As India gradually eases down its lockdown protocols, automakers are moving ahead with their plans to launch new cars and SUVs
COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to a virtual standstill. Economic activities across India have taken a hit as businesses and industries remained shut for over two months as part of the nationwide lockdown. India’s automotive industry is still in a state of struggle.
However, Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari shared that the sector could see an upswing over the next five years under ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative — aimed to cut India’s dependency on Chinese products and support local production. As restrictions are being eased, several automakers wish to move ahead with their delayed plans to launch new products.
The launches include a range of 2020MY vehicles right from the BS6 Honda Jazz hatchback to the more exclusive Mercedes-Benz GLS full-size SUV. Below are the most-awaited cars and SUVs coming within a budget of Rs 5-12 lakh ex-showroom:
Honda Jazz BS6 (June 2020; Expected Price: Rs 7.75 lakh)
The BS6 Honda Jazz will be a petrol-only model in the BS6 era though its earlier BS4 counterpart was available in a diesel format as well. For the 2020 model year, updates include a revised front grille design, new bumpers and LED headlamps. Interiors could also see some changes such as fresh seat fabric and an updated infotainment system. The present-gen Honda Jazz is quite outdated compared to its global sibling, 2020MY Honda Fit. With improved features and cosmetics, it would be a strong rival to the Volkswagen Polo, Maruti Suzuki Baleno (or Toyota Glanza), Ford Freestyle and new-gen Hyundai i20.
Honda WR-V BS6 (June 2020; Expected Price: Rs 8.25 lakh)
Honda Car India’s new WR-V BS6 facelift was recently spied at dealerships. Bookings have also opened at a token amount of Rs 21,000. Exterior updates include a new grille, LED projector lamps, C-shaped LED taillamps and gunmetal-finish alloy wheels. Powertrain choices could be limited to just a 5-speed 1.2-litre petrol engine packing 88bhp and 110Nm as the company has temporarily discontinued its diesel line-up. Once launched, it will compete with the Hyundai Venue, Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Tata Nexon, Ford EcoSport and Mahindra XUV300.
Kia Sonet (August 2020; Expected Price: Rs 7-11.5 lakh)
Kia Motors India had showcased the upcoming Sonet in a concept format at Auto Expo 2020, held in early February. Like the Kia Seltos and Carnival, the Sonet is also expected to feature ‘UVO’ connectivity suite. Notable interior highlights could be a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system and premium Bose sound system. It will borrow its power plant choices from the BS6 Hyundai Venue. This includes an 82bhp/113Nm 1.2-litre NA petrol, 118bhp/171Nm 1.0-litre turbo petrol and 99bhp/240Nm 1.5-litre diesel. Once launched, it would be a strong rival to the popular compact SUVs available in India at present.
Maruti Suzuki S-Cross (June 2020; Expected Price: Rs 9.90-12 lakh)
Maruti Suzuki has already started accepting bookings for the updated BS6 petrol-powered S-Cross for Rs 11,000. It will come in three variants: Delta, Zeta and Alpha. The base Sigma variant will be discontinued. The 2020MY Maruti Suzuki S-Cross is powered by the familiar BS6 1.5-litre petrol engine offering 103bhp and 138Nm while mated to a 5-speed manual 4-speed torque-converter automatic transmission. This is the same engine powering the BS6-compliant Ciaz, Ertiga, XL6 and Vitara Brezza. The BS4 S-Cross came in only a diesel avatar but Maruti Suzuki has opted a petrol-only strategy for BS6 era. It competes with the Hyundai Creta, Renault Duster, Nissan Kicks, Kia Seltos as well as the production-spec Skoda VISION IN and Volkswagen Taigun coming in 2021.
Nissan Magnite (August 2020; Expected Price: Rs 5.25–8 lakh)
Nissan has shared a global business strategy for the next 18 months in which it plans to introduce 12 new cars. One of them is the Nissan Magnite, a compact SUV which takes design inspiration from the bigger, more popular Nissan products. It is based on Renault-Nissan’s CMF-A modular platform that also underpins Renault’s upcoming Kiger or production-spec HBC. Engine choices are supposedly a 1.0-litre NA or 1.0-litre turbo petrol mill. The former is employed in the BS6 Renault Triber MPV making 71bhp and 96Nm. The latter, expected to push out around 95bhp and 150Nm, is still in the works.
Toyota Urban Cruiser (July/August 2020, Expected Price: Rs 7.5–11.5 lakh)
Toyota is yet to announce the launch timeline of its upcoming Urban Cruiser (or rebadged Vitara Brezza) though rumours suggest that it could happen within three months. It is the second product to come under the partnership between Toyota Kirloskar Motor and Maruti Suzuki India Limited, after the Glanza (rebadged Baleno). It will employ the same 1.5-litre NA petrol motor, good for 103bhp and 138Nm, that powers all present-day premium Maruti Suzuki products. Transmission choices are also the familiar 5-speed manual or 4-speed torque-converter automatic. Unlike the Toyota Glanza, the Urban Cruiser could be significantly different in terms of cosmetics.