Mahindra XUV 500 – review
There is a Scorpio, Innovo and then there is the likes of Toyota Fortuner, Ford Endeavour, Chevrolet Captiva, Mitsubishi Pajero. Mahindra very intelligently has positioned XUV500 in between the two far ends to bridge the wide price gap and for buyers who want something better than your now common Scorpio or Innovo but can’t loosen their purse to the likes of Fortuner etc. Smart move indeed! Going by the bumper opening bookings, Mahindra has indeed hit a jackpot!
If looks can kill, XUV500 is a killer in designer attire – muscular, intimidating yet sophisticated. The design is inspired by Cheetah and gives a menacing stance ready to pounce on roads.
XUV500 is build on monocoque technology and the company’s first. The construct technology integrates body and chassis into single unit and is applied in most modern SUV’s around the world. So this helps in lower structural weight and in turn better power to weight ratio as well as gives a stable ride and performance.
The jaw like front grille is loud in design and matches the size of the SUV and at its menacing best giving it a beastly look. I very much fell in love with the spread of honeycomb grille giving it loads of character and uniqueness.
Check out the bold lines… two strong lines marking the sides and the accentuated curves highlighting the wheel arches giving a muscular yet polished looks…
When compared the front and side, the rear is not very dramatic…
The lights both front and rear compliment XUV500′s looks with projector headlamps, LED day-time running lights and also headlamps with their “bending” ability is very useful and practical while cornering. The vertical rear light sits pretty and there is even a curious looking motif engraved on it.
The exteriors gives a promising and an overwhelming presence and the trait is carried inside too. You have lots of surprising elements inside. XUV500 is quiet spacious with plenty of leg room and head room in the front as well as between the front and middle seats. The dashboard is well laid in dual tone.
The steering looks sturdy, meaty and hold well on your hands. It has bigger control switches and rotary knobs and side stalks on both ends and all are quiet easy and accessible to fiddle around while on a ride. So you can controls to toggle audio, controls to activate voice commands, controls for phone calls and control for activating the cruise mode. There is a large central pad on the steering sporting the mahindra logo giving a sense of muscular character as well as sportiness. The steering has tilt and telescopic adjustments.
The seats are spacious, comfortable and well laid with leather upholstery on the top variant and fabric seats for the base variant.
The instrument console had loads of tell-all signs. The twin circular pad has the speedo, fuel guage and rev counter and also the temperature and oil indicators. While the central screen between the two pads gives you a plethora of information that might just dazzle you.
The music console looks classy in waterfall central bezel that flows all the way down right to the first row. On top of the music console is a touch screen infotainment.
I am a sucker of touchscreen gadgets and it was delight to fiddle around it. As the screen would say, you got music, video, phone, car info and a navigation system. Navigation system is quiet hand
There quiet many handy boxes – glove box with laptop holder and a box above the glove box and also on dashboard above the touchscreen. There is a large cool box between the two seats in the front row.
The Air-condition vents are neatly done and is quiet good. Even the third row has a/c vents on the sides along with side holders and mobile charging points.
The top version comes with a sporty alloy wheels…
XUV500 comes in 7 colors: Dolphin grey, Opulent purple, Tuscan red, Moondust silver, Amazon green, Valcono black and Satin white.
Now coming to the heart of the matter. It’s here Mahindra proves that the company has come of age. Though the engine under the hood is the same that Scorpio sports, it comes with some noticeable tweaks. Neatly packed inside is a 2.2 litre mHawk engine delivering 140 bhp and an impressive torque of 330 Nm. Mated to this engine is a six-speed manual gearbox (I heard it is the first by an completely Indian made vehicle and build in-house by Mahindra) which gives the extra thrush to the car taking it 0-60 km in just 5.4 seconds.
As far the riding and performance, it is a delight to ride. It behaves like a cheetah indeed – ready to pounce, very agile in the movement, in control of the roads and yet gives you a commanding position and pleasure to ride. With 200 mm of ground clearance, you can be well assured of riding in even the worst of Indian roads and road humps
ARAI certifies a healthy 15.1 kmpl mileage which is quiet good for this segment.
The car comes in two variants : w6 and w8 and with w8 coming with front wheel drive and an All wheel drive option. Unlike the regular four wheel drive, the AWD in XUV500 sports an interactive torque management system which automatically monitors the road condition and shifts from 2 wheel drive to all wheel drive whenever necessary.
The key differences between the two variants:
The coup de grace comes in the pricing. It is where Mahindra had won the battle with a launch prize of 10.91 L for the base model (w6) and 12.07L and 13.02L for 2 Wheel drive and All wheel drive of W8 variants. (All prices are ex-showroom, Bangalore) With the impressive array of features and a brilliantly crafted vehicle both in terms of looks and performance, no wonder the vehicle has clocked 8000 bookings within the first 10 days and Mahindra has to stop taking fresh bookings. I was told bookings will restart in the first week of November.
A very appealing and wonderfully crafted SUV that is a sure value for money with a killer looks and a pleasure to ride. Cheers to Mahindra for coming of age with this world-class vehicle.
Honda Brio – review
Honda has unveiled their new baby called “Brio”. Brio means vigor, vivacity – full of life. True to its name, Brio has an infectious appeal and character that let you fall in love with it and also as the Honda tag line goes “Brio Loves You Back”, definitely the car has a life in it that would love you back. Do I sound smitten by love? I am and you will know why, read ahead.
In India, Honda has always been identified with premium cars with their lineup of Jazz, City, Civic, Accord and CR-V. While City was a run-away hit and market leader in its segment, Jazz was a promising car but Honda bungled in its pricing. Recently Honda dropped prices to began an aggressive retailing phase for the company in the Indian market and the company pins a lot of hopes on its new model, Brio which could add the numbers and the bottom line profits.
Honda has done lot of homework into the making of Brio (pronounced: Br-ee-oo) considering the fact that the car is designed from scratch especially for India and Thailand market to begin with. The entry level hatchback segment is over-crowded with well established models plus new entrants rolling in. This is also a segment where one successful model means a huge volume for the company but the problem is cracking the segment which is demanding as well as price-sensitive. So what Honda did? It patiently went about doing surveys and collecting facts, understand the customer demands and mindset and then collaborated with European designers along side taking inputs and involving the engineers from the targeted segment countries and arrived at what Honda calls double triangle form for Brio. The below picture explains it. (For more interesting aspects on Honda’s design talk, read HERE)
pic courtesy: Honda.com
So finally Honda Brio is here. Brio has a large-cylinder-design halogen headlights, a front grille that spells character and class of Honda’s styling. The bumper is flanked with wide lip like lines that give a wide stance. The two bold lines that draws up the front grille gives a strong presence and masculine nature to the car. Am I impressed by the front stance? Definitely yes.
A bold front…
The rear is interesting and Honda has taken a risk with the large glass hatch. You might like it or hate it or some of you might be slightly paranoid over the naked glass hatch. But trust Honda, the glass are really sturdy and fits very well. Its a hard reinforced glass hatch door and it isn’t definitely fragile at all, you can slam it shut as hard as a normal one. Personally, I liked this and it keeps the Brio stand apart from the rest since not many uses this design form factor these days.
The rear lights are interesting as well. Large, round red eye of the tail lamp and stop lights at the edges of the body accentuates the wider stance and protrudes and wraps up neatly to the sides and neatly slices the glass hatch diagonally.
In short, Brio has a pointy leaping forward wide stance, bold lines on the side that sprints upwards to the rear and a well sliced hatch with large glass and a curious tail lights all put together gives a contemporary, stable look to the car which is aerodynamic as well as boasts a terrific individual character and a strong presence.
Sit inside the car and you will smile at the tagline. Yes, Brio loves you back with one of the best in class interior quality. Inspite of the obvious pressure to keep the costs minimal, Honda has surprised as with a rich interior in the form of high quality plastic, fit and good upholstery. The dual tone beige upholstery brightens up the interiors as well as very comfortable and gives a uber cool rich feel to the car.
The dashboard is not as steep as in Jazz inspite of the forward design. A dual tone dashboard that nests the instrument console and other controls. Not overly glamorous, functional, pleasant and decent.
The 3 spoke design steering with a dash of smoky silver finish is compact and wonderful to hold and soft on your hands. Except for the start variant, all the other variants has steering mounted audio controls. The three pod analog 3D meter cluster with a soft orange illumination sits pretty. The MID display is basic and indicates trip distance info and average fuel consumption. The good part is the amber illumination stays even during the day light and is easy on eyes and to read. There is an Eco lamp function, when it is glowing green, it indicates you are driving economically. A green thought indeed!
Curiously, the music system controls are positioned slightly away from the driver but then the audio console is part of all the variants except for the basic variant. And one sore note, the audio console does not have a CD support. So you got to do with the USB sticks and other aux-in. Understood, a 4 GB USB costs very little now and can transport music in a pocket but then we still have a large population that are comfortable on CDs even now.
A long view from the rear…
The front door with side pockets. Note the blue color? well, its the lining pocket and strangely Honda decides to leave it bare showing the metal color of the car and not lining it with fabric. Yes, it adds a color but then I feel a fabric lining would have been a better idea.
The front sports a very comfortable riding stance with good legroom and headroom. The rear is decent enough not exceptionally roomy but average size to fit in easily the average Indian sizes.
The 175 liter boot space is well, small. The rear seats can be folded but no split folding. Don’t fret over the large glass hatch that might make your baggage visible in case you are paranoid about it, you might want the glass tinted dark or better grab a parcel tray. Personally, I found the glass hatch pretty and would not complain about it.
The heart, ride and performance of Brio:
The Brio is powered by the same 1.2 Liter SOHC i-VTEC petrol engine that is tucked inside the bigger sibling, Jazz. Though it is tuned marginally lower. The 4 cylinder engine delivers 88 BHP @ 6000 rpm and 109 Nm @ 4600 rpm.
Inspite of sharing the same engine as Jazz, being a lighter sibling Brio’s power to weight ratio is superior providing a peppier drive. City driving is a delight on Brio and feels very agile and willing. Handling is surefooted and reassuring in city traffic. It corners amazingly well thanks to a very responsive electric power steering. Drive it into highway, the car is more delight to ride, thanks to the characteristic refined engine of Honda staple.
ARAI certifies a 18.4 Km/litre fuel efficiency. Even if it is couple of notches below on realistic note, it is still a good score. Since it is Honda, it is only petrol engine as of now but Honda is believed to be working on a diesel engine but then it might take couple of years more for them to actually bring it to production level.
There are in total 4 variants of Brio and the top two variants come with front driver i-SRS and passenger SRS Airbags and also sports ABS with EBD. All the variants sports electric power steering and air conditioner with heater and also front power windows and central locking. The rear power windows is in all models except the starter one. Except the basic variant, all the variants also has keyless entry.
Brio comes in 6 colors – Energetic blue, Rallye Red, Urban Titanium, Alabaster Silver, Taffeta white and Crystal Black pearl.
Now, this is where Honda has got it all right, learning their bitter lesson from their Jazz experience. The base variant starts @ Rs. 3,95,000 and the top variants has a sticker price of Rs. 5,10,000.
(Prices Ex-showroom, New Delhi)
It is quiet a competitive and aggressive pricing considering the styling, performance , quality and goodies that come along with the car.
A compact car that carries the Honda’s engineering and quality mantra. At a very aggressive sticker price, it is definitely a value for money and a owner’s pride. Brio definitely loves you back. Fall in love, well I have. Brio has in it to be the car of the year in its segment.
Toyota Liva – review
After a fairly successful outing with its entry-level sedan, Toyota Etios, the world’s largest automobile manufacturer drives into our Indian roads Liva, Toyota’s small car made-for-India. The small car segment is quiet populated and each car maker, unleashing an array of models. It’s a tough market to crack where volume matters, let’s see if Liva can as their tag line goes “Liv Tmrrw 2day”
The first look…
When you look at the front, Liva looks familiar. It looks identical to its bigger sibling, Etios. So like the sedan, Liva too has a conservative styling and devoid of any radical lines and flamboyant designing. It’s a plain-Jane design and Toyota has kept it clean, simple and neat.
Though Liva is not a stunner and a head turner, it sports a pleasant smiling grille with chrome ornamental finishing that gleefully meets the crystal clear wrap -up headlamps with indicator, parking lights integrated within. The bonnet sports two neat lines giving a slight mid-rise that adds to the subdued understated and a dash of sporty styling. (The basic model of course comes with a Black matte front grille). The bumper is neat too with fog lamps and skirting and again let me remind, don’t expect them in base version.
Come to the rear and it is where Liva comes on its own. Etios rear design has been chopped of and given a wonderful treatment. Shedding the big boot, Liva sports a well-proportioned silhouette. Thanks to the rounded hatch, it looks more appealing and cute. Overall, the rear of Liva compliments with the front design, unlike the Etios rear. The mounted tail light makes the difference to the Liva. The slight bulge and the mounted tail light gives a sporty and charming character to the car. It blends well with the hatchback and also adds to the characteristics of the car.
Measuring 2460 mm, Liva has a huge wheelbase and good ground clearance.
The top two versions sports a 12 spoke alloy wheels.
The inside story…
Liva carries the Etios’s touch inside…
The dashboard is plucked straight from Etios.
cool glove box
So you have the same central instrument control, vertically mounted central air conditioning vents and the chilled glove box. There are plenty of bottle and cup holders (I think I counted 7 of them) and the 13 litre glove box with the air-conditioning vents is a cool thought.
If you thought the centrally placed instrument console would be not practical, you are wrong. It is not only easy to read but also gives the car an interesting perspective and a cool quotient. The console is pretty well stacked though the two of the starting base versions does not come with tachometer.
The top two variants come with a dual tone fabric upholstery – black and red in the top most variant and the other one in black and grey while the starting two variants comes in a single tone black upholstery which was quiet a boring sight. Again only the top two variants comes with fabric insert door trim. The front and rear door comes with pockets, which was quiet convenient to stuff papers, files etc.
Liva is quiet spacious. It provides good legroom and headroom both in the front and rear, sitting inside is quiet a lively experience.
Open the hatch and you get a decent 251 litres of b00t space. The rear seat can be folded but there is no split option.
The engine,the heart and the ride…
To take advantage of the excise duty concessions that the government provides for the small cars, Toyota Liva is powered by a 1.2 Litre, four cylinder engine that fires 89PS @ 5600 rpm and 104 Nm @ 3100 rpm. The brief given to the Toyota engineers is concentrate more on the engine efficiency rather than firing on all cylinders. The car is a delight to drive in city roads. It is peppy and behaves well in low revs and accelerates smoothly further. But come to highways, you will be slightly disappointed but then Toyota has strived at giving a good city car rather than a speedster.
As per ARAI, the car delivers 18.3 kmpl. But on a realistic note, expect 14 kmpl in city conditions and 16 kmpl in highways. This is the fine balance the Toyota engineers had worked on balancing the engine efficiency, acceleration and max power.
If you are looking for a diesel engine, sorry to say Liva comes with only a petrol version.
Liva comes in 7 colors, apart from the 6 colors that was seen in Etios range, Liva has one added blue color which looks cool too.
The variants and pricing…
Liva comes in 4 variants – J, G, V and the fully loaded VX . The basic version is heavily stripped down and without even power steering, which we find is hugely disappointing and ridiculous. The base model starts at Rs. 4,21,47 and it goes up to Rs. 6,08,684 for the top model (Prices are ex-showroom price, Bangalore)
GingerChai verdict: Liva is a good city car spacious and with decent looks, good ride quality and delivering a good mileage and more importantly its an affordable Toyota. It might not impress the speed demon within you but its a practical, no-nonsense, city car that is what Toyota has aimed and made for India.
Ford Figo – Review
The Indian car war is on and the car manufacturers are leaving no designs untouched. Ford has unleashed Figo to conquer the roads of India.
Figo draws inspiration from the architectures of Ford Fiesta and fusion models. Does is have in it the punch to win over the Indian roadies ? Lets see.
The outer look:
At first look Figo is not loud and flashy but solid. The lines are fluid with wrapped head lamps nesting an integrated indicator giving a confident look. The rear sports a towering tail lamps and a shapely rear window completing the looks of the car which is little conservative, masculine and nice. Not a show stopper but packs a strong personality.
Figo comes in 7 colors: squeeze, colorado red, diamond white, moondust silver, panther black, sea grey, chill. My pick was colorado red and diamond white.
The inner look:
As you step in, you would be happy with the roomy feel – a good head room & leg room. The inside out view instills a confidence behind the steering wheel.
The instrument cluster comes with a digital odometer and tripmeter in all the variants and gets better in the higher variants. The dashboard finish could have been better. Personally, I did not like the vibrant coral color of the dashboard. The seating is good with an average upholstery. The 284 litre boot space gives you pretty good area for you to fill up.
Figo comes in petrol as well as diesel variants. Sitting pretty under the bonnet and powering the car is a 1.2-litre Duratec engine in the petrol version and a 1.4-litre Duratorq TDCi engine for the diesel version. The engines packs punch in both the version making it a hot contender in the B-segment cars. In fact the diesel engine is quiet smooth and impressive. The ground clearance of the car is pretty good making it great for Indian road conditions.
All the variants comes with a good A/c with heater, power steering, remote fuel filter opening. You also get body colored front & rear bumpers in all the 4 variants. I didn’t like the fact that the dual front airbag is available only in the high end variant.
Pricing: Finally the success of a car in India boils down to the pricing and Ford has got it right with Figo. The pricing is surprisingly very tempting. In Bangalore the on road price of the base petrol version starts at 4.15 Lakhs and diesel version at 5.3 L (Considering that the on road price is pretty steep in Bangalore, it might be considerably sweeter in most other cities)
GingerChai Verdict: Figo is not jazzy but it is masculine and gives you a sense of confident ownership. With an aggressive pricing and solid performance, Figo is definitely a car to buy.