Blog Posts by Clint Thomas

  • India will be the biggest pickup truck market by 2023: Shigeru Wakabayashi

    Q&A with Executive Vice President and Deputy Managing Director, Isuzu Motors India Pvt Ltd

    Isuzu is betting big on India as an emerging pickup truck market. The company, which has recently launched the D-Max pickup in India, is currently building a new plant in Sri City with an investment of Rs 3,000 crore. In an interview with Clint Thomas, Isuzu India EVP and and Deputy Managing Director Shigeru Wakabayashi spoke about the company’s expansion plans and the future of pickup truck market in India. 

    How do you see India as a market for pickup trucks?

    Our target customers for pickup trucks are farmers and small business owners. Currently, 40% of fruits and vegetables are being wasted during transport. If farmers can bring them directly to the market in their own pickup trucks, the wastage can be significantly reduced, thus bringing commensurate economic returns to the farmers.Mr. Shigeru WakabayashiMr. Shigeru Wakabayashi

    In countries like Thailand, it’s very easy to get a small business loan to buy pickup trucks and that trend is coming to India soon. An Isuzu D-Max customer in Madurai used to spend Rs. 20,000 monthly on

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  • Road Test and Review: Audi A3

     

    Two burgeoning segments in Indian automobile industry – compact sedan and luxury hatchback – have elicited a raving response. While one segment offered cheaper sedans, the other made luxury more affordable. When Audi decided to introduce its cheapest car in India, they charted a new path by blending together the best of both worlds. Thus, the Audi A3 creates a new market segment – the class of luxury compact sedans.

    Design

    The A3 is quintessential Audi. So it takes an eagle-eyed enthusiast to tell the difference between the A3 and the A4 - or even the A6 - from a distance. And it’s a great thing because on the road, the baby Audi grabs as many eyeballs as the more expensive models do. Like its elder siblings, the A3 gets the signature single-frame grille flanked by slim bi-xenon headlamps with DRLs that help the car retain its regal image. Striking horizontal contours and large air inlets on the bumper add to the broader stance of the front end.
    The ‘tornado line’ slicing the length of

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  • Road Test and Review: Tata Zest

    When Tata launched its first indigenously made car Indica in 1998, it proved an instant hit, thanks to its spaciousness, practicality and fuel efficiency. But the inevitable had to happen – Indica soon became the favourite of taxi fleet operators. The ill-maintained, often run-down Indicabs cast a pall on Tata products’ appeal to individual customers. Tata’s attempt to steer away from the ‘taxi image’ and attract more personal buyers saw some very good products coming to the market, but their uncanny resemblance to Indica marred sales drastically.  

    In what could potentially lead to a dramatic perception change of the company, Tata is set to launch the all-new Zest compact sedan. Zest looks promising, but will it help transform Tata’s fortunes and give the company a new identity? Let’s find out.

    Design

    You might not realise it’s a Tata until you see the badge, because the overall styling of the Zest completely sets it off from the Indicas and the Indigos. However, from certain angles you

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  • Road Test and Review: Honda Mobilio

    Indian MPV market has been very conservative where carmakers seldom go out on a limb to make their cars stylish. The monotony in design has made MPVs an unpopular choice for families despite the need for a larger vehicle. Honda’s first MPV for India, Mobilio, is set to break new ground in the MPV market with its stylish look, superior performance and a practical cabin.

    Design

    If you said MPVs are boring, eat your words. Agreed, the Mobilio’s face is nigh-on identical to the Brio but the sharp bumper design adds more aggressiveness to the Mobilio’s visage. Move to the side and rear, sharp lines and chiseled facets give the car a sporty attitude. What I liked the most about the Mobilio’s design is the beltline that kinks downwards at the B pillar. This simple but clever design touch yields an airy greenhouse and a feeling of spaciousness. The large, wraparound tail lamps, floating D-pillar and black inserts on the bumper gel neatly with the rest of the styling and the Mobilio is best

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  • Meet BMW 7 Series 760Li, Narendra Modi’s new ride

    Narendra Modi was driven to Rashtrapati Bhavan for the swearing-in ceremony in an armoured Scorpio, long used by him during the campaigns. But soon after the swearing-in ceremony, the Prime Minister had to ditch his favourite SUV for a swanky BMW due to security reasons.

    Mahindra & Mahindra had written to the Prime Minister, requesting he continue to use the Scorpio as his official car. Mahindra said it would be a matter of great pride and honour for Indians that the PM uses a vehicle designed, developed and built in India. However, the Special Protection Group (SPG) decided to go with the BMW 7 Series 760Li Security Edition— the most secured vehicle in the country.

    BMW Security Vehicles are designed to withstand a range of three risk situations – street crime (attacks with blunt objects and handguns up to a calibre of .44 Magnum), organised crime (attacks with the most commonly used automatic weapon in the world, the AK-47) and attacks with explosive devices and armour-piercing

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  • Road Test and Review: 2014 Ford Fiesta

    In over a century of evolution, automobiles have transformed dramatically. As I drive the 2014 Ford Fiesta today, it’s quite amazing to see how technology has changed everything, except the Ford script logo, since the first mass-produced Ford Model T. While a swathe of once state-of-the-art technologies such as ABS and airbags are increasingly becoming part of standard safety package, in-dash user interface is the new battleground for carmakers.

    There is no question the 2014 Ford Fiesta is a head turner. But what makes the Fiesta unique is the in-car technology that earns it the well-deserved title of a “connected car.”

    Design

    The 2014 Ford Fiesta’s styling is not a huge departure from the outgoing model, but it gets a handful of changes that make the car more desirable. The large air dam that dominated the Fiesta’s nose has been traded for a more stylish hexagonal grille.  Five thin chrome bars on the grille along with the chrome accent around the air dam breathe new life upon the

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  • Road Test and Review: 2014 Nissan Sunny

    Very few product taglines really stick. Even fewer products stay true to the taglines. And the Nissan Sunny has certainly been one of them. Nissan called Sunny a “CAAAR” for its roomy interiors and it indeed offered the best cabin space in its segment.  Sunny managed good numbers and with the arrival of new rivals, it now gets a complete makeover to stay at the top of the game.

    New Design

    Nissan has brought in some clever design elements that made an already good-looking car even more aggressive. Large boomerang headlamps and wider grille now define the Sunny’s front. The new bumper is sportier and gets lavish chrome accents – I particularly liked the chrome lines around the fog lamps. While new alloy-wheels and side mirror turn indicators are the key changes in profile, a sportier antenna and large chrome strip emblazon the rear of the car. However, the biggest change here is the outstretched bumper that gives the car a stronger stance on road.

    Although the spacious cabin has been

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  • Road Test and Review: Renault Fluence

    By all means, Fluence was the perfect car to mark Renault’s entry into Indian market. Even though it didn’t sell in huge numbers, Fluence left an impression with its massive road presence and impeccable driving dynamics. As Fluence gets a second chance, the French marque’s roots have grown deep enough to make the car a comeback kid. Lets find out what’s new in the new Fluence.

    Design

    Always a graceful car, the Fluence now gets a new front-end treatment with the Renault family face integrated into it. New glossy black grille now houses a large Renault badge and headlamps get projectors and shiny black mask with chrome eyelashes. All-new front bumper is complete with daytime running lights, fog lamps and new air intakes. Body-coloured side cladding and new alloy wheels are a welcome change in profile.

    There are minor yet noticeable changes on the interior, too. A silver insert across the dual-tone dashboard looks elegant and upmarket. There are silver touches on the steering wheel, around

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  • Road Test and Review: Renault Koleos

    When Koleos was first launched in India in 2011, Renault was quite an unfamiliar brand to most Indian buyers. Later, the French company’s five-product plan for India secured it a place among the heavyweights, while the prodigious success of the Duster made Renault a household name. Now, as the carmaker’s Indian flagship gets a major makeover, a cheaper price tag and addition of three new variants give Koleos a more serious purpose.

    Design

    The 2014 Koleos carries over the design language of the model it replaces. It looks more of a smooth crossover than a rugged SUV. The face now gets a wider grille that stretches from headlamp to headlamp. It also houses a bolder and larger Renault badge. While new alloy wheels and chrome side-protectors are new in profile, rear is left untouched.

    Interiors aren’t a drastic upgrade over the outgoing model either. Although the dashboard design does justice to SUV standards, I am skeptical about its overall quality, especially in a car with a price north

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  • Road Test and Review: Hyundai Xcent

    Welding a boot to a hatchback to build a sub-4 metre sedan and the subsequent design disaster is nothing new to us. But, hey, look at the new Hyundai Xcent. Despite being a sub-4 metre variant of the GRAND i10 hatchback, the Xcent flaunts a well-sculpted body that makes it arguably the best-looking sub-4 metre sedan as yet.

    Design

    One has to admit that achieving a well-proportionate sub-4 metre design out of a hatchback is no easy matter. That said, designers at Hyundai have done a wonderful job of seamlessly adding a boot to the GRAND i10. Inevitably, the Xcent is identical to the hatchback till the B-pillar. The roofline then blends beautifully into the boot with the help of slightly reworked rear window. Though not an eyesore, the rear profile is rather bland and doesn’t gel flawlessly with the rest of the car. Top variants get 15-inch diamond cut alloy wheels that give the sedan a slightly beefier stance.
    As far as the dimensions go, the Xcent shares the hatchback’s 2,425mm

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