Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Yet Another Fluidic Korean!

People in Europe know it as “The Avante” and The Americans know it by something they have given it themselves “North American car of 2012” and we know it as Verna’s cousin – The Elantra.
It’s all set to embark its second innings in India keeping in mind that first one was run out by miles, we expect the check list this time to be a bit long. Will this be able to hit the sweet spot like Verna did? Well, I am not sure…

Going by its fluidic sculpture it looks Hyundai’s very much own kid. It has got everything in right proportions for a head turner. The sweeping layered headlamp looks like those in the Verna and is very attractive. The hexagonal front grill has now become the trademark of the fluidic design. On the rear too; the story is pretty similar with high waist line with a hint of curve down. The most peculiar thing about its looks is its tail lamp, sweeping all through its side like a water fall in to a river. It has got the best tail lamps in the segment category.

On the outside the inspiration from Verna and Sonata like design has worked well but with the interiors it’s not the same story. It seems like their inspiration was Eon. Quite simply it looks like it has got stretched interiors from Eon. It’s catastrophic. Even the graphics on your instrument cluster are not either modern or pleasant.

Just to make you feel special, India is the only country in the world to have a diesel motor option. Probably because without diesel it would have been like going to an Italian restaurant and asking for kebab. Because if you do that, Sonata will be the answer!

Talking about what it gets underneath is the same motor from Verna and specs are pretty similar too; 126 horses of power and 260 NM of torque. The ride quality is really good, it nimble around like cheese. But it lacks something, something that has to do with the feeling of joy, something that you get while driving its competitors. Plus when you start cruising at high speeds and the going gets either fast or twisty its back starts waggling. And the good bit is that it comes loaded with features such as Automatic climate control with individual climate settings, ventilated front seats, electrically adjustable driver seat, cruise control, ESP and 6 air bags taking care about your safety. Real ac vents and music control are nice touches.

The product is there with a combative price but surely we need more of that as far as marketing and promotions are concerned to make it the signature of success. The buzz is still not hitting the glass like it did in case of 3 series. Hyundai has a lot more to face in terms of Brand homage and fidelity of Toyota with the Altis and The canny speedster of the diesel-rocket Cruze along the persistence of Jetta and Laura waiting to compete. The segment has seen a slowdown in terms of numbers where the stalwarts such as Altis/Cruze are doing below average numbers. Will the new Elantra resurrect the fortunes of the segment and those of Hyundai? Only time will tell. There is so much do, words are just not enough!

Image Source

(Author - Anshul Chawla - Is an automobile enthusiast who love and live cars! Can be ignited at anshul_chawla@live.com)

Saturday, August 4, 2012


BMW was very clear to go all guns with the new 3 series. With Audi challenging its leadership position, BMW had to present its ACE as an answer. There would no better time to launch the 6th gen 3-series. Since its inception in 1975, 3-series has been the most sold BMW of all time. With every edition  the 3-series was generations ahead of its predecessor. The same stands true for the new 3-series. It is longer, wider and sharper – Hence, “Superior by Evolution”! With an absolute winner in hand BMW ensured that it doesn’t leave any stone unturned before its launch.

An India Centric 360 degree campaign was designed & executed by Liquid Campaign India. German agency Contra & Weareflink were the production partners of Liquid Campaign India for the TVC. It was the first time in its presence in last 5 years the Bavarian Auto maker had tried something this big in India. Be it usage of QR codes, or a website to educate on the evolution or the teaser campaigns in print/media – it was magnanimous! The results were similar too – BMW received more than 500 bookings before the launch itself.

Certainly the promotions have been outstanding; and the looks as well - with the chisel front headlamps it looks mesmerizingly brilliant. And of course since it’s a BMW you’d expect it to be a driver’s car - something that will put a big smile on your face when you press on the hammer. It’s a rare charisma of thrill and performance that only a few cars can make you feel like that. So with the new BMW 3 you expect it to take a leap forward from its predecessor. But looking at the old 3 series you would think how it could possibly be better. 

With looks and interior it has gone miles when compared to the old one. Especially the one in the 328i, with those red stripes on the dash along with the distinctive metallic black. You get that touch of red even on your key. Rounded binnacle is replaced with a freestanding display. i-drive had move beside the gear lever and all this makes interiors very much symmetrical. The only think you could ask for is a paddle shift gear option. Never mind BMW has kept it for the 7th generation ;)

Talking about its performance and drivability you would expect it to be driver concentric. Since it’s a BMW, it’s meant to be a driver’s car in the first place. But here is a bit of smug for those who really want to throw it around corners and smoke some rubber as this new 3 series is way too smooth it’s actually like redefining comfort with the 8 speed gearbox. With 181 Bhp and lighter than the earlier 3 series it should be faster.

Another ace is the brand ambassador - The God of cricket meets the goddess of power and speed. It is a match made in heaven which can’t get better.

Do we really need more reasons? That is what BMW’s character is all about and 3 series is as iconic as ever. No car could ever produce a combination of luxury and performance the way BMW does!

A 3 is a 3 - SH33R DRIVING PL3ASUR3!

India specific Ad -

(Author - Anshul Chawla - Is an automobile enthusiast who love and live cars! Can be ignited at anshul_chawla@live.com)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Indian Car Sales Figures - July 2012

July 2012 Sales Figures - Pan India
·     1) Maruti Suzuki approaching Vaastu consultants to solve Manesar problem – the situation rightly requires so! The nation’s biggest automaker is facing one of the worst labor issues in the Indian manufacturing scene. The losses is in tune of crores and has not only affected MS, but has also made foreign investors reconsider to enter/invest in India. Manesar’s produce – Swift & Dzire has been worst hit with reduction in their offtake. The figures for Aug’12 would be still shoddier! (An unconfirmed news also mentions that the sprawling 600 acres of land on which the Manesar plant has been constructed, is said to have once served as a Muslim burial ground. Three temples, which existed in the 600 acres were demolished to set up the plant. – I wonder how this news have surfaced at this point of time J )
·     2) However, the positive for MS has been its LUV (Life Utility Vehicle) – Ertiga. It should be better named as LSV (Life Saving Vehicle – especially for Maruti!). Ertiga has clocked its highest offtake till date with 7091 numbers. It is growing stronger month-on-month and we wouldn’t be surprised to see it in the Top 5 within next 2 months.
·     3) Eeco volumes have gone down scaringly low. It is appalling to see how a vehicle grossing an average of 4.5k numbers have come down to 930 nos! Even the A-star fares worse than the 800 (A-star: 583 nos vs Maruti 800: 1411 nos!). The real disappointment has been SX4 – 679 offtake for this capable product is just not digestable.
·     4) Tata is seriously hurt – M&M overtaking Tata for the 3rd position in the passenger car market during June’12 is a stern indication on how Tata could lose its position if not acted quick. However, the response from Tata is satisfactory for the moment – Sumo Indica family & Indigo family contributing for the majority numbers. Sumo Gold has again been a trump card for Tata in gaining the numbers in UV segment. The hatchback & sedan market seems too volatile – Hence, would Tata be able to sustain with the Indica & Indigo productline? I assume not – with a new compact SUV from M&M on the cards, we wouldn’t be shocked to see M&M permanently overtaking Tata in passenger car market. The solidarity in SUV growth has also backed M&M as of now.
·     5) Who could have predicted that Verna sale could be higher than Santro/Eon sales an year back! That exactly exhibits the shift in today’s consumer preference – a product can perform exceedingly well if it could exemplify “Value for money”. This holds true for vehicles in all categories! – Just imagine BMW bagging over 500 bookings for its new 3-series even before its launch.. Even Audi had achieved similar feat with its Q3 – achieved 500 booking within 5 days of its launch.
·     6) One always wonders – where does all these Boleros go??? That’s the power of Rural India. Bolero never fails to impress us with its consistency. It would be the only product in the Indian Automotive history to date to exude such popularity & acceptance – the same is evident in its sales numbers, month-on-month!
·     7) XUV500 in Top 20? YES! With production ramping up, don’t be surprised to see it surpass Scorpio’s number as well. With the opening of bookings all India, the product has garnered similar euphoria what it had achieved during its initial launch!
·     8) Indians just love NOVELTY – don’t believe me? Then take this – 12000 bookings for the newly launched Duster. The love for SUVs has again gripped Indian consumers – Duster just hitting the sweet spot. The next challenge is to ramp up supply as per demand and also expand its (Renault) dealer network.
·     9) Honda again is inconsistent – hence too difficult to rightly asses its performance.
·     10) Skoda is on a spree to reduce its dealers stocks – the number exactly explains the point with over 50% degrowth M-o-M. However, Fabia is reeling to maintain required volumes – not deserved for a product this well.

      A list of Top 20 Brands of the month -

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