Thanks to a stash load of new entrants in the compact car segment this year, buying a budget hatch or a premium small car has become a more complicated process than say choosing between an Android and an iOS device.
Come 2016 and things aren’t likely to get any easier for compact car buyers as we await a range of all-new as well as refreshed offerings from major automakers to be scattered across the market. What we have here, then, is a list of compact cars that hopefully will account for a sizeable chunk of their respective manufacturers’ sales for the year.
The Zica is Tata’s much awaited replacement for the prehistoric Indica which has been around for more than 17 years. Compared to the latter, the Zica is 56mm longer and 50mm taller but carries similar width and wheelbase. While it certainly looks promising with its smart new appearance and a modern cabin, the Zica is based on a heavily modified platform that originally underpinned the Indica.
On offer will be a pair of 3-cylinder engines – an 83bhp, 1.2-litre petrol and a 70bhp, 1-litre turbo-diesel unit. With the new Zica, Tata is targeting the likes of Maruti Suzuki Celerio and the Hyundai Grand i10 although it will be interesting to see the brand positioning this new model given that their other hatchback – the Bolt hasn’t exactly set the sales charts on fire.
Datsun Redi Go
We have already seen the Redi-Go as a concept at the 2014 Auto Expo and since then, Datsun has been hard at work readying it (no pun intended) for the Indian market. In essence, this new model is Datsun’s take on the Renault Kwid since both these cars are built around the CMF-A platform.
The Redi-Go, however, may not come with the Kwid’s small yet energetic 800cc motor. Instead, Datsun could bring in a new petrol engine onto the table that would allow for better city drivability than the Kwid. Considering the rising trend in rugged yet stylish looking compact cars, the Redi-Go will be Datsun’s third and quite possibly their most important offering yet.
India’s most recognised utility vehicle maker is at it again. Following the hugely popular XUV500 and the recently introduced TUV300, Mahindra is now looking to blend its utilitarian virtues with the compact footprint of a small car. Enter KUV100, an urban friendly compact vehicle that will allow Mahindra to explore and evaluate the inexhaustible small car segment.
Under the hood, the KUV100 is likely to be powered by a 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder petrol engine with around 75bhp and 110Nm of torque. Gearbox options, meanwhile, are expected to include a 5-speed manual as well as an AMT. The diesel, on the other hand, will be the mHawk 80 unit from the TUV300 which develops 84bhp of power and 230Nm of torque.
When launched, the Mahindra KUV100 will go up against premium hatchbacks like the Hyundai i20, Volkswagen Polo and the Maruti Suzuki Baleno.
New Mini Convertible
Fresh for 2016 and with several refinement improvements over its predecessor, the new Mini Convertible is set to go on sale in Europe from March next year. Since it’s quite a popular choice among luxury compact car buyers here in the Indian market, we are expecting Mini India to roll out this open-top model by mid-2016.
As one would expect, the 2016 Mini Convertible features a new fully electric roof that is claimed to be quieter than the previous model. It also gets improved rollover protection system and more rear space than before. Dimension wise, the new Mini Convertible is both longer and wider than the previous-gen model and truth be told, these cars aren’t really mini anymore. The latest-gen Mini hatchback, in fact, is what you would call quite enormous. The larger footprint, however, has improved interior space for all four seats although it’s safe to say that the rear bench is best reserved for kids.
Volkswagen Polo GTI
The high-end performance car market has seen rapid growth over the last few years, however, little is being done to fuel the veins of majority of the enthusiasts who cannot really afford big-displacement low-slung sports cars. At present only Volkswagen and Fiat – to a certain degree – have performance-oriented cars in the form of the Polo GT twins and the made-in-India Abarth models.
Thankfully, Volkswagen is now planning to up a level by introducing an even racier version of the Polo. Wearing the hallowed GTI badge, this new high-performance model will be a hot hatch in the true sense of the word. We say hot hatch because the India-spec Polo GTI, in all probability, will get a 1.8-litre turbocharged TSI petrol engine with an expected power output of around 180bhp and 250Nm of torque. This is the same motor that’s used in the Skoda Octavia 1.8 TSI AT and the petrol-powered Audi A3. Globally, the GTI can be specced with either a manual or a dual-clutch automatic gearbox but Volkswagen India will offer the latter option for Indian buyers.
Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 facelift
The Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 has been in the market since 2012 and is in a dire need of an upgrade. Also, the competition has come a long way in all these years with advent of cars like the Renault Kwid. It makes sense for Maruti to develop a facelift for this ageing small car.
Maruti is expected to come up with a subtly refreshed design for the front and rear end, besides newer seat fabrics in the cabin and perhaps some additional safety equipment as standard. Mechanically, the Alto 800 facelift is likely to remain unchanged.
The Suzuki Ignis is a retro styled compact crossover that made its global debut recently at the Tokyo Motor Show. This funky looking model, along with the Celerio, will be positioned at the bottom-end of Suzuki’s range in the UK. The Ignis will be offered in both two and four-wheel drive configurations.
Despite its odd appearance, the Ignis is expected to compete with other small cars here in India. Expectedly, Maruti Suzuki will make quite a few changes to make it suitable for local conditions and will also do away with the all-wheel drive system. The retro styled Ignis will certainly change the way we look at compact cars, especially from Maruti’s stable.
GM brought out an all-new generation of the Chevrolet Beat (sold as Spark in the US) earlier this year. While retaining its overall silhouette and funky design bits like the vertical door handles, the new Beat is totally new and features redesigned interiors and a new 3-cylinder, 1-litre turbocharged petrol engine for global markets. The engine churns out either 90bhp or 110bhp of power and comes mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox.
The Beat currently sold in India is hardly doing half decent numbers and perhaps this new, much improved version could turn things around for the American carmaker.