AUSSIE FIGO PRAISED

NT News - Motoring - - NEWS - By NEIL McDON­ALD

ALO­CALLY de­signed Ford is mak­ing a big splash at the In­dia Au­toExpo in New Delhi.

The Ford Figo — based on the pre­vi­ous-gen­er­a­tion Fiesta — was de­signed by Ford Aus­tralia, led by head de­signer Scott Strong.

It has been re-en­gi­neered tougher to com­pete in In­dia’s small-car seg­ment, which ac­counts for more than 70 per cent of the new ve­hi­cle mar­ket.

The Figo is one of a hand­ful of mini and mi­cro cars launched to rave re­views at this week’s New Delhi show.

Apart from the Figo, Honda’s ‘‘new small con­cept’’ and Toy­ota’s Etios sedan made their world de­buts.

De­signed to tackle the Tata Nano, the low-cost pro­duc­tion ver­sion of the Honda will ini­tially be sold in In­dia but other Asian ex­port mar­kets are planned.

The 1.2-litre front-wheel-drive five­door hatch is ex­pected to go on sale in In­dia next year, with a start­ing price of about $11,000.

Apart from In­dia, the small Honda is tipped to be built in Thai­land and could also be sold here.

Maruti-Suzuki, which dom­i­nates the In­dian new car mar­ket, showed off its R3 MPV six-seater con­cept which looks sim­i­lar to the just-launched Opel Meriva.

The Etios — which was co­de­named EFC for en­try fam­ily car — could make it to Aus­tralia as a re­place­ment for the Yaris.

The en­try four-door sedan is de­signed to com­pete against the Suzuki Swift and goes on sale in In­dia later this year, with a hatch to fol­low in 2011.

The Etios will be pow­ered by two new 1.2 and 1.5-litre petrol en­gines, with pro­duc­tion ini­tially des­tined for the In­dian mar­ket but ex­ports are planned.

Toy­ota vice-chair­man Kazuo Okamoto said In­dia was a key mar­ket in the com­pany’s global small car strat­egy.

It was also one of the few coun­tries ex­pe­ri­enc­ing growth, he said.

Apart from a host of mi­cro and small cars, elec­tric ve­hi­cles also made a show splash.

Re­nault launched its two-seater Twizy elec­tric ahead of its global launch in 2012.

The two-seater Twizy is one of four full elec­tric cars that Re­nault un­veiled re­cently and is be­ing dis­played out­side Europe for the first time.

Gen­eral Mo­tors In­dia is work­ing with the In­dian-based Reva Elec­tric car com­pany to launch an elec­tric ver­sion of the Spark — ex­pected to be Holden’s next-gen­er­a­tion Ba­rina — towards the end of this year and Hyundai Mo­tor In­dia, the coun­try’s sec­ond largest cark­maker is show­ing of an elec­tric ver­sion of its i10 hatch.

Maruti-Suzuki also un­veiled the SX4 hy­brid, us­ing a 1.2-litre four-cylin­der en­gine and 50kW elec­tric mo­tor mated to a CVT trans­mis­sion.

SHOW­ING OFF: Suzuki’s R3 MPV six-seater con­cept was un­veiled at the New Delhi expo

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