Indian Autos blog

Monday, August 20, 2007

Login to the frumpy Logan

Logan....let me start this entry by mentioning the fact that I hate this car from the bottom of my heart and if the Logan was the last car parked on planet earth...I would thank God for giving me an opportunity for setting it on fire and dancing around it with joy ...

Buying a Logan and parking it in your garage is something like Peter England endorsing Actor Govinda as their chief global ambassador. They wouldn't do it. Simple as it may sound, this car is just nonsense. And Renault have completely debased themselves by doing such an idiotic act of bringing this dustbin on wheels to India.

First of all the shape. Somewhat resembles my thousand page fat telephone directory . All completely flat and boxy, the Renault designers were inspired by a kindergarten girl's pencil box and decided to make a pencil box theme car. They did make it finally and wow!...the end product looks stunning!... Ladies and Gentlemen....Make way for the Renault pencil box..err..sorry..Logan...

Dude its raining...we need to turn on the wipers...no no..wait..there is no point in doing that...the wipers wont work..it was designed to clean the windshield of a left-hand drive car...but fortunately or unfortunately in India, we people drive right-hand drive cars and Renault didn't bother fixing the wipers when they changed the position of the steering and the pedals to the right ...so do one thing...if you buy a Logan, ask the salesman to put some complimentary tissues and a mini mop in that extra large boot as it may come in handy when it rains.

Ergonomics is as poor as gets. You need to have arms which can extend and touch the moon to adjust the A.C fan speed or to change the radio station. And that again is primarily due to the poor design and carelessness of the Renault engineers. They designed the centre console for a left-hand drive car and just left it there for the drivers to figure out and struggle. And I haven't even mentioned about the hidden and inaccessible location of the rear power window switches. Its somewhat like being in Treasure island once you get into the car. You need to search and search again for several vital controls and that gets you aggravated further.

This car was designed keeping the cost cutting factor in mind. They have done a good job. But they just got carried away after one point and decided to remove several important parts and components. In fact, most of the components are borrowed from the existing tried and tested Renault models. Its Dejavu if you have owned a Renault car before buying this one and it doesn't end there. In the name of cost cutting, Renault removed most of the sound proofing and deadening elements as a result of which, the car gets worser to sit in. Its like being inside a crowded indoor fish market when your driving the diesel at 70 mph. The chances are that you might go deaf if you are sitting in that co-driver seat for a long duration. Even at low speeds, you need loud music from those speakers to drain out the noise made by the engine. Pondering over the car's speakers, the joy of listening to your favorite sound track is completely savaged as whatever comes out of the speaker can only be classified as noise pollution.

Dude...can you shut the door for me?...no he cant...thats because the doors don't have handles. No kidding. The consequences of cost cutting just starts to get on your nerves the moment you step in and you will wonder what other surprises it has in store. In the event of a terribly violent head on collision, the airbag on the driver's side inflates and his chances of survival is high. The passenger sitting to his left isn't lucky enough to live as the airbag on his side is absent. But I'd rather prefer dying than traveling in this car.

Looking at it gives me an eye sore...sitting inside it gives me a chronic head ache...and thinking of buying one makes me sick. Thats what I have to say about this sculpted garbage truck which is dressed in a car like costume. For the same price, I'd buy any other car in that segment and feel happy about it. I just don't find a single sweet spot in this car and I know that I've tried really hard.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Mercedishhh...

Technology'.....thats the one word answer you can expect from an engineer in Mercedes Benz if he is asked about the cars they make. And the same answer is what keeps them ahead of the rest. They make these epic cars and when nobody is complaining, they make better ones. They were the first ones to develop, test and implement stability control, traction control, brake assist, seat belt tensioners, airbags, ABS, etc. Every time a new car is unveiled in one of those autoshows, it sports a handful of fascinating, never before seen technology. Jeremy Clarkson commented after driving the Mercedes-Benz S Class's that "It's more than just a car, its a glimpse into the future, its a showcase of everything that can be done and everything that everyone else will be doing very soon". A brief examination of the popular models reveal how different they are from the others.


Peeping under the hood of any Merc, you would find the powerplant with the three pointed star embossed on its top. It somehow makes you feel like the Sultan of Brunei everytime its working for you on the road. The engine on any of the these cars is powerful enough to keep that smile running wide and the adrenaline secreted without much thought or trouble. Engineers at Mercedes believe in keeping all the people happy all the time. They have got Brabus, Kleemann, AMG etc to do the 'beef up' job for the "more-power-i-want" category of customers. These tuning companies might have names that may give an impression that they are really hi-fi and perform labyrinthine natured jobs. But they are so real to the way they sound as that they bring out World record breaking cars once every fortnight?. For example, Brabus currently holds the world record for producing the world's fastest street legal sedan (BRABUS rocket) and the world's fastest street legal roadster(BRABUS SV12 S Biturbo Roadster). If you already have this aging E class and gotten bored of its engine and other dynamics, these tuners can perform the sort of magic that'll put new wine in the old bottle. They can also add visual effects to the power packed action thriller like a new set of alloys or a new strikingly styled front fascia.

The Mercedes Benz A Class is a class apart from the other cars in its league. Often referred to as the 'baby Benz' this front wheel driven hatchback is the smallest in the Benz line up. More than a million units have been sold since its production commenced in 1997. In case of a violent frontal collision, the engine and the transmission would slide under the floor rather than entering the cabin. Thats not it. Awesome handling is achieved by precision tracking and by a Parabolic Rear Axle. A "Selective Damping System", in which the shock absorber forces respond differently according to conditions, is standard. For example, under normal conditions it operates at soft absorption; while cornering at speed it changes to full damping force. The most powerful A Class can go from a standstill to 100 km/h in 8.0 seconds, and has a top speed of 227 km/h. Cool uh?

Masked in unapproachable elegance, the Mercedes Benz C Class sporting the ever eminent Stuttgart Star would undoubtedly make infinite heads turn towards it. The new C Class looks like it came right out of Giorgio Armani's fashion boutique. This luxury compact car produced by Mercedes was introduced in 1993 as a replacement for an earlier model. Be it the multivalve turbocharged diesel(CDI) or the supercharged petrol engine(KOMPRESSOR), the C Class has staggering amounts of power and mind boggling technological lineaments like traction control and antiskid system to keep it under control. The new C Class which was unveiled earlier this year was tested in all terrains including the Arctic Circle and the Sahara desert and thereby clocking twenty four thousand test miles before production began. Versions of the car are available with a choice of rear and all-wheel drive. By far its the most safest car to travel in as it achieved success by scoring the maximum five stars in the EuroNCAP crash tests. The most powerful C Class is the 5.5 L naturally-aspirated V8 which churns out 362 hp and an intense 510 Nm torque.


'Einspritzung' in German means fuel injection. The 'E' in the 'Mercedes Benz E Class' means exactly that and comfort along with refinement couldn't blend in a better form. While the E-Class' ancestry stretches back to the 19th century and the beginning of Mercedes, the lineage becomes more distinct after World War II when the prewar 170 sedan reentered production. From there they haven't turned back. With some 200,000 vehicles sold annually, the current Mercedes-Benz E-Class series is the most successful sedan in the upper mid-range segment. The latest E class is different in 2000 ways when compared to the previous one. Atleast thats what Mercedes claim. The midsize luxury sport sedan ranges from fuel-efficient diesels to ultra-high-performance AMG models offering a choice between a saloon and an estate. The Bluetec technology from Mercedes which completely reduces harmful emissions was first successfully implemented in the E Class. The car has won more than 70 awards in all categories over the past six years. Ahead of the rest and truly ahead of time, the E Class is yet another feather to the Mercedes hat.

Mercedishh...

Supercar territory..and the gerent is here. The Mclaren Mercedes SLR takes the laws of physics and wipes its shoes with it. Developed with help from their Formula 1 partner Mclaren Automotive, the SLR is the fastest automatic transmission car in the world. The SLR McLaren sports a 232-kilogram, hand-built 5.4-litre, supercharged, all-aluminum, V8 front-mid mounted engine that can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.8 seconds, and has a top whack of 334 km/h. Talking about stopping power, the SLR has a spoiler mounted on the rear which pops up when braking from high speeds, thus helps the car to stop quicker. The SLR is one of the safest and most luxurious supercars ever built, deviating from the common supercar practice of eliminating luxuries for the sake of weight reduction. Inspite of all the extra weight, the car handles like its on rails and the captivating style and design would surely blow one off balance.


It can see in the night, prevent accidents, and can leave most sports cars in the dust. All this when it measures almost the size of a big-sized cinema hall. The largest and most spacious luxury vehicle in the company's lineup, say hello to the Mercedes S class. The 'Special' class is a product of advanced technology and sophisticated engineering. The car can literally accelerate, cruise at a preset speed and brake by itself. It can even close its doors automatically!. Mercedes have used exotic materials for the structure and insulation of its car. The S also sports a computer-controlled active suspension system and an advanced V12 engine, which runs only 6 of its 12 cylinders when cruising at light throttle.
Recent generations of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class have been the recipient of various automotive awards, reflecting the vehicle's status as one of the world's most prestigious luxury flagships. Unsurprisingly it has captured the top end of this market segment in every region of the world. The 2008 S class will be replacing the older version which has sold 485,000 units world wide since its production began ten years back. One diesel and three petrol units are offered as engine options which make this car the king of ultra luxury sedans.


Summing it all up, Mercedes Benz makes cars that could go on for decades pounding over dirt roads or ruptured pavements, or forming a line drawn by rival militias lobbing grenades at each other. They have added to the "Made in Germany" pride and glory and without doubt, the cars they make are truly world class.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Porsche say...

Good ideas define their time
Great ones stand the test of it

These bewildering machines never seem to look ordinary, no matter how many ever times its seen. The sheer charisma and the magnetism around a Porsche is incomprehensible. Driving them is like being on another planet. The German engineers are credited to have developed this sports car that can be taken to the track on Sundays and driven to work on Mondays. Thats how a Porsche can be best described. They mean excitement, exclusivity and divinity. For the ones who own this piece of engineering magic, it doesn't get bigger than this. For the rest, well, someday somewhere!!

The shape of the Porsche 911 is eccentric yet exceptional. But wait. The initial designs were drafted by a man named Erwin Komenda way back during the cold war, who had done a wonderful job then. Agreed. But the downside is that its not been changing much after that. Decade after another, these machines just look the same, except maybe for a bulge there and a scoop here. Porsche's design house is called the laziest design house in the world by many. I just cant seem to disagree with them. Maybe the design can still be considered different when in contrast with the other sports cars of today and gives the Porsche its stunning identity but I think the design engineers can do a complete rework to make it look even more extra ordinary. The Porsche Cayenne, which is an SUV designed during the Iraq war looks quiet different, but the 911 aroma can be slightly sensed even there.

Now there is a lot of cluttering and confusion inside many of our heads. If the complete lineup of the models look similar, how different are they otherwise? Is there something distinctive under their hoods? Do they come in the same price bracket? What else do they have in common? Queries are discussed comprehensively.

Models:
Currently there are 4 models for a buyer to choose from which are Boxster, 911, Cayman and the Cayenne.

The Porsche Boxster is an open-top two seater mid-engined roadster, which sports either a 2.7-litre engine which develops 245 bhp or a 3.4-litre engine that develops 295 bhp. The Boxster's name is a combination of the word "boxer", which refers to the vehicle's horizontally opposed engine, and the word "roadster", referring to the vehicle's convertible top. This model is available with a manual or an automatic 'tiptronic' transmission. The prototype of the Porsche 986 Boxster was first shown at the Detroit Auto Show in 1993 and was available in the showrooms later on in 1996. Throughout these years, this car has won numerous awards and auto journalists across the world adore it so very much. A 2008 limited edition Boxster will be available later on this year, which looks and sounds quiet different from the normal one. Only 500 of these models will be made.

The Porsche 911 is simply the

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

One Lakh wha???


Really??..seriously??...is it so??...Impossible...are you kidding me?....those were some responses of the Indian people to the OLRC(One lakh rupee car) when Tata Motors proposed the plan of making it. Is it going to be an auto rickshaw with four wheels? is it a golf cart with doors?? is it going to even look like a car?.. Those were some other interesting questions posed. Everything about this small car was kept under wraps during its probation period and it was like a top secret military mission which everyone wanted to know about but couldn't. Officials from Tata Motors refused to talk much about it until a few months back when a magazine released some sketches of its shape and mentioned briefly about its technical specification. Its shape resembles the Chevrolet Matiz. A rear engined 660cc 2-cylinder petrol and 700cc diesel are the engine options and the low-end model would have a CVT. The higher end model would have A.C, power steering and a manual transmission. Its wheels are borrowed from the mini Truck (Ace) made by the same manufacturer. Some other reliable sources say that the car is made mostly of high strength plastics and a substantial amount of cost cutting has been planned when the car is put into production next year. They also say that the storage space in the front (remember that its a rear-engined vehicle) doesn't seem to be all that large. Several doubts are raised which can only be clarified after the car's launch next year.

Fill a bag of sand and put a Tata logo on it. It'll attract buyers! The Tata logo signifies trust and the brand has captured the hearts of millions across the globe. For the past decade and a half or so, Tata have been giving the Indian people a lot of reliable and affordable cars. The One Lakh Rupee segment belongs to up market bikes and is an inhabited and dangerous territory for carmakers. But Tata Motors aren't reluctant to explore it. The margin for the manufacturer is going to be almost close to nothing and producing a car for this low a price is going to be one daunting task. When Mr.Tata was asked about the response to the reactions of the public and the press, he simply commented saying that many people ate their words when the Indica was launched and the same is all set to happen when the small car is unveiled next year.

What can we expect? I'm not sure, but one cant expect ABS, ESP, EBD, etc. Although the Indica and the Indigo sedan initially had a lot of issues, most of it seems to have been fixed after a few updates and refreshments over the years. The quality factor is what puts the cars down. Gaps, low quality plastics and poor finish are the regulars. But its understandable to expect a few short falls in a low priced product. Expect most of the Tata Motors genes to be found on the small car as well. Fiat's 500 model similar to the OLRC was a runaway hit in some parts of Europe when it was launched earlier this year and it was completely unanticipated. Although it costs considerable more than the One lakh car, we can still contrast both as they belong to the same segment. People instantly fell in love with its shape and styling and the ones driving these became some kind of celebrities. As of the end of July 2007, Fiat's boss Sergio Marchionne announced the Fiat 500 had received 57000 orders just four weeks after the official launch. Its becoming something like a fashion accessory and everyone wants one. Will history repeat itself when the Tata's small car is released? Only time can tell.

We all love the privacy that ours cars give us. Buying a car is like a dream come true for most of us Indians. We love boasting about our cars and in the due course of time after buying one, it becomes somewhat an integral part of our family. We have emotions and sentiments for our cars and these machines get pampered and caressed like a never aging puppy. It takes us places and more importantly it takes along our loved ones. Imagine if the same sensation and feeling could be experienced by millions of other less fortunate Indians who cant afford to buy a new car today. That’s what is so good about this one lakh rupee car and not its suspension or the power it produces. Its rightly called the "people's car".


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