With about 80 vehicles unveiled and almost all major manufacturers put a stellar display of their range of vehicles and concept, this year's Auto Expo is turning out to be a huge success. There were new launches from almost all popular brands – be it Tata, Maruti, Ford, BMW or Jaguar.
The stalls of many of the manufacturers were filled to brim with showstoppers from their portfolio (notable stalls including those of Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Jaguar, etc.) and these premium brands chose to unveil some of their upcoming models during this year's expo.
While BMW unveiled its all new 7 series and X1 and Audi launched the fifth generation A4 and the new R8 V10 Plus, the other noticeable launches from the mass market brands were XUV Aero, Maruti Ignis and Baleno RS, Renault Duster facelift, Honda BR-V, Chevrolet Spin, Essentia and Cruze update, Hyundai Tuscon, Nissan X-Trail Hybrid, VW Polo GTI, Ameo and Tiguan, etc.
While Mercedes did not launch any new model during the expo but debuted the S500 Cabriolet that will be launched in India later this year alongside showcasing a lot of interesting models from the lineup. Other than the regular road going models, Mercedes showcased the 2013 F1 car driven by Niko Roseberg and Lewis Hamilton.
One of the main attractions in the Mercedes stall was the near mental G500 4X4-Squared. This absolute hooligan of a brute SUV is clad in the traditional G Class attire with some bits and pieces changed, but under the skin, this beast rides on twin dampers and springs and with a portal axle setup, it has a massive 450mm ground clearance. The SUV is powered by a twin turbo 4.0-liter V8, with a max power output of 416bhp.
The other model that grabbed the eyeballs was the S600 Guard. With a price tag sticker of 10 Crore INR, this is aimed at celebrities and business magnets who value luxury and safety. The car is heavily reinforced and can protect the occupants from an attack of AK-47s and grenades. The special purpose tyres can drive at the speed of 30 km/h, even if they are shot and damaged by bullets. It is for sure that Mercedes will not sell this to anyone without doing a thorough background check first.
Among all the models in Mercedes pavilion, perhaps the model that is most interesting from Indian market perceptive is the GLC class. The GLC 250d SUV will probably be launched soon in India, and this takes the fight to BMW X3 and Audi Q5. The interior is luxuriously appointed and is clad in high quality leather and natural wood and resembles to the C class. In terms of safety features too, the former share the platform with the C class. Other than these, Mercedes also showcased the S500 Cabriolet, AMG versions of GTS, CLA 45, GLE Coupe, etc., besides its host of regular cars.
Audi surprised everyone by pulling a rabbit from its hat – the company launched the updated Audi A4 in India during the Auto Expo 2016. This car retains the family look, but has enough new design elements to stand out from the crowd.
The A4 has grown in size when compared to the outgoing A4, but has somehow managed to shed a healthy 120kgs from the weight, thereby giving the car, performance and economy advantages.
The new A4 comes with impressive features like Matrix LED headlights, Audi Visual cockpit, color heads-up display and Bang & Olufsen premium sound system, etc. and is loaded with comfort and safety features.
Along with the A4, Audi also launched the second generation R8 V10. The launch was a high profile event and was done by Virat Kohli and Alia Bhatt. The car is priced at 2.47 Crore INR (ex-showroom), Delhi.
The new R8 boasts many visual tweaks yet retains enough of Audi's family design cues. The headlights are LED units and can be upgraded to Laser lighting and the taillights too get LED treatment. The side profile is unmistakably R8 and the car is powered by a V10 engine displacing 5.2-liters with a peak power output of 610bhp. This naturally aspirated block can propel the car from 0-100Kmph in 3.2 seconds and takes the car all the way to a top speed of 330km/h. The transmission duties are done by a 7-speed S-Tronic gearbox and the car is full time all-wheel drive to harness all the power generated.
The main attractions at the VW stall were the new Tiguan SUV, Passat, Ameo compact sub 4-meter sedan and the smoking hot Polo GTi.
The Tiguan is a luxury SUV from VW and is aimed to boost the image of VW among the luxury class customers. The car was launched internationally just 4 months ago and shares the platform with new Passat, Octavia, A3, etc.
The SUV is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged direct injection engine that is mated to a 7-speed autobox. The car is expected to be available in both front wheel drive and 4-wheel drive options. It is bigger than the previous generation and boasts clean design and muscular styling cues.
The Passat was shown in plug-in hybrid trim (Passat GTE) and VW confirmed that the new, 8th generation Passat will be launched in India, later this year. The hybrid has a TSI engine and an electric motor and both produce 154bhp and 113bhp of max power, respectively. The combined power output is around 215bhp and 400Nm of torque. The engine is mated with a 6-speed DSG gearbox.
VW chose this occasion to display the made in India compact Sub-4m sedan – Ameo, which is based on the Vento. VW aims to launch the car later this year, which will come with safety features like ABS and Dual Air bags, etc. that are standard across all models. The car will be powered by a 1.2-liter 3-cylinder petrol engine and 1.5-liter 4-cylinder diesel engine and will feature segment first features like cruise control and rain sensing wipers. The new sub-4m sedan will also be available in Automatic trim, where the diesel mill will be mated to a 7-speed DSG.
Perhaps the hottest candidate in VWs stall was this – the smoking hot 189bhp Polo GTi. The car is powered by a turbo charged 1.8-liter direct injection petrol engine that is mated to a 7-speed DSG gearbox. The car is available in only 3-door trim and the launch will be later this year. The prices are not yet disclosed but since this is imported via CBU route, we don't expect this to be competitively priced.
Mahindra wooed the show goers with its XUV Aero concept, which is a fastback version of the XUV with updated styling touches. While the styling is futuristic and may polarize opinion, the real gem lies under the hood – the car is powered by an engine churning out 210bhp, with a claimed 0-100kmph time in just 6 seconds. The car resembles a BMW X6 when viewed in silhouette, and is packed with futuristic interior.
The other notable addition from Mahindra was SsangYong Tivoli, which is a mid-size SUV from the Mahindra owned Korean manufacturer, SsangYong. Tivoli is expected to make India debut later this year and it will be interesting to see how the company place it in the market.
The main attraction at Honda pavilion was the BR-V that will be available in India later this year. The Honda BR-V looks muscular and sheds the MUV image, unless viewed from side, and gets attractive interior when compared to Mobilio, the MUV sibling. Honda is banking on this 7-seater to garner sales from the SUV mad people and is betting high on this model.
Honda also showcased the 9th generation Accord, which will be launched in India in next fiscal year. Accord is making a comeback after a brief absence and boasts updated designs both outside and inside.