If the tagline for the four-wheeler lineup on day one of the Auto Expo were up to us, it would be 'Condensed. Compact. Concise - all the wholesome goodness of the SUV/sedan in a tax-friendly, sub-four-metre package.' Nearly every stall had a fun-sized version under the spotlight. Starting with the. . .
The Volkswagen Ameo set the tone ahead of day one itself when the 'made for India' three-box-car was finally revealed. 'Neath the Polo-esque exterior is the familiar 1.2 MPI petrol that also powers the little hatch. The diesel option is the 1.5 TDI borrowed from the Vento which comes mated to a 5-speed manual or a 7-speed automatic dual clutch 'box. Note that the petrol version is only available with the manual option.
Conceptualised, designed and developed in India for India, the Brezza grabbed headlines and eyeballs at the Expo floor. For good reason too, because a lot of thought has been put into cramming in commanding presence and ruggedness into the compact SUV. Starting from the bold chrome grille and 'Bull Horn' headlamps to the square wheel and 198mm of ground clearance - all of it spells butch. Initially to be offered with only a 200 DDiS engine option mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, the Brezza will get a petrol variant in the months to come.
Surethe Tucson hogged the limelight at Hyundai's Auto Expo pavilion. After all, the Mahindra XUV500 rival makes a comeback to the Indian market after quite a hiatus. Now donning Hyundai's Fluidic design, we suspect the Tucson, in its second innings here, will come powered by the 2.0-litre diesel engine that makes 178PS and be mated to the new 8-speed automatic gearbox that was also on display at the Expo.
But what we're going to truly watch out for is the the HND-14 Carlino - the more fun-size (read sub-4m) SUV concept we saw in the flesh. Washed in a metallic amber tint, it may not be the stuff of dreams but its hexagonal grille, angular wheel wells, trapezoidal character lines over the wheel arches and the boxy airdams looked rather promising to us. It's made for India - late 2017 to mid 2018 is when we expect it will enter production. As with all compact SUVs, it will share a platform with a hatchback, either the Grand i10 or the Elite i20.
Renault are milking the runaway success that the Kwid has been, for all its worth. The 1.0 Sce shown at the Expo is the same car powered by a new 1.0-litre engine, while the Easy R comes equipped with an all-new 5-speed Automated Manual Transmission (AMT). The innovative gear shift control dial lets one choose from three modes - Neutral, Drive And Reverse. And with these new variants, its makers are not being very subtle about the competition they're taking on. We are not ones to drop names. Cough, cough. . . Maruti. . . cough. . . Alto. . .cough. . . K10.
The French carmaker also got our hopes up with the Climber concept, based on the Kwid. With its exaggerated wheel arches accentuated by electric blue trim, headlamps masked in beefier plastic elements and a robust lower bumper, it was quite a showstopper. We're expecting a slightly toned down version here, if at all it makes it to production. Renault, are you listening?
Brvity is the soul of wit. Oops, we meant 'brevity' (where is our copy editor when we need him?). Read our intro again to know why we're suddenly quoting from Hamlet. We'll put it briefly. Mid-size (not compact) SUV. To rival the Creta and Duster. May come powered by the 1.5-litre Earth Dream diesel. Bold. Sporty. Seven-seater.
Also seen at the Honda stand was the ninth-gen Accord which may come powered by the 2.4-litre i-VTEC motor when it makes a comeback to India later this year.
When it came to the C-word (compact. . . tch tch), Mahindra wasn't going to be left behind and brought the SsangYong Tivoli to the India Expo Mart. But what really was a focus here was the S-word - safety. To start with, with over 40 per cent of its body composed of AHSS (advanced high strength steel), impact on collision is minimised which translates to better passenger safety. While the India-spec model may not get the internationally available seven airbags, there is hope, considering that the likes of the Maruti S-Cross and Hyundai Creta have already set the benchmark.
Also, after the recent launch of the KUV100, Mahindra tried to bring back focus on the K-word with a new lemony shade for the hatchback. Nice try, Mahindra. Nice try. You still want to see what it looks like in yellow, don't you? Fine, here's the link.
But old habits die hard. After wading through all the fun-sized offerings, we got back to eyeballing the truly butch and massive.
Starting with the. . .
They'refinally here. After much spying, spotting and testing (of our patience), the iconic Jeeps are here. In a world infested with aerodynamically efficient curves and soft lines, the jarring, sharply coach-like form of the Wrangler quickened our heartbeats. And Jeep chose well to have a black Wrangler on the Expo floor. Also present at the Jeep pavilion was the Jeep Grand Cherokee which will be made available in two trims. But what we witnessed at the Auto Expo was its SRT version, which gets a 6.4-litre motor that makes a near-mental 470PS of power. So it's confirmed, this will be the year Jeep comes to India. Expect a mid-2016 launch.
Yes, it's been making the rounds of the international motor shows for a while, but we're talking production ready. The MPV segment in India has a Tata-sized hole, which the Aria isn't doing a great job of filling. Sure, the Hexa is the same shape and size, but the devil is in the details - or the detailing. Could the cladding on the side, sporty-looking 19-inch multi-spoke alloys and the modern interior layout do the magic for Tata? Or the 2.2-litre engine that makes 156PS /400Nm? Or the multi-terrain mode, inspired from Land Rover's terrain response? Safety features such as ESP and airbags are expected to be standard across variants. Which, in our books, is always a win.
For now though, Toyota has a firm hold on the MPV segment in India and it looks like it's trying real hard to keep it that way. Enter the all-new Innova Cryta - all-new because of the engine and frame, whilst retaining the boxy side profile of the hugely successful outgoing model.
The cabin gets a modern touch with automatic climate control and AC vents for the second row, a 7-inch infotainment system with navigation, electrically adjustable driver's seat, 17-inch alloys, an engine start/stop button and cruise control. The second and third rows can also be folded atthe touch of a button.
Mahindra's acquisition of Pininfarina, the Italian design house is already starting to reap rewards. Just take a look at that coupe-sque tail end that's a marriage between an X6 and a GLE. Ooh, and suicide doors. On an XUV. Inside is a brown and black dual tone cabin with sporty, body hugging seats and an Apple iPad for an infotainment screen. It's not just a looker - Mahindra claimes a sub-six-second 0-100kmph time from the familiar 2.2-litre mHawk-based engine. The XUV Aero concept was brought to the Auto Expo to study audience response - could we see it on the roads? Only time will tell.
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
After the launch of the Ford Mustang in India, could General Motors follow suit and bring in the 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray? It's powered by a 6.2-litre V8 that produces 460PS. There was also the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro which is offered with three engine options internationally, a 275PS 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder unit; a 335PS, 3.6-litre V6 and a 6.2-litre V8 that puts out a manic 455PS. The cars were present at the Expo to gauge reactions. Yes, we were at the Chevrolet stand, dropping subtle hints to the manufacturer, open-jawed and drooling for better effect. You can thank us later if these are launched here.
The Audi RS 7 Performance
Audi's stall was perhaps the busiest one at the Expo (apparent from the elbow bruises we had to sustain just to get you those pictures - yes, we love you too). With ten cars on display, of which the honourable mentions include the SQ7, the S3 Cabriolet and the Audi A6 Allroad - Audi's take on an estate done the right way. The star here though was the RS 7 Performance that makes a mental 605PS of power - expect a launch later this year. Audi also launched the new 610PS making R8 V10 Plus at Rs 2.47 crore (ex-Mumbai). Too much to pay for hitting 100kmph in 3.2 seconds? Let us know what you think.
We're at the Auto Expo right now, fuelling up on caffeine and recharging all manner of electronic supplies at the OVERDRIVE stand. Drop by and say hi!
For more information from OVERDRIVE on the 2016 Auto Expo, click here