The sub-4 metre segment is being eyed by many carmakers in India, because of the excise duty benefits it attracts. There are at least five cars launching this year, which will attract lower excise duty and hence be value-for-money hopefully, as these carmakers can price the vehicles lower than their competitors who have vehicles larger than 4 metres in length.
The sub-4 metre excise rule states that to qualify for lower excise rate of 12% (compared to 24% for cars above it), it has to measure under 4-metres in length, and have engine capacity of under 1.2 litres in case of a petrol engine and 1.5 litres for a diesel engine. This sub-4 metre rule is one that has given rise to a number of “funny” vehicles in India. The Mahindra Quanto is one such vehicle – having been hacked to under 4-metres from a regular Xylo. The Tata Indigo eCS, compact sedan, started off this trend of having sedan shaped cars, built on hatchback platforms and falling with 4-metres. The new Maruti Dzire is the largest-selling of these kind of cars. And there are more coming. Also read: Five upcoming car trends for India in 2013
Here’s what to expect:
The Honda Amaze is a compact sedan that has been built on the Brio hatchback platform. The Amaze tucks in at under 4-metres in length, but promises to deliver good interior space, with good build quality, fuel efficiency and performance. Honda is launching the Amaze in April in both petrol and diesel engine choices. The petrol will be the 1.2 litre that powers the Brio and the Jazz, mated to a five-speed automatic and five-speed manual transmission options. Honda will also be launching its first diesel engine with the Amaze, which is a 1.5 litre diesel engine also likely to put out between 80 bhp and 90 bhp of power. Also read: Honda Amaze fully revealed
Mahindra Verito notchback
The Mahindra Verito notchback has been spotted testing frequently, and Mahindra has said it will launch by April this year. The Verito notchback is a chopped short version of the Mahindra Verito. The car is identical to the Verito, right up to the rear seat – which means there’s no compromise on the interior space, a Verito strong point. What has gone is the 510 litre boot, which is now reduced to about 300 litres only. The car looks like a hatchback from the spy-photos, with pillar mounted tail-lamps. It will be interesting to see how Mahindra prices the Verito notchback – it’s likely to be priced at about Rs. 4.5 lakh onward, and that too for a diesel engine, making it one of the most inexpensive diesel compact sedans around. Also read: Mahindra Verito notchback launch in April, only in diesel
Tata Manza CS
Tata hasn’t confirmed or denied plans for the Tata Manza-based compact sedan. During a recent press conference, Tata said there are many plans in the pipeline, and building different body styles on the same platform is easy. The Tata Manza CS will get most of its spacious boot chopped off and will also likely come with a 1.3 litre diesel engine only, as the 1.4 petrol that is used in the present Manza won’t let the car qualify for small car norms. Tata has the option of using a 1.2 litre petrol, the same engine used in the Vista petrol, but it may not find many takers as it is seen as being underpowered for a sedan. Also read: Tata Vista D90 first drive impressions
If there’s one carmaker who can really take advantage of the sub-4 metre rule to pull one up over its competitors, it is the Ford EcoSport. Tucking in at under 4 metres in length (without the spare wheel), the EcoSport petrol comes with a 1-litre EcoBoost (turbo-petrol) engine putting out 120 bhp of power. The diesel EcoSport is likely to come with the Ford Fiesta engine – the 1.5 litre diesel, with a five-speed manual transmission. The EcoSport is likely to be launched within a month. Also read: Ford EcoSport bookings being taken by some dealers
Maruti XA Alpha
At the end of the year, there’s another compact SUV that’s going to come into the Indian market, and is likely to shake up the segment further – giving the EcoSport and Duster a run for their money. Maruti has sped up plans to launch the XA Alpha by the end of the year. There is still speculation that the XA Alpha will tuck in under 4-metres, and if it does, one of the engine choices it will be using is the 1.3 litre multijet diesel engine that powers the Maruti Ertiga, putting out 90 bhp of power. As for a petrol engine, Maruti may have to make do with the Swift’s 1.2 litre petrol engine, because the Ertiga’s 1.4 litre petrol may make the XA Alpha lose out on its price advantage. Also read: Upcoming cars from Maruti in 2013
Hyundai is also planning a compact car to slot in between the i10 and i20. This is likely to be a large hatchback, and not a compact sedan, although there are no confirmations on this yet. There was news originating from Turkey that Hyundai is planning to build a compact sedan on the i10 platform, and that’s a car that would be relevant to India as well.
All these sub-4 metre vehicles are likely to sit in a price band of Rs. 4.5 lakh (for the Verito notchback) up to Rs. 9 lakh (for vehicles like the EcoSport). Any of these on your shopping list?