Snapshot – The last couple of years have been tough for the Indian car industry as a whole. Yet, most car makers are taking a long term view of the market in India and are keeping the car launch blitz intact. Although 2014 has been slow year in terms of the launches of all-new cars, a few big impact launches have already been ushered in even before the third month of the year has bowed out. CarToq profiles the five major car launches of 2014.
The first major car launch of the year, the 2014 City sedan has been a runaway success for Honda, mainly led by the 1.5 liter i-DTEC turbo diesel (100 PS-200 Nm) engined option. Although Honda has begun selling the City with a 1.5 liter i-VTEC petrol (118 PS-146 Nm_ as well, the lion’s share of sales still comes from the diesel engined model. The 2014 City, based on the new Jazz platform, is larger than the outgoing model and comes with a larger set of features too. However, the car is still priced competitively thanks to Honda aggressively localizing parts and assembling the turbo diesel engine in India. The car gets a six speed manual gearbox on the diesel engined variants, giving it the extra cog for fuel efficiency while the petrol variants make do with 5 speed manual and automatic gearboxes. Prices of the 2014 City start at 7.42 lakh rupees.
Tata Nano Twist
The Twist in the Nano comes in the form of an electric power steering, a low cost unit developed by German autoparts maker ZF. The power steering equipped Nano makes the hatchback an ideal foil for chaotic city traffic. While the Nano Twist isn’t doing much to shake up the entry level small car segment in terms of sales volumes, the car is still the least priced bet for someone looking for a cheap, compact and fuel efficient hatchback for city streets. The Nano Twist also represents Tata Motors rebranding move, of making the Nano an attractive city car that comes with convenience features than a car that aims at being the least priced car in the world. The Nano Twist is priced at 2.32 lakh rupees.
Maruti Suzuki Celerio
The Celerio, Maruti Suzuki’s replacement to the A-Star and the Estilo, has emerged a winner with the most unlikeliest of combinations, of that of a petrol engine mated to an automated manual transmission (AMT). The success of the Celerio is prompting a dramatic rethinking about automatic cars in India, with multiple car makers all set to take the AMT route to success. In that light, the Celerio has been a game changer, not just for Maruti Suzuki, but for the car industry as a whole. Maruti is readying up AMT equipped WagonR and Alto variants, Tata Motors will go automatic with both petrol and diesel cars through the Zest compact sedan and the Bolt hatchback while Mahindra is readying up the Quanto AMT. The Celerio AMT starts at 4.14 lakh rupees.
The Xcent is a late entrant to the compact sedan market in India but Hyundai played out a “shocker price” to the masses by undercutting both the Maruti Dzire and the Honda Amaze by many thousand rupees. While the prices even out in higher variants of the Xcent, Hyundai has used a larger set of features and creature comforts on the Xcent as carrots to drive buyers towards its showrooms. The Xcent is available with petrol (1.2 liter Kappa) and turbo diesel engines (1.1 liter CRDI). The petrol engine gets 5 speed manual and 4 speed automatic gearboxes while the diesel engine is a stick-shift only motor. The Xcent starts at 4.66 lakh rupees, a price that it is sure to prompt many prospective B-Segment hatchback buyers to a rethink.
The latest big launch in India’s car world, the Datsun Go is a car that offers more for less. A car with extensive value engineering at its core, the Go is based on the Nissan Micra’s V-Platform. While the platform, engine, gearbox and interiors are pared down versions of what the Micra is sold with, the Go brings these elements at a price tag that matches offerings that sit a segment lower. The petrol-only Go hatchback is the first car from born-again brand Datsun and with the flood gates now open, two more Datsun cars will be launched in the next couple of years. For Nissan, the Datsun range will be instrumental in the company managing to boost its market share in India. The Datsun Go starts at 3.12 lakh rupees.