2019 has certainly started with a bang. ‘New Car Fever’ is a very apt title for this issue.
In this month's edition, you’ll find everything from the brand new Maruti Suzuki Wagon R to the Ford Endeavour – with the Mahindra XUV300, Honda Civic, Toyota Camry Hybrid, and more, filling the pages in between.
I can bet my life on the fact that the Wagon R will remain one of the best selling cars in the country – it’s as practical and sensible as ever! Mahindra continues to up its game with each new launch, and the XUV300 is their most sophisticated and refined vehicle yet – it’s exactly what they need to take the fight to Maruti’s Vitara Brezza. The Honda Civic, too, has its work cut out for it – not only does it need to elevate Honda’s fortunes in the country, but also revitalise the ailing executive sedan segment. Speaking of sedans, if you’re looking for one that provides comfort, serenity and ecology in equal measure, look no further than Toyota’s brand new Camry Hybrid. The only downside to the Camry is that there aren’t any incentives on hybrids at present, but that could well change over the course of the year as an EV roadmap finally begins to emerge.
Within this issue, you’ll also find an interview with Charles Frump, the MD of Volvo in India. When asked if India is missing the bus because we don’t have a definitive EV policy as yet, he said that, while it would be easy to give the government a hard time in this regard, what’s really important is that they’ve laid out a vision for an electrified future. How we get there is something that we’ll all just have to collectively work out.
In showrooms today, however, the reality is that diesel SUVs still rule. And so, to stay relevant, Ford has updated their mammoth Endeavour. Unfortunately, they’ve still skimped on goodies like steering mounted shift paddles, but it remains a vehicle that outclasses the crowd favourite – the Toyota Fortuner – in pretty much every respect. The surprising thing for me (after years of owning one) is the fact that it’s been no less reliable and cost-effective to run than a Toyota, which is really saying something. After sales service (cost, as well as the quality of the experience) is the next frontier in the Indian market, and it’s an area that every brand has demonstrated a renewed focus towards – all of which is great news for the Indian customer.
RC Bhargava, the Chairman of Maruti Suzuki, said recently that, in his experience (of which he has more than any other automotive veteran), a pre-election year is always slow, but an election year sees sales truly picking up the pace. With a case of new car fever setting in so soon, the industry will certainly be hoping that his words ring true…