2015 hasn’t come to an end. Yet, there have been plenty of car surprises throughout the year. From new segments being carved out and features added, to scandals and bans, a lot’s happening in motown. We take a look at 10 of the biggest surprises from motown, some pleasant and others not-so-pleasant.
Tata Bolt Sport
At the Geneva Motor Show, Tata Motors announced that it will bring in a performance sub-brand, in an image boosting exercise of sorts. The 120 Bhp Bolt Sport hatchback was showcased at Geneva, with a launch in late 2015/early 2016 announced. If the Bolt Sport indeed makes it to the market, it will be the most powerful hatchback ever from Tata Motors. Given the spurt in hot hatches, the Bolt Sport will be a good addition to the market.
Ford Figo Aspire
The Ford Figo Aspire compact sedan’s India launch in 2015 was no surprise. What took the market by surprise though was the announcement at launch, saying that the car would get twin airbags as standard, even on the base variant. Now, safety as standard on the compact sedan class has been pioneered by the Ford Figo Aspire, pleasantly surprising buyers.
Who would have thought that an SUV would go on to do 7,000 units per month, month after month. Well, the Creta from Hyundai has done this, in the process touching sales numbers that no other SUV in the country has ever managed. And the Creta shows no signs of slowing down for the next few months, what with booking numbers breaching the 60,000 units mark.
Maruti Suzuki Ciaz Hybrid
It was sudden, a hybrid car from Maruti Suzuki. And even the hardcore motorheads didn’t see it coming. While everyone was waiting for a hybrid based on the Swift hatchback, Maruti pulled a fast one off by delivering diesel hybrid technology on the Ciaz C-Segment sedan. Also, the Ciaz has now become the first diesel hybrid car in the country, and a highly affordable one at that. More Maruti Hybrid cars are in the works.
The Kwid stunned the Indian budget car market with ravishing looks. More SUV to look like than a hatchback, the Kwid has impressed budget hatchback buyers, so much so that 25,000 bookings have arrived in under 2 weeks of the car’s launch. That’s a personal record for Renault. The bigger surprise was the price at which Renault managed to launch the Kwid at.
Fiat Punto Abarth
Hot hatchback in India has meant the 100 Bhp mark. Fiat’s bigger game changer in 2015, will be the Punto Abarth, due for a launch on the 19th of October. This hatchback sets the bar much higher, at 145 Bhp to be precise. A turbocharged petrol engine putting out 145 Bhp-212 Nm, stiffened suspension, a lowered body and disc brakes on all four wheels comes standard on the Punto Abarth. Now, will you please price it under 10 lakh rupees, Fiat?
Maruti Suzuki Baleno
The Baleno is a mixed bag on first glance. But looking closer brings out many good bits. That it’s lighter than the Swift despite being larger, is one thing. But the factor that really stands out is the fact that both ABS and twin airbags are standard on this premium hatchback. Maruti Suzuki is finally taking the “premium” moniker very seriously. The Baleno’s serious approach towards safety could literally open the floodgates for safer cars.
NGT ban on diesel cars
For a few months now, diesel cars owners in the NCR have been on tenterhooks, for the National Green Tribunal banned all diesel cars that are over 10 years old from NCR roads. The Supreme Court upheld this ban. Now, the Delhi government and the union government are debating a “pollution fine” for diesel vehicles that are over 10 years old. One way or the other, this move means that diesel car demand could dramatically dip in the NCR.
Volkswagen diesel scandal
This HAS to be the mother of all car scandals. Volkswagen was caught cheating, and the automaking behemoth has admitted to it. The reverberations are still being felt in motown. Even as Volkswagen India is under investigation, the sheer scale of cheating by the automaker could put diesel engines on the backburner, by many decades. And Elon Musk could have the last laugh.
Mahindra buying Pininfarina
In India, Mahindra has faced plenty of flak for the designs of some of its latest offerings. And developed markets are much more demanding. Keen to forge a global footprint, the automaker has finally realized that good design is what will sell it cars. Enter hallowed Italian design house Pininfarina. Mahindra is now in the final stages of closing the Pininfarina buy.