Volkswagen India has revealed that it will finally be putting its foot on the gas again. Whereas the early years saw a flurry of launches taking place, VW has been slow in bringing new products to the market of late. However, the ‘years of consolidation’ seem to officially be over, as VW has announced it will bring four new models to India over the next two years. There will be others as well, but for now VW is confirming only these four, which will be a mix of locally produced models and imports.
Expected: End 2015
Price: Rs 35 lakh (est, ex-showroom, Delhi)
VW’s earlier Beetle didn’t hit the spot. It looked cute and had the iconic shape, but the driving experience disappointed, and as a result the car wasn’t popular at all. Then over the years it also earned a reputation as a car more for women. This new car, however, is different. The shape is more muscular, the car delivers a much more positive driving experience and VW has upped the style quotient substantially. There’s even a 217bhp R-line version, with 20-inch alloys! So it should be both cute and fun at the same time.
Polo compact sedan
Expected: Jan 2016
Price Rs 6.5-8.0 lakh (est, ex-showroom Delhi)
Known internally as the Indian Compact Sedan (ICS), VW has finally committed to doing a special product for India, and it’s a big deal for the company. It’s not possible to sell a sub-four-metre sedan anywhere else in the world, and as a result VW had to look carefully at the amount it was investing in India for this new car. Will the more compact sedan do well enough to justify the investment? The company has also greatly accelerated the engineering, testing and signoff procedure of the car; the ICS is apparently the fastest ‘to market’ product VW has ever done. The project took its time getting off the ground, as designers struggled to arrive at the right styling and proportions. Essentially a three-box Polo, it’s built on the hatchback’s shorter, 2,456mm wheelbase (as against the Vento’s stretched one), it is expected to come with the 89bhp version of the 1.5-litre diesel engine, with the more powerful 103bhp version expected only later. Essentially a downsized version of the erstwhile 1.6-litre diesel unit, you could say this motor was reduced in capacity for the Polo and this car, to help make it comply with small car excise norms. There will also be a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol motor from the Polo on offer, and VW will also include the 1.2 TSI and the DSG automatic gearbox on the top version. This new compact sedan will face rivals like the Swift Dzire, Honda Amaze, Tata Zest, Hyundai Xcent, and Ford’s yet-to-be-launched Aspire. The Polo sedan, however, by VW’s own admission, won’t be the cheapest car in the class and is likely to be priced slightly higher than the Amaze.
Expected: Early 2016
Price: Rs 32-35 lakh (est, ex-showroom, Delhi)
The new, larger and more luxuriously appointed Passat is likely to come to India by February 2016. A good fit for the chauffeur-driven Indian market, the new car will be assembled here and will feature a 187bhp, 2.0-litre TDI engine. VW will have to work on the engine, as plenty of expensive Euro V hardware will have to be deleted for the Euro IV or BS IV-compliant Indian car. While the Passat has always been a very practical car – big on the inside, big on comfort and big on value, the new car is big on luxury too. And that’s just right for the Indian market. There’s even more bling in the design of the exterior, the insides are much more luxuriously appointed, and VW has taken a huge step forward with technology and connectivity; the touchscreen-based control system functions with all the slickness of a modern day tablet or smart phone. In addition, the car also glides over the road with greater isolation, the quality and design of the dash has also taken a big step up and VW has improved the rear seat of the car substantially too. Pricing it competitively won’t be easy, as the Passat is likely to compete with compact sedans from Mercedes-Benz and Audi. Both the CLA and A3 are likely to cost a bit less than the new Passat in India, and that could make life difficult for VW.
Expected: Mid 2016
Price: Rs 20-25 lakh (est, ex-showroom, Delhi)
VW will also assemble and sell the yet-to-be-revealed next-generation Tiguan in India towards the middle of next year. Set to be revealed at the Frankfurt motor show in September 2015, the new Tiguan will be a natural rival for the likes of the Honda CR-V and the Toyota Fortuner, to some extent. Built on the MQB platform, like the new Octavia and VW Golf, the new SUV will come with a longer wheelbase and the option of seven seats, and that’s the version that’s expected here. Primarily intended for China and US, this seven-seat version is scheduled to be shown at the Detroit motor show in early 2016, and the second-generation Tiguan is likely to be powered by the Passat’s 187bhp 2.0-litre TDI engine.