ADVENTURES WITH THE Q5…

The second generation Q5 was Audi’s first launch of the year. Launched in 2011 the Q5 ticked all the right boxes for SUV buyers, making it an instant success. In the last few years SUV’s have become an important category for every luxury car manufacturer. We Indians love SUV’s. And Audi gets it right each time with their Q series.

COLLAGE First.jpgThe 2018 Q5 is taut, sleek and more compact in its appearance compared to the previous model. The one-piece square grille and headlights with the LED DRL’s is what you first notice when viewing the car front on. There is a sharpness to the crease where it joins the tail light, which is new compared to the old Q5. The all-LED headlights are brilliant while driving in the night and offer very good illumination.

The moment you step inside the cabin you are greeted with a familiar looking steering wheel, 3 zone air-conditioning and a huge 12.3-inch instrument cluster display. The views which can be switched around, are superb to look at and use. The 8.3-inch display that sits atop the dashboard comes without a touchscreen feature which is good, as it one less thing to distract the driver while driving. The resolution is crisp and sharp. One must use the rotary knob on the centre console to access it. MMI scribble pad with 8 short cuts are on offer as well to use the screen for the on-board navigation.COLLAGE 5.jpgThe 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.COLLAGE 4.jpgNowadays 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. Lots 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!COLLAGE 2.jpgCOLLAGE 3.jpgThe Q5 has an inline four cylinder, 2.0-litre diesel engine which offers 190PS and 400Nm. Step on the throttle slightly and the Q5 responds with brisk acceleration. Power delivery is smooth and refined. Driving it on the expressway early in the morning with practically no traffic gave me a first-hand experience of the power that’s available. O-100kmph was very fast, making one forget that you are driving an almost 2-tonne SUV!

The Audi Drive Select offers Dynamic, Comfort and a dedicated off-road mode. In the off-road mode, the moment you go off the tarmac the engine performance changes. Throttle response becomes duller, one can see a marked improvement in the traction. Quattro also helps the Q5 put its power down better, thereby enabling better acceleration and improving grip levels. The adaptive suspension gets taut in Dynamic mode in regard to handling, while in the Comfort mode the ride quality is far plusher. Steering feedback is very good, engine performance, responsive transmission with an adaptive suspension that handles bad road easily make the Q5 a very impressive SUV

We visited Della Resorts in Lonavala, a well-known and popular resort for weekend getaways out of Mumbai. Started in 1996 Della has become one of the must visit resorts in the region. Jimmy Mistry a renowned architect is the driving force and inspiration behind the resort. Della is well known for its adventure and adrenaline filled activities and is India’s biggest extreme adventure park. There are 50 plus adventure activities on offer.COLLAGE 6.jpgDella offers India’s only Swoop swing (100 ft.), India’s Longest Flying Fox(1250ft.), 5 kinds of zorbing and 700cc Yamaha raptor ATV . The other activities one can partake in are Archery, Rocket Ejector, Motocross dirt bike riding, Buggy Ride, Paintball and Rappelling.

Driving the Q5 on empty roads in and around Lonavala over the weekend on all sorts of roads made me come back with one realisation. If anyone is in the market to buy a plush midsize luxury SUV, look no further. The Audi Q5 is the SUV for you.COLLAGE last.jpgThe pricing starts at 55.27 lakhs for the Q5 35TDI Premium Plus Diesel and the Q5 Premium Plus 2.0 TFSI Petrol. All prices are ex-showroom Mumbai.

SKODA OCTAVIA – The “CULT” FAVOURITE

When the Skoda Octavia was launched in 2002 it changed the game for performance sedans in this country. Prior to that if an enthusiast was looking for something exciting he/she looked abroad, or modified the existing cars available then. The Octavia since then has gone on to develop a massive cult following. When Skoda announced their latest face lift of the Octavia last year it was met with lots of enthusiasm. Worldwide, Skoda has sold over 50 lakh units of the Octavia.COLLAGE 1.jpgThe Octavia has a split-headlamp cluster called the Quadra LED headlights. The reason for this name is because they are split into four compartments with the low and high beams being separated. LED daytime running lights and fog lamps on the bumper are part of the kit. There is a chrome strip running across the bumper which gives the car a premium finish. The grille is glossy black, with some creases across the hood which weren’t there in the earlier version. The front fenders are far more sculpted adding to the muscular look of the Octavia. The tail lamps at the rear are LED units with a rear bumper that has been revised too.COLLAGE 2.jpgOne of the new features the Octavia gets is the Park Pilot. Once you activate this, the car manoeuvres itself while parking. The driver still plays a role applying the brakes whenever necessary. There are proximity sensors all over the car with the customary reverse parking camera.

Step into the car and the first thing you notice is the new 9 inch infotainment scree with capacitive touch. The interface is very smooth and fast with a resolution ratio of 800×480. The Octavia comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mirror Link to pair your phone with. Skoda has an app called “Boss Connect”. This app lets owners who usually sit in the rear seat control the infotainment system from there.COLLAGE 4.jpgThere’s ambient lighting with 10 colours on offer as well!  One can increase and decrease the brightness of the lights in the footwell and doors. A panoramic sunroof is also part of the package. Two USB ports for rear passengers below the rear AC vent are there as well. The interiors are extremely plush and classy with soft-touch plastics and a beige/black two-tone colour scheme.  Lots of leg room and space in the cabin make this a very comfortable space, where one can spend long hour driving or being driven around.COLLAGE 3.jpgThe Octavia comes with two engine variants, the 1.8-litre TSI and the 2.0-litre TDI.  I drove the diesel variant and boy or boy what an engine. All the Skoda cars I have driven in the past have been amongst the best driver cars in terms of performance. So much power is available through the power band.  This comes with the legendary 6 speed DSG gearbox. If there was a lifetime achievement award given to a gearbox, the DSG would win it hands down. That’s how good it is. The power and torque output is 140.8 bhp and 320 Nm. The claimed mileage is 19.3 kmpl.

Safety which is hallmark with all VW family cars sees the base trim of the Octavia get 4 airbags. The top trim gets 8 airbags with dual airbags upfront and at the sides. ABS, EBD and traction control are standard across the variants.

We drove with the Octavia to Kamshet. It’s located 120 kms from Mumbai along the Mumbai – Pune Expressway.  Driving the Octavia on empty roads early in the morning was the perfect demonstration of the handling prowess of the car. Acceleration is rapid, before you realise it, the Octavia is touching three digit speeds. To get to Kamshet one must take the 2nd Lonavala exit and get on to the Mumbai – Bangalore Highway.COLLAGE 5.jpgIt’s a picturesque hill station in the Western Ghats, which is renowned for paragliding and flying schools. Kamshet is regularly featured in the top 10 must visit destinations adventure junkies. Driving in these natural scenic surrounding on narrow roads was a refreshing break from the highway. In Kamshet one can enjoy the surroundings and have a closer look at the village life of India with muddy huts and village markets. The area is surrounded by paddy and sunflower fields and it provides an awesome view while you are enjoying the world class paragliding facilities here.

After spending a day of taking in the sights it was time to head back. This was a day well spent driving one of my favourite car to a location that is still untouched by development.lastPricing for the Skoda Octavia starts at 18.91 Lakhs for the 1.4 TSI Ambition Petrol Manual and 21.79 Lakhs for the 2.0 TDI CR Ambition Diesel Manual. Prices are on road Price (inclusive of GST), Mumbai.

 

THE RETRO EYE-CANDY! SOFTAIL DELUXE

Last week I spent a few days with the Harley Davidson Softail Deluxe. A motorcycle that combines style, luxury and old-world charm. The first sight of the Softail Deluxe is spectacular!

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Back In 2017, Harley-Davidson decided to merge the Dyna and Softail lines of motorcycles into one Softail family. A bold move, something the purists didn’t take too kindly then.

Then they decided to take the new Softails into a new design direction with some of the iconic models. This was again very gutsy, considering Harley as a brand is hugely driven by the “heritage” tag their motorcycles carry. While the new Fat Bob and Fat Boy designs were contemporary and funky, the Deluxe remained true to the original and classical design brief. Thus, keeping the traditional Harley customer base happy.

The Deluxe is a classic retro-themed motorcycle all the way. Lots and lots of chrome is on offer, 16-inch wire-spoke wheels with white-walled Harley-Davidson-branded tyres by Dunlop.

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The Softail Deluxe is an attention magnet if there ever was any! Starting with the large LED headlamp which is flanked by the two smaller auxiliary LED lights. Then comes the attractive angular indicator holders at the front and rear, the chrome garnish on the edges of both fenders. Which is offset by the eye catching Electric Blue paint scheme.

Swing your leg over the bike, and the view that greets you is one filled with chrome through and through from the dual fuel caps, the easy going pull back handlebar, the shiny instrument cluster housing and the top circumference of the three lamps. The Deluxe comes with a low single seat, but as is the case with almost all Harley models, an optional pillion seat can be added.

The build quality and finish on the Deluxe is of the highest standard. The chrome-treated engine fits tightly within the frame with minimal gaps, the wiring is concealed well, and the engine’s oil-cooler is housed at the front of the frame. The motorcycle comes with a keyless start/stop system. The only time you need a key is to lock the handlebar.

There is an alarm system that goes off if someone sits on the bike. The only way to deactivate the alarm is take the key close to the motorcycle to turn it off. There is unfortunately no button on the key to turn it off. This can be annoying at times as in the building complex’s we live in, there is always some fool who likes to sit on the bike to click selfies!

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What’s the engine like?

The Softail Deluxe comes with a 1,745cc twin-cam engine that has impressed everyone. The Twin counter-balancers have ironed out excessive vibrations making the ride very smooth. The throttle response is very good with massive amount of torque on offer. Open the throttle and you will zip by faster than can be imagined. But this is not the kind of bike you want to ride in a rush or flat out. This is a motorcycle to lazily cruise down the highway, accessing torque whenever you need to.

The Softail frame neatly hides a mono-shock which allows the engine to be rigid-mounted. The higher levels of stiffness results in a considerable improvement in the handling department. One of the other reasons in the way the Softail rides so well on our roads is, courtesy the new Showa suspension on the front and rear.

For a bike that weighs 318kg, the Deluxe wears its bulk very lightly.  A low centre of gravity matched with stability, meant I was weaving through heavy traffic very easily.  I was riding and flicking the Softail like most other motorcycles which was fantastic considering its size. Truth be told, this makes for a fantastic commuter, something I don’t mind riding daily. Hats off to the Softail designers for making this possible!

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On the open road at higher speeds, stability is constant with an excellent suspension. This suspension system is extremely refined soaking in bumps and inconsistencies. I rode the Softail on all sorts of roads in the city and highway. At no junction did I have to worry about road conditions, of how the bike would handle that! The Softail has 115mm of ground clearance which means one must be cautious and slow over speed breakers.

The bike’s braking is top draw with the ABS system working smoothly. In situations involving quick braking and sudden stops, the Softail performs with flying colours.

For the prospective Harley buyer who’s in the market for old school candy with just the right amount of modern technology, the Softail Deluxe is the motorcycle for you.

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Priced at Rs 18.65 lakh (ex-showroom, India) it’s expensive, but also one of the most desirable bikes out there.

And you can ride it every day too…

FREESTYLING ALL THE WAY…

One of my favourite weekend getaways from Mumbai is Alibaug. Located just 120 kms from Mumbai is Maharashtra’s version of Goa for people who are looking at a weekend beach getaway.

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We were headed to Karpewadi resort in Alibaug in the Ford Freestyle. Here at Karpewadi, they practice sustainable management and encourage the guests to do the same. The term to describe it is an ‘agrotel’ where being one with nature is the central theme. You get private beach access, a range of activities to choose from on site as well. For people who like sightseeing, there are several such destinations nearby. The owners believe in a no- compromise approach to providing basic comforts with quality home – cooked cuisine.

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The Freestyle was launched earlier this year. It fits into the cross-hatchback segment in India. Most other manufacturers have seen varying degrees of success with the models launched, now it was Ford’s turn to launch a cross version of their proven and successful Figo Hatchback. Of course, lots of changes have been incorporated into the Freestyle.

The first time you see it, barring some similarities in shape to the Figo, you get a different grille, bumpers, side skirts, fender extensions and alloy wheels! The new grille is sporty honeycomb design with glossy black treatment. The bumper is stylish looking with a plastic silver skid plate. On the side you have plastic claddings on the wheel arch & side skirt. This is accompanied by 15-inch split 4 spoke alloy wheels. Ford has added a racing stripe decal on the lower section of the doors which we like. There are luggage racks on the roof that can take up to 50 kgs in weight.

The Freestyle comes with 190 mm of ground clearance which is very good, specially when driving over bad roads!

Now let’s step inside…

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Fully loaded in the truest sense is what the Freestyle is. A reddish-brown dashboard with glossy back accents. The infotainment and touchscreen package are something of a speciality with Ford cars. We specially like the digital compass!. A nice-looking instrument cluster greets you with silver accents which complement the dashboard. Seven cup and bottle holders are available between the door and center console! There is also a small soft touch shelf on offer below the climate control with another square cubbyhole to store small stuff! The seat upholstery is vibrant, the carpet mats are a modular rubber which are very easy to clean and maintain! There is a small hidden storage space inside the dashboard as well. Lots of storage space is on offer!

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Two airbags, ABS and reverse parking sensors come as standard on all Ford models. The Freestyle gets six airbags on the top spec Titanium variant with electronic stability control (ESC), active rollover protection (ARP), and Traction control (TSC). This is first in segment feature. Ford’s emergency assistance program is available on the Freestyle which shuts off the pump and shares a GPS location with emergency services.

Let’s check out the engine…

This is a new petrol engine. The motor from the new Dragon engine family is a 1.2 litre unit that makes 95bhp of peak power and 120 Nm of peak torque. The new gear-box which is a 5-speed manual. Gear shifts are smooth and refined. The Freestyle comes with a lighter clutch which helps in the start stop traffic we face in cities.

The Drive…

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We started early in the morning. Traffic at that hour is non-existent so it was a breeze getting out of Mumbai.  Once we get onto the highway the kind of power sitting under the hood of the Freestyle became apparent. All the Ford cars I have driven down the years have super driving dynamics. The Freestyle is no different! Lots of power is available in the mid-range so one doesn’t have to shift down to overtake. One gets to three-digit speed very easily.

So far, the journey was on good roads hence the suspension of the car wasn’t really tested. That changed the moment we got off the Expressway. When we checked how far we were it showed 50 kms from our destination. Not much of a distance if the roads are good. But the roads just went from good to worse in a matter of a few kilometers. It was like we were transported 20 years back to a time when India still didn’t know the concept of expressways and good roads.

The Freestyle managed these roads well. The suspension and ride quality is good; it handles whatever is thrown at it. The feedback to the steering is direct, quick changes in direction are managed with ease.

The weekend spent in Alibaug driving the Freestyle was a breeze. Makes for a perfect companion on out of town weekend trips.

Price…

Pricing for the Freestyle petrol starts at Rs 5.09 lakh for the base model and going all the way up to Rs 6.49 lakh for the Titanium+ with the diesel ranging between Rs 6.09-7.89 lakh.

THE LUXE DRIVE EXPERIENCE

This weekend saw the second phase of the Mercedes Benz Drive Live come to Mumbai. Phase 1 of this drive earlier this year was organised in the cities of Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Thrissur and Bangalore. This event’s theme is based on the three categories of Adrenaline, Gourmet and Music.

The hosting ground for the Luxe Drive was Richardson & Cruddas Ltd Mazgaon. An old mill that is now very popular for a host of different cultural events throughout the year.

Customers who are invited get a first-hand opportunity to drive the range of Mercedes Benz vehicles through a series of specially designed courses. One can decide to self-drive or partake as a guest in the cars during this activity.

I have driven Mercedes Benz vehicles in the past. But to do it over a specially designed course which showcase the different features of the cars was something I wanted to experience.

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After the pre-event registration and basic formalities, we were taken to the 1st course of the Luxe Drive. This was a shalom course where you had the choice of the GLA and CLA to choose from. I chose the GLA as this is a car I have always enjoyed driving. I was a passenger on a demo first lap around the course, by the racing instructor. This is necessary to understand the nuances of what the activity entails.

The Shalom challenge is an activity, where one gets to experience the flickability, braking and handling of a car. The GLA was excellent of all counts. It handled everything with ease leaving me with a big smile on my face!

The next course was a demonstration in a GLS 350d by a racing driver where we would get to experience the stability, hill assist/descent and the off-roading abilities of the SUV. This demo was by far the most exciting! The first thing he demonstrated was the stability and how well balanced the SUV is, even when balanced on 2 wheels! Then we went up a 40degree incline where one got to experience the hill assist feature. The car doesn’t roll back even at this incline. Only when you press the accelerator, does the brake release to enable the car to move forward. Then at the top most point, before we started the descent, the driver told us, an individual can set a speed they feel is ideal during descent. The speed he had chosen was 4kmph. Here too the car only rolls ahead, when you press on the accelerator.

Post this we got the chance to drive the GLC & GLE 250 d, GLE 350 d & GLS 350       on a specially designed off-road track. This was a short course which consisted of going slowly over these obstacle courses. I drove the GLC which tackled these obstacles, without breaking into a sweat.

The last demonstration was a taxi drive in an E and C- Class to showcase the pre-safe features of these cars. The driver goes speeding towards a chicane at high speeds, breaking just in time to highlight the superior quality of ABS and other safety features in this car.

After completing these activities, it was time to indulge in the gastronomical magic that was specially created and curated by Chef Ranveer Brar. There were 3 food trucks that served up all sorts of delicious sliders, min burgers, mud cakes, sausages and lots more. Ranveer also engaged the participants there in an exclusive workshop on gourmet and food photography.

As an initiative to engage the participants during this weekend, Mercedes-Benz India has associated with MTV for MTV sessions – a series of live music gigs that showcase the work of today’s hot acts artists such as Kamakshi Khanna and Hari Sukhmai along with prominent bands such as the Yellow Diary and Paradigm Shift.

Mercedes Benz cars, gourmet food and live music was the perfect way to sign off the weekend.

Florence’s “cucina povera” is deliciously rich

“Oh, my poor darlings,” cries the proprietor at Da Nerbone, a butchers’ stand in the heart of the San Lorenzo Market in Florence. “You’ve been waiting for such a very long time.”

Tara Isabella Burton

Blog by Tara Isabella Burton- Travel Writer

He shoots me a wink. Da Narbone is one of the most famous purveyors of Florence’s famed lampredotto: tender, broth-infused tripe made from the fourth stomach of a cow.

On this spring afternoon, the lines – an equal number of suitcase-toting tourists en route to the nearby train station and agitated locals – snake out the market door for this classic example of cucina povera(“kitchen of the poor”): traditional Florentine peasant cuisine now reimagined as the paragon of local Florentine fare.

Despite the hordes of tourists, Da Nerbone has never raised its prices; for around 5 euro, I get a crusty rose-shaped bun moistened with broth, several forkfuls of sizzling lampredotto, and a piquant chilli sauce. I eat it walking out of the marketplace, elbowing past so many other tourists, workers, stall-sellers of Florentine leather and Chinese toys.

My lips burn from the peperoncino – but boy, it’s worth it.

Above article reposted from TRVL.com 

OUT-Ventures Dope : 

What is Cucina Povera?

“Cucina Povera”, which essentially means “peasant food” (literally “poor cooking” or “poor kitchen”) are mostly always made using super simple recipes, containing a minimal of ingredients. Usually, the products and seasonal and locally grown. As you would probably guess, those ingredients must be the best quality. There’s nothing to hide the lack of flavor otherwise.

Cucina povera recipes are the antitheses of American “Italian” chain restaurant’s dishes. If you enjoy this type of  menu, that’s totally fine, just know that there is essentially nothing on it that is truly Italian.

dishes of food at Il Contadino cucina povera recipes

Traditional Italian food is not smothered in sauces, tons of cheese and/or “lots of herbs and spices”. Those are American concoctions. Authentic Italian dishes are mostly light, include lots of vegetables, very little cheese (even on pizza) and are very healthy/nutritious.

If you wish to know more on Cucina Povera recipes, please visit :
https://www.christinascucina.com

XDIAVEL IN THE HOUSE!

If Harvey Specter from Suits rode to work, the XDiavel would be his motorcycle of choice. Power cruiser that’s mean looking with the kind of torque on tap that makes riding insanely fun…

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A motorcycle that redefines what the modern power cruiser has evolved into in this century. First time you lay eyes on the XDiavel you are awestruck. The design lines are sleek, sharp with the trademark Ducati fit and finish. Ducati has always been known for making motorcycles that are the perfect mix of design and kickass performance. The XDiavel is no different.  Ducati fits a 152bhp, race-developed twin to the XDiavel because Ducatis have to be fast, furious and fun to ride. The XDiavel has riding position tailor made for a remake of the cult classic Easy Rider.

The low seat is comfortable and supportive; the handlebars aren’t too wide or too forward or back. The footrests are positioned high enough for ground clearance in corners. The bike comes with key-less ignition. The key only being used to open and shut the fuel cap.

Switch on the motorcycle and a loud grunt greets you. Start the motorcycle, give a whack to the throttle and you are greeted with a ferocity that means serious business. The moment we hit an empty patch of road after 20 minutes of traffic, the Xdiavel shows what happens when a sport bike maker like Ducati designs a cruiser. The acceleration for 0-100 is stunning. One can tell that this bike has been geared for acceleration rather than an academic top speed figure. Open the throttle and the Xdiavel goes like a Shoaib Akhtar express delivery trying to rip the top layer of tarmac from the road.

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Cornering and holding the road is something the XDiavel excels at. After a few hours of riding on sharp twisties and bends it became obvious how the 240 mm rear tyre and 40 degree lean angle on the XDiavel comes into play. Peak torque comes into play at 5000 rpm but even at 2000 rpm you have enough and more for fierce acceleration on open highways. This is testimony to how right Ducati has got the power to weight ratio in the XDiavel.

The XDiavel gets Brembo’s M50 callipers, which are superb. Will braking be a reason to buy the XDiavel? I don’t think so. Interested buyers would be more interested in the multiple riding modes on offer and the cornering ABS that comes with it. And if that is not enough to whet your appetite, you also get launch control and cruise control!  I started in the “Urban’ mode that cuts the power to 100 bhp along with electronic comfort blanketing. This is tuned to make riding in the city on a daily basis an easy affair.

The ‘Touring’ mode gives you the full 152 bhp on offer, but is delivered with finesse and moderate electronic interference.  The ‘Sport’ mode lets you use the full range of power with minimal Traction Control, anti-wheelie and stability control in place.

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The XDiavel comes with full LED lighting with the switch gear being back-lit too. The TFT instrument panel is simple and easy to use. The menu for changing settings and display is logical and easy to work with. The switch gear is well laid out too.

Ducati’s first ever belt drive should keep transmission lash to a minimum and be virtually maintenance free.

I rode it over 4 days in all sorts of traffic and road conditions. A complete head turner, I lost count on the number of time people asked me questions such as ‘how much average does it give” “What does it cost” “is it comfortable to ride”… Selfies were clicked galore, with people posing around the bike every time I parked.

The XDiavel is the kind of Cruiser you want to ride all day, albeit on open highways with no traffic. Like I said at the beginning of my article if you fancy yourself as Harvey Specter and wanna ride every day this is the bike for you…

The XDiavel is priced at Rs 15.87 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) and the XDiavelS starts at Rs 18.47 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).

If riding fast and furious in style is your thing then look no further. The XDiavel is just the motorcycle for you…

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