The year 2013 has been good for a lot of car enthusiasts, and for daily commuters and we saw launches ranging from Mercedes-Benz to Hyundai. India is a fast growing car market for the international big players and they are focussing their attention on us enough to mark as one of the top buyers in the world. It may not be as huge a market as China is, but it has young people, and ones with a lot of money to spend on new cars. Not only are we buying, we are also selling. India has a lot of new factories which manufacture specific parts for these countries, keeping the price down and buyability of the cars high for the young and rich local junta.
This is the year 2014 that we have now stepped in, and we will see a lot of new launches this year, but still let us look back and talk about what the top five launches have been this past year.
1. Mercedes-Benz A-class. We have kept this at number 1 for a reason, it is an absolute stunner. It could bask in the attention if it were a human celebrity. Wait. It is a celebrity anyway and it does bask in the attention that we give it. It has been launched as a premium hatchback and the only comprtition that we can see that it has is the Mini Cooper. The A-Class has a dazzling front grille, some of the typical Mercedes-Benz styling and a front grille that looks like many stars that have come together to celebrate the legend of the Three-pointed star that is in the middle. It has really funky interiors which are aimed at making the young and the stylish feel at home. In the same price range as the Mini Cooper, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class has brought a Mercedes car in the reach of a million more people.
2. Ford EcoSport. It is in such a huge demand, that many of the bookings for it have been cancelled, new bookings have been stopped, and Ford even offered to give a discount on the other models if you cancel your booking for this particular car. No, it is not sorcery that is making people want to buy this car. The Ford EcoSport is a car you can live with. It is in the compact SUV segment, so it gives you a lot of presence on the road with it's SUV like stance and generous manuverability. The car has the front look of a raw, on-the-prowl animal, and it certainly behaves like one. The interiors are a dual tone high quality plastic, the clear and bassy audio system has a Microsoft SYNC engine installed. We can go on and on about the rest of the things that matter - the ride quality, comfort, etc. but we have to move on to the rest of the cars that have made it to the list.
3. Honda Amaze. The Honda Amaze did amaze everyone, and sent the 9 to 5 slaves and 5 to 9 party animals scrambling to get one. It has the new diesel engine, besides a petrol variant of course, that gives an ARAI certified mileage of 25.8 kmpl. It is not unknown to anyone, unless you live under a rock, that the petrol prices are sky high and we would soon start keeping jerry cans of petrol next to our gold in those safety deposit boxes. Very refined, comfortable and not very expensive, the Honda Amaze just had to make it to this list.
4. Hyundai Grand i10. Of course, this is my personal segment, so I picked up another hatchback to put into this list. The Grand i10 is what it is. It is neither an i10, nor is it an i20. It does fit in the middle somewhere, but it somehow feels unrelated to both, especially once you step inside the car. The design is very different from both the i10 and the i20, and the overall car design is on the lines of Hyundai's Fluidic Design language. It comes in 2 variants, as is the way of the world now. The petrol engine is the same as the one on the i10, but the diesel one is an all-new 1.1 liter 3-cylinder engine that churns out a nice 70 bhp and is quite torquey. This is one hatchback that we would pick if there weren't cheaper options such as the Beat diesel in the market.
5. Maruti Suzuki Alto 800. The Maruti and Suzuki joint venture has always kept it's word to give the nation affordable, dependable and fuel efficient cars. This small car from the Maruti-Suzuki stable has seen the thick and thin of it all. The first ever variant of this car was introduced in May 1979 as the SS30V/SS40V with a 2-stroke engine. The next generation was in September 1984 and had a turbocharger with four wheel drive. The third generation was introduced in 1988 and the fourth generation in 1995. They had a higher engine power output and was a fuel guzzler. In the year 2000, the version that sold the most was introduced, and this is the one that had the highest fuel economy among all the cars sold in India during that time in this segment. The Maruti Alto 800 has new bodywork and interiors, and is available in petrol and CNG variants. This only means that the 10,000 pre-orders that this launch saw, were nothing that could not have been expected.
This year, we have been promised by some of the leading automobile manufacturers, will see some spectacular launches. We can only but sit back and enjoy the show.