Ssangyong Tivoli spotted testing near Chennai

Ever since Mahindra acquired Ssangyong, many believed their Indian lineup would be bolstered with the infusion of models from the South Korean brand. With Utility Vehicles being the area of expertise for both the brands, that seemed the logical next step to fuel Mahindra's growth and aspirations. In came the Rexton, Ssangyong's flagship SUV, soon afterwards, adding fuel to those beliefs. 

Since then though, things have taken a long pause. Neither the Korando nor the Tivoli, Ssangyong's first new model under Mahindra's ownership that was widely speculated to be launched in India, made it here.

But, Mahindra hasn't given up on the Tivoli yet, it seems. Spotted testing on the busy GST Road in the outskirts of Chennai, this Ssangyong Tivoli test mule indicates that something's brewing at the Mahindra Research Valley, not far from where this vehicle was seen.

The Tivoli might not come to India as it is, given its compact size and hatchback-like proportions that's clearly evident in the shot below. But its well within Mahindra's reach to develop an all-new compact SUV based on the Tivoli's platform. Right now, the Nashik-based car-maker does not have a direct rival to the likes of Hyundai Creta, Renault Captur and Maruti-Suzuki S-Cross and the Tivoli-based SUV could fill in that gap nicely. 

Another possibility could be Mahindra using the Tivoli to just test the Ssangyong's gasoline engine for Indian conditions. The 1.5-liter petrol engine that powers the Tivoli globally would be a welcome addition to Mahindra's still-nascent gasoline engine lineup. Don't let that small displacement fool you. This Tivoli was being driven quite aggressively and the vehicle had no problems picking up speed or darting in and out of lanes to pass slower-moving traffic, hinting at enough grunt under the hood.

Whatever their plan with the Tivoli is, Mahindra should act quick. Rivals including Maruti-Suzuki, Tata, Jeep and Volkswagen are rumored to be working on compact SUVs for India that could leave the Scorpio-manufacturer jostling for space.


Mahindra XUV5OO facelift seen testing near Chennai

Say what you want about their fussy and often overdone design elements but there is no denying the fact Mahindra is one of the most proactive car-makers out there in the country. Be it constant facelifts, regular feature updates or incremental power and torque outputs, the Nashik-based brand has always ensured its lineup is fully geared up to tackle rivals.

The XUV5OO, Mahindra's flagship premium SUV, is due for one such update, it seems. Caught testing in the outskirts of Chennai over the weekend, this partially camouflaged vehicle had no intentions to hide its identity. Look closer and you'll know why. 

From the rear angle shots here, the changes appear to be minimal. The shape and pattern of the taillights, the dual exhaust pipes, the windshield and the bumper are all carried over from the existing model. Having said that, the area around the license plate seems to have changed slightly. The profile has no noticeable changes too. Though there are no pictures to prove, our reader who sent us these spyshots confirmed that the front end has gone under the knife with a new radiator grille being the biggest visible change.

Does that mean the folks at Mahindra are cooking up something under the hood? They could well be, if the recent changes to the Scorpio lineup are any indication. Reports elsewhere indicate the XUV5OO could see a bump in its power and torque outputs, similar to what was done to the Scorpio. The 2.2-liter mHawk engine, that generates 140 horsepower and 330 Nm of peak torque in the XUV5OO currently, might be tuned to produce around 170 horsepower and 400 Nm of torque. That would make the XUV5OO a real quick SUV!

The interiors are unlikely to see significant changes although Mahindra might use this opportunity to add a few features here and there.

The XUV5OO made its debut way back in 2011 with Mahindra giving it a substantial facelift in 2015. A petrol engine was recently added to the lineup. While its time for the second-generation model to take over, these sort of minor facelifts should keep Mahindra's flagship going until the all-new model comes along.


KTM Duke 390 wins the '2018 Indian Motorcycle of the Year' title

With the 2018 Indian Car of the Year (ICOTY) announced, the Indian Motorcycle of the Year (IMOTY) can't be far behind, can it? Amidst much fanfare and excitement, the same event that honoured the best of four wheels crowned the best of two wheels as well. 

Out of the twenty new motorcycles launched in 2017, twelve made it to the final jury round held earlier this month. The finalists in fray for the title were, in no particular order, Bajaj Dominar 400, Bajaj Pulsar 160 NS, Suzuki Intruder 150, KTM Duke 390, Triumph Bonneville Bobber, Triumph Street Triple RS, Harley-Davidson Street Rod, Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin, MV Agusta Brutale 800, Yamaha FZ25, Benelli 302R and Hero Glamour 125. All the contenders were evaluated on multiple parameters including price, fuel efficiency, styling, safety, performance, practicality, innovation and suitability for Indian consumers and riding conditions. 

In what turned out to be a rather easy win in the end after all the assessments were done and the scores tallied, the KTM Duke 390 was declared the winner. Yamaha's FZ25 finished a distant second while Triumph's Street Triple RS rounded off the podium positions.

The Duke has been an instant success in India, bringing in racing ethos in a value-for-money offering. The second-generation model launched this year acts on every single weakness its predecessor had while retaining all it's strengths. Offering 43 horsepower for a very reasonable INR 2.25 Lakhs, the bright, light and nimble Duke 390 is a pocket rocket in the right hands. Show it a race track and the super-fun Duke 390 would reward you with a big, wide grin lap after lap.  

2018 IMOTY Results

  1. KTM Duke 390 - 107 points
  2. Yamaha FZ25 - 77 points
  3. Triumph Street Triple RS - 68 points

Previous IMOTY Winners

  • 2017 - TVS Apache RTR 200 4V
  • 2016 - Yamaha YZF R3
  • 2015 - Harley-Davidson Street 750
  • 2014 - Royal Enfield Continental GT
  • 2013 - KTM Duke 200

This isn't the first time a KTM has won the prestigious IMOTY title. The smaller Duke 200 was bestowed with this way back in 2013. With this victory, the Duke 390 succeeds the TVS Apache RTR 200 that won the title last year.

2018 marks the tenth year of existence of the IMOTY award that has now become synonymous with excellence in the Indian automotive industry. Modeled on the lines of prestigious international titles, the IMOTY award brings together a jury panel comprising of automotive journalists and experts representing multiple publications. 

The jury panel for the 2018 IMOTY included Abhik Das & Rahul Ghosh (Auto Today), Arup Das & Jared Solomon (Auto X), Aspi Bhathena & Sarmad Kadiri (Bike India), Aninda Sardar & Sirish Chandran (Evo India), Pablo Chaterji (Man's World), Raunak Ajinkya & Kartik Ware (Motoring World), Abhay Verma & Shubhabrata Marmar (Overdrive), Devesh Shobha (Top Gear) and Vikrant Singh.

Hyundai Verna wins the '2018 Indian Car of the Year' title

As the curtains come down on another fantastic year for the Indian automotive industry, its time to look back and zero in on the best new car launched this year. That's precisely what the 2018 Indian Car of the Year (ICOTY) title, announced last evening at a glitzy event in Delhi. 

Sixteen new cars launched in 2017 qualified for the award out of which nine made it to the final jury round held earlier this month. The top nine finalists were the Honda WR-V, Hyundai Verna, Jeep Compass, Maruti-Suzuki Dzire, Maruti-Suzuki Ignis, Renault Captur, Skoda Kodiaq, Tata Nexon and Volkswagen Tiguan. All the contenders were evaluated on multiple parameters including price, fuel efficiency, styling, safety, performance, practicality, innovation and suitability for Indian consumers and driving conditions. 

At least four of those cars - the Hyundai, the Jeep, Maruti-Suzuki's Dzire and the Tata are remarkable launches this year that have not just done well for their respective brands but also moved the segment goal posts forward. Each of them would be a deserving winner had they come out on top.  

In what turned out to be the closest contest witnessed by the ICOTY jury panel yet, it was the Hyundai Verna that came out on top by a solitary point. Yes, a single point made all the difference out of 450 that were handed out. Maruti-Suzuki's Dzire was the first runner-up and the Jeep Compass finished third once the results were tallied and the votes counted.

Launched this September, the new Verna is a class act in the mid-size segment and an improvement over its predecessor in almost every single aspect. The newest Hyundai is a complete all-rounder offering power, fuel-efficiency, comfort, practicality and features unheard of in this price range. That it rivals two of the strongest competitors there are - Honda City and Maruti-Suzuki Ciaz - make the Verna's success all the more credible.  

2018 ICOTY Results

  1. Hyundai Verna - 118 points
  2. Maruti-Suzuki Dzire - 117 points
  3. Jeep Compass - 87 points

Previous ICOTY Winners

  • 2017 - Maruti-Suzuki Vitara Brezza
  • 2016 - Hyundai Creta
  • 2015 - Hyundai i20
  • 2014 - Hyundai Grand i10
  • 2013 - Renault Duster

Remarkably, this is Hyundai's fourth title triumph in five years. From 2014 to 2016, the South Korean car-maker won a hat-trick of ICOTY titles with the Grand i10, i20 and Creta. The Tucson finished runner-up to the Maruti-Suzuki Vitara Brezza last year and with the Verna's victory this year, the ICOTY title is back in Hyundai's lap.

This is the thirteenth edition of the award that has now clearly established itself as one of the most coveted and sought-after in India. Modeled on the lines of prestigious international titles like the North American Car of the Year and the European Car of the Year, the ICOTY award brings together a jury panel comprising of automotive journalists and experts from a myriad of publications. 

ICOTY 2018 had the maximum number of jury members in the history of the award including Yogendra Pratap & Rahul Ghosh (Auto Today), Dhruv Behl & Ishan Raghava (Auto X), Aspi Bhathena & Sarmad Kadri (Car India), Sirish Chandran & Aninda Sardar (Evo India), Kartik Ware & Raunak Ajinkya (Motoring World), Bob Rupani & Rohit Paradkar (Overdrive), Girish Karkera & Agasti Kaulgi (Top Gear) , Muralidhar Swaminathan (The Hindu Business Line), Pablo Chaterji (Man's World), Vikrant Singh and Hani Musthafa.


Volvo launches the new XC60 in India at ₹55.90 Lakhs

Volvo's desirable lineup of vehicles in India has yet another addition in the form of the all-new XC60. 

Based on the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) that also underpins the latest XC90, S90 and V90, the second-generation XC60, launched in New Delhi yesterday, is only available in the top-spec 'Inscription' trim level, priced at ₹55.90 Lakhs ex-showroom across the country.

Powering the XC60 is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder twin-turbocharged diesel engine that generates 235 horsepower and a peak torque of 480 Nm. Employing Volvo's Power Pulse technology that uses compressed air to spool up the turbochargers instantly to overcome lag, this 'D5' diesel engine is mated to a 8-speed automatic transmission. While the car is front-wheel-driven by default, the intelligent All Wheel Drive system can deliver power to all four wheels when necessary. Five different driving modes - Eco, Comfort, Dynamic, Off-Road and Individual can be chosen depending on the terrain to be tackled.

Internationally, the XC60 is also available with a T6 petrol engine and a T8 petrol-hybrid powertrain.  

With contemporary styling and exquisite detailing, this generation of Volvos look absolutely gorgeous and the XC60 is no exception. Sporting design cues similar to the bigger XC90, the new XC60 looks desirable and distinct. Playing a major part in that is the large chrome-lined grille with vertical slats up front, flanked on either sides by sleek LED headlamps. Featuring the signature 'Thor's Hammer' DRL elements inside, they look aggressive and intimidating. Trademark L-shaped LED taillights that follow the contours of the tailgate means you will not mistake the XC60 for anything but a Volvo.

Complementing the gorgeous exteriors are all-new interiors that take the game forward. Similar in design and execution to the plusher and more expensive XC90, the XC60's cabin looks unlike any other in the segment. The three-spoke steering wheel, the two-tone dashboard and the simple center console featuring unique vertical air-conditioner vents look great and feature excellent attention to details. Instrument panel comprises of a 12.3-inch digital display while infotainment functions are taken care of by the 9-inch touchscreen in the center console. 

The launch version gets a long list of equipment including air suspension, Nappa leather upholstery, ventilated front seats with massage function, 15-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system, 4-zone climate control, panoramic sunroof and a hands-free powered tailgate. 

Volvos are amongst the safest automobiles in existence and the plethora of safety features on board make the XC60 live up to the brand's reputation. ABS, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), an array of airbags, cross-traffic alert, Blind Spot Indication System (BLIS), steering assist, City Safety System which includes pedestrian and cyclist detection and automatic braking to avoid collisions up to 50 km/h, oncoming lane mitigation to avoid head-on collison and what not.. this is one fully-loaded vehicle!

Arriving in a segment full of competent rivals like the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC and Jaguar F-Pace, the pressure was on Volvo to put their best foot forward to stand a chance of success. With the new XC60, the Swedish car-maker has delivered just that. 

Here's to seeing more and more of these on road!


2017 Los Angeles - Nautilus continues Lincoln's resurgence, replaces MKX in the lineup

With fresh infusion of funds from Ford Motor Company, an all-new contemporary family design language, growing sales and a return to the classic 'travel theme' model names, Lincoln is on quite a roll these past few years. The Continental full-size sedan started it all and the Navigator full-size SUV carried it forward. The Nautilus, a midsize crossover that recently debuted at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, continues the American luxury brand's resurgence. 

Set to replace the brand's best-selling MKX, the Nautilus is an important model for Lincoln. It was crucial they got this one right and the folks at Lincoln have got the design and styling aspects spot on. The fascia is significantly redesigned and gets the signature chrome-embellished trapezoidal grille from its siblings. The new headlights are simple yet classy while the hood and fenders have creases at the right places for that muscular look. The profile remains largely unchanged with the only significant addition being the chrome Nautilus badge under the rear view mirrors. MKX's characteristic shoulder line that sort of disappears in the middle before re-appearing towards the end of the rear door is still there as are the midly-flared wheel arches and the full-length taillights. 

The Nautilus creates a positive impression, no doubt, but you just can't help think a substantial redesign all around would have complemented the new fascia and the name change better.

The same applies to the interiors as well which are just a mild overhaul from the erstwhile MKX. The two-tone cabin is lavishly equipped with Lincoln offering three premium 'Black Label' trim themes. Creature comforts like the optional 'Ultra Comfort' seats that can adjust up to 22 ways, provide lumbar massage and developed with inputs from orthopedic surgeons and driver-assist features like adaptive cruise control, lane-centering feature, evasive steering assistance, pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection and active park assist are aplenty. 

A pair of turbocharged engines featuring direct fuel injection and twin independent variable camshaft timing power the Nautilus. The base engine is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder unit that churns out 245 horsepower while the more expensive variants get a 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 mill that generates 335 horsepower and a peak torque of 515 Nm. Both the engines are mated to a 8-speed automatic transmission that transmits the power to all four wheels. 

The Nautilus goes on sale next spring with the United States of America and China expected to be its major volume markets. Together with the Continental and the Navigator, the Nautilus makes the new Lincoln lineup quite an impressive one. What's next, Lincoln?


Lamborghini announces its return to SUVs with the striking Urus

After years of testing and months of teasing, Italian car-maker Lamborghini finally unveiled the Urus at its headquarters in Sant'Agata Bolognese, Bologna, Italy Monday. With this, Lamborghini becomes the second sports-car marque after Porsche to accept the inevitable and venture into the big and profitable world of luxury SUVs. Having said that, let's not forget the Urus isn't Lamborghini's first-ever production SUV. That honour goes to the LM002, produced in limited quantity between 1986 and 1993. Powered by a V12 engine from the Countach, the LM002 had on-road performance on par with the supercars of the time and off-road credentials rivaling the very best mud-slingers out there. The Urus, named after a Spanish fighting bull, certainly has big shoes to fill in then. 

Shown in concept form at the 2012 Beijing Motor Show, the Urus has taken its own sweet time to hit the market. And boy, does it impress!

Despite its SUV shape and form, the Urus is every bit a Lamborghini, be it in performance or looks. 

Nestled under that muscular hood is a V8 bi-turbo engine that churns out 650 horsepower and a peak torque of 850 Nm. The Urus accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.6 seconds while 200 km/h is reached in 12.8 seconds. Top speed is a whopping 305 km/h, the highest on a production SUV thus far. Mated to this monster of an engine is a 8-speed automatic gearbox and and a permanent 4-wheel drive system and 4-wheel steering with active torque vectoring, adaptive air suspension with active dampers and roll stabilization system.

Making all these hardware elements work is the Adaptive Network Intelligent MAnagement (ANIMA) Selector that transforms the vehicle's dynamics at the touch of a button. There are a total of seven driving modes to choose from depending on the terrain to be tackled. Three of them - STRADA, SPORT and CORSA are on-road modes while another three - NEVE, TERRA and SABBIA are for off-road purposes. Finally, the EGO mode allows the driver to cutomize the steering, suspension and traction settings.    

Despite its off-road credentials, the Urus stays true to Lamborghini's design ethos. 

Slim headlights featuring Lamborghini's signature illumination sit high on the front fasica that's dominated by a huge air dam. The gaping unit feeds the V8 under the hood and features multiple detailing including Y and hexagonal elements. The muscular hood is adorned with two prominent ridges on either sides and a subtle ridge at the center that ends in a peak featuring the Lamborghini logo. The silhouette features multiple cross lines and creases which, together with the rising window line and flared wheel arches, give the Urus all the aggression that it needs. Out back, the short rear windshield, ultra-slim taillights and the big diffuser with quad tail pipes reveal this isn't your normal SUV.

Lamborghini hasn't forgotten the LM002 - the hexagonal wheel arches and the triangular air vents in the fenders are cues lifted straight off it.

The interiors of the Urus are sporty yet luxurious, trying to strike a balance between the typical Lamborghini customers and luxury SUV-buyers. 

The dashboard and the consoles are centered around the driver, just how a Lamborghini should be. The flat-bottom steering wheel looks nice and features the Italian tricolour. Directly behind the wheel is a fully-digital and customizable TFT screen that acts as the instrument cluster. Two additional screens are placed on the center console - one for infotainment and the other for comfort functions with a virtual keyboard and hand-writing recognition. The Urus is said to feature the largest range of options ever offered on a Lamborghini. A host of colours and materials are on offer as well including natural leather, Alcantara, wood, aluminium and carbon fiber. 

When it goes on sale in 2018, Lamborghini would be hoping that the Urus repeats what the Cayenne did for Porsche. With its striking looks and sizzling performance, Lamborghini's third model line after the Huracan and the Aventador should have no problems in doing that. Ferrari, do you copy?


2017 Los Angeles - Mercedes-Benz unveils the all-new CLS, the original 4-door coupe

When Mercedes-Benz took the wraps off the Vision CLS Concept at the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show, the term 4-door coupe was unheard of in the automotive industry. The reception for the gorgeous coupe-styled sedan was overwhelmingly positive and the CLS went on to pioneer an entire segment, forcing rivals BMW and Audi to follow. After two successful iterations, the German luxury car-maker debuted the third-generation CLS at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show last Friday.

In the CLS, form has always taken precedence over function and the all-new model is no different. Sporting a silhouette similar to its predecessors but with much cleaner and sharper lines, the new CLS is now in line with the brand's 'Sensual Purity' design language. The forward-slanting front end is characterized by the trademark radiator grille that widens towards the base and a pair of low-set triangular headlights. The profile is as sleek and sexy as ever with an arching roofline, flat shoulder line and flared wheel arches. At the rear, a pair of two-piece taillights pushes the license plate down to the rear bumper, offering a more mature take on the design Mercedes-Benz has been applying to its coupes and coupe-crossovers of late. 

The interiors borrow heavily from the E-Class, the model with which the CLS shares its platform and underpinnings. Featuring a flowing layout that extends from the dashboard to the front doors, the CLS's cabin is more opulent and luxurious than ever. Exquisitely-designed air-con vents, a Mercedes trademark these days, grab eyeballs while the standard 12.3-inch instrument cluster couples with a 12.3-inch infotainment display for a really 'w-i-d-e' monolith screen. While a full suite of creature comforts, driver-assist and safety features are standard on the new CLS, the Edition 1 that commemorates the launch gets exclusive features like black pearl Nappa leather, copper interior accents, ambient-lighting package and black 20-inch AMG alloys amongst others.

In-line 6-cylinder engines make a comeback in the Mercedes lineup under the hood of the CLS. While the 3.0-liter petrol mill in the CLS 450 produces 362 horsepower and 500 Nm of torque, the 2.9-liter diesel engine is available in two states of tune. In the CLS 350d guise, it generates 282 horsepower and 600 Nm of torque. The same mill is tuned to deliver 335 horsepower and 700 Nm of torque in the CLS 400d. Both the engines are turbocharged and paired with a 9G-Tronic automatic gearbox which transmits the power to all four wheels through the standard 4Matic all-wheel drive system.

Supplementing the petrol engine is a mild-hybrid system that generates an additional 21 horsepower and 250 Nm of torque for short durations. Dubbed 'EQ Boost', the 48-volt electrical system consists of a 1 kW-hr lithium battery placed under the hood and aids 'sailing' wherein lifting off the throttle shuts off the engine and the electric motor re-fires the engine upon pressing the throttle pedal again. There is no EV-only mode though and the IC Engine runs at all times.

The new CLS goes on sale in 2018 with the United States of America, Europe and China expected to be its first markets. Now that the original 4-door coupe is reborn, it's the turn of BMW and Audi to up their game in this all-important show-off segment.