In its new generation the Swift Dzire became just the Dzire. Built afresh on the fifth generation HEARTECT platform, the new Dzire was able to offer more space, superior safety and better fuel efficiency. The designers at Maruti seemed to have cracked it with this car. The car is so well proportioned that it looks like a full-fledged sedan despite actually being a sub-4 meter car. The increased width also made the car truly stand out. The trapezoidal grille and the LED projector headlamps and the LED tail lamps added to the novelty factor. The highlight inside was the 7-inch touch screen infotainment system that works with both Apple car play and Android auto. Maruti also threw in some wooden inserts to make the interiors more premium. Shoulder room went up on both the rows and the rear seat got an additional leg room. Increased boot space stood at 378 liters. The car became so popular that it became fastest ever to hit the 1 lakh sales mark in India.
The Compass was one of the most awaited SUVs in India for a long time. It was a genuine made in India product and the company made some big investments in manufacturing the car at its facility near Pune. In spite of the smaller dimensions the Compass resembled the Grand Cherokee especially from the front. The 7 slat grille and the angular headlamps were some of the similar traits. The all independent suspension setup was a highlight where the frequency selective damping technology was a proof of some great engineering by the company. The SUV could soak in all the bumps and potholes thrown at it. It came with The 4 driving modes of Auto, Snow, Sand & Mud helped the car in sailing through obstacles. You could also lock the 4 wheel drive system for favourable results. The attractive starting price of Rs. 15 lakh too pulled in a lot of customers to the Jeep showrooms.
BMW 5 series
Clearly the best luxury car that came in 2017 was the new generation of the BMW 5 series. Its biggest USP was luxury as a lot of features seen on company’s flagship the 7 series were put in this new 5. Technologies such as Gesture Control, Remote Control Parking with BMW Display Key and Wireless Charging all are present in the car. The most notable was the gesture control where the car recognises six pre-defined hand movements for control of a number of functions. Then there was Remote Control Parking where a driver can maneuver the car into a narrow parking space while being outside the car. The electronic key displayed service reminders, cabin temperature, range and fuel level. There was inductive wireless charging for mobile phones as well and the new 5 series became the choice of wheels for many in the luxury sedan segment.
Ever since Tata showcased its compact SUV concept at the 2014 Auto Expo car enthusiasts’ were waiting to see the production version. It took Tata more than 3 years to do that but the Nexon was well worth the wait. Its biggest highlight was the design that appealed to everyone. It wasn’t boxy at all and looked like a new age urban SUV that promises to remain gender neutral. A ground clearance of 209 mm is that crucial factor that makes a huge positive difference. The white ceramic lining that ran along the profile and merged into the rear in a slingshot design was a design focal point. Inside the car was loaded with features including climate control, rear parking camera and a well performing entertainment system made with Harman. What also added to the product were three driving modes—Eco, City & Sport which made the car drive better in different driving situations.
The next generation Verna came with a huge responsibility on its shoulders. It had to wrest the market share sedans had lost to SUV off late. And it did that as just in a couple of months the car crossed 20,000 bookings. The car looked like a smaller version of the Elantra and the front was particularly attractive with the cascade design grille along with projector headlamps with daytime running LEDs. The car got a smart surround system by “Arkamys” and a world first feature called Eco Coating which prevents unpleasant smell to develop in the AC Evaporator. A segment first feature was the Smart trunk that automatically unlocks and pops-out when the owner stands with-in 1 meter behind the vehicle with smart key for more than three seconds. The new Verna had as many as 12 variants across Petrol, Diesel, Manual and Automatic with the company claiming a mileage of 25 kmpl on the Diesel manual.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars