• Earlier this year, we had tested Continental AG's Simplify Your Drive (SyD) technology and found it very intriguing. The company had then promised to come up with an Indianised version of Syd by mid this year. Staying true to their word, Continental has unveiled its concept SyD, customised specially for the Indian market.

    Should you need a refresher on the Continental Simplify Your Drive technology, here's the link to our previous test drive report.

    To my surprise, the same Volkswagen Passat has undergone a complete character change at Continental's Pune facility in couple of months. While the basics of SyD remain the same, the three drive profiles — Sport, Eco and Comfort — have been redesigned as Work Mode, Home Mode and Play Mode. Well, now let's find out what these three modes mean for Indian drivers.

    Work Mode

    Work Mode is designed with the business class in mind. The focal point is the rear of the car, assuming the car is chauffeur driven, with the owner seated in the back. On

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  • Do we instinctively enjoy a game more if we are not the players? What is it about cheering from the ringside that eggs us on so much and sets our blood afire? Or is it our natural instinct to turn any public event into a carnival, and in turn, an answer to all our daily problems?

    'Religion is the opium of the people.' It's the most hackneyed quotation of Karl Marx. Sports, movies, and more than anything, politics, are also opiates for mass consumption. The basic requirement is opium. Something to numb the brain so we can black out something; may be everything.

    To forget an empty stomach and the failure to fill it, one can drink cheap country liquor and puke. But even that bottle would cost a few rupees, and the effect would last barely a night. On the other hand, hollering with a mob at a game is free if you climb over the fence, and the effect can linger for weeks.The players can be hero worshipped, gossip about corrupt organizers circulated and enjoyed, replays watched, newspapers

    Read More »from IPL, Presidential Elections and Other Public Festivals
  • Doctor, Soldier, Patriot: Celebrating the life of Dr Lakshmi Sahgal

    By Vinutha Mallya

    Dr Lakshmi Sahgal in her youthThe queue of women, most of them pregnant, kept growing at the clinic in the corner of a narrow street in Aryanagar, Kanpur. It was a day in January 2006, and the morning held a mild chill despite the bright winter sun. I sat at a distance on one of the wooden benches in the veranda. The old house located in a labour colony, which served as a clinic and maternity home, belonged to a bygone era. The veranda was not an ideal waiting room, but the anxious women did not seem to care. I was struck by the obscurity of the setting, where we were all waiting to meet the same woman: the legendary Col (Dr) Lakshmi Sahgal.

    I had to wait until the women, who had come from all over Kanpur and some from nearby Lucknow, had finished their turn. Unlike them, I was there to interview the doctor. Although her staff received me politely, I knew better than to expect to receive any preference in her schedule.

    Then 91, Lakshmi Sahgal had been attending to patients at this clinic since

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  • Monsoon in India is a symphony — trees blossom, birds in their breeding plumage sing mating songs, life-giving rain cascade down the mountains as streams and waterfalls, filling many rivers and lakes. As the monsoon season begins, Mahindra is in a mood to tame it. After many Mahindra Monsoon Challenge rallies across India, stage is set for the biggest Monsoon Challenge that starts from Bangalore and heads to the party capital Goa.

    We embark on the three-day TSD rally; watch this space for all the action along 1000 kilometres spread across highways, B-roads, scenic country side and the magnificent Western Ghats.

    Following is a quick breakdown of Time-Speed-Distance rallies from Bijoy Kumar, veteran automobile journalist and Chief of Adventure Initiatives, Mahindra.

    Day 1, 19th July 2012 - Flag-off

    The rally is officially flagged off in the evening in a gala event at Orion Mall, Bangalore. Not much action today, the flag-off is followed by the rules briefing and safety

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  • There is no need to wait for the payoff, I can tell you right away - the Renault Duster is a great bargain. I might sound a bit boisterous, but with a starting price of Rs 7.19 lakh, the Duster will definitely send shock waves through the Indian automobile industry.

    The Duster is a strikingly styled SUV that looks big, but is actually bigger. Based on the Logan platform, the Duster is 4315mm long and 1822mm wide.  Large chrome grilles and dual barrel headlamps give the Duster a ruggedized appearance up front. Buffed up wheel arches, chunky alloy wheels and sleek roof bars further enhance its SUV attitude. However, the rear didn't impress me as much as the front did, although I liked the large chrome 'Duster' nameplate there.

    Space, comfort & convenience

    Once inside, the first thing you'd appreciate is certainly the SUV-high driving position. Although there are some hard and glossy plastics, the cabin is solidly built. Seats are comfortable and the Duster offers plenty of room for

    Read More »from Road Test and Review: Renault Duster
  • For a company whose fluidic design philosophy created quite a stir across segments, the absence of a D segmenter must have been very concerning… but not anymore, as the fluidic Hyundai Elantra has arrived in India.

    Remember Elantra? It's not time yet to forget a car that was pleasing to the taste of many, but failed to sell in great numbers and disappeared in 2006. A six-year long void is now filled with the all-new Elantra that marks the continuing evolution of Hyundai's Fluidic Sculpture design language.

    Design

    One needs to work at Hyundai to differentiate the Elantra from its 'fluidic siblings' at the first glance. Even though the hexagonal grille presents a more sinister smile than the Verna, the fog lamps create a flavorless impression. Again, the head lamps are so similar to Verna's, but they extend further into the fenders. In profile, the Elantra too gets that well-defined line stretching from the front door to the tail light. The raked windshield, roofline flowing into the

    Read More »from Road Test and Review: Hyundai Elantra
  • A sarpanch who cleared Class 8 at 53

    By Stella Paul

    The year 2005, Handitola village in Chhattisgarh’s Rajnandgaon district:

    A Dalit hangs himself. The early stench of a decomposing body is what helps identify the tree. Yet, nobody dares go near him; for some, the man’s an untouchable. The others are just plain scared. A woman in a faded sari with that other rural staple, a very cracked heel arrives on the scene. Sukhantibai with a sickle in her hand, stands upon a stool, cuts the rope and lowers the body. The villagers mostly look on. Few days later, the villagers unanimously select Sukhantibai – a Gond Adivasi woman as their Sarpanch.

    Sukhantibai Sarpanch7 years hence she has been reelected. Not that anything in her home would give that away today. Her house is still a mud hut with uneven walls, a tiny courtyard; her kitchen consists of a wood stove, a couple of earthen pots and a few small tins containing tea and spices; her family has to fetch drinking water from the tap at the entrance of the village and no personal privilege of separate

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  • The return of the prodigal

    Mario

    ‘Respect the opponent, Respect Diversity, Respect The Game’- thus goes the motto of Euro 2012's 'Respect' campaign that highlights UEFA's continuous commitment to combat any form of discrimination. How ironic that UEFA Euro 2012 witnessed Mario Balotelli - the first black player to play for the Italian national football team, the 'adopted' destiny's child married to notoriety - earn high respect from his teammates and countrymen for his brilliant exhibit of talent, that took Italy to the finals. Balotelli's double against Germany serve as a topping for UEFA's Respect Diversity campaign.


    Life has not been a crystal stair for this 21-year-old Italian citizen of Ghanaian descent. A deadly cocktail of talent and misdemeanor, that's Mario Balotelli. Talk about altercations, red cards and suspensions, the answer will be Mario – an immature ‘big kid’ who claims “I’m more a man than Peter Pan.”

    If wackiness is the evil twin of genius, then Mario fits perfectly into that class. He is a
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  • A little car, but a soaring presence nationwide... Indian automobile history witnessed a dramatic change on a chilly December morning in 1983 when the first Maruti 800 was rolled out of a factory in Gurgaon. Indian roads have never been the same ever since. When Maruti decided to bring the curtains down on the iconic 800, which has always remained a mainstay of personal mobility for the masses, the decision had left a lot of Maruti 800 fans emotional, and some even watery-eyed.

    Now, Maruti is gearing up to introduce an all new 800cc car that could potentially be a replacement for the Maruti 800. Faced with declining market share and falling sales of the best seller Alto, the company has already started testing the new car that certainly will be more fuel efficient and technologically advanced, but more expensive than the Alto.

    Rumours had it that the new ultra low cost car from Maruti would be the Cervo. However, it's almost certain by now that Maruti has no plans to bring Cervo to

    Read More »from Maruti’s new 800cc car to hit market by Diwali
  • The trickery of Panenka Penalty

    During the 1976 European Championship Finals, a 5ft 10 in Czechoslovakian player Antonin Panenka looked unperturbed as he fired the decisive penalty kick into the German goalpost. The finely chipped ball pierced right through the heart of the opposition post when goalie Sepp Maier dived to his left, as if under some spell. The brazen, yet calculated goal made a French journalist then dub Antonín Panenka a poet, and the player became a bit of a cult hero with the classic kick being named after him.

    Italy's Pirlo scores a goal past England's goalkeeper Hart during the penalty shoot-out of their Euro 2012 quarter-final soccer match at Olympic Stadium in KievItaly's Pirlo scores a goal past England's goalkeeper Hart during the penalty shoot-out of their Euro 2012 quarter-final soccer match at Olympic Stadium in Kiev
    Yesterday, against England in the quarterfinals of UEFA Euro Championship, Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo successfully reenacted the footie bard's cheeky penalty, displaying nerves of steel at the taut, decisive  shootout moment, fooling England's goalie Joe Hart. For Pirlo, who played a pivotal role in pinning down the Englishmen (apparently he ran 11.58 km, more than any English player, according to UEFA), this was an icing on the cake. With the media going berserk about Pirlo's
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