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13 January 2017 Written by Sameer Kumar
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Based on the C-Class sedan, the 2nd generation mid-range SUV from Mercedes-Benz, the new GLC replaces the older GLK model globally and is a big step forward for the German brand in terms of performance, driving dynamics and safety. Mercedes-Benz claims to have reduced fuel consumption by close to 20 % as compared to the GLK, while the GLC’s revamped suspension, dynamic transmission modes and 4MATIC permanent all-wheel-drive represent a significant improvement in ride quality, handling prowess and off-road capability. ATR recently drove the petrol-engined Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 and here we take a closer look at the elements that make this vehicle really stand out from the crowd. 
 
DESIGN & INTERIORS
 
The GLC 300 is, undeniably, a handsome SUV, with its traditional SUV-spec high-riding stance, short front and rear overhangs and a taut, lean profile that clearly means business. The vehicle rides on 18-inch alloys and while its curvy styling is a world apart from the butch, angular aggression of older G-Class SUVs, the GLC conveys a sense of refinement and style that few of its competitors can match. 
 
Coming to the interiors, there’s the usual attention to detail that you’d expect from Mercedes-Benz and build quality is top-notch. The leather, wood and metal trim used inside the 5-seater cabin feels good to the touch and with fancy ambient lighting, panoramic sunroof, electrically-operated tailgate and large, centrally-mounted colour display for infotainment-related functions, the GLC’s spacious interiors are as luxurious as you’d expect a vehicle that costs Rs 55.90 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) to be.
 
In addition to looking good, the new GLC is also very aerodynamic, with a Cd value of 0.31, which compares well with the 0.34 figure for the older GLK. According to Mercedes-Benz, it was meticulous attention to small details, like the sealing of radiator and headlamp surrounds, a radiator shutter, extended roof spoiler and optimised underbody panelling, which allowed the company to achieve such a low Cd for the GLC. (Admittedly, the low Cd figure will not do much for performance or fuel economy at low speeds in the city, but should certainly help when travelling out on open expressways, at higher speeds.)
 
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ENGINE, TRANSMISSION & AWD
 
While both petrol and diesel engines are available on the India-spec GLC, it was the turbocharged petrol-engined GLC 300 that we drove, and came away fairly impressed with this unit. The turbocharged, intercooled 2.0 l DOHC 16-valve inline-four, with all-aluminium construction and direct fuel-injection, produces 242 hp at 5,500 rpm and 370 Nm of torque at 1,300 rpm. Mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission, the engine feels smooth and very responsive across its rev range, while producing particularly strong mid-range power delivery that continues to build right up until the redline. Claimed performance figures for the GLC 300 are 6.5 seconds for the zero to 100 km/h sprint, and a top speed of 222 km/h, both of which we’re sure the vehicle can achieve without much effort.
 
While the GLC 300’s 2.0 l engine is undoubtedly a masterpiece, it certainly gets a fair bit of help from the vehicle’s 9-speed 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission, towards delivering superlative performance on the road. Featuring nine forward gears and a hydrodynamic torque converter, the GLC’s 9G-TRONIC offers swift, decisive gear changes that are barely perceptible to the driver. During hard acceleration, as the GLC’s turbocharged engine spools up to deliver its 242 hp, this close-ratio 9-speed transmission is more than capable of keeping up with the momentum and ensure seamless power delivery to all four wheels.
 
If a nine-speed automatic was enough already, Mercedes-Benz has also provided another trick on the GLC 300, which is its ‘DYNAMIC SELECT’ feature that allows a driver to choose between COMFORT, SPORT and SPORT+ driving modes, which in turn affect engine, transmission, suspension and steering characteristics. While COMFORT mode offers more relaxed suspension settings, softer power delivery and better fuel economy, SPORT mode firms up the suspension and delivers more aggressive responses from the engine and transmission. As you would expect, SPORT+ delivers even more of the same, with the engine’s power delivery and the transmission’s shift points being optimised for maximum acceleration.
 
Overall, the GLC 300’s 2.0 l turbo-petrol and 9-speed automatic transmission work in perfect sync with each other, offering class-leading performance in a brilliant mechanical package. However, there’s another important element in the GLC’s performance equation – its independent multi-link suspension set-up on all four wheels, along with the 4MATIC permanent all-wheel-drive, which definitely plays a big role in defining the vehicle’s on/off-road performance. On the GLC, 4MATIC offers a basic drive torque split of 45 / 55 % between front and rear axle. Working in conjunction with the GLC’s electronic stability control and anti-slip systems, the AWD set-up provides safe, predictable handling on slippery tarmac as well as in extreme off-road driving conditions. The GLC’s off-road driving programs also help the driver get the most out of its 4MATIC, with modes especially designed for driving on slippery terrain, ice, mud, gravel etc., and up steep inclines, without missing a beat.
 
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VEHICLE LIGHTWEIGHTING & SAFETY
 
According to Mercedes-Benz, the GLC boasts an 80 kg weight reduction compared to the outgoing GLK, despite the new vehicle being bigger and better equipped. The primary reason for this, according to the company, is the GLC’s all-new body, which makes extensive use of aluminium, combined with high- and ultra-high-strength steel. With the intelligent use of materials, Mercedes-Benz has been able to make the GLC’s body 50 kg lighter compared to the older model, which is a remarkable achievement. A further 12 kg weight reduction was achieved with the use of a new, compact, transfer case made of magnesium alloy for the 9G-TRONIC transmission.
 
Apart from vehicle lightweighting, Mercedes-Benz has also put in a huge amount of effort towards ensuring that the GLC is one of its safest SUVs ever. A high-strength passenger compartment, which is surrounded by specially designed and extensively tested controlled-deformation zones, forms the basis of occupant safety on the GLC. This is supplemented by seven airbags and 3-point safety belts with pyrotechnical and reversible belt tensioning (with belt-force limitation) for driver, front passenger and outer rear seat occupants.
 
Apart from the above, there’s also a host of electronic safety systems, the first of which is ATTENTION ASSIST, a drowsiness detection system that monitors the driver’s steering behaviour. If the system detects any signs of drowsiness and / or loss of attention, it provides audio-visual warnings to the driver, thereby averting possible loss of control. The GLC also features an ADAPTIVE BRAKE control system, which keeps the brake discs dry in wet conditions and automatically prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards on uphill inclines. The PRE-SAFE occupant protection system on the GLC identifies potentially dangerous situations and imminent crashes, and in the event of such a situation, automatically tightens occupants’ seat belts, closes the side windows and primes the brakes for extreme application. On the convenience front, the GLC’s PARKTRONIC system provides active parking assistance and, when activated, can automatically steer the vehicle into perpendicular and parallel parking spaces, with steering and braking being handled by the vehicle’s on-board computer and only throttle input required from the driver. 
 
Notably, the Mercedes-Benz GLC has a 5-star Euro-NCAP safety rating, which says something about the sheer effort that the German manufacturer has put in towards the safety aspect.
 
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SUMMARY
 
With an on-road price of about Rs 60.50 lakh, the Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 certainly isn’t an SUV for everyone. However, for those who can afford one, it offers superlative engine performance, a high-tech 9-speed transmission that’s possibly the best in its segment, solid build quality, luxurious and well-appointed interiors and a spacious cabin that can comfortably seat five adults. In addition to its on-road performance, which is excellent, the GLC 300 also offers genuine off-road capability – its multi-link independent suspension, 4MATIC all-wheel-drive and off-road driving modes work together to ensure that this SUV keeps going in the rough stuff, though you should probably remember that extreme off-road use isn’t the GLC’s primary forte. For ferrying your family around in the city however, in an SUV that’s luxurious and extremely safe, the GLC 300 might just be one of the best options available in India right now.
 
TEXT: Sameer Kumar
23 December 2016 Written by Deepangshu Dev Sarmah
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In what is its second foray into the Indian market, Hyundai Motor India Limited (HMIL) recently launched the third-gen Tucson SUV. The globally popular SUV brings together a host of positive traits – comfort, space, performance, convenience and safety features and technologies. But are these good enough for the company to ensure the Tucson has a successful return to India? We were invited by the manufacturer to Chandigarh recently to experience the vehicle. Here is what we think.
 
INTRODUCTION 
 
Hyundai Motor India (HMIL) had stepped into the SUV domain many years back – 2003 to be precise – with the Terracan. Two years later, the Korean automaker had introduced the first generation Tucson SUV. At that point in time though, it appeared the Indian consumers weren’t ready to accept SUVs as a mode of vehicle. Both the Terracan and the Tucson were received with limited success, and the company decided to phase them out of the market. 
 
Then came the Santa Fe in 2010. Although the product didn’t set the sales charts soaring for the company, Hyundai learnt what the Indian consumer truly desired from an SUV. In 2015, HMIL brought in the Creta, its smallest and most compact SUV yet. Consumers lapped up the Creta unlike any other product in the market, so much so that the company had to ramp up production for the product to 13,000 units a month in over a year’s time, from the 5,000 units it started with at launch. 
 
Buoyed by the phenomenal success of the Creta, HMIL has now re-launched the third generation Tucson SUV, slotted in between the Creta and the Santa Fe. For now, the company’s SUV line-up seems complete. However, it sees opportunities abound in the SUV segment, and now has announced it will bring in a sub-four metre SUV by mid-2019. 
 
For its positioning in the market, the Tucson doesn’t have many formidable rivals in the market to compete against. In fact, it just has the Honda CR-V to account for, since the others in the segment – the Chevrolet Captiva and the Renault Koleos – are no longer sold in the country. That seems easy, but Hyundai still has a fight to put up against slightly larger SUVs such as the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour. Is the Tucson capable of bringing for Hyundai the same kind of success it tasted with the Creta? We find out.
 
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THE LOOKS
 
One look at the Tucson and you can’t miss Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design imprint. In the front, the Tucson is given dual barrel LED headlamps – LED cluster for the low beams, and a halogen set-up for high beam – and that sits aside a large three slat hexagonal grille surrounded by generous amount of chrome. The headlamp cluster also gets a daytime running light (DRL) strip right over the lamps, while a secondary LED DRL is placed just below the fog lamps. The slim wraparound LED rear combination lamps sit well in a well-proportioned rear. The side profile too gels well with the front and the rear design, despite the irregularly shaped wheel arches. There are silver finished rails on the roof in addition to a shark fin antenna. 
 
The cabin looks and feels plush and premium. Hyundai has offered for the first time in the segment, an eight-inch audio video navigation (AVN) system with voice recognition feature. The infotainment system supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and is designed well with easy-to-use on-screen buttons. The odometer panel gets a 4.2-inch colour LED screen that displays all the required information with great clarity. 
 
In terms of convenience, Hyundai has packed the Tucson with a lot of features, including dual zone climate control system with a cluster ioniser air purifier system. There is auto defogger and rear AC vents on the top of the line GLS variant we drove. The rear seats come with the reclining function, and can be split in a 60:40 ratio. The seats overall are leather-wrapped with the driver seat getting power controls (including lumbar). The rear view mirror inside the cabin features a digital compass, while the ORVMs have a segment first heating function to keep them clear in cold conditions. 
 
There is generous amount of room inside the Tucson cabin, and fit and finish overall is top notch. Like in the Elantra, Hyundai has continued to offer the smart-open feature on the tailgate. In the event of someone approaching the rear of the vehicle, the sensor recognises the key in your pocket, and in three seconds, the boot lid pops open automatically.
 
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POWERTRAIN & PERFORMANCE
 
The new Hyundai Tucson comes with the choice of a 2 l petrol engine as well as a 2 l diesel engine. Both these engines can be paired with either a manual transmission or a six-speed automatic gearbox. The top-of-the-line GLS variant, the one we drove during the media drive, is only available with the diesel engine. We shall soon bring to you a detailed review of the petrol engine on the Tucson. 
 
The ‘R’ 2 l diesel engine is completely new. The four-cylinder, common rail, double overhead camshaft (DOHC) engine is fitted with an electronic variable geometry turbocharger (e-VGT). The engine produces maximum power of 185 hp at 4,000 rpm and peak torque of 400 Nm at around 1,750-2,750 rpm. We loved the refinement of this engine. It is smooth and powerful, with torque available right from the lower rev range. The six-speed automatic gearbox gets two driving modes – sports and eco. In both modes, the vehicles drive smoothly with no jerks or lag experienced during gear shifts. 
 
Hyundai claims to have the best power to weight ratio in the diesel engine. It delivers 18.42 km/l with the manual transmission, while with the automatic unit, mileage stands at an ARAI-approved 16.38 km/l. 
 
The overall performance of the Tucson diesel is very impressive, and so is the vehicle’s NVH level. Engine noise doesn’t pass into the cabin, and harshness and vibrations are fairly controlled. Compared to the 1.6 l diesel unit in Hyundai’s stable, this one felt a little louder, but once inside, it wasn’t intrusive. We loved the way the steering behaved in most situations, including the short drive through a hilly terrain. There was some body roll during corners, but it isn’t something that will scare even amateur drivers. One must note that the new Tucson is only being offered with a front wheel drive option. 
 
Overall, from a ride and handling perspective, the Tucson scores highly in our books. The suspension set-up – McPherson strut with coil springs in the front and multi-link with coil springs at the rear – do a very good job of offering a pleasant drive and ride comfort. Also aiding the Tucson’s overall drive feel are the brakes.
 
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SAFETY FIRST!
 
Hyundai has always had high priority on safety. The Tucson body structure, for instance, is made using 51 % of advanced high strength steel. Hyundai has also added significantly more structural adhesives on the Tucson compared to earlier products, measuring 102 m in length.
 
In terms of safety technologies, the Tucson gets ABS and EBD along with traction control and two airbags as standard. The GLS variant is fitted with six airbags for heightened safety, and also gets electronic stability control (ESC), hill start & brake assist, and downhill brake control. One appreciable feature on the Tucson is the retractable roof mounted seatbelt for the middle passenger on the rear seat, instead of the lap seatbelts offered on most vehicles. Add to that list front and rear parking sensors, a reverse camera, height adjustable front seat belts and impact sensing auto door-unlock.
 
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ROUND-UP
 
The SUV segment currently is the fastest growing segment in the Indian industry, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 32 % between 2015 and 2019. As per Global Insight, in the same time period, the high SUV segment – where the Tucson is slotted – is likely to grow at a CAGR of 51 %. Hyundai is well poised to take advantage of the opportunity and has priced the Tucson rather well. It is not expected to be a runaway success in terms of numbers, but at a starting price of ` 18.99 lakh for the petrol manual, going up to ` 24.99 lakh for the top GLS diesel automatic (all prices ex-Delhi), Hyundai has offered potential buyers with a compelling proposition. 
 
TEXT: Deepangshu Dev Sarmah
 
PHOTO: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay
18 November 2016 Written by Anwesh Koley
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Tata Motors is not new to the SUV/MPV segments. Starting with the mid-1990s Tata Estate, followed by the Sierra 3-door SUV, and then the Safari SUV that continues to soldier on today, Tata Motors has been thinking beyond the ubiquitous sedan/hatchback for many years. With global carmakers entering the SUV and MPV segments more than a decade ago, Tata products were left wanting in terms of fit and finish, build quality, refinement and overall performance. With gradual advancements in its engineering prowess, the company did go on to produce improved products, but its last offering in the MPV segment – the Aria – failed to succeed in the market, partly due to its relatively high pricing. 
 
Now, Tata Motors is back with its new 6/7-seater (both options are available) MPV, Hexa, in a second bid to crack the segment. With this vehicle, India’s largest automobile manufacturer intends to do what it does best – offer a car that offers a combination of space, practicality, features and economy, at a reasonable price point. We had a chance to put the Hexa through its paces, so let’s take a more detailed look at what this new MPV is capable of doing on the road.
 
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DESIGN & STYLING
 
At first glance, the Hexa shows a fair resemblance to the erstwhile Aria crossover/MPV, which, despite promising a lot, could not create a significant impact on the Indian consumers’ minds and wallets. However, the Hexa is a new vehicle and features a more pronounced front end, which is in line with Tata’s ‘Impact’ design philosophy, which was first seen on the Tiago hatchback. The bold and chiseled front, with a chrome ‘U’ strip running below the piano-black honeycomb grill, is likely to find favour with SUV/MPV enthusiasts. The hexagonal, twin barrel projector-type headlamps, with integrated LED DRLs and fog lamps, have been designed to provide better illumination, while the humungous front and rear bumpers add a touch of muscle to the vehicle’s handsome lines. 
 
The muscular design theme continues in the side profile, with flared wheel arches, sporty 19-inch wheels and heavy body cladding, giving it a proper large-MPV/SUV stance. The Hexa is 4,788 mm long and 1,791 mm tall, which gives it an adequately large cabin for six (or seven, depending on the variant…) occupants. Also, its 200 mm ground clearance should be enough to take on most road conditions, with even a bit of mild off-roading thrown in for good measure, if you’re so inclined. Incidentally, the Hexa’s 2850 mm wheelbase is the longest in the Indian MPV segment.
 
While the front end endows the Hexa with loads of road presence and attitude, the rear does not quite match up. To begin with, it resembles the recently facelifted Ford Endeavour’s back end, with a thick chrome strip running between the boomerang-shaped LED taillamps. Also, the rear design makes the vehicle look a bit bulbous, which might not be appreciated by all. That said, its twin chrome ringed exhausts do offer some visual relief and customers looking for sheer size will likely not be disappointed with the overall package.
 
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INTERIORS & EQUIPMENT
 
The Hexa’s interiors are where Tata Motors seems to have made a significant improvement in quality. There’s a new, premium-looking dashboard that makes generous use of piano black plastics and chrome. The stitching in the soft-touch faux-leather material that runs across the centre of the dash and which is also used for seat upholstery, adds a touch of class to the interiors and, as mentioned earlier, the Hexa will come in six- and seven-seater configurations, which should fit the bill for most requirements.
 
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The middle row seats in the Hexa have enough space for three occupants (if you opt for the bench seat), though not for very long journeys. The middle-row seats are also adjustable – you can slide them backwards for more legroom, and the seat back is also tilt-adjustable. For even more comfort, in case you plan to have only two occupants in the middle row, you will want to opt for the captain chairs, which are also available as an option on the Hexa (6-seater version).  As you would expect, there are AC vents for middle-row passengers, as well as reading lamps, which ensures that backseat passengers are taken care of. 
 
Coming to the third and last row seats, even these have sufficient headroom and legroom for two average-sized passengers, so, yes, the Hexa really can work as a 7-seater MPV for bigger families. With third row seats being used, the vehicle is left with very little boot space, but with the 50:50 3rd row seats folded flat, there’s ample loading space. If a customer opts for the variant with the middle-row as a bench, a tumble feature allows even further expanded boot space.
 
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BUILD QUALITY
 
Talking about quality and consistency, the Hexa is a major step up from previous SUVs/MPVs from the Tata stable. Panel gaps are practically non-existent and the quality of plastics used, gives a premium feel to the interiors. There is generous use of faux leather on the dashboard and the top end trim gets leather on the door panels, with stitched leather seats. We found the gloss black console with a chrome wraparound strip quite pleasant looking, while the chrome and brushed aluminium pieces around the dashboard and the AC vents also adds visual appeal. The Hexa’s climate control knobs are placed in a manner that makes them easily accessible and we found the controls quite handy and easy to operate.
 
For music enthusiasts, the Hexa offers a good deal with its JBL music system, with Bluetooth, AUX and USB connectivity. There are 10 speakers mounted strategically across the length and breadth of the vehicle and the sound they provide is not bad at all. Customers also get steering wheel-mounted controls, smart phone integration and electrically adjustable ORVMs. There’s also a reverse camera, tilt-adjustable steering wheel (available only on the manual transmission car) and ambient lighting with customisable ‘mood lighting’ options. 
 
The Hexa’s ConnectNext infotainment system by Harman offers a useful navigation function via the NaviMaps app installed on the user’s smartphone, which can be paired with this system. The system’s touchscreen, though, requires some effort to operate and seems to have some room for improvement.
 
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ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
 
The Hexa gets a 2.2 l common-rail turbo-diesel engine borrowed from the Safari Varicor 400. It delivers a maximum power of 154 hp @ 4000 rpm and 400 Nm of torque, which is available between 1700 to 2700 rpm. Torque delivery is a bit sluggish up until about 1,800 rpm, but post 2,000 rpm things perk up a bit and the Hexa ploughs through city traffic with ease, without the driver needing to change gear frequently. 
 
There are two transmissions on offer: a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed automatic. Tata Motors has developed these transmission options from scratch and the difference can be felt in real world driving conditions. The automatic option is available only in the rear-wheel-drive variant and offers smooth shifts. The manual gets the option of both rear-wheel-drive and an all-wheel-drive option, with the latter best suited to those who intend to take their vehicle off road.
 
While the automatic was slick in its operation, the manual transmission could have been better. The clutch feels heavy and gear changes are not as precise as those you’ll find in some of the competition’s MPVs. The even spread of torque makes up for the manual transmission’s lack of smoothness though. 
 
We’ll also note here that the Hexa weighs all of 2280 kg, and that’s a lot of mass for the engine to move around. Still, there is minimal body roll and the Hexa takes fast corners and potholed roads in its stride, without complaining too much. NVH levels are also commendably low and it is only at higher rpms that you can hear the 2.2 l making its presence felt. The steering is weighted just right and good maneuverability is a key highlight of this vehicle. This is where the difference with the Safari is visible; the latter making its weight felt at all speeds, taking a toll on drivability.
 
One thing that we did not like too much was steering feel at higher speeds – there is some slack in the straight-ahead position and the steering wheel needs to be moved around quite a lot to achieve the desired degree of cornering movement. Improved steering ‘feel’ and feedback is required on the Hexa, which otherwise shows reasonably okay driving dynamics despite its heft.  
 
Coming to braking performance, despite having disc brakes on all four wheels across all variants, the Hexa’s brake pedal does not inspire a high level of confidence. There is insufficient feel and feedback and the pedal needs to be pushed hard to initiate adequate braking effort. Again, some improvement is required in this area, though the presence of ABS does provide some peace of mind despite hardware limitations.
 
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DRIVING MODES & SAFETY
 
The Hexa gets four driving modes, which effectively alter the power and torque delivery. These modes work in tandem with the vehicle’s Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and ABS, boosting the safety margin during all driving conditions. Auto mode is aimed at providing stability and traction at all speeds, on all kinds of terrain, with the vehicle adapting itself to changing conditions automatically. Comfort mode is a bit more relaxed, with slightly more laid-back power delivery for smoother cruising on open highways, and is more suited for predictable tarmac conditions, with improved fuel economy being an added advantage here. In Dynamic mode, the Hexa achieves maximum power and acceleration, with ABS and ESP kicking in later, providing more leeway to the driver to do his own thing. This mode does test the chassis, suspension and braking to their limits, but the Hexa is up to the task of handling whatever you throw at it, as long as you keep things within the limits of reason. 
 
Last but not the least, the Hexa even has a Rough Road mode, which is optimised for broken tarmac and mild off-road use. Braking performance in this mode is tuned to support rough road surfaces, with ABS and ESP operation scaled back accordingly. Driving in this mode not only optimises stability on rough, broken roads, but also enhances the vehicle’s dynamic performance on low-traction surfaces. 
 
To complement the aforementioned driving modes, the Hexa gets hill hold assist, hill descent control and ESP with traction control, which when coupled with the drive modes and the all-wheel-drive option available in the manual transmission model, allows the car to be a capable off-roader. The top end variant gets ABS and EBD, along with six airbags, dual front, side and curtain. Of course, one must remember at all times that the Hexa is not a hard-core SUV, but a family-oriented MPV and must be used as such for best performance and safety.
 
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CONCLUSION
 
With the Hexa, Tata Motors has set its eyes on the recently launched Toyota Innova Crysta and the Mahindra XUV 500. The expected pricing for the Hexa is between 12 to 17 lakhs (depending on the variant) and we believe correct pricing will be critical for the success of this vehicle in the MPV segment in India. While it’s a well-engineered product with only a few small niggles, which Tata Motors would do well to sort out before they launch the vehicle, it remains to be seen if the market – and Indian consumers – are ready for a premium car from the Tata stable. 
 
Text: Anwesh Koley
 
Photo: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay
11 November 2016 Written by Naveen Arul
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The pick-up segment in India has essentially been one that’s been focussed at commercial movement of goods within the city and arterial roads. Now however, this segment is also seeing the introduction of lifestyle-oriented models from OEMs and the latest example of that is the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross pick-up truck. While the company had initially launched its D-Max range of pick-up trucks exclusively for commercial utilisation, the D-Max V-Cross is the first pick-up model from the company that can be registered for personal use. The Isuzu D-Max V-Cross is assembled at Isuzu’s new facility at SriCity in Andhra Pradesh.
 
DESIGN & STYLING
 
The Isuzu D-Max V-Cross is a four-door pick-up with seating for five adults. It features typical SUV/pick-up design language with large dimensions, ground clearance of 225mm and a presence that will definitely be felt on the road. The main highlight of the vehicle is the large cargo deck that has a capacity of 265 kg, and is lined with high-quality plastic to reduce damage to the metal body. Key exterior features include projector headlamps, front fog lamps, 16-inch alloy wheels with 245/70R16 radial tubeless tyres, silver roof rails and chrome highlights. The pick-up has a high stance, which provides a commanding and clear view of almost any kind of road it is being driven on.
 
The interiors of the V-Cross are very much in line with SUVs that fall in its price bracket, with high level of quality in the fit-and-finish department. The quality of plastics that make up the dashboard, door panels, switches and knobs are all top notch and feel like they would last through the lifetime of the vehicle without fuss. The interior presents the driver with a six-way manually-adjustable seat, electronically-foldable and adjustable outside rear-view mirrors, tilt-adjustable steering wheel with multi-function controls and a multi information display (MID) in the instrument panel. The MID displays information like trip meters, odometer, driving range, real-time fuel efficiency, among others.
 
The interior also includes auto AC with integrated controls and fine particle pollen filter, as well as a ‘twin cockpit’ interior design with dual tone and silver accents. The D-Max V-Cross is provided with two glove boxes, as well as a number of cup holders and storage spaces across the interiors. It features 60:40 split rear seats, which are tip-up foldable with storage compartments below. While the pick-up seats five adults comfortably, the rear doors are relatively small, resulting in ingress and egress becoming slightly difficult.
 
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ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
 
The Isuzu D-Max V-Cross is powered by a 2.5 l, four-cylinder, common rail turbodiesel, with a variable geometry turbocharger and intercooler. The engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission. The Isuzu turbodiesel produces maximum power of 134 hp at 3,600 rpm, along with peak torque of 320 Nm from 1,800 to 2,800 rpm. The pick-up also features shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive (4WD) system with a high torque mode that can be activated with the help of a dial on the centre console. The 4WD system on the D-Max V-Cross comes in two modes – 4L and 4H, and works very well on the toughest terrain that you can throw at it.
 
 
CHASSIS & SUSPENSION
 
The D-Max is built on a robust ladder frame chassis, which is said to be based on Isuzu Gravity Response Intelligent Platform (iGRIP) technology. The iGRIP technology is claimed to ensure greater stability even at high speeds and sharp turns, which was something that definitely can be felt on this behemoth. The V-Cross is equipped with an independent double wishbone coil spring setup for its front suspension, while the rear features soft ride leaf springs.
 
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PERFORMANCE
 
The Isuzu D-Max V-Cross features an engine that is quite apt for the vehicle’s heft, comfortably moving its 1,905 kg kerb weight. Some of the engine-related technologies of the V-Cross include a melt-in liner, which is anti-friction induction hardened for the cylinders, chain-driven camshaft, graphite coated pistons and cast rocker arm with roller pivot bearings. The variable geometry turbocharger works in a linear manner, delivering the power and torque very smoothly even when driven with a heavy foot. 
 
While the pick-up is relatively quick for its size, the power tends to peak out by about 130 km/h, after which the vehicle needs to be pushed to move the speedometer needle further, while the fuel economy figures of the vehicle vary quite drastically along with the driving style employed. We managed to average between 10 and 12 km/l while driving in 2WD mode on tarmac, along with a little bit of off-roading.
 
The vehicle has a clutch that is slightly heavier than passenger cars, but is still light enough to be worked in congested traffic conditions. The gearbox works smoothly and you don’t need to shift very often in city traffic, due to the engine’s torque output. However, downshifting is usually required for quick overtaking. Meanwhile, the brakes on the V-Cross, which comprise of ventilated discs at the front with twin-pot callipers, and drums for the rear, work without any issues. The brake pedal is set at a comfortable angle, and has just the right amount of travel to ensure safe stops from almost any speed. The radial MRF tyres on the test vehicle provided ample grip and traction on dry conditions while off-roading.
 
Isuzu D-Max DSC 0190
 
RIDE & HANDLING
 
The suspension setup of the D-Max V-Cross has been tuned to soak in most bumps and potholes, regardless of their size. Additionally, body roll is minimal. This is something one does not expect from a large pick-up truck and was a pleasant surprise during the course of the drive. The steering is definitely on the heavier side and takes a little effort, especially while entering and exiting tight parking spaces. However, this heavy steering works to the advantage of the V-Cross at triple digit speeds and even adds confidence while cornering. The level of stability felt in the D-Max V-Cross makes you wonder at times whether you are really driving such a large vehicle.
 
SAFETY & TECHNOLOGY
 
Safety equipment in the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross includes ABS, EBD, brake assist, dual front airbags, engine immobiliser, and ISOFIX anchorages on the rear for child seat. Other features come in the form of cross car front beam and door side intrusion beams for crash protection, as well as a skid plate and engine bottom guard to prevent damage while off-roading.
 
The V-Cross comes with a multimedia infotainment system, with touch screen display and Bluetooth connectivity. The system also features a four-speaker music system with above average sound quality. Music can be played via CD, USB connectivity, AUX-in and Bluetooth. The system allows up to five phones to be connected at a time, and provides seamless connectivity.
 
Isuzu D-Max DSC 0271
 
CONCLUSION
 
The D-Max V-Cross is an effort from Isuzu to launch a product in the pick-up segment that has not really found favour from Indian customers for personal or lifestyle usage. However, it can be said that this model from Isuzu definitely brings a lot to the table in terms of the entire package, which may attract newer customers into this segment. We don’t like the lack of a reverse camera and parking sensors, small rear doors and heavy steering. But these are smaller niggles and are outweighed by the slew of positives features that come in the form of this vehicle’s powertrain, interior and exterior design, and safety technologies. 
 
Therefore, all these features and technologies, combined with a price tag of Rs 12.80 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi, definitely become a good proposition for people looking for a lifestyle pick-up. We feel that this vehicle may just get the pick-up segment going in India, unlike any other model that came before it.
 
TEXT & PHOTO: Naveen Arul
 
13 September 2016 Written by Arpit Mahendra
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The last time Jaguar tried to compete in the luxury sedan segment with the X-Type, things didn't go down too well for the British company. Not only did the X-Type fail at giving the Germans any reason to even take notice, even Jaguar's own loyalists were a bit disappointed. But with the new XE, Jaguar is back with its second attempt to find a firm footing in the luxury segment. We find out if the XE is a serious contender.
 
DESIGN
 
The Jaguar XE is a gorgeous car to look at from any angle, though we have to say that it looks a bit too similar to the XJ or the XF. Then again, we suppose most luxury car manufacturers follow a homogeneous design language for all their products these days and there’s no getting away from the ‘family resemblance’ factor for most car brands. And in the case of the muscular, handsomely proportioned XE, that’s not a bad thing at all – the low-slung stance and long hood lend a visible tinge of dynamism to the car, and the design cues it takes from the F-Type only make the car more attractive. Compared to most of its German competitors, the Jaguar XE has more visual flair and panache, though the relatively high-profile tyres used on the car do look a bit out of place. That said, higher profile tyres, because of their taller sidewall, do offer better insulation from bad, broken roads and help improve ride quality on bad terrain, hence may be the right choice for luxury sedans sold in India.
 
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
 
In India, the Jaguar XE is offered with a turbocharged 2.0 l petrol engine in two states of tune – 197 hp/ 320 Nm and the more powerful 237 hp/ 340 Nm. Our test car was the more powerful version and off the line, the engine felt eager and rev-happy, going up to 6,000 rpm without a fuss. Throttle response is rapid and there isn’t any turbo lag whatsoever. The engine is paired to an eight-speed ZF-sourced automatic transmission, which offers quick shifts though maybe not as quick as, say, the BMW 3 Series. Power is sent to the rear wheels, which makes for an interesting recipe through turns. Shifts are noticeable but thankfully the transmission doesn’t constantly hunt for a higher gear, which is what happens with some other cars in the segment. This makes a world of difference because you can enjoy the car and its dynamic abilities without always having to engage the race mode through the chequered flag button. We do have a minor crib with the exhaust note, which is a bit too subdued most of the time. A sportier-sounding more vocal exhaust would have perfectly suited the character of this performance-oriented Jaguar.
 
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RIDE & HANDLING
 
Jaguar has used a fair bit of aluminium in the construction of the XE, which helps it keep weight in check. This comes in handy when going through bends, as the XE remains agile and sure-footed at all times. The suspension set-up is a bit soft, as it should be on a luxury sedan in this segment, in a country where the quality of roads is still not up to the mark. And yet, the soft suspension not only helps with ride comfort, but also doesn’t really hurt the XE’s handling prowess. Sharp corners are dealt with in an impressive manner, largely due to the agile chassis. The high-profile tyres, which don't look great, do a good job of improving the ride quality and start to make sense when driving over bad roads.
 
Body-roll is not an issue most of the time and the XE just feels happy changing direction quickly. Steering is precise and feedback is impressive, especially in the context of this being a big luxury sedan. The brakes bite hard when required, and provide very good tactile feedback and response – overall, this is quite a driver’s car.
 
In a nutshell, if you're someone who loves to drive rather than just spend time in the rear seat, the XE may be a good bet for you. What the Jaguar actually does better than some of its German competition is striking a perfect balance between sportiness and comfort, and it does that by quite a margin.
 
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CABIN & INTERIORS
 
The XE’s interiors are plus and well appointed, which is what you would expect in this segment. The leather seats are large and comfortable and offer good support when the car is being driven at a rapid pace. The drive selector emerging from the centre console is suitably theatric and the multi-layered dashboard looks impressive – the way it merges with the doors on both sides is a visual treat. Quality of materials used in the cabin is generally very good and refinement levels are high, though we did think that some of the plastics used could have been better.
 
The one gripe we had was with the rather poor rear-view visibility, with a small-ish rear windshield and high bootlid obscuring the view somewhat. Still, the outside ORVMs help deal with that, so it’s not a big issue. Also, while the Piano-black finish on the centre console looks good, it's a finger print magnet and after a few hours of using the car, the centre console ends up looking not so good. And lastly, while the Jaguary colour touchscreen boasts a good, sharp display, its InControl system isn’t very intuitive to use and this is one area where the XE falls behind some of its German rivals. Maybe using Android Auto or AppleCarPlay would have been a better idea for Jaguar.
 
If you're looking to be driven, the XE might not be your first choice. Legroom at the rear is decent but not at par with, say, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Seats are positioned low to maximise headroom, but taller occupants may find the sloping roof at the back to be an issue. The seat itself is comfortable at the rear, and back support and under-thigh support is good. The high transmission tunnel though makes it almost impossible for three adults to be seated at the back. Clearly, the driver's seat is the best seat in the house.
 
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ROUND-UP
 
It's easy to make out that the XE is a far better attempt by Jaguar than the X-Type but is it good enough to bring the fight to the Germans? Absolutely, yes. The XE does most things very well and rewards the driver who enjoys driving. It looks great as well, although not too different from its bigger siblings. The Jaguar is not perfect, but if you're bored with German sedans and want something that stands out in an impressive manner, and is a treat to drive on, the XE is a very good bet. The Jaguar XE Portfolio 25 T is priced at Rs 46.5 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi, while the less-powerful Pure version is priced at Rs 40 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi.
 
Text: Arpit Mahendra
 
Photo: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay


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