New Delhi: The Indian auto market is in a state of churning. India crossed the one million mark to deliver 1.1 million cars (plus 335,000 utility vehicles) last year including a dozen new models. Things continue to be on a roll with six new models launched in April and with Renault having made its India launch with a car that should stir up the market a wee bit more.
Think for a moment: what would happen if you were offered a modern saloon with the inner space of a Corolla, outer length of an Accent and the price of a top end Santro? You are likely to drop whatever you were doing and head straight for the nearest Mahindra-Renault showroom where you will find a handsome but not too brilliantly styled saloon that can accommodate a large family and all your luggage for those weekend getaways.
Well, it is likely that you will then be confused as to which model to plumb for? You will have a choice of three engines, five trim levels and six colour options for each one. The basic 1400 cc 75 hp petrol model will be available at a Delhi showroom price of just Rs4.35 lakh while the top 1600 cc 84 hp petrol model would still be at an affordable Rs5.76 lakh. Moreso, diesel buffs will get amazing value with the 1500 cc 65 hp common rail version in a range of Rs5.54 to Rs6.51 lakh.
Now, there is nothing cheap about the Logan and what we are seeing is a very aggressive entry strategy by Renault who, taking advantage of Mahindra’s low cost - high volume manufacturing base, is making its first foray in Indian shores.
This is a big project that perhaps intends to make India an export base for foreign countries where right hand drive cars are used. Renault is France’s top auto company and is ranked 10th in the world. If this is combined with its sister company, Nissan of Japan, it will end up with a combined production of nearly six million cars while ranking fourth in the world, ahead even of Volkswagen.
The importance of this project was evident when the legendary Carlos Ghosn, Head of both the companies came especially to India for the launch.
With prices roughly 15 - 20% below the price of some of its excellent competitors like the Accent, City, Fusion, Aveo and Verna, the Logan looks poised to create a serious ‘shake up’ in the Indian car market.
Their 1400 cc models undercut the Esteem and the successful Indigo range and it will not be too much of a surprise to find these established models offering generous summer discounts, special finance deals and free goodies to hold on to buyer attention.
Appearance wise, the Logan is “good” rather than “great”. It displays the practical but slightly boxy elements of Romania’s Dacia heritage before it became part of the Renault Empire. While it has been sandpapered slightly, it still lacks that element of France’s fabled chic.
Being the tallest saloon it looks a mite squat even if it provides sufficient inside headroom. However, these deficiencies have certainly not stopped it from being well received before hitting Indian shores.
Mahindra has made a few changes in the India version though - double grille with horizontal slats angling upwards towards the jewel effect and headlights that look much better than the original. Strangely there is no badging on the sides and the badging on the rear does not show whether it is the 1.4 or 1.6 litre model or the diesel sibling.
Its interiors are spacious and the base GL models are well kitted with heavy duty air-conditioners, remote fuel lid, wing mirrors, collapsible steering, halogen headlights, anti-theft ignition, plush fabric seats, moulded floor carpets, body coloured bumpers and tachometers. All the other models will have power steering and power windows while the top models sport cabin heaters, theatre lights, lights in the boot and glove box, airbags, ABS brakes, etc.
Needless to say, like all modern cars, the Logan has a full array of safety features and for those who travel frequently, there is a huge boot to stack up stuff of assorted shapes and sizes.
Behind-the-driving wheel lie refined engines, even if they do not figure amongst the fastest in acceleration contests. They are fun to drive and have a smooth linear delivery of power. The ride comfort quotient is high too, perhaps because of the need to smoothen out the pretty but bumpy cobbled roads of Paris, for are not all French cars famous for their suspensions.
The Logan can take on moderate potholes and bumps in regal comfort, and the ride is at the cost of handling corners, but without excessive roll or dive.
Initially, the car will be rolled out through the Mahindra Scorpio dealerships in the main metros and later in other towns. Watch out for the many Renault diamond logos on the cars that may soon find their way onto your city roads.