It's raining compact sedans at the 2014 Auto Expo
Tata, Ford & Hyundai have shown their wares and plans for the B-segment sedans and that highlights how serious this form factor has become.
The 2014 Auto Expo is underway and some of India's leading car makers already unveiled some of their show stoppers before the glorious motor show itself. Interestingly though, in less than 24 hours, three compact sedans announced their entry onto the scene. The game started back in 2009 when Tata motors arguably pioneered this segment with the launch of the Indigo CS and now all the leading names in the industry are following suit. With the Swift Dzire and the Honda Amaze ruling the roost, it isn't going to be an easy task for any of the new entrants, but looking at the kind of the vehicles that we have seen in the last few days, the game is definitely going to get very interesting.
Tata may have been the pioneer of the sub-4-metre compact sedan, but they certainly haven't enjoyed a first mover advantage. The Swift Dzire and the Honda Amaze have clearly taken the game to a whole new level. But that hasn't stopped Tata from reinventing its creation. Enter the Zest. Boasting of a completely new design language, the Zest comes across as a premium and smart looking compact sedan than a contraption based on a hatchback. 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.
The vehicle is laden with technology too. The Harmon infotainment system takes Tata's idea of feature rich cars to a higher level. The system is capable of running smartphone-compatible apps and taking voice commands for audio, telephony and messaging controls.
The Zest will be powered by the Revotron 1.2-litre petrol or a 1.3-litre Multijet diesel engine, depending on your fuel preference. The interesting bit is that the engines can be had with an automated manual transmission as well. The convenience of an AMT with the practicality of a diesel motor will make a lot of sense to the market.
The Zest will be launched commercially later this year alongside its hatchback sibling, the Tata Bolt.
Ford Figo Concept
While the name would bring to your mind a new generation of the popular hatchback from Ford, the Figo Concept actually provides an insight to an upcoming compact sedan. The Figo Concept is built around the 2014 Ka Concept that was revealed a while back and will take life as a compact sedan that will be launched in multiple markets around the world. In India, we expect it to be called the Figo-sedan for all pre-launch communication.
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 cellphone-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.
Hyundai unveiled its much awaited Grand i10 based sedan a day before the Auto Expo. The vehicle replaces the ageing Accent sedan, but because the new one is a more contemporary design and revolves around what Hyundai calls the 'youthful X-factor', the new sedan is called Xcent.
The design cues for the interior & exterior remain similar to the Grand i10. The longer wheelbase and the larger rear doors of the India-spec Grand i10 has helped impart a balanced design to the sedan transformation. The feature-list is similar too, however, the Xcent gets climate control & reverse parking camera - which are segment firsts too. The Xcent will get the same drivetrain options as the Grand i10.
The Hyundai Xcent will be launched this March.
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