Hatchback Of The Year 2013
HYUNDAI GRAND i10
Hyundai is quite clearly the one major rival which has kept Maruti Suzuki honest, especially when it comes to cars for the masses as witness its Santro and i10 which have really made a mark for themselves and given the Korean car maker absolute critical mass in the Indian market. Taking a cue from this and also from its rival, Hyundai seems to have done a “Swift” on the i10 and come up with the Grand, a slightly longer and roomier new car which is based on the i10’s size and looks but is an all new offering.
Even more complete and desirable than the car it moves on from, it offers greater interior room and refinement which along with its all new small capacity diesel engine is true small car heaven.
In fact, the Grand has done quite a lot to take the fight to the best-selling standard-bearer in the large hatchback segment in the country – the Suzuki Swift while yet not coming close to Suzuki Swift money or size. In fact its build quality – perceived and actual, is stupendous and a notch higher than anything in this class of car and then there is the plethora of gadgets and equipment that has never been seen before in cars of this size and segment - a fact that is definitely playing a major role in attracting buyers to this new hatch from Hyundai. In fact, were it not for the brilliance of the new segment-charting Ford EcoSport this could very well have been the top pick for 2013.
Entry-Level Sedan Of The Year 2013
The name says it all because finally Honda surprised itself and also of course its millions of fans by taking to a small diesel engine and the first car to find this engine being applied to was the Amaze, the spanking new entry-level sedan in the company’s portfolio. The Amaze came out swinging on the back of the Honda nameplate, the refined character of the machine and of course two major attributes that factor buying decisions in Indian motoring: high fuel efficiency and ample cabin space.
The Amaze has both of these details in ample measure, the i-DTEC diesel being truly one of the gems in the Indian automotive sphere and it shows with probably the best fuel efficiency we have ever got from an Indian car, be it in the city, on the highway or a combination of both. If that’s not all, the cabin remains a paragon of space management, which many rivals can only aspire to. In any other year these ingredients would have been more than enough to see it romp to the top but Honda like Toyota has yet to master the art of the small car like Maruti-Suzuki and Hyundai in offering strong solidity of feel and also interiors that are rich while being generous on equipment levels. Address these issues at the price points of the market leaders and we could yet see another sales revolution in the small car class in the land. Even then as the second runner-up and winner of the entry-level sedan of the year is no mean feat for this baby Honda.
Car Of The Year 2013 / Compact Suv Of The Year 2013
It had to happen ‘cause there’s piles of money to be made with anything resembling an SUV-ish stance and Ford was first off the line to do just that with a compact mini. We had seen it before in the form of the Premier Rio, an Indo-Chinese hybrid but the EcoSport has it all: absolutely contemporary styling with all the feel-good cues for Generation X and also for soccer moms which constitute a sizeable chunk of all SUV buyers; fine range of engines including a real techno tour-de-force in the EcoBoost 1.0-litre engine (sadly much too ultra-sensitive for Indian driving conditions); small footprint to make it both highly maneuverable and also go low down on the lifecycle CO2 emissions plus enough gadgets and getup within the cabin.
The EcoSport is the way forward for the small car segment to venture forth into different sub-segments for if you peel off the tall SUV-stance and look, you have a car that is a pumped up supermini. The car drives very well, and especially so with the proven 1.5-litre diesel engine it is a very strong alternative to anything which the large hatchbacks can throw up or even the more affordable SUVs (really this term is a misnomer for crossover really should be it!) can muster. This Ford is not just mighty capable but for the first time in its long history in India the Blue Oval has a car to inspire many others to emulate!