Year end round up: the top launches of 2012

26 December 2012: Another year comes to an end and it has been a mixed bag for the industry. In spite of the gloom and slow overall growth rates, new products have continued to roll out, giving some players reason to grow faster than the industry average. While some of these have not really been inspiring, here is my list of the most important launches of 2012.

Jaguar F-Type: 

Arguably, the most important international car launch of the year, the F-type was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show 2012 in front of an exclusive VIP audience against the dramatic setting of the 18th century Musée Rodin, Paris. Singer Lana Del Ray performed a track inspired by the F-Type, titled Burning Desire.

If there is to be a living legend in automobiles, then this is it. With its drop dead gorgeous looks, sharp design and an air of supreme drama around it, the F-Type is a fitting successor to the iconic E-Type and technologically advanced as well, with some brilliant engine options. With Ian Callum at the helm, you really can’t go wrong.

Mahindra Reva NXR:

There is a new found respect for Mahindra in the industry today and it will only get stronger with this product. The Reva NXR is a step into the future of energy efficient automobile technology and an extremely important car for Mahindra, for India and for the world.

With its revolutionary design, this may well be the future of the small car as we know it. The car is now a four seater, and can run longer on one single charge, making it a rival to all small hatchbacks. I seriously hope this is the biggest success, as the world deserves energy efficient vehicles in larger numbers. This one for me would rank right at the top, amongst the most important launches of the year.

Renault Duster:

The Renault Duster had success written all over it even before it was launched. It has been a game changer of sorts, pioneering an entirely new segment. A well structured compact SUV, with a muscular design, a stylish chrome grille, straight blocky lines, flared wheel arches with 16″ alloy wheels and sporty roof rails, it is the perfect vehicle for the urban Indian – comfortable, economical and stylish.

When it was launched, it was pretty much the only choice available in the mini SUV segment, and even though more choices are available now, the Duster remains the car I will put my money on. An all round value for money package!

Mercedes B-Class:

A premium ‘extra large’ hatchback which Mercedes calls a Sports Tourer, the B-Class is the cheapest Merc you can buy in India. It is aimed at the affluent and successful young generation and is rather good looking & sporty, with a funky design, nice creature comforts and an overall young feel to it.

This is an important launch for Mercedes this year, and it also happens to be the cheapest car amongst all the three German giants in India. The car offer top notch quality in the interiors and meets the standards one would expect from a brand like Mercedes. It is an extremely capable vehicle stuffed with goodies, and has a nice set of engines and is extremely spacious as well.

BMW 640D:

The BMW 640D isn’t just another car, but a game changer for the industry. It is somewhat revolutionary since it has forever changed the way we all perceive sports cars. After all, who would have ever thought about a diesel sports car?

But BMW went a step ahead and created one which was as refined and powerful as its petrol counterpart and what is the world’s first ever high end diesel grand tourer. A two door, 4 seater with an understated style and stunning profile, this is a brisk car by all standards, is extremely comfortable and covers more distance on a full tank. A fantastic performer and a genuine trend setter for the future.

Range Rover: 

Big, luxurious and perfect for the outdoors, the Range Rover has always been a personal favourite. The new model is the fourth generation of the iconic SUV and has been developed ground up to provide the ‘ultimate luxury SUV’.

Following the innovative spirit of the original design from over 40 years ago, the styling has been updated and is now more futuristic and streamlined. A significant step forward for a brand which has one of the strongest brand loyalty and has stood the test of time. This one is available in both petrol and diesel versions, but be prepared to shell out a fortune to own this well behaved monster.

Hyundai Sonata: 

Competitively priced and taking on European and Japanese rivals like Skoda Superb, VW Passat and Honda Accord, the new Sonata has given ample respectability to the Korean giant in the global auto market.

For those who want full blown luxury at honest prices without the frills of an aspirational badge, Sonata has everything going for it, really. It has integrated the fluidic design language inspired by nature very well, and the car has a commanding road presence with a powerful and refined engine. Truly a worthy challenger.

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