Hyundai celebrates world's first series production of Zero-Emission Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicles

The white Hyundai ix35 that you see in this post created history on 26th of February, 2013 when it became the first series-produced fuel cell automobile in the world. Plant 5 in Hyundai's Ulsan manufacturing complex in South Korea was the venue of this landmark achievement that was attended by the company's top management and VIPs. With this, Hyundai is trying to prove the point that fuel cell vehicles are not far off from everyday usage. Though there are quite a few manufacturers working on this technology that's proving to be a great alternative to pure electric vehicles, this move from Hyundai is a giant stride in the world of Zero-Emission vehicles.

Expressing his thoughts at the event, Hyundai Motor Vice Chairman Eok Jo Kim said, “With the ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle, Hyundai is leading the way into the zero-emissions future. The ix35 Fuel Cell is the most eco-friendly vehicle in the auto industry and proves that hydrogen fuel cell technology in daily driving is no longer a dream.”

Between now and 2015, Hyundai plans to build around 1000 units of the ix35 Fuel Cell for lease to public and private fleets. Most of these would primarily be in Europe, as European Union has established a hydrogen road map and initiated construction of hydrogen fueling stations. After 2015, with lowered production costs and a further-developed hydrogen infrastructure, the company will begin manufacturing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for retail sales as well. With this, Hyundai has achieved its openly-stated claim of being a global leader in the hydrogen fuel cell race.

The ix35 Fuel Cell is a result of over 14 years and many hundred million Euros of research and development by hundreds of engineers at Hyundai's Fuel Cell R&D Center in Mabuk, Korea. Boasting proprietary technology underneath, the ix35 Fuel Cell is powered by hydrogen. A fuel cell stack converts this hydrogen into electricity, which turns the vehicle’s motor. The only emission generated by the ix35 Fuel Cell is "water", making it a true 'Zero-Emission' vehicle that doesn't draw grid power which could have been generated by polluting means.

Not only did the modularization of fuel cell stack, driving device and inverter helped Hyundai downsize the engine to match that of a gasoline engine, the company also claims that the ix35 Fuel Cell has drive-ability and performance similar to that of it's petrol sibling. With a 0 to 100 km/h acceleration time of 12.5 seconds, a top speed of 160 km/h and a single-charge range of 594 km, we don't dispute Hyundai's claim at all.

If only the top honchos here could get a hint from this and start developing infrastructure for a cleaner, greener and meaner India, we could also get a chance to drive cars like this. Until then, all we can do, even if interested, is check out the ix35 Fuel Cell in person at the upcoming 2013 Geneva Motor Show.


Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG is now on sale in India

That the Sports Utility Vehicles are a rage in India is not a surprise. What is a surprise though is the sheer magnitude of them getting launched in our market. Over the last week or so, there has been no less than 5 launches, all of them being SUVs that are either new or face-lifted. Mercedes-Benz had the last laugh though, as it brought in the grand daddy of all SUVs - the brutal G63 AMG, on Tuesday, the 19th of February.

The G-Class or 'Geländewagen' (German for ‘overland vehicle’) is a cult automobile. With its military roots and a basic design that's been around since the model's debut in 1979, the G-Class has amassed a massive fan following across the world, including India. When Mercedes-Benz launched the G55 AMG in India and gave the other variants a miss, their intentions were clear. They wanted to position the G-Class as an exclusive status symbol for the super rich. With this new G63 AMG, they are continuing that tradition. With an ex-showroom Mumbai price of INR 1.46 Crores, the G63 AMG is among the most expensive Sports Utility Vehicles in India.

The straight, boxy and unashamedly classic lines that earned the Geländewagen a lot of praise is the highlight of the new G63 AMG. As always, it's the detailing and finesse that has moved up a notch over its predecessor. Inspite of its age, the G63 AMG is an eyeball magnet, thanks to the AMG-grille with twin chrome louvers, the dual chrome-tipped exhaust pipes on both sides, the massive 20-inch alloy wheels in Titanium Grey with contrasting red brake calipers and it's rugged 'go-anywhere' looks. The interiors are touted to be even more luxurious now, with the seats, dashboard, steering wheel and door panels swathed in a sea of leather.

As with all Mercedes-Benz cars, the G63 AMG comes with the full set of active and passive safety features.

Having used the letters 'AMG' in the post, how can we not talk about power and performance? As with most AMG-tuned variants, the G63 AMG is brutally powerful and insanely quick, with its performance nothing short of scintillating. We know that because we have driven the G55 AMG in Ladakh before and were bowled over by its performance. With a supercharged 5-5-liter V8 engine under its hood, the G63 AMG is rated at 544 hp at 5500 rpm. Coupled with the rated torque of a whopping 760 Nm at 2000 rpm, the G63 AMG is capable of accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.4 seconds.

Inspite of its exorbitant price tag, the G55 AMG was popular among the rich and affluent in India. With the launch of the new G63 AMG, Mercedes-Benz is hoping to carry the momentum forward.


Force Motors relaunches Gurkha SUV, prices start at INR 6.25 Lakhs

Not to be left out in the booming demand for Sports Utility Vehicles and crossovers in the Indian market, Force Motors took the wraps off its Gurkha SUV yesterday. Unlike many other wanna-be SUVs that would huff and puff once you venture off-road, the new Gurkha, just like its predecessor that earned a niche for itself among the off-roading aficionados, is built for hard-core off-roading. In fact, Force Motors is so confident of its credentials that it has chosen to market the Gurkha as an Extreme Off-roader Vehicle with a 4x4x4 badge. What it conveys is a mystery though.

Three variants of Gurkha are available on sale - 2WD Soft Top, 4WD Soft Top and 4WD Hard Top, priced at INR 6.25 Lakhs, 8.35 Lakhs and 8.5 Lakhs respectively. What strikes us immediately on looking at the prices is the whopping 210,000 Rupees differential that the four-wheel drive system commands. All variants are powered by a 2.6-liter diesel engine that is good for 81 bhp of power at 3200 rpm and 23.45 kgm of torque at 1800 rpm. This engine is derived from the same OM616 engine that powers a lot of other Force vehicles, with the base design coming from Mercedes-Benz. With a huge 210 mm ground clearance and equipped with front and rear differential locks, the Gurkha will feel at total ease off-road.

Surprisingly, Force Motors has chosen to launch the Gurkha with BS-III compliance only, which means that prospective buyers in NCR and other metro cities would not be able to own one.

Regular readers of Anything On Wheels would be knowing the fact that Force Motors was planning to relaunch the Trax Gurkha SUV in the Indian market, as we caught a couple of test vehicles on the outskirts of Pune. But, what we didn't know then was the models spotted testing weren't the final Gurkha SUV, but a variant of the regular Trax model. How we wish they were!

While those 3-door models looked butch inspite of their dated design, we aren't big fans of the new Gurkha's altered front-end. The silver-colored grille, bumper and headlight surrounds are too loud and flashy for our tastes. But, we quite like the chrome-plated air intake snorkel, roof rails and alloy wheels. There are some improvements inside too, with air-conditioner, power steering, dual-tone interiors and front-facing, reclining seats available as standard across variants. Along with the regular Gurkha, a few customized versions were also unveiled, highlighting the tuning potential of the vehicle.

With Mahindra Thar and Maruti-Suzuki Gypsy being its only competitors, we expect the Gurkha to be popular among the off-roading enthusiasts in the country.


Driven #20: Mercedes-Benz B-Class (B180)

A couple of hours is all it took for the nice chaps at Mercedes-Benz and Trans Car India, the German brand's dealership in Chennai, to confirm us a slot for picking up the B-Class for a drive. And, if they exhibit the same kind of attitude and enthusiasm in bringing their new models to India, which apparently is well charted out already, their quest to return to the top of the luxury segment might happen sooner than they think.

The B-Class is a very important model for Mercedes-Benz in India. Spearheading the brand's all-new MFA Platform, which, the company believes, is going to play a main role in its resurgence, the B-Class is being marketed as a 'Sports Tourer'. Also, being "the cheapest" Mercedes-Benz currently on sale in India, the B-Class is expected to bring in new customers and much-needed volumes to the three pointed star.

The pre-launch sell-out of the first batch of B-Class models proves that the Indian car-buying public have given this car a thumbs up. But, putting on the hat of a critic, does the B-Class deliver what is expected out of it? We found out with a short drive.


The Mercedes-Benz B-Class has an identity problem. It doesn't fit into any particular category within the realms of the Indian automotive industry. Though Mercedes-Benz has chosen to market it as a 'Sports Tourer' - a coinage that's new to India but quite popular abroad, the B-Class is actually a Multi Purpose Vehicle (MPV) that's designed to look like a hatchback. Then again, it is considerably bigger than the biggest hatchback that we have seen. Measuring at 4.3 meters bumper to bumper, the B-Class is bigger than many sedans. So, what do we classify it as, then? Well, that's a question that even Mercedes-Benz doesn't have an answer yet. 

Based on the brand-new 'Modular Front Architecture (MFA)' that's developed by Mercedes-Benz to churn out an array of affordable, front-wheel drive models, the B-Class currently sits at the bottom of the company's Indian lineup. But, don't let it's affordable price tag fool you into thinking that this isn't a real deal. The B-Class is every inch a true Mercedes and draws a lot of styling cues from its elder siblings.

The detailing in the head-light clusters, for instance, is typical 'Mercedes' stuff, as are the sling-shot indicators in the rear view mirrors, the upright grille with horizontal slats and the thin streaks of Daytime Running Lamps that adorn the front end. The sharp-cut creases that criss-crosses the profile lends a muscular look to the car, while the stunning 17-inch wheels with low-profile tires screams sportiness. All is well, until this point. It is only when you walk over to the rear the underwhelming styling of the B-Class becomes obvious. Though the split taillights and the twin exhaust pipes try their best to liven up things, there is only so much that a pair of lights and pipes can do.

That said, the B-Class did turn heads and quite a few were inquisitive to know more about the car.

There are two variants on offer - the base B180 and the B180 Sport that we drove. The base variant loses the chrome accents in the grille and bumper, bi-xenon headlights with washers, LED Daytime Running Lamps and the dual exhaust system to name a few. The snazzy 17-inch wheels too make way for a set of more practical 16-inch alloys.


The moment you walk into the B-Class and slam the doors lock with that solid thud, you will realize that the interiors are made of top-notch quality. Forget your qualms, if any. There is absolutely no evident cost-cutting here.

The interiors follow a design philosophy that will soon be shared with other MFA-based models like the A-Class and CLA. The all-black dashboard has a nice three-layered look, with the glossy black, ash-wood trim proving to be a visual delight. The SLS AMG-inspired circular air-conditioning vents with chrome finish look great and feels good to operate. The top of the dashboard houses a tablet-like infotainment screen with a colour display. Unlike its siblings, the B-Class makes do with just a single climate control system. The leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel is good to touch and hold, and houses a whole lot of buttons for controlling everything from the multi-function display to the Bluetooth-paired mobile phone.

The instrument cluster, with four analogue dials and a multi-information display, look classy. The B-Class offers three driving modes to choose from at the touch of a button - Economy, Sports and Manual, the latter operated through paddle shifts in the steering wheel. The steering-column mounted gear selector lets us toggle between Drive, Neutral and Reverse with a gentle flick and the electronically-operated Parking Brake is a breeze to operate. The seats are adequately supportive, with the driver's seat getting full electric adjustment with memory function. Ergonomics are spot on with things nicely falling on to our hands. The central infotainment controller is quite nifty and intuitive as well.

All that length that you saw outside proves to be a boon inside as the B-Class accommodates 5 full-sized adults in decent comfort. That's not all, there are lots of places to slide in your knick-knacks too. Fully foldable rear seats with split function increases the practicality quotient to an all-new level by creating a flat loading bay that could carry just about anything.

The base B180 variant misses quite a few features like power-adjustable driver's seat, ash-wood dashboard trim, contrasting top-stitching in leather upholstery, electrically folding mirrors and the sporty stainless steel pedals. But, Mercedes-Benz has not skimped where it matters the most. Both variants are equipped with a full set of safety features that includes 7 Airbags, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Acceleration Skid Control (ASC), Antilock Braking System (ABS), Brake Assist, Hill Start Assist with 'Hold' function, tire pressure loss warning system, brake pad wear indicator and the Attention Assist system which, for some reason, kept flashing during our drive indicating that we needed a break.

We didn't need it then, but we do now, after typing that exhaustive list.


Bucking the current market norm, Mercedes-Benz sells the B-Class with just a petrol engine under its hood, with diesel variants expected to join the lineup later this year.

Don't let the B180 badging at the rear confuse you. The B-Class comes with a 1.6-liter turbocharged petrol engine that belts out a maximum power output of 121 bhp at 5000 rpm and a peak torque of 20.39 kgm of torque between 1250 to 4000 rpm. Though the specs aren't impressive on paper, the B-Class doesn't let you down on the road. Power delivery is smooth and refined unless you push the throttle hard at higher revs, at which point the engine starts getting vocal. In the Economy mode, the 7-speed automatic transmission upshifts quite early, while the Sports mode sees the engine spinning at higher revs before shifting. Then, there is this Manual mode that allows the driver to override the auto transmission through the paddle shifts.

Moving to the transmission itself, the 7G-DCT dual clutch unit is simply superb with absolutely no jerks that many dual clutch transmissions are known for. For a change, using the paddle shifts are so much fun that enthusiasts are going to have a ball of a time fiddling with them. The Eco Start Stop function works well, but is a bit too intrusive for our liking. The gamble taken by Mercedes-Benz in plonking a 1.6-liter engine has paid off, as the B-Class returned an average fuel efficiency of 11.2 km/l during our full-city drive. Not venturing onto a proper highway meant that we weren't able to check the claimed 0 to 100 km/h acceleration time of 10.2 seconds and the top speed of 190 km/h.

That the B-Class is based on a new front-wheel-drive chassis unlike the brand's other models is first evident in the way it rides. While the 17-inch wheels might be a reason for this, the ride quality of the B-Class is nowhere near that of its siblings, including the not-much-more-expensive C-Class. The car does filter the road irregularities despite its stiffly-sprung suspension, but not to the extent we have come to expect from a Mercedes-Benz. What it loses in ride, the B-Class gains multi-fold in handling though. Straight line stability is excellent and the B-Class chews up miles unassumingly. There is not a hint of body roll, with the car turning into corners with utmost ease and conviction.

Unlike many other cars whose marketing tags are purely for 'marketing' purposes, the B-Class is as close to a 'Sports Tourer' as one can get in India. It is sure to make you smile every time you get behind the wheel and embark on a long drive. And, that's what a Sports Tourer is expected to do.


* Engine Type: In-line, Turbocharged, Direct Injection
* No of Cylinders: 4
* Displacement: 1595 cc
* Maximum Power: 121 bhp @ 5000 rpm
* Maximum Torque: 20.39 kgm @ 1250-4000 rpm
* Transmission Type: 7-speed AT
* Tires: 225/45 R17 (B180 Sport)
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Disc (Rear)


* Space and practicality
* Full complement of safety features
* Sporty handling


* Average ride quality
* Lack of powerful engine options


Though we have trumpeted more than once that the B-Class is the cheapest Mercedes-Benz on sale in India, at INR 27.38 Lakhs and 32.25 Lakhs on-road Chennai for the base B180 and B180 Sport respectively, it is not cheap by any stretch of imagination. For that price though, the B-Class comes across as a stylish and practical car with spacious, feature-loaded interiors. Combine that with its superbly-balanced chassis and sporty handling, and the B-Class presents a strong case for itself as one of the best highway cruisers available in the market.

If only people flocking towards the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 are ready to get past their pseudo-SUV looks, Mercedes-Benz has a great alternative in the B-Class.

After driving this, we just can't wait to get our hands on the stunning A-Class hatchback and CLA four-door compact coupe that are on their way to Indian shores. Bring them on, Mercedes-Benz!


Fiat 500 Fiore Rosa tries to be 'the' perfect gift for your Valentine

On this Valentine's Day, we bring all the 'couples in love' a good piece of automotive info to spruce up your lives. Unfortunately, if you don't live in Japan, you won't be able to do anything more than reading this post and spreading the information.

Stop anyone with a little knowledge on automobiles and put forth this question - 'Which is the cutest car on production in the world?' More often than not, the answer would be the Fiat 500, also called 'Cinquecento' in Italian language. Apparently, it's not just the fairer sex who love this little car. There are guys, a whole lot of them in fact, who have a secret liking for this cutesy Italian. May be, that's why Fiat has chosen to roll out a special edition of this car to mark the Valentine's Day and woo both sexes.

Limited to just 150 numbers and to be sold only in Japan, this Fiat 500 is christened 'Fiore Rosa'. Staying true to its name which means 'pink flowers' in Fiat's native language, the 500 Fiore Rosa comes painted in a light shade of pink and is powered by Fiat's award-winning 'Twin Air' engine. Going by the presence of halogen headlights and steel wheels instead of xenons and alloys, the Fiore Rosa looks to be the base variant of 500. If you happen to live in Japan and are interested in buying one, rush to the nearest Fiat dealer. The 500 Fiore Rosa will be on sale for just 4 days, from today until 17th of February.

Given the fact that girls hand out Valentine's gifts to guys in Japan, Fiat's decision to launch this 'Pink'ecento there seems to be a very smart marketing trick. We don't usually post about special editions, but this one caught our eyes for being so related to the occasion. Go, spread love folks!


Honda launches the all-new CR-V in India

One of the early birds to take advantage of the then-nascent Sports Utility Vehicle segment in India was the Honda CR-V. It has been on sale in our country long enough to experience contrasting fortunes. While the first generation model was a huge success outselling its competitors, the subsequent generation models started fading off as the market increasingly skewed towards diesel-engined SUVs. Now that the market seems to be returning to the concept of gasoline-powered vehicles, the CR-V is trying to stage a comeback as Honda Cars India Limited launched the all-new fourth generation CR-V in India yesterday.

Unlike all previous models that were imported as Completely Built Units and sold in India, the all-new CR-V is being assembled at Honda India's plant in Greater Noida.

Similar to the older model, the CR-V comes with a choice of two petrol engines - a 2.0-liter unit that offers maximum power output of 156 PS at 6500 rpm and a torque of 190 Nm at 4300 rpm and a 2.4-liter unit that offers 190 PS of maximum power at 7000 rpm and 226 Nm of torque at 4400 rpm. As is always the case with Honda's petrol engines, these two motors can be safely expected to be smooth, powerful, free-revving and fuel-efficient too. The new CR-V has managed to return fuel efficiency figures of 13.7 km/l and 12 km/l for the 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter variants respectively, which are impressive for a bulky Sports Utility Vehicle.

While the 2.0-liter variant comes with a choice of a 6-speed manual and a 5-speed automatic transmissions, the 2.4-liter variant comes with the 5-speed automatic only. Prices start at INR 19.95 Lakhs for the base 2.0L MT and goes up to INR 23.85 Lakhs for the top-end 2.4L AT (AVN) that comes with Audio Video Navigation. The 2.0L AT and 2.4L AT are priced at INR 20.85 Lakhs and 22.40 Lakhs respectively. All prices are ex-showroom, Delhi.

For a change, Honda has loaded the CR-V to the hilt with all variants equipped with dual zone climate control, an integrated music system with Audio/CD/MP3/USB/iPod compatibility, 17-inch alloy wheels, steering-mounted audio controls, intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID) and a gamut of safety features that include Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) system, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist and 6 Airbags. While the AT variants add Hill Start Assist system and foot-type parking brake to the kitty, the 2.4-liter variants takes it one step further with a sunroof, paddle shifts and a REAL TIME 4WD system that switches to four-wheel drive on demand.

The styling of the new CR-V is more evolutionary than revolutionary with most of the cues of the previous-generation model carried over to the new model. The aggressive chrome grille, the wraparound headlights with HID projector lamps, the arching window-line and the vertical rear combination lamps ensure that there is enough visual drama in the new CR-V to get noticed.

With the absence of diesel engine options coming out as the only point of criticism against the new Honda CR-V, the diesel-obsessed Indian market's response to this petrol-only SUV remains to be seen. Will the Honda CR-V manage to do what the Mitsubishi Outlander couldn't? Let's wait and see.


Driven # 19: 2013 Ford Figo Diesel

When the Figo was launched in 2010, it created quite a stir in the market, winning every single 'Car of the Year' award given by media outlets before going on to become 'the most awarded car ever' on Indian roads. As a result, the market responded favorably and the Figo was an instant success, giving Ford India unprecedented volumes and market penetration. Figo's trump-card was its pricing, with none of the other premium hatchbacks managing to beat it on the 'value for money' factor. The fact that it was a premium hatchback with a not so premium price tag caught on in India and Ford doesn't want to change that. So, when they decided to give the Figo a mid-cycle facelift, the 'VFM' content was left intact.

What's new in the all-new Figo then, that boasts "Change is a wonderful thing" in it's advertisements? In short, it has got some tweaks on the outside, a few minor touches on the inside and a couple of barely-noticeable calibration changes under the hood. Are these enough to keep the Figo rolling amidst growing competition? We drove the Figo Diesel EXI, one of the more popular variants and the one that best exhibits Figo's VFM proposition, to find out.


Let's be fair, the Figo wasn't a modern-looking car even when it made its debut here. So, to expect Ford to do a magic with this facelift would be foolish. But, did the much-publicized facelift do something to improve the looks of the Figo? The answer is only a 'partial yes'. Firstly, the changes are too minimal that many on-lookers will find it really difficult to differentiate the new car from the old. Secondly, Ford has tried to incorporate it's latest 'Kinetic' design theme in an aged body-shell, resulting in a mix of old and new. Having said that, the Figo isn't a bad-looking car. The straight lines all around, despite being dated, gives the Figo a clean and balanced look that would offend none.

With this facelift, the car now sports clear-lens headlight clusters, a chrome-slatted grille, an hexagonal air-dam in the front bumper and new taillight lenses. While the clear lenses and significant detailing in the headlights does try to impress, we miss those racy blackened clusters of the old Figo that earned itself quite a lot of fans. The upward-sloping window-line gives the car a tipped forward stance when viewed from profile. We might be scoffed at for stating this, but we quite like the vertical taillight clusters in the Figo. Another nice touch is the addition of a black plastic insert in the rear bumper that lends a sporty feel to the car. In the higher variants, subtle usage of chrome all around adds a touch of elegance.

There are two bright new colours added to the Figo palette with this facelift - Bright Yellow and Kinetic Blue.

What Ford has basically done is freshen up things a bit to ensure that the Figo stays on top of the list of choices when customers go hunting for a premium small car. The Figo will prove to be a sensible choice for those who prefer a no-nonsense look over something that's loud and flashy. If you are one among the latter, there are cars like Punto and i20 that's waiting for you.


While the exterior tweaks do their best to hide the fact, that the Figo is actually based on a decade-old model is obvious once you step inside.

The dashboard is traditional, dominated by large, circular air-conditioning vents that are surrounded by hard, edgy plastics all around. But, the cabin makes up for it with an extremely practical layout that not only liberates abundant space, but is also user-friendly. The build quality is reasonably rugged that the interiors won’t fall apart and are capable of withstanding certain level of abuse. While we like the silver-colored plastics around the air-conditioning vents and gear knob, we aren't fond of the blue-colored center console, that is a total misfit in an otherwise lively cabin. There are a few ergonomic misses, the steering-column mounted audio controls in the higher variants and the hood release button near the front passenger door being prime examples.

The instrument console is simple and neatly laid out with a digital odometer, tripmeter and a distance-to-empty display apart from other regular warning lights. Being the second cheapest on offer, the EXI variant misses the tachometer but does not disappoint when it comes to features to price ratio. It comes reasonably equipped with goodies like central locking, keyless entry, air-conditioning, remote fuel filler and boot opening and front power windows offered as standard. For those who can't miss out on important features like ABS, airbags and music system with Bluetooth connectivity, Ford sells the top-end Titanium variant that offers all these and much more. The absence of rear power windows is a glaring omission though.

Pardon us, inspite of breaking our heads for almost a day, we couldn’t really find out a reason for Ford’s fetish over weird-colored dashboards. The strange ‘coral’ dashboard that was available as an option in the top-end 'Titanium' variant is, thankfully, not carried over to the facelift, replaced by a still-strange but likeable shade of ‘riviera blue’.


Mid-cycle facelifts generally leave the power-train and other mechanicals untouched and the new Figo is no exception. Both the engines, the 1.2-liter ‘Duratec’ petrol and the 1.4-liter ‘Duratorq’ diesel that we have driven, are carried over with just minor calibration changes to improve their characteristics. With 69 ps of maximum power and 160 Nm of maximum torque, the Figo TDCi is great to drive both inside the city and out on the highway. A combination of excellent low and mid-range, non-existent turbo lag and linear power delivery all through the range ensures that the Figo doesn’t run out of grunt easily. Once the triple digit speeds are reached though, the progress slows down considerably and that’s when the Figo leaves you wanting for more.

The independent McPherson struts up front and the coil springs at the rear do a very good job of absorbing the bumps and potholes on the road. The ride quality, as a result, is good and the occupants are not thrown around inside like in many other small cars. Loud thuds do filter into the cabin over irregular road surfaces though and our car, with just around 1000 kilometers on the odo, has already started developing a few squeaks and rattles.

But, it's all forgiven when you are behind the wheel. There is some magic that Ford Motor Company's engineers do in their cars that bestows them with amazing handling and sure-footedness. We experienced this in the Ikon and the Fiesta Classic and the Figo is no different. The way in which it responds to steering inputs, the eagerness that it exhibits to change directions as we wish and the grip levels that makes the car stay glued to the road at all speeds makes the Figo an exceptional handler, easily making it one of the best amongst all small cars on sale in India. While the chassis still begs for more, the engine gives up midway, which is a shame.

We are tired of waiting for a hot 1.6 S variant of the Figo and, by now, are pretty sure that Ford is not going to enthrall us enthusiasts. Let the rants stop.


* Engine Type: In-line, SOHC, TDCi
* No of Cylinders: 4
* Displacement: 1399 cc
* Maximum Power: 69 ps @ 4000 rpm
* Maximum Torque: 16.3 kgm @ 2000 rpm
* Transmission Type: 5-speed MT
* Tires: 175/65 R14
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Drum (Rear)


* Great value for money
* Superb road handling
* Generous passenger space


* Dated design
* Lack of powerful engine options


At the moment, the Figo is the only model that's keeping Ford India's cash registers ringing and it's not hard to know why. With a spacious cabin, feature-rich interiors, a tried and trusted diesel engine that's both reliable and fuel-efficient, superb handling and, above all, extremely competitive pricing, the Figo ticks the most number of boxes for an Indian small-car shopper. Yes, we would have liked a modern design in and out along with a bit more finesse and a more powerful engine, but for the price at which it retails, those factors wouldn't stop us from buying the Figo.


General Motors launches Chevrolet Sail sedan in India

Close on the heels of launching the Sail U-VA hatchback, Chevrolet launched the Sail sedan in the Indian market on 01-Feb-2013. While the Sail U-VA replaced the Aveo U-VA, the Sail sedan actually replaces two cars in Chevrolet's Indian line-up, the Aveo sedan and Optra Magnum. The Sail twins are expected to play a very important role in establishing General Motors in India, given the fact that the Aveo twins sank without a trace in the market and the Optra Magnum was only partially successful. The pricing strategy of the Sail sedan shows that General Motors knows that too well and is not ready to lose the race this time.

The Sail sedan is available in four variants - Base, LS, LS ABS and LT. All four variants are available with two engine options - a 1.2-liter Smartech petrol engine and a 1.3-liter SDE Smartech diesel engine, both of which are shared with the Sail U-VA. While the petrol engine produces a maximum power of 86 PS at 6000 rpm and a peak torque of 113 Nm at 5000 rpm, the diesel engine churns out 78 PS of power at 4000 rpm and 205 Nm of torque at 1750 rpm. We may sound cliched, but the diesel engine in the Sail is the same unit developed by Fiat that powers cars like Swift, Swift Dzire, Ertiga, Vista and Manza. A palette of seven colour options are available on offer in the Sail sedan.

While the four petrol variants are priced between INR 4.99 Lakhs and 6.41 Lakhs, the diesel variants retail at INR 6.29 Lakhs for the Base variant that goes up to INR 7.51 Lakhs for the top-end LT variant. That makes the Sail sedan extremely competitive compared to the Maruti-Suzuki Swift Dzire and Tata Indigo, it's chief competitors.

Just like the Sail U-VA, the Sail sedan comes with a conservative design approach that follows the principle 'please-all-offend-none'. The front end with its characteristic split grille ensures that the Sail won't be mistaken for anything but a 'Chevy'. Unlike the Sail U-VA hatchback that looks dated from the rear, the  Sail sedan's rear end is nicely executed. Inspite of being derived out of a hatchback, the Sail sedan's boot does not look like it was stuck on to the hatch at the last moment. Though GM claims that the Sail sedan comes with 'Corvette-inspired Dual-cockpit interior design, we find the interiors to be strictly conservative. Just like the Sail U-VA, the Sail sedan will also be one of the most spacious cars in its segment.

The Base variant comes with standard features such as power steering, tilt steering, front power windows and power mirrors. The LS variant adds rear power windows, central locking, driver airbag, leather-wrapped steering wheel and body-colored rear view mirrors and door handles to the kitty while the LS ABS variant just adds Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD). The top-end LT variant comes fully loaded with passenger airbag, front seat belts with pretensioners, an integrated audio system with auxiliary input and USB socket, Bluetooth connectivity with phone pairing, leather-wrapped gear knob, fog lamps and alloy wheels available as standard.

In short, the Sail sedan comes loaded with all essential features, is available with frugal petrol and diesel engine options and, most importantly, sports a competitive price tag. The only thing then, that stands against the Sail sedan and success, is Maruti-Suzuki's strong brand image and Chevrolet's lack of it in the entry midsize segment.