All-new Maruti-Suzuki WagonR launched

Merely months after Hyundai launched the new Santro in a bid to gain supremacy in the entry-level hatchback segment, Maruti-Suzuki has hit back by launching the third-generation WagonR in India. Consistently a best-seller, WagonR has been a huge success story for Maruti-Suzuki with a loyal fan following. The launch of this new model - priced between INR 4.19 Lakhs and 5.69 Lakhs - is a move by the leader to not let Hyundai invade it's turf.

WagonR has never been a style statement on wheels. It was - and still is - boxy with a design that gives precedence to function over form. The new model is no different. The squar-ish headlights that WagonR has always been synonymous with are retained, albeit stretched at the edges and swept back on to the sides. A new grille with a chrome insert in the middle and an updated bumper housing a large air dam and trapezoidal fog lamp pods complete the changes in the fascia. In profile, the ‘tall boy’ look and proportions are left intact. To add drama, a floating roof effect has been brought in the C-pillars and the character lines along the doors and wheel arches are more pronounced. At the rear, the WagonR now gets vertical taillights that extend till the roof.

Interiors have gone through a thorough update as well with a bright dual-tone dashboard replacing the dull grey interiors of the outgoing model. A 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Smartphone connectivity, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay takes prime place in the center console with manual air-conditioning controls placed beneath it. A 3-spoke multi-functional steering wheel and a digital tachometer greet the driver while the bigger cabin would help keep the occupants happy by offering more space and practicality.

Standard features on the new WagonR include driver airbag, Anti-lock Braking System with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, rear parking sensors, central locking and front power windows. The top-end variant, apart from the touchscreen infotainment system mentioned above, gets additional goodies like a passenger airbag, steering-mounted voice control, electrically-retractable rear view mirrors, rear wiper, washer and defogger and a storage tray under the co-driver's seat. It's sad Maruti-Suzuki isn't forcing Hyundai to follow suit by offering passenger airbags as standard in the WagonR. Thankfully, it's atleast an optional feature on all variants.

The biggest surprise element in the new WagonR rests under the hood. While the 3-cylinder K10B engine has been carried over from the outgoing model, Maruti-Suzuki has pulled off a master stroke by adding the more powerful K12M 4-cylinder engine to the WagonR lineup. While the former delivers 67 horsepower and 90 Nm of torque, the latter delivers 82 horsepower and 113 Nm of torque. Both the engines come with the option of a 5-speed manual or an automated manual transmission (AGS). Suspension duties are handled by MacPherson struts with coil springs at the front and torsion beam at the rear.

Bookings for the new WagonR opened just a week back and Maruti-Suzuki claimed over 12,000 bookings at the launch event. Clearly, India's largest car-maker has another blockbuster in the making.

Tata launches the much-awaited Harrier in India

Tata Motors finally launched its much-awaited Harrier in India yesterday. This brings to an end an extended period of pre-launch build-up during which pretty much everything about the Harrier except the pricing and some specifications were known. That closing piece of the puzzle is out now.

Tata’s newest challenger is available in four variants. While the base XE trim level is priced at INR 12.69 Lakhs, the flagship XZ retails at INR 16.25 Lakhs. Sandwiched by them are the XM and XT variants, priced at INR 13.75 and 14.95 Lakhs respectively. All prices are ex-showroom Mumbai. That’s smart pricing by Tata, undercutting main rivals like the Jeep Compass and the Mahindra XUV500. At these prices, the Harrier is perfectly poised to pull in customers from segments above and below.

Featuring Tata’s Impact 2.0 design philosophy, the Harrier sports contemporary styling that’s in line with the global design trends. And by that, we refer to the split light clusters up front where LED Daytime Running Lights take up the spots erstwhile occupied by the headlights. The latter are placed below on a separate pod that also houses the fog lamps. The grille that merges with the DRLs is shaped to look like the ‘Humanity Line’ that’s seen on all recent Tata models. The silhouette has classic SUV cues with flared wheel arches and plastic cladding that runs the length of the car. The floating roof with chrome inserts and the thin wraparound taillights connected by a piano black insert give the Harrier a chic look from the rear. 

The interiors mark yet another step forward for Tata Motors. Harrier’s cabin is minimalistic, classy and, if initial impressions are anything to go by, appears nicely put-together too. The Signature Oak Brown interior colour scheme that’s shown in the picture together with the Oakwood finish applied on the dashboard look rich and inviting. Other attractions inside include a 8.8-inch ‘Floating Island’ on the center console that houses the infotainment system as well as a host of other controls, a part-digital instrument cluster, JBL-tuned sound system with nine speakers and an aero-throttle style parking brake. 

While most of the aforementioned goodies are exclusive to the XZ variant, standard kit across the line-up include power steering, central locking, power windows, dual front airbags, Anti-lock Braking System with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, tilt and telescopic-adjustable steering wheel, projector headlamps, rear parking sensors and perimeter alarm system.

If that’s bare-bones for you, Harrier XZ with exclusive features like Xenon HID Projector headlamps, front fog lamps with cornering function, premium Benecke-Kaliko Oak Brown perforated leather upholstery, outside mirrors with logo projection, Terrain Response Modes (Normal, Rough and Wet), six airbags, Electronic Stability Program, Hill Hold Control, Hill Descent Control, Roll Over Mitigation, Corner Stability Control and Electronic Traction Control is the one you should be looking at.

Harrier is built on Tata’s new Omega Architecture, a modular platform derived from Land Rover’s legendary D8 architecture. That’s the platform that underpins the Land Rover Discovery Sport. Expect the chassis to be robust and abuse-friendly, traits that Land Rovers are known and appreciated for worldwide. 

Currently, the Harrier is available with a sole diesel engine under the hood. This 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder diesel mill is named ‘Kryotec’ and derived from FCA’s MultiJet 2.0 that also powers the Jeep Compass. In the Harrier though, it is detuned to deliver 138 horsepower and 350 NM of torque, significantly less than the Jeep. Paired with this is a 6-speed manual transmission driving the front wheels. Neither All Wheel Drive nor an automatic transmission is on offer. With premium car customers and urban population preferring automatics these days, not having one in the lineup is a glaring miss. Worry not though, an automatic option is headed our way later this year, we hear.

With bold styling, plush interiors, potent engine and proven mechanicals, the Tata Harrier was already a tempting package. Spot-on pricing makes it just irresistible. Let’s wait and watch what this turns out to be for Tata Motors.


Toyota launches the all-new Camry Hybrid in India

India's first automotive launch of 2019 happened today with Toyota bringing in the new Camry Hybrid to our shores today. Currently in its eighth generation, Camry is offered here in a sole Hybrid variant and priced at an introductory pan-India ex-showroom price of ₹36.95 Lakhs. Incredibly for a Toyota, that's cheaper than the outgoing Camry!

Based on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) that also underpins the expensive Lexus ES 300h, the Camry ditches the staid styling elements it's been known for and adopts the brand's latest design language. The fascia has been given an aggressive treatment that's dominated by a V-shaped grille and a huge trapezoidal air dam that almost occupies the whole bumper. The car features sharp LED projector lights up front and big wrap-around taillights at the rear. The aggressive front end aside, the rest of the car gives an impression of understated elegance which is what most customers in this segment look for.

The interiors are a total departure from the earlier Camry. The dashboard features a refreshingly modern design with a Y-shaped center console grabbing eyeballs. As one would expect from a car in this segment, the Camry comes fully loaded with a plethora of features. Standard kit includes 10-way power-adjusted front seats with ventilating function, 3-zone climate control, sunroof, rear seats with power recline and trunk access, 8.0-inch Human Machine Interface infotainment system with 9-speaker JBL audio, rear armrest with touch control switches, Heads-up display, wireless smartphone charger, cruise control and full leather upholstery. 

Toyota's commitment to safety continues with the new Camry featuring 9 airbags, Anti-lock Braking System with Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability and Traction Control System, Parking Assist, Tire Pressure Monitoring System, speed-sensing auto lock, impact-sensing fuel cut-off and ISOFIX and top tether anchor for child seats. 

The 2.5-liter gasoline hybrid engine under the hood has been carried over from the previous-generation model but the power and torque figures have been tweaked. In the new model, the engine generates 176 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 221 Nm of torque between 3,600 to 5,200 rpm. The Hybrid System Motor Generator delivers 118 horsepower and 204.1 Nm of torque. Transmission duties are handled by a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with paddle shifters. Toyota claims an ARAI-certified fuel efficiency of 23.27 km/l, thanks to the hybrid system working its magic. 

Toyota's prowess in the premium segments are second to none in India and the Camry Hybrid will have no problems convincing its target clientele. Yes, its main rivals like the Skoda Superb and Volkswagen Passat are priced lower but they lack the 'Hybrid' tag the Camry comes with. Honda's Accord is a hybrid too but comes with a price tag that's even higher than the Camry. In effect, Toyota would have no problems selling the few hundred units the Japanese head-quarters would have earmarked for India.

2019 North American Car, Utility Vehicle & Truck of the Year announced

For one last time, Detroit, the erstwhile Motor City, got to kick-start the year’s automotive calendar when the show floors at the Cobo Center opened earlier this week to host the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. For those won don’t know yet, the North American International Auto Show - as the event is officially called - is moving from being an annual winter event to a summer event starting 2020. 

And as has always been the tradition, the winners of the 2019 North American Car, Utility Vehicle and Truck of the Year were announced on the inaugural day of the event. Currently in its 26th year, the trio of awards are amongst the most coveted and respected in the industry as they are handed out collectively by a panel of 54 jurors representing various print, online, radio and television publications from the United States of America and Canada.

To be eligible for the award, a car, utility vehicle or truck should be all-new or significantly redesigned and have gone on sale in the United States or Canada before the last week of the prior year. From the full list of eligible candidates, jurors shortlist three finalists for each of the three award categories before rating them on several parameters including segment leadership, innovation, design, safety, handling and value for money. 

2019 North American Car of the Year

From the original list of potential contenders that ran into several tens of models, the jurors brought the number of entries down to 23 cars before narrowing down the selection further to the three finalists - Genesis G70, Honda Insight and Volvo S60 / V40 twins. While one would have expected this to be a closely-fought contest considering the might of the three entries, the Genesis G70 had the other two contenders beaten quite comfortably in the end. 

Jurors were particularly impressed with the fact Hyundai’s luxury upstart is no longer fighting the segment playing the value card. The G70, the brand’s first all-new development, had its work cut out going against segment stalwarts like the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4. But the car appears to have surpassed all expectations, is plush, genuinely fun-to-drive and comes loaded with features all while playing the value card.

Volvo’s stunning duo finished distant runners up with Honda’s fuel-cell flag-bearer Insight coming home third. 


  1. Genesis G70 – 318 points
  2. Volvo S60 / V60 – 120 points
  3. Honda Insight – 102 points

Previous Winners

  • 2018 – Honda Accord
  • 2017 – Chevrolet Bolt
  • 2016 – Honda Civic
  • 2015 – Volkswagen Golf / GTI
  • 2014 – Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

2019 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year

Despite being a recent addition, the idea of crowning the best new Utility Vehicle out there couldn’t assume more significance. With crossovers and SUVs on the rise globally, this has become the single most-important, hard-fought and, crucially, very-profitable segment for car-makers with many of them channeling millions of investment dollars this way.

Similar to cars, the jurors narrowed down the list to 20 models that joined this booming segment in 2018. Upon further evaluation, three models – Acura RDX, Hyundai Kona / Kona Electric and Jaguar I-Pace – made the cut to the final round. In the end, Hyundai’s subcompact crossover twins prevailed in what appears to be a close contest all the way to the end. Of the two, the Kona Electric has been receiving rave reviews since launch and it’s respectable range, funky styling, lively dynamics and, above all, affordable price tag appear to have won the panel over as well.

Trailing the Hyundai twins close was Jaguar’s full-electric I-Pace with the Acura RDX finishing third.     


  1. Hyundai Kona / Kona Electric – 203 points
  2. Jaguar I-Pace – 181 points
  3. Acura RDX – 156 points

Previous Winners

  • 2018 – Volvo XC60
  • 2017 – Chrysler Pacifica

2019 North American Truck of the Year

The third and final category of award honours the best in America’s perennial favourite body style - trucks. 2018 saw three trucks being launched with all of them making it to the final round directly. Ram had its completely-redesigned, new-generation 1500 Pick-up while GM countered with two entries, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra.  

In what turned out to be one of the most one-sided contests ever, Ram’s brilliant new half-ton Pick-up decimated the GM duo with a crushing victory. FCA’s focused efforts in making Ram’s volume-puller stand out by equipping it with a plush cabin, a large infotainment screen and standard 48-volt mild hybrid system has been winning hearts since launch and the jury were no different. Is Chevrolet’s long-held second spot on the sales charts under threat from Ram? Hell, yeah!


  1. Ram 1500 – 540 points
  2. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 – 69 points
  3. GMC Sierra 1500 – 64 points

Previous Winners

  • 2018 – Lincoln Navigator
  • 2017 – Honda Ridgeline
  • 2016 – Volvo XC90
  • 2015 – Ford F150
  • 2014 – Chevrolet Silverado

In the history of the awards, there have only been five instances when a manufacturer has been crowned two titles in the same year and Hyundai has achieved that this year. For its part, Ram put on a stellar show too en-route to victory. Kudos to the two car-makers.


Mercedes-Benz unveils the all-new CLA

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is a weird place to stage the world premiere of a car. But that’s exactly what Mercedes-Benz did when the all-new CLA made its first appearance at Las Vegas last week. Currently in its second generation, this four-door coupe sits alongside the A-Class sedan this time around as a pricier and, of course, sexier option in the brand’s compact lineup. 

We dug deep to see what’s good and what’s not with the new CLA. Here’s what we found.

Good: MFA family keeps growing

When Mercedes-Benz debuted the Modular Front Architecture (MFA) – the inexpensive platform that drives the front wheels and underpins all compact cars in the family – traditional customers and brand loyalists cried hoarse that the brand’s purity is being diluted. Fast forward to 2018, every fourth Mercedes-Benz model sold was a compact car spun off the MFA. Yes, 609,000 out of 2.31 million customers that bought a Mercedes-Benz last year drove home a new A-Class, B-Class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake or GLA. That’s not insignificant!

Mercedes-Benz is obviously taking note. In just over a year, the German luxury car-maker has bolstered its compact line-up with a new-generation A- and B-Class, an all-new A-Class sedan that sits alongside the hatchback and now the new CLA. There’s more, a new CLA Shooting Brake and a new GLA are reportedly in the works. With more and more customers responding with their wallets for one of these and Mercedes-Benz paying them back handsomely with newer models boasting superior styling and latest tech, the compact line-up from Stuttgart is emerging as a force to reckon with. Audi and BMW have a lot of catching up to do.  

Good: New CLA’s styling is spot-on

Let’s make a confession here. We at Anything-On-Wheels love the outgoing CLA from the day we saw the images of the Compact Sport Coupe Concept that previewed it. But, we know there are many that loathed the current car's bulbous and - cruelly, in their eyes - disjointed rear. Thankfully, the new CLA won’t polarize opinions.

The design team at Mercedes-Benz have been dishing out great looking cars the last few years and the new CLA is no exception. Be it the aggressive 'shark-nosed' fascia, the prominent power domes on the hood, the compact and flowing coupe-ish greenhouse, those frameless doors or the distinct Coke-bottle shoulder leading up to the familiar 'GT' rear end, the CLA is designed to turn heads. And it does, convincingly. If the sedan looks this good, can you imagine how the Shooting Brake would look like? We can't wait. Just ignore the cheesy orange accents dotting the launch edition.

Good: The revolutionary MBUX is even better now

Mercedes-Benz created quite a flutter at the 2018 edition of the CES bringing along it’s new-age infotainment system – the ‘MBUX’. With snazzy big screens, high-definition graphics, a customizable display, a full-colour Head-up Display, built-in navigation with augmented reality and voice control that activates on hearing "Hey Mercedes" and comes equipped with software that can actually learn, the MBUX is a technological tour de force. The new CLA, Mercedes claims, has the latest and improved version of that. 

Said to be intuitive and innovative at the same time, the MBUX promises to redefine in-car entertainment experience. For instance, the Interior Assist feature has a host of functions that could just be controlled via gestures. There's even a "Personal Favourites" feature that can be accessed by holding a hand over the center console with the index and middle fingers spread in a V-shape. The idea is to store frequently used MBUX functions in one place for quick access any time. Cars are getting intelligent and the MBUX serves as a strong reminder.       

Good: You pay more and you get more

When initial reports suggested the new CLA would have the same 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder under the hood like the A-Class, we were put off for obvious reasons. But, Mercedes-Benz has been smart enough to offer a higher state of tune in the CLA. With 221 horsepower and 350 Nm of torque, the CLA is more powerful and torquey than the A-Class sedan. 

If that’s not enough, Mercedes-Benz says there will be a host of petrol and diesel engines on offer when the CLA goes on sale later this year depending on the country you’re in. If none of that would do, wait for the bonkers AMG variant that should be in the pipeline. If the current CLA45 AMG is anything to go by, this would be well worth the wait!

Good & Bad: Interiors are fabulous but look all the same

If you've been in a Mercedes-Benz of late, you know that the cabins look and feel fabulous. It's more of the same with every new-generation or an all-new model coming in. The new CLA treads the same line too. A big free-standing monolithic screen stretches across the dashboard with two functional sections - one for instrumentation and the other for infotainment. Funky circular air-conditioning knobs are there, of course, like every other Mercedes model. A slew of top-notch driver assist functions, safety features and creature comforts - some straight off the E- and S-Class - are part of the kit too. 

Problem is, you've been in the CLA if you've been in the A-Class. You've seen the A-Class if you've seen the C-Class and so on. It's a good problem to have, no doubt. But, ask if an S-Class owner who paid five times as much as an A-Class owner feels the same way.    

Bad: A-Class Sedan or CLA? What's your pick?

Despite the “four-door coupe” tag that Mercedes-Benz bestowed on it, the CLA was always the sedan equivalent of the A-Class. Or so we thought until the second-generation model premiered. In addition to the hatchback that we’ve had for three generations, the new A-Class also had a sedan counterpart making the CLA’s positioning in the lineup a bit more difficult and confusing. Of course, the product planners at Mercedes wouldn’t agree with that statement. 

The CLA is sexier and likely to be priced and positioned higher than the A-Class sedan. It’s also a bit more powerful and expected to deliver the look and feel of a mini CLS, which it really is. In the end though, it all boils down to the rear headroom on the A-Class sedan versus the oomph factor of the CLA. Really. But, will a potential customer understand these differences? And even if he or she does, isn't this too much of an overlap within the brand?

All said and done, the new CLA has a lot going for it and is sure to be a success story it's maker expects it to be. Just bring out the Shooting Brake already, please!


India's "Top 20" Best-selling Cars in 2018

Our last post on India’s “Top 10” Best-selling Car Brands showed that yet another year had passed by with no big changes in car-buying patterns in the country. It’s hard to believe but Maruti-Suzuki, India’s largest car-maker by a country mile, actually improved its market share in 2018. Yes, Suzuki’s Indian subsidiary now holds a massive 52% share of the market. 

With more than 3.34 million units sold in 2018, India is the only large automotive market where such a monopoly exists. Add this to the 16% held by Hyundai and the two car-makers have effectively locked 70% of the 3.34 million units out of reach of the remaining players. It’s no surprise then India’s “Top 20” Best-selling Cars comprise almost the entire Maruti-Suzuki portfolio, a slew of Hyundais and a few other brands making a guest appearance here and there.

So, here are the cars that topped the charts in India last year.


  • The top six best-selling cars are all from Maruti-Suzuki
  • Seven of the top ten best-selling cars are from Maruti-Suzuki
  • Ten out of the top twenty best-selling cars are from – you guessed it right – Maruti-Suzuki
  • Hyundai is the only brand apart from Maruti-Suzuki that features in the top ten
  • Tata is the only car-maker apart from Maruti-Suzuki and Hyundai to have more than one car in the top twenty
  • Mahindra, Toyota, Honda, Renault and Ford have one model each in the top twenty

Dzire is India's Best-selling Car 

'Back with a bang' is what comes to mind looking at Dzire’s sales performance last year. Thanks to a cohesive design (finally!), feature-rich interiors and a proven, frugal engine line-up, the third-generation Dzire that debuted early last year blazed the charts and ended 2018 as India’s best-selling car. While doing so, Maruti-Suzuki's compact sedan decimated its rivals selling more than all of them combined. Competitors are trying their best with constant refreshes and facelifts but the public hardly seem to care. This segment is all about the Dzire and a little bit about the Amaze. ‘Brand Dzire’ is so strong now the fact it started life as a suffix to the Swift tag seems a distant memory now. 

Swift, Baleno and Vitara Brezza shine

The ever-dependable Alto finished runner-up but sales remained flat vis-à-vis 2017. With Swift and Baleno right behind on steep growth trajectories and an improving economy boosting affordability and pushing first-time car buyers towards premium hatchbacks, there is a fact chance the Alto might go down further in the coming years. This is new territory for Maruti-Suzuki's entry level car as it's been leading the sales charts for more than a decade now. Maruti-Suzuki won’t be worried though. After all, the Swift, Baleno and the Vitara Brezza and Wagon-R that are right behind the Alto in terms of sales fetch more revenues and profits. 

Along with the Celerio that rounds up the top ten, Maruti-Suzuki's turf is heavily guarded and it would take something extraordinary from Hyundai or one of the other brands to breach it. Outside the top ten, three further models from Suzuki's Indian portfolio - Omni, Eeco and Ertiga - emerge best-sellers of 2018.

Hyundai's trio continue to take the fight to the leader

Hyundai's dependable trio of i20, Grand i10 and Creta did well in 2018 and are the only cars that aren't Maruti-Suzukis to feature in the top ten. The Creta, especially, has been doing a phenomenal job raking in volumes despite being priced higher. That the i20 and Grand i10 are keeping the Baleno and Swift honest respectively for years now is a commendable feat in itself. Having said that, it's high time the South Korean car-maker gets another car or two in the top twenty. 

The all-new Santro has started off well and Hyundai's upcoming Vitara Brezza rival looks promising. Question is, will they do what the Eon could never do?

Tiago, Nexon and Amaze put on an impressive show

Tata Motors had an impressive year with the Tiago and Nexon both gaining sales and share in their segments. While the former finished just 8,000 units short of the Celerio, the latter ended up beating the well-established EcoSport to become the second best-selling compact SUV in the country. 

Honda did a stellar job with the second-generation Amaze and Indians responded with their wallets. The Japanese compact sedan more than doubled its sales from 2017 with the improved, feature-rich interiors, the awesome diesel-CVT combo and Civic-inspired design winning hearts. 

Bolero's dominance in the rural and semi-urban markets continues unabated while Toyota's Innova Crysta found more homes in 2018, it's expensive positioning be damned. Ford's refreshed EcoSport started off well but went on a downward spiral towards the second half of the year. Renault's Kwid castle is crashing fast and the car-maker has got to do something quick to stem this free fall.


India's "Top 10" Best-selling Car Brands in 2018

Despite sky-rocketing fuel prices, negative market sentiments and widespread predictions of the growth phase coming to an end, car sales in India grew 7.65% in 2018 to end the year with over 3.34 million units. That’s a solid increase over the 3.1 million units sold in the country in 2017. 

And in a classic case of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, the top four brands grew along with it while the other brands – barring a couple of exceptions – struggled to maintain momentum.

With all the numbers reported and reconciled, here are 2018’s Top 10 Car Brands in India.


Maruti-Suzuki continues to be at its ruthless best

Long time market leader Maruti-Suzuki continued its bull run with a whopping 52% share of India's automotive pie and a growth rate that was slightly higher than the overall market. Factor in the massive baseline Maruti-Suzuki enjoys and the numbers are mind-boggling. Think of it. Maruti-Suzuki increased its sales by 128,657 units in 2018 which is more than what Ford, the seventh largest car-maker in the country, sold all of last year!  

All bread-and-butter models wearing the ‘S’ badge are flying off the shelves and the car-maker is slowly and steadily expanding its leadership in the premium segments as well. Alto, Wagon-R, Swift, Baleno, Dzire, Vitara Brezza, Ertiga and Ciaz lead their respective segments by quite some margins while models like the Omni and Eeco continue to do exceedingly well in the niches they have created.

Is there scope for Maruti-Suzuki to grow further? Well, yes, the Ignis was a rare blip in the radar and they should have an SUV or crossover bigger than the Vitara Brezza to take on the Hyundai Creta. If that happens – which we think will – the competitors, especially Hyundai, should be really worried. 

Hyundai and Mahindra bring up the Top 3

Hyundai’s lonely race in India as the second-largest car-maker continued in 2018. With Maruti-Suzuki up in the stratosphere and the other brands far behind to threaten it, the South Korean car-maker is in a position that’s both enviable and unfortunate. Why unfortunate, you ask? Move by move, model by model, Maruti-Suzuki is keeping Hyundai’s growth aspirations in check. Hyundai brought in the all-new Verna with so much hope but Maruti-Suzuki tackled it with a mere facelift of the Ciaz. The all-new Santro is not even three months old in the market and the new Wagon-R is already ready for launch. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel. And it reads KIA!

Mahindra ended 2018 as the third largest car-maker in the country but 2018 could have been better for the Nashik-based car-maker. Newer models like the TUV3OO and KUV1OO aren’t doing as well as expected while the older models like the Scorpio and XUV5OO are coming under increasing pressure from newer and modern rivals. The dated workhorse Bolero is still the brand’s best-seller, which explains the plight Mahindra is in. With the very competent Marazzo gaining acceptance and the XUV3OO waiting in the wings, 2019 holds a lot of promise for Mahindra.

Tata is on a steady growth path

The star of the Top 10 list, without a doubt, is Tata Motors. With an extremely impressive 26% increase in sales over 2017, Tata moved past Honda and almost pushed Mahindra off the last podium slot. The amazing product-led transformation that the Pune-based car-maker embarked on has started paying dividends and it’s up to the folks at Tata to maintain the momentum and get into the big league. The Tiago and Nexon are pulling in the numbers right now while the upcoming Harrier has a big role to play as the brand’s image-builder. 

Honda is the only brand in the top five that slid, thanks to the City losing its long-held reign at the top of its segment to the Ciaz. Combine that with a slew of duds in the form of Brio, BR-V and Jazz and it’s clear Honda needs to change track in India. The new Amaze has been a massive hit though and help keep Honda’s decline in check. The just-launched CR-V and the upcoming Civic won’t fetch volumes but could aid profitability and make the “H” badge aspirational again. 

Apart from the top four brands, Toyota and Ford, at numbers six and seven, were the only car-makers that grew in 2018. For the Japanese behemoth, Innova Crysta and Fortuner put in solid performances while the refreshed EcoSport kept Ford going. With avenues for further growth severely restricted for various reasons, both these car-makers have resorted to alliances for the next phase of growth. Toyota has inked a deal with Suzuki to exchange cross-badged models while Ford is eyeing a joint-venture with Mahindra.    

Renault’s dream run with the Kwid has hit a road block and the French car-maker needs to do something quick to arrest its freefall. The same is applicable to Datsun as well with the redi-Go on a downward spiral and the recently refreshed Go twins doing nothing to bring in customers. The lesser said about Volkswagen, the better. The almost-a-decade-old Polo and Vento can only sell so much!

Outside the top ten, Skoda is doing respectable numbers in the premium segments while Nissan, Fiat and HM-Mitsubishi continue their unanimous presence in the Indian market. With Kia and MG Motors all set to storm into India this year and Peugeot slated for a 2020 entry, this list might see some churn in the coming years.


America's "Top 20" Best-selling Cars in 2018

The last post of ours listed America's Top 10 Best-selling Car Brands of 2018. While it was business as usual with Ford topping the list for the ninth straight year, it doesn't clearly show the phenomenon that's happening worldwide in general and the United States of America in particular. 

This list - giving you a sneak peek of America's Top 20 Best-selling Cars of 2018 - clearly brings that out. 

Did you have a look? Yes, we're talking about the bloodshed that's happening in the market with trucks, SUVs and crossovers going for the kill and sedans coming off worse in the fight.

Big Three's fight for pick-up truck supremacy intensifies

At the top, there are no changes. Ford's F-Series reigns supreme to become the best-selling passenger vehicle in America for an unprecedented 37th year in a row! While that's an incredible feat, the folks at Ford have to look over their shoulders as their arch-rivals are at them with full force. Armed with the new-generation Silverado and the all-new 1500 respectively, Chevrolet and Ram are going all guns blazing with the latter gaining significantly to end 2018 right behind the Chevy. 

With 2019 being the first full year for these two trucks, the American pick-up truck slug-fest just got more intense. Watch this space!

Crossovers rule the roost, sedans bow out

While the Big Three pick-ups have always been America's favourites, right behind them - for decades - have been the Japanese sedans. Toyota's Camry and Corolla, Honda's Accord and Civic and Nissan's Altima and Sentra have been big-sellers and regularly found a place in the Top 10 list. That's changing quite rapidly. Crossovers from the same three brands now occupy those slots with Toyota's RAV4 inching ahead of Nissan's Rogue and both steering clear of Honda's CR-V. Joining them with an impressive 15% gain over 2017 is Chevrolet's Equinox.

The Camry, Civic, Corolla and Accord have all lost sales vis-a-vis 2017 and the trend is all set to continue for the foreseeable future. In fact, sedans from Ford and Chevrolet that regularly featured in the Top 20 list have bowed out already with both the car-makers abandoning sedans altogether with their announcements to focus on popular and profitable SUVs and crossovers. That's a shame because some of these sedans on sale are the best to wear these nameplates since they were introduced. It's a classic case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Ford's Escape and Explorer are next on the list, both on a decline compared to the previous year. The next-generation Explorer and Escape are slated for debuts this year and the Blue Oval can't bring them soon enough. 

Bringing up the bottom of the Top 20 list are the two sedans from Nissan with the Altima losing a whopping 18% and the Sentra managing a respectable show.

Jeeps are red hot in America

If there's one brand that's climbing up the ladder quick and steady, it's got to be Jeep. The all-new Wrangler that debuted in 2018 and the facelifted Compass that went on sale in 2017 are blazing the charts with a 26% and 41% gain respectively. The Grand Cherokee - that's on the last leg of its life cycle - did well too and lost just 7% compared to its 2017 numbers. 

Outside the Top 20, Compass is yet another Jeep that's on the ascent. Sales almost doubled compared to 2017 and Jeep also has it's Gladiator pick-up going on sale next year. Jeep is sure on a roll!

Just outside the Top 20 are some of the erstwhile occupants of the list like the GMC Sierra, Hyundai Elantra and Ford Fusion. With the rapid pace at which sedans are running out of favour, expect this list to throw up a lot of surprises in the years ahead. We're having our fingers crossed.


America's "Top 10" Best-selling Car Brands in 2018

Alright, now that we're back from year-end vacations and parties welcoming 2019, it is time to look back at the year gone by and take note of what's hot and what's not in the automotive industry. 

Our neighbor up north might be the single largest market for automobiles globally but the significance of the American car market can't be stressed enough. Why, you wonder? Profits. Sheer profits. And nothing else. Americans love their big, plush trucks and large, swanky crossovers while car-makers are after the fat profits that each one of those vehicles bring in. 

Defying predictions of a decline compared to 2017, Americans bought 17.27 million cars, crossovers and trucks last year. That's a small but crucial 40,000-odd units over 2017. 

Here are the Top 10 brands that made merry in 2018:

Ford leads for the ninth straight year

For the ninth straight year, Ford topped the chart with over 2.39 million vehicles sold. And almost half of those numbers were from F-Series trucks alone. Yes, a whopping 909,330 units of these found buyers across the country making it America's best-selling vehicle for an incredible 37 years now. While that's good news, Blue Oval has a lot to ponder over for sure as the rest of the line-up - sans the Expedition, Transit and the Fiesta that's on the way out - lost volumes compared to 2017.

Toyota and Chevrolet finish runners-up

Closing 2018 as runner-up to Ford is Toyota, as it's been for the last several years. Remarkably, in a market where the top five brands have lost volumes, Toyota lost just over 1,000 units compared to 2017. Like the rest of the industry, the brand's cars lost volumes by thousands but the SUVs in the lineup - especially the RAV4, Highlander and 4Runner - made up for that.

Close on Toyota's heels is Chevrolet, selling over 2.03 million cars and trucks. The new Silverado is off to a strong start and the brand's many SUVs and crossovers are just what the market wants. But the cars in the line-up are off to the gutters in the coming months and years and with recent announcements on plant closures, Chevrolet has a lot of things to sort on the table.

Jeep, Ram and Subaru shine

After Chevrolet comes the other two popular Japanese brands - Honda and Nissan - both posting a decline in sales and market share against the previous year. Again, SUVs and crossovers from both brands continued their growth trajectory while the sedans are bleeding volumes.

When Fiat-Chrysler decided to cut down slow-selling cars in the line-up and focus solely on SUVs and pick-ups with their Jeep and Ram brands respectively, it attracted more criticism than acclaim. Now, a couple of years down the line, that decision seems inspired. Jeeps are flying off the shelves while Ram, riding high on the popularity of the new 1500 truck, makes an entry into the Top 10. These two brands have also posted the biggest growth compared to 2017 with Jeep growing a massive 17.5%.  

Subaru's sales rise over the last several years have been nothing short of a miracle and the dream run continued in 2018 too. Apart from posting it's best-ever year with over 680,000 vehicles sold, Subaru also had the 85th consecutive month-on-month growth. In the process, Subaru jumped ahead of Hyundai in the Top 10 chart.

Hyundai and Kia lost a place each and ended 2018 in eighth and tenth positions. While the sales remained flat with a marginal jump over 2017, the lack of SUVs in the lineup are hurting the Koreans. The recent additions in the form of new Santa Fe and Kona and the upcoming Palisade and Telluride should hopefully make things better for this duo in the coming years.