By Nathan D'Costa posted Dec 6th 2016 at 6:00AM
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Auto enthusiasts have ample reasons to cheer with luxury car brands adding new models every year. Here's a recap of the luxurious cars launched this year.
Until a decade or two ago, a luxury car for most people in India meant trotting around in the backseat of an ambassador, which had a barely functioning air conditioner. The opening up of economic restrictions in the early nineties paved the way for car manufacturers to tap into the massive Indian car market that was starved of cars and of choice. While high running costs and bad infrastructure meant Indians were still seduced by small, easy-to-maintain cars (read Maruti Suzuki and its Asian rivals), there was always space for luxury brands to come in. Mercedes-Benz saw this opportunity very early and set up shop in India as early as 1994 and offered the E220 to Indians who were willing to pay a premium for it. The rapid growth of the Indian economy, post millennium, saw the world take notice of the growing spending power of the Indian car buyer and ushered in a new era of luxury automobiles. Porsche entered India in 2004, followed closely by BMW in 2006, and Audi in 2007. These luxury car manufacturers slowly built up their portfolio of vehicles and now sell almost their entire range of cars in India. While manufacturers earlier updated the models every three to four years, intense competition and the variety in each price bracket has now pushed car makers to update their models every year. In this issue, we will look at the top five popular luxury cars in India and what their latest versions offer.
With the arrival of other car brands in the Indian market, Mercedes-Benz lost its position as the top dog in the luxury space. While its models always sold well, the arrival of the more aggressive and fresh BMWs and Audis meant that Mercedes- Benz was slowly slipping from its premium position on the ‘car to buy’ list. They are now looking to stem the tide with the all-new E-Class. It features the new design language that came through with the S-Class and the C-Class, as well as a lighter chassis and a best-in-class cabin.
When the X1 was first launched in India, it was pitched as the most affordable BMW and gave its customers a means to enter the elite club of luxury car owners. It was a BMW, it looked like an SUV and it was priced well. The car was an instant success. But the launch of the Mercedes-Benz GLA meant that BMW had to up its game and in came the 2016 edition of the X1. The new X1 features a re-designed exterior/interior, an all-new platform, and a revised engine line-up.
Jaguar XF one of the car manufacturers that made a relatively delayed entry into the Indian market. But with Tata owning a majority stake in the company, it didn’t take long for them to establish themselves amongst buyers here. While not as popular as the German marquee players, Jaguar has built a reputation for offering luxury and a little more exclusivity on the roads. The all-new XF demonstrates the Jaguar principles of design purity. Strong lines radiate British character and enhance its capabilities—be it improvised aerodynamics, visibility, stability or safety.
While not the typical luxury car, the Fortuner has done very well for itself with its combination of looks, reliability and comfort. It also helps that it's bigger sibling, the Land Cruiser, is arguably the ultimate SUV one can own. With its powerful engine and go-anywhere motto, the Fortuner has endeared itself to Indian buyers. However, Ford made things exciting with the launch of the new Endeavour, this year, which forced Toyota to bring out a new avatar of the Fortuner. Expect a bolder-looking SUV with a host of engine options and, of course, an extremely plush ride.
The A4 is Audi’s best-selling sedan and is often its most popular model. However, in recent years, this car was outclassed in most departments by its rivals and Audi has stepped in to make amends. Upon first glance, the new edition looks almost like the outgoing car, but despite appearances, this is an entirely new model rather than a mere facelift. Audi’s focus with the latest model has been on refinement improvements, piloted driving technology and efficiency gains. To that end, the firm has improved fuel economy by 21 per cent, while upping power by 25 per cent at the same time.
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