Blog Posts by Clint Thomas

  • Road Test and Review: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta

    The Jetta has been one of the best sedans around - absolutely impressive in both the way it looks and drives. Volkswagen has recently launched the new Jetta, with handful of updates for 2015. Aside from some cosmetic changes to the exterior and cabin, the 2015 Jetta carries over unchanged.

    What’s New

    The Jetta has found favour with buyers for its unfussy, no-nonsense styling. In its newest avatar, the Jetta is an even more sanitized version of an already established design.  A new grille accentuates the car’s width, while the new bumper with redesigned airdam and foglamps add to the sharper look. The profile of the car remains untouched, save for the good-looking twin-5-spoke alloy wheels on the top trim diesel variant. The rear has a ‘son-of-Audi’ stance owing to the new tail lamp design, bumper and bootlid.

    The Jetta’s cabin is quintessential Volkswagen, exuding an air of solidity. The doors close with a reassuring clack and the new flat bottom steering wheel makes ingress and egress

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  • Road Test and Review: 2015 Hyundai Verna

    The previous-generation Hyundai Verna was nothing short of a super hit in the midsize sedan segment. With its combination of trailblazing fluidic style, best-in-class performance and generous equipment, the Verna easily convinced us that it was the best value for money in its segment. Now redesigned for 2015, the Hyundai Verna is a little more handsome, receiving refinements to its suspension, interior and feature content.

    What’s New

    A mellower version of its former self, the 2015 Verna stays close to its original fluidic recipe while adding more spice to its overall looks. The front fascia has been thoroughly redesigned to reflect contemporary tastes and trends. The signature hexagonal grille has made way for a wing shaped one with dual chrome slats. Surprisingly, the daytime running lights introduced in the 2014 Verna have been ditched for a simpler headlamp unit with projectors. Aggressively redesigned front bumper features boomerang shaped fog lamps that give the Verna a sportier

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  • Exploring the Rann of Kutch with Honda Amaze

    Photos: Clint ThomasPhotos: Clint Thomas
    Honda’s Drive to Discover is something auto journalists look forward to every year, because it is one of the very few events that gives the opportunity to explore the diverse terrestrial and cultural environments of India. As a prelude to the Drive to Discover 2015, Honda organized a two-day drive to Rann of Kutch to introduce the new and improved Amaze and drive it across the sprawling expanse of Rann.

    A drive to Rann of Kutch was a dream come true for many of us, because Gujarat is not in the list of car manufacturers when it comes to organizing media test drive programmes. So with that first-time excitement, I joined a group of two dozen auto journalists in Ahmedabad to experience Gujarat roads for the first time.
    Over breakfast, a friend recommended I have as much non-veg food as I wanted because asking for non-veg in Gujarat gets you only shocked looks. The same applies to liquor, too. Before we could end a matter-of-fact discussion on how this could take a toll on Gujarat tourism,

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  • Road Test and Review: Mercedes Benz CLA

    Mercedes Benz established a new class of elegance ten years ago, when it introduced the CLS four-door coupé.  With Its low, swoopy roofline, CLS represented exclusivity and has been influential on automotive design in the following years. The newest fruit of the carmaker’s youthful labour, the CLA, aims to replicate the success of the CLS.  The German carmaker’s most affordable sedan has already made young hearts throb but does it drive as well as it looks? Let’s find out.

    Design

    True, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, but some cars are destined to be absolute stunners - Mercedes Benz CLA is one of them. It looks highly desirable from every angle but rear three quarters view is just mind-blowing, thanks to the aesthetically designed tail lamps, twin tail pipes, brawny haunches and sculpted bumper. Riding on 17-inch alloy wheels, the CLA’s profile is characterized by a curvy rear window achieved by the sloping roofline. The expressive character lines lend the car an elongated

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  • Mahindra Royal Escape: Ringing in New Year 2015 the royal way

    Photos by Clint ThomasPhotos by Clint Thomas
    As the stroke of midnight rolled across time zones, sounds of fireworks, music and shouts from revelers dominated the otherwise unruffled ambience of Gajner Palace. Often referred to as a jewel in the Thar, Gajner Palace is indeed an oasis in the barren desert, enchanting in its green contrast to the sprawling sand dunes. Built on the edge of Gajner lake, this heritage property is also surrounded by a wildlife sanctuary, making it a traveler’s utopia.
    Gajner PalaceGajner Palace
    At one of the lakeside terraces of the palace, jubilant yells of folks who decided to spend their winter holidays with a good dose of adventure ushered in the New Year 2015. Standing by the lake in the teeth-chattering midnight cold was an adventure in itself, but the adventure I’m talking about had started a week earlier in Delhi, when Mahindra flagged off the Royal Escape 2014. I had all my New Year plans in place when Mahindra invited me to join the Royal Escape media team, but having partaken in many Mahindra Expeditions before and

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  • Road Test and Review: Datsun GO+

    Like it or not, once you have children you’re a slave to space. No matter what your favourite body style is, you’re going to find a lot of love in MPVs. The burgeoning MPV segment in India doesn’t offer much to the budget-minded, and Datsun found an opportunity there to create a new segment – “compact MPV”. You can’t really call the new Datsun GO+ an MPV, but it’s the company’s brave attempt to make seven-seater people movers more affordable – to be precise, solidly into sub-Rs 5lakh territory.

    Design

    Stretch the Datsun GO a few inches, throw in a third row of seats and you get the GO+. When observed head on, one really cannot tell the difference between the two because everything from the hexagonal grille, angular headlamps to the well-sculpted bonnet remains the same. In profile, the addition of 210mm beyond the C pillar is the major change and Datsun has done that job neatly. The sloping roofline, rising beltline and the rear quarter glass are seamlessly integrated and give the car a

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  • Road Test and Review: Tata Bolt

    Yahoo India recently published its ‘Year In Review 2014’ and Tata Zest topped the list of most popular cars of the year. Until not very long ago, it was impossible to imagine a Tata car being featured in a most popular list. But Tata’s undying effort to improve the quality their passenger cars has borne fruit in the form of the Zest, a car that changed the face of Tata. As Zest is fast becoming a favourite in the compact sedan segment, Tata has launched its hatchback – the Bolt. In the wake of the grand success of its sedan sibling, expectations run high for the Bolt. I recently drove the Bolt in Udaipur and here are the first impressions.

    Design

    Although the Bolt looks a lot similar to the Zest in a passing glance, there are new elements that visibly distinguish it from the sedan. The front grille is very similar, sans some chrome garnish, but the smoked projector headlamp units are an elegant touch. The fog lamp housing is carried forward from the Zest but the Bolt gets only a chrome

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  • Road Test and Review: 2015 Mercedes-Benz C Class

    Photos by Clint ThomasPhotos by Clint Thomas
    Older siblings in the family are influencers on their younger counterparts as children generally admire their elders and look to them as role models. Same is the case with cars, and the newest example is the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C Class, as it inherits many character traits from its big brother S Class. The current generation S is certainly a technology and style masterpiece, so if the new C Class is inspired by the Mercedes flagship, then there should be a lot to like about it.

    Design

    You would be forgiven for mistaking the new C Class for the S in a passing glance. A closer look will only leave you more impressed, because it’s not just a scaled down version of the flagship and the new C has its own details and styling upgrades. The S Class-inspired LED adaptive headlights are definitely the highlight of the front design, while the grille is shared with the younger and more youthful siblings. Bumper is sophisticatedly sculpted and the chrome lines add just enough finesse to it.
    Rear design

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  • Nissan Terrano Anniversary Drive

    A serpentine road meandering through the pine forest of Palampur bordered by mountains glowing in the morning sun took me to the Norbulingka Institute in Dharamsala. Nestled quietly in the backdrop of snow-capped Dhauladhar range, this monastery is a replica of the original Norbulingka in Tibet. In fact, the breathtaking monastery is a little Tibet, filled with blissful sights of fluttering prayer flags, spinning prayer wheels and monks twisting a strings of prayer beads between their fingers. A stroll down the Japanese-styled gardens followed by sumptuous breakfast at the monastery restaurant was the perfect way to unwind after a tediously long drive.
    The drive started a day earlier in Amritsar, the land of lush wheat fields, delicious food and lionhearted people. We began in the perfect setting of agrarian abundance at Punjabiyat, a fascinating farm resort in the verdant countryside of Amritsar. Brimmed with simplicity of village life, Punjabiyat offers ample opportunity to capture

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  • Road Test and Review: Range Rover Sport

    Photos by Clint ThomasPhotos by Clint Thomas
    Be it their quest for road presence or misfortune of ploughing through awful roads everyday, Indians have many reasons behind their affinity for SUVs.  Now, ask them which SUV would they buy if they had a pot of gold to spend, I’m sure the lion’s share would answer – a Range Rover. What could be the catalyst behind this love affair?  Is it the fact that Range Rovers are an epithet of luxury and high esteem shored up by unbelievable off-roading capability, or it’s the favourite brand of their beloved celebrities? Perhaps it is just the snob value or the strong statement the vehicle makes. Whatever it may be, Range Rovers enjoy a special place in every enthusiast’s heart.

    The 2014 Range Rover Sport is the quickest, most agile and most technologically advanced RR ever made. Designed to blend the British marque’s comfort, luxury and off-road capability with a racier and more engaging driving experience, the Range Rover Sport is every car enthusiast’s fantasy.

    Design

    In essence, the Range

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