Luxury Wheels for 2018
India gets ready for a slew of hot line-ups in high-end auto segment

The luxury car makers from German Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Tata Motors-owned British iconic sports car maker Jaguar Land Rover, to Japanese Lexus, and Swedish Volvo are all set to introduce brand new exciting cars during 2018 to woo buyers and set the sales charts on fire.

Audi will launch the all-new second-generation Audi Q5 in the Indian market on January 18. It popular sports utility vehicle (SUV) is slotting between the Q3 and Q7, and the new car is most likely to be priced between Rs 48 lakh and Rs 55 lakh.

Local assembly of the model at its Aurangabad factory in Maharashtra will help the company to keep the price attractive in a fiercely competitive luxury car market in the country pegged around 36,000 units annually.

Audi Q5 is based on an all-new platform, which means it will be lighter than before, and its suspension too has been revised. The new car is likely to be powered by a 190 hp, 2.0-litre diesel engine, which would be mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. A 252 hp, 2.0-litre petrol and a range-topping 286 hp, 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine are also expected to be offered. Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system will be standard.

Built on the VW Group’s MLB Evo platform, the Q5 promises to be lighter than the outgoing model. There is a distinct connect to the larger Q7, both inside and out, but the Q5 silhouette remains quite true to the original model from 2008.

In India, the new Audi Q5

will take on the likes of the

BMW X3, the new-generation model is scheduled to debut at

the Auto Expo 2018 in February

in Greater Noida in Delhi, Mercedes GLC and the newly launched Volvo XC60.

The company is also likely to bring in the country its Q2 model, Audi’s baby SUV. It is the youngest and smallest sports utility from the German brand. However, it is not as cute or funky like the MINI Countryman, although in terms of proportion and premium positioning, the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA and the Countryman will all be squarely in the Q2’s frame.

Along with Audi A3, the Q2 make the perfect pair of entry models in Audi’s marketing strategy to gross volumes and fight rivals. The Audi Q2 with both diesel and petrol engines and other specifications would certainly deep Audi’s portfolio in India and help it regain its lost ground rival Mercedes-Benz. It will also offer more choice for young and successful aspiring business men and women in the country who look for luxury cars in the Rs 40 lakh plus bracket.

Mercedes-Benz, India’s biggest German luxury car maker by sales, will launch its top-end limousine the Maybach S 650 sedan. The Mercedes Maybach S 650 will offer the perfection of the S-Class with the exclusivity of the Maybach and further accentuate the Maybach’s overwhelming demand in the growing Indian luxury car market.

“The Mercedes-Benz S 650 will debut at the Auto Expo 2018 motor show and will kick-off our product offensive towards sustained leadership in the Indian market for 2018,” Roland Folger, managing director & CEO at Mercedes-Benz India, said.

He said he was confident of leading the market as the No.1 luxury car maker in India and the brand will display an array of hot cars at the motor show to firmly underline this fact.

“Auto Expo gives us a distinct opportunity to showcase our exciting range of new products and technologies to our discerning customers and brand enthusiasts, whom we are committed to fascinate,” Folger said.

Mercedes-Benz will also unveil the versatile and SUV like all-rounder new E-Class, All Terrain vehicle. It is the crossover version of the E-class estate available in international markets.

This new car is slated to be launched for the Indian market late in 2018 and create a niche segment for itself.

The E-Class All-Terrain sports beefier bumpers, SUV-typical body-cladding and plastic underbody protection, which will help to differentiate it from the regular model. Further accentuating its off-road capabilities will be 19-inch alloys, higher ground clearance and all-wheel-drive offered as standard.

The crossover will feature variable-height air suspension that allows the driver to adjust ride height depending on the terrain. The E-Class All-Terrain will appeal to buyers looking for SUV-capability without the visual aggression of a full-size SUV.

Apart from that Mercedes will also showcase Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team car, AMG and specialty car portfolio, luxury sedans and SUVs at Greater Noida motor show from February 9 – 14.

BMW is likely to bring to India its new X2 SUV. Designed to be sportier than the X1, it stands 49mm shorter and 69mm lower. Design-wise, the X2 is quite similar to the Concept X2 that was showcased at the 2016 Paris motor show. A BMW roundel adorns a thick C-pillar, while a taut surfacing treatment along the flanks and squared-off wheel arches lend it a rugged look.The X2’s cabin shares plenty of elements with the X1’s, including the black panel instruments and the multifunction steering wheel. Base variants will feature front-wheel drive while four-wheel drive will be available on the top variants. The X2 will compete against the likes of the Range Rover Evoque. The crossover-styled SUV is expected to launch in international markets by March 2018 and enter Indian market later in 2018 to entice younger customers.

Jaguar Land Rover will launch the much-awaited Range Rover Velar on January 20 in New Delhi. The sporty five-seat luxury SUV would take on sportier crossovers from the Porsche Macan and BMW X4.

The new SUV is sized to slot between the existing compact Range Rover Evoque and the slightly larger Range Rover Sport.
Within the luxury focused Range Rover sub-brand there is at present a huge gap between the entry-level Evoque, and the big Range Rover Sport.

The Velar is described by Range Rover as “filling the white space between the Range Rover Evoque and the Range Rover Sport”. The price of Range Rover Velar starts from Rs 78.83 lakh in India.

“The new Range Rover Velar is a symbol of sophisticated design, well-crafted interior, innovative features and technologies, backed by powerful and efficient powertrains. We are extremely delighted to bring the highly awaited and one of the most desirable SUVs with many of our customers are looking forward to own and drive,” Rohit Suri, president & managing director at Jaguar Land Rover India, said.

Available in three powertrains; a 2.0 l 4-cylinder 132 kW diesel, a 2.0 l 4-cylinder 184 kW petrol and a 3.0 l V6 221 kW diesel, the new Range Rover Velar has a compelling list of standard features with highly customisable options to provide a modernistic approach towards vehicle personalisation for a new Range Rover customer.

Japanese Toyota’s luxury arm, Lexus, will launch the Lexus LS 500h saloon in India on January 15. This flagship sedan will take on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ and the Audi A8 in the country.

In order to keep in tune with offering something different from all its competitors in the country, it is the 500h hybrid variant of its flagship saloon that will make it to the growing Indian car market.

The new Lexus LS 500h made its world premiere at the 2017 North American International Auto Show, two months before Lexus began its India innings with three products - the ES 300h, RX 450h and the LX 450d.

As far as the powerplant is concerned, the LS 500h will house a combination of a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and two electric motors. The total power output is rated at 355PS and transmission duties, like all other hybrid Lexus models, is handled by an e-CVT (electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission) unit. Lexus’ E four electric all-wheel drive is likely to be the choice for India.

Swedish brand Volvo Cars said it is all set to import into India around mid-2018 its all-new smallest SUV, the XC40. Offered with petrol and diesel engines, the new XC40 will take on Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA on the Indian roads.

The XC40 will be initially offered for Indian buyers with a choice of two engines – a 190hp, 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel (D4) and a 247hp, 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol (T5). Both versions will use eight-speed automatic gearboxes and, impressively enough, will come with all-wheel drive as standard.

The company said it will bring the 150hp, 2.0-litre diesel (D3) to India at a later stage, with front-wheel drive.

Undoubtedly, as has become the norm for Volvo, the popular brand will bring the XC40 to India packed with features. The XC40 diesel D4 will be available in Momentum and Inscription trims, while the petrol T5 will solely be offered in R-Design form. Standard across the range will be 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, rear parking assist, a digital instruments cluster and Volvo’s 9.0-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The car will also feature active headlamps, a handsfree and powered tail gate, wireless mobile phone charging and a Harman sound system are some of the other goodies that will be part of the package. The new XC40 will also come loaded with radar-based safety functions. In addition to the expected kit of airbags and electronics, the XC40 will also come with Volvo’s City Safety that prompts the driver to brake, and in extreme scenarios even applies the brakes automatically to avoid a collision. Also on board will be adaptive cruise control, oncoming lane mitigation, run-off road mitigation and blind spot information.

The new XC40 is expected to be priced in the Rs 35-40 lakh range to take on the all-wheel-drive rivals from Audi, BMW and Mercedes in India.

Michael Gonsalves