2011 Top Selling Cars - India

The figures that most of us have been eagerly waiting for over the past several days is here, and as usual, there are no surprises at the top. If you are still wondering, we are referring to the top selling cars in India. As it has been for the past half-a-decade, Maruti-Suzuki Alto continues its reign at the top of the charts with absolutely no challenge from any of its competitors. For the second straight year, the Alto has breached the 300,000 figure in a calendar year and has ended 2011 with a whooping sales figure of 311,367. This makes the Alto not just the largest selling car in India but also the largest selling hatchback in the entire world. Hyundai Eon, that was expected to take the fight to the Alto has not fired, leaving the Alto unchallenged as of now. 

Just as we predicted last year, the second and third positions are reversed with Maruti-Suzuki Wagon-R finishing ahead of Hyundai i10 in 2011. Make a few price corrections in the petrol variants, bring in the 1.1 CRDi and see the i10 flying off the showroom floors, we say. Is Hyundai listening? Maruti-Suzuki’s Swift continues its dream run and would have probably finished ahead of the i10 if not for the labour problems that crippled the company’s production for a couple of months. Tata’s Indica and Vista twins nudged ahead of the Swift Dzire, which again takes the title of best-selling sedan in India. There is something with the ‘Swift’ badge that attracts people to this car despite the bulbous looks and odd proportions of the sedan.

Mahindra Bolero continues to surprise us with a sales figure of 96,340 units in 2011, easily becoming the largest selling Utility Vehicle in India. We are sure even Mahindra would be surprised to see the continuous demand that this long-in-the-tooth model is generating year over year. Maruti-Suzuki’s box-on-wheels Omni comes in eighth ahead of Hyundai's premium hatchback i20 whichhas been a massive success for Hyundai. Tata’s Indigo and Manza twins completes the list, courtesy the Call Taxi fleets that are buying the Indigos in truckloads. Just like last year, the Top 10 selling cars in India consists of 5 Maruti-Suzuki models, 2 each from Hyundai and Tata and 1 from Mahindra.

If you had not observed it already, most of the models in the Top 10 are hatchbacks and entry-level sedans that are not much expensive to buy and maintain. At the other end of the automotive spectrum, BMW is still the undisputed king when it comes to luxury brands with Mercedes-Benz still playing catch-up. But, if their show at the recently-concluded Indian Auto Expo is any indication, Mercedes-Benz is pulling out all plugs to try and take the leadership back from BMW. Audi, with a much more impressive growth rate in 2011, is also closing in fast on these two brands. Going forward, the war for supremacy in the luxury segment is sure to heat up and it will be quite a treat to watch these German biggies slug it out in our market.

2011 Top 10 in India:
1. Maruti-Suzuki Alto - 311,367
2. Maruti-Suzuki Wagon-R - 147,299
3. Hyundai i10 - 138,470
4. Maruti-Suzuki Swift - 127,916
5. Tata Indica/Vista - 99,900
6. Maruti-Suzuki Swift Dzire - 99,515
7. Mahindra Bolero - 96,340
8. Maruti-Suzuki Omni 85,620
9. Hyundai i20 - 80,571
10. Tata Indigo/Manza - 75,790   

Star Performer of 2011: Mahindra Bolero
Expected Star Performer of 2012: Maruti-Suzuki Swift

Probably for the first time in more than a decade since it established itself in the Indian market, the Hyundai Santro has finished outside the Top 10. It just goes on to show that the model is in dire need of a facelift. With an astounding 22% increase in sales compared to 2010, Mahindra Bolero is undoubtedly the star of 2011. With labour issues sorted out, deal for supply of additional diesel engines signed with Fiat and the new second-generation model proclaimed as an improvement in every aspect over the earlier model, the all-new Swift is where we would like to place our bets on for 2012. Watch out, the new Swift might even zoom ahead of its younger sibling Wagon-R to finish 2012 only behind the mighty Alto.

(Source for Sales Figures: www.team-bhp.com)


Hyundai Elantra almost beats Toyota Corolla as world's best selling car

Choose a random set of people from the streets and throw them the question "Which is the world's best selling car?". In more cases than what you would have guessed, Toyota Corolla would be the answer. The Corolla has become the definition of 'car' in many countries and has been the best selling automobile in the world for many years now. It even overtook Volkswagen Beetle recently to become the best selling car of all time. So, when another model inches ever so close to almost topple the customary global best-seller, it ought to make headlines across the globe.

As Mr. Akio Toyoda have been magnanimous enough to admit several times of being wary of, it is none other than Hyundai which is threatening Toyota's stronghold now. Agreed, 2011 has been a horrible year and a one to forget for Japanese manufacturers Toyota and Honda with the massive earthquake and tsunami causing widespread destruction and disrupting production. As if that was not enough, wild floods in Thailand crippled Toyota and Honda further. With Toyota just coming out of a huge 'recall' controversy in 2010, this is just not the right time to watch and match their performance.

But, at the same time, let us not take any credits away from Hyundai, the South Korean manufacturer that has been slowly and steadily climbing its way up the rankings and sales charts with amazing regularity over the past few years. All those efforts are now paying off, with the Elantra and Sonata models fighting their way up the order blowing the competition away. According to a report published by Forbes, the Elantra sold a massive 1.01 million units in 2011, joining an elite list of very few models that have sold more than a million units in a calendar year that includes Ford Model T, Volkswagen Beetle, Ford F Series and Toyota Corolla.

That is not all, the Elantra fell just 10,000 units short of the sales figure of Toyota Corolla. No other car in the recent past has ventured so close to the quintessential best-seller Corolla. Kudos to Hyundai for bringing out class-leading models with an impressive combination of style, features and performance that is catching the attention of the public like no other. Expect Toyota to bounce back strongly in the coming years. This is going to be a fight to watch out for. With the all-new Elantra expected to be launched here this year, we will also be having an Indian episode to witness.

Bajaj Auto launches KTM Duke 200 with shock pricing

Every now and then, Bajaj Auto has this habit of creating ripples in the market. They did it with the launch of Chetak scooter many decades back, with the launch of the first-generation Pulsar twins one decade back and now this. KTM, the Austrian motorcycle brand known for its rugged off-road motorcycles and in which Bajaj holds a significant stake, launched its first motorcycle in India, the Duke 200. Most of the media friends have already driven this motorcycle which was conceived and developed for markets like India and are gungho about its prospects. The Duke 200 is manufactured at Bajaj's plant in Pune and is exported to many countries across the world. As part of indigenisation efforts, Bajaj Auto claims that it has localized about 95% of the components of the Duke 200.

Probably, that explains the shocker of a price in which the KTM Duke 200 is launched. When Bajaj announced that the Duke 200 will retail for INR 117,500 (Ex-Showroom Delhi), it not only created shock-waves amongst the general public, but also across the industry. Yamaha and Honda would definitely be spending sleepless nights trying to track the progress of Duke 200's demand. Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Rajiv Bajaj, MD, Bajaj Auto said “The launch of the Duke 200 is one of the many steps in Bajaj Auto’s association with KTM over the last five years. Between the Bajaj Pulsar and the KTM Duke we intend to further strengthen our dominant position in the sports motorcycle segment in India.The KTM 200 Duke is meant for people who are young at heart and like to be different".

The KTM Duke 200 is powered by a 200cc single-cylinder engine with a maximum power output of 25 bhp at 10000 rpm and a peak torque of 19.2 Nm at 8000 rpm. The 4-valve DOHC engine is liquid cooled and ushers the Duke 200 with an amazing power to weight ratio of 184 PS per ton. Reports indicate that the Duke 200 is capable of accelerating to 100 km/h in less than 10 seconds and its 126 kg weight makes it very nimble and fun to drive. The Duke 200 will be available in KTM's trademark orange color only and key features of this sporty motorcycle include a multifunction cockpit, Trellis Frame, aluminum swing-arm and upside down forks. The Duke 200 will be sold in exclusive KTM dealerships across India that will also sell the Kawasaki Ninja twins. The Duke 200 is expected to give tough competition to Yamaha YZF R15 and Honda CBR 250R.

With this, Bajaj Auto has dealt a mighty blow to the competition by offering a superb combination of looks and performance. Coupled with the soon-to-be-launched next-generation Pulsars, Bajaj is all set to continue its reign at the top of the performance motorcycling segment in India. Way to go Bajaj!


Driven #10: Royal Enfield Classic 500 Desert Storm

Royal Enfield needs no introduction in India. After all, this is a brand that beat the mighty Harley-Davidson and emerged on top in a recent brand image study amongst automotive manufacturers. Almost all the models in the company's lineup are sold out for months together in advance with the Classic twins, launched in 350 and 500 variants, being a phenomenal success with customers waiting for 6 months and more to own one. Not content with that, Royal Enfield recently launched two new variants of the Classic 500 - Classic Chrome and Desert Storm. As the names suggest, these are just cosmetic tweaks with the former sporting an overdose of 'chrome' and the latter wearing a stunning pre-war era 'sand' paint job. 

As only Royal Enfield can fathom, launch of merely two variants of an already well-established product has created quite a stir in the industry and amongst the public. We can't afford to miss out on driving one when the chance came by and find out what is different from the regular Classic.


We have driven the Classic 500 before and it was open to the world that we were smitten hard by its styling. That has not changed a bit ever since. In fact, its only growing bigger and bigger. The industry might be moving forward with modern and aerodynamic designs, but the Classic is a truly one-of-a-kind motorcycle retaining its typical old-world charm and unashamedly 'classic' elements. This retro motorcycle stuns the onlookers with round lights all around, twin tiny pilot lamps, a mighty fuel tank, magnificent wheel arches, a meaty exhaust pipe and the classy chrome mirrors and indicators. The pre-war era sand paint job with a matte-like finish of the Desert Storm version only adds to the overall visual appeal.

The kind of attention that the Classic Desert Storm attracted during our test drive was incredible. The answer lies in the magnificent design and the awesome paint job that immediately brings in a sense of nostalgia to our minds sends us into a tizzy. Having said that, the build quality is still not up to the mark in quite a few places which is quite disappointing given the price that you pay to own one. The blisters in the surface, the irregular joints and the rusty metal and chrome parts in a fairly new motorcycle that has hardly covered 2000 km isn't something that can be easily excused.

Another thing which is not particularly commendable is the age old design of the instrument cluster. There is nothing snazzy and digital here with a large circular speedometer dominating the proceedings. The speedo also houses bare minimal tell tale lights and is flanked on either sides by the key slot and a fuel cum engine warning indicator. The low fuel warning light is the only indicator for fuel and the absence of a fuel gauge is a glaring omission by Royal Enfield. The switchgear, in contrast, matches up to the present day standards and also looks and feels better to operate as it is made of better quality materials that feels built to last.


The Desert Storm is powered by the same single-cylinder, 499cc engine that thumps out 27.2 bhp of maximum power. With features such as Twin Spark ignition, Electronic Fuel Injection system and a Unit Construction Engine in which the engine and gearbox are enclosed in a single casing thereby reducing the transmission losses, this fairly modern power-train is soon becoming the staple for many Royal Enfield models including the recently unveiled Thunderbird 500. Crank the engine up and you are sure to get lost in the royal thumps that fill the surroundings. 

The Classic is pretty quick off the line and accelerates briskly but the most interesting thing is that you just don't realize the speeds that you are doing until you look at the speedo. The 5 speed constant mesh gearbox is smooth shifting and the gear ratios are nicely placed with the bike not feeling out of breath in any gear. The abundant torque available at lower end of the rev range makes it pretty comfortable to drive the Classic inside the city, unabated by its sheer bulk. The vibration levels leaves a lot to be desired and is so bad that things are hardly visible in the rear-view mirrors as speeds build up.

The high and comfortable seating position and the massive bulk at your disposal invariably gives you the feeling that you are king of the road once you hop on. And the superb ride just reinstates this point as the Classic continues unfazed by bumps, potholes and other road undulations with telescopic dampers up front and gas-charged shocks at the rear gobbling them away. The high-speed handling and superb straight-line stability instills confidence in you making it a perfect highway cruiser. On the contrary, the Classic isn't as nimble as you would like in the city traffic. Braking is average and is not on par with ABS-equipped bikes like TVS Apache RTR180 and Honda CBR 250R. It is high time Royal Enfield brings in ABS technology to their models, given that they are all pricey and rich in power and torque.


* Engine Type: 4-stroke, Liquid Cooled
* No of Cylinders: 1
* Displacement: 499 cc
* Maximum Power: 27.2 bhp @ 5250 RPM
* Maximum Torque: 41.3 Nm @ 4000 RPM
* Transmission Type: 5-speed, 1Down 4Up
* Tires: 90/90 R19 (Front), 120/80 R18 (Rear)
* Brakes: 280mm Hydraulic Disc (Front), 153mm Single Lead Internal Expanding (Rear)


* Classic retro looks
* Superb high-speed stability
* Excellent Ride quality
* Powerful and torquey engine
* Stunning matte-finish 'sand' paint job


* Basic Instrument Cluster
* Lack of advanced features
* Inconsistent Fit and Finish


Royal Enfield motorcycles are still not the best when it comes to long-term reliability. The build quality is still not on par with the competition. Barring a few modern technological bits, they are basically old-school and are not feature-rich. The engine vibrates so much giving your palms and shoulders a shudder. Still, those who own one love their machines and swear by them anyday anytime and anywhere. And those who don't own one aspire to do so very soon. Despite its many flaws, the Classic 500 is still a great motorcycle with unbeatable highway characteristics and we will not hesitate for a moment to put our money on one. As most of you would agree, learning to live with its flaws is a part of the pleasure of owning a Royal Enfield. The world may come to an end in 2012 but we are sure that the sun will never really set on a Royal Enfield.


Hyundai i20 Facelift spied

Hyundai deserves credit for being a trendsetter in exploring the premium hatchback segment in India. Remember, the Getz was the first 'big' small car to be launched in our country. Though it did not succeed as Hyundai would have hoped, the company made sure that it hit the sweet spot with the i20, Getz's spiritual successor. Launched in December 2008, the i20 has been a massive success for Hyundai and it busted the myth that costlier hatchbacks with premium look and features will not sell in India. It has been three years hence and the competition has moved forward. Getz's nemesis, the Swift has reborn in a new avatar to challenge the i20 and global big-sellers Jazz, Polo, Micra and Punto are snapping at i20's heels.

Hyundai has decided that if it has to stand a chance against the strengthening competition, the i20 needs a facelift. There are no prizes for guessing that the i20 will also go the 'fluidic' way like the i10, Verna and Eon. Unlike the older Verna and i10, the existing i20 is a fantastically designed car and Hyundai should be careful enough not to spoil its looks. From what we know, the i20 will now come with the familiar hexagonal grille and three-dimensional headlamps up front, redesigned taillight lenses at the rear while the profile remains largely unchanged. Thanks to our reader Rajan, it is now confirmed that the headlights are very similar to the ones found in Verna and the profile is untouched. Though this is expected to be a strictly cosmetic facelift for the i20, we expect the new model to come with the Kappa2 engine with VTVT technology from the i10.

With this, Santro, Accent and Santa Fe will be the only models in Hyundai's lineup that has not been given the 'fluidic' touch.


2012 North American Car & Truck of the Year Award Winners announced

As the curtains rose for the annual North American International Auto Show in Detroit early this week, one of the world’s most-awaited automotive announcements was made. The winners of the 2012 North American Car of the Year (NACOTY) and North American Truck of the Year (NATOTY) awards, considered to be the most prestigious and important in the industry, were revealed. The awards, currently in their 19th year of existence, is among the very best as more than 50 jurors from an assortment of automotive media in USA & Canada converge together and pick the winners. For 2012, it is the Hyundai Elantra and Land Rover Range Rover Evoque that has come out on tops in cars and trucks respectively.
If you thought that the critically-acclaimed, multiple award-winning and super-successful Sonata was the best Hyundai could offer, you might be proved wrong. Whatever the Sonata achieved a year back with so much fanfare, the Elantra has did that all and more. Quite understandably, the media, the public, the critics and the fans can’t have enough of it and Hyundai is not able to produce enough of them either. That the Elantra has won this award should not be a big surprise then. The Passat that best signifies Volkswagen’s resurgence in the North American market takes the runner up spot. Quite surprisingly for a Ford, the Focus ends up last amongst the finalists.

Commenting on the title winner, Jayne O’Donnell, a member of the jury from USA Today said "The Hyundai Elantra is sporty, yet sensible; luxurious, yet affordable; spunky, but safe. The Elantra is a series of paradoxes and every one is another argument for the latest, impressive entry in the Hyundai lineup".


1. Hyundai Elantra – 174
2. Volkswagen Passat – 161
3. Ford Focus – 155


* 2011 - Chevrolet Volt
* 2010 - Ford Fusion Hybrid
* 2009 - Hyundai Genesis
* 2008 - Chevrolet Malibu
* 2007 - Saturn Aura

To say that the Range Rover Evoque is a game-changing model for Land Rover would be an understatement to the model's abilties. And, if the Evoque keeps winning awards at this rate, Land Rover might end up using every inch of display space available at its headquarters. This smashing looking vehicle from Land Rover has changed the way we look at crossovers with a design that instantly strikes an emotional chord with the onlookers. And the result proves that with the Evoque winning by a whooping margin of 112 points. Compare this to the cars where all three finalists were separated by just 19 points and you get the picture. Honda’s successful redesign of the CR-V comes runner up with the BMW X3 taking the third and final spot.

Alex Taylor of Fortune magazine had this to say about the Evoque - "Range Rover successfully charts a new direction for the venerable SUV trailblazer with a fresh design and advanced thinking about environmental issues".


1. Land Rover Range Rover Evoque – 254
2. Honda CR-V – 142
3. BMW X3 – 94


* 2011 - Ford Explorer
* 2010 - Ford Transit Connect
* 2009 - Ford F-150
* 2008 - Mazda CX-9
* 2007 - Chevrolet Silverado
As we posted before, the finalists for both the titles were shortlisted by the jurors from a list of more than 30 models launched last year. Unlike in 2011 when we were spot on in guessing the winners, we were only partly right this year as the Hyundai Elantra sprung a surprise by leapfrogging Ford Focus for the title. With the Evoque already launched in India, we are sincerely hoping that the Elantra will make it to our shores at the earliest, now that Hyundai has showcased the car in the 2012 Indian Auto Expo.


Ford unveils all-new Ecosport compact SUV in New Delhi

In what could be termed as the perfect curtain-raiser for the ongoing Indian Auto Expo, Ford pulled out a coup of sorts by unveiling the all-new Ecosport to the world on the eve of the biennial automotive event. What makes this unveiling more special is that this was the first time anybody in the world has seen the Ecosport, which is now in its second generation. The first generation Ecosport was developed and confined to the South American markets, especially Brazil, where it went on to become a massive success. Realizing the thirst and need for such small Sport Utility Vehicles in other parts of the world including India, this all-new Ecosport will be a global model, in line with the successful and popular ‘One Ford’ policy. 

As if to ascertain the significance of Ecosport in the company’s ever-expanding lineup of global models in India and abroad, Ford CEO Alan Mulally himself flew down to New Delhi to take part in the unveiling. Speaking on the occasion, Michael Boneham, President & MD of Ford India and Joe Hinrichs, Group VP, Ford Asia Pacific & Africa, were bullish on the new model’s prospects. Atleast in India, it’s not hard to see why. Indians love Sports Utility Vehicles and there is a huge vacant space at the bottom end of the SUV market in India. Decently-specced Scorpios and Safaris cost anywhere between 10 and 12 Lacs on road and nobody really cares about the Premier Rio, which at its current price of around 6 Lacs, is actually the first player in the much-hyped compact SUV segment.

Adapting the latest cues from the company’s kinetic design language, the Ecosport, to describe in one word, looks stunning. It is tall, butch and mean, qualities that most customers crave for in a SUV. The front end, with its slim LED headlights, trapezoidal three-part chrome grille, chrome-ringed fog lights and metallic insert in the bumper looks very upmarket. The massive and muscular wheel arches dominate the profile and the slender roof rails add a touch of style and class. The presence of spare tire in the tailgate gives this SUV a rugged look that’s hard to ignore. The taillights and rear windscreen are nicely shaped to look as if they converge in the center of the tailgate. Overall, if the production version looks like this, the Ecosport would turn heads wherever you go.

Ford also announced the debut of an all-new 3-cylinder 1.0-liter ‘EcoBoost’ engine, the company’s newest and smallest yet, under the hood of the Ecosport. If you do not know already, Ford’s EcoBoost engines have become extremely popular globally as they combine turbocharging and direct injection technologies to produce higher power output at lesser displacements, thereby aiding fuel efficiency. Ford claims that this engine will have a power output of 120 PS, a figure that can rival a normal 1.6-liter engine. Mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, this engine will emit less than 140 g/km of CO2, claims Ford. In addition to this, the 1.5-liter diesel engine from the new Fiesta is also expected to power the Ecosport.

In short, the Ecosport is just what many Indian families need at the moment. It is small enough to zip inside the city, comfortable enough to cruise along in the highways and rugged enough to traverse the nearby mountain or countryside. With an overall length of under 4 meters, the Ecosport will enjoy tax benefits in India that will help Ford in pricing it competitively. The company will also be under tremendous pressure not to repeat the mistake that it did with the new Fiesta by commanding a premium. Expected to go on sale later this year or early next year, the Ecosport has 'success' written all over it unless Ford decides otherwise. Over to you, Ford!


2012 ICOTY & IMOTY Awards Announced

The winners of the most prestigious automotive awards in the country, the 2012 Indian Car of the Year (ICOTY) and Indian Motorcycle of the Year (IMOTY), were announced at an event in New Delhi on the eve of the ongoing 2012 Auto Expo. This award is modeled on the lines of the popular North American Car and Truck of the Year and European Car of the Year titles, wherein a group of journalists from top automotive media come together and decide the winners.

Unlike 2011, when Ford Figo went on to win every single 'Car of the Year' award in the country to become India's most awarded car ever, this year saw a spate of high profile models being launched in India that fought hard for victory making the life of jurors tougher. Models like Mahindra XUV500, Maruti-Suzuki Swift, Hyundai Verna, Hyundai Eon and Honda Brio are all extremely competent in their own right and have won many individual awards themselves.

In the final tally, it was the Maruti-Suzuki Swift that came out on top with its winning combination of looks, space, frugality and fun-to-drive factor. With this, the second generation Swift has ensured that the legacy of its predecessor, which won the inaugral ICOTY award in 2006 before going on to smash all sales records in India, remains intact. Though Swift has been declared the winner, we are sure that models like Mahindra XUV500 and Hyundai Verna are amongst the best in their segments too and are no less competent.


   Winner - Maruti-Suzuki Swift


   * 2011 - Ford Figo
   * 2010 – Tata Nano
   * 2009 – Honda City
   * 2008 – Hyundai i10
   * 2007 – Honda Civic

It seems that, unlike the ICOTY award, choosing the winner of IMOTY award was an unanimous decision with the Honda CBR250R coming out easily on top. Honda's all-new model that was developed specifically for the Asian markets has created quite a ripple with people inside and outside the industry going gaga over it. The fact that it introduced Antilock Braking System in a motorcycle in India amongst its other innovative features and technologies makes it a worthy winner. This is the second year in a row Honda has won this award.


   Winner - Honda CBR 250R


   * 2011 - Honda CB Twister
   * 2010 - Kawasaki Ninja 250R
   * 2009 - Yamaha YZF R15
   * 2008 - Bajaj Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi

Images Source: Overdrive (www.overdrive.in)

2011 Top Selling Cars - USA

All right, the new year has just begun and memories of the year that was would still be fresh in the back of our minds. Before they start fading away, it is time to look at what clicked and what not in 2011. Though it has lost its charm as the world's biggest automotive market with China taking up that enviable position, the 'all is well as long as its big' market of United States of America is still the second largest in the world by volume and a big contributor to the profitability of auto manufacturers.

So, here are the top selling automobiles in USA for 2011. There are no surprises at the top with the Ford F-Series taking the crown as the largest selling vehicle for 30th year in a row. Now you know why we said all is well there as long as its big. The usual suspects of Chevrolet Silverado and Toyota Camry come second and third, the latter impressively holding its forte despite Toyota's troubles with the recalls and production disruptments caused by natural calamities in Japan and Thailand.

Nissan Altima and Ford Escape posted big gains and pushed the Honda Accord and Crosstour twins to sixth. Ford Fusion and Ram Pickup continue their impressive run climbing to seventh and eighth positions relegating the usual big-seller Toyota Corolla to ninth. With Ford's all-new Escape and Fusion coming in, things are looking mighty good for the blue oval brand. Chevrolet's success story with the Cruze across the world unfolded in USA too with the new Chevy entering the top ten with a bang.

2011 Top 10 in USA:
1. Ford F-Series - 584,917
2. Chevrolet Silverado - 415,130
3. Toyota Camry - 308,510
4. Nissan Altima - 268,981
5. Ford Escape - 254,293
6. Honda Accord/Crosstour - 253,599
7. Ford Fusion - 248,067
8. Ram Pickup - 244,763
9. Toyota Corolla/Matrix - 240,259
10. Chevrolet Cruze - 232,588

* Star Performer of 2011 - Ford Escape
* Expected Star Performer for 2012 - Chevrolet Cruze

Source for Figures: www.examiner.com

As we predicted last year, Hyundai Sonata continued to sell in big numbers and the model almost made it to the top ten with Hyundai still not able to make enough of Sonatas and Elantras. Honda's rather average redesign of the Civic and the production disruptions at Japan and Thailand ensured that our predictions of Accord and Civic overtaking Toyota's Camry and Corolla in sales went haywire. Also to be noted is Volkswagen's slow and silent climb with the new Jetta putting in an impressive show.

Ford Escape's massive climb from well outside the top ten to as high as fifth in the list makes it the stand-out performer in 2011. For 2012 though, we expect the hot-selling Chevrolet Cruze to make even more giant and rapid strides up the list. Wait for another year to find out if our predictions come true.

Is Nissan not done with the Sunny variants yet?

We all know that Nissan launched the Sunny sedan in India a few months back. Though the model is based on the same V Platform as the Micra hatchback, Nissan has done well to create a new identity for the Sunny completely distinguishing it from its hatch sibling. Merely months after the launch, Nissan surprised us all by launching the diesel variants. We had driven and posted a comprehensive review of the Sunny Diesel here.

Just when we thought that the Sunny is all settled for now, we receive images of this vehicle being tested in the outskirts of Chennai with its badges and logo masked. On close observation, it dawns on us that nothing is new in this Sunny variant except for the red color with a pinkish tint in it. The absence of Pure Drive badging and the alloy wheels makes it clear that this is the top-end petrol variant being tested.

So, what are you cooking up Nissan? We are all ears.


Bajaj unveils RE60, a low-cost four-wheeler

In what could be termed as the perfect precedent to the forthcoming Indian Auto Expo, Bajaj Auto unveiled the RE60, it's low cost 4-wheeler in New Delhi yesterday. Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Rajiv Bajaj, MD of Bajaj Auto made it amply clear that this vehicle is intended to be an evolution of their three-wheeler and, as such, it is a big step-up in the right direction. Unlike many other stories doing rounds in the media, we do not want to fool you by saying that this vehicle is a Tata Nano competitor. Well, to be frank, this is not even a car.

True to its tradition of creating brands out of individual models, Bajaj has not used its logo or name anywhere in the vehicle. Since this is being pitched in as a replacement to the three-wheeled auto-rickshaw which is a commercial vehicle, Bajaj has branded this vehicle as RE. The last two digits in RE60 denotes its 60 g/km of CO2 emissions, which is just half of what an average small car emit. The RE60 will be powered by a 200cc, water-cooled, 4-valve petrol engine with twin spark technology (DTS-i) and closed loop fuel injection system.

Look at it as a car and it looks truly horrible. But, as Bajaj rightly pointed out, look at it as a potential replacement to the auto rickshaw and it suddenly looks better. The RE60 is narrow, tall and made of a monocoque metal polymer hybrid body structure that results in a very less kerb weight of just around 400 kg. There were two variants showcased - a commercial and a deluxe. The Kia Soul-inspired headlamps and wheels of the deluxe version, that also has body colored bumpers and mirrors are the only true highlights of the design.

The RE60 is bare-bone minimal when it comes to features but, then again, compare it to an auto-rickshaw and it brings in never-heard-before features for the segment such as doors, hard-top roof, seat belts and, above all, the safety and stability of four wheels. With the engine producing around 20 bhp of power, the RE60 will have a limited top speed of around 70 km/hr which is enough for its target application of intra-city passenger transport. The RE60 is claimed to have a real world fuel-efficiency of 35 km/l and will come with LPG and CNG fuel options too.

We all know that Bajaj entered into an ultimately-failed alliance with Renault-Nissan to develop a low cost car to compete with the Tata Nano. A prototype was even displayed at the 2008 Auto Expo which looked and felt like a car. Over the course of time, it seems that development has changed track and what we have now is this, a basic four-wheeler that does not fit into the passenger car segment. But, Bajaj says that Renault-Nissan has still not seen the vehicle and are free to decide whether to sell this under their brand names or not.

To sum it up, the RE60 is a thumbs-up evolution of the auto rickshaw and we really wouldn't mind this replacing those notorious three-wheelers from our cities. While Bajaj has not announced the pricing of the RE60 yet, reports indicate that it is expected to be priced around 1.5 Lakh Rupees when it goes on sale later this year. With the Tata Nano not really setting the sales charts on fire in India owing to its cheap image and fire-related incidents, whether the market will welcome the Bajaj RE60 with open arms is anybody's guess.


DC Design to launch India's first supercar at 2012 Auto Expo

Let's face it. Anybody who calls themselves an automobile enthusiast in India will be knowing DC Design. Though most of their designs are a bit weird and outlandish, there is no denying the fact that they are all head-turners. Owned and named after Dilip Chhabria, arguably India's most popular automobile designer, DC Design now plans to move away from being only a design house and customization firm to join the big league.

And the forthcoming 2012 Auto Expo is the event in which the design house is planning to unveil its first production model. True to their heritage, it will be a sports-car and reports indicate that the car is going to be powered by a turbocharged V6 engine sourced from Honda producing close to 400 HP. That's not all. With the car itself touted to weigh 1560 kg, the power-to-weight ratio of 257 bhp/tonne is surreal and is sure to set the pulses racing.

“With this car, we are making the transformation from a design house to a production house,” said Dilip Chhabria, the promoter of DC Design. “It will offer the looks, feel, dimensions, quality and fit and finish comparable to super-cars from Lamborghini and Ferrari, minus the horsepower.” Though this seems to be a pretty tall claim, we are eagerly waiting to get our hands on what can be touted as India's first and only super-car till date.

And the best thing of them all is that this super-car is not coming with a hyper price tag. Various sources indicate that DC Design plans to launch this car at a price of around 30 Lakh Rupees. At that price point, it makes tremendous sense as the Indian market is devoid of sports cars at that price range. Internationally, cars like Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Hyundai Genesis Coupe are quite a rage and this DC car could well become one in India.

We wish you a very happy New Year

Let's dig into a little bit of history here. Anything On Wheels was started as a personal blog a couple of years ago with the sole intention of using it as a platform for expressing my personal views and opinions on what is happening in the automotive industry. Slowly and steadily, the blog has gathered steam and is growing day-by-day into a reliable source of interesting information related to anything on wheels.

2011 has been easily the best year yet with a lot of media friends identifying and recognizing the blog for the hard work that was done in the form of posts that included Spy Shots, New Launches, Test Drives, Milestones and what not. A lot of friends from and outside the industry sent me mails stating that Anything On Wheels has become a sort of Spy Shots specialist and they continuously come to the blog to get updates.

Above all, what makes me really happy is that, through this blog, I have gained a rather large chunk of readers (or, should I call them well-wishers?) who not only spend their valuable time reading my posts, but also take pains in sending mails giving their feedback and comments. Consenting to such kind-hearted souls, Anything On Wheels has now started posting on all important happenings in the industry.

On this note, I would like to wish all the readers and media friends a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2012. In this year, I will take all steps to streamline the posts and change the overall look and feel of this blog to something more formal and professional. You might have noted that a few steps in that direction has already started and I can assure you that they will continue to make the overall experience much better.

With the increasing viewership comes the ever-increasing responsibility to bring out the best. And with that I admit that I am no more the sole soul involved in this blog. Arun Varadarajan and Abishek have become a sort of camera crew for the blog participating actively in most of the photo-shoots that we undertake for our posts. Once again, in a true automobile enthusiast fashion, have a fantastic and free-revving New Year!