The slowdown in Europe is a reflection of events at the biennial event, but here are some vehicles that have the potential to either be launched in India or have an impact on the way the Indian automobile industry moves forward
One thing is clear from the Paris Motor Show 2012 — the economic downturn in Europe has had a very visible effect on the auto industry here. The usual buzz associated with a motor show of this scale is missing; beginning with the last Frankfurt Motor Show, the lack of excitement and scale can clearly be seen. Nevertheless, it is also clear that the way forward for manufacturers is still the BRIC way, and also in the development of smaller, more efficient cars as well as engines. As far as India is concerned, this show does not have too many launches of special significance, but there are some vehicles that have the potential to either be launched in India or to an impact on the way the Indian automobile industry moves forward. Here’s a look at the key highlights from this year’s show.
Jaguar and Land Rover
The New Jaguar F-Type, the newest pure sportscar from the famed leaping cat stable, has been all over the internet much before its laumch, and the interest in the car has been huge. “The response to the car is overwhelming”, said Ian Callum, the design director at Jaguar. An idea incubated by Ratan Tata himself, the F-Type is a two-seater sportscar and a very good looking one at that, as it occupies an interesting slot. Technically, its competition includes cars like the Porsche Boxster and the BMW Z4, but Jaguar is positioning it between that slot and the higher slot occupied by performance cars like the Porsche 911. It may also be a pointer towards future sedans from Jaguar, which will have a sporty DNA.
The latest Range Rover continues the tradition of extreme offroad performance married with high levels of luxury. To occupy the premium position of Land Rover's range, it will come to India by December or early January next year and will be priced closer to Rs 1 crore when it eventually does. Regarded as the most capable luxury SUV in the world, the fourth-generation Range Rover is more luxurious, but lighter and more efficient than before. It uses an all-aluminium monocoque construction, the first SUV in the world to do so and is dripping with technologies such as automated terrain response that gauges surface grip and automatically controls the power that's sent to the wheels.
The Chevrolet Trax, a new compact SUV, is a sureshot model for a future Indian lanch. The market in India for compact SUVs is really taking off, and the Trax seems like the ideal model to join the fray. It will be pitted against the likes of the Renault Duster and Ford Ecosport. It has sporty lines and good presence, and as been launched with 1.4 turbo and 1.6-litre petrol engines, as well as 1.7-litre turbodiesel engines. At 4.25 meters in length, it will not qualifiy for an excise benefit, and it doesn't look like GM can modify the design any further. The interior is quite similar to the Cruze sedan, which shows some amount of parts bin sharing.
The most important car at the SUzuki pavilion is a concept, but the S-Cross compact SUV concept also looks like it will be a production reality quite soon, and it will likely come to India when it does hit the production lines. The C-pillar of the car looks distinctly like the new Swift's C-pillar, and the curent Suzuki design language is clear to see. The S-Cross is also a Duster-sized vehicle, and in concept form looks sporty and quite aggressive.
The new Logan was unveiled at the show, but it will not come to India until Renault's agreement with Mahindra & Mahindra for the manufacture of the current Logan/Verito ends. The car is a huge improvement over the current model, and looks modern and fresh. The interior is a little drab, but seems well built, and the USP of great interior space continues - the boot is enormous as well, making for a car that is both comfortable and practical as a family vehicle.
The new Golf is the most significant new car from Volkswagen, but it will not make it to India in the near future, because the costs would not be practical for the Indian market. Instead it will pave the way for an improved Jetta in the future, a car that is based on the Golf. The new Skoda Rapid for Europe, although it looks like an ideal replacement for the Octavia, will not be coming in, as it is smaller than the competition and is not part of the MQB platform. The modular transverse matrix or MQB will be the basis for all hatchbacks and premium sedans from the group, the Golf being the first to be based on it. Volkswagen will eventually have all its cars from the Polo to the Passat based on it. Another MQB candidate, the A3 was finally shown in four-door form. This one, the estate won't be making it here but the sedan will in 2013 and will be the cheapest Audi on sale in India when it does. Other VW group company products like the Lamborghini Gallardo have received a product refresh while yet another limited edition of the Bugatti Veyron, the most expensive production car in the world was shown. Ducati, Volkswagen Group's latest buyout and the first two-wheeler brand in their portfolio were keen to show their new Multistrada and a revised version of their superbike, the Panigale.
The all-new i30, Hyundai’s biggest selling car in Europe, was unveiled, and it is an extremely good looking model. More significantly, Hyundai has begun operating its plant in Brazil, making cars specifically for the Brazilian market (like they did with the Eon for India) on a platform they call HB20. The cars all have three-cylinder, 1-litre engines, to conform to Brazilian tax standards (bigger engines are taxed more). There is a four-door sedan, a five-door hatchback and a compact SUV also in the pipeline. This SUV could well be introduced in India in the future, although there are no plans to do so for the moment.