2018 Geneva - Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe makes its debut

It was exactly a year back, at the same event to be specific, the Mercedes-AMG GT Concept was unveiled. At the 2018 Geneva Motor Show that's ending this Sunday, the car returned, this time in production form, as the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe. Developed completely by the team at Affalterbach who make fast cars go faster, this 4-Door Coupe is being pitched as a more roomy and practical sibling to the manic Mercedes-AMG GT. In other words, this is Mercedes' challenger to the Porsche Panamera.

Mercedes-Benz has always been smart enough to identify and fill non-existent niches in the market and the AMG GT 4-Door Coupe is one such effort. In an ideal scenario, there is no reason for the GT 4-Door to exist with the CLS taking up the role of a quasi-coupe in the lineup. But then, we aren't living in an ideal world and the demand for faster, more expensive cars shows no signs of slowing down. The AMG GT 4-Door Coupe, as we understand, would sit above the CLS with the most-affordable version expected to retail at prices higher than the most-expensive CLS.

Up front, the aggressive Pan Americana grille with bold vertical slats takes center stage. Regardless of the variant or trim level, the car gets a slick aero package that includes an air panel in the front bumper and a retractable spoiler at the rear. While the CLS stays true to the original CLS that pioneered the segment, the AMG GT 4-Door Coupe gets a swoopy greenhouse that's inspired by the AMG GT halo coupe. Having said that, the silhouette also bears more than a passing resemblance to the Porsche Panamera, likely to be the car's arch rival when it goes on sale.

While it looks similar, the AMG GT 4-Door Coupe does not share its underpinnings with the trans-axle setup of the 2-Door GT. Instead, it shares the midsize rear wheel drive platform that underpins the E-Class, the CLS and their many variations. Under that classic long hood lies two power monsters. The range-toppers get a 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8 that churns out 630 horsepower in the GT 63 S and 577 horsepower in the GT 63 while the entry-level GT 53 gets the familiar 3.0-liter inline six making 429 horsepower. All three engines are mated to an AMG Speedshift 9-speed automatic transmission that transmits power to all four wheels with AMG's 4Matic All Wheel Drive system. There's more, the GT 63 variants can be had with a Drift Mode as well. 

Depending on the variant, the AMG GT 4-Door Coupe sprints from 0 to 100 km/h anywhere between 3.1 to 4.4 seconds with top speeds ranging between 280 to 314 km/h. 

The interiors share a lot more with the E-Class and the CLS, at least in the way it looks. That's no bad thing as the E-Class pioneered an interior design that's classy, plush and desirable. Be it the illuminated air-conditioner vents that look like mini turbines or the dual 12.3-inch screens housing the instrument cluster and the infotainment system or the AMG Performance Steering Wheel featuring Touch Control pads, the cabin is a work of art that leaves no room to complain. Top notch tech and safety are a given, given the expected prices the AMG GT 4-Door Coupe would retail in. 

Prices have not been announced yet but expect the AMG GT 4-Door Coupes to sit atop the line up when it goes on sale early 2019. Those with deep pockets and a family to tow on cross-continental tours ought to take notice!


2018 Geneva - BMW unveils the smashing Concept M8 Gran Coupe

Ever since BMW treated us with the gorgeous 8-Series Concept at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Italy last year, affluent car aficionados worldwide are waiting with bated breath for its launch. Not wanting to let the interest in its upcoming flagship model range wane, the German luxury car-maker sprang a surprise yet again at the ongoing 2018 Geneva Motor Show. 

On display is the menacing Concept M8 Gran Coupe, wearing a stellar-looking dark green paint job! Yes, it’s a concept but there are reasons to be excited about. Hidden under this concept's mask is the bigger, hotter, faster and more desirable 'M' version of BMW's flagship, the 8-Series.

Look past the lovely colour and its clear the M8 Gran Coupe is amongst the best-looking 4-door coupes ever made. Up front, the racy headlights, the contoured hood and the aggressive bumper imparts the M8 Gran Coupe with a menacing stance that looks terrific. The trademark kidney grille gets gold accents, reminding us of classic Alpina models of the past. The racy profile is characterized by the long hood and the falling roofline that does no justice to the two doors at the rear. Headroom is likely to be in severe short supply for those seated there but who cares when we have a car that looks as smashing as this? BMW's surfacing credentials come to the fore at the C-pillar where the roofline and the shoulder line blend beautifully into the boot lid before rising up to serve as a spoiler. Combine that with the slim, darkened taillights and the quad exhausts that cut through the diffuser, you're looking at a dramatic derriere.

Neither the interiors nor the powertrain specifications have been released. If the earlier 8-Series Concept is any indication, the interiors are likely to be several notches better than anything BMW has offered thus far, befitting the car's stature as the brand's flagship. The M5's explosive 4.4-liter V8 with twin turbos is a likely candidate to power the M8 Gran Coupe, albeit in a more powerful state of tune. 

Offering striking looks, unparalleled luxury and dynamic excellence, the M8 Gran Coupe - from BMW's own words - embodies a new facet of luxury for the brand. It ain't coming cheap though. So, start saving right away!


2018 Geneva - Tata EVision Concept offers a sneak peek at the brand's electric future

Tata is on quite a roll! Not long after stealing the show at the Auto Expo in New Delhi last month, the Pune-based car-maker commemorated its twentieth successive appearance at the Geneva International Motor Show with yet another show-stopper, albeit to a limited audience. Dubbed the 'EVision', this sleek and stylish preview of a potential high-end electric sedan from Tata is yet another recipient of the brand's IMPACT 2.0 design philosophy that gave us the memorable duo of H5X and 45X.

Tata's new 'Omega Architecture', on which the H5X Concept was based on, also underpins the EVision Concept. While the former is expected to have Fiat's MultiJet 2.0 diesel engine under the hood when it gets the nod for series production, the EVision Concept has been designed to accommodate an electric drivetrain. This just goes to show the flexibility and scalability of the new platform that's been derived from Land Rover's tried-and-tested P550 platform. 

In terms of appearance, the EVision Concept has clear links to the 45X Concept. The fascia is dominated by a prominent Humanity Line that's finished in brushed aluminium and underlines the slim LED headlights and the fancy grille that houses interesting design flourishes. The sculpted bumper features L-shaped detailing while the chin gets a thick dose of brushed aluminium garnishing. The same effect has been put to good use on both sides as well as the rear bumper. As is the norm these days, Tata has opted for a fastback shape at the rear instead of the classic three box sedan profile. The designers deserve a pat on the back for the way in which the C-pillars and 'slingshot' character lines merge on to the boot lid.

Like most concepts we get to see these days, Tata's designers have been given a free hand when it comes to imagining the interiors of the car. And they have done a pretty good job at it although most of the stand-out elements like the hidden digital interfaces are unlikely to make it to production anytime soon. For what it's worth, the beige and light grey cabin with thick wooden appliques look upmarket.  

While the chances of the EVision Concept making it to production are less, the fact that design elements from this would trickle their way to future Tata models is something to look forward to. 

Tata's association with Geneva, that began in 1998 with the Indica, has been going strong with each passing year. A slew of interesting concepts like the Aria (a Coupe, not the crossover that we know), Indica Sport, Nano Europa, Prima, Pixel, Megapixel, Hexa and RaceMo have made their journeys to Geneva in the past although most of them have not made it to production. But, with the form they are in right now, betting against Tata Motors is not a good idea.


Mahindra's upcoming MPV (Toyota Innova rival) spotted testing in Chennai

Mahindra’s upcoming Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV), yet another aspiring home-grown rival to the legendary Toyota Innova, is no longer a new sight on Indian roads. Multiple automotive publications including Anything-On-Wheels have caught the vehicle testing on numerous occasions before. Here it is, spotted testing again, in Chennai, home to Mahindra’s R&D Center.

Codenamed U321 internally, the upcoming MPV is shaping up into what could potentially be Innova’s closest challenger till date. Up front, Mahindra’s trademark toothy grille is seen, this time smaller and less intimidating. Wraparound headlights with inbuilt projectors, triangular fog lamps and an unfinished bumper with a big air dam are visible amidst the camouflage. While the rest of the car is fully hidden, a set of aggressively-styled alloy wheels and LED taillight clusters with Scorpio-like vertical reflectors extending into the rear windscreen can still be seen. Clearly, Mahindra's designers have exercised restraint this time around. Let's just hope they stay this way until the product is fully revealed. 

Our earlier spy shots of this upcoming MPV alongside an Innova and an Innova Crysta revealed that Mahindra’s challenger compares favourably with its arch-rival from Japan in terms of size. That augurs well for big families and fleet operators for whom a comfortable third row would be a necessity.

Though Mahindra is still tight-lipped on the specifications, the 2.0-liter ‘mHawk’ diesel engine that currently powers the XUV5OO and the Scorpio is likely to be this MPV’s source of power. The entry-level variants, targeted primarily at the commercial segment, might end up having the 'mHawk 100' engine from the TUV3OO to save on costs and increase fuel efficiency.

While many expected Mahindra to unveil this MPV at the 2018 Auto Expo, the Nashik-based disappointed by not uttering a word on its future models. The wait for a credible Innova rival is all set to continue then!


2018 Auto Expo - Kia announces its arrival with the SP Concept

Tata Motors might have stolen the limelight at the 2018 Auto Expo in New Delhi but one car-maker that has gone there all guns blazing is Kia. With an army of 15 models from its global portfolio and the entire top brass in tow, the South Korean car-maker couldn’t have reaffirmed its commitment to India more.

In the midst of all this, Kia took the wraps off the SP Concept, previewing a Creta-sized crossover that’s expected to be the brand’s first offering for the Indian market. 

On the days leading to the expo, teasers released by Kia Motor’s social media channels met with a good response despite the fact that they didn’t reveal much about the concept. Now that the covers are completely off, the initial positive feedback has turned into an overwhelmingly favourable reception.

And why not? The SP Concept looks impressive and production-ready. Knowing Kia, the production model is not likely to look much different either. 

Up front, Kia's trademark 'Tiger Nose' grille is now bigger, a bit toned down and extends right up to the fancy LED positioning lights. A mix of gloss black elements and silver inserts spruce up the fascia as does the sculpted bumper with vertical Daytime Running Lights. Move over to the sides and the vehicle impresses with a prominent shoulder line, contrasting roof, exaggerated wheels and interesting detailing around the C-pillar and the door cladding. The smart rear houses LED taillights with a silver insert running across the width of the car connecting them. 

Neither the interiors nor the specifications of the SP Concept were released but its safe to assume the 1.6-liter petrol and diesel engines from the Creta would be the power of choice for Kia India's first crossover. 

Based on the Creta, the SP Concept is likely to transform into a production model that, according to Kia, will go on sale in the second half of 2019. When it hits the market, expect the SP-based crossover to lock horns with Hyundai's own Creta apart from similarly-priced rivals like the Maruti-Suzuki S-Cross and Renault's Duster and Captur twins.

From the little Picanto to the smashing Stinger GT, the entire lineup of Kia cars were on display as were the brand's SUVs and crossovers - Stonic, Sportage, Sorento and Mohave.

Globally, Kia has been a force to reckon with in recent years with their models known for eye-catchy styling, feature-loaded interiors, industry-leading 7-year warranty and top reliability ratings. Combine all of that with the aggression and commitment the Koreans are known for, Kia might just be the next big thing in the Indian automotive industry!