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SUVs to dominate 2016 auto launch calendar

Updated on: Jan 14, 2016


Ford Endeavour.jpg

Ford Endeavour.jpg

Hyundai Tucson.jpg

Hyundai Tucson.jpg

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza 8.1.2016.jpg

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza 8.1.2016.jpg

Despite the diesel phobia, SUVs are a big hit amongst Indian buyers. 2016 will see a big jump in the choice available across segments

Sports utility vehicles are the current flavour internationally. Most big luxury brands are muscling their way into the space. The number of manufacturers that are lining them up makes it look rather like the proverbial flock of sheep following the same trend. Bentley just launched the Bentayga, and Mercedes-Benz just shored up its entire line up with the GLE, GLC and the soon to be launched GLS. Jaguar will be joining in with its F-Pace – a first for the company in the SUV space. Lamborghini, Maserati and even Roll-Royce might make their own within the next couple of years.

2016 in India too is likely to be the year of the SUV. There is unprecedented action expected in this category. There are going to be updated offerings across price segments like the new Toyota Fortuner, Mahindra Xylo/Quanto, Renault Duster and the BMW X1. There are likely to be new products like the new Mercedes GLC and GLS and even new brands like Jeep.

But, a lot of the action is likely to come in from the bottom end of the car market. Compact SUVs are the next big thing here and there is a clutch of them that will be rolled out this year. The sub-4-metre regulation is skewing the market in favour of compact SUVs, but no one is complaining. If they weren’t enough to keep car buyers debating their options, there are more sports styled cars that will make it this year even in the entry segment. The Renault Kwid’s example will be emulated by group brand Datsun when it launches the GO Cross. Mahindra will also tap into the segment with its KUV1OO and that too with a small petrol engine.

Here are five of the most significant launches that 2016 is likely to witness in the SUV space.

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza

Just last week, Maruti Suzuki strategically, officially leaked out a sketch and name of its much awaited ‘compact SUV’. To be called the Vitara Brezza, this vehicle was previously code-named YBA. The global unveil of the Vitara Brezza will happen at the Auto Expo. Maruti claims that Brezza is Italian for “fresh breeze”.

The sketch of the Vitara Brezza points to a stylish, sub-4-metre compact SUV, with a clear upright stance and yet crossover-like styling. Chunky features, a near parallel to the street shoulder line and squared-off wheel arches give the Vitara Brezza a fairly confident and energetic profile.

Similar to its other hatches, Maruti seems to have chosen a blacked out A-pillar in the Brezza too, giving it the same floating roof concept. A stubby bonnet and short overhangs means that the designers have worked to maximise interior space in the compact SUV. The Brezza is likely to sport the two diesel engines from the S-Cross - the 1.3L and the 1.6L DDiS, possibly in a slightly higher state of tune. Given the current diesel phobia, the Brezza will probably also get two petrol engines - the K12 and the K14.

The Brezza is said to draw design inspiration from Suzuki’s new Vitara. The larger, premium SUV’s moniker has also been borrowed. Now, if Maruti gave the new compact SUV the right price tag, then it will have another cracker in its line-up. The Brezza will join the S-Cross and the Baleno at the new Nexa showrooms.

Honda BR-V

The lure of the compact SUV segment’s potential will make Honda too join the fray this year. Named to represent its size class and a hierarchical progression with the bigger Honda SUV – CR-V, the new BR-V is a vehicle that is already prepped up for the Indonesian market.

The new BR-V is built on the same platform as the Mobilio and its USP is likely to be the fact that it will feature a third row of seats. The BR-V has distinct SUV styling cues including a 201mm ground clearance, but it still veers strongly towards a crossover design. It is likely to be offered with Honda’s 1.5-litre i-VTEC (petrol) and 1.5-litre i-DTEC (diesel) engines. The choice of transmissions could be 6-speed manuals and a CVT automatic with the petrol engine. Prices could range between ₹10-14 lakh.

Tata Hexa

Tata Motors will attempt a complete overhaul of its image this year and the first product that will carry the banner will be the new Zica hatch. With a new design language and a portfolio of new engines, Tata Motors will also be rolling out a range of new vehicles that will be focused on the urban car buyer.

Two new vehicles in the UV segment that could roll out from the Tata stable later this year are the Hexa and a possible final production version of the Nexon compact SUV concept. The Hexa will be a reworked, much more refined utility vehicle built on the Aria MPV. The Hexa will attempt to erase much of the negatives that the Aria was associated with including poor design and lacklustre performance. The Hexa will get a plusher cabin and much improved fit and finish quality.

With the Nexon concept of 2014, Tata Motors had clearly indicated its plan to enter the compact SUV space. The Nexon name could be retained, though much of its futuristic bits inside and out are unlikely to make it to the final production version. The Nexon will be sub-4-metre and will be designed like an upright crossover. Power train options will come from the new Revotron and Revotorq range of engines.

Hyundai Tucson

The Creta has been a great success for Hyundai, not just in sales numbers, but also in terms of the image boost it has delivered for the brand. Now, a Hyundai in the ₹12-lakh-plus price segment is much more acceptable than it used to be.

Emboldened by this embrace from car buyers in the premium segment, Hyundai Motor India is likely to launch two new models from its year 2016 global line-up. Both these cars have already had a presence in this market in the past. We are talking about the Tucson and the Elantra.

Hyundai has dumped its iX35 badge for the Tucson and the SUV will be positioned between the Creta and the Santa Fe with a price tag of about ₹18-20 lakh. The SUV is sold globally with a range of petrol and diesel engines and automatic and dual clutch gearboxes.

Ford Endeavour

One of the first full size SUVs that really caught the buyer’s imagination was the Ford Endeavour. The current generation model is clearly suffering from design fatigue. So when the new 2016 Endeavour makes it here, the vehicle will get a much needed refresh. The new 2016 Endeavour is still the burly American SUV in its stance and front profile. Large chrome grille and exaggerated wheel arches gives it an attitude very similar to the predecessor. But the new model seems better put together and the cabin also feels much less spartan than its predecessor. The engine options are said to include two diesel engines – a 2.2-litre and a 3.2-litre, with the possibility of an auto transmission in addition to the 6-speed manual.

Published on January 19, 2018

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