Vitz & Platz: Are they any good on Pakistani roads?

800px-03-05_toyota_echo_sedan800px-2002_toyota_vitz_01

Toyota developed Vitz (aka Yaris) & Platz (aka Echo) initially for sale/use in European & Japanese markets. However, just because they are cheaper (to buy) many of my local brethren have fallen ‘prey’ to dubious dealers selling Vitz & Platz (mostly re-conditioned ones) as Japanese assembled “A-Category” automobiles.

During the course of my research I came across an article by an American ex-pat, Heather Carriero currently teaching in Pakistan who has a self-described ‘unquenchable” thirst for travel, adventure & new challenges.

Her article cites the cars’  low clearance, non-compatibility with CNG kits & overall poor quality of fuel in Pakistan as the most daunting problems faced by these foreign-assembled cars.

You can read more of her article at the link given below:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1057526/warning_buying_and_driving_a_toyota.html?cat=27

Heather’s VERDICT: Would love to buy, own & use both in Japan but they are just not suitable to the environment of the subcontinent.

Your VERDICT: ???

Suzuki Alto vs Daihatsu Cuore

design_concept_alto_11img_coure-1Suzuki’s Alto has been launched by the carmaker to compete with Daihatsu’s Cuore. Although they are both priced in the same range (Alto variants priced for Rs.0.588million & Rs.0.637million while variants of Cuore sell for Rs.0.569million to Rs.0.709million); engine displacement of Cuore is only 847cc (3-cylinders) with a 3-speed A/T transmission  (5-speed in CX & CXCNG variants) compared with 970cc (4-cylinders) displacement of the Alto’s with its 5-speed M/T transmission.

is more compact at 3.3m in length while Alto is slightly larger at 3.395m. Both have near exact suspension systems i.e. MacPherson Strut for front wheels & isolated trailing link for rear ones. WHile fuel tanks are also identical (37-litre capacity) the CNG cylinder in Alto is slightly bigger (55-L) than Cuore’s (50-L).

If Alto sells for its better performance features the severalphoto_7 variants of Cuore design_concept_alto_11make it affordable to a variety of buyers including some chunk of the Cultus market which is otherwise the only car that competes exclusively against ‘unorganized imports’. Both are assembled locally with Daihatsu assembling their’s at the Toyota Indus Motors plant & Suzuki having their own assembly unit.

Suzuki Liana ke na liana?

liana20main20picLets face it with price of the lowest tier 1.3L RXI MT starting at Rs.0.952million with the top of the line 1.6L EMINENT AT going for Rs.1.086million Liana is ”poor man’s sedan”. But is this just our ATTITUDE?

Although most of us grew up or around Suzuki manufactured vehicles but ever since other Japanese carmakers (Honda, Toyota & Nissan) set-up their car-assembly units we have come to look down upon Suzuki vehicles with a high degree of disdain.

Suzuki has never tried to allay this impression and we have made it out into some sort of a firm belief. Now with new inductions and elimination of ‘failed’ brands Suzuki maybe out to set things right but is it too late, only time will tell.

liana20web20imageLet us examine what it calls Life In A New Age (or LIANA for short). Suzuki’s Liana is the shortest of all sedans with a length of 4.35m from bumper-to-bumper slightly shorter even than Honda’s CITY (4.395m) and comes in three variants: The basic RXI, slightly luxuries LXI & top-of-the-line EMINENT.

Suzuki knowing well their ‘thrift-conscious’ clientele have factory fitted the RXI & LXI with CNG which are available as an option only. With EMINENT SUzuki appears to be attempting to play ‘cach-up’ with the CITY since even their prices have a less than Rs.0.100million difference (some might say its a ‘wannabe’ CITY).

liana20vurv20design20concept201Shiny, metallic interior is complimented by the new chrome front-grill & alloy tyre-rims which are again an option only. With new fog lamps added to suit the needs of up-country Pakistani clients & a new ‘sparkling’ tail-light Liana seems to scream ‘look at me, I am a sedan too’.

The only feature other than the factory-fit 60L CNG cylinder (Petrol tank holds max. 50L fuel) that I really like is the key-less entry buttons (placed on the key itself they may look tachy but are functional to say the least). Here Suzuki has taken a leaf out of the Mitsubishi Lancer’s manual which has the same option in all its new models.

This is all there is to a Liana so now Suzuki Liana ke na Liana “Bring it (home) or don’t” is up to you and your pocket’s liking.

Which is the fastest road car in the world?

Face it boys will always be boys & the badder the boy the faster will be his ride. However here we are interested in super cars that are street legal & go faster than all others.

800px-bugatti_veyron_in_tokyoAlthough Bugatti Veyron made by is the fastest production car currently with a price tag of US$.1.7million and a top speed of 253mph achieved by its 1001hp Narrow Angle W16 Engine and ended McLaren F1′s (Top Speed: 240mph) 11-year reign as the fastest production car in 2005. Today several cars are in various stages of development that have proven faster in trials.

ccx3One such car is the swedish-made Koenigsegg CCX whose manufacturer also claims that it is capable of exceeding 250mph putting it at par with the Veyron. Infact CCX ended the reign of McLaren F1 but its own reign was short-lived as Bugatti immediately updated its Veyron. Koenigsegg has announced that they will update CCX very soon.

ssc-ultimate-aeroYet another challenger is SSC Ultimate Aero which on Sep. 13th, 2007 using a closed section of Washington State Highway clocked a top speed of 256.18mph using a V8 engine half-the-size of Veyron’s. It generates 1183bhp &  of torque (Veyron: 479lbs). The car’s website page(www.sportscarcup.com/ssc-ultimate-aero/) lists the top speed as 273mph. Price: US$0.6Million.

barabustkrAnother equivalent of this amazing challenger is the fast yet modified supercar built by Barabus called Barabus TKR having 6L V8 Chevy bi-turbo engine capable of generating an amazing 1095bhp & acgheivingtop speed of  270mph. The body & chasis of the car are both made of carbon-fibre. It is rumoured to reach 0-60mph in 1.67sec which is amazing since even 4 sec qualifies for supercar.

hennesseysrt-10vipervenom1000An obscure modifier using modified versions of Dodge Viper under name of Hennessey SRT-10 Viper Venom 1000 Twin Turbo Coupe claims to challenge Bugatti Veyron (even SSC Ultimate Aero) using a 500bhp Viper engine reworked to give 1000bhp at 15psi instead of the usual 10psi creating a 255mph marvel priced at a ‘reasonable’ US$0.225million.

colanilemansColani Racing of Switzerland has designed a roadster which is yet to see the light of any road other than the 24-hour LeMans Circuit. With a 900hp engine The Colani LeMans is rumoured to have a top speed of approx. 255mph. However there is no news regarding any plans for commercial production and Colani are uptil now only producers of cars for racing purpose.

callawaysledgehammercorvette Callaway Corvette Sledgehammer reached a top speed of 254.76mph on  Oct 19, 1989 driven by John Lingenfelter. Only 1 of these cars exists, although, at the time Callway Motor Company claimed that they could reproduce it for 0.400million. It seems no one wants one at that price & it has ended up being a concept car rather than a commercial production model.

Other concept cars that failed to become production cars included Oldsmobile Aerotech Short Tail (Top Speed: 257mph); Lotec C1000 (Top Speed 268mph); F-Bomb 1973 Camaro (Top Speed 270mph); Bristol Fighter SCR (270mph – electronically limited to 225mph); Audi R-Zero (Top Speed 253mph); Melling Hellcat (Top Speed 276mph) & the 2000hp Walley Larson LE1 Groundfighter (Top Speed 305mph).

Anything I missed please do let me know.

Head On: Camry vs Accord

img_gallery011camry11Eversince Honda introduced Accord & Toyota launched Camry as their up-market luxury sedan models there has been tough head-on competition between the two.

Although the sales figures suggest that Accord has been outselling Camry looking at their specs the reason isn’t clear. Both have identical 70-litre fuel tanks, near-identical engine displacements (Accord:2354cc & Camry:2362cc) and similar Torque Ratios: 226Nm/4300rpm for Accord while for Camry it is 224Nm/6000rpm.

Top speed of Camry is listed on Toyota Indus Motors (www.indus-motors.com.pk) as 211kph for Manual Transmission version and 204kph for Automatic Transmission. Honda Pakistan (www.honda.com.pk) being more concerned with Safety & Environment hasn’t listed a top speed instead it focuses on the safety / environment-friendly features of the car.

Finally as always it all boils down to the physical ‘looks’ of the car & price of both cars. In that department Accord having a more sleek/elegant & less ‘bulky’ design that Camry (see photos for evidence) wins’ hearts & minds’ of the customer hands-down.

The other factor helping customers decide in favour of Accord is the price tag Rs.4.699M (for A/T) while Camry retails for Rs.5.999M (M/T) to Rs.6.199M (A/T).

Can’t believe this super car is an EV!

mercedes-benz-sls-amg-gullwing-prototype_3mercedes-benz-sls-amg-gullwing-prototype_11A zero-emission supercar, tentatively named LS AMG eDrive, features 4 electric motors with a combined output of 392 kW (526 hp) and 880 Nm (649 lb-ft) of torque enabling it to rocket from 0-100 km/h in around 4 seconds.

This compares favourably as a matter of fact on par with the petrol-driven 6.3-liter (6208cc) V8 powered (571 hp and 650 Nm) SLS that accomplishes the same task in 3.8 seconds. The stats maybe okay for the petrol version but the electric version is as good as its gets (for now anyway).

In a statement, Mercedes-AMG GmbH’s CEO Volker Mornhinweg said, “With the SLS AMG with electric drive, we wanted to redefine the super sports car. For us, it is not just about responsibility. We attach just as much importance to excitement and classic AMG performance.”

I surely believe thay have. Its expected that the car may well be in production by 2011. When it does start commercial  production it will offer fierce competition to Tesla Roadster eV & Lightning GT Electric Sportscar (both already in production phase).

PS: Photos may not  depict the final production version as it has been shielded by the manufacturer & pix are only ‘spy photos’ of the prototype.

Mitsubishi Lancer – Original is better?

lancer-gtsdmmc2I have been driving a Japanese-assembled Mitsubishi Lancer for the last 4-years (almost) give or take a few days. Call me sentimental but the reason I like this car is its ‘virtually’ zero maintainence .

Offcourse the usual oil, oil & air filter change aside the car has never gone to a garage for any other reason. Believe it or not even the side-view mirrors, the ‘cabin’ light & front/back Mitsubishi logos are ‘factory-fitted originals’. I think that speaks volumes about itthe car’s durability.

I am not a very ‘technical’ admirer of cars but practically speaking if it looks good & is still running fine after say 5 years or so of ‘medium rough’ use I think u’d agree it MUST BE A GOOD CAR.

Imports may be a burden on an economy but imports like this are worth sending some money ‘abroad’ as they save you a whole lot more before they ‘finally’ go the way of ‘clunker for cash’.

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The ‘All New’ Honda City

img_gallery01What I don’t understand is that why do Honda meed ‘so many’ sedan brands? If Accord is a class apart & in the same league as Toyota Camry then why are City & Civic cutting into each other’s market share? Conceeded that City started as an attempt by Honda to make a ‘budget’ sedan but isn’t that like Suzuki’s job?

The introduction of City (which is neither cheap nor expensive @ Rs.1.139M for 1.3L M/T & Rs.1.399M for 1.3L A/T) has ‘only’ allowed Suzuki to rias its products’ prices so that City is no at par with Liana and we being a nation ‘riased on a Suzuki’ will trust a Suzuki more while viewing the ‘reduced’  price of a Honda brand (City) with suspicion.

I myself (& those like me) have driven a Japanese-assembled Mitsubishi Lancer for about four years & it is yet to be taken to a garage so I will Insha Allah buy another Lancer once the current lease ends in May next year.

So the question is: WHOSE MARKET HAS THE CITY MOST ADVERSELY AFFECTED? I think its CIVIC’s which is (despite local-assembly) still priced slightly below the Lancer. (CIVIC 1.8L VTi Oriel @ Rs.1.734M to Mitsubishi Lancer’s 1.6L GLX @ Rs.1.899M – both M/T models).

I think Toyota has got it right. Instead of 2 brands they have ‘sub-brands’ within Corolla Brand such as Altis & 2.0D. (Altis of same displacement as Civic is a lot cheaper i.e Rs.1.639M while Altis 1.8 M/T SR is also priced below Civic VTi Oriel i.e. Rs.1.724M).

All manufacturers/marketers do make up their own names for similar technologies to ‘differentiate’ otherwise similar products. As far as I am concerned they all have engines, doors, windows, Steering, Gears & brake/clutch/accelarator pedals what else is there to have.