Ford F-150 Raptor

Take the worlds best-selling pickup , boot it up with F-22 Raptor dynamics, add a transformer look, mix up some old school rallying pedigree and get ready to witness the most awesome pickup truck money can buy

Rich History : Switch to the late 1940’s ; The world was recovering from the great war ; Asia working on independence ; and Henry Ford fulfilling his last wish to build a machine which could carry more than just humans, and so the F-series truck was born

Since then, there hasn’t been any other variant of vehicle which has dominated its territory as the F-series of trucks

Back to the future : 21st century breakdown (economic recession), and Ford wanted to regain the faith it had lost (especially in North America), so it comes up with the most kitted up truck ever

The Truck : It’s a tweaked regular F-150 , modded with one purpose : High Speed Off Road use.

Developed by a dedicated R&D team, it is a high performance machine designed to go strong and fast

A first for Ford with hill-descent control and a differential locker for stability at high speeds with load (it’s still a pickup)

Design : Take a F150 and make it look muscular. Stands tall and commands respect. The front grille is unique (gets rid of the blue oval logo) ; the color combination adds character. Rims have been selected wisely to make it look sportier

Engine and Transmission: Two colossal engines. A 5.4 Litre V8 developing 320 bhp / 390 lb-ft of torque and the show stopper 6.2 Litre V8 squeezing out a cool 400 horses / 400 lb-ft of torque

Transmission is a 6-speed auto, which is a spoil sport as rallying machines are supposed to have the stick to play around with

Suspension : Usually suspension is like the script writing (the not so anticipated) part of the movie but when the movie is a 400 hp truck, one feels the need to analyse it.

Revolutionary suspension for the Raptor : New designed leaf springs and shocks, new front upper- and lower-A-arms, and a new wider rear axle

In real words : 13.4 inches of usable travel  in the rear suspension and 11.2 in the front which is TWICE a regular SUV (enough to cross Mount Kilimanjaro)

Appeal : You love Dakar, want to explore the world, have more luggage than companions…..Need more?

Bottomline : Lets face it – It’s not a practical choice , but nor is a Ferrari or a Bugatti. One of a kind and once in a generation truck…. GET IT

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If Apple can shrink their i-Pod into a Shuffle, why not do the same with cars

And BMW did do the trimming (this is what they claim) with their X series of SUV’s

Take a X5, downsize it into a X3, do that again and you arrive at the X1

Its small (officially called a compact SUV), based on the 3 series platform

The Car:- It carries forward the recent shift in consumer interest towards smaller, compact cars. Is a proper BMW but falls short of identity (Neither a proper SUV, nor a grown-up hatch)

Looks :- Surprisingly looks much better than it is .Easy to make out the X dynamics. Sharp features with some added curves give it some much needed presence (got a X in its name)
Front grille has been tweaked a bit, which is nice and so is the controlled swoop in headlamps

But let’s face it – Its still bloody small except the awesome 18′ rims (optional, but who wouldn’t get those)

Engine and Transmission:- : 2 Litre, 4 cyl turbo diesel (143 horses)  Add a twin turbo-charged variant of the same developing a decent 170 bhp (its adequate for a car this size)

A 3 litre 6 cyl US specific heart is also offered, but what’s the point of having compact SUV which guzzles gas

Two transmission options : S-drive (which is a RWD) and X-drive (4WD) both with 6 speed manual or automatic

Ride :- Gets all the fancy BMW gadgets to make sure you’re doing gr8 on road. Keep in mind, its all on road. U go off it, you need a tow-truck to get back home

Appeal:- Honey I shrunk the X5. Its a BMW, so all the fancy comes along ; also a great Sport Package but it still does not convince enough to be a X family member.

Bottomline : Nice, just nice. Don’t expect more .Save some money, get a X3 instead.

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Ford GT

Flashback :- Its the 1960’s. Formula One is still new. But there is another way to prove your point – Its called the Le Mans 24 (24 hours of continuous racing). Also there is a word ‘ Ferrari ‘

Come the late 60’s , the word has been changed to ‘Ford’. Out of nowhere Ford builds a car (The GT 40) which not only trumps Ferrari but does that 4 times in a row (1966-69)

Back to the future :- The early 2000’s and the world least cares about the Ferrari’s, Porsche, Lambo’s or the Mclaren. The world is waiting for the re-incarnation of the Ford GT (40).

And wow, time has stood still for more than 3 decades. The Ford GT (they cut the 40 out of the name due to a trademark issue) looks all the history it has and yet is a masterpiece of engineering

Design :- Retro , Muscle and Sport car rolled into one. Ford pulled off ‘the keep it old and new together’ very well (as did BMW with the Mini Cooper and Fiat with 500). Big headlamps, hood scoop and the aggressive stance look awesome

Add the superb rims and the paint job with racing stripes ; Awesome again

Engines and Transmission:- All aluminium 5.4 Liter V8 beast which guzzles fuel to produce 550 hp and 680 N-m of torque. Some components are shared with the equally potent Ford Mustang Cobra. Transmission is a 6-speed manual which makes the 400 meter dash a delight. (0-100 kph in 3.5 secs)

Appeal :- Though it is American muscle , but still makes its presence felt as much as the Italian or British supercars. Not for the uber-luxury exotic car lover, but for a serious race car enthusiast.

And it certainly will turn heads ; Given the stripes and the retro look, the heads always tend to finish the note with a WoW

>>> Its is unfortunate that the GT is no longer manufactured. The last GT was rolled off in 2007 but is still a cult favorite among car collectors and super rich “i’ll buy anything cool” guys.

Bottomline :- You cannot buy a new one, so keep admiring. But if you do get a chance to get one somehow, don’t loose it, cos there’s nothing like it….  (keep in mind you need to own an oil well to feed the thirsty GT)

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Aston Martin Rapide

‘Drooling over’ is an expression usually associated with exotic cuisines

But update some of your vocab ; Becoz here is a Machine to drool over : The Aston Martin Rapide

Aston’s have always been the show stoppers of Car Shows over the years, so what makes the Rapide more spicy than the other siblings

ANS- Its a 4 door car. And that indeed is a BIG WOW!

I always wondered why this segment was carved out inspite of having GT’s and other forms of wheels, but the Rapide laid my doubts to rest forever and it did so in a statement like never before

Design – Very and very Aston but prettier than anything else (Even Mona Lisa could save a smile for this). 4 door sleek machine have been around for sometime (read the Merc CL, Porsche Panamera, Maserati Quattroporte), but not the way Aston did it.

The two extra doors have been accommodated precisely , so its easy to notice the Aston Martin lines ,profile and at the same time its longer (12 inches than the DB9) , perfectly balanced with the shoulder lines and cool 20′ rims. Front and back are more familiar territory carried over from the DB9 theme

Interiors:- Plush with some awesome gadgets as in all sport cars. Add two more bucket seats and a 1,000-watt, 15-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system (Put on some AC/DC and rock n roll ain’t noise pollution)

Lets face the fact that this being a sport car, space is not the primary agenda, so not really cozy for the taller homo-sapiens in town but still a great place to hang out

Engine and Transmission :-  470-horses to your service through a V12 6.0 Liter and a torque of 443 lb-ft. Transmission is a  six-speed automatic (Aston is planning a more refined 8 speed automatic by next year), which takes you right in the middle of  awesome cars territory considering it is a heavy beast weighing 2 tonnes

NOTE:- Dig this – 0 to 60 mph in 5.1 secs

Appeal – You step in that car, and Brad Pitt envies you. Need more?!

Bottomline – You always loved the Maserati Quattroporte , but too Italian for you ; then you fell in love with the Porsche Panamera , but was ugly , and with those many Mercedes’s sleek stars on roads, is there a choice.

If you smile reading the bottomline, the Rapide is waiting for you…

Opel Astra

Yes its alive and looks an ocean different from the Astra we know

There are some models, which stand apart and become a brand themselves. The Astra is one of them

Opel, which is a major car manufacturer in Europe, decided to go big & came up with the Astra in 1991 ; and never looked back

The Astra which we in India referred fondly to as the common man’s Mercedes was the 1st Gen (yes we got a car in the late 90’s which was launched elsewhere in 91) ,but we still loved it

After GM decided to phase out Opel from India in favor of Chevrolet , the guys at Opel decided to go back to the drawing board to design something very European, and they very did with the current Astra (4th Gen)

Design :- Its a hatch now ; very European ; suave and kind of flows (so do many cars, but a first for Opel) Crease are neat and the two side curves integrate at the rear end . The front is very subtle, kind of inspired from other family members, but still stands out and you can easily make it out. The rear is the most interesting part – – its just awesome (Even Shakira would be jealous) ; This curve bubbled rear is a thing now and since the Fiat Bravo pulled it off some years back, others are catching up and the Astra does not disappoint

Engines / Dynamics :- What the Fact>> Its based on the Chevrolet Cruze (yes the wheelbase is that long) but the Germans have improved the driving dynamics much more than that of the Cruze.

It gets more interesting >> Got 5 engines on offer from a modest 95 to a cool 180 bhp

The three diesels (1.6 , 1.8 and 1.6 Turbo) will however mean more to Opel as the petrols (in this case turbo 1.4 and 1.6 based) have not created much buzz

Transmission :- 5 , 6 speed manual and a very decent 6 speed automatic

Appeal :- Coolest car in town . Its compact, looks good, has loads of engines and is German, some innovative features like the adjustable boot/trunk floor (nice), automated from camera warning system etc add value

A real winner on Opel’s side

Bottomline :- If you have even a little bit of admiration for the Volkswagen Golf and similar cars ; then you’ll crave for the Opel Astra ; Its just so good, so buy it and start rolling

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