Auto Expo 2014: Future Cars - Slew of compact-SUVs in the offing
Maruti Suzuki SX4 S-Cross
Making its Indian debut at the Auto Expo was the SX4 S-Cross, which was internationally unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show early last year. It’s a well packed crossover with robust exterior design, good looking interiors and good option of power-trains. Like the new SX4 the S-Cross sports a pair of larger, re-profiled headlights and freshly styled chrome front grille, and chrome housing for the fog lamps. We particularly like the muscular lines which the bonnet boasts off proudly and also the sporty aluminium roof rails. Smart aluminium sump guards, chrome accents on the door handle, wing mirrors with integrated turn indicators and a double sliding panoramic sunroof adds to the sporty styling.
The interiors follow the Suzuki family design - black dashboard with brush-metal highlights, which is neatly laid out and easy on the eye. The cabin is spacious, and comes with comfortable rear seats with plenty of kneeroom, thanks to the long 2,500mm wheelbase. The 60:40 split rear seats can be folded to increase the 430-litre boot further.
It is speculated to be powered by a FIAT-sourced 1.3-litre Multi-jet oil-burner and a 1.6-litre VVT petrol motor. Both the engines are expected to be paired with a 5-speed manual transmission, while the petrol version will also have an option of a CVT gearbox.
At 4,300mm the S-Cross is a long car and doesn’t qualify for the sub-4 meter’s excise benefits. We expect the Maruti to be priced around Rs 12 lakh, which isn’t really the most competitive in the segment, but the company hopes to offer better features to compensate the high price tag. Internationally, the crossover comes with Suzuki's ALLGRIP 4WD system which would further hike the asking price. The S-Cross would boast of being rated 5-stars by the Euro NCAP for its crash safety protection, and we hope Maruti brings all the international safety features to India as well, when it goes on sale in mid-2014. The company’s strong sales network and low running cost, would give the compact-SUV a good foothold against competition.
Datsun Redi-GO concept
Hogging the limelight at the Datsun pavilion was the radical Redi-Go concept. The recently revived Japanese car brand will be introducing a compact SUV in India based on this concept. Though Datsun did not share much information about the yet-to-be-launched model, we know for a fact that Redi-GO would be under 4-metres long as it is based on the same platform as the Go hatchback and Go+ MPV, and would have higher ground clearance to fit the SUV tag. Apart from this, Datsun disclosed that the concept has a wheelbase of 2,350mm, which surprisingly is 100mm less than the hatch and MPV. This means that there are bleak chances of it being a 5+2 seater and would at best seat five adults.
We expect the interiors to be similar to its sibling, with light-coloured dashboard and upholstery to give the compact cabin an airy feel. Though a diesel motor would be ideal for a compact-SUV, Datsun would probably launch this trendy crossover with a 1.2-litre petrol engine, mated to a 5-speed gear-box. Using a petrol motor would help keep the price attractively low, as the Redi-GO targets Indian youth who are seeking for a good looking, lifestyle vehicle. Hopefully, the Redi-Go-based compact-SUV will be formally launched by early next year, and would keep to Datsun’s aggressive pricing strategy.