Watching The Wheels

The most eagerly awaited autos that will hit the streets this year.

Vikrant Singh        Print Edition: January 10, 2010

Rolls Royce Ghost

WHAT IS IT: The Ghost is the smallest Rolls Royce yet, but one that packs in over 560bhp of power courtesy a 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 engine. It has all the goodies you expect in an RR- self-levelling RR badges on the wheel hubs, suicide rear doors and the finest collection of wood adorning its insides.

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL: It's hand-built, passing through 60 pairs of hands take at least 20 days to put the car together. It also might be the most affordable Rolls, but for sheer luxury, class and snob value, it's still the car to buy.

PRICE: Rs 2.5 crore (estimated)


Porsche Panamera

WHAT IS IT: The first four-door luxury saloon from the makers of iconic sportscars like the 911 and the Boxster. Like the Mercedes S-class and the BMW 7-series, it can seat four in utmost luxury. It comes with two engines, both fantastically powerful.

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL: It is one of the sportiest luxury saloons and has all possible gadgetry, including trick suspension and an advanced stability programme. Adding to its luxury is a bar complete with champagne glasses with the Porsche engraved on them.

PRICE: Rs 2 crore (estimated)


BMW Z4

WHAT IS IT: The Z4 is BMW's latest roadster. It competes against the likes of the Mercedes SLK350. For an edgy-looking car and a two-seater, it is decently spacious. In India, it is sold with an easy revving and poky 306bhp, 3-litre inline six engine, which is mated to a 7-speed dual clutch transmission.

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL: The Z4 is a car to be seen in. It doesn't have the gaudiness of luxury saloons, but conveys wealth with sportiness and adventurism. Being a convertible means you can enjoy the wind-inthe-hair experience and look cool doing it.

PRICE: Rs 59 lakh (estimated)


Skoda Yeti

WHAT IS IT: The Yeti is a crossover; a mix of a car and an off-roader. It will be launched at the Auto Expo and compete against some true blue SUVs. To be offered with the choice of both petrol and diesel engines as well as with two and four-wheel drive options.

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL: Based on the same platform as the Laura, it is a good drive. Its compactness makes it easy to pilot around. The Yeti is quite impressive off road as well, helped by its high ground clearance, and smart electronics.

PRICE: Rs 16 lakh (estimated)


Audi A8

WHAT IS IT: The A8 luxury saloon is bought and driven in by the very wealthy and powerful people. In its new avatar, it's more luxurious, more spacious and better equipped. Expect this S-class and 7-series challenger to hit showrooms in India towards the end of 2010.

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL: Everything. From its styling, to its engines, to its chassis control systems and even its interiors. No one has yet driven the car, but, knowing Audi, it rarely makes false claims, if ever.

PRICE: Rs 1 crore (estimated)


Volkswagen Polo

WHAT IS IT: A brand new small car from Germany. The car will be launched at the Auto Expo and will come with both petrol and diesel engines. The car will also have a three-box version, which will complete against the likes of Swift Dzire.

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL: Expect great fit and finish and a decent equipment list as well. It will also be one of the most stylish hatchbacks in the country.

PRICE: Rs 5 lakh (estimated)


Volkswagen Beetle

WHAT IS IT: A legendry car that was born with the idea of providing safe motoring to the masses. Today though, it costs over Rs 20 lakh in India. Yes, it has become more spacious, more powerful and a lot better-engineered. In India the car is only being sold with a 2-litre petrol engine that makes 116bhp.

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL: The Beetle is a style statement. Buying it will ensure you are the talk of the town. It's a cute car that's decently spacious and evokes positive emotions from all and sundry.

PRICE: Rs 19 lakh


BMW 5-series

WHAT IS IT: BMW's new generation luxury sedan will take on the new E-class from Mercedes. It looks more aggressive with a design that is a blend of the 3-and 7-series now. The engines will be more powerful and efficient and the car is expected to hit showrooms in India sometime in the middle of 2010.

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL: Typical BMW traits like driver focus, great handling and a refined drivetrain define the new 5 as well. A communicative steering and rear wheel drive will also please enthusiasts.

PRICE: Rs 45 lakh (estimated)


Mercedes E-class

WHAT IS IT: A luxury saloon every CEO wants to have. The new E is completely updated along with new engines, chassis and underpinnings. It's also a much better car than the one it replaces.

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL: It's more spacious than the older car with much better built and sports classier interiors. It handles better and both the petrol and diesel engines pack a good punch. Typical of all three-pointed star cars, the E, too, ensures a cosseting ride.

PRICE: Rs 35 lakh


Land Rover Freelander 2

WHAT IS IT: The Freelander 2 reminds you of what off-roaders were like in the olden days. Capable, rugged and willing to take on the world. Of course, urbanism has had its affect on this Land Rover too, which uses a monocoque chassis and has on-road like mannerisms.

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL: Electronics. That's what the Freelander 2 is overloaded with. The ace is the Terrain Response system, which controls the effectiveness of the ESP, the hill descent as well as that of gradient release.

PRICE: Rs 35 lakh


Ford Figo

WHAT IS IT: The Figo is Ford's attempt to get in the Indian small car market. It shares some of its mechanicals with the older generation European Fiesta hatchback and will come with a 1.2-litre petrol engine and a 1.4-litre diesel. Expect it to be decently roomy and to challenge the likes of the Hyundai i10.

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL: A cheap buy and affordable to run. Like other Fords, it will be a good drive as well. Expect a good ride and handling as well as a communicative and positive steering.

PRICE: Rs 3.5 lakh (estimated)


Chevrolet Beat

WHAT IS IT: A smart and chic small car from General Motors that currently comes with a 1.2-litre petrol engine. A diesel engine is also on the cards. It's not very spacious, but can accommodate four adults. Boot space is tight and the quality of plastics isn't too great.

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL: Its exterior styling. The Beat simply looks fabulous. It's also the only car currently that uses motorcycle-type instrumentation. It has a refined engine which should be efficient, too.

PRICE: Rs 4.5 lakh (estimated)


Suzuki Kizashi

WHAT IS IT: The Kizashi is Suzuki's attempt at competing in the entry-level segment. Hitherto, Suzuki has been successful as a small car maker, but the growth in the aforementioned segment, has been too good to ignore. It will be shown at the Auto Expo and sales of the car should begin sometime next fiscal.

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL: It looks contemporary both inside and out. Going by its dimensions, we expect it to be spacious on the inside as well. Not to forget that Suzuki has a great service network.

PRICE: Rs 13 lakh (estimated)


KTM Super Duke

WHAT IS IT: Well, it's a little difficult to define the Super Duke, a naked street bike that can handle adventures and do some bit of track action as well. A KTM's flagship model, it is powered by a near 1,000cc twin and will be sold in India by Bajaj.

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL: The Super Duke is a multi-talented motorcycle, well suited to handle track or mild touring duties. And for the rebellious sorts, it also makes for a great stunting machine.

PRICE: Rs 12.5 lakh (estimated)


Hero Honda Karizma ZMR

WHAT IS IT: The new version of India's first proper touring motorcycle, it's got new styling, LCD instrumentation, LED tail lamps, split grab rails and a rear disc brake. The engine, though, continues to be the same, but it's not fuel-injected.

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL: An affordable bike that promises a comfortable city commute with some highway mile-munching ability. Coming from the house of Hero Honda also means a wide service network and easy availability of spares.

PRICE: Rs 95,000


Kawasaki Ninja 250R

WHAT IS IT: An entry level sports bike the world over, the Ninja 250R is every enthusiast's dream. It is powered by a 250cc engine that makes 33bhp. Marketed by Bajaj through its Probiking showrooms, the bike currently has a huge waiting period.

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL: It might be a 250, but it looks like a litre-class motorcycle. Out on the highways, it can manage a top speed of about 160kmph without feeling nervous or twitchy.

PRICE: Rs 3 lakh (estimated)


Yamaha Vmax

WHAT IS IT: The Vmax is the ultimate streetfighter with a 1,679cc engine that pumps out 200bhp. Launched a couple of months ago, this is the second generation of the motorcycle which first debuted in 1985.

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL: Vmax has four air intakes mounted next to the fuel tank and four exhausts looking like rocket launchers. Its also got some modern technology on its side like the variable length intake manifolds and fly-by-wire throttle.

PRICE: Rs 20 lakh


Honda VFR 1200F

WHAT IS IT: It's essentially a tourer, which means it's meant to traverse across states. But, it's also brilliant on a race track. It brakes and handles like a supersports should. The bike is expected to hit Indian shores sometime towards the mid of 2010.

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL: Dual Clutch Transmission. It is the only bike in the world to use such a gearbox. It's essentially an automatic which allows for manually shifting gears. The DCT is lightening quick and intelligent, too.

PRICE: Rs 15 lakh (estimated)

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