Mercedes-Benz E350d LWB First Drive Review

The E-class was Mercedes’s first step on Indian soil and even today it remains the most important sedan in their line-up. Ever since Mercedes came to India, the E has been its most consistent performer and with over 34,000 units sold since its launch in 1995, the E-class is the same to Mercedes, as a daily loaf of bread is to us. Now in its tenth generation, Mercedes has come out all guns blazing with its all-new E-class and have loaded it with tech to make it the undisputed king in its segment. The fact that Mercedes is launching the long wheelbase version, which is only available in China, further exemplifies just how important the Indian market is to the German giant.

Like most Merc sedan’s, the E’s design is inspired from the flagship S-class. As a result it looks almost identical to its elder brother. The exteriors of the E-class look sophisticated, well rounded and more importantly luxurious. Upfront the large gaping grille with the large three pointed star sitting in the centre dominates and gives the car loads of presence. At the rear too the shapely tail lamps, stubby boot lid and the muscular bumper looks really nice and the chrome faux diffuser makes it look sporty too. Although the long wheelbase version gives you loads of space at the rear, it also makes the silhouette of the car look a bit ungainly. You can clearly see, that the Mercedes designers have struggled especially at the rear door which looks abruptly cut and the odd rear quarter glass further exemplifies it. Even the C-pillar looks a bit too vertical especially as compared to the heavily raked A-pillar. This is done not to compromise on rear headroom which has been given more importance over design finesse. Then the wheels, at 17 inches look a size too small for such a large car.

As the new E-class comes in the long wheelbase version it is substantially larger than its predecessor. Wheelbase length has grown by a massive 205mm, its overall length by 184mm. Mercedes engineers have also increased track width by 20mm upfront and 7mm at the rear to help make this limo more agile despite the XXL dimensions.

How is it on the inside?

Let’s move to the most impressive part of the new E-class, its interiors.  The cabin feels spacious, open and crisply styled even in the all-black trim our test car came with. There’s nearly as much space in here as in the massive S-class, and the overall design is similar too. The dash design is elegant, beautifully detailed and well-crafted and the layered effect that the designers have going works a treat. Attention to detail is phenomenal right from the beautifully finished chrome vents to the high definition screen. Quality is top-notch too and the E-class delivers a super combination of materials wherever you look.

The standard touchpad on the centre console works really well and after using it for a bit, it is almost as nice to use as a touchscreen. For those who prefer a more traditional control scheme, there’s the usual chrome COMAND wheel as well. You also get touch sensitive buttons on the steering wheel, which control the main as well as the instrumentation screen.

The front seats on the new E-class is perfectly cushioned and offer good support. But being the first E-class to get long wheelbase, the rear seat is the main priority and it doesn’t disappoint. At the rear the knee-room is just phenomenal and even tallest of people will feel spoilt by the space on offer. These seats recline and adjust for height too which just adds to the overall back seat experience. The wide cabin also means the third rear passenger has enough width to be more comfortable than before. But the occupant of the middle perch will have their feet astride a sizable transmission tunnel and the protruding centre armrest. What really disappoints is the fact that there are no cup holders at the back, especially on car which focusses so much on rear seat comfort.

Boot like the old car is big and well-shaped. But like in recent Merc’s, the space saver spare tyre takes up considerable amount of space.

The E350d will come only in one variant and it gets loads of standard equipment. It gets auto-park, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible COMAND system, both front and back powered seats, 360 degree camera, cruise control, three zone climate control, ESP, PreSafe and several airbags. We would have also liked the E-class to come with lane departure warning with auto steer and powered boot opening which the new Volvo S90 gets.


Hindustan Motors sold the Ambassador brand to Peugeot for Rs 80 crore

Hindustan Motors sold the Ambassador brand to Peugeot for Rs 80 crore

The iconic Hindustan Motor Ambassador has been sold to the French manufacturer Peugeot for an agreed sum of Rs 80 crore. The C.K. Birla Group, who owns the Hindustan Motors, formalised the deal with the PSA Group for the sale of the Ambassador brand, including the trademarks. The proceeds from the sale will be utilised by Hindustan Motors to clear dues of employees and lenders.

Introduced in 1958, based on the British Morris Oxford III, the Ambassador ceased production just three years back. The Ambassador brand ruled the Indian streets in 70’s and 80’s, with six revisions in its 56 years of production. The last Ambassador rolled out of Hindustan Motor’s Uttarpara facility in 2014 when the company could no longer keep up with the new generation of cars in the Indian market.

As reported earlier, PSA Group is all set to foray into the Indian market with Rs 700 Crore joint ventures with C.K. Group. Of the two joint ventures, the PSA Group will hold a majority stake in the joint venture with Hindustan Motors Finance Corporation Limited (HMFCL) for the assembly and distribution of PSA passenger cars in India at HMFCL’s Tamil Nadu facility. PSA aims at manufacturing and exporting one lakh vehicles a year in the initial phase and further investments will be made depending on market performance. We believe that they will approach the Indian market with three models in their lineup, with operations to start by 2020.

As of now, PSA hasn’t made any official statement about its plans with the Ambassador. It would be bold decision if the French carmaker chooses to revive the Ambassador in its Indian venture.


New spy shots of facelifted Hyundai Xcent confirm revised design for rear-end

New spy shots of facelifted Hyundai Xcent confirm revised design for rear-end

Hyundai recently launched a facelifted model for the Grand i10 in the Indian market. Priced in the range of Rs 4.58 lakh to Rs 7.32 lakh, it is their primary fighter in the B-segment and takes on the Maruti Suzuki Swift, Honda Brio, Tata Bolt and Nissan Micra. Now with the Grand i0 out on the market, we can shortly expect its compact sedan, the Xcent, to be launched. Now, new spy shots reveal that the facelifted Xcent will get a revised rear-end. This was one of the major qualms that were brought with the current model and it looks like Hyundai has addressed the issue with this facelift.

The pictures reveal the tail lamps now become wrap-around rectangular units and their larger size indicates that the design will enhance the appearance in terms of size. Also visible is a large chrome strip above the number plate holder which is present in current car but is quite small in size. This new chrome strip will enhance the premium factor in the appearance. It also expected that the bumper will be updated to match the new tail lamps and chrome strip. We believe that Hyundai will launch the car by the end of this quarter with a marginal increase in price.


The Electric car scenario: Global

The Electric car scenario: Global

This decade has seen a paradigm shift in car makers’ and car buyers’ sensibilities. Global warming as a threat had been identified back in the 90s. But it is now that the average temperatures around the globe have set new records for consecutive years, when the world has realised that we should let go of fossil fuels and opt for sustainable solutions.

Leading the way is Europe, especially Germany. The engineering epicentre of the world has taken the onus of ushering the world into an era of electric vehicles. By 2030, Germany plans to sell all electric cars. European car makers like Mercedes-Benz have responded by declaring 10 new electric cars in their line-up by 2025. BMW has already sold 1,00,000 electric vehicles by now including the i3 hatchback and the i8 supercar.

The American automotive industry is still stuck in its oil-prowess, shoving those big-block V8s and V6s into cars. The mercurial Elon Musk has taken the American car industry by storm with Tesla cars giving the old-school car buyers a sturdy electric option. Hence, a large number of car makers have taken their first steps towards EVs. General Motors, Chrysler and Ford have at least one electric product among their brands.

In spite of having a large chunk of developing nations within itself, it is Asia that is leading the electric makeover of the global automotive industry and Japan is spearheading the campaign. Toyota has a bunch of plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles in its portfolio. Nissan electrics and plug-in hybrids are bestsellers across the world. Countries like India are also bracing hybrid technologies thanks to the FAME initiative by the government that gives tax sops to hybrid and electric technology. Mahindra Electric is leading the way here with the new Mahindra e2oPlus four-seater hatchback and the eVerito sedan.

The challenges that we have mentioned in the previous article are being addressed. America and Europe have a very basic electric car infrastructure in place already and it is undergoing expansion with corporate and government working together. Developing countries do lag behind but the intent is seen and it would help if they can amalgamate EV infrastructure into basic infrastructure so as to speed up the process. The scales are tilting heavily in the favour of electric vehicles. The development in battery technology, chip-revolution and production techniques is the wind in the EV sails which has sped the shift to an EV dominated future.


Audi RS3 Sportback coming to Geneva

Audi RS3 Sportback coming to Geneva

Audi unveiled the RS3 Sedan at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, while the new A3 went on sale in May last year. Following that, a new and updated RS3 Sportback is making its way at the forthcoming 2017 Geneva Motor Show.

As with the RS3 Sedan, the Sportback will come with what Audi calls “world’s most powerful production five-cylinder engine” – 2.5-litre TFSI engine which makes 394bhp and 480 Nm. The power is up by 33bhp and 15Nm over the previous car, while the weight is reduced by 26kg owing to extensive use of aluminium for engine components. The Sportback will sprint to 100kmph from standstill in 4.1seconds and top out at electronically limited 250kmph, though it can be pushed to 174mph by opting the ‘dynamic package plus’.

As with all RS model’s tradition, power is sent to Quattro permanent all-wheel drive system via an S-Tronic seven-speed dual clutch transmission. The car sits 25mm lower than the standard A3 and boasts a 20mm wider track at the front axle. Braking responsibilities are taken care by 310mm discs both fore and aft, with carbon-ceramic as optional fitment. Audi drive select system offers three modes – comfort, auto and dynamic. It allows the driver to alter steering, transmission, engine management, adjustable exhaust flaps and optional RS sports suspension with an adaptive damper control.

The RS3 Sportback can be distinguished from standard A3 by the aggressive bumper with prominent splitters, brushed aluminium touches with Quattro moniker upfront. The gloss black honeycomb grille design is the new Audi motif, while the redesigned LED headlamps from last year’s updates come with Audi’s Matrix unit as an optional extra. At the rear, there is a reworked spoiler atop the tailgate, altered tail lamp, new diffuser with aluminium surround and twin oval exhaust tailpipes.

Inside the cabin, Audi’s Virtual cockpit makes its debut, with a special RS screen. The RS screen display shifts the tachometer to the centre, with torque, G-forces and tyre pressure on the either side. The sports seats are wrapped in black Nappa leather, flat bottom steering wheel with mounted paddle shifters and infotainment controls.

We could see the new RS3 Sportback in all its glory at the Geneva show in March. The Sportback will take on the BMW M140i xDrive and Mercedes-Benz A45 4Matic upon its arrival.


Ford to invest $1 Billion in Argo Al for autonomous vehicles

Ford to invest $1 Billion in Argo Al for autonomous vehicles

As part of Ford’s plans to introduce self-driving cars for commercial ride sharing fleets by 2021, the company has announced it plans to invest $1 billion over next five years in tech startup company Argo Al. Pittsburg-based Argo AI will help Ford build a virtual driver system and once developed it might also be licensed to other companies as well.

Argo Al, founded by former executives from self-diving teams at Uber and Google, focusses on artificial intelligence and robotics. Their expertise will help Ford introduce fully autonomous vehicles by 2021. Ford Chief Executive Officer, Mark Fields was quoted as saying, “With Argo AI’s agility and Ford’s scale we’re combining the benefits of a technology start up with the experience and discipline we have at Ford.” Last year, ford invested around $75 million to buy minority stake in Velodyne, a manufacturer of laser-based lidar sensing systems for self-driving cars.

The company’s efforts are likely to yield positive results as most automakers are moving towards developing electric and self-driving cars. This will help the American automaker follow the lines of Toyota Motor Corp’s $1 billion investment over five years to create its own robotics and artificial intelligence research division. General Motors also invested $500 million to buy a 9-percent stake in San Francisco-based ride services firm Lyft, a competitor to Uber. Additionally, GM has also acquired Silicon Valley based self-driving startup Cruise Automation.


Xolo Era 2X India launch on January 5: Here’s everything we should know

Xolo Era 2X India launch on January 5: Here's everything we should know

New Delhi: Lava’s sub-brand Xolo is scheduled to launch its smartphone Xolo Era 2X on January 5. It will go on sale from January 9, 2017.

Here are the expected features:

1)The press invite talks uses hashtag #TaptoLife. Nothing more than this is mentioned in the press release. There is a major possibility that Tap option to Unlock functionality may have been provided in the phone.

2) Xolo Era 2X may be priced around Rs 4,999 as in the case of Xolo Era 1X launched in September 2016.

3) The phone is all likely to compete against the likes of LYF Wind 7, Micromax Unite 3 and Honor Holly among others.

4) The Xolo Era 2X launchd in September came with 1.3GHz quad-core processor with 1GB of RAM and memory expandable upto 32GB using a microSD card. Xolo Era 2X should atleast have these features or something enhanced.

5) The Xolo Era 1X smartphone runs on Android Marshmallow 6.0. So, Xolo Era 2X should be having equivalent support or the latest.

The Xolo Era 2X is expected to be avaiable exlusively via Flipkart.


Watch: Model Emily Ratajkowski explains how OnePlus’ Dash Charge works!

Watch: Model Emily Ratajkowski explains how OnePlus' Dash Charge works!

New Delhi: A day’s power in 30 minutes of charge – that’s OnePlus’ Dash charge does.

Yes, thanks to Dash Charge, one can charge their OnePlus devices as quickly as they can.

Taking it to another level, OnePlus has roped in American actress and model Emily Ratajkowski to explain how the Dash Charge works.

Taking to twitter, OnePlus said, “Everyone knows Dash Charge is the best charging technology around. But how does it work? @emrata explains all.”


Consumer Electronics Show 2017: Here’s what to expect

Consumer Electronics Show 2017: Here's what to expect

Las Vegas: With the world`s biggest annual electronics event — Consumer Electronics Show(CES-2017) — commencing, people expect to see a large range of Artificial Intelligence (AI) devices, robots and self-driving cars open a new window to the future of our increasingly technology-driven world.

Technology giants that forayed into AI and self-driving cars last year are expected to update their designs to be put on display at the event. The companies are also expected to showcase their products with the onus on Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) at the event.

CES is an annual trade show organised by the US Consumer Technology Association.

Held every year in January at the Las Vegas Convention Centre, the event typically hosts presentations of new products and technologies in the consumer electronics industry.

What to expect from the show:

Connected and self-driving cars: Although 2016 was marred by some technological failures in self-driving cars, the year also saw a couple of successful test runs in the US. Uber had ordered Swedish car maker Volvo for a fleet of self-driving cars.

Apart from the top auto manufacturers, including Nissan, Honda and Hyundai, Apple was also reportedly involved in providing the software for the self-driving cars.

CES 2017 may witness new, more intelligent driverless technology that would make the cars smarter.

Ultra high Definition TVs: With 4K TVs from giants like Samsung and LG made it to markets last year, 2017 may witness new, better but low-cost technology in this segment that will allow developing countries to buy these TVs. Watch out for Sony, Samsung, LG and TCL.

Smartphone: Smartphone technology had been dominating last few editions of the CES. This time smartphones may take a break as the industry has become too crowded. In fact, the smartphone vendors may now focus on VR and AR technology with new releases in VR headsets and 360 degree cameras at lower prices.

Apart from that, some companies may also unveil teasers of products for a launch at the upcoming Mobile World Congress (MWC) to be held at Barcelona in February.

Drones have also proven their mettle in the past year and 2017 may see a boom in the technology that may be used at a number of areas, including military, agriculture, security, among others.

CES-2017 may witness new releases in IoT with independent companies delving out more secure IoT devices.

Gaming laptops headlined 2016 with ASUS and Acer coming up with over-the-top product series. New powerful devices may come up at this year`s event.

According to a report in USA today, nearly 175,000 people are expected to attend the show this year witnessing products and services from over 3,800 exhibitors.


Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch India launch on Jan 10: All you should know

Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch India launch on Jan 10: All you should know

nt for the launch event which will take place in the capital city New Delhi on the 10th.

Here’s everything you need to know:

Gear S3 available in two variants

The Gear S3 is offered in two variants – Classic and Frontier.

The Gear S3 Classic comes with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, whereas there ‘Frontier’ version supports LTE, along with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

The smartwatch also has a circular bezel, which can be used to navigate through the menu, installed apps, accepting or rejecting calls.


The smartwatch features a 1.3-inch super AMOLED full circular display running at a resolution of 360×360pixels (278 dpi).

The screen is slightly bigger compared to the Gear S2′s 1.2-inch full circular display.

The company has added Corning Gorilla Glass SR+ protection, and it is military-grade durable, which means the Gear S3 Frontier could be able to withstand accidental damage, and would also be able to survive high and low temperatures.

Gear S3 price

The Gear S3 is priced at $349, which is approximately Rs 23,800.

However, there is no confirmation on the India pricing yet.