What a busy, engaging and even tumultuous year 2016 has been. We have already recognized the truly best with our annual awards programme. But now it is my turn to tell you my pick for the year’s top ten launches in the car market.1. Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza
Without a doubt the veritable trump card once again has been played by the market leader. It has long been said that no one understands the Indian market like Maruti Suzuki and the Vitara Brezza goes a long way to prove that amply. The subcompact SUV was launched at the Auto Expo in Feb 2016, and since its arrival a few weeks later the carmaker cannot stop its Brezza juggernaut. Expect more fireworks when the AMT and petrol versions arrive in 2017!
2. Tata Tiago
The best yet from Tata Motors and how. A hiccup at the start that saw the Zica turn into the Tiago, and there has been no looking back. A major boost to Tata’s monthly sales, the Tiago has proved not only to be a hit, but the much needed resurgence vehicle for Tata as well.
3. Toyota Fortuner
The mighty Fortuner nameplate – Toyota’s strongest in India – is something people swear by. The older car’s butch looks are almost gone, and have been replaced by an attempt at sophistication and beauty. Contemporary bits like DRLs simply add to it. The Fortuner’s big improvement is a much much better ride quality and comfort. Its already a hit, and expect waiting periods to only grow on this baby.
4. Hyundai Elantra
The Korean carmaker Hyundai has brought us one hit after another. Despite its hands still being full with the Creta and i20, out comes another one. The Elantra though is not a massive volumes model but has breathed life into an almost defunct segment. That it carries Hyundai’s Fluidic 2.0 styling, a more modern manufacturing process and is loaded with creature comforts and gizmos is only more reason to applaud the Elantra.
5. Ford Endeavour
The Endy came back in a new generation avatar at the 2016 Auto Expo as well. And what we got was a hulk alright, but one with a silken or velvet touch. Much-improved ride and comfort, massively better performance and the choice of two diesel engines. Throw in the 4WD/2WD and automatic/manual options and you also realise that all variants come pretty much fully loaded. Good value and way better than the last car make the new Endeavour a worthy top tenner!
6. Toyota Innova Crysta
The second Toyota in my list is the new generation Innova that adds Crysta to its name. The car exemplifies all that Toyota gets right – and adds to it a more premium feel that the last Innova lacked. The new car is a runaway hit despite much increased prices, and with sales to fleet buyers also begun expect to see lots of them, and for Toyota to have long waiting periods on this too.
7. Hyundai Tucson
Another SUV in my top ten and it will tell you how big the year has been for the Utes! The Tucson does everything you expect from a Hyundai today – great looks, efficient drive, comfort, loads of equipment and value. The Tucson scores big and also offers a compelling offering in the compact SUV space, going way ahead of the XUV500 and Rexton.
8. Volkswagen Ameo
Finally a hit for VW! And the Ameo is not the car I would have reckoned would do it. But here we are. The dealerships finally look a bit busy and the Ameo is the reason. The car is not just well priced, but offers a tonne of things in this segment. It’s easily the best performer in this class, and also offers excellent ride and comfort. It throws in the segment’s most powerful diesel and also the DSG auto gearbox to make it a winner.
9. Datsun redi-GO
Speaking of much needed hits, Datsun surely would be a much-relieved company now with the redi-GO proving to be a success. Built on the Kwid’s CMFA platform, and yet offering a tallboy car which is totally different – has been its success mantra. The good looks, mileage claims and brand ambassador Sakshi Malik have all come together well for the Japanese brand.
10. Renault Kwid AMT
And yes its alter ego the Kwid from Renault rounds off my top ten. An AMT in the segment may not be new, but adding the 1.0 litre engine and the funky rotary dial AMT has been another masterstroke in the Kwid playbook. Our 2016 NDTV Car of the Year winner remains immensely popular and despite the redi-GO’s entry is still the segment benchmark by a mile.