In today's feature story, we are throwing the spotlight on 6 B-Segment family hatchbacks that are expected to launch in India in the next 12-18 months. These B-Segment vehicles are all-new or variants and facelifts of currently running models. These form the core of the Indian auto market.
1. Honda Jazz
Honda will re-introduce the Jazz hatchback in the B+ segment in the first quarter of the next calender year. Unlike the older generation car which suffered poor sales from the absence of a diesel variant, the new Jazz, that launched in Japan last year as the 'Fit', would come with a diesel engine as the company now produces a 1.5-liter i-DTEC unit locally for the Amaze, City and the upcoming Mobilio models. This engine is expected to return a mileage of around 25 kmpl on the Jazz (judging by the fuel efficiency of the Amaze and City).
Despite being 40 mm shorter than its predecessor, the new Jazz enjoys a 30.48 mm longer wheelbase, with a 121.98 mm improvement in rear legroom, and an increase in boot space of 138.7 liters (1,492 liter boot space when the rear seat is folded down).
The new Jazz is 26 kg lighter and its NVH and ride comfort are claimed to be better thanks to a more rigid body, revised suspension geometry and new rear dampers.
2. Maruti Swift facelift
Maruti Suzuki introduced the current Swift in India in August 2011, a year after it was launched in Europe. Preferably Maruti would want to have a revised version at the three-year mark to retain freshness in the car and address some of the customer feedback.
Features such as keyless entry, push-button start and the cruise control can also be part of the facelift program as these are currently unavailable.
In Europe, Suzuki introduced the Swift facelift last year with minor cosmetic changes such as a new body color and an LED-infused foglamp cluster. This description could define the Indian Swift facelift's exterior.
Engine options are expected to be no different - 1.2 K Series petrol engine that delivers 87 PS @ 6,000 rpm and 114 NM of torque @ 4,000 rpm with a fuel efficiency of 18.6 kmpl and a 1.3L DDiS engine from Fiat which generates 75 PS of power at 4,000 rpm and 190 NM of torque @ 2,000 rpm, with a fuel efficiency of 22.9 kmpl.
Maruti is developing an in-house diesel engine and is placing its bets on AMT picking up in other segments. While its wildly speculative to consider these as probables on the Swift facelift, it wouldn't be something Maruti hasn't mulled over.
3. All-new Ford Figo
Ford showcased a concept version of the sub-4m Ford Figo sedan on the eve of the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo. What is also a concept is a compact hatchback that uses the same platform and interior, that is expected to launch in Brazil later this year as the new Ka.
Ford India haven't displayed or talked about this product but reliable sources confirm that both the hatch and the sedan will be made and sold in India. Ford India's second factory in Sanand, Gujarat, commissioned in 2011, would become functional later this year, and is likely to make the new Figo twins with an intensive export strategy.
The new car is based on a modified Figo platform. No details were provided on the engines, but there is a strong likelihood that the new family of 'Dragon' engines displacing 1.2L and 1.5L will be fitted to the entry-level Fords.
Ford says that the Figo concept comes with electrically adjustable power-fold mirrors with a flexible architecture that prevent them from breaking. The company also speaks about "innovative stowage spaces" and a multimedia system to mount and charge mobile phones, MP3 devices and sat-nav.
4. VW Polo facelift
The 2014 VW Polo facelift should be introduced in India towards the middle of the year. The car received its international debut at the Geneva Motor Show last week. However there are several differences between the two versions.
The Polo refresh for India carries headlamps of the outgoing European Polo not using its new LED units in the interest of cost. At the front, the 2014 VW Polo wears a revised bumper that comes with new foglamps, and a chrome piece connecting them across the airdam (the current Polo gets a honeycomb grille). The twin-slat chrome grille is dropped for a single slat arrangement.
The rear number plate enclosure is wider than the current model’s, and extra reflector strips are set on the far edges of the bumper.
Expect the Polo facelift to be available in India in mid-2014 with 1.2-liter petrol and a new 1.5-liter diesel engine. The latter, being a four-cylinder mill, would address the harsh NVH of the current engine, while improving its fuel efficiency.
5. Fiat Punto facelift
The Fiat Punto facelift will be launched in India during the second half of the year.
The facelift features a different face with new headlamps, bumper and foglamps. The profile of the car is identical to the current Punto save for the new alloy wheel style, while the rear fascia mirrors the European Punto with new bumper reflectors and differently detailed high-mount stoplights.
The interior of the 2014 Fiat Punto is a full upgrade featuring a newly designed dashboard that packs in a curvy center console, new instrument cluster and circular air vents with upgraded trims.
Engines are likely to hang on with the 1.3-liter diesel engine (in 75 bhp and 90 bhp outputs) and 1.2-liter petrol (68 bhp) and 1.4-liter petrol (90 bhp) taking charge under on the facelift.
6. Tata Bolt
Tata Motors's must-win product, the Tata Bolt, will be launched in the second half of the year (unconfirmed).
The company’s design departments in Pune (India), Coventry (UK) and Turin (Italy) pooled in to finalize the Bolt's design, which in truth is a revamped Vista. Tata says it has developed a speed-sensitive electronic power steering for the Bolt and a new dual-path suspension linked to a zero pivot sub-frame for a comfortable ride.
The interiors have also been rehashed with a new dashboard built from far better plastics sporting a premium feel with wing shaped graphics. Tata have also developed a new infotainment system for the car with Harman, accessed through a five-inch touchscreen.
The Bolt gets power from a new 1.2-liter turbocharged (Revotron) petrol engine that manages to produce 85 PS at 5,000 rpm and 140 Nm at 1,750 rpm - 3,000 rpm, and a 1.3-liter diesel engine outputting 90 PS @ 4,000 rpm and 200 Nm between 1,750-3,000 rpm.
A five-speed manual gearbox is standard on both variants. As an AMT has been developed for the diesel engine (announced on the Zest) we don't see why the Bolt shouldn't be a beneficiary of this technology.