Nissan Micra dashboard

The interiors of the Nissan Micra carries over the exterior styling traits. The Micra’s cabin isn’t radically different nor is it sporty looking, what really stands out in the Micra is the simplicity. There isn’t an element which would invite people to criticize the car.

The Micra’s cabin is extremely roomy and the generous glass area gives the car a bright and airy feel. Everything has been put together well, the instrument panels, center console, aircon controls and the stereo system are all conventionally placed and there is nothing to complain about the dash layout. The twin glove box, three cupholders and decently sized map pockets (which can also hold a small water bottle) on the doors help stowing away things neatly.

The dashboard on the top end XV comes in a colour which Nissan calls the ‘Greige’ (mix of grey and beige). This colour does not exactly make the car’s interiors look totally upmarket, but it does a good job of livening up the interiors to some extent. The XE and XL variants get pitch black interiors and I actually loved the black interiors more than the ’Greige’ interiors.

The quality of plastics used is very good and there isn’t a spot which looks cheap (except for the key slot on the XE and XL) and the material used on the seats. The AC vents are all finished well and are easy to adjust while the switchgear is top class. The way the indicator stalk feels when you use the indicators is exceptional. The steering feel is extremely nice and soft to hold and wish it could have been a bit chunkier.

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Posted on Jun 29 2010 - 7:10am IST

Force Motors SUV spied

We had already brought you spyshots of Force Motors’ new SUV which is being tested around its in Pune. The test mule looked massive and intimidating. The car looks as big as a Ford Endeavour and we wouldn’t be surprised even if its is bigger than the Ford SUV.

The new SUV would be manufactured at Force Motor’s Pithampur plant in Madhya Pradesh and could be launched by mid-2011, according to our friends at Velociti.

Force Motors SUV could be priced between 9-15 lakh rupees and could compete with a wide range of vehicles. We expect the new brawny SUV’s base model to be priced under 10 lakhs so that it could compete with SUVs like the upcoming Mahindra World SUV, the Scorpio, Tata Safari as well as utility vehicles like the Toyota Innova and the to-be-launched Tata Aria.

Force Motors’ utility vehicles are usually crudely designed and luxurious interiors are something alien to the brand but we hope with the new SUV, Force Motors could be looking to change the way their products are conceived.

Development costs for a big SUV would certainly be very high and we guess Force Motors should be doing a good job to make the car perform well and look good inside and out. Force Motors have been relying on Mercedes Benz’ diesel engines and the new SUV could also get a Merc derived engine. We expect the 2.2 liter direct injection diesel engine producing about a 159 hp and 330 Nm of torque to power this SUV.

click through for Force Motors SUV spy shots

Nissan Micra brick red

The styling of the last generation Nissan Micra can best be described as ‘girly’. There is no offense in a car looking feminist, but when a manufacturer is aiming to sell the car in 160 markets worldwide, it can’t offer a car that only the fairer sex would like to be seen in one. That is the main reason why Nissan has made the fourth generation Micra’s styling appeal to both the sexes.

At first glance, the front of the car is bold. Not the sharp, edgy kind of bold, but a unique, subtle, soft refreshing kind of bold.

The soft curves on the front give a very pleasing look to the Micra. The narrow ‘grille’ of the car somewhat gives it its cheerful character. Only the top end variant XV gets a horizontal chrome lining cutting across the grille. The Nissan badge sits proudly above the grille.

The side profile of the new Micra looks very similar to the old gen Micra except for the rear end of the roof, which doesn’t slope down but extends a bit and rises gently and then falls, which results in an integrated rear spoiler. The 14 inch wheels fill the wheel wells sufficiently and there wouldn’t be a necessity to beef up the tyres to make the car look better.

The roof of the car features a unique boomerang styled ridge which is more of a technical addition than a cosmetic feature. This boomerang shaped ridge increases the stiffness of the roof and this makes the Micra’s roof lighter and stiffer.

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Tata Motors South Africa Assembly plant

Tata Motors, India’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturer, is planning to set up an assembly plant in South Africa to further strengthen its position in the country. Tata Motor’s commercial vehicles wing is looking to assemble small to medium sized trucks in South Africa which is a very important overseas market for Tata.

Prakash M. Telang, MD (Indian Operations), Tata Motors

We are looking at assembling medium-sized and small trucks there (South Africa) for now.

Tata Motors exported 30,000 trucks during the 2009-10 fiscal year and expects this number to increase in the coming years. Tata has been exporting 2000-3000 truck units to South Africa annually and by setting up a plant with an annual capacity of 3000-4000 units initially, the company could sell more trucks in SA.

Tata could be assembling its Telcoline, Worker, Xenon trucks as well a the range of medium trucks based on the 407 and 709 platform in South Africa.

Tata Motors
already has a truck assembly plant in Thailand and Bangladesh already and the company is aggressively planning to enter new markets.

Piaggio half tonne pickup truck

Piaggio India which is finding good success in the LCV market, is developing another commercial vehicle to snatch the volumes of Mahindra Gio and the upcoming Tata Penguin.

The company made in-roads with Ape 360 range and the 1 ton Ape Truk in India and is gearing up for its next launch which looks like it can be introduced any day this week.

The test mules of the half-tonner were spotted during trials in the outskirts of Pune by our friends at Velociti Magazine. The vehicle understandably compact and has smaller dimensions than the flagship Ape Truk.

Some of the things on this vehicle have been borrowed from the Truk, like the in-cabin parts for example. It looks more or less like a mini “Truk.”

The half-tonner is expected to have a smaller engine that’s cheaper to manufacture. The company’s existing inventory will not be left untouched as components of lesser significance will be lifted out of it.

Velociti also speculates on a passenger application of the same platform.

Fiat 500 front

click HERE to see a rider’s helmet based on the Fiat 500!
click HERE to see a rider’s helmet based on the Fiat 500!
click HERE to see a rider’s helmet based on the Fiat 500!
click HERE to see a rider’s helmet based on the Fiat 500!

Posted on Jun 28 2010 - 9:42am IST

2012 Fiat Palio rear

If something about the 2012 Fiat Palio is becoming clear, it certainly is its resemblance to the Punto.

The 2012 Fiat Palio, according to reports, is based on the Novo Fiat Uno’s platform. It will come with fuel efficient Multiair petrol engines and award winning Multi-jet diesels.

Fiat will introduce a low cost car in 2012 in India. We think this is the car they’re talking about. Spyshots of the 2012 Palio testing doesn’t give away too many details, but it is evident that the vehicle will be the Palio replacement globally.

Fiat revived the Uno last year with the Novo Uno, and it is about time the decade old Palio finds another car, suited to modern tastes, to pass on its lineage.

Image Artist – Ricardo Antonio da Silva

Hyundai santa FE SUv india2011 Hyundai elantra India

Hyundai Motors India Limited (HMIL) has confirmed that the Santa Fe SUV would be launched in October 2010 and the new Elantra is being developed and could soon be launched.

Y K Koo, Senior Director, HMIL -

Santa Fe may be launched in the month of October and its price can be in the range of Rs 20 lakh to Rs 22 lakh which will be very competitive. The market for premium segment in which Elantra fits in is just 3 per cent of total market size of cars in the country. But this market is growing.

Hyundai has chosen to bring the Santa Fe SUV at a very crucial time as the premium SUV market is growing rapidly and the only a few strong contenders to compete with are the Ford Endeavour and Chevrolet Captiva wth their diesel engines while Toyota has temporarily stopped bookings for the Fortuner and Honda CR-V’s exorbitant price is shooing customers away.

Hyundai’s new SUV could bring in a lot of new buyers as the Santa Fe has got the right looks and presence and moreover the Hyundai Santa Fe would be a refreshing new option for buyers in this segment.

Hyundai plans to relaunch the Elantra in India with the latest generation 2011 version. The new 2011 Hyundai Elantra sports Hyundai’s ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ design language and comes with a 1.6 liter direct injection gasoline engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. This engine produces 138 bhp and 167 Nm of torque.

The Elantra for India could also come with a diesel option to take on the Toyota Corolla Altis Diesel to be launched later next month. The Hyundai Elantra when it comes could be the most futuristic looking car in the segment. We expect Hyundai to bring the new Hyundai Elantra by mid-2011, probably after the new Hyundai Sonata’s launch.