Estimated price: R18 lakh
Engine: 1.8-litre diesel
After the B-class, Mercedes is set to introduce the A-class in India. Based on the same MFA front-wheel-drive platform, it is one stunning looking car. The stance is aggressive and the heavily sculpted bodywork really stands out. Its solidly put together as well, just as one would expect from a car with a three-pointed badge on the bonnet. The cabin is made from quality materials and the design is fresh and modern. The A-class drives quite sportily and feels more rock steady at high speeds.
Honda Brio diesel
Estimated price: R5.5 lakh
Engine: 1.4-litre diesel
The buyer shift towards diesel cars happened rather quickly and has caught Honda by surprise. The only mainstream company with no diesel engines on offer in India, Honda is now working double overtime to introduce these in its cars. The company has recently announced it will be concentrating on its City and Brio platforms, and its the latter that will first be available in diesel form. Different capacity engines are under development to power the cars in the Honda line-up, but a 1.4-litre motor is expected to find its place under the bonnet of the Brio. How the car fares in terms of fuel efficiency and refinement remains to be seen. But given traditional Honda strengths in this regard, we can only expect the Brio to do a good job.
Volkswagen New Beetle
Estimated price: R25 lakh
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel/1.4-litre petrol
The Beetle was launched just a couple of years ago in India and the latest generation of the cute Volkswagen should also make its way here soon. It is an evolution of the current cars design, but the new one has a more modern-looking cabin. It is also bigger in size than before and is powered by a variety of engines abroad, but in India it will most likely be imported with the same 2.0-litre diesel that powers a host of other Volkswagen group cars in the country. A 1.4-litre petrol engine may also be introduced at a later stage.
The new Beetle will appeal to those who want to stand out in a crowd, and we expect it to be priced on par with the Mini range, starting at around R25 lakh.
Ashok Leyland Stile
Estimated price: R7.5 lakh
Engine: 1.5-litre diesel
While the Nissan Evalia is targeted at the family buyer, the Ashok Leyland Stile, which is based on the same vehicle, will be aimed at a lower segment. The interiors will be more basic and it wont feature as much equipment either, keeping in line with its more affordable positioning. The Stile is expected to come with the same 1.5-litre diesel as the Evalia, but in a lower state of tune. We have experienced the engine in other cars and expect it to make the Stile pretty driveable despite its small capacity. A load-carrier version of the Evalia is available overseas and may be adapted for commercial duties in India by Ashok Leyland as a Stile model. A CNG-powered version with seven or eight seats for the taxi market could be possible as well.
Estimated price: R18 lakh
Engine: 2.7-litre diesel
SsangYongs full-size SUV is also lined up for an Indian debut early next year. The Rexton has recently been facelifted, but we may get the older version of the car here in India. While it isnt very handsome to look at, the Rexton does have the advantage of size. It will most probably be sold with a 2.7-litre diesel engine with a manual transmission, and an automatic may also be offered.
Estimated price: R8 lakh
Engine: 1.0-litre petrol/1.2-litre petrol/1.5-litre diesel
Undoubtedly one of the most eagerly awaited launches from Ford for next year is the EcoSport mini-SUV. It looks the part thanks to its butch styling, a purposely designed high nose and a tailgate-mounted spare wheel, which lend it a typical SUV look. Its based on the Fiesta saloon and will share a lot of parts and equipment with it. The top-of-the-line Titanium trim is expected to get a Fiesta-like voice control system, 16-inch alloys, chrome grille, keyless entry, a cooled glovebox and rear parking sensors, and will have an electric power-assisted steering. Its not a large SUV; Ford has managed to make it smaller than four-metre in length to meet the small car norms and avail of tax benefits, and consequently deliver a lower price-tag. Despite its small size, it will have relatively spacious seating for five and boast a high perch for the driver. Passengers will be able to recline and adjust the rear seat for a comfortable seating position. The dashboard design will be similar to the Fiestas and the cabin will get more than a dozen storage spaces.