The Mondial de l’ Automobile 2012, or the Paris Motor Show 2012 if you are normal, has just opened to the press. On the face of it, there aren’t any incredibly hot cars and outlandish concepts, yet. But there are some unknown gems and some Indian-relevant machines in the offing.
One unknown gem is Exagon Motors’ Furtive-eGT. Exagon is a young French company, but with the Furtive-eGT, they seem to have something hot. A 250kph all electric, mid-engine sportscar that can go 360kms on a single charge. And this 360kms is at an average speed of 120kph. That’s decent range for a fully electric car. Besides, it can get to a 100kph in 3.5 seconds. Top speed is restricted to 250kph. Sounds great. But then comes the ultimate bane of electric charging. The thing will need four hours at a high power plug-point to fully charge itself. And it costs 400,000 euros. Just when we thought that fun, emission-free motoring is finally here.
What can be here, though is Chevrolet’s new Trax. This mini-SUV is just a shade over four metres long (4.24 to be exact) and will come with front and all wheel drive variants. Engines on offer are a 1.4-litre 140bhp turbo-charged petrol, a 1.6-litre 115bhp petrol and a 1.7-litre 130bhp diesel. This car will be on sale in Europe, and though, GM officials haven’t confirmed its date of arrival in India, it would be foolish if they don’t get it here. A small SUV, four-wheel drive on demand, under Rs 10 lakh. What’s not to like?
Suzuki S cross concept
Paris also staged what could possibly be another compact SUV slated for India – Suzuki’s S-Cross concept. Suzuki officials are very clear that this is just a design concept and the car on display is just a mock-up. It has no running gear and the company has not unveiled plans on the engine, transmission and whether it will have all wheel drive. But you all know how stuff like the Swift, A-Star and the Ertiga all started life in some motor show as a fragment of Suzuki’s imagination. We reckon, this could very well be in our showrooms in a couple of years.
Action off the road
After the Chevy Trax and Suzuki S-Cross concept, Fiat has thrown its answer to the compact SUV query with not one but two Pandas at the Paris show. The first is the Panda 4x4. It is nothing more than what the name conveys – a Panda with raised suspension and permanent four wheel drive. For this generation, the 4x4 Panda also gets an electronically lockable differential. Combine all this prowess with its light weight, and the Panda 4x4 is very likely to keep stuff like the Range Rover and LandCruisers within its sights on most terrain.
Fiat also unveiled the Panda Trekking by driving it down a row of stairs at the Paris show. This is also a raised version of the Panda but is only front wheel driven. On very challenging terrain, the Trekking may not match up to ist 4x4 brother, but Fiat says this car is an affordable compromise between an ordinary Panda and the 4x4 Panda. It has this Traction+ system that electronically simulates a lockable differential. But unlike a 4x4 system, the lockable differential effect remains only in the front axle.
Going by the wave of compact SUVs coming to India, these Fiat off-road twins make a very strong case for the Indian market. But with Fiat India’s tendency to make one of the best cars, and one of the worse service and distribution networks, even we won’t bet these cars coming to India. If Fiat can set their Indian house in order, these two can be the best solution for whatever’s left of our roads.