Blog Posts by Clint Thomas

  • First Drive: Honda BR-V

    India is witnessing what could be called an SUV-fication of the car market. With buyers in even the lower segments looking to move from a small, nimble car to larger crossovers, the compact SUV category has become one of the fastest growing segments in India.

    Honda has seen a whopping 185% growth in sales between 2010 and 2014, as the Japanese carmaker forayed into new segments with Brio, Amaze, Mobilio and the new Jazz. Come 2016, Honda will join the growing group of compact crossover offerings with an interesting product– the BR-V. Introduced to automobile journalists recently, the BR-V promises to be a strong candidate in this burgeoning segment.


    First things first, Honda makes it very clear that the BR-V is a crossover Utility Vehicle and not a compact SUV. Although based on the Brio platform, the BR-V appears a whole order of magnitude more solid and upright. The front has a very muscular and SUV-ish look, thanks to the squared-off styling, angular headlamps with

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  • Toyota officially reveals the 2016 Innova

    One of the most popular cars of all time, the Toyota Innova is all set to get a facelift and the company has revealed the first official picture of the new model. Expected to be displayed at the 2016 Delhi Auto Expo in February, the next-gen Innova will be launched in India sometime by mid-2016.

    Toyota rolled out the Innova in India in 2005 but the car had not received any major facelift ever since. However, the all-new Innova looks a lot more stylish and sportier that than the existing model. Sharper lines on the bonnet and the bumper gives car a more aggressive face. A new grille with two chrome slats, well sculpted bumper with larger air-dam and sweptback projector headlamps with LED daytime running lights can be seen in the tease image.

    The new Innova will be offered with a 2.0-litre petrol and an all-new 2.4-litre GD diesel engine in some markets. However, India is likely to get only the 2.4-litre GD diesel engine, delivering 147bhp of power and 360Nm of torque. According to

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  • Road Test and Review: Maruti Baleno

    It’s not yet time to forget an iconic car from Maruti Suzuki that was so special to consumers and enthusiasts alike. A decade has passed since Maruti drew the curtains on the Baleno, but pictures of Maruti Baleno rally cars with a cloud of dust and flying dirt remain etched in our minds. Maruti is resurrecting the name Baleno, but this time, in the form of a premium hatchback. Built on Suzuki's new-generation platform, the new Baleno shares nothing but the name with the original one. The second product to be sold from Maruti's Nexa Experience showrooms, the Baleno will compete with Honda Jazz and Hyundai i20.


    The Baleno’s design is quirky but quite desirable. It’s fresh and one of the best we’ve seen from Maruti yet. The V-shaped grille is refreshingly new and a chrome strip beautifully blends it with the headlamps. Although similar to the Swift’s headlamps, they get projectors and daytime running lights, adding a little extra style to the front.

    Move to the side and you’ll

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  • Road Test and Review: All-New Ford Figo

    Ford had been a niche player in India until 2010. Then they introduced the Figo, a car that became a runaway hit and turned the American carmaker’s fortunes in India. As the Figo went on to become one of the most popular choices in the B segment, Ford established itself as a strong player in the fiercely fought small car market.

    Hot on the heels of the success of the Figo Aspire compact sedan, Ford has launched the all-new Figo hatchback with substantial improvements over the previous model. Let’s find out what makes an already strong product even more compelling.


    Styling wasn’t the fist generation Figo’s strong suit, but in its second avatar, the car is an absolute head turner. Viewed up front, it’s easy to mistake the Figo for the Aspire because there’s nothing different from the sedan until the B pillar. The gaping grille with thin chrome bars gives the Figo the same character as its elder sibling - the Fiesta. The swept-back polygonal headlamp and the bonnet bulge add to its

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  • In conversation with Vincent Cobee, Datsun’s global head

    Datsun’s global head, Vincent Cobee, has been tasked with the tough mission of reviving a global car brand that was discontinued about three decades ago. Datsun, although a brand with great pedigree, has not been in people’s minds for long now and Cobee’s job is to reestablish Datsun as a low-cost aspirational brand in emerging world markets.

    In an interaction with online media, Vincent Cobee spoke about global trends, his strategy for Indian market and the safety concerns over Datsun products in India.

    Datsun as a brand doesn’t seem to have done as well as everybody expected; how are you planning to change that?

    There’s no such thing as a revolution overnight. When you are targeting a huge group of ambitious but anxious middle class customers who invest up to two year’s of their disposable income in buying a car, it’s impossible to expect tomorrow will be a revolution. But, are we taking more time than we hoped to ramp up? Yes. Is that a surprise? No. In India it takes time for any

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  • Nissan’s New Mobility Concept could change the way you commute

    If you walk down the streets of downtown Yokohama, chances are high that one of these funky-looking vehicles will zip past you. Essentially an all-electric quadricycle, Nissan’s New Mobility Concept (NMC) is awaiting commercial launch because Japanese authorities are undecided on which category to slot this vehicle in.

    I’m equally confused as the Japanese regulators on what to call this car. It has two seats in tandem but it’s not a bike. It has four wheels but it doesn’t fit in the car category either. You can call it a ‘heavy quadricycle’ or an ‘ultracompact car’, however, what is important is not to find a category for this vehicle, but to encourage such concepts at a time when air pollution and traffic congestion have reached alarming levels.

    Nissan is a big name in the electric car market, with the Leaf being one of the most popular electric cars in the world today. New Mobility Concept (NMC) is the carmaker’s attempt to discover new ways in which electric vehicles can be designed

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  • Nissan will bring more innovation to India, says Christian Mardrus, SVP of Nissan AMI

    In a discussion with automotive journalists from India, Christian Mardrus, Senior Vice President of Nissan Africa, Middle East and India, spoke about the company’s positioning in India, its future plans, recent reports on job cuts and safety concerns. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

    What is Nissan’s positioning in India? What’s the brand’s identity in the county?

    Nissan group has two brands – Nissan and Datsun. The positioning of both brands is different. The objective of Nissan is to be consistent with the company’s motto – “Innovation that Excites.” When we launched Micra, we launched innovation. Micra was the first car to get push start button in the small car segment. With Terrano, too, we introduced innovative features that the Duster didn’t offer.

    However, when we compare the current situation in India with what we are actually planning to do, I cannot claim we have completely achieved the objective. But “Innovation that Excites” is exactly what Nissan aims to bring to

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  • Road Test and Review: Renault Kwid

    Photos by Clint ThomasPhotos by Clint Thomas
    No other car in recent history has created as much buzz as the Renault Duster did. A brand not very familiar to Indians until then, Renault became a household name following the prodigious success of the Duster. Many studies have been conducted on what made the Duster such a popular choice and all of them pointed to one conclusion -- the originality and freshness in design backed by compelling price-value equation.

    Building on the success of the Duster, Renault is entering the small hatchback segment with the Kwid. Is the Kwid suitably armed to snap at the heels of the entrenched competitors in this segment? I spent a whole day in Goa with the Kwid to find that out.


    The Renault Kwid is a breath of fresh air in the boring entry-level segment. At the first glance, it’s difficult to figure out whether the Kwid is a hatchback or an SUV. In fact, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to call it a crossover of a hatchback and an SUV or even a shrunken Duster.

    Raised bonnet, a rugged grille,

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  • Datsun redi-GO hints at an exciting future

    The entry-level hatchback segment is India’s favourite and the fiercest-fought, which accounts for 25 per cent of the car market. This matured segment with entrenched market leaders is the toughest to crack; yet new entrants see it as a strong category from an opportunity point of view.

    Customers are highly aspirational and extremely cautious in this segment and increased affordability has driven buyers to look for stylish design, modern features, better fuel efficiency and good service.

    Since most carmakers play it safe in this segment, there hasn’t been much innovation in terms of design or features. Industry leaders admit that the entry-level segment is not satisfying customer demands any longer.

    However, Datsun’s soon-to-be-launched entry-level small car, the redi-GO, stands out from the mundane and conventional styling of the econoboxes. The redi-GO concept was showcased at the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo and it reflected Datsun's key values of modernity, quality and inventive-thinking.

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