The Superb's success in the Rs 20 lakh plus segment has meant it has caught the fancy of some of the German brands like Mercedes-Benz and BMW who have launched cut-price versions of their executive saloons.
The BMW, 320d Corporate Edition, priced at Rs 29.24 lakh on-road, Mumbai, is some eight lakh rupees cheaper than the regular 320d Highline.
For that you get a car without a sunroof, regular halogens instead of bi-xenon headlamps, slightly different looking 16-inch alloys, faux leather instead of premium hides and a single CD player instead of the six-CD changer.
The fore and aft movement of the seats is now manual, there is no arm rest at the rear, no blinds for the rear doors and there are fewer speakers on the inside. Yet, mechanically the car hasn't changed - so you get a six-speed automatic for the 2.0-litre common rail diesel engine and the same level of safety kit.
It is still quick off the block, putting in 4.5 seconds to 60 kph and just under 9 seconds to 100kph. While it handles brilliantly, ride quality is a bit stiff and interior room is a bit constrained when compared to the Superb, but the best bit is that behind the wheel you miss none of the features that have been removed.
In response, Mercedes-Benz have what they call the C220 CDI Executive Edition that has pretty much the same set of features missing as in the Highline 3Series, except that the seats are now fully manually adjustable.
At Rs 31.43 lakh, on-road Mumbai, it is some six lakh rupees cheaper than the regular C220CDI Avantgarde, but still not as cheap as the BMW. It is a bit more comfortable on the inside and while it isn't as quick as the BMW, it tends to offer better ride characteristics.
Neitherof these cars is still anywhere close to the Skoda in terms of pricing, but they have closed the gap on cars like the Superb, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. That gap could reduce even further if both of them contemplate launching petrol versions of their respective de-contented editions. Then the market could well and truly become very interesting!