New cars for 2013 in India
Don't write that cheque yet, these five stars in 2013 are worth holding onto your money
The EcoSport has been a long time coming. It was first shown at the 2012 Auto Expo in January last year and has since already gone on sale in Brazil. We expect the car to go on sale by about March 2013 and some Ford dealerships have already started to take pre launch bookings. This all new second generation car will be assembled in China, Brazil, Thailand and India and will be be sold across 100 countries worldwide. In essence the EcoSport is exactly what the doctor ordered - a compact sub four-metre SUV with style, features, the promise of great driveability and most importantly, affordability.
Unlike the Amaze where the highlight is the all-new diesel engine, the EcoSport's talking point is the brand new petrol Ecoboost engine under the hood. The tiny 1.0-litre three cylinder is a technical marvel that uses a small turbo and Ford's Ti-VCT (twin independent variable camshaft timing). The result is a robust 125PS and 170Nm. The best bit is that all that torque is available at an incredibly low 1400rpm, barely above idle. Ford will also offer the car with the 1.5 diesel from the Fiesta and that will still account for a majority of the sales. There's also a possibility of a dual clutch automatic box. We expect the EcoSport to begin at around Rs 7 lakh.
Mercedes Benz A-Class sedan
Mercedes took a big step by launching the new B-Class in our market. It formed an entirely new segment and for now comes only with a petrol engine. Nevertheless the car has met Mercedes' expectations and the company is now set to launch the all new A-Class that is essentially another hatchback - but smaller and sportier than the B.
The A-Class has a lot going for it - it's a smartly designed car and is good to drive as well, as we found out when we drove it in Slovenia earlier this year. The A-Class despite being smaller than the B-Class is still 4.2 metres long and offers generous interior space along with a gorgeously designed and feature rich interior that complements those exuberant exteriors.
The A-Class should arrive with both diesel and petrol four-cylinder engines mated to the dual clutch gearbox from the B-Class. Built on the same MFA platform as the B-Class, the A is driven by its front wheels with a MacPherson setup at the front and a multilink rear. We expect the A-Class to hit our shores by early 2013 but that's not the end of it. Mercedes also plans to launch a sedan version (based on the CLA concept). The sedan however is still some time away. The sedan and hatch will both follow the CKD route. Prices for the hatch should be in the 18-20 lakh rupee range while the sedan should be priced between Rs 20 and 23 lakh.
BMW 1 Series
The 1 Series is BMW's direct answer to Mercedes bringing in the A-Class hatchback. It's definitely not as pretty as the Merc but it is quite a striking design with the trademark kidney grille and oversized headlamps up front while the rear tail lamps are reminiscent of the VW Polo. It's a very athletic design which is quite befitting the performance the 1 Series promises.
The 1 Series offers the purity of rear wheel drive and BMW levels of ride (yes they've gotten better at that too) and handling. The 1 Series is based on the 3 Series platform and this car runs a similar MacPherson strut and multi link front and rear suspension set up. Dimensionally, the car is similar to the A-Class with a near identical 4.2-metre overall length.
The 1 Series is offered with a pair of 1.6-litre direct injection turbo petrol engines good for 136PS(116i) and 170PS(118i). There's also the 2.0-litre diesel from the 3 Series/X1/X3 that produces power from 116PS to 184PS depending on the model. Unlike Mercedes, BMW won't have a sedan version ready in the near future. We expect BMW to price the 1 Series somewhere between Rs 17 and 20 lakh where it should take the Merc head on.
Skoda Octavia Mission L
Skoda entered our market with the Octavia back in 2001. In 2013, the Czech firm will launch the all new third gen Octavia in our market. The car is designed around Skoda's Mission L design language and is based on an extended MQB platform. The car has grown in size and promises added interior space and an even bigger boot. The new Octavia will be available with a choice of eight powertrains and two transmissions internationally - 6-speed manual and DSG boxes. The petrol range starts with the1.4-litre TSI from the Indian Jettain two power outputs, 122PS and 140PS. The existing 1.8-litre will now make approximately 180PS while the vRS version which will be launched later will have a 2.0-litre engine. The diesel engine portfolio starts with 1.6-litre mills making 105PS and 110PS while the more powerful 2.0 litres produce an estimated 150PS and 180PS respectively. We expect the entry level 1.4-litre petrol and 1.6 diesel engines to make it to our market first.
The interiors have been thoroughly upgraded with a keyless entry system, touchscreen infotainment system and more. Safety has been given a high priority with multicollision-braking,automatic brake actuation, automatic park, adaptive cruise control, intelligent light assist and nine airbags. Prices haven't been announced yet and nor is Skoda confirming which engine options will come to India. We expect Skoda India to launch the new Octavia sometime in the middle of 2013.
We've already driven the Amaze a few months back and we can confidently tell you that this is going to be one of the biggest cars of 2013. The Amaze is to Honda what the Dzire is to Maruti - a Brio with a boot. The Japanese firm has lengthened the wheelbase on the Brio and reworked the design beyond the B-pillar to cohesively integrate the boot. Like its competition, it isn't a pretty design but it isn't offensive either. Mechanically the car is very similar to the Brio with MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam suspension set up at the rear.
The big news, even bigger than the car itself, is the brand new diesel engine under the bonnet. The 1.5 litre unit is based on the 1.6-litre Earth Dreams engine that Honda showed off earlier this year but has been downsized specifically to meet India's small car excise duty norms.This engine will debut on the Amaze but will power many more Indian Hondas by the end of 2013. No official figures have been announced but from our drive experience we estimate 100PS,200Nm.
Both petrol and diesel models will be offered in three variants each. Honda will officially enter the entry-sedan market with the Amaze early this year and we expect them to price it very competitively against the Dzire.