JULY 2011
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida


Test-drive reviews by NITISH S. RELE, motoringtampabay@gmail.com

The vast array of 2012 Honda Civic choices will sway you away. There’s the gas-powered traditional sedan and the energetic coupe. Or you could opt for the electric-gas hybrid. High-performance enthusiasts will take to the sporty Si coupe. The Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Civic will be available later this year. And with gas prices hovering closer to $4 than $3, the all-new HF (high fuel economy) model seems even more appealing. Just take your pick!

The freshly styled, ninth-generation sedan shows off a sleeker windshield rake, multi-reflector halogen headlights and a sweeping roofline. The coupe is further aggressive looking with a more angular front fascia, mesh grille and tapered real roofline.

The sedan, coupe and HF are equipped with a 1.8-liter inline-4 cylinder engine developing 140 horsepower @ 6500 rpm. The Si gets an exclusive 2.4-liter (up from 2.0) inline-4 cylinder engine that cranks out 201 hp (up from 197) @ 7000 rpm. Mated to a Continuous Variable Transmission, a 1.5-liter engine replaces the previous 1.3 liter and develops 110 hp in the new lithium-ion-battery-equipped hybrid. Si is mated to a 6-speed manual and the rest of the Civics come with a 5-speed manual or automatic transmission. The fully independent suspension is handled via a MacPherson strut and a rear multilink system. The car gets an all-new Motion-Adaptive Electric Power Steering.

Except for the Si, all other models are equipped with an Eco Assist display that conveys the driver’s fuel efficiency habits via vertical bars on the instrument panel. Also, press the ECON button and you will notice further gasoline savings. EPA mileage estimates are impressive with the new HF automatic model earning 29/41/33 in city, highway, combined miles; hybrid at 44/44/44 and the sedan/coupe auto at 28/39/32.

Standard safety features on all Civics include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, Vehicle Stability Assist, four-wheel antilock brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution and Brake Assist, and the Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure to absorb force in a front collision.

An all-new Multi-Information Display (i-MID) includes a 5-inch LCD screen that shows readings for audio, trip computer, fuel economy and navigation. The Civic’s two-tier instrument panel with the digital speedometer atop the analog tachometer has been preserved.

Base-priced at $15,605 for the DX coupe with the Si available at $22,405 and the hybrid topping at $26,750, the 2012 Civic is a fun-to-drive, fuel efficient and affordable ride. In these days of high gasoline prices, you would be remiss to pass on a test drive of this dependable and durable car.

For more information, visit www.honda.com



Introduced just two years ago, the Infiniti G37 convertible undergoes a freshening, mainly fog lamps that are no longer inside the ‘boomerang-like’ HID xenon headlights but instead under them. Otherwise, the rear-wheel-drive ride retains its wave-style aluminum hood, which meets up with the traditional Infiniti double-arch chrome grille.

Also left untouched is the 3.7-liter DOHC V-6 engine, which cranks out 325 horsepower at 7000 rpm and 267 pounds-feet of torque at 5200 rpm. It is mated to a smooth 7-speed automatic transmission. Tackling sharp turns with vigor is an independent double wishbone front and a multilink rear suspension system. And of course how can anyone miss out on the three-piece power retractable hardtop, which opens or closes in a mere 30 seconds with the touch of a console button?

The interior is well-appointed with attention-grabbing silk Obi aluminum trim on the instrument panel, center console, door panels, pedals and foot rest. The driver information center is sandwiched quite conveniently between the electroluminescent gauges for coolant, tachometer, speedometer and fuel readings. Standard amenities include heated and cooled front seats, navigation system, intelligent key with push button, adaptive dual-zone climate control and a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel.

This G should be an easy sell with top-down motoring enthusiasts. It boasts exceptional performance and striking design in and out that would be the envy of its German competitors. Our only concern was the crammed rear seat and trunk space.

Tires: P225/45R19 front, P245/40R19 rear
Wheelbase: 112.2 inches
Length: 183.3 inches
Weight: 4,078 pounds
Fuel capacity: 20 gallons
City: 17 mpg
Highway: 25 mpg
Base price: $45,750
Web site: www.infinitiusa.com

Jetta will ATTRACT SMALL-car buyers

Volkswagen’s best-selling model in the United States has been redesigned. For the better, of course. Step on the pedal of the 2011 front-wheel-drive Jetta and be prepared for a reasonably swift and smooth acceleration.

The 2.5-liter inline-five cylinder engine belts out 170 horsepower at 5700 rpm and 177 pounds-feet of torque at 4250 rpm. It is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, which is easy to engage at any speed. An independent MacPherson strut front and a twist-beam rear suspension provide a delightfully lively outing while calmly absorbing bumps. The hydraulic power rack-and-pinion steering is quick and communicative to result in a positive on-center response.

The overhauled and stretched Jetta (by 2.9 inches) sports a chrome radiator grille flanked by trapezoidal halogen headlights, cooling air intake, tray-shaped front spoiler and chrome trim on side-window sills. The 60/40 rear seat gets 2.7 inches of more legroom, which is sure to please passengers riding in the back. The newly designed and logically laid out climate, radio and navigation controls are straightforward to use. We found readings on the driver information center between the round speedometer and tachometer gauges large, eligible and perfectly located. Have a tall driver in the family? No reason to worry. The six-way manual adjustable seat as well as the height-adjustable telescopic steering column is accommodating. Go ahead and load up those suitcases and golf bags in the cavernous trunk, which flaunts 15.5 cubic feet of space.

With a boost in rear-passenger space, the Jetta becomes an even more attractive proposition for small-car buyers. The revamped car is a splendid combination of thrift, style, practicality and fun to drive.

Tires: 225/45R17
Wheelbase: 104.4 inches
Length: 182.2 inches
Weight: 3,018 pounds
Fuel capacity: 14.5 gallons
City: 23 mpg
Highway: 33 mpg
Base price: $23,995
Web site, www.vw.com

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