FIRST DRIVE – 2020 FORD ENDEAVOUR

Last weekend I got an invite to go Dune bashing in Jaisalmer with the 2020 Endeavour from Ford India. Jaisalmer also called “The Golden City” stands on a ridge of yellowish substance and is crowned by the ancient Jaisalmer Fort. This town lies in the heart of the Thar Desert in Rajasthan.Snapseed 2The drive from the airport to the Jaisalmer Marriot was just a little under 30 minutes. Roads in Rajasthan are without a doubt amongst the best in the country. As we entered the compound of the Jaisalmer Marriot one spotted the 2020 Ford Endeavour, an SUV that has a huge fan base in India.

The 2020 Endeavour has been updated to meet the BSVI norms coming into effect in April 2020. The first thing visible as you walk towards the front of the Endeavour is the all new full LED headlamp cluster. They offer a wider and longer throw over the previous model. One sees a larger chrome laden grille which works perfectly well with the diffused silver paint scheme of the Endeavour we were driving.IMG_4639IMG_4709The Endeavour has always been known for clean lines running across with an upright high stance. These changes while enhancing the appeal add to the timeless design of this SUV.

Under the hood one gets a 2.0 litre Ecoblue turbocharged diesel engine which is BSVI compliant. This engine is more fuel-efficient, with reduced emissions. The Ecoblue engine continues the legacy of Endeavour’s benchmark fun-to-drive credentials, delivering 170 PS peak power and 420 Nm peak torque.IMG_4708IMG_4707Now it was time to experience first-hand the sheer refinement and power this 2020 Ford Endeavour had to offer on our drive to Sam’s Dunes in Jaisalmer. For the 1st 50 odd kilometres of our drive we were driving on flat straight roads. The Endeavour is quick of the blocks and before you know it are already touching triple digit speeds. The 2020 Endeavour comes with the world’s first 10 speed torque convertor. The transmission is extremely intuitive, upshifts and downshifts happen very smoothly.IMG_4706nm0a4213Ford offers a function called Select Shift that makes it possible to skip through gears while accelerating or braking ensuring there’s enough power on tap available to the driver. This gearbox also helps in improving fuel efficiency significantly. There’s also a sport mode on offer that helps in holding on the revs for longer.

The handling and suspension of this car has always been top notch. This new update still sees the Endeavour handle all sorts of road surfaces and conditions with ease.  The Endeavour is known for its sharp handling, which is evident when you throw into corners, while doing quick lane changes. The Endeavour also comes with the Ford Pass suite of connected car features across the whole Endeavour range.nm0a3636Now it was time to get off the tarmac and go off roading in Sam’s Dunes. Sam’s Dunes is one of the most authentic desert dune sites in India, where one will find 30 to 60 meter tall sand dunes. This was the perfect location to enjoy everything that the Endeavour had to offer. After a quick 5-minute presentation by Kapil Sharma, Director Communications Ford India, we were ready to go. There was an instructor sitting with me to help with the experience of dune bashing.Snapseed 4IMG_4640Dune bashing basically means driving at increasing and decreasing speeds over sand dunes. As the surface of the sand keeps shifting, it takes a special skill and SUV like an Endeavour to navigate this terrain. The first 5 minutes went off smoothly over relatively smaller dunes. Now it was time for the real fun to start. This was also when the instructor explained how the Select shift function on this 10-speed gearbox helps to enhance the off roading experience even further on the Endeavour. Snapseed 3The Select shift function allows you to lock in a range of ratios so one doesn’t shift beyond that. This helps in maximising the effectiveness of the Sand mode in the terrain response system, making sure the vehicle doesn’t lose momentum. This is an important aspect of making progress in the sand.

The experience of going down crazy inclines and drops, followed by accelerating full tilt while climbing up was exhilarating… But for the Endeavour this was like just another day in the office.IMG-4642IMG_4644The Endeavour has always been a fantastic SUV with over 60000 customers down the years. In the last year, the Endeavour has racked up impressive numbers which is fantastic, considering the overall industry slowdown.

The 2020 Endeavour prices start at Rs 29.55 lakh for the Titanium 4×2 version and Rs 33.35 lakhs for the Titanium+ 4×4 version. All prices are ex-showroom.

MARUTI SUZUKI VITARA BREZZA-FIRST DRIVE

IMG_4669Maruti Suzuki first launched the Vitara Brezza 4 years ago. It was an instant success and has ever since dominated the compact SUV segment in India. Recently at the just concluded Auto Expo 2020, the new updated Vitara Brezza was unveiled followed by the launch. Last weekend we got an opportunity to review this car during the media drive in Goa.

The Exterior:

The new Vitara Brezza gets an updated chrome grille, headlights cluster, the new LED DRLS which also double up as signal turn indicators, brand new 16-inch alloy wheels, new LED tail lamp. All these changes give the Vitara Brezza a  very posh and premium look. Adding to that is the new bumper design which complete the tough and mean look the Brezza is going for.IMG_4670The Interior:

The cabin inside offers a good sweeping view of the road, seats are plush and comfortable, the infotainment system is the same that we have seen earlier in the S-Presso and XL6. The legroom in the rear seats is decent and it comfortably seats 3 average sized people.The one big change in the new Vitara Brezza is the 60:40 split seats in the rear which now offers you more storage facility in the boot.IMG_4664IMG_4667The New Engine:

The biggest change in the new Vitara Brezza is that of the engine. With Maruti deciding to discontinue the old 1.3 L diesel engine, the new Brezza gets a BS6 compliant 1.5L K-series engine with 103 HP and 138 NM Torque at @4,400 rpm.The transmission choices are between a 5-speed manual and 4-speed automatic torque convertor.

Driving Experience:

The 1st day I got to drive the manual. I was lucky to have spent 7 months driving the previous generation Brezza. The gearbox, driving dynamics and overall comfort that it offered were very good. This new model takes that up a notch.2546f9c9-b456-4bfb-9db0-44371255c32aThe new petrol engine offers impressive low-end power, upshifts and downshifts though the gears is very smooth, acceleration is brisk with lots of power on offer. The NVH levels are vastly improved leading to more refined experience for the driver and passengers inside.

The next day I drove the automatic variant. From the onset the engine performed admirably. Maruti has improved their AT gearbox progressively with each new model. One doesn’t experience any lag and the  gearbox responds quickly enough through the gears.IMG_4665The Brezza also gets the Smart Hybrid Technology which is available on the Ciaz and Ertiga.This system offers brake energy regeneration with torque assist and idle start stop features which help in improving fuel efficiency while lowering emissions.

The Brezza was always a good handler, this tradition remains unchanged with the new model. Its quick around corners, handles lane changes quickly and efficiently, there’s no noticeable body roll. The suspension is now set slightly on the firmer side, resulting in a comfortable ride quality over all sorts of roads.

IMG_4671IMG_4668Safety is of the highest standards in the Brezza. One gets ABS with EBD and front dual airbags as standard across all variants. The automatic variants get hill hold assist feature as well.

The Verdict:IMG_4673The new Vitara Brezza looks cooler and meaner, is fun to drive, the new petrol engine is quieter while offering good performance and mileage. If you are in the market for a compact SUV priced between 7.34 lakhs – 11.40 lakhs look no further. The Vitara Brezza is just the car for you.

CITY BEATS WITH THE DISCOVERY SPORT

The Land Rover Discovery Sport is part of a SUV lineage that is legendary. This SUV is the entry level Land Rover on sale in India. The model that I drove was the updated 2019 Discovery Sport Diesel HSE Edition.Snapseed(9)The Discovery Sport is a well-balanced, good looking SUV with excellent finish and an imposing stance. The 2019 update gets the Dynamic Design Pack. This is being offered in the top end HSE Trim. One gets chrome tail pipes, and a recognisable body kit. Otherwise everything is like the previous model.

The first thing you notice as you get into the driver’s seat is how good the all-round visibility is from that position. This seating position offers you a fantastic view while driving, something you come to appreciate while tackling the dense traffic in Mumbai.

Lumbar, under thigh support is top class. The dashboard, the quality of the interiors, fit and finish is classy and premium.  IMG_3749Leg, head and shoulder room in the second row is fantastic. 3 adults can be seated comfortably in this row. The seating position in the 2nd row is a little low compared to the 1st row which translates to more headroom here. The 3rd row is ideally suited for kids as the combination of a low seat and high floor means one would end up being seated in a cramped fashion. Boot space on offer in the Discovery Sport is 280 litres.

Another update to the 2019 model is in terms of the infotainment system. The SUV now gets the upgraded version of the Touch Pro Interface with a 10-inch display that’s available in the HSE Luxury trim. The rest of the variants get an 8-inch Display. The UI is smooth, fluid to use, going through the menu loaded with features is a smooth affair. The switchgear on the steering wheel and doors are premium in fit and finish.IMG_3750The Discovery Sport HSE trim I drove came loaded with features. You get a fixed panoramic roof, power adjusted heated power fold exterior mirrors, xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, 10-way electric front seats, a 17-speaker premium audio system, rear camera, front and rear parking sensors, screens for the rear seats, tyre pressure monitoring system, ABS , ESP, traction control and plenty of airbags.IMG_3751SnapseedThe engine on the 2019 Discovery Sport has gone through a major update. While it’s the same 2-litre Ingenium diesel engine, the power has gone up in the HSE edition. The SUV now puts out 179bhp of power, 30hp more than what is available in the entry level Pure variant.

As soon as you put the Discovery Sport into drive mode it takes off so swiftly making one forget that this is a 7-seater SUV! The steering is well balanced and light enough, making driving the Discovery Sport in the city an easy exercise.  Getting to three-digit speeds is done with utmost ease on the highways. I drove the Discovery Sport over 4 days during this review in the city mainly.Snapseed(2)The biggest standout about the Discovery Sport is the quality of suspension and ride quality on offer. The quality of roads in Mumbai is pathetic post the monsoons, something we Mumbaikars dread every year! Potholes of every size and shape greet you while driving in the city. This can be a back breaking affair! But…This was no challenge for the Discovery Sport. The Discovery Sport handled these roads with utmost ease.

The 2019 Discovery Sport is a good looking, solid and premium SUV. It offers fantastic ride quality, drives and handles well in all driving conditions. This is a SUV that appeals to a buyer who’s looking for a comfortable and luxurious everyday city vehicle, as well for someone who likes to go off-roading on weekends.Snapseed(4)The Discovery Sport Diesel Pure edition 5-seater (base variant) is available for Rs 44.68 Lakhs ex-showroom, the Discovery Sport Diesel Pure edition 7-seater (base variant) is available for Rs. 52.47 Lakhs ex-showroom. Prices for the Diesel HSE Edition 7-seater starts at Rs.56.57 Lakhs ex-showroom. Prices for the Petrol SE 7-seater starts at Rs. 51.37 Lakhs ex-showroom.

REVIEW-TOYOTA YARIS DUAL TONE

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Toyota introduced the dual-tone variant of the Yaris around the festive season in 2019.  First introduced in April 2018 the Yaris has been a consistent performer in the Toyota line-up in India.

Toyota in India is largely known for the Innova and the Fortuner. These cars have been blockbusters from the word go with no competition in sight. But their range of sedans and hatchbacks haven’t exactly set the sales charts on fire.

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I had reviewed the Yaris earlier in 2019. One had come back impressed with the all-round efficiency of the sedan.Just before the year ended, I got a chance to review the Toyota Yaris Dual-Tone.

So, what are the changes one gets in the dual tone Yaris Variant? Let’s find out.

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THE EXTERIOR
This variant gets a dual-tone black roof, piano black finish on the grille, OVRMs, Fog bezel, Rear LED combination tail-lamps with LED DRLs, projector headlamps, chrome grille and OVRM turn indicators.

IMG_3130.jpgTHE INTERIOR
One gets new leather upholstery, centre console box a leather-wrapped steering wheel & gearshift knob. The 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system is now compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It comes with Bluetooth connectivity, one USB charging port and a CD player. There are few 12V mobile charging points available too.

IMG_3129.jpgThe rest of the features remain the same such as mood lighting, roof-mounted air vents, 8-way adjustable driver seats and 4.2-inch MID. The seats are well contoured, comfortable and offer good under thigh support. Legroom on offer in the back row is adequate.

IMG_3128.jpgSAFETY FEATURES:
The Yaris comes with a host of safety features such as ABS, EBD, brake assist, hill assist, front and rear parking sensors with camera, front and rear fog lamps, seatbelt reminder warning for driver and co-driver.

THE ENGINE:
Under the bonnet the Yaris remains unchanged. It still uses the same 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine which delivers 107 PS of power and 140 Nm of torque, mated to a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed CVT gearbox.

FullSizeRender(4).jpgDRIVE EXPERIENCE:
Press the start button and the car kicks to life quietly. There’s a relaxed tranquillity about the way the Yaris sounds like while idling. Shift into Drive mode, press on the accelerator pedal,  the 1st thing you experience is how easy the car feels to drive.

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In the first 10 minutes of driving the car one thing was obvious. The Yaris is the ideal vehicle to drive in the city. The engine is responsive enough, with a smooth CVT transmission. It’s perfectly at home in in the stop-go traffic, going about its job in an efficient fashion.

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The quality of our roads isn’t the best. That didn’t bother the Yaris one bit. It went over potholes, unpaved, broken stretches of road without any fuss. The ride quality is top notch. The suspension has been perfectly setup for our roads, the relatively tall tyres providing the right amount of cushioning to make the daily drive a hassle-free activity.

The visibility on offer is very good, Throttle response and braking sharp and precise. The CVT transmission is extremely smooth, downshifts and upshifts happen with any noticeable lag. This is one of the better CVT’s in the business right now.

The Yaris takes a tad bit to respond when you start accelerating. While this aspect is fine in the city, on the highway you want the car to respond in a brisker fashion. Overtaking is a bit of a task courtesy the flat mid-range of the engine.

The Yaris is extremely steady and planted at triple digit speeds. The customary speed warning starts beeping the moment you touch 80kmph. This is part of the safety norms for BSVI cars. The Yaris comes with 476 litre bootspace which is very impressive for a midsize sedan.

The fuel efficiency figures the Yaris returned were very good. Over the 300 kms I drove on this review it returned an average of 10.5 kpl in traffic. On the highway it went up to16.8 kpl.

PRICING
The pricing for the Toyota Yaris J manual starts at Rs 9.40 lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai, the J model CVT starts at Rs 10.10 lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai.

CONCLUSION:
The Yaris is a compact, solid and efficient sedan which comes with the Toyota brand of efficiency and reliability. Easy to drive with a no-nonsense approach, the Yaris is the ideal companion for everyday driving.

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REVIEW-THE NEW POLO GT TSI

2009 was when the 1st Volkswagen Polo came to our shores. Its 10 years now since then, but the loyalty and love the VW Polo shares amongst buyers and enthusiasts remains unchanged. That’s why it’s no surprise that the VW Polo has the distinction of being ranked no 1. for three years in a row according to the J.D. Power 2018 India Initial Study.Snapseed_2Down the years I have been fortunate to drive various models of the Polo during reviews. Every single time I have come back impressed. Last week I spent a few days with the 2019 Volkswagen POLO GT TSI the top variant in the Polo lineup.IMG_2649The 2019 model comes with quite a few exterior changes while retaining the timeless quality and appeal its known for. The new Polo comes in a brand new colour “Sunset Red” which gives the car a striking and sporty appearance. One gets new sporty side skirts, new smoked oil lamps, restyled tail lamps with LED elements, GTI inspired honeycomb front grille and bumpers, 16 inch alloys, rear bumpers with a faux diffuser-like black plastic.IMG_2647Step inside and you get a sporty looking flat-bottomed steering wheel that has controls on both sides of the wheel for audio, phone and multi-information display. The centre console has a silver finish on the exterior edges. The dual-tone interiors are very premium in finish. Chrome is prevalent even in the outlining around the air vents. The door mounted armrests have a fabric finish, seats are very comfortable and offer excellent under thigh support. Shoulder and headroom on offer is very good too. The legroom in the back seats is ideal for someone of average height. The Polo is a comfortable car for 4 passengers for long trips. The 5th person may find it a little discomforting courtesy the high tunnel height in the rear.IMG_2648The Polo I reviewed was the GT TSI that comes with a 1.2 litre engine that puts out 105PS horsepower and 175Nm of Torque. The transmission doing duty on this model is the legendary 7-speed DSG.

Start the engine, give it a rev, immediately you can sense the power under the hood. Put it into gear, step on the pedal and you get to experience the insane power the GT TSI offers. There’s zero lag going through the gears and before you know it, the car zooms away. The basic architecture of the engine is the same from the previous model, with a variable geometry turbocharger which force feeds air into the combustion chamber. The cabin is well insulated from engine sound, even while accelerating courtesy good NVH levels. The gear ratio is spread out specifically to help with the fuel efficiency figures the Polo returns.Snapseed 7Driving the Polo is something I have always come to enjoy. I enjoy driving hatchbacks that are complete in every sense of the word. In traffic the Polo is very easy to manoeuvre, overtaking is a breeze. Finding parking is effortless courtesy the size of the Polo. Safety in the Polo as with all Volkswagen cars is of the highest standards. ABS and front-dual airbags are standard across its range. An industry first in its segment.Snapseed 6Driving out of town on the weekend in the Polo was when I got to experience the full refinement and power of this 1.2 litre petrol engine. This is a car that remains planted even at high speeds.

The Polo handles all types of roads with ease, something that is a trademark of all VW cars. The suspension is soft enough to assure a comfortable ride quality over long distances. Braking is sharp, which is extremely confidence assuring when pushing the car hard into corners.Snapseed 4The Polo GT TSI is the ultimate hot hatchback for the enthusiasts.  The price for the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI is Rs 9.76 Lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai.Snapseed_1

REVIEW: THE NEW VOLKSWAGEN VENTO

The Diwali week started with a bang. I was reviewing one of my favourite sedans the new Vento which was launched in the beginning of September this year. The Vento is a car I have driven extensively. Whether it’s driving the stock or race versions, the Vento always brings a smile to my face.

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The new Vento comes with a host of changes to the exterior. It’s now available in a brand-new colour “Sunset Red”. The Vento is now more vibrant, younger and sportier courtesy the new side skirts, smoked oil lamps, GTI inspired honeycomb front grille and bumpers, cool looking black coloured roof and a rear bumper with diffuser.

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Step inside and the first thing you notice is the 2 toned beige and black interior colour scheme. The seats are all beige adding to the plush look of the new Vento. The flat-bottomed steering is both height and reach adjustable. The seats are very comfortable and offer good under thigh and lumbar support. The Vento comes with aluminium brake and accelerator pedals, glove box light, 16-inch Grey Portago alloy wheels, body colour rear spoiler and rear USB charging port. All variants of the new Vento now get a seat-belt reminder system, rear parking sensors and a speed alert system. Dual airbags and ABS have always been standard across the Vento range, that remains unchanged with this facelift. The boot space on offer in the new Vento is 494 litres.

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The cabin is spacious offering good leg, shoulder and head room in both rows. The suspension is setup perfectly for our road conditions. Post the monsoon roads in India are usually at their worst. It didn’t matter to the Vento. It handled bad roads, potholes with ease without any of the passengers in the car complaining of discomfort.

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The new Vento comes with Volkswagen Connect as a standard on the Highline trim and higher variants. Volkswagen Connect is a dongle-based connectivity suite which offers you features such as trip tracking, driver behaviour and statistic tracking, fuel cost monitoring, location sharing amongst other features. This system also helps to schedule service appointments with authorised Volkswagen India showrooms in India.

The engine in the new Vento 1.5 TDI DSG that I drove was the same as the older model. Go past 1500 rpm and the car springs to life. The acceleration is brisk, overtaking is done without too much effort, the car stays planted at all times and is extremely secure at any speed. The handling, braking, driving dynamics on the new Vento are very impressive. It offers solidity which one has come to expect in all Volkswagen cars.

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The Vento churns out 108Hp at 4000rpm and 250Nm@1500-30000 RPM of power. The ARAI claimed mileage is 21.5 kmpl. The mileage figures I got on this trip with the new Vento were excellent.

The real pleasure of driving Volkswagen cars comes courtesy their legendary “DSG” gearbox… This is something I mention every time I drive cars from the Volkswagen group. This is by far the best gearbox in the business. Upshifts and downshifts are swift and smooth, there’s no lag at all. This makes driving the Vento in any kind of traffic conditions a relaxing affair.

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Prices for the new Vento start at Rs 8.76 Lakhs ex showroom Mumbai for the Trendline (base model) 1.6 Petrol and Rs 9.59 lakhs  for the Trendline(base model) 1.5 Diesel.

 

Review : Jaguar XF Petrol

I first drove the Jaguar XF at the Jaguar Art of Performance customer experience events. Post which I spent a day driving it in the city. I was hugely  impressed with what the XF offered in terms of features and drivability. Last weekend I got the opportunity to spend a few days with the XF Petrol during this road test review.Snapseed(19).jpgIMG_1909.jpgThe XF is a good-looking car which oozes class. The design is classically Jaguar with the long bonnet and XE like headlights and grille design. One gets lots of chrome on the front bumper, the window line and the boot-lid. Accompanying this are 9 inch spoke alloy wheels which complete the premium and luxurious look of the XF.

The inside of the car is like the rest of the models in the Jaguar line-up. The dashboard is designed with a lot of horizontal surfacing. The rotary gear selector rising from the centre console is now a JLR trademark along with the side air vents that roll up as well. IMG_1907.jpgIMG_1908.jpgOne gets a 10-inch display for the infotainment system which supports smartphone mirroring, a sunroof, ambient lighting, leather seats, electrically adjustable front seats, a rear view camera, premium audio system, digital instrument console, four-zone climate control and keyless entry part of the features package. The front seats are large, comfortable and offer good under thigh and lumbar support. Leg and shoulder room in the rear seats is good as well. The XF is  ideal as a 4 seater, 3 adults in the rear seats may get a little uncomfortable.IMG_1906.jpgThe XF Petrol 20T gets a 1997cc, four-cylinder engine that makes 200bhp and 320NM of torque. The biggest worry one has while driving cars in this category is how will they drive in city traffic. Will they be easy to manoeuvre?  The XF immediately puts you at ease in these departments with its sharp handling and manoeuvrability. Going through the gears with the ZF 8-speed gearbox is a breeze. There is no discernible lag during upshifts and downshifts. Snapseed(14).jpgThe real fun of driving a luxury sports sedan is on the highways. That’s where such cars come into their own. The XF is no exception. Once on the highway getting to 100kmph happens fast and smoothly. Shift the XF into Dynamic mode and immediately you can tell the difference in the sharpness of the throttle response and gearbox. The handling of the XF is top notch courtesy the excellent chassis setup. Throw it into corners, change directions the XF handles this with utmost ease. The ride quality on the XF is excellent at most time. The only time one feels a bit of bother is while travelling over extremely bad roads. But then again, the XF is not meant to be driven over such terrain.Snapseed(18).jpg

Snapseed(30).jpgI drove it over 300 kms during this review. One thing that is consistent about all Jaguar cars is the attention they get from passer-by’s and fellow drivers. The Jaguar philosophy has always been about grace, space and race which is perfectly exemplified in the XF. The Jaguar XF  stands out in a crowd, is premium and luxurious in performance, comfort and ownership experience.

The Jaguar XF 20t Prestige Petrol version is priced at Rs 54.36 Lakhs ex-showroom and Rs 49.77 Lakhs ex-showroom for the Pure Diesel  version. All prices are ex-showroom Mumbai.

#MONSOON TRAILS – VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN

This is the 4th time in the last one year, that I got an opportunity to spend time with one of my all-time favourite SUV’s the Volkswagen Tiguan. This is a car that is universally loved by whoever drives it…Snapseed(1).jpgAs part of our ongoing series #MonsoonTrails, we reviewed the Tiguan this time around. Over the course of 5 days we put it through different kinds of road conditions and terrain. How did it fare? Let’s find out…But before we do that, lets reacquaint ourselves with what the Tiguan is all about.

The hallmark of VW cars is how simple and clean the design always is. The Tiguan follows the same design language. Starting with the front you have the 3-slat chrome grille on which sits the VW badge. Accompanying that are the LED headlights and LED DRL’s which complete the look.Snapseed(3).jpgSnapseed(2).jpgWalk to the side and you see the silver finish 18-inch alloy wheels which offer a ground clearance of about 200mm. The shoulder line that runs from the front right to the rear reflect  the elegant design of the Tiguan along with LED tail lamps in the rear.IMG_5954.jpgThe Tiguan comes with a 2.0 litre TDI turbocharged diesel engine with a peak power output of 143 hp and 340 Nm of torque. This is based on Volkswagen’s MQB modular platform, making it lighter than other SUVs in that price range.

The all black interiors are rich and premium in feel and finish. The centre console comes with a host of features, colour touch screen, Apple car play and Android auto. The seats in the front offer good support and the cushioning is high quality. The Tiguan comes with a huge and panoramic sunroof which when fully opened offers a great view. The legroom and shoulder room in the rear is terrific. The headroom is good courtesy the design of the roof. The rear seats have a reclining feature with a 60:40 split.  There is 615 litres of boot space on offer in the Tiguan.IMG_5952.jpgIMG_5953.jpgThe 7 speed DSG transmission in the Tiguan is extremely refined in terms of upshifts and downshifts. Paddle shifters usually come into play mainly, when driving on the highway. The four driving modes available are Snow, Normal, Off road and Individual. The mode I started with in the city was Eco. In this mode the engine is tuned to deliver optimum efficiency in terms of overall engine performance. Once on the highway I switched between Normal and Sports depending on the traffic conditions there.Snapseed(6).jpgThere are 6 airbags, ABS, ESC, Hill Descent and Auto hold available as part of the safety package. The Tiguan comes with a feature called the “active hood” which raises itself automatically by 3 inches, in the case of a collision with a pedestrian. This is to ensure the pedestrian doesn’t hit the hard parts of the vehicle in such an accident, minimising the level of injury.

The whole of last month Maharashtra has seen the kind of monsoons that haven’t been experienced in a long time. The roads are in pathetic shape, highways have huge craters in place of paved roads… All this can make driving on such roads a pathetic experience.Snapseed(5).jpgBut did this matter to the Tiguan? Not at all. It handled every kind of road thrown at it with the utmost ease. I was travelling with 3 other passengers in the car, not once did anyone complain about any discomfort. The handling of the Tiguan in and out of corners is very sharp, steering feedback is good. Overall visibility from the front cabin is impressive. The fuel efficiency numbers the Tiguan returned during this review were very good.Snapseed.jpgThe Tiguan is a SUV that offers comfort, safety, has excellent suspension, very good fuel efficiency and is fun to drive.

The Tiguan is available for 28 Lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai for the Comfortline(base) variant and 31 Lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai for the Highline variant.

 

#MONSOONTRAILS – LAND ROVER DISCOVERY SPORT

As part of monsoon trails this year, I have best reviewing SUV’s which are ideally suited to the conditions one encounters during this time of the year.IMG 1.jpgThe Land Rover Discovery Sport is part of a SUV lineage that is legendary. This SUV is the entry level Land Rover on sale in India. The model that I drove was the updated 2019 Discovery Sport Diesel HSE Edition.

HOW DOES IT LOOK?ex 14.jpgCOLLAGE 2.jpgThe Discovery Sport is a well-balanced, good looking SUV with excellent finish and an imposing stance. The 2019 update gets the Dynamic Design Pack. This is being offered in the top end HSE Trim. One gets chrome tail pipes, and a recognisable body kit. Otherwise everything is like the previous model.

HOW IS IT INSIDE?

The first thing you notice as you get into the driver’s seat is how good the all-round visibility is from that position. Lumbar and under thigh support is top class, something we have come to expect in all LR/RR vehicles. The dashboard, the quality of the interiors, fit and finish is premium. Another update to the 2019 model is in terms of the infotainment system. The SUV now gets the upgraded version of the Touch Pro Interface with a 10-inch display that’s available in the HSE Luxury trim. The rest of the variants get an 8-inch Display. The UI is smooth, fluid to use, going through the menu loaded with features is a smooth affair. The switchgear on the steering wheel and doors are premium in fit and finish.COLLAGE 1.jpgLeg, head and shoulder room in the second row is fantastic. 3 adults can be seated comfortably in this row. The seating position in the 2nd row is a little low compared to the 1st row which translates to more headroom here. The 3rd row is ideally suited for kids as the combination of a low seat and high floor means one would end up being seated in a cramped fashion. Boot space on offer in the Discovery Sport is 280 litres.COLLAGE 3.jpgThe Discovery Sport HSE trim I drove came loaded with features. You get a fixed panoramic roof, power adjusted heated power fold exterior mirrors, xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, 10-way electric front seats, a 17-speaker premium audio system, rear camera, front and rear parking sensors, screens for the rear seats, tyre pressure monitoring system, ABS , ESP, traction control and plenty of airbags.

HOW DOES IT DRIVE?

The engine on the 2019 Discovery Sport has gone through a huge update. While it’s the same 2-litre Ingenium diesel engine, power has gone up in the HSE trim that I drove. Now it puts out 179bhp of power, 30hp more than what is available in the entry level Pure variant.

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As soon as you turn on the car and put it into drive mode, one gets a sense of the power on offer. The Discovery Sport takes off so swiftly and smoothly, you forget momentarily that this is a 7-seater SUV! The steering is well balanced and light enough, making driving the Discovery Sport in the city an easy exercise.  Getting to three-digit speeds is done with utmost ease on the highways.

ex 18.jpgex 2.jpgI drove the Discovery Sport over 4 days during this review over a combination of city roads and highways. The biggest standout about this SUV was the quality of the suspension and ride quality. This is by far the best ride quality I have experienced in any SUV so far. Bad roads, large potholes, off road terrain, nothing was a challenge for the Discovery Sport. The Discovery Sport handled these roads with such aplomb and finesse; one actually forgot the pathetic quality of the roads encountered during this review.

THE VERDICT

The 2019 Discovery Sport is a good looking, solid and premium SUV. It offers fantastic ride quality, drives and handles well in all driving conditions. This is a SUV that appeals to a buyer who’s looking for a comfortable and luxurious everyday city vehicle, as well for someone who likes to go off-roading on weekends.

ex 11.jpgex 16.jpgThe Discovery Sport Diesel Pure edition 5-seater (base variant) is available for Rs 44.68 Lakhs ex-showroom, the Discovery Sport Diesel Pure edition 7 seater (base variant) is available for Rs. 52.47 Lakhs ex-showroom. Prices for the Diesel HSE Edition 7-seater starts at Rs.56.57 Lakhs ex-showroom. Prices for the Petrol SE 7-seater starts at Rs. 51.37 Lakhs ex-showroom.

FIRST DRIVE – MARUTI SUZUKI XL6

An invitation to visit Rajasthan is always welcome. Lovely topography, colourful people, delicious food and the best driving roads in the country. It’s no surprise that Rajasthan plays host to multiple media drives each year.

FIRST.jpgLast weekend we were in Jaipur to drive the new Maruti Suzuki XL6. Maruti’s new premium MPV, which is being retailed through the Nexa network.

HOW DOES IT LOOK?

The XL6 is a good looking MPV. Raised bonnet lines, larger grille, a scuff plate, full- LED headlights are what one sees when viewed from the front.

Car 1.jpgCOLLAGE outside.jpgCladding has been added to the front and rear bumpers and on the sides. This gives the XL, kind of a SUV look. 15-inch wheels sit under the exaggerated wheel arches. As you walk around the side towards the rear, you will notice the roof rails, a rear scuff plate and dual tone tailgate.

We were told at the product presentation that these are exclusive to the XL6. The XL6 is available in 6 colour options.

HOW IS IT INSIDE?

Step inside, and the familiarity of a Maruti car greets you. Slide into the driver’s seat and the first thing you notice are the all-black interiors theme the XL6 cabin comes with. This makes it look plush and premium.

COLLAGE INT.jpgAdding to that experience are the faux black ash wood finish, leatherette seats and the knitted roof lining. The front seats are comfortable and offer good under thigh support.

The biggest change in the XL6 over the Ertiga is in the middle row. The bench has been replaced by captain seats. The seats are very comfortable and offer good under thigh support. Legroom is impressive; the second-row passengers can incline the seats to a fair degree for further comfort.

To get into the third-row seats one must push the second-row backrest forward. Getting in doesn’t take too much effort. Leg and headroom on offer are decent. One can incline the backrest further to make it more comfortable. These 3rd row seats split and fold completely, thus increasing the luggage capacity from 209 litres to 550 litres.

The XL6 comes in Zeta and Alpha trims with loads of features on offer. Starting with Maruti’s next generation Smart Play studio infotainment system. The User interface is smooth and fast and easy to surf.

COLLAGE INT 01.jpgIt comes bundled with Android Auto and Apple Car Play. Keyless entry, auto climate control, electric fold mirrors cruise control, reverse camera makes up the list of features in the XL6.

Suzuki Connect can be added as an option. This is an E-sim based connected tech which offers features such as geo-fencing, vehicle alerts, live vehicle status, vehicle tracking and driving behaviour analysis.

The XL6 is powered by a BS6 compliant 1.5-litre petrol updated to BS-6 specifications. It comes with mild-hybrid technology that Maruti offers in some of its other cars as well.

car8.jpgThe first evening I drove the auto version of the XL6. Easy to drive, the moment you put it into drive mode the XL6 feels familiar. That’s because this is the same petrol engine that Maruti uses in the petrol Ertiga and Ciaz. Acceleration is smooth and linear, there’s enough power going through the gears. Once you go past 3000rpm the engine sounds throatier.

car18.jpgThe XL6 gets to three digit speeds easily. The automatic transmission on duty in the XL6 is a 4-speed torque convertor.  There’s an OD button on the side of the gear knob. Switch that off and the car converts to a 3-speed. This is very useful when climbing steep slopes, driving in hilly terrains, driving in smaller places where you want more power to overtake.

Next morning, I got my hands on the manual transmission XL6. The 5-speed manual gearbox is refined, upshifts and downshifts are very smooth, the clutch is light enough to use.

car22car12.jpgThe ride quality of the XL6 really impressed me. The roads I drove on in Jaipur during this media drive were a combination of national highways, off road stretches, bad stretches of city roads. That made no difference to the XL6.The suspension handled everything thrown at it with ease. Extremely well planted at all times, the XL6 has the best ride quality in its class.

THE VERDICT

car19.jpgcar 6.jpgThe XL6 offers comfort, great ride quality, is very easy to drive and is priced well. The size of the car makes it just right as a family car. This is a car which can be self-driven, be chauffeured in, something every adult member of the family would enjoy driving. If you are in the market for a premium 6-seater at an affordable price, look no further. The XL6 is just the car for you.

car13.jpgThe XL6 pricing starts at 9.8 Lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai (inclusive of GST) for the Manual Zeta Petrol. The Auto Zeta petrol starts at  10.9 Lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai(inclusive of GST)