Drive Reviews

Get a low down on some of the cool cars on Indian roads. If you are tired of the jargon heavy pretentious tech speak and need some simplified feedback on your choice of wheels, read on. Because we test vehicles in real driving situations just the way you would. And tell it like it is.

#MadeForIndia: The Volkswagen Ameo 1.2L MPI Highline review


Volkswagen stepped into the sub 4-metre compact sedan space in India during the first half of the year 2016, with the Ameo. They launched the 1.2L 3-cylinder inline petrol variant first, following it up with the 1.5L 4-cylinder TDI diesel during the festive season. Finally they introduced the range topping diesel automatic with the DSG gearbox to complete the line up, which we extensively reviewed earlier.

While the Ameo petrol looks exactly like the diesel variant inside out, the drive distinguishes one from the other and makes all the difference. We spent some time with the top specced 1.2L MPI Highline petrol with a 5-speed manual gearbox (there is no automatic option with the petrol), to find out if it was as impressive as its diesel sibling with the DSG gearbox. The diesel automatic by the way had us completely besotted, as it drove and felt like a car from a segment above. Read more



Homing in at La Villa Bethany, Landour with the Discovery Sport


It is always tough to say no to Landour. The lovely little cantonment town in Uttarakhand has remained our unanimous choice when it comes to choosing an easy-paced and languid escapade. While other popular hilly destinations may fail to offer a rejuvenating experience with their cacophonous chaos and rampant commercialisation, Landour scores high with its lingering calm and natural charm. The deep woods, misty walkways, gabled roofs and quiet environs of this colonial outpost are reminiscent of a bygone era - with everything from its name to its temperament retaining an unquestionably British hangover. And what better way to get there, than drive up in a remarkable piece of contemporary British engineering; the Land Rover. More specifically, the Land Rover Discovery Sport. Read more



A loveable bug: The 21st Century Volkswagen Beetle 1.4L TSI Petrol Drive Review


If you look back at the history of the modern automobile, few cars stand out the way the Volkswagen Beetle does. The original 'People's Car' was first produced in 1938, and is the longest-running and most-manufactured car of a single platform in automotive history. What started off as a functional and utilitarian set of wheels for mass mobility, has over time transformed into an iconic symbol of freedom, love and joy, world over.

The loveable 2-door 4-seater bug has traversed through the highway of history - making its way from the motorway to the museum. From moving the masses to moving up the snob ladder, the Beetle has indeed come a long way, and remains one of the most loved cars around the world. Read more


Object of Dzire: The Maruti Suzuki Dzire 1.2L Petrol ZXi+ AMT Review


When it comes to passenger cars, Maruti Suzuki has been at the forefront of almost every segment in the country. Cornering about 45% market share consistently, their offerings have always dwarfed the competition in terms of sales, even though their products haven't necessarily been the most advanced. In recent years however, they have been on the path to create more progressive products both in terms of design & performance. The Baleno, Brezza and Ignis have been super successful in their respective space, and their premium NEXA retail program has added a dash of sophistication to the brand. Read more


Te am(e)o, mi amor: The Volkswagen Ameo 1.5 TDI Highline review


Having tested several cars across manufacturers over the years, it usually doesn’t take us too long to figure out the character of a car. A 360° walk around, a peep under the hood, a few minutes inside the cabin and a short drive later, we have a fair idea about the ethos of the car and what the company behind it stands for. But then some cars take you by surprise, turning out to be a completely different animal from what you expect it to be. And rarely are they mass market cars. But the Volkswagen Ameo 1.5 TDI Highline turned out to be an exception. Read more


Making a comeback with the #styleback: The Tata Tigor 1.2L Petrol Drive Review


Tata's journey in the Indian passenger car market has never really been a smooth ride. The trust factor synonymous with the brand has eluded them in this category, as they have constantly struggled with product and service issues. With just a handful of successes over the past two decades (Estate, Safari, Sumo, Indica), an extravagant experiment (Nano) that didn't quite go right, and a few unsuccessful new launches (Bolt, Zest); things haven't really gone their way. Lack of timely upgrades, long intervals between product launches, flogging dated technology and niggling issues with sales, distribution & service networks meant that Tata never really posed a challenge to the market dominance of Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai. Although on paper they always remained the strongest contender to do so. Read more


The hatchback on steroids: Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS Drive Review


Behind the wheel of the Baleno RS, the first thought that crosses the mind is how far Maruti Suzuki has come from building VFM cars for the masses to sculpting an impressive performance hatch that is a worthy challenger in its category. Instinctively, comparison with the Polo GT Sport and Abarth Punto crop up. But that's a tad unfair, as the true spirit of the Baleno RS lies in its enhanced road sportiness rather than its racing DNA. An 800 km road trip over 4 days through some significantly challenging highways and hills of Uttarakhand gave us a rather well rounded perspective of Maruti Suzuki's most powerful hatchback yet. We drove out from Delhi to North Corbett via Lansdowne and back, and it was pretty evident that the Baleno RS is built for the thrill of the road; not the race track. The 'RS' moniker stands for 'road sport' and that's what it was - a nifty hatch for your daily commute that can make distance chasing on highways quite a fun activity. Read more


Fort Nalagarh with the Vitara #Brezza. Powered by #LeEco


The Vitara Brezza is back in our garage. A month after our extensive in-city review, we took Maruti Suzuki's sensational compact SUV out for a long drive this time, as there was still some juice to be extracted out of this one. Our road trip started from Delhi to Chandigarh via NH44. After an overnight halt we drove onward to Fort Nalagarh via Baddi, spending some time in between to explore different terrains nearby - hill roads, soft roads, tractor trails, alleys, steep inclines and such. Finally we drove back to Delhi via Chandigarh, having covered 1000 kms over 4 days in our Cerulean Blue and Pearl Arctic White ZDi+ variant, which is the top-end model equipped with all bells and whistles. Read more


The Tata Tiago Drive Review powered by #LeEco


India's automotive history has been a relatively short one. Iconic cars have been far and between, with the Ambassador, Maruti 800 and the Gypsy probably making the cut. And perhaps to a lesser extent the Tata Nano. Then there are the likes of Hyundai Santro and Tata Indica. Small cars that have enjoyed an extended run well beyond their expiry date to remain widely popular and instantly recognizable on the roads.

Much of the action in the Indian automobile industry has been in the compact hatchback segment. Tata Motors stepped into the game a bit late with the Indica in 1998 - it's first indigenous passenger car which became an instant success thanks to the introduction of a diesel option in a small car and its generous cabin space. Indica eventually went on to sell over a million units for Tata, who continued their small car experiments with the revolutionary Nano in 2009 and the Bolt in 2014. While the former has had a mixed run, the latter failed to make much of an impression. Read more


The Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza Drive Review powered by #LeEco


The compact SUV segment has been a game changer of sorts for the Indian auto industry. What started off as a sub segment of utility vehicles has turned out to be one of the biggest disruptions that the industry has ever witnessed. Who would have imagined that compact SUVs would become the fastest growing segment in a small car market like India?

Well, we could thank the millennials for breaking our two decade old fascination of upgrading to a 'car with a boot'. Today 'a car with muscle' has actually emerged as a choice for many a first car buyer and for those who wish to upgrade to a more practical alternative that gives them the characteristics of a bigger car at the price of a hatchback.

The early years saw the Renault Duster and Ford EcoSport open up the market for compact SUVs in India. In 2015 the Hyundai Creta was launched and it shook up the market at the premium end to take the top spot. Mahindra, the undisputed leader of UVs in India launched its TUV500 followed by the KUV100 and very soon every manufacturer had a product in the segment - either in the form of a crossover, a mini SUV or a compact SUV. Except for Maruti Suzuki, which was kind of late to the party. Read more


The Mahindra TUV300 mHawk100 Drive Review powered by #LeEco


Last week we took off from Delhi towards Rajaji National Park and then further up in the hills of the Uttarakhand region - a journey that was meant to test our vehicle's long distance drivability, passenger comfort, endurance and overall performance. Thankfully, we had one that seemed to be just perfect for the proceedings. The Mahindra TUV300. Launched last year, the TUV300 is the younger sibling of the wildly successful XUV500. And when Mahindra sent us the updated T8 variant powered by the mHawk100 engine (produces 100 bhp) to test, it seemed like the perfect drive for the highway and hills as we went chasing the monsoon. We drove 1000 odd kms over 7 days and encountered a fair bit of rough weather, winding mountain roads, steep inclines and thunder showers. Although not quite the powerhouse, the TUV300 is no pushover either. It is built tough, sure footed and secure. But more on that later. Read more


The Scorpion King with the Sting: The Fiat Abarth Punto Drive Review


Hatchbacks are by far the most sensible category of vehicles to own. Small, efficient and practical, they are ideal to zip about without much fuss. With premium hatchbacks throwing in more and more creature comforts these days, things get better and the hatch starts making even more sense. But there is one aspect where they always lag behind. And that is the thrill of the drive. Sure, the small size and low weight of the hatch makes for a zippy drive, but what it tends to lack is raw power. The small engines are often tuned for high efficiency and if you are an enthusiast, that is a big compromise that can ruin the experience behind the wheels. The answer to this conundrum is the hot hatch. Combining the practicality of the hatch and the thrill of a small sports car, the hot hatch remains quite the rage world over. However, the Indian market has always been deprived of a decent, affordable one until the uber stylish Fiat Abarth Punto was launched last year. Read more


Sorted, Smart and Scintillating: The Baleno Drive Review


Baleno was launched about six months back and it has literally swarmed the streets ever since. With more than 1,00,000 bookings in the first four months, it has already been declared a blockbuster of sorts. Together with its recently launched cousin Vitara Brezza, it has given Maruti Suzuki enough reason to smile, after the mildly disastrous S-Cross. 2016 sure seems to be looking up for the company, as it inches back towards a 50% market share, thanks to new launches, aggressive marketing and retail initiatives. Their caller tune this season ought to be Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days". Read more


Very very seXC: The Volvo XC90 Drive Review


An interior designer, a restauranteur, a jewellery designer, a theatre owner and a school fund raiser. Five opinionated and demanding LA professionals with 24x7 jobs, who have been exposed to every shred of luxury that the American West Coast can offer. Put them together in a room, mix well and voilà! What you get is the all new Volvo XC90.

Surprised? Well, it so happens that Volvo has a philosophy of building vehicles that are 'designed around you'. Therefore it takes its focus groups quite seriously. In its journey to create the new XC90, the company decided to involve this particular set of Californians to work closely with them for over three years. They felt this group typically represented Volvo car owners around the world, who need a luxury vehicle that helps them keep up with their busy lives. Something they can call home while on the move. Read more


Old Dog, New Tricks: The Volvo S60 Cross Country Drive Review


Volvo Cars have always been known for a certain demeanour. Elegant and self assured, a quintessential Volvo usually appeals to the liberal, educated, well heeled sorts, who value safety and refinement over flashy show of wealth. Lately however, the brand has been making a conscious effort to break away from these stereotypes and step out of its own comfort zone by aggressively reaching out to a younger, free spirited, tech savvy audience globally, through music, sports, digital and less traditional marketing campaigns. It has also been hard at work developing a new range of cars focussed on progressive design, human centric technology and driver oriented performance. The Volvo V40 and the S60 Polestar, along with a few new concepts that have been unveiled globally over the last few months are a step in that direction.

Volvo's latest addition to its India portfolio is the new S60 Cross Country. We had it in our fleet for a few days and it came to us in the lovely Rich Java paint option. While we have reviewed the Volvo S60 R-Design earlier, the S60 Cross Country happens to have a mind and heart of its own. What may seem as a marketing gimmick at first glance, is actually quite a mean package that pleasantly surprises with its mild audacity. Read more


Good enough, but not #GearedforGreat yet: The Tata Bolt Drive Review


We took the Tata Bolt for a week long drive when Tata Motors was in the middle of a rigorous endurance challenge to showcase the might of their new generation passenger vehicles - the Zest, Bolt and Tiago. We drove around Delhi NCR, while the #GearedforGreat challenge was simultaneously being held at the 4.2 km long NCAT (National Centre of Automotive Testing) high-speed test track at the VRDE (Vehicle Research & Development Establishment) in Ahmednagar. Four vehicles including the Bolt clocked a staggering 50,000 kms each over 18 days there, at an average speed of 120 km/h. Setting as many as 360 new records in what was a test of performance, strength, speed, efficiency and durability.

All very good. But it would be great if Tata had challenged themselves against competition in a similar event. Also, what are the chances of a manufacturer being dismissive of their own products in an event they themselves organized? Slim, we'd say. Read more


The powerful hatch with performance to match: The Ford Figo Drive Review


Ford has for long been associated with making fun and exciting cars. The Fiesta, when it was first launched in Western markets, caused quite a stir. And the Fiesta ST, which was a high performance version of the best selling hatchback, is still revered as one of the greatest hot hatch ever made. It is safe to say that Ford knows a thing or two about providing an exciting experience in a small package. And driving their latest hatchbacks in India gave us a glimpse of how well they do it. We had the second generation Ford Figo with us for a couple of weeks recently. Launched sometime around the end of September 2015 in India, this is undoubtedly one of the sweetest small cars we have driven lately. We tested the 1.5L Ti-VCT Petrol AT first and followed it up with the 1.5L TDCi Diesel MT, and both were equally delightful. Read more


Dissecting the premium crossover: The Maruti Suzuki S-Cross Drive Review


Be it a hatch, sedan or an SUV, new vehicles that are launched in the market usually find their place within a neatly defined segment. Carmakers seldom venture out of their comfort zone and rarely does one see an offering that redefines categories to create a unique niche for itself. The Maruti Suzuki S-Cross was one such bold and ambitious attempt. Launched with much fanfare in August 2015, it was meant to pull the company out of its middle class roots and push it into the premium orbit. But blame it on bad timing, positioning or pricing strategy, it wasn't the runaway success that one expected it to be. The S-Cross was launched back to back with the Hyundai Creta, and comparisons were inevitable. The Creta was pitched as the 'perfect SUV' and there was little dispute. It has been a runaway success on the back of a solid product, aggressive pricing and clear positioning. The S-Cross on the other hand, was launched at a higher than expected price, and positioned as a 'premium crossover' which was hard to decipher at first glance - it neither looked premium on the outside, nor was it a crossover in the real sense. Read more


Young and restless. For the young and the restless: The Ford Figo Aspire Drive Review


India is the spiritual home of the small car. Be it congested urban cities or small towns, the only way to survive on Indian roads is to get into a compact car. While a compact hatchback remains the go-to vehicle for most Indians who desire to upgrade to four wheels, a 'car with a boot' remains an aspiration for many. The Indian government also gives excise duty relief to vehicles that are sub-four metres, and this peculiar situation has resulted in manufacturers coming out with small and unique three box cars tailored for the market. Cars like Honda Amaze, Hyundai Xcent and Maruti Suzuki's Swift Dzire have managed to capture this segment with considerable success, and the Swift Dzire continues to be one of India's best selling cars. The sub-four metre sedan is now an attractive proposition for all manufacturers and every car maker worth his salt has a product in the segment. Ford is no exception. It recently launched the Figo Aspire, a rather handsome compact sedan targeted at this aspiring class. With a bold & dynamic exterior, premium interiors and intelligent storage spaces, the Figo Aspire combines style with comfort and significantly ups the game in the mass premium segment. Read more


Style, Pizzaz & All That Jazz: The Maruti Suzuki Ciaz SHVS Drive Review


The Ciaz was launched by Maruti Suzuki about a year ago, and the stylish sedan checked quite a few boxes with its good looks, spacious cabin and premium features. The car replaced the SX4 and gave the manufacturer a fresh lease of life in the aspirational mid market C-segment, which was dominated by the likes of the Honda City and Hyundai Verna for a while. While the Ciaz has been a success from the word go and raced ahead of the Verna and the VW Vento in the segment, it has not quite managed to outnumber the City's sales yet. But things may just change. Read more


A twist in sobriety: The Volvo S60 R-Design Drive Review


Volvo passenger cars are meant for the more mature and responsible amongst us; the family oriented, concerned and caring ones. But not a Volvo that wears the R-Design badge. Those ones are clearly for the radicals, thanks to the in-house tuning division at the Scandinavian auto maker that stands out as a tiny streak of crazy in an otherwise dignified history. R-Design cars are known for their unique touches of flamboyance and sportiness, that make a good looking car even better, and the drive a tad bit wilder. Take the Volvo S60 R-Design, for instance. More wolf like than feline, it has a 'tame me if you can' look without being outright aggressive. The sculpted V on the bonnet, the wolf eye headlamps, strong shoulders, expressive grille with the Volvo diagonal and R-Design badge give it a clean, yet self assured road presence that is hard to miss.We drove the vehicle for a while last month, and quite the head turner it was. It even managed to hold its own around tony Khan Market in New Delhi, capturing more eye balls while zipping alongside a much pricier Porsche Panamera. Read more


Feisty, flamboyant and free spirited: The BMW 328i Sport line Drive Review


Ask a true automobile enthusiast about his favourite cars, and the 3-Series would probably feature in the list. And rightly so, because BMW's base sedan offers what many pricier cars can only aspire for - a feeling of automotive nirvana every time you floor the throttle. The last generation 3-Series was simply brilliant to drive, and expectations from the new version were high. Thankfully, the F30 3-Series, which hit Indian shores in 2012 didn't disappoint, and it quickly cemented its place amongst the best driving luxury saloons. But three years down a lot has changed, with new entrants in the market threatening the 3-Series' position. So does the Bimmer still have what it takes to smother its rivals? We spent a weekend with the 328i Sport line and it left us with little doubt. Read more


Scandinavian Zen: The Volvo XC60 R-Design Drive Review


The Scandinavians know a thing or two about design. They believe in elegance over brash aggression, and functionality over all else. Be it furniture or automobiles, their products have an air of simple sophistication about them. Mature and evolved in their approach towards design, they always keep people at the centre of everything they set out to do. Take the Volvo XC60 for example. A classic Scandinavian design fused with technology, created for the sole purpose of making human lives safer and simpler. Step inside, and you are engulfed with a sense of comfort that you would usually associate with things that are dear to you. Like a warm hug from a loved one. The atmospherics instantly make you feel at home. Read more


The Pocket Rocket that packs a punch: Mini Cooper D Drive Review


Cars usually have a purpose. A hatchback is your entry to four wheels, while a sedan works as a logical family car. An MUV hauls people around, while an SUV gives you off-roading capabilities. But rarely do you come across a car that serves no true purpose, and you still want it. That's the MINI. We drove the refreshed MINI Cooper D 3-door recently and while it took a while getting used to, we sorely missed it, when it had to eventually go. The MINI has always been unconventionally good looking and the new version is no different. It stays true to the original iconic design and styling. Read more


Why drive when you can xDrive: The BMW X5 Review


The luxury SUV segment has always found favour amongst Indian consumers. Those who can afford it, wouldn't settle for less; and those who can't, aspire for one with the hope of acquiring it someday. This has long been the preferred mode of travel for the reasonably wealthy tribe who tend to be on the road extensively - politicians, movie stars, sports stars, industrialists, corporate honchos and such. It is a symbol of power and prestige on the road, feels relatively safer, and offers spacious interiors that allow you to take your entourage along. And if you have a demanding lifestyle, you could also get a lot of work done comfortably while on the move. Read more




The Fiat Linea T-Jet has always won applause from enthusiasts, who hail its peppy turbo charged engine and direct handling. But driving dynamics aside, the old Linea started feeling a bit dated when compared to its next-generation competitors. To address the issue, Fiat launched the refreshed New Linea in mid 2014 along with the Punto Evo. Since then, the segment has seen some worthy additions like the new Hyundai Verna and a slew of compact cross overs which also compete at the same price point. So does the Fiat Linea still have what it takes to fight its competitors? We decided to find out over a weekend drive review. Read more




The BMW 5 Series has always been the motoring enthusiast's favourite executive sedan. No other luxury saloon has ever managed to capture the essence of the 5 Series, a car that arguably handles better than many sports cars. With a history so illustrious, the 5 Series could only get better. And with the sixth generation 5 Series, BMW set a new benchmark in the segment. Read more




In India, the size of your car defines your status. Or so most people think. Give an average Indian some spare cash to spend on a set of wheels, and they are most likely to opt for something big and flashy. A luxury sedan or an SUV maybe. In contrast, Europeans and Americans have a different take on choosing vehicles. They are evolved and practical souls who mostly buy vehicles for the purpose they need it for, and not to impress their neighbors. You could say, their cars define their personality. Read more




Raghav Sarma of Licence to Drive reviews the Fiat Avventura after spending over a week with the vehicle. The LTD team tested the vehicle over 1000 kms. across highways, bad roads, city traffic, small towns, off road, hills, and drove it just the way you would use it; navigating stop and go city traffic on weekdays, and taking a quick road trip over the weekend. Watch the drive review if you are looking at a change of wheels, and have an eye on the sub INR 10.0 lac segment. Read more




Fiat first showcased the Avventura at the Auto Expo 2014, and the vehicle created quite some buzz amongst visitors and the media alike, as it was a genuinely different offering. The cross over was launched in late 2014 and positioned as a compact soft roader, which the company called a CUV (contemporary urban vehicle). The cross over segment has been on an upswing, with the Fiat Avventura, Cross Polo and Etios Cross vying for a slice of the pie and feeding the lower end of the growing compact SUV market that is dominated by Ford EcoSport and Renault Duster. Read more




In recent years, ATVs and other form of recreational sports vehicles have gathered quite some momentum in India. As one of the largest emerging markets in the world for automobiles of all sorts, vehicles for adventure sports have not lagged behind. And at the centre of it all is one company - Polaris, a name that has stood out for all the right reasons. Read more


At first glance, it's jaw dropping. As it zips past, you can't help but admire its awesome road presence, muscular stance and impressive styling. A few years back it was unimaginable to think that an Indian manufacturer known for its tractors and rugged SUVs could build a vehicle this impressive. Put it on the road anywhere in the world, and it is guaranteed to get a second glance. Read more
Drive Reviews Drive Reviews Reviewed by Sanjay Sarma on Sunday, September 10, 2017 Rating: 5

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.