The market is slowing down! Wait, it is picking up pace again. Oh, sales and competition, ye are quite fickle-minded! Despite the many-many antics of our temperamental market, carmakers are taking no prisoners! Case in point, the crossover segment in our automobile market. It already fields a Toyota, Volkswagen, and Fiat, and is now bracing up to welcome entrants from two of the nation's biggest carmakers - Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai.
Maruti Suzuki's offering for the crossover segment - the S-Cross - made its Indian debut via the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo and is expected to be launched here by the first half of this year. Essentially a crossover version of the SX4 hatchback sold in Europe. As far engines are concerned, the India-bound S-Cross might employ the 1.3-litre multijet diesel (92bhp) and 1.4-litre petrol (94bhp) units.
We caught a test mule of the crossover on NH8 a few months back and from what we saw, the car came across as smaller than its European counterpart. Other design cues will include a two-slat grille and black roof rails. It will most likely share its cabin with the Swift.
Hot on its trail is the Hyundai i20 Cross, which will make its global debut in India by the first quarter of the next financial year. Based on the i20 hatchback, it will get additional body-cladding, new grille, bigger alloy wheels and a handful of other features to make it look different. It will house the same set of engines under the hood as the i20, i.e. the 1.2-litre Kappa2 petrol and the 1.4-litre CRDi diesel.
Both, the Maruti S-Cross and the Hyundai i20 Cross, will compete with other hatchback-based crossovers - Toyota Etios Cross, Fiat Avventura and Volkswagen Cross Polo. With the segment gaining so much momentum, we couldn't help but think about the manufacturers that are yet to join the race. The first name that comes to mind is Ford. The Blue Oval of the Detroit Big Three is currently working on phasing out the existing Figo in India and bringing in a replacement model. With the hatchback-based crossover trend catching up in India, and the company not doing so well in the country, it would make sense for Ford to engineer a crossover product based on the new-generation Figo hatchback.
Indulging in a little bit of conjecture, if Ford does decide to give in to the trend, the Figo-based crossover could employ the same engines as the hatchback i.e. the 1.4-litre diesel and the 1.2-litre petrol. It could also offer the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine, though the cost-factor might keep that from happening.