IAB Picks - 7 entry-level luxury cars heading to India by mid-2015

18/03/2014 - 16:06 | ,  ,  ,  ,  ,  ,  ,  ,  ,   | Karthik H

The entry-level luxury car market has boomed ever since the Mercedes B-Class made its debut in 2012. With the A-Class soon following, the German brand had its first mover advantage. BMW and Volvo quickly followed with the 1 Series and the V40 Cross Country respectively.

However, the segment has attracted attention and a list of launches are scheduled in the particularly meaty Rs 20 - Rs 30 lakh segment. Here's a list of entrants to that segment that can be expected soon.

Audi A3 sedan & A3 Cabriolet

Both cars made their Indian debut at last month's Auto Expo 2014. Both are built on the VW Group's MQB platform.

Audi A3 sedan front three quarters at Auto Expo 2014
Audi India's head has confirmed that the A3 sedan would come to India this year and that it would be the cheapest Audi yet.

The A3 sedan gets a range of engine options in Europe - A 1.4-liter TFSI engine making 140 hp and 250 Nm of peak torque is mated to a 7-speed A/T, a 1.8-liter TFSI engine that produces 180 hp and 250 Nm mated to the same A/T and finally a 2.0-liter TDI engine that makes 150 hp and 320 Nm of peak torque, mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox.

Audi A3 Cabriolet at Auto Expo 2014 front three quarters
The A3 soft-top convertible is likely to be a CBU and cater to a niche segment.

As for the convertible, the company at the Auto Expo had displayed only the 1.8-liter TFSI variant that is mated to either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed AT, even though it offers the car with the 1.4-liter TFSI and 2.0-liter TDI in Europe.

Both cars are expected to launch towards the middle of 2014.

Mercedes-Benz GLA

Mercedes pulled a fast one on us when it showcased a production version of the compact-SUV, the Mercedes GLA, at the Auto Expo 2014.

Mercedes GLA front three quarters left at Auto Expo 2014
A production-version of the GLA was shown at the Auto Expo 2014.

The GLA is one of the NGCC (New Generation Compact Cars) that Mercedes had earlier promised for India.

Mechanically, the GLA is similar to the A-Class. It gets the same 1.6-liter 156hp petrol engine on the GLA 200 variant and a 2.0-liter 211hp unit on the GLA 250. The oil burner is the GLA 200 CDI that is powered by the familiar 2.2-liter engine delivering 136hp and 300 Nm and the GLA 220 CDI that whips out 170hp and 350 Nm using the same displacement.

Mercedes GLA steering wheel at Auto Expo 2014
Mercedes-Benz India's head said that the BMW X1 competitor would be "introduced in India at the earliest."

At the Expo, Mercedes India boss Eberhard Kern said that all efforts of the company are now concentrated in introducing the model in India at the earliest.

Audi Q3 facelift

Some subtle model revisions are expected on the grille, headlamps, interior trims on what is, at least at present, India's most affordable Audi model. Audi's member of board Ulrich Hackenberg confirmed to IAB in Geneva this month that a facelift is in the pipeline and that it would be showcased globally this year.

The car is also expected to be launched in India early next year.

Audi Q3 front three quarter' at NAIAS 2014
The Q3 shown here is not the facelift, but Audi's R&D boss Ulrich Hackenberg confirmed to IAB that it would be shown internationally this year.

The current Q3 is powered by 2 petrol and 2 diesel engines. The facelift is likely to get some minor cosmetic changes and retain the same 2.0-liter petrol engine and the 2.0-liter diesel motor as well.

Mercedes B-Class facelift

The car that pretty much kick-started this segment in India is also in line for a facelift sometime this year, as it has already been almost three years since it was launched globally.

Mercedes B-Class
The Mercedes B-Class will see its facelift make an international debut at the Paris Motor Show in October this year.

A reliable German site had previously reported that the B-Class facelift will be launched at the Paris Motor Show in October this year. However, the petrol model of the B-Class was launched in India almost a year after it was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011 and the diesel model took a further 6 months. So we won't be holding our breath for this one.

2014 MINI

The 2014 MINI made its debut at the LA Auto Show and the Tokyo Motor Show last November simultaneously. The 3-door hatchback was confirmed for India in 2014 by BMW India's head Philip von Sahr.

2014 MINI Cooper front quarter LA Auto Show
The 2014 MINI is confirmed for India this year.

The base Mini Cooper comes with a 3-cylinder 1.5-liter engine that produces 134 bhp and 219 Nm of torque. The mid-range Cooper D gets a 1.5-liter diesel motor that produces 114 bhp and 269 Nm. The top-end Cooper S comes with a 4-cylinder 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine making 189 bhp and 300 Nm.

2014 MINI Cooper rear quarter
The 3-Door MINI made its international debut simultaneously at the LA Auto Show and the Tokyo Motor Show last year.

All 3 models get an option between a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed automatic gearbox.

New Mercedes C-Class

Even though it doesn't necessarily fall in this category, the C-Class still remains one of the cheaper Mercedes-Benz cars money can buy in India. The 2015 C-Class made its debut at the Detroit Auto Show this January.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C Class at 2014 NAIAS front three quarter
The 2015 C-Class won't come to India in 2014.

Mercedes-Benz India boss, Eberhard Kern however, told IAB that it wouldn't be launched in 2014. So expect the new generation car first thing in 2015, with its two petrol and one diesel engine options. This is also the first car to be built on the company's MRA platform.

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