Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida


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

NISSAN QUESTRedesigned for 2013, the Audi A5 retains its 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 cylinder engine that develops 211 horsepower @ 4300 rpm and 258 pounds-feet of torque @ 1500 rpm. The direct-injection power train allows the sports coupe to accelerate to 60 mph in just 6.2 seconds, a laudable feat for a 3,681-pound vehicle.

Providing peace of mind in any road situation or weather condition is the legendary quattro permanent all-wheel drive. An 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission (6 or 7 speeds will soon become extinct!) with manual and sport modes results in a quiet and smooth drive train. An independent five-link front and trapezoidal-link real axle suspension effectively absorbs road imperfections. The new electromechanical power steering is always willing to change directions when you turn the wheel.

The aggressively-styled A5 sports a massive single-frame Audi grille flanked by horizontal xenon auto headlights and splitter and flat fog lamps, a rakish roofline, LED tail lamps and dual exhaust tips. The well-crafted and intelligently-designed cabin is awash in amenities such as a 12-way power driver and front-passenger eight-way heated seats, tri-zone auto climate control, aluminum inlays on the revised instrument cluster and a/c gauges, sunroof with retractable shade, tilt/telescopic steering column and driver information center. Though rear-seat passenger space is restricted, there is plenty of room in the cavernous trunk.

Dual front and side airbags, front knee airbags, side curtain airbag, stability and traction controls, front three-point safety belts, front/rear limited-slip differential, four-wheel antilock brakes, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are standard.

We averaged a worthy 26 mpg in city/highway driving though EPA estimates are 24 combined and 20 city/30 highway.

The A5 delivers snappy acceleration, solid chassis, top-notch interior, and sharp handling and balance. Its agile nature and lively character makes this Audi coupe a hoot to drive.

Tires: 245/40R18
Wheelbase: 108.3 inches
Length: 182.1 inches
Fuel capacity: 16.1 gallons
Base price: $39,050
Web site: www.audiusa.com


Dodge Journey Luxury sport sedan lovers, your ride has arrived. And it is a blast to drive. Redesigned for 2013, the fourth-generation Lexus GS350 is a tad wider and taller than its predecessor. Otherwise, the 3.5-liter V-6 power train has been retained to crank out 305 horsepower @ 6400 rpm and 277 pounds-feet of torque @ 4800 rpm. Available as a rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, the 3,795-pound midsize car can scoot 0 to 60 in a mere 5.7 seconds with a top speed of 142 mph. Power reaches the wheels via a seamless 6-speed auto transmission, which also can be shifted via steering-wheel paddles.

Soaking up hurdles with skill, sure-footedness and poise is a double wishbone front and multilink rear suspension. Handling and steering feel is solid, thanks to a variable-speed sensing power system. And depending on road conditions (and sometimes the mood!), you can drive in eco, sport, normal or sport modes.

Ensconced on the unitized steel body are arrowhead-shaped HID headlights surrounded by the Lexus spindle grille, and LED rear combination lamps. The F Sport package ($5,690) will get you a revised front bumper, upper and lower grille inserts, and 5-spoke, 19-inch wheels with dark graphite finish, F sport emblem on front sides and on steering wheel, among other performance-oriented traits.

Cabin ergonomics are of the highest quality with well-bolstered 10-way adjustable power front seats. The analog instrument cluster of speedometer and tachometer with a centered drive information center is logically laid out. Flanked by horizontal air vents under the touch screen, the analog clock conveys a rich ambiance. Creature comforts include power tilt/slide moon roof, dual-zone auto climate control, power tilt/telescopic steering column, keyless access and start, and LED ambient lights. And you can toggle navigation, climate, audio and phone controls with the mouse-like, easy-to-use controller on the console.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, front knee airbags, Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management with stability and traction control, four-wheel antilock brakes, front/rear crumple zones, three-point seatbelts for all, collapsible steering column, rearview camera, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are standard.

Peppy, fun to rev and lunging forward with fervor at each turn, the GS350 delivers a splendid blend of performance and style. To fulfill your dream, all you need now is close to or more than 50 Gs.

Tires: 225/50R17
Wheelbase: 112.2 inches
Length: 190.7 inches
Fuel capacity: 17.4 gallons
City: 19 mpg
Highway: 28 mpg
Base price: $46,900
Web site: www.lexus.com


2013 Malibu Eco Tiguan? Don’t be misled by the peculiar name. German for ‘tiger’ and ‘iguana,’ the compact crossover SUV shares its sole 2.0-liter inline-4 cylinder power train with the hatchback GTI. The direct-injected, turbocharged and intercooled engine belts out 200 horsepower @ 5100 rpm and 207 pounds-feet of torque @ 1800 rpm. It’s quick off the mark, responding with agility in any situation.

Available as a front-wheel or all-wheel drive, the younger sibling to the Touareg comes in base S, mid-level SE and top-of-the-line SEL trims. Standard on the front-wheel-drive S is a 6-speed manual; optimal on the S and standard on other models is a slick-shifting 6-speed auto gear box, which was equipped on our test drive. Ensconced on the unitary body is a robust strut-type front and a multilink rear suspension.

The attractive cabin of the freshened SUV epitomizes European styling and flair with a simple but elegant instrument panel of large analog speedometer and tachometer gauges and a centered driver information center. Storage bins and cubbies, some particularly cavernous, are scattered throughout. Fold flat the 40/20/40 rear seat, which slides forward 6 inches, and the trunk area becomes quite generous.

Starting at just $22,840 for the S and peaking up to $38,080 for the high-end model, the Tiguan requires premium fuel, a deterrent for many potential buyers during rising gas prices. We eked out 28 mpg in our city/highway driving, about 450 miles on a full tank. That’s fairly respectable. EPA estimates are 22/27 for the FWD auto.

The Tiguan sticks out in the crowded compact SUV field, thanks to a peppy engine, excellent handling and balance, everyday practicality and decent fuel economy. As for its odd-sounding name, look at it as a boon for once.

Tires: 235/50R18 all season
Wheelbase: 102.5 inches
Length: 174.5 inches
Steering: power rack and pinion
Weight: 3,404 pounds
Fuel capacity: 16.8 gallons
Web site: www.vw.com

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