VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN EXPERIENTIAL DRIVE

The last week of October took me to an area and location I hadn’t visited in quite a while. I was driving out early on Saturday morning to the Volkswagen Tiguan Experiential Drive being held at Mukesh Mills in Colaba. For anybody who’s grown up watching movies, music videos in the 90’s Mukesh Mills is immediately recognisable. Countless films and videos have been shot there. Every part of this defunct mill has been used in films to depict all sorts of locations and situations.

Experiencing the Tiguan in such an environment would be interesting!

After the usual registration process, we were briefed by Dr. Tejas Kothari a well-known off-roading expert of what we would experience on the course.

The first obstacle that was created was the terrapod. This would get us to gauge the Tiguan’s ability to handle different alterations in height. How it manages to stay stable and clear this obstacle successfully. I went about doing this activity with the usual sense of caution. Tejas who was the instructor, goaded me on, making corrections when I was veering off. Being on 2 wheels in a moving car is always exciting. This was no different!

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The next obstacle we experienced was the axle breakers. Here one got to see first-hand, the ability of the Tiguan to transfer the requisite amount of torque between the wheels, while they were struggling to find traction. Tejas instructed me to go easy and slow on the throttle, that being the key to clearing this activity smoothly. I did just that.

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Now we moved to the final activity of the drive.
The last activity was to test the ABS of the Tiguan. How it reacts during sudden braking at fast speeds, while attempting a lane change. Tejas told me to step hard on the throttle and slam the brakes the moment we reach the braking marker. The Tiguan managed this activity with ease, showcasing how well the ABS works in such situations.

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At the end of this experiential drive one got a different appreciation of the Tiguan.

A SUV which I have spent lots of time driving in the recent past.

Here comes the New Ciaz…

The Ciaz from the time it was launched has developed a loyal following. Having sold 2 lakhs plus units so far, the car has become a key player in the mid-size sedan segment.

The new Maruti Suzuki updated Ciaz has arrived on our shores. Last week Maruti launched the latest offering of their most premium model. Priced between Rs 8.19-10.97 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Ciaz brings some more equipment, cosmetic upgrades and a spanking new petrol engine.

The Ciaz from the time it was launched has developed a loyal following. Having sold 2 lakhs plus units so far, the car has become a key player in the mid-size sedan segment.

Good looking with enough styling changes make the Ciaz impressive to look at. The front and rear bumpers along with the grille are all new. I particularly like the new shape of the headlamps. The higher variants in the model range i.e. Zeta and Alpha will get LED headlamps, taillamps and chrome on the grille. The Alpha version also comes with LED DRL’s and 16-inch alloy wheels that are completely new in design. The instrument cluster comes with a new colour display. The other elements inside are like the previous model Ciaz.

 

Maruti has given the safety aspect a major upgrade. The dual-front airbags, ABS with EBD were part of the previous generation which are carried over to this model. The new model of the Ciaz also gets rear parking sensors. A speed alert system starts beeping when you touch 80kmph. The beeping then becomes continuous when the car hits 120kmph. This is in conjunction with speed alert regulations that the government is going to make mandatory next year onwards. The idea is to deter drivers from speeding. But will this help.? Unfortunately, I don’t think so. Knowing our penchant for “jugaad” its only a matter of time before local mechanics find a way to de-activate this.

There are seat-belt reminders for the driver and front passenger, a standard in most cars today. The new Ciaz also comes with the Isofix child seat mounts that are standard across the whole range. Big thumbs up for promoting child safety which we at Outventures and Rotormouth fully support and welcome. The top-spec variants come with cruise control, automatic headlamps with an auto-levelling functionality.

New Petrol Engine Introduced…

The new Ciaz introduces the new Suzuki’s K15B motor for the first time. This replaces the previous K14B 1,373cc, four-cylinder petrol engine that made 92hp and 130Nm of peak torque. The K15B 1,462cc four-cylinder engine makes 105hp and 138Nm of torque. The transmission option on the petrol engine is unchanged with a 5-speed manual offered as standard. The automatic comes with a 4-speed torque converter.

The diesel Ciaz remains the same as before. The specifications of offer are 90hp, 1,248cc, four-cylinder motor which produces 200Nm of torque with a 5-speed gearbox.

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 The Ciaz has always been the most fuel-efficient mid-size sedan in its class…

Nothing changes with this model. While the diesel gives you ARAI rated fuel efficiency figure of 28.09 kpl, the petrol gets a pretty significant bump in fuel efficiency, even though engine displacement size has become bigger with this model. The rated figure is now 21.56 kpl for the manual and 2.28 for the automatic. The increase respectively is 0.83kpl and 2.44kpl for manual and automatic. In India where fuel prices determine buying choices this will be welcomed with open arms.

The reason behind the improvement in fuel efficiency is…

The mild hybrid system that comes with the K15B uses a lithium-ion battery which is mounted under the front passenger seat. This helps to run start-stop function as well work with torque assist. The battery gets charged via brake energy regeneration. No other car in this segment offers this feature.

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So how does the Ciaz drive?

I spent 2 days driving the car over almost 200 kms across great highway roads, congested narrow by lanes. Conditions of the road went from super to bad. How did the Ciaz fare? Let’s find out.

Get into the Ciaz one gets a sense of comfort and familiarity. Start the car and put it into drive mode or 1st gear and the pick-up is smooth and swift. The 1st day I drove the automatic over 80 kms. The engine is responsive; the 4-speed torque convertor works very well, there isn’t any sort of lag and makes for very good driving dynamics. Handling and braking are sharp. The suspension is well designed and tuned for our road conditions. Once we got off the highway the road conditions went through a sea change in terms of quality. The bad roads didn’t affect the drive quality of the Ciaz.

Next day we drove the manual on the Bengaluru – Hyderabad Highway. Oh! What fun that was. Nowadays most of us prefer driving automatics considering the appalling state of traffic in most cities. The manual was a sweet reminder of how much fun it can be when driving is stress free. Fast, responsive engine and gearbox with super handling is what one experienced during the drive. The safety beeping that accompanied us every time we touched 80kmph and beyond was a reminder of how regulated our driving is becoming now. Welcome to driving in the 21st century 😊

If driving in comfort, style, good features and performance is what you are looking for at a killer price…Then the Ciaz is the perfect mid-size sedan for you.

Location : The Taj Bangalore
Picture Credits :Kartik Sadekar

Racing the Ameo

Racing as an activity is as old as mankind itself. From the time man discovered and created vehicles they have always raced. Wooden chariots to modern day F1 cars all have one thing in common. They provide man with the chance to be the fastest in a race where the competition is amongst the best one finds in that year, country or era.

“Racing is meditation on speed”- Anonymous

But racing cars on a racetrack in India is not easily done. Primarily as there are only 3 racetracks in this country and the cost to hire them for a track day is not cheap and easily accessible to an individual. Combine that with modifying a car, buying special track tyres, having a support crew on hand and this becomes even more of a dream.

So then what does a youngster who wants to train to become a professional race car driver do in India? He/she applies for the Volkswagen Motorsport Programme. This programme started 9 years back. Every year from 2010 through the various cup competitions that they have organised and held VW Motorsport has unearthed the best talent that is to be found in this country. Starting with the Polo cup to the Ameo Cup the VW race drivers over a period of 3 odd months race with the same competitive spirit and ferocity one experiences in any touring car championship worldwide.

This has been helmed by Sirish Vissa who has been involved with the programme from its inception. He took over as head of the programme in 2014. In my interaction with him the one thing he always wanted to do right from the beginning is develop the race car start to finish at the Pune facility. That became a reality with the Ameo Cup Race car which is designed and developed totally in India.

Sirish says “This is a car that is designed in India, developed in India and tested in India.” An excellent example of Make in India as any!

Volkswagen India was kind enough to invite Rotormouth along with other media personnel to experience and participate in the media race weekend.

The prospective drivers go through a very detailed selection process which starts with them racing in go karts at various tracks across the country which culminates in the finale at the Indi cart Racing track in Pune. The people who get to the final are amongst the fastest in all the regions in India. Then starts the rigorous training schedule which involves all sorts of fitness routines, driving techniques, learning race rules and lots more. Sirish believes in using a holistic approach to the whole process. This leads to them learning the whole process towards becoming a professional race car driver. For this year’s season they have shortlisted 19 drivers.

Apart from learning and honing one’s skill the drivers are taught how to market themselves to sponsors for the season. This is crucial as in the cut throat world of motorsports having a sponsor behind you makes a huge difference to your career prospects. They learn what it is to work with a team who is always suggesting and expecting inputs from you to extract the maximum from the car for a top 3 finish every race. The drivers learn that camaraderie in the pits doesn’t buy you any favours on the racetrack. They learn how cruel and unforgiving the race track can be to the smallest of mistakes.

So, what did I learn from all of this? I learnt that I was nowhere as fast and skilled on the racetrack as the professionals. I learnt how sharp and decisive one must be to race on a track. How unforgiving this car is if you don’t treat her right.

Rayomand Banajee 8-time national karting and racing champion and founder of Rayo Racing and Indy Karting gave us our first briefing before free practice. Here we were taught the meaning and importance of the various flags the marshals would wave depending on what they wanted to communicate to us regarding what’s happening on the race track. It could be anything from an accident that has occurred, an oil spill, safety car on track. We were then instructed and shown the racing lines we should follow to extract the best time and performance in each lap. Post this we were given our racing gear.

Once in the pits we sat in our respective cars where the support crew did our final seat adjustment and explained the various buttons and the respective roles they play. This Cup car shares very little with the Ameo. Everything inside the cabin and under the hood is prototyped for racing.

 

Now we were ready to practice. The roar of the engine when I started the car was unlike anything I have heard before. It was loud and brutal. As we exited the pit lane and went out in track the first thing I felt was the kind of torque and power that a 205 HP engine brings to the table. Weaving into corners and on straights the first few laps I had a tough time figuring out the racing lines. Towards the end of the session just when I was coming to terms with the coming into the fast-right hander which leads to the start finish straight I went off track momentarily which was all it took to lose control. Next thing I knew I spun around and went into the tyre wall. I was unhurt which is testimony to the safety aspects and measures taken by VW Motorsport which adhere to the highest standards in motorsport today.

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On my walk back to the pits I realised the level of commitment, discipline and single-minded focus a racer needs to succeed at the highest level. Motorsports is the best example of teaching one the importance and value of having a great team. Next time you see your favourite driver win a race, please take a minute out and salute the people who work tirelessly behind the scenes.

Sirish Vissa and VW Motorsport are doing a phenomenal job with this programme. Our country needs more programmes such as these to support and unearth the racing talent lying dormant across the length and breadth of our vast nation.

See you at the track…