Yearender 2020 special: From Thar to Creta and Sonet, top five car launches
The Indian automotive industry as a whole was much like a wounded soldier in a challenging battle called 2020. Despite herculean, often unprecedented challenges, the automotive industry stuck to its guts and a several solid shots were fired which found their intended mark in the market and sailed high to the top of sales charts. From new products to facelifts and new-generation updates, there was a whole lot of excitement and buzz in the passenger vehicle market despite Covid-19-related factors always looming large.
Here, therefore, are five of many significant launches in the Indian car market that primarily defined the year 2020. And while there were many others, these would perhaps be remembered for shaping the year.
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It is impossible to not keep the iconic Thar at the very top of this list. It truly re-invented itself in most ways and made the most noise. Showcased on August 15 and officially launched on October 2, this legendary off-road beast is now appealing massively to even those who may never dare to take it to the wilderness. Why?
Thar 2020 gets updated looks which makes it appear more premium than ever before. Then there is the option to choose from a petrol or a diesel engine. Want automatic transmission? Sure. Hard-top, soft-top, convertible roof? Of course. The cabin is now feature-packed, comparatively more comfortable and all of these while promising to retain the ability to conquer almost every terrain in its path. Little wonder then that the new Thar has a long waiting period and is faring far better than what its predecessor - while mighty acclaimed - ever could.
Hyundai Creta 2020
Here is another strong performer that received a major update this year to reclaim the crown of being the most-selling compact SUV in the country.
Creta was first launched in 2015 and managed to consistently sell by truck-loads. Competition though had increased a fair bit in recent times but Hyundai managed to hit back and hit strong.
Radically updated looks, even more features to boast off - over 50 connectivity features alone, multiple colour options and a whole lot more has injected a strong shot of adrenaline to this Hyundai vehicle launched in March.
Creta may have upstaged Seltos but Sonet fought back and how in a segment one step down. Kia, in fact, left no stone unturned to ensure that the car - and the buzz around it - found its intended mark in the Indian market.
Available in two trims - Tech Line trim and GT Line, Sonet almost literally flew off the shelves even before it was launched. Kia reported massive pre-launch bookings and has managed to keep the momentum up. While Seltos' solid reputation may have helped Sonet's cause, it has also sought to create its own identity.
Multiple engine and transmission options, a feature list that is extensive and exhaustive, several variants to choose from, a plethora of colour options - all have gone to make this product a stellar performer in the 2020 highlight reel.
That the sub-compact SUV segment is the most hotly contested is well known. And while Nissan may have only launched Magnite in December, the car has managed to emerge from being seen as a lifeboat for the company to a jet ski. Did you know that Nissan has received 15,000 bookings for the Magnite in just a little over two weeks since its launch?
The main reason for Magnite's success is its price structure. Nissan has hit the proverbial nail on its head by introducing the car at a starting, introductory and ex showroom price of ₹4.99 lakh. Even its top variant sits under the ₹10 lakh bracket. This makes the car not only the most affordable sub-compact SUV but undercuts pricing of several premium hatchbacks as well.
But does that mean there's something lacking? Well, there is no diesel engine option but the HRA0 engine borrows 'mirror bore cylinder coating' technology from its legendary sports car model - Nissan GT-R. The turbo engine sure has its merits and mated to an XTRONIC gearbox, the Magnite makes a good case for itself.
Another smart move is to offer premium features in an optional Tech Pack at around ₹38,000. This helps keep the car's price down and those who may not be enamoured by premium sound system, wireless phone charging etc, may opt out.
The EQC from Mercedes makes it to this list not because it has sold by the dozens - not that Mercedes-Benz expected to rake in numbers from it. Instead, this electric vehicle is a show of intent from the Germans, one that seeks to bring the best of electric technology to Indians.
The EQC is the first EV in the luxury car segment and may have been a reason why rival luxury car makers confirmed they too will bring in their offerings in the new year. At around ₹1 crore, EQC isn't for everyone. And yet, with a claimed range of 400 kms, a solid drive performance and a cabin that is as refined and opulent as any other Mercedes, this here is a sign of what the car maker intends to do in the times to come.
Notable mentions - Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza ditched its diesel engine and now comes with only BS6-compliant petrol engine option. It also received noteworthy cosmetic updates on the outside.
Hyundai i20 received a massive update on the outside and a much-more updated cabin with a plethora of features. Multiple engine and transmission options too were brought in.
Audi Q2 was brought in via the CBU route as the most-affordable SUV in the Q family in India.
The latest Honda City was also launched with radically updated looks and more features. The car is being sold alongside the preceeding model.