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AutoX conducts an exclusive first drive of Jaguar's stunning crossover concept, the C-X17. Follows us on Twitter @autoXmag @dhruv_behlautoX's Facebook Wall |
EXCLUSIVE: Jaguar C-X17 Concept First Drive & Interview http://wp.me/p359VQ-5FN
Words: Dhruv BehlPhotographs: JaguarPosted On: December 1, 2013 The Dubai skyline serves as the perfect backdrop for an exclusive, but short, first drive of the stunning C-X17. To get behind the wheel of a concept car can be quite a … Continue… [ 2397 more words. ]autoX's Facebook Wall |
General Motors Launches myChevrolet Mobile App http://wp.me/p359VQ-5FD
General Motors India launched the owner mobile application, ‘myChevrolet India App’. The mobile application will assist customers with a number of tools relevant to their vehicles post purchase. It will be available free of cost on…autoX's Facebook Wall |
Volkswagen announces 2.5% hike in car prices from January 1 http://wp.me/p359VQ-5Fx
Following in the footsteps of manufacturers like BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Maruti, Mahindra, Nissan, Renault & Tata Motors, Volkswagen too has announced an increase in the prices of their vehicles in India. The manufacturer has announced…
Hot on the heels of the Mercedes-Benz A Class comes the BMW 1 Series of similar vein. The A Class was a courageous move by the erstwhile leader in the luxury segment of the Indian automotive market. And in a move to reclaim former glory, the Three Pointed Star is leaving no stone unturned. It has, thus, turned to the latest phenomena in its versatile worldwide stable.
The A Class is nothing if it isn’t striking – and it sets the tone for a newer, refreshed, and more youthful Mercedes-Benz. But it also sets the stage for a more attainable Mercedes Benz. And in doing so opens the floodgates for the premium manufacturers in the Indian market. You see, so far they’ve vied primarily for the attention of the industrialist who needs to make a power statement – both with his suit, as well as his set of wheels. But now, both BMW and Mercedes-Benz are offering luxury hatchbacks that embody everything these two iconic brands stand for – albeit in smaller and more affordable packages. And that’s a bold move in a market that puts a premium even on a makeshift boot haphazardly tacked onto the back of a regular hatch.
But here are a few reasons on why it could make sense. The first is staring us in the face everyday. Our roads are getting congested to the point of being virtually devoid of air supply, and smaller cars are frankly a lot better at scything through traffic than more expansive machinery that just provides a bigger target for the varied mix of unruly vehicles, people and cattle on our roads. And while ‘luxury’ was the preserve of the very few in the past, upwardly mobile Indians now deem themselves worthy of the finer things in life. A new generation of work-hard / play-hard Indians demand the best – and are willing to pay for it. So, as far as aspirations go, they don’t get much more appealing than BMW and Mercedes!
Fortunately, then, both the A Class and the 1 Series are very good representatives of their respective marques. The 1 Series is every inch the proper BMW. The basics first – it’s rear-wheel drive and has 50:50 weight distribution, which means that it goes around corners like only the best cars in the world. BMW took us to its headquarters in Munich to prove this prior to the 1 Series launch in India, scheduled for the 3rd of September. We can expect the 116i and 118d for the moment – and, if enough of us paint the tri-colour M logo on our chests, perhaps BMW will let us have the tremendously smile-inducing M 135i.
The 116i is powered by a 1.6 liter petrol four-cylinder engine that produces 136bhp and 220Nm of torque, which powers the car to 100km/h in 9.1 seconds. The diesel-powered 118d, meanwhile, has slightly larger numbers – 143bhp, 320Nm, and 8.9 seconds to 100. Both come with a 6-speed manual as standard in Europe, but will be offered only with the brilliant ZF 8-speed automatic gearbox in India. And while I would ordinarily groan, quite audibly at that, at BMW’s strategy of offering only auto-boxes in India, in this case there really isn’t much to complain about. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, this ZF 8-speed is quite simply one of the best gearboxes on the planet at the moment. Moreover the shift quality of the 6-speed manuals in both cars isn’t quite at the same level as some of the more driver oriented BMW’s – such as the M 135i for instance (more on that later).
Of course, both cars will come with the regular alphabet soup of safety equipment – ABS, DSC, CBC, DBC, and a few more that I’ve probably missed out. The good thing is that BMW gives you the freedom of putting all these nannies to bed while you go out for a night on the town so to speak – which is to say that you can turn the traction control off fully if you want to wag the tail on wet tarmac for instance. For efficiency, both cars are also offered with start-stop as standard. EfficientDynamics also includes brake energy regeneration, electronic steering, which is quite surprisingly good, a shift indicator, and Eco-Pro as one of the driving modes – in addition to Comfort and Sport. Both cars also had xenons with LEDs that form the signature BMW corona rings. Additionally, our test cars came fitted with adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning – neither of which are expected to make it to India.
The 1 Series will be offered in BMW’s Sport and Urban lines. Sport offers a little added aggression, as the name suggests, while Urban adds a touch of quirky cool. The most obvious difference is in the traditional nostrils up front. The sharp edged grille has 8 bars in the Sport and 11 bars in the Urban line – apparently if you set the bars wider apart they denote more aggression (they do)! The bars are black with a gloss black tip in Sport, while they’re white with a silver tip in the Urban line. This general theme is carried across the two models – with subtle differences inside and out. The more important point, though, is the fact that the quality levels are on par with the 3 Series – as is the overall design of the cabin, which is a very good thing indeed. A wide 8-inch screen dominates the center console, while a number of components are shared with the rest of the BMW range. On the outside, though, the 1 Series is a lot more plain compared with the sharp-edged Mercedes. In fact, from the rear you could even mistake it for a cousin, twice removed, of the VW Polo – a similarity that will do the 1 Series no favours in the Indian market.
Where the BMW edges in front, though, is on the road. The performance levels are what you’d expect from a BMW. While neither engine is explosive, you never feel a lack of grunt. The petrol engine is an extremely refined four-cylinder unit that delivers a linear torque spread across the rev range and you never notice any turbo lag. The diesel, on the other hand, feels a lot meatier in the mid-range but you do detect a little lag if you find yourself off boost. The front end of the petrol also seems to bite a little better thanks to less mass in the engine bay. But, really, there’s very little to choose between the two cars. The on-board computer showed a claimed mileage of 12km/l for the petrol and 14 for the diesel, which is pretty impressive considering that both cars were being conscientiously hurled through some pretty steep alpine roads.
The electronic power steering is direct and very communicative for a non-hydraulic rack – naturally the faster rack on the 135i is a lot more entertaining. The chassis is very neutral, and settles safely into a safe state of understeer if pushed too hard into a bend. Neutralize the initial understeer, however, and you can hold the line through a bend at ludicrous speeds – and even get the rear end to slide in these moderately powerful machines if you’re aggressive enough. And that’s the beauty of any BMW – this chassis balance, mated to a friendly disposition on the limit. That’s really what BMW should cash in on when promoting the 1 Series. Yes, it has all the brand appeal that comes with the BMW roundel, but what it represents is ‘Sheer Driving Pleasure’ in a small package. On curb appeal alone, the 1 Series falls flat on its face when compared with the A Class. But it wins much of that back with practicality and performance. The good thing amidst the luxury car wars turning democratic is that the India consumer benefits, as he or she no longer has to look starry eyed at the three-pointed star or blue-and-white propeller.
The fact that the 1 Series is assembled in India should provide an additional benefit on the price front as well. I really believe, though, that BMW should cash in on the sporty image of the brand – perhaps they ought to offer an M-Sport version as well? And, maybe, in the near future they could introduce the full-fat 320bhp M 135i as well – but again, more on that later!