Sunday drive by Hormazd Sorabjee: 5 new cars raring to hit the road
With showrooms shuttered and assembly lines at a standstill, the lockdown has dealt the auto industry a body blow. But carmakers are fighting back and planning a flurry of launches to make up for lost time once lockdown restrictions are eased. Whether there’ll be customers to buy them is another issue but if you want to reward yourself for surviving over two months of house arrest with a nice set of wheels, then there’s plenty to choose from. Here’s my list of the top five newly-launched cars you’ll find in showrooms immediately after the lockdown lifts.
The all-new GLS sports Mercs’ latest design language both on the exterior and interior. It’s big on luxury and tech and seating for seven remains its strength, but in this new age of social distancing how useful can the third row be? Unless, that’s where you plan to sit to maintain a safe distance from your chauffer! Powered by a range of petrol and diesel engines, the GLS is the big daddy of the brand’s SUV range and often referred to as the ‘S-class of SUVs.’
Nissan Kicks 1.3 Turbo-petrol
Nissan had a lot riding on the Kicks when it was first introduced in January 2019, but this capable SUV was anything but a success. Now the Kicks has a chance to redeem itself in the BS6 era with the introduction of a new, high-tech 1.3 turbo-petrol, which produces a class leading 156hp. With prices starting at Rs 11.85 lakh, it offers the maximum bang for the buck. In fact, the Kicks is the most powerful SUV in its class and it’s this surplus of power that Nissan hopes will compensate for the torquey 1.5 diesel, which has been discontinued. Along with the 1.3 turbo, Nissan has drafted in an efficient CVT automatic to take the sting out of city driving. But it’s the six-speed manual option that extracts the most out of the potent engine that will please enthusiasts and best complement the Kick’s brilliant chassis.
True to style, Hyundai has carpet bombed the mid-size segment with its updated Verna, which is now available in four trim levels and five engine-gearbox combinations. That’s a total of 11 variants to choose from. With this face-lift, the Verna receives several cosmetic improvements both inside and out, which include new bumpers, new lights (front and rear) and a large grille. Changes in the interiors are not so extensive with the design remaining unchanged, but use of richer materials and a change of upholstery has spruced up cabin.
For the first time, Hyundai has offered a sporty version of this family sedan and equipped it with Hyundai’s 120hp 1.0 turbo-petrol engine and 7-speed DCT gearbox combo. To differentiate it from the others, the Verna turbo gets a blacked out grille.
New Honda City
If the lockdown hadn’t happened, the all-new Honda City would have been on the roads by now. Honda is raring to launch the fifth generation City, which comes six years after the model that’s still on sale. Space is going to be the trump card of the new City, which boasts class-best cabin width and a sofa-like rear seat. It will of course be loaded to the roof with lots of goodies, including Honda’s signature lane watch camera. Also new is the 1.5 petrol engine, which has marginally more power and is more efficient than before.
Far removed from the quirky Yeti of old, the Karoq looks like a shrunken Kodiaq. It’s a new-age Skoda inside and the sole version on sale, a 1.5 turbo-petrol mated to a 7-speed automatic, will come with a generously-equipped cabin wrapped in high quality materials. The Karoq is fun to drive thanks to agile handling, a very comfortable ride and a capable engine. For its size, it’s reasonably spacious too. This is not a car to buy for space but for the feel good factor it oozes.
Hormazd Sorabjee is one of the most senior and much loved auto journalists in India, and is editor of Autocar India
Sunday Drive appears every fortnight
From HT Brunch, May 31, 2020
Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch
Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch