There will be two major additions to the growing small car pie in India soon. It is significant since both these cars will join a long list of other recent and imminent launches in the upper end of the small car segment. We’re talking of cars priced above Rs3.5 lakh here.
The first is the Nissan Micra. The current version of the car, which is in the process of being phased out globally, never did sell in India. The fourth-generation Micra (or March, as it is called in Japan) will be made and sold here. Its production has been stopped in Sunderland, UK, and this further means that the new car will be made in India for our market and also exported to Europe. Nissan has production plans in China and Thailand also.
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The car is expected to be compact, efficient and powered by a 1.2-litre petrol engine. There would be more powerful engines for the export Micra, but in India, Nissan wants to stay with the excise-benefit-related definition of a small car. It will have a three-door hatch variant for exports, too, though we will get the five-door car. The car’s initial sketches have been released and these indicate a modern, well-finished, yet very Japanese design form. So the car is likely to stand out among the hatch brigade —something its predecessor also did smartly. I also expect Nissan to play it smart and offer a fully-loaded version with automatic transmission for the upwardly mobile urbanite looking for an upmarket and convenient hatch. This means the Micra’s expected price range is Rs3.75–6.75 lakh. The car will debut by mid-2010, though it may be launched (read revealed) prior to that.
The second car that will get as much, if not more, will be the Ford Figo. Also expected in 2010, it will hit the roads in India by about March at the very latest. The Figo is Ford’s next big thing for India. Built on a platform derived from the current Fiesta in India, the Figo will, therefore, share some parts with the sedan and carry a high localization level. I was a bit surprised that Ford chose to reveal the car to us so soon, given it is still some months away from debuting. However, seeing that it was the company’s global CEO who unveiled it, I guess that had more to do with his schedule and availability than the car’s readiness. The Figo is likely to debut with petrol and diesel options. Expect spacious and well-finished interiors and a high value-for-money quotient. The price range can be Rs3.5–5.5 lakh.
Coming soon: Ford’s Figo is expected to cruise into India on a high value-for-money quotient.
Joining the Figo and Micra will be the Volkswagen Polo and Toyota’s small car in 2010. In fact, you may have noticed how I have given a fair amount of importance to a number of small cars heading our way in this column. The reason I am getting so excited about this is that not only does the launch of every new model put more choice in the hands of the consumer, it also raises the benchmarks and expectations in the country’s largest selling car segment. So the quintessential “small” car is getting roomier, better looking, fun to drive and, most importantly, safer too.
Siddharth Vinayak Patankar is editor (auto), NDTV.Write to us at email@example.com