Few current cars combine retro-cool, practicality and exceptional driving dynamics the way the new crop of MINIs do. India will finally see these sweet numbers roll in soon. The official announcement has already been made and the MINI range, including the MINI One, the Cooper, the diesel-powered Cooper D and the Countryman will join retro-modern contemporaries, the VW Beetle and the Fiat 500. The BMW-owned brand may be making a late entry into the Indian market, but is looking to do things differently by considering an assembly set-up in the BMW plant near Chennai. If implemented, this should give the MINIs a price edge over the CBU Fiat 500 and VW Beetle. Expect prices to start at Rs 15 lakh for the base models, and go up to Rs 40 lakh for the bells and whistles John Cooper Works models.
The Skoda Yeti that was launched last year certainly is rather unique in the Indian market. This smaller, more car-like SUV goes up against soft-roaders such as the Suzuki Grand Vitara and features a highly capable permanent four-wheel drive system. What Skoda has in store for us next year is a slightly more affordable version of the Yeti which will likely feature a detuned version of the 2.0-litre diesel engine that features in the current Yeti which will produce about 110PS of power. In all probability, Skoda will skimp on none of the other features that make the Yeti such an attractive machine, but thanks to the cheaper engine, the cost of the Yeti is expected to drop by around Rs 1 lakh – Rs 1.5 lakh.
Mahindra Ssangyong Korando
Expected: Mid 2012 Price: Rs 14 lakh – Rs 15 lakh
After the successful launch of the much awaited global SUV from Mahindra, the XUV 5OO, Mahindra will launch the mid-sizer Korando with its south Korean partner Ssangyong,. The Korando is expected to be available in the country with a 2-litre, four- cylinder inline with a variable geometry turbo option for a diesel version. The maximum power output of the Korando is expected to be around 175PS at 4000rpm and 360Nm of torque at 2000-3000rpm. Both automatic and manual should be available. The drive system is expected to be the adaptable four-wheel and a two-wheel drive system like in the Korean models, with ABD with EBD, ESP and airbags as standard. Features may include automatic climate control with dual air-conditioning.
Expected: Late 2012 Expected Price: Rs 17 lakh
Ssangyong and Mahindra have been in the news for quite some time and their second offering in the country will be the Rexton. The Rexton is expected to come with a 2.7-litre turbocharged diesel injected engine producing 184PS of power and 402Nm of torque. The fourth generation Rexton will be a seven-seater and is expected to be equipped with a five-speed manual gearbox and an automatic option as well. Added features will include a tyre pressure monitoring system, enhanced parking brake technology, forward collision warning and avoidance system, ABS with EBD, ESP and SRS airbags as standard as in the Korean version and the price should be around Rs 17 lakh.
Chevrolet is all set to launch its all-new TrailBlazer SUV internationally with the first models reaching Thailand by early 2012. The TrailBlazer isn’t an all-new product having been around in international markets since 1999. The new car though will be an all-new product built from scratch. At the moment the Captiva is the only SUV from the Chevy stables in India and it’s been pretty popular. India being a SUV loving nation, the TrailBlazer could be a welcome addition to the GM’s Indian portfolio. Built on a new global midsize platform developed by GM Brazil, the TrailBlazer will combine the hauling and towing capabilities of an SUV with the ride comfort and efficiency of a crossover. The new TrailBlazer was unveiled at the Dubai International Motor Show.
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport
Expected: Early 2012, Price: Rs 20 lakh
The Hindustan Motors-Mitsubishi alliance in India is still going strong, and at the root of this success is Mitsubishi's impressive range of SUVs. While the Outlander and the Montero have joined Mitsubishi's line-up as the more modern offerings, the strongman Pajero has been around for long enough to make itself into a brand name. Great off-roading abilities and an old school aura may have been its strengths, but the SUV will get a much needed upgrade in the form of the Pajero Sport in 2012.
Nicer to look at with more creature comforts inside, the Pajero Sport is likely to come in CKD form from Thailand, where it is available as an adaptation of the Mitsubishi Triton pick-up truck. We're pegging the price point to be around Rs 20 lakh. Sounds like a Fortuner formula. Great going!
2012 Honda CR-V
Expected: End 2012, Price: Rs 20 lakh
The Honda CR-V was getting a bit long in the tooth though it received a styling update not too many years ago. But the new CR-V concept that Honda showed off recently aims to fix all of that. The car will be launched globally in 2012, and Honda is known to be pretty enthusiastic about bringing the latest from its stables to India without delay. Built on an all-new platform, the CR-V will offer even better on-road capabilities than the current version. Also unlike the current version, which is imported to India as a CBU, Honda plans to assemble this new one locally, which would mean that we can expect it to be much more affordable.