Snapshot – Luxury cars were never meant to be cheap but affordable doesn’t mean cheap, does it? The world’s top car makers have caught onto affordable luxury in a big way. The consequence? Cars such as the MFA platform based Mercedes A and B-Class, the UKL BMWs and the MQB platform based Audis. Why, even Volvo will take a stab at affordable luxury in the years to come with the Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA) derivatives. In India, the affordable luxury car market is booming and luxury car giants are lining up a range of interesting options for well heeled car buyers. CarToq rounds up 6 affordable luxury cars that pack in performance and luxury in a single package.
Fiat Abarth 500
By the end of this year, Fiat will make a push into the premium segment with the Abarth 500 high performance hatchback. The car has “brand builder” written all over it and will sit right at the very top of the Italian car maker’s line up in India. Powered by a 1.4 liter turbo petrol engine good for 158 Bhp-230 Nm and a twin seat-twin door form factor that has compactness as its cornerstone, the light Abarth 500 promises spades of performance. Not a car to haul your kitchen sink and refrigerator, the Abarth 500 is a pure enthusiast craving and Fiat is likely to price the Abarth 500 over the 25 lakh rupee mark. A completely built unit, the Fiat Abarth 500 will make its debut in December 2014.
Audi A3 Hatchback
Audi stunned the luxury pack in India by pricing the A3 sedan at 22.95 lakh rupees. The German automaker will add new body styles to the A3 line up now that it has begun assembling the sedan at the Aurangabad assembly facility that Audi shares with fellow Volkswagen group mate Skoda. Since the A3 range is based on the MQB platform, introducing new body styles is likely to be a cost effective affair. Therefore, the A3 hatchback is the is expected to follow is sedan namesake in the months to come. Expect the same line up of 1.8 liter TFSI turbo petrol and 2 liter TDI turbo diesel engines to be used on the A3 hatchback. The A3 hatchback is tipped for a 2015 launch. Audi could lower the entry barrier further and price the car close to the 20 lakh rupee mark, thus giving affordable luxury a brand new definition.
Audi A3 Cabriolet
While the A3 hatchback is likely to make the Audi brand more affordable than ever before. the convertible body style of the A3 range is meant to attract a new set of buyers who dig top down motoring. Like the A3 hatchback, the cabriolet is based on the MQB platform and the same turbo petrol and turbo diesel range is expected to be outfitted to the convertible body style of the A3. The A3 cabriolet is expected to be pricier than the A3 sedan, with a price tag expected to near the 30 lakh rupees mark. A 2015 launch is on the cards.
2014 Mini Hatchback Range
Later this year, British hatchback maker Mini will introduce the UKL platform based, brand new range of sporty Mini hatchbacks in India. The 2014 range of Mini hatchbacks are larger, read more practical, than before and are also lighter. The ULK range of Mini hatchbacks come with a slew of new 1.5 liter-3 cylinder turbo petrol and turbo diesel engines that mate performance to fuel efficiency. 2 liter turbo petrol and turbo diesel engines are also on offer internationally. Transmission options include 6 speed manual and automatic units. Mini India could also launch a 5 door version of the Cooper, appealing to the practicality minded buyers here. The Countryman will continue to be the range topper while the Cooper S will be the performance-centric offering in the Mini range. Expect the new crop of Minis to be slightly pricier than the outgoing models, albeit at sub-30 lakh rupee levels.
Mercedes Benz GLA Crossover
Mercedes Benz will launch the GLA crossover in the coming weeks, at a price southwards of the 30 lakh rupee mark. The fourth MFA platform based affordable luxury car for the Indian car market, after the likes of the A-Class, B-Class and CLA 45 AMG, the GLA crossover marks Mercedes Benz’s entry into the entry-level luxury crossover segment. Both turbo petrol and turbo diesel engined GLA variants will be sold in India. All engines will receive a 7 speed, dual clutch automatic gearbox. The crossover is a five seater and from the looks of it, is a butch, higher riding version of the A-Class hatchback.
Mercedes Benz CLA Sedan
With Audi India in its crosshairs, Mercedes Benz India is lining up the CLA sedan for a launch here by the end of this year or early next year. Like the GLA crossover, the CLA sedan will be based on the MFA platform. The affordable luxury car is a rival to the Audi A3 sedan, and will sit under the 2015 C-Class in terms of price and positioning. With Audi having thrown the gauntlet by pricing the Audi A3 sedan very sharply, it is now up to Mercedes Benz to give the A3 sedan stiff competition with a sub-25 lakh rupee price tag for the CLA sedan. That kind of pricing will be possible only with completely knocked down (CKD) assembly and Mercedes Benz will assemble its entire range of MFA platform cars but for the AMG range, at its Chakan factory, off Pune.
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