Toyota has begun on road trails of its compact single seater electric car i-Road in Tokyo. This car targeted at revolutionizing personal mobility has a three wheeled structure and is meant to reduce urban driving pressure.  The trials will be carried out between end of March and early June and will be tested by industry experts and chosen people representatives. This will help Toyota to get a wider perspective about success rate of this vehicle after commercial launch towards end of 2014. When a mixed feedback of people is gathered it also gives the manufacturer and idea about how the i-Road feels on road among other larger vehicles and how it may affect buyer’s satisfaction and decision to undertake a journey in this car.

Toyota i-Road car

The car is based on a concept version shown by Toyota during 2013 Motor Show at Tokyo. However several improvements have been made to this car to make it suitable for driving on road and increasing maneuverability.  Toyota’s engineers and designers have given this car a slim shape and aerodynamic body to keep its kerb weight below 300 kgs making it as nimble as a scooter but with carlike stability since it is balanced on three wheels. The car is agile and also well balanced while negotiating around sharp corners due to Toyota’s leaning attitude design.  The car is run on twin electric motors which are powered by lithium Ion batteries. Its overall length is 2345 mm while width is 870mm and wheelbase is 1695mm creating enough space within the car to comfortably seat one person.

Though more research needs to be carried out to check future potential of this car as a transport network within community networks, Toyota is planning to introduce a two seater version of i-Road in Europe which will be part of vehicle sharing program within France’s Grenoble city for a duration of four years. Toyota would be using this vehicle as a value addition to small communities which cannot use traditional commercial vehicles like buses or vans due to small commuting distances and lack of space for maneuvering them. Also since these cars are battery powered they emit less carbon and are ideal for transportation in residential layouts.

Ford’s compact sports utility vehicle Ecosport which has a long waiting period due to continuous demand is unable to meet needs of domestic markets despite opening up a local manufacturing plant in Chennai in 2012. The current waiting period for this model is now eight months in India largely due to lack of critical materials which if available can be used by its production unit to manage two shifts within one day and meet this burgeoning demand. However due to its long waiting period buyers are exploring other available crossover models in local markets which are close in design and features to Ford Ecosport.

Ford EcoSport Compact Crossover

Ford is also facing shortages of Ecosport inventory for export as this model has gained popularity in other Asian markets too. The surprising fact about shortage of Ecosport models is that during launch Ford’s senior executives had assured that since it is being produced in India, meeting demand will be an easy task. However buyers are now complaining of higher prices and lack of necessary accessories in newly purchased models along with long waiting periods. Presently Ford Ecosport in India is available with three engine variants comprising two in petrol and one in diesel which is which is most preferred since it has 90 bhp and torque of 204 Nm.

There are two schools of thoughts which give plausible reasons for lack of adequate supplies of Ford Ecosport in India. While one states that Ford has increased export volumes comprising 2850 units of Ecosport in March 2014, another school states lack of adequate raw material supplies due to currency fluctuation. To reduce frustration among customers who have been waiting long to receive their Ecosport, Ford has asked its dealers to stop taking fresh bookings for the car until existing demand for 60,000 units in domestic market is met. Therefore some dealers are not taking bookings for automatic version while few others have stopped taking orders for titanium trim’s petrol and diesel fuel versions. Since the firm is receiving bad press for lack of sufficient units in the market, Ford’s executives have stated that once sufficient raw material quantities are at hand it will start extra shifts to produce more Ecosport cars.

Hyundai Motors is testing its Nex-Gen i20 variant on roads across the globe and will be showcasing the car during Paris Motor Show in October 2014. The existing range of i20 models have been categorized in premium hatchback range and have a slightly expensive price range therefore had not much success in India. Though till recently spy pictures of the car available on internet and other news sources showed a heavily disguised structure, the latest pictures show a clearer vision of the car’s exteriors and interiors. The latest Hyundai i20 follows its Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design similar to recently launched Sonata, which provides the car with spacious length and breadth measuring.

Nex-Gen Hyundai i20 spied Europe

To give a more premium appearance to this model its rear tail lamps have been designed to span between rear fender and boot lid and have a boomerang shape with blinking indicator below stop lamps. Since its body is wider and broader than before it will be able to seat three to four people comfortably in rear. The blackened rear pillars and sport tail lights gives the new i20 an Alpha Romeo like appearance. Since this model is a grander version of its existing hatchback Hyundai i20 it has a more spacious boot section with adjustable shelves and deep groves inside doors to act as bottle holders. Its dashboard area has been redesigned to include automatic climate control and audio system while steering wheel is same as Grand i10 hatchback.

To give a premium feel to new Hyundai i20 the car has been provided with rear air-conditioning vents and rear parking cameras along with built in memory for audio unit. The car will have both 1.4 liter CRDi engine with power capacity of 88.8 bhp and petrol powertrain with 1.2 liter KAPPA 2 VTVT engine with capacity of 98.6 bhp and 136 Nm of torque. Both petrol and diesel variants are likely to be tweaked to improve efficiency and will be partnered with both manual and automatic transmission technology. The new Hyundai i20 will be available in multitude of ordinary and metallic colors of red, white, blue, silver grey and bronze and its side profile will be enhanced by alloy wheels.

Maruti Suzuki is foraying into hybrid car market in India by developing a hybrid version of its popular hatchback Swift. The hybrid variant has been christened as “Swift Range Extender” and its first production ready models are ready for testing. To check their efficiency and capability for regular use, Maruti Suzuki will be supplying a few of these hatchbacks to government as a pilot project during 2014. This hybrid model was showcased by Maruti during recently held Auto Expo 2014 with standard Swift body structure and model name emblazoned on rear doors with green and yellow graffiti extending across flanks and both sides and light green roof.

Maruti Suzuki Swift Range Extender Pilot

The model’s homologation process is almost complete and its production team is awaiting ARAI certification for speed and fuel efficiency. Maruti’s engineering team has still not received any conformation about exact number and date for supply of these vehicles to government under this pilot project which is likely to occur after election. The Swift Range Extender will be ready for sale after receiving a positive reply from government and is likely to be available in showrooms by end of 2014. This car is powered by 658 cc petrol engine which works in partnership with 55KW electric motor which is mounted on front axle and powered by 5KWH lithium Ion battery. This inline three cylinder petrol engine has been borrowed from Maruti’s Japanese partner Suzuki.

According to official sources, this production model of Swift Range Extender has been completely designed and built in India with all major electrical components imported from Japan and Europe. This hybrid car from Maruti weighs almost 130 kgs more than its conventional petrol variant and is likely to offer mileage of around 48 kmpl. The car can run for nearly 25 km continuously on a full charged battery and takes around 90 minutes for complete charge. Maruti Suzuki is awaiting implementation of government order like its counterparts which will fund public transportation through electric vehicles.  In case the project does not get implemented by government, Maruti Suzuki will soon go ahead with launch of its battery powered car by end of 2014 though hybrid model may be put on back burner for sometime.

Force Motors, India, and a Pune based manufacturer of light commercial vehicles which entered India’s sports utility vehicle market a couple of years ago with Force One has launched an updated version with side facing jump seats. This model has been always available as a four wheel drive and latest variant will have both reclining and double folding rear seats. To increase seating capacity of this all terrain vehicle various combinations have been spotted testing on local roads. Since it has a strong wheel base and wide body to comfortably seat several adults with spacious legroom the new eight seater will have bench seats which face forwards.

force one 4x4

Being the flagship product this Force One SUV with diesel engine has been fitted with latest safety features comprising of ABS in combination with EBD and indicators for advance warning about worn out break pads, seat belts, unlocked doors and over-speeding. The car’s anti-theft mechanism comprises of remote key access and central locking system which is necessary if car is parked in remote area. Its new seating arrangement will enable four people to sit comfortably at the back facing each other. The car’s diesel motor has a technically advanced cruise control mechanism and audio controls which are mounted on steering wheel. Its exteriors and curved roof give the Force One a macho appeal which is enhanced by strong lines and high ground clearance making it an all-terrain vehicle.

The new Force One 4×4 is powered by 2.6 liter four cylinder turbo diesel engine which is capable of churning out powerful output of 82 bhp along with maximum torque of 230Nm. When combined with five speed manual transmission technology the engine provides great mileage and speed. After launch of this new model it is expected that Force One will most likely phase out existing seven seater as this one will provide more revenues and it will be priced Rs. 60000 – Rs. 70000 more than existing one. Other additions made to this model are a running board on sides and rear along with LED daytime running lights below headlamp cluster and chrome encircled fog lamps.

American auto major will launch the face-lifted version of its Fiesta model during middle of 2014 which will be based on its European model. To increase its appeal Ford’s engineers have redesigned the front fascia to appear like that of Aston Martin with chrome outlined hexagonal radiator grille. The model has been showcased in the recently held Auto Expo at Delhi in Feb 2014, and has also been spotted testing on local roads near Delhi but exact date of availability in showrooms has not been officially announced. The updated version of Ford Fiesta car has received cosmetic changes in its exteriors and interiors to meeting changing needs of customers around the world.

2014 Ford Fiesta facelift

The changes made in new Fiesta are a global endeavor undertaken by the carmaker to make its cars more recognizable and part of one family. Therefore some key elements will be generalized to give a distinct appearance to all Ford cars which will include grille design and outline of rear or front lamp cluster followed by body structure. However the engine output and mileage is likely to remain same therefore new Ford Fiesta will have 1.5 liter petrol engine with output power of 107 bhp  and 1.5 liter diesel engine with output of 89 bhp. While the petrol variant will be available to buyers with option of both five speed manual and six speed automatic transmission, the diesel version will have only five speed manual gear system.

Though market sources state that Ford is likely to keep the official price of this model at a reasonable level it cannot reduce beyond 6 lakhs for the petrol variant which bring it in close competition to Honda’s City and Maruti’s Swift. Though this car did not fare well during earlier launch due to wrong pricing policy, Ford wants to correct that this time by pricing the new Fiesta in proper manner as in last six months it sold only around 564 units. The face lifted Fiesta is expected to change that with new exteriors and competitive pricing to fight on a more even ground against rivals like Skoda Rapid, Honda City, Hyundai Verna and others.

After years of speculation it is finally confirmed that Ford will bring the prestigious Mustang sportscar to India to compete against products from Porsche, Ferrari and Maserati which already have a sizeable presence in local markets. Latest version of Ford Mustang will be officially launched in United States on April 17th 2014. Since India is a right hand drive market the new Mustang will be launched with both right and left hand drive versions. Though the Mustang car has been designed for global markets its basic character has not been altered and retains its vital features. Though the official unveiling is still a couple of weeks away, spy pictures of new Mustang have already been released in online media.

Ford Mustang

This latest Mustang from Ford has been made lighter with a redesigned body while larger cabin can comfortably accommodate four passengers. The 2014 version of Mustang is its sixth generation model and will be available with three engine options and power between 300 – 366 bhp followed by maximum torque between 420 – 530 Nm. Though Mustang has a loyal following in India it had not been brought due to expensive price range which Ford felt would be a deterrent but has been inspired by great sales of other luxury brands. Depending on price quoted for this model in United States, in India it is likely to be sold at 85 – 90 lakhs.

2014 Ford Mustang has both 2.3 liter four cylinder Ecoboost engine and also 5.0 liter V8 engine thereby giving buyers varied power options to choose depending on budget. Ford has mated these engines with six speed manual and also automatic transmission system which will provide right form of boost to this car. Other changes to its exteriors are horizontal lines on both sides along with muscular wheel arches to compliment powerful bonnet and tail-light cluster placed in a triple bar design. The car’s fabric hood which stays folded can be reinstated within seven seconds with the touch of a button. Ford hopes to make the Mustang’s fiftieth anniversary memorable by incorporating these changes before launch so that the iconic car can develop a new generation of loyal fans.

French auto-major Renault is making its mark in competitive Indian markets with classy sedan models and the famous Duster. As a part of its international expansion operations when it collaborated with Romanian manufacturer Dacia the partnership resulted in the creation of the versatile five seater car, Dokker. To expand operations in India in Renault is making arrangements to sell two of its Dacia made vehicles namely Lodgy MPV and Dokker which were sold in Morocco a couple of years ago. The rear door of Dokker is likely to get remodeled from existing sliding doors to regular outward opening ones. To increase its appeal among local buyers Renault may tweak its engine to make it more on fuel efficient and provide suitable features to keep price within reasonable limits.

Renault dokker

Dacia manufactures the Dokker at Renault’s production unit in Tangiers, Morocco. The latest version of Dokker has a technology driven dashboard with chrome encircled dials and modern features. Its spacious cabins and comfortable laid back seats are enhanced with powerful air conditioner and audio system. The car also has a multimedia navigational system with rear parking sensors and display system.  The new Dacia Dokker family vehicle has a large body which is 4.36 meters lengthwise and 1750 breadthwise making it larger than mid sized sedan cars in India. Its spacious boot capacity of 800 liters can be increased by folding back its modular rear seats.

The Dokker’s engine presently in international markets is available in four varied fuel variants and capacities like 1.2 TCe and 1.6 MPI 85 petrol engine followed by two diesel variants. Its price level is not officially stated though it is expected to be in range of competitors. This smartly designed car has roof rails and flat wheel arches to accommodate 14 inch alloy wheels with twin headlights cluster on either side of hood. Renault’s engineers have fitted the Dokker with standard safety features like ABS, EBD along with brake assist and airbags to protect passengers along with engine stability control and powerful braking system. Renault’s long stint in Indian markets has given it sufficient understanding about price sensitivity therefore would make this model available at a reasonable rate.

Iconic luxury carmaker Ferrari launched the Ferrari California in 2008 which was its first four seater hardtop convertible.  This was also Ferrari’s first model to have dual clutch transmission system along with V8 petrol engine.  A new addition to this car in 2014 is turbochargers and chrome bars on radiator grille. To meet changing norms of environmental regulations around the world Ferrari like several others is changing old fuel guzzling engines to more fuel efficient variants and replacing old steering mechanism with new power steering ones. Therefore the new turbocharged Ferrari California emits very low carbon amounting to 250g/km which is around 15 percent lesser than previous model.

2014 Ferrari California T

The latest Ferrari California is fitted with twin turbo chargers which work with 3.8 liter V8 engine which gives healthy output of 552 bhp followed by maximum torque of 556 lb. ft. Its powerful engine is capable of accelerating from 0 – 100 kmph within 3.6 seconds thereby becoming faster by 0.2 seconds. To improve fuel efficiency the California T’s petrol engine is provided with direct fuel injection technology and variable boost management. The new model also has latest Ferrari Magnaride independent suspension system which responds nearly 50 percent faster and is also more adaptable to existing conditions. Besides these latest features Ferrari has fitted the 2014 California T with new traction control system ideal for heavy traffic conditions.

To make its exteriors more appealing Ferrari’s engineers have tweaked a few features like creation of deep grooves from door center to front wheel arch and twin exhausts placed next to each other. Rear side has been redesigned with layered diffuser which gives it an aggressive stance while deep-set rear stop lamps with daytime burning light at center enhance this effect. Its infotainment touchscreen controls audio and manages navigation along with rear parking sensors.  Interiors of the Ferrari California T have also been revamped with dual toned leather and latest comfort and luxury features. The car’s headlamps are placed in neat groves on either side of wide hood and encircled in chrome while fog lamps are built into tiny groves beside radiator grille. This car is likely to be priced within range of Rs. 2 – 3 crores within India.

Luxury carmaker Mercedes Benz is all set to increase its portfolio of AMG range with recently updated S63 coupe car which is powered by 5.5 liter V8 petrol power train capable of 577 bhp of power followed by maximum torque of 900 Nm. The classy coupe has been built to augment AMG range with two door structure to give it a distinguished sporty appearance.  Due to its complete aluminum body and aerodynamic structure with backward sloping roof the car can speed up from 0 – 100 within 4 seconds and can reach upto 250 kmph. This performance oriented car has an all wheel drive which makes this speedster easy to maneuver and move at high speeds.

2015 Mercedes Benz S63 AMG Coupe

To make this car super safe Mercedes’ engineers have provided the S63 AMG with “curve tilting” function and “Magic Body Control” suspension technology to avoid skidding or tilting while maneuvering around tight corners.  Due to implementation of AMG Lightweight Performance technology the car is 65 kilograms lesser than other cars in AMG range though it has high output and extensive range of luxury equipment.  A few factors contributing to this car’s less weight are lightweight alloy wheels followed by lithium ion batteries and composite braking system. Due to its light body and BlueDirect engine the car consumes less fuel and gives more superior performance when compared to old CL 63 AMG which this model which this car is replacing.

Its superior engineering technology and rear wheel drive system enables it to provide mileage of 100 kms per 10 liter of petrol along with low emission of 242gm/km. Besides engineering efficiency the car has luxury of leather seats, curvaceous dashboard which seamlessly curves around front section providing support for both driver and front passenger. Surprising lack of instrument cluster is managed effortlessly by high resolution display screen which gives details as speedometer and tachometer. Touchpad multi-display is provided by another TFT screen which enables control of audio while assisting in navigation and also other vehicle related information.  Front façade if this classy coupe is enhanced by forward sloping wide hood and neatly placed rectangular design headlamp cluster which is surrounded by chrome. Bold lines on side profile running from back to rear give it a more dynamic appearance.