BharatBenz's 37-tonne Heavy Duty truck 3723 spotted testing near Chennai

Anything On Wheels' association with BharatBenz dates back to 2011 when we were amongst the first in the country to spot Daimler's India-specific truck fleet testing on more than one occasion. Even then, it was very clear that BharatBenz was going for the kill with multiple models being tested simultaneously. This is one brand that has not waited for the volumes to come in to expand its portfolio. As a result, BharatBenz has been building up a steady client base that bodes well for its future.

If you ever need one, here is proof that BharatBenz isn't done yet with its launch spree. Spotted testing in the busy NH45 (Chennai-Trichy Highway) last weekend, this truck hints at what's in store next from the German commercial vehicle manufacturer. While we couldn't really identify what was different in this truck from behind except for the "On Test" sticker and the red-colored test registration plate, moving over to the side revealed its identity.

Stuck on the front door on either sides was the '3723' badge. By now, we all know that the first two digits of BharatBenz's nomenclature denotes the vehicle tonnage while the last two denotes the horsepower generated. Connecting the dots tells us this is the company's upcoming 37-tonne rigid Heavy Duty truck being tested on public roads. BharatBenz's current Heavy Duty lineup consists of trucks with payloads between 16 to 31 tonnes. With the addition of a 37-tonner, the German brand is looking to expand its Heavy Duty portfolio further.

Going by the badging, this truck seems to be powered by the same 6373 cc, 6-cylinder diesel engine that powers the 2523 and 3123 Heavy Duty trucks in the lineup currently. While this engine is rated for a maximum of 231 horsepower at 2200 rpm and a peak torque of 810 Nm between 1200 to 1600 rpm in both the 25-tonne and 31-tonne applications, it remains to be seen if the power or torque outputs are tweaked for the 3723 given the additional weight this truck is capable of hauling. It has a 5-axle set-up, with the second axle being steerable. There is also a lift axle provided just before the two rear axles that are fitted with air bellows for them to be lifted off the ground when the load conditions permit.

The test vehicle has the standard 'Fixed Side Deck' in BharatBenz's speak. When it goes on sale, a High Side Deck, Tanker and Bunker applications could also be offered. Aesthetically, the 3723 is very similar to the rest of the BharatBenz Heavy Duty trucks, save for the flashy new taillights. That isn't bad, given that the BharatBenz trucks are amongst the better-looking ones in the Indian market right now.

With such diverse commercial vehicles spanning multiple segments already in the lineup, what's next for BharatBenz? We don't know yet but count on us to get you the spy shots as soon as the testing spree begins on public roads.


Ford launches the Figo Aspire in India, prices start from INR 4.89 Lakhs

Ford India began a new chapter in its Indian history today with the official launch of the much-awaited Figo Aspire. First shown as the 'Figo Concept' during the run down to the 2014 Auto Expo in New Delhi last year, the Figo Aspire can't come any sooner for the American manufacturer. With the Classic stopped, the Fiesta struggling for triple digit sales and the Figo losing steam, Ford has been living off the Ecosport for quite some time now. In comes the Figo Aspire!

Following Ford's Kinetic design theme that has churned out some sharp-looking cars globally, the Figo Aspire doesn't disappoint when it comes to its styling. The trademark front end with its sharp nose, Aston Martin-inspired grille and elongated headlights look great. For a change, chrome is applied tastefully here with the horizontal slats in the grille finished with the shiny stuff. The limitations of designing a sedan within four meters means the silhouette is less pleasing to look at. We have to admit it looks better than most of its competitors though. At the rear, simple wrap-around taillights and a thick chrome strip connecting the two are the highlights.

The cabin, again, borrows a whole lot of stuff from the Fiesta and Ecosport. The two-tone dashboard, with its upper half in black and the lower half in beige, looks plush and imparts a classy feel to the cabin. Glossy black finish applied to the steering wheel and the center console increases the cabin's appeal further. In keeping with the current trend, Ford has loaded the Figo Aspire to the hilt with the top-end variant equipped with features such as Antilock Braking System (ABS), automatic climate control, keyless entry, multi-function display with fuel efficiency readouts, Distance to Empty indicator, maintenance warning and gear-shift indicator, Ford's patented SYNC with App-link, leather upholstery and the unique Ford MyKey feature that lets the owner set speed limits on the car.

For the first time in the sub-4m sedan segment, the Figo Aspire comes with two airbags as standard across its range. That's not all, the Titanium+ variant is equipped with six airbags making the Figo Aspire the cheapest car in India to boast this safety feature. Kudos Ford, you might have just triggered your competition to follow suit!

Three power-train options are available with the 1.5-liter TDCi diesel engine expected to be the most popular one. Putting out 99 horsepower at 3750 rpm and 215 Nm of torque between 1750 to 3000 rpm, the Figo Aspire matches the segment-leading Honda Amaze in terms of power output. Petrol-lovers have two options - a 1.2-liter TiVCT engine generating 87 horsepower and 112 Nm of torque mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox and a 1.5-liter TiVCT unit belting out 110 horsepower and 136 Nm of torque with the added convenience of a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

If all these haven't impressed you, the Figo Aspire's pricing will. Available in four trim levels - Ambiente, Trend, Titanium and Titanium+, the manual petrol variants are priced between INR 4.89 and 7.24 Lakhs while the diesel variants retail between INR 5.89 to 8.24 Lakhs. The petrol automatic is only available in the Titanium trim level and is priced at INR 7.79 Lakhs. All prices are ex-showroom Delhi.  

It is clear that Ford has learnt its lessons well and is going for the kill with the Figo Aspire. With its smart styling, feature-loaded interiors, multiple engine and transmission options combining power, efficiency and convenience and such value for money pricing, the Figo Aspire makes a very strong case for itself. Combine Ford's famed ride and handling balance and the deal gets a whole lot sweeter.

Ever since it set shop in India, Ford has been notorious for having just one big-selling model in its portfolio at any given point in time. The Ikon, Fiesta, Figo and Ecosport have all been hits but have never sold well simultaneously. That could be history. The Figo Aspire deserves to sell well! Now, get us the Figo hatchback soon please.


Upcoming Mahindra TUV300 uncovered, finally

After a series of spy shots over the last few days revealing many aspects of the vehicle, here are the uncovered pictures of the upcoming compact SUV from Mahindra, the TUV300. And yes, you saw it first in Anything On Wheels!

While the earlier spy shots had prepared us on what to expect, the end result is more impressive than we had envisaged.

Its high front nose, straight hood, flat roof and high ground clearance give the TUV300 the much-loved SUV stance. The bumpers are massive and overhangs are virtually non-existent. The headlights are fairly detailed and have distinct partitions for parking lights and turn indicators. The traditional seven-slat Mahindra grille adds muscle to the frontal design. The entire silhouette appear to have been designed with a ruler but gives the vehicle a rugged and boxy look. This is probably the base variant as evident from the black plastic bumpers, rear view mirrors, door handles and grille. The D-pillar is finished in a glossy black shade, giving an impression of a floating roof from the rear. The trapezoidal taillights are stacked vertically and are simple yet beautiful. In fact, this has got to be one of the cleanest designs from Mahindra in years, a brand known for going overboard with its styling.

The spare tire is mounted on the tailgate, a trait that Indians love in their Sport Utility Vehicles. Like its illustrious elder sibling Bolero, the TUV300 is said to have a body-on-frame construction, imparting much-needed sturdiness and rigidity. With a length that falls under 4 meters, the TUV300 qualifies for excise duty concessions offered by the Indian Government. Mahindra has confirmed that the TUV300 would be powered by the 'mHawk' engine but the power output and torque figures aren't revealed yet. From the spy shots we posted earlier today, it is clear that an Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) is on the cards too. 

In the TUV300, Mahindra seems to be having a clear winner on their hands. All that remains to be done are competitive pricing and a quick launch.

Mahindra's upcoming compact SUV code-named S101 spotted testing again

With its stronghold in the Utility Vehicle segment coming under threat, Mahindra is lining up a slew of launches to protect its turf. One of them is the TUV300 that Mahindra was kind enough to reveal through official sketches a week back. We at Anything On Wheels had different plans though and revealed most details about the vehicle through two separate sightings of test mules near Pune and Chennai. While the TUV300 itself is a compact SUV that ducks under 4 meters in length, the other all-new model Mahindra is gearing up to launch is an even-smaller SUV.

Code-named S101, this test vehicle was spotted covering rapid miles in the busy NH 45 (Chennai-Trichy highway) last evening. When the man behind the wheel noticed that the vehicle was photographed, he was visibly agitated. He even tried to confront us once. We are sorry dude, we were just doing our duty as automotive bloggers.

From these shots, it is evident that the S101 would boast the familiar Mahindra corporate face up front. The grille is nearly identical to the ones we see in the new Scorpio and XUV500 and has a thick vertical slat flanked on either sides by three vertical slats with chrome highlights. We are not sure on what to make out of this vehicle's proportions. While the tall nose and high ground clearance hint at its SUV aspirations, the sloping roof and curved greenhouse gives it an impression of a hatchback. Its footprint is really compact too, not much different from an i20 or a Swift. It would be interesting to see how Mahindra prices and positions this model when it goes on sale. Let's not forget that the Renault Kwid follows a similar formula with its styling.

Though not confirmed yet, the S101 could share its engine and transmission options with the TUV300. That means the option of an Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) is a safe bet too. With Mahindra said to be working on new gasoline and diesel engines with displacements less than 1.2 and 1.5 liters respectively, the S101 would meet all criteria required for excise duty concessions. Apart from the 'value for money' quotient, Mahindra is also known for loading its vehicles with lots of features. If they decide to play the same cards with the S101, they are in with a good shot at success.

Mahindra TUV300 AMT spotted undergoing calibration testing, more details emerge

A day before Mahindra officially announced the name of its upcoming compact Sport Utility Vehicle, we partially revealed its taillights and D-pillar. Now, just a week after we know that its going to be called the TUV300, we are back with a series of clear shots revealing more details of the upcoming vehicle.

Conceived, designed and developed in-house, Mahindra claims the inspiration for the TUV300 was a battle tank. With its upright nose, straight hood, flat roof and high ground clearance, it does bear similarities to a battle tank. The headlights have a fair amount of detailing in them with four distinct partitions for the various lamps. We aren't sure but one of them could even be a cornering lamp. The grille is a regular Mahindra fixture, so expect vertical protrusions with chrome highlights on a hexagonal mesh pattern. The spider's leg-shaped alloys shod with 215/75 R15 Apollos look tough and sporty, in line with Mahindra's rugged image. The C-pillar that appears to be designed with a ruler at an acute angle is visible beneath the camouflage too.

Though not the clearest shot of all, one of the picture also reveals the interiors of the TUV300. Despite all that camouflage, we could spot rectangular air-conditioner vents and chrome-ringed controls in the center console. The silver finish brings about a nice contrast too. Though not visible in the picture, the gear lever was finished in black and silver and looked good. While Mahindra announced that the TUV300 would be powered by the 'mHawk' engine, we do not yet know its power or torque figures. These pictures are also proof, if you ever needed one, that the TUV300 would come with the option of an Automated Manual Transmission (AMT). This particular vehicle, in fact, was resting during its routine AMT calibration testing when we shot these pics off the busy NH 45 (Chennai-Trichy highway) last evening.

With the TUV300, Mahindra seems to be making all the right moves for success. Macho styling, rugged build, fairly-modern interiors, torquey diesel engine with the option of an AMT - you name it and the TUV300 has it. Its resemblance to the ugly Quanto notwithstanding, our gut feeling says the TUV300 is going to be a smash hit in the market unless Mahindra turns too optimistic with its pricing strategy. We can't wait for its launch now. Bring it on, Mahindra!


Maruti-Suzuki launches the S-Cross in India, priced between INR 8.34 and 13.74 Lakhs

Maruti-Suzuki might be crushing its competitors in the sales charts with amazing regularity but their product portfolio isn't what one would call complete. Crossovers or Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV) were one of the several missing products in its lineup. After a seemingly unending wait, in comes the S-Cross to fill that void.

It might be dubbed 'The Premium Crossover' but Maruti-Suzuki's newest model looks just like a big hatchback. In fact, its staid looks could be its biggest undoing as most of its competitors wear SUV styling elements to mask their crossover underpinnings. That said, the S-Cross isn't a bad looker. Based on the SX4 sedan and hatchback, the S-Cross features large, swept-back headlights and a muscular front bumper. The grille has been tweaked for India and has the ubiquitous chrome highlights. A prominent shoulder line runs from headlight to taillight on either sides with the latter being one of the most impressive elements in the S-Cross. Black body cladding that runs the full circumference, faux skid plates and silver roof rails ensure that the S-Cross would get the attention it deserves on the road.

Step inside and the S-Cross would surprise you. Having seen the car inside and out, we can vouch for the fact the S-Cross' cabin is unlike any Maruti we have seen before. Plush all-black interiors with silver inserts look the part and quality levels are better than most of its competitors. The familiar Suzuki steering wheel has multiple functions incorporated in it including Cruise Control while a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system dominates the center console. The top-end 'Alpha' variants are quite loaded with HID projector headlamps, LED Daytime Running Lights, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, keyless entry with push button start, navigation system, smartphone integration with voice control, automatic climate control, cruise control and leather upholstery. 

The sales charts have proved time and again that vehicles in this segment sells predominantly with diesel power. Maruti-Suzuki has taken no pains to introduce a petrol variant of the S-Cross but has equipped the crossover with two diesel engines. While the base variants get the tried and trusted 1.3-liter DDiS engine that produces 90 PS and 200 Nm of torque, the higher variants have a 1.6-liter DDiS engine with 120 PS and a whopping 320 Nm of torque. Both these engines are sourced from Fiat and its commendable that Maruti-Suzuki has beaten the seemingly dormant Italian car-maker in bringing the 1.6-liter Multijet to our shores. The 1.3-liter variants are paired to a 5-speed manual transmission while the 1.6-liter variants have a 6-speed manual gearbox. No automatic transmission is on offer though. 

Priced between INR 8.34 and 10.75 Lakhs, five variants of the 1.3-liter S-Cross is available - Sigma, Sigma (O), Delta, Zeta and Alpha. The 1.6-liter though is only offered in three trim levels - Delta, Zeta and Alpha, priced between INR 11.99 and 13.74 Lakhs. All prices are ex-showroom Delhi and introductory.

Trying to move away from its budget car-maker image, Maruti-Suzuki has been taking conscious efforts to move into the premium strata. In fact, the S-Cross would be exclusively retailed at the company's new NEXA sales outlets set up in major cities across the country. With so much investments pouring in, it is clear that the 1.6-liter variants of the S-Cross has borne the brunt of it. We can't think of any other reason that could justify the INR 3 Lakhs premium that Maruti-Suzuki is charging for the bigger-engined version. 

The S-Cross has taken time to come to India but, now that its here, what are its prospects? The limited sales network notwithstanding, we expect the 1.3-liter variants to sell well while the 1.6-liter variants will have a tough time convincing customers to sign their cheques.


Mahindra continues testing Maxximo Plus facelift in Chennai

Mahindra's hot pursuit for ​glory in the Small Commercial Vehicle (SCV) segment is showing no signs of s​lowing down. Hot on the heels of launching the sub 1-tonne micro truck Jeeto, Mahindra is busy testing the Maxximo Plus facelift.

Caught testing a few hours back in the busy GST Road in Chennai, this test vehicle had its front end partially camouflaged hinting at a nip and tuck job on the headlights and ​the ​grille. The​ cabin could also see ​some changes while the rest of the vehicle appear to be ​very ​similar to the existing Maxximo Plus truck.​ Let's not forget that this isn't the first time we have spotted the Maxximo Plus facelift on test. Earlier this year, an identical partially-camouflaged Maxximo was caught undergoing load testing

The mechanicals are likely to remain unchanged with the same 909-cc 2-cylinder 'CRDe' engine powering the mini truck. With 26 horsepower and 55 Nm of torque, this engine is capable of pulling the truck a top speed of 70 km/h. With a payload rating of 850 kg, the Maxximo Plus also comes with features like LSPV (Load Sensing Proportioning Valve) brakes with boosters, front discs, two-tone interiors, a mobile charging point and ‘Fuel Smart’ technology that lets the driver choose between Power and Eco modes.

With the Tata Ace and its multiple variants going from strength to strength, Mahindra has its task cut out with the Maxximo facelift. Will it emerge successful? Let's wait and watch!


Upcoming Chevrolet Trailblazer spotted testing in Pune

Despite its earlier stint in India dating back to 1926 and the fact that it was amongst the first brands to set shop after liberalization in the early nineties, General Motors is an almost-forgotten automotive manufacturer in the country. Opel came and went and Chevrolet, despite a successful launch and a few hits, could not sustain its positivism in this part of the world. The press conference that the company held last week previewing the Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) Trailblazer and Multi Utility Vehicle (MPV) Spin for India then was timely, bringing the 'bow-tie' brand back in contention in the minds of the Indian car-buying public.

Slated for launch in the fourth quarter of this year, the Trailblazer is the next Chevy model headed to the showrooms. Testing of the upcoming premium SUV seems to be going on in full swing as evident from these clear spy-shots. Caught yesterday on a busy thoroughfare in Pune by our alert reader and ardent fan Guru, the Trailblazer sure does look imposing. In each of these shots, you could actually see passers-by craning their necks to have a look at this camouflaged SUV. 

Imparting a bold stance up front is the tall bumper and the trademark split grille that adorns all Chevrolets. The clam-shell hood and the beefed up wheel arches add muscle too. Other interesting aspects of the Trailblazer include the unique C-pillar design, the wraparound rear windshield and the smaller yet attractive taillights. Doing duty under the hood would be a 2.8-litre Duramax diesel engine that churns out 200 horsepower at 3600 rpm and a whopping 500 Nm of torque at 2000 rpm. Being a premium SUV, plush interiors with an array of safety features and creature comforts should be part of the standard kit. 

The premium SUV segment is set for a lot of action in the next few months. In addition to the Chevrolet Trailblazer, the new Ford Endeavour is also expected to make its debut in India shortly. With the all-new Toyota Fortuner and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport unveiled within weeks of each other, their Indian debuts within the next year or two cannot be ruled out either. Its imposing stance notwithstanding, the new Trailblazer really has its work cut out. Let's see how The General fares!