Sunday drive with Hormazd Sorabjee: Buy these four cars before they are gone!
April 1, 2020, may be all fools day but it’s no joking matter for the car industry because that date is the deadline for all vehicles to move to the much stricter BS6 emission standards. This jump from the current BS4 standard to BS6 is set to cause an upheaval in the market because over two dozen cars will be phased out.
The move to BS6 is an incredibly costly affair, especially for diesel engines, as they require expensive hardware and engineering changes to be upgraded to the cleaner standards. For manufacturers, this means taking brutally hard calls and axing certain models from their line-up, either because they will become too expensive and turn customers away or because they sell in such small numbers that it doesn’t make sense to spend money upgrading them. Either way, some perfectly good cars, still in the pink of health, will be discontinued. While a lot of them are pretty old anyway and won’t be missed, there are a few special ones worth buying before they slip into oblivion.
Here are my top picks.
1. AWD Renault Duster
The Duster has been eclipsed by smash hits like the Creta and recently the Seltos, and simply lacks the wow factor of its Korean rivals. But there are few cars to beat a Duster for its robustness and suitability for Indian roads. The All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) version is the best 4x4 for the money and a great go-anywhere vehicle. The independent suspension delivers an outstanding ride even on the worst of surfaces. And Renault’s 1.5 K9K engine is still one of the best diesels around.
The Duster will live on but only with a petrol engine and two-wheel-drive and it won’t be as capable as the AWD Duster. Grab this one before stocks run out.
2. Maruti Ertiga 1.5 diesel
Maruti Suzuki has announced that it will stop selling diesel cars altogether from April 1. While we won’t miss the defunct and outdated Fiat-sourced 1.3 diesel that formed the bulk of the company’s diesel range, the discontinuation of the very capable 1.5 diesel will leave a big hole in the Ertiga’s line-up – one that will be hard to fill, especially since a diesel engine in an MPV is an intrinsic part of its appeal. A petrol-only Ertiga doesn’t offer the practicality and low-running costs MPV owners expect. Besides, this engine is the best 1.5 diesel around offering excellent performance, refinement and fuel efficiency to make the Ertiga a cheaper alternative to the Innova Crysta. Yes, it’s that good.
3. Toyota Corolla Altis
Toyota can’t justify the cost of upgrading the Corolla in India and will stop selling it before April 2020. So, should you buy one? The Corolla is the quintessential no-nonsense executive sedan that comes with bullet-proof reliability. The Corolla’s generous (and reclining) backseat, smooth ride and peppy 1.8-litre engine mated to a responsive CVT does almost everything a typical owner would want. The diesel is noisy and sluggish and it’s only the petrol that’s worth buying.
4. VW Ameo diesel
Scarred by the Dieselgate scandal, VW has made a conscious decision to move away from diesel engines and the Ameo will be gone altogether as there is no business case to continue producing it after next April.
The 110hp, 1.5 diesel engine mated to the 7-speed DSG gearbox is one of the best combinations there is, and one that’s worth snapping up before it’s gone. There’s nothing like a punchy diesel to waft you along, with a smooth-shifting twin-clutch transmission doing all the work. This powertrain in the compact Ameo works particularly well and makes VW’s first and only-sub-four-metre sedan a great all-round family car that’s economical, easy to drive, and equally good on the highway and in the city where the stubby boot makes parking much easier.
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, November 17, 2019
Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch
Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch