Daily Archives: Aug 25, 2016
Why the latest engine from Nissan can be a game-changer
Compression ratio is used to determine the efficiency of an internal combustion engine, where an air-fuel mixture is ignited to get things running. It’s the ratio of the volume inside the combustion chamber when the piston is at its lowest point to the volume when the piston reaches the highest point. In spark ignition (petrol) engines, it is at the latter point where the mixture is ignited by the spark plug.
A high ratio allows for better efficiency because it can squeeze more mechanical work out of a fixed mass of air-fuel mixture. During the expansion stroke, the exhaust gases are allowed to cool down before being expelled into the atmosphere, resulting in less energy loss. The downside, however, is the possibility of knocking—where the combustion process doesn’t synchronise with the timing of the spark ignition. This is why the compression ratio has to be just right.
Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury arm, has attempted to achieve this balance by constantly tuning this figure through a variable compression ratio (VCR) engine called the VCT. The four-cylinder turbopetrol boasts a compression ratio between 8:1 and 14:1. In a regular engine, the piston is connected to the crankshaft via a connecting rod, but in the VCT, the angle between them is altered using a Harmonic Drive, a type of gear which operates a control arm. This varies the maximum height the piston can reach during compression, resulting in variable ratios. Though Infiniti will be showcasing this technology at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, due to the sophisticated electronics and software involved, it is bound to be expensive.
With its new 1,000cc engine, Renault’s popular small car is a frugal yet fun machine
Renault India has had a great run with the Kwid so far. Its quirky looks and SUV-inspired styling won the market over and now, with the new 1.0 litre engine, it is expected to take the market by storm. Here’s all you need to know about the hottest little car in town.
Power to the people
The three cylinder, 999cc engine that powers the Kwid 1.0 SCe delivers a solid 68 bhp of power at 5,500 rpm and generates 91Nm of torque at 4,250 rpm. Compared to the 799cc unit, power is up by a substantial 14 bhp and torque by 19 Nm. Better still, the Kwid 1.0 offers a power to weight ratio of a staggering 97 bhp/tonne. The ARAI tested mileage on the Kwid 1.0 SCe is 23.01 kmpl. Basically a frugal yet fun machine—the best of both worlds.
Compact & convenient
The Kwid boasts the best cabin space compared to any car in its category. Space has been
wisely allocated to accommodate five adults plus 300 litres
of luggage. Fold the seats and it
can swallow up to
1,115 litres of luggage. Add to that, the
Kwid comes with a lot of in-cabin storage space, too.
Summing it up
Overall, the Kwid 1.0 SCe is a car that really wins you over. Not only is its design SUV-like, but also its performance—commendable attributes for a car at this price. Plus, Renault has done a fantastic job of refining and fine-tuning it for our market. It is a car that you really can’t go wrong with. Our verdict? A blockbuster in the making.
Remote keyless entry, front power windows, a powerful air conditioning unit, an upper glove box with a lid, a rear parcel tray and an onboard trip computer are all standard on the Kwid 1.0 SCe RXT version. However, the winner here is the integrated touchscreen infotainment system, which offers you superb connectivity options and navigation.
In many ways, the Kwid looks like a scaled down Duster and its sporty stance adds to its appeal. The car has always been a head turner. Further, the 1.0 litre version gets a bold side strip and grey
outside rear view mirror covers to spice things up a bit.
Rs 3.82 lakh (ex-showroom, Chennai).
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Pooja Hegde
Although set in the
historic Indus Valley civilisation, Gowariker’s Mohenjo Daro has very little to do with history. The plot is a typical Bollywood masala movie with a damsel in distress and over-the-top antics. If not taken too seriously, the movie can be enjoyed for its action sequences.
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Cast: Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell
This movie is the fifth adaptation of the 1880 novel Ben-Hur:
A Tale of the Christ, by Lew Wallace. The film understandably drew comparisons with the classic 1959 version but it has not lived up to the hype. The lack of big stars, sloppy CGI and scarce marketing has given it a weak opening.
Director: Todd Phillips
Cast: Jonah Hill, Miles Teller
This comedy war movie
is based on true events related to arms deals in Afghanistan. The movie can be construed as a commentary on war. Jonah Hill has given a commendable performance as the protagonist Efraim Diveroli. But the movie also has the typical Hangover brand of humour that Philips is known for.
— Team Indulge
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Amrut’s biggest Swedish fan, Dennis Steckel talks about bottle hunts and secret clubs
What are the characteristics of the ultimate fan? I asked myself this question before meeting Sweden’s Dennis Steckel who visited Bengaluru last week. Is it knowing every detail of the thing you adore? Is it buying into its every aspect? Is it going to lengths of carving tattoos on your body in its honour? These being factors, Steckel is undoubtedly the greatest fan of Amrut’s single malt whiskies. Steckel is an employee of Ikea, living in Almhult, Sweden, and a junior league football coach. He also spends a lot of time and effort studying and acquiring Amrut malts – which means every single bottle of every variant which the 12-year-old company has produced to date.
This isn’t easy. The bottles, released in tiny allocations, disappear off European shelves faster than you can say ‘Slainte’, only to reappear at global auctions where they sell for hefty sums. But Steckel has tracked down and acquired every single bottle to add to his enviable personal collection of 140 Amrut malts stashed in his basement cellar — his ‘Amrut room’.
Safe to say then that Steckel is no ordinary fan. Take for instance the niche 33-member closed malt tasting club, Elme Uisge Academy that he runs. Steckel conducts regular whisky tastings on his own volition and expense, his biggest success being a rare 9-variant Amrut tasting for 66 people. (No wonder that his club has a long waiting list.) “Life is for enjoyment, and the club helps everyone appreciate and share their whisky experiences,” he says. A bigger achievement is his global Amrut Fever club, spoken about in whispers by the few privileged to become members – a mere 500 worldwide. “They’re the kind who’d travel 400 miles just to buy a bottle,” explains Steckel. His own collection includes some rare whiskies – some from Amrut’s humble beginnings in 2004; six bottles of Amrut Herald, bottled in the German island, Helgoland and impossible to source; three of Amrut Bengal Tiger; 13 of its latest hit expression, Amrut Spectrum, and five bottles of Amrut Everest. Heard of them? Few have.
Which is his favourite, I ask. “Hard to say,” he says. “Maybe Greedy Angels.” He has an incredible seven bottles of Amrut’s top expression, Greedy Angels – both 8- and 10-year-old variants. He opens them sparingly, savouring each sniff and sip. “I pour just 2cl, more to nose and taste than drink.” Any lingering doubts about whether Steckel fits the ‘greatest fan’ title disappears with one look at his forearm. Here sits a perfect tattoo of the Greedy Angels logo surrounded by his three children’s names.
So how does this devoted fan celebrate his visit to Bengaluru, the home of Amrut? With a special treat – a tasting of the yet-to-be-bottled Greedy Angels 12-year-old variant, straight from the barrel. A smile lights up his face as he sips his precious offering. “Pure enjoyment,” he says.
Kids get a hands-on approach to education with PodSquad
Where kids see a game, parents see a learning exercise. How often have you seen this happen? With PodSquad, a learning kit of activities for children, it’s par for the course, says its Mumbai-based founder Abha Shah. Think of making gooey slime from scratch as a means to teach chemical reactions, or food-themed sudoku to nurture sequencing skills.
Launched five months ago, PodSquad kits have been designed based on a concept put forth by Harvard professor Howard Gardner that every child has nine innate intelligences. Through their action-based activities, they aim to cover a whole gamut of learning — from a child’s ability to recognise flora and fauna (naturalistic intelligence) to have control over his bodily motions (kinesthetic intelligence). Every PodSquad learning kit — which has a fresh theme every month — tries to incorporate activities dwelling on at least four of these intelligences, Shah says.
“My research involved asking parents about what they thought were gaps in early education. A need was felt for activities that nurture learning by doing. And thus was born PodSquad,” says the 31-year-old, who has worked eight years in her family-run business, Quadrum Solutions (parent company of PodSquad), which has developed content for over 10,000 books by national and international publishers for preschool and primary school age groups. Shah’s mother and chief creative officer of Quadrum Solutions, Sonia Mehta, is a celebrated children’s author with over 2,000 titles to her credit.
With the PodSquad subscription including digital content, parents against over-exposure to tech might not appreciate that 20 per cent of the content is digital (via their website). “There’s no denying that digital media plays an important role in a child’s development. Even schools are having to weave it in their curriculum,” Shah explains.
With children spoilt for choice in the learning kits segment, with options including Flintobox, Wonderboxx, Magic Crate and Genius Box, what is PodSquad’s differentiator? “Our learning kits do not always require parental assistance. Our kits stress on independent play,” says Shah, adding that the pod plush toy collectibles that accompany the learning kits (for ages 4 to 7) aren’t superheroes or aspirational figures but more relatable theme-based characters, for instance, the Crazy Scientist Learning Kit had a geeky pod plush toy.
Subscription packages are currently being offered at a discounted price for three months (`3,000) or 6 months (`6000). Individual kits are Rs 1,200. Details: www.podsquad.in
— Sharadha Narayanan
Make the most of Instagram with these apps
If you are tired of all the Prisma posts which have taken over social media feeds of late, try getting better at your Instagram game. Great photography skills are a bonus, but thankfully, these apps will help just about anyone.
Hippo Pics: When in doubt, ask an expert. With the Hippo Pics app, experts will edit your pictures for you. Just upload your picture to the app and let them do their thing.
Magnify for Instagram: Hashtagging your posts can be quite a chore, but the Magnify app is here to help. The app uses a keyword to add multiple hashtags on any given topic. For example, if you enter MagnifyFood and hit the spacebar, the app will automatically add up to 30 food- related hashtags. On play.google.com
Buffer: Schedule when your Instagram posts go live with the help of Buffer. Once you’ve planned your post and kept it ready, the app will post at the date and time specified by you. They also feature analytics to examine how much traction each post has gotten. While the buffer app isn’t new, it only recently added Instagram to its list of compatible social media platforms.On play.google.com and apple.com/appstore
Camcorder – VHS Home Videos: If you are nostalgic about retro camcorders, this is just the app for you. The videos you record through the app have a time and date stamp and gray static lines, just like videos from the old days.
— Anagha M