August 2011 promises to be a very busy month for the auto sector. From the biggest launch of the month, the new Maruti Suzuki Swift to Audi's new A6 and Volkswagen's Jetta, the month is choc-a-bloc with launches.
And the the launches don't end there. A new SUV from BMW, the X3 will also hit showrooms while Mercedes-Benz will draw the curtains on the new-gen SLK. Then of course, there is the Force One, Force Motors first foray with a slightly premium seven-seat SUV.
There are variants too that will make their way into showrooms, including a cheaper variant of a crossover currently on sale (psst, we can't tell you right now) and a facelifted version of the Honda Jazz (which explains the up to Rs 1.75 lakh discount on it).
So what are you waiting for? Turn over to start reading on all the cars you should watch out for this August, starting with the all-new Audi A6.
NEW AUDI A6
Launch date: Aug 3
Price: Rs 37-49 lakh
Audi's premium executive offering has gone through a drastic change, and boy is it seriously improved!
Visually more in-your-face than the subtle exteriors of the previous-gen, the new A6 is sleeker and more athletic in its stance. On the inside too, the A6 borrows a lot from cars like the A7 and A8, including a folding screen for the MMI, new Start-Stop function for the supercharged V6 petrol and an Economy Function in MMI. There are lots of features and details on the new car and it's even better built than before. Material quality is right up there with the best in the segment and in most cases is even better.
Motor options will include a basic, 2.0-litre four-potter diesel with 170 bhp that may be priced at Rs 37-38 lakh with a 2.8 FSI petrol with a bit over 200 horsepower and a supercharged V6 with 300 bhp making up the petrol range. The 3.0 TDI has also received some revisions to now produce 245 bhp and is our pick of the lot for now. The top-end petrol and diesel variants could retail for Rs 46-49 lakh.
The new A6 is quite accomplished in the ride and handling department, with better ride quality than its predecessor, a more sorted quattro setup and insane levels of grip. Given its credentials, the new A6 is bound to rattle the established lot.
NEW MARUTI SUZUKI SWIFT
Launch date: Aug 17
Price: Rs 4.5 to 6.5 lakh (estimated)
We were the first to tell you that the Swift is coming in August, as far back as May 2011. Well, now that it has been confirmed by numerous teaser ads, we can now tell you what you can expect from the new Maruti Suzuki Swift.
Its looks are evolutionary, but every single panel on the new Swift is different from its previous iteration. The headlamps and tail lamps are larger, it's even more rounded around the edges and the car appears longer than before – which it is!
Longer and wider than before, the new Swift now boasts of more interior space and better space management. This is also thanks to the fact that the wheelbase is now longer by 50 mm, while the overall car length has increased by 90 mm. The dashboard is new and has a Kizashi-inspired centre-console and better fit and finish on the whole as has been conveyed to us. A first drive and full road-test can be seen on these very pages can be expected soon and will give us a clearer picture.
Under the hood are two familiar engines - the 1.2-litre petrol with the possible addition of variable valve-tech and the 1.25-litre DDiS diesel. The former is expected to produce close to 90 bhp while the latter will be good for 75 bhp, just like the previous iteration. Interestingly, the cars are quite efficient too - the petrol good for nearly 20 kpl and the diesel for 23.8 kpl (all figures ARAI).
The new Swift is expected to fit into the same shoes as the older one, so expect some neat handling and improved ride quality, given the fact that this car is lighter than the previous one by a couple of kilos. Trim levels will continue to remain the same, with added features for each trim. A new ZDi variant can also be expected, something the last Swift didn't boast of, and it too, like the ZXi variant may come with features such as a Start-Stop button and bluetooth and USB/aux-in connectivity as standard.
Expect a small rise in the price of the Swift, with the Swift easily being able to command a premium over the last car. Maruti says that it has already received 38,000 bookings for the new Swift and there's already a 2-3 month waiting period, even before the car has been officially launched. Trust the new Swift to be in the same position where the last one left off - at the top of its game.
Launch date: Aug 17
Price: Rs 13.5 to 16 lakh (estimated)
Volkswagen's next-gen Jetta is coming sooner than you thought. The new Jetta is based on a newer platform that is cheaper to build for Volkswagen and therefore is cheaper to the end-user in most other markets and we hope that Volkswagen will pass on the same benefits to the Indian consumer as well.
Longer than before and boasting of more interior space, the Jetta has become a touch more practical. The materials on the inside are the usual high-quality stuff, though Volkswagen have found ways of bringing down the cost without affecting actual material quality by much. Expect the Jetta tgo come with a touchscreen, bluetooth connectivity and a lot of features that are also common to the Passat.
Power for the Jetta will come via a 2.0-litre TDI common-rail diesel with 138 bhp. This motor incidentally is in the same state of tune as the last-gen Passat or current-gen Skoda Superb/Yeti. Transmission options will include either a manual or a 6-speed DSG. Another motor, a 1.4-litre TSI turbocharged petrol can also be expected, though it's quite likely that this motor may be offered on a later date.
The new Jetta with its set of features, performance on hand and decent dynamics will compete with the Skoda Laura, Chevrolet Cruze, Toyota Corolla Altis and Honda Civic.
FACELIFTED HONDA JAZZ
Launch date: Aug 18
Price: Rs 7.4 to 8.1 lakh (estimated)
Honda's discount plan on the Jazz was a pre-cursor to this, the launch of the facelifted Honda Jazz. The Jazz has been a slow-mover and hopefully the facelift should change things for the car somewhat.
The facelifted Jazz has a new grille, a revised bumper with intakes and foglamps, marginally revised headlamps and tail lamps. We don't think there's much too different on the inside, though expect a few more features like USB ports and/or Bluetooth connectivity to become available across the range.
The other changes that are expected are revised rear suspension ratings to make the car a touch more pliant. Mechanically, the rest of the car will remain the same, including the 1.2-litre motor and the 5-speed gearbox. No automatic version or 1.5-litre version can be expected.
We expect prices of the Jazz to remain more or less like the previous car, but not of the discounted variety.
Launch date: Aug 18-19
Price: Rs 10 to 13 lakh
Force Motors may be a new name to many in the passenger vehicle business, but actually it has been around for ages, with its various iterations of the Trax. Now, with a new name (Force Motors Personal Vehicles Division) and a new product, it wants the market to take it
The Force One is a Ford Endeavour-sized SUV, with a price tag that will appeal to both Mahindra Scorpio, Tata Safari and Ford Endeavour buyers. Powering the seven-seater Force One is a 2.2-litre common-rail diesel from a two-generation old Mercedes-Benz E-Class, which produces 140 bhp and 32 plus kgm of peak torque. The body shell is borrowed from the Guangdong Foday Explorer III, a Chinese SUV, but has been completely developed in-house, with ride and handling fine-tuned by the expert hands at Lotus Engineering.
The interiors should be spacious given the general dimensions of the vehicle. The dashboard and other bits may not be up to the mark, when compared to say the Ford Endeavour, but at that price, few vehicles can boast of such a package. Force One will be the first Indian OEM to offer projector headlamps and they claim to have best-in-class legroom across three forward facing rows.
Over 25 dealers have been appointed across the country and more are expected in the months to come. A new MPV can be expected in 2012 and a replacement for Force One in 2013. Force Motors is pretty darn serious as far as the Force One goes and August 18 is when we will know if it has paid off or not.