Mahindra's Future SUV spotted again in Chennai

They say that all good things in life come after a long wait. I am damn sure that Mahindra's new future SUV (codenamed W201), which has been spotted testing yet again in Chennai will live up to the above saying. Even then, I feel that this wait is just too long with no official news coming from Mahindra regarding this important, all-new model, with which the company is expected to go truly global. Every time, seeing it on road is like watching the teasers of a big-budget movie with few new details being exposed in each subsequent spotting.

Unlike the previous test car which had the Scorpio's lights externally fitted onto it, this one had it's actual headlights and taillights on place, but nicely covered to maintain the suspense. I have to accept that, in the dark, the detailing on both the lamps were quite superb, especially the taillamps which were almost Land Rover like. The shape and size of the dual exhausts were impressive too, lending the vehicle a chunky and muscular look. The full glasshouse, barring one or two places, was covered with thick camouflage making it impossible to peep into the interiors. Hope, I will be third time lucky with this model to have a look at the interiors.

A big vote of thanks goes to the rush-hour traffic of Chennai city for blocking this test car from zooming ahead. But once the road ahead cleared a little bit, the car literally flew ahead in no time, leaving us in the dust, thanks in part to the 'potentially' more-powerful Mahindra common-rail diesel engine in it's hood. Any more details regarding this model, either from the company itself or by others, are eagerly awaited.


Cool Concepts #2 - Lamborghini Estoque

May God bless the folks who created this whole concept of four-door sports sedan. Seriously, it’s a dream combination of the power, performance and handling of an exotic sports car and the space, practicality and features of a luxury sedan. Though Aston-Martin, Lamborghini and Bugatti too have displayed similar concepts, it was Porsche who entered this market segment in serial production with it’s Panamera. And boy, what a success it has been for Porsche, with the company recently producing the 10,000th Panamera within a year of global launch.

Any new model from Lamborghini is sure to grab eyeballs and headlines across the global automotive press. This though, did not happen for a long time as the company was happy continuing with it’s super successful twins, the Gallardo and Murcielago and their numerous power-packed versions. So, when the company finally showcased a four-door sports sedan which was unlike any other previous model it has produced, it literally bowled everybody off their feet.


* Manufacturer: Lamborghini  
* Model Name: Estoque 
* Debut: 2008 Paris Motor Show  
* Competitors: Porsche Panamera, Aston-Martin Rapide

    The Estoque, as it is christened, will go down in history as one of the most aggressive looking sedans ever created. Period. With it’s sporty, muscular lines and stunning proportions, the Estoque stole the show, literally. Just view the profile once and you will accept that it's one of the finest ever crafted. Though the global recession in 2009 almost killed this model, it would be a huge sin if Lamborghini decides to confine this striking design as a show-stopping concept alone. Latest reports suggest that Lamborghini is in fact considering producing this as it’s much-awaited third model range, which is the most sensible thing to do, so that Porsche and Aston-Martin has some serious competition. If the runaway success of the Panamera and the positive initial response to the Rapide is any indication, the Estoque, if ever made, will surely become one of the highly produced Lamborghinis of all time.

    Now that the wish has been made, it's time for prayers to make it happen.

    An Iconic Indian Entry

    Very few things in life, both static and dynamic, can be termed truly iconic and legendary. Michael Schumacher and Sachin Tendulkar, for instance, belong to that category in the sports arena. They are iconic to such an extent that merely referring to them will inspire confidence to hordes of people lucky to be in that particular profession and watching them perform will bring happiness and joy to millions of you and me who are equally lucky enough to watch them in action. In the same context, the automotive equivalents, though far and few, are equally inspiring and drool-inducing to millions across the globe. When the names involved are Rolls-Royce and Harley-Davidson, it ought to be so and very rarely would people disagree. So, if such a religious and one of the most dreamt-about brands had made an entry into India recently, it would obviously be a press-stopper.

    After toying around with the idea of entering India for a very long time, Harley-Davidson has finally decided that the time is ripe to treat us Indians in a grand manner. The reason maybe the success of expensive, high-capacity sports bikes from Honda, Suzuki & Yamaha or the saturation of the US market or the stupendously growing Indian economy. Whatever it is, three dealerships, one each in Delhi, Hyderabad and Chandigarh are already up and running and two more are coming up in Mumbai and Bangalore. The message “One Religion, Three Places of Worship, A Million Believers” greets you the moment you enter the company’s Indian website. How true, one couldn’t agree more. The full range of motorcycles starting from XL 883L Sportster at Rs 6,95,000 to the muscular and macho CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide at Rs 34,95,000 is available on order. Personally, I expect the god-awesome, supremely popular and instantly recognizable cult V-Rod series (VRSCDX Night Rod Special), priced at Rs 18,95,000 to be one of the more popular models in India.

    I know a girl (yes, a girl !) in her mid-teens who has been saving every penny ever since childhood to own a Harley-Davidson bike when she grows into her late twenties. People like her are not uncommon and I am sure that such dreams are shared by hundreds of youngsters. Now, it’s time for people like them to realize their dream and for the super-rich to spare some cash and get hold of these prized possessions. If the successes of exotic brands like Rolls-Royce, Porsche and Lamborghini are anything to go by, Harley-Davidson is all set for a long success story in India.


    Bajaj and it's Art of Successful Cannibalization

    Bajaj Auto, India’s second largest two-wheeler manufacturer has just announced the phase-out of its popular Discover 135 model after the recent launch of Discover 150. With this move, Bajaj is back in doing what it always does best – "Successful Cannibalization" of its models by phasing out and replacing them ever-so-soon. While this move has constantly increased the sales and overall volume of the individual models, as a brand, Bajaj is losing its value by not realizing that the existing customers of the phased-out models are at a loss.

    It all started with the Caliber 115 and Wind 125. While the Caliber met with a good initial response before the sales started sagging, the Wind was a rare flop for Bajaj and the company decided to pull the plug on both these models. Then came the shock decision to quit the 100cc segment altogether, thus killing the CT100 model, at a time when it was challenging Hero Honda Splendor and Passion for sales supremacy in the country. While Bajaj took back its decision and re-entered the 100cc segment with the Platina, which was based on Wind 125, it again met with a tremendous response. The Platina just flew off the showroom floors and its success prompted Bajaj to come out with a 125cc version too. Amidst all this, an all-new model range called XCD was unveiled with much fanfare at the 2008 Auto Expo. This brand-new model was initially launched with an advanced 125 cc DTS-Si engine (with Swirl Injection) and later the model range was expanded with the introduction of XCD 135. Although both the models met with a moderate success, before too long, both these models did not feature in Bajaj’s Lineup.

    Even the flagship Discover and Pulsar brands were not spared from this mess. The Discover, for instance, started life as a 125cc model, then the range got expanded with the addition of an 110cc version, shortly after which the 125 gave way to a more powerful 135cc version and the 110 was replaced by a more economical 100cc version. And now, the 135 has been phased out with the launch of Discover 150. Phew! And the case of Pulsar is relatively much simple. The big-selling 150 and 180 DTS-i still remains on sale, whereas the 220 DTS-Fi (with Fuel Injection) came and went and the 200 DTS-i came and was eventually replaced by the more powerful yet cheaper 220 DTS-i.

    If, merely reading and typing the above content makes you and me feel so confused and to an extent irritated, imagine the plight of the respective teams at Bajaj which implemented and made all this happen in real life. As much as I love Bajaj for its research and development prowess and the frequency in which they update their models, I wish they sustain and evolve their new models over the years rather than abruptly stopping them all of a sudden.


    Hyundai rolls out 3 Millionth Car in India

    Exactly 8 months after the roll-out of it's 2.5 millionth car out of the Indian operations, Hyundai Motor India today celebrated the Roll-Out of it's 3 Millionth Car from Indian soil. Being Hyundai India's best seller by volume both in domestic and export markets, a decorated red i10 deservedly did the honors for the company in the presence of the top management officials. This day (04-Aug-2010) will go down as a red letter day in the company's history as Hyundai is only the second automobile manufacturer in the country after Maruti-Suzuki to achieve this milestone and also did so in a record time of less than 12 years.

    Ever since Hyundai started operations in India in 1996 by setting up it's plant in a record time of just 17 months, it has always been a trend-setter in the country. Starting from the Santro in 1998, Hyundai continued it's successful onslaught in India with the Accent and Sonata in 1999 and 2001 respectively. This was followed by Terracan, Getz, Elantra and Tucson, all of which turned out to be less successful. Hyundai came back with a bang with the i10 in 2007, which garnered an entire gamut of awards and smashed all sales records. This was followed in 2008 by the hugely successful i20 model. Going forward, Hyundai is expected to launch the Santa Fe before the end of this year to try it's luck again in the SUV segment.

    Here's wishing the company all success in it's future endeavors and to cross many more milestones.


    The go-anywhere Mahindras leave us impressed

    We have to confess that in recent times, we are totally taken by surprise by the way in which some automobiles have shown their true potential and are starting to grow on us, which in the past, have not managed to garner a second glance. The case in point are the jeeps manufactured by Mahindra and Mahindra. Except the Scorpio and the Thar (or customized Classic models), we have never been fans of the other Mahindra models, basically because of their plain-jane design and old-school interiors. Sometimes, we have even went as far as thinking about how people are buying these vehicles in the first place.

    Proved us wrong and made us a fan straight-away, yes, that's exactly what the Mahindra jeeps did to us in our recent encounters with them at a couple of places, Wayand (Kerala) and Kabini (Karnataka) to be precise. From ferrying people up and down hill in the mountain roads (Munnar and Wayanad) to climbing almost rock-like slabs and stones with ultimate ease (Edakkal Caves in Wayanad) to taking people on a forest safari (Nagarhole National Park) to manouvering through knee-deep slush with the slightest of strain for both itself and the passengers (Kabini), the Mahindra jeeps did it all and more. On the other end, Mahindra Boleros, which were customized enough and would not look out of place in a luxury hotel, whizzed past the highways and plains, proving the versatility that these vehicles provide their customers.

    Agreed, the Land Rovers, Land Cruisers, Jeeps and Hummers of this world can do all this and much more in total lap of luxury, but when you bring the price into consideration, the Mahindras leave them in the dust. The most astonishing fact is that these Mahindras manage to do those jobs at a fration of the price of the formers. Thanks to Mahindra, we now regret fot not giving the respect that these vehicles deserved. Remember folks, where your car will not dare take you, these Mahindra jeeps will do it for you!