The Chinese banker can stretch his legs after a long day of earning money

BMW has just launched an extended wheelbase variant of the new 5 Series exclusively for China. What has captured our attention is the growing number of 5 Series owners in India, and they relaxing in the backseat of their new expensive ride.

During a chat with Volvo India Managing Director Paul De Voijs, he pointed out that customers show interest in long wheelbase models and the company has started arranging these vehicles specially for them. Volvo sells a fraction of what Mercedes Benz manages, and the demand for long wheelbase cars would be more, going by that stat.

With the average age of the Mercedes Benz owner in 35-40 years range, one starts to question why Mercedes hasn’t introduced long wheelbase vehicles for the Indian market. Many Mercedes Benz owners prefer to be driven and tell me, by the time someone reaches forty, will he have the same urge which he possessed during his college days to drive, negotiate traffic to find that one stretch where he’ll satisfy his craving for a burst of torque. Maybe not all forty year olds fall in this category, which is exactly why Mercedes should offer the E-Class L as an option.

Coming back to the spyshot, China Car Times states Audi’s successful launches A4L and A6L have prompted Mercedes and BMW to bring in their competitors with more legroom. The powertrain options on the new lengthened Mercedes should be no different and the equipment level would also remain same.

Last year Maruti Suzuki aired a Suzuki A-Star TV commercial having many cars pulling off spectacular stunts. Maybe that didn’t work prompting Maruti to transmit information on various aspects including fuel economy along with a touch of art in the latest ad.

See how differently the A-Star (Alto for foreigners) is marketed in Australia. It projects the character of the A-Star which honestly was hidden from the public eye here in India.

The new Skoda Superb is priced lower and returns better fuel economy

ŠkodaAuto India, a fully owned subsidiary of SkodaAuto announced the launch of the Skoda Superb 1.8 TSI (petrol) with manual transmission. The launch of the manual transmission in the Superb commemorates one year of success in the Skoda Superb range of models.

Skoda Superb Petrol 1.8 TSI MT is equipped with a manual 6-speed transmission. The combination of the powerful TSI engine and a 6-Speed manual transmission is expected to give better fuel efficiency (ARAI: 13.14 km/lit). The new Superb 1.8 MT Elegance will have the same level of equipment level as its siblings.

Thomas Kuehl, board member, Sales & Marketing, ŠkodaAuto India -

We are proud to add the 1.8 TSI with the 6-speed Manual Transmission to the existing Superb range. The best in class 6-speed manual gearbox with the ‘Intelligent Gear Change Indicator’ takes the driving conditions into consideration and recommends the most suitable gear level to the driver on the multifunction display. As a result, the customer gets better fuel economy, better engine performance and a longer engine life

The Superb 1.8 TSI MT is available in five colors – Black Magic, Rosso Brunello, Cappuccino Beige, Diamond Silver & Candy White at a price range of:

The manual transmission completes the sedan range with 1.8 TSI Automatic Transmission (Petrol), 2.0 TDI CR Automatic Transmission (Diesel) and the 3.6 V6 FSI 4×4 Automatic Transmission (Petrol) already on offer.

Skoda Superb 1.8TSI MT

Ex-showroom Delhi – Rs. 1,828,563
Ex-showroom Maharashtra – Rs. 1,781,035

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Mitsubishi has always ignored the Indian market never taking it seriously.One of the reasons has been its partner-Hindustan Motors. They have been slow in launching products, their marketing is lousy and they do not have proper service backup.

Mitsubishi has ambitious plans for 2010.The aging lancer and Pajero have been phased out from BS-IV compliant cities. The Outlander has a got a new life with a completely new look, added features and a lower price tag. Expect this to be officially launched later this month. Also on cards is a diesel Outlander.

This one gets a 2.0 litre diesel engine with a power output of 138 BHP and 310NM of torque. Transmissions include a 6 speed manual & 6 speed Auto. Expect this to hit Indian shores around Diwali. Mitsubishi is also working out to launch a stripped down version of the Outlander with 2wd and is working on heavy localization for it.

Next up is the Pajero sports which is an outright off roader worthy for the tag of an SUV. Powered by a 3.2litre diesel engine with a power output of 165 BHP & 351NM of torque mated to a 5 speed manual or 4 speed auto, this will doubtlessly be a good rival to the Fortuner and will be locally assembled.

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The new Chevrolet Aveo debuted as the RS Concept back in January

With the 2011 Chevrolet Aveo, General Motors is upping its game and conveying the design launguage that is almost to everyone’s taste in the new Beat, isn’t a mistake.

In India, the new Aveo U-VA spied here will have a locally made diesel engine. Designed in South Korea, the car was previewed as the RS concept at the NY Auto Show in January. Thanks to the concept and leaked images of the Aveo sedan, we don’t have to try too hard to guess how the vehicle will take shape.

Two biggest factors why this Aveo will be unlike the existing twins – diesel engine, awesome interiors and radical styling.

Many followers, including us felt the lack of a proper diesel engine on the Aveo was its biggest shortfall. The design of the Aveo was nothing to write home about thanks to no facelifts or cosmetic makeovers despite overseas markets selling them.

Underneath the flashy sheet metal is GM’s Global Gamma II chassis. Powertrains will include both naturally-aspirated and turbocharged versions of GM’s new 1.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine for the US. We expect a 1.3-liter diesel engine on the new Aveo. The 1.2-liter petrol offered on the Beat could be a possible option with the sedan receiving a more punchy 1.4-liter.

The refreshed Passat will be a minor model change. The replacement comes in 2015.

According to Dutch publication Auto International, Volkswagen will launch a new Passat mid-size sedan at the upcoming Paris Motor Show in September. Further, VW could have both the sedan and station wagon variants ready for deliveries by the end of this year in Europe.

The new Passat will have no extreme modifications. Components like the roof structure and body work will remain the same. Addition will come in the form of new lighting system, active cruise control and reverse camera.

Engines displacing 1.2 to 2.0 liters will form the power arsenal. Like the rest of the industry, the higher displacement V6 engine is shown the door and replacement is in the form of hybrid and electric models, but only on the next generation Jetta that arrives in 2015.

Interiors

The car which has set the segment abuzz with its sharp yet curvy and youthful exteriors is equally young inside. The motorcycle inspired speedometer along with small screen like digital display is quite unique in itself.

The interiors are inspired from the elder sibling Cruze with similar looking steering & blue backlit interiors giving it a nice sporty feel. If Hyundai raised the benchmark for quality of interiors in the small car segment with its “i”range, the Beat has taken it a step further. The panel gaps are fairly consistent; the plastic feels good to touch and speaks of quality.

In the country where beige is becoming the national interior color, everything which is not beige is treated as cheap; no more dull black and gray’s, but GM has taken a tough and smart step by not going with beige.

The interior is darker tone of grey with some texture finish. This dark gray works exceptionally well with blue interior theme and adds a pinch of sportiness. Other than going well with the interior, it also helps in reducing glare on front windscreen, which is a common problem with beige interiors.

Repositioning the conventional door handle from door to the window assists the overall look and COD (Co-efficient drag). The compromise is glass area and makes the rear seating quite claustrophobic.

A special mention: Unlike fake wooden center fascias offered commonly, there is black glossy finish which flows through the cabin, adding flair to the already cool interiors.

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Posted on Apr 1 2010 - 6:52pm IST

Audio specialist Clarion showcased a one-off Tata Nano at the Auto Expo in January this year. They’ve just released a video showing how engineers and artists came together to pull off a fire-breathing Nano that bought them a fire alarm like attention at the world’s largest auto show.

We wish the words “fire” and Tata Nano won’t come together again, but if its Clarion that’s bundling them up, we’d like to see it.