The best cars – and one motorcycle – we drove in 2018

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Published: December 29, 2018 2:49:52 AM

It was a year we bid goodbye to iconic cars—Tata Indica and Indigo eCS—and welcomed new ones, including new Maruti Suzuki Swift, new Honda Amaze, Toyota Yaris, new Hyundai Santro and Volvo XC40.

Year 2018 gave us plenty to drive.

Although the overall sales performance of the Indian passenger vehicle (PV) industry was tepid in 2018—a poor festive season in particular, and weak consumer sentiment, interest rates, high fuel prices and tight liquidity driving down PV sales through the year—from a product standpoint, 2018 gave us plenty to drive. It was a year we bid goodbye to iconic cars—Tata Indica and Indigo eCS—and welcomed new ones, including new Maruti Suzuki Swift, new Honda Amaze, Toyota Yaris, new Hyundai Santro and Volvo XC40. Here are the ones that shone brighter than the others.

New Maruti Suzuki Swift: The original hot hatch

For its price, the new Swift is perhaps the best car we drove this year. Launched at the Auto Expo, it is peppier, roomier, and is loaded with technology. This year, the brand ‘Swift’ entered into its teens (13 years old) and broke sales records—from February till November 30, it sold 2,11,835 units, more than the sales of entire companies. It also won the Indian Car of the Year (ICOTY) 2019 award.

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New Honda Amaze: What else could you Dzire?

The Amaze is the strongest competitor of India’s largest-selling car—Maruti Dzire. The new Amaze packs state-of-the-art features at a competitive price. The Amaze was the first compact sedan developed by Honda Cars India in 2013; it was also the company’s first diesel car. The new Amaze, launched in May, is a full-model change. India is the first country where it was launched.

Toyota Yaris: A unicorn in the Toyota line-up

Over the last two decades, Toyota Yaris has gained global reputation for its attributes—contemporary design, expansive comfort, ride quality & quiet cabin, efficiency & potent performance, and safety & technology. This year the car was launched in India. While it didn’t set sales charts on fire, the Yaris is the most equipped sedan in its class.

Volvo XC40: The small SUV that’s big on innovation

It’s a vehicle with semi-autonomous driving features—it can apply brakes automatically, it can stay in its lane on a highway, it even wakes you up in case it detects the driver is drowsy. It is the future of driving. The XC40 is the newest SUV by Volvo Cars, and has an expressive design, ingenious storage. It competes with BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA and Audi Q3.

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New Hyundai Santro: More fluidic, more modern

The Santro was not just a tallboy design; it had a tall stature. During its production run from 1998 to 2014, 13.2 lakh units were sold in India. Twenty years ago, Hyundai chose the name Santro—taken from Saint-Tropez, the French city famous for fashion—because the company wanted to project it as a ‘fashionable’ car. The new Santro justifies its name much more than the previous generation did.

Jawa Classic and Forty Two: The art of motorcycling

If motorcycle design is art, the new Jawa motorcycles can be described as art galleries. The way, or the passion, with which these new machines have been designed is exceptional. Both the Classic and the Forty Two—that’s what these two are called—are the ‘youngest’ motorcycles available in India today, with perhaps the longest legacy. Priced from Rs 1.55-1.64 lakh, these compete primarily with the Royal Enfield Classic 350.

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