It’s going to be a busy month for carmakers as the festive season nears. There are as many as eight new launches in August ranging from all new cars to facelifts to engine updates. Take a look at what lies in store –
1. Fiat Punto Evo
When: August 5
Fiat is the first to gear up for the upcoming festive months with the Punto Evo. It’s a extensively updated Punto with new exterior and interior design and with it, makes the Punto Evo a lot more appealing than before. At the heart of the Punto Evo is a choice of three engines - two 4-cylinder petrol engines, a 1.2 and a 1.4-litre and a 1.3-litre, turbocharged, 4-cylinder, diesel engine. The diesel engine will feature two states of tune, a base model 75PS and a top-of-the-line 93PS version.
The front end goes completely under the knife with this facelift. The large front grille blends well with the all new swept back headlights and the redesigned front bumper gets similar trapezoidal chrome bezels for the fog lamps. The rear bumpers sport a similar design as well with chrome surrounds for the rear fog lamp and reversing lamp. The LED taillights add an up-market feel to the rear. While a lot of changes have been made to the front and rear of the car, the profile remains unchanged. The only noteworthy difference is the alloys which are different for the petrol and the diesel variant.
On the inside, it’s a familiar sight if you’ve driven the new Linea as the Punto Evo borrows the dashboard, centre console and instrument cluster. The Punto Evo is one of the larger hatchbacks in our country and can seat three passengers in the rear comfortably. It will take on the Polo, the new i20, which will be launched a week later and the Honda Jazz that’s coming early next year in the premium hatchback segment.
Price: Rs 4.55-7.2 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi
2. Audi A3
When: August 7
From premium hatchback to the entry-luxury category in just two days, we’ll get to see the Audi A3. Audi’s baby sedan will be the most affordable car from Ingolstadt to go on sale in India and aims to connect to the bright youth with a fat bank balance. Unlike Mercedes-Benz and BMW who have gone the hatchback way to appeal to the youth and reduce the entry point for luxury cars, Audi believes there’s going to be more takers for the three box shape. And there is little reason to doubt that.
The A3’s design is typically Audi, and if not for its smaller dimensions, you could mistake it for the new A6 at first glance. The large front air dams, edgy bumper, and chunky five spoke alloys give it a sense of sportiness that will be appreciated among buyers in this segment. The interiors tell the same story with bright colour inserts and youthful circular air vents. Space and build quality is also impressive.
The Audi A3 will be offered with, both, petrol and diesel engine options. A 1.8-litre TFSI direct-injection turbocharged petrol engine with 180PS of power and 250Nm of torque and a 2.0-litre oil-burner dishing out 140PS of power and 320Nm of torque are the A3’s mainstays. The petrol engine is mated to a 7-speed S-tronic AT, while the diesel motor is paired with a 6-speed S-tronic gearbox. Expect a S3, the A3’s wicked sibling, to join the ranks too in some time.
Price: Rs 22.9 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi
3. 2014 Hyundai i20
When: August 11
Yes! The new 2014 Hyundai i20 is going to be launched as soon as 11 days from now. Hyundai has pulled all the plugs to get the new i20 ready much earlier than we expected. Initially rumoured to make a appearance around the Paris Motor Show in October, Hyundai India must have put considerable pressure on its parent company to launch it earlier here to cash in on the festive season.
India is the first market to get the new i20. While the car is all-new, sources tell us that the engines and gearboxes will be carried forward. The 84PS 1.2-litre kappa petrol mated to a 5-speed gearbox and the 100PS 1.4-litre 4-speed automatic are the two petrol units in the outgoing i20 and the 90PS 1.4-litre diesel that manages the bulk of sales should be the same. We expect more from the diesel keeping competition in mind – the upcoming Jazz will have a 100PS diesel and the new Polo has a 105PS unit in the GT TDi.
The biggest change in the i20 will be a new design, chassis and suspension set up. Hyundai will not compromise on its easy city driving characteristics and that means a softer setup with inert steering feel. This is appreciated by a lot of customers. Expect the new i20 to make considerable progress in terms of a tauter chassis and better stability at high speeds compared to the outgoing car. Hyundai will also offer the new i20 with a range of class leading features and with high quality interior materials.
The new i20 looks stylish and is possibly slightly bigger than the current i20 with increased boot space. It will jostle with the Polo and the upcoming Jazz directly and also compact sedans that fall in the same price bracket.
Expected price: Rs 5-8 lakh ex-showroom Delhi
4. Tata Zest
When: August 12
A new age Tata, well almost, but as we found out, the Zest gets Tata Motors back on the right track and the only curve ball Tata Motors can throw now is bad pricing. The compact sedan will take on the busy segment where the Maruti Dzire rules the roost and the Honda Amaze and Hyundai Xcent are also well established.
The Tata Zest is based on the Indica Vista platform but uses completely new panels, heavily revised interiors and improved suspension setup. The quality levels too have seen a significant improvement on the Zest compared to the Vista. The big additions over the Vista are the powertrains. A new 1.2-litre Revotron turbocharged petrol engine and an AMT gearbox mated to the diesel unit give the Zest new arsenal in this very tough battleground. The petrol and diesel engines both come with max power output of 90PS but the diesel delivers a higher torque of 200Nm compared to 140Nm developed by the former. Besides the AMT for the diesel, both engines come with 5-speed manual gearboxes.
The sub-4 metre Zest will sell alongside the Indigo eCS for now. It’s hatchback sibling, the Bolt, will join the Tata line up soon too.
Expected price: Rs 4.5-7.5 lakh
5. 2014 BMW X3
When: August end
BMW hasn’t finalized the launch of the X3 yet but we’ve been told that the 2014 refreshed X3 will be launched after the 21st of this month. The new X3 is an update on the current SUV on the lines of the recently launched 2014 X5, albeit with lesser detailing. Like elder brother, the X3 gets a new kidney grille finished in all chrome, the headlamps are more angular with a redesigned light cluster and extend to the grille and the bumper gets minor revisions to make the X3 look a bit more upmarket than before.
The interior gets plusher in the new X3. The textured wood finish which we loved in the X5 will come in the X3 as well. Darker leather shades, a wider display screen and new dials are part of the upgrade. Although the engines stay the same, the 2.0-litre oil burner has now been tuned to pump out 190PS of power and 400Nm of torque. The top-of-the-line variant will get the larger 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder diesel unit which makes 258PS of power and 560Nm of torque. Both these engines will be mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission that will send power to all four wheels with the help of the xDrive system.
Since the X5 was earlier sold as a CBU and with the update, BMW began CKD units, the prices dropped despite offering more. There will be no such surprise with the X3 though as it is already a CKD product. In fact, since the new X3 will sport a bit more kit, prices should go up marginally.
Expected price: Rs 43-55 lakh, ex-showroom
6&7. Volvo S60 and XC60
When: late August
Volvo tells us that an official announcement is due in a week’s time but we’ve heard from dealers that the cars will be available for test drives by the end of the month. What are we talking about? Yes if you are in the know, you are aware of the facelifts that the S60 and XC60 received towards the end of 2013. But the update is trickling down in two phases, first the design, and now the powertrains as we reported a day ago.
The D4 variants of the S60 and XC60 will receive a new 4-cylinder 2.0-litre turbo diesel to replace the now-defunct 5-cylinder unit. Power is up by 18PS and although torque is identical at 400Nm, the new cars are faster than even the larger 2.4-litre D5 units. This is due to a newer quick shifting 8-speed automatic gearbox that replaces the sluggish 6-speed unit. The S60 has a claimed 0-100kmph time of 7.4 seconds, which is 0.2 seconds faster than the D5.
The new engine is part of the Drive-E family of engines Volvo has recently developed that is capable of developing upto 233PS from this same unit. This will eventually replace the D5 but Volvo is saving that upgrade for another day.
Expected prices (Ex-showroom):
S60 (D4): Rs 30-33 lakh
XC60 (D4): Rs 41-44 lakh
8. Renault Duster 4WD
When: End August/Early September
We’ve probably saved the best for last. This is one car every off-road enthusiast is waiting for considering the 4x2 variant’s popularity and the ability of the Duster to withstand the wrath of bad roads with better poise than most cars on sale in India.
The 4WD variant was already being produced at the Renault-Nissan plant in Chennai for the export market and plenty of customers have been demanding a 4WD variant in the Indian line-up. The 4WD Duster will only be sold with the 110PS unit mated to the six-speed gearbox and could be offered in two trims, a mid-spec and one top-trim.
A rotary dial for drive mode selection which we have already seen on the likes of the X-Trail will feature in the 4WD Duster. The driver can choose between three driving modes via the rotary dial – 2WD, which only powers the front wheel and in turn helps return good fuel efficiency; there’s the Auto mode which supplies the required torque to the wheels with maximum grip on slippery surfaces; and then there’s Lock, which is essentially the old school four wheel drive mode that supplies equally torque to all four wheels at all times – helpful in properly slushy or rocky terrain.
The 4WD will get aggressive styling similar to the Adventure Edition Dusters and 4WD badging to clearly showcase its off-the-road capabilities. We will be driving the 4WD Duster soon so stay tuned for further details.
Expected Price: Rs 12-13.5 lakh, ex-showroom
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