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India is the world's second-fastest growing auto market after China. And this claim is further borne out by the fact that Indian automobile majors registered the highest-ever monthly sales in August 2010.
With more and more Indians buying automobiles on the back of a rise in income and easy loans, car majors too are launching newer models to offer a wide choice to prospective customers.
Car sales are seen soaring in the current fiscal year, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. SIAM had already predicted that the total sales of cars in domestic market to be 17,14,925 units in 2010-11. In 2009-10, domestic passenger car sales stood at 15,26,259 units as against 12,20,475 units in 2008-09, an increase of over 25 per cent.
To check out the 10 sparkling new set of wheels that Indian car enthusiasts can look forward to in the coming days, click NEXT . . .
1. Renault Fluence
The Renault Fluence is a compact, mid-sized sedan produced by the French automaker Renault and built at the Oyak-Renault plant in Bursa, Turkey.
Revealed in August 2009, Fluence is based on the Renault/Nissan C platform, but it is sized between the compact family saloon C-segment and the upper-medium segment.
It is essentially a notchback version of the Megane III (already developed as Renault Samsung New SM3), and went on sale in November 2009.
Renault has big plans for India. At the Expo, earlier this year, the French manufacturer unveiled its 18-24 month road map which will see the Fluence being launched by mid 2011.
The Fluence is a D-segment sedan that will be manufactured at the new Renault Nissan greenfield manufacturing facility in Chennai. The car displayed was a Euro spec model. Standard equipment includes rear air-conditioner vents and dual zone climate control in the front.
Interior: In the cabin, the airy facia design incorporates taut, uncluttered lines that are complemented by the sweep of the dashboard trim strip. Essential driving functions and useful accessories all fall easily to hand.
They are concentrated around the steering wheel and centre console with a view to freeing up as much space as possible and to making the car even more user-friendly.
The car also features keyless entry and ignition using a key card. As the card-holder walks away from the car, the doors will lock automatically. The step-up in range is equally visible in cabin details such as the chrome finish applied to door handles, instrument surrounds and gearlever knob, as well as the availability of either light- or dark-hued leather upholstery.
Particular attention has been paid to the decorative trimming to create a varied range of distinctive ambiances, and also distinguish between different equipment levels.
Customers can choose from a light, elegant interior which exudes a sense of wellbeing, or else something darker, with more sporting overtones.
It is very easy to feel at home at the wheel of Renault Fluence, thanks to its sound ergonomics and straightforward interfaces. On board, every driver will be able to find the ideal seating position thanks to a wide range of adjustability options, with all the controls near at hand.
In a matter of seconds, he or she can adjust the angle of the seatback and head rest, alter the level of lumbar support, adapt the steering wheel for rake and reach, vary the seat position (it can be moved fore and aft through up to 240mm, and up or down by +/- 35mm).
Engine: From launch, and depending on market, Renault Fluence will be available with a wide range of thrifty engines which are all a pleasure to drive.
The car will come with two petrol engines, each available in two versions, a 1.6 16V 110hp, with automatic transmission or manual gearbox and a 2.0 16V 140hp, with continuously variable transmission (CVT) or manual gearbox.
A choice of five variants of the 1.5 dCi diesel block, dCi 85, dCi 90 DPF, dCi 105, dCi 110 DPF, dCi 110 DPF with the new dual clutch transmission (DCT.)
Exterior: Styled with typically Gallic flair, the Fluence is a relatively large car with good cabin and boot space.
This four-door saloon is 4.62 metres long and its size and generous levels of standard equipment place it halfway between the C segment, for compact family cars, and the segment immediately above.
Streamlined headlights herald the start of an elegant waist line which sweeps harmoniously along Renault Fluence's sides to the boot.
The surround and chromed grille of the upper air intake embellish the car's front-end looks with a sporting flourish, while Renault Fluence's status-enhancing appeal is heightened by its sculptured wheel arches and long bonnet.
At the rear, the horizontal, two-part lights allow a generous boot aperture and reinforce the car's thoroughly modern styling. Renault Fluence packs several opulent upgrade touches.
Price: It is estimated that the price of the Renault Fluence could be in the range of Rs 12-13 lakh (Rs 1.2-1.3 million).
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2. Nissan Sedan
The Nissan Micra is an important car for Nissan in India and the company has a lot resting on the success of the Micra. Nissan India have gone to great lengths by doing a lot of marketing activity in shopping malls and key consumer touch points to promote not just the upcoming Micra, but to also spread awareness and visibility of the Nissan brand.
They have also managed to cross over a thousand bookings for the Nissan Micra last week and since Nissan India started production of the Micra in May earlier this year at their swanky facility in Chennai, they should be able to cope with the initial demand spike and deliver the cars quickly.
Now, Nissan will launch the sedan hopefully by the end of the current year. The Nissan sedan should be available with a diesel engine from the Renault stable, the same engine that was used on Logan.
Design: The Nissan sedan will be based on the same Micra platform and will have parts in common. We have seen the Indica/Indigo, Swift/Swift DZire, Polo/Vento hatch/sedans combinations. Now, even Nissan joins the bandwagon.
Power train: The Nissan Sedan will be powered by a 1.5-litre dCi, which is basically the same oil burner that powers the Renault Logan. Renault and Nissan have jointly invested in the Chennai plant, and the duo already have a joint venture and to share technology.
Nissan already uses Renault engines on its X-Trail. This diesel power plant is a 8-valve 1.5-litre dCi engine (code name K9K) and is Renault's top selling engine with almost 900,000 units manufactured in 2008 (only in Spain and Turkey) and this engine is available with several power ratings (65bhp to 110bhp) in other markets.
Renault claims the engine design to be simple, low friction and have a superior cost-to-performance ratio. The Nissan sedan dCi engine powering the Mahindra Renault churns out 65bhp and a torque of 160Nm@2000rpm.
Competition: The Nissan sedan will compete with the Mahindra-Renault Logan, Maruti Suzuki Swift DZire and the Tata Indigo Manza. All its competition are great value for money products, and are being offered in petrol and diesel variants.
Overall Evaluation: The Nissan sedan will be offered with a diesel engine. No questions can be raised on the efficiency of this engine, and the build quality of the Micra has been good. So, the sedan should be a great product to own if Nissan prices it correctly.
Price: It could come at a price tag of around Rs 7 lakh (Rs 700,000).
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3. Toyota Etios
Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt Ltd showcased the Etios which turned out to be a head-turner at the Auto Expo held in New Delhi in January 2010.
While the car was not a production model, people at the Expo got a fairly clear picture of what the car would look like once it arrived by the year end and also about what they could expect on it. Toyota displayed both, the hatch and the sedan models, at the Auto Expo.
Design: The Etios was originally called the EFC, or the Entry Family Car. Etios means Spirit and Principle which Toyota intends to give to its customers in India. More than 2000 engineers in India and Japan have worked in close collaboration for four years to ensure the perfect blend of local design sensibilities and unmatched global quality standards are integrated into the Etios.
The chief engineer of Product Planning at Toyota Mr. Yoshinori Noritake said, "In the process of development of Etios, I have visited many Indian cities and homes to understand the market and interact with customers. The Etios concept will cater to the basic needs of this market - highest standards of quality at competitive prices.
Toyota's new compact cars have been designed to offer innovative styling, roomy interiors, superior ride comfort and best in class mileage at competitive prices. The design concept of 'Bold Simplicity' represents the pursuit of the perfect combination of functionality and affordable luxury.
The Etios incorporates advanced technology and superior quality features that have been developed by Toyota, specifically for India, by leveraging the world class innovation that Toyota is globally renowned for.
Mechanicals: The production version of Etios will resemble the concept model. Toyota Etios has been developed on a new platform and has a completely new engine which is not present in any Toyota car so far.
The sedan which will be the first version to be launched in the country will offer a 1.5l DOHC petrol engine and the hatch which will be launched in 2011 will offer a 1.2l DOHC petrol engine and will come with lower excise duties. Both, the models, the sedan and the hatch, will sport new engines which have been specially designed for Indian conditions, where high mileage was an important factor in the designing of the engine.
Hopefully, there will also be a diesel car as a diesel version of the car would make a lot of sense for several buyers especially here in India. Also, considering it would come from the Toyota stables, most buyers would be only too happy to put down the extra thousands for a diesel engine by Toyota, humming under their hoods.
The fact that Toyota has recently launched the Toyota Corolla Diesel, it wouldn't be too far-fetched to think that Toyota would launch the Etios only with petrol engines.
Competition: Maruti Suzuki Swift and the Swift Dzire will be the main competition for the Toyota Etios. In addition to the sales in India, the car, which is Toyota's biggest project, the car will roll out of the Bengaluru plant and will also be offered for sale in China, Russia and South America.
The company already has Toyota Corolla, Toyota Innova, Toyota Camry and Toyota Innova along with newly launched SUV, Toyota Fortuner, in its portfolio.
Price: With the introduction of the Etios Toyota will enter the under Rs 7 lakh (Rs 700,000), mass volume segment. Toyota Kirloskar aims to sell 70000 units of the Etios in India per annum and it will also expand its dealership network to 150 by the end of 2010 from its existing 97 dealers, at the time of the Auto Expo in January 2010.
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4. Skoda Yeti
The Skoda Yeti 4x4 was first showcased in the Geneva Motor Show in March 2009 and we soon saw the first Skoda Yeti rolling off the assembly line at Skoda's plant in Kvasiny, Czech Republic.
The car was first unveiled in India at the Delhi Auto Expo 2010. We also got a glimpse of the Hyderabad International Auto Show last month. The Yeti will be launched in October this year, having already captured the attention of the Indian customers.
Design and Styling: The 4.2 metre long, five-door Yeti is designed for both urban and leisure driving. The state-of-the-art technology used in the car ensures excellent on road handling and great riding qualities off-road.
The Yeti is a smart and practical solution for customers who want a compact car that is robust, quick and safe, and offers confidence on and off the road. Based on 17-inch wheels, the car demonstrates an impressive front end with a ribbed grille and friendly looking headlamps.
The Yeti also meets the needs for environmental care, luggage space, safety and great road holding. The luggage compartment volume is flexible; up to 1760 litres is available by removing the rear seats.
The car will be launched in two versions the Ambiente & the Elegance. Both the versions will have some standard features like ESP, Dual front airbags, Fog lights, Alloy wheels, Remote locking, Electric adjusting Rear View Mirrors, CD Player and Leather upholstery. The interior design and space makes the car roomier.
The Yeti is primarily short in length due to the reduced rear overhang, which improves the angle of departure. The Yeti, hence makes for a great off-roader SUV. The car will be available Candy White, Mato Brown, Magic Black, Diamond Silver, Aqua Blue.
Power train: The Yeti will be launched with a 2.0 litre diesel common rail motor which generates 140bhp. The car is a six speed manual transmission. The automatic transmission is under consideration but will not hit the market for the time being.
The Yeti is not an all time 4x4, but four-wheel drive is only engaged electronically when there is a loss of traction. On most occasions it is predominantly a front wheel drive. The Yeti comes with the Off-road Assistant.
The Hill Descent Control along with other functions such as Drive-off Assistant and Off-road Traction Control are part of the umbrella equipment Off-road Assistant.
However, irrespective of version/options all the models will have 4th generation Haldex 4x4 technology, which is the superior 4x4 technology in its class and this, combined with Electronic Differential Lock, gives the Yeti best-in-class off-road ability. The estimated fuel efficiency for the Yeti is 14-17 kmpl.
Competition: The Dacia Duster does compete with it abroad but since it will not make it to India, the Yeti will be on its own. It will grab market share quite easily and will appeal to people looking for a soft vehicle with SUV styling.
The Skoda Yeti will compete with off-roaders like the Toyota Fortuner, the Ford Endeavour, the Honda CRV and the Chevrolet Captiva.
Overall Evaluation: All the Skoda vehicles launched in India may it be the Octavia, the Superb or the Fabia, the Indian customer has always appreciated the handling and the ride quality of each of the vehicles. They certainly are a class apart and set a benchmark with each of their cars.
With the introduction of the 4x4, Skoda will try and cash in on two things: a) there is no real competition for the Yeti in its segment, and b) The Indian crowd has been awaiting a small yet roomier vehicle.
Come what may, the Urban SUV will certainly find a parking space once it is launched.
Price: The Yeti will cost approximately Rs 17-18 lakh (Rs 1.7-1.8 million) -- ex-showroom Delhi. The Urban SUV would be something to look out for as its off-roading abilities and the features provided by Skoda are certainly top-of-the-line.
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5. Suzuki Kizashi
Suzuki has a solid reputation for smooth, powerful performance. Keeping that in mind, the Suzuki Kizashi, a mid-size car, was unveiled in the United States on July 30, 2009.
The Kizashi went on sale in Japan on October 21, 2009, in North America on December 1, 2009, and in Australia on May 11, 2010. In Japanese, Kizashi means 'omen', 'sign', or 'warning' possibly to suggest to other automobile manufacturers that the Kizashi is an example of products to come from Suzuki in the future.
The Kizashi aspires to be Suzuki's flagship sedan and currently exceeds the Japanese government's regulations concerning exterior dimensions and engine displacement for cars classified as 'compact'.
Kizashi was recently in the news because on June 28, 2010 Suzuki recalled 5107 model year 2010 Kizashi vehicles due to a glove box door that failed to comply with FMVSS 201 ('Occupant Protection in Interior Impact') in which the door could open in a crash.
Maruti Suzuki is planning to introduce its premium sedan model Kizashi in the Indian car market. It had unveiled the model at the Delhi Auto Expo 2010 in January but had deferred its plans to introduce the car till end of the year.
It has already launched the car in the Japanese and the American market where it is quite successful. The new beast from Suzuki stable is ready to hit the Indian scenario by December this year.
The Kizashi will be the fifth sedan in the Indian market after Esteem, Swift Dzire, SX4 and Baleno. It will be powered by 2.4L petrol engine which will churn out 185 bhp and will feature six-speed manual transmission. The American variant gets the option of CVT as well.
Concept Kizashi: The first Kizashi concept included a 2L, 4-valve turbo diesel engine, sequential 6-speed transmission, 21-inch aluminium alloy wheels, and AWD -- and was unveiled at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show.
Concept Kizashi 2: The second Kizashi concept was a 5-door crossover sport wagon that included a 3,564 cc (3.564 L; 217.5 cu in) V6 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, i-AWD, and 265/45ZR22 tires -- and was unveiled at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show.
Concept Kizashi 3: The third Kizashi concept was an AWD vehicle that included a 3,564 cc (3.564 L; 217.5 cu in) V6 engine rated 300 hp, 6-speed automatic transmission, and 21-inch aluminium wheels with 255/30ZR21 tires. Concept Kizashi 3 was unveiled at the 2008 New York auto show.
Exterior: The Kizashi is a great looking car with the fit and finish that belie its humble origins. Multi-spoke polished aluminium sport wheels, tight body clearances and attractive body lines give the Suzuki a strong street presence.
The Kizashi offers 17 and 18-inch alloy wheels, Akebono sourced brakes and keyless ignition. You'll be forgiven for thinking that this sedan is built by Volkswagen or Audi.
Engine: Standard equipment includes front-wheel drive and a 2.4 litre 4-cylinder engine developing 185 hp (138 kW) and 170 lb ft (230 N m) of torque. Available transmissions are a 6-speed manual or a CVT. The CVT version reduces power to 180 hp (134 kW), and has a 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) time of about 8 seconds.
Interior: Inside, the Kizashi offers a choice of cloth or leather seating surfaces, and a 425-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with iPod connectivity and Bluetooth capability.
All wheel drive (based on the i-AWD system featured in the Suzuki SX-4) is optional and includes a driver-activated FWD mode to save fuel. The dash has a layout that packs a lot of features into a tidy package. A dual-zone auto climate system is standard. So are a 10-way power driver's seat, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, power sunroof, and trip computer.
Overall Evaluation: In Europe (England) the Suzuki Kizashi comes with a seven-year/100,000-mile power train warranty -- which is fully transferable.
Price: In India, it is likely to be positioned in the Rs 10-lakh-plus (Rs 1 million-plus) category of sedans.
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6. Fiat Linea T-Jet
Fiat India began its second innings in India with the launch of Fiat Linea in January 2009. Like in most of the European markets, the Linea was also offered with a 1.3-litre multijet and 1.4-llitre FIRE power plant options.
The sedan has a very Italian looking design and has been aggressively priced considering the features that it comes with.
After showcasing the T-Jet engine at the Auto Expo'10, Fiat will now add another engine to Linea's portfolio which is basically the 1.4-litre with a turbocharger producing 110bhp. The Linea with this new engine should be launched in October 2010.
Design/Styling: The Linea T-Jet just gets an additional T-Jet badge and also a rear spoiler to add some downforce for the rear. Apart from this the Linea will have the same body shell as its other variants. The bluff, Maserati-like two-part grille and twin-pod lights enliven things up at the front, and flow into the wheel arches, waistline and windscreen.
The only external clue that distinguishes the diesel from the petrol lies on the grille: a discreet 'Multijet' badge sits to the left of the Fiat badge. Door-mounted mirrors mounted on stalks instead of the window frame that made their Indian debut on the 500 are present on the Linea as well.
The side view also brings out the staid three-box profile of the car which somehow doesn't seem unexciting at all where the Linea is concerned. It's probably because of those wonderful alloy rims on the top-end variants, whose multi-spoke design, as with all Fiat alloy rims, will make you want to steal them if you own a Fiat.
At the rear, the Linea echoes the front with the boot lid and bumper mirroring each other, and a row of three reflectors in each tail-lamp. The other new features in the T-Jet will be the new leather upholstery.
Mechanicals: The Linea T-Jet will be Fiat's first turbocharged petrol engine in India and will be the second petrol engine to be launched in India to come with a turbocharger.
The T-Jet will produce about 110bhp and will be a car to compete with the likes of Honda City and the upcoming Volkswagen Vento which will be a 1.6-litre petrol engine producing 105bhp.
Fiat fans who have been waiting for a Fiat which is has good outright performance, this is the car to watch for. This car is capable of speeds in excess of 200kph.
Competition: The segment that Fiat is targeting for its Linea T-Jet is already packed with players like Honda City, Hyundai Verna Transform and the Maruti Suzuki SX4.
Volkswagen is gearing up to enter this segment too with the Vento which will be available in petrol and diesel options. The Honda City has a 1.5-litre petrol engine producing 1.5-litre which is highest of all.
The SX4 and the Verna Transform both produce power in excess of 100bhp, and so will the Vento. With things now really working out that well for Fiat when we consider the after sales service, Fiat is chalking out its issues and putting everything together.
Overall Evaluation: The Fiat Linea T-Jet will be a car for the enthusiasts and the Italian auto maker based out in Ranjangaon claims it to have similar fuel efficiency like its 1.4-litre petrol engine which if true will workout in its favour, as the only two negatives of the Fiat Linea was its power and its service.
The performance will be sorted with the T-Jet and Fiat has been working on its service which will eventually be solved, as Fiat is serious about sales in India.
Price: its price is estimated to be around Rs 8 lakh (Rs 800,000).
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7. Suzuki Swift 2011
Suzuki has recently launched the new Swift in the European market and production has begun in their Hungarian plant.
Seeing the rate at which Swift's are selling in India, the new Swift won't enter the Indian car market April 2011.
The new Swift is wider, longer than the current one and it gets some design characteristics of the Suzuki Kizashi, which we expect to come in India by late this year.
The new Swift even though longer, fulfils the criteria of being a sub 4 metre long vehicle. The Swift will be powered by the same 1.2-litre petrol engine and the same 1.3-litre diesel motor.
Price: The car will approximately cost around Rs 4.5-6.5 lakh (Rs 450,000-650,000).
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8. Tata Aria
Toyota built the Innova, Mahindra built the Xylo. So why will Tata stay quiet? Tata is building it's first-ever MUV -- Xover The Indicruz will compete with the Toyota Innova and the Mahindra Xylo.
Tata's car profile will have some more variety with this Multi-Utility Vehicle. The Aria is based on the platform of the Tata Safari and will sport the same 2.2-litre engine block which powers the Safari.
The Aria will be the flagship model of Tata Motors and will come with all the bells and whistles like ABS and airbags, ESP and cruise control to increase the safety features.
The car will also sport features like satellite navigation, touch screen, GPS, 17"alloy wheels, infotainment, dual air-conditioning with automatic climate control and multi-controls on the steering wheel.
Styling: Tata Aria has been design in Tata's UK Research and Development centre. The Tata Aria should be a trendy MUV, which will have most of the features of a MUV and should be spacious like most of the Tata vehicles.
The front grille and the head light combination is somewhat similar to the Indica Vista with the headlight tapering upwards at the end.
Mechanicals: The Tata Aria features the 32-bit 2.2-litre 16 valve DICOR engine which even powers the Tata Safari DICOR, Sumo Grande and the Xenon XT. The engine has two variants, one which produces 140bhp and the other which produces 120bhp.
The Sumo Grande has the 120bhp engine whereas the rest has 140bhp engine. The Aria will come with a 140-bhp engine.
The Aria will have twin exhausts. The Aria will sport independent double wishbone at its front and five-link suspension at the rear. The Aria will even come with a 4x4 option, which will be a permanent all-wheel drive.
Competition: The Tata Aria will be competing with the Toyota Innova when it comes to pricing. In terms of space, the other competition could be the Mahindra Xylo.
However, considering the price of the top-of-the-line Aria, none these will be a competition to the Aria in pricing and features that it will come loaded with.
Overall Evaluation: If Tata Motors has worked on its styling, build quality and plastics correct with cheap cost of ownership, then Tata might be able to some good numbers. The way today Indigo Manza has been doing fairly well.
Price: The Tata Aria is likely to be priced at around Rs 12 lakh (Rs 1.2 million).
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9. Chevrolet Beat LPG/ Diesel
GM India has been one of the first automakers who have taken the green initiative in India. Chevrolet had launched the Optra CNG, then alternative fuel variant of the Spark. Recently, they had launched the Chevrolet Aveo CNG.
Now, the American auto giant plans to launch the LPG variant of the Beat in India by the end of 2010. The Beat LPG is currently in the final testing stage in the Indian conditions.
After launching the Beat petrol, Chevrolet will now launch the Beat diesel for the Indian market. The diesel variant is expected to launch by early 2011.
The Beat should be powered by a 1.0-litre or a 1.2-litre diesel engine. The diesel engine will help GM India to increase their numbers and help them capture some of those who want to reduce their running costs.
Price: The car will be priced around Rs 4-5 lakh (Rs 400,000-500,000). The diesel version of the car too might be priced somewhere around 4.5-5.5 lakh (Rs 450,000-550,000).
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10. Skoda Fabia facelift
The all-new face lifted Skoda Fabia is on its way. The face lifted Fabia was unveiled by Skoda at the Geneva Motor Show held in March this year. The car will be in India by October this year and apart from the minor tweaks when it comes to the exterior, it's what's under the hood that has undergone a significant change.
The new Fabia will sport the diesel engine that currently powers the Volkswagen Polo.
The 1.2 litre diesel engine that currently does duty on the Volkswagen Polo will be fitted into the face lifted Skoda Fabia. The Fabia earlier boasted of a 1.4 PD TDI engine which produced around 68 bhp. With the Polo engine under the hood, the engine will produce 74 bhp.
The car will sport a sporty front with all new headlamps and the tail lamps. The 1.2 litre engine will be the same for both the petrol and the diesel versions.
Price: The car will be priced between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 6 lakh (Rs 500,000-600,000). There will not be much price difference between the earlier and the current version of the car.