5 Game Changing Cars In India
Here are 5 cars which changed the Indian automobile industry.
The Indian market has evolved massively in the past few years. From the time of limited options to having a multitude of segments across price ranges, the Indian automobile industry has come a long way. Every now and then, there has been a car which has caused a game-changing effect. Today we discuss about 5 game changing cars that revolutionised the Indian auto market.
Small cars meant Maruti until Hyundai launched the Santro in 1998 which brought the concept of a tall-boy hatchback to India. The Santro was also loaded with a ton of features which were unseen in small cars back then, like a power steering and power windows. It also established Hyundai in India which has gone to become the second-largest car seller in the country and a force to reckon with.
Fun Fact: Hyundai Santro vs Maruti Wagon R has seen two wars – the first one in the 2000s was won by the Santro and the second one in the recent past is being won by the Wagon R – this is of course in terms of sales.
Small cars meant petrol but Tata changed that with the launch of Indica in 1999 which brought diesel to a hatchback. The cost of running the Indica was so low that people were ready to live with the gremlins of the car. Just imagine, 20 km/l and the cost of diesel fuel when the Indica was launched was under Rs. 30/- per litre. Unbelievably low running costs along with good space and a great ride, no wonder Tata’s very first car established them to offer more car per car.
Fun Fact: Tata sold the Indica in the UK via MG, calling it the MG Rover. Today MG rivals Tata in India with its Hector competing with the Harrier. Friends became foes huh!
If you wanted to travel with your complete family, the options were very limited. You could get something practical but devoid of comfort from Indian brands or pay a lot more for foreign brands. There was nothing in between till the Innova came along in 2005. It was touted to be too big but no one cared about that and people lapped up the MPV in huge numbers. The Innova changed the MPV segment completely. It was no longer a taboo to be seen driving one due to terrific reliability and quality on offer, so much so that people started using this vehicle even when driving alone.
Fun Fact: Toyota ran a massive campaign demonstrating how versatile the Innova is, with Aamir Khan in it. They don’t make such brilliant ads anymore!
Small cars and hatchbacks meant the same thing until the Swift was launched in 2005. It was the first hatchback to be loaded with a ton of features which were unheard off in even C-segment sedans that time. The Swift offered fun handling and started the premium hatchback trend. I know the Palio came before but it never took off. The Swift did take off and in 2007, Maruti brought in the Fiat-sourced engine which went onto becoming the national diesel engine of India, powering a range of cars and the complete Maruti diesel stable for more than 12 years!
Fun Fact: The Swift was the changing point for Maruti Suzuki from its old cars like the Zen and Esteem to newer ones like the Dzire and SX4. Almost 2.5 million units have been sold till date.
While there were plenty of sedans available in India in 1997 like the Hindustan Ambassador, Premier Padmini, Maruti Esteem, Opel Astra, Ford Escort and Daewoo Cielo, it was in 1998 when a sedan was launched that re-wrote the rules of the sedan segment, the Honda City. Marking the Japanese car maker’s entry into the country, the first-gen City was actually based on a Civic and when it got its facelift in 2000, it got the VTEC variant which offered an additional 6 BHP and made enthusiasts go crazy with the performance of its high revving engine that would redline at 7100 RPM.
Fun Fact: While today the City’s closest rival is the Hyundai Verna, in 1998, another sedan was launched, the Mitsubishi Lancer which competed closely with the City and both of them were sporty sedans and a boy racer’s favourite.
I know I haven’t mentioned popular cars like the Maruti 800, Zen, Omni, etc. because I already covered them in my 9 Most Iconic Indian Cars Of All Time listicle which you can check out below.
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