Sunday Drive by Hormazd Sorabjee: Show-stoppers of Auto Expo 2023

Jan 20, 2023 10:36 PM IST

India’s biggest motor show was finally back this year after missing its 2022 date due to Covid-19

India’s biggest motor show was finally back this year after missing its 2022 date due to Covid-19. Though the majority of car and bike brands stayed away, there was enough excitement with Indian brands taking centre stage by unveiling some exciting models and concepts. Here’s a look at the top five show-stoppers that pulled in the crowds.

The Maruti Jimny, Tata Sierra concept, Maruti Suzuki Fronx, Harrier EV, and Hyundai Ioniq 5
The Maruti Jimny, Tata Sierra concept, Maruti Suzuki Fronx, Harrier EV, and Hyundai Ioniq 5

Maruti Jimny

The long-awaited five-door Maruti Suzuki Jimny finally made its global debut at the Auto Expo 2023, where bookings for this iconic off-roader were opened. The Jimny is expected to go on sale in May and is aimed at the lifestyle segment which has grown by leaps and bounds post Covid-19. The Jimny comes at a time when the desire to discover the wilderness has never been stronger. This plucky 4x4 can crawl up mountains, ford rivers and conquer sand dunes, all with a smile. The boxy design and straight lines give it a retro appeal that is an intrinsic part of the Jimny’s lovable character. The lacklustre 1.5 litre 105hp engine, mated to a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed torque converter automatic gearbox may not give you the oomph you get in a Thar, but this lightweight 4x4 is shockingly capable and can go where many SUVs can’t.

Tata Sierra concept

The Sierra EV concept was initially showcased to the public three years ago at Auto Expo 2020, but this year it returned with a proper five-door body that’s near production ready and expected to go on sale by 2025. The designers have taken lots of cues from the original two-door Sierra of the 1990s, like the signature one-piece side glass that curves up into the roof, to pay homage to Tata Motors’s first true SUV. The chunky styling and upright stance has superb proportions and looks every bit a hardcore SUV. The big news is that the Sierra won’t come only as an EV but will get a 1.5 turbo petrol engine too.

Maruti Suzuki Fronx

Thankfully, no car has bombed simply because of its name yet, otherwise the Fronx would be dead on arrival! But other than the frunny, I mean funny name, the Fronx has the makings of an absolute winner. Based on the Baleno, Maruti Suzuki has made it more of an SUV than a crossover with a strong and upright front that resembles the bigger Grand Vitara. The front and rear bumpers are chunkier, the wheels are bigger and surrounded by black cladding as part of the SUV look.

The good news is that the discontinued 100hp 1.0-litre booster has made a comeback in the Fronx, to give it a shot of sportiness that the standard 90hp 1.2-litre 90hp naturally aspirated motor—also available as an option—can’t give. Expected to go on sale in a few months, the Fronx will be priced just below the Brezza.

Harrier EV

Tata Motors has electrified its flagship SUV and showcased it in the form of the Harrier EV concept. Currently, the Harrier and the bigger seven-seater Safari are available with only a gruff diesel engine and hence, plonking a battery and electric motor in it is a brilliant move, as it will instantly transform these SUVs into something that is whisper-quiet, non-polluting and cheap as chips to run. Adding another dimension to the Harrier EV is the possibility of four-wheel drive to give it true off-road credentials, something the current Safari lacks. In terms of design, the Harrier EV looks largely similar to its combustion engine counterpart, but is also sufficiently differentiated as an EV with a new LED light bar in the front, redesigned bumpers and blanked off front grille.

Hyundai Ioniq 5

The Ioniq 5 was unveiled last month in spectacular fashion at the Gateway of India but was officially launched at the Auto Expo with a mouth-watering price that knocked it out of the park. The introductory price for the first 500 cars makes it 16 lakh cheaper than the equivalent EV6 and a real steal for someone wanting what is one of the most popular EVs in the world today. Packed with tech inside a revolutionary interior, this is the EV to have.

The views expressed by the columnist are personal

From HT Brunch, January 21, 2023

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