Friday, 30 September 2016

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross: Review

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross

The job of an auto journo is definitely one that many envy. I'm a middle-class bloke with a fierce passion for anything with an engine and understand the alphabet well enough to put sentences together. As a reward, I get to test a lot of fancy cars that I can't afford, but honestly, electronically complex luxo-barges don't tickle my fancy much. I'm a bit of an anarchist and prefer cars that I can thrash and mistreat, only to have them come back and ask me "Is that it?"

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross

So when I learnt the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross was mine for the testing, I couldn't help but rejoice, thinking about the guilty pleasure that awaited. I relate to the V-Cross quite a bit. It's a big, bulky and old-fashioned creature in the sea of small and more fashionable machines that adorn India's roads. As a 6.5ft tall chap who weighs about the same as the average economy hatch, I'm not one to be easily intimidated, but the proportions of Isuzu's latest and literal beast made me think about handing over my lunch money.

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross

The Xenon XT features in this pick-up's limited list of rivals, but while the Tata is hardly petite, the V-Cross is longer than even the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Add to that the plus-sized chrome grille, chunky projector headlamp clusters that look down upon you in amusement and bulbous wheel arches, and you've got a machine that can reflect the strength in your personality or make up for the vigour it lacks.

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross

The 16-inch wheels with chunky tyres and 1,485mm long cargo deck remind you of its utilitarian purpose, while silver roof rails and chrome highlights add some bling, reminding you that this UV doesn't need a CV licence to be yours. Word of warning though, the chap at the toll plaza will probably expect commercial vehicle cash from you

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross

Climb into the cabin and it feels eerily similar to the Chevrolet Trailblazer. In fact, both share their ladder-frame underpinnings and major components like the interior trim and steering wheel as well. Understandably, you can't expect luxury sedan-like tech or quality, but it feels well-made if not premium. The plastics feel durable and the fit and finish quality is a job well done too. The beige and black colour palette is conventional, but pleasant on the eyes, and the silver bits on the centre console and steering add a little 'snoot' to this brute with an open boot.

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross

The exterior size translates to cabin space well and given how this is wider than a Toyota Fortuner, there's adequate shoulder room too. There's a healthy amount of space to spare for your head and knees too, and while no animal died to drape the chairs, the cushioning is generous and the seats offer good all-round support. Yep, the driver's seat is height-adjustable, the steering is tilt-adjust able, and 3 tall adults can sit in the back without much adjustment.

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross

However, while you do get a few cup holders, a 60:40 tip-up rear bench and plenty of storage areas, the feature list is rather spartan. Sure, you get automatic climate control, a detailed MID and power adjustable/foldable mirrors, but come on, these are standard issue The touchscreen infotainment system on our test car was an expensive add-on, and while I can accept that, the missing reversing camera or sensors I cannot. This thing is big enough to command its own zip-code so at least parking sensors should be a given. Thankfully, dual-airbags, ABS and brake-assist come as standard.

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross

What's also a given is that despite the premium touches, this is still a machine for the grime-in-nails kinda guy, so you still get a blue collar heart. The V-Cross gets the same 2.5-litre turbo-diesel engine as the standard D-Max in the same 136PS tune and its reputation precedes that of the pickup itself. It's not the pinnacle of refinement and, apart from sounding like an old-school diesel, it also transmits vibrations into the cabin and to the gear lever in particular.

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross

However, you do get the promise of legendary reliability. This is a load-lugging motor, so no surprises why the engine follows a 'torque-first' philosophy. All 320Nm of the twisty goodness is delivered from just 1,800rpm, so the powertrain needs nearly no revs to get moving even in 2nd gear and also offers impeccable in-gear acceleration. This makes city driving a breeze, with the engine egging you on to upshift early. The clutch pedal feels amazingly light to use too.

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross

Overtakes are no problem either, but while high gear-low rev combinations work lip-smackingly well, they're also your only option to keep moving at a good pace. Aggressively downshift, slam the gas pedal and it's like an angry barking Chihuahua andndash; lot of noise, but no real consequences. It's better to cruise and try to get close to the 12.4kmpl claimed efficiency figure, which isn't much, considering how there are heavier and more powerful ladder-frame UVs that are more efficient.

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross

The load-lugging powerplant is supported by a chassis of a similar nature. Agile it is not and you do sense the implications of its size. Body-roll is noticeable and it feels skittish should you attempt any high-speed cornering. Yes, the heavy steering is quite a handful in the city, and while it is direct, it won't please the enthusiast since there's not much feedback. Additionally, the V-Cross rides on a leaf spring rear suspension which is meant to support heavy weights, not spirited driving. Drive solo at high speeds and you feel the tail get a tad bumpy. As a result, the ride isn't luxury sedan plush, but it's actually better than many popular SUVs. Fill up the 265kg capacity loading deck and the ride will settle down and that's when you can appreciate the V-Cross's bad road ability. The 245-section tyres have sidewalls measuring over 171mm, and while their grip levels are decent, it's their ability to pummel through pothole after pothole that impresses.

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross

Drive through dirt tracks on the way to your farmhouse or through the trophies of incompetence that the municipality calls 'roads'; the V-Cross is relentless in its expressing its desire to deal with broken patches. The best part is, while like the MU-7, the D-Max V-Cross is solar-system-big, its proportions are backed up by actual off-road ability, thanks to the shift-on-the-fly 4x4 system with low-range.

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross

Throw in the 225mm of ground clearance and you might find yourself looking for a challenge to tackle even in regular settings. However, the approach and departure angles aren't ideal for hardcore off-roading. With about a mile between the rear tyre and tailgate, this is still far too large to be an alternative to the Thar or Gurkha. The driving position gives you a good view that aids in manoeuvrability and, of course, you're never starved for torque, but the heavy steering means you better keep some energy bars handy if you're heading into intimidating terrain.

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross

The V-Cross is more practical than purpose-built off-roaders, but that does come with an understandable compromise on the go-anywhere factor. That said, the modification prospects are aplenty and a little tinkering can enhance the V-Cross's appeal both mechanically and cosmetically.

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross

Now chances are, you're reading this review just out of curiosity or to reaffirm a decision you've already made. The fact is, at a price of Rs 12.80 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) there are better performing and easier-to-live-with SUVs available. Owning an open-bed pickup just isn't the same as getting yourself a 4-pillar SUV and unless someone just wants a cool toy with a stand out body style, the cross-shopping prospects are low.

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross

The V-Cross is, however, the real deal. It's the support car for your inter-city bicycle rides, your cargo mover for business transactions, your play thing when the going gets rough and your beloved driveway mammoth, just because




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Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta Wows 2016 Paris Motor Show

Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta

In case you're wondering, 'Aperta' is Italian for 'open'. After revealing the convertible variant of the LaFerrari in July 2016, Ferrari has officially debuted it at the ongoing Paris Motor Show. Christened the LaFerrari Aperta, it is far more exclusive than its coupe sibling. Only 209 units will ever be made, out of which all the 200 'for sale' units have already been sold. The nine units left will be used to celebrate Ferrari's seventieth anniversary next year.

Powering the US $2 million (approximately Rs 13.32 crore) Aperta andndash; which is nearly twice as expensive as the coupe andndash; is the same hybrid set-up that is found under the coupe's body. This means, with both the electric and petrol powerplants active, the Aperta can crack 100kmph from naught in under three seconds and claim a top speed in excess of 350kmph.

Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta

Ferrari's top-of-the-line models have always had V-12s as the power source and the Aperta is no exception. It has a naturally aspirated 6.3-litre twelve-cylinder petrol engine pumping out 800PS of power and 700Nm of torque. Pairing the V-12 is a KERS (kinetic energy recovery system)-based electric motor, which pumps out an additional 163PS of power. The combined power adds up to 963PS and 900Nm of torque. The powertrain is mated to a seven-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox and drives the rear wheels only.

Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta

The Aperta receives a revised carbon fibre structure to ensure that it has the same torsional rigidity and stiffness as its coupe sibling. To achieve the same drag coefficient andndash; without the roof installed andndash; as the coupe, the Aperta has received some subtle aerodynamic changes.

The car in Paris featured a deep black paint with red strips on the bonnet and the bumpers. The same colour combination is carried inside with an all-black interior trim with red-coloured accents on the seats. Since every Aperta that rolls out of the Ferrari factory will be tailor-made to suit its customer's requirements, no two of these cars will ever be the same.




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Nissan Showcases New-Generation Micra At Paris Motor Show 2016




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5th-Gen Nissan Micra Unveiled At Paris Motor Show

2017 Nissan Micra front quarter view

Nissan has unveiled the next-generation Micra at the ongoing Paris Motor Show. The manufacturer had already teased the car a few times before the unveiling and it was about time it got unveiled. In its fifth generation, the Micra sheds the quirky and the retro cues that it carried in exchange for a more futuristic and aggressive layout. However, that is not the only update, and following are the changes that the car has received.

Aesthetics

2017 Nissan Micra side view

The all-new Micra incorporates Nissan's latest design scheme, which hasn't made it to India as of yet. However, if you have seen cars like the 2016 Nissan Maxima or the Nissan Kicks in pictures you can clearly relate the semblance in exterior design. The front end now features the V-motion grille, an aggressive bonnet stance from which two character lines emerge and continue through the sides, all the way to the rear boomerang shaped tail lamps. One can also notice the distinctive alloy-wheel design, a floating roofline with a kink in the c-pillar.

2017 Nissan Micra dashboard and infotainment system

On the inside, the car features a dual tone dash, which is the same unit that we have seen in the Nissan Kicks, that was revealed by the manufacturer before the 2016 Rio Olympics. The dash features soft-touch materials, two sleek AC louvres above the 7.0-inch infotainment system and two large circular ones on either side.

Features

2017 Nissan Micra interiors side view

It carries a plethora of features, with many included for the first time in a Nissan hatchback. It gets active features such as the Lane Departure Prevention, which according to Nissan is a first-in-class feature. It also gets Intelligent Emergency Braking with pedestrian recognition, all-around view monitor, traffic sign recognition, high beam assist and blind spot warning.

2017 Nissan Micra Bose headrest speaker

The car also ups the ante in terms of the music system it uses. The unit is developed in collaboration with Bose and uses six speakers to accentuate the aural appeal for the driver as well as the passengers. To optimise the sound experience, the driver's headrest comes integrated with Bose's UltraNearfield speakers to provide an even better listening experience. Whereas, the infotainment system supports navigation, Bluetooth integration, downloadable apps and Siri voice control via Apple CarPlay.

Dimensions

The fifth-gen Micra is 3999mm long, 1743mm wide, 1455mm in height and has a wheelbase of 2525mm. It is because of this that the car qualifies to land into India as the over 4-metre tax won't apply to it, helping Nissan India to price it competitively in our market.

Drivetrains andamp; Underpinnings

2017 Nissan Micra wheel

Based on the Renault-Nissan alliance's latest CMF-B platform, the all-new Micra will meet higher standards of weight saving and structural strength. It also uses the Active Ride Control and Active Trace Control for enhanced ride quality and better handling.

Powering the car will be an all-new 0.9-litre, turbocharged, inline three-cylinder petrol engine and an updated version of the current 1.5-litre inline four-cylinder motor. Both the engines develop a similar power figure of 90PS. The company has planned another 1.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol motor, which will produce 73PS of power.

2017 Nissan Micra rear quarter view

The car will be produced in Nissan's European factories and will be launched in March 2017. Speaking of India, there's no official word form Nissan India, but the car might make its way to the country in the next two years if the manufacturer finds a way to localise it on our soil.




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Volkswagen Ameo Diesel Launched At Rs 6.34 Lakh

Volkswagen Ameo Diesel

German automaker Volkswagen has launched the diesel avatar of its first compact sedan, the Ameo. Prices start at Rs 6.34 lakh and go all the way up to Rs 9.32 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai).

The Ameo is based on the same platform as the Polo, and slots in between the hatchback and its sedan sibling - the Vento. Volkswagen's first India-specific product got a lukewarm response when it was launched earlier this year, with a sole petrol engine. With the diesel motor, however, sales are expected to pick up, especially with the festive season around the corner.

The talking point, of course, is the 1.5-litre diesel engine that pumps out 110PS of power and 250Nm of torque, compared to the Polo's 90PS/230Nm. The engine can be had with a 5-speed manual transmission, as well as a 7-speed dual-clutch, automatic transmission. Notably, the Ameo is the only vehicle in its class to offer a DSG; most of its peers feature an automated manual transmission (AMT). Claimed fuel efficiency is rated at 21.73kmpl for the automatic variant.

Volkswagen Ameo Diesel

Other than the engine, practically everything else remains identical to its petrol counterpart. On the design front, you continue to get the double-barrel headlamps, the strong character lines and the stubby boot. The Ameo is well-decked with features too, a few of which are exclusive to the sedan in its class. A few noteworthy features include a touchscreen infotainment system with MirrorLink, automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers and cruise control. There are a few feel-good features too, such as a central armrest, tilt and telescopic steering and rear AC vents.

With the introduction of the diesel variant, the Ameo now looks set to be pitted against the likes of the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire, Tata Zest, Ford Figo Aspire and the Honda Amaze. We will be driving the diesel-powered Ameo soon, do stay tuned for a comprehensive review.

Detailed pricing -

Manual

Trendline andndash; Rs 6,33,600

Comfortline andndash; Rs 7,35,150

Highline andndash; Rs 8,16,900

Automatic

Comfortline andndash; Rs 8,50,150

Highline andndash; Rs 9,31,900

(All prices ex-showroom Delhi)




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