The automobile industry has just clocked a terrific July in sales terms. To keep
the momentum going, expect a blitzkrieg of new launches and upgrades. Some of that has already begun with the new breed of hatches in the car space and also bikes such as the new Yamaha Fazer and Bajaj Pulsar. Driving in this week are two upgrades worth mentioning.
MAKEOVER FOR CAMRY
First up, it’s the spruced up Toyota Camry. The seventh generation of the car arrived in India in 2006 and has been reasonably well accepted but just like its predecessor, it has always remained at the niche high-end of the segment.
Camry’s makeover is largely superficial and enhances the premium positioning. It now gets new headlamp treatment and a bolder grille with a chrome edge which,
frankly, I am not crazy about. New bumpers and fog lights, new alloy wheels, indicators in the side mirrors and a sunroof round things off. There are also two new colours—a deep green and a metallic beige.
The Camry retains its 2.4 litre, 164 bhp engine, with the option of a five-speed manual or automatic gearbox. It drives as well as it always did and the suspension at the rear is especially well suited to Indian conditions. Surprisingly, the new car is priced at just Rs20,000 more than its previous avatar—at between Rs21 lakh and Rs23 lakh. With Honda’s Accord starting to look shaky with the thundering debut of the Skoda Superb, the launch couldn’t have come at a better time. With a two-three month waiting on the Superb, the Camry could jump right in.
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FORD’S NEW FIESTA
The other makeover is also a sedan, but a couple of segments down. The new Ford Fiesta SXI is just the top variant of the Fiesta that gets the new treatment—but this is across the diesel and petrol SXI variants.
What you get besides the usual top-end features is a new chrome finish front mesh-grille, new chrome enhanced headlamp casings, silver-finish alloy wheels and chrome-finished side rear-view mirrors with integrated indicators. Even on the inside, while you do get the in-dash music system, faux wood and leather upholstery, there is nothing that can be termed new or changed. I found that rather surprising. The Fiesta
SXI petrol with its 1.6 litre, 99 bhp heart is priced at Rs6.99 lakh, while the 1.4 litre, 66 bhp diesel is priced at a lakh more. Expect more tinkering with the Fiesta range as we get closer to Diwali.
Speaking of Diwali though, there is plenty more that I’m expecting. Hero Honda is planning to relaunch its Karizma, Honda is expected to debut its much awaited 100cc bike, Toyota its Fortuner and GM will introduce the Cruze sedan. While the Cruze will take on the Fiat Linea head-on, watch out for Maruti’s next—code named O2. The all-new mini-van is for those who want the convenience of a family van, but find the Omni and Versa too dated.
So expect the O2 to be versatile and plush, yet affordable and efficient. I have great expectations from Maruti now, because as it has shown us with the Ritz and A-star, it is finally moving away from cheap products with poor build-quality to world-class cars. Pricing is expected to be in the Rs3.5-4.5 lakh range.
Siddharth Vinayak Patankar is editor (auto), NDTV.
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