#10YEARSOFPOLO

In 2009 India was introduced to the concept of a “hot hatch” when Volkswagen India launched the Polo. Prior to that we Indians modified hatchbacks sold in the country, by adding a host of power and sound boosting accessories.

The Polo apart from being fun-to-drive, had oodles of power and came with segment first performance capabilities. In the decade since,  lots of competitors have come along, but the Polo still stands timeless in design and performance.

This premium hatchback that quickly stepped up to be the safest carline with a 4-star global NCAP rating for adult occupant protection. One of the biggest contributions the Polo has made to the industry is its class leading safety features. For the longest time, the Polo was the only premium hatchback to have dual airbags and ABS as standard within its segment.

Over the years, the Polo has been launched in various petrol and diesel engine options starting with the 1.6L MPI and 1.2L TDI followed by the GT TSI, GT TDI and the powerful, performance oriented 1.8L TSI Polo GTI version. In the last 10 years, this fun-to-drive hatch has witnessed eight engine options. Thus, allowing customers a wide range of engine options to choose from.

To celebrate this momentous occasion Volkswagen India had invited Rotormouth along with other auto media to drive from Mumbai to Soma Vineyards in Nashik to celebrate #10YEARSOFPOLO.

We drove there in an assortment of different VW models that are sold in India.  Soma Vineyards is one of the more recent entrants in the wine business in India. Located in Nashik the wine growing region of India, Soma Vineyards has become very popular with wine connoisseurs across the country.

To welcome us were present 4 legendary models of the Volkswagen Polo. Models that had gained a huge following with car enthusiasts worldwide.

The Polo Mk II…58819051-52FF-4C5D-A588-EF4CDA1A7704The second-generation Polo called home to two manufacturing facilities present in Wolfsburg, Germany and Pamplona, Spain. The carline was manufactured between 1981 and 1994 in three different body styles which includes a 3-door hatchback, 2-door sedan called the Polo classic and a new 3-door hatchback with a near vertical rear window (Coupé). The Polo Mk II was powered by a range of engines from 1.1L and 1.3L diesel versions to a 1.3L and 1.4L gasoline variant. Over the period the Mk II sold 2.7 million units including supercharged GT40.

The Polo GT TSI…IMG_0132Designed to be a head turner, the Polo GT is known for its legendary performance and impeccable fuel efficiency. The carline holds a lot more respect with its GT badge making the look and feel a cut above the rest. With a revolutionary 1.2L TSI engine under its body, it strikes a fine balance between power and efficiency along with a 7-speed DSG transmission. The car boasts of a 105PS of horsepower and 175 Nm torque. It delivers a fuel consumption of 24.49km/l

The Cross Polo…IMG_0129Launched in 2013, the Cross Polo is a crossover version of the Polo hatchback. The carline depicted a bold, sporty design flair, which appealed to customers with active lifestyles and a taste for adventure. The Cross Polo was available in three variants – 1.2L diesel and petrol engine options mated to a 5-speed manual transmission followed by a 1.5L TDI along with a 5-speed manual gearbox.

The Fast and Furious Polo GTIIMG_0128In 2016, Volkswagen launched a carline for the true-blue enthusiasts. Introducing the GTI philosophy to the Indian market with the brands’ hottest hatchback Polo GTI. The powerful carline comes equipped with a 1.8L TSI coupled with Volkswagen’s globally renowned DSG transmission producing a blistering 141kW (192 PS) of raw power. The Polo GTI ticks all the boxes when it comes to providing a complete performance package and sets the driver apart from his peer group. It effortlessly combines power & beauty with technical enhancements and distinctive design additions like independent bumpers, red GTI insignia, distinctive side sills and GTI specific rear spoiler.

At the official event presentation to kick-start the celebrations that evening Steffen Knapp Director, Volkswagen Passenger Cars said, “Today, marks a milestone in our India journey with the Volkswagen Polo completing a decade long presence in this region. World over, the Polo has been the most loved carline with over 14 million units being sold. We’re glad Polo in India is significantly contributing and has quickly become the best-selling carline in our portfolio. Till date, the Polo receives 45 percent of first-time buyers with a strong preference towards the GT TSI variant, which comes with our globally renowned DSG gearbox.

Further, it gives me immense pleasure to inform that nearly 31 percent of women prefer buying a Volkswagen Polo over the others in this segment. Owing to its durability, build quality, safety and fun-to-drive experience.”

The Volkswagen Polo over the last decade has received several accolades across segments by automotive magazines in India and globally. The most noteworthy recognition continues to be by J.D. Power with the topmost rank awarded to the Polo over the last three consecutive years in the premium compact car segment. Followed by the Indian Blue Books award for the highest in residual value in the year 2018. “

Next morning at Zonkers Adventure Park we got to drive the POLO RX and POLO CUP TSI race cars around a small go-karting track. This showcased first-hand the racing and track capabilities of the VW Polo.IMG_0091We learnt how Sirish Vissa, Head Volkswagen Motorsport India and his team had transformed the stock Polo’s into powerful racing machines. The Polo Cup was followed by the Vento Cup and then the Ameo Cup which is a One Make Racing  National Championship Series.

Currently, Volkswagen, Europe’s leading car manufacturer offers the Polo in four engine options in India:

Polo GT TSI GT TDI
1.0L MPI | 5-speed MT 1.5L TDI | 5-speed MT 1.2L | 7-speed DSG 1.5L TDI | 5-speed MT

 

The Volkswagen Polo has so far sold over 2.5 lakh units in India. Performance, safety and all-round durability has made the VW Polo a favorite with car buyers over the last 10 years.  Here’s wishing Volkswagen India more success with the Polo for the next decade.

 

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.

 

LAUNCH OF AUDI INDIA DIGITIZATION ROAD-MAP AND AUDI GURUGRAM SHOWROOM

Last Friday saw Audi India announce the launch of their new showroom in Gurugram with the inauguration of the Audi Gurugram showroom.IMG_9727.JPGRahil Ansari Head Audi India speaking at the event said ““Our ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ is truly on display today. The state-of-the-art Audi Gurugram showroom, Audi’s Digital Retail elements and the Audi e-tron, all epitomize a new era of technology and advancement. With the inauguration of our world-class showroom in Gurugram, we are strengthening our market presence for further capturing the market share in North India. The new set up boasts of Audi’s Digital Retail elements that transforms purchase into a seamless experience. The Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality technology enables complete visualization and customization right at customer’s fingertips. With the Virtual Reality Studio, Audi cars can now be viewed realistically with accurate details. The strategic location of the Audi Gurugram showroom will cater to a larger audience all over this region and we are pleased to associate with the highly experienced team of Kristan Auto in expanding our presence here”collage.jpgAudi India introduced a host of tech-driven new-age solutions for customers as well as its dealer partners under its Digitalization strategy.  The Audi Digital Retail elements will be rolled out across the Audi network in the country. The showroom follows the service outlet opened earlier in the year in what is one of Audi’s largest markets in India

Audi also showcased the Audi e-tron, the first fully electric SUV from the brand with the four rings. The India-bound sporty SUV combines the space and comfort of a typical luxury class SUV with a range suitable for everyday use, catapulting the driver into a new era with the electric all-wheel drive.

#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).

#10YearsofPolo

To celebrate 10 years of the Polo in India, Volkswagen India had organised an event at the Madras Motor Racetrack, Chennai last weekend. This event was to showcase the driving capabilities of the stock Polo’s on a racetrack followed by the Polo Cup race cars.IMG_9500.jpgThe Madras Motor Racetrack is a permanent motor racing circuit located in Irungattukottai, Chennai, India. It was built in the late 1980’s and was inaugurated in 1990 and is owned by the Madras Motor Sports Club

The VW Polo ever since its launch a decade ago has quickly gone on to become one of India’s favourite “hot” hatchbacks. This is a category which has seen quite a few players enter in the last while. But no one has remotely seen the success the Polo has got. Reasons are plenty.

The original design of the Polo while being subtle has moved with the times. It has a certain timeless quality and appeal attached to it. That’s why even now when you look at the Polo, one hears comments such as “How the car’s design still looks fresh” “It’s a good-looking car “. I got a lot of such comments on social media the last time one reviewed the Polo.IMG_9559.jpgIMG_9544.jpgVolkswagen has made changes to the Polo’s exterior design down the years though. The grille, bumper, headlights, integrated fog lamps along with cornering lights were some of the design changes that happened in the last facelift of the car 2 years back. All VW cars have clean straight lines and solid design language. The Polo is no different. There is a chrome line running through the intake grille. The rear bumper along with the tail lamp cluster all add to the premium positioning of the car. Integrating the license plate into the rear bumper gives it a cleaner finish. The Polo comes with 15-inch alloy wheels while the lower spec variants get the 14-inch rims with newer wheel covers.

I had driven the Polo Cup Cars on the same racetrack in March of this yea at an event to celebrate 10 years of Volkswagen Motorsport in India. This was the 1st time I was driving these stock polos on the track. The conditions were overcast, early in the morning. There had been sporadic rainfall during the night. Thus, at the briefing we were told to take it easy and follow the pace car. Overtaking is a complete no-no at such events, as this isn’t a race but an appreciation of enjoying the full capabilities of the cars without taking any undue risks to oneself or the other drivers on track.

Our pace car was driven by Rayomand Banajee, 8-time national racing champion and driver coach at VW Motorsport India. I started with the manual Polo GT TDI Sport. The MMRT is one of my favourite racetracks which over the years has improved by leaps and bounds. Driving in damp conditions was a little challenging, but Rayo was making sure we drove at a pace that gave us enough opportunity to experience the driving capabilities of the Polo on track.IMG_9537.jpgThe GT TDI Sport is one of the best hot hatch manuals in the business. Carrying speed into corners, touching 3-digit speeds, excellent braking characteristics. Driving a manual on the racetrack has its own charm and appeal.

Next up was the Polo GT TSI Automatic. Volkswagen has amongst the best automatic transmission systems in the business. The delivery of power is linear and smooth, no lag is experienced. This was obvious when one was throwing the car into corners, the acceleration into corners and out was brisk. By now the track had dried up quite a bit, so we are driving faster compared to earlier. The Polo’s setup is ideally suited to the tight and twisty MMRT circuit.IMG_7691.JPGIMG_7693.JPGNow after a few laps with the stock Polo’s, it was time for a taxi ride in the Polo RX. This is a powerful, rear-engine, rear wheel drive Polo designed for the ultimate adrenaline rush! Built in a Polo body shell, the RX is equipped with Ameo Cup car’s 1.8-litre TSI engine and sequential gear box with paddle shifters. The RX is the perfect car for track days, that’s beyond any limitation of racing regulations. Driving this was Karthik Tharani Singh one of the topmost track drivers in India today. Karthik is also a driver coach for the Ameo Cup Drivers, Polo R Cup winner in 2014 and is presently one of the VW Motorsport  factory drivers  in the MRF MMSC FMSCI Indian National Car Racing Championship 2019. In a span of the first few corners, Karthik showcased the full capability of the Polo RX. The noise of the engine, the way the car handles, the fierce acceleration every minute in the Polo RX was of sheer delight and unbridled joy. I can see lots of racing enthusiasts lining up to purchase this fast and furious Polo RX!IMG_9531.jpgIt was now time to start with the Polo Cup cars. First one I jumped into was Polo TDI Cup Car, the 1st car in India with a diesel power-train. This is a 1.6 litre turbo charged engine that produces 130HP. Quick of the block, without ABS this was racing old school style. I was told that this would be a different experience as all the cars I have driven so far had driving aids. This didn’t. This car was a hoot to drive. Fast, compact with the super handling characteristics that the Polo is known for everything I threw at the car it responded in equal measure. Now the 2 laps were feeling very less, one wanted to drive more! The gearbox is smooth, refined something one come to expect with VW cars. The size and shape of the Polo makes it the perfect hatch to throw around on a track day.COLLAGE.jpgNext up was the Polo TSI Cup Car that comes equipped with a more powerful 1.4 litre TSI Engine that produces 180HP and is mated to a 6-speed automatic sequential DQ 250. It comes with a turbo charger and a super charger power unit. This was also the first touring race car to use paddle shifters in Indian Motorsport.  Everything about this car being more powerful was obvious past the first few corners. The automatic gearbox, lots more power made driving this a super enjoyable experience. As the track was drying up, we found it easier to follow the racing lines, now one was carrying more speed out of the corners.IMG_9549With driving duties done for the day it was time to head back to Mumbai. Spending time with Volkswagen Polo cars on a racetrack is always exciting and fun. A perfect way to celebrate #10YearsofPolo in India.

#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)

MONSOON TRAILS – AUDI Q5 TFSI

Petrol cars have slowly been making a comeback in the last 2 years.  The difference in the price of petrol and diesel has shrunk dramatically in the last 5 years. Earlier the price of diesel per litre was 50% less compared to petrol. That’s not the case any more.

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Audi introduced the petrol variant of the Q5 last year. You get a 2.0 inline-four-cylinder turbo petrol engine that puts out 252hp.

The OutsideCOLLAGE.jpgThe exteriors of the car are identical to the diesel variant. The one-piece square grille and headlights with the LED DRL’s is what you see when viewing the car from the front. Sharp and sleek looking is the design language ethos of the Q5 , whichever angle you view it from.

The Inside

The cabin inside comes with the electro – magnetic steering wheel, 3 zone air-conditioning and a huge 12.3-inch instrument cluster display. The Q5 comes with the Audi virtual cockpit which is a fully digital instrument cluster. The detailed graphics display shows a wide range of information such as traditional speed, rpm, navigation and, media and drive assistance.COLLAGE int1.jpgThe digital views which can be switched around, are superb to look at and use. The 8.3-inch infotainment display sits atop the dashboard. This is compatible with both Apple Carplay and Android Auto. The resolution is crisp and sharp.

One must use the rotary knob on the centre console to access the menu. An MMI scribble pad with 8 short cuts are available to use, when accessing the on-board navigation. The cabin has very good noise insulation. The air-conditioning has a smart feature, that it can detect which part of the SUV is getting direct sunlight, thus adjusting the temperature accordingly.

Safety is always of the highest standards in Audi cars. The Q5 comes with 8 airbags, park Assist system and a 360-degree camera. Seats are plush looking and extremely comfortable which is fantastic when driving long distances.  But only the driver’s seat gets a memory function. Nowadays luxury SUV’s in India come with huge sunroofs. The Q5 has one of the largest I have seen. Something one can use in the winters while driving on empty highway roads.COLLAGE intLots and lots of legroom is on offer for both front and rear passengers. Recline the rear seat back and you get even more comfort. The boot space is 550 litres. Fold the rear seat-back and one gets an additional 1,000 litres to play with!

Driving Experience

The petrol engine is a 1984cc, four-cylinder turbocharged engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Power is transmitted through Audi’s Ultra Quattro all-wheel-drive system to all the wheels.

The Q5 is nimble from the get-go. The engine responds well, the moment you go past 2,2000 rpm, the turbocharger comes into play offering the driver a surge of power. The seven-speed gearbox is one of the best in the business. Upshifts and downshifting is smooth, handled with the utmost ease. The anticipation, timing of the gearbox is extremely precise.

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Comfort is the driving mode I started with while getting out of the city. As soon as we were on the highway heading out of the city, I shifted to dynamic mode. The suspension set-up immediately felt stiffer; the overall character of the SUV became sportier.

The Q5 handles quick lane changes very easily, is extremely stable at high speeds. The engine is very calm and refined, which is a hallmark with all the Audi models.

The suspension setup is top notch. The adjustable dampers work extremely while dealing with all sort of road conditions. The 60mm sidewalls of the 18-inch alloy wheels play an important role in making the drive a comfortable exercise for the passengers.

Verdict

If you are someone who loves performance, that’s one of the deciding factors when you buy a car, then the Q5 TFSI is the SUV for you. Its quick, has excellent driving dynamics, it’s a model that has tasted success worldwide. The Q5 TFSI is a car that appeals to the enthusiast in every driver.

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The Audi Q5 TFSI is priced at Rs 55.27 lakh for the Premium Plus variant and Rs 59.96 lakh ex-showroom Mumbai for the top-spec Technology trim.

NISSAN KICKS – ALWAYS EXPLORING…

The Nissan Kicks was launched with great fanfare earlier this year. In the 6 months since its launch Nissan India has followed an innovative marketing strategy. Their positioning is very clear. This is a SUV that will appeal to the 25-40 age group. A consumer group that is willing to experiment, look beyond the usual in every aspect of life.

I spent a day driving it during the media drive from Bhuj to the Rann of Kutch. It had impressed me right away. Thus, was looking forward to driving it over a longer duration which I did last week.

What is it based on?

In India, Nissan has launched the Kicks based on the updated version of the MO platform. Worldwide the SUV is based on the Micra platform.

How does it look?

The first thing that catches your eye when you see the Kicks, is the 2 toned orange and silver paint scheme it comes in. The Kicks is a tough and solid looking mid-size SUV with sleek projector headlamps with V-shaped grille up front.1.jpgCOLLAGE 3The SUV comes with 17-inch diamond cut alloys, nice looking tail lamps, and prominent black pillars. It’s sleek and well-proportioned in terms of design and finish. The Nissan Kicks is larger in size, than most cars in its segment.COLLAGE 1 copy.jpgLots of work locally has gone into the design, to make it more edgy and robust.

How is it inside?

The interiors of the Kicks are top notch and of high quality. The brown leather cladding with white stitching, brushed silver accents with quilting on the leather seats are all premium. There’s a brand new impressive.8.0-inch floating touchscreen which performs smoothly. The speedometer is digital with a nicely built steering wheel. There’s an elbow rest which is placed quite awkwardly, and can be a hindrance at times while shifting gears.COLLAGE 4.jpgCOLLAGE 2 copy.jpgThe Nissan Kicks offers terrific visibility courtesy the upright seating position. This tall stance offers an all-round view of the road. The front seats are broad, very comfortable and offer good lumbar and under thigh support. The steering wheel is rake adjustable but not reach. I am sure this is something Nissan will rectify, when the next model of the Kicks is launched.

Getting in and out of the rear cabin is easy courtesy the wide doors.  The leg and knee room on offer is very adequate. Head and shoulder room is good as well. The rear seats easily fit 3 people, thanks to the seat width and flat floor design of the Kicks cabin. There is a dual portable parcel shelf which can be opened from the inside of the SUV to access the 400- litre boot.

The Kicks comes with a 360-degree camera, leather dashboard insert. One gets an Eco driving mode which is handy, while driving in dense traffic conditions. Four airbags, climate control, hill-hold, cornering lights, rain sensing wipers are all part of the features package that comes with the Kicks.9.jpgWhat is Nissan Connect?

The Kicks comes with the latest Nissan Connect. As a part of Nissan Intelligent Mobility, it transforms this SUV into a more responsive partner. It works round-the-clock to provide the best-in-safety, security and convenience by keeping the owner connected to Nissan, the car, to his/her family and loved ones through India’s first factory- fitted Telematics Control Unit (TCU) with a secured server.

With 50+ Features and 3 years of Free Subscription, the Nissan Connect is extremely useful for a Kicks SUV owner.

How is it to drive?move 1.jpgThe Kicks as mentioned earlier, rides on the M0-platform and offers 210mm of ground clearance. It comes in a two-wheel drive option with a manual transmission. The 1.5-litre K9K diesel engine with 110PS/240Nm is responsive, the short gear ratios highlight the mid-range punch of this engine. There is lots of mid-range power available for overtaking between 2000- 2500 rpm. Steering feedback is decent and the light nature of the steering makes driving an easy exercise in the city.

What is the ride like?8.jpgThe Kicks suspension setup ensures a comfortable and hassle-free ride quality over all sorts of road conditions. A very important point and factor for an Indian car buyer. Throw the Kicks into corners, it stays firmly glued to the road which is extremely reassuring. Braking power is sharp, with lots of stopping power available for emergency braking situations.

The Verdict:

The 5-6 days I spent driving the car felt too little. This is a SUV I want to spend time with again over a longer duration. Next time I may just drive it from Delhi to Bangkok!move 2.jpgThe Nissan Kicks is available for Rs 10.85 Lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai for the base diesel XV D model. The base petrol Nissan Kicks XL model retails at Rs 9.55 Lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai.

HARLEY FAT BOB – SLEEK & MEAN

What is a Bobber?

bobber, originally called a ‘bob-job’ from the 1930’s through 1990’s, is a style of custom motorcycle. The typical construction includes stripping excess bodywork from a motorcycle; removing the front fender, and shortening the rear fender, which is “bobbed” (as in bobtail), and all superfluous parts removed to reduce weight.

FullSizeRender.JPGThis style of motorcycle has found a large audience in the last decade or more. It reinforces the aggressive, bad boy attitude that a said “rider” wants to make whilst riding.

Harley- Davidson introduced the new Fat Bob in 2018. The stance was different from the usual design language that Harley is known for. The Fat Bob was aggressive, mean looking with an in your face LED headlightCOLLAGE 3The Fat Bob screams “wild “in every breadth of its design language. The only place one sees chrome is on the cylinder heads and gearbox. The motorcycle comes with the slashed rear fender, is shorter in length compared to the other bikes in the Softail family.COLLAGE 1.jpgPowering the Fat Bob is the widely appreciated Milwaukee- Eight V-twin four valve air-cooled 1745 cc engine which puts out 145NM Torque@3200 rpm. One gets 16-inch alloy wheels which house a 150/80 front tyre and 180/70 rear tyre.COLLAGE 2.jpgThe Fat Bob has a 14-litre fuel tank giving you enough gas for your 150-200 km weekend trips with an ARAI claimed mileage of 15 kmpl. The bronze header pipe heat shield further adds to the “wild” look that the Fat Bob is going with.

The Fat Bob comes with Harley’s keyless start as standard. The key is just used to lock and unlock the bike. Quality, fit and finish is very good as is expected from premium motorcycles nowadays.COLLAGE 2 copy 3.jpgHow’s it to ride?

The moment you switch the Fat Bob on, the engine comes to life with a loud and powerful grunt. Then shift into first gear, let go for the clutch, and the massive 145 NM of torque comes into play. Making you forget momentarily; you are astride a 309 kg motorcycle.

The bike takes off so fast, leaving a trail of melted rubber behind… With you smiling crazily under your helmet. The sheer noise and ferocious power on display makes people turn, motorists scamper to get out of your way. The throttle response on low speeds is very impressive. Getting to 100 kmph is easily achieved on the Fat Bob. The motorcycle is very relaxed cruising at these speeds.1.jpgSuch motorcycles are designed for straight open roads where one can ride endlessly. Riding in the city, the bike tends to heat up, courtesy the stop-go nature of our traffic.

The trick is to let the bike cruise, which it happily does even at low speeds. Switching off the engine at traffic lights is also advisable. The clutch does tend to feel heavy in bad traffic, but then again, such bikes are not designed for such a commute.

All the motorcycles in the Softail family use the same frame, but are tuned specifically as the need. The Fat Bob has the sharpest steering geometry with a 28-degree rake angle as well as the shortest wheelbase amongst the Softail family. It comes with Showa dual bending valve and upside-down forks which immensely help in the braking and steering duties. It’s not surprising that the front-end demands some serious muscle to turn into corners.

The Fat Bob is a low-slung motorcycle. So naturally, I had a bit of trepidation on how the suspension would deal with our roads. The Fat bob boasts a terrific suspension setup. It dealt with bad roads with ease despite the ground clearance being just 120 mm. One must be careful going over the god-awful speed breakers that plague our city roads. The seat is comfortable and offers good lumbar support.FullSizeRender (1)The Verdict:

The Fat Bob is designed for the rider who enjoys an aggressive ride over long distances. Someone who wants to have fun riding cross country. This is not a motorcycle for the lazy rider who just wants to cruise around. Powerful premium riding performance is what the Fat bob offers.

If this is the bike for you then… The Fat Bob retails at Rs 14.69 Lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai.

AUDI A4 – FAST & STYLISH

The Audi A4 celebrated its silver jubilee this year. That’s a massive achievement for any consumer product, more so for a car. In an industry where so many new products are launched each year, to still be popular 25 years later is testimony to the love and acceptance of the A4 worldwide.first.jpgI spent a few days with the A4 last week. Lots of improvement is noticeable in  this model, in comparison to the previous generation A4 that it replaced .

How does it look?

As soon as one spots the A4, you can tell it’s one good looking car. Sleek looking with the standard bells and whistles that we have come to expect of Audi cars. The front grille, headlights, taillights, all add to the allure of the design. To increase the visibility of the A4 during the day, the car comes with a set of Lumen LED daytime running lights. Nowadays every mid-size luxury sedan carries a sportier design language, the A4 is no exception.COLLAGE 1.jpgCOLLAGE back 1.jpgAudi gives owners an option to personalise the car by adding add on parts such as wheels and spoilers in striking carbon. This brings out the sporty character while adding a dynamic touch to the A4.

The 35 TDI A4 I drove came with a four-cylinder 2.0 litre TDI unit with a peak power output of 190hp with 400 nm of torque. The A4 is a front wheel drive with a seven-speed clutch transmission doing duty of transferring power from the engine to the wheels.

How is it to drive?

The A4 is one of the easiest and peppy cars to drive in its segment. Tap on the accelerator lightly, immediately you can experience how nimble the A4 is. Once past 2000 rpm all the way upto to 4700 rpm, the A4 enjoys a strong mid-range power band. Upshifts and downshifts are extremely quick and efficient. There are paddle shifters on offer when one wants to shift into the manual mode. Straight roads, corners and dense traffic conditions are tackled with the utmost ease.extra.jpg

The 4 driving modes in the A4 are Normal, Individual, Dynamic and Auto. Normal is when the car is more relaxed, but still fast. Shift into Dynamic and the A4 becomes a free revving vehicle. This mode is great fun on empty stretches of highway which one encounters on road trips across India. Individual gives you the option of trying different mode settings. Like one can put the steering in Dynamic and engine in Normal which gives you the feeling of more sporty steering feedback with a smooth power delivery.

The suspension setup remains the same irrespective of the mode one is driving in. All kind of road conditions are tackled with utmost ease. The suspension isn’t setup to be very firm. This works very well on our roads, no discomfort is felt by passengers inside the car.

How’s it inside?

The cabin is very contemporary, top quality materials and ambience is on display inside. The A4 I drove came with the “Virtual Cockpit” digital instruments.  The MMI infotainment system, the haptic buttons for the air-conditioner, which you preview each function, as you run your finger over them, give this cabin a very cutting-edge modern feel.  COLLAGE int.jpgSeating comfort is top-notch, under thigh and shoulder room is very good. Rear seat passengers get ample legroom with the seating ideal for 2 passengers. The 5th passenger may feel a tad uncomfortable in the middle. The space is little tight there.

The Verdict

The A4 is a very capable and performance packed midsize luxury sedan. The category Audi A4 is competing in, is a very important segment for luxury car companies in India.

The A4 stacks up very well compared to its rivals. A car one would strongly consider buying, if in the market for a midsize luxury sedan.last.jpgThe Audi A4 start at Rs 43 Lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai for the 35 TDI Premium Plus (Diesel) (Base Model). Prices for the 30 TFSI Premium Plus (Petrol) (Base Model) start at Rs 41 Lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai.