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August 2012 Volume 14 Issue 12 ` 125

A LEGEND REBORN

PULSAR

Radical new engine and chassis 200NS at ` 87,514 ex-showroom Lots of performance, very little money! DRIVEN HYUNDAI ELANTRA Watch out Corolla, Civic, Laura & co

DRIVEN MERCEDES-BENZ B-CLASS The most affordable Merc you can purchase in India

DRIVEN Renault Duster  COMPARED Dream Yuga vs Hayate vs Splendor+ Jetta TSI vs Laura vRS


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I N D I A’ S

August 2012 Volume 14 Issue 12 ` 125


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motoringnews L o g o n t o w w w. ov e r d r i v e . i n / n e ws/

SQ5 breaks cover The SQ5 becomes Audi’s first S-badged diesel

T • Twin turbo 313PS/650Nm 3.0-litre V6 diesel

• 13.72kmpl claimed • Prices start Rs 33 lakh in Europe

hat SUVs are in huge demand now is common knowledge. You have the hardcore off-roaders, the soft roader soccer-mom models and then there’s the go-faster specials. Sporty SUVs like the BMW X6 and the Porsche Cayenne have proved the demand for practical SUVs injected with some heady performance. The SQ5 is Audi addressing the need for a compact (they already have the Q7 V12) performance SUV. It packs a 3.0-litre biturbo V6 diesel that makes 313PS and 650Nm. The engine is coupled with an 8-speed tiptronic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive.

Audi claims that the SQ5 will sprint from 0-100kmph in a brisk 5.1s with a limited top speed of 250kmph. Fuel efficiency is a claimed 13.72kmpl. Audi promises a great sounding engine thanks to a sound-actuator in the exhaust system. Sports suspension lowers the Q5 by 30mm for better on road dynamics. The SQ5 goes on sale in Europe in 2013 with prices starting at Rs 33 lakh. As of now Audi has no plans of bringing the SQ5 to India, at least not till summer 2013. However we believe this car will be perfect for India with its combination of performance, off road ability along with the efficiency of a diesel engine. AUG 2012 overdrive

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HYUNDAI E L ANT RA

Sharp dresser!

Hyundai’s new Elantra moves several rungs up the ladder Words Bertrand D’souza Photography Gaurav S Thombre

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ometimes being ahead of the times isn’t healthy. Take for instance the TVS Centra, a motorcycle that had technologies that the masses never understood and cared for. It died, not an obvious death but certainly not a pleasing one. One of the reasons for the Centra not doing as well was the price that the technology demanded, it was a bit too much for the segment it wanted to attract. But this is not a story of a motorcycle. In the early 2000’s like the Centra, came the Hyundai Elantra, a car that too was well

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ahead of its time, offering technology and features that were thought to be more than what the segment demanded. In a word it was futuristic, perhaps too much because it too vanished without a trace. This despite the fact that it was sensibly priced, it’s biggest USP was its value for money proposition and had so much kit that it made the tech shows look prehistoric. So where did the first generation Elantra go wrong? There were a couple of reasons I surmise, first was the fact that the Elantra at the time was styled to distract and not attract. It’s design especially that grille was a very hard

dish to digest. The exterior design was a study in quirk-ism, and this happened at a time when Hyundai were still trying to find their feet in the world of automotive design. The interiors were just as confounding as the exteriors. Overall it was a car that did not subscribe to any particular design language and it all felt like gibberish. Hyundai had a tough time keeping interest alive in the product in a market where styling was getting to be one of the most important selling points.  The second and more important reason I gather has to do with Hyundai being Korean.


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MERCEDES BE NZ A- c l ass

Class Act! The new A-Class looks to attract a younger buyer and begs you to be impractical in some decisions Words Bertrand D’souza

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ercedes will launch the new A-Class in India sometime in the end of 2013. It will give them time then to set up a vendor base and open a new line to manufacture the A-Class here. Now while that itself is big news it isn’t as monumental as what follows. What everybody is expecting to see is a 3-box version of the A-Class to compete against the forthcoming A3 sedan from Audi. Reality is that Mercedes are making a very bold move by launching the A-Class as a hatchback, exactly the same car I drove in Portoroza, Slovenia. It is a path breaking plan and Mercedes needs to pull this off if they want to go back to being leaders of the premium luxury segment, not just in India but globally too. Is our market ready for such ambition? Can a very expensive hatchback, and we believe it will be priced somewhere in the Rs 17-20 lakh segment, survive in our market? The most important question however that needs answering is what I traveled to Slovenia for, just how strong a product is the A-Class? This question got more important ever since I drove the A3 last month, one of the best cars Audi has manufactured for the volume segment. The A-Class from the beginning was designed to be a stylish and youthful car, one that would help turn its image of being a manufacturer catering largely to those in their mid 40s. With that in mind Mercedes drew up an entirely new car that has nothing to do with the previous generation A-Class . The end result is a car that is tremendously stylish with the energy and vivacity often associated with the younger generation. It’s a car that will take Europe by storm. In Slovenia alone I got the thumbs up from dozens of hot hatch owners zipping through the countryside, all of whom slowed down to get a closer look. It also attracted an older audience but the more enthusiastic reactions seemed to come from those under 30. The A-Class subscribes to a new design language which is marked by a strong front visual, a dynamic line flowing from the front fender chiseling its way past the rear fender and a very low slung stance. That stance is accentuated by the sharply sloping rear window which is angled dramatically and a thick C-pillar that gives the A-Class a very solid persona. Incidentally that sharply raked rear window does create a few ingress and egress issues, which more senior consumers would find problematic, especially since you also have to bend low and lower your head to step into the car. The A-Class is 4.2 metres long and over 1.7 metres wide and at its tallest point is just 1.4 metres tall. The exterior di-

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Me rc e d es b - c l ass

Plan B

We drive Mercedes’ all new B-Class that’s on its way to India Words Halley Prabhakar Photography Gaurav S Thombre

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DR I V E

Re n ault D ust e r

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Clean sweep Renault gets their first serious volume player ready in the Duster Words & Photography Shubhabrata Marmar

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an you successfully chase down a Ferrari 458 Italia with a Duster? Sounds implausible but Bert and I did that a couple of years ago. Yes, it’s word play. We didn’t actually follow and catch a Ferrari, we caught the autoroute to Maranello from Renault’s Paris headquarters and followed the GPS to the car that was waiting for us. In the process, we spent two days getting intimate with the Duster, albeit in a dramatically different form from the current vehicle, while crossing a substantial swathe of Europe. Our car, obviously, was badged Dacia, the Romanian Renault-owned economy brand and I am, today, in the unique position of being

one of only two Indian journalists who have actually driven the Duster in original form as the cheapest SUV in the world - and now as the spearhead of Renault’s assault on the entry-SUV market. The Duster, as you should know by now, is based on the same platform that gave us the Logan. Which means good things like economical to build, rugged by nature and so forth, but also means other things like obviously built to a cost and devoid of features. So far. The Logan showed that Indian customers were willing to accept the space and all that but obvious economy sits at cross-purposes with their underlying association of automobile ownership with aspiration and status.

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VW J e t ta ts i vs s koda l au ra v rs

Turbo tales TSI vs TSI. How does the Jetta’s new 1.4TSI engine stack up against the Laura’s much loved 1.8? Words Rishaad Mody Photography Gaurav S Thombre

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urbocharged Stratified Injection. Or in short TSI is one of the few three letter abbreviations that get the autoenthusiast’s blood pumping. The name became a by word for ‘brilliant to drive’ when Skoda brought out the Laura TSI in 2009. It instantly blew its competition into oblivion in terms of performance and nothing has come close since. But that was also down to the fact that save for its bigger and heavier sibling, the Superb, no other VW group car has featured a TSI petrol. Three years on, the new Jetta TSI changes all of that. At first glance you might be at a loss when it comes to identifying the Jetta TSI. That’s because it’s identical to its diesel sibling except for a different badge on the boot. It doesn’t help matters that the Jetta itself is very reminiscent of its smaller sibling the Vento. Nevertheless the Jetta is a simple and subtle design that still manages to ooze sophistication. Splashes of chrome around the front grille and air dam help spruce up the otherwise very Vento/Poloesque front end. The headlamp units house day time running lamps but they’re halogen bulbs and not the LEDs. I know quite a few people who are miffed with that. The side continues with the simple design featuring a defining shoulder line and perfectly flared wheel arches. The rear is the most distinguishable angle on the car and helps the Jetta stand out from its VW brethren. The interiors are finished in classy beige with a hint of chrome here and there. It’s a well executed design and the back seat is spacious and comfortable, if only for two people thanks to the intrusive transmission tunnel.

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The Laura on the other hand, especially in vRS trim is a lot more shouty. Its chunky design with the typical Skoda kink running down the bonnet into the badge on the grille. The pulled back headlamps look smart but I think I prefer the front end on the old Laura. A rather featureless, slab-like side converges into a high set but muscular rear. With the vRS edition Skoda have slapped on a new set of wheels and a honeycomb air dam. You also get smart looking LED daytime running lamps in the bumper. The rear end gets a smart looking spoiler and exhaust tip. There are no bumper extensions of any sort and the vRS has very practical but slightly ungainly looking high ground clearance. The insides are primarily black with very supportive alcantara and leather wrapped sports seats. Skoda gives you a sports steering wheel but the lack of steering mounted audio controls is a major oversight. I remember the first time I drove the Jetta TDI manual on a proper mountain road. I fell in love with it and all I could think of was how great it would be if VW dropped a tasty TSI motor in the engine bay. Word then got out that VW was working on exactly that and we couldn’t wait for the result. VW gave us a TSI Jetta alright but it wasn’t quite what we had in mind. The 1.4TSI engine we get doesn’t have a supercharger/turbocharger combo we were expecting but uses just a turbo. The result is a tame sounding 122PS produced at 5000rpm. Helping things along however is a welcome 200Nm for torque that peaks at 1500rpm and lasts till 4000. The


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engine is quite tractable and has an appreciably strong mid range. However it’s not excitingly quick. The car hits a hundred clicks in 11.1 seconds and goes on to 196kmph. It is however, quite efficient doing 9.9kmpl in the city while it stretches that figure out to 19.6kmpl on the highway. The engine however has the typical VW thrummy feel and isn’t quite as refined as the larger 1.8TSI. In terms of ride and handling the petrol feels very similar to the diesel in that you have great ride quality despite a slightly stiff suspension set up. The Jetta feels stable and composed around corners and the steering is perfectly weighted. It’s a comfortable car to drive and be driven in. If ever an engine dominated the very identity of a car it would be the 1.8TSI in the Laura. The car is a good package on its own but the engine elevates it to the state of awesome. It’s unlike the engine in the old Octavia RS. That motor had quite a lot of lag but once the turbo spooled up it was an explosion. It was thrilling and borderline violent but not very comfortable or practical at city speeds. When you first drive the TSI you expect a similar edgy feel but you’ll find none of it. 250Nm of torque from 1500rpm to 4500 helps make this a delightfully driveable car in the city. Let the revs climb beyond 1800rpm and you feel a purposeful surge build up. Stay on the pedal and all hell breaks loose post 3500rpm. But again the power delivery never spikes and builds in a strong but linear fashion. What’s special about the engine is that the delivery is ef-

The compact 1.4-litre turbo engine in the Jetta makes 122PS and a healthy 200Nm of torque. The Skoda’s 1.8 turbo belts out a very impressive 160PS and 250Nm.

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HYUNDAI VELOST ER

Three’s company Coupe from one side and hot-hatch from the other - find out what the Hyundai Veloster is all about Words Ray Hutton

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oupes invariably cost more and provide less than the practical saloons and hatchbacks on which they are based. The compensation is style, beauty and a more sporty image. But although they have had spells of popularity in Japan and the United States, coupe versions of everyday cars haven’t sold very well in Europe and the recent trend is simply to give the name to the three-door hatchback variant. We all know that Hyundai is ambitious and expanding when other car makers are contracting. A while back, when it saw that cars like the Toyota Celica, Nissan 200SX, and Rover 200 Coupe were disappearing from the market, it continued to develop its own front-wheel drive coupe, known in America as the Tiburon. This was one of the first cars to show that Hyundai was capable of real design flair and, with a 2.7-litre V6 engine for America, was a credible performance car at a reasonable price. Its next move was up-market, with the rear-wheel

drive Genesis Coupe from its new premium sub-brand, again primarily for America. There was a longer wait for a replacement for the smaller and cheaper front-wheel drive coupe, though Hyundai made it known that the radically-styled Veloster concept car was the shape of things to come. And so it was, appearing last year in production form, less extreme, but still with some challenging design features. Let’s dwell on the Veloster’s styling for a moment. The front follows the rather fussy, big lights and grille, identity of other recent Hyundais but the side profile, with the roofline sloping in a straight line from the top of the

Styling cues from followed by modern Hyundais are evident but in a more sculpted form. However, the sloping roofline with a rear window that is barely there makes rear visibility a serious issue

The front follows the rather fussy, big lights and grille, identity of Hyundai AUG 2012 overdrive

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Me rc e d es C - 250C DI AMG P e r f ro ma n c e E d i ti o n

Still fast, now furious Mercedes adds some sting to its quick but efficient C250 CDI Words Rishaad Mody Photography Gaurav S Thombre

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his car has a rather misleading name. Despite being called an AMG Performance Edition the engine and drivetrain is identical to what you get under the hood of a standard diesel C250. But thankfully this isn’t just some hash job of sticking on some nice bumpers and a snazzy set of wheels. No, Mercedes also throws in cross drilled disc rotors up front, fatter rear rubber and stiffer, lower sports suspension to justify the moniker. Visually the Performance Edition gets a new front (slightly larger air dam) and rear bumper along with some edgier skirting. The changes are subtle but do bump up the aggression quotient by a bit. A new stainless steel exhaust characterizes the rear. They say a good set of wheels can significantly improve the looks of a car and the new 17-inch AMG

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wheels prove ‘them’ very right. The interiors have been peppered with small details like the AMG embossed floor mats and new three spoke steering wheel with paddle shifters. There’s also a new 4.5-inch TFT screen and a new instrument cluster design. You also get the de rigeur sporty aluminium pedals. Hit a pothole and you immediately notice the difference between this AMG edition and

the standard C250CDI. The sports suspension takes its name seriously and the car has a new found stiffness you just don’t associate with a Merc. While the car’s ability to soak in potholes and expansion joints has reduced you can hardly blame it. One really should know what’s in store when buying a car with AMG-tuned sports suspension. Nevertheless the stiff set up translates

Specification

Interiors get new TFT screen and instrument cluster along with a new steering wheel

Type Inline 4-cylinder turbo diesel, 2143cc Max power 204PS@4200rpm Max torque 500Nm@1600-1800rpm LxWxH 4591x1770x1447mm Price ` 34.62 lakh ex-Mumbai More than just a facelift Steering feel, no power increase

+ -


F e at u r e

Tata H imal ayan E xp e r ie nce

Head to the hills 2000km, 16 Tatas, 10 days, 5 states - big numbers, big fun! Words Rishaad Mody

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f you’re a Tata owner you’ve probably already heard about the Himalayan Experience. That’s because Tata has invited all of its UV owners to take part in what is the first of many such events. Tata would like to let its customers experience their vehicles’ capabilities all while driving through some of the most gorgeous albeit harsh regions of the country. And there’s nothing quite as beautiful but brutal than the Himalayas. The Himalayan Experience was organised as part of Tata’s new Full Throttle motorsport initiative. The manufacturer tied up with Delhi-based Cougar Motorsport who has plenty of experience organising expedition drives into this side of the country. The system is simple enough. For Rs 30,000 per head, Tata will plan the drive, take care of

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food and accommodation and provide as much service back up and medical care as possible. All you need to do is bring your own SUV and keep her tanked up. The rest is taken care of. The organizers’ first intention was to beat the heat which is why the first day of the trip ended up being the longest. It was a decision we thoroughly appreciated what with Delhi hitting record high temperatures this year. Our destination was the beautiful hill station of Manali, nearly a good 600km away from Delhi. Lunch was at Swarghat but there were plenty of stops along the way. Our group of 16 cars wasn’t following any convoy rules for the day. The organisers only asked that we reach Manali before nightfall. Our next day’s journey by comparison was a paltry sounding 145km. A figure

we scoffed at after our seemingly monumental previous day’s drive. There was, however, one obstacle that stood in our way. Rohtang pass. On a good day it can take three hours to get to the other side. We took seven. Rohtang, in the local dialect means ‘ground of corpses’ thanks to people dying while trying to brave the bad weather and terrain back in the day. But today with literally thousands of cars lined up bumper to bumper on the steep climb it’s become more of a graveyard of clutches. However when we finally began the descent on the other side, all the traffic almost eerily disappeared. It was just our convoy on the way down. Turns out all those people just want to reach the top and play around in the dirty, brown snow. We spent the night at Jispa before setting out for Sarchu. At 72km this was


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Po rsc h e Paname ra T ur bo Also on

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Turbo charger Experiencing the updated Porsche Panamera Turbo Words Shubhabrata Marmar

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am not blind but I still love the Panamera. My first taste came at the Chennai racetrack and it was a memorable first fling. And fling it about with impossible abandon is more or less what I did there. And the luxurious four-door fastback responded with a

Improved fuel economy courtesy regenerative braking and low rolling resistance tyres

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marvelous sense of zest and precision that left me super impressed. And now I’m on the autobahn, there is no speed limit and my convoy has just passed me at electric speed. I’m doing 150kmph in the middle lane and the cabin is quiet and we are chatting comfortably about this, that and the other. Then I decide to catch up with them. I indicate, pull into the overtaking lane and tickle the accelerator pedal. We are still talking. And then with the smoothness of a gourmet-class chocolate mousse, we’re closing in on the other two Porsches ahead. Cars that still are in the top lane, cars whose brake lamps aren’t on yet and cars that are clearly squatting a bit under the force of an accelerating engine. It is at this 240kmph moment that one of my passengers notices the spee-

do. “When did we get to 240?” That’s the beauty of the Panamera, not its styling. It’s a delicious car in the way that it surges purposefully to impossible speeds while all the violence of its 500PS engine is employed gainfully without it interrupting the business meeting or whatever is going Specification Type

Direct injection twin-turbo, V8, 4806cc

Max power 550PS@6000rpm Max torque 750Nm@2250-4500rpm LxWxH

4970x1931x1418mm

Price

` 2.07 crore, ex-Mumbai

+ Improved economy, fantastic to drive - Price, very subjective looks


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

Suzuki Inazuma 250 coming to India Suzuki to bring parallel twin 250cc Inazuma against CBR and Ninja by 2014

• 250cc Inazuma to boast class-leading fuel conomy

• Inazuma to help Suzuki India step into entry-level performance motorcycle segment

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his is the Inazuma (Japanese for lightning) 250 that Suzuki will launch in the UK shortly as a rival to the Honda CBR250R and the Kawasaki Ninja 250R. Priced at Rs 3 lakhodd in the UK, it boasts a 248cc parallel twin making 24PS, claims better economy than both its rivals with good performance and is styled like the Hayabusa-based B-King. We believe Suzuki will show this, or a faired version based on it at the 2014 Auto Expo before launch, perhaps offer-

ing a smidgen more power. This Inazuma is to be made in China and exported. We expect the Indian machine to be CKD’d here and localisation, if any, will be restricted to smaller aggregates. None of the Indian bike manufacturers currently make a multi-cylinder engine here and the volumes are still too low to justify their local production. Suzuki had indicated to OVERDRIVE earlier that it would focus on volume products until 2014 from which point the enthusiast would find motorcycles to look forward to.

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H E RO s p l e nd or PLUS

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H O NDA d rea m yu ga

Mass appeal

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A real world economy battle between the Splendor and Dream Yuga Words Joe Koraith Photography Gaurav S Thombre

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aziness is the bane of all mankind, especially for someone like me. But since you can’t avoid it (I have tried!) I come up with ways to work around it. Since repetition is not the forte of my kind, it’s always one shot at glory. Right, enough of the prose. In the real world what this translates into, for example, is always filling fuel nothing less than up to the brim. But people like me are a minority (Thankfully –Ed.) So at a petrol pump you find the majority of the two wheeler pop-

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ulation filling fuel worth a 100 rupee note and then scurrying about in their daily existence. The Dream Yuga is Honda throwing down the gauntlet at Hero MotoCorp’s Splendor. Honda hopes the Yuga will catch the attention of the ‘busy people’ and thus eat into the numbers of one of the world’s largest selling motorcycles. So we decided to pit the two in a non-lethargic fuel efficiency test. But the catch was this. We wouldn’t do the full-on accurate speed-matched, tankful to tankful test but the real one. Two bikes, Rs

100 of fuel each, ridden on the same route in Mumbai traffic at speeds that felt right. The winner would travel further on the fuel. Simple. So we filled both bikes with 1.36 litres of petrol and set off. We started with the Splendor. It was my first ever motorcycle and so the familiarity was instant. Kick-start the bike, use the heel to shift down (When in Rome...) and off we go. The Splendor isn’t a quick or hurried motorcycle and it has a clear sense of what speed is best for economy. Ride in the green zone


The Splendor weaves through traffic but the Dream Yuga darts through it and while cruising the Honda also feels less stressed

marked on the speedo in top gear and it’s quiet, refined and yes, fuel efficient. Ride harder and it will do your bidding but not without protest. But this was an average commuter’s run in traffic so I kept the needle in the green and whirred along lazily. At these speeds motorcycles don’t really have to do much in terms of dynamics or engine. So you start noticing the details. Like the soft seat which is nice initially but shortly thereafter makes you want to twitch and shift around to find comfort. And it takes these bikes about two hours in the saddle or more to empty the little fuel we put in so this wasn’t a short ride by any stretch of the imagination. It’s tiny and so it weaves through traffic with ease and you can just leave it in fourth through most of it. What I did notice was the

Splendor felt older than the Dream Yuga in the ride quality and response departments. The Hero does everything but reacts slower. So ride quality is little bit less good than you initially think it is and cornering, even if it is a left turn at an intersection isn’t effortless. Certainly not as effortless as the Dream Yuga. City handling is hardly a game of chicken strip comparisons but you can immediately tell that the Yuga has a more modern chassis and that it’s better tyres mean more confidence, yes, even in the short left turns. Ride quality similarly is better. It might just be the case that the suspension reacts quicker to bumps and makes the bike feel better – and maybe stiffer than the Splendor as well – but two hours later, the Dream Yuga looks shinier and more appealing. To your

The Dream Yuga is Honda throwing down the gauntlet at the Splendor

eyes and to your bum as well. The quick reactions and the more powerful engine with good gearing also makes it possible to slip through traffic noticeably quicker even if you are actually holding steady economy-oriented speeds. And the fact that the smoother, more refined engine naturally pushes you into going 10kmph faster than you think, appears to have no impact on the economy. The Splendor sputtered to a halt after 71km – 52kmpl. The Dream Yuga’s go-quicker feel finally showed up when the bike stopped at 64km – 47kmpl. To be fully forthright, the Dream Yuga did face more traffic and as you would have seen in Shumi’s comparison test, the Dream Yuga is the most fuel efficient motorcycle here. Real world tests aren’t really authoritative tests for this reason alone – history repeats itself but reality mostly doesn’t like to. So what is the moral of the story? Commuters are dull motorcycles so any ray of sunshine is awesome. And the Dream Yuga has that happy disposition and the AUG 2012 overdrive

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H e ro S p l e nd or +

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Suzu ki H ayate


Meeks & match Exciting motorcycles? Perhaps not. But this is the battle for supremacy in the Indian motorcycle market. The Dream Yuga and the Hayate prepare to ambush the Splendor Words Shubhabrata Marmar Photography Gaurav S Thombre

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lessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the Earth. That’s the full form of the beatitude from Gospels of Matthew (5:5). And there may just be some truth to that. To use a food example, consider the best burger in the world and the best-selling burger in the world. They are strikingly different creatures. The former will have exotic components, exotic cooking processes complemented by an equally evocative presentation. The latter is the McDonald’s burger most of us know so well - mass-produced components, cooking designed more for efficiency (cost and time) rather than flavour and available freely and relatively inexpensively. So while desirability lies with the former, the world of business, of volumes, of vast profit tends to lie with the latter. And that is the game being played in the suddenly buzzing entrylevel segment. It’s not a segment that really makes news in our kind of magazines though we understand it’s importance. I think the last time the 100cc motorcycle was news was when Rajiv Bajaj made his comments on the Boxer which was misquoted or quoted out of context to oblivion. Since then, silence. Unless you talk of quarterly reports or monthly sales updates from bike manufacturers. When Hero boasts (as they do like clockwork every month now) that they’ve sold another 6 lakh motorcycles last month, what is lost in the ooh-aahs is the fact that roughly 5.98 lakh of those were likely tobe entry-level 100cc motorcycles. And that is the battle that has been joined. Within days of each other Honda launched their Dream Yuga and Suzuki launched the Hayate. Both bare-bones commuting motorcycles that on the face of it hardly warrant a second glance. The meek. But on their wee shoulders rest the battle for the world itself. No, seriously. The Dream Yuga carries the Dream name, a big name right through Honda’s motorcycle history. And make no mistake, it has one goal and one goal only. To become the world’s largest selling motorcycle model. The Hayate is more modest in its ambitions. It does want a piece of the Splendor’s pie and Suzuki would throw a six-month long party if it overhauled the Splendor on sales but right now, the Hayate’s task is to establish Suzuki at the bottom of the Indian motorcycle market. To be a player doing serious numbers in the most number-oriented end of the business. AUG 2012 overdrive

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Game of thrones

Lots of people have asked us if the Duke is worth the extra money over the Pulsar 200NS. We set out to find the answer Words Shubhabrata Marmar Photography Gaurav S Thombre

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t doesn’t make sense. Why would anyone consider two products separated by a 33 per cent price difference and a significantly smaller gap in specification and ability competitors at all? But the similarity in displacement, peak power, torque, the engine bottom-end and so forth have often brought us back to the same question. Should you happily pick up the new Pulsar 200NS or is the Duke 200 really so much better that you should be spending Rs 35,000 more on it? We spent a few days on the bikes, in traffic, out on the highway as well as with full performance testing to find out.

Styling, design & finish I believe Bajaj wanted to differentiate the two motorcycles visually as much as possible within the confines of the fact that both are naked bikes. Gerald Kiska’s design language is unmistakable and the Duke 200 is very obviously a KTM. And in that respect, the Pulsar is dramatically different. Where the KTM is fat-free, hard-edged in design, the Bajaj is all muscle and bulk, visually. Where the Duke is minimalistic in its use of clearly defined lines and planes, the Pulsar is full of definition lines which it uses to create that distinctive design. Apart from the actual shape of the engine cases, to be honest, you’d be hard pressed to make a connection between the two. Finish and build levels are excellent on both and both also extensively use plastics to form the outer body panels - call them styling panels if you like. The KTM has all the cool bits. From the radial calliper mounts on the front axle to the upside down forks, the white monoshock and so forth, the KTM looks international, up-to-theminute and very appealing as a result. I know from our Facebook page and our Twitter feed that there are those among you who do not like that hardness in the design but it’s honest to its Austrian roots and I personally love that sense of visual lightness. I used to be a fan of engines, for instance, that completely filled up the engine compartment and the KTM engine doesn’t. And that just makes it look in consonance with the design - though it does bring attention to the messy wiring that lies in all that air. AUG 2012 overdrive

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BA JA J PULSAR 200NS

New sensation Bajaj’s all-new 200NS is the first of the new Pulsar line. How has India’s iconic sporty motorcycle progressed? Words Shubhabrata Marmar Photography Gaurav S Thombre

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ajaj prides itself as a hot-bed of innovative engineering and design. And their newer models make it increasingly hard to disagree. A subtle undertone to this is the fact that it is an Indian company, the chief of operations as well as the head of R&D and all other departments are Indian and while Bajaj - and everyone else - use international consultants and firms to move things along, it’s a properly Indian engineering and maufacturing effort. And their track record is excellent. They’ve held the Japanese off for a decade, staying behind Hero/Hero Honda doggedly while the other Japanese companies have repeatedly announced intentions to climb higher up the market share order and so far, not made much headway.And let us not forget Bajaj’s latest crown - their claim to being the most profitable bike manufacturer in the world. On the other hand, the Pulsar brand has proved extraordinarily resilient. It started as a motorcycle for the Indian enthusiast and has since become the staple of the 150cc ‘sporty’ commuter class, a position it hasn’t relinquished since it earned it roughly eleven years ago. Now we have the first all-new Pulsar since that very first one. I loved the first 180, which was a twitchy, angry-ish motorcycle that Bajaj had to calm down in the second generation on the back of the market’s desire for a less quicksilver machine. Then I also found a soft spot for the 200 which sat well on its long wheelbase, wore its tank extensions smartly but most importantly, the engine and chassis were both in balance, it felt angry but not out of control, it cornered well but didn’t wallow, and in my eyes, that’s where that Pulsar platform peaked. It was unfortunate that a lack of demand - the 200

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was sandwiched between the well-reputed 180 and the heavily-promoted flagship 220 gave it a short span in the market. So in this motorcycle, 180-style urgency would be awesome, on the other hand, that wonderful balance of the old 200 would reflect how far Indian engineering has come and form a great place to open the innings on the second all-new Pulsar in history.

Styling & build quality The bulging tank of the first Pulsar gave it a full-bodied distinction and appeal. The CBZ may have looked more contemporary with its sharp edged knee recesses, but the Pulsar was drawing its own line in the sand. But in the intervening decade that line became a barrier. The tank became such a distinctive identity element that it began to hamstring designers in terms of the Pulsar’s stylistic evolution. The design moved on but always tip-toeing around the tank lest hard-won identity be squandered. With an all-new platform comes the opportunity to wield these distinctive style elements afresh. There is a legacy now that the designers have to pay homage to, but the freedom is vastly greater. Bajaj has responded to the challenge and the opportunity very well, I’d say. The design is very busy and focuses visual mass in the tank region as is the current trend. There’s a forest of cuts, slashes, planes and angles in there, all topped by a tank top whose plastic surface strongly reminds you of the original Pulsar tank. This is clever design and using a plastic tank cover enables complex shapes all of which create a striking motorcycle. That said, I’m not a fan and this motorcycle will be recognised easily as a Pulsar but not as a design classic, I think. The head lamp design is also very dis-


ROAD TEST

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OD Rating Price ` 99,220 on-road Mumbai

+ Distinctive design + Performance + Value for money tyres will help - Better bulky - Feels - Minor finish/build issues

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F e at u r e

M c L ar e n

Attention to detail

We manage to get in to the spotless McLaren factory and sneak a drive of the MP4-12C! Words Halley Prabhakar

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obil 1 has over years enjoyed a long association with many of the world’s most popular and successful race teams and car manufacturers. This association has been formed thanks to the oils and lubricants Mobil 1 produces that not just meets but exceeds the very stringent demands made by race teams and some of the most exotic cars on the planet. One such engineering firm, with strong historical ties to Formula 1 racing and as a manufacturer of some of the most exotic sports cars in the world is McLaren. Mobil 1 has been associated with McLaren since 1995 and since the oil company has a strong presence in the Indian market, I visited the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, England to see just what went on behind the glass walls of one of the most advanced buildings on the planet. The MTC is quite unlike any other Formula 1 team headquarters. In fact the word factory seems quite inappropriate, it’s an immaculate mass of steel and modern elements that is a piece of art. The whole facility resembles a large disc which has been built on a huge lake which now borders the facility. The attention to detail and the MTC’s designer look even ensured a nomination for the Sterling Prize, a British award for excellence in architecture. Everything in the MTC is perfectly proportioned, based on a mathematical measurement of 1.8 metres. The working environment at the MTC can’t get better for the various people operating


under one roof. The activities include design studios, laboratories, research and testing capabilities, electronics development, machine shops and prototyping and production facilities for the company’s Formula 1 cars and road cars. Unbelievably they all reside inside this stylish building. I had to see it all to believe it. I entered the building and mistook it for an overgrown designer house since it features white flooring with lots of glass and aluminum finished walls and structures. The glass window panels are supported by rods that were precision cut at the F1 team’s prototyping department while the design is inspired by the LeMans winning McLaren GT’s rear wing support struts. The tour began with the historical racing cars that have made McLaren such a successful racing team. It is the spine of the facility and it is one of the finest collections of modern grand prix cars in the world. Everything from the McLaren Honda MP4/4 F1 car (the last of the turbo era) used by Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost to win all but one grand prix during the 1988 season to the McLaren land speed record challenger and the McLaren F1 LeMans winning cars were there. Even Bruce McLaren’s racing cars are present including his first ever car, a tiny Austin 7 based racer. Slightly away is a section dedicated to all the trophies that McLaren have won in motorsport including 177 Formula 1 victories ever since its first grand prix in 1966. In fact Mobil 1 and McLaren recently celebrated their 300th grand prix as a team and to mark the

An aerial view of the disc shaped McLaren Technology centre along with the man-made lake. The facility has one fo the finest collections of McLaren race cars. No, that’s not a jet engine. That is McLaren’s wind tunnel where all their cars are tested for aerodynamic efficiency

Mobil 1 and McLaren Having been together since 1995, Mobil 1 and McLaren have taken part in 300 grand prix with more than 70 victories including four world championships. Mobil 1 lubricates the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes race engines for every grand prix and also separates and cools over 300 moving parts in the V8 engine. Their involvement in these high performance engines have played a major role in the technology used in their road car lubricants. Mobil 1 supplies six different products to the Formula 1 team of which the greases used in the wheel bearings and the oil used for the driveshaft can be bought off the shelf by anyone. Talk about using F1 tech in your own car!

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The road well travelled What was it like to be out driving before India’s independence? What were the roads like? What were the cars like? We ask the true enthusiasts who’ve seen it all! Words Rishaad Mody

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ur independence, nearly 60 years after the fact remains the biggest transformative change our country has seen in the last two hundred years. This patriotic discussion eventually turned back to cars and motorcycles as is our lot at OVERDRIVE. How were the roads then? How was driving back then? Whats changed over the decades? And so on and so forth. So we went out to find people who were actually driving before India became Indian. Not an easy task mindyou, since we had to be looking for people who were more

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than 83 or 86 years old. We found three amazing stories that will blow your socks off!

Nariman Contractor March 8, 1948 is a very long time ago. That was the date when Nariman Contractor got his driver’s license. However he’d already been driving a fair bit as he’d learnt the art in a 1929 Austin when he was studying to be an automobile engineer in Surat. Contractor is 89 today and over the past 64 years he’s seen India evolve from a place where precious few had the privilege of driving to a


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country that produces the most affordable car in the world. His very first vehicle was a 1938 AJS motorcycle. Nariman or Nari, as he’s affectionately called recalled that the AJS was bought during the days of petrol rationing. His family used to get four coupons worth four gallons each (a bit over 16 litres) for an entire month. With the bike he didn’t need all that fuel and used to sell the coupons off to make some pocket money. He chuckles at that statement and says that he was a pukka businessman from the very beginning. His first car was a V8

Working at the RTO meant seeing cars like rollers and mercs to unique machinery like steam engined trucks! Ford that he used to run as a taxi in Mumbai city. He then gave the car to his brother after three years when he joined the RTO. Working in the RTO meant he saw everything from princely Rolls-Royces to stately Mercs and also plenty of oddities including a steam engine truck that was used at the Mazgaon docks! He also remembered his second car, an Adler that had the amusing peculiarity of repeatedly losing its front right wheel. When I asked him about what it was like driving back in the old days he remembered the time he and his friends jumped into one of their Oldsmobiles and went on an epic journey from Mumbai to Kashmir. In today’s day and age it’s still a long and arduous drive, I can barely imagine what it was like doing it back then. While the roads back then were narrow they very much existed. The difference was that there was next to no traffic on them. By the time they were close to Agra the car broke down thanks to a failed engine bearing. Stranded and with no idea what to do they were approached by a Sardar who was driving a truck. He insisted on staying with them till another one of his other trucks arrived and towed them to Agra. There he arranged for a This is Nariman Contractor’s original license that was first issued in 1948 and renewed countless times since AUG 2012 overdrive

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OVERDRIVE August 2012 issue preview