2016 has been a very busy year for the auto manufacturers in the country. There were ups and downs almost the entire year and amidst all this, we saw some all-new cars, across different price segments, which made a mark. While most of the cars were a mere 'me too', we set aside 16 vehicles which made a difference in the Indian auto industry. These cars brought something new to the table and shook up their respective segments. Let's have a look at the 16 game changers of 2016.
The little hatchback will go down in history as the one that turned things around for Tata. Almost single-handedly, if we may add. The Tiago packed in a spacious cabin, feel-good features and frugal engines at a mouthwatering price that undercut its chief rivals by close to half a lakh.
Mahindra added a dose of practicality and convenience to the e2o, giving us the four-door avatar. The top-spec version got an upgraded powertrain, producing 41PS of power and a larger 210Ah battery. With a top speed of 85kmph and a range of 140km, the little electric hatch from Mahindra looks better equipped than ever before, to take on the urban jungle.
Like we said in our review, the Elantra is better than ever before. The D-segment sedan from Hyundai gets a spot on our list for its intelligent pricing. While entry level variants were priced cheaper than the segment leader, the Corolla Altis, the top-spec diesel is priced a whopping Rs 3 lakh cheaper than the Skoda Octavia. The best bit is that the feel-good features – such as the ventilated seats, a sunroof, a touchscreen audio system et al. – remain on the feature list.
If we had to sum up the Skoda Superb in three words, it would be value for money. Now, we know it costs well over Rs 30 lakh on road, but you do get a lot for that money. For instance, the space outrivals the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the Canton audio system will put most entry-level Audis to shame, and the level of equipment – three-zone climate control, boss button, leather upholstery – is better than an equivalently priced BMW. See why we say it is value for money?
Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza
Calling the first sub 4-metre SUV from Maruti a runaway success would be short selling it. The Brezza catapulted into the A-list of best-sellers almost instantly after launch, clocking a steady 10,000 units in sales every month. The straightforward yet potent package, comprising of the SUV appeal, a punchy 1.3-litre diesel motor and the backing of Maruti's aftersales saw it command a waiting period of half a year. Maruti also debuted its 'iCreate' personalization offerings with the Brezza, helping owners make their own Brezza a tad more unique.
Isuzu D-Max V-Cross
Isuzu started the year with a bang by showcasing the D-Max V-Cross at the 2016 Auto Expo. It breathed life into a niche lifestyle pickup segment, which comprised only of the Tata Xenon until the V-Cross came along. The mega road presence, no nonsense styling, reliable 2.5-litre diesel and shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive gives the D-Max a spot on our list.
Toyota Innova Crysta
The Crysta turned the MPV space on its head by upping the ante in every measurable way. The new Innova Crysta packed in an uber-luxurious interior, a variety of engine options – 2.4-litre (diesel), 2.8-litre (diesel), 2.7-litre (petrol), and an automatic transmission too. The updated workhorse from Toyota not only went to the top of the food chain in the UV segment but bit a sizeable chunk out of D-segment sedans’ pie as well.
Ford's big boy shocked the market in January 2016 by being cheaper than the older Toyota Fortuner. The American automaker clearly had its intentions crystal clear with the Endeavour – grab the throne. For the price, it is a fantastic package, bundling in features such as active noise cancellation, semi-auto parallel park assist and a terrain management system, all while being more affordable than its arch rival – the new Fortuner.
The Swedes have arrived, and how! On paper, the Volvo S90 seems to be better equipped compared to its German rivals, and is priced to undercut them! Notably, the S90 is a CBU, unlike the rest of its clan that are assembled locally in India. Features such as the rear air-suspension, the 19-speaker Bowers&Wilkins sound system and the 9-inch touchscreen command centre make it stand out from the run-of-the-mill Germans.
What we like to call 'the most practical BMW', also happens to be amongst the fastest now. The 3GT now gets the 330i variant, packing a 2.0-litre turbo petrol motor with 252PS of power on tap. With a 0-100 time of just 6.1 seconds, and a luggage hauling capacity of 1600 litres with the second row stashed away, the 3GT combines performance and practicality beautifully.
The first SUV from the winged B was bound to make an appearance on the list, for the sheer amount of exclusivity and opulence it offers. Launched at a sticker price of Rs 3.85 crore, it is the most expensive SUV to be retailed in India at the moment. In case you need an example of the extravaganza, Bentley has a dashboard clock in the options list (handcrafted by Mulliner, no less) that costs over a crore. Yep, that is a seven digit sum for a clock. We wish we were joking about this.
Volkswagen Polo GTI
After years of contemplation, Volkswagen finally brought in the range-topping Polo – the GTI – to Indian shores. Priced at Rs 26 lakh, ex-showroom, the hot Polo screams performance like nothing else. The 1.8-litre turbo petrol motor develops 192PS, giving it a 0-100kmph time of just 7.1 seconds. In case you thought the Abarth Punto wasn't hot enough for you, here you go – Volkswagen finally has the whole hog.
Mercedes-AMG 43 Series
Mercedes brought its affordable '43' range of AMGs to India this year. The range currently includes the GLE43 Coupe, the SLC43 Roadster and the recently launched C43 sedan. The 43 AMGs aren't as hard core as the big boy 63s, but are quick enough to make you yell expletives as you get hurled towards the horizon. All that for a six digit asking price. Kudos, Mercedes.
The iconic pony car flexed its muscles in India earlier this year, and was launched at a price of Rs 65 lakh. Notably, the Mustang is the most affordable way to get yourself a brand-new V8-powered car. The timeless styling, the roar of 400 horses and the fun of a proper rear-wheel–driven muscle car is hard to resist, giving it a spot on our list.
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT
Unlike its stablemates, the hot SRT version of the Grand Cherokee feels well priced. For just Rs 10 lakh over its standard 3.0-litre diesel version, you get a whole lot more, which we think makes it a sweet deal for an enthusiast. The party piece, of course, is the big 6.4-litre HEMI V8 motor that dishes out 470PS and 624Nm, and a sonorous exhaust note!
Launched at Rs 1.99 crore, the GT-R is now in its final avatar. It finds a spot on our list for offering supercar performance for a substantially lower sticker price. The handbuilt twin-turbo 3.8-litre motor is a stonker – developing 570PS and 637Nm – giving it a 0-100kmph time that's under 3 seconds.
That's our list of 16 game changers for 2016. Agree with our choices? Have something to add? Let us know by voicing your opinion through the comments section.