Wednesday, July 25, 2012

“Suzuki Swish Test Ride Review” plus 8 more Motorbeam

“Suzuki Swish Test Ride Review” plus 8 more Motorbeam

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Suzuki Swish Test Ride Review

Posted: 25 Jul 2012 08:11 AM PDT

2012 Suzuki Swish Review

2012 Suzuki Swish – Click above for high resolution picture gallery

Bike tested: 2012 Suzuki Swish

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 55,750/-

The scooter segment in India is seeing huge growth and more and more players are offering better products day by day. Honda recently refreshed the Dio, while Mahindra launched the upgraded Rodeo RZ. Hero launched the Maestro, while Yamaha is all set to launch the Ray in September. Suzuki has done very well in the scooter segment with the Access. The Japanese automaker has launched the Suzuki Swish, which uses the same 125cc powertrain as the Suzuki Access. Both the scooters are very similar in almost all aspects, except that the Suzuki Swish looks different and is slightly taller and 5 kgs lighter. So will the Swish repeat the Access success? Lets find out.

Styling – The aesthetics of the Suzuki Swish are that of a grown up scooter, which looks sporty, thanks to the edgy lines, slashes and cuts at the front and swooping panels on the sides. The graphics inherited by the Swish also match the edgy design language. The headlight and the indicators also carry the same forte at the front and the rear. The exhaust matches the design language with a well-crafted edgy heat shield. The front mudguard is less bulbous. The massive tail light helps in supreme illumination. The motorcycle derived mudguard with a reflector is a thoughtful idea and adds to a safer journey at night. While the design of the alloy wheels is blunt, colour of the front forks could have been black which would have added a better touch to the sporty package.

Instrument Cluster and Switch Gear – The Instrument cluster is the annoying point of this scooter. It looks very boring and cheap with a blue background colour, which doesn't help either. Speedometer fonts are borrowed from your grandpa's diary and there is a simple fuel gauge. There is a solitary meter to show the side indicator light rather than one for the left and one for the right on each side. The exposed screws inside the instrument cluster are a sore point. Switch gear is like in any other scooter, with the same functionality and placement, nothing new.

Ergonomics – The Swish has a very comfortable seating position, upright and not so wide, perfect for pottering around the city. The switch gear is very friendly and easy to operate for newbie riders as well. The seat is well cushioned; it provides a perfect balance, comfortable enough for short trips and helps in long journeys as well. The aluminium grab rail at the back for the pillion is a bit small in size. There is a clip on the left side of the brake lever to help you hold the rear brakes, which is a boon on the inclines. The foot at the front is well crafted for more knee room but it's enough for normal sized people. Motorcycle derived rear view mirrors are very easy to adjust and offer very wide view of what is behind. The floor bed is not wide enough as other scooters but still is enough to place 3-4 decent sized shopping bags. Fit and finish is good.

Performance and Gearbox – Performance is the party piece of this scooter. This is the scooter with the highest power and torque figures of all scooters (Vespa aside) with 9.8 Nm of torque coming at as low as 5000 RPM and power of 8.6 BHP coming at 7000 RPM from a 125cc engine. This is a very peppy scooter to ride. Throttle response, like all Suzuki 2-wheelers, is very crisp, which is a joy when riding enthusiastically. 0-60 km/h is dispatched in 9 seconds which is quite fast for an automatic scooter and it goes all the way goes to a whopping 95 km/h. Mid-range of the scooter is machine gun quick for a scooter, 50 to 70 km/h is very quickly dealt with, which makes it a highway crusader as well. The gearbox shifts seamlessly and there is minimal CVT lag. Lag is present in the beginning though (around 10 and 20 kmph) after which there is no uneasiness or vibrations in the throttle which makes it pull smoothly to its top speed and makes it effortless to drive.

Ride, Handling and Braking – The Suzuki Swish rides on a very basic and common set of 90 x 100 tires and 10-inch wheels. Ride quality is complaint and not plush as the Honda scooters, but both deal the same way when it comes to dealing with huge craters on our imperfect roads. Maneuvering in the city is a hassle free job, U-turn radius is short and it is very nimble and agile while cutting through traffic. Handling is better, thanks to the telescopic front suspension, swing arm type monoshock and the stressed engine (which makes it part of chassis). It’s near to the class leader, the TVS Wego.

There is slight twitchiness at the rear while taking sharp turns. Wider rubber is always welcome on any scooter since all of the scooters are fighting for fuel economy rather than cornering speeds and stability. On paper, 120 mm front and rear drum brakes seems inadequate when compared to others, (130 mm on most scooters) but on road they are surprisingly good enough to shed high speeds without any fuss. High-speed stability is excellent and there is very little wind blast on a windy highway.

Miscellaneous – Cost cutting is seen in several areas; the hook which is under the seat is made up of plastic rather than the metal seen on other scooters. Plastic quality all around is average. Bare minimum, when it comes to exciting features and nobody beats the Mahindra Rodeo in this part. Rusted bits seen on our test scooter was shocking. Ground clearance may seem less on paper but with stiff suspension, even with a pillion you won't scrape your under-belly. Under seat storage is average and not class leading like the Mahindra Rodeo but you can fit a full faced helmet due to clever packaging which consists of a shallow boot and space squeezed below the one piece seat. To open the lock of the under-seat storage, you need to keep the key in the ignition slot and turn it all the way to left and then push it to hear a ‘click’ which opens the lock.

Conclusion – Suzuki has got it right with the Swish, the subtle changes in looks and the performance (lesser weight) are the only real difference when compared to the Access. The Swish (like the Access) is an all-rounder; you can use it for daily chores and enjoy the performance as well. But with no features on offer like that of the competitors, at almost same amount of money, it's a tough decision. If you are an enthusiast and you want to have some fun with your scooter as well, look no further. But if you want something else, the scooter market is flooded with products that can suit your needs.

Whats Cool

* Peppy performance
* 20-litre under seat storage

Whats Not So Cool

* Glove box optional
* Cost cutting

Suzuki Swish Specifications

* Engine: 124cc, single-cylinder, 4-stroke, OHC
* Power: 8.58 BHP @ 8000 RPM
* Torque: 9.8 Nm @ 5000 RPM
* Transmission: CVT
* Top Speed: 95 km/h
* 0-60 km/h: 9 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 40-45 km/l
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Suspension: Telescopic, Coil Spring (Front), Swing Arm Type, Coil Spring (Rear)
* Tires: 90/100/10
* Brakes: 120 mm Drum (Front), 120 mm Drum (Rear)

Suzuki Swish Dimensions

* Overall length x width x height: 1780 mm x 650 mm x 1140 mm
* Wheelbase: 1250 mm
* Ground clearance: 160 mm
* Seat Height – 780 mm
* Underseat Storage Volume: 20-liters
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 6-liters
* Kerb Weight: 110 kgs

- Mohit Soni

Hero’s Global Parts Center To Be At Neemrana

Posted: 25 Jul 2012 08:00 AM PDT

Hero Karizma ZMR FI

For Hero MotoCorp Limited, the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer, the last few months have been rigorous with so many plans being made and executed to retain their position in the market. Recently, the company proposed its plan to invest over Rs. 2,500 crore to set up new two plants, to increase the existing capacity at the plants and to set up a research and development center. Now, the company has proposed setting up a state-of-the-art Global Parts Center at Neemrana, Rajasthan. Spread across an area of 35 acres, the plant would need an initial investment of Rs. 160 crore.

The Global Parts Center is expected to be operational by the third quarter of the financial year 2013-14. Employing over 400 personnel, the center will have automated storage and retrieval system, automated packaging and sorting system, on-line tracking of parts through Warehouse Management System (WMS), lean manufacturing systems and the Green Building Concept. The company has embarked upon a global expansion plan and its supply chain partners will play a significant strategic role.

The proposed research and development center will be set up in Kukas, Rajasthan. It will be spread over an area of 250 acres and will employee 500 employees. This R and D center will also be the largest two-wheeler R and D center in India. Also, the company will set up its fifth plant in Halol, Gujarat, fourth one being the one to be set up at Neemrana. With all these expansions, the total installed capacity of the company would be touching more than nine million units in just two years. Now, that is inline with the goal of the company which is to reach ten million units in the next five years.

Hyundai Using Veloster As Marketing Tool

Posted: 25 Jul 2012 06:30 AM PDT

Hyundai Veloster Technology Promotion

Hyundai India showcased the Veloster at the 2012 Auto Expo. The company later put the Veloster at its dealership in Delhi. Now Hyundai put the above picture on their official facebook fan page asking people interested in the Veloster to call the company’s customer care. The customer care will take down your number and tell you that they will get back. However don’t get too excited as the Veloster is not being launched in India anytime soon. We spoke with Hyundai India some time back and they said the Veloster is being used by the marketing department to showcase technology.

Hyundai has already launched two vehicles (new Sonata and i-gen i20) this year and the third one (new Elantra) will be launched next month. The company does not plan to launch any new product or product upgrade this year. The fluidic Santa Fe will be launched early next year. The remaining months of 2012 will see Hyundai concentrating on promotional activities only. The Veloster fits in perfectly in such a scenario, as it grabbed several eye balls at the Expo.

The Hyundai Veloster uses a 1.6-litre GDI engine to produce 135 BHP of power and 167 Nm of torque. This motor is one of the most advanced petrol engines around and is mated to a 6-speed manual or 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox. There are paddle shifts on offer too. A turbocharged version of the GDI engine produces close to 200 BHP of power. The Veloster is a globally the replacement of the Tiburon which was Hyundai’s sports coupe.

The 3-door Veloster is not really very popular in India, still Hyundai is using it as a promotional tool to create awareness about the technology in their cars. What is stopping GM, Ford and Fiat from bringing in the Chevrolet Camaro, Mustang and Alfa Romeo respectively. The aforementioned cars have a cult following globally and can really spread awareness about the parent brand which manufactures it.


How A Vehicle Recall Happens In The US

Posted: 25 Jul 2012 05:56 AM PDT

Vehicle Recall!!

Does this impact the reputation of a company? Or, will it bring out the honesty and integrity of the company? Will customers stop having faith in the offerings of that company? Or, will they gain much more confidence in them?

These questions have been a source of debate every where, especially in India. Companies graciously repair any fault in their vehicles but there is still a stigma in their minds and they try to avoid calling that as a ‘recall’. But the case is different in countries like US. Perhaps the number of recalls in the past few months in India can be counted on fingertips. But, try to find out the number of recalls that happened in the same time in US and you will be shocked looking at the figures. Does that mean that our manufacturers are way better than those in US or does it just mean that we do not have regulations on the recall process?

Well to put the facts into place, in most countries recall happens because a separate body or entity exists which actively monitors all the safety standards and ensure that those standards are being followed. This is exactly what we lack in India. We do not have a dedicated body which can look into such issues. If you think we have ARAI (Automotive Research Association of India), then you are indeed mistaken as this body only does the testing of vehicles so that they are marked as safe on the roads. The second name that would come to our minds would be SIAM (Society of Indian Automobile manufacturers). But that again is a body that represents most but not all the automobile companies in India. News was around on the implementation of the voluntary code on vehicle recall in India by July 2012. The same was mandated by SIAM.

A recall can happen in two cases – 1) when the manufacturer himself finds some fault and 2) when many customers complaint of the same problem in their vehicles. But, SIAM had not given a code which can allow the customers to initiate a recall. For that matter, SIAM does not even specify any standards on the minimum number of complaints to be have received by the manufacturers, which can mandate a recall. Worst is if a manufacturer denies to recall in-spite of the complaints, SIAM has no right to take action against the company. Moreover, till date even SIAM has not considered setting up an independent agency. With such situation in the industry, can a common man who spends a fortune on these vehicles feel safe?

As mentioned earlier, the situation is completely different in US. We would like to quote an incident that happened with Mr. Gregory Skwira. He is a copy editor for Automotive News and has himself narrated his experience. One fine morning he got a call from Southgate Ford. There had been a manufacturing error by the supplier in 2013 Escape which could have caused a part in the fuel line to fail. Now, this can become a serious situation for the owners having 2013 Escape with 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine. Mr. Skwira was one among them, and that was the reason he got the call. Most importantly, the lady on phone had an apologetic tone and was very courteous. Now, that would definitely calm down any of the agitated customers to some extent.

2013 Ford Escape

A company like Ford doing such a manufacturing error is not acceptable but the company knew how exactly to handle the situation without losing the customer’s trust. The much interesting thing is what happened next. The car was taken to the dealer and the owner got a replacement. In this case the replacement was a Focus. There were time and again calls from the dealer to check if the whole process was smooth. The recall was indeed smooth and the service included repaired fuel line, a wash job and a full tank of gas. Now, that is something worth that Indian manufacturers can learn. It is the safety of the user which should be given the highest priority by any of the manufacturer. Perhaps, it wouldn’t be a case where one has to question the ethical values of the companies here as they would go to any extent to save their brand name. Companies only need to change their mindset towards the recalls. We indeed need a regulatory body to handle such cases in India. What do you feel?

Source – Automotive News

Moon Rover Is Safari With Evoque Styling

Posted: 25 Jul 2012 04:39 AM PDT

Big Daddy Customs is a Delhi based aftermarket design company. They have recently taken a Tata Safari and converted into what they call Moon Rover. The Tata Safari gets styling influence from the Range Rover Evoque. The front looks quite good with the sharp Evoque design. LED lights have been incorporated very well and when viewed head on, its difficult to identify the donar car to be a Safari. The side profile will obviously give it away, that the car in contention is the Safari. The alloy wheels used are typically seen on a Safari and the foot steps loosk quite wacky.

However the rear could have been much much better. The tail lights could have been like the Evoque and the rear bumper looks quite cheaply designed. The quad exhausts clearly look fake. Its quite difficult to understand why the front and rear don’t tally. The company has done a fantastic job at the front but the rear could have benefited with the same attention to detail. The interiors have been give a complete maroon treatment along with silver inserts at places. Maroon doesn’t really suit the Safari’s interiors but again the Big Daddy Customs is limited by what the customer wants.

Big Daddy Customs offers complete modification services and recently did scissor doors for the Hyundai i20 (picture at the end of this post). Their unique modifications are called Signature styling, which start at Rs. 99,000/- It takes around 12-14 weeks to churn out one modification.

Hyundai i20 Scissor Doors

Eicher To Make ‘Personal’ Vehicles With Polaris

Posted: 25 Jul 2012 12:55 AM PDT


One surprising announcement was made yesterday regarding Eicher. Eicher will enter the personal vehicle segment with Polaris, a well-known ATV manufacturer across the globe, though what Eicher means by ‘Personal’ vehicles is still unclear. This is a 50:50 joint venture between Eicher and Polaris Industries, with an investment of Rs. 250 crore over the next three years to set up a plant in India. To explore the personal vehicle market is one of the main reasons for this joint venture, after success in the commercial vehicle market. Let us look at the two members of this JV.

We know Eicher as a quality truck manufacturer which pioneered fully built truck market in India and 50 percent owner of Royal Enfield. This image will be further developed and will get one more dimension of ‘Personal’ vehicle manufacturer. The other half, Polaris Industries, is a US based company, well known for its snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, electric vehicles and motorcycles. So these two companies coming together might look quite strange. But it makes sense as Eicher wants to expand its business and Polaris wants to establish themselves in emerging markets like India.

Officials from both sides chose to keep mum about what do they mean by ‘Personal’ vehicle. Also the product mix of both companies is quite different. It creates a cloud of confusion around the outcome of this JV. There are several possibilities about this, like car manufacturing; as many are speculating that they will be targeting small car business. This appears as a difficult task at their hand if we look at the investments they are planning to do and the expertise they are having. As others are saying if output of this JV is a small car which makes our pockets happy then we will surely welcome it.

Other alternative is ATV manufacturing, but in India people are not inclined towards activities which involve ATVs. But if we look deeply into the product mix and amount of investment (which is sufficient for setting up a 2-wheeler plant) they are planning to do, we speculate that the child of this JV will be big lifestyle motorcycles. The motorcycle can take forward the legacy of Royal Enfield. Considering the expanding market of big motorcycles, we speculate that by ‘Personal’ vehicles Eicher means seriously big motorcycles. Polaris owns Victory motorcycles. Could Eicher manufacture them locally?

Mahindra Verito Facelift Launch Tomorrow, Pictures Inside

Posted: 25 Jul 2012 12:09 AM PDT

Old vs New Mahindra Verito

Mahindra will be launching the updated Verito facelift tomorrow (old vs new Verito pictured above). We were the first to report about Mahindra’s plans to bring in the facelift of the Verito around the 25th of July. The compact sub 4-meter version of the Verito will not be launched soon as the company is still testing it. The current facelift is a stop and gap measure till the CS version of the Verito is ready. Mahindra has already shipped the Verito facelift to dealers and MotorBeam forum member Nishanth Uppalapati snapped the vehicle at a Mahindra PDI parking lot earlier today.

The Mahindra Verito has got a through cosmetic makeover, with the front now featuring an all new grille and bumper. The wipers now point in the right direction and the headlights incorporate LEDs (a first for this segment). The side profile remains more of less the same with the wheel caps being new in design. At the rear, the Verito now gets a new boot lid design (with cuts), new tail lights and new bumper. Step inside and the changes continue with the dashboard now finished in beige and a revised center console. The power window controls have been moved from the center console to the driver door. These changes will give the Verito a fresh lease of life and should revive the falling sales of the car.

Mahindra has not touched the mechanicals of the Verito and they really don’t need to. The car continues to draw power from Renault sourced petrol and diesel engines, which offer decent performance and good economy. The 1.5-litre dCi diesel engine needs no introduction. It produces 65 BHP at 4000 RPM and 160 Nm at 2000 RPM. The petrol motor is a 1390cc unit, which produces 75 BHP at 5500 RPM and 110 Nm at 3000 RPM. Both these engines are mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. Expect strong economy with aggressive pricing as the Verito is the cheapest but the lowest selling Mahindra passenger vehicle.

How to Cope With Increasing Petrol Prices

Posted: 24 Jul 2012 10:20 PM PDT

Volkswagen Polo IPL Edition 2

The petrol prices have been a topic for conversation for decades – after the weather, it's probably the second most popular small talk topic. Petrol prices have gone up and down many times over the years. During the 1970s, the world almost came to a stand-still when OPEC raised petrol prices without warning. It affected the whole world, which at that time had not prepared for its over-dependence on crude oil and petrol to run everything from factories to home appliances. Although petrol prices are far from cheap today, we are pretty much aware of what is going on. While the petrol prices are raging, consumers are merely passengers looking on and waiting for the next price hike. There are, however, a few things we can do to reduce the dependency on fossil fuel. First, let's look at the factors affecting the prices.

What makes prices go up?

There are internal factors, as well as external factors determining the price at the petrol station. The main law that, in fact, drives the whole economy, is the law of supply and demand. The demand for fuel increases on daily basis mainly thanks to emerging markets and increased manufacturing output. Supply on the other hand reduces, simply because the amount of "black gold" is limited. High demand and low supply? What you get is a steadily increasing price. This would be an external factor affecting all countries in a similar way.

As far as the internal factors are concerned, this is why fuel is cheap in the USA and Russia and so expensive in Europe. Distribution, the configuration of the retail chain, local taxes and government incentives/subsidies strongly affect the price of petrol. The strength of the country's currency against the dollar and the euro is also one of the internal factors.

Things you can do now

Although we cannot change how much we pay at the fuel pump, there are a few clever things we can do to make our lives easier.

1. Consider an electric car – with the advance of green technology, it's now the easiest way of bidding farewell to the fuel pump. The price of electricity is relatively low thanks to high competition among power suppliers and green energy sources being subsidised by governments. Although electric cars are relatively expensive to buy, they are more than 5 times cheaper to run.

2. Downsize – choose a small car and save hundreds or even thousands every year. Thanks to the amount of effort engineers put into redeveloping the internal combustion engines, it's possible to find a reasonably priced car doing more than 60mpg. It may not be ideal if you're considering space and comfort important, however, for those who want to escape the so-called fuel price war, this option is perfect.

3. Plan ahead – you'd be surprised how much fuel we waste by driving around the blocks looking for our destination. Plan your journey beforehand, and if you're lost, ask for directions straight away. Also make a resolution to take the first parking space you see. Driving around the supermarket parking lot searching for the "best" spot is a bad habit that wastes fuel.

4. Become a better driver – we are thought how to drive and be sage, but we are rarely thought how to drive economically. Avoiding sharp acceleration and switching to a higher gear when possible can save a large amount of petrol the car consumes. You don't have to change your car, you can change your driving style!

There are plenty of fuel-efficient cars for sale in the current market. By choosing a smaller, more economical car, you can save money and help the environmental too. If buying a new car is not an option, you can always save money by becoming a better driver.

Benefits Of Owning A Smaller Car

Posted: 24 Jul 2012 03:30 AM PDT

2012 Tata Nano Range

The process of buying new cars may be easy for some and difficult for others. Some people will simply buy the car they like without much thought put into it, and others will be more analytical – it mostly depends on what kind of a shopper you are and how big your budget is. This is the difference between impulse buyers and prudent buyers. When it comes to cars, both impulse and prudent buyers want the same thing – the car they like, but it is the process of getting there that obviously differs between the two. Do you know which one are you?

Sometimes, the first decision that car buyers have to come to is whether they want a small car or a big car – both carrying certain stereotypes associated with either. For instance, big cars are considered more macho, and small cars are considered more feminine. However, with the advances in technology, it’s no longer fair claim certain stereotypes over small cars, at least not when it comes to their performance, efficiency, price and a few other things.

Better Fuel Economy

This is a given: a small car is fitted with a smaller engine and smaller engines offer much higher mileage per gallon of fuel. Frequenting the petrol station is one of the biggest costs that you will face when owning a car. Cars with big engines consume so much fuel that others may jokingly say that you can buy another car with the fuel expense that you’ve incurred over the period of a few years. Although bordering on impossible, the manufacturers manage to tweak their engines constantly meaning that small cars capable of over 60vmpg are no longer science fiction.

Easy to Manoeuvre

Parking and negotiating sharp curves is tricky when you're driving a tank. A smaller car is easier to manoeuvre and it will make the question of "will I fit in here?" rather irrelevant. When you're in a tight spot, a smaller car will give you an advantage.

A Smaller Car is Easier to Handle

The challenging driving conditions that we encounter every day actually place a smaller car at an edge over its bigger rivals. A smaller car has a lower centre of gravity, so the chances of flipping over if you try to suddenly swerve to avoid another vehicle at high speed is practically non-existent. A minivan or a SUV requires extra confidence to be handled safely. A young driver will also find that a compact car is easier to handle in everyday situations.

More Cost Efficient

When it comes to the ticket price, a city car will of course cost less than an SUV or a posh limo. Since it's smaller, there is basically not as much to pay for: less metal, less plastic. They will also require a lesser amount of motor oil and car fluids during your regular maintenance schedules; and overall they’re easier and cheaper to repair should something go wrong. And, what about the tyres? Another opportunity to save some money – small tyres are up to 3 times cheaper than professional 4×4 tyres and they last longer because of the low power.

Basically, you get all the benefits with a smaller car except when it comes to space and comfort. Safety? Not necessarily a compromise these days – there’s an increased number of city cars receiving five stars at safety tests. With all the fuel economy and low maintenance costs, buying a smaller car may be the wisest decision you will make.

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