ROAD TEST REVIEWS

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 – The Best RE!

September 22, 2020 / 0 Comments / 51 / ROAD TEST REVIEWS

Pros:
  1. Undoubtedly, the best Royal Enfield you can buy in India. Period.
  2. It’s one of the most Value for a money cruiser bike. You could drive all day long on the good tarmac and still not get tired
  3. Top-notch quality for a bike of this price bracket has come a long way from the days of the bullet which mark its territory while leaking oil
  4. The gearshift is butter-smooth. Thanks to the light clutch which makes the city riding really effortless
  5. The high-speed stability is fantastic. There was not a single moment of nervousness when pushing the bike around the corners at high speeds
Cons:
  1. The pillion will feel uncomfortable on long rides due to the straight seat
  2. The ride quality could have been significantly better especially at the rear when driven over potholes and broken roads
  3. A small fuel tank of 13 L and a mileage of 21 km/L on an average means you would have to stop frequently for refuel
  4. The instrument cluster feels bare-born. A small multi-information display with at least a clock would have greatly helped
  5. The headlamps could’ve been even better especially the high beam has inconsistent throw at night which isn’t the best for highways

Design 

Not many automotive manufacturers have been successful in maintaining the classic retro look into their modern motorcycles. Fortunately, Royal Enfield is one among them. One look at the interceptor 650 and you know it belongs to the legacy of the renowned Indian motorcycle manufacturer. Although looks are subjective, I would leave it to you To decide if this is the most striking design or anything or did it just fall short of it. Once you look into the eyes of the interceptor 650, You are greeted by the old school halogen headlight when other manufacturers are moving towards fancier LED headlights which would have made it look much smarter. The indicators are neatly placed and for some reason, we felt that the front mud-guard fell short of a length. Moving to the side of it, you are greeted with a large chrome painted fuel tank which instantly grabs the attention. If that’s not enough the black thick strip running across the petrol tank with the Golden strips surrounding it uplifts the premium appeal.  The fuel lid is thoughtfully designed but there were some instances where it did not operate as expected.  Well, some of the enthusiasts would be left craving for a stylish rear, Royal Enfield decided to play safe with the subtle design. You get the conventional tail lamps which are surrounded by indicators which slightly feel old-school, but we aren’t complaining much about it. Blink and you still won’t miss the loud Royal Enfield badging on the petrol tank and the Interceptor tag is placed on the right side, just like every other RE. while the debate would be endless if this is the best looking Royal Enfield, the Indigenous motorcycle manufacturer deserves applause for not going too close to the territory of modernistic motorcycles especially in the design department. Something that they have been known for.

Drivability:

The Royal Enfield Interceptor is a very simple motorcycle. The engine is an all-new 649cc twin-cylinder unit and 270-degree firing order for a lovely twin-cylinder thrum. It has fuel injection and is oil-cooled. At 47PS and 53Nm, it isn’t an outrageously powerful motor that’s stress-free and the engine feels stunning in the feel, sound and the melancholy. Royal Enfield also has a new six-speed gearbox with a slip-assist clutch. Once you start the interception 650 you will be immensely happy with the acceleration provided.  Slot the gear into first And you could feel the brisk acceleration kicking back. The handling is not something to write home about but it’s not disappointing either. The heavyweight of 200+ kilograms makes it Challenging to tackle the obstacles on tough tarmac such as larger potholes. The magic starts when you hit the triple-digit speeds the bike feels very stable. The best part is the bike feels less weighed when you’re cruising on the highway. The low end is fine mid-range is brilliant and punchy. Shutterdrives does not recommend over-speeding, we pushed the bike all the way up to 150 km/h to checks high-speed stability and we were mightily impressed with the behaviour of the bike. It’s not the bike that’s going to drop your jaws When you push it around the corners. Once you slot into the sixth gear that’s when you realise the true potential of this cruiser bike. It shows absolutely no signs of nervousness. We found that the bike did emit warm air when it was taken through the Bangalore’s traffic but its nowhere close to being unbearable.

Braking

Unlike the MRF tires on the other RE’s, the Pirellis on the interceptor do a stupendous job of stopping the 200 kg motorcycle in a very short span of time. But thanks for the hefty kerb weight of the motorcycle, it feels like the bike is having some extra momentum before it completely comes to a standstill. The effort from the engineering team is something to be really appreciated. Really wish, to see the other Royal Enfield motorcycles Being equipped with breaking abilities like this.

Mileage

Having said that, I really wish the efficiency was slightly on an optimistic side or at least a slightly larger fuel tank would have done justice to the cruising segment it belongs to. The circuitous drive of 600 km from Bangalore to Chikmagalur returned an average fuel efficiency of 22 kmpl. The bike was still in the running-in period and we expect the figures to marginally increase post that.

Quality

It’s been 13 years of owning a Royal Enfield Electra 5-speed. It’s incredible to see the way this motorcycle manufacturer has transformed in the last one and a half-decade. The quality of the bike ranging from the switches to the cables to the leavers is very commendable. The front riding position especially the seat is something that looks like time travel back to the era of Rajdoot 350. One thing that we found that was acting finicky was the fuel lid which was a task to open sometimes. The foot-pegs especially in the rear could have been bigger. We loved the Royal Enfield branding on them though.

Ride & Handling:

While this is certainly the best engine that Royal Enfield has produced in its over a century-old history, the overall experience would have been even better if the seating was up to the mark in terms of the overall comfort. This would make long journeys very comfortable for them. On the contrary, it slides down a bit in the rear which makes it uncomfortable for the pillion on long drives. The cushioning is decent enough but having an outright flat design leads to discomfort in terms of thigh and hip support on longer rides. That said, you will need to take a break at least every 150 km. We would love to reiterate the fact that this is one of the most effortless motorcycles in terms of manoeuvring.

The suspension is basic too – right-side-up forks and twin gas-charged rear shocks. Disc brakes at both ends handle the braking and dual-channel ABS is standard. The wheels are aluminium spoked rims running tubed Pirelli SportComp tyres. The biggest let down for us with the Interceptor has been the below-average ride quality on bad roads for the rear passenger, specifically. It’s not as bad as the first-gen Toyota Fortuner, oops, no apple to orange comparisons, but just to give you a vague estimation, it will certainly displace you off the seat and you would certainly be craving for better grip from the seat at least.

Who should buy one?

Buy the Interceptor if:
  • You plan to ride for long hours, ALONE
  • Fuel efficiency isn’t a priority for you but performance is
  • You are okay with occasional niggles creeping up uninvited
  • Don’t intend to ride in claustrophobic traffic for long hours
  • You plan to ride at triple-digit speeds on our wide network of National Highways

We wholeheartedly thank Royal Enfield for bundling a well-engineered package of style, performance and practicality in the form of Interceptor 650. With the asking price of its competitors skyrocketing, the Interceptor feels more value for money than ever before.  If you are still confused whether to bring this lad home, toss the coin. It’s not that the coin will help you to arrive at a conclusive decision, but when the coin’s in the air, you would know what your heart is beating for. Most likely, it would be thumping for you to add it to your garage. If not, Orange is the new black!

Shutterdrives Rating: A well deserved 8/10. 

Hyundai Creta – The Ultimate SUV?

September 19, 2020 / 0 Comments / 109 / ROAD TEST REVIEWS

India loves SUVs. So much that every kid once dreamt of having the Tata Safari in his garage. As that kid grew, he realised that SUVs are an expensive affair. After all, they have an imposing stance and are very practical. Probably, he also realised that he doesn’t need a full size 7-seater SUV that would be challenging to manoeuvre in the city. Hyundai wanted to leverage this and bought the Creta in 2015. Since then it has been a blockbuster success for the Korean car maker. But with the rising competition and panoramic sunroofs being the talk of the town, Hyundai decided to give it a much-needed facelift. Unlike Volkswagen, this facelift is not all about sticker jobs, we have an all-new car.

Will this continue to carry the legacy of the previous Creta or the polarised design will make you head to the nearest KIA showroom? Let’s find out!

Pros:

+ Excellent engine-gearbox combination. Revs beautifully all the way, turbocharger plays a significant role in enhancing the driving experience, the turbo-lag is negligible

+ Feature loaded! Panoramic sunroof, wireless charging, 6 airbags, ventilated seats, LED headlamps, connected car features and everything else you want at 20 lakhs and more

+ Excellent, Theatrical music system is a treat to the ears. Trust me, it beats the Meridian system of the most of the entry-level JLRs which cost 3x which is supposed to be really good

+ Interiors ‘design’ is fantastic. Flat bottom steering wheel, superb speedometer, sporty AC vents loads of cubby holes & storage spaces

+ Extra Length, width and wheelbase than the previous gen means more space inside. Good legroom, under-thigh support and headroom too, wish the rear windows were bigger

+ Ride quality is really good, can’t match the Duster but a lot better than its Mahindra counterpart

+ The 10.25 inch touchscreen system has brilliant responsiveness.It’s also tilted towards the left so that the driver can easily operate. Simply clever. Extremely easy to navigate

Cons:

– Ofcourse, the design. Love it or hate it there is no in between. In our Instagram poll, 44% of them said that the design won’t grow on them over time. It’s a big number for a mass-market car. Also, the alloy wheel in this variant seems more like a wheel cap

– No manual gearbox in turbocharged petrol. A HUGE opportunity missed, a 6 speed MT with a better calibrated steering would have been the perfect small SUV to drive. Why this kolaveri Dii?

– The steering feedback. It’s super light at parking speed, weighs up slightly with speed only in sport mode but even then it’s not precise or direct

– The least you expect after paying 21 lakhs is that all 4 power window switches glow at night, unfortunately only 1 is illuminated. Loads of cost-cutting measures like Hard dashboard plastics, smaller, non-alloy spare tyre, only-driver side request sensor, not a good sign

Exterior:

The new Creta is longer and wider than the previous gen but slightly shorter.

 This has been one of the most controversial design of recent time, love it or you hate it, but you can’t ignore this ferocious design. The front design seems to align with the growing trend of placing the headlamps below and the DRLs on top. The headlamps are LEDs which offer good throw at night, we tested them out in the real-world condition and came out pretty impressed. The turn indicators are integrated with the fog lamps next to the beautifully crafted skid plate. However, the massive grille dominates the real estate in the front.

Moving to the side of the Creta, the thick C pillars finished in silver grabs your attention instantly followed by the alloy wheels which feel slightly out of place for a car of this price bracket. Just as you expect, the mirrors have turn indicators on them. However, I really wished the rear window could have been bigger so that you don’t feel claustrophobic when the turbocharger is taking you places.  Also, only the driver side door gets the request sensor.

 Its not the front that’s polarising, it would eventually grow on you. But things get slightly complicated when you move to the rear. Although looks are subjective, I wouldn’t shy away from calling it an imperfect design. I am not a big fan of the way the LED tail lamps are split. When was the last time you saw the rear stop lamp integrated into the boot of an SUV?

 The cargo space is abundant at 433 litres, but the spare tyre is a non-alloy. That’s totally okay as spare tyres are supposed to be used in an emergency situation only. But what’s surprising is that it’s one inch smaller than the other 4 tyres. Unfortunately, this is the first victim of cost cutting.

 Interior:

When you buy a car, you spend more time inside it than outside. Hyundai knows this and they have been consistently making cars with really good interiors. Unlike the polarising exterior, the interiors are going to be loved by most of us. You definitely feel that you are sitting in a car worth 2 million when you step inside. The all-black cabin in this variant looks premium. But your happiness is short lived when you actually touch and feel the plastics because they are hard, and it steals the luxury feeling from this pocket rocket. This is the second victim of cost cutting.

The quality of switches on the door is good but the problem is only the driver side is backlit. It difficult to spot the other switches when you are driving at night. This is the third victim of cost cutting. The best part about the cabin is the superb steering wheel that feels really good to hold. There are buttons to access the music system controls, cruise controls etc. What makes it special is the paddle shifters on offer. Unfortunately, the steering is adjustable for tilt and not for reach. Thankfully, the speedometer is designed in a beautiful way, just that the tachometer is struggling to accommodate itself in the instrument cluster. Once you turn on the ignition, you are greeted by graphics making you feel like a part of interstellar.

 The quality of interiors is typical European, the plastics used get a soft touch to them and the chrome ascents give it a very premium look. Small yet significant things like addition of red colours make the cabin look sportier than expected. The gear lever seems to be inspired from a Boeing. The practicality of the Creta is taken further with multiple USB ports and a 12v charging socket. You also get the wireless charging option, a feature which was prominent only in luxury cars until recent times. The pedals in this variant are given an aluminium treatment to add a sporty touch to the car. Not to forget, the Creta comes with the start/stop button which is neatly tucked away next to the steering wheel.

 However, One of the super cool feature is the air purifier which displays the quality of air outside and purifies the air in the cabin at the same time. I really wish many more car makers use this in their cars. If they plan to incorporate this in their cars, I hope they position it in the front and not in an awkward place like the arm rest. The dashboard is dominated by a massive 10.25 inch touchscreen infotainment system that comes with android auto and apple car play. You get an inbuilt SIM within the car and that means this is a fully connected vehicle that allows you to do a lot of things, including starting the car, tracking your vehicle’s, location, geo-fencing and pairing it with your smart watch. The touchscreen is sensitive enough so that you don’t have to struggle in navigating through it while driving the car. An interesting bit it that the touchscreen is slightly tilted towards the driver side so that its convenient to operate on the move. Simply clever.

The seats offer great support and the best part is they are ventilated, which means you don’t have to worry about sweating in the scorching Indian summers.

I can read your mind and the anticipation to see the panoramic sunroof, I won’t let you wait further

Hello Blue link, open the sunroof.

The sunroof is absolutely massive. Its electrically retractable and makes the cabin really airy. You would have to fiddle with the controls for a while before getting used to opening it the way you want.

Moving to the rear of the car, it feels kind of claustrophobic, but the sunroof really helps. The legroom is good but scooped out seats would have definitely been better. The headroom is good for a car of this size, the seats offer pretty good under thigh support too. You get the AC vents which here. A large parcel tray means an ample space to store your goodie bags. You also get the rear centre arm rest which has 2 cupholders in it. The rear seats can be split into 60:40 to give you additional boot space for your airport runs.

 

Drive

The test car here is the 1.4 GDI petrol mated to 7 speed DCT. The engine churns out 140 horses and 242 nm of torque. Apart from this you get 13 other permutation and combinations to choose from. But, cars are not smartphones that you could judge them by these numbers on the paper. What’s more important is how does the Crete drive. This is the answer to this lies in this key of happiness. It’s not that I am stereotyping Hyundai’s, but they are known to impress the 80% of the common buyers while leaving the other 20% of enthusiasts gasping for better driving dynamics and that’s the reason, I set my expectations accordingly before I stepped into this car.

The turbocharged motor is eager to be pushed around, especially in the sport mode. The engine feels full of life, there is abundant power available. The best part is you don’t have to wait a lot to extract the maximum torque as its available just at 1500 rpm all the until 3200 rpm.

 The 7 speed DCT gearbox is really quick. Although you have to pay a premium of 1.3 lakhs for the turbocharger, what’s more important is you get this DCT gearbox unlike the old school CVT in the non-turbocharged auto variant. The turbo lag is negligible but there seems to be some sort of miscommunication between the engine and the gearbox as the gears shift earlier than expected. Ironically there is a bit of a jerk when shifting at lower speeds.

If you thought the manual mode or paddle shifters are here to rescue you, probably not. Because after a certain rpm the car upshifts even if you don’t want it to. I am still ok with that because you would buy an automatic to drive it like an automatic but what let me down big time is the steering feedback as it feels feather light.

You get 3 driving modes to choose from. There is a choice between Eco, Comfort and Sport. Eco is for the kitna deti hai where the throttle response is slower apart from reducing the effectiveness of the air conditioner. Sport is the one you want to be in when you want to have fun and enjoy the performance because the gearbox upshifts at a higher rpm. Comfort is a good balance between both these modes. 

 

Ride and Handling

The car is driven on 17-inch alloy wheels. However, the Lower variants get the 16 inch wheels. The ride quality is phenomenal, and the suspension is on the softer side. This also means you really don’t have to crawl in smaller potholes because it absorbs them very well. A light steering and body roll means that it’s not very confidence inspiring to push it around the corners but having said that the straight-line stability at higher speeds is really solid and it effortlessly reaches the ton in just over 10 seconds.

 All 4 wheels are equipped with disc brakes and they do an excellent job of stopping the vehicle from decent speeds to a sand still. I really wish someone from Mahindra drives one someday.

 The fuel tank capacity is 50 litres and you should be able to drive it for 800 km before you need a refill. That said, it would return a fuel efficiency of 16 kmpl in mixed driving conditions.

 

With over 5 lakh Creta’s on road, let’s find out what has been the success mantra for Hyundai Creta in India:

1. TIMING – #hyundai is aggressive in launching cars in India. As soon as they realised that the 5 seater ‘SUV’ market is growing significantly, they left no stone unturned to launch the #creta ASAP

2 BRAND & SERVICE – Hyundai is loved by us since the days of Santro. With an extensive dealer network spread across the country, the 2nd largest car maker has a major advantage over it’s rivals like Kia. They’ve also received the top spot for customer satisfaction in JD power study in 2018 with a score of 848/1000. 55% of them also revealed they would get their car serviced at the dealership after warranty expires

3. STYLING (Old Creta) – Code named as #ix25 the car was ruling hearts in the spy shots across the Globe. It looked more mature than any other ‘SUV’ in that price bracket. A very proportionate design unlike the new model which is polarizing

4. ENGINE-GEARBOX OPTIONS – Manual, Automatic, Petrol and Diesel, it had it all. Also the availability of diesel automatic was a boon. Brands like Jeep who got in the diesel automatic in Compass way too late have lost significant customers to others

5. RESALE VALUE – Creta is pretty dominant in the used car market. Some buyers also consider resale value as one of the parameters while making a purchase. A car with better resale value also means relatively higher ROI

6. SAFETY FEATURES – All variants came with rear parking sensors, dual Airbags and ABS. Period. The higher variants offered rear camera, hill-assist, electronic stability control, static bending lights etc.

7. WONDER WARRANTY – The recently launched flexible warranty of 3 yrs/unlimited km or 4 yrs/60k km or 5 yrs/50k km lets buyers choose it according to thier usage pattern

8. NEW CRETA – Although approx 10% of the sales are from the new model, Hyundai offered (almost) everything the buyer wants. The Panoramic sunroof is enough to play the trump card for most of them. Also, the new model is improved in every possible way, especially in the driving dynamics.

Quick comparision of Creta Vs Seltos:

Advantages of #kiaseltos over #hyundaicreta:

  1. A much proportionately designed car with finer details unlike the love-it-or-hate-it design of the new Creta
  2. Seltos offers the 1.4-litre petrol engine with both a manual and a DCT, whereas the Creta only offers that particular engine with a DCT
  3. Seltos loves to be pushed around the corners(although the steering is still not perfect), the body roll is slightly lesser than Creta. Looses its marks to the ride quality though
  4. No ‘evident’ cost-cutting unlike the hard plastics of the Creta. There is a bit of soft-touch on the interiors of Creta. Both the cars neither get a full size spare tyre nor hydraulic struts for bonnet. Sad.
  5. Some fancy equipments like the heads-up display, front parking sensors and 360 degree camera which actually offer utility. Also, the Seltos gets tilt & telescopic adjustment for the steering while the creta gets the adjustment for tilt only
  6. Neatly laid out instrument cluster. Although the Creta too has a pretty good looking speedometer, it really falls short in the race of tachometer’s unconventional design
  7. one of the best features of the Seltos is its blind spot assist, which uses cameras mounted in the outside rear-view mirrors to project the blind spot on the screen in front of the driver
  8. Seltos gets dual-tone beige interiors which look slightly more plush and premium than the all-black ‘sporty’ interiors of the Creta which probably make slightly more sense for a hot hatch like the Polo, Mini Cooper or Abarth Punto
  9. Much better looking GT line alloy wheels and LED DRLs merging into the grille. On the contrary, the alloys of the Creta Petrol 7 DCT can be mistaken for wheel caps.
  10. Although the OEM for tyres tends to change periodically, the test car of Seltos came with the much grippier set of Michellins than the JK tyres on the Creta

 

Advantages of #hyundaicreta over #kiaseltos:

  1. Firstly, a much larger network of dealership and service centres. For every Kia service centre in India, there are approximately 9 from Hyundai
  2. The middle variants trims of Creta are safer than the respective variants of Seltos with 6 airbags vs 2. Seltos misses out on Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM). All variants of Creta get TPMS
  3. Additional equipment level with a massive panoramic sunroof, electronic parking brake with an auto-hold function and of course the paddle-shifters
  4. Negligible turbo lag from the Creta turbo petrol 7 DCT triumphs the slightly noticible lag in the seltos. You can cruise at 100 kmph at 2000rpm vs the 2200rpm in Seltos
  5. Although both are equipped with the same OEM music system vendor, Bose, the sound quality in Creta is miles ahead than the Seltos
  6. For the same engine-gearbox combination, Creta will return 10% more mileage than the Seltos. For sure.
  7. The ride quality offered is definitely better, thanks to the softer suspension but the handling is slightly compromised
  8. Although the touchscreen infotainment system is of same size it is much more user friendly and the responsiveness is amazing
  9. The Creta gets a better driving position, thanks to its higher seat height. You would have complete visibility of the bonnet’s front end

 

Verdict

 Hyundai is one of those manufacturers that does a lot of homework before launching a new product in India. They know what the consumer wants when he is shopping for a car in every segment. The Creta is feature loaded to the brim and more.

 If God asked me what are the 3 features that I aspire for in a 20 lakh car, It would be the panoramic sunroof, wireless charging and a safer car with 6 airbags. The Creta gets all of them. Having said that, I really wish Hyundai had worked on a better steering feedback and not opted for cost cutting measures because at 20 lakhs, it’s not cheap in any way.

 Going back to the question that we started off with – Would you be happy with the polarised design of the Creta or head to the nearest KIA showroom? I would leave that to you because designs are subjective. But if I were you, I would probably wait hoping that the turbo charged variant is also offered with the manual gearbox. Because, replacement for Manual gearbox shall never be found. 

 

 

 

KTM 390 Adventure – The Ultimate Affordable Tourer

June 8, 2020 / 0 Comments / 360 / ROAD TEST REVIEWS, Uncategorized

Hello! Hope you all are staying safe and healthy in these unprecedented times.

It was the year 2012, in the middle of the chilling Indian winter, an Austrian Motorcycle manufacturer decided to enter the Indian subcontinent. I could bet my life’s earnings on it, the Austrians never dreamt that the Orange army would create a storm in the nation with the most number of motorcycles in the World. This isn’t an easy task by no means, you were competing with the likes of Bajaj, TVS, Hero motorcycles who have been a part of this lucrative, challenging and the most dynamic automotive market on this Planet since decades.

But, what would it take to set the cash registers ringing for Kraftfahrzeuge Trunkenpolz Mattighofen ?

A bike that the nation wants. This was answered in the form of the KTM Duke 200 and a more powerful 390 cc version of it was introduced later. For the track enthusiasts, KTM fulfilled their wishes in the form of its RC variant. 

B. U. T !!

The Indian sub-continent lacked a capable yet affordable adventure tourer since a long time. We have the RE Himalayan which is priced at 2 lakhs and we have the Triumph tiger costing 7 times more, and this orange lad is here to fill this most anticipated gap! The XPulse 200 fi is shipped as an amazingly VFM product. But, is this the best affordable adventure tourer we have been waiting for? Let’s find out.

    

My 2 cents on the KTM 390 Adventure:
Pros:
1. A near-perfect ‘adventure tourer’ at a ‘relatively’ affordable price of 3.8 lakhs, on-road Bangalore. You can effortlessly cruise all day long at decent highway speed, thanks to superb seat, wider handle, 43 bhp and 32nm of Torque
2. Brilliant styling and feature loaded: LED Headlight, DRLs, Claw-like foot-pegs, 5 inch MID to connect your phone for calls/music, 12V charger, option to connect Navigation etc
3. Top notch quality everywhere. The stacks, the body shell, the switches feel very premium and that’s the primary reason why you would be floored to pay 3.8 lakhs for this tourer
4. The 320mm and 230mm discs do an excellent job of stopping this 177 kg tourer. Mahindra should seriously hire their brake engineer for their cars
5. Ride quality is brilliant. It ate Bangalore’s potholes and massive craters for breakfast.
The suspension travel could have been slightly better for off-roading
Cons:
1. The engine comes to life in the mid-range, at lower rpms in the Adv doesn’t do justice to numbers on paper. Honestly, this is needed in off-roading when you need a lot of grunt in lower range. That’s why diesel 4×4 outperforms it’s petrol counterpart in off-roading.
2. The grip offered on tyres could have been better for off-roading, especially slush, which would be encountered more than often. They do a good job on the tarmac though.
3. At 855 mm, the seat is tall. This will disappoint a lot of prospective buyers. 
4. Quick shifter (shifting gears without clutch) needs some fixes. It’s hard while shifting to 2nd & 3rd. This being an adventure focussed bike and not a track machine, we give it a benefit of doubt
5. Spoke wheels should have at-least been an option. You’ll miss them while driving over rough terrains as they can brace the impact better

Exterior:

Look straight into the eyes of the adventure and you would be spellbound by the brilliantly crafted LED headlight with DRLs surrounding it very neatly with the KTM badging. The LED indicators go very well with the sleek and stylish language of this bike. The windshield is adjustable and apart from looking super cool, it does wonders in reducing the wind noise at high speed.

The front wheels are 19 inch unlike the 17 inch of the Duke 390, the suspension travel in the front is increased to 170 mm in the front and 177 mm in the rear, of course to make you much more comfortable when you are bouncing on the rocks. The radiator is curved, apart from this being aesthetically nice, it does a really good job of preventing hot air reaching the riders legs and prevents the accumulation of dust in the engine bay.

Moving to the side of the orange lad, you are greeted by a superb design of the fuel tank that narrows down towards you making it ergonomic for congested manoeuvring in off-road situations. At 14.5 L, this is the biggest fuel tank on any KTM in India. There is a super slim exhaust that looks kind of nice. In case you forget which motorcycle you are riding, the adventure branding is here to remind you. The treatment on the foot pegs is changed to giving it a claw like design and the rubber can be removed to offer better grip which is very critical in offloading. What’s interesting is the gear lever has a spring action to minimise the damage if the bike falls. The engine guard is made of plastic, KTM went overboard and offered the engine guard and saree right from the showroom. The grab rails are definitely one of the best I have seen in recent times. Just like the headlight, the tail lamps are LED too. The only incompetency in the design of this adventure tourer seems to be the massive seat height of 855mm which will disappoint a good number of prospective buyers walking into the showroom.

The wide handle bar makes the 390 adventure a very comfortable motorcycle, however tall riders would prefer a taller hand bar which would make it easier to stand and ride during off-roading. The quality of stacks are topnotch and they are backlit. The centre of attraction seems to be the 5 inch touchscreen infotainment system that displays information  like the status of ABS, TC, Trip details etc. However, the best part of it is the ‘my ride app’ that lets you connect your smartphone to the bike and make/receive calls, play music etc. That’s super cool.

Technically, KTM did a heart transplant to the 390 adventure from the duke 390, the engine is borrowed pumping out the same 43 bhp & 37 nm of torque. But the small yet significant changes like a longer swing arm has increased the wheelbase by a massive 73mm making the seats much larger and a lengthier bike. Although, a significant number of other parts like the side panels, windscreen, display, seating, and GPS mount are a close match to the 790, just in a miniature package.

How does this KTM ride?

Turn on the key and you are greeted by the ready to race message. Start the bike and the engine note is a typical KTM. The only major issue I have about the 390 adventure is the absence of wow factor in the lower rpms. Its only during the mid range that the engine comes to full life and just pushes you back, thanks to intertia.

What’s important to note that you can shift the gears without a clutch, thanks to the quick shifter. The shift from first to second is a slight struggle but going forward things are much easier.

Once you hit the sweet spot of 6000 rpm the bike feels extremely lively and as you increase the speed its well balanced and you would fall in love with its riding dynamics, thanks to the adjustable windscreen, the wind noise is fairly controlled. Beyond 9000 rpm is when the party comes to a halt as slight vibrations are felt between the petrol tank and the seat.

The ride quality is phenomenal. The 390 adventure ate Bangalore’s potholes and craters for breakfast. There was not a single moment where I felt the ride quality should have been better.

But, ain’t it supposed to be an off-roader?

A massive ground clearance of 200 mm ensures that the underbelly never kisses the ground during off-roading, no matter what. The ABS and TC can be turned off to help the wheels spin in tricky off-road situations. Having said that, this is not the best off-road bike your money could buy mainly due to the absence of low end grunt which is very important when you aren’t on a smoother tarmac. For your reference, a diesel 4×4 outperforms its petrol counterpart in offloading due to the additional torque available in lower range. The inconsistent power drops by the traction control is not very encouraging, even when you turn it off. We strongly recommend that you lower the tyre pressure when you are off-roading, especially with these tyres. However, an absence of optional spoke wheels and a massive seat heigh dilute the spirits of the rider. 

Braking

I wouldn’t shy away from calling it Absolutely phenomenal. The 320 mm disc brakes in the front and 230 mm at the rear do a great job in bringing this orange lad weighing 177 kg from 100 kmph to a stand still. Apart from the discs, the ABS does a fantastic job of controlling the bike in severe braking conditions. However, we strongly recommend you to turn-off the ABS while you venture out off-roading as wheel spin becomes all the necessary. 

Ergonomics

The claw-like foot-peg detaches the rubber optionally:

One of the main reasons why I would spend my three-and-a-half big ones on this Austrian motorcycle maker is due too the brilliant ergonomics on offer barring the seat height. The switches are easily accessible, the foot-pegs are detachable, the handle bar is now wider, the fuel tank is slimmer towards the rider, the coolant is moved backwards, the windshield is adjustable and more importantly the 5-inch TFT is very very easy to use unlike the complex infotainment systems of some of the expensive counterparts.

Kitna Deti hai?

While this universal question might not be your priority when you enter the nearest dealership to book this orange lad, money saved is money earned. The KTM 390 Adv returned a fuel efficiency of 24 kmpl which included riding in city traffic, mild off-roading and cruising on the expensive toll roads.

Should You Buy One?

Should you spend your 3.8 lakhs on a KTM or head to the nearest RE showroom? Honestly, this is an easy decision. If you plan to take your motorcycle off-roading often, the Himalayan is the best bet because of its low end grunt. But, If you want an adventure tourer with top notch quality to cruise all day long happily, then, Orange is the new black. This bike ticks most of the boxes right, in-fact essential and critical boxes. Having said that, some minor fixes in the electronics like the traction control stability, slightly lower seat height and an option of spoke wheels can definitely spike the number of copies sold by at-least a substantial quarter.

Take care and Ride safe.

Jaguar XE – The Ultimate Handling Machine

April 19, 2020 / 0 Comments / 281 / ROAD TEST REVIEWS, Uncategorized
jagvver

Back in 2017 Jaguar brought the XE to our shores as the most ‘affordable’ Jaguar in the country. Don’t get me wrong, affordable doesn’t necessarily mean CHEAP.  The XE was however left behind in the most volatile car market in the world as its 3 best friends, the C-class, 3 series and the Audi A4 were way more futuristic in terms of equipment on offer, if not the driving dynamics. Fast forward to a new decade, we now have the new Jaguar XE which promises to be exhilarating to drive and tick all the right boxes.

After 1,000 km in 4 days with the Jaguar XE Petrol, here are my 2 cents on it:

Pros:

z+ The Best Handling car I have driven till date. Period. Forget the 330i M sport, Heck it given gives an inferiority complex to the GLC 43 AMG in this department.

+ Ultimate styling, crafted with perfection. Forget heads, people turned their body to stare at it at every signal and colourful roads of Pondicherry. Those matte grey alloys added to the deadly character of the car.

+ Phenomenal Quality everywhere, those seats, that God-made steering wheel, those knobs and stacks are great to use just like a typical member of the JLR family

+ The 8-speed ZF transmission has s slight lag, which can be easily ignored. This gearbox has a sedate behaviour in the Eco mode than the Sport mode which makes the lag slightly more noticeable

+ The engineering team deserves an Oscar for replacing the lethargic, feather-light steering of the previous XE with this brilliantly tuned unit.

+ Super intelligent, definitely more than me. For eg, Once you slot in reverse, both the wing mirrors lower down to give a better visibility of the pavement while parking

+ Talking about the handling again, took a turn on the Bangalore-Chennai highway at a speed of 163 km ph and this was planted on the road like they are made for each other.

Cons:

– The XE loves speed breakers, so much that I lost the count of number of times she kissed those massive humps of TN, of course, slightly

– This might be a Beta statement valid for this media car: I wasn’t happy with the unreliable front parking sensors. They failed to function in 2 instances and I ended up touching a crate of coke bottles once which left a minor scratch on the bumper. Will investigate if this is across other units produced too.

– The rear seat isn’t the best place to be in. Although it offers excellent under-thigh support (Hope MG ZS EV is reading this), the low placement of seat and humungous transmission tunnel for the 5th passenger are a let down. Strictly a 4 seater.

– Not the most user-friendly car in terms of accessing basic functionalities like temperature controls, in-built navigation, android auto connectivity etc. It takes time to get going

What’s new in the Jaguar XE 2020?

  • Front and rear styling tweaks, including a larger front grille and redesigned rear diffuser
  • Standard leather seats
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility
  • Standard LED headlights, and upgraded interior materials.
  • InControl Touch Pro Duo infotainment system; it adds a second touchscreen that handles the climate-control system and other vehicle controls, as well as a digital gauge cluster, digital rearview mirror, and a wireless-charging pad for phones

Exterior

The headlamps are slimmer and wrap themselves around more aggressively, the grille has grown larger by adding more width and the bumper has been redesigned to look sleeker with larger apertures to vent air. The Jaguar badge in the centre of the grille is new, incorporating Jaguars new ethos leaning towards sustainability and safety. The headlamps are now full LED. They also have a new LED graphic element that gets animated when the indicators are switched on.

At the rear, the taillights have also grown slimmer and have a new graphic element incorporated, with redesigned bumpers enveloping scooped out lower air dams. One new inclusion is that al Jaguar cars will have a new nomenclature system, indicating the engine type and power output in it. So the car I drove was the D180 with a smaller badge below it indicating the trim level. There are new alloy wheels options available as well sized at 17 inches.

Interior

Jump inside though and the interior is where most of the changes have taken place. Gone is the outdated infotainment system and instrument cluster, replaced by large digital screens that really give it a modern look. It even has Apple CarPlay, which has been long overdue for Jaguar Land Rover.

Move inside the car and the changes are a bit more evident. There were three areas that were critically touched upon. These were the steering wheel, the centre stack and the wraparound dashboard. Starting from the steering wheel, it’s now got slimmer redesigned arms that house similar control buttons as before, except they are more stylized than before. The instrument binnacle behind the steering wheel now sports an interactive display.

Interior quality isn’t something Jaguar has been renown for in recent years, and while the inside of the XE is generally okay, with soft-touch materials in key places, it’s far from outstanding.

Things were improved during a mid-life facelift in 2019, but the plushness of the leather and how solidly the interior panels feel bolted together is still a long way behind a BMW 3 Series – let alone an Audi A4. The XE does edge the Alfa Romeo Giulia for interior quality, though.

There are completely new door cards, a refreshed centre console and a new steering wheel. Jaguar has also done away with the rotary gear selector, replacing it with a more traditional centre shift system, which it believes presents a sportier feel. I’m not really sure about that; I had a bit of a soft spot for that more practical and space-saving rotary dial.

Space & Practicality

If your highest priority was space, probably, you wouldn’t be reading this. XE is not the most spacious car in its segment and by a significant margin, I mean. If you thought sitting in the front was an issue, get set for a nightmare in the backyard. The biggest noticeable problem of all is the low slung seats which make you dream of the back seat of your Rover. While the under-thigh support is undoubtedly good, it does suffer from some serious shortcomings in the knee room and leg room department. Don’t get me wrong, its not as bad as the previous gen 3 series.

The trunk is reasonably deep with a low liftover height, but cabin storage is skimpy. The nooks are small, and the door pockets are suitable for maps only. Car seat anchors are very prominent, but the limited backseat space will be a problem if you’re trying to install a bulky rear-facing child safety seat. The trunk may also pose a problem if you want to do some heavy lifting with the big suitcases courtesy airport trips or your weekend trip to the nearest 9-hole golf course.

Having said that, its a no brainer that sedans aren’t bought for space or practicality either because when you tank up the fuel and hit the throttle hard, all the shortcomings are evaporated in the atmosphere.

Drive

I know, you were waiting for this, so do I. The XE is one of the cars that scream to be driven and driven faster around the corners because the handling of this machine is just mind boggling. Trust me, it gives some serious inferiority complex to cars a segment above when it comes to the driving dynamics.

Power and torque delivery is smooth and the rear-wheel drive setup with Jaguar’s lightweight aluminium chassis (the car weighs just around 1500kg), offers a package that is nimble and very responsive to corners. It’s a driver’s cars, and that’s what Jaguars are all about. It offers a great deal of feedback through the wheel and, as we spent hours punting it through highways of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry’s streets , it was a competent drive that inspired a sense of confidence to push harder and harder into corners. The car remaining utterly composed at all times. Taut, responsive steering and firm, well-modulated brakes also help the XE to meet the expectations of an athletic luxury sport sedan. You can choose between various Drive modes – Comfort, Eco, Dynamic and Rain/Snow – and I found that even in Comfort the XE provided plenty of driving entertainment.

In terms of suspension, there is a double-wishbone setup at the front, while the rear rides on an integral link arrangement. Jaguar composes the XE’s vehicle architecture mostly of lightweight aluminium in order to keep weight down, and my test vehicle included the Dynamic Handling Pack with a configurable adaptive suspension.

How does the Jaguar XE fare over its competition?

Pick the #jaguarxe over #bmw330i if:

  • You want the BEST handling car you could drive for 60 big ones
  • You want a much much better place to live in (Interiors are leaps and bounds better)
  • You want a car with excellent braking. I don’t remember the last time I drove a car with brakes like this. Mahindra, please hire their Brake engineer. Those Goodyears did not move a millimeter in the curviest roads of TN at good speeds. Excellence!
  • You want a Brilliant package of Excellent craftsmanship, Performance, Built and a great
  • You love the seamless integration of Android auto/Apple carplay. Hey BMW, when are we getting one?
  • You plan to keep the car for atleast 7 years. The depreciation of XE is much more significant than the 3 series in the used car market
  • Brownie point: You want a car that’s a head turner. If you keep the 330i and XE next to each other, it looks like the XE will eat the 330i for breakfast
  • * Please pick the Red, incase you decide to *
Pick the #bmw330i over #jaguarxe if:
  • Slightly more powerful (+8 bhp) but a whooping 200 kg lighter car
  • You want a mean acceleration machine, the 3 is quicker by 0.7s
  • Reliability is your priority
  • You want to drive around in one of the best gearbox
  • You want a better driving position with better front under-thigh support
  • You have 3 people to onboard on the rear seat, although difficult but still better than XE
  • You want a better clarity rear view camera
  • You fancy gorgeous looking alloys
  • Last but definitely not the least, if you love a car that drinks relatively less. The 330i would take you atleast for 2-3 km more for every litre of petrol it drinks. Infact, slot it in the eco mode you could have some unbelievable figures of 17+ kmpl for sedate driving on a highway

Should you buy One?

This is probably the first proper facelift of the Jaguar XE and its not surprising that it has received it after ages, especially considering how often its friends receive the update. Having said that, the XE is leaps and bounds ahead in terms of drive-ability, yes its better than the BME 330i M Sport too! If I had to pick a car for my weekend drifting sessions in the MMRT or BIC, I know where to head for. It ticks all the right boxes, has bundles of features while falling short of comfort in the rear seat but its elder sibling the XF does more justice in this department but its been quite sometime we haven’t heard about its facelift in India, Jaguar? Are you listening? 😉

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.

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.

TATA ALtroz – The Best Affordable Diesel Hatch

December 28, 2019 / 3 Comments / 749 / ROAD TEST REVIEWS, Uncategorized
tata we

You know that the Car would be Gold standard when you receive an invite like this: 

Altroz is the debutant from TATA Motors to be based on the completely new ALFA (Agile Light Flexible Advanced) platform which also serves to be one amongst the 2 platforms that all the future TATA cars will be built on. This platform is extremely agile, catering to different body segments like Hatchbacks, Sedans, Crossovers and SUVs. This is the biggest development we have seen from our Homegrown manufacturer in recent times.

Number Game:

Pros:

+Brilliant styling. Undoubtedly, one of the hottest looking cars in town. The doors open at a 90-degrees angle. How cool can it get!
+Phenomenal high speed handling. Pushed this car all the way till 175 kmph and not a moment of nervousness. The road curved when I was doing 120 kmph and this was planted on the road like a magnet
+ The car screams premiumness everywhere. Tata knew they would be rigorously tested for this and they put in their best people to get the job done
+ Power delivery of Diesel is leaps and bounds ahead of Baleno & i20. It reads 96 bhp on paper.
+ Braking is damn impressive. Did super hard braking at speeds of 130 kmph. Impressive. M&M should hire their Brake engineer (if at all he exists)
+ Steering feedback is very good on the higher speeds. It’s not as perfect as the 1st gen Figo but atleast 20 times better than the joystick of elite i20
+ Just like any other Tata, the music system is a treat to the ears. Very less distortion at extremely high volume.

Cons:

– Petrol is Lethargic with a capital L. Swift/Baleno trumps this by a significant margin. Ironically, 60 – 70% would be petrol buyers and this is a concern
– The music system that I spoke about is your new best friend because the Diesel is noisy. Enthusiasts may call it adrenaline rush but others would prefer better insulation
– Tata missed out on basic features expected at this price bracket like ORVM indicators, LED headlamps and Auto dimming IRVM
– Basic design flaws like Tachometer and Speedometer layout looks different and the ‘squarish’ Speedo feels very similar to the one in Brezza. Expected a futuristic design that aligns with the sporty characteristics of the car 
– No Automatic options currently when the competition has it

Exterior

This, by far is the most gorgeous looking hatchback, the country has ever seen. Heck, it even beats the VW Polo in this department. While the Polo has a timeless and classic design, the Altroz with it sharp creases steals the show. The front does not need time to grow with you. The design team has played it safe here with large projector headlamps which consume a lot of real estate. There is also a thin strip of chrome, running across the entire width of the front, which along with the chrome ‘Tata’ logo, adds to the premium feel at the front.The honeycomb grille adds to its elegance. Oh wait, before you miss out, let me remind you that the fog lamps are not housed as a separate unit but they are integrated. Smart move? You decide.

Moving to the side of the car, there are 2 things that instantly grab your attention:

  1. Rear door handle – Placement of the door handle next to the rear window gives it a stellar look, I wouldn’t shy away from badging this as an inspiration from the Chevy Beat, a car which was loved by many
  2. Diamond-cut alloys – One of the best designs we have seen in recent times. The angular twists provided are simply brilliant

The rear of the car is where the party starts. There is a lot of heavy-dose design which is brilliantly sculpted giving a 3D effect to the tail lamps. Kudos to Pratap Bose and Team for achieving this indistinctive design. The tail lamps are neatly engraved and go very well with the persona of the Altroz – The Gold standard.

Interior

The large doors which can be opened at a 90-degree angle welcome you with a wide grin. First thing and you notice how amazing things are laid up in the cabin. The A/C vents with chrome surround feel astonishingly good. The large 8-inch touchscreen system steals the show.

But what the Altroz surely impresses with is the features that are on offer. For starters, the car offers ambient lighting and there is a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system that also supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The touch response is very good and there is no lag, which is a big improvement in this department by Tata Motors.

There are a lot of plastics used in the dash which seem to be of great fit and finish, however we would have loved it had they been tad less shinier. Again the fit-finish of the interiors are quite good and Tata Motors have done a very good job this time. If I cover the TATA logo, I bet a thousand bucks, you would’t be able to figure it out that it’s a TATA. Thankfully, seats are supreme and the cushion feels good unlike the olden era of TATA’s which were a pain to sit on.

The Altroz has a flat-bottomed steering wheel which feels brilliant to hold and one of the best we have seen in recent times. It is thick, sporty-looking and feels very nice to hold and is one of the best features on the Altroz. The TATA logo is proudly housed in the centre. You do get the volume rockers embedded into them. The wiper and indicator stacks looks like they are built from decent quality plastics, again lets not pitch the quality against the segment leader, the VW Polo because the quality is leaps and bounds ahead from the days of the TATA indica, the National cab of our Country.

 

The biggest pain point is the asymmetric design of the Speedo and Tachometer. The speedo is square-ish and the tachometer is round-ish. For some reason, this does not really grow in an instant. Also the lack-lustering fonts which are white in colour contrast the sporty theme of this car. I really wish TATA could have used red & black combination with a sporty instrument cluster.

The gear lever with white stitching running across the leatherette feels supremely good to hold. The centre armrest is provided to rest in your left hand on your long road trips. However, this would largely be used when TATA gets the AMT variant to our shores. One thing that I sorely miss are the leather seats, which TATA could have at-least optionally provided in the top variant. Black leather with red stitches would be a deadly combo that would inadvertently go well with the Sporty character the Altroz screams.

Coming to the back of the Tata Altroz, after setting the driver seat according to my height, I still had a great amount of knee room on offer. There was also decent legroom, shoulder room and headroom on offer as well. Overall, it’s a nice airy, spacious cabin to be in. To make things better, it gets a flat floor, which means, if you put the armrest up, you can have three people sitting with ease. on your next roadtrip.

Space

Apart from the cubby holes, door pockets and cupholders the Altroz offers a boot space of 345 litres.

How Does it Drive?

I drove both the variants of the ALtroz – Diesel and Petrol.

Diesel – Does this motor feels absolute bonkers from the word Go! No, not really. There is the negligible turbo-lag that you would expect in a Diesel mill at this price bracket but the turbo lag vanishes off in the rear-view mirror as the car picks speed. I have complaint in just 1 area of the diesel mill: NVH insulations which are too loud for the liking. One thing that is seriously commendable in the TATA Altroz is its high speed handling. The car felt planted on the road like a magnet when I was doing serious triple digit speeds in the twists and turns of the desert land of India – Jaisalmer.

PetrolI have never fancied the 3-pot petrol mills which are not turbo-charged. Going back to the days of VW polo which is equipped with 3 pot in its petrol avatar since a decade to the Altroz, they are lethargic. The Altroz takes its sweet time to pull off from stand-still to reach the 100 kmph mark.

The Tigor’s 1.2-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine along with the 5-speed gearbox is carried over and this is a naturally-aspirated unit unlike the Nexon’s turbo-petrol. It makes 85bhp of raw power and 113Nm of torque, which seems good on paper but when you put it across the battle on a drag-strip with the good-ol’ Swift, the performance is not as eager as its chief rival, the lovely Swift which prances to the finish-line faster and the engine of Altroz is not as smooth, refined or silent. The gearbox isn’t very slick or direct either. A big big area of improvement for TATA Motors here.

However, the Altroz also has the best driving dynamics of any Tata vehicle so far. The new ALFA platform feels strong and stiff and the suspension is very well-sorted too. It deals with all imperfections in the road in a super-impressive manner and the ride is comfortable without being too stiff. Proud to say this after driving it in one of the worst roads of Jaisalmer’s countryside. I barely slowed down for small sized potholes and speed-breakers, it just eats them for breakfast! The body roll is also well-controlled and the steering feels nice and accurate and is suitably weighted with speed but please dont expect the first-gen Figo magic here.

The brakes, discs at the front, drums at the rear, are super good. I did some hard braking at triple digit speeds and trust me, I dint scare the camels away, I swear!

Kitna deti hai? I would urge you to wait for the real world figures. For starters the petrol should deliver 17 km on an average and the Diesel 20 kmpl.

Safety

The Nexon has received a 5 star Euro NCAP rating. Going by it, plethora of safety features on the Altroz was not a surprise.

The endless list goes on…

Dual Front Airbags

ABS With EBD

Corner Stability Control

Reverse Parking Sensor & Camera

Auto Headlamps

Cruise Control

Automatic is sorely missed at the launch. Tata Motors is working on a DCT for the petrol and an AMT for the diesel (as on the Nexon).

Should you buy One?

If you are looking for DIESEL car that is fun to drive, handles well with a solid built, the Altroz is worth every single penny it would ask for. It is the best hatchback that Tata Motors have ever built. It is properly finished, nothing feels out of place or compromised, and it looks fantastic. In fact this is the best looking small car there is right now and also among the most comfortable and confidence inspiring too. Well, a lot depends on the pricing especially in this price-sensitive segment. Having said that the ALTROZ deserves a much better petrol engine. Ok, I shall put it across this way – can we get the JTP Please?

In a nutshell, the TATA Altroz is one of the very few cars that I would rate a very good 4/5. The efforts laid out by TATA making it almost perfect are visible in every spectrum of the car, redefining the Gold standard. 

Jaguar F-Pace: Live to Drive

November 26, 2019 / 0 Comments / 506 / ROAD TEST REVIEWS, Uncategorized

After spending a good long weekend with the Jaguar F Pace, here are my 2 cents on it:

The good:

+ Brilliant styling. Period. Absolutely no way that you won’t look back at it after parking it. This was a crowd magnet at every pit-stop of ours. I bet, you won’t get this Bollywood-star-like attention in a Q5. I can stare at this for 24hrs continuously and still not get bored

+ Undoubtedly, one of the best steering setup in this era of boring Joy-stick like EPS. I loooooved the way this car hugged the road in cornering the Malshej ghat. The steering weighs up so damn well with speed. Kudos to JLR on this.

+ We drove on some of the worst roads of Maharashtra, if it was some other car, probably we would have a couple of broken bones. The ride quality in this is brilliant. Feels like a bed of roses after driving the XUV for 70k kms.

+ While the V6 mill is missed, the turbocharged petrol V4 does the job really well churning out 247 bhp & 365 nm. Not a moment where I felt the car needs more numbers on tap.

+ The 380 watt Meridian sound system deserves a special mention. Boy-o-boy! What a treat to the ears! Apart from Hector, I barely remember any other OEM system coming close to this. Also the instrument cluster redefines elegance. Wish MG had seen this once.

The bad:

– The F-pace is unfortunately rich in Vitamin T in the fully automatic mode. T for Turbo lag. That ~1 second of gap from the time you tap the accelerator to the car sprinting is a turn-off, esp. when you pay 80 big ones. 1 second = 1000 milli seconds. Thankfully, this is not the case when you use paddle-shifters.               .

– This car is screaming for a facelift. She feels outdated with time. Some key features like wireless charging, ventilated seats, electric boot, passive keyless entry, Heads-up-display are sorely missed which are found in cars priced 1/3rd. Read KIA Seltos.

– Why such blunt alloys for a super hot SUV? The first thing I would do if I bought the F-Pace is I would replace them with a diamond cut design, of course with the Red callipers

– The interiors feel plain vanilla in this year of 2019. Especially the hard plastics on the dash at least deserve a soft touch. The volume control knob feels old-school.

– Some tiny bits like windows take their own sweet time to roll up can’t be ignored. Also, considering the petrol’s phenomenal performance, the 60 litres fuel tank capacity means you would need frequent re-fuelling. Not the right car if you want to know ‘kitna deti hai’?


Contents:

Number Game

Exterior

Interior

How does it Drive

Space and Practicality

Safety

Should You buy One?


Number Game:

  • Engine: 1997cc, 4-Cyl, Petrol
  • Power: 247 HP @ 5500 RPM
  • Torque: 365 Nm @ 1300-4500 RPM
  • Transmission: 8-Speed AT
  • Top Speed: 216 km/hr
  • 0-100 km/hr: 6.8 seconds
  • Fuel Type: Petrol
  • Tyre Size: 255/55/20 (Front), 255/50/20 (Rear)
  • Suspension: Double-Wishbone (Front), Multi-Link (Rear)
  • Brakes: Disc (Front), Disc (Rear), ABS
  • Safety: 6 Airbags, Traction Control, EBD, ESP
  • Overall length x width x height: 4737 mm X 2175 mm X 1651 mm
  • Wheelbase: 2874 mm
  • Turning Radius: 5.9-metres
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 60-litres
  • Kerb Weight: 2460 kgs

Exterior                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Before you even get into the mechanics of infusing the Land Rover DNA in the Jaguar F-Pace, steer clear from doing so because this looks way too modernistic and futuristic than the ladder-on-frame SUV’s of the classical Era. The stance is just adequate to tick the boxes of calling it an SUV. Had it been a tad shorter, this would have definitely slipped into the crossover market. Had it been any taller, this would have suffered from higher COG and this would inevitably scream Body roll. This is the most handsome SUV I have ever driven. More than the Cult Evoque? You Bet! That’s because the Evoque feels way too claustrophobic in the rear to call it a daily drive.

The front is as-expected dominated by the typical signature Jaguar grille, with the logo housed proudly in centre. It’s one of those very rare cars on this planet that look aggressive and extremely stylish at the same time. Jaguar has got the design just spot-on! But there is something that I really hated in this car. That’s the surprisingly inconsistent panel gaps on the bonnet which isn’t visible on the cars costing one-fourth of it.

Once you move to the side its quite evident that the coupe-like styling is bound to leave you impressed. You will love the chrome bits surrounding the windows. Another small yet significant addition. But I really really wish Jaguar replaces these boring and blunt alloys with a diamond-cut design.

The rear is where the party starts! Boy-o-Boy! I can stare at these tail lamps all day and night and the next day too. Although they seem to have been lifted off the F-type they go very well with this beast yet being extremely elegant. The rear glass may however make things a little claustrophobic, but Jaguar could not afford to increase the glasshouse further as this would certainly not be proportionate with its overall design. You also get the chrome-tipped dual exhausts, which aren’t luckily just a dummy.


Interior:                                                                                                                                                                                                       

It’s very easy to get into the F-pace before you sprint to the quarter-mile. Unlike the Land Rover’s its a much more easy affair for the driver and other 3 occupants to grab their cappuccino once they are seated. Why 4? If you squeeze in a 5th person, you have .a new enemy for life. The massive transmission tunnel spoils the party for you.

Let’s get to the point, the interiors of the F-pace seem half a decade old. The quality is brilliant, in no way it feels lifted from that of a XE or other Jags, its just that with the other cars pacing up so well in terms of the equipment list, the F-Pace screams for a facelift. Apart from the design language, it would have been great had JLR opted for soft touch plastics. The cabin however feels very upmarket and stylish.

The dashboard is dominated by a rather-large 10.2 inch infotainment system that gives out all the information that you would ever need. The GPS too feels amazing unlike the MMI of M&M. Lest not forget the sweet surrounding Meridian sound system which is a treat to the ears. You also get the 360 degree parking sensors in case you want to have all round visibility of the car while parking it in squeezing parking spots.

You get configurable ambient mood lighting, a 10-way electric adjust for the front seats, cooled glovebox, auto-dimming rearview mirror and a four-zone climate control system.

The front seats are really comfortable and offer a variety of adjustments. We also love some details up front that adds to the cabin’s sense of occasion. The cowl at the very end of the dash that extends from the passenger’s door to the driver’s gives the cabin a snug feel. The gear lever that rises up as you press the start/stop button is also a clever touch. This is off-late found in most of the modern cars. We’ve seen this in many Jaguar cars and it is a little old but it still feels damn premium. There is enough headroom for a 6 ft tall driver/co-passenger. The panoramic sunroof adds to the airiness of the cabin.


How does it Drive?                                                                                                                                                                         

This is where the F-Type scores full marks. Thankfully we got our hands on the 25t (Petrol) which is a brilliant engine to drive, assuming you don’t mind thirsty cars. Don’t get me wrong, you can’t compare it to the 530d but slotting it against the German rivals, there is absolutely no way you would be disappointed by its performance. The best part is this 2 litre turbocharged, ingenium powerhouse generously thrust a whooping 247 bhp pf raw power with a decent-on-paper 365nm of Torque.

The motor does rev freely and there are 4 driving modes on offer – Normal, Dynamic (changes the cluster’s backlit and centre console light to red), Eco (changes the cluster’s backlit and centre console light to red) and Rain/Ice/Snow; these parameters tweak the engine, AC and steering but not the gearbox as the transmission

We notices some slight turbo-lag in the automatic mode when cruising on the Mumbai-Pune expressway.  To overcome this, I slotted it to the Manual mode a.k.a paddle-shifters and this proved to be a great deal of difference. This is undoubtedly the best car I have driven on paddle shifters. The car feels much sportier, not only from the vocal note but also by the way it waits to sprint. Oh, did I tell you? you could rev this all the way till 7000 rpm. Just like your favourite Beemer.

The Jaguar F-Pace 25T returns a mileage between 7-9 km/l, depending on the driving style and condition. It has a 60-litre fuel tank which seems adequately small. You would not want to keep hunting for a petrol pump every 400 km, would you?

I really loved the F-Pace for the way it handled the curves of Malshej Ghat. The car feels much lighter that it is, thanks to the AWD system which is an icing on the cake. The steering is thankfully on a slightly heavier side unlike feather-light electrics of most of the modern Germans. The best part was the minimalistic body roll for a car of this size and weight. I really hope Toyota could inculcate half of this tech into their T-Fort which screams body roll from the word, Go.

The ride quality is on the stiffer side although pretty compliant as we traversed through some of the worst roads of Maharashtra and did not have a single broken bone. Yet I wouldn’t want to compare it to the pinacle of Ride quality, the Renault duster which probably costs less than the quarter of this. To sum it up, the F-pace still remains my default choice if I had to do a K2K from the cars of the cat family.


Safety                                                                                                                                                                                           

Before we get into the numbers war with airbags its quite essential to appreciate the sturdy build quality of this iconic Brit. The doors are heavily weighed and the quality feels supreme. The bonnet and tail gate which surprisingly isn’t electric weighs pretty heavy too. The F-Pace scores a full five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. Jaguar offers all the bells and whistles like ESP, Traction Control, pre-tensioner seat belts and 6 airbags. A safe car is a good car.


Should You buy one?                                                                                                                                                                     

If you are looking for a luxury SUV that can feels solidly built, rides decent, handles very well and is a crowd magnet, look no further than the f-pace. If you belong to one of the often-flood-prone places of the country, the F-pace with its relatively higher GC gives you a good reason to pick this over other luxury sedans at this price. However, there are some shortcomings like the car is quite thirsty especially when you compare it to the German rivals. Also, interiors aren’t something to write about. But, all that is dusted off your mind when you shut the doors of your swanky blue F-pace and rev it all the way till 7000 rpm in the dusky tunnels of Khandala. In a nutshell, this is undoubtedly the most sensible Jag your Money could buy.

BMW 330i M Sport: Luxury meets Performance

October 2, 2019 / 0 Comments / 506 / ROAD TEST REVIEWS

If you want a car that you can spin on a racetrack on a Sunday and take it to office the next day, you are limited with options especially if you don’t want to burn a very deep hole in your pocket. We had the legendary Octavia vRS which was limited to just 250 units. We have the Polo GTI but it suffers from being highly impractical in its 2 door avatar.

The Indian automotive industry is more dynamic than ever. Every manufacturer is coming up with a facelift of their cars and BMW did not want to be left behind in the race. For that, BMW just brought in the all new  7th gen 3 series to our shores.

The first 3 series was born in 1975. So technically, Its way older than me. Since then the car has been a sensation worldwide for its ultimate driving pleasure and BMW sold over 50 million units  of it worldwide. It’s impressive to see how the 3 series has grown over time while still maintaining its driving dynamics.

Also, 1 out of every 3 cars sold worldwide happens to be the 3 series. What makes people fall for this car?

A big thank you to Deutsche Motoren, Bangalore for review car. 

Before we get into the car let’s find out how this 3 series is different from the previous one.

It’s 76mm longer, 16mm wider, taller by a millimetre and lighter by 55 kgs. There are lot of aluminium bits in doors and bonnet  It has plethora of changes to it. Some cosmetic while some are injected in its racing DNA. The new 3 series is based on a completely new platform called the CLAR, the cluster architecture which is shared with the 5 series and 7 series.

The test car that we see here is not just the vanilla 3 series, it is the M sport trim of it. Which means this car screams sportiness everywhere possible.

The front looks very aggressive, especially with the M sport package the car looks meatier than ever before.

The headlamps are laser lights, the blue strip running inside helps you in identifying them.

The fog lamps are LED’s which is not surprising at this price point.

The grille is finished in black surrounded by the contrasting chrome.

The best part about the kidney grille is the flaps open up to breathe in fresh air when they need, just like your lungs.

However, the flaps close when they do not intake any air in order to provide better aerodynamics and lesser drag.

The striking bumper does a perfect job in distinguishing the M sport from the rest of the breed.

Open the hood and the Twin-turbo engine brings a wide grin on your face. The engine pumps out a massive 258 bhp of power and 400 nm of torque which is more than enough to satisfy your vitamin drive or pump in some some adrenaline rush when you take it to the Madras Motor Race Track or the iconic Buddh international circuit. If you take her, make sure you rev all the way till 7000 rpm! Not a cuppa of every car.

Moving to the side, the first thing that strikes are those magnificent alloy wheels. The rubber is nicely wrapped with short sidewalls and wider profile to give you that racing inspired confidence on the corners.

However the biggest turn off this side is that a car costing half a crore misses out on passive keyless entry.

I wish BMW could do something about this because cars costing half of this get one.

You cannot ignore the fact that the rear of the car has undergone a massive makeover. Probably, the design team at Germany spent half of their bandwidth in this part of the car. Some might go overboard and mistake it for a Lexus. The LED tail lamp add to the final touch of elegance. Nostalgia hits you hard when you spot the shark-fin antenna.

The chrome tipped dual exhausts are here to remind you that you have bought a M sport trim, in case you forgot.

Open the boot with the electric release and you are greeted by a massive 480 litres of boot space, on papers at least because the space saver spoils the party for you by eating up a lot of space which leaves you with just enough space to stuff in a big suitcase and a duffle bag.

The build quality of the 3 series feels very sturdy. BMW has used aluminium components for the doors and bonnet to achieve the – 55 kgs weight figures but that does not make it feel any less solid.

So, does the BMW 3 series stick to its legacy by being the best-in-class sedan to drive? Let’s find out.

Interior:

Wow!  Looks like I got into the right place. That was an easy entry, thanks to the doors that open wide enough.

There is an ambient strip of light running across here. don’t get me wrong, fortunately, its not as bling as the club lights of Kia Seltos. The door handles have buttons for memory seats. Incase you aren’t aware of it memory seats help you come back to your desired seating position. The electronically adjusting front seats get adjustable side bolt rings to keep your body hugged to them when you are cornering on the racetrack.

It’s time for me to buckle up and unleash the power behind that twin turbo powerhouse. The seat belts are here to remind you that you have treated yourself with an M sport edition, in case you forgot.

The steering offers excellent grip with dedicated thumb contours and the BMW logo is proudly placed in the centre, The volume control stacks feel very premium as expected. Once your eyes are set on the instrument cluster, you would be disappointed for 2 reasons. One being that the good-old iconic analog speedometer is replaced with the one from the spaceship of interstellar. The other being the complicated tachometer which takes a toll on the ergonomic design and takes some time to get used to. I did not like it in the Hector, I dont like it here, either. The A/C vents are surrounded with chrome to give the extra premium factor in case driving a BMW wasn’t enough. You also get the headlamp leveller here.

The centre console is however old school. Its the most simplest design you would ever see in a BMW. Not only because of the way it looks, its because of the way it functions.

For example the temperature control is done by rather old styled buttons when most of the car makers are moving to a touchscreen panel. Also I seriously feel BMW should have provided the heads-up display, at-least for the M sport. This would have made a whole world of difference when you are on the racetrack. Also the first thing that I would do if I buy the 330i is that I would replace this silver texture with a carbon fibre, because this seriously feels out of place on a luxury sedan like this. The glove box is big but not deep enough. There are 2 cupholders and a 12v charging socket too. The gear lever looks extremely stylish.

The most fascinating feature of the 3 series is the park assist. It is not just a normal park assist that you would see in most of the cars which would help you in assisting in tight parking spaces. But what makes this different? Check this out.

Also the start stop function of this car is more intelligent than I have ever seen. Traffic and real stop defferentiation.

Also Voice commands are here to help you out with functionalities like the AC control. Activation word. AC, Tired

The infotainment system seems to be the most busiest person in the car.

Park assist feature explain

The rear doors are solid and open wide enough to make the entry and exit seemingly less painful.

Moving to the rear of the car, you will be happy with the legroom on offer Thanks to the longer wheelbase in the 7th gen and scooped out front pockets. In fact the wheelbase of the 7th gen 3 series is longer than the previous gen and this is very evident here. The seats are very supportive too, although I wish they could recline more. You also get the centre arm rest and some storage space for your cappuccino. But don’t bother much about the rear because this is definitely not going to be your favourite seat in the the 3 series, at least in the 330i.

You also get the AC vents and 12 v charging socket.

The electric sunroof is slightly bigger than a normal sunroof but a panoramic sunroof is sorely missed Which has become more of a norm these days in cars costing this.

Driving:

Push this button and the car screams to life. The 330i is powered by a twin-turbo petrol which churns out 258 bhp @ 5000 rpm and 4000 nm torque at 1550 rpm all the way upto 4400 rpm, which sprints to 100 in 5.8 seconds and guess what? Its a rear wheel drive! This sounds like a driver’s delight.

The car is mated to a 8 speed ZF automatic gearbox which does the job perfectly right. There is absolutely no lag whatsoever. The gearshifts are excellent, there is not even one instance where I feel the car is in a gear lesser or more than what is required.

There is also an option of the manual mode the best part is its not a pseudo manual mode where the car will automatically shift after a certain rpm, the gearbox will never upshift until you decide to do so. Not to forget, the 330i comes with paddle shifters too. The refinement levels are as premium as you would expect in a car of this price bracket. The engine is very silent ticking all the right boxes for a luxury sedan. BMW has used a lot of damping material to keep the noise insulation very good. But, wait, did I just say I am driving a M Sport? So where is all the vocal drama that we expect from it?

Let’s switch to the Sport mode.

Wow!! This is absolutely phenomenal. I love the way this car just sprints on the tap of the accelerator. Although I miss the pure hydraulic steering, the electric power steering does the job perfectly well. Its light at parking speeds and weighs up steadily as we gain triple digit speeds. Its very very sharp. Finally, I am delighted driving a car that actually connects with me. A little movement in the steering wheel actually turns the car. There are 3 driving modes to choose from, The Eco pro, comfort and Sport mode. The engine, gearbox and steering are altered in each of these modes.

The car rides on 18 inch Michelin tyres, surprisingly, they do a better than expected job of manoeuvring through the potholes. BMW has decided to omit the adaptive dampers for India, for the good. Because, the adaptive dampers are not exactly suited for the Indian roads. The chassis is now stiffer and this makes the handling just perfect. Its as precise as you would want the 3 series to be. The COD is reduced to 0.23 from 0.26 in the previous gen making it the most aerodynamic 3 series ever. The top speed is electronically limited to 250 kmph. This makes it one of the best cars to burn the rubber on a racetrack. However, if you are more interested in burning less fuel than burning more rubber, the claimed fuel efficiency of the car is 16.4 kmpl. Of course, there is noway you would achieve it in normal driving conditions.

Power and torque consumption. The car feels great in the lower range, however the party starts once you move to the mid-range, there is enough and more torque for you and your neighbouring car too.

The car redlines at 7000 rpm. Did you just hear that? Its 7000 rpm! And that’s what differentiates the 330i from rest of the breed.

So, is it the best 3 series BMW has ever produced?

Undoubtedly, yes! Not only it’s bigger than the previous gen in every dimension, but the driving dynamics make a whole world of difference. To go back to where we started from, if you are looking for a car that you can spin on a racetrack on a weekend and take it back to office the next day, looks no further than the BMW 3 series, more so the 330i. However there are some shortcomings like the absence of passive key less entry and the cabin could have slightly been a better place to live in. All that vanishes off your mind when you slot into the sport mode and rev this icon all the way to 7000 rpm!

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