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The Super Six for 2011

Updated on: Jan 25, 2011






2011 promises to be one of the most exciting years for the passenger car market in India, with a big line-up of exciting new cars that will be launched this year. Here are six cars from the three major segments that are most likely to make it to India this year.

The most significant of them will be in the small car segment, when two of the biggest car makers of the world, who have waited in the wings for a decade, will finally launch their mass market cars.

Toyota Etios Liva

Toyota and Honda will launch their hatches – the Etios Liva and the Brio respectively during the second half of the year. The Toyota Etios Liva is likely to be the first to be launched in April and the company has already started conducting its roadshows in the build up to the launch. But, we find it a bit difficult to accept the fact that Toyota has pushed the date of the launch to April because of the Union budget and what it might come up with for the car industry. Instead, we wonder if the real reason is the Honda Brio.

The best part of the Liva will be the fact that its wheelbase will be the same as that of the Etios Sedan at 2,550mm. Toyota’s chief engineer Yoshinori Noritake confirmed that effectively the space inside the passenger cabin of the Liva will be identical to the Etios Sedan. Of course, the boot will be smaller and some of the trim options will be different.

The Liva will also qualify for the lower excise duty thanks to its overall length of about 3,800mm and the smaller 1.2-litre petrol engine that will possibly generate about 70 bhp of peak power. It will be teamed with the same five-speed manual transmission that the sedan is being offered with. Pricing will be aggressive, just like the Etios Sedan’s killer sub-5 lakh tag. The Liva could be offered from as low as Rs 3.97 lakh for the base variant. We would like to see a diesel engine option being offered for both the sedan and the hatch. Toyota has a large pool of diesel units it can dip into.

Honda Brio

The Honda BRIO Prototype developed by the company in Japan was showcased at the Bangkok Motor Show in November last year. Unlike the concept that was displayed at the Delhi Auto Expo, the Brio is a production prototype that will, in all likelihood, make it as is to showrooms later this year

The Brio is said to advance Honda’s “man maximum, machine minimum” concept, which basically allows more room for people in the car rather than taking up the space for housing the various components. This explains the Honda BRIO prototype’s easy-to-handle compact body (length 3,610mm x width 1,680mm x height 1,475 mm). With this vehicle, Honda is said to have pursued the creation of an advanced exterior form, which is compact while asserting a strong presence.

Honda has supposedly planned to develop unique versions of the mass production model for India and Thailand to reflect different customer needs in these markets. For the Brio, Honda is also planning to leverage the resources it has cultivated through its local motorcycle business and utilise domestic sourcing of parts and materials such as sheet metal.

Honda says that for the Indian model which is scheduled to be introduced in the second half of 2011, local customer needs for a small car will be reflected by the specifications (basically 1.2-litre petrol engine) and local content will be increased to create a model that achieves a good balance between vehicle performance and price (basically means an aggressive price tag and a high rated mileage of 20 kmpl).

Suzuki Kizashi

The Jap invasion continues and the other extremely interesting car to be launched in a few weeks from now will be the Suzuki Kizashi. Part of the same world series of cars from the famous Japanese small car manufacturer, the Kizashi is a mid-size premium sedan that is already available in markets like the US, Japan and Australia.

The Kizashi will be significant for the Indian market because it will be the first time that Maruti will be competing with the likes of the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Skoda Octavia and Chevrolet Cruze. In Japanese, Kizashi refers to an Omen or a Sign. Is it a veiled threat to the competition to watch their backsides?

With a wheelbase of 2,700mm the Kizashi promises to offer loads of interior space. As the potential flagship sedan of Maruti Suzuki for sometime to come, the Kizashi will feature top-end spec and interior quality. The engine is likely to be a 2.4-litre, four-cylinder unit that can put out about 180 bhp of peak power. It is likely to also be offered with a six-speed manual transmission. A two-litre diesel engine and a continuously variable automatic transmission could be added later.

Hyundai i40

The other launch that we would like to see will be the Hyundai i40. Carrying forward the ‘fluidic’ design that the new i10 sports here, the i40 will first be launched in its estate version. This will make its debut at the forthcoming 2011 Geneva Motor Show in March this year. Later, the saloon version will also be launched. Unlike the i30 which is currently available only in luxury hatch and estate versions, making it difficult for Hyundai India to fit it into its portfolio here, the i40 saloon could be, in contrast, a sensible addition.

Volkswagen Passat

The seventh generation Volkswagen Passat is also all set to make its debut this year. The latest Volkswagen Passat is designed to be as efficient as it is elegant and even closer to VW’s design language, which means that some of the distinctiveness of the previous generation Passat will be gone.

The front of the car, dominated by a new grille element with prominent horizontal chrome fins, features striking heavily contoured headlight units, set into which are LED running lights. At the rear, a set of distinctive tail lights is joined by subtle chrome highlights that extend down the side of the car.

The current Passat is offered with a 1.8 TSI petrol engine in India, but the new engine option to look forward to is a diesel, which is said to be the most efficient engine, the 1.6-litre TDI unit producing 105 PS. Equipped with this engine and the BlueMotion package of changes including aerodynamic modifications, Stop/Start and battery regeneration, the new Passat is said to be capable of achieving a combined 29 kmpl while emitting just 109 g/km of CO2. This equates to a theoretical range of over 1,000 miles on a single tank of diesel.

The new Passat is available with many new safety and comfort technologies previously only seen in the Touareg and Phaeton luxury models, though we doubt if some them will make it in the India-spec version. For example, the optional new City emergency braking function automatically engages the brakes at speeds below 30 kmph should an unavoidable collision be sensed. The system can also accelerate the vehicle automatically if it detects a rear end collision provided there’s clear space ahead.

Audi A8

In the super luxury segment, the most interesting launch will be the Audi A8, the flagship sedan from this iconic German brand. The new A8 will see a huge jump in the interior luxury and comfort parameters, and will take the fight to Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class and to the BMW 7-Series cars.

Audi is said to be considering the 4.2-litre FSI V8 petrol engine and the 3-litre TDI V6 diesel engine as the options for the India-spec A8 model.

The long wheelbase A8 powered by the 6.3-litre W12 engine putting out a peak power of 493 bhp is also likely to make it here later during the year.

Wait for our first hand drive report and test review of the new A8 which is due to appear in the magazine within the next two weeks.

Published on January 27, 2011

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