Tata Venture with 'On Test' stickers spotted in Pune; Is it the new CR4 variant?

One of the most ambitious projects of Tata Motors in recent years, apart from the Nano and the Aria, is the Venture MUV (Multi Utility Vehicle). Developed on the highly successful Ace platform, the Venture was developed to cater to private buyers in semi-urban and urban market, with its attractive looks and features. But it has to be said that the Venture isn't that big a success as we, and obviously Tata Motors, expected it to be. Just like they do for most of their models, it seems Tata Motors is already hard at work to try and maximize the prospects of Venture in the Indian market. This top-end GX model of Venture that was spotted in Pune with "On Test" stickers just goes to prove our statement.

The exteriors of this test vehicle is exactly the same as stock Venture models and we couldn't find out any differentiating factor or tell-tale signs of what is new in it. That makes us believe that Tata Motors could actually be testing a new power-train or alternate fuel options in this vehicle. The CNG variants of Tata Motors usually come with green CNG stickers on the sides even when they are being tested (We spotted the Winger MPV with one earlier), but this model had none. With that option ruled out, is it the CR4 engine that Tata is testing on this Venture? The CR4 engine has been a big hit for Tata in the Indica eV2 and Indigo eCS models and has earned a name for itself with its excellent fuel-efficiency and relatively better refinement levels.

For those who do not know, the Venture is currently powered by the 1.4-liter IDI turbo diesel engine that churns out of 71 PS of maximum power. With Tata Motors targeting private buyers for the Venture, the CR4 engine would be a big step up in the right direction.

Is our speculation right? Will the CR4 be extended into the Venture range as well? Will this be the much-needed boost for sales of the Venture to pick up? A lot of questions remain unanswered.


Nissan launches Evalia in India, prices start from INR 8.49 Lakhs

Just last month, we carried a post on how major cities across the world are happily adopting the Nissan NV 200 as their official taxis. We had also indicated that a comfier version of the NV 200 would be launched in India in a few weeks’ time. Just as we said, Nissan launched the Evalia in India today to take the fight to Toyota Innova, India’s best-selling Multi Purpose Vehicle (MPV) by far. Competitors came, challenged and either perished or accepted the defeat and started playing second fiddle to the Innova. Will Nissan be able to put up a fight against the mighty Toyota and emerge successful in the Indian market? That is the question that all of us are eagerly looking forward to for an answer. Wait for a few more days, and we will know.

Coming back to the Evalia, Nissan has launched the MPV in a range of 4 variants – XE, XE+, XL and XV, priced at INR 8.49 Lakhs, 8.92 Lakhs , 9.49 Lakhs and 9.99 Lakhs respectively. All prices are ex-showroom, New Delhi. Understandably, the base XE variant gets only the basic set of features that includes power steering, air-conditioning, multi-information display and electric mirrors. While the XL variant adds features like central locking, power windows and air-conditioning vents for the second row, the top-end XV variant comes fully loaded with intelligent key, reverse camera and a colored multi-information display.

The best part of Evalia’s feature list is the availability of Antilock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) as standard across the range. Additionally, all but the base XE variant are equipped with driver and passenger airbags. Nissan needs to be appreciated for not skimping on safety features for a vehicle that might end up doing brisk business as a commercial people-mover.

The Evalia is powered by the familiar 1.5-liter dCi diesel engine that churns out 84 bhp of maximum power and 20.4 kgm of peak torque. Having experienced this engine extensively in the Nissan Sunny and Renault Pulse, we know that this is one of the best low-capacity diesel engines around, with an amazingly linear power delivery and absolutely no turbo lag. With the top-end grunt not satisfactory even in lighter cars like the Pulse and Sunny, we expect that virtue to be carried over with the Evalia as well, which is significantly heavier. With its huge proportions and relatively tiny wheels, we are skeptical about the handling of the Evalia, especially at high speeds in highways. We really hope Nissan proves us wrong here when we get to drive the Evalia.

On the whole though, the Nissan Evalia seems to be a worthy competitor to the Toyota Innova, a model that has been dominating the market for many years now. But, is the market ready to look any further than the Toyota badge? For Nissan’s sake, we hope it does.


Mahindra launches Quanto from INR 5.82 Lacs to 7.36 Lacs

After tasting huge success with its XUV 500 SUV, Mahindra today launched the Quanto in Mumbai with a price tag of INR 5.82 Lacs for the base C2 variant that goes up to INR 7.36 Lacs for the top-end C8 variant. As is quite evident from the pictures, the Quanto is nothing but the mini Xylo that we spotted testing long back. In fact, the Quanto was under testing for around a couple of years now. Mahindra has chosen to call the Quanto a compact Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), with its sub 4 meter length, tall proportions and a host of visual add-ons like the rear door-mounted spare tire and roof rails trying their best to make it look that way. For us and the informed public though, the Quanto is just a compact Multi Purpose Vehicle (MPV) developed for taking excise duty benefits and the strong Xylo roots and resemblance makes it all the more obvious.

The Xylo is not a good looking vehicle in the first place and so, we didn't expect the Quanto to be a looker. And we were proved right. It takes a little while to get over the odd proportions of the Quanto as it is tall and narrow but not so long. The frontal design is a straight lift from Genio, the pick-up truck based on the Xylo, while the profile is carried over from the Xylo. The similarity ends with the rear door though, after which the Quanto gets its own design touches. Though a few of them like the wrap-around taillights, neatly-styled spare wheel cover and blackened C-Pillar look good individually, the 'chopped off' effect is so evident at the rear.

The Quanto is powered by a new three-cylinder common rail diesel engine dubbed 'mCR100'. Just like the car itself, this power-train is a chopped off version of Mahindra's mHawk engine. With a displacement of 1493-cc, it churns out 98.6 bhp of power and 24.4 kgm of torque, mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. The surprise element is the presence of a twin-stage turbocharger, making it possibly one of the smallest engines to employ that technology. More powerful variants and four wheel drive option could be launched later.

We may sound cliched, but the interiors are again, you guessed it right, straight from the Xylo. Four variants are available - C2, C4, C6 and C8. The C2 variant is quite spartan and comes with unpainted bumpers. C4 and C6 progressively adds features culminating in the top-end C8 variant, that comes loaded with a lot of features like Antilock Braking System (ABS), dual front airbags, Digital Drive Assist System (DDAS) which is nothing but a multi-information display in the center console, driver's seat height adjust, rear defogger, rear parking sensor and the other usual goodies like power steering, power windows and alloy wheels. Mahindra's 'Micro Hybrid' system is available on all but the base C2 variant.

With a very tight turning radius of 5.4 m, a high ground clearance of 180 mm and the flexibility to seat 7 passengers with the two jump seats at the rear, Mahindra Quanto tries to pick and combine the best attributes from hatchbacks, SUVs and MPVs. Will Mahindra succeed in this novel attempt? Let's wait and watch what the customers have to say.


2012 Paris - McLaren to preview P1, the spiritual successor of iconic F1 supercar

Ask any automobile enthusiast across the world on what they consider as the most complete supercar in the world and most of them would say McLaren F1. The F1, that was first unveiled in the year 1991, immediately redefined the term 'sportscar'. It not only looked visually stunning but also pushed the boundaries of physics to become the fastest production car of its time. Though cars like Bugatti Veyron and SSC Ultimate Aero have taken the record for higher top speeds henceforth, the McLaren F1 is still the fastest 'naturally aspirated' sportscar ever manufactured. Yes, it didn't have a turbocharger or supercharger forcing compressed air into the cylinders. But it's statistics like 6.1-liter displacement, 60-degree V12 engine configuration, 627 hp of power at 7400 rpm, 651 Nm of torque at 5600 rpm and a power-to-weight ratio of 550 hp/ton are enough to make any sane individual go weak on their knees.

When the successor of such an iconic supercar takes shape, its time for us to sit up and take notice.

After releasing a few teaser shots earlier, McLaren has released the first set of pictures of the P1 supercar, a week before its official preview at the 2012 Paris Motor Show. Look at the car and you can immediately relate to F1, as the design theme - the short hood, the bubble-like passenger cell and the sculpted rear end with the radiator grille taking prime place, looks remarkably similar yet thoroughly modern. It's a classic case of evolutionary and revolutionary design elements mixed in perfect proportions. We particularly love those stunning LED taillamps that takes the shape of the expensive sheet metal. Overall, the McLaren P1 looks ravishing and we swear that the entire surrounding will pause and look at this car wherever it goes. Though McLaren says that this is just a design study, we expect the production version to be not much different when it is unveiled next year.

Talking about the P1, Ron Dennis, McLaren Automotive Executive Chairman, said, "P1 will be the result of 50 years of racing and road car heritage. Twenty years ago we raised the supercar performance bar with the McLaren F1 and our goal with P1 is to redefine it once again". Antony Sheriff, McLaren Automotive Managing Director further added, "Our aim is not necessarily to be the fastest in absolute top speed but to be the quickest and most rewarding series production road car on a circuit. It is the true test of a supercar's all round ability and a much more important technical statement. The P1 will be the most exciting, most capable, most technologically advanced and most dynamically accomplished supercar ever made".

You might think that these are pretty tall statements but those who were lucky enough to drive one will swear that each of the above statements were true with the McLaren F1. With such credentials behind, the P1 would be no different, we are sure. Though McLaren has not released any other details of the P1 yet, it has given a royal hint that the hypercar will sit above the MP4-12 C and MP4-12 C Spyder, both in terms of specifications and pricing.


Mercedes-Benz launches B-Class in India from INR 21.49 Lakhs

Mark our words. Mercedes-Benz' resurgence in India begins here. The last few years haven't been all that good for them with BMW and later Audi surging ahead in sales, relegating the once-dominating Mercedes-Benz to the third spot amongst luxury brands. But in hindsight, it wasn't fair play at all as Mercedes-Benz did not have a compact SUV in its portfolio to compete with BMW X1 and Audi Q3, the major volume pullers for the respective brands. So what do they do to tackle the twin blows from fellow Germans? B-Class is the weapon in their arsenal, albeit temporarily. After being driven by select media friends at the Buddh International Circuit in New Delhi a couple of months back, the B-Class was then unveiled across major cities. We covered the Chennai event that took place at Trans Car India and came away with a whole lot of pictures and totally impressed.

After all this initial hype and brand-building, Mercedes-Benz finally launched the B-Class today in Mumbai, priced at INR 21.49 Lakhs for the base B180 variant and INR 24.87 Lakhs for the B180 Sport variant. Both the prices are ex-showroom Mumbai. These are the only variants available on sale now, both powered by a 1.6-liter gasoline engine with a rated power output of 122 HP and a peak torque of 200 Nm between 1250 to 4000 rpm. There is no reason to worry for diesel lovers though. Come late 2013, the B-Class will also be available with a diesel engine. At these prices, the B-Class becomes the cheapest Mercedes-Benz on sale in India and will remain that way until the A-Class comes around.

Dubbed and heavily marketed by Mercedes-Benz as India's first sports tourer, the B-Class is actually a combination of MPV and Hatchback. This is pretty evident in its styling, as it doesn't pretend to be an SUV like the BMW X1 and Audi Q3. The B-Class just looks like a glorified hatchback or a compressed MPV, depending on how you look at it. The interiors are extremely spacious with both the front and rear seats having adequate room for 5 occupants. Staying true to its roots, Mercedes-Benz has loaded the B-Class to the hilt with both the variants boasting a whole lot of active and passive safety features like Antilock Braking System (ABS) with Braking Assist (BA) and Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Attention Assist, Acceleration Skid Control (ASR), Adaptive Brake Lights, seven Airbags and dashboard displays for tyre pressure loss warning and brake wear warning. Phew, that's one exhaustive list!

Separating the B180 Sport from the base variant are chrome highlights in grille and air intake, dual exhaust pipes with stainless steel finish, bi-xenon headlamps with washers, 17-inch wheels with 7-spoke alloys, LED Daytime Running Lamps, electrically folding mirrors, multi-function sport steering wheel, leather upholstery with contrasting top-stitches, a panoramic sunroof and electrically adjustable seats with memory function. Both the variants come with a 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission with paddle shifters and interiors that mimic the design theme of SLS AMG.

Now you know why we were impressed the day in which we saw the car. The initial lot of 250 B-Class cars allocated for India are all sold out and any further bookings would be delivered only in 2013. Is this Mercedes-Benz' way of saying 'If BMW can sell out the X1 and Audi the Q3 before launch, why can't we?

Globally too, the B-Class, in its second generation now, has been a phenomenal success with more than 75,000 units sold within the first few months of launch. More significantly, this is the first model to come out of the company's Modular Front Architecture (MFA) Platform, the magical words in which Mercedes-Benz has pinned all its resurgence hopes on. Don't forget, the premium hatchback A-Class, a compact four-door coupe and a compact SUV tentatively dubbed CLA and GLA respectively will join the Indian line-up over the next few years to complete a new model onslaught for Mercedes-Benz.


Mercedes-Benz introduces iSales application for its sales force

Mercedes-Benz has had enough of the fact that the average age of its clientele is higher than that of arch rivals BMW and Audi. In a step-by-step effort, the German brand is consciously trying to woo the younger generation into its fold. The change in their corporate design philosophy that moved from being classy and conservative to being edgy and sporty was the first step towards that direction. Now, the company has taken yet another step to connect with the Gen Y crowd. What better way to do that than using something that starts with an 'i'? It is, after all, the 'i' season again with the iPhone 5 having been unveiled less than 48 hours back.

In what could be termed as a new benchmark in customer interactivity, Mercedes-Benz has introduced an application called 'iSales' for its sales force. Sales personnel at all Mercedes-Benz dealerships in India will be armed with Apple iPads, which comes preloaded with the iSales app. The application acts as a virtual showroom inside the real showroom and helps customers to experience the complete portfolio of Mercedes-Benz cars, the technology underneath and the various features and accessories that they come loaded with. The iSales also enables customers to look at the various finance options offered by Daimler Financial Services and the lease returns without any paper or calculator involved. A pretty smart move indeed, in our books.

Commenting on the occasion, Mr. Debashis Mitra, Director, Sales and Marketing, Mercedes-Benz India, said “In this age of globalisation our customers always want to be in touch with the world on the go, and our iSales platform will not only give them an access to the world of Mercedes-Benz but also they can virtually experience the fascinating range of Mercedes-Benz cars and customize accordingly their choices before booking the car. Mercedes-Benz cars are equipped with numerous sophisticated features which will be explained in details by the iSales giving our customers no reason to compromise while buying the car".

By doing this, Mercedes-Benz has ensured that a customer who walks into its showroom will know precisely how their car will end up looking and how much they have to actually shell out by playing around with the various tools in the iSales app. Apparently, the application also allows sales personnel to complete the booking process on the spot. You always wanted a hassle-free booking experience, right? It couldn't get any better than this. Mercedes-Benz keeps repeating its brand philosophy at every event which says "Best or Nothing". This initiative clearly belongs to the former category.


Volvo begins global trials of 9400 PX Multi-Axle Bus with KSRTC

We have been quite vocal in our love towards Volvo even when this blog was in its nascent stages. Need proof? Check this out. Three years down the line, there is still no change in what we think of this Swedish manufacturer. If at all, our love and respect towards Volvo has only grown multifold. Here is a company that introduced this whole concept of luxurious inter-city road transportation to us Indians that made the erstwhile Tatas and Ashok Leyands run for cover. Despite charging a hefty premium, Volvo was able to justify its price tag in a market that is known to be extremely price-sensitive. Quite surprisingly, both private fleet operators and government transport undertakings embraced Volvos like no other creating a new 'class' in intercity bus travel.

There were ordinary, deluxe and super deluxe buses, and then there was 'Volvo' to choose from. Who knows, there still might be a whole lot of people who think that all luxury buses are called Volvos, quite similar to copying machines being called as ‘xerox’ machines. Such is their popularity and dominance.

With Volvo, the standard of safety and comfort for passengers reached a new high, traveling time between destinations reduced considerably and all other global brands suddenly started looking at India as a preferred market. More importantly, fatigue levels of drivers reduced considerably as Volvos were relatively much easier to navigate. All these factors paid off handsomely making Volvo the darling of the transportation sector. But, instead of resting on the laurels of its first generation model, the company kept updating its portfolio. In fact, since making its Indian debut in the year 2001, Volvo has introduced something new every year, the most recent being its flagship 9400 Multi-Axle coach that is a smash hit in the market.

And no, Volvo isn’t stopping with that. For the first time, a luxury bus made its global debut in India as Volvo took the wraps off the 9400 PX at the 2012 Auto Expo in New Delhi. After 8 months, the first 9400 PX hit the road recently, as Volvo went to its trusted partner KSRTC (Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation) for conducting real-world trials of the all-new model. That's right, KSRTC is the first in the world to try out the 9400 PX.

So, what differentiates the 9400 PX from the regular 9400 Multi-Axle coach?

First of all, with a length of 14.5 meters, the Volvo 9400 PX is the longest multi-axle bus to have ever graced Indian roads, discounting the articulated buses plying in a few cities. Thankfully, the steerable rear tag axle ensures that navigating this bus is as easy, or as tough, as the regular 9400. Built on Volvo’s new light-weight PX platform, the 9400 PX offers better acceleration, grade-ability and stability. Powering the 9400 PX is a stonker of an engine with a displacement of 11 liters and a power output of 370 bhp. It also comes fitted with the technologically advanced I-Shift manual transmission with automatic gear changing system. This system comes with 12 gear ratios and automatically adjusts itself to the prevailing conditions. It not only makes the driver’s job easier, but also improves ride comfort, fuel efficiency and braking power. Inside the cabin, customers can choose to install a slew of luxury features including pantry, wi-fi and toilet.

Well, what do we say? Just like they did many times before, Volvo, along with KSRTC, has taken intercity travel to an all-new level with the 9400 PX. It is going to be extremely difficult for the pursuers, be it our own Tata or Ashok Leyland or even global majors like Mercedes-Benz or Scania, to match the standards set by Volvo. That is, if they decide to enter the fray. Until then, the Volvo juggernaut will continue to roll on.


Renault launches Sunny-based Scala in India

The French car manufacturer Renault is currently the cynosure of all eyes in the Indian automotive space. Yes, it is the same manufacturer whose first entry to India was marred with a bitter partnership with Mahindra and the next three models launched independently went without a trace. But then, the Duster came and swept all the dust surrounding the brand clean. On all account, the Duster has been a phenomenal success for Renault and the company is apparently sitting on an order book of 15000 units. To take advantage of the positive momentum generated by the Duster, Renault has wasted no time in launching the Scala in India. It's important to note that the company deliberately advanced the launch of Scala to offer yet another choice to thousands of customers who come enquiring about the Duster.

The Scala is to Sunny like what the Pulse is to Micra. Its a rebadged and slightly redesigned version of its Nissan sibling. And just like the Pulse, the Scala builds on the looks of the Sunny and ends up looking a whole lot better. The hexagonal grille with its chrome and black plastic bits and the stretched headlights are the biggest changes in the car. While the profile is untouched except for the alloys that are carried over from the Pulse, the rear gets redesigned taillight lenses and a thick chrome strip with the Scala name inscribed in it. Kudos to the Renault India Design Team in Mumbai for turning a not-so-good-looking car into one that looks quite appealing. Except for the logo in the steering wheel, absolutely nothing has changed inside the cabin from the Nissan Sunny.

The Scala is powered by the same pair of 1.5-liter petrol and diesel engines from the Sunny that produces 99 PS and 86 PS respectively. Both the engines are currently mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. Three variants are on offer - RxE, RxL and RxZ. While the base RxE and the top-end RxZ comes only with the petrol and diesel engines respectively, the RxL trim is available with both the engine options. We have always loved the characteristics of Renault's superb K9K diesel engine and we are sure that it will be no different in the Scala too. The Scala comes loaded with goodies like leather seats, automatic climate control, follow-me-home headlamps, dual airbags, ABS with EBD and Brake Assist. Also, the Scala is the last of the 5 models that Renault had planned to launch in India before the end of 2012.

While all this is impressive, we feel that Renault has slightly missed the target when it comes to pricing. While the petrol variants are priced at INR 6.99 Lakhs and 7.85 Lakhs, the diesel variants cost INR 8.69 Lakhs and 9.57 Lakhs, all ex-showroom Delhi. Compared to the equivalent Sunny variant, the Scala is charging a substantial premium of well over 1 Lakh rupees.

Will the market respond favorably to better looks and more features of the Scala and ignore this price difference with the Sunny? Does 'Renault' badge really command the premium that the company is asking for? Let's wait and see.

NOTE: We have not driven the Scala yet but if you want to know how it is to drive, click on this link where we have driven and posted about the Nissan Sunny Diesel. The Renault Scala is mechanically identical to the Sunny.

Driven #15: 2012 Tata Indigo eCS VX

The Tata Indigo eCS is not a new car in the market. Launched in 2010, it was targeted squarely at the taxi segment initially. When Tata wanted to attract private buyers as well, they quietly slipped in an additional VX variant with more features inside and out. Even this happened late last year. But why are we driving and posting about it now? There is a reason. To tackle the triple whammy of sky-rocketing gasoline prices, rising interest rates and decreasing market sentiment, customers are running after diesel power, fuel-efficiency and value for money. The Indigo eCS ticks all these and some more. That it comes with the added practicality of a boot without charging a substantial premium is just an added bonus.

Are we looking at ‘the perfect car’ then for the prevailing market conditions? Well, read on to find out.


If there is one thing that Tata has to do immediately to increase footfalls in their showrooms, they have to come up with a new design language. We have grown tired of looking at their cars and are pretty sure that most of you are too. The signature ‘smiling’ grille and the all-too-familiar triangular headlights do nothing to evoke interest. Though the satin-silver finish in the grille, the chrome lip and the clear detailing in the headlights try their best to brighten things up, there is only so much that can be done to a more-than-a-decade-old design. In profile, the Indigo eCS is a carbon copy of Indica until the rear doors, which isn’t bad. But things that change after that doesn’t necessarily change for the better though. Tata’s deliberate attempt to chop off the length of the car to bring it under 4 meters has resulted in a short and stubby boot that looks odd and disproportionate from most angles.

The top-end VX variant that we got to drive was added to the Indigo eCS line-up primarily to woo private buyers. Accordingly, it gets a host of visual embellishments that aims to make the car a bit more classy and functional. The grille with its satin finish looks good, as does the snazzy alloys. Thankfully, Tata has played it subtle with the chrome bits and didn’t go overboard like a few of its competitors. Though rear view mirrors with blinkers are added to the VX variant, the blinkers in the fenders aren’t taken off. So, you have not one but two blinkers on either side, which is odd.

Hopefully, Tata is working on CS variants of Manza which would be better and modern than the eCS.


The first thing that strikes you once you step into the Indigo eCS is the abundance of space, relative to other cars in this segment. Both the front and rear seats have more than adequate headroom and legroom and the rear seat can accommodate three abreast quite comfortably. Just like the exteriors, there are a host of features exclusive to the VX variant inside as well. The dashboard and plastics are finished in beige which makes the cabin feel quite airy. Then there is this wooden finish in the center console and door handles that we didn’t like at all. The instrument cluster is new, with two prominent chrome-ringed dials and the rear seat also gets a center armrest. Creature comforts such as keyless entry, Bluetooth connectivity and electrically-adjustable rear view mirrors makes the car quite well equipped for the price. Though Antilock Braking System (ABS) is available as standard, Airbags aren’t even optional.

The major grouse with all Tata cars is their sub-par levels of build quality and poor fit and finish. The Indigo eCS VX sadly is no exception. The vertical chrome strip in the steering wheel that looks like a school-going kid's craft work, the wooden inserts that was broken at a couple of places and all those exposed wires in the driver's footwell are irritants that could spoil the entire ownership experience. Ergonomics has gone for a toss too. The pedals are placed at an awkward angle that it starts hurting your feet in just a few minutes and the lesser said about the position of power window switches, the better.

Tata still has a very long way to go to match the build quality offered by its immediate rivals Maruti-Suzuki and Hyundai.


Ever since the Indigo CS was launched in 2008, Tata continuously worked on it and came out with improved versions every now and then. The eCS VX is probably the summit of all those work done by Tata. There are a series of changes under the hood aimed at reducing the losses and improving the efficiency. ECU has been recalibrated, gear ratios have been changed, fuel delivery has been reworked and the air-fuel mixture has been optimized resulting in an astounding ARAI-certified fuel efficiency figure of 25 km/l. That makes the Indigo eCS one of India's most fuel-efficient cars on paper. On real world conditions, the car returned somewhere close to 18 km/l, which is still mighty impressive. This 1396 cc common-rail turbo diesel engine, dubbed CR4, produces a maximum power of 69 bhp at 4000 rpm and a peak torque of 14.2 kgm at 1800 to 3000 rpm. Refinement levels, though not the best in segment, are adequately good.

Power delivery is linear with virtually no turbo kick and the car feels sprightly with good bottom and mid-range, making city driving easier. The car struggles at the top of its power band though and overtaking manouerves in highways needs to be adequately planned if you don't want to get caught out by the lack of surge. The car is an excellent highway cruiser but only up to speeds in the range of 80 to 90 km/hr. Anything more than that and the car tends to resist with a lot of wind noise intruding inside the cabin and the engine feeling strained and noisy. Gearshifts are far from impressive with the long throws and rubbery feel spoiling the feel.

Except for a slightly jittery low speed ride courtesy the stiffer suspension setup and the low rolling resistance tires, the Indigo eCS possesses a very good ride quality that soaks up bumps and potholes without much of a fuss. Handling has never been Tata's forte and this car proves it again. Though straight line stability is good, the rear gets bouncy when you throw the car into a corner. Though the brake pedal is spongy and responds after a slight delay, presence of ABS ensures that the car comes to a stop without losing its line.


* Engine Type: CR4 In-line, Common-rail Turbo Diesel
* No of Cylinders: 4
* Displacement: 1396 cc
* Maximum Power: 69 bhp @ 4000 RPM
* Maximum Torque: 14.2 kgm @ 1800-3000 RPM
* Transmission Type: 5-speed MT
* Tires: 175/65 R14
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Drum (Rear)


* Amazing fuel-efficiency
* Spacious Cabin
* Real value for money


* Sub-par build-quality, fit and finish
* Dated exteriors and interiors


The Indigo eCS VX has its own set of flaws. It looks dated inside and out, it's build quality leaves a lot to be desired and Tata's after-sales service is nowhere near where it needs to be. But where the car really scores is with what the masses are looking for. It is cheap to own, run and maintain, is incredibly fuel-efficient, comes loaded with an interesting mix of features and is an excellent highway cruiser.

So, here is our answer to the question raised at the beginning of this post. The Tata Indigo eCS VX is still not 'the perfect car', but it comes scarily close to meeting all the current market demands to the tee. If ever there was proof needed that Tata does read the hearts and minds of Indians perfectly, this is it!


Ford Focus creates history, it is Ford's 350 Millionth Vehicle and the world's best selling car so far in 2012

Landmarks come and go in every company's life cycle but this is one almighty landmark that Ford celebrated recently. On 31-Aug-2012, the American manufacturer rolled out its, hold your breath, 350 Millionth Vehicle off its assembly line. Yes, you read that right. It is not 1, not 10, heck not even 100, it is a whopping 350 Million. Before you start counting the number of zeros in that number, here are some facts given by John Fleming, Executive Vice-President of global manufacturing at Ford, on the occasion. "Producing 350 million vehicles is equivalent to producing one vehicle every 10 seconds for our 109-year history. If placed end to end, the vehicles would stretch to the moon and back - twice. To put that in the right perspective, Ford would have rolled out a vehicle by the time you finish reading this sentence and the one immediately afterwards.

The car that marked the event was a red 2012 Focus Hatchback manufactured at Ford Thailand Manufacturing, the company's newest vehicle assembly plant inaugurated just a few months back at Rayong, Thailand. Though Ford would have preferred celebrating this landmark with a Mustang or a F150, it's head-turner and volume-churner respectively, the Focus has risen to the occasion splendidly with a huge landmark of its own. For the first six months of this year, the Ford Focus has become the best-selling car nameplate in the world, apparently beating the perennial best-seller Toyota Corolla by a handsome margin. "The Focus is a winner on so many levels because it successfully provides customers with what they want most - a safe, smart, fuel-efficient, good-looking, fun-to-drive, affordable car", said Jim Farley, Ford's group Vice-president for global marketing, sales and service.

Founded by Henry Ford in the year 1903, Ford Motor Company led the industry in its nascent stages with the phenomenally successful Model T, that paved way for affordable cars across the world. It took more than 50 years for the company to reach its first 50 Million units, while the remaining 300 Million units have been produced in the subsequent 50. Ford safely glided through the recent economic recession in 2008 even as its fellow country rivals GM and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy. Though it lost more than a few brands along the way including the iconic Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin, focusing on the core 'Ford' brand has proved to be remarkably successful for the company. The recent 'One Ford' mantra of developing and producing identical vehicles to be sold across the world has yielded huge benefits and the Focus was born out of the same philosophy.

Check out this picture below that neatly depicts the production milestones crossed by Ford in its history spanning 109 years.

While this is all well and good, for us, Ford means 'Ecosport' at the moment. Bring it on Ford, India needs a whole lot of them right now to clear the Dust(er)!

'What if' automotive manufacturers fought like Apple and Samsung?

Techies across the world were in for a rude shock last week when an American Court in the Northern District of California ruled in favour of Apple in yet another head-to-head legal duel that the American giant waged against Samsung, it's cut-throat competitor from South Korea. The verdict found Samsung guilty of infringing in the patents of the maker of iPods and iPads and awarded more than a million US Dollars as damages to Apple. While this has sparked celebrations amongst Apple patrons, it has also caused widespread anguish amongst Samsung fans across the world. With all due credits to Apple for pushing the boundaries of aesthetics and technology in its products, it was actually Samsung which brought many of these so called high-end features within the reach of a wider populace.

Beyond the pros and cons of this verdict which is sure to bring about a huge change in the smartphone industry, we dread to think of what would happen if the global automotive manufacturers waged legal wars against each other, like what Apple and Samsung are doing, for reasons as trivial as some for which the two electronic brands are fighting for. Don't get us wrong, we aren't in favour of copying or infringing into the intellectual property rights of a rival. But, some of the patents awarded to these smartphone manufacturers are just so ridiculous, relatively speaking, that we cannot even fathom the consequences of such things happening in the world of automobiles. To help you understand our frustration better, let us bring you some imaginary 'what if' cases on the same lines as the 'Apple versus Samsung' story.

* Daimler could have sued every other automobile manufacturer because it holds the patent for 'vehicle with gas engine drive', that was awarded way back in the year 1886.

* Ford could have gone to court against all other manufacturing companies for copying its method of producing in an assembly line, a concept that it pioneered way back in the early nineties.

* Volvo could have banned all other manufacturers from selling cars with three-point seat belts, as they were the first to introduce it as standard safety feature in the late fifties.

What if some or any of the above had actually happened? Will personal commuting be what it is and the cars what they are? Won't the entire automotive industry be crippled in that case? For those who were wondering why Anything On Wheels is writing about something without one on seeing the title of this post, that explains the point. All we can do is thank Heavens that the automotive industry is matured enough and the manufacturers accommodating in nature to not sue their rivals every time they come up with something similar or, in some cases, better than their own models. Had it not been the case, we would not have advanced much forward from the Ford Model T, the first affordable and mass-produced car in the world.