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The Auto Expo 2012: Five picks

Team Smartbuy | Updated on: Jan 25, 2012










The Auto Expo in Delhi may be a chaotic, over-crowded, Indian version of the leading motor shows of the world. But the high profile nature of the cars being premiered makes sure that it never fails to excite car buyers and auto enthusiasts alike.

The latest (the 11{+t}{+h} edition) Auto Expo which opened earlier this month also had its share of exciting new launches and debuts. Here are five cars from the Expo that cut across the entire range of segments and will be on Indian roads during the next few months.

GM Chevrolet Sail

General Motors India will possibly look to replace the not-so-successful Chevy Aveo UV-A with the new Sail later this year. A product of GM's collaboration with SAIC (China) the Chevrolet Sail could be the premium hatchback that can join the Beat in boosting GM's sales here. The Sail was worked on by engineers at GM's Technical Centre in Bangalore to make sure it will meet the requirements of the Indian markets. GM India says that the design of the car sticks to the brand's sporty style, with a dual-port grille adorned with the Chevy bowtie embellishing the front of the car. The hood's clean lines give it a 3-dimensional look. The proportion of the body is very hatch-oriented with a long front and short rear. The front is has a lower stance as compared to the rear.

The interiors feature a dual-cockpit design which is bright and airy. The sporty theme is continued with the instrument panel that has chrome-plated accents. This car can seat five people comfortably and has a high roof design to offer customers more headroom. The Sail will be powered by the latest Smartech engines, in both diesel and petrol variants (most likely within the 1.2-litre and 1.5-litre size limitations). These engines are geared towards cutting emissions while raising fuel efficiency and power. For safety, the fuel tank is protected using steel beam rolling ribs. It also features safety cage body construction using high-strength steel.

New Tata Safari Storme

Though the new Tata Safari Storme looks like a facelift of the current model, it is actually a generation change for this popular sports utility vehicle. The new generation Safari Storme is now based on the Aria platform and features a number of technologies, new interior and exterior design elements. The car sports a new grille, projector headlamps and a ‘power bulge' on the bonnet to create an edgy look. The rear of the car has a newly-designed tailgate, aerodynamic spoilers and new, chrome-tipped twin exhausts with the spare tyre below the vehicle. The sides have innovatively-designed roof-rails. The interiors feature a new instrument cluster, chrome-accented speaker grills and gear knob, luxurious beige seats and a leather-lined steering wheel for a truly premium feel.

The Storme is powered by a 2.2-litre, 16-valve common rail (DiCOR) engine delivering 320Nm of torque and 140 PS of power. It has a variable geometry turbo and is paired with a 5-speed manual transmission. The Electronic shift-on-the-fly mechanism allows the driver to shift from 2WD to 4WD while moving. The 200mm ground clearance, electrically operated ORVMs and turning circle radius of 5.4m make this car a good drive on any terrain. A new rack-and-pinion steering system, crumple zones, 4-channel ABS with EBD, disc brakes on all wheels and an auto engine immobiliser, among other features increase the safety for the driver and passengers.

Hyundai Sonata

The sixth generation of this luxurious saloon from Hyundai is not even called the Sonata in many of the markets that it is sold in. It is either called the i45 or the i40. But with the kind of brand recall it has in India (very similar to the US and Korean markets), the i45 is likely to retain the Sonata badge when it is launched here later this year.

The fourth generation Sonata, when it was first introduced in India, gained immense popularity, since it was one of the earliest entrants in the segment and also thanks to its high profile advertising campaign. The fifth generation wasn't so effective in grabbing the same level of attention.

The new-gen Sonata, which has been consistently earning top safety ratings, will be an important addition to the Hyundai portfolio in India. Sporting the same fluidic sculpture design, the Sonata will be the flagship of the family's design philosophy, which has by now become very familiar, and include the i10, i20, Verna and the new Eon.

In the new Sonata, contrasting surfaces create a vision of continuous motion. The cues for the front grille design are said to have been inspired by flowing water. The new Sonata has high-end features like front and rear seat ventilation, high intensity Xenon head lamps, cruise control, paddle shift, 10-way adjustable power seat with lumbar support and a 4-way power adjustable front co-driver seat. It comes with a host of occupant-protection equipment and accessories such as 6 airbags, anti-lock braking system with electronic brake force distribution, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), rear view camera and smart key with push-button start. The new Sonata has a host of features to enhance the driving experience like the hi-visibility supervision cluster and an X-shaped centre fascia. The new Sonata's 2.4 litre GDI engine with Hyundai's VTVT is tech-heavy and delivers one of the best peak powers for any in-line engine in the segment. It delivers 201PS@6,300rpm of peak power and 25.5Kgm@4,250rpm of peak torque. The super-efficient petrol engine is mated to 6-speed manual and automatic transmissions.


The fifth generation of the world's most successful high-performance sedan in the executive class, the new BMW M5 was one impressive launch at the Expo. Priced at about Rs 96 lakh (ex-showroom), this exceptionally dynamic high-performance sports car promises to be great fun to drive. Representing a consistent further development of the vehicle concept initiated in 1984 with the first-generation BMW M5, the new-gen model too manages to combine compelling track potential with the comprehensive practicality of a luxurious business sedan. The new M5 premieres a newly developed BMW M high-performance engine. The high-revving 4.4-litre V8 engine with M TwinPower Turbo package consists of Twin Scroll Twin Turbo technology, cross-bank exhaust manifold, High Precision Direct Petrol Injection and VALVETRONIC fully variable valve control. The engine packs a huge punch – 560 bhp of power at 6,000 – 7,000 rpm and a maximum torque 680 Nm from 1,500 rpm. Engine redline is set at 7,200 rpm. The engine's wet sump lubrication has been optimised for high lateral loads.

With an engine like that the new M5's performance has significantly improved, but there is also said to be a better balance between performance and fuel consumption. Acceleration from 0–100 kmph takes 4.4 seconds and 0–200 kmph comes in 13.0 seconds. Top speed is limited to 250 kmph. The engine output is up 10 per cent compared to the predecessor model and the maximum torque has increased by 30 per cent, fuel consumption on the other hand has been cut by more than 30 per cent. The average fuel consumption in EU test cycle is 9.9 lts/100 kms. Efficient Dynamics technologies including Auto Start-Stop function and Brake Energy Regeneration have been employed. Power is transferred to the rear wheels via the seven-speed M Double Clutch Transmission Drivelogic with features like traction-optimised automatic gear selection; Launch Control; Low Speed Assistance and M-specific gear selector.

For the interior, the M5 gets a unique combination of sports car cockpit and luxurious ambience including the M-specific instrument cluster in black-panel technology, newly designed, leather-covered centre console, M sports seats and exclusive aluminium trim.

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster

The SLS AMG has contributed significantly in turning around Mercedes-Benz's image worldwide. The super sports car has been a symbol of Mercedes' resurgence here too.

After the success of the SLS AMG coupe, Mercedes-Benz India is bringing in the roadster to offer buyer's a unique experience and further boost the brand's appeal.

Said to be India's most powerful open top, the SLS AMG Roadster is powered by the same 6.3-litre V8 engine that was featured in the SLS AMG coupe.The eight cylinder V8 engine produces a similar 571bhp of power at 6,800 rpm with a maximum torque of 650 Nm at 4,750 rpm. It can go from 0-100 kmph in under four seconds (3.8s) and has a top speed of 317 kmph.

The open top SLS AMG Roadster exudes the familiar allure of the coupe, but with the twist of a soft folding roof. The complexity and purity of the design captures the imagination when you begin to understand the intricacies of making a roadster. The job is not as easy as lobbing off the roof and replacing it with an auto folding mechanism. The Roadster's perfect proportions make it particularly impressive and it is still unique despite the missing famous gull wing doors. The long bonnet, the automatically extending rear aerofoil, long wheelbase, wide track and short projection give it the classy trademark appearance. The lightweight construction, combined with sensuous open air driving pleasure exudes its lively sporty presence.

The atmosphere of the interior continues the design idiom of the exterior, and alludes to the layout of an aircraft cockpit: prominent stylistic features include the dashboard in the shape of a wing section and the air vents with adjustable, cruciform nozzles reminiscent of jet engines. The extended centre console of matt, solid metal and the new E-SELECT lever in the shape of an aircraft's thrust control are also design features adopted from the world of aviation.

Published on January 25, 2012
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