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Mercedes B-Class

Back to the top Mercedes plans an invasion with new models. To diversify into the volumes segment

• B-Class CBU launch this Diwali, CKDs early 2013

• A-Class to spawn sedan, SUV • LWB E-Class expected soon • Compact SUV GLC, to take on Audi Q3, BMW X1

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ercedes Benz is the oldest premium marque in the country but it’s no longer the most popular where sales numbers are concerned. The last few years BMW and then Audi have been snapping at its heels and while BMW had a year ago overtaken Merc’s numbers, this year Audi is poised to match if not get ahead as well. Obviously there are going to be many heads at Mercedes focusing on how to get back to being the most wanted premium brand in India.

There is a plan, it’s massive and it’s poised to bring new levels of premium quality and experience to a wider audience. MFA platform The volume rush hinges on the new predominantly front wheel drive MFA (modular front architecture) platform. It’s a platform aimed at not just developing markets where fuel economy is critical but also for developed markets such as Europe and the USA. It will underpin several affordable MAY 2012 overdrive

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A new age Maruti Suzuki’s new MUV is more like a car. And therein lies the strength of the Ertiga Words Joseph Koraith Photography Gaurav S Thombre

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amiliarity breeds contempt. Or so they say. But if familiarity is helping you maintain the lion’s share of the market then the joke’s on the one laughing at you. Maruti Suzuki sells 10 million out of the 15 million cars sold in India. But the MUV segment which accounts for 14 per cent of the auto industry is one in which Maruti doesn’t have a presence apart from the Eeco. More and more customers and looking to upgrade from a hatch to a family vehicle and this is the space that Maruti want the Ertiga to conquer. And their trump card – familiarity.

sTYLING The Swift started the new look in 2005, the Dzire followed and now the Ertiga – all subscribe to the design language that the company is now leaning towards. The Ertiga has contemporary looks which will appeal to a vast demographic. Maruti’s objective, which is to cater to the maximum percentage of the population, will be achieved with this design. The swept back headlamps, inspired from the Swift, the bonnet and grille taken from the Ritz, give the Ertiga a car-like look and not a big MUV feel, which is exactly what Maruti want to project. From the side the pronounced wheel arch up front is the only indicator of this being a ‘big’ vehicle. From the rear, again the small cluster of the tail lamps (much smaller than either that of the Innova’s or the Xylo’s) adds to the whole car-like feel. The rear spoiler adds a bit of sportiness.

Interiors It’s a Swift – that’s the immediate conclusion when you step inside. The difference being that you get a brown and beige finish unlike the black interiors of the Swift. The beige gives you the feeling of space and there are small bits like the silver trims on the door and on the steering wheel which give it a classy look. And just like the Swift, it’s a vehicle that you will slide into rather than having to climb in. The second row gets a 60:40 split, with the seats capable of sliding (240mm) and reclining, increasing the

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Early bonus The tweaked diesel engine in the Fluence should help it climb up the D-segment ladder Words & Photography Halley Prabhakar

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s much as I love cars, smart phones too tickle my interest. I always want the fastest and coolest phone. A phone with the zingiest processor and an OS that has something new to offer all the time. Phones these days need to be constantly upgraded or are left behind in this never ending technology race. The same applies to cars and the customer’s roving eye

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needs to be arrested with constant upgrading. This brings me to the Renault Fluence. Less than a year back the car was launched in both diesel and petrol variants. Despite the Indian penchant for diesel cars, the Fluence oil burner didn’t rake in the expected numbers since Renault launched it only as a basic entry level model. The French manufacturer acted quick and launched the feature loaded E4 diesel to satisfy the demand for a more premium vari-

ant. But Renault didn’t think that was enough. So now the Fluence gets another update and this time the engine has gone under the knife. Since there are no cosmetic changes made to the car and we’ve already spoken about the car’s styling earlier, we’ll head straight to the heart of the matter. The 1.5-litre Renault K9K engine is used in more than 1.2 million cars internationally, including India, where various cars sport it in different states of tune. It


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Audi q 7 v 1 2 TDI

Walk the torque

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You can’t, at least not walk in the park with this kind of torque! Words Bertrand D’souza

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011 threw up an unexpected googly when environment minister Jairam Ramesh threw a tantrum over diesel SUVs. In his opinion they were gas guzzling, pollution spewing behemoths whose owners should be taxed heavily. Matters reached a head last month as I was boarding a flight to Munich. The diesel subsidies and debates over the exclusion of diesel Benzs and BMWs from our roads seemed to gain further momentum as the budget approached closer. That seemed like such rotten luck especially at a time when Audi is considering bringing to India their most illicit and seriously bonkers SUV to India, the Q7 with the V12 diesel engine which I would be driving a few hours from now. It’s an SUV that reeks of excesses. Too much engine, too much firepower and way too much to pay for such indulgences. An SUV with the most powerful diesel engine in the world is nothing but an indulgence. Seriously, very seriously do you really need a 6.0litre V12 engine that makes 506Ps and

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1000Nm of torque to power an SUV. Let me spell that out one-thousand, just so you don’t think it’s a typo. This very unique V12 pushes out the most amount of torque ever to be experienced in a stock SUV. Mind you this isn’t a tuned engine, it does not come from the R or the RS department. Yet where, and think deeply, would you use that kind of firepower. Maximum speeds on most cars are clamped down at just 250kmph, unless you were a supercar and lived in a realm above all else. So in the case of the Q7 V12, you just can’t do more than 250kmph. But you can touch 100kmph in 5.5 seconds which is incredibly fast. That’s incredibly close to sports car territory, only difference being that a sports car can’t carry the entire FC Bayern Munich football squad and get them from last night’s party to the stadium in time! More on the engine then. It’s based on a V10 engine, specifically the one used in the multiple Le Mans winning R10 TDI race car that runs in the top flight LMP1 category. So you could expect to read about some exotic technology inside the engine and you will.

For starters it’s not a 90 degree V12 but has a 60 degree bank which makes it a bit more refined. The common rail injection pressure is 2000bar, an incredible feat if you consider that most modern high end cars still run 1800bar max injection pressures. The crankcase is made from cast iron with vermicular graphite (it’s a marvelous material called GJV-450). Its advantage is that it’s way more rigid and enduring than grey cast iron and helps make for lighter components. There are also a significant number of alloys used to make the crankshaft, pistons and cylinders. And there are two variable geometry turbochargers one for each bank of cylinders. All of it makes a massive engine that finally manages to utilise every bit of space under what we used to think was a ridiculously enormous hood. So what’s it like to pilot a 2.7 tonne SUV? Scary! The twin turbos spring to life at a ridiculously low rpm and the shove they deliver is immense. This catapults the Q7 forward in a mad rush and you get this incredible sense of being jackhammered into your seat every


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White heat Hot 4x4s chill out in Dalhousie

Words Sirish Chandran Photography Gaurav S Thombre

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riving fast is the simplest thing in the world. Hold on for dear life through the last corner, floor it on the straight and boom you’re doing 200kmph - I can do it, you can do it, Mr D’souza most definitely can do it as he demonstrates by flooring the Discovery and getting stuck within 100 metres. This is an every-jungleknown-to-man-conquering Land Rover Discovery we are talking about, equipped and engaged with not only its full compliment of off-road aids but also snow chains. This should scale Mt Everest, yet it hasn’t even gone 100 metres. Two quick lessons. 1: Off-roading is about how slowly you can drive; how gently you squeeze the throttle. 2: Only a supernaturally fast driver can drive slow enough to get a 4x4 to work properly. But let’s start at the beginning, Hari Singh’s place in Chandigarh, sizing up snow chains for all the SUVs, fitting in radios and communication gear. Apart from the aforementioned Discovery 4 we have the every-desert-conquering Land Cruiser, Dakar-conquering Montero and the one that wants to conquer Bollywood, the Merc GL. Problems soon crop up. Snow chains can only go onto the rear tyres of the LC and Disco, there isn’t enough clearance between the suspension and tyres up front. And the GL has clearance problems front and back so snow chains cannot go on at all. MAY 2012 overdrive

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Horsing around Power sliding a 660PS Ferrari on ice. It doesn’t get loonier than this! Words Sirish Chandran

“I am a rally champion. I can slide.”

Thus we make our first acquaintance with former WRC driver Alex Fiorio as he grabs an exaggerated armful of opposite lock while demonstrating the correct technique to slide from ’airpin to ’airpin. This cannot get any more surreal. Forget the place for a moment, though considering we’re in St Moritz, forgetting takes some doing. What we are actually here to do is spend the entire day sliding. We will learn diddly-squat about the car; a frozen lake with a coefficient of friction nudging zero will see to that. We will not urge the FF towards its top speed, we will not engage launch control, we will not tickle the upper reaches of its redline; heck we will not even use the full travel of the throttle pedal. The few facts you will read in this story are courtesy Bertrand’s short run in an FF on the peripheral roads of the Buddh International Circuit back home. If you’re in the market to buy a Ferrari FF this is not a story you should base your buying decision on. This is a story fuelled on a cocktail of way too much power, loony Italian rally drivers and four-wheel-drive served neat on the rocks so go get yourself a beer and settle down. And hold this magazine at a slight angle for effect. There will be a lot sliding. But first if you want to throw up in your mouth, do go ahead. I understand. Even I, an unapologetic fan boy if there ever was one, felt the sick rise in the back of my throat when I first saw that bread box/shooting brake/ barking mad backside of the FF. And worse, the first time I saw it at a motor show stand there was a stuffed dog in the back. Ferrari, maker of the mightiest supercars on the planet, provider of the reddest Formula 1 cars on the grid, had built a car to take Hari Singh’s kids and dogs up to Dalhousie. Or maybe, just maybe, Ferrari built a car for Hari Singh to rally. (If, perchance, he won the lottery. Twice). It’s no secret the only reason Enzo Ferrari made road cars was to fund the racing team. I can’t claim to know what Enzo Ferrari’s take MAY 2012 overdrive

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Kicking dirt We find a field and five SUVs to play with. It’s bound to get dirty!

Words Bertrand D’souza Photography by Gaurav S Thombre

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ost vacations begin like this. You plan a nice long holiday to an exotic destination and then your mum plans to drop in to visit her favourite son right in the middle of the holiday. So seven days become six. Rather than spending two whole days out of those six travelling, you decide to holiday at a destination closer to home. Then the dentist calls and is ready to probe your mouth on the fifth day of the holiday. You don’t reschedule either your visit to the dentist or your holiday because you don’t know when either will happen again. So you modify and now all you have time for is four days of peace and tranquil and the special massage you’ve been dreaming about since the last six months. The same evening your son’s school decides to hold a 15-minute PTA on what would have been the second day of your holiday, attendance will be marked and absent parents can’t run to their parents for a sick note. By now the local amusement park is your best bet for a vacation.

Turns out, that was pretty much how our big automatic SUV comparison drive ended up. We planned on going to Goa for a nice long drive and a couple of days of fun in the sun. Circumstances shortened it to Ganpatiphule, then it was cut again to Tarkarli. We finally ended up traveling 20 kilometres away from my house in Mumbai to an open field, of course lots of sun, but nowhere as much as fun as Goa would have been. Yet we made the best of it - when you have five SUVs and a wide open field you bet we can find ways to entertain ourself! Introductions then, first up is the Santa Fe, Hyundai’s flagship automobile for the Indian consumer. It is the most expensive vehicle in the Hyundai range but is also the finest. Despite a slightly rocky start because Hyundai couldn’t deliver on initial demand sales have picked up aided by CKD assembly in Chennai, the new automatic gearbox and product placement in the movie Don 2 in which both the Santa Fe and the new Sonata feature in some well shot chase sequences. And we all know just how well the Shah

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B e n tl ey Cont ine ntal V8

V8th wonder Everything about the Continental is colossal except for one thing Words Bertrand D’souza

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urope is clearly going through a financial crisis, America is changing its decadent ways by being more frugal but Asia is one of the last regions where fortunes can still be made. It’s the new mantra for most car manufacturers, especially those in the luxury segment where the total volume of cars, irrespective of brand, is probably lower than the number of people employed all together in that segment of the business. But Asia while highly aspirational isn’t brash, it isn’t impulsive. Spending big money on big cars that burn more money than fuel isn’t the Asian way. It’s why most luxury and sports car

manufacturers are marginally downsizing their products to make them more affordable to own. Case in point Bentley. From manufacturing colossal 12 cylinder engines to power their range of cars, Bentley has together with Audi developed a smaller all-new engine for the Continental. It’s a 4.0litre V8 and delivers Bentley’s promise of making an economically friendlier engine which would be kinder to the environment as well. The engine is fed by two twin scroll turbochargers and direct injection both of which give the engine the same depth and range as the W12 engine. In fact the V8 helps the Continental maintain a similar status quo to the W12 without deducting anything.

The V8 makes 500PS of max power at 6000rpm with 660Nm of torque available from just 1700rpm. It’s an incredibly powerful engine and the range of torque gives it amazing driveability. Poke it in any gear and it just picks itself up and flies. The only drawback this engine has comes not from itself but the weight of the car. Losing four cylinders reduces the weight of the engine by 25kg but that is a small amount when the car overall weighs close to 2.5 tonnes. That means the V8 has a bit of an uphill struggle to generate the same rapidity and pace as the W12. Bentley’s next focus area should be on drastic weight loss, the benefits are obvious and I will come to that

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What’s in a four? We demystify the world of four-wheel drive Words Halley Prabhakar Photography Gaurav S Thombre

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e all know what a four-wheel drive is right? It’s a muddiedup, tough looking vehicle that goes anywhere. But what is it really? Vehicles move when the engine turns the wheels of the vehicle. If you connect the engine to the front wheels – very common today – you get a front-wheel drive or FWD vehicle. Connect the engine to the rear wheels – still common, very enthusiast-oriented – you get rear-wheel drive or RWD. Connect the engine to all the wheels and you get four-wheel drive. Simple, right? This is where it gets complicated. In essence, the four-wheel drive vehicle has one advantage. It is able to put the engine’s power to greater use. An advantage that is magnified in difficult conditions, like slippery roads, in the snow or in hardcore off-roading. When you add longer travel suspension and greater ground clearance to a four-wheel drive powertrain, you create a monster. A vehicle that is capable of covering ground in near-impossible terrain thanks to its ability to

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get past obstacles with its high clearance, pliant suspension and most crucially with its four-wheel drive’s ability to find and use traction and keep moving. We know this monster as the Sports Utility Vehicle today though most don’t ever go far enough off-road to tax their four-wheel drive systems. The traction bit is also the reason, by the way, for more and more performance cars looking past RWD and switching to four-wheel drive systems to harness and utilise the power better. Let’s delve deeper. At the heart of the four-wheel drive is a differential. A car’s outer and inner wheels rotate at different speeds in turns. If connected normally, this will wind up the axle like a spring eventually causing a mechanical failure. At the simplest level, the diff allows the wheels on an axle to rotate at different speeds through (usually) a set of mechanical gears. A limited-slip differential, further, is employed on off-roaders and highperformance vehicles. It works like a normal diff but only up to a point. Past this, it locks the diff forcing both wheels to spin at the

same speed, even if one of them has no traction. This helps route torque from the engine to the wheel which has more traction (like the outside driven wheel of a rally car) in a turn. A locking differential is usually optional and a properly hardcore off-road tool. You can, depending on the SUV, manually lock front, rear and sometimes the centre differential to deal with particularly difficult conditions . The thing is this is a stressful way to drive for the vehicle and works at low speeds in slippery conditions because the spinning wheels take the edge off the stresses. A locking diff, then, is used only to get out of trouble. This is a mechanical device but now manufacturers are also offering EDLs or electronic diff locks which imitates a limited slip diff by detecting wheelspin off the ABS sensors and then applying the brakes to wheels spinning quicker than the others (a sign of traction having been lost). This tricks the diff into sending torque to the other wheel or wheels which have more traction and can use it better. An advanced application of this kind of electro-trickery is


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motorcyclenews L o g o n t o www. ov e r d r i v e . in / n e ws

BMW F650GS launch imminent BMW Motorrad ups its Indian game with sub 10-lakh offering

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MW Motorrad is bringing in their on-off road-styled F650GS to India this May priced at ` 9.99 lakh, exshowroom. The engine is a fuel-injected 800cc parallel twin which has a power output of 72PS and peak torque of 75Nm - figures comparable to the Kawasaki Ninja 650R. A 6-speed gearbox handles the transmission duties. The

F650 name is familiar to us thanks to the eponymous Funduro that BMW launched here ages ago in association with Hero, though its price tag was well ahead of its time. BMW motorcycles have come to India with Navnit Motors as their exclusive dealer and have been so far, selling a range of motorcycles including the two icons of the brand, the S1000RR sportsbike and the original giant transcontinenal off-roader,

the R1200GS. The achilles heel has been pricing - both the icons cost nearly ` 20 lakh. BMW will see increased sales from this vastly more affordable motorcycle although the pricing when compared to its displacement peers remains on the high side. BMW is currently the sole Indian CBU motorcycle outfit without direct Indian representation. BMW currently has dealers in Mumbai and Bangalore.

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Vespa

That 70’s show We reacquaint ourselves with the definitive scooter brand Words & Photography Ashok George

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eople call us the generation Z. We grew up with MP3s, gameboys, iPods, text messaging, Playstations, Xboxes, WiFi and countless similar luxuries. But in the process we missed out on rock and roll, the summer of love, VW buses, discos, tie and dye clothing and flower power. There is one other thing that was as much a part of the 70’s as dreadlocks and peace pipes – a little scooter that almost always had flowers painted on them. Those of us who missed out on this whole era have always looked longingly at pictures and videos of these little machines that were all but killed by the arrival of Splendors, CT100s and Activas. But not anymore, because Piaggio has just made

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this summer our summer of love. It marks the return of the wasp in all its glory. And this time it’s not disguised as a frugal consumer. This time it comes to the Indian shores as a fashion statement. As far as fashion statements go, the Vespa is like a Fendi clutch that compliments your Salvatore Ferragamo dress or a Duchamp tie that goes well with your Armani suit. Everything from the round headlamps and the chrome plated mirrors to the bright colours (right now it comes in black, red, yellow and white) stand out like Ursula Andress on a beach full of hairy men. The Vespa (having dropped the LX 125 moniker in favour of just ‘Vespa’ in India) is the classic retro shape meeting the modern designer look. The switchgear

did not look like they were of very high quality and had gaping panel gaps. But this might just be a pre-production niggle. Hopefully. The instrument cluster is clean and has a speedometer, odometer, fuel gauge and a clock. There are lots of storage spaces with a lockable glove box behind the front apron and underseat storage is good enough for an open face helmet. The entire monocoque frame is made from steel with some fiber thrown in for the fender and headlight housing. Despite the entire frame being constructed of steel, the scooter is extremely light and this can be felt the moment you take it off the stand. It is extremely nimble and can be flicked around by just twitching your behind. To put it into perspective,


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Swish knife

We ride Suzuki’s second take at the automatic scooter market Words Abhay Verma Photography Gaurav S Thombre

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uzuki’s strong CBU line-up in the country today is among the best and caters to practically every kind of rider in that market. But the same isn’t true of its smaller, Indian-made products. Its domestic products have been of high quality, excellent build and finish but sadly for the enthusiast, the blend of performance and styling has always been conservative, mature and practical, seriously at odds with the excitement and performance of its bigger international bikes. The Access is a successful scooter with long wait times and it has targeted the mature buyer rather well. Just like Honda did with the Dio, now Suzuki is deploying the Swish to take care of the enthusiastic, younger buyer who may have loved the Access’ explosive power – no, really it’s quite the firecracker

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amongst automatic scooters – but wanted it married to a, er, swisher styling package. What totally stumps me is why Suzuki waited four years to launch the Swish since under the plastic body is effectively the rather effective Access, in engine and chassis. The plastic body saves 5kg which will mean a little more performance but the real reason is simpler. It is hard to manufacture metal panels with sculpting, edges, planes and so forth. It’s exactly the same reason why bikes like the Yamaha FZ use plastic tank covers. As usual, fit-finish quality is top notch, and the quality of plastics is impressive. The Swish also looks a lot more compact than the Access, giving the perception of being a smaller scooter. However that isn’t the case. Its 125cc engine is the quickest in the market, and is butter smooth and responsive. The Swish feels a lot more comfortable

than the Access, with a lower handlebar that allows you to keep your arms relaxed. The suspension set-up is good even on bumpy roads and along with the wide, comfortable seats makes for a plush ride. The Swish gets drum brakes which have enough bite, but Suzuki is still not offering a front disc brake even as option which we believe is a miss. All manufacturers, in our eyes, should be moving to


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Red Lined Can the KTM Duke 200 shake the Yamaha R15 and Honda CBR250R off their perch at the race track? You might be surprised Words Shubhabrata Marmar Photography Gaurav S Thombre MAY 2012 overdrive

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From Italy, with love We find out if the affordable Monster 795 lives up to the hype surrounding its name

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Words Abhay Verma Photography Gaurav S Thombre

or a long time now, Ducati has been perceived as a premium brand. Their motorcycles have always been priced on the higher side if not exhorbitantly, and it looked like cost effectiveness and affordability were words that never existed in the dictionaries of those making these achingly beautiful motorcycles in Bologna. Interestingly, when the Italian manufacturer launched the Monster 796 at a sticker price of Rs 8 lakh ex-showroom, they shocked a lot of people in the country. No one expected to see a sub-ten lakh rupee Ducati on Indian streets. But they did it. And today is a time when the Asian market is becoming increasingly important for everybody – manufacturers across the globe are keen on exploring

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the potential here. It is only natural for Ducati to focus on emerging markets in the Asian continent, and the Italian manufacturer has done something it has never done before – launch a market specific model in the form of the Monster 795. Shumi rode it last month in Thailand, and while initial impressions were positive, I decided to straddle the bike for a full road test.

Styling & build quality The Monster 796 is a definite looker and with an identical styling package the 795 looks smashing from every angle. It has all the right elements to get you drooling – the round headlight upfront, delicately sliced by the strip of daytime running LEDs, the curvy fuel tank, the trademark red trellis frame, minimal


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A prilia d orsod uro 1 200

Small is big Minor tweaks to the Dorsoduro have made it more attractive Words Harriet Ridley

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ere I am in Sicily, the southernmost tip of Italy, so close to Africa I’m practically there. In theory I should be toasty warm and enjoying the sunshine of a spring that’s just around the corner, it is March after all. Except it’s freezing cold and pouring with rain. Humph! It’s a good job then that Aprilia’s Dorsoduro 1200, the newly revamped 2012 model, is equipped with ABS and traction control, what with all that slippery-when-dry-letalone-when-wet lava ash that litters the tight winding roads that lead up to the mouth of Mount Etna. The bike was first launched as a 750 in 2008, and the success of this ‘hypermotard’, a category invented by Ducati with the launch of its Hypermotard a year earlier, ensured the arrival of the 1200 version in 2010. To date Aprilia has sold 13,000 Dorsoduros worldwide, thanks mainly to the fact it’s con-

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siderably cheaper than Ducati’s Hypermotard. So it’s no surprise the manufacturer from Noale is keen to keep up the sales momentum with a few tweaks here and there. While we’re on the subject, the 2012 Dorsoduro 1200 costs ` 8.12 lakh here in the UK, and it’s in our showrooms now. So what does this latest Dorsoduro get? The 2012 model comes equipped with new lighter weight three-spoke wheels and cosmetic updates including a new mudguard, all of which bring weight down by 3kg. The fully adjustable Sachs suspension has also been updated, while the engine gets a breathed on electronic management system with new power maps. So it’s not much, granted... But the changes do make a difference and a new model launch is a good way for a manufacturer to keep a motorcycle in the public eye. I love Aprilia’s V2 90-degree V-twin superquadro engine, whose crossplane-crank design means it’s even more compact than the 750 motor, and whose claimed power


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Baja bug gy

It’s different! Getting behind the wheel of something unique - the race winning buggy from this year’s Baja SAE India Words Abhay Verma Photography Joshua Nawalkar

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y hunger to ride and drive anything with wheels has seen me experience a large number of cars and motorcycles, ever since I got my driving license. I have ridden every motorcycle sold in the country and then some, have driven everything from mundane cars to exotics to trucks, but nothing apart from production vehicles. I always wondered what it would feel like to experience something off-beat, different from the ordinary, and goes without saying – fun to drive. On my trip to Dubai earlier this year, I had seen dune buggies there, and imagined how they would be to drive. The whole idea of the humongous amounts of power it had, coupled with the buggy’s go-anywhere ability, the huge tyres that seemed ready to mow down anything in their way and the full roll-cage are what caught my attention. Unfortunately it wasn’t possible to try one then, but last month I got lucky when I got to experience something similar – not as powerful or monstrous, but a prototype of a recreational off-road vehicle built by a group of students. The team that won the endurance race at this year’s Baja SAE India was the AISSMS College of Engineering, Pune, which happens to be the college from where Sirish graduated. Having attended the Baja SAE India twice, I knew the buggies built by these engineering students are not just metal bits put together, but have a lot of innovation and technology going into them, reason enough then to experience them. And steering the AISSMS buggy to victory, Resonance Racing (that’s the team name) was none other than the Volkswagen Polo R Cup driver, Oshan Kothadiya, who is pursuing his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Post race I asked the students if I could drive their buggy, excited heads bobbed positively. So there I was on a Saturday morning at the college, remembering my engineering days as well.

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A short brief later I had all the information on the buggy I needed, including the tech, innovations and even who ate 3 day old leftovers while working overtime to build the buggy. According to the regulations, students have to build the buggy on their own, without any help from professionals. They need to ideate and design the buggy from scratch, and that includes everything – the chassis, the roll cage, the tyres, everything. The engines are standard and are 305cc, single-cylinder units provided free of cost by Briggs and Stratton and produce 10PS of power. The specifications aren’t exactly exciting, but one needs to understand that these are prototypes being built by inexperienced college students. Students also need to ensure that the product is commercially viable and are supposed to market their buggy to a manufacturer. The students of the AISSMS College of Engineering have competed in the previous two editions of the Baja SAE with favourable results and hence the 2012 edition was not something new, and in fact they were looking forward to improve upon their previous performance. The prime focus this year was on weight reduction and hence they redesigned the complete chassis and roll cage, at the same time ensuring that reliability and driver safety were not compromised. The front suspension was fabricated by the students themselves – they borrowed dampers from the Tata Sierra, used custom made springs along with laser-cut support plates for the purpose. At the rear, they used MacPherson struts from the Maruti 800 without any modifications. Interestingly, the drive shaft was made by combining the engine side of the Mahindra Alfa’s drive shaft (Mahindra’s three-wheeler LCV) with the other half of the Maruti 800’s driveshaft, and I was amazed at their innovativeness! The gearbox was a sequential unit, again from the Mahindra Alfa since the students felt its ratios were best suited for the Baja SAE India


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MAY 2012 overdrive

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OVERDRIVE May 2012 issue preview