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This week in Auto: Mahindra unveils the Battista beast, Maruti’s iconic Gypsy drives into the sunset

This was the 21st appearance of Tata Motors at the annual Geneva Motor Show. From showcasing the Indica back in 1998 which announced the entry of Tata Motors in the cars space, the company revealed no less than four new products at this year’s show. Where one company is embracing new products one other company is bidding adieu to an iconic model. More on this later in the copy. Here’s a look at what made headlines in the auto space during the week.

Honda launches Civic at Rs 17.69 lakh

Six years after it last produced the Civic saloon from its factory in Uttar Pradesh, Honda Cars India on March 7 relaunched the premium sedan in a bid to excite brand loyalists and boost its image amid surging competition. The Delhi-based company has launched the Civic at Rs 17.69 lakh (base variant, ex-showroom).

The top-end petrol variant of the Civic is priced at Rs 20.99 lakh, while the base variant of the diesel version is priced at Rs 20.49 lakh. The top-end diesel version is priced at Rs 22.29 lakh (all prices ex-showroom). The 10th generation Civic is one of Honda’s longest-running automotive nameplates besides being the largest-selling model globally.

Tata Motors, Mahindra unveil new products at Geneva

Tata Motors on March 5 unveiled four products, including premium hatchback Altroz and a concept version of small SUV H2X, at the Geneva Motor show. The company took curtains off an electric version of Altroz hatchback as well, which it plans to launch next year.

Italian hypercar manufacturer Pininfarina has finally unveiled the latest model in their lineup, the Battista. Posing as an electric hypercar, it borrows a lot of elements from its siblings and fellow Italian supercars. The Mahindra-owned company has two variations of the Battista on display at the Geneva Motor

Wagon R CNG launched at Rs 4.84 lakh

Maruti Suzuki India on March 6 launched two CNG variants of its newly launched hatchback WagonR priced at Rs 4.84 lakh and Rs 4.89 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).

The factory fitted WagonR S-CNG will be available in Lxi and Lxi(O) variants powered by 1 litre engine and priced at Rs 4.84 lakh and Rs 4.89 lakh, respectively, the company said in a statement.

Passenger vehicles sales decline by 1.1 percent in Feb

Domestic passenger vehicle (PV) sales declined 1.11 percent to 2,72, 284 units in February from 2,75,346 units in the same month the previous year.

Domestic car sales were also down 4.33 percent at 1,71,372 units as compared to 1,79,122 units in February 2018, according to data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).

Ashok Leyland bags bus order

Ashok Leyland has bagged an order from the Gujarat State Roadways Corporation for 1,290 buses. At present, the Chennai-based commercial vehicle maker is the fourth largest bus manufacturer globally.

This order comes on the heels of the Hinduja flagship bagging 2,580 bus orders from various state transport undertakings recently, the company said

VW slapped with Rs 500 crore fine

Volkswagen will challenge a ruling by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that imposed a fine of $71 million on the German carmaker for emission violations.

An investigation by the government in 2015 found that Volkswagen had flouted local pollution limits and the company was forced to recall 323,700 cars in the country. That ruling came two months after it admitted to cheating US diesel emissions tests.

Maruti bids adieu to Gypsy

Thirty three years after the first Gypsy was rolled out from the production lines of Maruti Udyog’s (as known then) plant in Haryana, the Delhi-based car market leader has pulled the plug on India’s iconic model of all time.

It is one of the two models (the other being Omni) that Maruti Suzuki has decided not to invest in for upgradation to Bharat Stage VI emission and crash norms set to kick-in this year and next.

Through constant upgradation of product portfolio including the launch of Baleno, Brezza and Dzire, the Gypsy had become the oldest model to be untouched by Maruti Suzuki’s engineers.

Known for its rugged, ready-to-go-off-road look, the Gypsy gave birth to the sports utility vehicle segment in India. Loved by Bollywood and owned by several by its celebrities, the Gypsy was the most preferred vehicle for buyers who did not wish to buy the cramped M800 or the boxy Omni or even the built-like-a-tank Ambassador.

The Gypsy even became the primary choice for India’s armed forces thanks to its versatile character and easy-to-fix mechanicals. It was lightweight to the extent that a Dhruv helicopter could lift it and transport it anywhere. The iconic army-specific green shade on the Gypsy became an instant hit with the vehicle’s loyalist.

Tata Motors offered the Safari Storme to the Indian Army as an alternative to the Gypsy and it subsequently won supply contracts. This was the beginning of the end of the Gypsy.

While the hard top version of the Maruti vehicle qualified to be called as an SUV the soft top version became more popular since it gave the owners the freedom to roll down the cover and enjoy the open top. No other car maker was able to emulate this stand-out feature until Mahindra and Mahindra launched the soft top version of the Thar. However, Thar’s sales have been nowhere close to that of the Gypsy.

Maruti Suzuki has lined up quite a few models for the future and some of them will be in the SUV segment. However, there seems to be no replacement in sight for the Gypsy as of now. The brand, however, will live on like the Tata Indica, which too walked into the sunset a few years ago.




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