Cars that are instant hits in India, now segment best-sellers

Every now and then comes a car in the Indian market that takes the sales charts by storm, completely stumping competitors and laughing all the way to the bank. Waiting periods rise, sometimes premiums are paid, but these cars continue to sell, topping the charts in their respective segments. What makes them such instant hits? We look at the hit list of the past couple of years.

There is no single criteria that makes these cars hits. And it’s not as if they are perfect either, as each of them has their drawbacks. However, the advantages far outweigh the negative factors among all of them. With some it’s value for money, with some it’s image and others it’s performance and fuel efficiency, followed by brand trust. Here’s a look at the sales hits in the past two years. Also read: Hot-selling cars of 2012

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Renault Duster charges up the compact SUV segment

The Renault Duster was one of the most awaited compact SUVs before its launch in July 2012. It was the SUV that changed the fortunes of Renault in India and accounts for over 85% sales for the company. The Renault Duster sold 5,590 units in February rising steadily from 1,194 units from when it was launched in July. It has comprehensively overtaken the Mahindra Scorpio which was the previous leader in its price segment and is just behind the Toyota Innova MPV in terms of sales.

What makes the Duster a hit? It’s purely driven by image – that muscular styling and high ground clearance are desirable traits and fuel efficiency of the diesel Renault Duster. The Duster has its drawbacks of high price, lack of features and not enough rear-seat legroom, but that hasn’t deterred buyers. Also read: Renault Duster road test and review

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Toyota Fortuner clearly leads in premium SUVs

Toyota has more to do with the brand than the vehicle itself. But when you combine that Toyota brand image with a butch, macho-looking vehicle like the Toyota Fortuner that is seemingly indestructible you have a winner. Nevermind that the vehicle is expensive and probably does not come as feature loaded as some vehicles priced a few lakh rupees cheaper. The Toyota Fortuner sold 1,515 units in February, its best sales till date and nearly 50% more than its average of 1,000 units a month. Given that its nearest rival sells less than 500 units a month in the Rs. 20 lakh – Rs. 25 lakh price segment, the Fortuner is a clear hit.

What makes the Fortuner a hit? The macho styling, butch image, go-anywhere ability of the 4×4 and the Toyota image of reliability make this a vehicle that will give owners peace of mind and clear the road. It does have its drawbacks of low feature list and pretty average fuel economy. Also read: Toyota Fortuner road test and review

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Mahindra XUV500 annihilates the competition

The Mahindra XUV500 shocked everyone with its sticker price of Rs. 10.85 lakh at launch in September 2011. It had everything and more in it in terms of features than vehicles more than twice its price. Since then prices have increased by nearly Rs. 1.5 lakh variant to variant, but it continues to be extremely good value for money when you look at features it offers. No wonder that it had a long waiting period and Mahindra had to stop bookings for the vehicle to fulfil demand. Waiting period is now reduced to about 4 weeks as Mahindra has more than doubled production capacity for the XUV500 having seen robust demand.

Why is the XUV500 a hit? The feature list and sheer value for money it offers cannot be ignored. The value it gives is more than enough for buyers to ignore a few niggling issues it has had since it was launched and Mahindra has been working hard to fix those issues.

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Maruti Dzire redefines sedan segment

The Maruti Dzire is not a very good looking car, as it looks quite disproportionate with a stubby boot. However, buyers don’t seem to care, as the car provides excellent value for money, performance and practicality at an attractive price point. The Dzire is India’s third largest-selling car beating many hatchbacks, selling 18,316 cars in February, its highest ever since launch. The Dzire had waiting periods of up to six months at one point, and still has a couple of months waiting.

What makes the Dzire a hit? The value for money, fuel-efficiency of the diesel, performance and practicality are what make it a hit. It has its downsides such as low boot space and not enough interior space, but buyers are willing to overlook that. Also read: Maruti Dzire road test and review

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Maruti Swift sells more than double its rivals’ sales

The Maruti Swift has been a hit ever since its launch in 2005. The new Swift launched in 2011 has only added to the fire. The Swift is India’s second-largest selling car, selling over 19,500 cars in February, and consistently selling an average of 15,000 plus despite a production issue for three months last year. Waiting period on the Swift is still up to six weeks.

What makes the Swift a hit? The performance, peppiness and fun-to-drive factor are primary factors in making the Swift a hit. Fuel efficiency and easy access to service come in next. Buyers are willing to ignore drawbacks like lack of boot space and not enough rear-seat space. Also read:Maruti Swift road test

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Hyundai Verna rules mid-size sedans

The Hyundai Verna has been the sales leader in the mid-size sedan segment ever since its launch in May 2011, although it did lose out in a couple of months. At the time of its launch, waiting periods on the Hyundai Verna went up to nearly six months for the diesel variants. Waiting period is now down to about six weeks on the Verna, but some variants still have a longer waiting period. The Verna has been selling an average of 4,800 cars a month consistently.

What makes the Verna a hit? The Verna is a feature-loaded car and is great value for money for the features it offers at its price point. The Verna still offers the most features in its price segment and buyers who want a fully-loaded car with great power figures on paper as well, pick the Verna. It does have its drawbacks of poor high-speed ride quality and low rear seat, but these don’t seem to deter buyers. Also read: The real mileage of the Hyundai Verna diesel

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Promising hits of 2013

There are two vehicles that one needs to watch out for in the coming months. Going by the sheer number of queries and buzz being created around them, these vehicles have the potential to be instant hits the moment they are launched. These two are the Ford EcoSport compact SUV and the Honda Amaze compact sedan. Also read: Ford EcoSport likely features and variants

Do you think these would be instant hits like the others?