Wednesday, August 8, 2012

“Mercedes Benz Launches R350 CDI at Rs 58.9 Lakhs” plus 5 more Motorbeam

“Mercedes Benz Launches R350 CDI at Rs 58.9 Lakhs” plus 5 more Motorbeam

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Mercedes Benz Launches R350 CDI at Rs 58.9 Lakhs

Posted: 08 Aug 2012 10:49 PM PDT

Mercedes Benz R350 CDI Launch

Mercedes Benz has launched its luxury MPV, the R Class, in diesel avatar. The R-Class was previously available only in the petrol variant. It is priced at Rs 58.90 Lakhs (Ex Showroom Delhi). A 2987cc V6 diesel engine will power this long wheelbase machine. The car will also come with LED daytime running lights, steel chassis with air suspension system in the rear to aid comfort and improve driving dynamics.

"The R-350CDI CDI 4MATIC is the latest addition to the successful Mercedes-Benz R-class stable. We are sure that the diesel variant of this crossover model will be an attractive proposition for our valuable customers. The car has 7G-TRONIC with 4WD transmission with a mileage of 11.25 kmpl." – Mr. Debashis Mitra, Director – Sales & Marketing Mercedes-Benz India

The R350 CDI incorporates the Direct-Steer system and air suspensions at the rear and offers the car-like driving dynamics. This four-door vehicle has a wide-opening tailgate, can easily accommodate 7 full size adults, and has lots of head and elbow room for all the occupants.

A generous luggage compartment is capable of accommodating between 633 and 2385 litres. The New R-Class gets a sporty aluminum trim, electric sunroof, 18-inch ten spoke alloy wheels, chrome package, and LED daytime running lights. The audio system of the R350 CDI 4MATIC boasts of an in-dash six-disc CD changer and Universal media interface. It also includes features like electrically adjustable telescopic steering wheel, memory seats, three zone automatic climate control & air-conditioning for rear row passengers.

Read the exhaustive review of the R350 4Matic here

Vehicle Underbody! Which Could It Be?

Posted: 08 Aug 2012 10:45 PM PDT

This vehicle is quite popular among Indians already. While it is not very fast, it does have average off-roading skills. The tyre size does give away the vehicle but the underbody doesn’t reveal much. Which vehicle are we talking about here?

Nissan Evalia Specifications and Details

Posted: 08 Aug 2012 11:29 AM PDT

We are in Bangalore for the Nissan Evalia media drive and are updating the specifications and details as they are emerging.


Points from the Media Briefing –

1. India is critical market for Nissan for growth. It has presence in 160 countries globally.
2. The Sunny and Micra have been accepted well by the customers.
3. Nissan has invested Rs 45 billion for the Indian market.
4. Currently 68 dealers, 29 more coming soon.
5. Evalia is urban class utility vehicle which maintains work and leisure balance and is ideal for business needs and weekend
family requirements.
6. Monocoque with sedan like performance.
7. Most spacious cabin
8. Target customer 38 years plus male
9. Fuel economy, manoeuvrability and interior space key USP features of the Evalia
10. Powered by Renault K9k 1.5 liter engine producing 85 bhp of power and 200 nm torque with fuel economy of 19.3 kmpl, almost
50% better than competitors (Xylo and Innova)
11. Aerodynamic body with minimum running resistance
12. Multi function meter, supports economy driving, shift timing, fuel efficiency, mileage and real time fuel efficiency.
13. Monocoque body light in weight
14. Excellent driver visibility, bigger and wider visibility as compared to competition.
15. Rear view camera
16. 5.2 m turning radius
17. 0-60 kmh 12.7 seconds
19. Big cargo space, with rear seats folded 11 suitcases can fit comfortably.
20. Head room 165, 185, 200 mm for first, second and third row respectively.
21. Twin sliding doors for middle row.
22. CNG variant being studied but depends on customer requirement.
23. Nissan claims that the Evalia does not compete with Maruti’s Ertiga.
24 Localisation – 85%
25. No petrol engine for India.
26. Export opportunities to be seen but not concluded
27. To be launched in the last week of September.
28. No USB function.
29. Thin 165 section tyres
30. Not based on the V Platform.


Features –

- Ikey
- Dual airbags (except entry model which has single driver airbag)
- Follow me home headlamps (standard for all variants)
- ABS, EBD, BA (standard on all)
- Electrically operated ORVM
- No clear plan for automatic but open to consideration in the future.
- Changes to Indian version – Beige coloured interiors only for India & suspension is tuned for rough Indian roads

Travelogue – Mumbai to Mahabaleshwar in the BMW X1

Posted: 08 Aug 2012 05:30 AM PDT

The recipe for a perfect weekend involves a nice hotel, good food, few friends, perfect drive and most importantly a good location. Mahabaleshwar is one such place we Mumbai people often run to for a weekend getaway. The best way to reach here is by road and we take the BMW X1 on a drive along the western ghats. The X1 comfortably seats 4 people and has a huge boot to carry the luggage with the automatic transmission making for a comfortable drive.

Mumbai - Panchgani Map

Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani are two different places but just 18 kilometers apart. There are 2 ways to get here from Navi Mumbai, one through Pune via the Mumbai – Pune Expressway and the second via Mahad. We had booked Hotel Ravine in Panchgani and it was coincidentally about the same distance (222 kilometers) via either route. Route 1 was our pick since almost 50 percent distance was covered on the expressway. The driving time is 3.5 hours which does not account for stops made for snacks.

Hotel Ravine is situated at the entry point of Panchgani. You have to pay a toll once you enter Panchgani levied by the Muncipal Corporation of Panchgani. This toll is not only for your vehicle but they also charge you for the number of people entering. (Rs 50 for the car and Rs 30 per person). This hotel offers the best value for money package and the restaurant serves good food too. It was recommended by a fellow auto journalist.


Mahabaleshwar served as the summer capital of Bombay during the British rule in India and the British influence is still there. There are various points of interest and their names are the same as they were in British India. One can enjoy scenic views from these points and there are 14 points in total. It is said that when the British were leaving India after Independence, they gave away the property to the Indians working under them.

Strawberry Cream

Berries are famous in the region and Strawberry and Mulberry (Seasonal) are the favorites. Also based in Mahabaleshwar are the Mapro foods, which are famous for their squshes, crushes, jams etc. Mapro gardens serves the best vegetarian food in the area with the local delicacy being strawberry cream. Strawberry cream is something which you will get everywhere, but nobody beats the one you get here. Even pizza’s and sandwiches here are the best in town.

Formula 1

Most hotels have cable TV which does not show Star Sports/ESPN. If you happen to be there on a race weekend, you might have some trouble before you can find a place which shows the race. We searched the local area only to find one place which was running Tata Sky and was showing the race. Power shortage persists and there are daily power cuts for 2 – 4 hrs in different area but Velocity’s has generator backup and you wont miss a single lap of the race here. They also have a small go kart track and both, veg and non veg restaurants. It is located on the way to Mahabaleshwar from Panchgani.

Shoe Shopping

The region is also known for its shoe industry and is known for its Kolhapuri chappals which are available at really cheap rates. If ladies are around, they will certainly not settle for just one pair.

Strawberry Cheesecake

The main market area has numerous shoe shops. At the end there is a small superstore which is owned by a Parsi gentelman, you have to try the strawberry cheesecake here, its still tingling my taste buds.

Boat Club

There are numerous activities in and around the area. The main attraction is the boat club on Venna Lake where you can rent out boats with/without a chauffeur. Other activities include horse riding which is at the boat club itself. There are a few Go Kart tracks but the karts and the tracks are strictly average.

Fueling Up

Our total trip distance was 707 km out of which approx 500 km were covered traveling to and fro and the rest were in and around Mahabaleshwar. The X1 returned an impressive mileage of 12.5 km/liter.

The roads are pretty good throughout with occasional rough patches in between. The passengers were pretty comfortable but did complain on rough roads. The X1 is stiff when it comes to suspension setup and the rear passengers felt it most on the potholes. On the drivers seat, it was a different story altogether. The steering is a bit heavy but the handling dynamics are phenomenal and one can have a lot of fun especially on the winding Wai ghats.

Hotel was instructed to wash the car every morning. (We don’t like to drive dirty)

It was two days of full fledged fun. As mentioned at the beginning, there are many factors which contribute to a perfect weekend getaway and if you have all of them in your favor, it results in an awesome weekend break.  The BMW X1  did the job perfectly with abundant boot space, good music system and best of all, its fun to drive character which was the best of the lot, truly, JOY is indeed BMW.

Read the Exhaustive Test Drive Review of the BMW X1 Here

Ford Figo vs Volkswagen Polo – Quick Review

Posted: 08 Aug 2012 04:30 AM PDT

VW Polo vs Ford Figo

Comparing the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Figo makes little sense as both cars are very different, or are they? While most would place the Polo as a better car, the reality is far from it. Volkswagen has positioned the Polo as a premium hatchback and since the vehicle is similar to the one sold globally, it retains that premium tag. The Ford Figo on the other hand is positioned as a hatchback for the masses. It has been specially developed for the Indian market and is doing wonders for the American automaker. So why do we pitch them against each other?

For starters, both the Ford Figo and Volkswagen Polo are very similar in their driving dynamics. Both these cars offer a very good blend of ride, handling and braking. The Ford Figo offers much more interior room, whereas the Polo feels very cramped (surprising for a German car). The Figo has a marginally bigger boot than the Polo, which is bigger by 4-liters. However the interiors of the Polo are designed much better and are superior in quality too. Everything feels so much better put together on the Polo, right from the light controls of the indicators to the steering wheel.

Even on the outside, the Volkswagen Polo is a more striking car than the Ford Figo. The design of the Polo is modern and in-line with the styling of all other Volkswagen vehicles. The Figo feels a bit dated though but offers more equipment. The top of the line Figo offers Bluetooth audio system and telephone controls which are missing on the Polo Highline. The Figo lacks rear power windows and neither cars offer automatic climate control.

On the engine aspect, Volkswagen could have offered better engines on the Polo. The 3-pot unit on the petrol Polo is better than the petrol Figo, in terms of performance and mileage. Ford needs to drop the EcoBoost engine into the Figo’s engine bay to increase petrol Figo sales. The 3-cylinder diesel engine in the Polo suffers from high vibrations and has refinement issues. It doesn’t feel like a Rs. 8 lakh car. The Ford Figo’s 1.4-litre TDCi engine is butter smooth and has excellent performance and refinement. It is clearly better than the Polo’s TDI unit in almost all aspects. Both diesel cars will return similar mileage of around 15 km/l in the city. The petrol Polo will deliver 2 km/l more than the petrol Figo.

So, which is a better car? That is something which the pricing will decide. The base variant of the Volkswagen Polo (petrol Trendline) costs Rs. 5.45 lakhs, while the base Ford Figo (petrol LXi) is priced at Rs. 4.56 lakhs. This price difference of almost Rs. 90,000/- continues on all variants between these cars and as you start comparing the diesel variants, the price gap only extends further. The top variant of the Polo (diesel Highline) is priced at Rs. 8.73 lakhs, while the top end Figo (diesel Titanium) costs Rs. 7.20 lakhs (all prices on-road, Mumbai). This make the Figo a better choice for most car buyers.

German Carmakers Bet On Under Rs. 30 Lakh Segment

Posted: 08 Aug 2012 01:57 AM PDT

The luxury giants, BMW, Mercedes and Audi, are now targeting the youth who are aspirational and do not want to wait long to own a luxury car. The young people today are earning good money and are ready to shell out for that extra luxury they want to enjoy. The automajors are thus coming up with a range of cars which will be priced in the bracket of 25 lakhs to 30 lakhs. Currently, all the three brands have catered to 30 lakhs plus range. Introduction of the sub 30 lakh segment will boost up the volumes as a major chunk of the potential buyers lie here.

“Consumers no longer want to compromise on the brand. The young consumer wants to touch a luxury brand far earlier in life and not settle for a mass brand,” Debashis Mitra, Director, Sales & Marketing, Mercedes Benz India said.

Well, the plans are already in execution as Mercedes would be launching the B-class which is positioned as a compact sports tourer and will later launch the the A-class, a small family hatchback. The B-class is expected to hit the roads by this September whereas the A-class would be rolled out by the third quarter of 2013. Audi too has the A3 in mind for next year while BMW is coming up with a totally different platform for such cheaper models. By 2015, we would also see the 1-series going head to head with the Mercedes A-class.

With the launch of Mini, BMW has already entered the premium small car segment. The Bavarian manufacturer is taking every step to ensure that the cult brand Mini is well established in the country. Perhaps, the strategy is like that of an inverted pyramid where the companies have first focussed on the smaller segment that can afford highly priced cars and are now moving towards the large market that can afford the small cars. It is indeed good news for the young customers who will be benefited as they can now get a small compact car with the brand value of a luxury car while the manufacturers will be happy to boost their volumes considerably.

Source – Economic Times

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