Driven #9: Nissan Sunny Diesel

Even though Nissan has been a late entrant to the Indian market and the company has one of the thinnest dealership network amongst all mainstream brands in our country, it's cars, the Micra and Sunny, has been consistently selling in good numbers. The Sunny especially, launched just recently with only petrol variants, seems to have established a clear niche for itself in the midsize sedan segment with sales hovering above 1000 units each month. With the craze for diesel fuel sweeping across the country right now, Nissan knows that it can't afford to continue without one for long and it has been smart enough to come out with the diesel variants just 3 months after Sunny's launch.

As with most manufacturers now, Nissan has also decided to stick a badge onto the boot of its models highlighting their supposedly 'green' credentials. That's how the 'Pure Drive' badge, that looks and sounds surprisingly similar to Hyundai's 'Blue Drive' moniker, has found a place in the Sunny dCi. So, how is the Sunny diesel to drive? Does it live up to the high standards that customers in this segment have come to expect of late? Is it competitive enough to pose a threat to the segment top-sellers, the Hyundai Verna and Volkswagen Vento? Read on, to find out.


The Sunny, also called Versa and Almera in some markets, is a globally successful model for Nissan and, as a result, the company has played it very safe with its redesign. Do not be surprised if, at first glance, the Sunny goes completely unnoticed in a crowd, as it's styling neither stuns nor offends. The front-end with its tear-drop head lamps, the chrome-outlined grille and circular fog lamps is the most impressive part of the Sunny. The profile just goes to show how big the car really is and the rear-end is characterized by those tail lamps that extends far into the sides and the chunky C-Pillar. Though the rear three-quarter view shows some hints of Swift Dzire in it, the overall execution of the rear end is far better in the Sunny.

Though we agree that the clean looks of the Sunny will not disappoint anybody, in a segment that is beaming with the classy Fiat Linea, flashy Hyundai Verna and muscular Skoda Rapid, the Sunny does look out of place. Though the Sunny is based on the same V Platform that underpins the Micra, Nissan has made sure that the two cars do not resemble each other from any angle. Thus, unlike competitors like Indigo and Dzire which invariably draws comparisons with Indica and Swift respectively, the Sunny will not be associated with its hatch sibling at all. Step in and the interiors cut a different story. Most of the parts are lifted straight from the Micra while many others clearly shows its relation to the Micra.

The interiors that are finished in a light shade of grey with brushed silver inserts here and there are easy on the eye. The most interesting part are the Fine Vision Meters that are big, bold and legible with the Multi Information Display in between that gives all essential data like outside temperature, twin trip meters and average and instantaneous fuel efficiency. The 3-spoke steering wheel that could have been slightly meatier for our tastes comes with integrated audio controls. Though the top half of the center console is different, the air vents, the door pads and the entire air-conditioning unit are the same as Micra's with the latter's unique circular theme being the highlight. The Engine Start/Stop button in a light shade of pink attracts eyeballs like no other.

Though the overall fit and finish is quite good with even panel gaps and top-notch paint quality, there are a few shockingly iffy bits that we encountered. The roof-mounted interior light for example, comes with a switch that even a child can pluck out. The screws in door handles could have been covered with a rubber seal instead of being exposed as they are. Nevertheless, Nissan has loaded the Sunny with all possible features for this segment and the car stacks up well compared to its competitors.

A big thumbs up to Nissan for not compromising on safety with Antilock Braking System, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist and Driver Airbag standard on all variants of the Sunny. Remember, even the base variant that doesn't come with body colored mirrors, handles and wheel caps has all these safety features. It’s about time all manufacturers opt this strategy and make safety a compulsion instead of giving it as a payable option as it is right now, which most of us conveniently choose to ignore. Take a bow, Nissan.


As they always say, the first impression is the best and Nissan has done well to impress at the very first stint. The iKey and Push Button feature that has endeared Micra owners before are there on the Sunny too. Press the small black button on the door handle, step in, get settled in the comfy front seats, step on the clutch and press the Start/Stop button. The engine cranks on and you immediately know that it’s a diesel. The engine is pretty noisy and vibrates hard when cranking up, but immediately settles into a nice thrum afterwards. NVH levels in the Sunny are strictly average, especially after 3000 rpm when the engine gets very noisy. Open the hood and you know why. All variants including the diesel ones lack any sort of sound-deadening material.

Powered by a 4-cylinder 1.5-liter K9K engine that was jointly developed by the Renault-Nissan Alliance, the Sunny diesel churns out a maximum power output of 86PS at 3750 rpm and a maximum torque of 200 Nm at 2000 rpm. As the figures would suggest, torque is available right from low end of the power-band and the K9K engine revs cleanly till the redline. The generous low-end torque means that the Sunny diesel is effortless to drive in bumper-to-bumper city traffic with the car pulling away nicely in the second and third gears. The Sunny accelerates briskly until 120 kph after which the engine feels strained. The turbo kick that most of the automobile enthusiasts crave for, is just not there in the Sunny.

What impresses though are the driving dynamics of the car. The presence of heavier diesel engine in our test car has aided in better distribution of weight that it felt more stable and planted on the road than the petrol variant. The ride is a bit stiff and the bumps, potholes and other undulations on the road filter into the cabin unlike in, say a Volkswagen Vento. But, the overall ride is nowhere uncomfortable and remains comfy enough. The handling is well sorted out and the car willingly turns into corners at all speeds. What is commendable is that the steering feels super-light at slow speeds but weighs up nicely once speeds build up. Thus, the Sunny gives you the best of both worlds - an effortless drive inside the city and a confidence-inspiring drive on the highways.

Gearshifts are surprisingly notchy and slot into their places with an audible click 'noise' that gets irritating beyond a certain point. Another thing in the Sunny that takes time getting used to is the brakes. The brake pedal has a fair amount of play and feels spongy the first time we press it. Though we invariably tend to get used to it over time, it is quite hard to judge the stopping distance at first, as it is devoid of any feel for a few seconds before the brakes start engaging. Once we understand them though, the Sunny feels stable and composed, even under hard braking. ABS, EBD and BA does make their presence felt here.


* Engine Type: SOHC, 8-Valves, Common Rail
* No of Cylinders: 4
* Displacement: 1461 cc
* Maximum Power: 86 PS @ 3750 RPM
* Maximum Torque: 200 Nm @ 2000 RPM
* Transmission Type: 5-speed MT
* Tires: 185/65 R15 (XV)
* Brakes: Disc (Front), Drum (Rear)


* Space, space and more space
* Feature loaded (ABS, EBD, BA, iKey, Start/Stop Button)
* Good Low-end torque
* Linear Power Delivery


* Notchy Gearshifts
* Sparse Service Network


With the addition of diesel variants to the Sunny lineup, Nissan has all but ensured that the Sunny's initial success in the Indian market continues. With a package that excels in safety features, does everything else well except for the noisy engine and the notchy gearshift, the Sunny makes an appealing case for itself and has all the potential to challenge the segment leaders. With 16 million units sold across the world spanning 9 generations, India is just another market in which the caaaaarrrrr is going to leave a mark.


Daimler decides to shut down 'Maybach' brand, finally

We knew it coming before and finally, here it is. Daimler AG has announced that it is shutting down its super-luxury ‘Maybach’ brand after almost a decade of incurring losses with its two models, the 57 and 62, variants of which are priced upwards of $ 350,000. Daimler reintroduced the Maybach brand in the year 2002 with much fanfare and expectations to challenge BMW’s Rolls-Royce and Audi’s Bentley. But, the brand that had a rich legacy dating back to the 1930’s failed miserably and could not challenge the exclusivity and richness of either the Rolls-Royce or the Bentley.

In 2003, Maybach’s best year till date, sales peaked at 600 units before sliding to a mere 200 units last year. Pitch that against Rolls-Royce’s 2700 units and Bentley’s 5100 units sold in 2010 and you get the picture. A mild update recently with new chrome grille and more fuel-efficient 12 cylinder engine didn’t help the sagging sales nor did the addition of special editions and variants. After extensive internal discussions on what would be the best route to achieve the greatest possible success in luxury segment, Daimler concluded that sales prospects were better off at Mercedes-Benz.

Referring to the Maybach, Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG has reportedly said “It would not make sense to develop a successor model”. Daimler spokesperson Mark Binder, while confirming the statement added that “The coming S-Class is such a superior vehicle, it can replace the Maybach”. Daimler plans to continue selling the car until 2013 when the all-new S-Class will be launched in the market. The company plans to double the number of variants of the new S-Class to counter the loss of Maybach and also to increase the sales and step up the challenge to BMW and Audi.

The last few years have not been great for Mercedes-Benz with the company losing its leadership in the luxury segment to BMW in 2005. This year, Mercedes-Benz has slipped further back with Audi taking the second spot away from the three-pointed star. An alarming statistic tells that both BMW and Audi have grown at more than five times the pace of Mercedes-Benz in the last decade. The flagship S-Class has been the only saving grace for Mercedes-Benz as it consistently beats BMW’s 7-Series and Audi’s A8, not only in comparison tests but also in sales charts.

As an automotive enthusiast, it pains to hear the loss of yet another brand. But, with a global sales figure of just a couple of hundred units, Daimler would be bleeding money to keep the brand running. With all these developments and reports, the urge to get a sneak peak of the all-new Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the next iteration of what is widely considered as ‘the best car in the world’ excluding the super-luxury marques, just got more intense. Please do not make us wait for long, Mercedes-Benz!


Mahindra mini-Xylo (U203) seen testing near Pune

Mahindra, the fast-rising Indian automotive company, is in one heck of an expansion mode right now. Be it in two-wheelers, be it in electric vehicles or be it in international acquisitions, Mahindra is into it all right now. This, my dear folks, could be the biggest of them all, as this particular model could become a sort of a trend-setter, creating an all-new segment in the crowded Indian automotive space and ruling it all by itself. How about a butch mini-SUV like vehicle with the proportions of a hatchback and the space and comfort of a MPV? Sounds like a sure-shot success formula, right? We think so too and so does Mahindra. The company has been developing a mini-MPV based on the Xylo for quite some time now and the test mules have been spotted many times at various places.

This latest test vehicle was spotted in the Mumbai-Pune Expressway a couple of days back indicating that Mahindra is leaving nothing to chance and the launch could still be a few months away. Remember that it was the Premier Rio which started the trend of mini-SUV in India. But, poor fit and finish, questionable quality due to its Chinese inheritance and overall negative perception of the Premier brand all but ensured that the Rio never took off in our market. Similar in concept and slightly bigger than the Premier Rio and, to an extent, the Maruti-Suzuki Wagon-R, the mini-Xylo (or whatever it is going to be called) has all the potential to make it really big and eat into the market share of small cars in India.

Following the footsteps of its bigger sibling, the mini-Xylo would be having more-than-adequate passenger room and the big advantage of a powerful and frugal diesel engine. To get an idea of how big this vehicle is, look at the picture in which the mini-Xylo completely dwarfs the Tata Indigo just ahead of it. The tall and boxy design along with touches like tailgate-mounted spare tire gives this vehicle the mini-SUV look that many Indians love and crave for. Just like the XUV 500 exceeded all expectations, smashed all sales records and created a segment on its own, we can expect the mini-Xylo to do the same in a much more competitive and affordable price point.

By the way, thanks to our reader friend BS Guru for sending us these snaps and giving us the info that this particular test vehicle was comfortably doing around 150 kph in the Expressway and that they had a very tough time keeping up with it. With all these tidbits flowing in, the expectations are only getting bigger and bigger and we just can't wait for this model to hit the market.


2012 North American Car & Truck of the Year Finalists Announced

Here they are. The finalists for the eagerly-awaited and tough-to-crack 2012 North American Car and Truck of the Year awards have been announced. And, the models that make the final cut are Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and Volkswagen Passat in cars and BMW X3, Honda CR-V and Land Rover Range Rover Evoque in trucks. If you are wondering, Sports Utility Vehicles and Crossovers are classified as trucks in USA. These finalists have been chosen from a list of over 30 all-new or significantly-revised models that went on sale in North America in the past 12 months. The list included extremely competitive models such as Audi A6, Audi A7, Toyota Prius V and Mercedes-Benz M Class. Now you know why we said these awards are tough to crack.

If you do not know already, these awards are unique in the United States because, instead of being given by a single media outlet or entity, they are awarded by a coalition of automotive journalists from USA and Canada representing all forms of media that includes magazines, television, radio, newspapers and websites. The title-winners will be announced on the opening day of the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Jan-09. The awards, considered to be one of the most significant in the automotive world, are currently in their 19th year. In 2011, it was Chevrolet Volt and Ford Explorer which won the North American Car and Truck of the Year titles respectively.

This time though, our bet is on the Ford Focus and Land Rover Range Rover Evoque to win the titles, but the Hyundai Elantra and BMW X3 could spring a big surprise. Let us wait and watch!


2012 Ward's 10 Best Engines Announced

It's award season again in the automotive world and it is time to embrace ourselves and get to know who is winning what in the industry. As usual, leading the list of announcements and awards is the Ward's 10 Best Engines, a truly one-of-its-kind award honoring engine excellence. The list of 10 Best Engines for 2012 has just been announced and the winners will be crowned at a gala event to be held at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Jan-11-2012.

This list all but proves that Direct Injection is the way forward for the industry as no less than 7 out of this year's 10 best engines has this tech integrated into it. Direct Injection started gaining popularity roughly a decade back with common-rail turbo diesels and now, it is the turn of high-pressure gasoline direct injection. Whether deployed in diesel or gasoline engines, Direct Injection has proved to reduce fuel consumption and improve low-end torque, which aids better acceleration.

Ford and BMW has two entries each while Chrysler, GM, Mazda, Infiniti and Volkswagen (for its Audi brand) take home an award each. Having been in this elusive list now for three years in a row for its high-end Tau V8 engine, Hyundai is represented this time around with the 1.6 liter GDI 'Gamma' engine, the smallest displacement engine in the list. Infiniti's Direct Response Hybrid system in the M35h is the only hybrid-electric power-train here and it is noteworthy that this engine has trumped the other German luxury hybrids to this spot.

The following are the winners for 2012 along with the applications in which the engines were tested:

* 3.0L TFSI Supercharged DOHC V-6 (Audi A6)
* 2.0L N20 Turbocharged DOHC I-4 (BMW Z4/528i)
* 3.0L N55 Turbocharged DOHC I-6 (BMW 335i Coupe)
* 3.6L Pentastar DOHC V-6 (Chrysler 300S/Jeep Wrangler)
* 2.0L EcoBoost DOHC I-4 (Ford Edge)
* 5.0L DOHC V-8 (Ford Mustang Boss 302)
* 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC I-4 (Buick Regal GS)
* 1.6L DOHC I-4 (Hyundai Accent/Kia Soul)
* 2.0L Skyactiv DOHC I-4 (Mazda 3)
* 3.5L DOHC V-6 HEV (Infiniti M35h)


Volkswagen Jetta TSI (petrol) spotted yet again

It has been exactly a week since we spotted the Volkswagen Jetta TSI testing in Pune. Now, we have more snaps of the same vehicle being extensively tested in and around Pune, clearly indicating that the launch is not too far away. We believe that Volkswagen would launch the Jetta TSI with much fanfare in the forthcoming 2012 Auto Expo at New Delhi. Let's not forget that the Jetta is currently sold in India with diesel variants only, perfectly matching with the current craze for diesel cars in India. What is under the hood of this Jetta TSI is still a big mystery though.

There are sources telling us that the Jetta TSI will definitely come with the 1.8 liter engine that is already powering cars like Skoda Laura, Superb and the base variant of Audi A4. Also, there are widespread rumors that the 1.4 liter TSI engine would be launched under the hood of the Jetta thus enabling it to be priced more competitively and compete against Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. We personally feel that the Jetta TSI should come with the stonking 1.8 liter engine and the 1.4 liter TSI engine should be powering smaller cars like the Polo and Vento.

But, until Volkswagen decides to crack open the news themselves, this will remain a mystery!


Cool Concepts #3 - Mercedes-Benz Aero Trailer

The word ‘truck’ is almost always associated with the image of a big, slow-moving and a high-polluting vehicle. Atleast in India, this image of a ‘truck’ holds good as the design of the trucks that we get to see here are neither aerodynamic enough to punch a big hole efficiently in the air nor are they powerful enough to aid quick acceleration and high speeds. The situation only gets worse when it comes to tractor trailers as they are bigger, slower and more polluting than the regular trucks. It is not highly uncommon to see a single tractor trailer blocking the way and slowing down an entire chain of other vehicles on our highways. But, Mercedes-Benz seems to have a solution for this.

The ‘Aero Trailer Concept’ that was showcased at the Trailer 2011 show that took place in Belgium in the last week of November is Mercedes’ interpretation of how the future trailers should be. The trailer coupled with the Actros tractor is modern, stylish and aerodynamic – terms that you do not normally associate with a big rig. The design of the Aero Trailer proves that trucks can also look stunning and make us drool over their looks when they are not designed with rulers and set squares, as is often the norm. The Aero Trailer is not all show and no go as it boasts features like air dam, body taper and rear diffuser – things that would hitherto make sense only on exotic sports cars and F1 cars.


* Manufacturer: Mercedes-Benz
* Model Name: Aero Trailer Concept
* Debut: Trailer 2011, Belgium
* Competitors: All other Trailers

Overall, Mercedes-Benz claims that the Aero Trailer offers 18% less wind resistance which, in turn, reduces the fuel consumption by 5%. For an average running of 150,000 km a year, that would mean a saving of 2000 liters of diesel fuel and a huge 5 ton reduction in the amount of carbon-di-oxide released into the atmosphere. Be it the air dam, the side trim panels, the rear diffuser or the rear end extension called “boat tail”, Mercedes-Benz has tested each of these features in the wind tunnel before incorporating them in the concept. With more than 25 years of research in aerodynamics, the company is planning a lot of other things that would make tractor trailers more endearing to the environment.

With all this hard work already done, I say ‘Bring it on, Mercedes-Benz’. If not for protecting the environment, at least it would make the roads a much better place to look at and drive through.


Force Traveller Mini Bus and other variants spotted testing in Pune

When there is just one model in your portfolio that is earning you your bread and butter, you invariably tend to throw your weight on that particular model. Unfortunately, Pune-based Force Motors is in such a situation right now. Except the Mercedes-Benz based Traveller that has been a top-seller in its segment for more than a decade now, none of the company’s other models including the Force One, it’s much hyped and recently launched premium SUV, has succeeded in our market. So, it’s only quite natural that Force Motors would do all it takes and all it can to ensure that the Traveller success story continues. Here is proof that the company is doing just that.

Believe it or not, three different variants of Force Travellers were spotted testing at different timings in different areas of Pune City on the same day, clearly indicating that the Traveller range is all set for a major expansion and upgrade. Currently, the Traveller comes in no less than 4 wheelbase options with variants that include everything from a luxury version with individual push-back seats and factory-fitted air-conditioning system to factory-built special purpose vehicles like school buses and ambulances. All the variants though share the same Mercedes-Benz derived 2.6 liter turbocharged engine with a maximum power output of 82 HP.

Coming to the variants that were spotted testing, the first one was a Traveller Luxury identifiable with the roof-mounted air-conditioning unit. It looked absolutely normal from the rear and the sides but the front end was partly camouflaged. Does that hint at a minor facelift that could be on the way? The second test vehicle spotted was the base-variant and it had nothing different from the existing model except for the unique brown color and a 'Bosch-Force Test Vehicle' sticker. With a lot of rumors of the possible launch of a common-rail diesel engine in the Traveller circulating around, has Force Motors joined hands with Bosch, global leaders in common-rail systems, for developing this technology?

The third and perhaps the most interesting variant spotted was this long wheelbase variant. Closer inspection revealed that this test vehicle was not having the split rear tailgate with external hinges that are a staple feature on all Travellers. Instead, it came fitted with a nice looking fixed rear windshield. Also, there were two rear tires on each side of the vehicle, something that even the Traveller Smooth, the longest variant in the existing lineup with a whopping 4020mm wheelbase, does not come with. So, is Force Motors trying to sneak into the mini-bus segment with this variant of the Traveller that, if launched, will have the advantage of monocoque construction and an already popular lineage?

We are not betting against any of these as we know that the Traveller is a very important model for Force Motors and it plays a significant role in the sustainability of the company itself. Now that all the questions from our side are listed out, its upto Force Motors to give us the definitive answers. The wait begins.

EDIT: We just heard that all variants of the Force Traveller are already being powered by a Mercedes-Benz derived common rail diesel engine. If this is true, then the company's website is still not updated with this critical info. The inconvenience caused is regretted. Also, reports are out that Force Motors is planning to launch a 26-seater mini bus at the Auto Expo in January. The third vehicle that you see in this post would most likely be the one that is being referred to here.

Kimi returns to F1 in 2012 with Lotus Renault

For die-hard fans and followers of Formula 1, 2011 is a year to forget as Sebastian Vettel and his Red Bull Racing team literally crushed and tore apart the competition in what could be termed as one of the most boring and one-sided championship ever in the sport’s history. The fact that it came right after one of F1’s most interesting and enthralling season in 2010 in which Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel went into the final race still fighting for the championship only made things worse.

Nevertheless, the 2011 season will always be unforgettable for a few things – Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa both enduring a tough season with no less than 6 contacts on track, Webber absolutely clueless to stop the Vettel train and, above all, India successfully hosting its first ever F1 race at the Buddh International Circuit near New Delhi. Now, there is one more news to cheer about. Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 F1 World Champion who left the sport in 2009 but continued to be unbelievably popular in the F1 paddock, has announced his comeback in F1.

Kimi, who had raced for Sauber and Mclaren before, came to Ferrari in 2007 stepping into the big shoes of Michael Schumacher. In his very first year with Ferrari, Kimi won the world championship from McLaren’s fighting duo of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso by a single point. The years 2008 and 2009, in which he took just 3 victories out of 35 races, were not great partly due to the lack of pace of the Ferrari and partly due to Kimi’s perceived lack of motivation. Even though he had a contract for 2010, Kimi was paid to sit out by Ferrari in favor of Fernando Alonso.

After persistent rumors of his return to F1 with several teams over the past two years, Lotus Renault has finally managed to convince Kimi to get behind the wheel of a F1 car. With changes like DRS and Pirellis that caught out drivers like Mark Webber and Felipe Massa this year, it is not going to be really easy for Kimi to come back and get up to speed immediately. But, with 16 pole positions, 18 race victories, 62 podiums, 35 fastest laps and 579 points in his belt, Kimi is one driver to watch out for in 2012, provided the car is competitive.

With this announcement, the 2012 Formula 1 grid will have no less than 6 World Champions in Michael Schumacher(1994-95, 2000-04), Sebastian Vettel (2010-11), Fernando Alonso (2005-06), Kimi Raikkonen (2007), Lewis Hamilton (2008) and Jenson Button (2009) who, among them, hold a record 14 championships. Now, if only Ferrari and McLaren could find some pace in their cars to challenge the Red Bulls and Mercedes could break into the top league, the 2012 F1 season would become all the more exciting. I, for one, just can’t wait for the parade of champions to begin!


Toyota Innova Facelift seen testing in Chennai

Dominating a particular segment and crushing the competition is nothing new for Toyota. The Japanese manufacturer has a knack of doing it across several automotive segments in many countries across the world. In India though, there is only one segment where Toyota’s domination is literally unchallenged, and that is in the MPV segment (Multi Purpose Vehicles). Toyota has been ruling this segment for more than a decade now starting with the erstwhile Qualis and continuing with the Innova. Competition came and went in the form of Tata Sumo, Chevrolet Tavera, Mahindra Xylo and more recently Tata Aria, but none of them were able to even slightly shake up the Innova.

Even though the Innova is still on top of its segment setting the sales charts on fire, Toyota always prefers to keep its models updated. And so, here comes the Innova Facelift. There are quite a lot of spy shots of the Innova Facelift that has popped out in the internet. Here are a few snaps from our side to add to the World Wide Web. This partly-camouflaged Innova test vehicle was spotted and snapped when it was negotiating stop-start traffic in Chennai city. This new model is already launched in many markets like Thailand and Indonesia as Kijang Innova and was also recently displayed at the Dubai Motor Show. The Indian version is going to be no different and the attached picture reveals the mystery of how it is going to look.

This is a strictly cosmetic facelift with the new Innova getting redesigned headlights, grille and bumper up front, new taillight lenses at the rear and nothing much beyond that. It is expected to come with the same set of engines as the existing model which means that the 2.5 liter common-rail diesel engine with a power output of 102 PS and the 2.0 liter gasoline engine churning out 132 PS of power will stay put. Reports suggest that the mechanical components are also going to be left untouched and the Innova will continue to come with the best-in-segment ride and handling that has endeared it to buyers all these years. All in all, the king of MPV segment is looking mighty good to continue its reign at the top for a few more years to come.


Volkswagen Jetta TSI (Petrol) spotted in Pune

The Volkswagen Automotive Group seems to be having its hands full at the moment in India. There has been a spate of activity going on with a fair mix of new variants and all-new models being launched in the market under Volkswagen, Skoda and Audi brands. One significant launch in recent months was that of the all-new Volkswagen Jetta. The car, with its gorgeous looks, Audi-inspired rear-end design and powerful yet fuel-efficient diesel engine, met with a tremendous response in our market. Within a few months of launch, the Volkswagen Jetta, with no petrol variant in its lineup, has already started outselling the Skoda Laura, which comes with petrol, diesel and even the sporty ‘vRS’ version that was launched recently.

But, Volkswagen being what it is, is not content with it and wants to take it’s sibling rivalry to new heights. Going by this spy shot that was captured in Pune today, the highly acclaimed and technologically advanced ‘TSI’ petrol engine will soon be found under the hood of the new Jetta. It doesn’t need a lot of common sense to guess that this engine would most probably be the same 1.8 liter version with a power output of 160 bhp that does duty in Audi’s A4 and Skoda’s Laura and Superb. There are also rumors going around in the online media that Volkswagen could launch the less powerful but equally less expensive 1.4 liter TSI engine in the Jetta with a claimed power output of 122 bhp. Now, that could compete on specs and price with the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.

The TSI engine was first introduced in India under the hood of the short-lived but extremely popular Skoda Octavia vRS. Since then, the TSI engines have developed a cult following and are very popular among the enthusiasts, not only in India but also across the world. In fact, Volkswagen’s TSI family of engines have been voted as one among the world’s best engines for many years in a row. With an engine of such pedigree combined with the stunning looks of the new Jetta, it looks to me as a perfect recipe for success. Volkswagen might launch the Jetta TSI in the upcoming 2012 Auto Expo to be held at New Delhi but it’s success will entirely depend upon the company’s pricing strategy. Watch this space!