It is that time of the year again when car sales pick up and prospective buyers rummage through newspapers and magazines for reviews of models that they have set their eyes on. From hatchbacks to compact sport utility vehicles to super cars, there is plenty on offer this festive season, too.
Trying hard to shrug off its troubled past in India, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will be launching the much-awaited Abarth 595 Competizione in August. “This new addition to our fleet will be a performance oriented vehicle,” said Kevin Flynn, president and managing director, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Following this, Fiat plans to launch India’s first hot hatch, Punto Abarth, which will be made locally. The Competizione will be imported as completely built units and might cost around 030 lakh. If you think that is too much money for a hatch, you may consider Punto Abarth, which can set pulses racing for a fraction of that money. It will be powered by 1.4l T-Jet turbocharged petrol engine.
Renault India is all set for a repeat of the magic it created with the Duster. “We are focused on making this festive season special for customers. This celebration will be led by the much awaited Renault Kwid,” said Sumit Sawhney, CEO and managing director, Renault India. Kwid will create a new segment—the compact crossover—with a 3-cylinder, 800cc petrol engine and the looks of the Duster. It is almost entirely made in India and already seems a winner with a spacious interior and rich features. It will be competitively priced between 03 lakh and 04 lakh, and will give stiff competition to Maruti Suzuki Alto and Hyundai Eon.
A new crossover is also on its way from the Maruti Suzuki stables. Called S-CROSS, it is built on a new platform and will be placed as a premium product. With a powerful DDiS 320 diesel engine, six-speed manual transmission and a fuel efficiency of 22.7 kmpl, it ticks many boxes and could give Maruti Suzuki a foothold in the premium segment.
The S-CROSS, however, will be taken head on by the Creta, Hyundai’s new compact SUV, which has plenty of design elements from Hyundai’s new Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design philosophy. It is, in fact, a smaller version of the Santa Fe, a popular SUV, and will be offered in both petrol and diesel engines and with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The Creta is expected to be in the range of Rs8 lakh to Rs12 lakh.
To this segment, Fiat is likely to bring its Avventura Abarth this festive season. “We are also in the process of strengthening our dealership network to maintain our pan-India presence,” said Flynn.
Among the compact sedans, the most awaited is the Ford Figo Aspire, which was unveiled at the Auto Expo last year. It will come with 1.2-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel engines, and will take on Maruti’s Swift Dzire and Honda’s Amaze.
Among the luxury players, Mercedes-Benz, which has been on a launching spree, will lead the pack. “We have 15 models planned for the Indian market in 2015. We have already launched six of them and three more will be launched this month,” said Eberhard Kern, managing director and CEO, Mercedes-Benz India. The S63 AMG Coupe will be the showstopper among its July launches. And, for SUV lovers, there will be the G63 AMG Crazy Colour.
Audi India is giving Mercedes stiff competition in the number of launches. “We had planned ten product launches for the year 2015 with an aim to launch a new product in every segment,” said Joe King, head of Audi India. “We’ve already done five so far. We will be launching the Audi A6 in a new avatar soon and also bring in our flagship SUV, the all new Audi Q7, later this year.” The Q7 has a huge following among celebrities and many people are looking forward to it.
General Motors is likely to bring its brand-new SUV, the Chevrolet Trailblazer, to India. It will compete with the likes of Mitsubishi Pajero and Toyota Fortuner. This big 7-seater is powered by a 4-cylinder 2.8-litre diesel engine, mated to a 6-speed automatic gearbox.
If these soft-roaders fail to interest the hard-core SUV enthusiast in you, keep watching for a big offering from Fiat next year. “We will be making significant investments for the roll-out of the Jeep brand early next year,” said Flynn. And, if this has not whetted your appetite yet, just wait until the Auto Expo next February.