Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Toyota show: SUVs: Landcruiser, Prado Fortuner

This is part 2 of the previous post, Toyota Quality Revolution. I know the previous post wasn’t liked by many, but bear with me on this one

On the other side of the hall were Toyota’s range of SUVs. First was the Fortuner, the basic SUV which is priced at 21.5 lakh rupees on road.

Next to it was a monster, the mighty Land Cruiser, priced at 96 lakh rupees on road, housing a massive 4.5 litre D-4D engine. Event organizers had unnecessarily placed several girls as models near each car, who had no work but to stand still- even a doll would have served the purpose. I would have preferred a display of car’s technical specifications and features instead.
landcruiser landcruiser-rear
Adjacent to land cruiser was Land Cruiser Prado. Land Cruiser Prado sells at 60 lakhs, 3 times more expensive than Fortuner. I asked the rep what’s extra in Prado compared to Fortuner and he listed a few of them:
While fortuner has only 2 airbags, Prado houses 7 air bags, Fortuner has only front 2 disc brakes, Toyota Landcruiser Prado has rear disc brakes as well. Fortuner has only ABS, Prado has ABS with EBD. Prado’s engine is same 3 litres in terms of cc, but is more refined for extra power and torque. Prado adopts several additional safety and comfort features found in Landcruiser and houses a stronger suspension.
  land-cruiser-prado-interior prado-rear
After listening to all the above, I was like “Hmm, now I know I am not getting so many features even after paying 21 lakhs for the Fortuner”.

Toyota has launched a new concept of 60 minutes service. Apart from the fact that 60 min service is a quick basic health check service, what I liked about 60 min service is that I can watch on a TV in front of me, what is happening to my car. I went to that counter, answered a few questions and few minutes later, they called me and informed that I’ve won something and requested me to wait and collect my prize. I was about to leave, but stayed on because of this. Soon the event started wherein I was called on stage and given a prize- a credit card holder case. I’d have preferred to take Prado for a drive instead.
Land-cruiser-prado 60-minutes-express-service

Most of the chairs that were hitherto empty, got filled up as dancers started their performance, to the tune of a badly written song containing the word Etios.
chairs dance-performance the-stageThe venue-chennai-trade-cenntre

The other car was Innova, which I’ve already reviewed. Innova CNG is now available. Tried my hands in drawing a toyota car- did very badly at it and left the venue. Toyota Quality Revolution show will be happening in different cities, next one at Hyderabad on this weekend.

Similar: Ford Endeavour 2.5 XLT MT review * Tata JLR * Mahindra Scorpio 2.2 Vls reviewAria 4x4 review * Aria photoshoot Set 1Set 2 * Aria in Mullayanagiri * 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Toyota Quality Revolution: Etios Launch & Exhibition

I spent half of Sunday morning attending Toyota’s auto exhibition, showcasing all its range of luxury cars and SUVs, at Chennai Trade Centre. Main attractions at the show were Toyota’s yet to be launched small car and sedan, called Etios Hatchback and Etios Sedan respectively.

Etios Sedan will house a 1.4 litre petrol engine, has a very impressive dashboard (click on the pictures to enlarge and take a closer look). However, be warned that this is a concept version. Commercial variant may look different.
toyota-etios-sedan-concept toyota-etios-sedan-concept-dashboard

Etios Hatchback will house a 1.2 litre petrol engine. Nothing exciting about these 2 cars, which will be launched first in India ahead of the world. (Expected to hit showrooms early 2011, prices are not yet decided) The wheels and interiors were cool, but the representative there was very clear that this is only a concept model and the mass produced variants may not be 100% same. Just wondering why are they fooling us by setting wrong expectations.
Etios-hatchback-front Etios-rear-view 

Next attraction was the new Prius Hydrid, the eco friendly green car. Prius has cool interiors and exteriors, but price tag will deter people. At a cost of Rs 30 lakhs, Toyota Prius Hybrid is nothing but unaffordable. (Civic Hybrid was priced at 22 lakhs, thanks to 100% custom duty, later when Honda offered discounts to the tune of 70%, Civic Hydrid got sold out in no time)

toyota-prius-hybrid-car toyota-prius-hybrid-engine
toyota-prius-interior toyota-prius-rear

Only in Prius, the toyota-logo is given a blue ambi light
toyota-logo Prius-front-look

Next to Toyota Prius was Toyota Camry Hybrid, this hasn’t been launched in India yet and hence price is undecided. Camry interiors were pretty dull compared to other cars around.
toyota-camry-hydrid camry-hydrid-egine
 toyota-camry toyota-camry-hybrid-interior

I was under the impression that Corolla is also available in Diesel, but the visit confirmed that it is not. Corolla Altis top end variant costs Rs 15.5 lakhs
corolla-altis corolla-altis-interiors

Had good time taking close look at these cars. Standby for part 2 of this post, for the impressive range of Toyota SUVs- the Land Cruiser, Land Cruiser Prado and the Fortuner, (FYI, they cost Rs 95, 60 and 21.5 lakhs respectively) as well as some more photos of the event.

2012 Update: Drove Etios Petrol for about 300+kms. Read detailed review

Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Ford Figo: review, price, comparison

Update: Do read Ford Endeavour 2.5 4x2 XLT review here

It is long time since I test drove a car. Lots of new cars are hitting the market and I’ve not driven most of them. Finally took time off and gate crashed MPL Ford showroom near SRP Tools, OMR, Chennai and drove the all new Ford Figo, till Madhya Kailash and back.

ford-figo-sidelook ford-figo-front

For the first time I had a lady sales rep briefing me on the car specifics. Renuka was the sales consultant who efficiently briefed me on the car and its features. I went around the showroom and took lots of photos of the cars as Renuka illustrated the silent features of Figo, the large legroom in rear seat, spacious boot (heavily inspired from Fusion, provides 2/3rd the space you get in Fiesta), the cost aspect and other features. She also patiently listened to my unsolicited advises on what is missing in the car (like Swift has audio control on steering wheel, i10 has sun roof, rear power windows are missing and so on)

Looks: from the rear, Figo is very similar to Ford Fusion, which didn’t do well despite being as good as Fiesta. Sensing that straight lines on Fusion which resulted in unimpressive looks might be a cause for its failure, Figo is made rich with curves. From side and front the looks are pretty fresh.
Car scores good on the styling and looks. Available in 7 colours- While, Silver, black, gray, Colorado red, another variant of gray called Chill and Squeeze, the bright greenish one. Blue, Orange and brown shades (in which fiesta is available) are given a miss.

Interiors: Its spacious and passengers won’t struggle for space as in an i10 or Swift. 5 People can be seated comfortably, though rear seat design seem to suggest that it is meant for 2 adults and a kid. There’s no height adjustment for rear seat headrests. Windows are wide, but no power windows for rear passengers.

The drive: Smooth and responsive at par with Ford Fiesta. absolutely no complaints-I can keep driving it for days at a stretch without complaining. The coloured dash gives a whole new perspective compared to traditional black ones. Lane change indicators (which blink thrice and auto cut off), Rapid deceleration warning, electronic control for ERVM, programmable central locking are nice. I could see the front left extreme of the car, which means I can maneuver more precisely. Built on same chassis and wheelbase of Fiesta, Figo has ground clearance, turning radius and other parameters same as its big brother. Renuka said Figo has 3 mm more ground clearance than fiesta. I believed her for a moment but later it struck me how can ground clearance can be higher when same chassis and wheels are used, I’d to verify later that both have same clearance.
Ford-figo-dashboard IMG_0184
As we went for a drive, I’m told they’ve got about 300 bookings for Figo so far. She didn’t have a split up how many were for Diesel and how many for petrol. Waiting time will be close to one month, as they have delivered only 32 cars so far.(Sea Gray is the most demanded colour, which may have longer waiting period) Warranty: 2+1 year extended warranty or 1,20,000 kms which ever is earlier.
ford-figo-ready-Delivery IMG_0200
As I continued to click more photos Renuka asked in a slightly concerned note: “Why are you clicking so many photos sir?”, then I explained my intention to blog about it, I am not sure if she got what I meant. Since Rajiv Gandhi Salai was empty I easily touched 130 kmph and she became concerned. After checking with another staff who was in rear seat, she told top speed can go as much as 180kmph (“it might be very difficult to control at that speed”-the other person added), but I suspect top speed to be around 160kmph.

What is good?
  • Rapid Deceleration warning is a boon for sporty drivers. Hazard warning lamps (nothing but parking lights or glowing both indicators simultaneously) are activated automatically in case of sudden braking and vehicles behind will be alerted.
  • Peppy 1.4 L diesel engine is at par or better than most of the small cars or even entry level sedans, Bonnet design is such that I can see the left front corner of the car, which is very useful during city manoeuvring, boot space, @ 284 litres is large enough for most of the requirements. The orange coloured dash on Titanium gives a nice look (Ferrari like?). The material is same fibre in a different colour- not leather or wood, but it does the trick.
  • Central locking is programmable-in most of the cars, all doors are unlocked when the car is unlocked-this is good when driving with family, but are not safe while driving alone. In Figo, if you wish, you can program such that only driver door unlocks and not rest of them.
  • Bluetooth connectivity and speed sensing volume control are good
What is missing:
  • Rear doors do not have a power window, even in top end Titanium. Rolling up the window using the mechanical lever is 1990 style and can be painful.(“since you’ll be using AC most of the time there’ll not be much need to roll the windows” was the justification provided)
  • Some features offered by rivals (alloy wheels, audio control on steering wheel, sun roof, headrest height adjustment for rear passengers etc) are not even an option.
  • Mirror on sun visor is provided only for left side passenger and not for driver, so lady drivers pls excuse.
  • While Fiesta had its variant badges near indicators looking at which one could identify if it is SXi,ZXi or Exi. But that is given a miss in Figo. It is difficult to identify the variant. Only titanium has a badge on the rear
Ford Figo Variants:
While Fiesta was available in EXi, ZXi and SXi, Ford has introduced a new basic variant, LXi with Figo. Lxi will have only power steering and AC.  Exi and ZXi are other two variants while top end variant is named as Titanium. Compared to Zxi, Titanium will have dual airbags and ABS extra and at 5.1lakh (petrol) and 6.1 lakh (diesel), Titanium is about 40k expensive than Zxi
IMG_0187 Fod-figo-engine

Ford Figo on road price:
Ford Figo Duratec 1.2 litre Petrol:Lxi, Exi, Zxi and Titanium have on road price (Chennai) of 4.06, 4.41,4.61 and 5.1 lakhs respectively. It includes essential pack, insurance, registration and tax.

Ford Figo 1.4 Duratorq Diesel:Lxi, Exi, Zxi and Titanium are priced Rs 5.15,5.43,5.7,6.1 lakhs respectively
At 6 lakh rupees, Figo 1.4 Titanium is better priced than it rivals Swift VDi, VW polo or i20 Diesel.

Moreover, Figo Titanium saves close to 3 lakh rupees compared to Fiesta Sxi (diesel). 3 Lakh is something one might love to save, in exchange for a boot and sedan. But a point to be noted is that Fiesta and Figo diesel variants house a 8 valve SOHC engine, whereas rival Swift Diesel boasts 16 Valve DOHC engine. (Figo petrol is 16V DOHC, but Fiesta petrol is a 1.6 litre engine compared to Figo’s 1.2). In terms of power, Figo petrol delivers 71PS while diesel delivers 69PS. Swift Diesel delivers 75PS.
IMG_0185 IMG_0191

Compared to Fiesta Sxi, mirror mounted indicator is given a miss, the Digital LCD display on console is also smaller in size. At 284 litres of boot space, Figo is best in class for space and already offers 67% space compared to Fiesta (430 litres). More over, the rear seat is foldable completely.
IMG_0192 IMG_0193

Verdict: Figo is good value for money and fun to drive. It is a better deal than VW Polo or Fiat Punto, more so when you’re looking for a driver’s car. But I feel Swift VDi has a few advantages over Figo, from a drivers’ perspective (more robust suspension and wheels, 16V DOHC engine, all 4 power windows, on steering audio controls etc) Hyundai i20 also has some advantages, but I feel spending 7lakh+ for i20 diesel is not a wise thing to do.

August Update: Drove a ford Endeavor recently.. Read Ford Endeavour review here

Similar posts: Fiat Linea review * Mahindra Xylo reviewMaruti A-Star * Mahindra Scorpio M Hawk vls *

October 2010 Updates: Ford Figo has successfully sold 50000 units and is celebrating the same with a road trip called Discover Smart Drive. In September 2010, Figo was 5th most selling car in India, after Alto, i10, WagonR, Santro and Swift. Figo sold a few units more than its rival Tata Indica.

March 2011 update: Waiting to see if there'll be any special anniversary editions

Friday, March 26, 2010

Delhi Photos

Expect a few detailed posts over the weekend. Sharing some photos clicked during a recent 1 day Delhi visit in this post.

All my Delhi visits (only 3 of them so far) have been extremely short. Previous two visits were mainly a stopover for subsequent destinations and most of Delhi sight seeing was done in darkness. This time got to see Delhi in some day light and clicked a few snaps on the way. Nothing unique about them, still enforcing them on you, bear with me.

Because we were told Pahar Gunj is the area where we can get decent hotels, we went there straight-it was Shanghai like feeling when we entered the area- a street full of hotels, displaying huge vertical signboards…Each of them them is either a palace, deluxe or International… I missed taking a photo in the night, early next morning when I went for a walk hoping to take a pic, most of the hotels had switched off their signboards, so there wasn’t anything worth clicking.

When asked where do we find a restaurant, we were guided to this place…Alternate option was to go to ISBT (inter state bus terminus) which is naturally a market place with series of restaurants.
Agarwal-restaurants eateries-isbt

Pahar Gunj was a dusty area unlike rest of Delhi… Some buildings were very old and worth a photograph. Pahar Gunj market was already bustling with activities
 red-brick-building pahar-gunj-market

Spotted a Porsche, but more interesting were Delhi’s CNG powered buses. Unfortunately, people of Delhi are being asked to pay more for LPG, CNG and Diesel, so as to raise funds for the Commonwealth games. Shouldn’t we Indians as a whole be proud and get involved/contribute for Commonwealth games? Why tax only Delhites?
p marco-polo

The garbage collection Cycle is nice
garbage-cycle  Cycle-rickshaws

On both previous visits, we were held up in horrible Delhi traffic (It took more than 2 hours to reach Old Delhi railway station from airport), but this time, roads were all empty. Only later I realized that March 24th was a holiday. Had a look at India Gate from a far distance.
roads roads2

India Habitat Centre, our destination for the day, was a beautiful campus.
india-habitat-centre-2 India-Habitat-Centre