20160823

Hyundai launches the all-new Elantra in India

Hyundai did many things right over the last few years but if there’s one aspect of car-making that the South Korean manufacturer nailed to perfection, it has got to be its ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ design language. It was the fifth-generation Elantra that debuted the popular design theme, going on to become one of the world’s best-selling cars. The Elantra had a decent run in India too and was, in fact, the best-seller in its segment until the Toyota Corolla Altis came along and stole its thunder.

The sixth-generation Elantra, launched in New Delhi today, is Hyundai's attempt to regain the top spot in the entry-luxury segment. Based on an all-new platform and wearing an evolved version of the fluidic design, the new Elantra is more attractive and potent than its predecessor.


The new Elantra lineup consists of three trim levels - S, SX and SX(O) that further diversify into 9 variants based on engine and transmission options. The petrol variants are priced between 12.99 and 17.99 Lakhs while the diesel variants have price tags ranging from 14.79 to 19.19 Lakhs. All prices are introductory and ex-showroom, Delhi.


The swoops and curves of the current Elantra are gone, replaced by sharp lines and crisp detailing. Up front, the trademark hexagonal grille with a thick chrome surround, HID projector headlights and the boomerang-shaped recesses in the bumper housing the fog lamps lend the car with a distinct identity. Though not to the extent of the outgoing version, the profile shows off the Elantra’s coupe-like styling complete with a sloping roof and rising window line. The prominent waist line cuts across the door handles and fuses with the taillight only to re-emerge in the form of an integrated boot-lid spoiler. Split taillights with LED elements, plastic bumper insert and a shark-fin antenna complete the sporty rear.

While the exteriors are clearly an evolution over the current Elantra, the interiors have undergone a complete transformation.


The curvy layout of the present car has been ditched in favour of squarish elements with minimalist design. Build quality, fit and finish appear to be top notch as usual with the top-end variants boasting a bucket list of standard features. Key equipment include dual zone climate control, auto cruise control, drive mode select, keyless entry with push button start, 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, electric sunroof, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, ventilated front seats, music system with BlueTooth, USB and Aux compatibility and a ‘Smart Trunk’ that automatically opens the boot if it detects a person with the key standing behind the car for more than 3 seconds.

Safety is well taken care of with the SX(O) variant equipped with Antilock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), 6 airbags, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), Hill Assist Control (HAC) and reverse parking camera with sensors.


Powering the new Elantra is an all-new 2.0-liter petrol engine from the ‘Nu’ family that produces 150 bhp and 192 Nm of torque. The diesel variants come with the tried-and-tested 1.6-liter CRDi engine with 126 bhp and 260 Nm of torque. Both the petrol and diesel variants have an option of a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission.  

Hyundai has also introduced a Premium Assurance Program to differentiate the Elantra from its mass-market siblings. Basically, this program entitles the new Elantra for a 3-year unlimited warranty, free roadside assistance, free maintenance (upto 30,000 km) and includes a 3-time customer ‘Home Visit’.

With a firm grip on the mass market segments, Hyundai appears to be leaving no stone unturned in making the new Elantra a success in the premium segment. But with dwindling sales of D-segment sedans and the Corolla continuing to be as strong as ever, the Elantra has its task cut out.

20160821

Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) completes successful trial run in China

Back in May this year, there was this video that came along in the social media showing a straddling bus that could drive over vehicles stuck in traffic jams. Coming from China, a country notorious for congestion and traffic jams, we dismissed it as a 'too good to be true' imagination that's not going to make it out of virtual reality. 

Needless to say we were shocked when we learnt earlier this month that a working prototype of the Transit Elevated Bus (TEB-1), as the straddling bus is called, made its official test run in the city of Qinhuangdao, China's Hebei Province. Running on guided rails laid on either sides of a two-lane highway, the test run lasted just 300 meters.


As you can see from the pictures, at 22 m long and 7.8 m wide, the bus is massive and can be intimidating at first glance. The bus has a maximum speed of 60 km/h and runs 2 m above the road, letting other vehicles drive underneath. Each of these behemoths can carry up to 300 passengers. Multiple units could be coupled using concertina connections like the ones we have in articulated buses. A key fact highlighted during its test run was that a TEB network costs only a fraction of what it takes to build an underground metro while serving the same purpose. 


While all that is cool, what's not is its approximately 50 m turning radius and the need to control wheels on either sides to run at different speeds to take turns. Cities adopting this mode of transport better have wide and straight roads with minimal turns! 

The designers of the concept apparently referenced German trams for standards and control systems while the developers say the height and length of the bus are customizable and can be designed to accommodate the needs and infrastructure of different cities. 

Expectedly, the news of the Transit Elevated Bus on test created quite a stir globally but it appears not all are convinced this could be a potential solution for our traffic woes. While its feasibility and safety will continue to be discussed and debated, let's see if the trial run paves way for a full-fledged working model. If the time taken to transform this from concept to reality is any indication, we can expect that to happen pretty soon!

20160818

Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Concept leaks online, stuns automotive aficionados

The World Wide Web is a merciless place to be in. Ask Mercedes-Benz, whose plans of gradually revealing the curves and details of it's Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Concept as a build-up towards the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance were shattered with high-resolution images finding their way onto the web. 

For folks like us though, there can't be a better news to spruce up our tired Thursday evenings. Just look at the car and come back and say you aren't rejuvenated. We bet you can't!


At nearly 6 meters long, the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Concept has proportions to die for. The classic ultra-long hood split at the center could house any number of cylinders or electric motors that Mercedes-Benz would want to toss in. The fascia is dominated by the gaping chrome grille with vertical slats while a pair of sleek LED lights adorn either sides. The flowing silhouette with those gullwing doors is an aerodynamic marvel as is the curvy derriere characterized by thin streaks of LED lights. With its sloping roof line and wide shoulders, the car appears to be squatting on its rear.


The interiors are equally impressive as you would expect in a Mercedes-Maybach Concept. The high-tech cabin sports a Heads-Up Display (HUD) that stretches the full length of the windshield bombarding the occupants with all the information they need and some more. There is also what appears to be a touch-sensitive surface that runs the length of the dashboard and swoops around on either sides. The whole cabin, including the dashboard, seats and center console, appear to be wrapping themselves around the occupants cocooning them from the harsh realities outside.

With the official debut still some time away, no other specifications or details surrounding the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Concept is available now. But with a car as sexy as this, do we need those specs at all? Nah, we'll just keep gazing at it!

EDIT: The specifications are out. Powering this beautiful coupe are four electric motors producing a combined 738 horsepower. Backed by a 80 kWh battery, the motors can propel the car from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.2 seconds with a range of 200 miles on a single charge.

20160726

Anything On Wheels turns 7!


Based on a close buddy's advice, it was on this day in 2009 the URL anything-on-wheels.blogspot.in went live.​ Yes,​ Anything On Wheels has turned seven today​, transforming from being a personal blog of a car-loving individual to a reliable source of recent industry developments in the process. 

​While this still is a personal blog when it comes to content​, there are a bunch of others - photography enthusiasts that accompany me​ for the shoots,​ friends and followers who become auto-journalists momentarily to get that exclusive spy-shot, pals next door and from abroad who don't mind calling up at midnight to point out a silly typo or two in the posts - its these people that have helped Anything On Wheels reach here. 'I' became 'We', personal rants turned into honest opinions and suggestions and, from what our readers say, the quality and content of posts have gone up tremendously.
What an experience this has been? Managing our professional careers and yet spending time, efforts and, at times, money to do what we love hasn't been easy at all. But when family members consider blogging as a crucial household assignment and leave us alone when we are at it, we couldn't ask for more.

​In these seven years, Anything On Wheels has had:
  • 635,266 Clicks
  • 573 Posts
  • 127 exclusive Spy Shots
  • 33 Drive Reports
These numbers are hardly intimidating, we know. But that hasn't stopped us from coming up with these special collages that, we think, quite effectively bring out what we did since we started out in 2009.



Wish us well for the journey ahead and for those patrons who've been cheering for us despite having a plethora of better options out there, please continue to do so. We will strive to live up to your expectations.

Cheers!

20160721

Hyundai's 'Made in India' i20 crosses 1 Million unit sales

A little less than a decade back, when manufacturing cars in India and exporting them to advanced markets in Europe was unheard of, it was Hyundai that laid the foundation for the 'Make in India - Made for World' approach. The i10 in 2007 and the i20 in 2008 were made right here in Chennai for the whole world. In just 8 years since its launch, the South Korean manufacturer has crossed a sales milestone of 1,000,000 units for the 'Made-in-India' i20. That's quite a feat, given that a significant portion of that sales is from India, a market where premium hatchbacks were non-sellers just a few years back.


When it debuted in 2008, the i20 was supposed to be an export-oriented model for Hyundai Motor India with internal forecasts for domestic sales said to be a paltry 1000 units a month. As sales in India kept rising, at times as high as 6500 units, Hyundai had to rejig production to accommodate more domestic cars and less export cars. From 2008 to 2014, a total of 757,035 i20s rolled out of the company's plant in Chennai with an almost equal split between domestic sales and exports. 

When the second-generation model was launched as the 'Elite i20' in India, Hyundai had smartly moved European production to its facility in Turkey, freeing up more capacity for domestic production. In less than 2 years, sales including the i20 Active has surpassed 260,075 units with just 23,757 of them exported. It just goes to show the amazing popularity that the Elite i20 enjoys in India despite tough competition from Maruti-Suzuki's big-selling Baleno.


With stylish looks, feature-packed interiors, option of a refined petrol or a powerful yet frugal diesel engine and superb quality, fit and finish, the Elite i20's dream run in India looks unstoppable at the moment. Though not catered to from India, the i20's prospects in Europe got a much-needed fillip of late, the i20's recent victory in the World Rally Championship (WRC) helping the cause.

Let more and more i20s roll out. Let the 'Made in India' flag fly higher!