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EDITOR — Anil Dharker                                                                          Dear Citigold Client,
CREATIVE DIRECTOR — Faruqui Muhammad Jaan
                                                                                               India’s               automobile                   revolution,                      started
DESIGNER — Shamkant More
IMAGE EDITOR — Shailesh Salvi                                                                  by Maruti-Suzuki, is now being carried
CLIENT SERVICING MANAGER — Elizabeth Baptista                                                  forward by the Tata’s Nano. Between these
EDITORIAL ASSISTANT — Clara Joy                                                                two milestones, there has been a quiet
                                                                                               development whose impact is nevertheless
MANAGER-MKTG. SERVICES — Salim Bagasrawala
                                                                                               evident on our streets. That’s the advent of
                                                                                               the high end car marques in our leading cities. In Mumbai, for example, Rolls
VICE PRESIDENT — Monica Chopra
MUMBAI (022-2285 0187-90) — Sheetal Petkar, Lamont Dias                                        Royce opened its first showroom in India, followed by Porsche, Audi, Jaguar
DELHI (011-23730873/4)                                                                         and other high quality cars.
DY. GENERAL MANAGER — Asha Augustine
                                                                                                       Unlike most luxury goods where higher prices mean higher perceived value,
MANAGER — Nikhil Mehrotra
BANGALORE (080-25592714 / 82514)                                                               in the automotive field higher prices are generally also accompanied by higher
MANAGER — Yogeesha A.                                                                          performance. It’s not just the car’s comfort level and accessories that go to the
                                                                                               next higher plane, you also get greater power and thrust, better engineering,
CHENNAI (044-28214362)
SENIOR MANAGER — Subramanian M                                                                 more safety features and the like. In other words, you get your money’s worth
KOLKATA (030-24618421) — Biswajit Dasgupta
                                                                                               in many different ways.
LUCKNOW (0522-2780560/754) — P P S Marwa
                                                                                                       But, of course, there is something in the label itself. If you have a Mercedes
JAIPUR (09828150706) — Peeush Gupta
AHMEDABAD (079-26579115) — Reyna Desai                                                         or a BMW or an Audi or a Jaguar or a Range Rover, you have arrived. If you
SECUNDERABAD (09849254662) — Kasi V Rao                                                        have a Rolls or a Bentley or a Ferrari, you arrived a long, long time ago. Doors
AD SALES - INTERNATIONAL                                                                       open for you, even the most exclusive ones, even the palace doors of royalty.
HONG KONG (+852-2516 1003) — Winky Wong                                                                This special issue of 24K explores variations on the theme of performance
MALAYSIA (+60-3-7729 6923) — Shallie Cheng                                                     cars. Experts evaluate the relative merits of high-end saloons available in India
SINGAPORE (+65 6735 8681) — Joui Ong
                                                                                               today as well as sports cars. An accompanying article tells you about the
DUBAI (+9714 3913360) — Sunil Kanchan
                                                                                               ultimate holiday: going in a Rolls Royce to Rajasthan’s Palace hotels. Another
                                                                                               article goes into Formula One’s fascinating history, how it all began and how
CFO — Manish Mehta                                                                             the developments of these ultra cars resulted in performance benefits for the
COO — Raja Gupta                                                                               cars you and I drive on our streets today.
                                                                                                       There is much to savour in this special issue, and I hope you enjoy it as
                                                                                               much I did. Happy reading!

                                                                                               Warm Regards,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          V O L UME- 5   I S S UE- 4

                                                                                               Gagan Arora
                                                                                               Segment Head – Citigold
                                                                                                                                                                        Cover designed by                               fast track
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             car                            profile
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       F1 history          special                     kings of the road
                                                                                                                                                                      Faruqui M. Jaan

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          [04]                           [10]                       [16]                         [20]
         fast track                     royal ride                  wheels                       property
          prima                     rolling through              the car                no economic slow down
        formulae               rajasthan in a rolls royce       with a star            for the high end segment
 A brief history of Fomula 1           A truly regal         The latest Merc-AMG          The economic slowdown
      and its evolution                   holiday                is a super car             is a new opportunity

          [24]                           [34]                       [38]                         [43]
     objects of desire               super saloons                  profile                        profile
those magnificent men                and the crown                 kings of                   brainwashed
in their flying machines                goes to                    the road                    with music
     How to achieve               So many luxury sedans,      The men and kings           Zubin Mehta is to many
    automobile nirvana             which one to choose?     who collect antique cars     God in the world of music

r e g u l a r s                                                     [30]
                                          fast track

        Siddhraj Singh takes us back in
      time to the beginning of Formula
      1 and traces its evolution from a
     hobby for rich European playboys
    to the playground of technological
          wizardry it has become today

a       s you read this, Briton Jenson Button goes into the European leg
of the 2009 Formula 1 season as Championship leader. Written off just
three months ago, today Button and his brand new Brawn GP team are
embarrassing legends Ferrari and Mc Laren. And all it took were a few
brilliant minds and a massive technological gamble. This is Formula 1
today. It relies on radical thinking and innovation. To win you have to
push all boundaries.
        But it was not always like this. Racing was about pure speed.
Racers have always done anything to gain the advantage. The difference
is that earlier speed was measured in seconds, today its in thousandths of
a second – such is the level of competition.
        When automobiles were first raced, and this was a few decades
before the formal introduction of Formula 1, cars were generally stripped
down versions of road going cars. Early races such as the Vanderbilt Cup
and the Gordon Bennett trials were largely run using stripped down
automobiles, with almost no bodywork. As the automobile industry

                                       FAST TRACK

                   PUSHING THE ENVELOPE
    Grand Prix engineers are known for their dark art of rule interpretation and of defying
    convention. Here are a few brilliant anomalies:

                             TYRELL P34
    In 1976 Tyrell Racing team debuted one of
    the most distinctive racing cars ever. It was
    the six-wheeler P34. The design incorpo-
    rated four 10-inch rims instead of the two
    normal sized front wheels with the rear wheels remaining standard. The idea was to
    reduce the frontal area and therefore cut drag but without compromising grip. The idea
    worked with a one-two finish at the Swedish Grand Prix and runners-up in the construc-
    tors’ championship. The idea lost out to Goodyear’s lack of willingness to develop the
    tyre further.

                                                 LOTUS TYPE 78/79
                                                Having introduced rear-mounted wings to
                                                F1 in 1968, design legend Colin Chapman
                                                brought forth the ‘ground-effect’ principle,
    by designing the side pods of the Type 78 as aerofoils, smoothing out the underside
    of the car and ‘sealing’ it to the road with flexible sideskirts, creating an area of low
    pressure underneath the car and literally sucking it on to the track, allowing it to corner
    quicker. It almost won the championship, but for numerous engine failures. For the
    following year the car was developed into the Type 79, which produced so much down-
    force it cracked the chassis. Once strengthened it took seven wins and both champion-
    ships in 1978.

          BRABHAM BT46B
    Taking the ground-effect principle fur-
    ther, Gordon Murray installed a large
    engine driven fan under the rear wing
    of the Brabham BT46. This literally
    sucked it down onto the road. When
    regulations banned ‘moveable aerodynamic devices,’ Murray claimed the fan was
    simply for cooling purposes. It won on its debut at the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix.

                                    RENAULT RS01
    The RS01, powered by a 1.5-litre Gordini V6, brought turbo charging into Formula 1 in
    1977. Though itself unsuccessful it ushered in the turbo era. The technology reached
    a peak in 1986, with up to 1300bhp being produced from tiny 1.5-litre, four-cylinder
    engines. It was banned the following year.

evolved, so did the racing side. It was between the      nationale de l'Automobile (FIA) came into being.
two wars that racing became a manufacturer driven        Formula 1 was introduced in the 1950 season linking
sport. Automobile manufacturers started racing not       various grand prix with a World Championship for
only for the prestige of their company but also of       drivers. This was also when strict rules regarding
their nation. Famous state backed teams included         machinery were enforced, prompting cunning
Mercedes and Auto Union (now Audi). Hitler himself       engineers to interpret them to their advantage.
authorised funds for the duo to develop racing cars.     The first World Championship was won by Italian
Large displacement engines were tried with up to 16      Giuseppe Farina in a pre-war front engined Alfa
cylinder, supercharging was derived from aircraft use,   Romeo. During this period came about innova-
as was streamlining bodywork and aerodynamics.           tions such as desmodromic valves, fuel injection and
The Germans even stopped using paint to save on          modern reliable disc brakes. Very soon all these were
weight. The silver colour of the bare metal gave the     adopted for use on road vehicles. Formula 1 was now
term silver arrows, a term still used by Mercedes        no longer just for prestige or publicity, it became a
today.                                                   genuine test bed for technology.
       The Second World War disrupted all racing,               The move from front engine to mid engine
but it also allowed the birth of modern racing and       happened in the 50s with Cooper cars, which gave
Formula 1. While the rules for a formal Grand Prix       the car more balance, prompting the rest of the grid
World Championship had been laid out before World        to adopt this layout by the 60s. The 60s also saw the
War II, it was only in 1947 that the Fédération Inter-   introduction of the full monocoque chassis by legendry

                                                      FAST TRACK

    designer Colin Chapman and the Lotus team. This           of 1300hp and started using highly exotic material for
    was an important breakthrough, one that is widely         strength and weight saving. The aura and mystique
    used in manufacture of motorcars today. With the          of the race were permanently sealed. These were the
    increase in speeds, aerodynamics gained importance        fastest, most advanced and most powerful cars on
    and in the late 60s wings started appearing on cars.      earth and nothing else compared.
    This went on to evolve into ‘ground-effects,’ ground              When the ban came on turbos, the teams again
    hugging cars.                                             returned to conventional engines, but as electronics
            It was also around this time that Formula 1       became more sophisticated they started employing
    was gaining world prominence. High speeds, dashing        all sorts of computer-controlled systems. In the early
    young drivers that were no less than daredevils (22       and mid 90s systems like traction control, active
    drivers lost their lives between 1960 and 1980), their    suspension and semi-automatic gearboxes were
    celebrity status, the glitz of high society and the       developed. These have now distilled into our street
    growth of television, all abetted its growth. The sport   cars, but regulations were put in place to ban most of
    was now getting global reach. This was also the start     them, giving the control back to the driver.
    of the multi-billion dollar empire it is today. In 1968           Today we see the modern form of these cars,
    the Lotus team was the first to run in sponsor colours,   where rules are tight and millions are spent testing
    that of Imperial Tobacco. In the 70s Bernie Eccle-        and extracting every tenth of a second. Safety and cost
    stone rearranged the management of the commer-            concerns have made way for far safer cars, but with
    cial rights, giving the power to the constructors and     restrictions curbing speed and spending. Thanks to
    teams, allowing them to negotiate with tracks and         this there has not been a driver fatality since 1994 and
    broadcasters. It also paved the way for Formula 1 to      thanks to Formula 1 our street cars are safer as well.
    become one of the most watched sports on televi-          But those highly experimental designs are a thing
    sion.                                                     of the past. If it were not for the sponsor decals, the
            The development of the Formula 1 car              cars would be hard to tell apart. Despite this Formula
    continued. Between the late 70s and mid-80s Formula       1 still holds its special Number One place in motor
    1 truly lived up to its name. Cars were now faster and    sports. It is still the fastest, noisiest, most expensive
    more radical than ever. Cars were producing in excess     and most glamorous sport in the world. •

            royal ride

     rolling through rajas

than in a rolls royce
    Bob Rupani reminisces about his drive
    through Rajasthan, the land of kings, in a
    Rolls Royce, a car made for kings. If ever
    you buy a Rolls, he says, be sure to drive
    it to some palaces because the two were
               made for each other
                   Photographs by Bob Rupani

    rolls Royce is universally acknowledged as the
    makers of the finest luxury cars. And Rajasthan is
    known for its palaces and royal lifestyle. And when
    you mix the two, the result is, well, quite amazing.
           Not many people know that if Rolls Royce
    today is the most honoured luxury marque in the
    history of the automobile, it owes some of it to India.
    This is because the relation of Rolls Royce with our
    country dates back to the times of the Maharajas and
    the Raj. Back then our subcontinent was the ultimate
    destination for their cars and all the royal garages in
    India had a Rolls Royce.
            They are back in India since a couple of years
    and it goes without saying that considerable afflu-

     ence is a requirement of ownership. You cannot help      to get to 100kph you realise that it’s ridiculously quick
     but be overcome by a massive sense of entitlement        for such a huge and heavy car.
     when you get into a Rolls, I realised when I got the             Our drive started from Jodhpur, which is
     opportunity to drive one. One look at the Phantom        situated at the edge of the sun-scorched Thar Desert.
     and its dramatic styling, and you know it’s a very,      Jodhpur was founded in 1459 and today this imperial
     very special car. The Phantom has a long bonnet, tall    city echoes with tales of antiquity. Crowning a sheer
     roof, a short front overhang and long rear overhang.     rocky hill, the massive and majestic Meharangarh Fort
     The traditional upright chrome grille and the car’s      rises 125 meters above the plains, telling the tales of
     profile further emphasises its considerable wheelbase    Marwar. Facing the fort on the other side of the city is
     and overall length, which is almost 19 feet, some two    the Umaid Bhawan Palace, one of the largest palaces
     whole feet longer than cars like the BMW 7 series        in the world. The royal family and former rulers of
     and Mercedes Benz S600! The bonnet alone stretches       Jodhpur still reside in one part of the palace with the
     one inch short of six foot! And under this rests an      rest converted into a five star deluxe heritage hotel
     all aluminum, double overhead cam, four valves per       managed by the Taj Group. It is where we started our
     cylinder, direct injection, 6749cc, V12 powerhouse       drive, but not before making the new Phantom meet
     that produces 453 bhp and an earthmoving 720Nm of        its ancient cousin from the 1930s that is still owned
     torque at just 3,500rpm. Tickle the accelerator pedal    by Maharaja H.H Gaj Singhji of Jodhpur.
     and the engine springs to life and on pushing further            As you get behind the wheel of the Phantom,
     you experience a strong, yet silky surge of accelera-    you can’t help but thrill at the flying lady on the
     tion. In the 5.7 seconds that it takes the big Phantom   hood, symbolising the spirit of ecstasy. On the

                                                     ROYAL RIDE

highway I discovered that the steering is so light           purpose of the coach-door design is grace of entry
that just a slight pressure supplies adequate turning        and exit without twisting and turning. Inside, every-
force. This makes the big Phantom shrink and you             thing is lavishly appointed and designed to make you
are rarely aware of its huge dimensions, which only          feel like a king. The interior is handcrafted in real
become apparent while parking. And then you are              wood and leather and a typical Phantom uses 16 to
really grateful for the parking sensors and there is         18 animal hides for the leather seats and other trim.
also the option of going in for the two-way cameras          If that’s not enough, the roof lining is cashmere and
mounted on the bumpers.                                      your feet rest on real lamb deep wool carpets. The
        Another thing you can’t ignore is the isolation      insides are not only lush but also large and luxurious
and silence within the passenger compartment. It’s           and to aid in safety, privacy and social interaction, the
almost tomblike and Rolls Royce has obviously done           backseat occupants sit well back in the lounge shaped
a lot to make the interiors of the Phantom amazingly         seats alongside the rear C pillars that keep them away
quiet. The only sound you hear even at high speeds           from the constant stares that the Rolls generates. And
is of the wind playing around the tall and upright           each rear door conceals within its jambs another bit
A-pillars, but even this is beautifully controlled and       of elegance, a Rolls Royce umbrella!

so minimal that it’s only noticeable because there is                After soaking in all the luxury I fired up the
no engine or road noise.                                     9-amplifier, 15 speaker audio system and got another
       Our first halt was Fort Pokaran (www.                 most pleasant surprise. The system is designed
fortpokaran.com). Pokaran needs no introduction              to separate different tones and sounds, and is so
as almost everyone has heard about the nuclear               powerful that it can make the floor vibrate giving the
tests conducted here. But few know about the superb          impression you have taken up residence inside the
ancient sandstone fort of Pokaran, which has now             Sydney Opera House!
been converted into a heritage hotel by Thakur                       After a delightful drive we reached the ancient
Nagendra Singh and his family.                               medieval city of Jaisalmer that rises like a mirage
       After a meal fit for royalty we got back into the     from the Thar Desert. Spectacularly soaring out of
Phantom, but this time I got into the backseat because       the desert haze, the 12th century fort looms over the
the whole point of any Rolls is not just driving, but also   countryside and gives the impression of being straight
riding. The huge doors especially the suicide type or        out of The Tales of the Arabian Nights. No matter what
rear hinged, power operated coach doors open wide,           you may have heard or read about Jaisalmer, nothing
and at the push of a button located on the inside of         can quite prepare you for the sheer magic and poetry
the C-pillar, close with the solidity of a vault. The        of this ancient city.

                                                          ROYAL RIDE

     ARE ITS PILLARS, 1444
             And when it was time to leave this golden            this by staying at the luxurious Fateh Prakash and
     fantasy, I found it difficult to pull myself away. But the   Shiv Niwas Palace Hotels owned by Shriji Arvind
     Phantom was waiting and that proved to be tempta-            Singh Mewar (the 76th custodian of the House
     tion enough. Our next halt was at the Jain Temple in         of Mewar). Both these grand heritage hotels are
     Ranakpur, located at the edge of the Kumbhalgarh             regular winners of tourism awards and are also part
     Wildlife Sanctuary. The most striking feature of this        of the HRH Group of Hotels (www.hrhindia.com).
     temple built in 1439 are its pillars, 1444 of them, no       We were fortunate not just to stay there but to also
     two of which are alike.                                      meet up with several older relative of the Phantom
             Driving the Phantom is an unbelievable               from the 1920s and 30s. These historical machines
     experience, and the delight of the journey was equal         can be seen at the Vintage and Classic Car Museum
     to that of the destinations. But all good things have        that Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar has opened at the
     to end and I was thankful that it ended in great             Garden Hotel (part of the HRH Group of Hotels).
     style in Udaipur, a historic city drenched in romance        Here the entire collection of historical cars owned by
     and beauty. The exquisite lakes and island palaces           his family is on display and I am sure the Phantom
     shimmer like jewels. It’s no wonder that this city is        was happy to drop by.
     known as the Venice of the East. Udaipur has many                    I can’t help but say that throughout the time
     attractions like the City Palace overlooking the serene      I spent in the Rolls, I had to keep reminding myself
     waters of Lake Pichola; the ethereal Jag Niwas or            that it’s just a car. Yes it is a car, but with as many
     Lake Palace; the Jag Mandir with its splendid domes          amenities and as much style as the palatial heritage
     that seems to emerge from the placid lake waters;            hotels we stayed in. So if you get yourself a Rolls, do
     Sajjangarh, the monsoon palace. All of these reflect         make sure you take it to some palaces. They were
     the lifestyle of Rajput royalty and you can experience       made for each other. •

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     the car with a star
             Bob Rupani opens the bonnet of
             the latest Mercedes Benz-AMG
             models and finds a treasure trove
             of engineering delights

a       t the beginning of this year, Mercedes Benz
launched their AMG models in India. AMG is the high
performance arm of Daimler known for its amazing
achievements in engine tweaking and improving
driving dynamics of models across the Mercedes
range. But we think AMG’s immense skills and talents
are best reflected in the CLS 63, SL 63 and SLK 55.
        The CLS is undoubtedly one of the most
striking looking Mercs ever, which can be credited with
starting the four-door coupe segment. It continues to
stand out from everything else on the road and the
AMG body kit only enhances its presence. And if the
styling of the CLS does not win you over – though
that’s unlikely – what rests under the long bonnet
surely will. The naturally-aspirated, AMG hand-built
6.2-litre V8 with 32-valves produces 514bhp and 630
NM of torque and is an amazing power plant ideally
suited for this sports saloon.
        All this power is delivered to the car’s
huge rear wheels through a sophisticated
seven-speed automatic transmission
that includes a double-declutching
function to make the driving
experience even more fun.
The seven-speed box is very
responsive and helps draw
out the best from the engine
with the manual mode allowing

                                                                                           the driver to shift between gears
                                                                                           using the aluminium steering
                                                                                           mounted gearshift paddles. There
                                                                                           is also a sport mode that makes
                                                                                           throttle response sharper, holds
                                                                                           gears longer, shifts even more
                                                                                           quickly and increases the engine’s
                                                                                           rpm when downshifting.
                                                                                                  The CLS 63 also comes
                                                                                           with Mercedes Benz’s optional
                                                                                           Airmatic air suspension that
                                                                                           offers     three     ride/handling
                                                                                           settings in addition to its own
                                                                                           Adaptive Damping System. In
                                                                                           comfort mode the suspension is
                                                                                           highly absorbent and tames road
     THE AMG PHILOSOPHY:                                                                   irregularities in an impressive
     ONE MAN, ONE ENGINE                                                                   manner though nasty potholes,
                                                                                           do sometimes catch it out and
     Mercedes-AMG GmbH, more commonly known as AMG became the high per-                    let the occupants feel the impact
     formance division of Mercedes Benz after they acquired a majority stake in it in      and judder. In sports mode it
     1999. AMG was founded in 1967 by Hans-Werner Aufrecht (A) and his partner Er-         firms up adequately to suppress
     hard Melcher (M). Interestingly Aufrecht’s birthplace of Grossaspach (G) supplied     body roll and pitch and it also
     the third alphabet in the company name. Both Aufrecht and Melcher previously          provides inspiring grip to tackle
     worked for Mercedes-Benz and were committed to the development of racing              turns at high speeds. In fact for a
     engines. After leaving Mercedes Benz, they started their small independent op-        car that weighs 1905kg, the CLS
     erations and soon word spread that they were very good at squeezing every last        63’s chassis is extremely well
     ounce of torque out of a Mercedes engine. Thus began the great legacy of AMG          balanced giving it an agility you
     and in 1971 they prepared a Mercedes-Benz 300SE for the 24 hour race at Spa,          would scarcely expect from such
     and finished second overall in their Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.8-liter AMG.               a big and heavy saloon.
     There was no looking back now and they became the best ‘tuners’ for Mercedes                 The CLS 63 launches
     Benz cars. In 1988 AMG and Mercedes worked together for the DTM German                itself like a missile, responds
     Touring Car Championship. They dominated the championship and all that was            beautifully to driver inputs and
     learnt on the racetrack was also incorporated in their street cars. In 1991 Daimler   when the person behind the
     signed a cooperation agreement with AMG and in 1999 AMG officially became a            wheel overcooks a corner, all the
     part of Mercedes Benz after they acquired a stake. In 2005 they took over AMG         technical gizmos start working
     and although many things have changed, Mercedes Benz continues with the tra-          to make up for any lack of skill
     dition of building AMG engines using the ‘one man, one engine’ philosophy. This       the driver may have. If corners
     means that a single technician, identified by the engraved signature plate affixed      are attacked hard the seat side
     to the engine, is responsible for the complete hand assembly of an AMG high-          supports firm up to combat the
     performance engine from start to finish. And the good news is, these signature         centrifugal forces that push you
     ‘one man, one engine’ are available to us now.                                        outwards. This should tell you
                                                                                           that the CLS 63 is a special car,


there to aid the driver in his pursuit for speed. And        cabin features the AMG carbon-fibre trim, distinctive
when the driver wants to shed speed quickly there are        AMG instrument panel (including a lap timer) and
massive drilled rotors and composite ventilated and          sport seats with AMG upholstery.
perforated discs to help do that.                                     The SL 63 is truly like an animal always pulling
        The huge V8 engine that also powers the SL           at its leash. Even when its stationery! Blip the throttle
63 sounds deep, authoritative and slightly devilish in       and the engine lets out an angry crackling roar. Bury
a cultured sort of manner even when it drops down            the pedal and the entire power races to the rear and
to its intense rumbling idle. The aural dexterity that       all the advanced gadgetry cannot stop it giving a
accompanies you on every drive lets you know that            delightful little wag before it takes off.
something big and powerful is lurking under the                       The SLK 55 is AMG’s least powerful car and
bonnet. It is designed to showcase AMG’s immense             as it’s much smaller, AMG have put in it a 5.5 litre V8.
engineering capability and is one of the highest-            And to denote this it not only has a 55 badge, but also
revving, large-displacement engines ever seen in a           a spoiler that is lower with air vents on the side to
production car. And it has found an ideal home in the        direct airflow to the radiator and oil cooler.
SL due to the roadster’s stunning styling. It’s a great               Though the SLK looks small it’s quite spacious
match because the super performance is one of the            inside but it’s obviously not as well kitted out as the
things that have earned the SL 63 the role of F1 safety      SL 63. Inflame the engine and it also replies with that
car. Yes, this is the car the best drivers in the world in   divine V-8 rumble. Floor it and you can induce wheel
their fast F1 machines, obediently follow if there is an     spin, but what’s really impressive is how easy it is to
incident in a race.                                          drive. The steering is super sharp, grip is great and
        The SL 63 has that typical AMG aggressiveness        with that eager V8, you can slice through traffic. It’s
and the inside is rich, well finished and designed to        just a shade slower to 100 than the SL and both have
allow the driver to go fast in great comfort. Even the       the same 250kph restricted top speed. All this makes
hardtop folds itself into the boot in just 16 seconds! The   these three AMGs the real stars of Mercedes Benz. •

     a       s lifestyle-plus living evolved over the past few
     years, high-end homes have also morphed, becoming
     a statement among discerning consumers, says
     Swaroop Anish of Bengaluru-based Prestige Group.“It
     is not just about pricing, but several qualities, starting
     with aesthetics to amenities to signature styles.”
             From previous high-end projects in Bengaluru
     which sought to define signature lifestyles like Prestige
     Acropolis and Prestige Ozone, the present-day
     offerings includes Prestige Golfshire near the new
     Bengaluru airport and Prestige Neptune’s Courtyard
     in Kochi. Swaroop explains, “Prestige Golfshire is a
     classic example of a golf villa property with high-end
     specifications, individual swimming pools and a host
     of other amenities. These signature villas have become
     an epitome of opulence among the nouveau riche
     of India. Similarly, Prestige Neptune’s Courtyard is
     a luxury condominium development with modern
     lifestyle amenities located on the water’s edge at
     Marine Drive, Kochi. It has 2-5 bedroom apartments
     along with a Clubhouse. A unique feature is the Sky
     Club, located on the 13th level with its own express
     elevators. Pricing is only an outcome of the offering
     since high-end homes represent the luxury of space,
     in other words, sheer indulgence. Luxuries that set           progress in the cities of Jaipur, Aurangabad, Solapur
     a high-end home apart would include location,                 and Jodhpur, he adds. Sahara City Homes through
     specifications and detailing and amenities.”                  its integrated management system ensures quality,
             Apart from pricing, there are other dimensions        environment, occupational health, safety and social
     such as the optimum mix of ambience, planning                 accountability. As an extra safety measure for maximum
     and designing in tune with requirements and tastes,           protection of life and property from earthquake, every
     accessibility and connectivity, specifications, value         construction has been designed one level higher than
     added features, amenities, networked gadgets and              the applicable seismic zone as per the specifications of
     above all quality – all these have to be integrated in such   Bureau of Indian Standards.“These projects will be the
     high-end projects, says Suryavir Singh, Head Strategic        ‘first of its kind’, offering comprehensive solutions for
     Planning, Sahara Real Estate Business. “Everything            quality lifestyle to its residents,” adds Suryavir Singh.
     has to meet the aspirations and expectations of this                   A residential property is defined as high-end
     high-end segment which is exposed to international            purely by the sumptuous lifestyle it offers to its
     living standards and wants the best.”                         residents, says Abhinandan Lodha, director, Lodha
             Sahara City Homes will offer a product mix            Group. “At all our properties, we ensure residents get
     of high-rise and mid-rise apartments, penthouses,             the best in class lifestyle. We constantly endeavour
     independent row houses and independent bungalows,             to make our customers proud of owning a home at a
     in cities like Lucknow, Nagpur, Coimbatore, Indore,           Lodha Property. Lodha Primero is our latest offering
     Ahmedabad and Gwalior. Development is under                   located at Mahalaxmi, Mumbai. It is in a league of its

no economic slow down for the
high end segment
   Has the economic slowdown affected the premium segment home
 buyers? In fact it presents them with the opportunity of picking up high-
       end properties at revised prices discovers Shilpa Pandya


own, with eight levels of parking,                                            superior quality product and our
a rooftop sky garden with themed
                                        IT IS IN A LEAGUE                     pedigree of delivering ‘a sustainable
lounges and a dedicated club floor –    OF ITS OWN, WITH                      environment and a lifestyle’ in
which I believe is a ‘first’ in Mumbai.                                       all our product offerings. And,
At a great all-inclusive pricing of       EIGHT LEVELS                        though the volume of purchase
Rs1.89 crore for a large 2 BHK and        OF PARKING, A                       may have reduced by about 25 per
lavish 3 BHKs starting at Rs2.47                                              cent to 30 per cent on the industry
crore, the property offers the best of    ROOFTOP SKY                         level, TATA Housing continues
worlds in both luxury and pricing.        GARDEN WITH                         to receive enquiries which are
Another offering is Lodha Bellezza,                                           successfully converted to sales.
a ‘by invitation only’ property         THEMED LOUNGES                        Our products are targeted at the
located in Hyderabad. Sky Villas at     AND A DEDICATED                       selected segment of the HNIs and
Lodha Bellezza offer international                                            those consumers differentiate the
lifestyles to customers with one           CLUB FLOOR                         product by its quality. Two projects,
villa per floor. Each sky villa comes                                         Aquila Heights and Raisina Hills
with a spa pool in the living room, a private office     in Bengaluru and Gurgaon are examples of this.”
space, private home theatre area, a master suite with    Understanding the consumer is very important in this
walk in closets and a multi room. Similarly, Lodha       segment, says Brotin, as the consumers are dynamic
Goldcrest are serviced villas located at Lonavala.       and their taste in life changes very fast.“So one needs
Lodha Goldcrest serves as a second home. Every villa     to be aware of it while designing the project and
set amidst the green environs of Lonavala comes          finalising the specifications and amenities.”
with a private swimming pool, a private garden and a             Luxury designer, architect Bobby Mukherjee
dedicated service staff to make your holiday a perfect   says the interiors make all the difference to defining a
hassle-free getaway.”                                    high-end residence for the upper segment. “We cater
        It is not only pricing that makes a property     to clients who reside downtown, midtown as well as in
high-end but a variety of other parameters are           distant suburbs, and the only thing common between
involved such as special attention to detail, discreet   these are the lifestyle/ambience that are created. As
service and dedication, says Brotin Banerjee, MD,        an interior designer and architect I would say, it is
Tata Housing. ”At TATA Housing, we combine all           the selection of materials, furniture, equipment and
three aspects with a thorough understand of our          technology that creates that world class environment,
consumer through in-depth research and analysis, a       which eventually, is dependent on pricing.”
       Is there ‘movement’ in this segment? “Yes,”             Will the global economic slowdown impact
says Mukherjee, “but there hasn’t been an enormous      this segment? “There is a group which finds this an
amount of sales in recent times courtesy the slow       opportunity. They have made enough money in the
down. High-end homes in the suburbs have taken          last few years and now have the money, time and
a beating. But we are working for clients who have      inclination to go for lifestyle enhancement. They
recently purchased or are in the process of buying      are making the most of the situation as costs for
high-end apartments. These are clients who come         apartments have dropped,” he says.
from a background with adequate family wealth.                 Swaroop Anish feels this segment is resilient
Hence their wealth is independent of the economic       despite the global economic slowdown, as it is a
meltdown.”                                              question of individuals investing their own equity.
       It holds true, says Bobby Mukherjee, that        Abhinandan Lodha says that while prices in the
high-end apartments are located in the crème areas,     high-end segment are not moving up at the same
where most affluent families would like to move in      pace as a couple of years back, he finds prices not
as part of their lifestyle enhancement plan; but the    going down either,“They have stabilised.”
nouveau rich category is an exception to this belief.          Brotin Banerjee says, “The Indian residential
“We have had clients who have developed microcosms      real estate success story is writing its sequel.
of high-end living. A perfect example would be the      In the high-end segment this time, it features real
Hiranandani Complex in Powai, Mumbai as also in         players and realistic settings. There will be certain areas
suburban Goregaon, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Gurgaon –        which will retain their mid-to-long term potential.
NCR, Noida because these people operate (business-      This is the right time for the high-end segment
wise) from these areas. Therefore they do not choose    consumer to distinguish the players with
to move out of the vicinity but would still want to     long term vision, those who can deliver what they
enhance their style of living,” says Mukherjee.         have promised.” •

               those magnificent men in their
              flying machines
                      Bob Rupani tells you how to achieve automobile nirvana. Simply
                         get yourself a super sports car and zoom away in ecstasy

     l ife is what you make it, and it
     definitely gets better if you have a
     sports car – that sexy looking and
                                            fun? If your figure is between
                                            46 to 78 lakh, you can choose
                                            between the Audi TT, Mercedes
                                                                                  the TT and Boxter and Cayman.
                                                                                  As cost and affordability might
                                                                                  yet have a role to play in this
     fast machine that not only gets        SLK and the Porsche Boxter and        entry level sports car category, we
     you where you want to be, but          Cayman. If it’s the SLK we would      would opt for the best priced one:
     also excites and thrills you along     recommend you go for the more         the Audi TT.
     the way.                               powerful cousin that wears the               The new TT is the second
             And how much are you           AMG badge (See article elsewhere      generation model of this iconic
     willing to spend for unlimited         in this issue). This leaves us with   sports car and it still looks

                                 objects of desire
absolutely fantastic and is as         and there is a tremendous range        engine is married to Audi’s DSG,
stunning as its predecessor. Its       of seat and steering wheel adjust-     Direct Shift Gearbox, a six speed
styling is dramatic and daring         ments for the driver to find the       automatic box with sequential-
and the tall front grille is flanked   perfect position. Visibility through   shift mode that is wonderfully
with bi-xenon headlights, while        the rear window, and over your         responsive both in fully-auto and
energetic lines adorn the wind-        shoulder, is restricted though,        the high-revving sports mode.
swept body which is outlined in a      a price you pay for that stylish       The S Tronic transmission can be
classic coupe silhouette. The back     body.                                  operated by a one-touch lever or
slopes sharply to meet with a set              The TT is driven by 3.2        manually via the shift paddles
of 3-D taillights and it’s all very    litres of German V6 that serves        on the steering wheel. It’s a very
smart and sexy.                        up 250 horsepower. This naturally      responsive gearbox and is ready
        The interior is far more       aspirated engine is happy to           for the next gear change before
spacious than the exterior             rev right to its redline, and with     the driver. This means it makes
suggests and remember this is          three-quarters of peak torque          even lesser drivers appear great.
the famous TT interior that once       available from 1000 rpm, there’s              The TT is quick and
shook the world. It retains all its    a grunt for the taking all over        easy to drive and the engine
original exuberance and is just a      the rev range. It sounds fantastic     and transmission are very well
bit better. An extremely inviting      too. At low rpms there is a nice       behaved during the slow speed

driver’s seat beckons as does the      burble and as you push down on         crawl around town and when
flat-bottomed steering wheel,          the throttle, an ominous meaty         you open it up, it is deceptively
which is small in diameter with        howl that grows into a haunting        rapid and secure at speed. The
the flat bottom edge allowing          wail is released. It sounds louder     TT also has a surprise in store
easier entry and exit. The interior    inside the cabin and we believe        the moment you cross 120kph. If
is typical Audi, with high-class       Audi engineers have deliberately       you look in the rear view mirror
materials, top-notch fit and finish,   created a system for the exhaust       you might believe that the boot
and of course, beautiful design.       note to be amplified for the benefit   has somehow partly opened up.
Everything falls neatly to, hand       of the occupants. This sonorous        It’s actually the rear spoiler that

                                               OBJECTS OF DESIRE

                                                                                  view of the outside, and even the
                                                                                  rear view is impressive. Unlike in
                                                                                  most other sports cars you do not
                                                                                  feel at all hemmed in.
                                                                                          Start the engine and all
                                                                                  your loud thoughts are quickly
                                                                                  drowned out by an even nicer
                                                                                  sound, that of the flat six horizon-
                                                                                  tally opposed engine eagerly
                                                                                  springing to life. Touch the power
                                                                                  pedal and the engine responds
                                            headlights that look where you        with amazing urgency clearly
                                            steer. Can’t ask for more can you,    indicating that it is straining to
                                            and that too under fifty lakh.        be unleashed. And this is how it
                                                    But if you want to splurge    should be, because though this
                                            and can spare 79 to 125 lakh, then    is the last of the world’s rear-en-
                                            you can go in for the Mercedes        gined cars, it just refuses to die.
                                            SL, Porsche 911 Turbo or recently     And with the way Porsche has
                                            launched Audi R8. Again as far        kept on developing and improving
                                            as the SL is concerned I prefer its   the 911, it promises to be around
                                            AMG version. So that leaves us        till eternity. The 911 Turbo, which
                                            with the 911 Turbo and R8, and        is the sixth generation one, fully
     automatically deploys at that          I love both cars. The 911 because     incorporates all of Porsche’s know
     speed and improves traction. It        for as long as I can remember, I      how and the most advanced
     then retracts the moment the           have been its fan.                    hi-tech wizardry to further refine
     speed drops below 80kph. A                     The Porsche 911 now is        the handling, performance and
     switch on the console allows you       the sports car with the longest       driving dynamics. It even has a
     to make this appear/disappear          production run ever. It has gone      Sports Chrono Package including
     act happen.                            through many evolutions in            overboost, which is available as
             The all-wheel-drive system     its life and the current one is       an option and allows the driver to
     ensures good traction in all condi-    possibly the most capable yet.        boost turbocharger pressure for
     tions and even makes getting off       Step into it and the superbly         10 seconds by pressing the sport
     the mark easier as power is nicely     shaped seats immediately grip         button on the dash. The result is
     distributed to all wheels. You get     and hold you in a warm embrace        a further 60Nm increase in torque
     a trustworthy feel and the infor-      and it becomes obvious that this      taking the total to a staggering
     mative steering tells you exactly      is no ordinary car, but a pedigree    680Nm!
     what the front wheels are up to.       sports car designed to please and             Any increase in power and
     The overall effect is an unimpeded     entertain the driver. The three-      improvement in handling always
     connection with the road. The TT       spoke leather wrapped steering        requires an appropriate increase
     is a rewarding car to drive quickly,   wheel and the seating environ-        in brake performance and Porche
     and makes a confident partner          ment are all clearly designed and     have upgraded the brakes and also
     for some late night spins through      engineered to make the driver’s       increased the brake lining area by
     twisty roads with adaptive xenon       business easier. You have a great     no less than 42%. Like all models

in the 911 series, the Turbo offers
the option of Porche Ceramic
Composite Brakes (PCCB), and
to distinguish them visually,
the calipers are painted yellow
unlike the cast iron ones which
come in red.
        It’s   not    just   about
technology, but about how well
it works in the 911. Its reaction
time is so low and it responds
like a dream, darting about and         by turning when you want, going
changing direction as quickly           where you point it and stopping
as a fox trying to get away from        when asked.
a hound. And if you get carried                 So that leaves us with the
away and get into a silly situa-        Audi R8, the latest sports car to
tion all the technology built into      enter the Indian market. The R8
the new Porche 911 Turbo takes          is a mid-engined all-wheel-drive
over and the intelligent braking,       supercar with low-slung styling
traction and active suspensions         that is super sexy. It has a crazy
systems step in, bailing out            capacity to turn heads and is a
the dummy behind the wheel,             truly awesome car powered by a
and bringing the 911 to a halt          4.2-litre, 420bhp, V8 engine that       that make it one of the rare exotic
safely even in the most extreme         is clearly visible through the R8’s     cars that you can use everyday.
driving situation. The accelera-        distinctive transparent engine          In fact it just might be one
tion, handling dynamics, braking        cover. Power is sent to all four        of the most sensible supercars
and steering all seem to improve        wheels in typical Audi fashion          ever made.
as the speed rises making it clear      with the quattro system, and                   And if even all this is not
that this is a high performance         it’s complemented by a chatty           enough for you and you can part
car designed to deliver at high         steering and excellent grip and         with 200 to 350 lakh, then you
speeds. The 911 Turbo accelerates       handling. Inside, the R8 is surpris-    have the Lamborghini Gallardo
from 0 to 100 in a mind blowingly       ingly spacious for such a low and       and Murcielago to turn to. The
quick 3.9 seconds and 0 to 200 is       flat car, and there’s good visibility   Gallardo is one of Lambo’s
reached in just 12.2 seconds! Top       in all directions. On the road the      smallest and lightest cars, but yet
speed is limited to 310kph!             R8’s phenomenal power, razor-           comes with a 560bhp V10 engine.
        The Porche 911 Turbo            sharp handling and laudable             Big brother Murcielago is even
amply rewards a good driver. It         grip make it feel light, fast and as    more powerful with a V12 640bhp
talks and communicates beauti-          precise as a road travelling fighter    engine. Both have killer looks and
fully through your palms, finger-       aircraft. And this for us makes         are supercars with sensational
tips, feet and even backside. It lets   the R8 one of the world’s most          performance. If you have either of
you know what the road is like,         desirable sports cars. And what’s       the two parked in your driveway,
what the tyres are doing and it just    even better is that it has all the      you are on your way to achieving
makes high speed driving simple         creature comforts and reliability       automotive nirvana. •

     Advt. — Citibank

Advt. — Citibank


     a special art event
     The Nariman Point branch                                                      Way back in 1974 she exhib-
     conducted an art event on                                                     ited her art at the Jehangir
     the 15th and 16th of May                                                      Art Gallery. She also had
     showcasing the work of                                                        the distinction of having a
     renowned artist Devyani                                                       painting published alongside
     Parekh. The solo show had                                                     those of Raza and B Prabha
     about 40 paintings on display.                                                in 1976 in the prestigious
     The      exibhition   covered                                                 Bombay Art Society’s Journal.
     many themes with the use                                                      Since then Devyani has
     of various elements like                                                      continued to create, holding
     sand, wood, shavings and                                                      several successful solo exihibi-
     small black glass beeds,                                                      tions. Christie’s has auctioned
     and was greatly appreciated by                                                one of her paintings this year.
     Citigold clients.                                             The event was well received by Citigold clients
            Devyani Parekh retired in 2001 as the Medical   and it was heartening to see them get into a “colourful
     Director of the Railway Headquaters Hospital.          engagement” with the renowned artist.

jean claude biguine event...
Citibank joined hands with Jean     event also boasted of having
Claude Biguine Salon and Spa        a wide spread of sumptuous
for a client engagement session     appetizers along with exotic
held in Bangalore and Mumbai.       mocktails. The atmosphere
       Clients were invited to      was soaked in the luxorious
the salon to enjoy a rejuvenating   ambience of the salon and
experience, where they were         spa filled with class and
given hand and foot massages.       grandeur.
They also availed of expert                The event was a grand
hair and skin consultation by       success and was highly appre-
specialists from France. The        ciated by Citigold clients.


     an elevating evening
                        Citibank organized an unusual evening for
                 its privileged customers in Mumbai recently. A
                 packed auditorium was treated to a fine play called
                 ‘BRIEF CANDLE’. The large crowd had come not just
                 for entertainment, but also for a good cause as the
                 proceeds of the evening of 19th July were given to the
                 Cancer Patients Aid Association. The Association
                 was formed 40 years ago to alleviate the suffering
                 of poor cancer patients by providing `Total Manage-
                 ment’ of the disease. It also offers facilities for early
                 diagnosis for healthy individuals.
                        The choice of play was extremely appropriate
                 as the action of the play takes place in “Jeevan Jyoti”,

a hospital and hospice for cancer and the terminally       they are playing. It is clear that the dead playwright
ill. The Founders request the doctors for a cultural       is speaking to them. The metaphor of arrivals and
event to be put up on Founder’s Day as a fundraiser.       departures representing life and death leaves them
Everyone agrees that a play written by an inmate who       with a reflection of their own struggles and needs,
died of Aids related cancer will be an ideal choice.       and a realization of their brief time on this earth.
       The play is hilarious revolving around a hotel              On the day of the performance, the playwright
room near the airport. As the characters in the play       appears, and a love story unfolds that crosses time,
await their departures, which are delayed due to a         space, life and death.
storm, they end up in comic situations.                            It is a poignant tale, tragic, humorous, farcical
       As they rehearse the play however, all the actors   and finally elevating. More than 200 Citibank
and others involved in the production including the        customers graced the event with Sameer Kaul( Head,
inmates, the doctor and the hospital aide, discover        Branch Banking), Citibank and were highly apprecia-
similarities between themselves and the characters         tive of the production.

                                           super saloons

     y es, it’s all happening in India and now we have
     many makes and models of super saloons to choose
                                                                  So many luxury
     from. The price range is equally wide, stretching from       sedans, which
     Rupees 30 lakh onwards to about 400 lakh! But which          one to choose?
     are the ones that truly standout amongst this class of
                                                                  Bob Rupani
             Well, first let’s look at what is priced below       hands out the
     Rupees 30 lakh and yet deserves a super saloon
                                                                  Super Saloon
     crown. The new Skoda Superb is definitely one as
     it’s a mini-limo with a most impressive and spacious         crowns to the
     interior. Its performance is also good. The VW Passat        best in different
     and new Honda V6 also qualify for the super saloons
     tag. So if you want a great saloon with not a very high      price categories
     sticker price you should look at these three. In fact, in
     many ways they are superior to some much higher
     priced super saloons.
             In the Rupees 30 to 40 lakh price category           and the
     we have the Mercedes C-Class, BMW 3 Series and
     Audi A4. The new C-Class is much improved but yet
     not a match for the BMW 3 Series which is far more
     dynamic and fun to drive. All the BMWs shine due
     to their sporty nature. But despite this and for very
     good reasons our favourite in this price range, is the
                                                                  goes to
     Audi A4.
             Very honestly, photographs do not do justice
     to the new A4. It certainly looks much better in
     actuality and has infinitely more presence on the
     road. It is clearly the best looking of the lot and the
     taut surfacing and edgy detailing gives the car a lot
     of appeal. With the tense shut lines and high quality
     finish, the A4 looks expensive, and the LED eyeliners
     underlining each headlamp that also function as day
     running lights, are well, eye-catching. And if one
     approaches you from behind you’ll spot it in your
     rear-view mirror by its necklace of LEDs.
              As with any Audi, the interior has superb fit
     and finish, intelligent design and sensible placement
     of controls, and a general feeling that it looks after its
     occupants. The comfort level and space is impressive,

                                                   SUPER SALOONS

     and the quality of the materials is top-notch with       tive steering ratio as per the road speed. When near
     everything having an expensive look. So supreme          the handling limit, it works in tandem with the ESP
     is the quality that it makes more expensive cars look    to stabilise the car by slight but very rapid adjust-
     cheap in comparison and few interiors seem as well       ments to the steering. In simple words, it responds
     conceived and constructed.                               to inputs quickly, identifies and corrects extraor-
            The cabin also has many features like electric    dinary forces and relays information back from the
     seats, 6 CD changer, acoustic and visual parking         tarmac with added clarity. The Audi A4 is assured
     system, automatic air-conditioning, sunroof, light       on the road and inspires confidence with its excep-
     and rain sensors, electro mechanical parking brake.      tional handling. Impressive throttle response and the
     Options also include the Audi Drive Select, which        accurate steering add to the rewarding experience
     allows the driver to customise steering, and suspen-     behind the wheel.
     sion settings, a rear view camera, MMI or Multi Media            In the almost 40 lakh to 60 lakh range you
     Interface with a wide range of functions, a Bang &       have the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class, Volvo S80
     Olufsen audio system. Some of the safety features        and Audi A6. All these are very fine cars with great
     include ABS, traction control, antiskid system and       performance and good space. The BMW 5 Series
     several airbags.                                         again scores due to its driving dynamics and powerful
            It comes with the option of a petrol or diesel    and efficient petrol and diesel engines. Which means
     engine, and the diesel is mated to a continuously        the best bet in this range would be either the 5 Series
     variable multironic transmission driving the front       or the Audi A6. And as you go higher up the price
     wheels and the 3.2 petrol has a six speed manual         bracket the brand name counts for a lot and for the
     gearbox and Audi’s legendary Quattro four-wheel          moment at least, BMW is a bigger brand in India than
     drive system. Audi Drive Select – a new feature – is     Audi. Despite this we would opt for the A6, simply
     optional on the 3.2 and lets the driver choose between   because we think it’s the better all-rounder.
     comfort, normal, and sport modes, using magnetic                 The A6’s styling is very sleek and the coupe like
     shock absorbers and a network of sensors. It also has    sloping roof and the muscular flanks provide a sporty
     the most impressive dynamic steering that speeds         and dynamic demeanour and the overall impression
     and sharpens up in sports mode by varying the effec-     is that of strength, speed and restrained elegance.

        Step inside and prepare to be consumed. Its all    is integrated into the entertainment system’s 80-gig
class and comfort with loads of space and multifar-        hard drive. It provides instructions via animations
ious features. There is the sensational sound system       backed by text and audio information, and even slide
with MP3 and WMA capability, parking aids, auto            shows!
headlights and wipers, sunroof, xenon lights. And                  Everything in the new 7-Series speaks of high
then there is the optional comfort package with            quality and superb craftsmanship. Even the rear seats
several enticements like a Bose audio system and           can recline and at the push of a button heat up or even
adaptive air suspension. The boot is also well finished    give a massage! If that does not satisfy you there are
and big enough to sleep in.                                two screens that can operate independently for those
        On the road the A6 glides forward eagerly          sitting at the rear to be entertained via the DVD audio
with an immediate sense of power. Shifts are rapid         and video system, or even the gaming console! It is a
with the automatic gearbox eager to kick down and          totally indulgent car, but inviting as the rear seats may
change cogs indiscernibly and if you leave it alone it’s   be, the best place to experience the 7 Series remains
intelligent enough to select the right gear at the right   the driver’s seat. It can be a refined and comfortable
time – something most Indian drivers can’t manage.         sedan discreetly covering distance, or if you so desire
        The A6 is a dream on the move as it’s got feline   it can turn into a fast and street scorching machine
grace and lots of pace. It’s sporty and fast and feels     capable of hunting down even some fine sports cars.
rigid and safe. It’s a luxury car with sporty flair that           The new 7-Series with its well sorted out
is capable of pampering and rewarding both passen-         chassis that exercises body control with real authority,
gers and the driver.                                       offers an unbelievably involving driving experience
        Move higher up and in the Rupees 60 to 125         and it is more suave and poised than any car this
lakh range and we have the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes          big has business to be. This is BMW’s technological
CLS and S-Class, and Audi A8. The CLS is clearly           showpiece and if you have the money, this is where
the smartest looking of the lot and has a lot going for    you should spend it.
it, but we prefer its race tuned cousin the AMG CLS                And finally we come to the 125 lakh to 400
63 (see story elsewhere in this issue). But the ‘best in   lakh range. Here the choice narrows down to two
this category’ crown clearly goes to the new BMW 7         world renowned and highly respected and historical
Series.                                                    marques, Bentley and Rolls Royce. So which one will
        BMW has completely revamped its 7-Series for       it be, the Flying Spur and Arnage from Bentley or the
2009. The new one has a far more appealing design          Phantom from Rolls Royce? Very difficult really, but
than its predecessor and once again wears a very           easy for us, given Rolls Royce’s long association with
smartly cut suit. It has great presence and strength       India and its Maharajas. Read the ‘Rajasthan in a
and lots of grace and sporty flair. The car is packed      Rolls’ story elsewhere in this issue and you will have
with lots of new electronics and the owner’s manual        the answer. •


        The phrase Timeless
      Beauty applies to them,
       the wonderful old cars
         that are part of the
     automobile history of the
       world. A. FERNANDES
     writes about them as well
     as the men and kings who
                                          of the road
            collect them

     p ranlal Bhogilal must be one of
     the biggest antique car owners
     in the world, with a collection
     which is somewhere between
     150 to 200 beautiful cars. This
     massive collection is spread
     over palatial houses in Mumbai
     and Ahmedabad as well as the
     family’s thousand acre estate in
     Kathwada, an hour’s drive from
     Ahmedabad airport.
             Amongst his cars is a 1928
     Rolls Royce, a 1927 Hispano-
     Suiza and a 1911 Daimler. There
     are American cars too like a 1939
     Dodge, a 1937 Lincoln, a 1934
     Chrysler Airflow and a more
     recent 1958 Cadillac Fleetwood
     which challenges you to find the
     fuel filler (Pretty awkward if you
     are not the regular driver and you
     are running out of petrol!)


                             European cars, of course,
       THE DRIVER    form the backbone of Bhogilal’s
     WAS TOLD HIS    collection. There’s a Lagonda
                     2 litre, a 1937 Maybach, a 1931
     DESTINATION     Lancia Dilambda and a 1937 La
      BY A SERIES    Salle. There are also unusual –
                     and extinct - makes like De Soto,
          OF LIGHT   a 1936 Cord 810, a 1940 Aubura
     SIGNALS: RED    and a 1958 Hotchkiss. Many
                     of these cars were `rescued’ by
     FOR IN-LAWS,    Bogilal from older collections of
         BLUE FOR    Maharajas, whose sons either
                     didn’t share their father’s passion
        SHOPPING,    for cars, or whose finances didn’t
        GREEN FOR    permit the luxury of keeping a vast
                     fleet which needed painstaking        preserving some of the most
       PRINCESS...   upkeep. Some of the restoration       wonderful cars ever made. One
                     work has changed the original         of them, apparently, was a 1920s
                     specifications,    thus disquali-     Vintage Rolls Royce which was
                     fying the cars being labelled as      designated as the Purdah car in
                     Antiques in the strictest technical   the era when royal women were
                     sense, but Pranlal Bhogilal has       not supposed to be seen in public.
                     single-handedly preserved an          The rear seats were screened off
                     important chunk of automotive         from the driver who was told his
                     history.                              destination by a series of light
                             Gaj Singh II, the ex-         signals: Red for in-laws, Blue for
                     Maharajah of Jodhpur is a             shopping, Green for Princess so
                       wonderful example of one of         and so, and so on.
                        India’s fabled princes putting            Shreeji, as he is now gener-
                           his money to good use in        ally addressed, has an impressive
                                     collecting     and    full name. It goes something like
                                                           this : His Highness Rajeshwar
                                                               Maharajidhorji Maharajsi Gaj
                                                                Singh Ji II, Sahib Bahadur,
                                                                 Maharanji of Jodhpur –
                                                                  Marwar. He studied at
                                                                    Eton and Christ Church
                                                                       College,         Oxford
                                                                        University       before
                                                                        coming to India. His
                                                                        official     biography
                                                                       does not tell you where

he developed his passion for cars,   Delhi, Nehru asked for the car       an inquiry into the incident!
but perhaps it’s one of the things   for his important visitor.           Engineers from General Motors
that is part of a royal lineage.            In the 1970s the car was      in the US were also going to be
Amongst his many superb cars         to drive President Giri around       summoned, till the car’s usual
there is a 1938 V-8 Cadillac whose   Jaipur. On the way from the          driver explained that all that
body was extended by two whole       airport to Raj Bhavan the car        happened was that the engine
feet in order to accommodate two     stalled, and wouldn’t start again.   had got over-heated!
accompanying servants! The leaf      The President moved to another              The car is now rented
green Cadillac is now 18 feet long   car, but the government ordered      out for weddings. At a modest
and 6 feet wide.
        This open      Cadillac –
which later became the Indian
government’s property – has
carried many historical figures.
Winston Churchill during his
visit to India in the 1950s sat in
it, and Jawaharlal Nehru loved
riding in the open car. When
Nikita Khrushchev, President
of the USSR came on a visit to



     Rs.1000 per hour and Rs.25 per         given name) was an exception-         faction.” The Marquess returned
     mile, there is a long list of bride-   ally tall man, apparently 6 ft 7      to England in 1943, and his tall
     grooms waiting for it. Inciden-        inches in his socks. When you         car was later sold (in 1954) to a
     tally, when the Chief Secretary        added the Viceroy’s plumed hat        W H Rooksby in Bombay. In
     of the Rajasthan government            this added very many inches to        the 1950s, the car was sent
     retires, it has now become a           his overall height.                   back to London to Hooper,
     tradition to take him home in the             To accommodate him,            the car body builders,          in
     Cadillac on his last day.              the India Store Department in         order to lower its roofline.
            Rolls Royce cars which are      London ordered a Phantom III          When this was done, the car looked
     the royalty of cars, have of course    model from Rolls Royce, the           out of proportion because the
     the most number of stories             main requirement being that           rest of the body had earlier
     attached to them. One is about the     it should be made extra high.         been raised to match the raised
     Marquess of Linlithgow who had         So a very tall body Rolls was         roofline! The car, incidentally, is
     been appointed Viceroy of India        despatched on 24th July 1936 on       now in the Bhogilal collection.
     in 1935. Victor Alexander John         the S S Bhutan and was delivered      Which, in a sense, brings our
     Hope (which was the Marquess’          to the Viceroy “to his total satis-   story full circle. •


brainwashed with
Zubin Mehta is one of India’s
best known personalities.
Surrounded by music since
childhood he has gone on to
conduct the world’s greatest
orchestras. Rani Dharker writes
about the man who is God in
the world of music


     w       hen Zubin Mehta came to
     Bombay with the Vienna Philhar-
     monic orchestra, the concert was
                                            was born into a family where he
                                            was surrounded by music. As he
                                            says he “was brainwashed with
                                                                                which was the first anniver-
                                                                                sary of the orchestra! Not that
                                                                                he embarked on his career from
     sold out days in advance. But it       classical music from the cradle.”   childhood. He was interested in
     always is that way. Whichever          His father was an accomplished      Western classical, yes, and helped
     orchestra he comes with the                                                his father during rehearsals; there
     tickets are immediately sold out.                                          was a tutor who taught him the
     Why is there this special love                                             violin and piano although he did
     for him? Is it because he is a                                               bunk these classes in order to
     local boy, an extraordinarily                                                   play cricket! And, this seems
     talented local boy?                                                               really funny now, when it
             There’s that of                                                             was time for him to think
     course. But more impor-                                                              of a career choice, he
     tant, he has reached                                                                  decided to be a doctor.
     the top in a field                                                                           But           one
     where no Indian has                                                                   day he heard the
     stepped before. He is a                                                               orchestra     rehearsing
     conductor, the leader of                                                             Mendelssohn’s      Violin
     an orchestra composed of                                                            Concerto. In college the
     musicians who are at the                                                           next day his mind was on
     pinnacle of their career. And                                                    that piece instead of the
     think about it, he has achieved                                               dead fish he was dissecting.
     this though he comes from a                                                The lecturer scolded him for his
     country which has no tradition                                             lack of attention. Mehta flung the
     of Western classical music and                                             fish across the floor, as good as
     where it appeals only to a few.        violinist and was the founding      saying, “There, that’s what I think
             There is a kind of inevita-    conductor of the Bombay             of your medicine.” He walked
     bility about the fact that the first   Symphony Orchestra. One could       away from medicine into Vienna.
     Indian conductor is a Parsee, the      say that Zubin was destined to      It wasn’t easy for an eighteen
     most westernised of communities        be a conductor himself because      year old to leave the comforts of
     in India. It also helped that Mehta    he was born on 29th April 1936,     home and go to an alien land.

But when he listened to music he             The enthusiastic nod of         the unusual decision of making
forgot everything. One evening        approval from critics and audience     him Music Director for life.
when he was at a concert in the       resulted in him being made                     His work keeps him out
Wiener Musikverein where the          Music Director of the Montreal         of his country but he is extremely
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra         Symphony in 1961. In 1962 he           patriotic. He still has his Indian
was playing, he knew that this        was simultaneously appointed           passport (and a bottle of chillies
was what he wanted in life. He        Associate Conductor of the             wherever he goes.) He has
wanted to conduct this orchestra      Los Angeles Philharmonic. His          persuaded major orchestras to
and wanted to do it in this concert   appointment was made without           come with him to play in India.
hall which was the best in the        consulting George Solti who was        This has helped him to raise
world.                                the Music Director. Annoyed,           money for his organisation that
       He joined the Vienna           Solti resigned and Mehta got his       trains young Indian musicians,
Academy and studied conducting        job. At twenty-six that made him       named after his father, the Mehli
under       Hans       Swarowsky.     the youngest ever Music Director       Mehta Foundation. Mehta is also
Swarowsky was impressed. He           of a major orchestra. He went on       a great one for experimenting
told Zubin’s father, “Your son is a   to conduct the world’s greatest        like conducting Ravi Shankar’s
born conductor.”But Zubin had to      orchestras. Besides, he also           Ragmala for Sitar and Orchestra
work very hard. After these lessons   conducted operas.                      or taking the New York Philhar-
were over, he studied under other            Mehta began his career          monic to the Soviet Union and
teachers. Just four years later he    when he was young – which              ending the tour with a historic
won the Liverpool International       means that he has been                 joint concert with the Moscow
Conducting Competition in 1958        conducting for close to fifty years.   State Symphony Orchestra.
and a prize at the Koussevitzky       Through the years Zubin Mehta                  Zubin Mehta who tours all
Competition in Tanglewood. This       has piled up awards and accolades      over the world making beautiful
was followed swiftly by assign-       and he has been given the citizen-     music, where does he belong to?
ments as conductor, filling in for    ship of many countries. He has         He answers that by saying he
other conductors who were ill or      conducted every great orchestra        belongs to India first, then Israel,
away. At twenty-three he was the      in the world. He is closely associ-    Los Angeles, and“to everywhere I
youngest conductor of the Berlin      ated with Israel, promotes its         have lived and worked.”Well, after
Philharmonic and the New York         orchestra and tours with it often.     all, music is universal and Zubin
Philharmonic.                         In 1981 the Israel orchestra took      Mehta is revered universally. •

     last word
     it can only get
     t  his column is called the Last Word, but the real last word
     has been said by the Indian voter. And what a decisive,
     astonishing, confounding last word it is!
                                                                     tsia and the articulate count for nothing? That would be
                                                                     a depressing scenario if it were true, but it is not. The
                                                                     winning candidate, as it happens, was the Congress’
            In the run up to the elections, the upper middle         Milind Deora, who belongs to this very class and is well
     class, especially that part of it which is articulate and       educated to boot. Which means that there is a place for the
     well read, was extremely agitated. This was, of course, an      better-off and the highly qualified in our national polity as
     aftermath of 26/11 and the complete failure of the state        long as they work within the given party structure. As it
     administrative machinery and local security agencies to         happens, this is true of even the most developed democra-
     deal with the situation had left most people terribly upset     cies: you might recollect that some years ago, an American
     with the state of our political system. Even the young, who     billionaire called Ross Perot stood as a third candidate for
     are normally too busy with college and its extra-curricular     the US Presidential election. He spent millions of dollars,
     activities, were angry enough to go on the streets and          but in the end, the third candidate came a distant third.
     demand change in the political system                                  But winning elections or becoming a minister aren’t
            I vividly remember an election meeting in Mumbai’s       the only ways of influencing the policies of a nation. When
     upmarket Altamount Road. It was held on the manicured           you think about it, there can be only 543 MPs and only 80
     lawns of a group of buildings called Meher Apartments and       ministers in a country of one billion people. That’s a minus-
     well before the appointed time of 7 pm, most seats were         cule percentage. But the rest of us don’t necessarily have to
     taken. Traffic police, specially deployed for the occasion,     be mute spectators to what happens in the country.
     were having a tough time controlling the bevy of limou-                The most effective way for the articulate classes
     sines wanting to go right up to the gate of the building.       to influence policy making, is to get together and act as
            All the five candidates for this prestigious constitu-   pressure groups. The chambers of commerce, trade bodies
     ency (South Mumbai where all the money is) had promised         and other associations do get themselves heard and the
     to come. When it was announced that one of them would           more imaginative yet reasonable they are, the greater the
     be a bit late there were irritated murmurs all over. “How       weight they will carry. American democracy is really vibrant
     dare he be late,” I heard someone say, “At this rate, he has    because of the incredible number of pressure groups which
     already lost my vote.” I moderated the discussion and tried     are either permanently active, or which spring up when
     to give equal time to all the candidates, but this special      the need arises. They work by lobbying their Governor or
     crowd wanted to hear the two “special” candidates, the          Congressman or Senator, they send e-mails, letters, faxes
     two independents – both professional women – who had            and what have you and since every politician wants to get
     forsaken their work temporarily and had rolled up their         re-elected, these missives are not ignored.
     sleeves to get their hands dirty in the world of politics.             Our own home-grown pressure groups have a
     When the counting was done, the winning margin was              different approach: they take to the streets, burn buses
     over 1,11,000 votes. The two independent candidates who         and stone cars. Since that route is unlikely to attract the
     had hogged all the headlines and a lot of attention, got a      educated, we end up feeling helpless. That needs to change
     combined vote of 15,000.                                        now: the articulate classes must formulate their ideas and
            What does this prove? That the upper middle              get them heard in the right quarters. And get them heard
     class is irrelevant? That the chatterati and the intelligen-    as often and as loudly as possible. •


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