7 UP

In my mind

I personally know a dozen people who would have bought the Toyota Fortuner had it been available in India earlier. Some of them are SUV maniacs, some with wanderlust that can be satiated only with the help of a 4x4, some just wanted a big (and hence safe, they argue) car. Most of them ended up buying the Toyota Innova instead and the rest are driving around in Honda CR-Vs, Mitsubishi Pajero 2.8s, Ford Endeavours or Chevrolet Captivas. I know another dozen who were waiting patiently for the day when Toyota would actually launch the Fortuner in India. It happened on Monday, August 24, 2009 and I was glad to play witness. Priced at Rs 18.5 lakh ex-showroom Delhi (close to Rs22 lakh on-road), the Fortuner is not a cheap car - though it is primarily derived from the same IMV platform that gave us the Innova. But before you start cribbing, look at the specs. A 3.0-litre engine good for 168 bhp, enough torque to send the Earth spinning faster on its recoil and permanent all-wheel drive with low-ratio transfer case. In short, this is not a soft-roader we are talking about. The lucky ones who are going to get early delivery are certainly going to go places!

In my garage

I twisted and turned in my bed on a Saturday night wondering what to do with the magnificent BMW 730L diesel that had arrived the previous evening. I even had dreams of this big whale of a car being driven through mist-shrouded roads. The poor family of mine didn’t know what hit them on Sunday morning – before they were properly woken up, the 7er had wafted them some 100 km away from home. The new 7 is certainly the best car in the whole world today (the S-Class is tad too old, the Rolls-Royce Phantom is based on the last-gen 7 Series) and this diesel version can shrink subcontinents without melting plastic as well as the polar ice cap. Despite the legroom that can impress Amitabh Bachhan (he has the last-gen car), the limo is every inch a driving machine that can dodge Indian traffic one moment and hoist the speedo to strictly illegal speeds the next. Full test in the October’09 issue of Business Standard Motoring.

Car of the week

Mercedes-Benz is about to launch the new E-Class. This will be the fourth generation of the E-Class that will be assembled and sold in India – I like that bit of statistic because I have tested all four of them. So is the W212 E-Class successful in retracing the ‘built like a tank’ roots of the past? Well, my new E-Class drive in New Delhi was brief but enough to tell me that it is not an easy task to build cars the way Stuttgart used to. Modern cars cannot be engineered for the sake of it – they need to be lighter, need to be agile and dynamically capable of handling higher speeds. Expect the E350 petrol to lead the way in India at around the Rs 44-50 lakh price point.

Bike of the week

Harley-Davidson is coming to India. This time it is for real, as the countdown is on in the Indian H-D website. Rs 17 lakh for a massive American V-twin adorned motorcycle that answers to the name ‘Fat Boy’? Bring ’em on, let Indians sort ’em out! - right?

Question of the week

Do you know how much power the two electric motors in the Active Hybrid 7 (the Hybrid BMW 7 Series car to be unveiled at Frankfurt next month) generate?

The two motors generate the equivalent of 175 bhp, which along with the oomph from a twin-turbo V8, adds up to 478 horses. Some mule indeed.