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November 2010 Volume 13 Issue 3 ` 125

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A V O N N I ugh? o n e d o o g t is it

et, bu y a t a T t s e The b

E F A T N SA FORTUNER VS

rried! o w e b ld u Toyota sho

Mahindra gets serious on bikes: Stallio & 300cc Mojo Fiat Linea 1.4 T-jet Skoda Fabia 1.6 Tata Indica Safire90 Audi A7 Volvo S60

FAMILY WARS

iNDIAN MOTORSPORT LEAGUE

Bajaj’s first KTM

Can Skoda revive its baby?

12 tracks, 550PS race cars

And India gets a 250 in 2011

New Fabia vs Polo R  acing’s IPL

125 Duke

Ducati Monster 796


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COLLECTOR’S SPECIAL EDITION

TATA ARIA

takes on innova

November 2010 Volume 13 Issue 3 ` 125


News to share? Call us on +91 20 33223341-50 or Fax us on +91 20 33223322 Email us at editorial@overdrive.co.in

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

All-new Passat headlines Paris show The new Passat celebrates its world premier at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. Early 2011 launch in India

Phaeton-like styling portends a crisper driving experience. India launch first half of 2011

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W’s resurgence continues with the 2011 Passat, which has had a rather radical makeover. Gone is the middle-aged look of the sixth generation that seemed to call out to the backseat babu, and in has come a look that has clearly filtered down from the Phaeton. The VW family of cars is now sporting the uniform family look, but the Passat suggests that the premium end products will

get a slightly tweaked, Phaeton-ish upmarket look. The new design begins with the thrusting new grille: there are four big horizontal chrome stripes and the prominent front bumper is a single horizontal element as well. The headlamps are more angular and sport twin projector units, while the sleek fog lamps go from being round units to twin bulbs. Sharp creases make the new Passat appear tightly skinned and teutonic. The rear also looks markedly different

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Ma hin d ra stal l i o

Ice breaker

Mahindra enters the motorcycle market with the 110cc Stallio Words Shubhabrata Marmar Photography Gaurav S Thombre

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any don’t realise just how vast the product range at Mahindra really is. It already makes everything from small to large trucks, passenger cars, SUVs, MUVs, pick-ups, tractors, scooters and so forth. And now it is plugging the gaping hole - motorcycles - beginning with this, the Stallio. The Stallio’s engine displaces 106.7cc and will play in the en-

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try-level segment with players like the top selling Hero Honda Splendor/Passion and the delectable Honda Twister. While we will road test the motorcycle in the next issue, we did get a chance for a spin on the motorcycle. The Stallio makes 7.3PS at 7500rpm, which is on the lower side in the segment. No surprise then that the motorcycle feels adequate but not especially eager. The peak torque, 8Nm at 5500rpm, is on the higher side, though. The motorcycle we rode was a first batch prototype and we noticed

some vibration in the tank and at higher revs, in the footpegs and handlebars as well. However, Mahindra says that the final production versions will not exhibit this. In terms of performance, this is a heavy motorcycle at 125kg for the segment and acceleration feels segment-par at best. Low rev work in traffic requires no undue effort and outside of the slightly clunky gearshift this is a perfectly serviceable motorcycle. The promise is of economy, and that is what really matters in this market.


News to share? Call us on +91 20 33223341-50 or Fax: +91 20 33223322 Email us at mailbox@overdrive.co.in

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

KTM launches homegrown Bajaj 125 Duke unwrapped at Cologne

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TM recently unveiled the 125 Duke at the Cologne Motorcycle Show. The bike that goes on sale next year in Europe has been completely developed by Bajaj Auto in India in collaboration with KTM’s R&D. This is the first product to come out of the Bajaj-KTM alliance that began in late 2007, after Bajaj Auto picked up a stake

in the Austrian company. Bajaj reportedly owns 36 per cent of KTM now. KTM was pretty interested in having a 125 in its portfolio thanks to their growing popularity as learner bikes in Europe. Also European rules permit drivers with a valid car license to ride bikes up to 125cc without requiring a motorcycle license. The Duke 125 will be KTM’s first road legal four-stroke 125cc bike and will be

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T e st

tata a r i a

Phoenix risen Tata Motors rises far above the bread and butter segment with the new Aria Words Bertrand D’souza Photography Gaurav S Thombre

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ROAD TEST

958

OD Rating Price ` 15.85 lakh ex-showroom Mumbai

+ Refined transmission + Comfortable seating + Fuel efficiency - Braking - Few cheap components

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ata Motors has lofty ambitions. You can’t ignore the fact that it wants to be a global player especially since the acquisition of Jaguar Land Rover. Then the Nano put it firmly on the global map, and though it wasn’t a car that the developed world necessarily needed, it firmly established Tata Motors as an innovative manufacturer that could accomplish what it set out to do no matter what the odds. The Nano clearly built a reputation for Tata Motors that it was a force to be reckoned with. The Nano gave Tata Motors the impetus it needed but critically missing was a product that global markets could find appealing enough to drive. That is where the Aria, Tata Motors’ foray in to the luxury MUV segment, steps in (though Tata Motors bills it as a crossover). But before that vehicle could be introduced to global markets, Tata Motors wanted it to be appreciated by the Indian audience. In traditional form, the Aria was launched at the NCPA in Mumbai in Ratan Tata’s presence. So what exactly is the Aria, and what does it promise?

PLATFORM The Aria is built on a completely new platform similar to the IMV platform from Toyota which supports the Innova, the Fortuner and the Hilux pick-up or the Volkswagen A Series platform which supports the Audi TT, the Golf, the Jetta and the Skoda Octavia (Laura). A platform is basically a set of components, technologies, engineering modules and production setup that is shared between various products of differing types and styles. The Aria is just one critical cog in a whole new platform developed by Tata Motors which in the future will also support a new SUV to replace the Safari, a pick-up or UV for rural markets and an MUV. This platform internally designated the X2 (X1 being the Manza, Indigo platform) can be used in RWD and 4x4 form. The inherent base for this platform is the steel hydro-formed ladder frame chassis with a body-on-frame construction. It’s a completely new design and one that in our tests showed sufficient rigidity and comfort. Now in the case of the Aria, Tata Motors claims that it is India’s first crossover, which means it should blend the character of a full size sedan with that of an estate or an SUV. Which it does, so in that sense I have to agree that Tata Motors has got the frameNOV 2010 overdrive

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On song Does the Tata Aria have what it takes to go poaching the Toyota Innova turf? Words Sirish Chandran Photography Gaurav S Thombre

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he question had us scratching our heads: what does the Aria compete with? Purely on pricing it has no clear rivals. It most obviously isn’t a rival to cars like the Laura that are similarly priced, it is cheaper than SUVs like the Endeavour and it is a fair bit pricier than MUVs like the Innova. But how good or bad a car is can only be judged relative to current benchmarks, and despite protestations from Tata Motors that SUVs like the Captiva and CR-V have been kept in sight (there’s being optimistic and then there’s being over-optimistic), the benchmark – and the vehicle to beat – is the Innova.

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Let's get on with it then, and the Aria is off to an immediate head start. Just look at it! In a segment where styling is, at best, cast in a supporting role, the Aria is Tom Cruise. Stylistically Tata Motors has come a long way and the Aria is probably its finest moment after the Nano. The MUV template remains essentially unchanged but with the aggressive nose job (thankfully the smile has been wiped off the traditional Tata grille), beefed up wheel arches, chunky tyres, CR-V-ish coupe rear profile and very sophisticated optics the Aria is… desirable. I guess it’s probably the first time the 'd' word is being used to describe a Tata but believe me when I say the Aria has moved the game on for a Tata; the styling only emphasises that progress. In

fact styling will be the key reason for the Aria being picked over the Innova. Even after the recent face-lift the Innova looks inoffensive at best. At worst every taxi is an Innova. Nobody will deny that the Innova is astoundingly practical and sensible, but then again it also looks practical and sensible. Therein lies the Aria’s niche appeal – offer the practicality and sensibility of an MUV but dolled up in a set of rather desirable SUV threads. Besides there’s some honesty behind all that chunkiness courtesy 4wd. Justifying the Aria’s premium just on the basis of 4x4 is a bit much, particularly since there’s no lowratio, but if you live on a coffee plantation or are Hari Singh heading for the Raid de Himalaya, four-wheel-drive will come in handy on


occasion. For the rest of us we can always brag, can’t we, particularly since a lot of questions will be directed the Aria’s way. With the Innova nobody will ever ask you any questions – you might as well be invisible – but that’s because everybody knows just how bloody good it is. Let's starts with packaging. Within a footprint that’s marginally shorter than the Aria's, the Innova manages to squeeze in a third row that’s comfortable enough to have me sitting quietly all the way from Mumbai to Pune. In comparison the Aria’s third row is a joke and meant only for little children. (What were they thinking when the packaging was frozen?) The Innova also offers extremely comfortable captain’s seats in the middle which the Aria doesn’t get

(why?) and I will always choose the Innova’s roof mounted air-con vents to the Aria’s seven sunglass holders (!). Behind the wheel the Aria does feel a bit beefy, like an SUV, but on first impressions the Aria will not feel spot on. You might struggle to understand why. I’ll tell you why – the steering wheel is ever so slightly offset to the right. (How that can be overlooked is beyond me.) The steering wheel is finally of the right diameter but the stereo controls are positioned so awkwardly you will always hit the volume controls when attempting a turn. There is no dead pedal. And the air-con vents blow cold air directly on to your fists (or knees, unless they are shut off). These are ergonomic glitches that you will never see in the Innova’s (tre-

mendously good) cabin. It still remains the quality benchmark, and that’s despite the Aria offering a cabin that is a giant leap forward (on design, quality, finish, materials, equipment – you name it, for a Tata. The powertrain too is a significant step forward for Tata Motors. I’ll admit I was skeptical when I heard the Safari’s 2.2-litre DICOR engine would be carried over but after sampling the unit I’m not a skeptic any more. NVH levels are down to class benchmarks, refinement is nearly on par with the Toyota D4-D unit, the gear shift quality is acceptable, and the performance dished out makes it xx.xx seconds quicker than the Innova on the 0-100kmph run. Of course the Innova will claw back the advantage when it NOV 2010 overdrive

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Family fracas The Fabia gets a new nose, engine and prices. Will it give its cousin headaches? Words Charles Pennefather Photography Gaurav S Thombre

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he Fabia, when launched, created quite a stir being a hatchback at sedan price. Why sacrifice the prestigious boot to buy what was essentially a small car? The Fabia answered those questions with its quality, space and mature ride and handling. But maybe India wasn’t ready for it then? Today the car buyer has matured and is willing to forego a sedan to opt for greater practicality in the city while getting more quality for his money. Witness the months long waiting list for the Polo.

The Fabia then is making its second stab at a segment which it spawned. It is now manufactured at Volkwagen’s brand new factory in Chakan near Pune, on the same line as the Polo with which it shares the platform, most of the critical components (taking localisation up to 40 per cent) and all three powerplants. All this has finally cleared the confusion on pricing. In keeping with the trend all over the world, the Fabia now costs less than the Polo. Will that revive flagging sales of the baby Skoda? Best the Polo even?

Styling The Polo is clearly the better looker. The new

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Audi A7

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Event


horizon C The A7 is the fine line between Audi’s new A8 and the forthcoming A6 Words Bertrand D’souza

osta Esmeralda is to the island of Sardinia what Monaco is to the Cote D’Azur. It’s obscenely rich with probably more money per square inch sunk into the hundreds of villas and resorts dotting the landscape than inside Fort Knox. Yet there is a sense of understated decadence; you can’t really see the money being flashed around but seeing the sun kissed terracotta roofs, exotic shrubbery inside some of the gardens and those regally gated villas you know it’s there. It’s most transparent when your chartered flight begins landing at Olbia. From the air you sight hundreds of sleek blue water yachts and sailboats and as soon as your wheels touch the runway you taxi past dozens of Lear and Gulfstream jets parked discreetly inside massive hangars. It was the perfect setting to drive Audi’s latest grand tourer, the A7 Sportback, if not for one slight problem. The roads within Sardinia are mostly single carriageway, narrower than Devon Aoki’s waist and curvier than Heidi Klum and around every bend startling landscapes distract you with their vibrancy. Then there are the locals, strongly influenced by the idiosyncrasies of the mainland. Though the island is leagues away they drive with just as much gusto as they eat mama’s pasta or woo the bellissima. So driving the A7 Sportback warrants gentle pedal action, a tough ask amidst all the Italian hotheads flying low and darting in and out of traffic like ants on a mission. But floor the A7 Sportback I must, if not in the interests of gauging the car, at least to ensure the sun drenched bellissima get just an eyeful of German machined art. And the A7 is nothing if not a work of art! First showcased as the Audi Sportback concept at the North American Motor Show in 2009 and more recently at the Auto Expo in Delhi, the A7 Sportback is more of a design statement rather than just another luxury car. The A7 Sportback plays the grand tourer card with so much panache Her Majesty’s celebrated spy would have comfortably swapped his Aston Martin for it for a day or two. To say the A7 Sportback is a confluence of elegant lines would be a lie - there is but one line, Audi calls it the ‘Tornado’ line and it’s as visually dominating as the horizon at sunset. This singular line does not balance out the car; instead it distinctly separates the sturdy body panels from the narrow glassworks and elegant almost flighty coupe like cabin and roof. That distinction however NOV 2010 overdrive

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T e st

Hyun dai Santa F e

Jingle all the way Is the Hyundai Santa fe the best Korean car in the country today? Words Vijayendra Vikram Photography Gaurav S Thombre

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ROAD TEST

963

OD Rating Price ` 22.9 lakh ex-showroom Delhi

+ Refined, powerful engine + Great ride and handling + Well appointed interiors efficiency - Fuel - Cramped third row

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yundai to me has always been about small cars and Shah Rukh Khan. Both date back to the late 90s when the Korean car maker set up shop in India. Ever since then Hyundai’s story has been all about small cars. The Santro has been its greatest success story and the latest breed of i10s and i20s carry that stellar legacy forward. So strong has it emerged in this segment that today Hyundai is perceived to be only about small cars, and incapable of selling even moderately expensive vehicles. In fact in the ten-lakh-rupee plus segment Hyundai is all but invisible with the Sonata hardly turning any volumes. It’s that image of a maker of cheap, reliable and good quality small cars that Hyundai wants to change and a premium SUV is the right tool for the job. Hyundai isn’t new to the SUV segment in India. Back in 2003 it had the Terracan that has a superb powerplant, great ride, good off-road ability and even three rows of seats but its exorbitant pricing did it in. In 2005 came the Tucson that again was a very well thought out product that found great acceptance. But Hyundai did not market it aggressively enough and with long waiting periods interest soon waned as did SUVs from Hyundai’s portfolio. That’s a hole Hyundai aims to plug with the Santa Fe, an SUV it has been teasing us with for years. First shown at the Auto Expo in 2008, Hyundai has taken really long to make up its mind, and crucially sort out the pricing. But the Santa Fe is finally here and is set to grab a large slice of this segment. The Santa Fe was the first Hyundai to be designed and developed primarily for the North American market and though the initial effort was a typically Korean mashed-up styling job, its great value proposition did find many takers. From the beginning it had a monocoque construction to give it sorted road manners and an appeal to lure soccer mums looking for a soft-roader that could deal with snowed in driveways. The first generation car was sold for six years with the second gen debuting in 2007 and featuring cohesive and less controversial styling. In 2009 the Santa Fe was given a minor face-lift and that’s the variant coming to India, the last of Hyundai’s SUVs not to have an ‘ix’ prefix or the new and aggressive fluidic sculpture design language. The Santa Fe has been very popular, with more than 20 lakh units sold since its launch. NOV 2010 overdrive

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H y undai santa f e vs toyota fo rtu n er

Fender bender The Hyundai Santa Fe scrapes fenders with the Toyota Fortuner Words Sirish Chandran Photography Gaurav S Thombre

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hat the Toyota Fortuner has had a more or less free run of this segment is plain to see. A year since its launch and there’s still a waiting period; you still need to have ‘connections’ or be willing to pay a tidy premium to get one on the double. What’s surprising is that save for Ford (with two- and four-wheel-drive variants of the Endeavour) no other manufacturer has even attempted to upset Toyota’s apple cart. Sure you have the petrol-powered CR-V and Outlander, and the diesel-engined Captiva, X-Trail and Pajero, but the benchmark, the SUV to beat, is clearly the Fortuner. And so the Hyundai Santa Fe steps into the ring with just one target, a very clear target.

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But despite both very obviously being SUVs there is one crucial difference: unlike the Fortuner which is based on a rugged ladderframe chassis, the Santa Fe built like a car with a monocoque chassis that is based on the Sonata. This puts the Santa Fe at a disadvantage if you plan on crossing the Hindukush to deliver munitions to your troops in Kandahar but for everyday driving it makes the Santa Fe lighter, nimbler and considerably more agile. Behind the wheel the Santa Fe feels like a car, a car with a high-set driving position, but a car nevertheless complete with car-like ergonomics, significantly better body control and polished road manners. Tip it into a corner and while it does lean there’s far less body roll. Your passengers won’t lurch sickeningly from one side to the other and the grip levels are

quite high (though there isn’t all that much feel from the steering, a Sonata trait actually). The handling isn’t at the expense of ride quality which is excellent with little of that exaggerated pitching and diving at the nose that you find on the Fortuner. That said I have to clarify that the Fortuner’s ride is also excellent and when the going gets really bad it is the Toyota that will carry on unfazed. The Santa Fe does get four-wheel-drive but it is an on-demand system that sends all the torque to the front wheels and only when slip is detected (for instance if your driveway is snowed in) does torque get transferred to the rear wheels. This has obvious fuel efficiency and emissions benefits compared to the Fortuner’s full-time four-wheel-drive but what the Toyota gets is a low-ratio transfer box (and


The Fortuner interiors are high on quality but lack the flair and elegance of the Santa Fe’s. The latter sports better spec list too

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Ral ly cal l

Flyboys Our man put the disappointment of Coimbatore behind to get back on the podium in Jodhpur Words Sirish Chandran Photography Kishen Nanjappa

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love Laal Maas. It’s a Rajasthani speciality, tender little chunks of lamb slowly cooked over a traditional wood fire in an intense red curry paste infused with local spices that just melts in your mouth. Of all the culinary concoctions I’ve sampled around the world nothing deserves the honour of an elaborate bout of drooling as much as Rajasthan’s national dish. At OVERDRIVE we love it so much that every month we shamelessly concoct driving adventures to Rajasthan not for its brilliantly flatout roads but the opportunity to dive bomb plates of Laal Maas. And now I can’t stand the sight, smell, taste or even the thought of being within ten miles of a simmering hot degchi of Laal Maas. The last thing you take home from a rally are tales of culinary repositories; a rally weekend is so hectic we don’t even have time to think of food. Or sleep. But the third round of the Speed INRC in Jodhpur was not your usual rally. In fact the first thing I did when I landed in

Jodhpur was call the office and find out when the next flight out was. Not that we expected it to be smooth sailing for the Rally of Rajasthan. The Speed INRC was stepping into uncharted territory. For the longest time it even looked like the rally wouldn’t happen. Everything was new - the place, the stages. Rajasthan had never hosted an INRC event. Not only had the organising team (Sportscraft) never conducted an INRC event before but it wasn’t even from Rajasthan. For most participants, particularly the privateers, Jodhpur was a really long way away and so when the promised transport, hotel and tyre subsidies didn’t materialise, we (I’m also a privateer!) even threatened to pull out. But the Rally of Rajasthan overcame all these hurdles only to have – of all the things in a desert – it rain like it has never rained for 30 years. Everything was flooded and rumours flew thick and fast: recce is postponed, rally is cancelled, pack up and leave, the Land Cruiser that went

Special thanks...

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VO LVO S 6 0 D 5

Versatile wag0n Volvo’s S60 is a lithe sportswagon that drives as well as the saloon and offers more versatility Words Ray Hutton

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he motor world is waiting to see whether Geely’s acquisition of Volvo was simple opportunism or a game-changer. Will the Chinese company nurture Sweden’s biggest car maker or plunder it for technology to develop its own products? Can Volvo become a bigger world player than it was in 10 years under Ford ownership? Of course, it is going to be some time before we see Geely’s influence on Volvo cars, or vice versa. Like its compatriot Saab, which was sold for a knock-down price to Spyker, Volvo had a new model ready for launch by the new owner. Volvo’s was an important

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model, the one that hits at the heart of the European market for family and business cars: the S60 saloon. And being a Volvo, there had to be an estate wagon version; the V60 appeared only three months later. During the Ford times, Volvo fought hard to retain its autonomy as a Swedish brand renowned for reliable, practical cars with stateof-the-art safety provisions. Behind this façade was a comprehensive integration with the products, engineering and processes of Ford of Europe and Ford made Volvo the Group’s centre of excellence for safety. So the S60 uses the same basic architecture and many of the same components as the Ford Mondeo – Ford calls this Global

Shared Technologies – and it means that Geely has access to know-how that Ford is now applying all over the world. Sharing with the Mondeo is a good start. Ford’s largest European saloon is well regarded, as are its MPV siblings, the S-Max and Galaxy. Mondeo’s dilemma is that, on anything you can measure, it can match the German premium saloons because Ford is a ‘blue collar’ brand that can’t demand BMW or Mercedes prices. Volvo’s new owner has already said that it wants to move up-market, to make the brand a direct competitor for the more successful premium brands. Geely believes that one way to achieve that would be to make something


larger and more luxurious than the S80 at the top of the range. How far an off-centre car like the S60 – it is 21cm shorter and correspondingly less spacious than the Mondeo – can help in raising the status and profile of the marque remains to be seen. Size apart, the S60 has the right ingredients. It looks good with its multi-curved ‘organic’ shape, more like a sports coupe than a four-door saloon. That is the work of Steve Mattin, the Brit who has overseen the more sensuous styling of recent Volvos, starting with the XC60, but has now left the company, upset by the re-appointment of his predecessor Peter Horbury. It offers a useful combination of engines

and transmissions, from a new 1.6-litre direct injection turbo petrol engine through variants of the established five-cylinder diesel to a 3-litre petrol straight-six (a Volvo speciality) with four-wheel drive. Other versions are front-wheel drive only, with six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes. I drove a S60 D5 with a sequential twinturbo 2.4-litre five-cylinder diesel engine developing 207PS and 420Nm. This is just about at the limit for tidy handling; any more torque is likely to produce some steering ‘fight’ on a bumpy or slippery road. The performance is good – 0-100kmph in 7.8 seconds - the engine surprisingly smooth and refined, the manual gearchange is slick, and

the suspension is stiff enough to feel a bit sporty without jarring the ride. If I have a quarrel with the S60 it is the odd driving position. Presumably for reasons of safety, the steering wheel is positioned much further from the windscreen than is usual in a saloon, which means sitting further back (in excellent seats with cranked-forward anti-whiplash head restraints). You get used to this far-back position but it isn’t very space-efficient. The interior design is smarter and the materials used of better quality than in previous Volvos in this class. The designers admit that the Audi A4 was the benchmark for furnishings. Volvo’s unique ‘floating’ NOV 2010 overdrive

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DUCATI 7 9 6

Blue genes

The 2010 796 is a stunning addition to Ducati’s fortune-maker Monster range Words Harriet Ridley

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he Monster is Ducati’s most successful motorcycle ever, undergoing more incarnations than any other Ducati motorcycle. Now Ducati has launched the latest middleweight Monster, the 796, and it’s sure to continue the range’s monster success… Monster looks and a monster impact on the motorcycle market and on Ducati. Never has a motorcycle been so aptly named as Ducati’s Monster. ‘Il Mostro’ as it’s known in its homeland roared on to the scene in the early 1990s, creating a whole new category of naked street bike. Ducati had built its Monster to a tight budget using existing Ducati parts to provide a low-cost entry into Ducati ownership. Yet the Monster looked 100 per cent original and anything but cheap – accounting for a massive 70 per cent of Ducati sales, outstripping even the Italian manufacturer’s wildest expectations, and keeping Ducati afloat when it struggled financially in the 1990s. By 2005,

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Monsters still made up more than half of Ducati’s worldwide sales. So while the 916 and its derivatives brought glamour and fame to Ducati, it’s the Monster that made the Bologna manufacturer’s fortune. Never has a single model been so important to a manufacturer than the Monster has been to Ducati. So it’s no wonder Ducati kept its Monster going. It’s appeared in many different guises and engine sizes over the years, but it has always stayed true to Ducati’s traditional 90° V-twin engines known as L-twins with Desmodromic valves, and tubular steel trellis frame; features designed by Ducati legend Fabio Taglioni. Top-of-the-range Monsters are now fast and expensively equipped: the Ducati S4RS has the Testastretta engine and all the parts including radial brakes and high quality Ohlins suspension, and the premium price tag to go with it. But there are also Monsters that remain true to their origins: the cheap yet stunning 600-plus cc machines.

For 2007, Ducati overhauled its cherished Monster with a stunning new chassis and modern engine, massively improving the ride and looks. The first new generation Monster to hit our streets was the 696, underlining the importance the manufacturer from Bologna places on the Monster as an entry-level Ducati. The new engine is smooth and strong, hard to stall with perfectly set up fuel injection, while the controls are feather light and the gearbox slick. There’s even optional ABS to complement the Brembo brake system to inspire confidence in the less experienced rider. But other Monsters remain true to their origins: the cheap yet stunning middleweights such as the 695 that soon evolved into the allnew 696. And to continue the success of this entry-level machine, Ducati has created another stunning addition to the Monster range for 2010: the 796. The 803cc Desmodue engine is the same as Ducati uses in its Hypermotard - the 796 denomination is only used to hark back to Ducati’s iconic superbike, the 996 - and the


Although not super-fast, it’s lively

and fun, with the low-down eagerness associated with modern V-twins

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t r av e lo g u e

P rad o to St i lw e l l roa d

Up memory lane

To the foothills of the Himalayas in the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado Words Martin Alva Photography Martin Alva & Udayan Das

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Where we went

Guwahati-Pabitora-Jagiroad (via Morigaon)-Nagaon-Kaziranga-JorhatDibrugarh-Tinsukia-Makum-DigboiMargherita-Ledo-JairampurNampong-last Indian Army post

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he most memorable moment (of many) on this trip was while going through the user’s manual of the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado. Owner’s manuals are usually tedious tomes that can put anybody to sleep. But what made the Prado’s memorable wasn’t gripping prose; rather it was where I read it – on the serpentine curves of the legendary Stilwell Road overlooking the step farms of Nampong in Myanmar on the foothills of the Himalayas. The Prado in its default all-wheel-drive state is potent enough to tame the most gruelling terrain but certain sections on the Stilwell Road needed enormous effort to get going. That was what drove me to the manual, to familiarise myself with the myriad buttons festooning the SUV so that I knew just what to press when the going got really dicey. Why undertake this painfully slow progress on a road nobody would have heard of?

The Prado is a tight fit on most vintage wooden bridges (top). An arial shot of Stilwell Road. Mountbatten once mistook this road for a river

Well, this is not just any ordinary road in the foothills of the Himalayas with a few rough patches and small villages scattered across its stretch. It is one of the greatest engineering feats of the Second World War, built by the allied forces as a supply line to connect the troops fighting on the Chinese frontline. Earlier supplies had to be air dropped, a risky and inadequate method to deliver huge loads of cargo. As a solution, this 1726-kilometre road from Ledo in India to Kunming in China was built, and it remains the sole land route connecting the two countries. This road drew a lot of attention from many prominent figures of the Second World War including Winston Churchill and Louis Mountbatten besides many generals and field marshals of the allied forces. There

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Gear & Gadgets The coolest stuff there is!

India on a tee

A slice of Indian motoring you can proudly wear. Play Clan has introduced these funky tees with the iconic Indian autorickshaws, Ambassadors and the Bullet motifs. A funny, witty take on our classic, world famous automobiles and a must have for every auto buff. Priced at ` 985 shop.theplayclan.com

Chevy Camaro CPU

Hasselblad H4D Ferrari

This is not a scale model but a state-of-the-art CPU. You get 8 GB of RAM, 500 GB hard drive and Windows 7 Home Premium. The slot under the grille? DVD drive.

The H4D Ferrari is a limited edition of Hasselblad’s latest flagship camera. Meant for photographers looking for the ultimate image quality, it will be produced in 499 units in Ferrari’s unique colour rosso fuoco.

` 60,000 approx www.chevymall.com

` 6.15 lakh approx www.hasselblad.com

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Lamborghini winter collection

Wear the raging bull on cool sweat shirts, bomber jackets, hoodies and more. Trust us, you’ll be as distinguished as the cars themselves.

Price on request

BMW biker accessories

Get bimmers on your backpack, waist pouch or even belt bickles. Available at BMW’s online store.

Price on request

http://store.lamborghini.com

http://shop.bmwgroup.com

Porsche Design advent calender

Porsche Design rings in the Christmas season with its arty advent calendar revealing each day up to December 24. Worth a million US dollars, it is limited to one piece per continent

` 4.4 crore approx www.porsche-design.com

Alpinestars Shibuya

Taking its name from Tokyo’s renowned fashion district, Shibuya is a snazzy pair of canvas shoes with some protection. Ride a scooter? It’s a must have then.

` 6,200 approx www.alpinestars.com

Game review: Codemasters Formula 1 2010 The Formula 1 game is back and this time it is designed by Codemasters, the same people who gave us games like Colin McRae Dirt, Dirt 2 and Race Driver: Grid. This game was developed using Codemasters’ award winning EGO Game Technology platform which has successfully taken the in-game experience to another level. F1 2010 is as close as it gets to the real thing. All the teams and racers in F1 feature in this game including our very own Karun Chandhok. The tracks featured are also the ones from the 2010 season and it also has dynamic weather. The players can explore paddock areas, there is a post race press conference and your replies determine your image with the media. Then there is your agent who manages your schedule and helps you in getting your contracts. The physics in the gameplay is amazing. You can play with all driving assists on or off depending on your skills. Tyre and fuel simulations can be turned off if your driving style requires a lot of sliding and redlining.

But the best of all is the cockpit view, play with light rain on the tracks and you actually feel that you are in the car with rain lashing against the helmet visor and cars ahead raising rooster tails over 10 feet high. Codemasters has gone to great lengths to make this game as real as possible and they have succeeded. The damage for example can be turned off but when in full mode every chip and break will upset the handling of the car accordingly. But make no mistake, this game is for F1 purists. Casual racers will have a hard time coping with the season mode in this game for its sheer length of a weekend and the strictness of rules. There is practice, qualifying and then the main race which comprises of minimum 20 per cent of the race distance in real time, so it’s unlikely that you will be able to play more than two races at a stretch. And like all things it does have a problem, the AI. The in-game experience is too good to be true but it feels like racing against a computer which dances all over the racing lines rather than

racing against people like Schumacher and Hamilton. And if coming out of a turn you are neck and neck with someone, he will make no effort to avoid you. He will simply collide which will leave you with a penalty with no fault of yours. All in all, a great game but as we said earlier, only for purists. Kshitij Sharma

Price ` 2499 for PS3

Available at leading electronics outlets

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Overdrive November 2010 issue preview