Cross-country roadtrips aren’t anything out of the ordinary for us at Autocar India. But doing so in a Mini Cooper is something that definitely does not happen very often. With its compact dimensions and peppy driving manners, the Mini has always been a champion of the urban setting. Its abilities as a long-distance vehicle, though, is something that hasn’t been extensively put to the test. And that’s exactly what we decided to do: take this little hatchback across the length and breadth of the country. Sixteen days, nearly 5500km, across 16 cities and seven states.
I have a personal variation of a popular phrase 'Charity begins at home'; I believe - safety begins at home. Prepping a car before you head out is the first step to ensure safety while driving in the city or out on the highway. The car is a machine, and like every other machine, a lot of parts are interdependent for its proper functioning as a whole.
There’s something very soothing about driving at a race track. No distractions. No excuses. It is a place where the pretence, the bravado and the preening drop as you head out of the pit lane and onto the track. Every daunting corner, every cunning apex, every unruly kerb, every sneaky bump announce their intentions plainly. The rest is up to you. You and the machine. As you face up to the challenge of setting a quick lap, you realise, it is a mirror you are staring into. On our recent Tri-Circuit Challenge, the MMRT offered plenty of reasons for introspection.
Driving a car over a long distance really allows you to get to know it in much better detail. Having spent over 3,000km behind the wheel of Audi’s RS7, S6 and TT over the course of the Tri-Circuit Challenge, I think we can safely say we now know these cars rather well. Having said that, I must admit our initial scepticism of the Audis’ ability to tackle Indian road conditions was unfounded.
India has finally discovered the seven-seat MPV. Earlier consigned to the ranks of automotive pariahs, along with estate cars or station wagons, Indian customers today
It isn’t everyday that you come across a driving experience that genuinely takes the game ahead. What’s even more thrilling is when it happens totally by surprise. But that’s exactly what happened when I first drove BMW’s then-new 750i back in 2009. Sure it was a BMW, but raw agility wasn’t what I was expecting from this massive barge of a car. What I was expecting, at best, was good stability and possibly a positive BMW-style turn in. What I got, however, was simply incredible high-speed agility and an ability to change direction at speed that bordered on spooky. The ability of this car to carry speed through corners without drama was simply baffling. The reason – a system very few customers opted for called Integral Active Steering; nothing more than four-wheel steering to you and me.
I know that Porsche and BMW can’t really be compared on any front. You definitely can’t compare them on their product range and not in terms of the number of cars sold every year. But, in my mind, there is a thread of thought that connects them very strongly. Managing change, divisive change. You see, both companies have long and rich histories, which like ballast in a ship, keeps them tracking smooth and straight in an ocean of jostling waves. But, at some point, doing things differently and doing different things becomes inevitable.
The Auto Expo 2014 was probably India’s best ever. Exciting concepts, a bunch of alluring showroom-ready cars and loads and loads of optimism. It was well organised, and had the vibe of an international auto show.
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Issue: 213 | Autocar India: May 2017
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