We take a look at the top five anticipated compact sedans in the Indian market that are slated to launch in 2014-15.
The most dominant and the ultra crowded segment in India is unarguably, that of the low-cost small cars. However, ever since the government announced excise duty cut for those vehicles that are less than 4 meters in length and are powered either by a 1.5-litre diesel engine or a 1.2-litre petrol engine, the auto industry gave birth to a new breed of compact sedans. From a consumer point of view as well, it makes sense for a first time buyer of a small hatchback to upgrade in a few years time to a B-segment compact sedan that offers additional luggage space and cabin space and at the same time, does not affect the maneuverability or performance. Considering, that most compact sedans are literally just hatchbacks with an additional boot attached at the rear.
Tata Motors was the first company to develop a compact sedan in the form of Indigo CS back in 2008 (Compact Sedan), which measured 4-meters in length and was powered by a 1.4-litre diesel engine. Thus, enjoying a 15 per cent excise duty cut and resulting in the Indigo CS becoming the cheapest sedan in the country. Ever since, other big automakers followed Tata’s suit and started coming up with their own versions of compact sedans.
At the recently concluded 2014 Delhi Motor Show, many biggies like Tata, Ford and Hyundai showed off their wares and plans for the B-Segment sedans, which highlights how serious this form factor has become in India. We take a look at the top five contenders that are slated to enter the Indian market this year.
The pioneers of the sub 4-metre compact sedan segment, Tata Motors presented the all-new Tata Zest compact sedan at the Auto Expo. The cut-short version of the Manza sedan – the Tata Zest was designed by company’s European Technical Center in the UK, which explains the new design language and the premium and smart looking exteriors. The projector beam lamps, the LED tail lamps & daytime-running lights, 16-inch MOMO wheels and a deep-rooted paint finish – all contribute to giving the Zest a new-age outlook. On the inside the vehicle is laden with new and improved technology too. Power will come by a 1.2-litre petrol unit and a 1.3-litre Multijet diesel engine. The interesting bit is that the engine can be had with an automated manual transmission as well. The Tata Zest will be launched commercially later this year.
Hyundai presented a new compact sedan based on its flagship Grand i10 hatchback but with a name that has a long standing legacy behind it – the Accent. However, a little play on the title and you get the all-new Hyundai Xcent compact sedan. The new Hyundai Xcent will indeed, replace the aging Accent sedan in the Indian market. Exterior and interior styling is similar to the one seen on and inside the Grand i10. The feature list is similar too. However, the Xcent will sport segment-firsts climate control and reverse parking camera. Drivetrain options are still under wraps but we reckon the same set of engine options will be available, which serve the Grand i10. The Hyundai Xcent will be launched this March.
Ford Figo Sedan Concept
Ford showed off two global products at the beginning of this month. One is the Ford Ka sedan in Brazil that is measured over 4 meters and the second one is a sub 4-metre version of it that has been tagged as the Ford Figo Sedan Concept.
The Figo Concept features Ford’s new design language with the Aston Martin-esque grille being the focus of attraction. The swept-back headlights look great while the relatively small taillights look slightly out of place. The concept features LEDs for all the lit elements but most of it will be replaced with conventional bulbs when the car hits production. Ford hasn’t shown the interiors yet but expect an evolution of the cell phone-inspired-theme that you seen inside the Fiesta & the EcoSport. Ford hasn’t disclosed the oily bits either but the familiar range of EcoBoost, Duratec & Duratorq engines will make their way into this compact sedan. The India-spec Ford Figo sedan is expected to be ready for launch by 2015.
Maruti Suzuki Swift DZire Facelift
Maruti Suzuki relaunched the DZire in 2012 in the sub 4-metre avatar based on the flagship, Swift hatchback, which soon became an instant hit and went on to becoming the highest selling compact sedan in the Indian market. Now however, the company’s best-selling model is in for a cosmetic upgrade and this refreshed Swift DZire model is expected to launch by August 2014.
On the refreshed Swift DZire we expect to see some exterior styling and design updates and some new features inside the cabin like the push-start button start, electric folding mirrors, keyless entry and auto-up power window function for driver door.
Volkswagen/Skoda PQ25 Compact Sedan
Volkswagen AG’s Volkswagen and Skoda brand too, are planning to make their presence in the competitive compact sedan segment. It is understood that both the automakers are currently developing minimised versions of their Volkswagen Vento and Skoda Rapid sedans, which are based on the VW PQ25 platform. The cut short versions of the Vento and the Rapid will feature a more sporty design on the outside – in tune with their latest brand philosophy that is used internationally.
Both the upcoming compact sedans will be powered by the 1.5-litre four cylinder diesel engine that has been especially, developed for use in the Indian Volkswagen Group cars. Powertrain technologies such as TSI and DSG are also expected to feature in the compact sedans.
With some of the top names in the auto industry readying their respective contenders, we reckon the highly competitive compact sedan segment is bound to get heated up in the coming months.