Most awaited cars of 2007
Luffy Tuesday, March 06, 2007 TechnologyUsher in the year of multiple choices... As Indian metros feverishly gear up for more flyovers and roads, many more new cars will hit the marquee this year. Quite a few of these will be new models.
In fact, year 2007 can be termed as the year of car wars as almost every car manufacturer intends to launch new models to strengthen its Indian portfolio.
According to industry estimates, this year could see as many as 40 car launches. Here is a peek-a-boo at some of the most awaited cars that you should watch out for this year. Auto ahoy!
Mahindra Renault Logan
Among the brand new passenger cars one can expect to see on Indian streets, the most awaited is probably the Mahindra Renault Logan, which is likely to hit the road by April.
Experts believe the popular entry level notchback from French carmaker Renault would shake up the C-segment with a fiercely competitive price tag of Rs 4.5-5 lakh.
Being introduced in India by Mahindra & Mahindra, Logan could give a stiff competition to Tata Indigo, and the basic versions of Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Aveo.
The Indian version of Logan will feature some changed styling as the Logan has been designed with a critical one inch of extra ground clearance (155mm) to cope up with pot-holed roads and dirty tracks. Its engine has also been re-worked so that it runs well on lower quality fuel and also complies with Euro IV emission standards.
Logan is probably Renault's most basic offering in the European market and in India, it will be available in both petrol and diesel motors with a 1.4 litre petrol engine that will produce 75 BHP and a 1.5 litre Turbo DCI diesel motor producing 70 BHP and 16 kgm of torque.
The car is also expected to possess European specification-compliant suspension which will give it sharp handling characteristics and robustness on Indian roads.
General Motors is vying for a bigger pie of the small car segment this year with the Chevrolet Sparkwhich will follow the hatchback Aveo UV-A, but positioned lower.
The car will finally make reappearance on Indian roads with the new badge long after it stopped selling as Daewoo’s Matiz.
Slated for an April launch too, the Chevy Spark is the completely refurbished version of Matiz.
The model would be swankier than the earlier version to compete with the highly competitive small car segment in the country.
It is likely to be fitted with a 1.2 litre engine and would compete with the Maruti Wagon-R and Hyundai Santro in the B segment.
Expanding the small car category further, Hyundai Motors is working on another hatchback offering - codenamed Pa - which will be positioned between Santro and Getz and aimed squarely at the new Zen Estilo from Maruti.
‘‘Hyundai Pa will bridge the gap between Santro and Getz, giving customers more options within the Hyundai family,'' claims the company.
Hyundai is also said to be working on a one-litre diesel engine for Pa, which may just prove to be a good strategy to take on Maruti with.
Skoda's long-delayed Fabia seems to be finally getting ready to hit the Indian roads soon.
Based on the Volkswagen platform, Fabia will be Skoda's first small car in India.
It will be a hatchback available in both petrol and diesel versions from the beginning. Fabia in India will be powered by a 1.2 litre or 1.4 litre engine. The car, which was launched overseas six years ago, went in for a facelift in 2005.
The model which will be introduced in India will, however, be the latest Fabia off the Skoda stable.
The year will see at least half a dozen face-lifts. Leading the way is the new-look Fiat Palio, to be rolled out from Fiat's Ranjangaon plant.
‘‘Fiat is gearing up for a comeback into the Indian market,'' an analyst said.
Fiat will also bring in the new Petra during the year, but the big one is the launch of the Grande Punto, which could take place towards the end of this year.
Fiat Grande Punto may enter India with a 1.3 multi-jet diesel engine, but Fiat seems to be looking at the premium end of the B-segment.
So one can safely imagine what will be the final product. "If the Indian model comes same as the international one, one can fit two full-size adults at the back as the 275-litre boot in Fiat Grande Punto is larger than that of the Swift.
BMW's big plans
This year will also make way for the big ones. BMW will begin its journey in India with the 3 series, assembled at its factory in Chennai.
The 5 series will follow with the X3, X5 and the 7 series will be made available as a completely built unit. BMW is also coming up with its much-hyped Rover Mini in India.
BMW Mini is going to hit the Indian roads sometime in 2007 in the Cooper and Cooper S badges and the range will be completed with the BMW Mini and a diesel variant of the same.
It is believed that the new Mini would have a 1.6-litre engine that develops 120 HP and 103 ft-lbs of torque. The turbocharged variant in the Mini Cooper S would generate a stouter 175 HP and 177 ft-lbs. of torque and both models would be available with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
Volvo S80 / XC90
Swedish manufacturer Volvo will also take a bow in the passenger car segment of India with the XC90 and S80 by the end of the first quarter of 2007. The first is a SUV (sports utility vehicle), while S80 is a luxury sedan with different looks.
The cars are likely to be priced in the range of Rs 35 lakh to Rs 1 crore depending on configuration and trim levels. Both are extremely capable machines with an exclusive Swedish design and identity.
The only factor stopping Volvo from launching the two cars in India is an official governmental nod which is expected to happen anytime now.
Mercedes Benz M class
Don't be surprised if DaimlerChrysler brings in its Mercedes Benz M-class this year itself to take on the growing popularity of the Audi Q7 and the Porsches. Mercedes M-Class is all about technology.
It possesses a 7G-Tronic automatic transmission as a standard feature which can be a pure pleasure for every driver.
With 7 forward gears, the transmission delivers good acceleration and low fuel consumption. And if you want to shift down manually, you don’t even have to take your hands off the wheel: a simple tap on the steering-wheel gearshift buttons and 7G-Tronic reacts to your command. So, just wait for sometime to get your hands on this nice machine!
New Maruti Baleno
Also in the line of facelifts are the popular Maruti sedan Baleno, and Mahindra Scorpio 2.2 litre version. Maruti Udyog is working feverishly to re-launch Maruti Baleno in both petrol and diesel version. With an engine capacity of 1.6 litre, it will generate 92.26 PS at 5,500 RPM.
The diesel engine in the car will be complied with Maruti Swift’s recently-launched DDiS engine.
And the forthcoming Mahindra Scorpio 2.2 will have common rail engine which will give the existing Scorpio a much-needed weight reduction and will perhaps solve the high speed handling problem. And presumably, it will be cheaper as well.
To complete the Chevrolet stable in India after Chevrolet Tavera, GM is now finally bringing in its SUV Chevrolet Captiva, which is likely to be driven by a diesel with a common rail engine delivering around 135 BHP.
Launched last year at the Geneva Auto Show, the vehicle seems it can give a stiff competition to Honda CR-V and Hyundai Tucson. Captiva would also offer more interior space than the CR-V. Price tag is expected to be under Rs 20 lakh.
Audi’s big plans
Audi is set to expand its product portfolio by introducing as many as four new models alongside the existing 11 in the country.
The company has decided to introduce the 2.7-litre (petrol and diesel) variants priced on par with the Mercedes Benz E-280 (petrol and diesel variants).
The most popular among all Audi models and the latest to be introduced in the country, the Q7 would have an additional petrol model, the 3.6-litre variant.
The new models are in addition to the sporty models (RS4, S8 and the Audi TT Quattro) to be introduced by mid-2007. Plus, the new Audi TT is also all set to come to India in mid July this year.
The new Audi TT, which is definitely coming to India, will have combined aluminum and steel as its body structure. Audi claims optimal weight distribution, but also adds a pop-up rear spoiler that deploys above 75 MPH.
Audi would offer TT with two engines: a turbocharged, direct-injected 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that delivers 200 HP. This model accelerates from 0-60 MPH in 6.4 seconds with a maximum speed of 149 MPH.
The other powertrain is a 250 HP 3.2-litre V-6 that sprints to 60 MPH in 5.5 seconds and has a limited top speed of 155 mph. This apart, the company is also looking at the possibility of setting up a manufacturing facility in India.