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The machines of motor city

Five highlights from Naias 2013—one of the biggest auto shows in the world
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First Published: Tue, Jan 22 2013. 06 25 PM IST
Chevrolet Corvette C7 ‘Stingray’
Chevrolet Corvette C7 ‘Stingray’
Updated: Tue, Jan 22 2013. 06 41 PM IST
While the annual North American International Auto Show (Naias) in Detroit is by far the biggest and most influential international motor show in the US, you might think that it is full of V8 muscle cars and monstrous pick-up trucks, with little relevance to us here in India. However, this year’s show also featured a number of small, frugal and very interesting models that might be big hits in India. These are the most exciting cars from Naias 2013.
Mercedes-Benz CLA-class
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Mercedes-Benz CLA-class
Mercedes’ new range of affordable models has already kicked off in India with the B-class “sports tourer” (which starts from Rs.21.5 lakh, ex-showroom Mumbai), but its more interesting saloon counterpart, the swoopy CLA-class, was revealed to the public for the first time at Naias 2013. It’s a car the company hopes will draw in a lot of new young buyers, and help carry the brand back to the top of the sales charts. This car will sit beneath the C-class as the most affordable saloon in Mercedes’ India line-up, at an estimated Rs.20-24 lakh*. It will share a lot with the B-class (and the forthcoming A-class hatchback)—engines, mechanical bits and interior trim.
That means a stylish and very well-built cabin, a range of small, fuel-efficient turbocharged petrol and diesel motors, and a lot of radical styling touches. Look for this stunning saloon in showrooms by the end of the year.
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Honda Urban SUV concept
Honda Urban SUV concept
With this striking concept car, Honda has confirmed that it is working on a compact SUV to sit below the bigger CR-V in its line-up. While many concept cars are a bit outlandish in their design, this one looks quite close to production-ready, with only details like the LED head- and tail-lamps and the blade-like alloy wheels seeming out of place. The car will be based on the same structure as the next-generation Jazz hatchback and City saloon, so you can expect a lot of commonalities among the three cars, which will help to bring down costs. And as it is safe to assume the next City and Jazz will be assembled in India, there’s every reason to expect that this SUV will be too.
However, the most interesting detail for us in India is that this compact SUV will, alongside petrol engines, use the Honda’s new 1.5-litre diesel motor—part of Honda’s new “Earth Dreams” family of super-efficient engines, and the same one that will power the forthcoming Amaze saloon.
The Urban SUV will go up against the likes of the Renault Duster and Mahindra XUV500, with an estimated price tag of Rs.10-12 lakh, and we expect to see it here sometime in 2014.
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The Volkswagen CrossBlue concept
Volkswagen CrossBlue concept
Keen to cash in on the popular seven-seat SUV craze, and having no such model in its line-up thus far, VW has showcased a concept car that previews just that. The CrossBlue, when it goes into production, will sit below the company’s luxury SUV, the Touareg. It will share the same platform as the next-generation Jetta and Passat saloon cars—a great showcase of the company’s engineering prowess, being able to produce an executive saloon and a full-size SUV from the same basic architecture. While the concept car is powered by a diesel-electric hybrid system, expect the production car to use a more conventional diesel engine—an updated version of the 2.0-litre TDI motor from the Passat.
If it does get the green light for production, we estimate that it will cost Rs.30-40 lakh, but we probably won’t see it any time before 2015.
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Toyota Corolla Furia concept
Toyota Corolla Furia concept
The Furia concept previews the next styling direction Toyota will be taking with its conventional passenger cars—particularly the Corolla executive saloon—in markets such as ours. The styling may look outlandish, with wild angles and huge wheels, but these will be toned down significantly when the car reaches production. The next-gen Corolla saloon is likely to be introduced in Thailand, followed by a launch in India in 2014, with a slight bump up in price over today’s model; but you can expect a more premium interior and more equipment too.
The design exercise is a part of Toyota’s bigger plan to inject some youthfulness and excitement into its mainstream saloon cars, and with the current Corolla Altis under threat from newer rivals, this car could be the boost it needs to keep it competitive.
Chevrolet Corvette C7 ‘Stingray’
While not destined for India, the all-new Corvette sports car was without a doubt the highlight of the show. The all-new model is a huge advancement on its predecessors in a bid to be more competitive both in the US as well as European markets. While the overall shape remains the same, there are a number of radical styling details on this seventh-generation C7 car, particularly at the rear end.
But perhaps the biggest news for potential Corvette customers is that the car now has a high-quality interior compared to the outgoing car. It has a cockpit-like, driver-focused layout with rich materials, including high-quality stitched leather, and is packed with technology befitting its sports-car status and price tag. The car also has an aluminium chassis, optional magnetic dampers for its adjustable suspension and an updated, 450bhp version of its 6.2-litre V8 engine.
*Launch dates and prices are not based on official information.
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First Published: Tue, Jan 22 2013. 06 25 PM IST
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