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Motown rocks

Source : BUSINESS_STANDARD
Last Updated: Fri, Jan 18, 2013 20:21 hrs

The oldest (the first edition started way back in 1907) and the largest auto show on the planet, Detroit is back to becoming relevant on the global stage. In the last few years, most launches were US-centric, driven primarily by the fact that emerging markets like the BRIC nations was where the action was.

But with those markets showing signs of cooling, the largest auto market in the world has risen to the opportunity again. And the launches were a clear demonstration of that fact.

Here is our compilation of what we felt were the most important ones, some of which are headed our way.

Mercedes-Benz CLA
It will be the cheapest and smallest Mercedes saloon to be sold in India when it arrives next year, but Mercedes-Benz wants to refer to it as a four-door coupé’. A smaller sibling to the CLS then, the CLA will probably be priced in the region of Rs 22-Rs 26 lakh. And mind you, if this is the sign of future Mercedes-Benz designs, then the competition clearly need to up their anté. Easily the most gorgeous three-pointed star from Stuttgart in a while, the CLA is based on the Modular Front Architecture (MFA) platform that also houses the B-Class and the other India-arrival, the A-Class. On the inside too, there are lots of A-Class bits, except the sloping roof and the optional LED lighting on the headlining. Powertrains include a 1.6-litre petrol with two power ratings (badged CLA 180 and CLA 200), a 2.2-litre diesel motor and a more powerful CLA 250 with 211 bhp. India would most likely get the smaller petrol motor and the diesel engine to begin with. A more powerful AMG version is on the cards and a lucky few in India may want to try their luck at it when it does arrive.

Facelifted Mercedes-Benz
E-Class

Around since 2009, the E-Class has received a mid-life refresh to ensure sales continue to grow strongly. The separated twin-headlamps have now become part of one enclosed casing on either side, while the grille and front-air dam have been changed considerably. The car now gets partial LED headlamps as standard and full LED headlamps as an option. The rear also gets a new set of tail-lamps and more LEDs to boot. On the inside, the changes are purely cosmetic too, to lift the appeal of the car. Most of the changes though are to the technologies that drive the German saloon. Distronic Plus with Steering Assist uses cameras in the front to make a 3-D map of the road ahead to gauge vehicles and pedestrians in the front, even if they are oncoming or running across. Attention Assist, the system that alerts the driver in-case he/she feels drowsy now uses more algorithms and takes into account more situations as well. Motors stay primarily unchanged, though a new E400 Hybrid is also on offer for international markets. Expect an India launch before the end of this year.

Chevrolet C7 Corvette Stingray
Every new Corvette is met with anticipation and lots of speculation. The new Corvette is no different, except that somehow the speculation turned out to be true. Marking the 50th year of the gorgeous Stingray Corvette, the new Corvette pays obeisance to it, by carrying the moniker and design elements. Built using an aluminium, magnesium and carbon-fibre mix, the new Corvette is 45 kg lighter and 57 per cent stiffer; that means a more fun-to-drive sportscar at hand. A new, direct-injection V8 petrol now produces 450 bhp, though more powerful versions will come in due course. A 0-100 kmph time of just 4 seconds puts it straight into Porsche 911 and Audi R8 territory. While the car is just left-hand drive for now, a right-hand drive version will go on sale in 2016, and we sincerely hope GM India considers bringing it for sparking its line-up. A droptop version could hit American showrooms in 2014.

Honda Urban SUV concept
Every auto manufacturer worth its salt is rushing to get a compact SUV into its model line-up and Honda is no exception. Called the Urban SUV concept, it is placed below the CR-V and could even be badged the BR-V for all we know! With a lot of design influences from its elder brother, the Urban SUV measures about 4.2 metres in length; just as long as the Renault Duster. To be a five-seater, the Urban SUV is being launched with two engine options for most markets; a 1.5-litre petrol i-VTEC motor and 1.6-litre

i-DTEC Earth Dreams diesel motor when the production version goes on sale next year. India would get the same SUV too in 2015 with a 1.5-litre diesel motor that will also power the Brio Amaze sedan, out this April, and possibly the same petrol motor mentioned before. Honda may price the car in the region of Rs 10 lakh. We surely will be watching it with great interest in the coming years.

Audi RS7 and BMW M6
Gran Coupé

Mercedes-Benz created the four-door coupé with the CLS; Audi and BMW just followed suit. Mercedes then created a hotted-up version of the CLS, using motors from AMG. And it's only now, after many years that Audi and BMW have responded with their own versions; the RS7 and M6 Gran Coupe respectively. Both make 552 bhp; the Audi from a 4.0-litre twin-scroll turbo V8 with cylinder deactivation technology (effectively making it a four-cylinder under light engine loads) while the BMW makes do with a 4.4-litre, twin-turbo V8 made famous by the M5 saloon. The Audi is a smidgeon quicker to 100 kmph, but both can hit 300 kmph given the right stretch of road. Where the RS7 is more in your face, the M6 Gran Coupé uses curves to entice. Both cars are likely to hit Indian roads by 2014 with price tags upwards of a crore of rupees.

Maserati Quattroporte
Yes, another of the 'crore rupees plus' club, this is the new, sixth generation Quattroporte that made its debut at Detroit and is heading our way soon. Sportier, plusher and more focussed than before, the Quattroporte is trying to best the Mercedes-Benz S-Class in terms of luxury and space and matching the Porsche Panamera for sportiness. Under the hood are Ferrari manufactured and developed turbocharged V6 and V8 petrol engines, producing 410 to 530 bhp. Arguably one of the best-looking four-door luxury saloons in the world, the Quattroporte continues to maintain its distinctive Italian flair, but one that marries German levels of quality and engineering. On the inside, the Quattroporte now has more space, more features and even better quality to boot, a problem that faced its predecessor. The Quattroporte is the beginning of Maserati’s plans to introduce up to six new models by 2015, and take worldwide sales up from 8,000-odd vehicles a year to an ambitious 50,000 units.

Jeep Grand Cherokee facelift
With Jeep planning to enter the Indian market later this year, it has already given a facelift to one of two models that will come here. The Jeep Grand Cherokee, which will be launched with the Wrangler in 2013, has received extensive revisions. The exteriors now look sharper and have LED headlamps and tail-lamps, while the insides now get a new central console, a three-spoke steering with paddle shifters and a more thorough infotainment system. A new 3.0-litre V6 diesel with 240 bhp replaces a 2.8-litre one and is mated to an eight-speed automatic box. It's also the first time that a diesel Grand Cherokee will go on sale in the US market, a sign that diesels are being accepted Stateside. India may also get a V6 petrol along with this diesel when it does go on sale.



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