The year 2011 was an interesting year for the auto enthusiasts as well as the industry. Not only because Audi and its contemporaries listed out the line-up for India but also saw Mahindra unveiling its Global SUV and Hyundai its smallest car Eon. MotorBeam lists out the cars launched in the mainstream category (luxury cars cannot be listed here) to see which was a blockbuster and which one a dud.
As the curtains were pulled down, the first glimpse of the XUV 500 received a thumping applause. Mahindra knew it had hit the nail in the head again. XUV 500’s chiseled design, smashing looks and the 2.2-litre mHawk diesel engine (seen on the Scorpio but with more power and torque) became talk of the town but what beat everybody’s expectation was its price tag. At Rs10.80lakh ex-showroom, Mahindra had smartly positioned its Global SUV in a category that could set another set of price wars. The masses lapped it up so fast, that Mahindra had to stop bookings. Now that’s what you call a blockbuster hit.
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After riding success on its i10 and i20, Hyundai has been on a high ever since. The manufacturer since then decided to go on an overdrive with new designs for its existing marquee. The Verna from Hyundai has always been a good car but lacked the design that could tickle the Indian sensibilities. The ’Fluidic’ design for its Verna (internationally launched as new Accent) was well lapped up. With a choice of two petrol and two diesel engines (1.4 and 1.6) both have proved to be best amongst its class. The car has been the talk-of-the-town ever since. Now it is heard that the Elantara too will be launched with a new design.
From the moment Hyundai unveiled its plans to bring in a competition to Maruti Alto, everybody has been on the look of what it will offer. Hyundai over the years have gained the trust in Indians and the success of i10 and i20 is an example. Since then auto enthusiasts have been scanning the roads to spot the Eon testing. Finally, Hyundai launched its ambitious car October this year amidst much expectation and it didn’t let down either. The engine has been derived from Santro – although three cylinders instead of four and power output down to 56bhp. With the car being given the now known Hyundai family design, it was surely an eye-catcher. Ample space, typical Hyundai techtronics and a spot-on price; India surely went On with Eon.
Toyota entered the mass category late last year with Etios. The well-positioned sedan was an instant hit. Riding on the success, Toyota launched the hatchback version of Etios called Liva with a smaller engine – 1.2liter 4-cylinder powerplant. Except for the boot, everything else remaining much the same. The hatchback too has been a good seller for Toyota.
Honda too launched its much hyped Brio this year. The car which has been a good seller for Honda in the international markets and its unique rear design garnering interest; Honda expected its Brio to make a splash in Indian markets as well. As expected, it did turn heads but not enough to take them to the booking counter. Honda plonked the same 1.2-litre i-Vtec engine that does duty in the Jazz, under the Brio’s bonnet. Another reason for a lukewarm response for Brio could be the fact that it was launched at a time when the petrol prices were going over the roof, people chose to look the other way round.
Nissan was a lesser known brand name in the Indian market. Masses didn’t know much about the company and the cars they made but all that was put to rest when Nissan launched the 370Z inIndiacouple of years ago. Suddenly, Nissan became the talking point and well they did maintain that enthusiasm with the Micra – a car for the masses. Sunny which first went into production in 1966 has been a known name in the international markets. It was right time for Nissan to follow up the success of Micra with a sedan and Sunny did manage that too some extent.
The Ford Fiesta has always been a driver’s car. The Fiesta 1.6 has been a darling for many and people who own swear by its performance. When Ford decided to overhaul the existing Fiesta, it did have a challenge in hand. While the design should be contemporary; the driving pleasure that the old car gives should be maintained or bettered. The new Fiesta with its aerodynamic design and crease lines on the side giving it a sports car feel was an instant hit. Ford did it again. First with Figo and now Fiesta. It’s also heard that a hatch of the Fiesta is expected to hit roads in 2012.
The undisputed king of the Indian automobile market made a splash with the new Swift. Maruti Swift has always been a good selling car and its new design, with a sweeping head and rear lamps; a slightly larger wheelbase and a new rear design – the new Swift was all appreciated. Although facing stiff competition from Volkswagen Polo, Ford Figo and Fiat Punto and Hyundai i20, the Swift continues to hold a share in the market.
Manufacturer: Maruti Suzuki
Kizashi has been an ambitious project from the Maruti Suzuki stable. Positioned as an upmarket car, it was always going to be tough for Maruti as for years the manufacturer has been known for producing cars for the masses – cars that are affordable. Can Maruti really deliver with Kizashi was the question. Well, the car indeed looks good and is a pleasure driving but it still faces the problem that Vitara also faces. Can Maruti actually produce powerful vehicles. Well, time will only tell.
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Manufacturer: Force Motors
Force Motors which until now was predominantly present in the mini-van section and a ubiquitous Trax, rolled out its maiden SUV Force One this year. With a 2.2-litre engine Merc engine under its hood, Force Motors did hit the nail and auto enthusiasts have been talking about the ability of the vehicle, however a 4×4 version is what everybody is waiting for. Only coming months will say whether Force Motors got everything correct or not.
The Renault Fluence was the first car from Renault as an independent company. The car looks extremely good and has class leading space. The ride quality is extremely good too and the 1.5-liter diesel unit is high on mileage and refinement. However the lack of equipment on the diesel model and small dealership network has lead to average sales of the Fluence, which will soon get new diesel variants with more features.