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Renault Captur Petrol Review: Road Test

At last! We’ve driven the petrol Renault Captur a full year after it was launched. Dark secrets unveiled or is this the ray of sunshine Renault should’ve pushed in the first place?

Yeah, it feels strange reviewing a car a full year after it’s been available in the market. So why are we reviewing the petrol Captur now? It’s been on sale since November 2017, so what’s changed? Well, nothing. But it’s been very clear that Renault hasn’t been interested in pushing the petrol Captur.

We’re driving it now, simply because the car just entered the media fleet. It still isn’t available in the top-spec Platine variant, and the Duster with the same engine gets an automatic transmission while this doesn’t. It seems like Renault offers it mainly to give it a strong price hook. Our birdies say the petrol Captur won’t get Renault the same sales margin-per-unit as the diesel.

But enough chatter, we’re driving the Captur petrol to see what it’s like to use and understand one thing - did Renault place its bets on the wrong Captur?

Cut To The Chase

The ride quality and handling characteristics are just as good as they are in the diesel version. But what you notice immediately is that this feels so much nicer as a city car. Delivering 106PS of power and 142Nm of torque, this engine sets no benchmarks when it comes to raw output. Alternatives like the Hyundai Creta petrol (123PS/151Nm) and Ford EcoSport S (125PS/170Nm) offer more grunt and, on first impressions, they feel livelier too.

But it takes a kilometre or two to fall in love with how relaxed and easy going the Captur petrol is as a city car. The sheer refinement is what gets you first. Think Honda City i-VTEC but better. How? There’s barely any sound at start up but on the move, it’s the cabin insulation that makes it feel even more polished than the fabled Honda engine. Barely any vibes either and altogether, a stark contrast to the experience in the diesel.

What makes this an even better city car is the low-rev driveability. On paper, the diesel motor makes more torque than this and earlier in the rev range. But the H4K petrol engine is naturally-aspirated and doesn’t have to deal with the crippling turbo-lag of the 110PS DCi. Go over a speed breaker at 15kmph in third gear, lightly tap the throttle and it picks up speed nice and easy. In a similar scenario, the diesel would shudder and revolt to get you to downshift. And when you do press the clutch before said downshift, the diesel’s pedal feels far too heavy. In comparison, the lighter weight of the Captur petrol’s pedal makes it easy to use in heavy traffic.

 The mid-range performance is usable too. Say you hit some highway traffic and drop down from 80kmph to 50kmph while staying in 5th gear (the top ratio). Press the throttle and you gain the next 25-30kmph with ease. Not in a manner you’d call impatient or exciting but adequate. 30-80kmph in third gear takes 11.38 seconds; 3.6 seconds slower than the diesel. The difference isn’t as stark in the 0-100kmph sprint, with the petrol taking 14.33 seconds versus the diesel Captur’s 13.24 seconds. Blame it on the latter’s turbo-lag.

But it’s not all roses and hugs. There are some drawbacks. First, there’s no CVT. So, automatically (pun intended) it loses an edge when it comes to urban commutes. The next issue pinches your pocket, as it isn’t particularly fuel efficient. We managed to eke out 10.73kmpl in the city (expect this to drop to single digits in peak hour traffic) and 15.79kmpl on the highway, which is a fair bit lower than the diesel (city/highway = 15.50kmpl/21.10kmpl).

 Importantly, this cannot hold a candle to the diesel when it come to touring. For one, it only gets a 5-speed manual gearbox. This is fine in the city but on the highway, it’s revving quite high - 3100rpm in fifth gear at 100kph. For reference, the 1.2-litre Honda Jazz petrol does the same speed at 3250rpm in top gear. The Captur petrol deserves a 6-speed gearbox. Not only to make highway drives more relaxed, but also more efficient.

Finally, the diesel engine’s lag is annoying, but that’s until you’ve adapted to it. Once you do, much like it is in the S-Cross 1.6, you start enjoying the turbo kick. Post the boost, the Captur diesel feels like a rocket and high speed overtakes are a blink of the eye affair. It’s a truly exciting car and indeed, gives you some serious punch for the money. So while the Captur petrol isn't lacking for power, it isn't nearly as thrilling to drive as the diesel either.

Unwise Compromise

 Since the Captur petrol isn’t available in the top-spec Platine grade, the fully-loaded version is the RxT. What do you miss out on and does it look incomplete? Answering the second question first: no. Even the base Renault Captur looks good enough to drive straight home and the RxT does get some nice features.

These include projector headlamps and DRLs, LED front fog lights, 17-inch alloys, a touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, auto AC with rear AC vents, and more. Safety tech like dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, ISOFIX child seat anchors and rear washer/wiper/defogger come as standard too.

So what do you miss out on? The smaller things include the diesel-exclusive ECO mode, leather for the driver’s armrest, floating indicators and other touches like cornering fog lights and illuminated front cupholders. The bigger misses are the Platine-exclusive side airbags, ESC, hill-start assist, full-LED headlights and leather upholstery.   

Final Call

 It’s not that Renault placed its bets on the wrong Captur. However, Renault could’ve targeted different kinds of buyers by promoting both engine options on an equal standing. As a city car, the petrol is easier to live with than the diesel. So much so that the efficiency penalty seems like a very reasonable trade-off. No doubt, the CVT really should be an option too and we have a hunch that it will cut the mileage concerns further. The diesel makes more sense for those with extensive highway usage and those who like to go touring.

When you consider the price - Rs 9.99 lakh - Rs 11.46 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) - the discounts you can push for on top of that, the number of features you get for the money, the hassle free drive and how attention grabbing this thing’s styling is, the Renault Captur petrol does make a lot of sense. It’s a car we’d gladly recommend buying.


Dec 15, 2018
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2019 Nissan Kicks India review, test drive

We drive Nissan’s answer to the Hyundai Creta to find out if it’s a viable option.

Nissan’s made-for-India Kicks is finally here. Based on a more robust chassis, this version of the Kicks has more ground clearance, a more SUV-like stance and a thoroughly updated interior. It also comes with tried-and-tested mechanical bits, is feature-rich, and, on first impression, looks like a strong challenger to the bestselling and currently undisputed segment-leader – the Hyundai Creta.

What is it?

While the Kicks in most other markets around the world is based on the same platform as the Micra, this one inherits the Duster’s tough DNA, and is based on an updated version of the M0 platform that also underpins the Renault Captur. However, like the Duster, the Kicks has a proper SUV stance with its tall upright cabin, a flat bonnet and tough body cladding, all of which give it a beefy, macho appearance. What has also helped is that a lot of the design work and final detailing has been carried out in India and, truth be told, the designers have managed to blend the edgy detailing and robust architecture quite nicely. Design elements like the sleek projector headlamps that flank the signature V-shaped grille, the sharp cuts on the flanks, the boomerang-shaped tail-lamps, the 17-inch diamond-cut alloys and the roof rails, all work well. And so do the blacked-out pillars, which along with the two-tone orange and silver paint scheme are a unique combination. In terms of size, the Kicks is also larger than the Creta in every dimension. It is also 55mm longer and 32mm taller than the Captur.

What is it like inside?

Nissan seems to have gone the distance to lift the appeal of the interiors. The chocolate brown leather cladding on the dash gets white contrast stitching, the door pads are beautifully finished, there are brushed silver accents and you even get quilting on the leather seats that lend a premium touch. What really gets your attention, however, is the new 8.0-inch floating touchscreen that not only looks good, but is smooth, slick and performs well. Also attractive are the ‘butterfly-type’ meters that flank the digital speedometer and then there’s the steering that’s nicely built too. The dummy buttons on the steering wheel, however, are quite an eye sore and the fuel gauge looks unusually large as well. Also, on closer inspection, you can see a few hard plastics in not-so-important places and some carryover bits from its siblings have been included, ergonomic flaws intact – stuff like an elbow rest that sometimes fouls your elbow when you change gear, a narrow but deep glovebox and the seats that are placed a bit too high. In addition, there aren’t any cupholders in the central console, there’s no elbow box and, in this era of smartphones, there’s just one USB slot. The saving grace here, however, are the door pockets that are large and easily hold 1-litre bottles.

The upright seating position means visibility is good; the front seats are broad and accommodating and there’s more lateral support on these very comfy cross-stitched leather seats. While there’s plenty of seat adjustment, the steering only adjusts for rake, and not reach. Also missing, is a dead pedal, and space in the footwell is compromised due to the protruding centre console.

Getting into the rear is quite easy thanks to doors that open wide. There’s a reasonable amount of space in the back, and while the dark interiors make it look smaller than it is, there’s plenty of headroom and adequate kneeroom. What is also nice is that even a third passenger wouldn’t feel unwelcome here thanks to the adequate seat width and an almost flat floor. And another nice touch is the dual-operable parcel shelf that can be opened from inside to access the large 400-litre boot.

Nissan has included some segment-first kit like a 360-degree camera, leather dashboard inserts, and an Eco driving mode. The features list includes 17-inch alloys, four airbags, cruise control, auto LED projector headlamps, cornering lights, climate control, hill-hold assist, vehicle dynamic control, rain-sensing wipers and a digital speedometer, amongst others. It does, however, miss out kit like a sunroof, curtain airbags and wireless phone charging, many of which are available in the recently launched Hyundai Creta facelift.

What is it like to drive?

The Nissan shares its powertrains with the Duster and Captur, so it gets a 1.5-litre diesel mated to a 6-speed manual and a 1.5-litre petrol mated to a 5-speed manual (not tested here). There are currently no automatic options.

The diesel engine is the familiar 110hp K9K motor that makes 240Nm of torque and here its character remains largely unchanged. As before, it’s a bit rough at idle but smoothens out once it starts spinning faster. There is a fair bit of turbo lag below 2,000rpm and at low speeds there is a fair amount of clatter too. Turbo lag, however, is a bit less than on the Duster or Captur and as the engine is eager to rev it rewards drivers with its meaty mid-range performance once the turbo starts singing. It’s at its strongest between 2,100-4,000rpm, so remain in its powerband and overtaking on the highways is rather effortless and performance is strong. What’s also nice is that this engine feels smooth and jerk-free at low speeds and neither the clutch nor the gears are cumbersome to use. The steering is a bit weighty at parking speeds, but it lightens up as soon as you start to move. 

What’s also quite impressive is the manner in which it rides. Happen to miss a speed bump or a pothole at speeds, no problem – the Kicks simply takes it in its stride, only tossing your mildly, no big crash from the suspension; and the ride remains composed and settled at speed, too. Even at low speed it does its best to keep road shocks to a minimum. Then there’s the handling, which is neat and tidy too. The turn-in is quite sharp, especially at speed, and this means you need a steady hand on the wheel, and there is some body roll too, but straightline stability is good and it does have a fair amount of grip around corners. The body roll is well-contained and the brakes give you a fair amount of confidence too.

Should I buy one?

The Kicks does many things right. It is robust and it portrays a sense of toughness, it rides and handles well, the diesel engine has more than enough grunt and the interior is both well-built and generously equipped. Yes, the diesel engine is a bit gruff, there are a few ergonomic issues in the cabin and there’s no automatic option. Still, if Nissan prices it well, it could finally have a strong contender on hand – one that can truly offer a credible alternative to the Creta.

Courtery:- Autocar

Dec 15, 2018
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2018 Jawa, Jawa Forty Two review, test ride

We finally get some seat time on the new Jawas and have the full first ride review for you.

The internet has been ablaze over the last few months over the topic of the new Jawas. Now, after reporting on every possible aspect of the motorcycles, apart from how they are to ride, we can finally share what they’re like away from the glare of indoor lights and out in the wild.

Eye candy
For starters, they really do look quite lovely. To quickly bring you up to speed, Jawa ‘launched’ three bikes last month, but the more powerful, bobber-style Perak won’t be ready for sale till about August 2019. The Jawa and the Jawa Forty Two, meanwhile, will reach showrooms shortly and these are the bikes you’ll be reading about here. The Jawa is a fervently faithful recreation of the original Type 353 model, and it’s instantly recognisable, right to the point that villagers on the highway in Rajasthan came up and asked when Jawa had returned. That kind of recognition of a product from people who probably have no connectivity to the internet and no real interest in new motorcycles is something I’ve never seen before.

The authenticity that leads to this comes in details like the iconic teardrop headlamp that wraps around the handlebar, a pretty chrome-sided fuel tank and dual exhausts that look like they came straight off the old bike. But some things had to change, of course, and while the curvy side panels do look similar they’ve grown in size and are now plastic instead of metal. The wheel sizes that used to be 16 inches now span 18 at the front and 17 at the rear. And most of all, the engine no longer has that unique rounded shape, but the new one really is a treat to behold, sort of like that one centrepiece that grabs the attention in a well-furnished living room.

For those of you who find the Jawa a little too blindly faithful in its design approach, there’s also the Forty Two, which attempts to add a few modern touches to the theme. This comes in the form of a conventional round headlamp, an offset instrument cluster, a slightly flatter and wider handlebar, a shorter front fender and some differences in the chrome detailing across the bike. Add in some more youthful matt paint schemes and the Forty Two finds its own identity despite being otherwise identical to its sibling.

Finish levels are quite good across, but there were some areas that could use more work, in terms of quality and attention to detail. Classic Legends, the company behind the return of Jawa, assures us that the bikes we are riding are pre-production models and by the time production begins in early 2019, these issues should be sorted out. So we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for now.

Overall, both bikes are undoubtedly lovely to look at, and while a majority seem to prefer the Jawa, the lower headlamp on the Forty Two appears more proportionate to me and the bike looks especially good in the glossy Nebula Blue paint scheme. Over the two-day ride, I also discovered that the lower numbers on the Jawa’s horizontally-set speedo are hard to read from the rider’s point of view, an issue the Forty Two with its inclined instruments does not have.

Mojo rising
It’s common knowledge by now that the Jawa’s 295cc, liquid-cooled, four-valve DOHC motor started life as a Mojo engine. But it has been heavily reworked, beyond the pretty outer skin. Classic Legends roped in famed engine designer Ampelio Macchi who is famed for his race engines. Macchi has been on the technical teams behind 51 world-championship-winning engines across multiple forms of racing with brand like Cagiva, Aprilia and Husqvarna. He was also instrumental behind the rebirth of Italian brand SWM, but he has since moved on.

This engine was a completely new challenge for Macchi, and where his previous focus was always on top-end power, Classic Legends presented him the task of moving the power and torque curves far towards the left of the graph – low-end and mid-range performance was the absolute priority here. The bigger challenge was that Classic Legends wanted the engine to have the iconic dual-exhaust ports and after comprehensive design work, Macchi was able to create a system where two pipes emerge from the engine, merge into a collector box underneath and the once more split into two exhausts. This visual target of two pipes sprouting out of the engine (as with the old bike) was key for the company, and while they won’t say it, I do suspect this is a case where form rules over function.

The engine also gets redesigned cam profiles and new valves among other changes and the results are easy to see. Peak torque arrives at 5,500rpm, but where the Jawa engine runs out of revs at around 7,500rpm, the Mojo hasn’t even produced its peak power yet, which arrives at 8,000rpm. On the road, this results in a remarkably flat torque delivery, with almost no noticeable surge of top-end power. Low-end and mid-range performance is smooth and punchy enough to work with in most cases.

The engine remains reasonable smooth at low and mid rpms, with just a mild tingle coming through the foot pegs and bar. But when you chase the redline, things do get a bit more vibey and harsh. Still, it’s not even a comparison to the intended competition in this regard. Throttle response is mellow and well judged in most scenarios, but I noticed a hesitation on both bikes I rode while accelerating away from a partially open throttle at low revs. This isn’t something I’m too worried about – a little more time for the engineers with a laptop connected to the bike should sort it out.
Performance is certainly brisk, and if you find a long enough road, the Jawas will top out at about 135kph. This is a fair bit lower than the Mojo’s top speed and it comes as result of the new engine character as well as a reworked final drive ratio that favours rideability over top-end speed. If my memory serves me right, the Mojo’s engine does feel a little smoother and faster overall, and we’ll look out to confirm that once we get the bike for a full review early next year.

Sound of music?
What many are keen to know about is what the bike sounds like. Of course, the iconic two-stroke music of the old bike is impossible to recreate, but the new Jawas offers a nice and deep note that’s easy to like. We’ve noticed a lot of negative feedback from our walk-around videos of the bike’s sound, but I don’t think the videos do it justice and the bike sounds quite nice in person. It’s quite similar to the Mojo in this respect, but Classic Legends has revealed that they’ve designed the pipes such that the decibel killer inside can be moved forward or back, for more or less volume, by using a special tool. It can also be removed altogether, but I suspect that will attract undue attention from the authorities. That said, we’re given to understand that a lot of the sound deadening takes place in the cat-con box under the engine before the two exhaust pipes, so removing the DB killer entirely may not get annoyingly loud after all.

Frame of mind
Classic Legends started with a clean sheet for the frame and what they came up with was a double-cradle frame with a lazy 28-degree rake angle at the front telescopic fork while dual shocks handle duties at the rear.

On the road, the bike feels easy and quite nimble, which comes as a pleasant surprise considering that steering angle. What also took me by surprise was the suspension set up, because the bikes are on the firm side, but without falling into the zone of harshness or discomfort. Bad roads are handled well, and there's plenty of ground clearance. What does tend to make things uncomfortable is that there's very thin padding on the seat and the metal below becomes apparent quite quickly. On long stretches of bumpy roads, this can get rather painful, so the seat is one area that needs addressing.

When you find winding roads, the Jawas pull a treat with light and accurate handling that's quite a lot of fun. On these roads, we never encountered any cornering clearance issues and the MRF Nylogrip tyres are competent partners in the pursuit of some fun when the mood arises. Stability also deserves a mention and the bike feels planted in most situations, and never gets heavy or lazy to steer. Jawa enthusiasts will also be happy to know that the bike is quite game to take on a bit of a thrash off-road as well.

All of the above holds true for both motorcycles and they feel almost identical to ride, with the only difference being a slightly more commanding riding position on the Forty Two that has your arms stretched a little forward and spread just a bit wider.

This friendly handling characteristic is well in line with the original Jawa DNA, but what has improved massively is the braking performance. The new bike attempts to address its ancestors’ weak brakes, with a 280mm disc up front, single-channel ABS and a drum at the rear. Happily, there are no issues in the braking department anymore and the bike stops well. The rear drum works decently well too and is easy to modulate, but at this price it's completely reasonable to be disappointed by the lack of a rear disc brake.

A new dawn?
The Jawas really do aim to offer a pure and simple riding experience and that's fine, but there are some things that could have been better. The meters, for example, only show speed, fuel and odo information and I'd like to have had at least a trip meter. Further still, there's no side-stand-down indicator or engine cut off when the side stand is down and first gear is selected.

Nevertheless, these bikes are a great first effort for a brand-new company and most of the issues we found are relatively minor ones that should be ironed out with time and process control. I do think that the price is a little too high, but that doesn't seem to be having any effect on the massive interest these bikes have generated.

The first of the Jawa dealerships should open any day now in Pune and more will follow soon, with 64 of the 105 appointed dealerships already under development. Test rides will be available shortly, but we’re told that actual deliveries will only start in the first quarter of next year.

Classic Legends still has an enormous uphill task ahead in terms of proving long-term reliability and creating a premium customer experience to match the competition. But from our first impression, we can tell you that the company has done a commendable job of building a modern motorcycle that retains the identity and soul of the original.

Courtery:- Autocar

Dec 15, 2018
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Jawa & Jawa Forty Two: First Ride Review

Can Classic Legends’ Jawa and Forty Two motorcycles dish out a modern experience while drawing on the soul and charm of easier times here in the affordable mid-displacement space?

Huge expectations surround Classic Legends’ Jawa Motorcycles. Why? Combine Jawa’s pedigree, ageless style, modern mechanicals, and sensible pricing and you get a ride that will, and has, riders banging down the showroom doors. But, when you walk through the door and hop onto the saddle, will the Jawa live up to your expectations?

Classic Legend

The magic of the Jawa, for me, is in its stance which has been inherited from classic Jawas. Like a sculpture depicting strength and grace, the Jawa’s design flows from a nonchalant face to a purposeful chest, before tapering off into an athletic rear. It also exudes history in the way of logos used on the tank, the side panels, on the horn and the plain lettering on the headlamp glass. The gorgeous engine, the cooling fins (on a liquid cooled engine!) and the crankcase cover make it look properly old-school! To make the modern Jawas as clean and classy as possible, the handlebar lock is tucked away under the triple-clamps and the ignition switch is under the tank. Classic Legends claim that the decision to use a rear drum brake, for now, was also dictated by the same reason.

Undoubtedly, it is the Jawa (Jawa - Jawa, yes) that takes its ancestry very seriously. In the maroon and chrome combination, you would be forgiven for thinking it is the classic! However, a choice of smashing colour options gives this purist lots of spunk. The younger and bolder looking Forty Twoswaps the Jawa’s large valanced mudguard for a tighter design. It heightens the aggression by cloaking the chassis, fork covers and headlamp brackets in black. The smaller headlamp, as the speedo pod isn’t integrated into it, makes the face less bulky too. The speedo pod sits offset to the right, but shares the layout with the Jawa. This includes a digital readout for the odometer and two trip meters, an analogue speedometer and fuel gauge. Interestingly, the speedo needle sweeps downwards from the 3 ’o'clock position! The biggest change on the Forty Two is the flat and wide handlebar that is also finished in matte black.

If you are looking to size up the Jawas versus the Royal Enfield, the Jawas will look lighter and more athletic. This is despite the specs being closely matched. For instance, at 1369mm, the wheelbase is on par with the Classic 350!

Fancy bits?

Clearly, the Jawas aren’t trying to wow you with brochure-boasts as the feature list on both the motorcycles is fairly basic. The bikes won’t be available with a main stand as standard. There are no LED headlamps, DRLS or turn indicators. The instrument cluster doesn’t have real-time fuel consumption, gear position indicator or a clock. What you get is switchgear that looks and feel much like units we have seen on other quality mass market motorcycles. There are smart spoked wheel and there is a single-channel ABS with the 280mm Bybre disc at the front. That’s it.

In terms of quality, the pre-production prototypes we rode were a massive step up from the bikes shown at the unveiling. However, some ungainly welds, tacky looking needles on the speedo and fuel gauge, less than perfect pinstripes could be seen on these bikes too. But, Classic Legends say that the fit and finish of the production bikes will be significantly better. This is promising because the quality of finish for the paint and chrome bits was impressive on these motorcycles. Most importantly even these pre-production bikes emanated a sense of sturdiness.

Lost its Mojo?

Yes, the engine used on the Jawas is derived from the Mahindra Mojo. Hence, the combination of dual-overhead camshafts in a four-valve head, 293cc of displacement and the 27PS of power sound all too familiar. But ride the Jawa and it becomes clear that there's been a transformation in character. From an engine that had to be redlined to get any job done, the Jawa engine has solid low and mid-range torque. By changing the valve lift and valve timing, the engine now breathes very differently. The peak valve lift is reduced but the duration is increased. As a result, the engine makes its 28Nm of peak torque at around 5000rpm and has lots of it on tap under that too. Both the Jawas share the same mechanicals, so if your riding primarily consists of trips to the office or college, either of these will make for able companions.

These rides will be more enjoyable because of the exhaust note. There is rumble from the finely tuned exhaust that will make heads turn as the Jawas pass by. Interestingly, Jawa claims that the flutes in the exhaust are adjustable by five steps, allowing riders to turn up the boisterousness of the exhaust note without having to actually change the exhaust!

Also, the designers have taken pains to get the exhausts to look right. Using dummy shields, they have disguised the two-one-two exhaust layout to make them look like two straight-out pipes. They really do look striking.

Towards the sunset!

The Jawa and Forty Two feel a bit different. The former offers a more relaxed ergonomic setup because of its raised bars while the lower ‘bar of the Forty Two has riders leaning forward ever so slightly. Show these bikes an open road and you realise that the city friendly state of tune has compromised on punchiness. From standstill to 100kmph, the progress is sufficiently quick, and an indicated 120kmph turns up as you hit fifth gear. But revving it hard or shifting up does little to nudge the speedo needle further. For an engine with such weighty specs, more punch was expected.

At high rpms there was some buzz from the bar and seat, but the overall refinement levels were acceptable. Changes to the gear selector drum and shift-forks have made the shifts precise and positive. We wouldn’t complain about working the gearbox on these bikes!

So if you really want to enjoy a weekend stint on the highway, remember to stick between the 90-100kmph zone. At this pace, the Jawas will march on tirelessly. The only hiccup currently is that the fueling is a bit inconsistent, which makes throttle response just a bit lumpy at times. Ridden at a more sensible pace, the 14-litre fuel tank should stretch the stops between fuel-ups significantly. That means as you ride even after the sun has set, like we did, the ride won’t slow down thanks to the strong headlamp.

Be it day or night, a couple of adjustments are required. First, six-footers will find the Jawas seat them in a fairly knees-up position. Then there is the seat. It might seem a bit counterintuitive, but this plank-of-wood-excuse-for-a-seat will prove to be less bothersome than softer seats on longer journeys. On our ride, the aches didn’t increase even after hours in the saddle. However, the brand new dual-cradle frame, which is ably supported by the well-tuned telescopic forks, can take some credit for this too.

Do the Jive

A sense of agility and involvement dawns on you when you steer the Jawa Jawa into a corner. Handling superiority isn’t the most sought-after aspect on laidback retros, but it is a welcome bonus. So fluid and confident were the Jawa’s manners that I started dragging the pegs through corners by accident. Steering the Forty Two requires some learning and adjustment as the wider handlebar makes it feel a bit too responsiveness when being steered into a corner, and mid-corner adjustments end up feeling clumsier still.

Confidence from the MRF rubber and ABS enabled 280mm Bybre disc at the front allowed me to ride harder still. However, the lack of ABS on the rear wheel requires you to keep a check on impulses when making emergency stops. Carve up a corner or raise rubble on an unpaved road, the Jawas are unfazed by either. A 165mm of ground clearance only strengthens their ability to tame bumps and shocks on dusty trails without breaking a sweat.

VerdictWhile the Jawas we tested weren’t perfect, they have impressed. More performance would have widened the Jawas’ appeal significantly, but they have enough on offer to satisfy the bulk of buyers looking to commute in the city on weekdays and holiday on the weekends. The quality and fueling aspects heighten our desire to see and experience the final production specification motorcycles to give you a definitive verdict. But even in this guise, the Jawa leaves you impressed as much by its mechanicals as its appeal. So, if that sounds promising enough to you, you had better get ready to wait a bit longer as Jawa deliveries are slated to begin in March 2019. It seems, a credible alternative for riders is finally here.


Dec 15, 2018
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New Toyota Camry Hybrid review, test drive

Toyota will launch the all-new Camry Hybrid in January. We go down to Thailand to get a first drive of the tech marvel headed here.

New cars, that’s what we are all about, here at Autocar India. Often, however, new cars aren’t strictly new. This is because, in today’s world, the term ‘new car’ can be stretched and distorted sufficiently to accommodate even cars that have just been majorly updated. A new bonnet, a new nose a new interior, new tail and, hey presto, it is an all-new car.

But is it any wonder that carmakers do this? The cost of development gets halved, the already-stretched engineering department saves years and years of development time, and then evolving and working with an entity you already know is much easier the second time around. Clever. 

The car I’m sitting behind the wheel of, however, is clearly new – of this, I have no doubt. No, the new Camry hasn’t suddenly turned into a corner-carving BMW 5-series, and nor has Sport mode turned it into a track star. It’s just that this new car feels so much ‘tighter’ and so much more comfortable at speed, even at first acquaintance, it’s clearly a big step ahead in driving manners. Where the previous-gen car felt like the chassis was made of tightly bound spaghetti, and it flexed and squirmed every time it was presented a challenging situation, this new car feels so sure-footed and confident, it’s truly bodes well for Toyota’s all-new TNGA platform. But is it really as good as this brief first impression? I have to get more of this.

As luck would have it, I stumble on the perfect road, an as-yet-unopened section of elevated freeway that snakes and weaves its way through some suburbs near Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. Yes, there is some light traffic on the first bit due to an early off-ramp, but after that the road just goes on and on.

Lap one is more a voyage of discovery, an exercise in restrain; I don’t want to run into a carelessly discarded concrete block around a blind corner. So I tippy-toe through the tighter bits, and don’t carry much speed at all. But again, the car feels so much nicer to drive, even at these speeds. The steering has more weight in ‘Sport’, it actually feels like it is connected to the front wheels (finally), and some communication even filters through to my fingers when the front wheels load up in a corner. Yes, it does roll when I go faster and it does feel like it is 5m long, but, there’s plenty of grip and the Camry just hangs on gamely, even when I start to push harder. Wow.

Just how has Toyota managed to take such a massive leap forward? Well, to begin with, the torsional rigidity of the car has gone up by a huge 30 percent on this new TNGA platform. The company has even dipped into its deep pockets and pulled out enough money to pay for an independent rear suspension. The steering system has clearly been designed with drivers in mind.
There’s sufficient grunt from under the bonnet as well. In ‘Sport’, combined power from the petrol-and-electric hybrid powertrain is 211hp, and this comes flooding in when I lean hard on the right pedal. You first get a serious hit of torque from the electric motor, the 2.5-litre motor seems to have a nice strong mid-range and though there’s no tachometer and the eCVT automatic isn’t the sportiest gearbox around, the Camry even accelerates hard all the way to redline if you use the paddles behind the steering wheel. And while performance isn’t huge, it still is brisk; expect a 0-100 time of around 10sec. Also, please remember, this new car will deliver between 16-18kpl, even in real-world conditions.

The previous Camry was all about comfort, while this new car rides extremely well too. In fact, over bad roads, where the previous-gen car would get tossed around a bit, this one feels much more absorbent and much less reactive. It even rounds off bumps better, taking the edge off nicely. Even the brakes are very reassuring; there’s plenty of bite earlier on, and when you squeeze harder, retardation increases in a linear manner. It’s just that at low speeds, in start-stop traffic, the brakes tend to grab a bit, making you unnecessarily pay more attention to them.

We hit a patch of traffic; and it’s here that the new Camry finally begins to run in pure EV mode. It has a less powerful e-motor, but truth be told, I can’t tell the difference. What I do notice is that the car is even more silent and refined. Insulation is significantly better, there’s no real whine from the motor, and when the engine finally does kick in, the integration of the two powertrains is much more seamless. When traffic is light, I quite enjoy driving in this mode. The torque from the motor makes cruising along feel effortless and there’s even enough grunt to overtake with just a tap on the accelerator. Unfortunately, the Camry’s pure-EV range is negligible.

While weekend warriors are sure to enjoy driving the new Camry more than the current version, in India, this new car will be more about travel in the rear. So eventually I stop, jump out and get into the back. Here, I’m once again impressed by the reclining rear seat, super lower-back support and width of the cabin. The seat is placed a bit low, but once I stretch out, comfort levels are quite high. There’s even a good amount of support for your thighs and the seat cushioning seems just right; not too hard, not too soft.

What I also really like is that the elbow rest has a screen and feather-touch controls. From here, you can control the rear air-con, the seat-recline function and the audio system. And, as earlier, you can electrically adjust the front passenger seat for more legroom too. The new Camry also has an electrically operated rear sunblind, manual side blinds and a pair of conveniently located USB ports below the rear air-con vents. Legroom is a bit more than the current car’s, but there’s still no competing with the Skoda Superb, which clearly seemsto have been engineered with basketball players in mind.  

The seats up front are even more comfortable. Built on massive frames, good enough to keep most XXXL-size American drivers comfortable, they offer fantastic support for the upper and lower back, and good shoulder and thigh support as well. The seats are also cooled, and finding a comfy driving position is also easy as the power-adjustable steering has a wide range of adjustment. What also helps is that visibility has been improved. The A-pillar has been made slimmer, the side mirrors have been moved to the door and, as a result, the blind spot is much reduced now.

The layout of the dash, however, is typically Toyota – and, truth be told, a bit boring. The touchscreen and the buttons around it work well, as do the buttons and knobs. But we’ve seen this theme on so many Toyotas, a degree of fatigue has set in now.

And while the touchscreen works well, the interface is outdated. A software upgrade is long overdue here. There is, however, a nicely executed colour screen in between the dials, and what’s impressive is that the driver gets a head-up display.

Quality levels on the inside are clearly improved as well. The doorpads are solidly constructed, the buttons and switches on the steering have a quality feel to them, the gear lever and its leather shroud are beautifully put together too. There’s even a feeling of solidity in the cabin. This is especially true of the leather-covered lower half of the dash and the vents that feel built to last. Even the door shut is quite impressive. However, some plastics, like the buttons on the right of the steering wheel and the cupholders, aren’t impressive and I’m not a big fan of the faux-whitewood finish, either.

The Camry in this HV Premium trim comes loaded with kit. Not all of it will be available to buyers in India, as the focus will be more on rear-seat passengers, but you can expect it to come with paddleshifters, wireless charging, a sunroof, traction control, stability control (ESC) and brake assist.

The car in Bangkok also gets cross-traffic alert at the rear (it helps you reverse out of a parking lot safely), blind-spot monitoring, dynamic radar cruise control, lane-keeping assist and even pre-collision brake intervention. It also comes with phone-based features like geo-fencing (that sounds an alert if your car goes out of a pre-designated area), parking alert, Find My Car, vehicle tracking, and in-car WiFi.

Nicer to drive, more comfortable to sit in, more efficient, and blessed with Toyota’s halo of reliability and dependability; thenew TNGA-based Camry Hybrid has a lot going for it.

Toyota is set to launch the new Camry here in January at an expected price of Rs 39 lakh. This high price is sure to limit appeal. What a shame that FAME 2.0 – the scheme in support of hybrid cars – never really took off.

Courtery:- Autocar

Dec 15, 2018
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