Sure, there are scores and scores of sexy looking machines parked out there at the Expo, costing millions of bucks and capable of putting a Bullet Train to shame in terms of speed. This assortment of glamorous supercars and superbikes, however, doesn’t matter much to the Indian auto market. Everyone would want them, but nobody would buy them. The real difference will be made by the game changing products which are as acquirable as they are aspiration invoking. In the coming years, these products will strive towards redefining the segment they reside in, and play an important role in changing the dynamics of the segment they reside in. These products, according to me are the real heroes of the 2012 Auto Expo. You may have been wowed by the BMW VisionConnectedDrive , the Audi A3 e-Tron or the SLS AMG Roadster at the Expo, but the products we mention here are the new machines which you will more likely than not spend your hard earned cash on in the coming year. These are the cars and bikes which will be talked about and remembered for a long time even after the Expo 2012 gets over. These are, in our honest opinion, the products which you’ll talk, fight and argue about in the leading auto forums in the country for at least the next two years. Ladies and gentlemen, allow us to present to you the Motoroids’ list of the Top 10 products of the 2012 Auto Expo
The Ford Ecosport may just turn out to be a game changer in the Rs 10 lakh segment. There always has been an unaddressed need of an affordable compact SUV from a manufacturer of international repute in the Indian market. And the lack of it has led to the success of the Scorpios and the Safaris of the world which are good vehicles in their own right, but don’t quite have the finesse and class you expect from a truly international product. The Ecosport – modern, contemporary and utterly sexy, is all set to change that. Its compact, it’s chic, it oozes class and having been developed exclusively for India, sure as hell, it will be easy on the pocket too. Icing on the cake comes in the form of the 1.0 Ecoboost engine, which by far will be the most technologically advanced engine in its class upon its introduction.
PS: Don’t point me in the direction of the Renault Duster. I know it’s a good product. But what’s the one thing about the Duster you’ll give an arm for? I’ll have it severed in a flash for the Ecosport’s drop dead looks and that tech-laden Ecoboost engine.
Honda Dream Yuga
Wait, before you start pelting rotten tomatoes and eggs on the screen, let us admit that we are talking about one of the most boring products displayed at the Expo. But hey, we’re also talking about the world’s single largest motorcycle segment in the world. This is where the real money is, honey. If Honda could create the world’s largest bike making brand with Hero, they can do it again all by themselves too. And this little bike, dear reader, is the thermonuclear weapon which Honda will launch at competition to emerge victorious. You think we’re over excited? Go talk to a HMSI dealer, or better still, any of the Hero Motocorp dealers, who are already getting nightmares at the very thought of this product’s launch.
Maruti Suzuki Ertiga MPV
Sure enough this one is not a looker. Sure enough this is not the only MPV around either. But this one comes from Maruti, the darling carmaker of us Indians. It’s got seven seats, it’s got a Suzuki logo over its grille, and it’s got a diesel engine. Where do you think all the taxi operators are going to be seen headed upon its launch? Maruti has been absent from this segment and an entry is all set to change the equation. Expect attrition from the buyers of the Xylo, Innova, and Tavera. Not only will the the Ertiga mark the important occasion of Maruti’s entry into the MPV segment, but will also be a strong product from the Indian car maker’s stable to arrest the sliding market share.
Where do you go now, Yamaha? The shining jewel in your crown, the much loved (for all the right reasons) R15, the bike which re-established you as the true performance monger for the Indian enthusiasts on a budget, will now have a genuine competitor. The CBR150R is expect to create a severe dent in not just the R15’s sales, but also affect the volumes of the bikes which are positioned around the Rs 1 lakh price bracket.
The 150cc machine will be good for a respectable 18PS at 10,500 rpm, and will feature liquid cooling, 4 valves per cylinder, PGM-FI and O2 sensors for great performance. Price will be bang in the R15 territory too at less than Rs 1.2 lakh. What you get extra over the R15 is a full fairing, probably a little more weight and a chance to be mistaken for riding a CBR250R.
The 150cc segment, with these technologically advanced machines such as the R15 is rather huge, and the CBR150R will be a great hit, on the back of Honda’s brand equity alone.
Tata Safari Storme
Okay, it doesn’t look as hot as all of us expected it to be. It looks more like a Safari face lift, than a complete grounds-up product. However, the Safari, as a brand is way too popular to be neglected. Of all the launches at the Auto Expo, the Safari Storme remains one of the biggest draws on our website. There is immense interest of people in the product, and if it’s executed and priced well enough, it may turn some volumes for the brand. The Aria didn’t do too well, but it brought in great learnings for Tata Motors, all of which have been incorporated in the new Safari. Aria has also made Tata Motors understand a few more things about pricing their products in that segment.
Powered by a new 2.2 liter Dicor engine, the New Safari has 140 horses and 320 Nm of torque packed under its bonnet. Although not a complete redesign, the new Safari manages to look handsome from most angles in its refreshed avatar.
We’ll have to allow the Safari Storme in our Top 10 list on popular demand, even if we are not too impressed with it as a product in the first view.
Ducati Monster 795
It’s rather incredible, isn’t it? A Ducati for Rs 5.99 lakh? Seems like the day of the biker has finally dawned in India. It was not in such a distant past when we used to boast about the ‘performance’ of our single cylinder, two valve, air-cooled bike and spent twice the money of the bike’s price replacing every moving or fixed component of the bike in a hope to make it go that wee bit faster. We didn’t have option, did we? And see what we have now. Almost every bike maker worth its salt is lined up on the doors of the economic phenomenon called India. And they seem to have shed their snooty ways too. From the ‘take-it-or-leave-it-for-twice-the-price’ to ‘we-have-a-discount-for-you’ the Indian bike market seems to be slowly coming of age.
First the Harley 883, then the Hyosungs, followed by the Ninja 650 and the now the mighty Ducati offering itself dressed in a bright scarlet, for money we all can dream of gathering together one day. What else should make it to this list, if the 795 shouldn’t! Bliss!
Triumph India launch
Carrying forward the evolutionary story of the Indian motorcycle market is Triumph. The iconic British motorcycle manufacture has landed in India with as many as seven of its models. The most heartening thing about the development is that the company has priced its products rather well. For being yet another performance brand in India, with quality products which are priced right, we have to give it to Triumph as being one of the most important exhibitors at this year’s Expo.
Here’s the list of the company’s products, and their respective prices for the Indian market
Bonneville: Rs 5.50 Lakh
Street Triple: Rs 5.75 Lakh
Daytona 675: Rs 7 Lakh
Speed Triple: Rs 8 Lakh
Tiger 800 XC: Rs 11.40 Lakh
Storm: Rs 17 Lakh
Rocket III: Rs 22 Lakh
Mahindra & Mahindra
It was for the first time ever that Mahindra & Mahindra, the No.1 UV maker of India, came across as a complete automobile maker of international repute to the Expo. The company displayed its R&D prowess, and eco credentials with the unveiling of the Reva NXR and the Logan Electric. The Mahindra & Mahindra exhibit had all the vehicles from the stable lined up for display as well. However, that was just a small part of the huge Mahindra display area which stamped with authority the carmaker’s claim that it can manufacture anything from two-wheelers to trucks.
On one side of the Mahindra Exhibit, they had lined up the production and concept vehicles from Ssangyong, their recently acquired SUV specialty manufacturer. Comprising of vehicles like the XIV-1 and the Korando E, the exhibit made Mahindra look like a carmaker of true international repute.
On the other side of the Mahindra pavilion, we saw the magnificent sight of the company’s two wheelers parked right opposite the huge Mahindra Navistar trucks – substantiating and showcasing in all its glory the company’s ‘two-wheelers to trucks’ tagline.
For having taken giant steps towards becoming an all-encompassing, accomplished auto maker and making us all feel proud in the process, we could not help but give Mahindra a place in this list.
While most of the people did not realize it, the Sail was the only new small car from a leading car maker on display this time around. The very segment that the Chevy Sail resides in and the fact that it was the only one of its kind at the 2012 Expo makes it one of our stars of the show. Chevrolet is riding a success wave at this point with its Beat diesel doing exceedingly well in the market. The company now plans to further strengthen its position in the small car market with a new product. The Sail will offer a bigger and more powerful option to the buyers who find the Beat a tad too small as a substitute for the Swifts and the Figos of the world.
Developed in association with the SAIC of China, the Sail will play an important role in helping Chevrolet establish itself as a leading player in the Indian market. It’s an important segment, and the Sail, replacing the U-VA will be an important car to watch out.
Alright, I am not particularly a fan of that quirky, somewhat disjointed design. I don’t even think it can even remotely qualify as a supercar with that measly 265bhp. The 0-100 acceleration of 6-7s claimed by DC too is more of a hot hatch time than a genuine supercar’s sprint time. Even with the 400bhp Honda V6 coming under the hood at a later time, I don’t see DC having the engineering finesse to pull out a nimble handling sports car.
However, it fills our heart with great joy to know that here is a design house (not even a car maker, mind) which has the heart to bring to the streets a true performance car. So what if the effort is flawed, it’s at least a beginning. We would have appreciated had DC called it just a sports car and not a super car, but for whatever he wants to do with that low slung, compact and sporty design, he has our heart with him. Go on, DC, bring this one to life!