Vroom boom


Here are the best of the mean machines that will hit the road this year

Ford Mustang
American muscle

Mustang is the rockstar among sports cars. Its launch at the World’s Fair in New York in 1964 was historic: Ford took about 22,000 orders on day one alone. By 1967, the Stang had crossed one million in sales, appeared in a dozen movies (most notably in a chase sequence in Goldfinger) and had a hit song in its honour (‘Mustang Sally’ by Wilson Pickett).

Fifty years since, there are few cars that can rival its legacy. The India-bound Ford Mustang GT is the sixth generation of the iconic car—and the first to have a right-hand drive. It will be brought to India as a completely built-up unit featuring a 5.0-litre, V8 engine with a maximum power of 420bhp and peak torque of 529Nm.

With its low roof height and wide rear fenders and track, the new Stang looks contemporary, even as it retains traditional design elements like the long sculpted hood and short rear deck. Top-class safety features, push button start, selectable drive modes and Ford Sync 3 in-car entertainment system make it a smart, muscle car. Price: around Rs60 lakh


Honda BR-V
Poised to perform

A Mobilio-based crossover, the BR-V enters the compact SUV segment—a tough one that has the likes of Renault Duster, Hyundai Creta, Nissan Terrano and Maruti S-Cross. And going by its beefy looks, it would probably come up trumps.

Up front is a large horizontally slatted chrome grille flanked by sleek headlamps. On either side are sharp creases and design elements inspired by the Mobilio. The interior is impressive, thanks to features like automatic climate control, touchscreen infotainment system and rear parking camera.

Under the hood is a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder i-VTEC petrol engine that generates a maximum power of 120bhp. The diesel version has a 1.5-litre i-DTEC motor that can generate 100bhp. Expected price: between Rs9 lakh and Rs13 lakh.


The new BMW 7 Series & BMW X1
Luxe wheels

Cutting-edge technology, maximum attention to detail—these phrases define the new BMW 7 Series. Available in two design packages (M Sport and Design Pure Excellence), the luxury sedans feature groundbreaking technologies like Gesture Control, Remote Control Parking, BMW Touch Command System and Sky Lounge.

The 7 Series is available in two diesel variants that are locally produced and two petrol variants that are imported as completely built-up units. Expected price: Above Rs1.1 crore.

The new BMW X1 (in pic) is taller, wider and more spacious, thanks to an increase in the wheelbase by 90mm. It is also a lot lighter (down by 135kg). The distinct kidney grille has been tweaked to give it a fresh look. The new X1 has a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, twin-power turbocharged diesel engine that can generate 190hp and 400Nm of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission can power the X1 from 0-100kmph in 7.6 seconds. Price: Rs29.9 lakh to Rs39.9 lakh.


Mercedes-Benz GLC
Boxy brawn

Expected to be launched in India in mid-2016, the new generation Mercedes-Benz GLC draws its design cues from the C-Class. Of course, the GLC has its characteristic boxy stance, but its front fascia, with its twin-slat grille and sweptback headlamps, resembles the luxury sedan.

As befits an SUV, the GLC’s looks are very much outdoorsy, especially with its pumped-up wheel arches. It is 4,656mm long, 1,644mm high, 2,096mm wide and has a wheelbase of 2,874mm. With a boot capacity of 550 litres (1,600 litres, with rear seats folded), you can take your world with you.

The interior is inspired by the S-Class, as evident from its Artico leather upholstery and wooden inserts. There are features like free-standing display, COMAND infotainment system, choice of two three-spoke steering wheel designs and five driving programmes. The GLC will reportedly have a 1,199cc diesel engine, which will allow it to steer clear of the ban on 2,000cc engines in Delhi. It also boasts a nine-speed, 9G-Tronic automatic transmission. Expected price: above Rs40 lakh.


Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet
Top of the line

‘The most beautiful and exclusive S-Class cars of all time’ is how Mercedes-Benz describes it. The S-Class Cabriolet marks the return of the open-top S-Class that was sold from 1961 to 1971. That means the exterior and interior are similar to the S-Class Coupe.

The Cabriolet has a retractable three-layer acoustic soft top, which is available in black, dark blue, beige and dark red. The roof can be opened or closed in 20 seconds at speeds up to 60kmph.

Inside, the Cabriolet has all the goodies of the Coupe, and some more. An all-new Thermotronic intelligent climate control system will keep occupants comfortable, even when the roof is open. An automatic wind protection system, called Aircap, and a neck-level heating feature, called Airscarf, are available optionally.

The S-Class Cabriolet is powered by a 4.7-litre, twin-turbo petrol engine that generates a maximum of 449hp and 700Nm of torque. It is mated to 9G-Tronic, nine-speed automatic transmission that can power the car from 0 to 100kmph in 4.6 seconds. The S-Class costs Rs1.34 crore (ex-showroom, Bengaluru), so be prepared to shell out more for the Cabriolet.


Jaguar XE
Beautiful beast

The XE is Jaguar’s most advanced sports saloon, and a driving enthusiast’s dream vehicle. The cutting-edge in-car technology—from an electronically managed and highly responsive power steering to a high-tech LCD display in the middle—is designed to thrill the most jaded of drivers.

The XE will be assembled in India as part of the company’s move to increase localisation. It will be available in two petrol engine options, with maximum output of 238bhp. Price: Rs39.9 lakh to Rs46.5 lakh.


Volkswagen Ameo
All-round excellence

Designed specifically for India, Ameo is expected to raise the bar in the subcompact sedan segment. It has first-in-class features like cruise control, rain-sensing wipers and touchscreen music system with mirror link, iPod connectivity and phonebook and SMS viewer. Ameo draws its design cues from Polo. Changes include its chrome detailing, headlamps, sporty front bumper and horizontal fog lamps. The cabin is stylish and comfy, and has the best-in-class safety features.

Ameo is available in two versions: one with a 1.2-litre MPI petrol engine and the other with a 1.5-litre TDI diesel engine that serves Polo. Price: Rs5.5 lakh to Rs8.5 lakh.


Honda Accord Hybrid
Striking Accord

The Accord was once a bestseller in the Indian sedan market and a darling of driving aficionados. Missing for the past few years, the nameplate is set to make its comeback later this year.

First up is the Accord Hybrid, a ninth-generation model that has a more compact and contemporary design than its predecessor. It is powered by a 2.0-litre, inline four-cylinder petrol engine that has maximum power of 141hp and 165Nm of torque. It is assisted by an AC Synchronous Permanent Magnet electric motor that gives a combined system output of 196hp. An electronic CVT (continuously variable transmission) gearbox sends power to the wheels.

Not much is known about the second version. Experts expect it to be the US-specification Accord (in pic), which has features like seven-inch touchscreen display audio with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, rain-sensing wipers and 60:40 split folding rear seats. Expected price: Rs28 lakh to Rs32 lakh.


Tata Pelican & Tata Zica
Hatch match

When it comes to branding, Tata can do all wrong. Case in point: labelling Nano as the world’s cheapest car. It got Nano media attention across the world, but the word ‘cheapest’ ended up hurting sales. Lesson: people like cars that are ‘affordable’, not cheap.

Early this month, Tata fell prey to (surprise, surprise) a virus! The company decided to rename its new hatchback, the unfortunately named Zica (in pic), a day after the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus outbreak as an international public health emergency. Lesson: Before naming the next product, do a Google check.

But these branding issues are a matter of perception, not of product. Zica, for instance, is a first-rate product for an entry-level hatchback. It comes in petrol and diesel engines that support Multi Drive technology. The elegant curves and honeycomb grille are attractive, while the spacious interior has a Harman touchscreen system. In short, Zica has the goodies to go ‘viral’.

Nano was not a bestseller, but Pelican could well be. Pelican is a bigger hatchback with a better engine—the petrol version is powered by a 1-litre engine, while the diesel one has an 800cc engine. The impressively designed headlights and taillights and alloy wheels give Pelican what Nano lacks: the cool quotient.

Expected to be priced between Rs2.5 lakh and Rs3.5 lakh, Pelican could well be India’s cheapest diesel car. But, Tata certainly won’t advertise it!


Jeep Wrangler Unlimited & Jeep Grand Cherokee
Power drives

An iconic brand renowned for its 4x4 capabilities, safety and technology, Jeep enters India in its 75th year. The long-wheelbase Wrangler Unlimited Overland Sahara (in pic) will be available in diesel and petrol versions. It will be imported as completely built-up units. The petrol version is powered by a 3.6-litre, V6 petrol engine mated to a five-speed automatic gearbox that can send 281bhp and 353Nm of torque to the wheels. It is expected to be priced between Rs25 lakh and Rs32 lakh.

The Grand Cherokee will be available in two engine options: 3.0-litre, V6 diesel and 6.4-litre HEMI V8 petrol (the SRT performance version). The 3.0-litre V6 diesel belts out 236.7bhp @3,600rpm and 569Nm @2,000rpm. The petrol engine generates 461bhp and 624Nm of torque. Both engines will be mated to an eight-speed, paddle-shift automatic transmission. Price: Rs35 lakh to Rs50 lakh.

Piaggio Aprilia SR150
Easy and snazzy

Set to be launched in August, Aprilia SR150 is a ‘sports scooter-bike’ that blends the convenience of an automatic scooter with the sensation of a sports bike.

It has a 150cc engine, which seems to have been borrowed from Vespa 150. The crossover will have 14-inch alloy wheels like motorbikes and automatic gears like scooters. The sharp lines in the design, the contrasting black-red and white-red shades, and twin headlamps accentuate the sports theme. Piaggio is yet to reveal the price.


Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza
Simple and sophisticated

Design-wise, Vitara Brezza is probably Maruti’s best effort to date. A hexagrille slot with a broad chrome line and bullhorn LED lights dominate Brezza’s front and make it appear big. (It is wider and shorter than S-Cross.) The car feels peppier on the inside, thanks to the SmartPlay infotainment system and the dual colour scheme that resembles Mitsubishi Pajero.

Brezza comes with three design options: Glamour, Urban and Sporty. Under the hood is a 1.3-litre DDiS engine that can generate nearly 90bhp and 200Nm, which may not be enough to compete with popular nameplates in the compact SUV segment. Brezza’s fate hangs on its price, which Maruti is yet to reveal.


Audi R8 V10 Plus
Plus point

The new R8 looks appealing—there, you have the understatement of the year, as far as auto launches are concerned. The R8 V10 Plus comes with Audi’s trademark Singleframe grille with a honeycomb pattern, flanked by standard flat LED headlights or optional laser lighting clusters, which can double the range to 600 metres. Curved contours and a prominent shoulder line connecting the wheels dominate the side profile of the car, and make it look longer than its predecessor. The rear looks muscular, thanks to CFRP (carbon fibre-reinforced polymer) rear wings and the way the taillights are designed.

The R8 V10 Plus has a 5.2-litre, naturally aspirated V10 engine that has a maximum output of 610bhp. The engine is mated to a seven-speed S-Tronic gearbox with three automatic modes and optional manual control. The rear end has a mechanical differential lock, which helps provide optimal traction on any road. It would serve well, as the car has a top speed of 330kmph and does the 0-100kmph sprint in 3.2 seconds.

Inside are newly developed bucket seats and a driver-oriented Audi virtual cockpit featuring uncluttered design. Customers can choose between Alcantara/Pearl Nappa leather and fine Nappa leather upholstery. There is an optional 500W Bang & Olufsen sound system with an Audi phone box. Price: Rs2.47 crore.


Fiat Avventura Urban Cross
Suave and zippy

The Urban Cross was one of the three Fiat vehicles launched at the Delhi Auto Expo this year (the other being the upgrades Linea 125s and Punto Pure). While its dimensions are similar to the Avventura crossover, there are several design changes, such as silver roof-rails, new body cladding, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED taillights and ‘follow-me-home’ headlamps. Also, gone are Avventura’s rear-mounted spare wheels.

The Urban Cross has a touchscreen infotainment system with bluetooth integration, aux unit and satellite navigation. It is powered by a 1.4-litre, T-Jet petrol engine, which is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox that can send 138bhp and 210Nm of torque to the wheels.


TVS Apache RTR 300
Apache German

The RTR 300 will be the most expensive model in the Apache range. There is good reason: the bike is TVS’s iteration of the BMW G310 R (in pic), the most affordable motorcycle in the BMW Motorrad stable.

The RTR 300 is expected to borrow BMW’s 313cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder engine and electronic fuel injection. The engine, which is mated to a six-speed gearbox, can generate 33.5bhp at 9,500rpm, with a maximum torque of 28Nm.

The cost factor remains unclear, but TVS says the bike will be priced “very competitively”.

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