MERCEDES-BENZ A-CLASS SEDAN
The allure of the 3-pointed star remains unrivalled in the Indian market and parking a Mercedes-Benz in your driveway still makes a statement like no other. And from that perspective alone, a new baby-Benz makes sense. Mercedes-Benz are likely to launch the new A-Class sedan in India by mid-2020 and the car will probably replace the earlier CLA model. The new A-Class features improved aerodynamics, updated and revamped styling (as compared to the CLA), 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engine options, 7-speed dualclutch automatic transmission and properly luxurious interiors with an optional ‘widescreen’ display that includes two 10.25-inch colour displays. An AI-controlled MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) multimedia system brings in a new age of connectivity and entertainment options on the new A-Class, which also packs a full array of safety and driver assistance features. We expect the car to be priced at around Rs 35 lakh.
The 10th car on this list is not just any one car, but a bunch of new electric vehicles that are likely to make their way to India this year. 2020 might be the year when EVs finally start getting some mainstream acceptance and there will be a range of electric vehicles to choose from, which could range from rather basic homegrown models to the vastly more sophisticated and hugely expensive foreign cars. On the Indian front, there will be the electric versions of the Maruti Wagon R, Tata Nexon and Mahindra XUV300. These will have anywhere from 80 to 120 horsepower, a driving range of around 200km and price tags of anywhere between Rs 8-15 lakh. Among foreign EVs, the notable ones are the Audi e-tron, Jaguar I-Pace and the Porsche Taycan, all of which will boast stratospheric price tags, along with high refinement and performance levels, short charging times and driving ranges long enough to make these cars practical enough for the real world. Due to the lack of any significant charging infrastructure in India, EVs may still not find mass market acceptance this year, but the journey towards electrics will finally begin with these cars.
BMW 2 SERIES GRAN COUPE
If Mercedes-Benz is all set to bring in its new A-Class sedan, can BMW be far behind? The Bavarians’ contender in this segment will be the all-new 2 Series Gran Coupe, which will be in India within the next few months. And don’t be fooled by the ‘Coupe’ in its name – this is a four-door sedan that can seat 4-5 people and is hence well suited to small families. The new 2 Series builds on BMW’s latest frontwheel-drive architecture and will come with petrol and diesel engine options, with either a 7 or 8-speed automatic transmission. We don’t expect xDrive (all-wheel-drive) and M variants of the new 2 Series to make it to India but even the regular car should be plenty of fun to drive, with an enthusiast-friendly mix of power and handling. Plus, of course, there will be the full complement of safety and infotainment features that you would expect a car in this segment to have. Expect to pay around Rs 35 lakh for the privilege of owning a 2 Series Gran Coupe.
AUDI A8 L
Audi has finally started accepting bookings for the new, fourth-generation A8 L, which has already been launched in other global markets more than a year ago. Despite being late, the new A8 L will be a worthy contender when it hits the roads in India this year, going up against its traditional rivals, the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7 Series. The A8 L will likely be offered with a choice of V6 and V8 diesel and petrol engines, with quattro all-wheel-drive and all-wheel-steering. There will be a host of new technologies on this large German luxury car, including laser lighting, AI-controlled driver assistance functions (the European-spec car has some autonomous driving functions that can be activated in certain conditions, though we’re not sure if these will make it to the Indiaspec version), and advanced navigation and infotainment features. The Audi A8 L is, of course, one of the Volkswagen Group’s topof-the-line luxury sedans and will offer best in class performance in all areas — power delivery, acceleration and top speed, ride and handling and sheer comfort. We expect the car to be priced at around Rs 1.45 crore.
Volvo has always represented off-beat luxury; it’s the icy-cool Scandinavian car brand for those who don’t want a regular BMW, Audi or Mercedes-Benz. In terms of power delivery and high-speed handling, Volvo cars aren’t really right up there with the German trio, but they do edge ahead in the areas of design and interiors. The new, third-generation Volvo S60 will make its way to India by mid-2020 and will take on cars like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The new S60 is built on Volvo’s SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) platform and offers class-leading safety. It’s packed with cutting-edge infotainment and the cabin features high-end materials that make it at least as luxurious as anything comparable from Germany. Volvo have announced that they are stepping away from diesel engine development, so the new S60 will come to India with only four-cylinder ‘Drive-E’ petrol engines and maybe a mild-hybrid variant, or, if we’re very lucky, the turbocharged T5 version that will provide a 250bhp burst of performance. You will need to pay upwards of Rs 45 lakh for this slice of Swedish automotive excellence.
Over the last few years, bigger and more luxurious hatchbacks have seen muchimproved acceptance in India, with a large segment of buyers actually preferring these over compact sedans. The Hyundai i20 has always been a frontrunner in this space and this year, you can expect to see an all-new i20, with a host of cosmetic and mechanical changes. The new i20 is likely to borrow design cues from the more premium Elantra, along with a range of new BS6-compliant engines, including 1.2-litre petrol, 1.5-litre common-rail turbodiesel and 1.0-litre turbo-petrol units. Along with a regular manual transmission, the car is likely to be offered with a high-tech dual-clutch automatic as an option, and bits like a sunroof, fully digital instrumentation with a large colour touchscreen and a full complement of safety features, including airbags, ABS and traction control. Honda won’t be bringing the next-generation Jazz to India this year, which will only help the i20. Expect a mid2020 launch, with prices starting from Rs 6.0 lakh onwards.
BENTLEY FLYING SPUR
There’s only a few months to go before the new, third-generation Bentley Flying Spur lands in the Indian super-luxury car market. For those looking to upgrade from their Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series or Audi A8, the Flying Spur might well be your car, as long as you’re prepared to fork out around Rs 4.0 crore for its very British charms. Designed, engineered and handcrafted in Crewe, England, the new Flying Spur is powered by a 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 petrol engine that produces more than 600 horsepower and 900Nm of torque, propelling the car to a top speed of more than 330kph. The car rides on massive 22-inch wheels and there’s active all-wheel-drive and allwheel-steering combined with active air suspension, all of which come together to provide a sublime blend of ride and handling. The cabin is a world of fine wood and leather, along with the best in modern electronics and infotainment. And you can have your Flying Spur in any colour as long as it’s one of the only 17 paint options (along with a mere 15 colour options for the interior leather upholstery) that Bentley offer for this car. In some ways, it’s beyond ridiculous of course. But it’s also, perhaps, the best luxury car you can buy in India in the year 2020.
While Maruti have stopped producing the Gypsy, Mahindra will continue to fly the flag for those who want a basic, bare-bones, no-fuss 4×4 that’s cheap and cheerful. Or, rough and ready, depending on how you want to see it. Either way, there’s a new Thar on the way, which will replace the earlier model that was discontinued last year due to the more stringent crash safety norms that come into effect this year. The new Thar is likely to be powered by a 2.0-litre common-rail turbodiesel, mated to a fivespeed manual transmission, with optional full-time 4WD. It’s expected to be slightly bigger and better built than the outgoing model, with independent suspension all around for improved ride quality. Traditional ‘Jeep’ styling cues and true go-anywhere off-road capabilities will continue to define the Thar, which will be in Mahindra showrooms within the next few months. Expect the new Thar to be priced at around Rs 10-11 lakh.
The 7-seater Tata Buzzard (codenamed H7X) SUV was unveiled at the Geneva Show last year and will be launched in the Indian market later this year, probably bearing the ‘Cassini’ nameplate. Bigger than the 5-seater Tata Harrier, the Cassini is based on Tata’s new-generation Omega platform, which is itself a derivative of the Land Rover D8 platform. So good genes, then. The Cassini will be powered by a ‘Kryotec’ 2.0-litre turbodiesel, with a choice of 6-speed manual and automatic transmissions. There will be multiple driving modes (eco, city and sport), along with electronic stability control and terrain response modes (normal, rough and wet), which, along with optional 4WD, should make the vehicle quite suitable for off-road use. The Cassini will be one of Tata Motors’ all-new vehicles in 2020 and will definitely stand to benefit from Land Rover’s (which is owned by Tata Motors) decades of R&D and engineering prowess. Expect fit and finish to be world class, low NVH, high-quality interiors and all-around competent performance from this one. We expect a mid-2020 launch, with prices starting at Rs 16 lakh onwards.
Based on Tata Motors’ all-new ALFA (Agile Light Flexible Advanced) modular platform, the Altroz is the company’s first proper “premium” hatchback and quite looks the part. Built to take on cars like the Baleno, Jazz and i20, the Altroz is a flamboyant, confident pugilist that will enter the ring with a choice of 1.2-litre petrol and 1.5-litre turbodiesel engines. Both engines are mated to a 5-speed manual transmission (which is reportedly pretty good) for now, though we hear that a dual-clutch automatic is in the pipeline for the near future. There’s no compromise on safety, with dual airbags at the front, ABS and EBD as standard fitment. The interiors, which can comfortably accommodate five adults, are well equipped with infotainment; a 7-inch Harman colour touchscreen, good quality plastics and fabrics, a thick flat-bottomed steering wheel, rear AC vents and doors that open a full 90 degrees for ease of entry and exit. Pre-bookings for the Altroz are now open and we expect the car to be priced from Rs 5.50 lakh onwards.