At 60 vehicles, this is our biggest mega-test ever. Here are the best new machines of the year – each of them evaluated in the most thorough and transparent way possible. We trust you’ll enjoy reading this as much as we enjoyed putting together this battle for ultimate supremacy (and bragging rights).
Yes, after being on such good behaviour for so long, we’re back at the BIC – not merely because we enjoy pounding around in fun cars and bikes, but also because it provides a controlled environment in which to test each new vehicle that was launched in the past year. Well, all the ones that we were able to get our hands on anyway.
We’re not just testing how fast a machine is, but also evaluating its quality, comfort, ride, handling, refinement, design, drivetrain and practicality. We make every attempt to be as transparent, objective and scientific as possible. But there are some subjective factors as well. For instance, X-Factor is that little special something that a machine brings to the table. With its heritage, a Mercedes G-Wagen, for instance, has X-Factor in spades.
Value for Money is one of the most important aspects in our market, and, therefore, it gets the most points. Of course, it’s not just a case of giving the most inexpensive machine the greatest points – but also looking at what it offers relative to its competition.
The only purely objective field is Lap Time, which gives us a uniform method to determine virtually all the dynamic factors of a vehicle, such as power, high-speed stability, handling, braking, etc. And, well, we all like to drive and ride – so this is important to us.
The fastest car of the bunch was the Ferrari 488 GTB, while the slowest was the Renault Captur – the two were separated by 20.6 seconds and 15 points, which equates to .7 points per second. As always, the four-wheel lap times are set by our Editor, and fearless leader, Dhruv Behl – who recently stood on the top step of the podium during the final VW Ameo Cup race weekend at the BIC (see our motorsport section for the full story) – while the two-wheel times were once again set by bike racer, and consummate professional, Sarath Kumar. The idea is not to set lap times that deliver ultimate one lap pace, but laps that are consistent and smooth.
Like last year, we once again used the 2.0-kilometre short loop that consists primarily of the back half of the circuit. This eliminates the main straight and the 1.2-kilometre back straight – so, in a sense, it neutralises the straight-line speed advantage of the most powerful machines. But, that’s fine, since our objective is to use the lap time to get an objective marker for overall performance.
A track map points out the section of track that we utilise – the red line depicts the loop for the four-wheel vehicles, while the blue depicts the two-wheel loop, the only difference being that the bikes and scooters used the inside / bike loop of the parabolica at turns 10, 11 and 12. Lap times are monitored by the timing system at the BIC. Each vehicle is fitted with a transponder to ensure that all lap times are accurate to the hundredth of a second.
The evaluators include our full team of experienced road testers, each of whom score every vehicle on its different parameters before the final scores are averaged to ensure that no biases come into play. Again, our aim is to be as transparent and objective as humanly possible!
So, let the games begin...