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The wheels that turned 2014

Amrit Ramakrishnan | Updated on December 25, 2014 Published on December 25, 2014


A round-up of the year’s best new car launches

Despite the weak economic scene this year, carmakers introduced a clutch of new models and refurbished existing ones. Here is a list of introductions in 2014 that caught the collective attention of all of us.

Honda City: The very popular City needed a makeover and Honda delivered. This mid-size saloon has been a winner in each of its previous versions and the Japanese carmaker did not disappoint with this fourth-generation model. The new model is drastically different from its predecessor but that seems to be the winning formula for the company as each succeeding generation has looked nothing like the earlier ones. Honda also joined the diesel tribe with the City – a first in 16 years.

Hyundai Xcent: The compact sedan segment is gaining ground and the Hyundai Xcent has fast become one of the leaders in this space, albeit with a tight margin. Hyundai’s answer to the Suzuki Dzire and the Honda Amaze, this sub-4 metre sedan is based on the Grand i10. What’s going in its favour is that the car has a long list of features, looks attractive, has appealing interiors and frugal engines. Cheaper than the Amaze and the Dzire, the Xcent has definitely shaken up the segment.

Tata Zest: Though Tata Motors pioneered the compact sedan segment, it couldn’t just sit and stare as rivals populated this segment with better cars than the Indigo CS. So it threw its hat in the ring with the Zest. You can see the family resemblance but the Zest looks much more upmarket and modern and there is a step up in terms of quality when compared to the Manza and the Vista. The Zest and the upcoming Bolt hatchback could spark a renaissance of sorts for Tata and could steer the company away from the poor-quality image that the brand has been associated with in the past.

Mahindra Scorpio: From the outside, the car may look very similar but the changes are more than skin deep. When the Scorpio was launched in 2002, it propelled M&M to automotive stardom and has gone on to become a household name. However, after 12 years the product was becoming jaded and has been itching for an update. Which is why the company gave the Scorpio its biggest makeover yet, the with the all-new chassis, which will be the foundation for future products. The Scorpio has gotten sharper styling, a feature-packed cabin and more importantly it is nicer to drive. The 2.2-litre mHawk engine has been carried forward and has been retuned and mated to a new gearbox, making the car relevant to today’s times.

Honda Mobilio: The sheer size of this MPV is the first thing that catches the eye. Usually, MPVs are taller for maximum space utilisation but the Mobilio is a sharper, sleeker family car. However, it has to contend with not only segment leader - Maruti Ertiga, but also watch out for the Renault Lodgy, expected to come out in early 2015. So expect a lot of action in this segment.

Maruti Celerio: The newly launched Celerio could be the harbinger of urban city commuting in the future. It made its debut with the Automatic manual transmission that probably has the answer for the price-efficiency conundrum. It gives the obvious advantage of an automatic while delivering manual-like efficiency, something that could really solve the problem for the Indian buyer. The AMT might not be the smoothest one around but it definitely makes driving in our perennially clogged cities a whole lot more comfortable.

Audi A3: Unlike its fellow German rivals, Audi has skipped the luxury hatchback segment and dived straight into the entry-level luxury sedan segment. The A3 is treading a path unknown to the market and could dominate it for the foreseeable future as it has the early bird advantage. Its only source of competition is from premium offerings from Skoda and VW, and the A3 is streets ahead of them.

Hyundai elite i20: The winner of the Indian Car of the Year (ICOTY) 2015, the Elite i20 is based on the second version of the company’s Fluidic Sculpture theme. It shares little in common with the car it replaces apart from the engine options. The car rivals most mid-size sedans in terms of space, features and looks. It’s the perfect car for day to day use and has all the bells and whistles to pamper the owner. It is definitely the king of the B+ segment, at least for now.

Also launched this year, cars such as the Skoda Octavia and the Toyota Corolla Altis could revive a segment that has been shrinking fast. Fiat’s offering in the crossover segment the Avventura has the potential to prod more players to join the segment.

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Published on December 25, 2014
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