Cars to watch out for in 2013

Like every other year, dozens of cars–big and small, awful and spectacular, practical and extravagant–will hit the roads this year as well. And like always only a few will hit the bull’s eye and the others will fall by the wayside. These are the some that look worth waiting for.

Ford EcoSport

The company with the blue oval is betting big on this one. It got a new lease of life in 2009 with the Figo. But as it so happens with the non Maruti/Hyundai companies in India, Ford reached a higher level and then very conveniently…stagnated. Its next touted launch was the new global Figo but just so enamoured was the firm with itself that it forgot the mantra that made Figo such a success….killer pricing. Under a new leader, Ford promises to do a Figo again with the EcoSport.

The vehicle surely looks like one worth the wait. And it has been some wait. Initially expected to hit the roads in 2012, it has been in the making forever. And in between, it has lost some thunder to a certain Renault Duster. But India does not seem to get enough of SUVs and this one has all the ingredients–smart, urban, practical and compact.

Lets just hope for an un-Ford like pricing now.

Honda Amaze

The Amaze will surely square up with the EcoSport when it comes to the silly award season during the same time next year. Why? Quite simply because it is one of the most important cars to come out from a Honda factory since the entry of the company itself in India. Why again? Because it is a diesel. A first time diesel from the most technologically inclined mass market car company in the world.

The company has suffered like no other because of our fetish for diesel cars and to a lesser extent, we have suffered as well because the company stubbornly refused to look this way. Now that it has, a certain Maruti Dzire has reasons to worry.

Definitely one of the top picks for 2013.

Mercedes A-Class

In the middle of this year, the charge of the luxury compact cars or the so called affordable luxury segment, will begin in the right earnest with the A class. As the name suggests, it is the smallest and cheapest Mercedes available around the world. How small? Larger and wider than all other small cars in India. How cheap? Good enough to get you three Maruti Swifts.

So this one is not about price then….more about how cool the car is. It is big enough to be called a proper luxury car so if somebody buys it, he wont be looked at as one who could not afford it but one who is sensible and practical. It is for those who love to drive but are bored of sedans and find SUVs terrible in the endless traffic jams of a metropolitan. Is India ready for it? Time will tell but Mercedes, which is slipping badly in the market, is praying that it is.

Everywhere else, the German firm says the A class is more about younger set of buyers and not volumes. Thankfully in India, there are no pretensions. It is all about volumes, volumes, volumes. Amen!

BMW 1 series

So Mercedes realised a little too late to bring in the compact cars and lost the mantle of being called number 1 in the business to BMW. Now that the latter is being hounded by Audi, it does not want to be found wanting. Hence, the 1 series. It comes in a little ahead of expectations but by the end of this year, the A class would have set the stage for it. And in a way, by announcing its launch in advance, it has perhaps ensured there will be a section that would wait for the 1 before buying or rejecting the A.

So, what is it that the 1 offers and the A or B do not? Pretty much nothing. Similar dimensions, comparable engine sizes, identical road presence. Barring the badge, which depends upon who you are more obsessed with, and an adrenaline thumping performance that is intrinsic to any BMW…1 does not bring anything out rightly new to the table.

The gentlemen with sporadic rough streaks? Please line in for the A. This space is strictly for the graffiti obsessed mavericks.

Tata Nano 2.0

Will it be a diesel? A boot? A bigger engine for sure? Electric? We don’t know for sure. What does it take for the Nano to finally live up to the hype of 2008? The company does not know yet too.

What we do know however, is that a refresh of the world’s cheapest car is in the making. Though the lustre is missing from the car now, you can never really count it out. For all its in-capabilities, a Tata car is generally good the second time around. Ask the company on what is taking so long for the diesel and the answer has always been “we are cautious as we dont want to take any more chances.”

For sure, there may not be a third coming for this small wonder. Wishing a Happy 2013 to the “khushiyon ki chaabi.”

And the others : Skoda Octavia, Mahindra Verito sub 4 metre, Volvo V40, Audi A3, Jaguar F type, Mercedes E class, B class diesel, Jeep Cherokee, Hyundai i10 diesel, Chevrolet Enjoy, Chevrolet Sail sedan.

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