Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster And GT R Launching

Mercedes-Benz India is all set to launch the AMG GT Roadster and GT R in India tomorrow. It’s the best the powerhouse has to offer and there’s no doubt in our mind that both these cars will be welcomed by the supercar fans and the normal crows alike. The Mercedes-AMG GT R is one of the more stunning cars to come from the German car maker and it’s one of the best out there. The updated model gets the new massive grille up front inspired by the 300SLs from the 1950s that raced in the Carrera Panamericana races in Mexico. The GT3 learning are aplenty on the GT R and the coupe gets an active diffuser element within in the underbody for additional downforce. It’s nicknamed ‘the Beast of the Green Hell’, as it’s been bred at the Nurburgring’s north loop section and it shows in the way this one drives.

The GT R is a step above the GT S that is currently sold in India. The roof is made of carbon fibre to ensure high rigidity without having to compromise on safety, while the 20-inch 5-spoke AMG wheels are made of aluminium to ensure weight savings. The sports car also gets a titanium exhaust system, in a bid to achieve a higher power-to-weight ratio. The GT R is the first Mercedes-AMG offering to have rear wheel steering, mainly because of the electrically actuated get rear wheel steering. This allows the rear wheels of the GT R to turn up to 1.5 degrees in the opposite direction as the front at speeds under 100 kmph. This effectively shortening the car’s turning radius. Over 100 kmph, the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the front ones offering even more stability and quicker high speed cornering which basically sees you cornering flat and that saves a lot of time especially around race tracks and the fact that the GT R has already managed to make its mark in India by becoming the fastest production car to ever go around the Buddh International Circuit speaks volumes of this technology.

The Mercedes-AMG GT R is as close as it gets to bringing a road going version of the Nurburgring 24-hour race winning Mercedes GT3 home. Power comes from the Affalterbach tuned 4-litre bi-turbo V8 engine code-named M177 that is tuned to churn out 577 bhp of power and a whopping 700 Nm of peak torque. All that power is sent to the rear wheels via the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. When it comes to numbers, the GT R can hit 0-100 kmph in just 3.6 seconds, while the top speed is now rated at 318 kmph. On the other hand, the Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster uses the same engine but makes slightly lesser power at 470 bhp and 630 Nm of peak torque, paired to the same 7-speed DCT unit.

It’s apt then that both the GT R and the Roadster come to India as AMG completes 50 years across the globe. We’re glad India is joining the party too. Both models will take the CBU route to India and will be retailed out of the Mercedes-Benz’s Performance Centres across the country. Expect prices to be north of ₹ 2 crore (ex-showroom) on both offerings.


Tesla Model 3: Australian debut in early 2019

Tesla Motors has today unveiled the highly anticipated Tesla Model 3 – and with over 500,000 pre-orders to fill, customers from Australia are asking when theirs will arrive.

During a presentation today at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk was keen for customers to understand when their orders would be coming through and wanted to assure buyers that the company is ramping up production as a matter of priority.

“We were told we’d never get to 20,000 units per year with Model S [after producing 600 Roadsters per year], well we’re now at 50,000 units per year of Model S. And with Model X combined it’s at around 100,000 units.

“We’re confident we can go from a production rate of 50,000 units per year with Model S to 500,000 units per year with Model 3,” said Musk.

“By end of the year, getting to that rate appears to be quite lengthy (10,000 units per month), there are manufacturers beyond my control. By the end of next year getting to 10,000 a week looks likely, but it’s hard to predict.”

The production schedule will begin immediately servicing the west coast of North America, followed by the east coast, then Europe and shortly after right-hand drive markets like Australia.

Australian deliveries are expected to start from early 2019, with Musk referring specifically to a tweet from an Australian customer, who asked when he would get his long-awaited Model 3 order.

Australia was one of the first markets in the world able to place a pre-order for the Model 3 and owners paid deposits of $1500 for a product they hadn’t yet seen.

Tesla aims to produce 500,000 vehicles per year by 2019, which is a big task for a company that has never managed such a feat.


2018 Holden Commodore VXR (SS replacement) revealed

Holden has officially revealed its replacement for the SS Commodore, the new 2018 Holden Commodore VXR, set to go on sale as part of Holden’s Insignia-based Commodore line-up.

Due for release in 2018, the Commodore VXR boasts a naturally aspirated 3.6-litre petrol V6 engine that produces 235kW of power and 381Nm of torque, mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

Drivers will have the ability to choose between three drive modes unique to the VXR. By switching between these modes, the system varies damper firmness and response, steering feel, transmission response and the all-wheel drive system’s torque distribution.

Stopping the Commodore VXR will be a set of Brembo brakes up front, which should make this car capable of harder driving.

From the outside, the Commodore VXR will pick up big 20-inch alloy wheels, a bigger rear spoiler, unique front and rear fascia and premium VXR sill plates.

On the technology front, it also picks up adaptive LED matrix headlights, heated and ventilated performance seats and the latest driver assistance technology.

We had the chance to drive a 65 per cent prototype of the Commodore VXR last year as part of Holden’s development program in the car’s infancy.

It was at that point that Holden ruled out the chance of this being anything other than a naturally aspirated V6.

While V8 lovers may be disappointed, the next-generation Commodore is expected to weigh around 300kg less than the rear-driven Commodore and the Twinster all-wheel drive system used in the Commodore VXR isn’t too dissimilar to the one used in the manic Ford Focus RS.

Holden isn’t talking 0-100km/h times, but we’d expect this vehicle to sit within the 6-7 second territory, making it around a second slower than the current V8 powered SS Commodore.

The 2018 Holden Commodore VXR will launch alongside the Commodore hatch, Sportwagon and Tourer from early 2018.

Looking back at our original renderings of the SS Commodore replacement, it looks like we were bang on the money.


New TVS Apache RTR 160 Spotted Testing

Recently, a TVS test motorcycle was spotted testing which looks to be a refreshed version of the TVS Apache RTR 160 with quite a few parts borrowed from its elder sibling, the TVS Apache RTR 200.

TVS Motor Company likes to keep itself busy and us journalists more so. After the spyshots of the upcoming RR 310 S and a new TVS scooter, it is the new TVS Apache RTR 160 which has been spotted testing in India. It is the Apache RTR 160, which has been the one of the earliest 160 cc motorcycles in the country. The competition in the 155 cc-160 cc space is heating up with the recent arrival of the Bajaj Pulsar NS160. The others like Honda CB Hornet 160 R and the Suzuki Gixxer too arrived long after the Apache RTR 160 was launched. Therefore, the company is now gearing up to bring in a new and updated Apache RTR 160. These spyshots show that the test mule carries a similar look and design as seen on the current Apache RTR 160. Of course, there is no badging on the bike that can confirm this. There is a kick-starter and a drum brake at the rear, which is still offered on the Apache RTR 160.

The most interesting change on the test mule it has a monoshock at the rear. The current model has twin shock absorbers at the rear. This might also suggest that the frame on the test mule is new. There might be changes to other dimensions of the bike such as the wheelbase and the handlebar seat geometry. It is difficult to say so with certainty. Some other changes include a new design for the side panel and the instrumentation console too looks to be the same as on the TVS Apache RTR 200 4V.

The design of the alloys remains the same though. The seat too is one unit instead of being split. The switchgear and the rear tyre hugger is also possibly the same as on the Apache RTR 200. The tail lamp and the grab rails on the rear seat look to be borrowed from its elder 200 cc sibling too. The exhaust on the test mule again looks to be the same unit as on the Apache RTR 200. The tyres on the test bike seemed to be a tad skinnier than the ones on the Apache RTR 200.

Clearly, it is a new product and seems to be production ready for Indian roads. The TVS camp must be really busy and if things go smoothly, we believe that we will see at least three new launches from the company.


2018 Seat Arona goes official in Barcelona

The 2018 Seat Arona has been officially revealed in its home market of Spain this week, slotting below the larger Ateca in the company’s line-up.

Set to take on the likes of the Nissan Juke, the Arona rides on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB ‘A0’ architecture for compact vehicles, which already underpins several models including the Audi Q2 and new-gen Volkswagen Polo.

When it launches overseas later this year, the Seat Arona will feature numerous driver assistance and infotainment systems previously reserved for larger, more expensive vehicles, while also debuting an engine powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) – a first for the segment.

From the outside, the Arona’s design largely follows the look of the larger Ateca – which shares much of its components and underpinnings with the Volkswagen Tiguan – including its angular sheetmetal and lights, giving the little crossover an aggressive and sporty look. There’s also elements of the upcoming Skoda Karoq and larger Skoda Kodiaq at the rear.

Measuring 4138mm long, the Arona is 79mm longer than the Ibiza hatch on which it is based, while also being 99mm taller. The Arona rides 15mm higher than its Ibiza sibling.

Behind the angular tailgate is a large 400-litre boot, which is one of the best in its class, not far behind the Honda HR-V with its 437L load area.

Inside, the Arona is almost identical in its design to the Ibiza hatch, while also being very similar to the recently-revealed sixth-generation Volkswagen Polo.

The clean and uncluttered dashboard design is headlined by a large 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with numerous interior options such as LED ambient lighting, and six-speaker BeatsAudio premium sound system with 300W eight-channel amplifier and subwoofer.

Compared to the Ibiza, the Arona’s seats are 52mm higher in the front and 62mm higher in the back. Headroom is 37mm greater for front occupants and 33mm at the rear.

The new SUV also offers a range of driver assistance technologies including front assist with autonomous emergency braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control with stop&go function, hill hold control, driver fatigue monitor, multi-collision brake system, rear-view camera, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring and a park assistant that can complete parallel and angle parking tasks.

Other features available include keyless entry and start, wireless smartphone charging, and automatic headlights and wipers.

Under the bonnet, the Arona will come with a range of small-capacity turbocharged petrol and diesel engines, including a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol in both 95PS (70kW) and 115PS (84kW) tunes, and a 150PS (110kW) four-cylinder petrol engine (of an unknown displacement) with cylinder deactivation technology.

There’s also a 1.6-litre TDI turbo-diesel in both 95PS (70kW) and 115PS (84kW) guises. From mid-2018, the company will offer a 90PS (66kW) 1.0-litre three-pot turbo that can run on compressed natural gas (CNS), a first for the compact crossover segment, while “certain overseas markets” will also get a 110PS (81kW) 1.6-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engine.

Five- and six-speed manual transmissions are offered as standard, depending on the engine, with a seven-speed DSG optional on certain models.

The Arona will also be available in a wide range of exterior colours, along with three contrasting roof colours. Seat says there are 68 possible colour combinations, along with various interior trims and fabrics.


While the Seat brand is unlikely to make its way to local showrooms anytime soon, the Arona serves as a preview of what to expect from the new-generation Polo and its T-Roc crossover companion when they arrive over the next couple of years – particularly in terms of infotainment, driver assist tech and engines.

The next Polo is due in Australia in the first quarter of 2018, while the T-Roc isn’t expected until 2019.


McLaren still working on that all-important exhaust note

The one thing most high-performance sports cars share, is a memorable exhaust note.

Think of Aston Martin, Ferrari, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Maserati and Porsche, and it’s the noise these cars make under full throttle that usually gets the heart racing as much as the head-turning looks.

Aficionados of these highly-prized exotics only have to hear the engines at work for a few seconds, before naming the precise make and model.

British sports carmaker McLaren is the new kid on the block, though, only kicking off its series production business six years ago from its home base at Woking, in the UK. It’s a brand steeped in motor racing history with multiple Formula One Championships under its belt, along with a string of other racing success stories.

McLaren Automotive, the division that builds the road cars, employs a 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 engine across its entire range, in various states of tune, depending on which of the three-performance series you choose; Sports, Super and Ultimate.

But some in the industry have argued McLarens lack the same level of visceral exhaust note as many of its rivals. It’s a notion we put to McLaren Asia Pacific boss, George Biggs at the recent launch in Australia of the all-new second-generation 720S.

“I think with the powertrain we have, we are definitely working through that exhaust note, and with 720S we have made significant improvements. But I also think it’s a very personal thing, just like styling is personal, that sound is also quite personal.

“To that end, we’re working on making sure we have a distinctive McLaren sound, and I’m sure there will be some people that like it, and some that don’t. But it is one area that we are focusing on to improve.

“There are a number of development stories where we’ve got people very much focused on the sound of our cars, describing it as ‘the voice’ of our supercar, so we’re very aware of it”, said Biggs.

“We’re also a brand that is making sure that everything on the car is absolutely authentic on our car. So, it’s interesting, there’s a way to bring the engine note closer to you, but we’re not creating a different sound to the engine itself.

“Even the P1 doesn’t have what you would probably describe as your traditional V12 roar that gets you in the stomach, but actually, the P1 is a super exciting car because of all the pops, bangs and whizzes that you have with all of the forced induction.

“So, I think the market generally will start to move to a point where that forced induction sound is a bit more accepted, and then from a McLaren perspective it’s making sure we can get both a distinctive note and one that appeals to the market”, he added.


Bajaj Dominar 400 Price Hiked Again

Bajaj Auto has once again increased the price of the Bajaj Dominar 400 by ₹ 1000 for both the non-ABS and ABS variants. The standard Dominar now costs ₹ 1.39 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), while the top-spec Dominar 400 with ABS will retail for ₹ 1.53 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). Bajaj had revised the Dominar’s price in April 2017. This, in addition to the earlier hike, makes the Dominar 400 dearer by ₹ 3,000 compared to the introductory price of the bike when it was launched in India.

This is one of the general periodic price hikes the Bajaj Auto does after the launch of a new motorcycle based on market response. In fact, at the launch event itself, the company had mentioned that the initial prices are introductory and they will go up in due course of time. Currently, the company sells about 3000-4000 units of the Bajaj Dominar per month and Bajaj Auto is expecting these numbers to go up as they are working on increasing the sales network for the Dominar 400. As of now, the bike is only sold in metros and few top-tier cities.

The Bajaj Dominar 400 is currently the most powerful motorcycle from the home-grown two-wheeler manufacturer. The bike was launched in mid-December 2016 and has been widely praised for its performance and quality. Powered by a Bharat Stage IV (BS-IV) compliant 373.3 cc single-cylinder, 4-valve, liquid cooled engine, the Dominar 400 makes 34.5 bhp and 35 Nm of peak torque, while mated to a 6-speed transmission.

On the features front, the Dominar 400 comes with Bajaj’s signature DTS-i, triple spark technology and perimeter frame. Other offerings include an all-LED headlamp cluster with daytime running lights, auto headlamp on (AHO) function, reverse backlit instrumentation, LED taillamp, and slipper clutch among others. In India, the Bajaj Dominar 400 competes in the same price bracket with the likes of Mahindra Mojo, Royal Enfield Classic 350 and the KTM 250 Duke.


2018 Renault Megane RS will have dual-clutch transmission option

The Renault Megane RS will be offered with both manual and dual-clutch transmission options.

Renault confirmed this news overnight, although it didn’t state how many gears will be present on each gearbox.

Other details about the car have yet to be confirmed. A leak image of the car’s posterior earlier this month revealed some of its styling details, including a more aggressive rear bumper with a diffuser-style element, and centrally mounted exhaust tips.

Spy photos from late last year also show that the car will feature a wider track, and flared wheel arches at both ends.

It’s unknown at this stage which engine will power the new RS. One rumour suggests a version of the 1.8-litre turbo found in the new Alpine A110, while another says a 2.0-litre turbo will be employed.

The new Megane RS will be fully unveiled at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show in September, but won’t go on sale in Europe until the first quarter of 2018.

With Formula One driver Nico Hulkenberg behind the wheel, the camouflaged Megane RS had its first official public outing at the Monaco Grand Prix, timed to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Renault’s involvement with Formula One.

According to Renault, its “experts have once again used F1-derived technologies to produce a truly exceptional package of efficient aerodynamics, reliability, road holding and high performance”.


Lamborghini: Electric supercar technology not ready

Lamborghini says the current technological capacity of electric componentry is not suitable for a supercar that suits the brand’s characteristics.

Speaking to CarAdvice at the launch of the new Lamborghini Huracan Performante, the brand’s research and development boss, Maurizio Reggiani, said the technology for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) still needs to mature and become more affordable before it can be applied to a Lamborghini super sports car.

“If you talk about super sports cars at the moment, the PHEVs, the electric energy, in general, it is difficult to think it is suitable for a super sports car, because that means weight and packaging – otherwise we cannot achieve handling,” Reggiani said.

Furthermore, even if a solution was found with the currently available technology that allowed for a workable compromise between weight, packaging and handling, the cost would be prohibitive for the brand.

“At the moment, the tech that we can have is not there and these two parameters can be solved only in a way to customise for a single car, which means a huge cost for the component,” Reggiani said.

“So we need to take into consideration all these parameters, and say we don’t see anything suitable for a super sports car in the range of price where we need to position our car, where we are.”

Backing up his R&D chief, the brand’s CEO, Stefano Domenicali, said customers want emotion – which comes from the noise of a naturally aspirated engine – before emphasising that the brand will stay with its current engines for as long as possible, and believes the platform still has many years to go.

“With regard to hybridisation in our super sports car segment, I do believe that we still have years that we can stay with the actual structure of the [current] engines, both V10 and V12.

“I do believe that in this moment, it’s pretty clear where the trend is going – but it’s also very clear that it’s one thing the trend is saying, and it’s another the reality of what is happening. So we are more programmatic, we do believe that we match what our customer wants with the tech we can put on the market straight away and we do believe that there is still a lot to show.”

Lamborghini previously showcased a hybrid supercar concept called the Asterion (pictured) in 2014, however, it will introduce its first production vehicle with an electric powertrain with the hybrid Urus SUV, set to launch in 2018.

The SUV will be used primarily as a way of offsetting the brand’s emissions whilst it continues its path with naturally-aspirated engines.


Honda defends safety stance on Civic

The all-new Honda Civic hatch brings with it an impressive array of safety technology – but only if you buy the most expensive model.

That could be perceived as a problem for Honda, because the the Civic – whether you choose the new hatch or the existing sedan – doesn’t have autonomous emergency braking (AEB) in the four more affordable models in the range, but rivals such as the Mazda 3 have the tech fitted throughout.

Other competitors like the new Hyundai i30 offer AEB as an option in the base car, and standard in every other model, and Subaru likewise has its Eyesight kit fitted to the top three (out of four) versions of its Impreza. It’s optional tech on every Corolla and standard on the top-dog model, too.

It seems a misstep, then, for Honda to launch an all-new Civic hatch and offer AEB only as part of a more comprehensive safety equipment pack – Honda Sensing, which includes lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control.

Stephen Collins, Honda Australia director, admits the company can pick and choose items from the Honda Sensing range to fit to other models, but that’s not how the company wants to approach its model strategy.

“We’re very comfortable with the safety package that we’re offering. We’re definitely aware of discussions of what is happening in regards to AEB in particular. We will look at that with future upgrades,” he said.

“It is possible to fit Honda Sensing to anything – that’s obviously the full pack, not just AEB but a host of other technologies. So we’re constantly weighing up the package versus the value versus what we offer,” Collins said. “The short answer is we can split Honda Sensing into whatever we like, but ultimately we’re comfortable with the package that we’re offering.

“We’re not offering it as an option in other grades, and that’s something we’ll review going forward.”

Collins wanted to make clear that from Honda’s perspective, safety technology is a big driver in the brand’s way of doing things.

“ What we try and do is have a relatively simple line-up, to really offer a package – not just in terms of safety, but in terms of all the features – that is attractive.

“Our strategy is to have a simplified model line-up and offer what we think the customers really want.

“Safety is still critical – it’s a major priority of ours, but I think it gets down to the package we offer to the market. It becomes a real expectation at the top end. Five-star safety is critical, and this car will be five-star [rated],” he said.