Engine: 2.0-litre diesel, 3.0-litre petrol
Price: Rs.18 lakh
Expected: Late 2013
The new 1-series is a hatchback unlike any hatch previously seen in India. With a driver-focused rear-wheel-drive layout and the possibility of a 320bhp six-cylinder engine as an option, the 1-series will be the sportiest hatchback to ever set its wheels in India. There will be diesels too for the efficiency conscious, starting with the 140bhp 118d. The 125bhp 118i petrol will be the base model of the range and should come with an attractive price tag.
There is a downside to the rear-wheel drive layout and its that this configuration isnt ideal for maximising interior space. However, this shouldnt be a much of an issue because this cars selling point is the fun it provides from the drivers seat. Expect typical German build quality, an attractive dash and a reasonable 360-litre boot as well. BMW plans to assemble it in India and this means the 1-series will have the distinction of being the cheapest BMW in India.
Engine: 1.2-litre petrol, 1.5-litre diesel
Price: Rs.6-7.5 lakh Expected: March 2013
Hondas big launch for 2013 will be the Amaze, which is a compact saloon based on the Brio hatchback. While the front end is similar to the Brios, the neatly integrated tail section and nicely sized boot add loads of practicality. Apart from the changes to the rear, Honda has also lengthened the Brios wheelbase, so cabin space is really impressive for this class of car. Engine options will include the Brios peppy 1.2-litre petrol motor as well as an all-new 1.5-litre dieselHondas first in India. Our brief drive of the diesel-powered Amaze last year revealed this to be an engine thats suited to city driving with a good spread of power and nice refinement. Light controls and good manoeuvrability are some of the Brios traits you can expect on the Amaze too. The best bit Honda is targeting a competitive ex-showroom price of R6-7.5 lakh for the Amaze diesel. Do you still want that Maruti Swift Dzire
Engine: 1.8-litre petrol, 1.4-litre petrol, 2.0-litre diesel
Price: Rs.13.5 lakh Expected: Mid-2013
Skoda is all set to bring back the Octavia name with this Mark III version. Indian buyers will be most interested to know that this is a seriously spacious car. With a wheelbase thats just short of the VW Passats, this Octavia boasts similar levels of interior space. It is longer and wider than the current Octavia (Laura to us in India) and yet is lighter. The engine line-up will consist of the current 1.8-litre turbo-petrol, upgraded to make 175bhp, and a base version with the 1.4-litre, 140bhp turbo-petrol that it will share with the VW Jetta. More importantly, the diesel version will use the same 2.0-litre TDI engine, but power will be upped to 120bhp, and a more powerful 150bhp version is on the cards as well. With its sharp styling, thoroughly reworked interiors and keen pricing starting at around R13 lakh, its easy to see how Skoda has another potential winner on its hands.
Engine: 2.4-litre petrol
Price: Rs.20 lakh
Expected: Third quarter 2013
The Honda Accord has lost a lot of ground to newer rivals like the Skoda Superb and the new Toyota Camry. However, Honda is not sitting still and plans to bring in the latest US-spec Accord around the middle of 2013. With its more mature styling and a rear that has more than a passing resemblance to the much-loved earlier Accords, it certainly looks like it has what it takes to win back some fans. As expected, the cabin will be upgraded with a classier dashboard and there will be even more space than the cavernous interiors of the current car. The overall length, however, is less. Engine options will include a new, more fuel efficient direct-injection, 2.4-litre petrol that will be offered with a manual gearbox or a six-speed CVT automatic. Accord enthusiasts will be disappointed to hear that Honda will not be offering the barking mad V6 engine any morethere were not enough takers for the current V6 Accord in any case. There are currently no plans of bringing in a sorely needed diesel variant either.
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo petrol, 1.8-litre diesel
Price: Rs.18 lakh Expected: Mid-2013
The A-class hatchback will go head-to-head with the BMW 1-series, but with one crucial difference. Like most hatchbacks, its designed around a space-efficient front-wheel-drive platform. Mercedes plans to equip it with a 1.6-litre, 121bhp turbo-petrol and a 1.8-litre, 134bhp diesel, both mated to a seven-speed, twin-clutch automatic transmission. Despite being a small Mercedes-Benz, you can expect top-notch interiors and that coveted German build quality, and, thanks to clever interior packaging, adequate space as well. It looks incredibly attractive in the flesh and Mercedes will leverage it as a sporty car for a younger customer base who want something out of the ordinary. It will slot in below the recently introduced B-class and the expected price is around R18 lakh, which will bring it much closer to its intended customer base.
Tata Manza CS
Engine: 1.2-litre petrol, 1.3-litre diesel
Price: Rs.6-7.5 lakh Expected: End-2013
Its a fact. The Tata Manza is more spacious than some cars twice its price. So a Manza at a lower price sounds like a steal. And thats exactly what the CS will be. Its basically a Manza with a substantially shortened boot section to keep length under four metres. As you may know, cars with lengths under four metres and engine less than 1200cc (petrol) and 1500cc (diesel) qualify as small cars and hence a lower rate of excise duty. And it is this that will enable Tata to price the Manza CS at a competitive R6-7.5 lakh price band. If space is your prime concern and budget is a constraint, look no further than the Manza CS.