2017 Frankfurt - Mercedes-AMG brings F1 technology to the roads with the Project ONE

If you have been following Formula One, you don't have to be told who the reigning constructor's world champions are. For those who don't, know that Team Mercedes-AMG has been ruling the roost of what's being called the 'Turbo V6' era, helping Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg drive away to their world championship victories. With such levels of dominance at the top tier of motor racing, it was just a question of when and not if Mercedes-Benz would be coming up with a hyper car of their own. 

That question was answered when the curtains went up for the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show when Lewis Hamilton drove in the Mercedes-AMG Project ONE on stage!

First up, let's get our heads around the stagerring F1-derived technology associated with this automobile. 

Mounted between the front and rear wheels is a 1.6-liter turbocharged V6 hybrid engine, the very same unit that powers the team's Formula 1 race cars. Spinning at 11,000 rpm with a claimed 40% thermal efficiency, the tiny unit produces an incredible 1,000 horsepower. When all those horses are unleashed, the Mercedes-AMG Project ONE can rocket from 0 to 200 km/h in just six seconds. That's faster than the Bugatti Chiron, widely regarded as the world's fastest production car! The car can reach speeds beyond 350 km/h, says Mercedes-Benz.

Paired with the internal combustion engine are a total of four electric motors, one integrated into the turbocharger and another directly installed on the engine with a link to the crankcase. The two remaining 120 kW motors, where rotor revolutions can go up to a staggering 50,000 rpm, drive the front wheels. Its no wonder then that Mercedes-AMG wants these cars to come back to the factory after 31,000 miles for an engine overhaul.  

The battery cells are stacked on the floor right behind the front axle while their arrangement and the cooling system are the same as the ones used in Formula 1 race cars. The EQ Power+ drive system operates at 800 volts instead of the usual 400 volts. With that, the Mercedes-AMG Project ONE can be your zero emission vehicle with a pure electric driving range of 25 km!

The light-weight, high-strength carbon-fibre monocoque body, the multi-link suspension with innovative pushrod design, the 10-spoke forged aluminium wheels with carbon-fibre semi-cover, the weight-optimized ceramic compound braking system and the 8-speed manual transmission with hydraulic actuation and shift paddles are all exclusively developed by Mercedes-AMG for the Project ONE. 

With such performance and tech credentials, who cares how the car looks? Clearly, its a case of function over form as a slew of air inlets, wings, splitters and fins illustrate the wind-cheating capabilities of this hyper car. That said, the car does seem to evoke memories of a certain McLaren F1, a legend in its own right.

Now that we know the Mercedes-AMG Project ONE is stuff our wet dreams are made of, there are two choices ahead of us. Take the next flight to Frankfurt and catch a glimpse before the curtains come down on the 2017 edition of the Motor Show or rob a bank or two and have $2.5 million or thereabouts ready. Which of these are you upto?


Tata Nexon launched in India from ₹5.85 Lakhs

Thanks to the Tiago, Hexa and Tigor, Tata Motors is on a growth trajectory now after struggling for years with falling sales and dwindling market share. That trajectory is all set to receive a huge fillip with the launch of the Nexon, the brand's first compact crossover, today.

Available in four variants – XE, XM, XT and XZ+, the Nexon is priced between 5.85 Lakhs and 8.45 Lakhs for the petrol variants and 6.85 Lakhs and 9.30 Lakhs for the diesel variants. The top-end XZ+ variant also gets the option of a dual tone exterior paint job for a 15,000 premium over the regular variants. 

Powering the Nexon are a pair of engines developed in-house by Tata Motors. Both the 1.2-liter REVOTRON petrol and the 1.5-liter REVOTORQ diesel mills are turbocharged and generate class-leading 108 horsepower. While the 3-cylinder petrol engine generates 170 Nm of maximum torque, the 4-cylinder diesel generates 260 Nm of torque, the best figures in segment. A 6-speed manual transmission is paired to these engines at launch but we hear an Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) is on the cards and would be launched a few months down the line.

First shown in concept form at the 2014 Auto Expo in New Delhi, the Nexon wooed show-goers with its funky and futuristic design. Whilst there were doubts how much of those striking design elements would make it to production, Tata returned to the 2016 edition of the Auto Expo with the production version that looked barely different to the concept. Since then, the vehicle has taken its own sweet time to hit the market but, interestingly, the hype around the Nexon remained unabated.

Pitching against the trend-setting Ford EcoSport and the big-selling Maruti-Suzuki Vitara Brezza, the Nexon had to make an impact at first glance. Boy, does it do that with aplomb! Up front, Tata's familiar smiling grille with the 'Humanity Line' establishes the family connection. Merging seamlessly with the grille on either sides are stretched-back projector headlights. Fog lamps are placed on separate trapezoidal housings in the bumper. In profile, the flared wheel arches, the dual-tone paint job with the distinct, swoosh-shaped 'Ivory White' ceramic element underlining the windows and the steeply-rising beltline combine together to create a strong visual impression. The rear, with the tall bumper, high-set signature LED taillights and the thick ceramic element, is a bit too funky and is likely to polarize opinions. 

That said, the Nexon is a sure shot head-turner! Look no further if attracting stares is what you want.

All their recent launches have had much-improved interiors but, with the Nexon, Tata has taken an even bigger step forward. This is easily the best interiors yet in a Tata vehicle. We fancied our chances sitting inside one and the Nexon impressed with a spacious, well-designed and nicely put-together cabin. The familiar three-spoke steering wheel, the dashboard-mounted floating touchscreen and the flowing center console with a chunky 'Drive Mode Selector' knob are the visual highlights in the three-tone cabin that gets a liberal dose of classy 'brushed metal' inserts. Cleverly-designed storage spaces abound including an umbrella holder for each of the front doors, a feature hitherto found in luxury cars. 

Standard across the Nexon range are dual airbags, Antilock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Corner Stability Control, ISOFIX mounts, Multi Drive modes with Eco, City and Sport, a comprehensive Driver Information System, front power windows and umbrella holder in the front doors. 

The list expands gradually as we move up the range. 

The top-end XZ+, as one would expect, is loaded to the hilt with features including Smart Key with Push Button Start, height-adjustable front seats, Park Assist with camera, front fog lamps with cornering function, Voice Alerts, 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system from Harman with 8 speakers tuned for surround sound, advanced connectivity options with Android Auto and Voice Commands, 16-inch machine-cut alloy wheels, Feline Eye-shaped Daytime Running Lamps (DRL), climate control, fast USB charger, remote central locking, chilled glove box and power-adjustable and power-folding mirrors.

The Nexon boasts a segment-best 209 mm ground clearance and 350 liters of boot space. With the rear seat folded, it expands to a whopping 690 liters. 

Overall, a capable product like the Nexon at prices that currently undercuts its chief competitors, the EcoSport and Vitara Brezza, should mean brisk business for Tata Motors. Yes, Tata’s image amongst private car buyers isn’t all that great but the 7,000 odd Tiagos sold last month show that the perception is changing. Come on, Tata, you are on for a biggie with the Nexon!


Mercedes-Benz rolls out 50,000th Citaro city bus

Ever since its debut in 1997, the Citaro range of city buses from Mercedes-Benz have revolutionized public transportation in major cities across the world. The German manufacturer recently celebrated the roll-out of 50,000th Citaro, making it one of the largest-selling city buses in the world. The landmark bus is a Citaro-based CapaCity, a 20-metre long four-axle bus finished in red and white, that's headed for service in Vienna. The Austrian capital has been a big market for the Citaro range of buses.

When the first-generation Citaro was launched, it made quite an impression with sleek exteriors and comfortable interiors with cantilever seats and curved grab-rails. Over the years, the Citaro underwent numerous changes to remain relevant to the changing tastes and requirements across cities.

A crucial element that plays to Citaro’s advantage is its wide model range designed to suit multiple needs and requirements. The current-generation, for instance, includes the rigid Citaro, the articulated Citaro G, the compact Citaro K, the low-entry Citaro LE, the rural-service Citaro Ü/GÜ and the Citaro-based CapaCity and CapaCtiy L large-capacity articulated buses. In addition, there have been several customized versions and special purpose vehicles based on the Citaro, highlighting its flexibility. 

Be it the ahead-of-norms emission standards or the large-scale trials with fuel-cell and hybrid technology, the Citaro has always been at the forefront when it comes to power-train tech too. Add to that state-of-the-art safety equipment like all-round disc brakes, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), front-end crash element, Articulation Turntable Controller (ATC), bi-xenon and LED headlamps, it’s not hard to understand why the Citaro has been a favourite, be it in Vienna, Frankfurt, Dubai or Singapore!

Whilst celebrating its past, Mercedes-Benz is already prepping the Citaro up for the future. Last year, the brand previewed a self-driving city bus of the future, dubbed ‘Future Bus’, equipped with City Pilot. An all-electric Citaro is due in 2018, aiming to do a Tesla in city buses. All that means just one thing; there are more milestones in store for the Citaro!


2017 Frankfurt - Honda's 'Urban EV Concept' previews a full-electric city car of the future

When was the last time you were excited on seeing a car as small as this? Not in the recent past, I presume, given the fact cars have only been getting bigger and bigger with every new iteration. Bucking the trend at the ongoing 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show is this cute little car from Honda, dubbed the Urban EV Concept.

Based on an all-new platform, the Urban EV Concept, Honda says, previews the design and technology that will appear on a future battery electric production model from the Japanese brand that could debut in Europe as early as 2019.

Have a look at the car and you'll agree its hard not to like it, inside out. 

Externally, the chic retro lines are a throwback to the wonderful compact cars Honda produced in the seventies and eighties. Those were the days when the Civic was as big as today’s Fiat 500! 

Replacing the grille up front is a display panel that connects the circular LED headlights and capable of flashing interactive messages like greetings, advice to road users and charging status updates. Cool, no? A ‘backlit-in-blue’ Honda logo sits right in the middle of the panel, a design element that the brand’s future EVs would sport. The windshield and the side windows appear to wrap themselves around the car. The rear gets a matching display panel like the front, only here the lights are perfect little squares. The wide and low stance, together with the flared wheel arches adds a bit of muscularity to this little city runabout. 

Access to the interiors are through rear-hinged coach doors, like the ones you see in Rolls-Royce. Two bench seats inside have been designed to accommodate four occupants. The minimalist cabin is dominated by a super-wide display screen that possibly presents the entire gamut of information for the driver's disposal. The screens even extend on the doors on either sides where they function as rear-view mirrors by feeding inputs from digital cameras. Notably, the whole cabin is devoid of knobs and buttons. Even the steering wheel, which these days houses a plethora of buttons, is delightfully clean. If this cabin makes it to production, we would be really surprised. 

Advanced technologies on board the car include 'Honda Automated Network Assistant' - a personal concierge that can learn to make recommendations by observing driver's past judgements and 'Honda Power Manager' - a system that can store and release energy back to the grid.

Though Honda did not divulge details on what powers the Urban EV concept, they did announce their 'Electric Vision' strategy that includes the development of a dedicated electric vehicle platform featuring fully-electric technology.

Overall, the Urban EV Concept is small, fashionable, non-polluting and futuristic. This is just what we need in our cities!

The folks at Honda have been caught napping by their rivals in the race for electrification, no doubt, but if the Urban EV Concept is any indication, they are making up big time for the time lost so far. Watch out!


Hyundai launches the all-new Verna in India

Honda City has been ruling the roost in the mid-size segment since the late nineties. While competitors came in every shape and form, none but the Hyundai Verna (in its popular ‘fluidic’ avatar) managed to usurp the Japanese sedan. While the battle for supremacy is back with Japanese protagonists with the fourth-generation City and Maruti-Suzuki’s Ciaz vying for honours, Hyundai is not ready to cede further ground yet.  The all-new Verna, launched in India today, is the slingshot Hyundai hopes will bring it back into the hotly-contested battle.

With introductory prices ranging between INR 8.00 to INR 12.24 Lakhs for the petrol variants and INR 9.20 to INR 12.62 Lakhs for the diesel variants, Hyundai has played it smart by positioning the Verna bang in between the Ciaz and the City. Clearly, this is an attempt at pulling in buyers from both of them. 

At first glance, the new Verna appears no more than a facelift of the outgoing model, albeit a significant one at that. That's not true. Based on the K2 platform that also underpins the Elantra, this is an all-new generation of the car that made its global debut last year.

Incorporating Hyundai's newest corporate design trait - the 'cascading' grille, Verna's fascia looks more grown up and mature. On either sides are stretched headlamps with inbuilt projectors and LED Daytime Running Lights. The projector fog lamps, a segment first, are placed in separate housings on the bumper. The grille surround, the horizontal slats and the fog lamp surrounds are all dipped in chrome to satiate the never-ending craze for the shiny metal. In profile, the Verna retains the tipped-forward stance as before but the multiple cuts and creases are gone, now replaced by a prominent shoulder line. At the rear, Elantra-esque split taillights with LED elements look brilliant and gives the Verna a sort of 'mini Elantra' demeanor. 

As we have seen with newer Hyundai cars, the interiors aren’t what one would term aesthetically pleasing. Having said that, the build quality, fit and finish appear top notch as usual. The dual tone dashboard features a wing-shaped center console that houses a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system in the top variants. Interestingly, the seats are given the dual tone treatment as well with beige and black applied in equal measure. The new Verna is longer and wider than its predecessor, thereby liberating more headroom and legroom for the occupants. Despite that, the Hyundai is no match for the humongous space on offer in the rear seats of the Honda and Suzuki-badged rivals.

As is the norm these days, the new Verna is loaded to the hilt with features. Standard features across the lineup include dual airbags, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), central locking, ISOFIX mounts, power windows, cooled glove-box, tilt steering and rear center armrest with cup holders. The kit in the top-end SX(O) variant include electric sunroof, side and curtain airbags, ventilated seats, projector headlamps, cornering lamps, leather upholstery, smart hands-free trunk, push button start/stop, Auto Link and rear curtain, a few of which are firsts for the mid-size segment.

Powertrain options in the new Verna are now restricted to the 1.6-liter engines. While the 'Gamma' petrol engine churns out 121 horsepower and 151 Nm of torque, the 'U2' CRDi mill generates 126 horsepower and 260 Nm of torque. Mated to these engines are a 6-speed manual gearbox carried over from the outgoing Verna or a new 6-speed automatic transmission shared with the Creta and the Elantra. The 1.4-liter engines and the dated 4-speed automatic box have been shown the door.

With the new Verna, Hyundai has carefully retained the old Verna's strengths while simultaneously rectifying the car's weaknesses. But, is that enough to pull in customers from the City and the Ciaz that are running away in the sales charts? For sure, an interesting battle is brewing up and we will have to wait and watch for the results.


Stretched variant of Mahindra TUV3OO spotted testing near Chennai

Head out of Chennai on a working day and the chances of spotting an upcoming Mahindra vehicle on test are quite high. Last week, we caught the KUV1OO facelift and the all-new Innova-rivaling MPV while they were being tested in the outskirts of the city, not far from Mahindra's Research Valley. This time around, its the extended variant of the TUV3OO that was spotted testing in the automotive hub of Oragadam.

Rumored to be christened the TUV5OO, this is essentially the TUV3OO that's stretched from the rear to accommodate a full-fledged third row of seats. The vehicle being tested had a front-facing third row in which the head restraints were conspicuous by their absence. With that in place, the TUV5OO (or whatever Mahindra decides to call it) would be a proper 8-seater like the Xylo. Let's not forget the TUV3OO itself has a third row, albeit with side-facing jump seats that provide limited space, comfort and functionality. 

Though it was completely camouflaged, that the test vehicle was based on the TUV3OO was quite obvious. The bold, upright fascia with the tall hood and the 5-slat grille is carried over from the smaller sibling. The shape of the headlights are the same too though the test mule appears to be wearing a pair of LED Daytime Running Lights that are not currently available in the TUV3OO. The profile remains unchanged up until the B-pillar after which the added length makes its presence felt. The additional few centimeters seem to have all been added after the rear wheels which means the wheelbase could be the same as the smaller TUV3OO. That explains why the test vehicle's rear end looks a bit bulky with unusually long rear overhangs. The D-pillar's rake angle is slightly more than the TUV3OO but the rest of the derriere appears to be carried over as well. In one of these spy shots, you can clearly see the glowing taillights that look very similar to the ones in the TUV3OO. 

The interiors, in all likelihood, would be the same as the TUV3OO. That isn't a bad thing at all, given the TUV3OO's interior fit, finish and aesthetics are amongst the better ones from Mahindra. A few features might be added to the kit to justify the increased price tag that this bigger sibling is likely to carry.

Extensive test runs indicate something new is brewing under the hood of this extended TUV3OO. Is it a more powerful tune of the TUV3OO's mHawk 100 3-cylinder mill? Or is Mahindra planning to shoehorn the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine from the same mHawk family that currently does duty in the Scorpio? The latter would be a good fit considering this vehicle is likely to be used for lugging seven people and their luggage occasionally, if not often. Whatever it is, we will never know until the specifications are released by the folks at Mahindra.

When this stretched TUV3OO goes on sale, expect Mahindra to slot it above the standard sub-4 meter TUV3OO and below the Scorpio in its lineup. For reference, the former starts at 7.58 Lakhs while the Scorpio's base variant retails at 9.58 Lakhs, both ex-showroom Delhi. 

While it does seem now as if Mahindra is crowding its lineup with too many models at similar prices, it would make sense in the end if the overall sales go up. And that's probably what Mahindra would be hoping for.


Ford EcoSport facelift seen testing in Chennai

Compact crossovers might be a rage in India these days but it was Ford that kick-started the segment, way back in 2013, with the EcoSport. Be it the days leading up to its unveiling at the 2012 Auto Expo in New Delhi to months after its launch, the EcoSport has been hugely popular. In fact, four years down the line, the EcoSport is still the best-selling model in Ford India's lineup despite the presence of newer and more affordable cars in the lineup.

Ford has been constantly updating the EcoSport with mild tweaks now and then to keep it relevant and up to date. But, with Maruti-Suzuki making merry at the top of the sales charts with the Vitara Brezza and Tata threatening to crash-land into the segment with the Nexon, its high time the EcoSport gets a full-fledged facelift. That’s exactly what Ford has in store.

We caught up with a group of face-lifted EcoSports sans camouflage on a test run not far off Ford’s manufacturing facility on the outskirts of Chennai.

As evident from the pictures, the EcoSport’s fascia is all set for a significant makeover. Gone is the funky 'love-it or hate-it' split grille that characterized the current EcoSport. In its place is a more conventional grille that’s in line with global Ford SUVs like the Kuga. The thick chrome-lined grille is flanked on either sides by bigger headlights that now houses inbuilt projectors and Daytime Running Lights. The fog lamps have also grown in size while the bumper has been restyled to give an appearance of a skid plate. The profile is unchanged except for the newly-designed alloy wheels (Titanium) and wheel caps (Trend and lower variants). The rear gets a blink-and-you-miss change in the form of addition of variant badges in the mid-spec Trend variant. Let's not forget the current EcoSport has variant badges only for the top-spec Titanium trim level. Don't miss the subtle change in the spare wheel cover's design too!

The interiors are getting a substantial makeover as well, the biggest being the addition of a 8-inch floating touchscreen infotainment system that pops out of the dashboard. Ford is also likely to bring in the advanced SYNC 3 system to the EcoSport facelift's kitty in addition to a few other creature comforts and cosmetic add-ons. The EcoSport already leads the segment in terms of safety kit on offer and that's unlikely to change.

While most of us believed the 1.5-liter TiVCT petrol, the 1.5-liter TDCi diesel and the award-winning 1.0-liter EcoBoost engines that power the current EcoSport would carryover into the facelift, recent reports indicate otherwise. An all-new 1.5-liter, 3-cylinder petrol engine from the new 'Dragon' family might replace the current 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder mill. The absence of TDCi badges on any of the test cars indicate its the Dragon engine that's probably being tested under the hood of the face-lifted EcoSports. While Ford hasn't disclosed anything yet, expect higher power, torque and fuel efficiency figures from the new engine.

The EcoSport facelift is expected to be launched around the festive season, a time frame in which is Tata is also planning to launch the Nexon. We could sense a tough but interesting duel in the making. Let's wait and watch the fun!


Mahindra's upcoming MPV (Toyota Innova rival) caught testing

Ever since it set shop in India, Toyota has been owning the Multi Purpose Vehicle (MPV) segment, first with the Qualis, then with the Innova and of late with the Innova Crysta. Competitors have tried their very best but never managed to usurp Toyota one bit so far. All that could change once the vehicle featured in this post hits the market. 

Caught testing in the busy Chennai-Trichy National Highway, this camouflaged test mule is Mahindra's all-new MPV that's expected to take the Innova Crysta head on. Reportedly code-named 'U321' internally, Mahindra is betting big on this upcoming MPV without a doubt. Look closely and you will know why this could potentially turn out to be Innova's toughest rival till date. 

Despite wearing camouflage that reveals next to nothing, we quite like what we see here. 

The proportions, for instance, are much better than any MPV Mahindra has rolled out thus far. Unlike the crude-and-boxy Bolero or the bulky-and-awkward-from-certain-angles Xylo, this new MPV creates a positive impression from the word go. Though not to be seen in these spy shots, Mahindra's trademark grille with vertical slats is now smaller and sleeker like the one in the KUV1OO. The heavily-raked hood almost matches the slope of the front windshield, giving the MPV a clean silhouette. The tipped-forward stance and the rising windowline go with the theme as well. At the rear, the LED-equipped taillights look similar to the Renault Lodgy's but that's possibly due to the camouflage masking the shape of the lenses well. 

Another impressive aspect is the absence of unnecessary cuts and creases in the sheet metal. There is a strong character line that runs the length of the vehicle on either sides cutting through the door handles but that's pretty much it. There are none of those over-ambitious creases like those in the KUV1OO. Let's just hope it stays this way and Mahindra's design team don't go overboard and slap in attention-grabbing elements ahead of launch. The TUV3OO and the XUV5OO facelift have been mature attempts from the Indian brand and we trust this new MPV would be another step in that direction. 

The vehicle appears to be just the right size too. The two side-by-side shots taken alongside an Innova and an Innova Crysta show that the upcoming Mahindra MPV compares favourably with its arch-rival in terms of size. That should translate into a spacious cabin with decent space and comfort in the third row. 

Recent launches from Mahindra have had well put-together interiors and we expect the new MPV to go down that path as well with a cabin that's well-designed, well-equipped and well screwed-together. It better be as the Innova Crysta has taken the interior quality levels and feature list up several notches. 

Though Mahindra is still tight-lipped on the specifications, the 2.0-liter 'mHawk' diesel engine that does duty in the Scorpio and the XUV5OO could be the power of choice in this upcoming new MPV. The powerful and torquey turbocharged mill should have no problems lugging the people-mover. A Ssangyong-derived petrol engine is also reportedly under development. The new MPV is said to be based on an all-new monocoque platform and is therefore likely to be more accomplished in terms of its road-handling capabilities.

Putting all the bits and pieces together, this new MPV is turning out to be a formidable alternative to the Innova. With good looks, spacious interiors, a powerful and torquey diesel engine, an exhaustive feature list and much-improved ride and handling, Mahindra could actually end up tasting blood here. 

The only problem is MPVs are no longer in favour amongst the car-buying public. Will Mahindra buck the trend, attract the SUV-crazy population and make a hit out of this seemingly-formidable MPV? We have our fingers crossed.


Mahindra KUV1OO facelift spotted testing

Mahindra launched the KUV1OO early last year in an attempt to woo small car customers with SUV-like styling elements. Though it started off pretty well, the KUV1OO didn't exactly set the sales charts on fire as Mahindra hoped it would. In fact, the year-over-year sales figures have been on a steady decline for quite some time now. One obvious reason was the KUV1OO's odd-ball styling that didn't find favour with the conventional car-buying public in India.

It seems Mahindra has realized its folly and is trying to amend things. Spotted testing near Mahindra's Research Valley on the outskirts of Chennai yesterday, this heavily-camouflaged KUV1OO test mule indicates a facelift is on the cards for Mahindra's most-affordable vehicle. 

From the sole picture we captured, it appears the KUV1OO facelift would debut new alloy wheels with an ever-so-subtle change in design. Though this top-end variant is seen wearing 15-inch wheels, other variants could continue with undersized 14-inchers like they currently do. Also visible are subtle changes to the taillight lenses though the overall shape remains the same. As is the norm with facelifts like these, expect the bumpers, air dams and headlights to get a nip here and a tuck there. While they are at it, we hope the folks at Mahindra use this chance to tone down the KUV1OO's ungainly bits. 

Those extended eyelashes in the front fenders and the prominent creases that cut across the profile should go. Look closely beneath the camouflage and these elements are pretty much there, so they aren't going anywhere at the moment.

Interiors are likely to be spruced up a bit though we don't foresee significant changes to the overall design and equipment.  

The 1.2-liter petrol and diesel engines from the 'mFalcon' family are likely to continue in the facelift. While the petrol generates 82 horsepower and 115 Nm of torque, the diesel churns out 77 horsepower 190 Nm of torque. Both the engines transmit power to the front wheels through a 5-speed manual gearbox. With the growing acceptance of Automated Manual Transmissions (AMT), this facelift would be a good opportunity for Mahindra to plonk one in the KUV1OO. That should be fairly easy, given Mahindra has one in the TUV3OO already.

Though the launch date isn't confirmed yet, expect Mahindra to act swiftly and launch the KUV1OO facelift pretty early. Will the facelift improve the vehicle's prospects? Or, will the KUV1OO continue to remain a missed opportunity for Mahindra? Let's wait and watch.


Jeep Compass launched in India; base variant priced at a superb ₹14.95 Lakhs

After months of testing our patience, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) finally launched the much-awaited Jeep Compass in India today. Priced between 14.95 Lakhs and 20.65 Lakhs ex-showroom Delhi, Jeep’s first ‘Made in India’ product sports an aggressive price tag, especially the entry-level variant.

Available in three trim levels – Sport, Latitude and Limited, the Compass targets a wide spectrum of customers and price points. Two engines, a petrol and diesel, are on offer. While both are turbocharged, the former is a 1.4-liter TwinAir mill that generates 162 horsepower and 250 Nm of torque and the latter, a 1.20-liter MultiJet II that churns out 173 horsepower and 350 Nm of torque. Transmission options include a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox, the latter only available on the petrol variants. Similarly, four-wheel-drive and Jeep’s famous Selec-Terrain traction system are available only on the top-end diesel variant. So, there goes your dream of owning a Compass diesel with automatic transmission and four-wheel-drive option down the drain!

The variant glitches aside, the Compass is a compelling proposition from Jeep. 

It’s major draw, obviously, is its appealing styling. Jeep’s designers got it spot on in terms of balancing the brand’s rich heritage and styling cues with the current trend in the market. The trademark seven-slat grille flanked by simply-yet-classy wraparound headlights look as smart as ever while the tall hood and the bumper gives the Compass a mini Grand Cherokee look. In profile, typical Jeep traits like the flared and squared-off wheel arches and bold stance make quite an impression as does the classy chrome-lining on top of the windows. The rear is a bit underwhelming in comparison but that’s no reason for complaint. The Compass looks like a proper SUV and you don’t have to hear the common ‘hatchback-on-stilts’ comment ever again if you own one. 

Interiors are well-designed albeit lacking a wee bit in terms of visual appeal. That said, the Compass is well-loaded. Standard across the range are dual airbags, Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), Traction Control System (TCS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Electronic Parking Brake, Isofix child-seat anchors, Electronic Roll Mitigation, Hill Start Assist, touchscreen infotainment system with built-in compass, Voice Commands and BlueTooth functionality. remote keyless entry, all season tyres, customizable 3.5-inch Driver Information Display, Driver Seat Height Adjust, 60/40 split rear seat and front and rear arm rests. 

As we progress higher, features like push-button start, cornering lamps, roof rails, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, dual-zone automatic climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels, scuff plates, bigger 7.0-inch touchscreen display, reverse park assist with camera, side and curtain airbags and dual-tone roof are part of the kit amongst others. 

We hear Jeep has worked hard in terms of localizing critical bits and pieces in the Compass which helped in bringing down the launch price. If true, that should also help potential owners by lowering the cost of ownership as well. 

Jeep also launched the Mopar sub-brand that will be responsible for after-sales and service of the Compass. Of the 50 dealerships operational across the country right now, 48 are Mopar-ready as of now. The count is rapidly increasing as well.

With 5,000 bookings garnered even before the official price announcement, the Compass has given Jeep’s parent Fiat a new lease of life in India. The car-maker’s plant at Ranjangaon, Pune would not only be manufacturing the Compass for domestic requirements but also for all Right Hand Drive markets worldwide. 

Amidst an outcry of criticism on the ambitious pricing strategy adopted by Jeep when they debuted the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee in India, there was one ray of hope in the form of the ‘Made-in-India’ Compass. That hope has now come true. Jeep has delivered and it's time we Indians pay them back!