CITY BEATS WITH THE DISCOVERY SPORT

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review : Jaguar XF Petrol

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

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

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

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

#MONSOONTRAILS – LAND ROVER DISCOVERY SPORT

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

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

HOW IS IT INSIDE?

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

HOW DOES IT DRIVE?

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

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

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

THE VERDICT

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

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

#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.

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.

AUDI Q7 – 5 STAR LUXURY!

The advent of summer bought the largest and most luxurious SUV in the Audi India line-up to my doorstep. Having recently driven the smaller Q3, I was looking forward to driving an SUV which is due for a generation overhaul this year. This second generation Q7 is based on the Volkswagen MLB 2 Platform which made it lighter than its outgoing predecessor.

The moment you set your eyes on the Q7 it screams luxury and class all the way. The chiselled sleek shape works well, now you have a SUV that is aerodynamic. How SUV’s have come to be designed in the last few years! The grille at the front is a one-piece hexagonal design, with LED Matrix headlights.C INT 1.jpgWalk around the car and you notice how sharp it looks with its prominent wheel arches with a smooth shoulder line running across. Quattro has been embossed on the inlay strips at the bottom of the door to complete the look. The car drives on 19 inch 5-spoke wheels.

Step inside and you are greeted with a beautifully designed cabin. The front seats are comfortable, plush to seat on and offer very good under thigh support.  The driver’s seat is completely electric adjustable. The tall stance of the Q7 offers a great view to the front seat passengers while driving.C INT 3.jpgThe dashboard carries a walnut brown finish which is highlighted in brush metal. Classy and sophisticated are the words that come to mind when describing the layout.

There are hardly any buttons present on the dashboard. Most of the infotainment operations are managed by a bunch of toggles, a circular dial and touch-pad. The gear knob is as thick as they come. The level of comfort for the 2nd row of passengers with very good leg and shoulder room. The individual seat in this row can slide forward to provide more room to passengers in the 3rd row.

The 3rd row is okay for a passenger who’s short and small in build. Taller passengers wouldn’t be comfortable with the space on offer.The storage space in the boot goes up to 1,995 litres when the second row is dropped down. That more than enough space to carry luggage for a family trip cross country.C INT 2.jpgThe spare wheel is a space saver which is vertically strapped in the boot. This makes most of the 3rd row space unusable, reduces storage space in the boot.

As is the norm with Audi cars the Q7 comes with a slew of features. Large panoramic sunroof; auto ORVM (Outer Rear View Mirror) with dimming, folding and heating system with memory, electrically adjustable front seats, a 4-zone climate control, 7-inch touch-screen that slides out of the dashboard, matrix headlamps with intelligent covering lights, air-suspension, 8 airbags and half a dozen driving modes make up the package the Audi Q7 offers.C INT 4.jpgThe sound system comes with Bose 3D surround music system, rear parking camera, 360-degree view camera, park assist technology. The steering wheel is equipped with multi functions buttons to help the driver navigate around the infotainment system and the Audi virtual cockpit which gives out information about the car, engine, distance travelled, fuel range etc.

Under the hood is a 3.0 litre V6 diesel engine that offers 249PS and 600 NM of torque. The 8-speed automatic gearbox torque converter sends power to all four wheels using Audi’s quattro 4×4 system.C 5.jpgThe moment you press the engine start button and get moving the power this engine offers is obvious. The Q7 can get to 100kmph in under 8 seconds which is terrific considering its size. Its moves sharply, is easy to drive in city traffic. You don’t feel the bulk and size which is testimony to how well Audi has designed this SUV. There are various driving modes on offer such as Comfort, Dynamic, Off-road, All road for different driving conditions.

The V6 engine is refined and very smooth. For the city the mode one would prefer is the comfort mode, where the car moves around in a relaxed and calm fashion to give you a plush driving experience.

The moment you get on the highway and switch to Dynamic mode, the power delivery, steering feedback and suspension setup goes through a transformation. The gearbox as one would expect in an Audi is smooth, upshifts and downshifts are seamless. For the enthusiast who wants to drive in the manual mode you get paddle shifters which are great fun on empty stretches of highway.C7.jpgThe Q7 comes with Hill Decent Control and Hill Start Assist which helps when going down slopes and on an incline. The NVH levels in the car are very good. No noise from outside filters in. The air suspension in the SUV offers brilliant drive quality, adapts quickly to changes in direction.

If 5-star style driving luxury is what you hanker, look no further. The Q7 is waiting for you.C 6.jpgThe Q7 prices start at Rs 73 lakhs ex showroom Mumbai for the 40 TFSI Quattro Premium Plus Petrol and Rs 77 lakhs ex showroom Mumbai for the 45 TDI Quattro Premium Plus Diesel.

BMW X1-SPORTY DELIGHT

COLLAGE 1.jpgI recently drove one of my favourite compact luxury SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle) the BMW X1 M Sport. This is a car that is just the right size for city as well as highway driving. This variant was launched last year as an addition to the second-generation BMW X1.

BMW cars in the last decade have pushed the boundaries of design and styling leading to lots of conversation amongst car enthusiasts. Some have liked it, some hate it. So how does the X1 score in that department. Let’s find out.COLLAGE 2.jpgCOLLAGE 3.jpgThe X1 is good looking, well proportioned, elegant enough without being ostentatious. It rides on Y-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels with 225/50 R18 tires that fill out the wheel arches perfectly. The window sills are blacked out with LED headlights tail lamp. The aluminium kidney grille at the front, silver side trim is all in matte finish with well sculpted front and rear bumpers.

BMW cars are known for their luxury. The X1 follows that same line. Step inside and you are greeted with black interiors. The leather seats and wood panelling are of the highest quality, that one has come to expect from BMW. The front seats are fully electric adjustable, the rear seats are split 40:20:40, ambient lighting for exterior door handles and foot well, leather steering wheel with paddle shifters and integrated controls for various functions. The seats are comfortable and very plush. Good under thigh support with shoulder room is available in both the rows. The legroom in the rear seats is adequate. There is a heads up display for the driver, where using the integrated functions on the steering, the driver can control the features of the infotainment system.COLLAGE 4.jpgThe BMW X1 xDrive 20dM is powered by a 1,995 cc, four-cylinder, common-rail turbo-diesel that produces 190 hp at 4,000 rpm and 400 Nm of torque at 1,750-2,500 rpm. The moment you start moving the refinement of the engine is obvious. The NVH levels are very low. Step on the accelerator and you immediately get a sense of the power that’s available. The X1 comes with turbocharging delivering strong mid-range power.

I drove the X1 over 400kms during this review.  Most of my driving was on national and state highways. Due to road repair work which is constantly happening in our country, one also experienced off-roading in the X1. The X1 comes with 3 driving modes. Comfort, Eco and Sport. The mode one would drive in the cities would be a combination of Eco/ Comfort depending on the kind of traffic one encounters. There is enough power to overtake easily while keeping the engine relaxed for an enjoyable city ride. Sport mode only comes into play on highways where traffic is not an issue. The whole character of the car changes, acceleration is very brisk, the suspension setup is more race inspired, everything is the car now is tuned to deliver performance.

The 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission works efficiently. Upshifts and downshifts are very swift and smooth. Paddle shifters give you the option of shifting gears manually. The only time I used that option was on empty highways. Getting to triple digit speeds is effortless. The X1 feels very planted at high speeds. Shifting lanes or going into corners hard the X1 handles it all with ease. On good roads and highways, the ride quality the X1 offers is very good.  But the moment you get onto a bad stretch of road, the ride quality for people in the rear seats isn’t a very pleasant experience. While these tyres work superbly on good roads, on potholed roads that becomes a challenging exercise.

The X1 comes with a host of safety features. Six airbags, ABS with Brake Assist, Cornering Brake Control (CBC), stability control (DSC) and traction control. The stability control can be de-activated by the driver. The moment the driver does that, an electronic locking function system for the front axle differential is activated. This kicks in during slippery road surfaces preventing wheelspin by diverting power to the other wheel.COLLAGE 5.jpgThe infotainment system comes with Bluetooth connectivity with Apple Car-play, 7 speaker hi-fi,16.6 cm colour display with BMW’s iDrive system. The iDrive system gives you notifications for low tyre pressure, issues with the engine, when the next service is due etc.

A good looking compact SAV that ticks most of the right boxes, is fun to drive and comes with the BMW badge of performance.COLLAGE LAST.jpgThe BMW X1 prices start at Rs. 35.20 Lakh ex showroom Mumbai for the sDrive20d Expedition. Prices for the M Sport sDrive 20d start at Rs 42.40 Lakh ex-showroom Mumbai.

BMW 630iGT- PERFORMANCE MEETS LUXURY

COLLAGE 1Luxury as a segment is becoming increasingly popular in India. With the changing economy and purchasing power, brands are offering world class products at competitive prices.

The BMW 630iGT is exactly that kind of product. The 6 series Gran Turismo (GT) was launched to fill a gap that existed between the mid-size and limousine luxury sedan categories. Since it’s locally assembled here, the pricing is competitive. The 3,070mm wheelbase that’s on offer is the same as the standard wheelbase 7 series sold in Europe. Make no mistake. This is a big car.

The roof flows to the raised rear section, which is adorned by slim tail-lamps that wrap around the sides giving the car a sleek look. The front grille is like what one gets in the 5 series.COLLAGE LAST.jpgCOLLAGE 3.jpgThe inside of the car is spacious thanks to the large passenger compartment. The leather seats come with a faux-leather dashboard, dark wood brushed aluminium and contrast stitching. The car comes equipped with iDrive, touchscreen and gesture control. Spinning your fingers in a circular motion lets you turn the stereo volume up or down. Pointing lets you accept an incoming phone call while a dismissive swipe action rejects it. Pointing two fingers at the screen brings up whatever function you’ve specifically programmed for it, such as changing the radio station or returning to the main menu.COLLAGE 6.jpgCOLLAGE 7.jpgThe BMW iDrive comes with Apple CarPlay, Adaptative LED headlamps, digital instrument cluster which changes according to the different driving modes, panoramic sunroof,4 zone climate control and adaptive air suspension are the features on offer. With the 630iGT Sportline trim you get the fancy ‘display key’ fob with a touchscreen which gives you info about the car such as petrol range, lets you cool the car before getting in.

The front seats are sporty in design which offer memory function, the option to tighten the side bolsters. Frontal visibility is good, thanks to a large front windscreen. Driving the 630iGT in traffic is quite easy despite its size, courtesy the notchback design.COLLAGE 5.jpgThe back seats have electric rear window blinds, rear entertainment screens and a reclining rear backrest. These are the seats that matter the most, as this is where most buyers of this car will spend majority of their time.
Courtesy the 3,070mm wheelbase, one gets lots of rear legroom. Headroom is very good despite a roof that appears to slope down quite sharply. Another benefit of a notchback body style. The seats are extremely comfortable which offer soft pillows on top of the headrest. The rear seats can be reclined by 9 degrees which offer an extra degree of comfort.COLLAGE 4.jpgHaving recently driven the X5M, I had a fair idea of what to expect in terms of driving capabilities. BMW cars are known worldwide for their performance and their reputation of being a “driver’s car”. The 630iGT has a 2.0 litre, four-cylinder engine with 258hp and 400 NM of torque. There are 3 driving modes eco pro, comfort and sport. Eco Pro is ideal when one is driving in the city as the acceleration becomes far more docile, which is what you need in bumper to bumper traffic.  Comfort mode gives you more power which makes it ideal when driving is a combination of city and highway driving. On weekend drives out of town, Sports mode is the one to go with. The responsiveness is very good, handling is sharper. The digital display changes with each mode adding a fun touch to proceedings. The 8-speed automatic is quick, smooth and shifts up and down are extremely refined.

What really impressed me was the Air suspension the 630iGt comes with. It’s weighted, sharp and ride quality is extremely plush. Bumps and bad roads are handled with such ease that it’s hard to believe that one is driving a notchback and not a SUV. Comfort is the primary objective here and the 630iGT excels in that department.

The 630iGT is just the car for you, if luxury, comfort and performance along with a fun to drive quotient is what you want.COLLAGE 2.jpgThe prices start at ₹63.90 Lakhs for the Petrol 630iGT luxury line, ₹68.90 lakhs for the Diesel 630dGT luxury line and ₹73.70 Lakhs for the Diesel 630d M Sport. All prices are ex-showroom Mumbai.