Bentley Bentayga launched in India, sold out for 2016

Bentley, the British luxury brand, launched the Bentayga in India recently. In line with the global trend, the Bentayga marks Bentley’s entry into the Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) segment. With its arch rival Rolls-Royce’s SUV still some time away, the Bentayga is also the world’s first and only super luxury SUV on sale.

Externally, the Bentayga sticks to the traditional Bentley styling cues and borrows a lot from the other models in the range, notably the Mulsanne. Featuring a bold and butch fascia, the large squarish grille, the massive hood and the twin circular lights give the Bentayga a lot of character. The profile is dominated by bulging wheel arches and prominent haunches that defines the rear fenders. At the rear, the rectangular taillights and thin bumper-mounted exhausts are similar to what we have seen in other Bentleys. Giving the Bentayga true SUV credentials are those massive wheels and the front and rear skid plates.

The interiors, as one would expect from a Bentley, looks plush and luxurious with extensive detailing and high-quality materials. The design of the dashboard stands out with its unique stitching pattern that mimics the wings of the Bentley badge. That stubby gear stick in the center console is a work of art and so is the steering wheel with those gorgeous ‘knurled finish’ buttons. The floating driver information panel is the other stand out feature in the Bentayga. Made of hand-crafted wood and leather with polished metallic bits thrown in the mix, the Bentayga’s cabin is amongst the best in the industry right now.

Feature list runs into pages and include leather upholstery with diamond-quilted seats, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, a 60GB hard drive and a Bentley signature sound system, Wi-Fi connectivity and a panoramic sunroof. There are expensive optional features for those with cash to spare like a Breitling Tourbillon dashboard clock that’s priced at an insane INR 1 Crore.

Based on Volkswagen Group’s MLB-Evo platform, the Bentayga shares its underpinnings with the other SUVs in the group like the new Audi Q7 and the upcoming next-generation Porsche Cayenne. Under that massive hood sits a 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 motor that produces 600 horsepower and 900 Nm of torque, making the Bentayga the most powerful SUV on earth. Mated to a ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic transmission and a permanent All Wheel Drive system, the Bentayga is capable of sprinting from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.1 seconds and reach a top speed of 301 km/h.  

That bring us to the Bentayga’s price, a cool INR 3.85 Crore ex-showroom Delhi. Bentley has apparently allotted just 20 Bentaygas for India for the whole of 2016 and every one of them, according to reports, has been sold out! So, the rest of the super rich population with an intention of buying one has to wait until at least 2017.


Tesla does it again, this time with the Model 3!

Rarely, very rarely, do we come across such stories in the automotive industry. One such hell of a story is unfolding right now for us to witness. And yes, we are talking about the newest electric kid on Tesla's block, the Model 3!

Before you get excited and loosen your purse strings to join the overwhelming interest and the mad rush it has generated worldwide, please note the Model 3 is scheduled for launch only towards the end of 2017. Deliveries would begin in the state of California where Tesla has its manufacturing plant and slowly expand eastwards in the United States of America before covering the other countries. 

So what, you think? Now get this. 

Within 24 hours of its unveiling on March 31, 2016, the Model 3 received a massive 180,000 pre-orders. With a $ 1,000 deposit against each reservation, that's a cool $ 1.8 Million in Tesla's accounts in 24 hours! In the first week, the order book bloated to include 325,000 reservations. Considering the options selected and the average price, Tesla claims that's a cool $ 14 Billion in pre-orders!

Though Tesla did bring a Model 3 on stage during the unveiling ceremony, Tesla's CEO Elon Musk revealed on Twitter some important elements will be added to the Model 3 prior to launch and some will evolve. In that sense, the car hasn't even been fully revealed yet and still, more than 300,000 people have decided to forgo $ 1,000 to reserve one against their name.

The basic specifications are out though. The 4-door Model 3 will accommodate five adults, have a driving range of 215 miles per charge, accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 6 seconds and meet 5-star safety rating. Rear wheel drive (RWD) architecture, Autopilot hardware and supercharging capability will be standard while a dual motor All Wheel Drive option would also be available. 

Prices for the Model 3 would start at $ 35,000 before incentives for the base model, making it the most affordable Tesla yet. America would still be the biggest market for this car but the news that the Model 3 will be on sale in countries like South Korea, Ireland, South Africa, India, Brazil, New Zealand and Singapore have excited a lot of folks outside Tesla's existing markets.

From the pictures released, the Model 3 looks like a shrunken Model S which, in essence, it actually is. If massive chrome grilles and air dams feature in your definition of an automobile's fascia, the Model 3 would disappoint. It sports an unusually clean front end. The shiny sheet metal is devoid of any sort of opening and there's not even a fake grille like the one on the original Model S (Tesla has removed it in the recent Model S facelift!). Just like the Model S and the Model X, the dropping roof line and the upward-sloping windows gives the Model 3 a coupe-like appearance. Given Teslas are still not a common sight on public roads, the Model 3 will turn heads for sure. 

With such phenomenal interest shown towards the car, the pressure is now on Tesla to deliver. Every single Tesla launch till date - be it the Roadster, the Model S or the new Model X, have had multiple delays before deliveries finally started. The car-maker has to ensure it isn't repeated with the Model 3 where the stakes are higher and the customer base wider. 

Nevertheless, the Model 3 is undoubtedly one of the most successful automobile launches we have seen in the last few years. Elon Musk appears to be a visionary with a magic wand and the Model 3 is the latest in which he has worked his magic. Go Elon, go Tesla, the whole automotive industry is watching you with bated breath!


Datsun redi-Go makes its world premiere in India

The Renault-Nissan alliance has had mixed fortunes in India so far. On one side, Nissan’s much-hyped budget brand Datsun that was expected to make it big against the Suzukis and Tatas of the world failed to create an impact. Both Datsuns thus far, the Go and Go+, have fared miserably. On the other side, Renault, supposedly the most premium brand of the Renault-Nissan-Datsun trio, hit jackpot with its budget car, the Kwid. In fact, Renault can’t make enough of them to satisfy the current demand!

Datsun wants to replicate that success and the car with which it aims to do so had its global premiere in India today. The 'redi-Go', as it is called, was first shown in concept form at the 2014 Auto Expo with the wraps taken off the production version today. Expected to be priced aggressively when it goes on sale in the coming weeks, the Datsun redi-Go would compete with the current market leader Maruti-Suzuki Alto, it’s alliance sibling Renault Kwid, Hyundai Eon and Tata Nano amongst others.

The redi-Go has retained most of the styling elements and proportions in its journey from concept to production. So, the tall and lean ‘micro crossover’ look is still intact! And, in case you haven't guessed it yet, Datsun calls the redi-Go an 'Urban Cross'. There just has to be a 'cross' mixed in the scheme of things these days.

All that marketing jargon aside, the trademark Datsun hexagonal grille with the thick chrome surround that we saw in the Go and the Go+ features prominently in the redi-Go too. On either sides are slim, swept-back headlamps. The flowing silhouette houses multiple creases but what’s remarkable is that none of them, including the wild swoosh running across the doors to the rear bumper, look out of place at first glance. The flared wheel arches, kinked-up windows and the contoured tailgate complements the bold fascia. The redi-Go looks smart no doubt but place it next to a Kwid and the latter would easily be the pick of the two. Having said that, Maruti-Suzuki sure has its work cut out when the time comes to design the next-generation Alto 800. 

Designed for the urban jungle with a fusion of hatchback and crossover attributes, Datsun claims the redi-Go has class-leading space, good all-round visibility and a ground clearance of 185 mm, high by segment standards. Based on the same ‘Common Module Family (CMF-A)’ as the Kwid, the redi-Go shares the platform, engines and transmissions with its Renault sibling. When it goes on sale, the redi-Go will have the same 0.8-liter 3-cylinder petrol engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission that does duty in the Kwid. The redi-Go would also receive the bigger 1.0-liter Smart Control Efficiency (SCe) engine and the option of an Automated Manual Transmission (Easy-R in Renault’s nomenclature) at a later stage.

From the pictures, the interiors appear to be bare-bones but are still noticeably better than Datsun's current offerings. The cabin seems to have prioritized practicality over aesthetics. This car is built to a cost and it is evident in the form of open recesses in the dashboard, exposed sheet metal in door pockets and the presence of a basic instrument cluster and music system.

Datsun has not revealed the dimensions or specifications of the redi-Go yet and they are expected to be available closer to the official launch date. Bookings for the redi-Go starts from the first week of May when the pricing is also expected to be announced while deliveries would start from June. With the Go and Go+ struggling in the market, the redi-Go is a crucial launch for Datsun in India. Will Nissan's budget brand be third time lucky with the redi-Go? We'll see shortly.


Mazda MX-5 is 2016 World Car of the Year

The 2016 edition of the New York Auto Show came and went and along with it the World Car of the Year title changed hands too. Currently in its twelfth year, the World Car Awards is the big daddy of all automotive awards and aims to recognize the very best in the automotive industry. Not restricted to a particular country or region or publication, the unique aspect of the World Car Awards is its jury panel comprising of over 70 prominent automotive journalists and experts from around the world.

2016 World Car of the Year

This time, it is the Mazda MX-5, the quintessential fun little roadster from Japan, that took top honours. From an initial entry list of 23 vehicles that were launched globally last year, an initial shortlist of ten vehicles were selected. Out of the ten, three top entries - the Audi A4 Sedan/Avant, the Mazda MX-5 and the Mercedes-Benz GLC were chosen as the finalists. In the end, it was the Mazda that beat its German rivals to become the 2016 World Car of the Year. 

Since its launch in 1989, the MX-5 has stuck to its formula of being a small, light, nimble and affordable fun-to-drive roadster. The fourth generation model unveiled in 2014 changed nothing. It didn't grow in size, there is still no forced induction under the hood, there are no umpteen variants and bodystyles like every other successful nameplate these days have and, most importantly, the Miata is still affordable and puts a permanent smile in your face when you are behind the wheel. 

Undoubtedly, the jurors were impressed too. "With the launch of its all‐new MX‐5, Mazda has thrown out the blueprint and gone back to basics – back to 1989 basics. Shorter, lower, wider and lighter, the new MX‐5 comes with a choice of either 1.5 or 2.0‐litre naturally aspirated petrol engines and the promise of unparalleled ‘Jinba ittai’ – a term meaning oneness between car and driver. And yes, it’s still one of the best driver’s cars around", they observed.

2016 World Car of the Year - Mazda MX-5

Previous Winners:

2015 – Mercedes-Benz C-Class
2014 – Audi A3
2013 – Volkswagen Golf
2012 – Volkswagen Up!
2011 – Nissan Leaf

2016 World Luxury Car

To acknowledge higher-priced premium cars selling in limited numbers worldwide, the World Luxury Car of the Year category was created in 2014. While Mercedes-Benz walked away with the honour in 2014 as well as 2015, it is Merc's arch-rival BMW that made it big in 2016. From a list of eight prestigious luxury cars, three vehicles - the Audi Q7, the BMW 7-Series and the Volvo XC90 were declared the finalists for this category. After stringent evaluations, the full size luxury sedan from BMW emerged victorious from the two rivaling luxury SUVs.

"This is the flagship model for the Bavarian car maker, and so it simply has to be the epitome of what the brand represents in terms of technology, design and performance. And the new 7 Series certainly delivers. It is very much the new face of BMW in the new family design – and yet it is a classic BMW all at once. It drives phenomenally well courtesy a new range of engines, and has a sporty drive dynamic that the rivals in the segment cannot claim as their USP. This comes from a 130 kg drop in weight thanks to the new ‘Carbon Core’ frame. 25 new features, of which 13 are segment firsts!", observed the jurors who were understandably bowled over by the 7-Series.

2016 World Luxury Car - BMW 7-Series

Previous Winners:

2015 – Mercedes-Benz S Coupe
2014 – Mercedes-Benz S-Class

2016 World Performance Car

Joining BMW in flying the German flag high was Audi that took the top spot in the 2016 World Performance Car category for the sharp R8 Coupe. The first-generation R8 catapulted Audi's calibre from a luxury car-maker to a competent sports car manufacturer and the new R8 is carries the tradition forward. Commenting on the R8, the jurors said "Arguably, Audi's Le Mans‐inspired R8 has been the most desirable, head‐turning supercar of the decade. Yet despite its racing car heritage and cutting edge technology it's a surprisingly easy and manageable car to drive ‐ fast or slow."

The Honda Civic Type-R and the Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 Coupe were the other two finalists that slugged it out with the Audi R8. The three finalists were chosen from an initial list of nine sports cars from all over the world.

2016 World Performance Car - Audi R8

Previous Winners:

2015 – Mercedes-AMG GT
2014 – Porsche 911 GT3
2013 – Porsche Boxster / Cayman
2012 – Porsche 911
2011 – Ferrari 458 Italia

2016 World Green Car

Off we go to the other end of the automotive spectrum - the 2016 World Green Car. Its awkward styling notwithstanding, it was the Toyota Mirai that won the title this year beating its stablemate Prius and the new Chevrolet Volt. These three cars came out on top from an initial list of eight new vehicles from around the world. Commenting on this crucial victory, Bill Fay, Toyota's Group Vice President and General Manager, said "Just as Prius changed the world nearly 20 years ago, the hydrogen‐powered Mirai is ready to make history. With a range of over 300 miles per tank, a refueling time of under five minutes, and emissions that consist only of water vapor, Mirai is leading the world forward toward a more sustainable future." Do we have to say anything more?

2016 World Green Car - Toyota Mirai

Previous Winners:

2015 – BMW i8
2014 – BMW i3
2013 – Tesla Model S
2012 – Mercedes-Benz S250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY
2011 – Chevrolet Volt 

2016 World Car Design of the Year

With a set of eligibility criteria slightly different from the other award categories, the World Car Design of the Year is meant to honour vehicles with innovation and style that pushes established boundaries. Candidates for this category may be pre-production cars or all-new production cars with atleast 10 units available in one major global market. 

This was Mazda's show again! New generation Mazdas look stunning in their respective segments and the new MX-5 is possibly the best interpretation of the Japanese brand's 'KODO - Soul of Motion' design language. The most impressive aspect of the new MX-5 is that it looks remarkably modern and fresh but still carries the unmistakable 'Miata' identity created 25 years back. A design panel comprising six leading world design experts agreed, commenting "The new MX5 design is exciting, distinct and fresh. It’s a design that wholly fits with being the unique small sports‐car this Mazda is.  It captures the spirit of the first generation MX5 design but introduces a very leading twenty‐teens aesthetic whilst remarkably also connecting visually to its sibling designs. An exceptional design in all ways."

2016 World Car Design of the Year - Mazda MX-5

Previous Winners:

2015 – Citroen C4 Cactus
2014 – BMW i3
2013 – Jaguar F-Type
2012  – Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
2011 – Aston Martin Rapide

Congratulations Mazda and the rest of the winning clan!

Renault Kwid 'Easy-R' (AMT) variant spotted testing in Chennai

A couple of weeks back, Anything On Wheels had posted exclusive spy shots of the Renault Kwid SCe, the bigger-engined 1.0-liter variant of the highly successful small car. Along with it, a Kwid equipped with segment-first alloy wheels and potentially more features inside was spotted too. Along with these two variants that are expected to be launched later this year, we know Renault is also planning to launch an AMT-equipped version of the Kwid, badged 'Easy-R'. All these variants along with a couple of special edition Kwids were showcased at the 2016 Auto Expo in New Delhi, hinting at what's in store from this seemingly all-conquering little car.

Having seen two of them together last time, we had expressed our disappointment in not able to spot the Easy-R variant with the rest of the fleet. We have made amends for that this time around. Caught testing in the busy GST Road in Chennai last afternoon, this Kwid caught our attention thanks to the small silver-coloured badge at the right bottom end of the tailgate.

Automated Manual Transmissions (AMT) have been the flavour of the season in the Indian market with their comparatively lesser premiums and large scale adoption by Maruti-Suzuki. Let's not forget AMTs are relatively simpler to design and manufacture too as car-makers do not have to change or modify the transmissions extensively to add this tech.

The AMT variant of the Kwid would be launched with the 1.0-liter Smart Control Efficiency (SCe) engine under the hood. What's unique with this variant is the fact that Renault has done away with the gear lever. To operate the AMT, an unique 'Shift Control Dial' with three modes - Reverse, Neutral and Drive is provided in the dashboard. If you are wondering what's there in place of the missing gear lever, the answer is a huge cubbyhole that could be used as a jumbo cup holder or to store knick knacks. 

When it goes on sale, the Kwid Easy-R will have to slug it out with the Alto K10 'Auto Gear Shift' which, going by the number of spottings on road, has been adding solid numbers to the overall sales of the Alto every month. With the SCe and Easy-R variants that squarely targets the manual and automatic variants of the Alto K10, Renault would be hoping the same for the Kwid which is already selling extremely well. We like Renault's step by step attack on every variant of the Alto, that's how you have got to challenge the leader!

Constrained by manufacturing capacity, Renault has recently added a third shift at its alliance plant in Chennai to produce more units of the Kwid and reduce the waiting period currently running into several months. With these new variants planned for launch, Renault would be having more of that good problem.


Tata finally launches the Tiago in India, prices start from INR 3.20 Lakhs

The last few years have not been great for Tata Motors. Profits from Jaguar and Land Rover aside, there was hardly anything to cheer about for Tata. One after the other, the Nano, Aria, Storme, Zest and Bolt failed to make an impact, leaving the Indian brand in a state of bother. Just when Tata rested all its hopes in the all-new hatchback, named Zica then, that was about to be launched, the Zika virus outbreak put paid to those plans. Tata had to rename the car and the launch was delayed. After christening it the 'Tiago' based on the results of a public poll, Tata Motors finally launched the car in India today.

The Tiago is a significant launch, given that this is the first all-new car from Tata after the Aria that was launched way back in 2010. And it looks the part. Debuting Tata's new 'Impact Design' philosophy, the Tiago does make an impact the moment you run your eyeballs over it. Up front, Tata's signature honeycomb grille blends beautifully with the well-proportioned headlights. The 'Humanity Line' that's an integral part of the brand's new design language looks classy in chrome and extends into the headlights too. The profile is dominated by a prominent character line that starts from the front fenders and ends in the taillights cutting across the door handles. Smart 10-spoke alloy wheels and a swoosh at the bottom of the doors are not to be missed too. The rear is a clear departure from the Tata cars we have seen so far and features almond-shaped taillights and a sharp bootlid with multiple planes and surfaces. The bumper with black plastic inserts and the roof spoiler with black edges provide a nice contrast to the rear. 

Tata's coming of age with the Tiago doesn't stop with the exteriors. The interiors are far more impressive and can easily be mistaken for a car a segment or two higher. Again, multiple colours, textures and surfaces do the trick and we aren't exaggerating a bit when we say the Tiago's interiors look premium. The impressive steering wheel is a familiar one that we have in the Zest and the Bolt while the hexagonal center console is all new, incorporating the Harman-developed ConnectNext infotainment system that comes with four speakers and four tweeters! Yes, that's right. Given the segment it competes in, the Tiago sports an impressive feature list that includes segment-first features like Turn-by-Turn Navi app and the Juke-Car app apart from the regular features we find in cars of this segment. That's not all, even the side air vents are customizable in body colour, if Berry Red or Sunburst Orange is our choice. 

Safety features include Antilock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Corner Stability Control (CSC), dual airbags for the driver and front passenger, adjustable front head restraints and seat belts with pre-tensioners and load limiter. While these are standard on the top variant, all except ABS with EBD and CSC are offered as optional packs in all but the base variant.

Powering the Tiago is a pair of all-new engines developed in house by Tata. Dubbed 'Revotron', the petrol unit is a 1.2-liter 3-cylinder engine that generates 84 horsepower and 114 Nm of torque. Its an all-aluminium unit and features technologies like Variable Cam Timing (VCTi) and hydraulic lash adjusters. The diesel mill is called 'Revotorq' and generates 69 horsepower and 140 Nm of torque. This 1.05-liter 3-cylinder mill with a cast iron block features a balancer shaft to reduce vibrations and improve refinement. Both the engines are mated to a 5-speed manual transmission and feature segment-first 'Multi-drive' mode that lets drivers choose between the peppy 'City' and frugal 'Eco' modes. The petrol and diesel engines have an ARAI-certified fuel economy numbers of 23.84 and 27.28 km/l respectively, making the Tiago one of the most frugal cars on sale in India.

Just like it did with the Zest, Tata has surprised us with an aggressive pricing strategy for the Tiago. The five petrol variants are priced between INR 3.20 Lakhs to 4.75 Lakhs while the diesel variants retail between INR 3.94 to 5.54 Lakhs. Forget the Hyundai i10 that's almost a decade old, these prices are even lesser than Maruti-Suzuki's Celerio and places the Tiago in a good spot to snatch sales from its competitors. 

Tata has done its part well. Its upto us, the Indian car-buying public, now to give the verdict. Will the Tiago go places and help Tata grow? Will Lionel Messi's magic that worked brilliantly in the football field work in the automotive field? Will the Tiago bring in additional sales that Tata desperately needs? Or will Tata's image be a deterrent for all the above to happen? There's a lot to be answered and we can't wait to see how this pans out. For the moment, great job Tata!


Mahindra launches Nuvosport, positioned above TUV 3OO in the lineup

Mahindra’s sub-four meter Utility Vehicle portfolio is a packed space already with the TUV 3OO and KUV 1OO covering a wide price spectrum between them. Both of them are relatively new and just when you thought Mahindra is done with this segment comes the Nuvosport. Yes, that’s how Mahindra has christened its Ecosport challenger, straying away from its obsession with names ending with the letter ‘o’.

If you feel the Nuvosport looks familiar, it’s because it actually is. Remember the Quanto, Mahindra’s first attempt at cracking the sub four-meter Utility Vehicle segment that failed miserably? The Nuvosport is nothing but a restyled Quanto.

As usual, Mahindra’s design team has given the Nuvosport a busy fascia that looks more aggressive and in-your-face. Revised headlights now have LED DRL brows above them while the slim radiator grille sits in between a massive air dam in the bumper and a functional hood scoop. With the revised frontal styling, Mahindra has succeeded in injecting some character in the Nuvosport that its predecessor sorely missed. The same can’t be said about the sides and the rear that are carried over from the Quanto with minimal changes. Thick plastic cladding and smarter alloy wheels are the only noticeable changes in profile while the smoked taillights and the roof-mounted spoiler are new at the rear. Sadly, with its towering height in a relatively lesser length, the Nuvosport is as disproportionate now as the Quanto was before.

The interiors borrow a whole lot from the Quanto too but noticeable changes like the steering wheel with integrated audio, phone and cruise controls and the center console with the 6.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system are an attempt to make Nuvosport’s cabin match with the times. The top-end N8 variant gets features like cruise control, leatherette upholstery, Digital Information System, height-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, electrically adjustable mirrors, speed-sensing door locks, reverse parking assist, start-stop system, follow-me-home headlamps, puddle lamps and adjustable armrests for the driver and the passenger.  Antilock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Dual Airbags are standard on all but the base variant which gets these features as optional extra. 

Like the TUV 3OO, the Nuvosport has two jump seats behind the second row bench, making it a 7-seater. While it does offer undeniable flexibility in times of need, let’s not forget the fact that it’s an extremely unsafe way for occupants to travel. Those seats don’t even get lap belts!

Powering the Nuvosport is a re-christened version of the Quanto’s engine -  a 3-cylinder, 1.5-liter, turbocharged unit now dubbed the ‘mHawk 100’. The suffix denotes the 100 horsepower produced by the engine at 3750 rpm while the torque output is 240 Nm between 1600 - 2800 rpm. A 5-speed manual gearbox is standard across the lineup while the mid and top variants also get the option of a 5-speed Automated Manual Transmission (AMT).

In the pecking order, Mahindra has positioned the Nuvosport as a premium alternative to the similar-sized TUV 3OO. Priced between INR 7.35 Lakhs for the N4 variant and INR 9.76 Lakhs for the top-end N8 AMT variant ex-showroom Thane, the Nuvosport is aimed straight at the Maruti-Suzuki Vitara Brezza and the Ford Ecosport. 

The Nuvosport might lack the visual finesse externally and internally to fight those two smart-looking pseudo SUVs but Mahindra has got the momentum in its favour, thanks to the quick-selling TUV 3OO and KUV 1OO. Will that be enough for the Nuvosport to achieve what the Quanto didn’t? We have our fingers crossed!