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Why you should NOT watch Spiderman Homecoming at the box office

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(image souce: Wikipedia)

It’s almost predictable what Spiderman movies would be like. Spin few webs here and there, save a big vehicle from disaster - a train or a ship or a plane, love a girl and use his skills to impress her and in the end fight an enemy, starting off with some small attacks being handled.

But Spiderman homecoming takes it to another level. The first half is barely interesting even for kids and I am not sure how Marvel thought they can keep the audience glued to the screen. The 3D effects are NOT the most brilliant or spectacular either. Bringing in the character of Stark to this movie the focus is split between the super heroes as well.

Add to that a friend knows who spiderman is makes it worse. Just to save the world from weapons of mass destruction spiderman brings down a plane carrying those weapons. I mean as though a person handling owning these weapons only had a planeful of them - kind of absurd for a company like Marvel to think of.

In short - its definitely NOT value for your money and you are better off waiting for it to appear on amazon or google movies to watch it at home. If you want to read how badly Spiderman did at the box office in USA, click here to read what Forbes has to say as well. You can see that the profits dip is one of the worst for the second week.

Save your money - and put it on something better at the box office.

Honda WRV Accessories - an overview

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The earlier blog post discussed at length on the Honda WRV interiors and exteriors and the drive experience. If you missed it you can read it here.

This post discusses the accessories that the WRV comes with and the different customization options provided by Honda to make your WRV ownership even more exciting.


Side and front body decals make the car look even better than normal. The front bumper guard will protect the car’s underside from scratches and dents while the roof rails lend a SUV style appeal to the car. The logo projector is similar to puddle lamps in cars like XUV which help you to understand what you are stepping on at night. There is also a rear bumper protector which makes it useful. There are also body side molds which helps in congested places like mall parking lots to prevent people from banging their car doors against yours.

Some other stuff include seat covers of different types and garnishes all over the body at different places. Nifty door handle protectors, parking sensors with buzzer and rear camera on rear view mirror means that you do not need a separate stereo system for the same.




Honda also provides rear spoiler, front armrest, wifi device for car, steering wheel covers, different types of mats, and rear tray nets besides mud guards and car covers.


With this extensive accessory list, Honda sure has given lots of options for buyers to make their WRV more complete. Customers have sure been pampered with many options when they buy the WRV.

So what are you waiting for - if you have the WRV - go ahead and indulge yourselves!

Bengaluru’s metro corridors - trying to understand them - green line

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There was much fanfare over the launch of the green line for Namma Metro, which was considered an important milestone for Bengaluru. There were lots of things which were positive about this development.


  • Much of the underground work was completed and functional
  • The critical link between Jayanagar and Malleswaram sides were fixed
  • The distance covered by the metro was now longer and much more viable
  • More importantly South Bangalore was connected to the West and to East


The map from WikiPedia is worth looking at. It shows the exact extent of coverage of the Metro within the city with the Green and Purple lines

(image source: By Doc.aneesh - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18874026

While the east to west Bangalore covers about 18km of distance, that of South to North covers about 24km of distance. In absolute numbers this is relatively decent but the real extent is seen in the benefits for the passengers.


Important areas are now more accessible such as the city central railway station, KR Market, Vidhana Soudha and Malleswaram shopping areas. Puttenahalli and JP Nagar are residential and semi industrial areas, Banashankari has a Bus terminal which is a major interchange connecting different parts of Bangalore. RV road, Jayanagar and south end circle are areas of commercial activity and green spaces including Lalbagh as well as educational institutions such as National College, BMS College, KIMS, etc.


KR Market and Chickpet are some of the oldest areas in Bangalore and hosts the famous shops of SP Road, vegetable and fruit markets as well as shops selling lots of other stuff from photo frames to books and everything in between.

People who travel from Banashankari are now able to reach Byappanahalli much more easily and this reduces the time it takes for them to come to work which was otherwise a good 2 hours each way during the day.

Similary connections to North Bangalore and shopping areas such as Malleswaram is definitely making a lot of people happy as they can now access the many shops in and around the area including the famed Mantri Mall, CTR, Janata, Asha Sweets, Veena Stores and many more.

In fact Mantri already boasted of Greens in the vicinity but now also has the Centrium with an asking price tag upwards of 4 to 5 crores. Given that for the effluent the metro runs right near their apartment (almost into it) this project is a good buy. The Kempegowda interchange is something to write about in another post.


I parked my car at CMH road station and reached Malleswaram in about 30 minutes max which was an otherwise impossible task on a regular weekday. Even on Sunday morning 730am the rush inside the train was unimaginable. Given the frequency is nearly 15 minutes once, this is the most immediate issue that BMRCL will have to solve. With countries like Singapore having an every 2 minute train service, Bangalore seems like a tortoise, but I guess the government will understand this sooner than later.


I had to take tokens from CMH to Malleswaram and the cost for 4 people one way was 112 rupees. Its not exactly steep but its not exactly cheap either. For me by cab the entire journey for the same place would be about 200 bucks for 4 people. Its almost on par with nations like Singapore who charge about 2-3$ for an up and down journey.


Links:
(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b8/Inside_the_MRT_train%2C_Singapore.jpg)

(https://previews.123rf.com/images/jennzhen/jennzhen1512/jennzhen151200034/54240440-Singapore-Dec-13-2015-Singapore-MRT-train-station-Bukit-Panjang-The-Mass-Rapid-Transit-or-MRT-formin-Stock-Photo.jpg

This said the reason I keep comparing to Singapore is simple. They have one of the best MRT and LRT services in the world (of course the London Tube is much more complex no doubt).


(https://static.standard.co.uk/s3fs-public/thumbnails/image/2016/05/06/15/tube.jpg

In another post let me tell you about my visit to CTR using the train :-)


Honda WRV first impressions and drive review

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Introduction to Honda WRV


I had the chance to give my Civic for service at Dakshin Honda. During that time, I got a chance to look at the Honda WRV and drive the car. From a long time after reading many reviews and watching many videos, today I got a chance to drive the car personally. I opted for the Diesel version since I know a good deal about Honda's petrol engines already being an owner of a Civic and a City earlier. The diesel engine is something new since sometime now and it was prudential for me to try it out.


Engine Options and Variants

As usual the car comes with two engine options a 1.2L petrol and a 1.5L diesel. The petrol is a 4 cylinder SOHC iVTEC engine at 1200 cc, churning out 90bhp of power at 6000 RPM and 110NM of Toruqe at 4800 RPM. The diesel on the other hand is a 4 cylinder DOHC iDTEC unit, at 1500 cc, churning out a 100bhp at 3600 RPM, and a torque of 200NM at 1750 RPM which is very healthy at least on paper. Among other features it comes with 16 inch alloy wheels which frankly in my opinion could very well upsize to 17 or even 18 inches.

On the variants there are two types SMT and VX-MT which I will explain a bit later.


Exteriors


The WRV has a muscular look, and while its sides are taken straight from the jazz, the front now sports a grill which has elements from the new Amaze, City, and BRV. Still there are few elements such as headlamps which are distinct and make the car gets its unique spot in the Honda lineup. The tail lamps are stylish too and unique in the segment. The overall exterior proportions are well rounded for a car of this category and no complaints in this department.


Interiors


Coming to the interiors, Honda has a few interesting things to look at. Firstly the dashboard is well made and feels plush and nice. The stereo system is very flat and does not stick out like in other cars. Blends well with the dash and its like a perfect fit. Though I did not get a chance to use the system too much, by the overall looks its a nice touch screen unit which does the job of what people look out most for - navigation, music, phone connectivity etc. However no Android Auto or Apple Car play - sorry, if you need these look elsewhere.



The seat space in the rear is phenomenal. Being 5'10" and keeping the driver seat at my comfort level, I could still sit at the back with quite some knee room to spare. There is one another thing Honda have changed since quite some time now. And that is the gear shift. The earlier shift was like a stick and was rather flimsy to use with a rounded head. The new one is much better and is a delight in terms of proportions and slots seamlessly into the different gears. The dashboard has more rectangular edges rather than circular and this is not necessarily so bad looking either. Its just left to the tastes of different users as such.


You can also notice in the images that there is indeed a dead pedal and Honda have thankfully not omitted it. Your longer highway cruises would now be better with that rested left leg. And yes needless to say top end variants will come with cruise control as well as steering mounted audio and phone controls. There are also lots of cubby holes in the car making it possible to store multiple things all around. The middle storage compartment has some Civic-ish cues as well though not as good. You can also notice a chilled cup holder next to the AC vent in the photos.


The selling point in this car is the Sun-Roof. No other car in its category provides this feature and Honda have done in offering this feature here. However the practicality of such a feature is questionable as driving with an open sun roof would surely affect the aerodynamics of the vehicle a bit. In Indian conditions with so much dust, pollution, mosquitoes, rains, and what not - this feature would best be in closed mode, rather than the other way round. Not a big deal breaker for sensible people - honestly.


Wouldn't mind having it, but won't die to have it.


The front seats also have rear pockets to place those magazines and possibly even a Macbook Air or so. The rear has ample space for occupants. The floor height is slightly raised for middle occupant, so it would be a bit uncomfortable for longer journeys and one will need to switch places frequently. You can also notice a quarter glass after the C-Pillar which adds to more roominess and light within the cabin.


Drive

I specifically wanted to test drive the 1500 Diesel as I had never driven a Honda Diesel before. Given I own a Civic now which is 1800cc, I did not want to drive the lack lustre 1200cc petrol of the WR-V. So diesel it had to be and diesel it was. A few things about this drive

  1. The test drive route was long enough for me to test most parts of the driveability but short enough to return to base soon as well
  2. The engine is noisy - there have been reviews about the Honda's noisy diesel engine in its other cars such as Jazz, Amaze, City etc and here its no better. If you buy this variant the noise comes along with you
  3. The steering is butter smooth - even better than the city or the civic I would say. Its an absolute joy to use in whatever condition of traffic. It is so sensitive, responsive and accurate that you really don't have to try too much to manouvre
  4. In the showroom the clutch of the WR-V was very hard in stationary state of the vehicle so I was dreading whether it would be as hard during the drive as well but I am happy to say that the clutch was super soft and easy to use during the drive and rest assured you will not get a pain in your legs so soon with this car
  5. There is no automatic variant yet, but if news reports are correct then Honda might bring in the 1.5L variant mated to CVT just like in the city pretty soon
  6. There is a 2 month waiting period on this car now already


Engine and NVH

And now to the drive. Well I hate to say this - but the diesel engine - is a disappointment. Coming from driving a Nissan Sunny which is known for its young at heart and roaring to race character, this WR-V engine seemed to be mostly tuned for more mileage and subsequently that meant removing the driving oomph from the car. This is more of a Point A to Point B engine. Sometimes I felt this was worse than an automatic Jazz. I am not sure what Honda was thinking here but people do not buy diesel just for mileage but also for proper use of the higher powered engine. If you have driven the Nissan Sunny Diesel, or the Scorpio or XUV diesel, or even Figo or Ecosport diesel - that level of urgency, revv happiness, and response is sorely missing. I double checked many times just to clarify this doubt and this car shows no urgency for acceleration on this variant.


Accelerating this engine makes so much noise inside the vehicle that one wonders what is all that damping setup doing in the car. Engine noise will filter through easily and its not a great experience as such. Just for comparision - you cannot hear the Civic engine inside the car. Apple to Orange comparision really I agree, but its a Honda to Honda comparison at least.


Torque

The grunt is there. But not the acceleration accordingly. I even went real slow on higher gears to check the torque. The torque is disappointing too. Beyond a point - say about 10kmph the car starts rattling begging for clutch to be held. This is quite where the Nissan Sunny shines through - low end torque. Even the Civic manages upto 5kmph on petrol engines without stalling. Honda sure has to rework on this tuning to improve it to a better state of tune if they want the torque to be managed better.


Suspension

The suspension in the WR-V is spongy. And it is really spongy. You go on a road hump or a deep pothole with speed and this car throws the occupants either sideways or bobs up and down. That is quite normal on any car, but the whole point is that this jumping about does not settle down so easily. Even with 210mm of ground clearance you still fear it will go all the way down to scrape the bump. And that is definitely not a good feeling. For a comparison I do not get that feeling with my Celerio, or even for that matter with the Duster too. I wouldn't say Scorpio is great in that regard but there are some smaller cars that can put WR-V to shame.

Agreed this is not about making the suspension rigid but rather soft and luxurious. But it is seriously not helping in WR-V case to achieve what is desired. So its best you drive this car slowly and steadily. If you want road worthiness and suspension awesomeness go to a renault showroom.


Steering

One word : Awesome. Period.


Airconditioning

This is one department for which Honda is well known for and in the case of WR-V it is no surprise that the air conditioning is super cool. Chills you to the bone and pretty quickly. Well done Honda.


Tyres, Ground clearance

The tyres are stable and can be upsized as well by another inch or two if needed - so lots of customization possible here. Ground clearance is good enough to ensure vehicle does not scrape anywhere.


Pricing & Conclusion


The asking price for top variant is higher than Ford Ecosport by almost 75000-80000 and touches nearly 13 lacs on road. Ford provides 6 airbags which Honda offers only two for instance. There are so many features others offer which Honda may not have. The car is steeply priced no doubt and the going points for this car is mileage, space, ground clearance, feature set and steering - though not necessarily a punchy drive. You can download the brochure here.


In the long run this car would keep you satisfied and won't get damaged due to bad roads in and around city. Highway trips won't be exciting but rather sedate as the car would likely pick up speed at steady speed and does not like to be revved. Honda should quickly fix the pedal press versus response time problem in order to make this car even better. They can focus on better damping of engine noise within the car as well and provide an option to have sporty suspension as well which is slightly more rigid.


If this car were to have its top variant at 10 lacs this would have been the best value for money in the market so far. But Honda is like any other company and after all it has to price the car either slightly below or slightly above its competitors. So it has decided to be in the 10-12L bracket.


Still this is a car that will keep you happy even though some parts of the experience is slightly disappointing or not upto the mark. If you have the money and want a car that has mostly everything - the WR-V will not disappoint you. But at the end of the day it is a car, not an SUV or even an MUV for that matter. The traits of an SUV are great suspension, handling abilities and punchy engine - Honda has some catching up to do in this departments.


And without an automatic variant - its one star less again for the final ratings.

Sony XAV AX-100 6.4” Media Receiver (Car Stereo / Head Unit) review

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Its rarely that I have ever written about car stereos under this blog, but now I have reason enough to do so. I recently had the need to upgrade my car stereo in my Old new honda Civic 2010. The last two times I went in for a Pioneer and a Blaupunkt head unit for two of my cars. For those days that was enough but then came the craze of Android Auto and Apple Car play. Besides this there were systems of an alternative kind – Screen mirroring type. Personally I prefer the former for a solid reason – Android Auto or Apple car play gives you only the essential apps (Phone, Music, Maps, and Messages including Whatsapp to be read out) so that you can focus on your driving more than fiddling with your phone.

But then in India buying gadgets such as head units for cars could turn out pretty expensive and only few can afford it. Personally I believe if you can afford a good smartphone, you can afford a good head unit for your car as well. Having said that, lets get straight down to the product review of the SONY XAV-AX100 AV Receiver

Sony XAV AX-100 head unit



The Sony XAV-AX100 is a 6.4 inch media receiver which supports Android Auto, Apple Car Play and Bluetooth to pair your phones with. One of the things I liked the most in this product is its touch screen. From a long time I was suffering with products with bad touch screens and you know how irritating it can get if your touch does not activate the right option on the screen especially while you are driving. In that respect this product is really good and very very accruate. The distraction free touch enables you to focus on driving and at the same time use the options the player provides.

On the main screen you can connect to bluetooth audio, and start playing your tracks and skip tracks or entire folders depending on how your media is organized. Before I proceed further I would like you to know that it supports USB as well so you can connect your pen drive (through a cable) and the player will pick up your tracks and play the same. At the time of this writing I have not checked whether it plays video as well. One another good thing about this unit is that for a volume controls they have given a dial which is easy to use. Sometimes the volume + and – if implemented via a software button is difficult to use in a touch screen. Unfortunately my civic does not have audio controls on steering so I am unable to use them for volume control. I was so used to this in the sunny and its definitely a dampner for me. The hardware also has three other buttons to advance or rewind tracks and a home button that provides you with the main menu.



As you can see from the picture, it supports Tuner, USB, Bluetooth, Phone and Rear Camera. I must say the Phone option is rather rudimentary on the unit itself and it just allows you to dial a number and disconnect the call, or answer an incoming call. If you need to mute the call, you need to reach out to your phone. But the good part – if you are a careful driver like me, you never need to do that since you would use Android Auto or Apple Car Play for handling these tasks. When you are on android auto, you cannot use the phone in a normal way since its connected to the head unit. But the best part is the voice commands using google work like a charm assuming you have good internet connectivity and you can pretty much ask google anything you want that is relevant to driving mode. Like driving directions, distance, other questions, and music searches. Its pretty accurate too. I have tried searching for music in languages other than english and it worked pretty well. Sometimes you must however learn to use vocabulary properly. For instance I asked google what are the meetings I have for today, which it did not catch. Rather I must have asked “What are my appointments on the calendar” and it would have answered properly.



The android auto is pretty simple. It shows Navigation, Phone, Music and your history other than the main menu. You can scroll through easily or switch between these activities. For calls, you can simply use voice to dial, rather than search but if you are the latter type, the favourites are listed for you instantly so you do not have to fumble around. I really loved the navigation as I usually put it on silent mode barring alerts, and its sufficient to display to me the map, with traffic data – heads up most of the time and distraction free driving. Your phone also charges during this process and I observed using navigation this way does not use up your battery unlike on standalone phone mode navigation. It does not heat up the phone either – so google – brownie points to you for this. Next is my favourite – Apple Car Play



Apple car play has much bigger icons and is more friendly to the touch. It also has Siri mode, but then we all know where this thing fails miserably – searching indian music tracks, and navigation. Sorry Apple but I am not going to change my opinion until your maps division in Hyderabad actually does something tangible. I guess this mode will make more sense in USA and other countries where it works much better for their style of English and the data available including maps part. However for all things Apple, I still love the implementation including the rather large icons which are friendly to use. Here also the apps are limited although some custom apps are avaialable too such as whatsapp. The reason I had to go for this unit is simple. I needed something that will drive component speakers and further a woofer through a separate amplifier. And for getting both Android Auto and Apple Car play support in this unit – that’s all I ever needed since I have both phones ! So bonus for me. My primary driver these days has been Google with its more accurate knowledge base.
The burning question: Price ? – its 26,999 everywhere – in store, online wherever. Is the asking price worth it ? Remember the device also features night mode, day mode display, and a firmware update possibility via pen drive. But the real question is how long sony will support this as such !! I would pay for this unit anyday just for two features it offers – Android Auto and the brilliant touch screen. It does have niggles like not updating song information sometimes, but then hey – these are silly things I can excuse as it happens only when you use both android auto and bluetooth. Soemtimes I use apple music on android phone, in that case the song info via bluetooth sometimes does not update. I still need to do a firmware upgrade. So these issues can be fixed via software.
If you are wanting a good head unit that supports Android and Apple driving modes, keeps you less distracted and makes you more disciplined – look no further purchase the SONY XAV-AX100 AV Receiver now.
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