I have been really bothered by the “new” launches that have been all over the news for the past month. Are these really “new” vehicles – maybe its just me – but I think when the words “all” and “new” are used together in the same sentence to define a vehicle launch I expect the vehicle to look very different from the previous one and to also feature a whole lot of changes to everything in it from engines to interiors to exterior shape and design. A lot of manufacturers very shamelessly call changes to headlamps, tail lamps, introduction of new color schemes for the interior as a “new” vehicle. Most of these can be done by aftermarket accessories shops – we didn’t need the manufacturers for it.
Since I have been out of action for a while I am taking the liberty to consolidate my thoughts on the most recent launches of the past month or so here.
Toyota Fortuner (Aug 24, 2009)
This is really a new launch for India. Wheelosphere.org has details about the launch here. It took a long time to get to India. The only downer is that the interiors are too similar to the Innova. Quality is good and the vehicle is capable and comfortable – but Toyota did not plan for the demand and has closed bookings for the next 7 months – or is it just a ploy to get dealers/brokers to make some quick money through “premiums” being charged to get this popular vehicle soon. (Has Toyota been keeping a ear open to how Maruti and its dealers handle the Swift/Dzire Diesel’s popularity). (Toyota in the recent past called the refresh of the Innova the launch of an “All New” Innova – with just head& tail lamp changes, a new grille & climate control).
Maruti Suzuki Estilo (Aug 25th, 2009)
New engine and significantly face-lifted exteriors – very close to being a new car. The wheel arches look a bit funny IMHO – well actually the whole front has been a sore point even from the previous iteration. The headlamps look better than the original ones and the bonnet and grille have been re-worked to be more rounded than the older version and more like a tall hatchback than the previous version. The interior has some minor changes. The heart of the car has changed – this is a significant change in my book and will classify this as a new vehicle. Most significant change was the fact that the “Zen” name has been laid to rest instead of being slaughtered on this ugly duckling – which has tried to change its looks slightly for the better I should say.
Hyundai Santro (Sept 1, 2009):
Facelift only. This cannotbe called a new car. Beige interiors, grille & wheel cap changes do not make it a new Santro. This should have been decently called a refreshed Santro which is the only way Hyundai can try to move out existing stock till the actual new Santro is brought out. www.motorbeam.comhad a poll on this and as of this time 57% of respondents say no. 27% say “Who cares” while a surprising 14% has said it is a new car. People who answered “Yes” – folks you really are being conned by Hyundai and you do not know it. Motorbeam has a detailed post on what is “new” here . I am finding it difficult to figure out the “new” grille – which looks exactly like the old/older/oldest Xing ones – is this a case of only the intelligent seeing the new grille ? In that case I must be the stupidest person around !
Honda Civic (Sept 8, 2009)
Facelift only. Minor changes to the tail lamps, smoking of head lamp, changing the bumpers and alloys doesn’t fool me :-). They also have no creativity – they introduce a new trim always called a “V” trim and the main feature is guess what – Fog Lamps and a USB capable music system ? Cruise control is added new – a feature I feel should have been there from day one – for the price charged.
Ford Endeavour (Sept 9, 2009)
This one is a bit difficult and I will call this a significant faceliftand not really a new vehicle. The front has undergone fairly significant changes all the way till the “A” pillar. But aft of that there is not much of a change my untrained eyes can detect. The engines on offer are still the same but the 4×4 now comes in Auto-trans only. The Sat-nav system is a cool feature to have. Toyota for sure will be bringing this one and an automatic in soon on the Fortuner to keep up. Our Indian customers are crazy and just run out and throw money at anything branded Toyota and Honda – so Ford has to give away extra to get and keep customers.
Soon to be inflicted on us:
Honda City (Sept 15, 2009)
Again a facelift only since this vehicle has been around for just around a year or even less. The “V” series makes its presence felt but details are scarce at this point other than new alloys (wow – Honda finally relented and are giving poor Indians alloys and fog lamps ! Thank you Honda – we are so touched !) BS Motoring has a writeup here .
Nissan Teana & X-Trail (Sept 16, 2009)
Significant facelifts of these low selling vehicles are to happen says Motorbeam.com. These do not excite me since they are really niche vehicles which are neither VFM, neither sporty and no where worthy of their prices and they need to be built in in India rather than be imported for their sales to pick up. I am more interested in the vehicles Renault-Nissan has in the works that are focussed at the mass market rather than these :-).
What are your thoughts on the “all new” vehicles being brought out these days ? Please do make your voice heard.