#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.

ex 21.jpg

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)

#MONSOONTRAILS – HYUNDAI VENUE

The compact SUV segment is the hardest, most fiercely competitive segment for SUV’s in India. Every manufacturer has launched products in this segment in the last decade.2.jpgHyundai now enters this segment with the entry of the Venue. The Venue was launched earlier this year and has been an instant success. Hyundai is known for quality, ease of service & maintenance, making products that are top class and priced competitively.

This weekend we drove the Hyundai Venue SX 1.0 turbo petrol manual as part of our ongoing series #MonsoonTrails.

THE OUTSIDE6.jpgThe Venue has an upright stance with a longish bonnet which makes it stand out in a crowd. The design language is quite different from the competition in the segment.

Chrome finish for the grille, low-set bumper mounted headlights with rectangular DRLs are all segment first features. One gets 16-inch alloy wheels, roof rails and projector fog lamps on the topmost SX trim variant. The LED tail lamps gets lenticular lens which look superb when it switched on.8.jpgcollage 1.jpgTHE INSIDE

The cabin of the Venue is made up of nicely finished plastics, soft touch materials and ergonomically designed seats and interiors. The dashboard, tablet style touchscreen display, leather steering wheel all showcase the sleek and classy design language Hyundai is known for.

Slide into the driver’s seat and the first thing one notices is the level of all round visibility on offer. The front seats are comfortable and offer good under thigh and lumbar support. Leg and head room in the back row is good as well. Shoulder room may feel a bit cramped when 3 passengers are seated in the rear.collage 2.jpgHyundai is known for designing cars which are loved by Indian customers. One of the reasons is the practicality their cars offer in terms of storage options. Deep bottle holders on the doors, biggish enough glove box, cup holders between the seats, open area above the glove box, open space under the ac section. The Venue comes with wireless charging, sunroof, 8-inch infotainment system with smartphone mirroring tech and cruise control, cooled glove box.

Safety and driving aids are part of the standard package these days in modern vehicles. Dual airbags, ABS and EBD with rear parking sensors are offered standard across all variants. The top spec versions come with 6 airbags, cornering lamps and stability control.

Being connected is the new catchword in cars being launched this year. The venue is the 1st car in the compact SUV segment to offer this option. Using Hyundai’s Blue Link Connectivity app which comes pre-loaded in the infotainment system, one can access 33 services such as safety, remote control, security related options, vehicle alerts etc.

THE DRIVE12The version I drove during this review was the 1.0 litre 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol 6 -speed manual which puts out 120bhp and 172nm of torque.

The Venue engine comes with a twin stage oil pump and a clever waste-gate management for the turbo. This helps in improving throttle response while reducing loss of energy. This was immediately evident in the briskness with which the Venue took off the moment I put it into 1st gear. One feels the power from as low as 1800 rpm… Post 2500 rpm there’s a slight boost in power…Before you know it, the speedometer is crossing 100 kmph.14.jpgI drove it over 300 kms on this review. Most of the driving was done outside Mumbai. Handling, braking, sliding into corners the Venue scored good marks in all these departments. Ride quality is of paramount importance for car buyers in India. Here again the Venue scored good marks. There’s no noticeable discomfort to the passengers even while going over bad patches of roads.  The manual gearbox works very efficiently. Going through the gears was very smooth and this complements the 172 Nm torque delivery the Venue offers. The clutch on the Venue isn’t heavy, one doesn’t feel tired even in bad traffic conditions.

THE VERDICT

Hyundai has got it spot on with the Venue. One gets a well refined engine, spacious and comfortable cabin, loads of features, connected car capabilities and very good driving dynamics. The Venue is easy to manoeuvre in traffic, braking and handling is sharp, it offers good ride quality and is available at a killer price tag. Making this compact SUV an excellent companion to own and drive.911.jpgThere are a total of 13 variants of the Hyundai Venue to choose from.

The Hyundai Venue E (base version petrol) is available for Rs 6.50 Lakhs ex showroom Mumbai. The Venue E (base version diesel) is available for Rs 7.75 Lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai.

KIA SELTOS – SENSATIONAL START

Goa in the monsoons in one of the most magical places to be in India. The beauty of this state in western India reaches another level in this season.

Kia Motors India chose Goa as the destination to showcase its first offering in India last week. Media personnel from across the country converged in Goa to experience what the Seltos had to offer as part of the Kia Motors Seltos VIP Media Drive.26.jpgBefore we get into the Seltos, let’s talk about….

WHO IS KIA MOTORS?

Kia was founded in December 1944 as Kyungsung Precision Industry, a manufacturer of steel tubing and bicycle parts, eventually producing Korea’s first domestic bicycle, the Samchully, in 1951. In 1952, Kyungsung Precision Industry changed its name to Kia Industries, and later built Honda-licensed small motorcycles (starting in 1957), Mazda-licensed trucks (1962) and cars (1974).Kia Seltos GT.jpgToday Kia Motors headquartered in Seoul, is South Korea’s second-largest automobile manufacturer, following the Hyundai Motor Company, with sales of over 3.3 million vehicles in 2015.

KIA IN INDIA

We in India first laid our eyes of the Seltos when it was known as the SP Concept. The mid-size SUV segment which the Seltos is placed in, is one of the fiercest and most competitive segments in the automobile industry.The name Seltos is derived from “Celtos”, the son of Hercules in Greek mythology. Kia Motors and Hyundai both fall under the umbrella of the Hyundai Motor Company. The Seltos is built on a new platform. This will also be the platform on which the second-generation Hyundai Creta will drive on early next year.

HOW DOES IT LOOK?22.jpgCAR grille.jpgThe Seltos is a good-looking mid-size SUV with a commanding presence about it. Take a walk around and what you notice immediately is the level of detailing that comes across in the Seltos design. Near-vertical front-end upright pillars, impressive looking grille with chrome surround, large headlights and a sleek looking bumper. When viewed from the back one notices the bumper with a scruff plate, signature LED taillights, glasshouse that’s tapers towards the rear. The Seltos sits on 17-inch wheels which give it a strong and confident profile.CAR TYRE.jpgCAR LIGHTS.jpgOne gets full LED headlights, Kia signature heartbeat shape LED DRL and ice cube LED fog lamps. We got to experience the lights immediately on Day 1 of the media drive, as conditions were dark and gloomy.

ENGINE OPTIONS

The Seltos engines are all  BS6 emission norms compliant.  One has lots of options to choose from. One gets a 115hp, 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine, a 115hp, 1.5-litre diesel, and a 140hp, 1.4-litre turbo-petrol. The 6-speed manual transmission options in the Seltos are all the same standard. In terms of automatic transmissions, the Seltos comes with different options. The 1.5 petrol gets a CVT, the 1.5 diesel is available with a 6-speed torque converter auto, while the 1.4 turbo-petrol comes with a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

TECH LINE AND GT LINECAR EX 1.jpgThe Kia Seltos will be available in Tech line and the GT line which each one having its own trims. The 1.5 litre petrol and diesel version will be available in the Tech line.  The GT line which is the sportier option is exclusive to the 1.4 turbo-petrol version. The GT Line models get crystal-cut alloy wheels, GT line badging and red accents on the bumpers and sides

HOW IS IT INSIDE?CAR INT 1.jpgStepping in and out of the Seltos is very easy and comfortable. Courtesy the height of the cabin. The moment you sit on the plush leather seats one immediately feels a sense of comfort and familiarity. The seats offer superb under-thigh and lumbar support. This is very important as most Kia customers will be driving the car in the congested stop-go traffic conditions in our cities. Sitting in a car that doesn’t tire you at the end of the daily commute is a big plus. The level of quality in the interior rivals that of more expensive European cars. The fit and finish in the Seltos cabin is of the highest standard. Everything from the flat-bottomed leather wrapped steering wheel, the design pattern on the leather seats, the panels on the door and dashboard have a premium feel about that. The Tech Line versions get black-on beige interiors. The sportier GT Line gets an all-black interior with red stitching on the steering wheel, gear lever and the leather seat to complete the look.GT 1.jpgThe infotainment system sits high up in the driver’s line of sight. The Base models comes with a 2-DIN audio system, the mid-range versions get an 8.0-inch touchscreen, while higher-spec versions get a 10.25-inch touchscreen. The UI on the touchscreen is one of the best I have ever used. Like a premium modern-day mobile phone, the touchscreen is fast, well laid out and good to look at. It offers a split screen mode which came very handy while we are reviewing the car in Goa. The voice activated functions that we tested on the review performed admirably. The top spec Seltos gets a multi-info display in the information console while the GT Line GTX versions comes with an 8.0-inch heads-up display that shows speed and navigation details. The steering mounted buttons let you answer calls, adjust the music volume amongst other features.CAR INT 2.jpgLegroom in the rear cabin is very adequate, with enough width and head room to fit 3 people comfortably. Under thigh support is good making travel in the rear seats a comfortable exercise for the passengers. The rear windows are large with manually retractable sun visors with a backrest that can be reclined by 6 degrees. The Seltos offers ample room in the boot with a storage capacity of 433 litres. If that isn’t enough, then you can fold the 60:40 rear seats flat to create more space.CAR BOOT.jpgLots of equipment is on offer in the Kia. More than any other car in this segment. The top end versions i.e. the Tech Line and GT line get auto and LED headlights, electric sunroof, ventilated front seats, powered driver’s seat, ambient lighting, 400W Bose sound system (which is very impressive), wireless phone charging and tyre pressure monitoring system. The level of detailing and research Kia Motors has done about the Indian market is evident, as the Seltos comes with an onboard air purifier with three fragrance options to choose from. Android Auto and Apple Carplay comes bundled with the infotainment system.

The Seltos comes equipped with Kia’s E-Sim based UVO connected car system. This app offers 37 features such as live location, geo-fencing, remote engine start/stop amongst others. Since this is a mobile network dependent system, this may not work in areas where network coverage is poor.

HOW IS IT TO DRIVE?

The first day we got to drive the 1.5 litre Diesel automatic. Right off the block the Seltos was easy to drive, engine was extremely refined, upshift and downshifts went off smoothly without any lag. The NVH levels are very good. What impressed me right away was the handling of the Seltos. It slides very easily in and out of corners. Step on the accelerator and you are cruising at 3 digit speeds in no time. I got to experience stop-go traffic at one point in the drive. Here again the Seltos is extremely relaxed and one doesn’t feel tired in such conditions.29.jpg12.jpgNext morning, I started with the Diesel manual. The performance was identical to the automatic. The manual transmission is very refined with the gear ratios perfectly tuned for our driving conditions and driving styles.

The suspension setup and drive quality in the Seltos are top notch. Bad roads and potholes were handled without any difficulty. The Seltos is not the kind of car one would go off-roading in though. This is a true-blue urban SUV that’s perfect for city and highway driving.25 C.jpgThen I got my hands on the 1.4 turbo petrol GT manual. This engine offers 140Hp and 242Nm of torque. The difference was evident right away. The car took off swiftly, the revs quickly went past 6000 rpm, the handling was sharper. The engine is smooth, quiet  and equally at home in slow traffic conditions as well. Going up and down through the gears is a smooth exercise. This variant is definitely the one, enthusiasts are going to line up to buy.

Next I drove the 1.4 turbo petrol DCT automatic. The automatic transmission is excellent, with upshifts and downshifts synced well to offer the sportier performance the driver wants from this engine. I threw it into corners, simulated stop-go driving conditions, the DCT automatic handled it without a stutter.

The 1.4 litre turbo petrol GT Line offers everything you want in a sports SUV.

THE VERDICT385.jpgThe Seltos is a stylish looking, well built, premium mid-size SUV. Its offers so much in terms of performance, features and driving comfort. Kia has so far got an advance booking of 23000 in 3 weeks since bookings were officially open.

Kia Motors India has got everything right on point with the Seltos so far. I am sure the pricing will be something that will make the Seltos a winner from the get-go.

 

#MONSOONTRAILS – TOYOTA FORTUNER

July has been the wettest month in the last 110 years, for areas in and around Mumbai, Thane and Pune. Which is great news! Because the moment Maharashtra doesn’t receive enough rainfall, all sorts of prayers and rituals are observed by the local population to please the rain gods! That’s how much reverence we give to the rains in India.6The monsoons are also a great time to test and review SUV’s. Vehicles that are designed for all weather driving. As part of my series #MonsoonTrails this week I travelled out of town with the Toyota Fortuner. A SUV that was launched in India in 2009. It was instantly lapped up by the customers and hasn’t looked back since then.

Tall stance, imposing in looks the Fortuner is built on the Hilux Pickup Truck Platform. It is sold in different markets world over under different names.10.jpgToyota has played a big role in redefining the way modern SUV’s are designed and manufactured worldwide. With everything Japanese, the emphasis will always be on manufacturing vehicles that are extremely efficient and easy to maintain.

The latest version of the Fortuner extends upon that. My first experience with this model of the Fortuner was at the media drive in Cochin over 2 years back in the monsoon season. While the drive to a tea estate was a short round about trip of just 200 kms, one immediately got an idea of the capabilities of the car. Driving it over wet hilly terrain, where the roads are narrow with tight sharp bends was a fun experience. Having owned a Qualis in the past for 3 years, I have experienced first-hand how good Toyota cars are.74.jpgThis model of the Fortuner is sleeker looking in comparison to its predecessor. It comes with two engine options 2.7 litre petrol and 2.8 litre diesel.  Manual and automatic transmission are standard to both petrol and diesel variants. The one I drove was the 2.8 litre diesel automatic. You start the engine and immediately the grunt of the powerful 2.8 litre that makes 175 bhp and 45.8 kgm of torque can be felt.COLLAGE-4-2.jpgThe infotainment system comes with Bluetooth, apple car play and android auto connectivity. The upholstery is of good quality and finish. Seats are very comfortable with good lumbar and under thigh support.  There is ample leg room in the second row. The third row is a little tight in terms of leg room, its ideal and comfortable for a person of average height.COLLAGE-5-1.jpgThe Toyota Fortuner comes loaded with a plenty of safety features such as dual front SRS airbags (driver + passenger), anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) system, 15-inches front disc brakes, GOA (Global Outstanding Assessment) body, Vehicle stability control (VSC), shift lock system, immobilizer, back sonar, seatbelts (front – 3-point ELR x 2 with adjustable anchor, 2nd row – three-point ELR x 2 + 2-point NR x1 and 3rd row – 3-point ELR x2), multi reflector quad headlamps and high mounted LED tail lamps.2.jpg8.jpgThe Fortuner is one of the easiest SUV’s I have ever driven. This is testimony to how Toyota designs its cars. The engine isn’t high stressed and maneuvering one’s way in bumper to bumper traffic is easy; but the highway is where the Fortuner comes into its own.

The gearbox is a bit slow to respond. The reason is like all Toyota vehicles, the Fortuner has long gear ratios. The Fortuner comes with 2 driving modes. Eco and Power. Power is the mode one would tend to use on empty stretches on the highway where the engine responds in a more urgent fashion. Eco mode is the one most will drive in the city for a more efficient and relaxed driving experience.

I spent a lot of time driving on hilly terrain with lots of sharp bends during this review in extremely wet conditions. The Fortuner negotiated these easily without any noticeable body roll one would expect in cars that are this tall and big.

The road conditions in the monsoon can go from good to worse in a matter of minutes. Potholes of all sizes and shapes appear out of nowhere. I also drove over lots of off-road sections. Did this make any difference to the Fortuner? Not at all!

The SUV handled these conditions with consummate ease with the suspension setup working efficiently to ensure the passengers in the car feel no discomfort.9.jpgThe SUV ticks all the right boxes in terms of drivability, comfort and luxury along with the fact that Toyota cars are built to last. Upgrading to the latest model is not a problem too. The Fortuner commands a great resale value and is easy to sell. So, it’s no surprise that the Fortuner sells the most numbers in its category. The competition is a fair distance away to challenge the Fortuner’s dominance in the Indian market.

Toyota Fortuner prices for the2.8 2WD MT(Diesel) (Base Model) start at Rs.29,84,000/- ex showroom Mumbai and 2.7 2WD MT(Petrol) (Base Model) starts at Rs.27,83,000/- ex-showroom Mumbai.

Prices for Automatic Transmission start at Rs.33,60,000 ex-showroom for the 2.8 4WD AT(Diesel) (Top Model) and Rs.29,42,000 for the2.7 2WD AT(Petrol) (Top Model).

#MONSOONTRAILS – THE JAGUAR XE WAY

THE HISTORY:

Jaguar Cars started its business in 1922 as Swallow Sidecar Company in 1922, originally making motorcycle sidecars before moving on to developing bodies for passenger cars. Once under the ownership of S. S. Cars Limited the business extended to complete cars made in association with Standard Motor Co, where many cars started having Jaguar as a name. In 1945 the company’s name was change from S.S. Cars to Jaguar Cars.  In 1966 this company merged with the British Motor Corporation creating a larger company which was renamed as British Motor Holding.

In 1968 BMH merged with Leyland Motor Corporation to became British Leyland. This organisation was, nationalised in 1975. Jaguar was then spun off from British Leyland and was acquired by Ford in 1990. Jaguar has manufactured cars for the British PM and holds royal warrants from Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles.

In 2008 Ford sold both Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata Motors.

BIRTH OF THE JAGUAR XE:

The Jaguar XE is a rear or four-wheel drive, front-engine, four-door compact executive car designed by the legendary designer Ian Callum. It was first showcased at the Paris Motor Show in October 2014. The production started in 2015 when it was known as the X760.img 1.jpgThe XE is noted for its aluminium suspension componentry, as well as its bonded and riveted aluminium unitary structure — the first in its segment.

I first had the experience of driving the XE 2 years back at The Art of Performance event. TAOPT are customer experience events that Jaguar India organises across India. This gave me ample opportunity to drive the full range of Jaguar models in conditions designed to showcase the acceleration, handling, braking and driving capabilities of these cars.collage3.jpgThe XE is a sporty luxury sedan which takes on the A4, BMW 3-series and Mercedes C-class in its segment. Good looking with smooth flowing lines, the XE is a definite head turner. It comes with black radiator grille with chrome surrounds, Bi-function Xenon headlights with J-blade LED DRLs, chrome side windows.

The XE cabin is plush with a dual tone trim combination. Steering wheel is height and reach adjustable. The seats are comfortable, offer good under thigh and lumbar support. The dashboard is neat, with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system and air- conditioning controls below it.collage int 2.jpgThe XE is loaded with features. One gets plush leather upholstery, interior mood lighting, meridian Sound system, cruise control and speed limiter, dark satin brushed aluminium inlays, power folding and auto-dimming heated door mirrors with memory function. The sloping roof-line of the XE means headroom can be a bit of an issue for people 6 feet and above. Leg and head room in the back row is a tad tight. The middle passenger will feel cramped due to the tall transmission tunnel and protruding rear air-conditioning vents. There is 455 litres of boot space available, with the space saver tyre tucked away under the floor.  collage int 1.jpgThe XE diesel is powered by a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder Ingenium engine The motor produces 180 PS at 4000 RPM and 430 Nm at 1750 – 2500 RPM with a claimed 0-100km/hr in under 9 seconds and a top speed of 228km/hr. The XE performs best in the mid-range, starting at 2000rpm all the way upto 4000rpm. One gets a nice sporty sound from the twin exhausts, which is a welcome change compared to other cars in this segment. The XE comes with for driving modes- Normal, Eco, Winter and Dynamic. Eco and Normal are the modes used for regular city driving. Dynamic comes into play when one is driving on national highways. In this mode the gearbox ensures you get the best out of the turbo-diesel engine by selecting ratios that keep the rev-band near the 2000rpm mark.

The moment you shift modes one can feel a change in the engine, steering and AC setup. Upshifts and downshifts are very swift and smooth. The ride quality on the XE is top notch. Potholes and bad roads are handled with ease without any discomfort being felt in the cabin inside. The car’s handling and braking prowess is excellent, the XE remains glued to the road even at high speeds. Coming to a sudden stop is handled equally well.

The XE comes with lots of safety features. One gets multiple airbags, Surround Camera System (available only in top-end Portfolio trim), Start/Stop System, Torque Vectoring, Dynamic Stability Control with Traction Control, ISOFIX child seat mounts, Hill Launch Assist and Keyless Entry (available only  in top-end Portfolio trim).collage4.jpgI drove it over almost 500 kms on this review on all sorts of road and weather conditions in and around Mumbai. It handled everything with ease, the driving comfort the XE offered in the stop-go traffic in Mumbai is fantastic, it’s very easy to manoeuvre in traffic. Jaguars are known worldwide for being very popular with driving enthusiasts. The way their cars are setup makes driving these Brit machines a fun experience.

The Jaguar XE is one of my favourite luxury sports saloons. It offers so much to the driver in terms of driving capabilities, comfort and pleasure.

The Jaguar XE Diesel Pure (Base Model) starts at Rs 41 Lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai and Rs 40 Lakhs ex-showroom for the XE Petrol Pure(Base Model)