good motoring
Flood of small cars
H.Kishie Singh

The Beat from GM is funky, has great looks, with original and different styling
The Beat from GM is funky, has great looks, with original and different styling

The 2010 Auto Expo was the 10th edition of the event. It was also the worst organised and ended with a whimper, and was not as good as was expected. Inadequate preparations, poor organisation and bureaucratic bungling were the highlights of the show. Instead of showcasing India's great economic leap forward, it showed the world we are still a Third World country.

In spite of the mess, two universal truths were established. One, small cars are in vogue and demand; and two, India will emerge as the hub of small car manufacturers. Leading the charge of new cars was Toyota. They showed the Etios, a hatchback, which will also be available as a sedan. It is a concept car but launched with the slogan "World first, India first." This shows Toyota’s commitment to the small car and India. The Toyota Prius, the world’s most successful hybrid car, will also be available in the near future.

Honda unveiled the CR-Z, also a concept car, small and a hatch, which will be available in 2011. Nissan's most important car in India will be the Micra. Nissan thinks that the car and India are so important that the company is shifting the manufacturing base from the UK to India.

VW's Polo is finally in India. The much-awaited hatch will be available at prices between Rs 4 lakh and Rs 6 lakh. A saloon may be available by the end of the year. VW also showed the Polo Cup Race car. The Polo is a direct attack on Maruti's Swift and Ritz. The car to watch out is the Beat from GM. It is funky, has great looks, with very original and different styling, and will be available for under Rs 4 lakh. Watch out Hyundai and Maruti.

Another contender for this low-end price slot is the Ford Figo. Ford has established itself in India with a number of fine cars. The Figo will be value for money with sales starting in March, 2010. Skoda showed the Yeti. It is a 4x4 soft reader. It is a sort of SUV-cum-hatchback. It is spacious on the inside with a clever seating arrangement. The rear seats can be removed to provide a massive loading space. The luxury on the inside is typical Skoda`85 terrific. The Yeti will be available with a petrol engine with a 1.8 TSI or 2.0 TDI diesel. It has full-time 4x4. To be launched in June, the price will be announced at that time. Two years ago Suzuki showed the Kizashi concept car. Now it is a reality. It's a four-door sedan, 2.4-litre engine, 184 bhp. Shades of the SX4 are evident.

So much for the cars for the aam admi. Harley-Davidson, the iconic bike maker from the US, showed its entire range of mobikes, 12 of them. The low-end XL 883 L Sportstar is only Rs 6.95 lakh, and the top of the line Ultra Classic Electra Glide is Rs 34 lakh. Dealers will be appointed in February; bookings beginning in April, with delivery in June this year.

There was no shortage of cars for the rich guys. Mercedes Benz launched the GL-350 CDI and the S-500L. It showed off the Desert Creld AMG concept cars. Price? About Rs 2 crore. VW will launch the Phaeton. It is a handicrafted car made in VW's transparent glass factory at Dresden. Price? Rs 75 lakh.

BMW is also on a luxury car push. The BMW X1 is one model. The BMW 760 Li is priced at Rs 1.29 crore. The X 6M will cost Rs 1.30 crore. The BMW Gran Turismo is a combination of a sedan, SUV and grand touring. Only 100 units will be made for the discerning customer. The price is Rs 63 lakh.

Audi celebrated its centenary. The Audi Sportback was a concept car with five doors. The firm also introduced the Q7 SUV. A vehicle with monstrous proportions powered by a 4.2-litre engine. However, a feast for car lovers at the Audi stand was a 1935 Audi Front 225. In pristine condition, it looked brand new. Actually, it had come out of the factory 75 years ago.

BMW is on a charge and targeting Mercedes-Benz. The Beemer is a driver’s car and finds favour with the yuppies, whereas the Merc is for chauffeur-driven executives. Prices for any of the German cars start at Rs 50 lakh and go up into the stratosphere, depending on the model.

Happy motoring.