This year’s Delhi Auto Expo was all about SUVs, and a few token hybrids here and there, but it will take some serious effort for manufacturers to interrupt the infatuation with small cars in India.
Supercars were a rarity, unlike at many other motor shows where they take centre stage; the only notable ones on display were the Audi R8 and Ford Mustang, which were given global unveils months ago.
The Auto Expo, then, is completely tailor-made to appeal to the Indian market, which has a huge appetite for bargain basement, locally-built small cars.
Such is the adoration and hysteria around new metal, especially over products from local favourites Tata, Mahindra and Maruti Suzuki, that the sheer volume of people trying to get the best view of the cars results in some pretty hectic scenes at press conferences.
I spent most of the two media days on the web desk at the Autocar India stall, but after several colleagues returned from press conferences with stories of huge crowds and fist-fights for press packs, I went to see what the fuss was about at a Maruti Suzuki press conference.
As soon as the Ignis and Baleno RS concept cars were unveiled there was an almighty surge to get the press kits. Seeing the poor PR team attempting to control a baying crowd of journalists and punters literally clambering over each other, elbows out, to get the all-important USB stick, and hopefully a free pen, was like watching a scene from a zombie apocalypse film.
This was a common sight at most press conferences. Security even had to be called at some venues, and one colleague saw a photographer actually climbing on top of a show car to get a better shot of another car.
If you can bear the crowds, though, there’s a fascinating display of hugely popular small hatchbacks from Indian manufacturers and some wacky compact-SUV concepts that offer a glimpse into what makes the Indian automotive market tick.