Upgrades at Auto Expo 2012: SUVs, MPVs and more!

Carmakers showcased new and improved variants and upgrades of their existing line ups of cars to keep them fresh for buyers at the just-concluded Auto Expo 2012. Some upgrades were just minor, but some were supposed completely new vehicles…  How significant were these upgrades? Let us find out.

One of the most anticipated upgrades on show was Tata Safari Storme – coming on the heels of the XUV500 launch a couple of months back. The Safari replacement borrows its underpinnings from the Aria – and that’s good news – for it should handle and ride rather well.

It is powered by the current 2.2 liter dicor engine that’s good 140 horses—which is par for the course. The interiors now come in beige—the color of choice for most. Yet, the response hasn’t been that great. What’s left the audiences a bit underwhelmed is the styling—the front gets the Land Rover look but the profile is virtually the same and tail-gate loses the door-mounted spare wheel that added to the Safari’s SUV character.

And then there was the  Toyota Innova face-lift—Toyota had this rather hard task of ridding the Innova of its taxicab association. Tweaks are minor—the headlamps get Corolla Altis treatment and the bonnet gets a few creases. Interiors and engines remain the same.

new toyota innova photo gallery 1

There wasn’t much wrong with the Innova—but the face-lift is a short-term measure perhaps to justify a slight increase in prices–if Toyota really wants Innova to shed its cab image, it might be better off introducing a slightly restyled version with a 130 bhp-plus engine that would keep the cabbies away.

new toyota fortuner photo gallery 1

Toyota’s other segment leader, the Toyota Fortuner meanwhile gets a more serious makeover—the front and rear have been made more aggressive—and the changes give Fortuner a more contemporary look. More importantly, two new variants—both two wheel drive, one with auto and another manual transmission—have been added to the Fortuner range of ONE—the existing four-wheel drive Fortuner.  This has helped Toyota bring down the price to below Rs. 20 lakh. A sensible move considering very few spend Rs. 20 lakh on a car would ever put the 4-wheel drive to good use in the wild.

chevrolet captiva side profile

Fortuner’s competitor, Chevrolet Captiva too gets a new look upfront with an aggressive Bowtie grille and all new black interiors. But the new Captiva’s USP lies under its bonnet—the  2.2 litre diesel engine that puts out 184 bhp of power—beating the Fortuner by a good 15 bhp—targeting those who want power above everything else—much like the Chevrolet Cruze. The new Captiva is likely to be priced around 21 lakh rupees when launched in the next few months.

Meanwhile, Chevrolet Tavera, that was banished from the larger markets in BSIV cities re-enters the fray with the new BSIV compliant 2-litre diesel engine that puts out 105 bhp of power. The rest of the upgrades are minor which means Tavera will continue to mostly target the low-cost cab market rather than individual buyers.  The older 2.5 litre BS 3 engine will also continue to be available in Taveras sold in non-metros.

While some of the upgrades were only cosmetic, they do give these cars a fresh lease of life in an increasingly competitive market, and offer buyers more choice.