Sunday, November 4, 2012

“BMW 328i Test Drive Review” plus 2 more Motorbeam

“BMW 328i Test Drive Review” plus 2 more Motorbeam

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BMW 328i Test Drive Review

Posted: 04 Nov 2012 02:58 AM PST

2012 BMW 328i Test Drive Review

2012 BMW 328i – Click above for high resolution picture gallery

Car tested: 2012 BMW 328i

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 49,70,860/-

The BMW 328i is the car for the petrol head with styling and performance going hand in hand.

The top of the line BMW 3-Series in India is the 328i. It is the only petrol engine on offer in the new 3-Series and BMW does plan to bring in the 320i later on. We have already reviewed the new BMW 3-Series extensively here, so we will keep this review limited to the 328i version. Before the new generation 3-Series (F30) came in, the BMW 330i was the quickest premium sedan you could buy. The new BMW 3-Series is a more rounded package than the E90 model. But, is the 328i a fitting replacement to the 330i? Let’s find out.

The design of the BMW 328i is identical to the 320d, but there are minor styling changes which gives the 328i a sporty appearance. While the chrome treatment is reduced on the front and rear, BMW has altogether replaced the chrome around the doors with black finish. The 328i gets dual exhaust pipes finished in black chrome while the 320d has a single muffler. The entry level 320d variants get 16-inch wheels, while the high end luxury variants of the 320d get 17-inch wheels. The 328i gets 18-inch wheels which have bi-color appearance and a double-spoke design. The new BMW 3-Series is already a stunning looking car and the 328i accentuates the sporty styling even further.

On the inside of the BMW 328i, contrasts between black and red express the sportiness of the cabin. The dashboard is finished in black and has a coral red strip running in between. The steering wheel and seats have red stitching, which is subtle yet sporty. The seats on the 328i offer excellent support, thanks to the well bolstered adjustable bucket like seats. Keeping up with the red and black theme, the 328i’s key has a red decorative strip too.

The BMW 328i also gets head-up display, which shows vehicle speed and lets you choose music without getting distracted.

The BMW iDrive system shows a plethora of information including how much horsepower and torque you are using, in real time.

The 330i used the world’s lightest 6-cylinder engine, which was naturally aspirated and produced 255 HP of power and 300 Nm of torque. In the interest of down-sizing, BMW has gone for a smaller 4-cylinder engine with turbocharging. The 328i is powered by a 1997 cc, 4-cylinder petrol motor which produces a peak power output of 245 HP between 5000-6000 RPM and a peak torque output of 350 Nm between 1250-4800 RPM. Outright to 100 km/hr, the 328i is faster than the 330i by half a second. It hits the ton in third gear, taking 6.1 seconds.

While the 330i was known to lack any thrust lower down the revv range, the 328i has plenty of oomph right from the word go. There is very little turbolag and driveability is simply outstanding. You can be puttering around crowded city roads effortlessly while the very next moment, you could be flying out on the highways. Slot the 328i in sports mode and all hell breaks lose. The vehicle loves redlines but doesn’t sound sporty enough at high revvs. While the 330i was butter smooth, the 328i feels a bit loud and rough. It doesn’t have the vocal snarl of its predecessor.

The 328i is mated to a 8-speed automatic gearbox and BMW has offered paddle shifters as well (not available in the 320d). Handling is very good and the steering is as quick as the 330i. The 328i rides on bigger 18-inch wheels which lends the vehicle a firmer ride over the 320d. However, ride quality is much better than the stiff 330i. Brakes have always been fantastic on the 3-Series (E90 of F30) and the 328i is no different.

The BMW 328i might be the most expensive variant in the 3-Series line-up, but it offers the most thrills too. The 328i is fast, looks the part and is the most loaded variant in the 3-Series line-up. While it might not be as pure as the 330i in terms of sound and steering feel, it now offers the best of both worlds. The 328i is an extremely fast vehicle which is comfortable too and is at home in city conditions. If you are a petrol head and want an all rounder, you need to rush to a BMW dealer right away, as only 50 units of the 328i are allotted to India this year.

The BMW 328i is the car you can cruise to office on weekdays and sprint on highways on weekends. It feels at home in both situations.

October 2012 Sales Figures & Analysis

Posted: 04 Nov 2012 02:33 AM PST

The Big Picture - In India, festive season has always acted as a catalyst for the automobile industry's performance. The same is evident in current month's figures which are showing 7.8% rise. This is just an indicator of how the market will behave when India's biggest festival, Diwali will come next month. Every company which has best cars in its segment has seen the skyward trend in sale and those which don't have the best ones have suffered. Maruti Suzuki geared up once again for maximum performance and thus showed consecutive growth in sales after the resolution of Manesar issue. Maruti Suzuki sold 96,002 cars to take the number one position followed by Hyundai, which recorded an impressive growth by selling 35,778 cars. Mahindra and Mahindra secured third position with a very good margin over Tata Motors which stands at number four. Honda seems to have struck the cords perfectly by adding sort of 'essential' variants to its lineup. Overall performance of the market can be depicted in one sentence as ‘Survival (read growth) of the Fittest’.

Top 20 - There was a time when Alto lost its number one position to its sister Swift. But the launch of the new Alto800 pumped the fuel into the sales graph once again and hence it secured that position with great lead. In very short span, second position is reclaimed by Swift as 15,433 units of it were sold in October. Maruti Suzuki's Dzire stood at number 3 and WagonR at number 4. Next shocking thing to note is that Nano is nowhere in the table which leaves only Indica and Indigo range from Tata Motors in Top-20 chart. Duster is continuing its forward march as it now climbed up 5 places and is at number 15. In this month, the Top-20 table is completely shuffled from top to bottom.

Company Wise Break Up - By the end of October, Maruti Suzuki reached the full capacity at Manesar and hence sales numbers of Swift sisters were soaring high. Also, new Alto800 is also showing its effect as its sales figure crossed 25,000 mark after a long time. This in turn gave Maruti a boost of 8% in sales volumes over the last month. Only four cars namely Alto, Swift, Dzire and WagonR accounted for 70,030 cars out of a total of 96,002 Maruti Suzukis sold in October. Indeed it's a moment of joy at MSIL camp as all of its bread butter offerings are doing well. Now it's time to revive cars like A-star, SX4, Estilo which are lagging far behind. For Hyundai, it looks like victory on all fronts as every model except Elantra has shown strong growth. This might be a result of extra dispatches done in advance to cope up with festive demands. The effect of Alto800 is not felt by Eon as of now. Hyundai finished this month with a rise of 17% in sales.

The war for number three position is going on since past few months between Mahindras and Tata Motors. Till now, nobody took considerable lead over the other during this war. But this month Mahindras managed to leap forward by a healthy margin over the Tatas. For Mahindra, Bolero performed outstandingly as it recorded sale of 11,071 units. Quanto also has shown strong growth by selling 2494 units. Overall, Mahindra secured third place with 16% rise in sales. Tata motors is struggling hard with their existing product portfolio to lure the customers. Almost all Tata products were performing just at average levels. Nano once again recorded a steep fall in sales. Tata Motors managed to sell 4,004 Nanos during the last month. Overall, Tata Motors’ sales plunged down by 2.46% and hence they stood at number four position.

Honda Cars India has been observed working strongly to address its issue of falling sales. The City CNG and Brio AT pumped up the volumes very strongly and hence Honda recorded sales of 8,085 units with a growth of 46%. For the company having only petrol models in portfolio, these figures are quite impressive. Toyota India is able to just keep up the momentum as it showed mere 1.37 % rise in sales.

The month of October does not seem to be going well for American duo. Both GM and Ford recorded a decline in sales. But this picture is likely to change drastically as both of them have added new offerings in their portfolio. Sail U-VA and New Spark from GM and New Figo from Ford are likely to carry the major responsibility of driving sales up of their respective companies.

The value addition done by Volkswagen to Polo and Vento is working out quite well for them. The sales graph of both cars is rising steadily, which is quite essential for Volkswagen to keep hold in the market. On the contrary, Skoda failed to address their concerns once again as they recorded fall in sales.

The two perfectly contrasting pictures can be seen in the following two tables of sales figures of Renault and Nissan. When Renault Duster, Scala and Koleos gave the best performance of 2012, Nissan's Sunny and X-trail gave the worst performance. Hence, it costed Nissan a whopping 48% drop in sales. At the same time, Renault gained 22% sales volume. Since the launch of Duster, Renault's sales graph has never touched the red color.

Personally speaking, the figures in the bottom two tables has never been exciting since a long time now,  because the change in sales by 100 or 200 numbers for these companies makes performance figures go haywire. For Fiat, absolute editions of Linea and Punto didn't work. Linea's sales are now below 50 mark, a new low record for a very potent car.

Category Wise Break Up

Gainers Vs Losers

Podium Finishers

Things To Look Out For

  • November is a month of biggest festival of India i.e. Diwali and hence happiest month for automobile manufacturers.
  • Many companies are ready with facelifts and limited editions.
  • Performance of some important launches: Alto800, Sail U-Va, Safari Storme, Figo.
  • Can November month's sales bring back the joy in the industry?

Volkswagen Up! India Launch Not Before 2015

Posted: 04 Nov 2012 01:04 AM PDT

Volkswagen Up! 5-Door

Small cars are the back bone for success in India, every auto maker seems to have realized that already. Volkswagen’s world domination plans will only be fruitful, if the car maker is able to increase its volumes in the Indian market. The company needs a small car to boost its market share and already have the Volkswagen Up! available overseas. However the Up!’s Indian foray has been in a cloud of confusion since a long time now. The German automaker has now shelved major investments till 2015.

Volkswagen already has two plants in Maharashtra, where it has been facing VAT refund issues with the government. The company needs to heavily localize the Volkswagen Up! for India, in order to price it aggressively. This requires investments from the suppliers as well. The current plants don’t have the capacity to churn out a volume product like the Up! and thus a new plant will be needed. Volkswagen doesn’t find it feasible to setup a new plant in the current market scenario. Thus the VW Up! won’t be launched in India before 2015.

Read the Skoda Citigo Review

The Up! has been spotted numerous times in Pune as Volkswagen was conducting feasibility analysis for its launch in India. While Volkswagen is holding investments in India, the company is setting up a plant to manufacture the Up! in South America by 2014. The same facility will also churn out the Volkswagen Taigun compact SUV, which was unveiled at the Sao Paulo Motor Show last month. The focus will also be on the Chinese market, where Volkswagen enjoys a healthy market share.

Volkswagen will continue to launch products derived out of existing platforms, but doesn’t intend to get vehicles based on new platforms. The German auto giant had set aside Rs. 2000 crore for expanding its Indian operations earlier this year, but had to shelve investments due to the VAT refund issues. The Wolfsburg headquartered company plans to re-align its other brands, especially Skoda, which has taken a premium positioning in India. Globally the Skoda brand is more mass market and Volkswagen will re-position it to distinguish it from the Volkswagen brand in the country.


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