Hyundai launches the i10 Face-Lift in India

Being at the top is a tough act, more so in automotive industry, as rivals would be waiting to leapfrog you, once they find you napping. That explains why Maruti-Suzuki, the undisputed numero uno in Indian passenger car industry, unveiled face-lifted versions of most of it's best sellers in the past few months. When they are doing so, can you expect the second largest auto manufacturer in India, to be calm? Nope, and they have responded with this - The all-new next-gen Hyundai i10.

Whatever Hyundai likes to call it, it actually is a mild face-lift of Hyundai's bread and butter model, the i10. Launched in 2007, the i10 has been a runaway success for Hyundai, both in India and in many export markets, notably Europe. It not only became a favorite of the masses, but also with the critics and garnered an entire gamut of awards including the 2008 ICOTY award. So, when such a car is being face lifted, it is sure to hit headlines.

As far as the design is concerned, the front sports Hyundai's now-familiar corporate hexagonal grille with a chrome lip housing the slanted 'H' logo. This, combined with the honey-comb mesh grille, makes the car look aggressive and sporty. Those who preferred the cute looks of the present car may not like it though. The profile has some subtle yet significant changes like new badging, turn signals incorporated in rear-view mirrors in all Kappa versions and body colored side molding. The rear is virtually unchanged except for the protruding taillights and bumper with sharp reflectors on either sides. Overall, the redesign has made the car look more mature and upmarket.

Hyundai seems to have tweaked the engines too with smart alternators and pistons with a special coating aimed at increasing the fuel efficiency. Remarkably, variable valve timing technology (VTVT) has been introduced, which is a segment-first. Features like reverse parking sensors, power and heated mirrors, digital fuel gauge, gear shift indicator, steering mounted audio controls and blue-tooth functionality apart from the existing features like ABS and Dual Airbags makes the i10 a fully loaded car. Also, the availability of two engine options (iRDE2 & Kappa2) and manual and automatic transmission variants make the i10 range quite formidable.

On the whole, the face-lifted i10 is all set to regain its tag of second largest selling car in India, which it lost in the past couple of months, until the competition springs some surprises.

Travelogue #1 - Chennai to Trichy/Munnar/Wayanad

Putting up this travelogue here has become something on the lines of perfecting a sculpture. Though the basic structure was framed much earlier, sometime in early June to be precise, giving the finishing touches to the story have taken so ridiculously long, just like the sculptors take time to give final aesthetic touches to their creations. Whether the end product is as impressive or not is left for all of you to decide.

After a month long planning, the places to be covered were decided as Trichy, Munnar and Wayanad, the former being my native and the latter two, being very popular hill-stations in Kerala, more popularly referred to as God’s Own Country. The full trip was divided into three distinct phases – Chennai-Trichy, Trichy-Munnar-Trichy & Trichy-Sultan Bathery (Wayanad Dist.)-Erode-Chennai.

The route followed, the quick facts and the snaps are given right here:

  • Total No of Days – 9 (22.05.2010 ~ 30.05.2010)
  • Vehicle Make & Model – Hyundai Santro Xing   

  • Odometer Start Reading – 50420 km 
  • Odometer End Reading – 52827 km 
  • Total Distance Travelled – 2407 km 
  • Total Quantity of Fuel filled – 166.92 l 
  • Average Fuel Consumption – 14.42 km/l 
  • Net Worth of Fuel filled – 8673 Rs 

  • Destinations Covered – Trichy/Munnar/Sultan Bathery (Wayanad Dist.) 
  • Route Followed: 
  • Part-1: Chennai-Tindivanam-Villupuram-Trichy 
  • Part-2: Trichy-Dindigul-Batlagundu-Periyakulam-Theni-Bodinayakanur-Munnar-Trichy 
  • Part-3: Trichy-Erode-Sathyamangalam-Mettupalayam-Ooty-Gudalur-Sultan Bathery-Erode-Salem-Chennai 

  • Best Stretch in Plains – Villupuram-Trichy 
  • Best Stretch in Ghats – Munnar-Echo Point & Bodi-Bodimettu 
  • Worst Stretch in Plains – Salem-Ulundurpet 
  • Worst Stretch in Ghats – Near Top Station (2 km stretch)






Having seen and enjoyed Munnar and Wayanad, I would say Kerala stays true to its ad caption and is really "God's Own Country". Also, a special mention has to go the state of Tamil Nadu for its excellent roads throughout, except for a few stretches. Not to forget, the bullet-proof reliability of the Santro, which performed without a glitch like a dream for the entire duration of the trip. Now  I know why people swear by a Santro, even when there are many newer models available in the market. 

That, my dear folks, ends my first Travelogue. The full Trip Summary is available as a separate document and is not uploaded as it would extend this post to an unprecedented length. Happy traveling!


Its (Alto)gether good for Maruti-Suzuki

I am both shocked and surprised every time when Maruti-Suzuki comes out with a new model launch. Shocked because this is a company, which until a few years ago, barring a few gems like Zen, was dishing out old, outdated models to Indian customers and surprised by the way in which they have reinvented themselves and responded to the onslaught of global competition by launching fresh, new models from the Suzuki stable, soon after their global premieres. And they didn’t stop with that. Until very recently, the company’s Achille’s heel was the lack of a diesel powertrain. They promptly knocked the doors of Fiat, got access to the superb 1.3 Multi-Jet Diesel and put the engine to good use in their models by tuning it for smoother power delivery and more efficiency than the original. To say that they are now reaping the benefits of this would be an understatement.

So, when the Alto K10, a more-powerful, slightly redesigned variant of India’s best selling car was launched on 4th of August, all knew it would be an instant success. But, it has apparently gone on to create a record which no other new car model launched in India has done before – 20,000 bookings in 40 days flat. Now, that’s no mean feat. It has all but clearly cemented Alto’s position as India’s largest selling car for atleast the next couple of years, come Nano or whatever. Literally, Maruti-Suzuki has made it’s bread and butter model “competition-proof” with this new K10 version. Just take it for a short spin and you will understand the reason for it’s massive success. The existing Alto, though a traditional best-seller, was and will never be an enthusiast’s car. The K10 though, with it’s responsive engine and agile handling, has increased the aspirational content in the economy segment, which is a rare combination to achieve. With combined monthly sales of Alto & K10 crossing the 28,000 mark in Aug-2010, I strongly feel that it will reach the magical 30,000 mark in the next couple of months, thus sending the Alto into a stratospheric zone.

Yes, Maruti-Suzuki has had it’s fair share of flops in recent years in the form of A-Star and Estilo, while the Ritz, though a success is not doing the expected numbers. But, being who they are, the company will not hesitate to reposition (read ‘price-cut’) the slow-selling models. Take for instance, the birth of super-successful Eeco from the ultimate-flop Versa. But, what never ceases to amaze me is that every time they come under criticism for resting on their laurels and not updating their models, Maruti-Suzuki comes back with a bang, stronger and better-equipped to fight, and ultimately crushes the competition.


2010 F1 Season headed for a dramatic climax

Racing is all about fighting it flat-out and passing on track, swapping positions due to strategies and above all close but fair competition amongst the racers. Formula 1, the highest rated motor racing series in the world was hardly any of the above, atleast in recent memory. A myriad of reasons made it tougher and tougher to even challenge the top-runners, let alone fight and pass them on track. That’s exactly why spectators and F1 followers across the world are all smiles and thrilled with the way in which the 2010 F1 season has unfolded. With only 5 out of the 19 races remaining, not two, not three, but five racers are still in hot contention for the driver’s title whereas it’s a three-way fight for the constructor’s title. Nothing like this have ever been witnessed in the recent past, not since early eighty’s, say experts and pundits, who have been following the sport for many decades.
With 4 world champions on the grid in the form of seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, two-time winner Fernando Alonso, the defending champion Jenson Button and the 2008 title-winner Lewis Hamilton, everybody could sniff that the stage has been set for an epic battle on track. Add to the already impressive list, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, two drivers from a relatively new team on top of their game in the quest for winning both the championships and Felipe Massa, the 2008 runner-up on his comeback after a life-threatening injury and you know that this is not going to be the usual run-of-the-mill season in F1.

And it hardly turned out to be so. With a storming 1-2 in the season-opener in Bahrain, a slump in form after that, a dominating but controversial 1-2 again in Germany, a humiliating setback in Spa and a stunning return to form in Monza, none other than Ferrari hinted better at what the championship holds for all the teams. Red Bull, McLaren, Renault, Mercedes – you name the team and they would have experienced their fair share of ups and downs, the latter two yet to find their competitive touch and consistency this season. And so, here we are right now, almost at the end of the storm. Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel will try everything in their reach and some things out of their reach too in their quest for becoming the 2010 world champion and folks at Ferrari would kill their brains to try, reach and beat Red Bull and McLaren for the constructor’s trophy.

For die-hard F1 fans across the world like me, it’s going to be a lengthy, nail-biting climax to the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and I can’t wait for the results. If this season is any indication of how F1 is going to be, we can rest assured that F1’s future is secure and there are going to be no dearth of fans for the sport and no half-filled grand stands at the venues.

Image Source: AutoBlog (www.autoblog.com/www.aol.com)

We are going places !

At one stage in life, happiness meant arguing with parents for buying a ‘Hero’ pen or a ‘Staedtler’ pencil and vying with siblings to get a bigger share of the then-odd commodities like Kit Kat or Dairy Milk. However comical they may seem to us now, these things are what makes life interesting when we look back in time.

In a very similar way, I am currently very pleased with the way things related to this blog are shaping up. View count is going up gradually and links to my posts with the pictures taken by me have surfaced in quite a few automotive forums and websites. Thanks in part to India’s second largest selling car, the Hyundai i10, whose camouflaged facelift is responsible for all the activity surrounding my blog. I feel motivated to such an extent that all the efforts taken in chasing and snapping the cars, bikes and buses featuring in this blog seems like nothing at all.

Again, a few years down the line, if God-willing, I become a full-time automotive freelance/journalist, this may seem to be funny enough to have a good laugh, but right now, with my wish still remaining a wish, this seems to be worthy enough to celebrate.