This weekend marks the debut edition of the Express Auto Expo. Here’s a lowdown on the luxe brands.
Ever since the dawn of motoring, automobiles have meant different things to different people. Some see them merely as tools to get from one point to another, while others get so deeply involved that they take on the importance of a family member. Whichever way you look at them, there is a certain amount of passion associated with the world of automobiles—a sense of pride even. It is precisely this that The New Indian Express’ Express Auto Expo is bringing to you on November 5 and 6. So regardless of whether you live and breathe cars and bikes, or are just in the market for a new set of wheels, you can’t afford to miss the most exciting auto event of this festive season.
The main attraction is India’s first homegrown sports car, the DC Avanti. Born from the vision of ace automotive designer Dilip Chhabria, it is all set to enthral crowds with its low-slung stance and power-packed engine. It comes with an enticing price tag as well. Apart from this beast, there will be some very exciting cars and bikes on display, including the Harley-Davidson, along with some great spot offers and discounts.
While the automotive market in India has expanded rapidly over the last few years, we know it can be a tough choice figuring out which car or motorcycle to buy—especially when you have to do your research and visit individual dealerships for a test drive. At the Express Auto Expo, you’ve got all your favourite models in one place. You can take test drives, book your cars and even enjoy some adrenaline-pumping entertainment, as one of Chennai’s best stunt-motorcycle groups, Pro Guyz Stunt Inc, defy gravity for you. The only question then is, are you ready for all the excitement?
If the world of big, burly cruisers is what floats your boat then there’s probably just one brand that really springs to mind, Harley-Davidson. The legendary brand and its hardcore cruisers are now beyond being iconic, as everyone has romanticised the idea of being on a Harley at some point in their lives. Among the American motorcycle manufacturer’s exquisite products at the Express Auto Expo will be the Iron 883, Fat Bob and, of course, the Fat Boy 1200 Custom.
While the latter is the biggest and meanest of the Harleys, the Iron 883 caters to a different type of motorcyclist—one that enjoys the nuances of classic American machinery, but also aspires for modern mechanicals. Turned out in very neo-retro styling, have no doubts the Iron is no slouch, thanks to its 883cc, air-cooled engine that pumps out 50bhp and 69Nm of torque. Then there’s the Fat Boy 1200 Custom, the quintessential Harley-Davidson with its teardrop fuel tank, fat tyres, wide handlebars and loads of chrome. Speaking of chrome, keep an eye on H-D, their 2017 model updates that should be rolling out soon.
Iron 883: Rs 7.37 lakh (ex-showroom, Chennai). Details: 7708884446
Mercedes-Benz is one luxury manufacturer that has been taking huge strides in the Indian market recently—especially with the launch of multiple new products ranging from sedans and SUVs to cabriolets and even performance cars. The latest in that range is the GLC, now locally assembled, which makes this butch vehicle even more enticing if you want a combination of luxury, road presence and a go-anywhere attitude. The GLC is available in three variants—the 220d Style, 220d Sport and the 300 Sport—all of which benefit heavily from their local manufacturer. Customers are already saying goodbye to wait times for the GLC, which comes loaded with safety features as well as some nifty detailing, such as the ARTICO upholstery, panoramic sunroof and electrically-adjustable front seats with memory!
That’s not all, buyers of the GLC also get the third year warranty as standard, and the option of choosing Compact Service Packages starting from Rs 63,000 for petrol variants and Rs 78,000 for diesel variants. These packages are valid for unlimited mileage. The car also delivers on the performance front with 245hp and 370Nm for the petrol GLC 300 and 170hp and 400Nm for the 220d diesel variants. There’s loads of room inside and the way it drives is to be experienced to be believed. Both engine options propel it to speeds over 200 kmph and there’s a maximum of 1,600 litres of boot space to pack all your things in. The GLC will also be joined by the smaller, but equally impressive GLA, at the Tranz Car stall. If convertibles are your style, then watch out as Mercedes is all-set to launch the C-Class Cabriolet and S-Class Cabriolet next week.
Prices start at Rs 48.75 lakh (ex-showroom, Chennai) Details: 9841049994
The game changer
Reliable, trustworthy and high-quality are just some of the words that every Toyota owner will include in testimonials and these key factors are what make this Japanese manufacturer such a force to reckon with in India as well. While everyone speaks of the Innova and the Fortuner, the Etios sedan and Liva hatchback are what really beat with the pulse of the flourishing Indian middle class. The cars have now received a refresh and along with the practicality factor that was always present with these two, there is an added and remarkable style advantage as well. The Platinum Etios not only scores high on performance, space and technology, but it also amazes on the safety equipment front. For the more premium buyer, Toyota also has the Corolla Altis, recently-launched, Innova Crysta and, of course, the very environment-conscious Camry Hybrid. Oh, and did we mention there’s a new Fortuner on the way next week?
Toyota Platinum Etios Rs 6.52 lakh; Toyota Liva Rs 5.4 lakh (ex-showroom, Chennai). Details: 9551410001
November 5-6, at the Chennai Trade Centre, from 10.30 am to 8 pm. Free entry. Details: 23457601
The big news from the Fiat-Chrysler camp in the past few months may have been about the launch of the Jeep brand in India (finally), but that doesn’t mean the Italian manufacturer has kept its own brand on the sidelines. The Punto has always been considered one amongst the most gorgeous looking hatchbacks available here. The current model gets a nip and tuck, adds a little more aggression and gets a new suffix. The Punto Evo retains its contention for top spot in the hatchback beauty contest while upping its game on the gadget specification list. This is, of course, the regular Punto Evo we’re talking about because this car has a sinister cousin and it’s an Abarth.
The name Abarth sends shivers down its competition’s spine and when you marry that with the Fiat Punto Evo, there are bound to be fireworks. The Abarth Punto Evo packs in Fiat’s 1.4-litre, petrol engine but this one’s a turbocharged T-Jet unit capable of 145 hp! Transmission duties are handled by a five-speed manual gearbox and through the gears, it accelerates hard to breach the 100kmph mark in around 8.8 seconds. If that wasn’t enough, the Abarth Punto also gets the signature ‘stung by a scorpion’ design treatment. We’re talking about a rather mean looking ‘all-black with red’ paint scheme, the Abarth scorpion logo all over and of course, those hot alloy wheel rims. All of these also transfer on to the Avventura Abarth and the cute, yet cocky little 595 Competizione, too.
Fiat Punto Evo Rs 5.86 lakh onwards; Abarth Punto Rs 9.99 lakh onwards (ex-showroom, Chennai). Details: 9500039663
This year has been a landmark year for Ford in India. The American manufacturer now boasts one of the youngest product portfolios in the country. All of its models in showrooms today, including the mighty Endeavour, are either completely new or have undergone a refresh or an upgrade. Then, there’s that hallmark date in history when Ford launched the Mustang here. But what makes Ford such a big force to reckon with is still its smaller passenger cars and one of the most anticipated vehicles at the time of its launch, the Ecosport. Armed this year with a new 100bhp engine, the Ecosport has gone from strength to strength in the compact SUV segment and remains one of the highest selling cars today.
If you’re not quite into SUVs, then there’s the Figo Aspire sub 4-metre compact sedan as well. Not only has Ford proven a thing or two about vehicle packaging with the Aspire, while still comfortably seating five adults, it has also revolutionised the service side of things by increasing the number of sub-components for a hassle-free fix. The Aspire also brings with it loads of safety features including ABS and multiple airbags. There are some pretty innovative features inside the cabin, too, such as the Ford My Dock station. All of this combined makes the Aspire a great value-for-money package in the compact sedan space. Finally, there’s the fact that it looks rather sporty too.
Ford Ecosport Rs 7.07 lakh onwards; Ford Figo Aspire Rs 5.28 lakh onwards (ex-showroom, Chennai). Details: 9500069231
More for less
The winged-logo manufacturer of motorcycles is on a high and why not! They just hit the 28 million customer mark and that’s pure testament to the fan following that the Japanese bike maker has. Honda has always been a hit with the younger crowd and with products like the Activa scooter and the Unicorn motorbike racking up the sales over the years, everyone just loves its refinement. This year has seen Honda bring in newer models into the fray and expand their fan base even more. For the entry-level performance seeker, there is the stunning Hornet 160R with not just a refined and grunty 160cc single-cylinder motor, but also a modern, drool-worthy design that never fails to catch attention. And then there is the Navi. Call it a scooter or call it a motorcycle, it’s still fun. On the other end of the spectrum, Honda also has a whole line-up of superbikes available. Their CBR range extends all the way from the affordable CBR 150R and CBR 250R to the practical CBR 650F and the mental CBR 1000RR Fireblade.
Honda Hornet 160R Rs 81,795 onwards (ex-showroom, Chennai) Honda Navi Rs 41,775 onwards (ex-showroom, Chennai) Details: 9940161180
The new crew
The Czech auto maker has had a good innings in India—kicking it all off with the Octavia all those years back and capturing everyone’s imagination. Despite increasing competition, including some from parent company Volkswagen, Skoda Auto has held its own and kept its product line-up fresh and appealing, case in point being the marquee’s flagship sedan, the fabulous Skoda Superb. Sharp, edgy and armed with two powerful engine options, the Superb offers great value for money as a package for those looking to travel in luxury, while keeping the technology quotient high. There are even automatic and manual transmissions to choose from. On the other end of the spectrum is the Skoda Rapid—another competent car with a perfectly tuned-for-India suspension setup. The Rapid comes across as an able offering for small families with compact enough dimensions to tackle the city and enough space to seat everyone with ease and then some. The Rapid also comes with some efficient firepower under its hood and, coupled with that seven-speed DSG gearbox, it can be a rocket when you want it to be. While the Rapid has always been a car we really like, the new, 2017 Rapid has just been launched as well and for those who like to go take the rugged route, there’s always the Yeti.
Skoda Superb Rs 24.87 lakh onwards; Skoda Rapid Rs 8.17 lakh onwards (ex-showroom, Chennai). Details: 9884060096
If there’s one name you associate with rugged, go-anywhere vehicles in India, it has to be Mahindra. For decades, it has kept what is essentially known as ‘jeep culture’ alive with its sturdy offerings. The brand has now moved into the new age with a plethora of options for the modern SUV buyer—ranging from the compact KUV 100 to the full-blown XUV 500. While the KUV is pretty much a hatchback on stilts, its potent three-cylinder engine has loads of torque to make it one fun little car to drive—especially with its dash-mounted gear shifter. On the other end of the spectrum is the XUV 500, for those who like their SUVs to be macho and big. The XUV also comes with full-time four-wheel drive and for those looking for convenience, offers up an auto-box as well. Straddling the two is the sharp, sub 4-metre TUV with its short wheelbase, compact dimensions and powerful diesel engine. You’ve simply got to test drive this one! Mahindra now offers the Bolero with sub 4-metre benefits and for the hardcore off-roading enthusiast, there’s the mighty Thar. Still not satisfied? Then Mahindra Adventure will build you the monster Thar Daybreak for Rs 9 lakh over the price of a regular Thar.
Text: Team MotorScribes