Here are the top-ten cars and bikes of the year.
autoX gathered a total of 57 new vehicles launched over the past year, and each of the machines were put through paces at India’s only F1 track - Buddh International Circuit (BIC). They were evaluated over three days by our experienced team of road testers – who rate each machine out of a total score of 100 on the basis of various important parameters like practicality, drivetrain, design, value-for-money, ride-and-handling, and much more.
After extensive testing, the ‘Best of 2017’ are:
The Compass’ engine delivers oodles of torque and is super silky and refined – whereas the manual transmission is precise and smooth to use. While off-roading, the diesel engine provides plenty of grunt while the four 4WD modes get you out of far more trouble than you can imagine it could. The ride quality is impeccable, and it gobbles all the undulations in the road without breaking a sweat. On the highway, it remains rock solid at high triple digit speeds, and when you show it a corner it doesn’t wallow or get out of shape – it actually really handles well.
Skoda Octavia RS
The Octavia RS not only looks the part – what with its big air-dam, 17-inch rims, twin tailpipes and rear spoiler – but it goes just as well as these accruements suggest it ought to. A 227bhp 2.0-litre turbo-petrol motor ensures that the Octavia RS accelerates to 100km/h from a standstill in a spritely 6.8 seconds. The front end of the car is incredibly sharp and precise. In the fast corners, there’s no understeer to speak of and the car stays completely flat and planted. At under Rs. 26 lakhs, ex-showroom, the RS also punches above its weight. Its lap time is in amongst the much more expensive Audi A5 Sportback.
Audi A5 Sportback
This is a ‘sportback’ that has absolutely perfect proportions – and it’s a four-door sportback that, with its frameless doors, truly does look like a coupe. Of course, this stance – thanks to its low centre of gravity – helps the A5 on the move as well. There’s simply no body roll to speak of and the A5 just darts towards the apex of corners at your every whim. The A5 Sportback may be front-wheel drive, but there’s simply no sense of torque steer of wheelspin whatsoever from this machine. You’d think that the A5 would be challenging on the road because of how focussed it is on the track, but you’d be mistaken. Other than the fact that you have to watch out for extra large speed breakers, the A5 is extremely livable and drivable everyday.
With the brand new Verna, Hyundai’s engineers and designers didn’t disappoint at all. The car follows the new design direction of the brand, and looks very similar to its bigger sibling – the Elantra. The interior too gets a complete redesign, and the quality levels reflect that Hyundai has been focusing on the in-cabin experience for customers in terms of material quality – and, of course, equipment levels. On the road, another significant upgrade to the Verna is the suspension setup that enables it to feel superbly planted. The new car is very stable at any speed, and the Verna’s steering even has some decent feel to it – which is remarkable progress in an area where Hyundai has suffered in the past.
Maruti Suzuki Dzire
The new Dzire looks posh, with a cabin that’s spacious and well equipped – even when it comes to safety features. The Dzire comes with ABS, dual airbags and ISOFIX seats as standard. And the ride quality is ideal for Indian roads, as it easily cushions potholes. Maruti appears to have taken a long hard look at the Dzire and have managed to vastly improve it in every department. In addition to this, it still offers reliability and value-for-money in spades.
Performance Car of the Year - Nissan GT-R
Godzilla has been a long-time coming in the Indian market. And, of course, its legend well precedes it.The Nissan GT-R wins the four-wheel performance spot in our ‘Best of 2017’ test because of a blistering lap time of 1:05.1 around the short loop of the BIC – our fastest time of the test. It also got a near perfect score in X-Factor because, well, it’s Godzilla! Of course, it loses out in terms of comfort and practicality. This is, after all, a very serious supercar so you need to be pretty hard-core to drive a GT-R. But, if we’re honest that just makes it even more special.
The new Triumph Street Triple S was the second fastest motorcycle in this test – losing the top spot by just a tenth of a second to the Ducati Supersport. Apart from the firepower, it’s the combination of its sophisticated suspension, reworked chassis and the super gluey Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa tyres that really endows it with superb handling dynamics. Of course, due credit must also be given to its 166kg kerb weight too. In fact, the Street Triple made the track experience so simple and enjoyable that, in the three days at the BIC, it was hardly ever seen in the pit-lane – well, till such time that its 17.4-litre fuel tank didn’t hit reserve that is. We were mighty pleased with the balance and handling of the Street Triple, and found the front-end to be very stable at the track.
The Africa Twin has smitten us with its unique and simple design, which seems to immediately put the rider at ease – this is something that can’t be said for most full-size adventure bikes. The weight distribution and lean body make the Africa Twin feel light and easy to ride, even for first time ADV riders. Keeping rider comfort in mind, Honda has managed to design a well-padded seat perfect for off-roading or taking the ADV bike for a long distance ride. The seat height can also be adjusted from 820mm-840mm. The Africa is super capable off-road, and the DCT automatic gearbox is a boon once you get used to it.
The Street Rod has an aggressive and beefy design that’s inspired by flat-track racing. Next up is its fit-and-finish – Harley has really worked in this area, and the Street Rod’s quality levels are much better than the Street 750. The powertrain here is the same 749cc V-Twin engine that does duty in the Street 750, but it now gets some significant revisions – a larger airbox, new Mikuni dual-port injection with bigger 42mm throttle bodies, new cylinder-head with high-lift cams and a higher-volume exhaust muffler. All of this results in a power bump of 11%, while peak torque increases from 59Nm to 62Nm. The torque comes gushing in from as low as 4,000rpm, meaning that the bike has a really strong mid-range. The bike has impressive quality, powerful and refined motor – which makes it the most sporty Harley you can buy – and it comes with an extremely tempting ex-showroom price tag of Rs. 6.06 lakh.
Performance Bike of the Year – Ducati SuperSport S
Ducati has managed to actually come out with an all-rounder sports bike that can be ridden the way you – the rider – wants to ride, rather than the rider adjusting to the bike’s nature. The X-factor of the SuperSport S is that it’s a sports bike that’s easy to ride everyday, and yet it packs a powerful punch when in Sport mode – plus, of course, it’s absolutely gorgeous. On both road and track, the Ducati SuperSport S is a champion.