A lot happened in the automotive industry in the last 12 months. While we’ve talked about the sales aspect (also read: ), here we list out the products that brought a change to the market, in their own special ways, and paved the path for future products. We look at such harbingers and the corresponding upcoming products from 2015 that will take it forward.
Entry-level Hatchback Crossover
It was the Renault Kwid that started it all. While no one took the idea of giving an entry-level hatchback a crossover-like appearance, the Kwid managed to do it successfully. And in the process, the car has proven to be a commercially sound project as well – it’s off to a good start.
Come 2016 and vehicles like the Mahindra KUV100 and Datsun’s upcoming redi-GO are likely to follow the same path. The former is Mahindra’s first entrant in the segment and has received some praise already. The Datsun redi-GO on the other hand follows the Kwid a bit too closely – given that it’s based on the same platform – but can end up offering more than the Renault, with features like AMT being speculated to be available when it goes on sale in 2016.
Also read: All You Need to Know About the KUV100
Automated Manual Transmission
Talking of which, AMT gained popularity in 2015. While the products which introduced AMT to the masses came a year before, it wasn’t until 2015 that the compact SUV segment – one of the most popular segments in the country – got its first AMT-equipped product, the TUV300. The vehicle in itself is a more macho alternative to the other soft-roaders, and works well on bad roads.
In 2016, compact SUVs like the Tata Nexon/Osprey and Renault Duster will adopt the same technology. Tata’s compact SUV is yet to make an appearance in production form, and it’s expected to debut at the 2016 Auto Expo, much like the Renault Duster facelift.
Long ago Mahindra offered a Start-Stop system in the Scorpio, but the SUV market didn’t catch up. The mild hybrid system by Suzuki (which includes a Start-Stop system) introduced on the Ciaz and the Ertiga soon after that, has made both products more efficient, in addition to the already very fuel efficient diesel engines they are based on. Also, the use of hybrid tech helps the vehicles get a tax relaxation from the government, which means the price remains very much unchanged.
The next vehicle to adopt the technology is likely to be the compact SUV by Maruti. Codenamed YBA, the vehicle is expected to be present at the Auto Expo next year. It will introduce MSIL to a segment that has remained untouched by the automotive major. Inclusion of the tech will of course give it an edge over the competition.
Also read: Maruti Ciaz RS SHVS Review
New, Small diesel engines
In 2015, Maruti Suzuki launched a diesel version of the Celerio. Unlike in the vehicles in the past – be it the Zen/Esteem diesel or the recent crop of diesel vehicles – the engine was indigenously made by the company. The two-cylinder diesel engine isn’t the most silent engine – it becomes vocal higher up the rev range – but it’s very frugal.
Like Maruti, Tata has also developed a new diesel engine. It will be used in the recently announced Zica hatchback that goes on sale in January and the Zica-based sedan that reaches the market later in the year. Unlike Maruti’two-cylinder unit, the one used by Tata is a 1.05-litre, three-cylinder engine. Mahindra has also launched a new 1.2-litre diesel engine (also three-cylinder) which will debut on the KUV100 compact crossover.
The Indian market is growing in terms of the models and body-styles available. 2015 saw icons like the Fiat 500 (only in the Abarth 595 Competizione flavour) and VW Beetle return to India. The latest generation MINI was also launched, although MINI has been selling continuously unlike the other two mentioned here.
2016 is going to be no different in case of special cars, as one of the most prominent icons, the Ford Mustang, is headed our way. While it has been spotted in the country on a couple of occasions, we expect an arrival at the 2016 Auto Expo.
Powerful compact sedans
The sub 4-metre genre isn’t about power and handling. Thankfully most compact sedans handle well but is there something that caters to the enthusiast in the segment? Well, yes, the Ford Figo Aspire does. The 1.5-litre petrol engine is not only the biggest among rivals, it also makes the Aspire more fun to drive. A manual would have made it the perfect combination, but the dual-clutch 6-speed gearbox is good, and suspension offers a great ride and handling combination.
So what can, in 2016, eclipse the Figo Aspire?
Well, it’s not yet named, but if the current VW products are anything to go by, then the Polo compact sedan (announced recently; will make an appearance at the 2016 Auto Expo) is going to be fun. Engine options are likely to be shared with the Polo, which means, apart from the 1.5-litre diesel and the 1.2-litre naturally aspirated petrol, the company could also bring the 1.2 TSI (turbocharged petrol). Make that available with the DSG (a la VW Polo GT TSI) and that should satiate the enthusiasts, without hurting the car’s practicality!
Also read: Ford Figo Aspire Diesel Review