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Best of the Indian Auto Expo 2018

Two more years pass and it’s time for another Auto Expo in Delhi, which is kind of the Indian Auto Expo. For the most part, it was underwhelming and overall a bit disappointing as an experience for someone who attended it on a public access weekend. But there were some important elements at the Auto Expo 2018 from a large variety of manufacturers. You can get a full video tour of the expo here:

And here are a few more details about the most significant cars and manufacturers from the expo:


Yep. The Kia brand is coming to India, this year, with the plant under construction and a market-specific product pretty much built and finished. While I had my eyes on the fabulous Stinger GT and the Picanto, the car that had everyone else’s attention was the SP Concept. A compact SUV with sleek lines and an impressive presence. Something tells me that the production-spec version of this concept will be like an attractive sibling to the Hyundai Creta. There have been no details given regarding the insides of the SP, or what the final launch name will be, but rumours suggest a familiar 1.6-litre unit under the hood. While this car is likely to decide the success Kia could enjoy in the Indian market, it’s what they could bring in from their international line up that whets our appetites. Who knows? If enough people show interest, a few Stinger GTs might roll of the line from their plant in Andhra Pradesh as well. Fingers crossed.

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2) Tata’s concept game stays strong

Tata Motors, the passenger vehicle division isn’t exactly going through a good phase, but that hasn’t stopped the brand from working on some kickass cars and even cooler concepts. When they showed the concept versions of the Hexa and the Nexon at the previous Auto Expo, it was quite correct to be sceptical of what the final versions might look like. But they surprised us all by launching models that looked quite close to those concepts and the Auto Loons particularly enjoyed the Hexa. They had the whole TAMO RaceMo thing at Geneva which was decent attempt though not living up to the hype, but this Auto Expo they’ve shown some exciting designs yet again – TWO to be exact.

Predictably, the first is an SUV by the project name of H5X which they’ve built on an all-new platform which is reported to be the base for future Tata SUVs and MPVs. It’s called the…wait for it… Optimal Modular Efficient Global Advanced Architecture. Or OmegaArc for short. The second is more of a Honda-esque looking hatchback codenamed the 45X. It too has been built on a new platform and was showcased inside a glass box, like a look-no-touch model toy, but with a real girl inside the box next to the car. This new platform has a mouthful of a name too – Agile Light Flexible Advanced Architecture or OmegaArc for short. Somebody on Tata’s team really likes Japanese robot anime, I’m sure of it. Anyway, there aren’t many details of whether these will be put into production or what will power them, but there is a sedan concept, related to the 45X which will be unveiled at this year’s Geneva Motor Show.

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3) Maruti Suzuki’s next moolah makers

This is the company that understands the masses as car users and consumers the best. After all, it helped shape those mindsets. So, while they officially launched the all-new Swift at the expo, they also had a concept lined up, ANOTHER compact SUV. This one, also orange is called the Future S concept. What’s with all the orange concept cars? Is the whole orange theme just a coincidence? … Let’s just stick to the cars.

Maruti’s Future S concept appears to be smaller than the Brezza, but still sports an unmistakably SUV look with its high bonnet, wide arches and tall clearance. If built, it will be on the Heartect platform and will reportedly use a 1.5-litre diesel built in-house by Maruti Suzuki themselves. Further reports suggest that the construct is built for some degree of electrification as well. I don’t like it, but it will sell a lot and I’ll see a lot of them on the streets. Sigh.

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4) Mercedes-Benz brought in an estate!

I like estates and I cannot lie. And now Mercedes-Benz is going to launch one in India. It’s the new E-Class All-Terrain, which to put it in relatable terms is their version of the Volvo V60 Cross Country. Estate design boot space, hatch-styling at the rear, luxurious and comfortable inside, decent off-tarmac capability and rugged enough to tackle Indian roads. It will have all the features and comforts of the average E-class and will be launched with the 2.0-litre diesel engine variant which offers 194hp and 400Nm of twist.

The German manufacturer also put on display its electric concept from the 2016 Paris Auto Show, the Generation EQ Concept car. But more to our interest was the AMG GT-R and the 2016 F1 car on display. Oh, and they also had the new Mercedes-Maybach S650 at their expo stall. No AMG Project One or new G-Wagon or even X-Class for Indian eyes though. Phooey.

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5) BMW brought in the big guns

BMW may not be having the most profitable time in India compared to its rivals but that only urges them to step their game up, and they did. The Beemer lineup at the 2018 Auto Expo had some very impressive models which are coming to India – the new M5 (our favourite), the new X3, the new 6 Series GT, the new i8 Roadster and the new M4, among others. They also had the new sportier i3 on display and will be launching the normal i3 in India this year to push the electrification of cars in India.

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6) Mahindra gets an A+ for effort

If there is one automotive manufacturer that truly pushes the envelope and tries to do something better, I’d say that’s Mahindra. The brand had some interesting all-electric personal mobility vehicles on display this year, concepts of course – the Treo and Atom. Alongside was a totally unnecessary convertible SUV concept unfortunately named as the Stinger (sorry Kia). On the plus side, they also had on display the next generation of the Ssangyong Rexton but with Mahindra badging. No specifics on the launch name but it is a pretty looking SUV, one that could really let Mahindra compete in the upper-middle segment of that market. They were also the rare Indian carmaker to push the Electric car tech and showed an electric KUV100 as well. If only that car wasn’t so…aesthetically challenged.

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But the most important bit for me was the Mahindra Racing section of their hall which featured a previous generation model of their Formula E racer and a simulator setup as well. That was probably the best part of my time at the 2018 Auto Expo and I have to give a big thanks to all the guys there from Mahindra Racing for being such pleasant hosts and pushing hard to get more and more people interested in the sport. Here’s a PoV video of my turn on their simulator setup:

7) Hyundai brought in some of their good stuff

One of our favourite carmakers had a decent range of models on display at the Auto Expo this year. When I walked in, they had two of their assembly line robot arms synchronised to dance to Indian Bollywood songs, which is a good way to attract a crowd. But for me, it was what they had hidden around the back that was the most special part of their hall – the Hyundai RN30 Concept and their 2016 WRC car. They also had the Kona on display which is unlikely to come to the Indian market, but a car that they are still planning to introduce here is the Ioniq hybrid, which is a decent car as well. I do wish I had a chance to have a go at the WRC game simulator setup, but somebody said it’s just for kids. Hmph.

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8) Honda Surprise!!

The FUGLY cars that consumers were excited about – the 2nd generation Amaze, new CR-V and possible successor to the Mobilio. The amazing cars that got me jumpy like a kid in candy store were the Honda Civic (sedan), the Clarity and the Sport EV Concept! At this point, it is unconfirmed if and when Honda would launch the new Civic in India but seeing it in the flesh at the Auto Expo gives us and many other fanboys renewed hope that we may still see the latest avatar of the icon driving around on our roads, maybe even get to test it. Fingers crossed for this one too!

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9) Renault had the best concepts of the whole expo

Among the freshly decaled Duster, Kwid and Captur were some of the best kind of automotive design in concept form at the 2018 Auto Expo. Yes, the Trezor EV concept was first shown at the 2016 Paris Auto Show but it was indeed special to get to see it in person, alongside the Zoe concept car. They also had a concept designed by Renault India Design Academy.

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10) Cool Cars of the Expo

Apart from the manufacturer stalls, there were some collectors and lucky owners who had put their extremely rare and special cars on display at the Auto Expo as well. These cars included the BMW E30 M3, a Ford Mustang Mach 1, a Shelby Cobra and a soft-top Porsche Turbo S too. Then there was the Hotwheels stall with highly modified Contessa and Honda Accord, and then some brand called DC Design had an ugly looking ‘sportscar’ called the TCA. Ugly, but still cool.

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