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An experienced jury were presented with several outstanding new cars to evaluate and they chose the deserving winners.

Report: Kurt Morris

Photography: Sanjay Raikar, Apurva Ambep

Although 2022 was a challenging year, the automobile industry did a remarkable job of recovering in the midst of facing semiconductor shortage as well as supply chain issues and, in spite of all these obstacles, we witnessed the introduction of several new cars during the year gone by. Such extraordinary work needed to be acknowledged and the 2023 Car India Awards did just that.

To make it to the list of contenders, the automobile must have been launched between the 1st of December 2021 and the 30th of November 2022. With that list made, the cars were shortlisted and categorised by segment, after which the jury members put them through rigorous testing.

Interestingly, very few cars were launched in the entry-level segment in the past year. This suggests that our market has evolved to accommodate more premium offerings than before.

The 18th annual Car India Awards were not any simpler than the prior editions. Analysis of rivals so closely matched turned out to be even harder than we had imagined. For the Awards this year, we went back to our old stomping ground, the Oxford Golf Course.

Award Partners

Motul

Motul specialize in the production and distribution of high-performance lubricants for a wide range of applications, including automotive, motorcycle, and industrial machinery.

The company was founded in 1853 and has a long history of developing innovative products that meet the demands of high-performance engines and machines. Motul have a reputation for producing high-quality lubricants designed to provide maximum protection and performance. The company’s products are used by professional racing teams and enthusiasts all over the world who rely on them to provide the best possible performance and protection for their engines. Motul have been at the forefront of lubricant technology for many years. Actually, the Industrial Revolution was when the brand first emerged. The world’s most successful motor race teams today and some of the largest original equipment manufacturers (OEM) are linked with Motul.

In addition to their core business of producing and distributing lubricants, Motul are also involved in various other activities related to the automotive and motorcycle industries, including sponsoring racing teams and events, developing new technologies, and promoting safety and sustainability.

The Shapoorji Pallonji Group

The Shapoorji Pallonji Group Limited (S P Group), with a long history spanning more than 150 years, has been operating in a wide range of industries. Real estate, infrastructure (ports, power plants, highways, and tollways, for example), fabrication, EPC (power and steel), Gokak Textiles, construction material (pre-engineered buildings, interior, access flooring), Afcons Infrastructure (marine works, roads, bridges, tunnels, pipelines, and specialist foundation works—piling, drilling, grouting), Forbes and Company, agriculture (biofuels), and many other industries are some of the areas where the S P Group is thriving.

Construction is still at the Group’s core. It is actually one of the oldest and most quality-conscious building enterprises in India. The S P Group has a strong workforce of 60,000 experts, representing around 40 nationalities, who carry out the Group’s ideals and commitments in every project. The S P Group serves clients in more than 50 countries.

Mazars (Knowledge Partner)

An independent and integrated global company, Mazars focuses on offering audit, tax, and advice services. Mazars ensured that the judging process related to the Awards was fair and strictly adhered to the guidelines that reflected the group’s principles and values in every project.

Mirror Now’ (Telecast Partner)

One of the most-watched news channels on Indian television right now is “Mirror Now”, one of the jewels in the crown of the reputable Times Group. “Mirror Now” has become the go-to news source for the discerning citizen thanks to its clear, no-nonsense reporting and great insight into the Indian news environment.

Stepper (Lifestyle Partner)

German eyewear company Stepper has traditionally manufactured frames with a focus on comfort. Over 40 years ago, Stepper developed the “design from the bridge” philosophy to enhance the comfort and fit of eyewear. Since the bridge of a pair of glasses bears most of its weight, Stepper designers took great care and skill to ensure a precise fit. Stepper frames offer good value for money and are made of high-quality materials at reasonable prices.

Jury Members

The ultimate honour, the “Automotive of the Year,” is only open to the best vehicles in each category. The jury members evaluate each car equally based on a variety of criteria before selecting a winner for each category. Some of these considerations include cost effectiveness, technical innovation, building quality, safety, fuel efficiency, performance, usability, and styling. Of course, each of these traits has been specifically designed for India’s particular circumstances.

An expert panel of automotive journalists, editors, racers, and mentors with years of experience makes up a jury. A two-pronged voting mechanism offers each member the power to award points as they see fit while removing the danger of distorted results. The winner in each category is announced after the judges’ final scoring is tallied. Only the auditors seal and validate the votes, and they are all maintained in strict confidence.

On the pages that follow, you may read about which cars won and which manufacturers received the most awards. Let’s first look at the jury panel, though.

Cyrus Gazdar

Cyrus is a passionate enthusiast of all things automotive and a keen observer of the rapidly changing trends in this field. In addition to being the former chairman and managing director of DHL, the world’s leading provider of logistics services, he also shouldered major responsibilities for the AFL Group. His keen judgement, attention to detail, unwavering dedication to excellence, and years of driving expertise make him an extremely valuable jury member.

Sam Katgara

In addition to sparking the Indian motor racing scene, this seasoned businessman is a passionate sportsman who has participated in a number of national swimming and cycling competitions. He owns the record for being the fastest driver from Mumbai for five consecutive years. He also holds the national record for speed over a 24-hour period.

Navaz Sandhu

Navaz, a skilled rally driver, is one of India’s few successful woman racers. She also had a significant impact on the introduction of national tournaments to Chandigarh, including the MAI Indian National Rally Championship. Navaz’s years of experience competing at the highest level and her love for the sport make her invaluable on the jury panel.

H S Billimoria

H S Billimoria is one of the most well-known voices in the Indian automotive media. He founded Next Gen Publishing Private Limited and he contributes his original insights and charm to the Awards committee. He offers his own perspectives and personality to the Awards board in addition to being adept at identifying opportunities for the expansion of the Indian motor sector.

Kranti Sambhav

Kranti Sambhav presently oversees Times Drive as the editor. He has a specialised understanding of two- and four-wheelers thanks to his 21 years of experience in the field of racing journalism. Over the course of his career, he has also contributed to shows with “Zee News” and “NDTV”. Kranti is unquestionably a meticulous inspector who carefully examines each vehicle before recording his observations.

Rayomand Banajee

Rayomand is a member of the exclusive group of Indian race car drivers who have enjoyed a long and fruitful career. He is among the most well-known figures in the Indian karting community. He continues to be valuable even after retiring because he develops and encourages young talent. By overcoming Narain Karthikeyan, he showed his enormous potential. In karts, he also won the Indian National Championship in 2003 and 2004. He is committed to improving Indian talent through his Indi-karting series.

Aspi Bhathena

Aspi Bhathena is the editor of both Car India and Bike India. He has over 41 years of experience in the automotive field and a 25-year history in motorcycle racing. He was the first of the only two Indians to compete in the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy races and he earned a bronze replica on his first attempt. He can identify even the smallest defects and suggest solutions thanks to his technical expertise and experience.

Jim Gorde

One of the jury’s younger members, Jim has spent years testing automobiles for Car India and two-wheelers for Bike India. He has also traversed the entire country on both two and four wheels. He is able to choose the best thanks to his passion for engines, engineering, and motoring. He is constantly willing to learn new things. Jim consistently stays current on new advancements, which helps him in producing reports that are easy to read and understand.

Hatchback of the Year: Citroën C3

The Citroën C3 emerged as the clear winner in this segment. The 2023 C3 features a completely new look, enhanced passenger space, and a new petrol engine that is both powerful and efficient. The trophy for the Hatchback of the Year was rightfully earned by this car. The new Citroën C3 comes with two different engines under its bonnet: a 1.2-litre, naturally aspirated petrol motor mated to a five-speed manual transmission and a 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission. The latter generates 110 hp and 190 Nm of torque, while the former develops 82 hp and 115 Nm.

 

Sedan of the Year: Škoda Slavia, Volkswagen Virtus

The Sedan of the Year Award was won jointly by the Škoda Slavia and the Volkswagen Virtus. They were selected due to their remarkable performance, cutting-edge features, and exceptional design. These sedans also boast of remarkable safety features and fuel economy while offering a comfortable and elegant driving experience.

The magnificent Škoda Slavia is a sedan built to give its occupants unrivalled comfort and elegance. It includes a number of amenities such as an infotainment system with a touchscreen, automatic climate control, and a number of safety features.

The VW Virtus, on the other hand, is a roomy sedan that gives its passengers plenty of head-room and leg-room. It has safety technologies like adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, and a rear-view camera.

Ultimately, the Volkswagen Virtus and Škoda Slavia are deserving Sedan of the Year winners and are guaranteed to please even the most discriminating automobile aficionados.

Compact EV of the Year: Tata Tiago.ev

The automotive industry has been completely transformed by the green revolution; the electric revolution, to be precise. After extensive debate on issues such as use, cost, and viability, the Award was handed to the Tata Tiago.ev. With the Tiago EV, Tata Motors have made a green compact hatchback that is affordable to a large number of aspiring EV buyers. With each passing day, the barriers to owning an electric vehicle are gradually but steadily breaking down. To complement the Tiago’s makeover, the outdated 72-volt electric powertrain has been replaced with the high-voltage Ziptron EV powertrain. According to Tata, this car can accelerate from 0 to 60 km/h in 5.7 seconds. The larger battery pack capacity increases its range to 306 kilometres from a single charge.

Hybrid Sedan of the Year: Honda City e:HEV

As the very name suggests, this category is for cars that could be the most sustainable way forward. The Honda City e:HEV was the only car on offer in this segment this year. Although the City has been around for a while, it is impressive how it has brought out the hybrid variations to remain competitive in the sedan segment. In this form, it incorporates some much-needed improvements and does an admirable job. Honda’s hybrid drivetrain is made up of a 1.5-litre Atkinson-cycle i-VTEC petrol engine with 98 hp and 127 Nm, an 80-kW (109-hp) electric traction motor, a 70-kW (95-hp) motor-generator, a 172.8-volt lithium-ion battery pack, and an intelligent power management unit. Honda claim that the City Hybrid has a fuel efficiency of 26.5 km/litre.

SUV of the Year: Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder, Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara

The Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara and the Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder won the SUV of the Year at the Award. These cars are deserving champions in the very competitive SUV segment owing to their excellent performance and cutting-edge technology.

The Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder is a compact SUV that comes with a variety of features such as an infotainment system with a touchscreen, automatic climate control, and a number of safety measures. It is propelled by a 1.5-litre petrol engine that is mated to a hybrid drivetrain that boasts of exceptional fuel economy and minimal emission.

The Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara is an SUV that is comfortable being off-road too.

Both cars are capable of tremendous performance and Toyota’s hybrid technology was crucial in providing outstanding fuel efficiency and low emission. It is a game-changer in the automobile sector, providing a green and effective replacement for conventional petrol engines. That is one way to make feasible progress.

Premium SUV of the Year: Hyundai Tucson

Vast dimensions, spaciousness, and opulent interiors characterise the vehicles in this segment. This year, the Hyundai Tucson and Jeep Meridian competed for this Award. Both cars had many of the necessary checkmarks, but the Hyundai Tucson won when the points were tallied after the jury had cast their votes. The Tucson offers every trick in the book to entice consumers of high-end SUVs. Hyundai have taken care to ensure that the inside of the automobile accurately reflects the preferences and needs of their customers. In its fourth generation, the Tucson is available with a choice of either a 2.0-litre petrol or a 2.0-litre diesel engine. The former, when mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, generates 156 hp and 192 Nm of torque, while the latter develops 186 hp and 416 Nm of torque which is regulated by an eight-speed transmission before being sent to all four wheels. Only the top-end diesel variant comes with the AWD system.

MPV of the Year: Kia Carens

If you want the gold standard of affordable MPVs, go no further than the Kia Carens. Kia have succeeded in completely rewriting our perceptions of an MPV while transforming it into a highly desirable car. The car is offered with a choice of petrol and diesel engines. These include a 1.5-litre petrol, a 1.4-litre turbo-petrol, and a 1.5-litre diesel. The 1.5-litre petrol mill produces 115 hp and 144 Nm of peak torque and is mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Meanwhile, the turbo-petrol engine generates 140 hp and 242 Nm and comes coupled with a six-speed manual or a seven-speed DCT. The diesel variant is tuned to produce 115 hp and 250 Nm of peak torque and can be had with a six-speed manual or a six-speed torque converter automatic.

Luxury SUV of the Year: Audi Q3

It is not difficult to understand why the Audi Q3 won the Luxury SUV of the Year Award. The Q3 is a sleek and opulent SUV with great features and performance. The Q3’s cabin is well-designed and roomy, giving all passengers plenty of leg-room and head-room. The infotainment system in the car has a huge touchscreen display that offers navigation and connectivity options, including Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. A 2.0 litre, four-cylinder, TFSI turbo-petrol engine that generates 190 hp and 320 Nm of peak torque powers the Audi Q3 while a seven-speed S tronic automatic transmission completes the powertrain. Furthermore, it also benefits from the quattro all-wheel-drive system which distributes power to all four wheels.

Luxury Saloon of the Year: Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Our jury members decided to hand the award to the Mercedes-Benz C-Class because it offers an opulent driving experience thanks to its elegant and comfy interior, a pleasant ride, and superb handling. It gives customers the option to choose an engine that best suits their driving requirements, including petrol and diesel. The infotainment system in the car has a huge touchscreen display that is user-friendly and intuitive. The C-Class is a safe and secure car thanks to a variety of safety systems such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and automated emergency braking.

Premium Luxury SUV of the Year: Jeep Grand Cherokee

The points scale tipped in favour of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and it became the Premium Luxury SUV of the Year. Few other SUVs can equal the Grand Cherokee’s flawless combination of luxury, performance, and off-road prowess. Its interior is well laid out and furnished with high-quality material. A huge touchscreen infotainment system and a number of safety systems, including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and automatic emergency braking, are all included in its list of modern features. The Grand Cherokee also stands out for its remarkable off-road ability. For buyers looking for a premium SUV that can handle any terrain, it comes with an arsenal of off-road driver aids and equipment.

Premium Electric Car of the Year: BMW i4

It was a tough task but the jury felt that the BMW i4 deserved the Award. A sleek and opulent electric car with excellent performance and range, the i4 is as elegant as it is comfortable. Even with a 335-kW motor, it returns a driving range of up to 590 kilometres from a single charge. With its well-designed and opulent interior and extensive use of quality materials, the i4 exudes an air of class. However, once behind the wheel, it also transforms effortlessly into a no-holds-barred sports car. This versatility further convinced the jury to vote in its favour. BMW’s take on electric performance is both exciting and refreshing.

Luxury Electric SUV of the Year: Volvo XC40 Recharge

It is evident why the Volvo XC40 Recharge was voted the Luxury Electric SUV of the Year. The XC40 Recharge strikes an ideal balance among elegance, efficiency, and sustainability. It has a strong electric motor that can produce up to 300 kW and offer 418 km in range from a single charge. The interior of the XC40 Recharge is elegantly designed and premium materials have been used extensively. Volvo’s commitment to safety continues to be as staunch as ever and the XC40 Recharge is equipped with the best in safety equipment. By taking away the start-stop button, Volvo further demonstrate how intuitive they are when it comes to refining the drive experience.

Variant of the Year: Mahindra XUV300 TurboSport

Because of its potent new engine and outstanding performance, the Mahindra XUV300 TurboSport was named the Variant of the Year. One of the most potent engines in its class, the new 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol mill produces an astonishing 110 horsepower and 200 Nm of torque. This engine uses less fuel while achieving an astounding 17 km/l of mileage. The Mahindra XUV300 TurboSport is one of the safest and most technologically advanced vehicles available thanks to a number of additional features such as seven airbags, ABS with EBD, and a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system. All things considered, the Mahindra XUV300 TurboSport is a fantastic value-for-money vehicle that combines strength, effectiveness, and safety in a trim and stylish design.

Readers’ Choice Car of the Year: Mahindra Scorpio-N

The Mahindra Scorpio-N earned the Readers’ Choice Car of the Year title after our readers voted for it. This award is significant because it represents the viewpoints and tastes of the magazine’s readers and viewers, providing a distinct perspective on the cars that are most appreciated by the general public. The Mahindra Scorpio-N comes with a 2.0-litre mStallion turbo-petrol engine capable of 203 hp and 370 Nm (380 Nm for AT). Meanwhile, the 2.0-litre mHawk diesel engine develops 175 horsepower and 370 Nm of peak torque (400 Nm in the automatic model). In addition to enhancing their brand image built over the years, Mahindra have also offered commendable value with this one.

Special Recognition Award: Tata Motors Ltd

The Special Recognition Award was bestowed upon Tata Motors Ltd for their exceptional contribution to the Indian automotive sector. The company’s dedication to innovation, sustainability, and customer satisfaction is evident in the 85 per cent market dominance they enjoy in the segment. Following positive consumer response to their Nexon EV and Tigor EV models, Tata Motors have played a significant role in the expansion of the Indian EV market. Due to the company’s emphasis on research and development, relationships with top technology companies, and other factors, they are now able to offer Indian customers exceptional automobiles. Their timely entry into the electric space has already reaped rich dividends.

Automobile Manufacturer of the Year: Hyundai Motor India Ltd

Due to their outstanding achievements in the Indian automotive sector, Hyundai Motor India Ltd have been voted the Automobile Manufacturer of the Year. The company has been at the forefront of innovation, showing new products and inviting customers to experience the latest breakthroughs in automobile technology. The company’s focus on R&D has allowed it to produce remarkable cars that are both dependable and reasonably priced. The company is a deserving winner of the Award because of its emphasis on innovation, customer satisfaction, and research and development. Hyundai have solidified their place as one of the top manufacturers in India because of their commitment to the Indian market and to further developing the country’s automotive industry.

Automobile of the Year: Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara

The Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara took home the top honour, the prestigious Automobile of the Year title, at the Car India Awards. The Grand Vitara, a clear winner in its category, impressed the judges with its attractive design, superb performance, and segment-leading fuel efficiency.

Maruti Suzuki are known for building cars that satisfy Indian customers’ expectations. A variety of amenities, including a touchscreen infotainment system, keyless entry, and a rear-view camera, are available in the Grand Vitara. It is a popular choice today thanks to its excellent handling and fuel efficiency, making it a worthy recipient of the Automobile of the Year trophy. Maruti did a great job of bringing out a car that not only meets but also exceeds customers’ expectations in a package that is frugal, sturdy, safe, enjoyable to drive, and cost-effective.

 

About the author: Kurt Morris

 

 

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