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