Fast and Fabulous

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Innovative supercar ideas at India’s best ever Auto Expo
This might have been the 12th edition of the biennial Auto Expo, but it’s safe to say the 2014 event was India’s first international level motorshow. The new venue at Greater Noida, infrastructure and general high standards of organisation have seriously turned things around.

What that means is visitors—over 300,000 at last count—had a fantastic opportunity to get up close to some really wild concepts and mad supercars, of which there were many. Leading the charge, quite literally, was the BMW i8 supercar, which looks like it belongs to the future and makes use of some really advanced technology too. It’s made primarily of lightweight aluminium and carbon fibre, and features a 96 kW electric motor that drives the front wheels and a 228 bhp, 1.5 turbo petrol that powers the rear ones.

Also at the BMW stand was the slightly more conventional but equally exciting M6 Gran Coupe. Beautiful as it is, it’s also got plenty of firepower thanks to its 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol motor. The M6’s natural rival, the RS7, was also on display not too far away at Audi’s pavilion. As if the standard A7 wasn’t striking enough, the RS7 with its larger wheels and sportier kit looks utterly desirable. Oh and it’s got a 560 bhp, 4-litre twin-turbo petrol.

Audi also deserves a round of applause for bringing in two very special cars, the first being the R18 e-tron Quattro. Why is it special? Well, it happened to win a very special endurance race at a famous race track in France. Yup, it’s a Le Mans winner. The other special car at the Audi exhibit was the spiritual successor to a hugely famous model—the Sport Quattro concept. Audi wanted to divert our attention to its laser headlights but it was a bit hard to peel our eyes away from the car in its entirety—it’s that gorgeous.

Another car that draws inspiration from the past (and drew a lot of eyeballs at the Auto Expo) was the Jaguar Project 7. An ode to the Le Mans- winning D-type of 1956-57, the Project 7 is unique for its lowered windscreen, carbon-fibre splitter and a fairing behind the driver’s seat.

The ‘standard’ F-Type Coupe also made its India debut at the 2014 Auto Expo. It’s even better looking than the convertible already on sale. Enough said. Sportscars are very Jaguar, crossovers aren’t. Or so you’d think. Jaguar’s C-X17 sport crossover concept was also there and it did look rather special in the flesh.

Speaking of crossovers, any Auto Expo stars list would be incomplete without a mention of the Mercedes- Benz GLA. It’s got cuts and creases at all the right places, and, more importantly, is coming to a Mercedes showroom near you. The other Merc of note was the CLA45 AMG. Curvaceous it may be, but the primary reason to buy one would have to be its 355-bhp, twin-turbo 2-litre bruiser of an engine.

Some of the ‘larger-hearted’ Auto Expo stars were at the General Motors display where a Camaro ZL1 shared the limelight with a C7 Corvette Stingray. I just wish the good folks at Chevrolet had fired up their mighty 6.2-litre V8s. Wouldn’t that have made for a spectacular sound show?

Another car that made a big impact at the Auto Expo was the all-electric Mahindra Halo sportscar. Diminutive and light, it looks like the Lotus’ of old. Claimed performance? 0-100 kmph in eight seconds and a top speed of 160 kmph! Let’s hope they make this one. Honda didn’t disappoint enthusiasts either with the NSX Concept, which truly looks worthy of the legendary NSX name. It goes into production next year and will feature a mid-mounted V6 petrol and a pair of electric motors. Who said green can’t be mean? Honda’s Japanese compatriot Toyota also wowed visitors with the GT86 in TRD trim. The GT86 features a 2-litre boxer motor and is known to perform drifts at will. Nice. A welcome addition to Hyundai’s display of level-headed family cars was the HND-9 concept coupe. Sleek, long and low-slung, the HND-9 got a double thumbs up from nearly everyone who walked through Hyundai’s vast display.

Finally, what’s a motorshow without a crazy concept or two? As always, Renault showed off its quirky side with the unique KWID concept that looks more like a lunar buggy than something that will make production. However, the KWID does preview a small SUV that Renault is working on. Just don’t expect the final version to have the KWID’s centrally-mounted steering or gull-wing doors.

As you can tell, there was lots to see at the 2014 Auto Expo. And these sportscars and concept were just the tip of the iceberg. So was this the best Auto Expo ever? You bet!