Shivank picks five cars from 2021 that impressed him the most.
I know a lot of you won’t be thrilled to see an electric car on the top of my list. But the thing is, you can cry bloody murder all day, and yet it won't change the simple fact that the Jaguar iPace is shockingly good. What I love about the iPace the most is that it breaks the false notions we’ve about EVs – that EVs aren’t fun, that EVs are heavy and ungainly, and that EVs aren’t practical. I spent a couple of days with the iPace and even took it on a long road trip. And I must say that it’s brilliant. It’s silly fast. It drives beautifully. It’s supremely comfortable, and it looks like a million bucks. Yes, I’m not denying that it took me 10 hours to cover a 250km journey, but then it was not the car's problem, it was more to do with the EV infrastructure of our country. All told, the iPace gives you hope that the future of motoring isn’t as dull as some people will have you believe.
Land Rover Defender 90
Even though they belong to the same family, the Land Rover Defender 90 is the polar opposite of the iPace. And I love every bit of it! It’s a modern interpretation of the iconic Defender and Land Rover has absolutely nailed it, especially with this short-wheelbase version. On the road, it’s as comfy and luxurious as a Range Rover but when the tarmac ends, it turns into the legendary off-roader that it always was. We were fortunate enough to witness its brilliance on a recent trip to Spiti. There was no stopping this thing, honestly. It flattens every surface without breaking a sweat. And while at it, the Defender looked icy freezing cool! Just so MUCH want.
BMW M340i xDrive
Now, onto the more serious stuff. The BMW M340i xDrive is hands down the most complete performance sedan that you can buy in the country today. For me, it's the driver's car of the year. There’s a creamy 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine, a snappy 8-speed automatic transmission, and even though it’s AWD and not RWD, it’s epic fun. Not to mention, it’s assembled locally, which means that it comes with a tempting price tag. It truly is a bargain M3. Plus, it doesn’t look half as obnoxious as the real M car. Win-win!
Hyundai i20 N Line
Let’s now talk about the stuff that’s more down-to-earth. Cars that are attainable and don’t compromise on fun. The Hyundai i20 N Line tops the list in this respect for me. In all honesty, when I drove the regular i20 last year, I was a bit underwhelmed. It had power and performance, but it didn’t feel special. The i20 N Line, though, is a different ballgame altogether. The suspension is taut, and the steering talks to you about the road surface as if it’s telling you your favourite bedtime story. And above all else, it’s a practical, spacious, and fully kitted-out everyday hatchback. Sure, the DCT is slow and the turbo-lag is prominent, but that doesn’t dampen the driving experience. The i20 N Line is a proper hot-hatch for the masses and definitely deserves more attention.
First things first, the Mahindra XUV700 isn’t the sort of vehicle that tugs at your heartstrings. However, it’s the sort of product that makes you stand up and applause for what it brings to the table. The XUV700 is an engineering marvel – not just for an Indian carmaker but for all car brands operating in the country today. Mahindra has literally stuffed it with everything in excess – whether it's power, space, gadgets, size, or personality, the XUV700 has everything by the bucketload.
But the most surprising and impressive thing is that it drives brilliantly, too. And, last but not least, it’s priced rather aggressively. That said, you have a better chance of winning a lottery next year than of getting your hands on an XUV700, for its waiting period has now been extended up to 2023!
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