2013 seems to be a year of powerful hatchbacks and sedans in the Indian auto market, clearly showing that the market is maturing despite an overall slump. Toyota Kirloskar Motor has already launched the new Liva 1.5 Sportivo, which is a sports variant of its popular Liva hatchback. Though the other versions of Liva come with a 1.2 litre petrol and 1.4 litre diesel engines, the new Liva Sportivo gets a 1.5 litre petrol engine, same as the one used in Etios sedan. This develops a greater power output of 89 bhp, making the vehicle peppier than before.
In addition to the new engine, sporty decals and graphics can also be seen on the Liva Sportivo. It has a 965 kg kerb weight that gives this vehicle superior performance, as it translates into a power-to-weight ratio of 96.2 bhp per tonne. Low end torque is higher than the current 1.6 litre Volkswagen Polo.
Keeping abreast with the competition, Volkswagen has come out with the 1.2 GT TSI petrol Polo, which combines superior on-road performance with high fuel efficiency. The 1.2 litre TSI petrol engine develops 104 bhp of power, which helps the vehicle accelerate from 0-100 kmph in just 9.8 seconds. The Polo 1.2 GT TSI gets to a top speed of 190 kmph. In addition, it is fitted with a 7-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG), which makes it a breeze to drive. This new gearbox has three different modes, namely automatic, sport and manual. With the help of Direct Injection technology, a fuel efficiency of 17.1 kmpl is generated. Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Stability Program (ESP) are other top draw features in this hot hatch.
Clearly, these are signs of maturity in the Indian auto market. During the late 1990s and in the last decade, hatchbacks and sedans have been built for generating space and fuel efficiency. High performance sedans such as those by Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini and other top international brands come under the ultra luxury category and are very expensive. As an alternate, customers can now get powerful vehicles at a much lower price.
Another car which is expected to be seen in 2013 is the Turbojet (T-Jet) Fiat Linea. This was originally launched in India as the only turbo powered petrol sedan in the country, but was withdrawn since sales did not take off. This car is to be powered by a 1.4 litre turbo petrol engine that would generate a high power output of 118 bhp, making it a pleasurable vehicle to drive. With more investment in marketing and increase in the number of dealerships, Fiat is looking to change its reputation in the Indian market.
All the above vehicles are primarily powered by petrol engines. If the demand for these high performance vehicles picks up, top auto makers such as Maruti, Hyundai and Tata Motors would also look at introducing such cars, thereby creating a few new segments as well.