Report

The 6th Maruti Suzuki Rally Desert Storm was the toughest till date
A Red Tree Convergent Media Publication

p4

WheelsUnplugged Unplugged
VOL 1 I ISSUE 5 I MAY 2008 I www.wheelsunplugged.com

Test Drive
Chevrolet Captiva challenges Honda CR-V p8

My Say
Madhuri Sen finds clutch problem in Honda Civic p11

CELEBRITY

INTERVIEW

Adrenalin and just adrenalin
RAMJI GOVINDRAJAN PAGE 12

AUTOS WOOING CUSTOMERS WITH

MEGA SHOWROOMS
DREAM CAR: FERRARI SCAGLIETTI 612 ACCESSORIES: GPS FUNDA

2 WheelsUnplugged

MAY 2008

COVER STORY
THEY ALREADY MAKE great cars. Numbers are flowing and newer models are keeping the interest alive. So, what next? If automotive trends are to be interpreted, then the current one is a massive across-the-industry brand-building exercise. Making the customer happy goes much beyond making good vehicles. So if Hyundai has an ‘Always Around’ campaign, Maruti does it with special ‘brand stores’ similar to what Bajaj and Royal Enfield have done for the two wheelers. Honda is taking their worldwide approach of safety-with-environmentfriendly to India as well. While India’s biggest two-wheeler company Hero Honda builds its brand image with emphasis on the green steps it has taken in its production. How far will the companies go to woo their existing and potential customers? What are the schemes that add real value and what are plain fanciful? Do consumers really like the perks or are they just happy with a good car and good service? We answer all these and more.
WHAT’S OUT THERE

Brand it right!

Along with leading sales figures, Maruti Suzuki is also leading the brand image race in the most logical way - with more dealerships and service stations. The company already has about 2,600 authorised service stations and dealers in over 1,200 cities. With its aim of touching 1 million annual sales by 2010, Maruti has gone on an overdrive and intends to increase the service network to 3800 and dealers to 1700. While that is a nationwide move, Maruti has also been busy with schemes aimed demographically - like the Mera Sapna Meri Maruti: New Panchayati Scheme last year that was aimed at rural markets, one of the biggest segments in the country, with special discounts and financing options. With most of its sales coming from small cars, and Maruti being universally popular for its low-maintenance and easy to run cars, the scheme makes sense. The urban market is trickier. Afterall, there is no dearth of showrooms or service stations of other brands. So, Maruti has now come with unique brand stores or Mega Showrooms. These will be unique - for one, they will be the first

Lexus showroom

A massive image enhancing exercise is underfoot in the auto industry - from mega showrooms to innovative rallies, finds Indu Prasad
company owned display-only showrooms in its two-decade history. For another, they will span thousands of square feet of prime real estate and showcase not just the existing 11 models, but the forthcoming ones as well. So if you got see the Splash, A-Star, Kizashi etc only at auto shows till now, pretty soon, they will be at a Maruti Mega Showroom. The first of these showrooms will appropriately be in South Delhi. With aggressive marketing the order of the day, we just might see a Maruti Suzuki version of Toyota’s Megaweb in Japan that is complete with driving simulators, test tracks, future technologies, the company’s most famous models etc. The funda of the exercise is simple. “If there are people coming here and seeing the menu of Maruti Suzuki, it makes them interested,” as Shinzo Nakanishi, managing director of the company said. Then, “they go to the dealer and buy it.” In a mileage and fueleconomy driven market, Hyundai regularly makes the point with its Miles & Smiles rally for i10 and Verna users. The participants were briefed on fuel efficient driving practices. Then all of them tanked up at the nearest Indian Oil pump, IOC being one of the co-sponsors. The tanks were sealed, trip metres set to 0, odometre readings noted and the rally flagged off. At the end, the one who had used the least fuel for the 110 km-long run, was declared the winner. Then there is the innovative Always Around campaign. How about getting your car checked and serviced while you shop for your weekly groceries or even while you catch a flick at the mall? And what if it is all free of cost and done on the spot, rather than at a service station? That is what Hyundai is aiming to do with its second edition of Always Around. By December 2008, the company would have reached 3,000 locations and 60,000 Hyundai owners. As Hyundai’s senior general manager, Service, B. Mani said, “Always Around is an effort to reach out to the customers long after they have purchased the car. It is yet another opportunity for us to make our customers feel ‘Special’. This campaign aims to give our customers a little more attention and a lot more care and going that extra mile to show them that we value them and they are really important for us. It is an effort at continuing and sustaining long term relationship with our customers.” In an attempt to go the Honda way, Hyundai also got mileage when they gave a Hyundai Tucson to environmentalists T. Srinivasa Rao and R. Gnanasekaran to go on a planet-wide crusade to raise awareness on global warming. Another mass market player, Tatas is now gearing up to extend its network in a massive way to get ready for the Nano onslaught in October. As an added benefit, they also had the free summer check-up for Tata vehicle owners in March this year that included free check-ups especially of parts that are critical for summers like air conditions and electricals, repair discounts and expert advise from Original Equipment Manufacturers of air conditioners, fuel injection systems, batteries and auto electricals. GM marked its 5th year anniversary recently with the Cashless Ownership Offer where the company would take care of labour costs, parts for all services and maintenance and running repairs for three years or 45,000 km. This along with its plans to increase its network to 125 sales and 135 service outlets across the country should pull in some numbers. While the players in the numbers game aim at the ‘common man’, the premium car manufacturers take the high road. They aim to dazzle their customers and potential buyers with swanky, state-ofthe-art showrooms and service centres. Visit the BMW dealers, Deutsche Motoren, on Mathura Road in NCR Delhi. The 45,000 sq ft is everything that BMW cars are stat-of-the-art and packed with luxuries as well as the latest technology. Over 35,000 sq ft has been devoted to service bays, body shop, a unique exhaust emissions management systems and an electronic diagnostic centre to programme the car’s extensive on-board

MAY 2008

WheelsUnplugged 3

COVER STORY
computers. Not just your car gets pampered, but you can relax at the luxurious VIP lounge, complete with a bar and a massive LCD television hooked up to a B&H audio system. Peter Kronschnabl, president of BMW India, who inaugurated the facility in December said that it had been designed by the mothership, BMW Munich. Getting onto the displayonly showrooms, BMW will also inaugurate its studio at Janpath in Central Delhi by June this year. The 3,000 sq ft space will be used to display all BMW India’s offerings - Series 3, 5, 6, 7 and the X3, X5 and X7 SUVs. You will also get a preview of its models intended for India in the future - the MINI and Rolls Royce brands. Then there is the Audi showroom in Gurgaon, the largest luxury car showroom in the country. Taking a cue from BMW, Audi has used German furniture, Japanese lighting, Australian flooring and Italian tiling to make the 13,000 sq ft showroom truly world-class. With 65 employees manning the sales and service fronts, it is a onestop-shop to take in the complete Audi experience. Their German counterpart, Porsche too, has done a spin on its international showrooms in both Mumbai and Delhi. With its distinctly Porsche elements, the 3,000 sq ft Mumbai showroom has an unmistakable Porsche environment with transparent design and Porsche corporate identity elements as seen globally. The sales team has a special task of also advising customers on the individualisation of their cars with Porsche Exclusive. Among the two-wheeler manufacturers, even though catering to bigger numbers, only Bajaj and Royal Enfield have cashed in on innovative marketing initiatives. Reinventing itself as the maker of sports and enthusiasts’ bikes, Bajaj has opened Probiking showrooms in Pune, Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Navi Mumbai. These slick showrooms will have no runof-the-mill executive class bikes. But instead showcase the cult bike, Pulsars and Bajaj imports, KTMs. Similarly, Royal Enfield has made use of the fact that it is more an enthusiasts bike rather than a commuter one in its showrooms. You can learn about the various Bullet clubs in the country, know about the big Bullet trips Delhi to Leh, Northeast, The Konkan highway etc. Hero Honda, the country’s largest bike makers, is now waking upto the concept of special showrooms and plans to start a new retail chain format to enhance its brand status.
CUSTOMERS’ TAKE

The effectiveness of marketing and brand building exercises are only as good as the number of people they reach. While some people that we spoke to were skeptical of the quality in a “free” check-up, others thought the idea of display-only showrooms was interesting enough to visit once atleast. For premium car owners, the swanky comforts were more matter-of-fact for the price they pay. “I haven’t used the special check-ups but I read about the rally they held for i10 and Verna. I would have liked to try it out on my Getz as well, but that wasn’t possible. My wife regularly uses Hyundai’s pick-up and drop facility,” says Ramesh, a merchant navy engineer from Chennai. Anthony T, a media professional in Delhi, says, “I missed the Auto Expo. But I think the Suzuki Kizashi is really cool. When their special showroom opens here, I will probably go over to check it out. There isn’t much to know about the current cars, but their international concepts… those I want to check out.” Girish T, a software engineer in Bangalore, on the other hand says that free check-ups “are a waste of time. I get my Indica serviced regularly, and there are just too many people at the free check-ups. Infact, I try to avoid going in for repairs or service when they are happening. The mechanics are all busy attending the free camp and it’s painful waiting around.” But when a swanky showroom of a premium car opens, some people atleast walk in for the experience. Like Mala Chandreashekar in Bangalore who visited the Volkswagen showroom because “I used to pass by the place when they were doing it up everyday. When it finally opened it looked so swanky I dropped in to check out the place rather than the cars.” News of new branding exercises and expanding

Maserati’s showroom

The biggest highlight of the Maserati showroom is the futuristic loop with the complete Maserati model line-up displayed mid-air, including some of its historical models!
networks is definitely good news to many, especially from remoter regions. Namita Punjkaran, a veterinarian in Manali who owns a Maruti Suzuki Zen hopes that Maruti will open an authorised service station in Manali and stock it up well with spares. “Currently, I have to drive all the way to Mandi 100 km away to get spares or any decent service,” she says.
INTERNATIONALLY

Aston Martin showroom

Selling cars is no longer a matter of putting them in a white room with windows. That is why newer ways of doing it has become an art form. You can check out Maseratis hanging mid air, win a Ferrari in a casino in Las Vegas, walk down Wall Street to pick up the latest WSJ and a BMW, take a Toyota for a spin in a specially-prepared test track in Japan, check out an Aston Martin in a bank vault in California or catch a glimpse of the latest Audi release on a big screen in Munich. The idea is to enhance the brand image,

because, after all, your car says something about you. Eddie Sotto, who calls himself an “experiential designer” is the brains behind some of the most innovative car showrooms in the world today. His Sotto Studios was responsible for setting up the Ferrari Maserati dealership outside the casino at Steve Wynn’s US$ 2.7 billion hotel in Las Vegas. The idea was simple - anyone could win a Ferrari. Those who hit the jackpot in the casino, walk out and collect their Ferrari at the dealership. Lesser winners can go home with leather accessories or even spare parts. But the idea became such a rage that they had to impose a US$10 entry fee to manage crowds. BMW discovered that the best way to sell was to go where their customers are. So, you can spot a rare BMW dealership in the middle of Wall Street - ideal to catch the attention of brokers and bankers. Audi has followed up the successful European adaptation of kiosks as Audi

Forums with one on Park Avenue at 47th Street, as elite an address as you will get in New York. For variety on Park Avenue, you will also find Mercedes/Maybach and Ferrari Maserati showrooms. Another Sotto inspiration is the Aston Martin showroom in LA, California. Inspired by the James Bond theme (remember Bond always drives an Aston Martin?), the dealership is designed as an Aston Martin vault. The cars are given individual ‘bank vaults’ that are entered with special cards and finger print readers. Called Club Aston, it is a private club inspired by Bond. Bond music plays when you enter the plush circular room. Complete with a bar where you can play around with colours on your favourite Aston while nursing a drink. You can kick back with a book and at the end, place an order for your car. Receiving your car is the best part - you are invited for a party of sorts with your friends and family and a fantastic colour light show finally unveils your car - in a

private bank vault. In Europe, Maserati’s showroom in its headquarters is a stunning creation by Ron Arad, an Israel-born architect. The biggest highlight of the showroom is the futuristic loop with the complete Maserati model line-up displayed mid-air, including some of its historical models! The big daddy of auto promotional space is, of course, the Toyota Megaweb. Sprawling three building, it has every Toyota passenger car in the market, including the Lexus. You can get into any of them and try out the interiors. Better still, you can take it for a spin on the Megaweb’s 1.3 km test track (a mere 2.6 US$ gives you two laps around the track). You can even ogle at the legendary Toyota race cars, go green with the Hybrid Wonderland and get a glimpse of classics at the History Garage. Even hopping buildings is done with élan with eCom Ride, a self-propelled electric commuter car that runs on an elevated track. Toyota has even planned something for the kids (a 150m course where they can pedal a motorassisted cart) and older kids (Gran Turismo 4 on a massive Mega Theatre screen. And there are the inevitable restaurants and gift shops where you can load up on Toyota goodies. If that were not enough, Toyota has now embarked on a unique proposition. The Tressa Indoor Shopping Mall that was opened on March 27 this year in Yokohama is one big Toyota showcase. The walkways are strewn with the latest Toyota models and even the shopping carts look like cars. Toyota’s MOBIRO robots - one playing a violin - are also on display and Toyota says some of them might soon be assisting you in shopping!
UNPLUGGED’S TAKE

Since cars have to be reached to the consumers the new aggressive marketing strategies, not just in India but also internationally have proved effective. Time only will determine for the final sales figures. But innovative presentations are definitely garnering more attention. For the consumer, it means a more appealing display and services of his favourite cars.
For comments and feedback on this article reach us at: editor@wheelsunplugged.com

4 WheelsUnplugged

MAY 2008

NEW LAUNCHES

REPORT MARUTI SUZUKI RALLY DESERT STORM

Thunderbird’s new heart
Royal Enfield is finally coming of age. The cult bike has more or less stuck to its retro looks and technology... and it has worked for it. But adding an integrated gearbox would not take away much from the looks of the bike and make it perform better. So finally, after nearly a 7-month wait the Thunderbird Twinspark will be here this month. The 350cc Thunderbird will now be fitted with the UCE (Unit Constructed Engine) but no fuel injection. Royal Enfield says that it will give better fuel efficiency but that the usage and application of the technology is different from TVS and Bajaj bikes. The bike is good news for those who loved the Bullet but hated the high maintenance of the old-style engine. The UCE will have less wear-and-tear and give better performance. While the company has not announced the price yet, speculation is it will cost a tad more than the existing Rs. 74,000. You can check out the ad for Thunderbird Twinspark at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1SneeEKs4A

Operation desert storm

Quietly comes in…
The new Fabia. Yes, the Fabia had its big launch in January with all the hype that could be expected for a new “segmentcreating” car. But Skoda decided to have a quiet, almost no-noise launch of a new version of the Fabia, the 1.2 litre petrol. The new Fabia comes in two variants and with all the characteristics that make it a premium hatchback - power steering and windows, airbags, defogger, stereo systems, wheel caps and adjustable steering in the Classic and the addition of alloy wheels, ABS, adjustable seat height and remote locking in the Ambient. For a 1.2 litre car it is fairly expensive however. The Classic will set you back by Rs. 610,000 (ex-showroom Mumbai) and the Ambient is more expensive at Rs. 678,000 (ex-showroom Mumbai).

The 6th Maruti Suzuki Rally Desert Storm recently concluded in Jaipur. Indu Prasad gives you a lowdown...
DRIVING FOR MILES WITH nothing else but camel and mule carts on the road, miles of arid sand all around and only occasional dry scrubs for greenery. That is what made up the 6th Maruti Suzuki Rally Desert Storm that took place between the 13th and 18th of March. As always, the Desert Storm was organised by Northern Motorsport, in compliance with the International Sporting Code of the (International Automobile Federation) FIA and the General Prescriptions of Motorsport Association of India (MAI). Kicking off in New Delhi, this year was extra special. The organisers had taken the trouble to introduce quite a few firsts in this edition of DS. For one, this was the first time that one of the competitive sections near Bikaner was held at night. This was also the first time that they had introduced a separate 4WD SUV category (Xplore) for amateurs, probably recognising the fact that clubbing the 4WD SUVs with regular cars just didn’t do justice to either. This was in addition to the Xtreme (for pros), Ndure (for all cars) and Bikes. The route too was the toughest set till date with new competitive sections and remote state roads. The fourday rally traversed over 2,200 kms through the best of Rajasthan - Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Khimser and Jaipur where heritage properties served as night halts.

MAY 2008

WheelsUnplugged 5

REPORT MARUTI SUZUKI RALLY DESERT STORM

drivers and their machines on sand, gravel and lake beds. The last of these was infact at the beautiful Sambhar lake near Bikaner. At the end of it, the teams had driven through Dussarna, Bikaner, Panchori, Kanod, Jaisalmer, Sanawara, Pokhran (yes, the very same nuclear testing ground), Khimser, Methdi and Jaipur.
WINNERS ALL

THE MEN, WOMEN AND THEIR MACHINES

The 2008 edition of DS also recorded the highest participation till date with 96 entries. There were teams from as far apart as Arunachal Pradesh and Goa. There were doctors, businessmen, engineers and housewives who had all taken off the time to participate in the ultimate endurance test. There were also a good mix of all-women teams and a couple of husband-wife teams. For the first time, six teams of Maruti Suzuki employees competed in their Esteem, Swift and SX4s. If you wanted any more assurance on the cars’ reliability, it was given at the DS. There were also teams

from abroad, including one from Australia headed by a veteran rallyist, Niyaz Ali. There were the regular presence from both the Indian Army and Indian Air Force. Among the pros, were the familiar faces of Khushwant Randhawa, Sunny Siddhu, Suresh Rana and Harpreet Singh Bawa. Even among the amateurs, there were some familiar faces - Jitender Bajwa and Siddharth Sawhney. It was in the Bikes category that you saw lots of new entrants, the ones that you should look out for in the Raid De Himalaya later in the year as well. Like always, Maruti Suzuki Gypsy was the preferred vehicle for most pros while

some gave preference to the newer Grand Vitara. Then there were the regular mix of Esteems, Swifts, Lancers in the Ndure category. The 4WD for amateurs, Xplore was a showcase of the best 4WD in the country - from Mahindra Scorpio to Tata Safari.
THE STAGES

Each day started early at 5 a.m. to beat the heat down harder as summer set in. The route was broken into competitive sections for Xtreme, Xplore and Bike categories with timespeed limitations on tough terrain and transport sections on regular roads. For the first time, there were 16 new competitive sections testing the

Last year’s winner Kushwant Randhawa was left out of the running by Sunny Siddhu who clocked in 4:41:14 penalty points when he reached Jaipur in his Maruti Suzuki Gypsy. Himachal Pradesh’s Suresh Rana was a very close second with 4:52:25 penalty points and Capt Sameer Pande of the Indian Army came in third with 4:54:35 penalty points. Mathew Paul Barrett with 6:09:54 penalty points was the winner in the Bikes category. He was followed by Mohan Lal Sharma and Raj Singh Rathore with 6:17:05 and 7:07:42 penalty points respectively. In the 4WD Xplore category, Umesh Raheja with 2:53:45 penalty points was the winner followed by Gaurav Sadana (2:55:56) and Dharam Pal Jangra (3:10:32). Of the four teams that completed the Ndure run, Dr. Pramod Singh was the winner. He was followed by Siddharth Sawhney, Jitender Bajwa and Amith Bajla.
For comments and feedback on this article reach us at: editor@wheelsunplugged.com

6 WheelsUnplugged

MAY 2008

NEW LAUNCHES

RETRO FORD MODEL T

Accord-ingly
In an otherwise-dull month, the imminent launch of the 8th generation Accord in May kept auto forums busy. And why not, it looks even better than the current Accord and has almost taken the Accord into the E-segment. With the Camry eating into Accord sales, the 8th generation will breathe fresh life into it. This is the third Accord generation to make its way to India since its launch in 2001. Cosmetic changes on the new Accord include the trapezoidal grille, raked headlights and a brand new rear, all of which give it a chiseled look rather than a soft touch one. Even the interiors have got a makeover with oodles of extra space, a new dash, metals spokes steering wheel and a sleeker gearshift. The heart of the new Accord, internationally, has two new petrol engines - 2.4 litre and a 3.5 litre V6. The base 2.4 is similar to the older engine but tweaked to produce 177 bhp, 35 bhp more than the earlier one. The V6 packs in a whopping 268 bhp and 22.3 kgm of torque. The new Accord, once it hits the road this month will cost approximately Rs. 21 lakh ex-showroom, Mumbai.

The first people’s car: Ford Model T

INDUSTRY NEWS

Best so far
With the financial year ended, April was a month of relative relaxation for the industry. It was a time to plan for the launches for the coming year and look back on how the company performed in the previous one. And the ones who made the biggest killing were the guys at Maruti Suzuki with the company’s total income going up by 23.4 per cent (Rs. 188,238 million) and the net profit up by 10.8 per cent (Rs. 17,308 million). The star sellers though were not the traditional Alto and Esteem but Swift and SX4. And along the way they set some records: > They sold 764,842 vehicles in 2007-08, the highest ever in the history of the company > Exports of 53,024 vehicles during 200708, was the highest ever in the company’s history > Also attained leadership in the A3 segment for the year 2007-08. The company sold 49,335 cars in the A3 segment, a whopping growth of 66 per cent over the previous year No wonder the official release of the company states 2007-08 as the ‘best year ever for the company so far’.

WheelsUnplugged doffs its cap to the oldest... and the finest
STARTING THIS ISSUE, WheelsUnplugged brings you affectionate tributes to auto legends that made history — and how! They were the first, the biggest, the fastest, the quietest, the most powerful, and the timeless. Aptly, we think, this series begins with a reprisal of the classic Ford Model T, the world’s first massproduced car. While the patent for the first gas-fueled car might have been given to Karl Benz in 1886, it was Henry Ford’s eponymous Model T that made the automobile an integral part of our lives. The very first car for ‘the great multitude’ as its maker termed it, the Model T was singularly responsible for transforming the car from an impossible luxury to an affordable necessity. Fasten your seatbelts, everybody. Let’s step back in time. him from planning the car he really wanted to build, the FARMER FORD Model T. He famously said that A farmer by birth, Henry Ford cars should be commodities, would have been lost to “Just like one pin is like another obscurity if he had not been pin when it comes from the pin passionate about mechanics, factory, or one match is like and unhesitating in its pursuit. another match when it comes He built his first car in his from the match factory.” It garden shed in 1896 and even went against everything the managed to sell it for US$ 200 auto industry stood for at that (not an inconsiderable sum at point — essentially, the builders the time). Barely seven years of status symbols. But Henry later, in 1903, he formed the Ford was convinced that it was Ford Motor Company, where the only way to go, and history 125 workers made 1,700 cars proved him right. in three different models, all BUILT TO A T fairly expensive. Opposing the then prevail- Not only was the Model T a ing thinking, Henry Ford was concept car for the multitudes, the only car maker to insist that its very ideation was novel and automobiles should be built unafraid, and that made all for the masses. His Model N, the difference. For instance, a pioneering step in this metal was the most expensive direction, was only a tepid part in the making of a car. At success. It didn’t, however, stop the time, the finest steel alloys that were used in American automobiles provided 60,000 pounds of tensile strength. Then Ford heard of vanadium alloy. They were used in French luxury cars, which were much lighter and provided 170,000 pounds of tensile strength. In the next five years, the only cars to use vanadium steel were French luxury cars and the Model T. The first Model T rolled off Ford’s Piquette Avenue plant in Detroit on October 1, 1908. Priced at US$ 825, it was “best buy” of the time, with a relatively powerful four-cylinder, 20 bhp engine and a fairly easy two-speed, foot-controlled planetary transmission. In its first year of production, the Model T sold a record 10,000 cars. Popularly known as the Tin Lizzie or Flivver, it profited from innovative promotion:

MAY 2008

WheelsUnplugged 7

RETRO FORD MODEL T

INDUSTRY NEWS

News from Beijing
Two of the cars that will perhaps soon make their way to India were unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show last month. Volkswagen wooed the Chinese with the new Jetta, based on the 5th generation European Jetta. The interesting bit was that VW developed this one with its local partner FAW. According to VW, the car has taken into account Chinese cultural elements with “prominent front and rear end styling that is inspired by a lion.” Then there was the new Teana, Nissan’s most expensive ‘Made in China’ model. With the latest V6 engine, the new Teana continues with its sleek, rich looks. The company’s president and CEO, Carlos Ghosn even emphasised Nissan’s China interests with, “The all-new Teana again demonstrates our commitment to high quality and world-class products for the Chinese consumer.”

Ford rodeos had cowboys riding Model Ts as they tried to rope calves. In a 1909 auto race from New York to Seattle, the only survivors were two Model Ts.
DRIVEN BY NUMBERS

Henry Ford did not stop production of the Model T until the last one rolled off the factory in 1927, its master’s indomitable will defeated for once by the very factor that made him the king of the road: market realities
Company made 260,720 Model Ts. Compare that with this: 66,350 workers in the rest of the industry made 286,770 cars. Henry Ford’s 1909 prediction, “I’m going to democratise the automobile… when I’m through, everybody will be able to afford one, and about everybody will have one,” seemed to be coming true.
LORD OF THE ASSEMBLY LINE

The Model T was rolling. There seemed to be no stopping its sales. If 19,000 cars were made in 1910, 34,500 were made in 1911, and then a staggering 78,400 in 1912. Ford had also managed to keep his hypnotic hold on the market by a continuous reduction in prices. When the Model T was priced at US$ 575 in 1912, for the first time there was a car that cost less the prevailing average annual wage in the US. Ignoring shareholder warnings of recklessness, Ford went on to reduce the price further. In turn, the Model T sales reached unimaginable heights. In 1913, its sales graph exploded to 2,48,000 cars. From the vast plantations in the South to the boulevards of California, the Model T was everywhere. It was adapted serve as ambulances, school buses, hearses, mail delivery vehicles… and only 13,000 workers at the Ford Motor

The Model T became the first mass-produced car because it had many other firsts to its credit. It was the first car to be produced in an assembly line. Henry Ford was inspired by the beef packing industry in Chicago, where each packer cut out a piece of the meat before it moved on. In another flash of original thinking, he decided to reverse the process for making cars. His new assembly line brought assembly time from 12 hours,

30 minutes to 5 hours, 50 minutes per car. Henry Ford was also the first to see the vast, unskilled labour of the automobile industry as potential customers. The workers, who were paid a meager US$ 2.38 for a ninehour shift, were also the biggest contributors to the high attrition rates that beset the industry regularly. In 1914, Ford shocked everyone by announcing US$ 5 for an eighthour shift plus a profit-sharing plan, unheard of at the time. It was a shrewd move — attrition was curtailed, a budding attempt to unionise his company was dissolved, and some of the US$ 5 that he paid came back when his workers turned into Model T customers.
THE ROAD NOT TAKEN

10 millionth Model T was made, there was another automaker gearing up to give it competition. General Motors, a conglomerate of car companies and parts suppliers, began to offer inexpensive Chevrolets that came with features lacking in the largely unchanged and now outdated Model T. Besides, instead of the sturdy but old-fashioned planetary transmission, the Chevy offered a smooth three-speed. As the Chevy became a common sight, price and value weren’t the only factors that were considered by car buyers. At this point, the Model T cost only US$ 290 but the market was clamouring for something different from Ford. But Henry Ford, who owed his life’s purpose to the Model T, was as unwilling as ever to listen to what everybody said. He did not stop production of the Model T until the last one rolled off the factory in 1927, its master’s indomitable will defeated for once by the very factor that made him the king of the road: market realities.
If you have an exciting driving holiday to share, write to us at: editor@wheelsunplugged.com

Design cues
Tatas might have bought Land Rover and Jaguar, but as far as their Indian cars go, they still have a lot to learn in terms of styling. That is why the latest announcement from the company is that is would like to pick up a stake in the Italian auto design studio, Pininfarina, one of the best in the business. Remember, this is the same studio that is responsible for some of the best cars ever - Volvo C70, Ferrari 612 Scaglietti and Maserati Gran Turismo. Unfortunately, the international market slump has got to the exclusive studio as well and has run into hard times - with a debt of 145 million euros plus operating losses. But Pininfarina’s losses might be Tatas gain, if the Indian biggie manages to buy a substantial stake in the studio. Pininfarina has also announced that it would like to open an international design centre in Pune to service Tatas as well as other international brands. Not to be left behind, Mahindra has set its sights on another Italian design studio Stile Bertone. The Turin-based auto design company has given us great lookers like Alfa Romeo, Lamborghini, Aston Martin and Ferrari. According to a report in Economic Times, the company with revenues of 39.1 million euros will give the Mahindras a global footprint.

The Model T had a continuous and successful run between 1908 and 1927. However, in1924, when the

8 WheelsUnplugged

MAY 2008

INDUSTRY NEWS

TEST DRIVE CHEVROLET CAPTIVA

Captivating drive
Porsche prepares for Transsyberia
One of the best known rallies for the hardy and adventurous, the Transsyberia Rallye is also the one where auto makers show off their hardiest and most adventurous vehicles. For this year’s run from Moscow to Ulaanbaatar, Porsche has announced that it will be competing with the brand new, improved Cayenne S Transsyberia. The previous version of the vehicle had managed to get all three spots at last year’s Rallye. In this year’s model, the off-road capabilities have been strengthened with a stronger sump-guard, design modifications to allow a larger angle of driving slope and an all-terrain offroading tyre from BFGoodrich. Now, the wait till July to see if the new Cayenne will do the same magic as the last one.

What makes the new Chevrolet Captiva a worthy contender for segment leader Honda CR-V? Indu Prasad tells you
HONDA’S CR-V HAS BEEN ruling its class almost since it was introduced. The new, improved Grand Vitara that Maruti Suzuki introduced last year dented its sales a bit, but not by too much. Hyundai didn’t give too much competition with its Terracan either. But finally, there is a worthy contender to the CR-V now. GM India has taken on Honda with the Captiva - it offers all that the CR-V does, with a diesel engine to boot. Too sweet to be true? We took a spin in the Captiva and came away… there is no other word to it, captivated.
THE LOOK

Food for thought
The Maharashtra Highway Safety Patrol has just concluded a study of driving conditions and statistics in the state. The study lasted all of 2007 and has given us some of myth-breaking facts: > Foggy conditions actually reduce the rate of accidents, since drivers are more cautious in their approach. > A whopping 60 per cent of accidents, and 64 per cent of fatalities occur due to overspeeding. > In comparison, drunk driving accounts for only 5 per cent of accidents. > Overloaded/overcrowded vehicles are second on the cause of fatality. > Third on the list is the sheer lack of driving skill. However, this causes a lesser (relatively) number of deaths, presumably due to the lower speeds maintained by unskilled drivers. > Rural areas account for only 36 per cent of accidents, but a whopping 64 per cent of deaths. This is obviously due to dismal levels of medical infrastructure. > The evening hours 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. are risky due to twilight conditions. > About 1,000 Indians die of AIDS each year compared to a whopping 90,000+ in road accidents!

the smaller details - how the curves on the bonnet are raised to merge with the wings, or the vents under the grille. It’s brawny, sure but it is also reassuring and confident. Inside, there is lots of plasticand we don’t mean it in a bad way. When a vehicle costs Rs. 20 lakh plus, you can’t afford to load with the regular grey-matte plastic. The Captiva mixes the classy cream

plastic bits with the faux wood finish very well indeed. And Chevy has also done a spin on higher-end SUVs with lots of gadgetry, including a digital compass on the information display screen. Another small touch that you don’t notice right away - the storage space in the central console, right in the middle of all the buttons and knobs. The positioning of the gear-

WU RECOMMENDS
WHAT WE LIKE > Oodles of power and torque > Brilliant handling on bad roads > The reassuring build > 3rd row of seats > That it is diesel and has great fuel economy > Level Ride Control WHAT WE DON’T LIKE > The little effort it takes to get used the hard clutch initially WISHLIST > More gadgets like Parking Assist > An all-wheel drive option as the risk of making the Captiva more expensive

The first thing you will notice about the Captiva is its size. It is simply you-will-not-missme-on-any-road. But credit must go to GM designers for making it a non-threatening attention grabber. The sloping bumper and the greenhouse curves that you now find in almost all SUVs give it a smiling, friendly appearance. Notice

shift is handy but it means that it eats up into the storage space between the front seats. But that is made up for with all that other nooks and corners that GM engineers have intelligently converted into storage bins. Where the Captiva will score in a big way is the 3rd row of seats. Sure other SUVs have it to - but because they are so badly designed they end up acting a second boot. But the Captiva has a genuine 3rd row. Maybe your 6-ft uncle won’t fit in there, but your 13-yearold easily will, along with your St Bernard. The legroom too, in all the rows, is ample and the front two seats seem to have gotten special attention making them as comfortable as any front seats will get.
UNDER THE HOOD

This is where the Captiva will gather points and how! The VDCi 16-valve 1991cc engine that goes into the Captiva complements the tough, brawny looks perfectly. Don’t

MAY 2008

WheelsUnplugged 9

TEST DRIVE CHEVROLET CAPTIVA
be deceived by the smaller cc, the engine is completely updo-date. Developing nearly 150 bhp at a mere 4000 rpm and with a whopping 32 kgm of torque that kicks in at a miniscule 2000 rpm, the Captiva is all about power. The numbers promise quick and effortless delivery and it definitely does. The speedometre is eager to go on climbing and if you are on the highway, it does - all the way till 170 kmph. The engine’s refinement is evident in the speed runs. You hit 0-60 in just 5.9 seconds and 140 in less than 30 seconds. And all this is done without any pitching, lurching, grunting or whining. The motor feels like it can take on some more bulk and power and that is reassuring in a vehicle as big as the Captiva.
ON THE ROAD

Ride Control which uses a regulatory pump to keep the ride quality same irrespective of the road conditions and load inside the car. Really handy that one, for those who complain of truck-like-handling of SUVs when there are just one or two people inside. On the whole, what is satisfying is that the Captiva adapts itself to feel like a car on the inside but handle like a SUV.
THE CONTENDERS

Specifications
Engine Power Torque Transmission Suspension Tyres Brakes 1991 cc 4 cylinder inline, diesel 148.5 bhp @ 4000 rpm 32 kgm @ 2000 rpm 5 speed manual Front is independent Mcpherson strut with coil springs, anti-roll bar, Rear is independent, multi-link, coil springs 235/60 R17 tubeless Ventilated discs + ABS

Honda CR-V is the direct contender of course. There is very little you can fault in the Honda build. But where it loses out on is that it is a petrol vehicle. The Captiva that almost matches the CR-V point to point on the drive quality wins on numbers alone. That is really commendable considering the diesel engine it comes with.
Honda CR-V

The Captiva is pure pleasure on the road. Not just because it flicks away two-wheelers and smaller cars effortlessly but also because it eases in and out of traffic lanes without too many ripples. And the bulk of the Captiva really does make a difference. It feels sure-footed and completely in control on all surfaces and that’s saying something because we tried it out on snow, slush, sand, rocks and plain bad mountain roads between Manali and Rohtang Pass. That, despite the fact that GM opted not to give the Captiva the all-wheel-drive option. On hairpin curves, you notice a minute roll in the body but with the rest of the car very firmly rooted to the tarmac ensures you don’t go over the edge. What is really reassuring is that you can take it beyond - to Spiti or Ladakh and the Captiva will gobble up the miles happily. What is not reassuring is that if you have a breakdown, then finding GM spares in these parts are next to impossible. If the driving is good, the braking is better. The engine gives way as easily as it picks up and the tyres stop willing enough not to leave scorch marks on the road. The noise insulation is not as good as you would expect in a modern-day diesel, but considering the power it delivers and the handling it offers, you don’t mind the little bit of noise that filters into the cabin. The suspensions are neither hard nor soft, but seem to respond to the road conditions thanks to the automatic Level

Maximum power - 141 bhp @ 6000 rpm Maximum torque - 19 kgm @ 4200 rpm Power to weight ratio - 96 bhp/tonne Torque to weight ratio 13.2 kgm/tonne Fuel consumption - 8.4 kmpl in cities, 10.5 kmpl on highways
Chevrolet Captiva

Maximum power - 148.5 bhp @ 4000 rpm Maximum torque - 32 kgm @ 2000 rpm Power to weight ratio - 81.5 bhp/tonne Torque to weight ratio - 18 kgm/tonne Fuel consumption - 9.5 kmpl in cities,11.5 kmpl on highways
UNPLUGGED VERDICT

If you have in excess of 18 lakhs to spare for a SUV and are looking for economy, good ride quality and space enough to fit in your family and a couple of friends, then the Chevrolet product is perfect. It has everything going for it the build and look, spacious interiors, an efficient engine and fuel economy that is phenomenal for a car that size and one that runs on diesel. If you are the kinds who likes to drive upto the nearest beach or hill station on weekends or if you are a Raid-deHimalaya aspirant, then the Captiva is ready for both and then some.
For comments and feedback on this article reach us at: editor@wheelsunplugged.com

10 WheelsUnplugged

MAY 2008

COMMENT: ANAMIT SEN

ACCESSORIES WORLD GPS FUNDA

Bahrain GP

Find your way...
WHAT DO ALL D-SEGMENT cars, whether Volkswagen or BMW or Audi or Porsche, have in common? In a word: technology. In two: topline gadgets. Parking sensors have now become as common as steering-mounted controls and Bluetooth-enabled stereo systems. Some cars even come with a camera in the rear, which lessens your dependence on the viewing mirror while driving or parking. Now, many automobile makers are offering the king of cool devices: GPS-based navigation systems. But what exactly are they, and how do we use them?
STAY ON COURSE

The city of Calcutta is famous for its processions that are taken seemingly at the drop of a hat. Crowds throng the centre of streets, causing problems for others and the whole city slows down…in short, for anybody stuck in traffic, it’s a helluva bore. But for one afternoon in Bahrain, it seemed as if Calcutta’s influence in terms of processions had been transferred to the track at Manama. Yes, there had been some excitement during qualifying with the Pole Robert Kubica (Koo-beet-sa) grabbing pole position, no doubt making Poles everywhere very happy. However, everything changed once the race started and once Ferrari’s Felipe Massa grabbed the lead, he hung onto it for dear life and made life very boring for everybody at the track except Ferrari of course. Of course, the lead did change hands when he dived into the pits but that always evens itself out as the others go in for their pit stops – unless the race leader has a really bad pit stop and it influence the result. But the talking point was not just the absence of Lewis Hamilton, who behaved a bit like a novice through the day, who not only did not make the podium but also managed to stay out of the points! First he had his car in anti-stall mode at the start while everybody else had theirs’ in launch mode, then he ran into Alonso’s car, (memories of last year overriding common sense?). The only entertainment came from cars running into each other – Vettel into a Force India, then Coulthard into Button not once but twice. Perhaps the two Brits got bored and wanted to play dodgem cars, like they have back home. Talking of entertainment, this is definitely not the sort of race one would yearn to see. Yes, Ferrari had a 1-2 finish and BMW a 3-4 but they were the only ones excited, one supposes, at the end of the day. People buy tickets to come and watch a race and having paid good money they expect to be entertained. But watching a Calcutta procession – the Ferraris are red, remember – will not do good things for the F1 cause. Moto GP is a case in point – even the puny 125cc bike category can provide very good entertainment with several changes in the lead in just a single lap! People are always talking about value for money but the 2008 Bahrain GP was anything but that! Please, let’s try not to have races like this one during the rest of the season!

GPS navigation systems use data from satellites to determine where you are. The GPS antenna, which can be either in-built, or placed on the roof of your car, enables the systems. In older technologies, this was achieved using the unit’s map database. Now, with the same inputs, the system gives directions to other locations in its cartographic database, including information on one-way streets, designated parking areas, fuel stations, and distances and so on. Generally, vector images display a top view of maps. Some intelligent systems like the BMW iDrive also enable the map to rotate and shift along with the automobile. They also allow you to check the road a little further ahead of your vehicle’s current location, or get a bird’s eye view of a larger area to

With GPS navigation systems, you can have the world on your dashboard
determine where you are. Most navigation systems have a text-to-voice facility with voice prompts. Newer, more refined navigation systems not only give you precise driving directions, but also receive and give information on traffic congestion and suggest alternative routes.
A WEALTH OF CHOICE

If your car comes with a GPS navigation system, it will be worked into an LCD screen, becoming the interface for your vehicle’s music system, DVD player, SMS messages and phone calls while driving. Some screens are designed to

fold into the dashboard while others are fixed to the centre console. Intelligent navigation systems can also include personal information planners for appointments, anniversaries and address books. If your car doesn’t come with a factory-fitted navigation system, you could always get one fixed. Other than the indash navigation system, you can choose a remote mount or opt for a plug-and-play system. A remote mount arrangement requires a selfcontained GPS receiver that you must connect to the car’s stereo system. Just make sure the stereo is GPS compatible

and comes with an LCD screen. The most easy to use systems are the compact plugand-play varieties. In particular, they suit users who don’t want a permanent installation. Such portable units can be plugged into the cigarette lighter for power, and can be placed on either the windshield or the dash. The screens are between 3 and 7 inches wide and come with touchscreen controls, voice prompts, a built-in speaker and an integrated GPS antenna.
For comments and feedback on this article reach us at: editor@wheelsunplugged.com

Do you want to get your car a navigation system? Features: The Nuvi is more expensive and that much better too. It not only provides navigation basics and Bluetooth Here are some of the best in business: compatibility but interesting add-on features like the estimated time of your arrival at any intended destination. HP IPAQ RX5900 TRAVEL COMPANION Price: Not available Features: It’s not merely one of the best GPS systems, MAGELLAN MAESTRO 4250 it also acts as your Bluetooth companion plus PDA Price: US$ 339 – 499 Features: This is, without doubt, is one of the most accurate (personal digital assistant). devices in the market. Helpful features like voice control make the Magellan Maestro a highly recommended midTOMTOM GO 720 level system. Price: US$ 337 – 505 Features: It’s different. TomTom incorporates a Map Share tool that enables you to access constant map MAP MY INDIA updates. There’s also a safety option in case of emer- Price: Rs. 21,000 – Rs. 22,000 Features: A navigation system designed for India, Map My gencies. India incorporates real time turn-by-turn navigation and map GARMIN NUVI 660 guidance with voice instructions. It also supports music, movies, Price: US$ 394 – 906 games and photos. Ready for your on-board computer?

WU RECOMMENDS

MAY 2008

WheelsUnplugged 11

MY SAY MADHURI SEN

EDITOR’S LETTER

Honda Civic: A clutch problem mars the glam quotient
Which car do you have and how long have you had it? I have a Honda Civic. Bought it in September ‘07. How did you end up choosing the car in the first place? I had the Hyundai Accent earlier and after checking Skoda & Optra Magnum, checked out Honda Civic. Lingsay Honda let me test drive it and I just fell in love. The glowing dials, the spacious backseat… everything was great. Has the car lived upto all that you had heard? Pretty much, yes. It’s comfortable, it definitely has the wow factor and the glamour quotient. It is a car that people look at and say, “You are doing well for yourself!” Just have one minor snag with the clutch that I intend to check with Honda. But since I bought it right after the rains, this year the monsoons will be a big test to see how it performs.

Branding is the new watchword for auto companies
Nirmal Kumar Sharma Editor WheelsUnplugged AS THE SUMMER HAZE SET IN, THERE was a sense of relaxation in the auto industry. The financial year had ended with some of the companies like Tata Motors and Maruti Suzuki reporting record sales and profits. But along with it, there was also an air of anticipation... like the lull before the storm. Product line-ups for the year are being revised and plans for big launches and bigger sales figures are afoot. What better time than to look at some of the more novel methods auto companies are adopting to push up sales figures or in some cases, just to make an impression. Whether they are mile runs or Mega Showrooms where current and future models will be displayed, we will get to see the entire gamut of marketing this year. Then there are pure automotive experiences abroad like the Toyota Mega Web or the Maserati display in their headquarters. Read all about them in our cover story. For our Test Drive, we took a spin in Chevrolet's latest offering that was launched at the Auto Expo, the Captiva. Negotiating cratersized potholes between Manali and Marhi and later on, just letting it glide along the smooth road to Kullu, we were convinced that it was a worthy competitor to the segment leader, Honda CR-V. And we took a break from driving holidays to bring you a report of the Maruti Suzuki Rally Desert Storm held in Rajasthan a month earlier. In a year that has already seen so much action – think Auto Expo, Nano, Dzire - and promises lots more, we also thought it was appropriate to rewind to the first automobile that marked the difference between customized luxury and massproduced, the Ford Model T. Read on.

What do you have to say about the overall performance of the car? It has been good. The mileage isn’t as good as I had heard. But I really didn’t buy it for the mileage. I get about 10 kmpl gear. And I am very careful within the city and about 13 about releasing it slowly, but it still happens. In Mumbai when I go on the highway. traffic that means the guy Is there any particular tech behind me thinks I am moving spec or feature of the car and he accelerates and ends up hitting into me. I already that you treasure? The suspensions are very have one broken taillight. The good. The music system that Honda mechanic says that it came with the car is very good is a problem with all Civics, but as well. There are controls in I would like to have it checked the backseat that is very useful. again. I am not sure if it’s a It also has climatronic that is problem with just one car. handy. The airbags are only a psychological comfort though Who do you think the car since there is no anti-roll bar is best suited for - women, in the car and when the car families or just about rolls, the airbags are pretty anyone? much useless. I am not too stuck with genderspecific looks. The Honda Civic Would you say it’s a city suits me. As for driving it, I think car or best suited for it is suited for anyone because highways, keeping in mind it is so comfortable. the mileage? Both, I guess. It’s very com- How would you rate the car fortable for four people to on the following parameters travel in over long distances. Upholstery - Just right In city, my only problem is with Combination of colours - Just the clutch. The car stalls every right time I try to take off on first Dashboard - Excellent

A car that is suited for all, winning all the awards last year and one of the best in the market, Honda Civic has just one minor hitch says Madhuri Sen of Text 100, a PR firm in Mumbai
Lighting - Excellent Legroom - Excellent Music system - Excellent AC - Excellent Safety features - Just right Exterior colours- Could be better Headlights - Excellent Brakes - Just right Suspension - Excellent Overall exterior design Excellent sions, the pick-up and the music system to everyone.

If you could add any one feature to the car, what would it be? Maybe more safety features. If they have made the car capable of reaching such high speeds they should also give it safety features that match the speed. And if it means Technically, what feature adding to the cost, people will about the car do you think still be OK paying it. It makes is its best selling point - the car so much safer. engine capacity, power, torque, pick-up? Do you have any particular I don't remember the tech concern/problem with the car specs of the car off-hand. But that you think the company I would say the pick-up is great. should know about? I can easily hit 180-190 kmph The clutch. I have been asking without the engine taking too around and other people have much time or sounding told me that they have the strained. And this is with the same problem. If the clutch is car loaded. a manufacturing defect, Honda should look into it. If you were to recommend the car to anyone what For comments and feedback would you say? on this article reach us at: I always mention the suspeneditor@wheelsunplugged.com

Vol 1 Issue 5 May 2008
Editor and Publisher : Nirmal Kumar Sharma Managing Editor: Indu Prasad Contribution: Anamit Sen Design: Sunil Dang Head Advertising: Anirban Mukherjee
Published from BMS Centre, 2 Gujarat Vihar, Vikas Marg, Delhi-110092 by Nirmal Kumar Sharma for and on behalf of Red Tree Convergent Media Private Limited Write in at: editor@wheelsunplugged.com

12 WheelsUnplugged

MAY 2008

C e l e b r i t y I n t e r v ie w RAMJI GOVINDRAJAN
From an aspiring professional racer in Chennai in the 90s to running plaNETsurf Creations, one of the leading web studios in Bangalore, Ramji Govindrajan has come a long way. One thing has stayed the same though: his passion of wheels

DREAM CAR FERRARI SCAGLIETTI 612

Ferrari is coming...

Adrenalin and just adrenalin is what it gives
How car/bike crazy are you Pondy on ECR and on the Ghats, I enjoyed my drive on a scale of 1-10? A perfect 10 for both, cars and from Hubli to Karwar. bikes. What is your dream car/bike? Are you more a car person Dream car would be any or a bike person? Ferrari, McLaren LM F1 and as Tough one! If I have to take for the bike, I already have a sides then I guess I am more a super sport Yamaha R1 but I bike person. The adrenalin would love to own a Honda rush I get from riding a beasty CBR1000RR and a Yamaha bike can never be compared MT 01, too. to a drive on four wheels. How difficult is it to What do you drive/ride maintain the high profile currently? Why did you imported models in India? choose it? When you buy mechanical Yamaha YZF-R1 2008: Had to beauties you really need to fulfil my dreams. Honda Civic: maintain them as they are like Comfort, class, superior tech- ‘super models’. High profile nology - Automatic/Paddle imported vehicles have always Shift options. Mahindra been difficult to maintain with Bolero: Utility. regards to availability of spares but with an official launch, be What has been the most it Yamaha or Porsche, I am sure memorable incident on these companies will plan their spares stocks for high wear wheels/drive? My most memorable days on and tear parts but having said a bike will always be my road- that, I am certain spares will racing days in Chennai. Also have to be imported on I raced for a team called CBX request, so one will need to Racing in Chennai. I wanted wait as it doesn’t make to be a professional racer but business sense for them to my vision was too futuristic maintain dead inventory. way back in 1994 when motorsports was not considered Big bikes are being seen a profession in India. more and more on the roads. Does it make sense to buy Do you remember the very them, keeping in mind the first time you got behind traffic conditions in cities? the wheel or on the bike? These are not mass produced What was that like? bikes and even Japan has Yes I remember both. My first only 1000 R1s on the road. drive was a 1983 Premier These bikes are not for daily Padmini rally-ready car which commuting and are built for had come to my dad’s service performance and people who station and I drove it when I understand this will surely was 12. My first bike ride: Ah! buy one of these bikes. Traffic Was on an Enfield Silver Plus. conditions are the same in any international city and Do you have any favourite traffic alone can’t stop one roads for long drives? from buying these super Without any doubt the GQ machines. Where there is a road to Chennai, Chennai to will, there is a road!

Anamit Sen conjectures on Scaglietti 612, the car Ferrari might bring in when it finally comes to India
FERRARI IS COMING TO India! That’s the buzz currently and many people have asked why, when you have the Lamborghini, Porsche and Bentley already here, has Ferrari decided to stay away! Well, Ferrari is certainly coming. Ok, hold your horses there a bit - Ferrari is coming but only in 2010! That’s two years away or three if you still have the wisps of 2007 around you. But which model will they launch first? Again the buzz is the 612 Scaglietti model, strengthened by the fact that there are two of these driving around in India currently. So, lets have a look at the Scaglietti (Scal-yeti) 612. The Scaglietti 612 is named after Sergio Scaglietti, a famous car designer who specialised in Ferrari designs during Enzo’s early years. Scaglietti and his brothers set up shop opposite the Ferrari establishment in Modena repairing damaged Ferraris. But it was when a gentleman racer commissioned the Scagliettis to rebody his damaged car that Enzo took notice of Sergio’s skills and started entrusting him with design work. The 612 however, though paying homage to Sergio, is a Pininfarina job. The Scaglietti (skalyeti) has been in production ever since 2004 and the fastback coupe design replaces the earlier 456 M. Produced at Ferrari’s Carrozzeria Scaglietti plant, the design is said to pay homage to the custom 1954 Ferrari 375 MM that the famous director Roberto Rossellini had commissioned for the equally, if not more, famous Ingrid Bergman. Ferrari has for long had a tradition of building excellent 2+2 cars and the Scaglietti continues in that vein and combines performance with comfort for four occupants. In the Scaglietti 612, like in the 360 Modena, Ferrari has used aluminium for the chassis and the bodywork. Together with the latest and with sophisticated production and assembly technologies, this has resulted in an overall body weight reduction by a massive 40 per cent and enhanced the torsional rigidity greatly. The weight distribution has been optimised, 46 per cent front and 54 per cent rear, which has resulted in two benefits - the known blistering performance advantages of a rear-engined car with the comfort and spaciousness offered by a front-engined package. The Scaglietti 612 is 4.9m long and 1.957m wide. It stands just 1.344m above the ground, with a wheelbase of 2.95m. That’s longer, wider and taller than a Gallardo and longer than a BMW 5 Series as well. The Scaglietti 612 rides on 245/40 ZR19 tyres in front and 285/40 ZR19 at the rear and retardation is brought about 380mm discs on the front wheels and 360mm wheels at the rear. The real question, as is the case with any sportscar and especially if it’s a Ferrari, is ‘What’s it got under the bonnet, Guv?’ The answer is an aluminium V12 engine, designated Tipo F133E, with a capacity of 5.7litres (5748cc), bore and stroke of 89 and 77mm respectively with a cylinder bank angle of 65degrees. What it does is make sweet music and spew out 540bhp of power at 7250rpm & 588Nm of torque at 5250rpm. What that translates as to the nut at the wheel is a max speed of 320kph and a 0100kph time of 4 seconds. The Scaglietti 612 also does the quarter mile drag in 12 seconds. Power is transmitted to the wheels via either a 6-speed manual transmission or the 6-speed ‘F1A’ semiautomatic box with paddle shift operation. Here’s hoping that Ferrari will have a change of heart and bring the car along with the other models in its range to India sooner than later.
For comments and feedback on this article reach us at: editor@wheelsunplugged.com