Anson’s City VTEC

Anson Martin prefers to play it neat with his black VTEC. The carbon fibre finish wrapped grille, the OEM style fog lamp surrounds are all details that only a hardcore enthusiast will spot and appreciate. The slightly concaved 17-inch twin 5-spoke alloys are finished in a Bronze finish and complement the subtle exteriors rather well. The leather seats and well kept interiors add to its appeal.

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" In the hottest season of midsummer, the small wind blowing just now suddenly stopped, and the suffocating heat returned."

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A tale of two Cities

Let me admit, this story wasn’t bound to happen this month. We were making a Civic special but the last car we were about to shoot for this issue, a Civic turbo in Bangalore, threw up its high pressure hose and died. And while they couldn’t get the reliability issues sorted, we abandoned the idea and started looking for the car that sparked the Honda enthusiasm in our country – the Honda City 1.5. And since we couldn’t agree it could be a standard one or the later VTEC, we got both.

The two red Honda Cities you see here are perfect examples of classy modern tuning. There are no big body kits, no bling alloys and no fancy spoilers – only OEM parts that are enhanced with some well chosen accessories. The City 1.5 has an OEM-style body kit that looks the part and black, 17-inch five spoke alloy wheels. The VTEC sticks to the time honoured tradition of JDM simplicity even further. There isn’t any body kit and the only add-on to its clean lines is the subtle chin spoiler under the front bumper. The wheels are more practical 15 inchers- the perfect size for this class. And they are sweet BBS deep dish, mesh rims clad in good lookingYokohamaS-drives.

A true JDM lover, Shanaz Kurikkal fromCalicut, got his VTEC almost two years back from a relative with nearly 1lakh kilometers on the odo. It was black, but it had these BBS wheels and imported smoked headlights with amber reflectors. He got a full exhaust done soon and later a head rework from Kumar’s garage inCoimbatore. He also got hold of a JDM spec D series manifold and throttle body, which cured some of the inherent VTEC jerkiness at low revs. It also improved the breathing and the motor revs more freely than ever. As his regular speeds began to soar, he started to feel the lack of high speed stability in his City even more. That left him looking for a better suspension and there weren’t many choices at that point of time, he began making his own. He started with shorter springs that are stiffer and got adjustable perches fabricated to fit them on. The front is now as low as it would go and while he was getting the suspension sorted, he also got an upper strut brace made.

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" In the hottest season of midsummer, the small wind blowing just now suddenly stopped, and the suffocating heat returned."

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And six months back, he decided to give it a new coat of paint and he settled for the lovely Ferrari Rossa Corsa. The golden wheels were given a shade of matte anthracite. The car has a short ham antenna at the rear and vortex spoiler fins above the rear glass. The styling was decided to be kept simple and the only thing you would find are some JDM stickers, Soshinoya badges and SOHC-VTEC stickers on the rear doors- like they are on a factory-spec EK Civic. The styling is followed by dechroming the side window trims, front grille and rear number plate garnish.

Shanaz has also done some DIY mods on his car like the front grille that was wrapped in carbon fibre trim. The centre console and the instrument panel console have also been given the same treatment. The instrument panel itself is made special by imported indiglo dials that look stunning in the dark. The OE steering has been swapped for a smaller, more comfortable MOMO deep dish wheel. Barring some classy bits for the gearknob and some Mugen badges, the rest of the interiors are almost stock with OEM fabric and everything.

Like Shanaz, Primal George was also keen on buying a City when he came across a blue 1.5EXi. His previous car was a Lancer 1.8INVEX, an interesting car by itself, but he didn’t think twice before swapping it for the Honda. The mods began the same day and it was off to get painted and the body kit fitted at Ostler inCochin. He got these 17 inch wheels from Lenso Raiden series and painted the calipers behind them, gold. Then there was a full exhaust made from Raj Hingorani inBangaloreand later a Green cotton filter was fitted. The last job, he tackled was sorting the ride height with a set of Vogtland springs. The lowering it seems is perfect and the car sits well on the road.

Primal has gone one step further in getting his seats retrimmed in a classic beige and black combination. The wood finish centre console and the AC vent trims have been painted grey like they are on a City 1.3. The OE steering has been retained, though you can see aftermarket bits for the gearknob, handbrake and pedals.

Think of it, these two Honda enthusiasts have a lot of things in common apart form their red cars. They both bought nearly 1lakh run cars and spend a fortune doing them up to their tastes. They think their sub 1-tonne cars with roughly a 100 horses are as good, if not better than other fast cars on the road. They don’t have big heavy audio systems in the boot that add weight and blunt performance. And like you and I, they get wound up quite easily everytime anyone compares their cars to any other City.

The X Factor

When BMW launched the original X5 back in 1999, it suddenly became a topic of hot debate. Unlike Mercedes Benz who has a history of making legendary SUVs like the G Wagon and all terrain commercial vehicles like the Unimog, BMW had never made anything remotely similar to an SUV. It had a reputation for driver oriented cars with rear wheel drive and here it was, making a tall SUV with four wheel drive. However, fifteen years and 1.3million sales later we now know that BMW’s early push down the SUV route has turned out to be a brilliant business decision. The third generation of the X5 (F15) was launched in India some time back and we now got our hands on one that has been tastefully modified to look like an X5M.

The new X5 has an identical wheelbase as its predecessor, but is 5mm wider, 29mm longer and just a tad lower. BMW has also managed to get the coefficient of drag from 0.34 of the predecessor to 0.31 as part of increasing overall efficiency. The front end styling is similar to the one in the new 3 series, with the headlamps stretching to the twin kidney grilles for a wider look. There is also less of a height difference between the wings and the bonnet as in the previous model and this makes it feel wider. The creased rear styling is shared with the smaller X3, but overall proportions make it look a lot sweeter.

The one we got our hands on, belongs to Mr.Shemil – a businessman from Kannur. Shemil was clear that the moment he got his hands on the X5 that it is going to get modified. First up were these SUV spec 20 inch BBS SV wheels in Satin black with polished face. Wrapped in 275/40 R20 and 315/35 R20 Bridgestone Dueler H/P tyres, they add to the chunkiness of the X5. As a Quarter Mile reader you see more of a gap in the arches than ideal, but that is because Shemil didn’t opt to lower it and reduce the practicality of his SUV. The X5M body kit adds to the depth of the front and give it a meaner look. The black colour and the blacked out grille is total gansta. The bigger grilles on either side of the trapezoidal front air dam give it massive presence. It is interesting how the reflectors on the rear bumper pushed out to the edges and placed vertically, make the rear look wider in the X5M. The cosmetic enhancements in this X5, such as the wheels and the body kit were carried out by Lap 47.

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" In the hottest season of midsummer, the small wind blowing just now suddenly stopped, and the suffocating heat returned."

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More spacious and better designed than the outgoing model, the new X5’s cabin is well executed.  This particular car is finished in a combination of black and Dakota brown leather. An un-lacquered wood trim runs across the dashboard and door trims, while the 10.2inch screen for the iDrive takes central place on the dashboard. This particular car has the full digital instrument cluster retrofit from VAG Tune, the specific coding and tweaks done for it. The cluster which resembles the one the new 7 series has awesome graphics to suit various driving modes and offers added functionality. The steering wheel has also been replaced with a meatier M Sport one with paddle shifts.

The X5 runs a sweet remap developed by Red Band Racing in association with Tune-o-Tronics . The familiar 3.0litre straight six now displays considerably better performance than the original 255bhp and 57.1kg-m of torque suggests. Mated to an 8 speed automatic transmission and four wheel drive, it is very easy to set off in this one. There is massive shove and a bit of chirp from the tyres as they scrabble for grip. We didn’t time it, but the stock X5 despite it girth, can get up to 100kmph from a standstill in a shade over seven seconds. This one should at least be a second faster to 100 even with the new wheels. The bigger difference is however in the part throttle acceleration and beyond 120kmph where the car feels relentless. The eagerness of the sport and sport+ modes and the difference in steering assist, makes for an immersive driving experience.

The body control is great for a car of its size and that is one of the reasons why you pick the X5 among other cars in its class that are better off roaders. The Indian car comes as standard with self leveling rear suspension and electronic damper control. The steering feels precise and you can feel the inherent balance of the chassis, every time you attack a corner with gusto. The new xDrive system along with improved dynamic stability control can deliver up to 100 percent torque at front or rear axle.  Although it is firm, the ride quality is acceptable even on those 20 inchers.

Now, as an ending note, we must say, the X5 did come to us looking rather dirty and no matter how much camera trickery we use here, it does take away some of the sheen from the paint work. But look at it this way. This is a car that is used regularly for long distance trips and as a matter of fact, Shemil had just driven it from Kannur for a weekend in Kochi when we caught up with him. And rather than wait for it to be cleaned, we got it even dirtier and got the cameras clicking. Some say, that’s the way an SUV should be driven. The others are busy cleaning theirs.

Camber; how much ‘ya got, bro?

The Bosozoku styling trend in Japan isn’t dead. Only now, they have moved from skateboard front lips to ‘oni-camber’. The idea of demon- camber is to have insane levels of negative camber, which is far beyond what a lowered suspension can achieve. This is often achieved by welding on additional angled mounts to the suspension ends. The car’s body is often less than an inch off the ground and the wheels have just millimetric clearance with the arches.

Not only is oni-camber completely pointless with respect to tyre grip, it also results in uneven tyre wear and you always run the high risk of damaging the rims and tyres by rubbing against the bodywork with the slightest bump. Severe structural damage to the chassis has also been reported, but longevity and reliability is of little importance for these over-the-top tuners.

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" In the hottest season of midsummer, the small wind blowing just now suddenly stopped, and the suffocating heat returned."

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The X Factor

When BMW launched the original X5 back in 1999, it suddenly became a topic of hot debate. Unlike Mercedes Benz who has a history of making legendary SUVs like the G Wagon and all terrain commercial vehicles like the Unimog, BMW had never made anything remotely similar to an SUV. It had a reputation for driver oriented cars with rear wheel drive and here it was, making a tall SUV with four wheel drive. However, fifteen years and 1.3million sales later we now know that BMW’s early push down the SUV route has turned out to be a brilliant business decision. The third generation of the X5 (F15) was launched in India some time back and we now got our hands on one that has been tastefully modified to look like an X5M.

The new X5 has an identical wheelbase as its predecessor, but is 5mm wider, 29mm longer and just a tad lower. BMW has also managed to get the coefficient of drag from 0.34 of the predecessor to 0.31 as part of increasing overall efficiency. The front end styling is similar to the one in the new 3 series, with the headlamps stretching to the twin kidney grilles for a wider look. There is also less of a height difference between the wings and the bonnet as in the previous model and this makes it feel wider. The creased rear styling is shared with the smaller X3, but overall proportions make it look a lot sweeter.

The one we got our hands on, belongs to Mr.Shemil – a businessman from Kannur. Shemil was clear that the moment he got his hands on the X5 that it is going to get modified. First up were these SUV spec 20 inch BBS SV wheels in Satin black with polished face. Wrapped in 275/40 R20 and 315/35 R20 Bridgestone Dueler H/P tyres, they add to the chunkiness of the X5. As a Quarter Mile reader you see more of a gap in the arches than ideal, but that is because Shemil didn’t opt to lower it and reduce the practicality of his SUV. The X5M body kit adds to the depth of the front and give it a meaner look. The black colour and the blacked out grille is total gansta. The bigger grilles on either side of the trapezoidal front air dam give it massive presence. It is interesting how the reflectors on the rear bumper pushed out to the edges and placed vertically, make the rear look wider in the X5M. The cosmetic enhancements in this X5, such as the wheels and the body kit were carried out by Lap 47.

Top Highlights

" In the hottest season of midsummer, the small wind blowing just now suddenly stopped, and the suffocating heat returned."

0 Comments

More spacious and better designed than the outgoing model, the new X5’s cabin is well executed.  This particular car is finished in a combination of black and Dakota brown leather. An un-lacquered wood trim runs across the dashboard and door trims, while the 10.2inch screen for the iDrive takes central place on the dashboard. This particular car has the full digital instrument cluster retrofit from VAG Tune, the specific coding and tweaks done for it. The cluster which resembles the one the new 7 series has awesome graphics to suit various driving modes and offers added functionality. The steering wheel has also been replaced with a meatier M Sport one with paddle shifts.

The X5 runs a sweet remap developed by Red Band Racing in association with Tune-o-Tronics . The familiar 3.0litre straight six now displays considerably better performance than the original 255bhp and 57.1kg-m of torque suggests. Mated to an 8 speed automatic transmission and four wheel drive, it is very easy to set off in this one. There is massive shove and a bit of chirp from the tyres as they scrabble for grip. We didn’t time it, but the stock X5 despite it girth, can get up to 100kmph from a standstill in a shade over seven seconds. This one should at least be a second faster to 100 even with the new wheels. The bigger difference is however in the part throttle acceleration and beyond 120kmph where the car feels relentless. The eagerness of the sport and sport+ modes and the difference in steering assist, makes for an immersive driving experience.

The body control is great for a car of its size and that is one of the reasons why you pick the X5 among other cars in its class that are better off roaders. The Indian car comes as standard with self leveling rear suspension and electronic damper control. The steering feels precise and you can feel the inherent balance of the chassis, every time you attack a corner with gusto. The new xDrive system along with improved dynamic stability control can deliver up to 100 percent torque at front or rear axle.  Although it is firm, the ride quality is acceptable even on those 20 inchers.

Now, as an ending note, we must say, the X5 did come to us looking rather dirty and no matter how much camera trickery we use here, it does take away some of the sheen from the paint work. But look at it this way. This is a car that is used regularly for long distance trips and as a matter of fact, Shemil had just driven it from Kannur for a weekend in Kochi when we caught up with him. And rather than wait for it to be cleaned, we got it even dirtier and got the cameras clicking. Some say, that’s the way an SUV should be driven. The others are busy cleaning theirs.

VIP Access

No matter which generation you pick, the Honda Accord is a very versatile car to go modding with. A great chassis, competent engines and lots of aftermarket support make this comfortable sedan a great base for a tuner car. It is also a car that can carry a lot of styling themes successfully; so it is possible to go track-spec in one, just as easily as it is going VIP in another. The eighth generation in particular, carries the VIP look perfectly and looks smashing when stanced right. And it is one of the few cars that begs to have large wheels, at least 18 inch, because of its generous full size American proportions.

Not a problem with Vinu’s Accord. Being the V6, it came with 17 inch wheels as opposed to the 16 inchers on the four cylinder version. But Vinu had them swapped for a set of 20 inch Vossen CVTs. And with the perfect stretch and right lowering, his Accord has impressive stance – both standstill and on the move.  The paintwork has been treated to a deep shine and some of the chrome details such as the front grille and logos have been blacked out for a more sinister look. The slightly straight edged front chin has been crafted to give it a more aggressive face, but smoother skirts have been used for a cleaner look around the sides and rear. A subtle spoiler and a silver tow hook complete the rear.

If the exteriors are impressive, wait till you see what’s inside. The black and beige interiors of the Accord have been traded for a sporty red and black theme, thanks to the good guys at Color Glo. Instead of changing the leather altogether, the factory spec seats and other beige leather trim have been re-dyed to red colour. And from the looks of it, they seem to have done a thorough job. The dashboard has the Caska Accord CO-AT 3639 G In-Car Entertainment System that beautifully integrates an 8-inch LCD and brings home useful features such as iPod connectivity, Bluetooth handsfree and USB compatibility.

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" In the hottest season of midsummer, the small wind blowing just now suddenly stopped, and the suffocating heat returned."

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Now, buying an Accord V6 is about driving than anything else, so we fired up the 3.5litre J35Z2 V6 and unleashed all of 271bhp. This 60 degree V6, features four valves per cylinder, SOHC with VTEC on the intake side. Even in these days when turbochargers rule, there is a place for a naturally aspirated engine like this one. There is no let up in power and it keeps pulling like a freight train, despite the slow torque convertor gearbox.  This is also an engine that features Variable Cylinder Management, switching to four or even three cylinder operation depending on load conditions.

To reduce vibrations, Honda has employed active engine mounts that replicate the vibrations that are out of phase, so it feels smooth and vibe-free when the ECO light comes on. Not that we had it coming on that often during our brief spin, especially when we were unleashing most of the 339N-m torque the V6 offered. The BC Racing coilovers, have a significant level of stiffness, but there is no forgetting the planted feel it offers to the car as speed picks up. The245/35 R20 Nitto NT555 tyres offered decent performance with extended tyre life as a bonus compared to other high performance offerings from the brand.

Vinu’s Accord V6 build is a stark contrast to anything we have seen recently.  It is an all-out, no-expenses-spared build by 0-100 Autoworx and the level of attention to detail is obvious. For the time being, Vinu is enjoying the car, but we are curious as to what he wants to do next.

 

 

 

 

Daily Red

We have all sort of cars featured in the magazine. Some are pristine show cars, some only get to see the sun on weekends, some are proper race cars built with only one purpose in mind, some are stock looking sleepers to whose owners only performance matter, others are beaters made to look like tuner cars on the cheap.  But there is one category that appeals to everyone – a mildly tuned daily driver – a car that mixes a bit of styling mods, a few performance enhancements and loads of everyday practicality thrown into it. This Vento falls in that category.

Having a garage with three cars, all of which are the same colour, Remin Varghese from Kottayam picked this red Vento as his daily driver. And that means it bears a few bruises and scrapes from battling it out in the real world. Not that you can see any of those in our photos. His car recently received a set of mods, chief of which is the new OZ superturismo GT alloy wheels. It adds to the Cup car look along with the lowered stance. The car runs a set of Triple S lowering springs from Superbee Automobile Union. At the front, it wears a GTI style mesh grille with a blacked out VW logo and an offset VW Motorsports badge. Keen eyed VW enthusiasts will spot that the hexagons in this grille are a size larger than the original GTI grille. The original foglamps have been replaced with Hella Micro DE units. The rear has a set of tail lamps from the facelifted model which looks more detailed and has a nicer red tint.

Under the hood, the 1.6 litre EA288 engine has received an Evotech remap from Lap 47. The difference in power delivery is apparent the moment you move off the line, with the car pulling cleanly from low revs. The peaky shove in the back that you get from the factory state of the tune has been made more progressive. The power band is much wider making for good drivability on the highway too.

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" In the hottest season of midsummer, the small wind blowing just now suddenly stopped, and the suffocating heat returned."

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So what’s next? A Polo GTI is high up in his wish list and Remin says he wants to pick one up as soon as it gets launched. Until then, the Vento will do its daily chores with a double dose of fun.

Clean Sweep

How long have you searched for the ideal project car? Did you spend a couple of weeks on the internet to find yours? Was it on sale in the next town you drove with your mate to check it out?  Most people start their hunt for the perfect car with high expectations, get hasty (or bored) after a couple of months and then settle for something average hoping to improve it later. But not these two brothers.

Mitsubishi enthusiasts, Nikhil Salim and his brother Akhil Salim got their car two years back. But it took them three years to find the right car. They searched far and wide for the perfect Cedia looking at every car available in the classifieds till a friend told them about this 2010 car in Chennai.  It was one of the special editions of the Cedia Sports which came with OZ alloy wheels, MOMO steering wheel and the lot.  It looked just right, and the brothers decided to pick it up.

They were initially satisfied with a full exhaust from Bhai and ran the car stock otherwise, and then decided it was time to up the ante and go full on with it. A quick call to Manoj Baby of 0-100 Autoworx, and a couple of weeks later, they had it just the way they wanted. The smoked headlamps and modified grille are details you sport from a distance although it doesn’t take a trained eye to notice the extra slotted vents on the middle and sides of the front bumper. The lower grille and fog lamp nacelles have been joined to make the car appear wider. We particularly like the way the splitter has been attached to the front bumper, forming a triangular frame held on by allen bolts. The red hood pins and logos stand in contrast to the white body. Formula GT3 style mirrors are an Evo influence and look really cool. The rear bumper has a very pronounced diffuser and two extra LED lights integrated into it. The spoiler has been painted black to mimic an absence of extra aero and make it look extra clean.

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" In the hottest season of midsummer, the small wind blowing just now suddenly stopped, and the suffocating heat returned."

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The Cedia runs a 3-way adjustable suspension setup from Hot Bits making ride height, preload and damping adjustable to suit the needs of the driver and track. 0-100Autoworx wheels, painted in matte anthracite look great against the white body. They are wrapped in 215/45 R17 Yokohama AR01 tyres while 20mm spacers take care of the wheel track at the rear.

The interiors have been left untouched. The Momo steering wheel, the black leather seats with red stripe in the middle and contrast stitching, the touchscreen infotainment system were all standard fitment in the special edition. Nikhil says they are not done with the mods and may go the forced induction route some time later but for now, it is the perfect car for his needs.

Ashwin’s City 1.5 EXi

As far as colour co-ordination goes, Ashwin Madassery got his car right the first time. The black and yellow combination is all but subtle on this City 1.5 EXI. The interiors get yellow and black Sparco replica seats and matching black trim with yellow stitching on the door cards and steering wheel. A slat-free mesh grille, a subtle lip at each corner of the front bumper and 15 inch Lenso Project D wheels complete the exteriors.

Top Highlights

" In the hottest season of midsummer, the small wind blowing just now suddenly stopped, and the suffocating heat returned."

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Shameer’s City 1.5 EXi

This City 1.5 belonging to Shameer was quite simply in a league of its own compared to the rest of the pack. With 17inch mesh type rims bordering on show style, it was not trying to be sporty and that reserved demeanor suited its owner rather well too. This is one of the later models of the Type Z City Honda sold in India and thus came with beige dashboard and door trim, This one however has improved upholstery from Koyas and a few other touches to talk about.

Top Highlights

" In the hottest season of midsummer, the small wind blowing just now suddenly stopped, and the suffocating heat returned."

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