Despite a lacklustre 2013, this year still promises to be packed with action. Here is a look at the cars of 2014 that will be worth the wait

The passenger car market has had a rough 2013, with consecutive months of negative growth. The market is unlikely to improve dramatically in 2014 and the industry is keeping its fingers crossed, hoping for a revival which will at least keep its numbers clicking at the same level if not lower than the year gone by.

But, that is not going to deter manufacturers from launching new models and facelifts for their existing models during 2014. This year could also be the year of consolidation for the industry and most, if not all, car makers will tend to be cautious in committing additional funds into capacity expansion.

The performance of the industry could also be affected positively in 2014 due to the general elections. That one event this year could lead to an improvement in passenger car sales due to the possibility of sops that the Government might extend to buyers through a cut in duties in the forthcoming union budget. And an election year always tends to witness an increase in sales of utility vehicles and SUVs.

Despite all the signs of a potential stagnation in sales, there is still going to be considerable action with quite a few mass market and luxury car manufacturers planning new launches and facelifts during 2014. Here is a brand-wise break up of what to expect in the year of the horse.

Hyundai

One of the companies that will be most busy in 2014 is likely to be Hyundai Motor India. On the anvil could be at least three new cars. One of them will likely be the sedan variant of the Hyundai Grand. The Grand has been built on a whole new platform with a longer wheelbase and that could well lend itself to be used for building a compact, sub-4-metre sedan. The ingredients, including the engines, are all already there. We think Hyundai changed the name to just ‘Grand’ (after dropping the i10 suffix) keeping in mind the sedan.

The other vehicles from Hyundai that could make it to showrooms this year are the proposed multipurpose vehicle (MPV) and the replacement or refreshed new Santro. The MPV from Hyundai, which it showcased in as the HND-7 concept at the last Auto Expo in 2012, is said to be undergoing final stages of testing. The family van will be good competition in this currently emerging class of vehicles where the Toyota Innova and the Maruti Ertiga rule the road.

Maruti Suzuki

Maruti is the other company that will be busy this year. After a fairly quiet 2013, there is likely to enough action in the form of new models for Maruti in 2014.

It will probably be 2015 before the compact sports utility based on the XA Alpha will be launched by Maruti. But, the most keenly awaited launch could well be the new small car that will be expected to bolster its portfolio of hatches. In the absence of the Zen Estilo and with the lacklustre performance of the A-Star, the new hatch could come in as Maruti’s answer to some of the new models in the market. The new hatch looks likely to feature the tall-boy design and could be offered with both petrol and diesel engines.

Maruti will also be looking to launch face-lifted versions of the Swift, the SX4 and DZire. The face-lifted Swift could be launched with the new LEDs and the start-stop system that is currently found in the model-spec for European countries.

Honda Car India

The third car brand that will be busy in 2014 is Honda Car India. The first launch from the Honda stable for the year will be the new City that has already been unveiled and bookings have commenced. The official launch and price announcement is expected next week.

The other car that Honda will be launching later in the year is the new Mobilio MPV. The compact family van built on the versatile Brio platform will be launched with both petrol and diesel engines, in fact the same engines that are currently on offer with the Amaze. The Mobilio will have a small footprint, but is expected to be surprisingly spacious inside for six passengers.

The other car that Honda might bring into the market late this year could be the new Jazz. Called the Fit in other markets, the new Jazz is a smarter, much better designed premium hatch that is already making waves in Japan. The new Jazz will be a crucial addition to Honda’s portfolio and if it can be offered with the new diesel engine, the combination has the potential to revive this strong brand here.

Datsun

The all-new brand that is scheduled to make its debut worldwide and in India this year is Datsun. The iconic Japanese brand of yesteryear is making a comeback and is being groomed for a splash in emerging markets like India. The first car from the brand to hit the road will be the Datsun Go and India will be the first to get a car with this badge.

The next vehicle to sport the Datsun logo and which is already being readied for launch in Indonesia is the Go+, a compact MPV with three rows of seats and built on the same platform as the Go. The Go+ will likely make it here by the last quarter of 2014.

Tata Motors

2013 hasn’t been kind to Tata Motors and the company has already readied its war chest by announcing a slew of new plans including ones for face-lifting 8 of its models during 2014.

The models that are likely to witness the most changes will be the Vista and the Nano. The addition to the Nano will be the small diesel engine that is currently in the last stages of testing and validation. Engineering changes to the Nano could be the addition of an openable tail-gate and power steering.

Most other models in Tata Motors’ portfolio will also be reworked, refreshed or re-engineered. The new Vista and the new Manza could be the big launches this year.

Others

The Renault-Nissan alliance will have its hands full trying to get the new Datsun brand up and running during 2014. But the two alliance partners might still have enough breathe left to launch a couple of other new models each. Nissan could bring in the new X-TRAIL and the new Teana later in the year. Renault could queue up the face-lifted Duster and will also be launching the Partner in collaboration with Ashok Leyland.

Luxury cars

Amongst the Luxury brands, the German brands are likely to be the busiest. Of these BMW will be the one with a slew of new launches, including the new X5, the brand new 3GT and the new MINI. But Mercedes-Benz India could be the first to launch a new model for the year 2014 in the new S-Class saloon. The new S-Class will be loaded to its gills with new tech and will be a key launch for Merc, which is hoping to retain its leadership position globally in this segment. Mercedes-Benz will also look to consolidate its position in the market here with the launch of the CLA, a compact sedan based on the third generation A-Class.

Not to be left behind, Porsche will be launching the new Macan and Macan Turbo later in the year. And the big one to come in will be the 911 Turbo.

muralidhar.s@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on December 30, 2013)
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