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Friday, March 23, 2012

50 New Cars for 2012

50 New Cars for 2012

Don't buy your next car before you've had a look at annual new car list.

‘What’s when?’ is the most common question asked us at Autocar India. We get a huge number of mails everyday from readers wanting to know what’s coming in the near and not-too-distant future, and that’s understandable. In our ever-changing market, you really need to be on top of model upgrades and new car launches, especially if you are about to sign a considerable amount of your savings on an all-new car.
The last thing you want is to see a new and superior model out on the roads, soon after you’ve spent your hard-earned money on a car that could be quickly outdated. So, to keep you in the know, straight from our confidential files, an almost complete list of new cars manufacturers are planning to put on sale in India this year.
Tata Safari Storme
It may be long in the tooth now but Tata Motors hasn’t given up on the Safari just yet. The big Tata is to receive a major update in early 2012. Styling changes are focused largely on the front and include striking new L-shaped headlights and a more pronounced front bumper. Interior quality should be similar to the more expensive Tata Aria and equipment levels could be enhanced as well. The biggest change though will be under the skin with the new Safari set to adopt Tata’s new X2 platform that debuted on the Aria. Shortened to the Safari’s 2650mm wheelbase, the X2 will change the way the Safari drives and ride, handling and noise insulation should see a marked improvement. The 140bhp 2.2 DiCOR diesel engine will power the new model but will be substantially worked on to improve refinement. Expect the updated Safari to bear a price tag of around Rs 11 lakh.
Toyota has played it safe with the Camry’s styling for far too long. However, the 2012 Camry to be launched at the Auto Expo is bolder than ever before. The lines have a hint of Lexus to them and the interiors look more luxurious too. Toyota also claims there’s more space inside. We expect Toyota to replace the current 2.4-litre VVT-i engine with the newer 2.5-litre VVT-i motor. Power output increases by a mere 2bhp to 167bhp though refinement levels should improve further. In addition, the new engine could come mated to new six-speed manual and automatic transmissions. The big news is that Toyota plans to assemble the Camry from CKD kits at its Bidadi plant which translates to more competitive pricing. The Camry clearly has the Honda Accord in its crosshairs. The lack of a diesel engine will remain the Camry’s Achilles’ heel, though.

Tata Manza CS
Cropping the boot to get a midsize saloon under the crucial four-metre mark to benefit from the excise duty relief is a successful formula. Ask Tata Motors whose Indigo CS has been a big seller since launch. Tata would want to emulate this success with the Manza too and is said to be developing a sub- four-metre variant. If launched, the CS could use the Vista’s 1.2 petrol and 1.3 diesel engines. Like the Indigo CS, pricing should be competitive.
Mini Cooper
To Join Mercedes’ line-up will be the smart new M-class SUV. The lines are softer, the eye-like headlights with their LED detailing are pleasing, and the whole look is less brutish than before. A stylised cabin with Merc-typical luxury bits make the interiors a comfortable place to be in. The dash design in particular is a huge improvement over the staid styling of the old car’s. Ride quality should be a huge improvement and Merc’s Airmatic air suspension could be offered as an option to discerning customers with deep pockets. As with the current car, Mercedes is likely to offer just a single engine – the 3-litre V6 diesel in ML 350 CDI guise. A raft of updates will see the engine improve in both efficiency and power which will see a bump up to 258bhp. Prices are likely to see a rise too when the car is launched in mid-2012.

New Maruti 800
Say hello to the successor to the iconic Maruti 800. Maruti’s low-cost car and answer to the Tata Nano and Hyundai Eon is in the final stages of testing and should go on sale within the first half of 2012.
To keep costs down, the new car is based on the existing Alto platform and will share a lot of running gear with its sibling. Powering the car will be the 796cc three-cylinder motor from the old 800, although it will be thoroughly updated to meet Bharat Stage V emission norms that will come into effect in 2015. A new 800cc engine could replace this motor post-2015.
The car’s design is fairly basic and there are a lot of flat panels as these are cheaper to make. We expect the interiors to be quite basic too though the slightly taller proportions of the Alto should make the car marginally more spacious and comfortable than the original 800. Maruti is aiming for a sub-Rs 2 lakh price for the base version of the car. Tata should be worried.
Maruti hit the bull’s-eye with the exclusive-to-India Swift Dzire. The next-generation Dzire that is based on the new Swift could go on to become an even bigger success, thanks to an estimated Rs 30,000 reduction in prices. The price reduction will be courtesy the car’s length being trimmed to just less than four metres to qualify it as a small car and take advantage of a lower rate of excise duty.
The current Dzire is 4160mm long and the new one has to be 160mm shorter at the least. To manage this, the new Dzire will get an incredibly short boot. While the rear section does not sync all that well with the rest of the car, the execution is far better than the original Dzire’s. However, boot space, a highlight on
the current Dzire, will be significantly less than before. Engines are likely to be shared with the new Swift. A full-size saloon is also understood to be under development.

Mahindra Mini-Xylo (sub-4 metres)
The government’s small car excise rebate regulations have seriously brought out the creative side of Indian engineers. The Mini-Xylo illustrated here is a fine example of this ingenuity. Built on a shortened Xylo chassis, the UV gets a redesigned tail with a shorter rear overhang to help keep length under the crucial four-metre mark. As a result, the Mini-Xylo will almost definitely lose the third row of seats. Elements like the dashboard and interior trim are likely to be carried over from the standard Xylo. With an engine cap of 1.5 litres for diesel small cars, the Mini-Xylo will use a three-cylinder version of the larger Xylo’s 2.5-litre engine. Bore and stroke will also be reduced to keep displacement under 1500cc. Four-wheel drive will be an option too on the Mini-Xylo.
Likely to be priced between Rs 4-5 lakh, this car could give hatchbacks a run for their money.
A lot depends on how it’s positioned, though.
Another addition to the sub-four-metre brigade will be the shortened Mahindra Verito. To do so, Mahindra engineers have chopped off a large chunk of the boot section but we hear that the redesign works well. Spacious interiors, solid build and a proven diesel engine come together to make this a sensible ‘small car’ to buy. Expect keen pricing when the smaller Verito goes on sale this December.
Mahindra will follow up the Korando with another SUV from the Ssangyong stable — the Rexton II. Briefly put, the SUV is based on the first-generation Mercedes-Benz M- class and can seat seven passengers.
Power is courtesy a 161bhp, 2.7-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. An old-school body-on-frame chassis means it won’t be the most exciting car to drive but permanent all-wheel drive and a high ground clearance should give it good off-road capabilities.
M&M will assemble the Rexton at its Chakan plant and is likely to price the big SUV close to rivals like the Toyota Fortuner.
The Reva NXR seems to have become a permanent fixture on our annual new car list. We expect the car to finally hit Indian roads this year. A three-door, four-seater family hatchback, the car will be sold in two versions – the NXR City and the NXR. The cheaper NXR City that comes with a lead acid battery has a range of 80km per charge while its 80kph top speed should help it keep up with traffic. More powerful lithium ion batteries, a range of 160km per charge and a claimed top speed of 104kph makes the NXR the more practical of the two, but it will also be the more expensive variant. Trouble is where are the charging points?

Mahindra-Ssangyong Korando
The Korando is the first SsangYong product Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) will be launching in India after its acquisition of the Korean company earlier this year. The Korando may not break new ground in terms of styling but it is quite a smart SUV. Although strictly a five-seater, its spacious interiors will work to its favour. Interior quality is far superior to all Mahindras so far, and rightfully the Korando will be positioned above M&M’s own SUV line-up.
The Korando features a monocoque chassis (a first for SsangYong) but from our drive earlier in the year (January 2011)  we can tell you the SUV’s dynamics are just about average.
A 173bhp, 2-litre turbo-diesel will power the Korando. Pricing will be competitive with an expected base price of Rs 15 lakh when the car goes on sale in early-2012.  

New Hyundai Sonata
The current-gen Sonata Transform failed to strike the right chord with customers. Hyundai wants to change that with this all-new car that is also known as the i45 in some markets.
The new Sonata’s swoopy lines make this the best-looking Hyundai to date and give the car real presence. The story is no different on the inside either. The cockpit-themed interiors look really sporty and importantly there is acres of space, especially at the back.
We expect three engine options for the car – a 2-litre petrol, a 2.4-litre direct injection petrol and possibly a 2.2-litre diesel. Enthusiasts may be disappointed by the car’s dynamics but as a comfy saloon, the new Sonata should work just fine.
Remove the Hyundai badge on the grille and you’ll be convinced you’re looking at a European car. It’s this image which the Korean carmaker reckons will translate into strong sales for its stylish Civic challenger. The design is modern Hyundai with the Elantra’s smooth lines flowing into each other yet managing to lend the car an aggressive look. Again, interior styling is far from ordinary with a striking fascia that is dominated by a multimedia screen. Smart packaging means space should be as good or perhaps better than the competition. Engines should include a 147bhp, 1.8-litre petrol and a new 1.8-litre diesel. In typical Hyundai fashion, the saloon should come very well specced so the Elantra will impress on the VFM scale too.

The latest Civic is out and it’s headed for an India launch in mid-2012. The design is more evolutionary than revolutionary (unlike the earlier car). In fact, the lines have been toned down which should make the saloon appeal to a wider customer base. However, the interiors are just as radical as before and feature a dual level split instrument console.
The new Civic should feature an updated version of the 1.8-litre, SOHC I-4 engine with improved refinement, emissions, economy and performance. Peak power will be around 140bhp. A diesel engine is also on the cards but is unlikely to make it to India before late-2013. Having tasted blood with its aggressive pricing for the Brio and Jazz, expect a surprise sticker price for this model too.
If you thought the Ambassador was dead, think again. A new pick-up variant for the rural markets has just hit the roads and now Hindustan Motors (HM) wants to cash in on excise benefits extended to sub-four-metre cars. Yes, a sub-four-metre Ambassador is on its way.
The length reduction is courtesy a shorter humped boot section, reminiscent of the original Amby
of the 1950s. The 1.5-litre diesel engine that currently powers the car will be re-tuned for improved performance and to meet newer emission norms. A CNG option will also be offered. Expect the car to cost Rs 30,000 less than the standard Ambassador. Love it or hate it, the Amby is here to stay.

Ford EcoSport
Ford India has got an ace up its sleeve with the upcoming Eco Sport. Codenamed B515, this sub-four-metre-long mini-SUV will qualify as a small car to avail of a substantial 12 percent saving in excise duty.
The SUV will be based on Ford’s global B platform that also underpins the latest Fiesta, so ride and handling will be nothing short of special. Styling will be pure SUV. Also, as the spare wheel is not considered in the‘small car’ regulations when measuring body length, it will be mounted on the tailgate rather than under the body. This allows luggage space to be used more effectively.
The Eco Sport is likely to come with an upgraded version of the Figo’s 1.2-litre petrol engine and the 90bhp 1.5 diesel from the new Fiesta. Pricing will be the key to the Eco Sport’s success and Ford is working towards an aggressive price of Rs 6 lakh for the base model.
Ford Thailand has taken the wraps off the new Ranger pick-up that will form the basis of the all-new Endeavour SUV headed for India in late 2012. The design conforms with Ford’s global design language, so the final SUV version will look a whole lot more modern than the current dated Indian model.
The interiors are a step up too with a smarter fascia and use of better materials. Thai Rangers will be sold with a new 148bhp 2.2-litre TDCi diesel engine and this motor could replace the 2.5-litre powerplant currently on the Endeavour. The new engine comes mated to six-speed manual and automatic transmissions which may be India-bound as well. A price hike seems imminent but Ford could offset this by offering the Endeavour loaded with features.
There has been a lot of interest in the new Fiesta hatchback of late and if our spy picture of a test car is anything to go by, then Ford seems to have finally decided to manufacture the model in India.
The hatchback is identical to the saloon up till the B-pillar. Thereafter, the smartly executed hatch section gives the car better proportions than the Fiesta saloon. The interiors will be shared with the saloon as will the pair of 1.5-litre petrol and diesel engines. While it will be positioned as a premium hatchback, pricing will still be critical. If priced above Rs 6.5 lakh, the Fiesta hatchback could have the same fate as the Honda Jazz when it was first launched.

Fiat Punto Evo
Fiat is ready with a set of cosmetic upgrades for its Punto hatchback. To be called the Punto Evo, the car will receive a new front bumper with integrated foglamps, a new front grille and slightly reworked headlights. The tail-lights will also be tweaked and there will be a redesigned rear bumper too. The European Evo features a new dashboard though it remains to be seen if the Indian car will get this. The current engine options are likely to continue though we expect a small price increment across the range.
Some numbers first. The Mahindra Bolero sells on average 7,000 units a month. On the other hand, its direct competitor in the utility vehicle market, the Force Trax sells about 700 units each month. Force Motors is now readying a new version which should make the Trax a more serious alternative to the Bolero. Smarter styling and better interiors will lead the list of changes. The new Trax will also get the OM616 engine that features a two-valve CRDi system. This BS IV-compliant motor will allow the Trax to be sold in metros as well.
Force Motors is set to follow up its first passenger vehicle, the recently launched Force One, with a new MPV. The MPV in question is the Viano that will be manufactured under license from Mercedes-Benz.
The MPV will, in all likelihood, be an eight-seater making it an attractive option for large families and tour operators. The Force Motors MPV is likely to feature the same Mercedes-Benz licensed OM611 engine as employed on the Force One. This 2.2-litre common-rail diesel engine produces 139bhp at 3800rpm. Power will be transmitted to the rear wheels (just as on the Viano) via a five-speed gearbox.
Prices are not known yet but we expect the van to sport a price tag between Rs 10-15 lakh.
Simply put, small cars equal big sales. And this small car has the potential to seriously put the wind in Chevrolet’s sales (pun intended)! The Sail hatchback that will be launched before the saloon looks striking whichever angle you look at it. The design is well executed and, like the saloon, its spacious interiors will be a selling point. It is likely to share the Beat’s 1.2-litre petrol engine and also get the 1.3-litre Fiat Multijet within a year of launch. Costs will be kept low thanks to the car sharing many components with the saloon. A sub-Rs 4 lakh base price would make it a very enticing option.

Also read: Chevrolet Sail spy pics
The Sail is Chevrolet’s weapon for a fresh assault in the midsize segment. Designed and developed in China by GM and SAIC, the Sail looks every bit a modern Chevy. The proportions are nice and styling is sharp all over. Interior space is a highlight and that should give it an edge over smaller rivals like the Maruti Swift Dzire.
Power will come courtesy a 1.4-litre petrol engine producing 102bhp, and eventually the 1.3-litre Fiat-sourced Multijet diesel. Interestingly, the Sail platform has its roots in the same Opel Corsa that was on sale in India till 2006; so the car should not be too expensive for Chevrolet to produce. Prices are likely to be affordable, ranging from Rs 6-7.5 lakh.  
Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) that picked up a 50 percent stake in GM India last year has big plans for India. Among the products headed here is the Wuling-made CN-100 MPV. The CN-100 may not score too high on styling but its trump card will be its versatility. Likely to be sold as a seven-seater, its second and third row seats can also be folded flat or removed altogether. Powering the MPV will be a 1.4-litre petrol engine that will be joined by the Fiat-sourced 1.3 Multijet diesel in 2013. The CN-100 will be manufactured at General Motors’ Talegaon plant and will be sold under the Chevrolet brand name. With no diesel option available until 2013, GM will have to price the CN-100 very competitively to attract buyers. Don’t be surprised if this one comes with a sub-Rs 6 lakh price tag.

Chevrolet’s versatile SUV has just been given a face-lift and looks all the better for it. An imposing split grille in line with Chevrolet’s new family look and double-barrel headlamps are  the most prominent changes to the Captiva’s styling while clear lens tail-lamps complete the makeover.
The seven-seater will also benefit from revised interiors. On the engine front, the 2-litre motor is set to be replaced by a new 2.2-litre diesel unit. Peak power will see a spike from 148bhp at present to 184bhp on the new engine. Prices are likely to increase by around Rs 1 lakh when the new model is launched early next year.

Chevrolet Cruze (upgraded)

BMW’s big launch for 2012 will be the new 3-series. Codenamed the F30, it has been revealed recently  with Indian sales to commence soon after right-hand-drive versions are made available towards the middle of 2012. The new 3-series is  longer and wider and  it bears a strong resemblance to the 5-series. The larger dimensions point to a roomier cabin, which addresses a major shortcoming on the current car. Engines are likely to be carried forward from the current model, albeit with improved efficiency and more power. BMW plans to set up an engine plant in India, which  should allow the carmaker to price the Three more aggressively. Will BMW soften the new 3-series to enhance comfort or will the new car retain the current model’s thrilling driving dynamics? Time will tell.
Factfile: Think of Audi’s ‘S’ cars as the sportier cousins of the normal line-up with the S variant’s more powerful engines and slightly extroverted design details being the key differentiators here. India will get the entire S range that includes the S4, S5, S6, S7 and S8 in 2012.  The new S6 that was launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show comes with a 414bhp, 4-litre twin-turbo V8. Performance will be entertaining, to say the least.  Another new addition to the S line is the S8. Marrying sports car performance to limo-like luxury, the S8 shares its engine with the S6, but power is an even higher 513bhp. Pricing is yet not known, but expect these S cars to cost considerably more than the current range-topping variants for each model. However, the S5 will be a cheaper option to the more powerful RS5. S6 will spearhead Audi’s S line’s entry into India. S8 is sports car and limo rolled into one. . Sportier petrol S7 will join diesel A7 sibling.

L/W/H: 4931/1874/NA mm

Expected: Early 2012
Price: Rs 85 lakh

Audi Q3

It may look like a shrunken Q5, but Audi’s latest mini-SUV has a distinct personality of its own. When launched in mid-2012, the Q3 will be the most affordable Audi in India. However, there is nothing cheap about the Q3’s quality which is comparable to Audi’s line-up of saloons and larger SUVs. There is reasonable space for four adults inside while Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system should also ensure you can get a bit adventurous on weekend excursions. In India, the entry level, front-wheel-drive Q3 will be sold with a 176bhp, 2-litre turbo diesel which will form the majority of its sales. However, Audi will first launch the Q3 with four-wheel-drive or the Quattro system. A 211bhp 2-litre TFSI turbo-petrol engine will also be a part of the model mix. Prices are likely to start at Rs 25 lakh. We can’t wait!    

1 comment:

Pete said...

Like the post. It's good to know what new cars are going to be available this year

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