Sunday drive by Hormazd Sorabjee: Your comprehensive Auto Expo review
The 2020 Auto Expo was muted as many big names stayed away. But those who came put on a grand show with a plethora of launches, concepts and big announcements to put some fizz back into a car market that is showing no signs of a turnaround. A look at those cars that stood out over the rest.
1. Suzuki Jimny
This pint-sized, boxy SUV has the look of a scaled down Merc G-class and riding on rigid axles, like the Jeeps of days gone by, is as old school as it comes. Powered by a 1.5 petrol engine, this successor to the venerable Maruti Gypsy is a 4x4 that punches above its weight. There are no plans to launch it in India though.
2. Tata HBX
Tata’s smallest SUV looks terrific and when it goes on sale in the next financial year, it could be the most affordable compact SUV in the market. The HBX will be powered by a 1.2 turbo-petrol. It’s safe to assume an all-electric version will follow.
3. Skoda Vision IN
This bold-looking, sharp suited SUV concept is also close to the real thing and previews what Skoda’s first made-in-India model will look like. Expect a tech-laden (read: 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system and the ‘Virtual Cockpit’ digital instrument cluster), creature comfort-heavy cabin (features like a panoramic sunroof and ambient lighting are expected) that’s also decently spacious on the production car. Skoda aims to have 95 per cent of parts sourced locally, so prices should be quite competitive too.
4. Volkswagen Taigun
The Taigun is Volkswagen’s take on a mid-size SUV. It reeks of quality, has a well-proportioned and handsome design and gets some pretty serious hardware under the hood like a 1.5 litre turbo-petrol and twin-clutch gearbox. There’s no diesel option. The Taigun is entering the most competitive segment of the market so VW is working hard to keep costs down.
5. MG Gloster
MG is pitching its flagship SUV, the Gloster as a more upmarket alternative to the Toyota Fortuner. The three-row cabin comes with extensive personalisation options. Powering this 4x4 will be a new in-house developed 218hp, 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel engine, which will give the big and heavy Gloster the grunt it needs.
6. Mercedes-Benz A-class sedan
Mercedes has opted to bring the A-class sedan to India to replace the previous entry-level model, the CLA. The stylish, yet practical sedan priced between Rs 32 and Rs 40 lakh will be available later in the year with petrol and diesel engine options.
7. Hyundai Creta
With this second-gen Creta, Hyundai hopes to snatch back the No. 1 position in the SUV segment. While the exterior design is a bit polarising, you can’t miss the big grille and head lighter cluster. It’s expected to be better equipped than the Creta with first-in-class features like a panoramic sunroof and an electronic parking brake.
8. Kia Sonet
Even a close look at the Kia Sonet won’t tell you it shares a lot with the Hyundai Venue. But Kia has gone to lengths to differentiate between the two – the Sonet will one-up the Venue by having the option of a diesel-automatic and a bigger 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The Sonet’s muscular design is what Kia hopes will draw customers away from the relatively meek-looking Venue.
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, February 23, 2020
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