Uber Faces The Pandemic Effect

Ride-hailing app Uber, like many big companies, has made it to the list of victims of the COVID-19 impact leading to companies firing their employees. 3700 Uber employees learned it while being confined to their homes. They were informed through a Zoom call which lasted for a total of three minutes. And it was with immediate effect which meant that it was their last working day with the company. All the 3700 employees that are being laid off are from the customer service and recruitment.

Ruffin Chaveleau, who heads Uber’s Phoenix Center of Excellence was tasked with the responsibility of breaking the news to their employees. From the video clip which was recorded by one of the employees who faced the axe, Chaveleau sounded disheartened to be breaking the news which she described as ‘no one wants to be on a call like this’. She said: “Your role is impacted and today will be your last working day with Uber. You will remain on the payroll until the date noted in your severance package.”

As news about the layoffs leaked, Uber feared the spread of misinformation and decided to expedite the process of announcing the decision. Uber’s business has been severely affected by the pandemic leading to 14% (3700 out of 26,900 employees) cuts from its global workforce. Employees at Uber say that more layoffs are expected in the coming months.

The company posted last Thursday a net loss of $2.9 billion. It also said that hiring has been put on hold while they are also cutting down on the existing workforce. A filing last Wednesday also revealed that the company will incur about $20 million in severance cost and charges related to it. The situation is so dire that even the CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will be forgoing his salary of $1 million-plus a possible bonus of $2 million for the rest of the year.

A spokesperson for Uber said, “It’s never easy or uncomplicated to let employees go, and that’s only been more true during this unprecedented period where we are all working from home across dozens of cities and countries. We’ve focused on providing the clearest, most empathetic experience possible and have put together a strong severance package and other benefits.”

A disgruntled former employee of the company said that the company gave them no notice. She said, “if I missed that Zoom call, I would have missed the news. We knew they didn’t have the drivers’ backs, but they don’t have anyone’s backs.” Adding that “The way they’ve gone about it is very negative. Uber has empathy training and they teach us to be sympathetic to other people’s needs, but they’re not practising what they preach.”

Make sure to check out the car reviews and videos on my website.

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My Next Daily Driver Is A Renault Megane R.S

In-depth review of the Renault Megane R.S

I have realized that you don’t really need a supercar to experience the sheer excitement, joy and the thrill of driving. What happens when a racing team decides to put their hands on a normal hatchback and dial it up to F1 style? The product of this experiment is the Renault Megane R.S 280 Cup (R.S: Renault Sport). The predecessor to the Megane R.S Cup was undoubtedly one of the greatest hot hatchbacks ever made. Which is why the pressure to better that was a daunting task for the Renault team.

So what’s changed in the new Megane R.S? At the first look itself, you can tell where the inspiration came from. For starters, the Megane R.S Cup has a Formula one inspired blade in the front bumper with seriously widened tracks that make the front arches 60mm wider and the rear arches by 45 mm compared to the standard Megane. The width may be overwhelming initially especially while tackling narrow roads but it is worth it for the improvement in performance and stability it offers. The RS steers all four wheels using 4CONTROL 4WD technology, a first in its segment. The rear-wheel steering advantage is noticeable on the track, making it easier to go around the tight hairpin bends.

Renault Megane Rear
Renault Megane Rear

There are three model types available to buyers. The entry-level 280 bhp car with softer suspension setup, a 280 bhp car with stiffer suspension (your bottoms are your suspensions) and 300 bhp, bigger brakes, biggest wheels (19-inch) and stiffest suspension possible (be ready for an early hip replacement). I had the stiffer suspension setup, so you get an idea of what I have been through.

All the Cup cars get standard 19-inch black diamond-cut alloys complimented by low-profile Bridgestone tires that offer phenomenal grip levels. It has a full set of LED headlights & tail lights, C-shaped LED DRLs, 8.7-inch tablet-style touchscreen with clear resolution and tasty graphics, rearview camera and adaptive cruise control. A 7-inch TFT instrument displays a huge tachometer in the centre that changes colour depending on which mode you are in. Of course, race mode is my favourite.

Renault Megane R.S Styling
Renault Megane R.S Styling

One of the coolest features is the R.S monitor that displays the telemetry data such as the tire pressure, lap times, acceleration (0-60mph, 0-100mph), G-sensors, brake pressure and so on. This wide variety of rich insights is gathered using the 40 sensors surrounding the exterior of Megane R.S. which constantly provides real-time driving data.

R.S Monitor
R.S Monitor

The comfort levels have been dialled up compared to the previous generation. The interiors are built using a mix of leather, plenty of soft-touch materials and Alcantara seats. The front seats are bucket-shaped so expect yourself to be cramped into one with limited adjustment options available. Some expect the car to seat five people which is doable but it won’t be a comfortable ride. Two adults can sit in the front while adults with legs cannot in the rear. The rear seats are made for more like three kids. The boot exists and you should be thankful for that.

Renault Megane Interiors
Renault Megane Interiors

Honestly, none of this matters. At least to me. You see the Megane R.S Cup has a 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine that churns out 276 bhp and 390 N-m of torque. Except in the comfort mode, the throttle response is immediate with little to no lag. The double-clutch EDC gearbox is a little jerky at lower speeds. If you are someone that likes to take control, then there are pedal shifters which for some reason are shorter on the bottom side.

The R.S launches like an arrow and before you realize you are buried deep inside your seat. The most intoxicating thing is hearing all the pops and crackles with any full-throttle upshift. The chassis is so brilliant that it can handle much higher loads enabling you to push it even further.

The four-wheel steering makes cornering so effortless and goes precisely where you want it to. All these capabilities are thanks to the new suspension setup and particularly the hydraulic compression stops. The limited-slip diff lock makes it easier to get on the throttle and exit the corner.

Renault Megane R.S Exterior
Renault Megane R.S Exterior

The result of launching like a rocket and pushing it fast means the economy takes a hit. You will at best manage anywhere between 12-13 kpl (On a track, 7-8 kpl). With a 50-litre fuel tank capacity, the track days are going to be short with more time spent at the petrol station. Depending on the model you select you will shell out AED 119,900 ($32,500) for the R.S Cup and AED 124,900 ($34,000) for the R.S Trophy.

The Megane R.S Cup is an impressive and improved car. This car is equipped to handle track days with the flick of a button. The firmer suspension setup does make it tiring and uncomfortable to drive on normal roads. Nonetheless, it is still made for the passionate driver looking to test its limits. Every time I parked the Megane R.S and looked back at that tonic orange colour, I always felt like jumping in for another drive. Also, hearing that exhaust note never gets old. I could not stay put at home till the time I had the car with me. I guess, that’s what a special car does – keep you out and about looking for non-stop fun!

You can check out my review of the 2020 Nissan Patrol V6 from this link.

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2020 Nissan Patrol Review: Luxury SUV

If you sit inside the new Nissan Patrol (also known as the Y62), you would realize not much has changed in this latest iteration. Nissan seems to be playing it safe as they have refrained from making any dramatic changes. The model that I tested was the Nissan Patrol V6 Titanium (known as the Armada in the US). The Nissan Patrol enjoys being the UAE’s best selling vehicle.

Detailed Review Video of Nissan Patrol V6

The most noticeable upgrade is visible in the new headlights and taillights. The C-shaped LED headlights house 52 LEDs while the LED taillights accommodate 44 LEDs. The taillights come with the sequential turning lights. That’s new!

Some of the other changes include a novel V-motion design grille which has been updated in all of Nissan’s latest models, dual touchscreen screens in the dashboard – the upper one is for navigation while the lower is for infotainment and mobile connectivity – and lastly, a 7-inch multi-information display in the instrument cluster.

Nissan Patrol Exteriors
Nissan Patrol Exteriors

There are two bumper options available: the standard city option which has lots of chrome and the off-road version which has improved ground clearance. My test car had the off-road bumper and honestly, I liked the look of the off-road version because it gave the car an aggressive look.

The Nissan Patrol is an SUV that is loaded with features. It has got adaptive cruise control, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, wireless charging, 13 speaker music system, Intelligent Rear-View Mirror and Lane Departure Assist. If you splurge and go for the Platinum version, you get real leather trims as well! In the other versions, the wood and leather used are artificial. My advice is don’t brag about it with someone who owns the platinum version of the Patrol.

Nissan Patrol interiors
Nissan Patrol interiors

What has not changed is how huge the Patrol really is. For someone who’s new to this SUV, a Patrol is like owning a studio apartment on wheels. It’s got 7 seats with generous boot space (which is if you choose to fold down the third row), legroom that comes in meters and the highlight of owning this car – its off-road capability.

And that brings me to the Patrol’s real appeal. The Patrol comes with two engine options and three variants with each option. A 4.0-litre V6 engine might not sound a lot in an SUV that weighs slightly less than the mountain. But this V6 still manages to produce a modest 275 bhp and 394 N-m of torque. The engine is mated to a smooth 7–speed automatic gearbox that allows the Patrol V6 to average somewhere between 8 to 8.5 kpl. All these stats are impressive, but it’s the off-roading capabilities that I am the most astounded by. It took a lot to convince my mind, that a car this size can take on dunes that easily. No seriously, like effortlessly. I spent a good 2 days in the desert and not once did I get stuck or had any of my wheels begging for traction. This from someone who hasn’t done off-roading at all. All you have to do is set it to the correct mode using the swanky terrain selector knob and you are good to go.

Nissan Patrol Desert Drive
Nissan Patrol Desert Drive

The suspension setup & chassis balance makes the Patrol glide over any terrain with little to no sweat. Its beefier cousin the V8 version comes with Hydraulic Body Motion Control, a setup that helps soak bumps easily and reduces body roll when cornering. The Patrol V6 misses out on that one completely. Nonetheless, I am still impressed with the V6.

There are reports from last year that do mention that Nissan is slated to launch the Patrol into the Indian market sometime during this year-end. You can check out a walk around video in Hindi for the same:

Nissan Patrol has been an iconic car to the Middle East region. People take pride in driving them. I was shown a thumbs up every single time I was driving it from a fellow Patrol driver. It is humongous but the light steering wheel makes it easier to manoeuvre. The base version of a V6 Patrol starts from AED 199,900 ($54,500) and goes up to AED 265,000 ($72,000). Never has owning a car and a studio apartment (both on wheels) been so convenient. Happy Dune Bashing!

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2019 Honda CR-V Detailed Review

Honda CR-V
2019 Honda CR-V AWD Touring

Honda has been the most advanced car company having innovated tech like the hydrogen propulsion systems. And today I am reviewing one of their best models – the new Honda CR-V 2019. First, ‘CR-V’ is an abbreviation for Compact Runabout Vehicle or Compact Recreational Vehicle which was used in Britain officially to define the CR-V by Honda.

The Honda CR-V has been one of the best-selling compact SUV from Honda’s stable. The 2019 version has to be the best looking CR-V though it has gotten a bit wider but still far better than its predecessors. Remember not so long ago the 2016 CR-V? The round bulge in the back made it look like it had a swollen back. Although, after the big facelift back in 2017, not much has changed in terms of the overall design in the past 2 years.

Exterior:

The car that I was given for review was a CR-V AWD Touring. On first look, this car may not look very big on the outside but when you look inside it is super spacious. The exterior doesn’t look very aggressive which is a subtle reminder it has been made to ferry you around in comfort. The edges have been rounded. The front houses a fancy chrome grille in the centre which appears in all Honda models but I do feel they are bit overdone. The bonnet has these hunches on both the sides which are quite visible from inside the cabin when you are in the driver’s seat. It makes the car feel even wider than it is from inside. As is with the modern norms, it comes with a full set of LED headlights and DRLs (Day Running Lights) and a thin strip of LED fog lamps at the bottom.

Front

Move to the side, the chrome garnishing continues with bordering around the front, the rear windows and at the bottom of the doors. The doors have a smart keyless entry feature so you don’t need to bother removing the keys from your pocket. The best bit about the CR-V is visibility. It’s got huge side windows which give you a very airy and open feel from inside. Also, it has something large hanging under the side mirror (and only on the passenger side). It is the side vision camera which they have tried to hide unsuccessfully. It is quite noticeable even from a km away.

Initially, I was confused at this concept of putting a camera only under the RIGHT side mirror and not in the left (do not even ask about the video quality because it is straight out of the video games of 90s). Later on, it was explained to me by a service advisor, that Honda wants to shorten your response time, make the blind spots visible and also give you full visibility of the surroundings without the driver having to move their neck from left to right over and over again. A system created to give the driver wide-ranging visibility within the peripheral vision of the eyes. So, the infotainment screen shows the view on the right side of the car as soon as you give the right indicator. This way you would not take your eyes off the road and also be able to view the blind spots. The concern is why is it so huge?

Rear

The rear taillights flow to the side of the body and have a sharp edge that is visible from your side mirrors. The CR-V Touring comes with a standard sunroof which feels very small; thus, ruining the whole experience of having a sunroof. 18-inch alloy wheels complete the look of the CR-V Touring. The rim design is not the best, something I would change if given a chance.

Tailights and Badging

I genuinely like the look of the CR-V when you see it from the rear quarter side. While the chrome returns at the back with a thick stripe in the middle, the rear taillights are LED along with all the usual badging. The CR-V Touring has a hands-free access power tailgate with adjustable height feature which works correctly 85% of the time. The tailgate can also be opened and closed using your key. The CR-V Touring has 561 litres of boot space with the rear seats in place. The rear seats fold down in 60:40. Furthermore, there are handles provided on both the sides in the boot so you can fold the seats down which gives triples the boot space available to 1756 litres. The CR-V has one of the best boot loading capacity when compared to the Mazda CX-5 or a Toyota RAV4.

Interiors:

When it comes to generosity in terms of spaciousness, the Honda CR-V wins it hands down. When you step inside the CR-V, it’s very airy and doesn’t really feel like a COMPACT SUV. Even the quality of the material used is quite decent with the soft-touch plastics on the door cards and the dashboard. The only thing that does not fit into this whole mix is the fake plastic trim that is made to look like a wooden vinyl on the dashboard. Otherwise, the interior has a good quality of leather, a total thumbs up from me.

Interiors

The steering wheel is leather-covered and comes with your media controls and the standard cruise controls. There are flappy paddle shifts mounted on the steering which are made of plastic but are too thin to be visible on first sight. The leather seats are satisfactorily comfortable for the long run. While the driver’s seat comes with an 8-way power-adjustable with 4-way lumbar support, the passenger gets 4-way power adjustability. The rear seats are broad enough to seat 3 people although the transmission tunnel is quite large so the middle seat has a hump which would feel like sitting on a porch. The CR-V also comes with a cool feature – the remote control engine starter – so you can cool or heat your car before you enter in it.

Hands down, the best feature in the Honda CR-V is the air conditioning. If you ever want to know what your food must be feeling like when you keep it inside the fridge, then sit in a Honda with the AC dead low. It is astonishing that even in Dubai summers and with no sun protection films on the side windows, it was able to cool the car within seconds of starting the AC. Also, Honda maintains sensibility by giving physical buttons for the AC. It comes with dual climate control and rear vents for the passengers at the back.

The information display in your instrument cluster is a digital screen which can be configured to show you different options while driving like digital or analogue speedometer, media, trip details, drive modes and various other settings. During the day the instrument is difficult to see because of the reflections.

Leather Seats

The CR-V comes with a 7-inch infotainment screen in the centre with built-in navigation. It also comes with Android Auto and Apple Car Play. The other forms of connectivity include Bluetooth, AUX & HDMI (I know, HDMI, really Honda?). While the resolution of the screen could be better, it has a matte finish which hampers the visibility when the sunlight directly falls on it. But the infotainment system is customizable from inside the settings and serves a decent purpose of entertaining you. There are 8 speakers, 2 USB ports, an HDMI port & 12V power socket in the front while the rear passengers get 2 USB ports (2.1A) for just charging their phones. The speakers sounded quite good after fiddling around with some audio settings.

There is quite a bit of storage space in the Honda CR-V. The door bins on all the four doors are large enough to hold big water bottles. The hand rest storage has a slideable partition and it also has a glove box, sunglass holder on the roof, cup holders each in the front and in the rear armrest.

Safety System:

There is an elaborate list of safety systems and features that the CR-V is loaded with. To start off, there are front SRS airbags for the driver and the passenger. To keep the front passenger safe from a side impact there are also curtain and side curtain airbags. No wonder the CR-V has one of the best crash-test ratings possible. Apart from that there is Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake Booster (EBB), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Traction Control System (TCS), Hill Start Assist (HSA), Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), Emergency Stop Signal (ESS), Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and ISOFIX (anchoring points for child seats). Unlike some rivals that tend to keep all these safety systems offered in only the top variants, Honda breaks that norm by offering all these safety features even in the base variant. Now that is quite impressive.

The build quality itself makes you feel confident about the car’s safety tech. There is also a reversing camera but again it is low resolution making it very basic with a grainy and washed out screen resolution. There are parking sensors in the front and the rear that will help you in tight spaces and tough parking situations.

The Drive & Performance:

Powering the CR-V is a 2.4 Liter, DOHC, 16 valves inline, i-VTEC. The i-VTEC sure doesn’t need any explanation. The block produces a modest 184 bhp and 244 Nm of reasonable amounts of torque at 3900 rpm. But the engine is mated to a CVT transmission. I am not a big fan of the CVTs. Sure it’s an easier and more efficient system but it still does not match up to the traditional gearbox setup. The lag from CVT is quite evident when you accelerate at the start or when you demand power while speeding up. I rather enjoyed the paddle-shift set up to shift the gears because that way I was able to overcome that lag. Also, the gear stick is very conveniently and ergonomically placed with simply easy to use modes. The CR-V comes with only an ECON mode to squeeze out every little bit of efficiency from the engine.

Instrument cluster

These days, everyone is shifting to electronic steering and so have Hondas too. While the electronic steering replaces the hydraulic one, they lack the feedback if not configured properly. In the CR-V, the steering is quite responsive and gives that feedback from the road, it still lacks the feeling that hydraulic steering would give you. The turning radius is quite impressive for a car that is fairly wide and long.

The CR-V has a softer suspension setup to reduce the shock of speed bumps and uneven road surfaces inside the cabin but that compromises the overall rolling effect. In the turns, the CR-V does tend to roll ever so slightly but still manages to handle them quite well. The CR-V comes with all four disc brakes and they work efficiently in bringing the car to a sudden halt quite well.

The CR-V is an AWD (All Wheel Drive) system. Technically it is, but it works only when there is a need otherwise it is just a lazy drag in the car. So most of the time, the car is a front-wheel-drive (FWD) system and only when there is a loss of traction during cornering or when you take this car for an off-road session (you will be brave to do so) it will activate AWD and power the rear wheels as well. Hence, the car gets that understeer tendency sometimes because of the way the AWD has been set up.

The performance figures are impressive. With a non-turbocharged engine, considerable kerb weight and no hybrid aids, the CR-V still manages to deliver between 10.5 to 11 kmpl of mileage in the city and goes up to 13 kmpl on the highways. That is where the Honda is strong and where the i-VTEC shows its usefulness.

Conclusion:

To sum up here are my ratings for the CR-V based on different parameters:

Exterior: 3.5/5
Interior: 3.5/5
Practicality: 4/5
Drive & Performance: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Safety: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

The CR-V has come a long way and has improved a lot in many areas. It also is an easier car to maintain and drive. At a starting price of AED 92,500, it is way cheaper than its rivals in terms of the technology, features, comfort and performance offered.

 Should you consider this? Yes, I strongly suggest you put this into your shortlist and make sure to give it a test drive. This is definitely more car for less money.

You can watch a detailed video review from below:

You can also read the Volvo XC40 review detailed review from this link.

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Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design In-Depth Review

Which car brand comes to mind when I talk about safety? I’m quite sure for most of you the first thing that popped in your head was Volvo. The brand itself is so strongly associated with safety and quality that it is impossible to NOT think about them when you’re thinking of which car is more likely to save your life in case of an accident. Well, the Swedish do have high standards when it comes to safety. They have set the bar in safety quite high which means other car manufacturers have been forced to reconsider safety as a key feature while designing their cars.

Now, the car we are talking about today is one of the best mid-sized SUVs that are currently available in the overcrowded market – The Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design. And that is why I was very excited when I was loaned the car to review it. Volvo has had a turn of fortune with the XC40 and quite rightly so as it has been awarded the best compact SUV in 2018 in Europe and the most loved SUV too.

Volvo XC40

For the start, the XC40 looks completely different from its elder siblings the XC60 and XC90. It looks and feels more stylish, urban, utilitarian and youthful. Compact yet enough space to accommodate all that you need. How does it manage to do all of that?

Exteriors:

To start, the exteriors have been designed completely from scratch. The model I had was the top of the line R-design version. R-design is an in house design studio from Volvo that focuses on the comfort and aesthetic features of the cars from the Volvo lineup. And so the XC40 comes with a specially designed front grill that makes it look more aggressive than the standard version. It comes with LED headlights (which bend during the turning) and tail lights. The fog lamps are LED too but I think they look too small and unnoticeable at times. The bonnet has a tricky lever placement to open it. So where the Volvo logo on the grill meets the top right side of the bonnet, that’s where the lever is to unlock the bonnet.

Volvo XC40 T5 R-Design

The XC40 comes in a two-tone colour combination with the black exterior roof as standard on all the models. The build quality is incredibly sturdy and it is built to last till your grandchildren are born and even they may be driving it too. Other standard features include the remote-operated boot door (or tailgate), keyless entry & panoramic sunroof.

18-inch alloy wheels adorn this black and silver design that enhances the look of this car. At the back, you get twin tailpipe with chrome tips; However, the gap between the tips and the actual pipe is quite noticeable.

In addition, you get the R-design black coloured plates mounted on both sides just above the rear doors to remind you that Volvo has put in a lot of effort to design this car. The rear doors have an angular design that tapers at the end of the door to meet the roofline, slightly reducing the view from the rear passenger windows.


Interiors:

Nothing brings me more joy than to share that the quality of material used for the interiors is top-notch and very Volvo-ish. Inside you get soft-touch plastic everywhere from the door cards to the dashboard. The XC40 comes with R-Designed front and rear sport seats with dual material (leather & nubuck), perforated with white stitching. The steering is also covered in the leather with white stitching and makes it feel rather premium. But, the seats are too sporty in the sense that they are hard and uncomfortable if you plan to go on longer journeys.

Volvo XC40 Seats

The front seats are electronically adjustable in every possible way and also come with lumbar support and a cushion extension feature to support your thighs during longer journeys. The rear seats are positioned quite well in a way that the shoulder of the door does not hamper your visibility and essentially would not make you feel claustrophobic. The rear seats are not collapsible but only the hand rest provided can be folded down to accommodate your golf bags or your skis. The rear seats can easily fit 3 people with the roofline high enough to not hit the head of even the tallest of the passengers.

For an SUV this small, you may presume that the boot space must surely be compromised. But it is not! It comes with enough boot space to put two big bags and two small bags. The floor of the boot space is foldable and has these cool bit of hooks to hang in your shopping bags so I am impressed by the clever thinking from Volvo to include the hooks.  Plus after lifting the floor you still have enough space to stuff in some more luggage. Also, you get the scruff plating on the rear bumpers so you do not damage the paintwork while loading or unloading the luggage.

Volvo Xc40 Technology

Surrounded between the very long, stylish but unconventional looking AC air vents is a huge portrait styled 9.0 inches iPad-like infotainment screen. As a result, the dashboard has a very classy minimalist design. But unfortunately, the infotainment system is not the easiest system to use.

First of all, the glass on the screen is glossy meaning it is a fingerprint magnet. But do not worry, Volvo has you covered on that front and it gives you a premium cloth to clean the screen. The infotainment screen lets you swipe between menus to change anything, pinch, tap, zoom on the user-friendly maps and also has a conventional home button so you can quickly come back to the main menu. The address can be either written in letters on the screen or entered using an on-screen keyboard.

Under the screen, you would find a single row of media controls as well. But what concerns me more is that the air-conditioner is controlled from the infotainment screen itself. If the screen stops working you may be left without air-conditioning. Let’s be honest, we can live without the music system but not without an AC. The XC40 comes with a healthy eight-speaker music system with a 250W output. 

You also get a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display screen. You can see the details on that and also change the finer settings in the car from there. It displays your trip details, let’s you flick between conventional dials or a large map display for sat-nav and speed limit notifications using the 360 degrees five-camera system. You can also see the cameras on your infotainment screen as well.

In terms of storage, you can store a big bottle of water in the door bins on all the doors, cup holders are in the centre console, hand rest, glove box and one under the infotainment screen which also happens to be a wireless charging port. The XC40 comes with wireless charging, standard 12V socket in the front and back, USB and auxiliary port.

The gear stick on the XC40 is unconventional in every way. It is short and most of the times I managed to miss the gear stick. It takes a little getting used to before you know where the gear stick is and it also has a very minimum throw too. An issue with the gear stick itself is that if you want to go from the Parking mode to Drive, you will have tap the stick twice. The same goes when you are in Reverse mode and want to go into the Drive. It takes two taps to go into Drive. If you miss a tap and go into Neutral instead of the Drive or Reverse and you may end up rolling down if you are on a hill. To change the gear manually using the stick, you have to shift it sideways to change the gears up or down. All of this leads to a slightly annoying experience using the gear stick.  Oh! And the parking mode is button operated after you are done understanding how the shifter works.

Volvo XC40 Interiors

The steering wheel is adjustable, has adaptive cruise control and media control mounted on it and the paddle shifters which are plastic which ruins the feel of the steering wheel in some way.

Safety System:

No Volvo review is complete without discussing its safety system. The XC40 comes with its own ‘Intellisafe system’ which is used in lane assist, emergency brakes, adaptive cruise control and on-coming lane mitigation. It also comes with 7 Multistage Intelligent Airbags: driver, passenger, sides and curtains. The other safety systems include 360-degree cameras, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System), EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution), EBA (Electronic Brake Assist), Hill Start Assist and Automatic Brake Hold system.

However, while these systems are remarkable, they tend to be frustrating as well. In particular, if you keep the lane assist feature on, the car is going to interfere on occasions even while you consciously try to change the lanes. It vibrates vigorously and corrects the steering wheel forcefully as if you were going to put the car in a ditch. Luckily you can reduce the interference from the system by going into the settings from your complicated infotainment system. Good luck figuring that out.

Overall it is a good system considering that the roads in UAE have faster average speeds of 100 km/hr and if you take into account the driving habits of some people here, this car is going to teach you how to drive safely again.

The Drive:

The Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-design comes with a T5 2.0L4 Cylinder Turbocharged engine which produces 247 bhp and 350 Nm of torque. This engine is coupled to an 8-speed automatic gearbox. The car weighs around 1700 kgs and comes with an AWD (All Wheel Drive) system. This is an SUV that does not try to over-deliver on anything, perfectly balanced on all points.

volvo xc40 exteriors

The power delivery from the engine is quite smooth and the short throttle response times make it feel very sporty. Although there is a certain amount of turbo lag till 2500rpm. Also, the engine becomes a little noisy once you cross 3500rpm. But the NVH levels are well maintained all the time. The gear shifts are crisp and if you use the paddle shifts, the lag from the system is minimal while changing gears.

The steering wheel feels pretty light to drive, pointy and the XC40 manages to disguise its weight quite well. Although, the weight distribution on the XC40 is pretty even. It also comes with the Pirelli continental tyres and that’s probably another reason for the smooth handling and comfortable ride. The suspensions are stiff due to which the XC40 has a bare minimum body roll.

The XC40 comes with four different driving modes: Comfort, Dynamic, Eco and Off-Road. Put it in dynamic and the setup becomes stiff, sporty and the throttle response becomes sharp. However, even though its an SUV, it will not handle any and all off-roading that you throw at it EVEN when you put it in the Off-Road mode. I tried to take the XC40 onto the beach but it did struggle with the traction once the sandy surface started to become lose and dense. It was a sign not to push it more.

The XC40 comes with four disc brakes and the most enjoyable part about it is the brake pedal. Usually, manufacturers give you a very sensitive brake pedal meaning as soon as you step on it, the car suddenly comes to a halt. But in the XC40 things are different. The pedal has a heaviness and longer travel, hence it takes more than the usual force to hit the brakes.  

Conclusion:

While the XC40 T5 AWD is in direct competition with the Range Rover Evoque and the Audi Q3, it still is a very good match compared to the competition. The flaws in this car are so minimal, you should not even consider it. The XC40 surprised me in many areas with its upgrade and improvement in the build quality, infotainment system, ride quality, lavish interiors and its ability to perform like an SUV ticks all the boxes. Priced at AED 150,000 ($41,000) this car is a bargain compared to its rivals. You get the safest car you can possibly imagine with a robust design. My advice is you should check out the T5 rather than the T4 version as it offers an AWD option.

It is no doubt one of the best SUVs in the market and rightly deserves all the accolades. It is sporty, youthful, stylish, urban and utilitarian. But, most importantly it’s a complete package which is a delightful surprise.

You can watch a full video review of the Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design from below.

You can also read a detailed review of Honda CR-V from this link.

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F1 Drivers Salaries 2019

F1 Drivers
Image Credit: CNN

We are almost halfway through the Formula One season and boy it has been an exciting last few races. Yes, the Austrian Grand Prix was the best of all. While the drivers of these cars are no more than superhumans compared to us normal humans. It is really the younger lot currently that is performing really well and impressing us on the track. But do you know how much is an F1 driver paid for the entire season?

Well, compared to some drivers who are performing extremely well compared to how much they have been paid. Let us take a look at the salaries of F1 drivers for the 2019 season.

DriverTeamSalary
Lewis HamiltonMercedes $57,000,000
Valtteri BottasMercedes$8,5000,000
Sebastian VettelFerrari$45,000,000
Charles LeclercFerrari$3,500,000
Max VerstappenRed Bull$13,500,000
Pierre GaslyRed Bull$1,4000,000
Carlos SainzMcLaren$4,000,000
Lando NorrisMcLaren$260,000
Daniel RicciardoRenault$17,000,000
Nico HulkenbergRenault$4,500,000
Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo$4,500,000
Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo$230,000
Sergio PerezRacing Point$3,500,000
Lance StrollRacing Point$1,200,00
Daniil KvyatToro Rosso$300,000
Alexander Albon Toro Rosso$170,000
Romain GrosjeanHaas$1,800,000
Kevin MagnussenHaas$1,200,000
Robert KubicaWilliams$570,000
George Russell Williams$180,000

As seen from the table above, Lewis Hamilton is the highest paid driver for this season followed by Sebastian Vettel. Daniel Ricciardo jumps to the third highest paid driver after he switches from Red Bull to Renault this year. While amongst the new rookies entering F1, Charles Leclerc takes the biggest package out of all the young drivers as a result of making a switch to Ferrari this year after leaving Sauber which is now Alfa Romeo Racing.

You can check out my other blogs from this link. Comment below, if you have any formula one topic to discuss.

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Top 5 cars to buy in the UAE in 2018

UAE is one of the craziest markets to have some of the best cars available worldwide. Not only are the residents here spoiled for choice, but the love for cars has led to an unlimited catalog of some amazing Supercars, Luxury Cars & Sports Cars that are nowhere to be seen in the world. Some of the most beautiful & rare cars exist here in UAE. In fact, as per a survey by Autodata Middle East, people in UAE on an average change their car every 3 years. It’s that frequent! And it is this reason, that pretty much all the manufacturers are available in the UAE.

With such variety of cars in option, one is sure to get confused. While a car in every design and budget is available in the UAE, a majority of the car buyers also think about a lot of factors like car maintenance, parts & resale value. Every car depreciates differently which needs to be factored in when buying a car. In order to make your car buying decision a little easier, here is a list of the top 5 car manufacturers & their top selling cars in the UAE between 2017 and 2018 in descending order.

  1. Toyota

Toyota Land Cruiser (Photo Credit – autoexpress.co.uk)

By far, the most popular car brand in UAE with a market share of 23%. Toyota makes some of the most robust & reliable cars which are suitable for a country like UAE where the harsh summers take a toll on the car. But with, Toyota’s quality & reliability that is taken care of.

One of their most popular selling car and a desert favorite too is the Land Cruiser which is equipped with a 5.7-liter V8 engine that produces 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. It comes with an automatic transmission and gives fuel economy of 11 kmpl which is impressive for a car that size and with an engine that big.

  1. Mercedes Benz

Mercedes S-Class (Photo Credit – motor1.com)

Quite a surprise this may seem but Mercedes comes second in the overall sales in UAE with a market share of just over 12%. While everyone is pretty much a fan of German cars & their engineering, Mercedes S-Class is their best selling model compared to the other models available. The fuel economy ranges anywhere from 8.5 to 11 kmpl based on the driving conditions with power ranging from 230 to 575 Bhp. All the Mercedes cars are available with an Automatic Transmission.

  1. Nissan

Nissan Patrol Safari (Picture Credit – nissan.com)

Nissan cars have always been an integral part of the UAE’s transportation network. No wonder it comes third on the list of Top 5 manufacturers with a market share of little over 11%. With the same build quality & reliability just like Toyota & in a country obsessed with SUVs their most sought after model is the Patrol Safari. With cheap maintenance costs, the Patrol Safari comes fully loaded with intelligent 4 cameras that give you a 360-degree view of your vehicle and audio-visual alert to help you detect any objects around the car. Equipped with a 4 wheel drive system, the Patrol Safari comes with an option of 5 speed manual or 5 speed automatic gearbox.

  1. Lexus

Lexus LX 570 (Photo Credit – lexus.com)

Japanese sure know how to capture the market. Coming on the fourth spot is the Lexus. Lexus is the luxury car division of Japanese automaker Toyota. It is Japan’s largest-selling maker of premium cars. Lexus has a market share of 8.5%. The premium manufacturer’s LX 570 is one of the best selling cars in the UAE market. With almost 513 Bhp from a 5.7 liter engine and an Automatic Transmission, this five seater off roader comes with multi-function steering wheel, wireless charging & a fancy gear knob.

  1. Hyundai

Hyundai Tuscon (Picture Credit – carscoops.com)

These days Hyundai is pretty much into every market. And wherever they are, they make sure they are in the top 5. Grabbing the fifth spot in the list, Hyundai makes the highest money by selling the Tucson. Inspired by the new fluidic design concept, the Tucson has a modest 2 liter engine that churns out anywhere between 150 to 180 Bhp. And it isn’t behind in the safety department either as it comes with 6 airbags. Hyundai is one of the fastest growing automobile manufacturer and is catching up with the other manufacturers too. It has a decent resale value and is super reliable too.

A lot of car manufacturers are eyeing to dominate the UAE’s growing car market. And there are several new automobile companies that plan on entering into the UAE market soon. One of the major attractions of UAE is the host of Supercars, Fancy & Luxurious Cars that are always passing by whenever you step out on the road.

Which Car manufacturer is your favourite? Which Car do you plan on buying? Let me know in the comments section below. Also, if you need any help in deciding which car to buy, feel free to consult me. You can send an email with your doubts and I shall be more than happy to help you out.

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Buying a Car: Should you go for a New Car or a Used Car?

There are a lot of questions that are involved when deciding on buying a car, the first and the most important one is, should you buy a new car or an old car? There is always confusion and a sense of fear as you are going to do this once every 3 to 5 years.

True, that buying a new car ensures low risk, less hassles and full factory warranty for a few years that will give you peace of mind. But, buying an old car does mean a lot of savings. Because no one tells you about the sinister-sounding financial word: depreciation! A new car loses close to 20% of its value from the moment it is driven out of the showroom. Even if it does not lose that much, driving it for a year will ensure that it loses 20% of its value. Not all cars depreciate at the same rate, some rare brands do hold their value exceptionally well. But, if suddenly no one wants the car from the brand that you bought from, you are staring at a way higher depreciation after that.

Not that we can conclude, that used cars are better. While buying a used car, careful consideration of the necessary check points would ensure that you get a car that is as good as a new one. People used to disapprove of used cars by saying it was a sure shot way to buy someone else’s problem. Not anymore. Over the years, cars have never been more dependable. Cars today can deliver more than 100,000 miles before they need major repairs. Regular maintenance on the car like oil change, brake jobs and tires have been reduced as a result of the quality improvement.

Advantages of buying a New Car include –

Made to Order – Gives you the option to spec your new car just the way you want it, like getting the right combination of interior and exteriors color options.

It’s not Used – New car does zero out the hassle by making sure that the car has never met an accident, has not been mistreated by its previous owner, clean history, no wear or tear and more importantly less smelly.

Warranty – Like the other points mentioned above, the option of having a warranty gives you that peace of mind without paying anything extra.

Latest Gizmos & Tech – Cars today come with the geekier tech packed inside. Navigation, USB, Bluetooth, Touch Controls, steering mounted Controls, Launch Control (that you never use), different drive M\modes,

Financing – More financing options and, the banks offer lower financing options on new cars because they are worth more and have yet not depreciated.

Maintenance – Car manufacturers these days offer free scheduled service maintenance for a certain period or mileage, basically saving the cost on its maintenance in the initial years of ownership.

Advantage of buying a Used Car include –

Savings on price – Because buying a used car can save you close to 30% or more, it allows a buyer to step up to a higher-class model.

Depreciation – New cars depreciate the moment you drive out of the showroom. With a used car, there is not depreciation the moment you drive it off. Also, less mental pressure about the first dent or chipped paint as the previous owner would have taken care of those for you.

Cheaper Insurance Rates – The older the car gets, the lesser you pay on its insurance as a result of the depreciation on its price and age of the car.

Easy Registration – Buying a used car saves you a lot time and cost. A used car would require way less registration processes as most of the processes have been done by the previous owner. Also, the cost of registering a used car goes down every year because of its age and depreciation.

Certified Pre-Owned Cars – Buying a used car from a certified pre-owned car dealer ensures that the car has been thoroughly checked and ensuring factory warranty attached with it.

Buying a used car is always a better value proposition. Because, cars are so robustly built these days that a car used for 2-3 years still looks, drives and feels like a new car. Also, if you are learning to drive, then a used car makes a lot more sense as it would save you immensely on the ding that you would occasionally have on your car before ruining your brand-new car with your not so fancy driving skills.

If you get it thoroughly checked by a mechanic, you have nothing to worry when buying a used car. As a car buying consultant, you can reach out to me anytime via email with any questions when buying a New or Used Car.

Image Credit – www.cardekho.com

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Car Dashboard Warning Lights – What They Mean?

 

Images have been the best way to make a human understand since ages. We almost always picture the words when someone talks to us. If you still don’t believe me here is an example of it. Car, Apple, Phone, Ball, Rat. Now, I’m pretty sure that your brain did not flash you words but instead the images of all the examples of the words I mentioned above. That is the power of visualization that our brain has and understands that way.

Today, cars are equipped with electronics, safety devices and packed with sensors to monitor the condition of the car. Every time you turn your ignition key to the on position, there are various lights and symbols that illuminate on your dashboard. Also, when the key is turned on, your car performs self-test to make sure all the systems are working perfectly. And all these lights go off once the car starts. There will be times when one or more of these lights will stay on to inform you of potential problem that would need your attention.

The lights you see on the dashboard are colour coded meaning each colour has a different meaning associated with it. There are three types of colours used for indications – Red, Yellow & Green. Red coloured lights indicates a potential safety issue or a serious problem with the car or an important reminder that may need your attention. You should stop your car immediately and attend to the problem. Yellow or Orange lights in some cases indicates something to operate with caution or something that needs repairing or servicing. Green or Blue lights is a visual cue and also an indication that a system is on. A flashing light on the dashboard means it needs an urgent attention without any delay.

While manufacturers these days provide with a detailed car manual, explaining what different warning lights mean on the dashboard in order for you to be better prepared in case of an event. It is highly advisable to go through your car’s manual. The following are the most common warnings and information lights that appear on your dashboard and their meaning. Please note that every car dashboard may be different and symbols listed below may have different designs and colours.

Temperature Warning Light –
It is a serious indication that your engine temperatures is too high or your coolant level is low indicating that not enough fluid is in the system to cool down the engine. The same light in some cases also becomes blue indicating that the coolant temperature is below the optimum performing temperature. The engine should be shut off immediately. It may also indicate a faulty temperature sensor.

Engine Oil Pressure Warning –
This light comes up when there is low oil resulting in low oil pressure. It can also indicate a faulty engine oil pressure sensor. Low oil levels can cause some serious damage to the moving engine parts.

Battery Warning –
This light indicates that the voltage is below normal. This can also mean that the alternator is not working properly to charge the battery and hence the battery drains itself out. When the light comes up, the first that should be done is to switch off anything that draws power from the battery like air conditioning, heating system, music system, electrically heated glass and electrically heated seats. This leads to minimum power requirements from the battery till you reach a professional to help you out.

Brake Warning Light –
It indicates that the brake fluid is low or the hand brake is on. If the light does not go after the hand brake is released, your car would need a professional help.

Airbag Indicator –
It indicates that there is a problem with the air bag system. It needs to be resolved urgently.

Seatbelt Indicator –
In case you are not wearing your seat belt, it’s a safety reminder to buckle up your seat belt.

Door Ajar –
It indicates that one of the door is not closed properly or the door jamb switch has malfunctioned.

Check Engine Light –
It indicates an issue with the engine or can be a minor electrical issue. It can also mean a fault in the engine management system related to emissions or running. The car should be shown to a mechanic as soon as possible.

Traction Control Light –
It either indicates to warn you of a low grip condition for the car which should go off once the car regains traction or a problem with the traction control system.

ABS Warning Light –
It indicates a fault with the anti-lock braking system. This does not mean a brake failure but additional safety features are switched off and may not work during an emergency braking.

Tyre Pressure Warning –
It indicates a faulty tyre pressure sensor or one or more tyres has low air pressure. Tyre pressure should be inspected immediately to fill them to correct pressure.

Glow Plug Warning –
It is a warning for a diesel engine. Diesel engines require help in starting up during cold temperature. The glow plug is a heating element which is activated during the startup. It usually goes off after sometime but if doesn’t it indicated a faulty glow plug which should be replaced.

AWD Light –
This light indicates that the All-Wheel Drive system is activated.

ESP Light –
It’s similar to ABS indicator, indicates a potential problem with the Electronic Stability Program.

High Beam Light –
This light has been for decades indicating that the high beam light is turned on.

Low Windshield Fluid Indicator –
Indicates low windshield washer fluid which needs to be topped up.

Low Fuel Indicator –
Indicates Low Fuel and you need to visit the nearest petrol station.

Service Reminder –
The car’s on board computer shows this indicator to inform you that it’s time to give your car for servicing.

Before buying a second hand car, care should be taken to make sure that none of these warning lights mentioned above remain on after starting the engine. If any of these do remain on, it indicates a problem in the system that the warning light is associated with.

Have you ever had any warning lights on your dashboard? What was the problem and what did you do to solve it?
Let me know in the comment section below.

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Car Tire Care Tips, Tire Transcription & Tire Maintenance Guide for Every Driver


Tyres are fascinating not because they roll but for the amount of beating they go through every day without bursting. The bloke who made this possible was Robert William Johnson who invented and patented the first pneumatic tyre in 1845. A year before that in 1844, Charles Goodyear found and patented a process known as vulcanization.

In short, vulcanisation is the process of removing Sulphur from the rubber compound to make them waterproof and winter proof and allowing them to retain their elasticity at the same time. Though, tyres invented by Robert William Johnson were too expensive to manufacture back then. John Boyd Dunlop in 1888 was an inventor of the first practical tyre – a pneumatic inflatable tyre. But he had invented it for a use on bicycles back then and not for cars. But he was the one who laid the basic foundation for the development of tyres in future.

From then till now, it is fascinating to see how much tyres have developed over the years and their usage, life – wear and tear and compounds. Tyres today last for thousands of kilometres before they need to be replaced. And in the lifetime, they go through tough working conditions as well.

So, just recently I had tyres on my car changed. I went to the tyre shop and I was baffled at the number of tyre companies I could make a choice from.  Today, one can simply go to a tyre shop and get their car’s tyres replaced without much of an effort. But it is equally interesting to understand why a particular tyre is desirable for your car. Have you ever paid close attention to those various alphabets and numbers written on your tyre? Well, each one of them has a detailed meaning.

I am simply going to be touching upon car tyres and not any other modes of transport. So if you are a truck or a bus driver and reading this, this article should end for you here. But if you are interested in getting to know something useful, then continue reading.

Tyres are of two types – Tube and Tubeless tyres. Tyres with tubes were the first one to be introduced. But it had some obvious disadvantages ranging from maintenance, stability, cost & friction. A tubeless tyre, on the other hand, is a tyre without the tube inside. The tyre can contain air in itself. A layer of chloro-butyl lining (I wasn’t very bright in chemistry, so expect no fancy formula here) between rim and tyre helps in containing the air inside. The elimination of tube also has some obvious benefits. Mainly helping in

  • Reducing friction between tyre and tube, since the tube is eliminated.
  • Improved fuel efficiency and lesser rolling resistance.
  • Fewer vibrations & better comfort.
  • Lower wheel weight reducing un-sprung mass.
  • In case of penetration of a nail or a sharp object, the air loss is not sudden. This increases safety as it reduces the chances of tyre bursts.

Here is an example of a car tyre with different markings on it.

A tyre has following markings –

  • Width
  • Aspect Ratio
  • Construction
  • Rim Diameter
  • Load Index (Load Rating)
  • Speed Symbol (Speed Rating)

Width –

Width is the amount of contact a tyre makes with the road.

Aspect Ratio –

Aspect Ratio is of section height to section width.

Construction –

There are two types of tyres – Radial and Bias. A radial tyre is the most commonly used tyres for road cars these days. The difference between the two is the way they are constructed, having different ways of a layered arrangement on top of each other. There are a lot of advantages of radial tyres. Few to mention are –

  • They have a longer life as a result of lesser tread squirming and shuffling.
  • They reduce rolling resistance which helps in increasing the fuel economy.
  • Lesser edgewise bending leading to better stability and traction, in turn leading to better high-speed performance.
  • Improved vehicle handling.
  • Improved Braking & Cornering

Rim Diameter –

Whilst a rim is mounted on the hub, the tyre is mounted on the rim. It’s also a tyre’s inner diameter. Changing the size of a rim can impact the performance of the car in positive and negative ways.

Load Index (Load Rating) –

Different tyres come with a different load capacity. The value on a tyre indicates how much load a tyre can be subjected to. A chart below shows maximum load of a tyre against various load index values.

Speed Symbol (Speed Rating) –

Speed Symbol (Speed Rating) is the maximum speed for the tyre at full load. It is indicated by an Alphabet after Load Index. The table below shows the different speed ratings and its corresponding speed limits.

With these basics in mind, you can easily figure out what tyre does your car need to be fitted. Always make sure to put the right size of tyres and all from the same manufacturer. If you still need help in understanding the topic better, you can always email me your queries and I shall be more than glad to help you.

Image credit – http://kenyacarbazaar.com/blog/

If you have not read my previous blogs on how to buy a used car then check it here – Part 1, Part 2

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