Shift on the fly


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In my mind
Just returned from Czech Republic and Slovenia (psst… drove the Skoda Yeti - nice little 4x4 number!) and oh boy, was I impressed with the way Eastern Europe has evolved over the years. Great road network, nice and characterful cars and proper road manners. I was comfortable the moment I settled behind the wheel and even huge Tatra trucks hurtling down the narrow roads could not upset me. Made me wonder how long it would take Indian roads to become as safe or as fun to drive. A decade more? Perhaps more.

Those who are looking for a quality motorcycle holiday should look at riding the Dolomites in Slovenia on the new BMW F650S.
In my garage
As we speak, I am driving the chocolate brown Mahindra Xylo . The MPV has done well in the market and our test car has seen close to 10,000 km on the odo with lots of commuting and a Goa run helping matters. A nasty shriek from the pulley (I hope it is not a bearing) is giving me a few frown lines and I need to get it checked. The last thing you need during a monsoon commute is a car that gives up on you in the middle of traffic. As for riding, I am fresh from a 1,200 km ride (to Goa and back) on an Enfield 500. My long term Hero Honda Hunk keeps me throttle happy during my short stints to the clubhouse. Now that the rains are here, I am looking forward to a good soak on two-wheels and yes, the BSM slush-fest is around the corner too! That will be fun!

Car of the week
This weekend,  June 28, 2009 to be precise, history will be made as Ratan Tata unveils models from its recently acquired Jaguar-Land Rover for India. Since the cars will be imported to begin with, one can expect the new XF as well as well-kitted Range Rovers and Land Rovers. But for me, the car of the week is the all-new Jaguar XFR.  From whatever I have read, the XFR is one hell of a super saloon. A 5000cc V8 that pumps out 503 bhp and 100 kph below 4.7 seconds takes it well into BMW M5 and Audi RS6 territory. Add to that some trick suspension and you have a kitten that can corner. I have driven the hot 571 bhp Audi over a test track and found it enormously adorable and supremely fun to drive and I am sure the newest leaping cat can offer similar thrills at a much lower price point. Here is hoping to bring you road tests of the Jaguars and Land Rovers sooner than later.

Motorcycle of the week
Every time I twisted the throttle of my KB100, I dreamt of riding a Kawasaki Ninja 250 soon. Those were college days! Seriously, Bajaj has done a serious disservice to a whole generation of riders by teasing them with the baby Ninja and never bringing it to production or sale in India. Now I hear the bike is coming after all – by Diwali!! The new Ninja 250R will be the perfect motorcycle to graduate from your Pulsar 220s and Karizmas. From the pics I have seen, the riding position will suit a variety of riders and the bike will help keen riders hone their skills before they go to the main course.

Question of the week
To facilitate the ‘electrification’ of Smart cars, owner Daimler recently bought a ten per cent stake in which car company? 
Answer: Tesla, of course. Smart will benefit from the American firm's expertise in battery packs and charging technology.