BMW i8 Roadster
The open top version of BMW's environment-friendly sportscar was showcased in its signature E-Copper Metallic shade at the Auto Expo 2018 and is slated to be launched in the country by end-2018. The i8 Roadster, along with the i8 Coupe, will be the 'i' brand's halo cars and should be the flag bearers for future tech such as large rechargeable batteries, electric motors, small turbocharged motors, plug-in hybrid tech and lightweight construction. BMW has kept the scissor doors and flying buttresses while making some changes to incorporate the stowable fabric roof (which folds/deploys in 15 seconds). The i8 Roadster is a pure 2-seater, unlike the Coupe which is a 2+2 seat arrangement.
The BMW i8 Roadster has similar hardware as the Coupe but has obvious changes mainly because of its open-top configuration. Weight has gone up by 60kg because of the reinforcements made to the carbon-fibre chassis, the additional mechanisms added for the folding fabric roof and rollover protection devices. The larger 34Ah battery, up from the earlier 20Ah unit, improves electric-only range from 35km to 53km. Performance figures from the combined powertrain, consisting of a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor, is 374PS with a 0-100 time of 4.6-seconds - 0.2 seconds slower than the Coupe.
The second-generation Honda Amaze took centre stage at Honda's pavilion at the Auto Expo 2018 and will be launched in India latest by early 2019. Honda says the second-generation Amaze is based on an all-new platform, unlike the previous model which was based on the Brio hatchback platform. This has allowed for a longer wheelbase among other unspecified dimension changes which should lead to better interior space.
The design is a lot bolder, the smooth hatchback-inspired lines of the older car replaced by an almost SUV-like muscular stance. The most noticeable changes on the outside include the larger headlamps with LED DRLs, the large 'wing'-like grille chrome structure, clamshell bonnet, a gently-sloping roofline, deep shoulder line on the side, large taillamps and a lip-mounted spoiler. Inside, the dashboard has been completely revised and match Honda's new design language used on other models like the CR-V and the Civic.
Honda has also confirmed that the new Amaze will be offered with diesel-CVT variants as well. We expect the 1.2-litre, 4-cylinder petrol and 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel engines to be offered on the new Amaze with some modifications for better efficiency and lower emissions.
The Hyundai Kona the first SUV to feature Hyundai's new Fluidic design philosophy where the design breaks the mould for a love-it-or-hate-it design, and it will be the first all-electric (EV) vehicle Hyundai will launch in India if everything goes to plan. The 'cascade' grille, slim DRLs placed where headlamps are traditionally put, large headlamps placed lower down the front fascia, bold wheel arches, and the rear design which mimics the front etc. are the highlights of the new Kona. The model shown at the Auto Expo featured a livery inspired by the Marvel character Iron Man, with metallic red and grey paint theme along with the iconic chest-piece insignia on the lights.
Inside, the Kona is as funky as the outside, with coloured panels on the dashboard, a floating centre infotainment display, an optional heads-up display and contrast stitched upholstery. While Hyundai may have showcased the Kona Iron Man edition at the Auto Expo, but it will launch the less fancy looking but more eco-friendly Kona EV in the country. If the response at the Auto Expo and subsequent customer interactions for an SUV EV are positive, Hyundai may launch the Kona EV sometime around 2019.
Kia SP Concept
Kia showcased a large part of their international lineup at the Auto Expo 2018; from the flagship Stinger 4-door grand tourer to the Picanto hatchback - the Kia pavilion showed everyone what they could be potentially be offering in on of their newest markets internationally. The highlight of the expo for Indian fans of the youthful brand was the SP Concept, a precursor to a compact SUV which will be the first product the company launched sometime in 2019.
The SP Concept shows a new take on Kia's design philosophy which traditionally uses a lot of curves. The Concept SP is boxier, giving it a more old-school SUV look than that of a crossover. The Kia signature 'Tiger Nose' grille is present and so is the LED DRLs placed over vertically placed headlamps. The design is more sedate, and thus closer to production, as you move to the side and rear; The window line with the kink at the rear quarter glass, the contrast coloured roof and the slim taillamps will need minimal changes.
There is no confirmation on what engines, transmissions and drive systems the Kia SP Concept's production version will use.
Mahindra has showcased the SsangYong G4 Rexton at the Auto Expo, it is expected to be launched in India with a new badge when launched in India during the festive season. To be plonked in above the XUV500, the Rexton could be called the XUV700 and be pitted against the Toyota Fortuner, Ford Endeavour and the likes.
Almost 5-metres in length, 2-metres wide and 1.8-metres tall, the Mahindra Rexton (or XUV700) will be on par with the 7-seater SUVs it will go up against. Features like projector headlamps, 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system, 360-degree camera, cooled seats, electric tailgate are available on the SsangYong Rexton, Mahindra may choose to keep many of them to make it a value-for-money proposition in the segment.
SsangYong offers a single diesel engine on the Rexton, a 2.2-litre, 4-cylinder, turbocharged unit developing 178PS of maximum power and 420Nm of torque. This could be brought to India with slight modifications for efficiency or driveability and paired to either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed automatic transmission. Mahindra is expected to assemble the Rexton in India to keep its price competitive.
Maruti Suzuki Concept Future S
While the launch of the new Swift may have taken the limelight on the second day of the Auto Expo 2018, it was the Concept Future S which stole the thunder on day 1. This concept which could spawn a sub 4-metre crossover for the brand and also dictate the design direction taken by the company in the future in general.
An upright stance, high bonnet, wide body and tall ground clearance point to a proper crossover. Design highlights include slim LED headlamps, a blended grille, tall cladding, an old-school almost vertical front windshield and minimal body lines. The Future S could spawn a rival to the Kwid, the latter is making inroads into the sales of the Alto.
Inside, the Future S gets fancy elements like body coloured panels on the dashboard, a large centre console dominated by a circular multi-information display and a squarish steering. To be based on the Heartec platform that also underpins the Swift twins, the production version of the Future S could be powered by all-new petrol and diesel powertrains made in-house by Maruti/Suzuki.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain
It was quite a surprise when Mercedes-Benz announced that it would be showcasing the E-Class All-Terrain at the Auto Expo 2018. Showcased in the E 220d trim, the All-Terrain could be a legitimate rival to the highly acclaimed Volvo V90 Cross Country.
While estates may not have a big fan following in India, their high-riding counterparts seem to have struck a chord. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain could cash in on this new found love for soft-road capable estates and has all the right elements to do so.
Apart from the obvious design elements of the E-Class sedan, the All-Terrain gets the estate body, rides higher, has prominent plastic cladding all-around and large 19-inch wheels. There are serious hardware changes, including AWD and a dedicated electronically controlled 'all-terrain' mode to help the All-Terrain tackle at least some off-road situations. The E220d All-Terrain will be powered by a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine developing 197PS/400Nm paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission and AWD.
Renault has set its eye on being ready when India shifts to all-electric only transportation come 2030. The Zoe, its most popular EV in Europe, could be the stepping stone for the company in a market that is still in its infancy to support EVs.
The Zoe could be the mass market car that ushers in electric transport to a large number of the country's population if launched by 2020. While it may not look like it, the Zoe is in the same size range as the Baleno and Elite i20. Its interiors are similar to the ones found in other Renault products, albeit with displays suited to its electric powertrains. The Zoe is powered by either a 22kWh or a 41kWh battery, with the latter offering a maximum range of 400km in a single charge
One of the highlights of the Auto Expo 2018 has to be the exhibits shown by Tata Motors. Of these, the radically designed H5X SUV stood out the most. To be launched in 2018, the Tata H5X is the first product from the company to showcase their new Impact Design 2.0 language. What is most exciting is Tata's claim that the concept is 80 per cent close to production, and if the Nexon is any indication - this could be a fact.
Similar in size to the Hexa, the H5X is based on the Land Rover L550 platform and will be available in both 5- and 7-seater configurations. The design inside-out is indescribable - check out our first look video for a closer look.
Toyota has no product to take on the Honda City or the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz. This large gap between the Etios and Corolla Altis needs to be filled and the Yaris seems to be the best fit. Showcased at the Auto Expo 2018, the Yaris is slightly smaller in dimension as compared to the City and Ciaz but packs in a lot of segment-first features.
These include a gesture control infotainment system, a tyre-pressure monitoring system, 60:40 split rear seats, roof mounted A/C vents for the rear passengers, ambient lighting, powered driver's seat and front parking sensors. Safety features include disc brakes all around, seven airbags and a 5-star ASEAN NCAP crash rating.
The Yaris may not be the best looking sedan in its class but it should be able to attract customers with the promise of good value and reliability.