THE NEED OF THE HOUR FOR MOTORISTS IN OUR COUNTRY IS FOR PETROL PUMP OWNERS TO START ACCEPTING EMIS, BECAUSE, AT THESE PRICES, A FULL TANK OF PETROL IS DEARER THAN A BLOOD TRANSFUSION!
And, like a lot of you I’m sure, it appears that I’m all too reliant on this precious commodity. You see, my garage only consists of vehicles that provide a fleet average of about 5.5 kilometers to a litre of petrol. And, at Rs.66 to a litre of the regular stuff (don’t even talk about higher octane fuel) I’m currently choosing between peddling body parts or my long lost bicycle.
In the past, I’ve flat out refused to own a car propelled by the fuel of Satan – diesel. But, modern engine technology has taken Rudolf Diesel’s handiwork and refined it to the extent that I defy you decipher between some of today’s most advanced petrol and diesel engines from behind the wheel – a 3.0 litre BMW turbo-diesel mated to an 8-speed transmission immediately comes to mind. But, you don’t even have to get that hi-tech – the 1.3 litre Fiat turbo-diesel, for instance, which finds itself in the engine bay of Fiat’s, Suzuki’s, and Tata’s is a great motor in its own right.
But, what happens if you actually enjoy the act of driving and want a sporty, yet affordable, diesel powered car. The BMW 320d is a great sports sedan, but the current generation is getting a little long in the tooth – and it’s not exactly affordable either. Alternatively, if that’s your idea of economical, I would wait with baited breath for the next generation 3 series – because automotive advancement really doesn’t get much better than that! Or, you could await BMW’s introduction of the MINI – because I can think of very little that would match the MINI Cooper SD on the road. It handles like a go-kart, has a 2.0 litre BMW diesel engine, produces 140 horsepower, and gets to 100km/h in 8 seconds. What more could you ask for? Oh wait, being a CBU, it won’t exactly be affordable in India – with a price tag rivalling that of the 3 series.
So, we’re back to square one. Or, are we? You see, Volkswagen have spent the past two years building their brand with the Polo Cup racing series. And it just happens to be a great racing car, powered by a 1.6 litre turbo diesel – eerily similar to the one that powers the diesel Vento. Well, they’re obviously not paying their business development and marketing people enough, because it doesn’t take much to put two and two together – i.e. launch a road-going version of the Polo R Cup car. Give the Polo the 1.6 litre turbo diesel, free up the exhaust and tweak the ECU so it produces close to 120bhp. Give it the seats from a Polo GTI and the suspension and wheels to enable it to properly go around a corner, and you’ve got the perfect hot-hatch.
And if Volkswagen won’t listen, I would urge Renault to create a Renaultsport version of their brand new Pulse hatchback. Boy, does Renault know how to make a hot-hatch – and what better way to differentiate it from the Nissan Micra with which it shares virtually all its vital components. Okay, so you won’t sell a few thousand units a month – fine, not even a few hundred – but, it’ll build your brand. It’ll build a cult following. Come on, does anyone actually have a pulse around here?