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The price is right

Brand new SUVs, affordable classics are on the cards. Have a look at it...

autos Updated: Dec 25, 2010 17:01 IST

Brand new SUVs, affordable classics are on the cards.

Cars and Bikes:
Zoom into 2011

Sirish Chandran,Editor, Overdrive magazine and host of Overdrive TV show

The best 4x4: Toyota Fortuner
Want to off-road? You need a Maruti Gypsy. Nothing clambers over rocks, digs itself out of deserts or wades through rivers like the good old Gypsy. It is also the best way to end up in hospital with a broken back, so what you really need is a Toyota Fortuner. It is comfortable and that’s the best bit about it.

Long distances are done without breaking a sweat; the big diesel engine is powerful enough; there’s lots of space so the boss can read the papers while stuck in traffic jams on the way to work and being a Toyota it will outlast anything else on the planet. There’s also a proper low-ratio transfer box so you can make friends with monks holed up in monasteries on top of the Himalayas.

Note: You will still need the Gypsy if you want to drive through national parks – diesel vehicles are banned.

Most droolworthy cars:
Bugatti Veyron Supersports
Ferrari 458 Italia
You know the gig. Ferdinand Piech, lord overseer of the mighty VW empire, wanted to build the world's fastest car. It took forever, costs zillions and had very public failures. But despite everything he got it done got the Veyron to max out at a top speed of 407kmph. And then some Americans working in a barnyard built the Ultimate Aero SST which did 410kmph.

The Germans weren’t amused so they bumped up the Veyron’s hardly insignificant 1001PS of power to an earth-shattering 1200PS in the Supersports. It does 0-100kmph in 2.3 seconds, 0-300kmph in 15 seconds, burns through a 100-litre fuel tank in under 8 minutes and thunders to an unimaginable top speed of 431kmph. Job done. Smug German faces all around. Yours for 2.4 million dollars and only six remain unsold.

Note: The Veyron Grand Sport (convertible) is $2 million and has been launched in India at Rs 16 crores. Budget Rs 21 crore for the Supersports.

The most awaited bike of 2011: Honda CBR250R
Even by India’s woefully slow pace of new bike launches, 2010 has been a dismal season, but 2011 should wipe the slate clean. And it will all start in April with the CBR250R, Honda’s first foray into the affordable enthusiast segment.

With styling to ape the VFR1200R and a 250cc single cylinder engine, the bike will take on the Yamaha Rs 15, Pulsar 220 and Karizma ZMR. And with pricing at just under Rs 1.5 lakh, it is set to clean up the segment. Can you bear the wait?

The best touring bike:
Harley-Davidson Electra Glide

The tattoos, wind rustling your jacket tassels, the potato-potato beat of the exhaust, armchair-like riding position – touring on a bike is synonymous with Harley Davidson and it doesn’t get any better than the Electra Glide.

It’s not the most practical bike – the vast proportions make it akin to piloting a car in the city – but on the highway it is phenomenal, turning even the most earnest Harley baiter into a fan. Japanese motorcycles are quicker, more reliable and less tiring. But Harleys – they have character.

Note: Crank up the optional stereo when you get bored of the exhaust thump.

Small car to look forward to: Honda Brio
2011 will be a big year for the hatchback market. Maruti will have the all-new (which doesn’t look all that new) Swift, Toyota will have the Etios, but the most eagerly awaited is Honda’s maiden Indian small car – the Brio. They’ve got the styling spot on, making it desirable. Along with the Honda badge, that’s half the job done. It will have the iVTEC engine from the Jazz that’s great on performance and efficiency and that’s the other half sorted. Only thing is to get the pricing right after messing up with Jazz you wouldn’t expect Honda to make that mistake twice.

The best road trip cars or SUVs:
Skoda Yeti
Bmw x1
We live in an era of extraordinary automobiles; many of them you’d happily give an arm and a leg for. For a Ferrari though – especially the 458 Italia – you’d give a good lung and kidney too. The Italia marks a return to form for legendary design house Pinninfarina, who’ve penned an utterly stunning automobile that’s been sculpted in the wind tunnel. It uses a 4.5 litre v8 (hence 458) mounted mid-ships and channels power to the rear wheels via a 7-speed twin clutch gearbox (the first Ferrari not to have a manual gearbox).

As is to be expected, performance is scintillating, with F1-derived tech like launch control and the Mannetino dial on the steering wheel for different traction control modes. One of the most exhilarating cars on the planet and you can buy it here next year.

Is the Yeti a car or an SUV? Many have tried to straddle both segments, only the Yeti does it properly. Under that funky set of clothes is a platform borrowed from the Laura. So it doesn’t handle like a boat; rather it is as planted, as stable and as eminently fun to drive as any car at that price. Skoda’s parts bin has also been raided for the interiors, so it looks and feels plush and expensive, a great place to be sat in while chewing big miles. But the ride height has also been jacked up and it gets four wheel drive, so when the rains have turned the last few metres to your farmhouse into a mucky quagmire, the Yeti will plough on. Quite possibly the best of both worlds.

Note: The rear seat is split into three parts – take out the centre seat and move the outer seats closer together to make a more comfortable four-seater or take out all the rear seats, liberating a massive luggage area.

The best touring bike:
Harley-Davidson Electra Glide

The tattoos, wind rustling your jacket tassels, the potato-potato beat of the exhaust, armchair-like riding position – touring on a bike is synonymous with Harley Davidson and it doesn’t get any better than the Electra Glide.

It’s not the most practical bike – the vast proportions make it akin to piloting a car in the city – but on the highway it is phenomenal, turning even the most earnest Harley baiter into a fan. Japanese motorcycles are quicker, more reliable and less tiring. But Harleys – they have character.

Note: Crank up the optional stereo when you get bored of the exhaust thump.

The most droolworthy bike:
Ducati Monster 796
Ducati is the Ferrari of the biking world, and till recently their bikes were almost as unaffordable as Ferraris in India. But a few months ago, Ducati quietly knocked down prices of its entire range, and today you can get this – the Monster 796 – at Rs 8 lakh on-road.

And the Monster is no knocked-down Ducati, it is a properly iconic motorcycle in its own right, with styling to make you weak at the knees, terrific detailing like the single-sided swingarm and exposed trellis frame, tremendous performance from its V-Twin engine that you will rarely be able to fully deploy on our roads and a riding position that won’t murder your back or wrists as you strut your stuff.

Every biker worth his salt dreams of owning a Ducati – with the Monster that dream is one step closer to reality.

From HT Brunch, December 26

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