictly for enthusiastic sedate drivers. Although Turbocharged, You miss that Wow factor when you tap the accelerator and the car begs to downshift itself more than what’s required
–  The car is noisy compared to its rivals
– The Diesel was available in AWD and this is only in FWD. When I asked for the reason in press conference, they said There are hardly any takers for it and this move would optimise the cost. Kind of makes sense though. I would NEVER take my XC40 off roading. Yes, AWD isn’t all about off roading.
– The 400nm Torque of Diesel will be missed, Volvo has discontinued it for XC40 and going forward no new Diesel engines will be developed.
Exterior: 

Volvo has been very consistent with the design since day 1, especially after the introduction of v2 designs with the advent of Thor shaped DRL. Volvo is raising benchmarks with every new launch of theirs. The Volvo XC40 looks extremely sporty, stylish and striking at the same time. I wouldn’t shy away from badging it the best looking SUV in its category.

When the diesel XC40 was first launched, it was available in the R-Design trim only but then Volvo discontinued this variant and launched the Momentum and Inscription trims. However, the petrol variant is only available with the R-Design trim. Well, not much has changed on the outside and this SUV does look the best in its segment. In fact, I’d say the design makes this car look a bit more expensive than it actually is. There’s barely any unnecessary chrome on the outside and a lot of design elements have blacked out and the Thor’s hammer headlamps add a lot of flair to the car. The design looks proportionate and this classy approach works really well.

Interior: 

Volvos have always been fascinating with their simplistic yet elegant interiors. The materials are top-notch with very premium feel. The vertical AC vents are carried away from elder siblings. The AC is a bone chiller. The gear knob is small but very intuitive to use. The visibility from driver’s seat is top notch and the seats offer supreme levels of comfort in the front, however things aren’t great at the rear. The Volvo XC40 petrol comes with a single interior colour option for now, and that is all-black. The diesel variant used to come with a black and orange layout with the white exterior colour option and honestly it looked very cool and made the XC40 even stand out from other cars. The R design variant comes with features like a large 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system with 14 Harman Kardon speakers. Not sure, if the market is ready for a fully-touchscreen infotainment system.

Engine:

Drive the T4, and a few things instantly become apparent. It surely doesn’t feel as quick as the petrol-powered BMW X1, but its power delivery is quite linear. Its 300Nm of torque kicks in from as low as 1,750rpm to ensure that the motor doesn’t feel lethargic at any point. While comparing this to the 35 TDI from the Lord of the rings would be an apple-to-orange comparison, still its difficult to steer away from the Q3 at this price point.

The engine is refined and quite silent too – unless you go hard on the throttle that is. At higher revs, it does get a bit noisy inside the cabin, but it isn’t all that unpleasant. Like in the diesel, the XC40’s 8-speed transmission isn’t the quickest out there. While it shifts smoothly, it lacks the eagerness with which BMW tunes its ZF 8-speed. Fortunately, the XC40 comes with paddle shifters, which means that you can shift for yourself if you so choose. Don’t miss this lovely shade of Blue though.

Ride and Handling:

 

Volvo has set really high standards in terms of ride quality with the larger XC offerings, but it must be noted that they sit on air suspension, while this baby XC rides on steel springs. Despite this, the XC40 gives us no reason to complain, even on less-than-perfect roads.

The high-speed stability is impressive, and the vertical movement is well controlled too. Unlike the diesel, the T4 that we have here is a front-wheel drive, which means that there is a bit of understeer on twisty roads. The feedback from the steering could’ve been better too. Although not the most fun car in its class, the XC40 is quite predictable all the same.

Final words

If you are looking for a compact SUV in the luxury segment that goes bonkers in petrol, stay away from the XC 40. But, if you are shopping for a composed all-rounder which screams safety from the showroom shelves, look no further than this Swedish House Mafia. Packed to the teeth with features, sophisticated looks and safety features that still make others look like bumper cars at an amusement park. Put up against the likes of Mercedes GLA and BMW X1, the single-variant XC 40 T4 – priced at 39.90 lakh (ex showroom) will end up possibly disappointing those looking for adrenaline rush galore but then again, you would never want to hit the Nurburgring or the Autobahn in the XC 40, its about getting there the way it deserves to be. SAFE.

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