There was a time when one roamed the Expo halls at Geneva and wondered what to file back home. Not any more. Almost every serious carmaker worth its powertrain has at least one serious car meant for India.
The Volkswagen Polo is a quintessential European hatchback. But the latest version of the Polo is a significant car for VW India � in just about a year's time, it will roll out of a spanking new car plant at Chakan near Pune.
If you were waiting for a quality hatchback with contemporary design and extremely frugal and environment- friendly engines, the Polo should fit your bill. The Walter D'Silva-designed gem looks right from the word go, but may sport a few India specific-modifications in time for the launch in India. Jochem Heizmann, member of the board, Volkswagen AG, told Business Standard that the car will feature local content of over 50 per cent when it is launched.
Suzuki showcased the Indian-made Alto, albeit with the revolutionary "start- stop" technology that ensures the engine shuts down when you are waiting for the signal to change. The car starts again when you hit the accelerator pedal, saving precious fuel. Also present at the Suzuki pavilion were the 4x4 and Sport versions of the Swift.
As with the norm these days, Suzuki proudly displayed the CO2 figures on the flanks of all exhibits.
The Chevrolet pavilion had the all-new U-VA and Spark. The latter looks so sophisticated and futuristic that it could pass off as a concept car than a production-ready machine. The Spark will be produced from GM India's new car facility by the end of this year or early 2010.
Hyundai had an interesting SUV concept that would debut as the next generation Tucson in India. Also on display at the South Korean giant's pavilion was the three-door version of the extremely successful i10 hatchback meant for Europe (and built in India).
Another important car, if not as cheap as the hatchbacks mentioned above, is the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The all-new E-Class traces its roots back to E-Classes of yore that stood for unparalleled build quality. Many variants of the E-Class were present and a Coupe version was unveiled for the first time too. Mercedes' way of telling the recession-affected economy that they are concerned too is by focusing on the Blue-efficiency theme. Arch rivals BMW showcased the 5 series GT concept � essentially a spacious coupe based on the 5 Series sedan. The design also gave insights as to how the next generation 5 Series will look.
The all-new Nissan Qazana concept may reveal an SUV that can generate lots of interest in India, but Nissan executives were not ready to comment on the subject. Also launched was the Skoda Yeti � a crossover machine with 4x4 credentials that can break new ground in India. Audi showcased the crossover version of their successful A4 � the A4 Allroad Quattro.