Snapshot – Hatchbacks represent the most affordable form of cars in the Indian market, attracting a huge swathe of buyers looking for frugal running costs, convenience and a compact form factor. So, it comes of no surprise that hatchbacks continue to dominate launch plans of automakers in India. Case in point is the half a dozen hatchback launches that automakers have lined up for the Indian car market in the next six months.
The Honda Jazz won’t be the most affordable hatchback in town, courtesy its positioning in B+ segment premium hatch territory. What the car will aim to deliver in spades though is practicalness and the low running costs of diesel. For the first time in its three generation span, the Jazz will be sold with a turbo diesel motor, with the 1.5 liter i-DTEC unit doing propulsion duties. The car will also be sold with petrol power. Manual and automatic transmissions options will be served up on the petrol variants, while the diesel powered Jazz will be a manual only affair. With Honda aggressively ramping up localization levels on the Jazz, expect sharp pricing. A launch in June or July is the current forecast for the Jazz.
Maruti Suzuki YRA
The YRA code-named hatchback will be Maruti Suzuki’s big launch for this year’s festive season. The YRA will spearhead the Indian automaker’s entry into the premium B+ hatchback segment, gunning for the jugulars of the Hyundai i20 Elite and the Honda Jazz. The car made its show debut as the iK-2 concept at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, garnering a bouquet of praise for its good looks. Under the hood though, matters get even more interesting, for the iK-2 will be the first Maruti Suzuki car to feature a 1 liter-3 cylinder turbo petrol engine based on the existing K-Series architecture. A turbo diesel engine option will also be offered. The YRA will sit above the Swift in terms of pricing. A premium level of fit and finish, and a fat set of features are likely.
Maruti Suzuki Celerio Diesel
The 30 Kmpl car is close to a launch in India. The Celerio Diesel, which is touted to use a 792cc, twin cylinder turbo diesel motor, is all set to become the most fuel efficient hatchback in the country. Production of the car is rumoured to be already on. The Celerio Diesel will mark India’s first twin cylinder engined diesel car. The car’s success at the hustings could see Maruti Suzuki shoehorning the new twin cylinder diesel motor into many more budget hatchbacks. In terms of pricing, the new variant of the Celerio will be the least priced diesel powered Maruti Suzuki car in the country.
Ford will soon replace the current generation Figo with a new model. A new top hat is one of the myriad changes that the American automaker’s latest hatchback for India will receive. While a modified version of the previous generation European Fiesta will continue to be used on the 2015 Figo hatch, the car’s styling, interiors and powertrain options will be all new. The 1.5 liter TDCI turbo diesel motor is expected to give the much needed poke to the car. A naturally aspirated 1.2 liter Ti-VCT petrol engine will also bring more pep to the equation. The steering will go electric in the interests of increasing fuel efficiency. However, it remains to be seen if Ford manages to retain the Driver DNA that has endeared the outgoing Figo to scores of enthusiasts here. The 2015 Figo hatchback should be in dealerships before this year’s festive car buying rush.
Tata Nano AMT
The Tata Nano tried to be India’s Volkswagen Beetle, and the car failed to convince enough commuters to abandon two wheels for four. With its back against the wall, Tata Motors is now seeking to add a new dimension to the Nano by endowing the car with a slew of features, all aimed at improving the usability of the budget hatchback. One of the many new features will be an automated manual transmission. The Nano AMT is also expected to gain a facelift on the outside and inside, a larger fuel tank and an open-able hatch lid. All in all, the new variant of the Nano seeks to be a compact city car that offers a boatload of features and convenience at a value-for-money price tag. Will the market bit? The coming months will hold some answers.
Bullish on India, French automaker Renault is readying up a budget hatchback, which will also be the least priced car with the diamond badge in the country. Code-named the A-Entry/YBA, the budget hatchback will be based on Renault-Nissan’s CMF-A architecture, making the car the first such offering from Renault for India on the new platform. The XBA will be powered by an 800cc, triple cylinder petrol engine that has been developed at the Renault-Nissan technical center at Chennai. With the Indian R&D unit involved heavily with the new Renault cut-price car, expect many India-specific features. A price tag of under 4 lakh rupees is what the A-Entry/XBA will start at. An official launch during October/November is on the cards.