20090830

Driven #1: Bajaj Discover 100 DTS-Si

If there is an award for a company which constantly upgrades and refreshes its models, you have to hand it over to Bajaj for the kind of manipulations they do and come out relentlessly with improved variants and sub-variants of their existing models and platforms. They did it successfully with the Pulsar range (150, 180, 220 and finally 200) and are trying to emulate the same success story with the Discover range. The Discover started its life as a 125cc offering, was later joined by smaller and bigger cousins in the form of 110cc and 135cc and now the recently launched 100 DTS-Si. Now that Bajaj has stopped the 110 and 125, Discover range is left with the sporty 135 DTS-i and the economical 100 DTS-Si.

TO LOOK AND FEEL:
Ever since the Discover was launched years back, it has always been quite a looker in its segment. Over the years, Bajaj has tweaked the design, added some bits here and there and made sure that the Discover continues to be a very good looking bike. In fact, I would say, it simply blows the competition away when it comes to styling. The sporty, low-slung design, a long wheelbase, black-themed styling (for engine & wheels), segment-first features like Twin Pilot Lamps, LED Tail Lamps, etc. makes this bike wonderful to look at. Especially from the rear, the bike looks stunning with its triple-layered LED lamps and it cannot be associated as a 100cc econobike.
 
It’s a known fact that Bajaj is the king when it comes to features and the Discover DTS-Si is no exception. Bajaj has loaded this bike to the maximum extent possible. Apart from the LED Taillights & twin Pilot Lamps, the bike offers a maintenance-free battery, auto choke, gas-filled rear suspension (NitroX), LED Battery Charge Indicator, Ride Control Switch, electric start, etc. 

ON THE ROAD:
 The latest version of Bajaj’s DTS-Si engine finds its way into the Discover after doing duty in other models like Platina and XCD. The 94.38cc single-cylinder 4-stroke engine puts out 7.7 ps of power at 7500 rpm. Turn on the ignition and the typical Bajaj exhaust note greets you. The refinement of the engine is on par for the segment though models from Honda and Suzuki in the same price bracket beats it hands-down in this area. The all-down 5-speed gearbox mated to the engine is easy to use. The power delivery is smooth and the bike does not feel slow in traffic. The presence of a 5th gear eliminates the usual feeling in 100cc bikes of running out of breath at medium speeds. Also remember the fact that this bike was designed for fuel-efficiency and comes with an ARAI certified fuel efficiency of 89 kmpl for Indian Driving Conditions (Source: Bajaj Auto website). 

Bajaj bikes are known for the good ride they offer and the Discover DTS-Si continues the tradition. With its telescopic front shocks and gas charged rear shocks (NitroX), the Discover gives its riders a smooth and pleasant ride. The wider rear tire (for its segment) along with the long wheelbase ensures that the bike feels stable on the road and handling is also not compromised. 

The only grouse is that after loading the bike with so many features, Bajaj could have given the bike an added safety with front disc brakes. The bike comes with drum brakes (both front & rear). Though drum brakes are the current norms in the 100cc segment, Bajaj had always been the trend-setter when it comes to features.
 
As said earlier, the bike comes loaded with technical stuff. Taking prime position among all is Bajaj’s patented, now-popular DTS-Si. The twin spark plugs help in better combustion resulting in more power and better fuel consumption. Also aiding fuel efficiency is the Swirl Induction technology by which turbulence is created in the air-fuel mixture by offsetting the positioning of inlet and outlet ports. Apart from this are the other advancements like ExhausTEC, TRICS III, Automatic Choke (eliminating manual choke operation), LED Battery Indicator (which indicates Battery Malfunction and Low Voltage), Battery Protector Unit & Ride Control Switch. (Source: Bajaj Auto website) 

TO SUM UP: 
The Discover DTS-Si is a solid offering in the 100cc segment with good styling, stunning features for its segment, good engine and excellent fuel efficiency. The fact that it was not designed as a 100cc bike unlike some of its competitors is an added advantage. With an On-Road Chennai price of Rs. 46734, its good value too considering the features that it provides and the higher platform in which it is based on (125cc segment platform). It comes with a huge responsibility of putting Bajaj back on the growth track (after Bajaj continuously lost sales month after month) and we hope it succeeds in its mission.

20090829

Racing to the Top

Around the same time last year, quite a lot of people (except for a few auto-buffs who foresaw this) were surprised when Hyundai-Kia became the world's 5th largest auto manufacturer leapfrogging Nissan and Honda. The same set of people were in for a bigger surprise this year - Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group (HKAG) has overtaken Ford to become the world's 4th largest auto company in Jan-Jun 2009 global sales. The once-a-butt-of-jokes Korean underdog has risen meteorically in the past decade to become a global superpower in the world of automobiles

When the company declared 10 years back that their ambition is to get into the Top 5 by 2010, there were no takers for the statement. But the Koreans had the audacity and commitment which paved the way for them to move from 11th in 1999 to 4th in 2009. What makes the acheivement even more remarkable is the fact that there was a difference of about 1 million vehicles between Ford and Hyundai-Kia in 2008. Of course, Ford lost quite a few brands from its kitty (Jaguar, Land Rover & Aston-Martin) in its restructuring process, but that should not take the credits away from the Korean duo.

The startling success of this company can be attributed to several factors such as a string of globally super-successful models (Sonata, Elantra, Ceed & Soul to name a few), multifold improving Brand-Image (Genesis Sedan & Coupe), the extremely successful new European nomenclature (i30, i10 & the recent i20) and renewed focus on Safety & Quality which puts its cars on par with the best.
 
Great going Hyundai-Kia!!! I sincerely hope that you will treat us with many more surprises with every new model launch which will not only be leaps & bounds ahead of the model it replaces but also lands directly on top of that particular segment.