The autojunction.in awards is a one-of-its kind automotive awards in India, which seeks to recognise the best car models launched in the country in a given calendar year. Now in its second year, the autojunction.in awards has become a touchstone for the automotive industry in India, proving a reliable barometer for the trends in one of the world’s fastest-growing car markets.
The unique demographics which define the Indian passenger car market can befuddle even the most astute analysts, and it is in this market, defined largely by a sentiment of ‘organised chaos’ that the autojunction.in awards provide a reliable indicator of what sways the buyer to part with his hard-earned cash.
The methodology is simple, with voting open to the public. Car models launched in a calendar year automatically qualify as contenders. These car models are voted upon by the car buying public depending on which segment of the car market they target. Market segments are defined as a combination of body style and price point, a pioneering concept unique to autojunction.in. This definite segmentation helps voters choose between multiple launches in any given segment, with the car model receiving the highest number of votes qualifying as the winner.
Such a methodology simplifies the process for the voting public.
Further, all the new launches are aggregated for voters to then decide the overall winner of the coveted ‘Car of The Year’ title.
After much deliberation, a voting process of over one month, and votes cast from all across the Republic of India, we have collated the final results, which are as follows:
autojunction.in Subcompact Car of The Year
The all-new Maruti-Suzuki Alto 800 has won the autojunction.in Subcompact Car of The Year award. Maruti has retained its leadership position as the brand of choice for the first-time car buyer, and the all-new Alto 800 seeks to combine the success of its predecessors, viz the stalwart Maruti 800 and the erstwhile Alto. The new Alto 800 is available in both petrol and CNG versions, and its attributes of a low purchase price, widespread spares and service and cheap running costs have endeared it to buyers looking for a no-nonsense, reliable and fuel-efficient first car.
autojunction.in Supermini of The Year
2012 saw the launch of two exciting products in what is arguably the most competitive segment of the Indian passenger car market today. Renault brought in its Pulse hatchback, while Chevrolet brought in the Sail U-VA. Both are large hatchbacks, with a host of comfort, safety and luxury features. Again, both the new Renault Pulse and the new Chevrolet Sail U-VA are available with the option of petrol and diesel engines, further increasing options for buyers.
Voting proceeded neck-and-neck, but as the days wore on, a trend began to emerge: the Pulse’s ‘look-at-me’ styling began to sway voters in its favour. Although the Chevy Sail U-VA had a slight price advantage and arguably a better warranty, the Pulse won favour not just for its styling, but also its fun-to-drive and fun-to-own character, and ultimately triumphed.
The autojunction.in Supermini of The Year is the new Renault Pulse!
autojunction.in Entry-Level Sedan of The Year
The new Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire was the only entry-level sedan to be launched in India in 2012. However, that mustn’t detract from what it offers to buyers. The Dzire has the same winning attributes as the slightly smaller Swift hatchback. One might argue that for 50,000 rupees more all you are getting is an additional 100 litres or so of luggage space, but to the Indian car buyer, it is a step up from the hatchback to the sedan segment. This too is an interesting trend, for it shows that an emotional connect can influence a car buyer more than cold fiscal logic. It also reaffirms the faith Indian car buyers have deposed in Maruti, opting for the brand despite there being many worthy rivals. Be that as it may, the new Maruti Dzire is the autojunction.in entry-level Sedan of The Year.
autojunction.in Mid-size Sedan of The Year
Once again, this segment winner is a default choice, considering the Renault Scala was the only new model introduced in this segment. But the Scala’s influence on the Indian car market has been immediately visible, with the French brand commanding over 8 percent market share less than 6 months after launch. The Scala’s exterior styling has drawn plenty of comment, but it is unequivocally a popular design. The roomy interiors, which belong to cars from a higher segment, have helped its case tremendously too. Finally, the value for money proposition of the Renault Scala has sealed the deal for many car buyers, making it the autojunction.in Mid-size Sedan of The Year.
autojunction.in Executive Sedan of The Year
Has there ever been a grander entry? Just when speculation was rife that the Executive Sedan segment in the market was stagnant, in comes Hyundai with the all-new Elantra. The previous Elantra had been a slow seller, and there was a belief in some quarters that the nameplate didn’t have positive recall. But Hyundai India has rubbished all with the new Elantra.
The Hyundai Elantra’s Fluidic styling is the starting point of the conversation, and the feature-rich interiors have made many a middle-class man feel like a king. Futuristic and modern, with many powertrain options, including petrol and diesel engines, plus the option of automatic and manual gearboxes means there truly is an Elantra for every buyer. Throw in every conceivable must-have gadget and goody and it makes the new Hyundai Elantra an irresistible package, deservedly making it the winner of the autojunction.in Executive sedan of The Year award.
autojunction.in Premium Sedan of The Year
There have been two big-ticket launches in the Premium Sedan segment in India in recent times, which includes the new Toyota Camry and the new Hyundai Sonata. Interestingly, in a market obsessed with diesel, both these cars are petrol-only models in India. The product offering by the Japanese and Korean giants may be contrarian to commonly-held wisdom, especially considering the Skoda Superb is undoubtedly king-of-the-hill in this segment with its diesel engine. Be that as it may, the Camry and Sonata both have enough to offer to prospective car buyers. Both cars are technologically laden, full of features, and come at a size where being chauffer driven is more a necessity than an option. Both the Camry and Sonata also flirt perilously close to a price point where prospective buyers might consider upgrading to a more premium badge, such as BMW or Audi.
We couldn’t predict which side the penny would drop, and neither could our voters. The two literally traded vote-for-vote, and it was only latterly that the Camry eked out a lead, winning by a respectable 10 percent margin over the Sonata. Buyers indicated that they still felt Toyota was slightly more premium than Hyundai, and for many people with Rs 20 lakh to splash out on a car, the Sonata’s styling came across as slightly over-the-top. The new Toyota Camry is thus the autojunction.in Premium Sedan of The Year Award-winner.
autojunction.in Luxury Sedan of The Year
The new BMW 3 Series has been launched the world over in 2012 to international acclaim. BMW has been experiencing a rebirth of sorts, with more brands under its umbrella, including Mini and Rolls -Royce. Competition has increased too, and BMW knew very well it needed to take a long, hard look at what is its highest-selling model globally – the 3 Series. For BMW loyalists, the 3 Series was always expected to retain its sporty driving nature, remaining firmly rear-wheel drive and with 50:50 weight distribution. But for many other customers, there could be no compromise on comfort. Asked with making a car for all people, BMW’s designers and engineers put gallons of blood, sweat and tears into the new 3 Series And what a car it’s turned out to be! So good in fact, that in India it’s endorsed by none other than Sachin Tendulkar. Need we say more?
The new BMW 3 Series is autojunction.in’s Luxury Sedan of The Year!
autojunction.in Utility Vehicle of The Year
Let’s be clear on what we define as ‘utility vehicle’. A car with flexible seating options, luggage carrying ability, etc, which offers a high degree of versatility, is a utility vehicle. We’ll be pedantic and insist on ‘sports’ utility vehicle offering four-wheel drive, at least as an option.
This past year has seen a flurry of launches, from the Maruti Ertiga to the Renault Duster, Mahindra Quanto, Nissan Evalia and the Mercedes-Benz B-Class. Each has its own USP, with Maruti offering a viable alternative to a mid-size sedan for the Indian joint family, the Quanto competing on value, while the Evalia is a full-size panel van with huge versatility. The Renault Duster’s SUV-like styling and robust build are its main talking points, leaving the B-Class, which appears to be the bogey in the pack. But it isn’t. In fact, the B-Class is a superb car in its own right, but suffers mainly because the Indian market hasn’t evolved to that extent yet.
Any guesses who takes class honours?
The Renault Duster wins the Utility Vehicle of the Year award, blowing the competition into the weeds.
Interestingly, the Nissan Evalia proved to be the least popular, winning the lowest number of votes of any contender from any segment. We’re yet to figure out why.
autojunction.in Sports Utility Vehicle of The Year
SUVs are the fastest-growing segment of the Indian car market in 2012, so much so, that despite the stagnation in the hatchback market, despite the contraction in the premium sedan market, the Indian car market overall is trending positively. And with four exciting new launches in 2012, the market sentiment has been reaffirmed.
The new Audi Q3, the Ssangyong Rexton, Tata Safari Storme and the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport all landed with a bang. Debates have raged over the attributes and capabilities of each, but now after the dust has settled and the votes have been counted, the Audi Q3 is the winner, with an astonishing 41 percent of the total vote, almost twice that of the runner-up, the Tata Safari Storme.
The new Audi Q3 is the autojunction.in SUV of The Year!
autojunction.in Luxury SUV of The Year
Luxury SUVs are a growing market worldwide, and in India, it’s no different. When you think of it, it makes perfect sense. Big, high cars, with a sense of invincibility. Pack them with state-of-the-art infotainment, electronically controlled suspension, and every conceivable luxury, and suddenly they appeal to the well-heeled including wealthy businessmen, movie stars and royalty.
This growing breed of luxury SUVs witnessed the launch of three significant new models last year, including the new Volkswagen Touareg, Mercedes-Benz M-Class and the Range Rover. With the new Touareg, VW have shed the flab and improved the interiors, but it still appears too mass market, despite the sticker price. The new M-Class is also significantly improved over its predecessor, but cannot quite match the cache of Range Rover.
Ultimately, it is the Range Rover which wins. We’re not the least bit surprised, considering that Range Rover actually invented the luxury SUV genre. Despite (or because of?) its Rs 2 crore price tag, it appeals to the luxury buyer like few other cars can, making it the ultimate indulgence on four wheels. Doff you cap to the new Range Rover, which wins the autojunction.in Luxury SUV of the Year Award.
autojunction.in Import Car of The Year
Imported cars, which sell in nominal numbers, do appeal to a section of Indian car buyers, who are willing to pay high prices for exclusivity. It appeals to them that only a handful of similar models will be prowling the streets. All manufacturers seek to pander to these customers, because, although volumes are insignificant, margins are substantial, and they help build the cache of the brand.
The autojunction.in Import Car of The Year is the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe.
autojunction.in Car Manufacturer of The Year
If there is an award which is as highly coveted as the overall Car of The Year award, then it has to be the manufacturer of the year award. What a brand means to the buyer ultimately decides the fate of its product offering, and in the long run, the fate of the company. People relate to brands on numerous levels, and popular perceptions and word of mouth have a huge role to play in this.
What has also been observed is a degree of brand loyalty; many first-time car buyers prefer to stick to the brands they first invested in. Manufacturers of course recognise this, and try to sweeten the deal by offering sops to buyers to keep them in their fold.
This year’s winner is Maruti-Suzuki. Despite facing labour issues at its plant, the company has striven to meet delivery commitments to customers. In a market faced with a huge degree of uncertainty, buyers have felt re-assured to invest in the brand.
Congratulations to Maruti-Suzuki for winning the autojunction.in Car Manufacturer of the Year Award.
autojunction.in Most Exciting New Car for 2013
The autojunction.in awards aren’t only retrospective in nature. By asking car buyers what they’d like to see most in the coming months is also a useful indicator of market sentiment. This year, similar to last, we asked car buyers what they felt was the most exciting new model launch they were looking forward to.
The upcoming car launches for the coming year include offerings from various manufacturers across almost every segment of the car market. We quizzed our voters on 13 prospective new car launches for next year. What stood out was the sheer excitement voters displayed for the new Ford EcoSport, which is expected to be launched in the Indian market by the middle of the year.
autojunction.in Critic’s Choice Award
We live in a democratic society, but not everything can be decided by public franchise. Some things remain within the purview of the experts, and so it is at autojunction.in. Our experts spend a lot of time behind the wheel, driving different cars across varying terrain, day in and day out.
This year, as always, we drove a large selection of cars from every segment, subjecting them to our exacting road-testing standards to give a definitive verdict, to help the Indian car buyer make the best choice.
After much deliberation, we analysed the different cars we’d tested this year in every excruciating detail, examining their attributes. What makes the choice even more difficult, is that to be a worthy contender for the Critic’s Choice Award, a car must compare and compete not just within its immediate segment, but with cars from across segments.
The final results were tallied on a points system, and in the end, it is the new Hyundai Elantra which wins this title. Hyundai has truly upped the ante in every department, from styling to value, to features. The company is making great strides in improving its presence across different segments in the market, and products like the new Elantra are proof that it is succeeding in this endeavour.
The final proof of the Elantra’s capability is the fact that other manufacturers are considering exiting the Executive sedan segment altogether. That is the ultimate stamp of dominance.
autojunction.in Car of The Year
Finally, the big one. The one award everybody wants to win. Which car deserves the crown of the Car of The Year? This is truly the ultimate accolade, reserved only for those who can capture the essence of everything the market demands. The car must be good-looking, fun to drive, fuel efficient, value for money, reliable, with good service infrastructure, and a great deal of desirability bundled in. Plane Janes, please exit the stage now.
With such a laundry list of expectations, who stands up to the test? Which car has all it takes to win the Car of The Year title?
The Renault Duster has truly captured the nation’s imagination, and with its attributes which include funky French styling, sturdy build quality, powerful petrol and diesel engines, all at a very attractive price.
Without a doubt, the new Renault Duster makes a very worthy winner of the coveted autojunction.in Car of The Year Award!
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