Auto Expo 2014 Preview: New cars and their significance!

Snapshot: The run up to the 2014 Indian Auto Expo has begun in full earnest what with a flurry of car unveils lined up ahead of India’s premier motor show. Today saw Tata Motors and Ford India showcasing their wares while tomorrow will see more car makers joining the premiere bandwagon. This report will give you a sense of today’s happenings from the unveil scene, along with the cars’ significance for their manufacturers and buyers alike.

Tata Bolt Hatchback

Tata Bolt Hatchback Image
Tata Bolt Hatchback Front

Tata has finally dumped the Indica/Vista moniker on its new B+ segment hatchback for a more trendier name. Dubbed the Bolt, the new B+ segment hatchback from Tata Motors is a very important one, both in terms of sales potential as well as in terms of the direction that future Tata cars will take.

The Bolt will be sold with turbo petrol and turbo diesel engines, and will come with a higher level of fit and finish than the Vista. Also, the hatchback promises to deliver a higher degree of driving pleasure, a facet hitherto missing on cars bearing the Tata badge on the bonnet.

Tata Bolt Hatchback Pic
Tata Bolt Hatchback Rear

New infotainment options, better ergonomics, fresh looks and a higher quality car is what Tata Motors is promising with the new Bolt. The success of the Bolt will embolden the Indian car and utility vehicle maker while a failure here could further dent the morale of the automaker.

Tata Zest Compact Sedan

Tata Zest Compact Sedan photo
Tata Zest Compact Sedan

The Tata Zest is a brand new car, fashioned from the tried and tested X1 platform. A shortened version of the Manza, with the shortening concentrated on the boot, the Zest does retain the Manza’s prodigious back seat. Tata Motors has filled the Zest with segment leading features such as a touch screen infotainment module from Harman and a automatic manual transmission even for the diesel powered Fiat Multijet engined variant.

Although Tata Motors kickstarted the compact sedan segment in 2008 with the Indigo eCS, other car makers have taken a big lead over Tata at the hustings. In a sense, the Zest is a comeback vehicle for the Indian automaker, a means by which Tata can re-discover big volumes and improve its marketshare that has been steadily falling. For the car buyer, the Zest represents a feature filled, good looking compact sedan that promises to carry on Tata’s sharp pricing.

2015 Ford Figo/Ka based compact sedan

Ford Figo based compact sedan picture
Ford Figo based compact sedan concept

Ford India has been basking in the success of the EcoSport compact crossover. However, the American car maker clearly wants to move on to bigger things than just being known as a one product wonder. The Figo was a bright flash in the pan and so is the EcoSport. For a bigger role in the Indian car market, Ford India needs consistent flashes over a period of time.

To deliver just that, the car maker has fashioned a sub-4 meter sedan based on the 2015 Ford Figo/Ka platform. The new compact sedan looks ravishing and is arguably the best looking sub-4 meter cars in terms of design. If Ford does manage to engineer the excellent driving dynamics that its cars have been known for, into the compact sedan, along with strong petrol and diesel engines, the car maker could just be set onto bigger things in India.

The buyer will finally get a compact sedan that doesn’t merely look like a hatchback with a boot plastered on, but one whose design flows seamlessly, right from the front bumper to the rear bumper. Also, a fun to drive car is sorely missed in the compact sedan class. These are two aspects that the 2015 Figo based compact sedan can and should take care of.