It is often debated that marketing sells the first car and service sells the rest, and while that debate may never quite settle down in the automotive board rooms, the important ‘sales’ role that aftersales plays is quite clear. Despite this seemingly obvious piece of knowledge, it’s shocking to see how many brands get the all-important service vertical so wrong.
Toyota and Suzuki want to get into bed together. The reasons stated are to explore the possibilities of working together in areas of environment, safety, IT and regular automobile R&D. This has many puzzled, as on the face of it, the two Japanese carmakers don’t seem to be very compatible. Toyota, the world’s number 1 manufacturer, has very little to gain from this partnership, as it possesses technology and products across various segments, including small cars with Daihatsu, a company it recently bought out fully. So what in the world brought them together?
Just two days before Jeep made its long-overdue foray onto India’s challenging terrain, I found myself at the wheel of a Grand Cherokee Summit Diesel on some literal challenging terrain. There I was, tearing down an absolutely ruined country track that looked like it had been carpet-bombed back into the Jurassic Age by the monsoons. Craters that would give a geologist wet dreams, whose treachery was made just that bit more mysterious by the water that filled them. The perfect environ for something with the iconic seven-slat grille on its nose, then. The Jeep shone. It ploughed through without so much as a creak, rattle or whimper, and it felt like it could take a lot more. The criticisms I had earlier – poor interior plastics, heavy steering, clunky ride, ageing tech – all suddenly vaporised. This thing was a tank, and this is the battlefield it was made to conquer! I started to see the appeal now – this was not something that could merely be judged by the sum of its parts. Much of the draw is intangible, like the feeling of invincibility it gives you. A feeling that was rudely interrupted by one of my rather smitten passengers, inquiring about how much this Rolling Rambo costs. “Well...” I started, estimating prices in my head.
Back in 2011, a select contingency of Indian automotive journalists proudly watched the season’s opening motorcycle World Championship races unfold at Qatar. Giant Indian company Mahindra & Mahindra had stuck its neck way out over the two-wheeled line by any yardstick; for earning a name selling tractors, jeeps, SUVs and commercial vehicles was one thing, and setting foot in this arena quite another.
You know you’re at some place special when you are breathing the same air (and tyre smoke) as legends like John Surtees, Stirling Moss and Alain Prost. When minutes after an Audi Sport Quattro tears past you comes the Rothmans-liveried Porsche 956 that dominated Le Mans from 1982-84. And where a Mercedes-Benz W125 from 1937 shares the limelight with Sebastian Vettel’s 2011 championship-winning Red Bull RB7.
The results are in and of the five Indian cars that underwent crash tests by Global NCAP, all have received a zero star rating. Many are now asking for manufacturers to provide better safety standards and not wait for legislature. So, should manufacturers oblige? Are we really concerned about safety? And are these tests fair in the first place?
Few motorcycling memories standout more than my first experience of the fierce bite from a Kawasaki ZX-12R in the early 2000s. Almost, if not the fastest motorcycle in the world at the time, the big, fire-breathing over-160hp Kawasaki recalibrated my definition of power and speed. Fuel injection and the resultant instant throttle response, were still novel back then, so I was amazed, when first opening gas entering the powerband at about 160kph in second gear. The Kawasaki put down savage wheelspin, then lightened its front to decimate a familiar 2km road stretch, requiring just one quick upshift and no more than a few blurry, adrenaline-enriched seconds.
I have been obsessing over this bike for a while now. It’s an Oset. Specifically, the Oset 12.5 Racing 24V. It’s got all of 500 Watts. Yes, it’s electric and no, it's not for me. It's for a little someone in the family who is about to turn three.
Right sizing. In my books, it is a golden concept. Crowned World Car of the Year 2016, the all-new Mazda MX-5 is the perfect example of it. The previous generations of the MX-5 have been trendsetters for 'just about enough' formula. To have fun, you need to have just the right amount in every aspect - power, weight, size and grip. Not too much, not too little. The focus though, is accessible fun. Not speed, not acceleration, not skid-pad Gs, or lap times. It’s why the MX-5 was an icon in the first place.
My mum thinks the Ford Raptor is preposterous. Which must mean it is the most wonderful thing indeed. It is as American as hamburgers and credit card debt. Everything about it – its massive body, massive engine, massive tyres, massive power – is all larger-than-life. At its longest, it is more than 230-inches long, and the whole thing is powered by a 6.2-litre engine. It is so man (pardon the sexism) that only Wolverine, Rambo and Tim Allen should be allowed to drive it.
Maruti S-Cross long-term review, final report
2016 BMW 330i GT review, test drive
2016 Hyundai Elantra petrol long-term review first report
Volvo XC90 T8 Excellence review, test drive
Mahindra Verito long term review, fifth report
Issue: 209 | Autocar India: January 2017
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