Hatchback launches in 2012: Looking back

The past year saw seven important hatchback launches in India. Hatchbacks are the largest-selling segment and also highly competitive. The launches ranged from regular entry-level hatchbacks to premium hatchbacks.

Here’s a look at how these cars have fared during the year, and what they have done to the Indian automobile market.

Renault Pulse

January 2012 / May 2012

pulse front

The Renault Pulse was launched during the Auto Expo in January, having been showcased two months earlier. It is a badge-engineered Nissan Micra with a revised front-end – new headlamps, grille and bumper and new tail-lamps and alloys besides the Renault badging. Otherwise, there’s little else to differentiate the Pulse from the Micra. Also read: Renault Pulse diesel launch

The Pulse was initially launched only in diesel in two variants – priced at Rs. 5.88 lakh and Rs. 6.37 lakh for the mid and top-end variants. However, even though diesel was the flavour of the season, the car was a slow seller, so in May, Renault launched the petrol version in three variants priced between Rs. 4.44 lakh and Rs. 5.55 lakh. The top-end petrol variant is fully loaded including climate control, power fold mirrors, push-button ignition, alloy wheels, ABS and two airbags. Also read: Renault Pulse petrol launched at Rs. 4.25 lakh

The Pulse has been selling at an average of 520 cars a month, selling over 5,700 in the past 11 months, which is rather slow, but then Renault too does not have too many dealerships, reaching about 70 now.

Hyundai i20

March 2012

hyundai i20 front left

The “fluidic” Hyundai i20 was launched end March 2012, making the formerly good-looking sophisticated i20 now conform to the fluidic design styling of the rest of the Hyundai family with a new front end and redesigned tail lamps. The car comes with the same set of engine choices – a 1.4 litre diesel with a six-speed manual transmission (in between Hyundai was using five-speeds for a short while) and a 1.2 petrol putting out a little more power at 84 bhp.

The car is loaded with features – reverse camera, parking sensors, push-button ignition, folding mirrors all make it to the top-end variant. The i20 is priced between Rs. 4.75 lakh to Rs. 7.78 lakh across 12 variants! Also read: Hyundai i20 launched at Rs. 4.73 lakh

The i20 has been selling reasonably well, with an average of over 7,800 cars a month.

Maruti Ritz facelift

September 2012

new-maruti-ritz-front-side

Maruti launched a face-lifted version of the Ritz with a new front grille and bumper and minor changes to the interior detailing. Otherwise the car is pretty much the same. The facelift was initially available only with the diesel variant, launched in September 2012. Maruti also added a top-end diesel ZDI variant, with airbags, alloys and ABS to the line up. The face-lifted Ritz ZDI diesel was priced at Rs. 6.23 lakh. Also read: Maruti Ritz facelift launch

The Ritz uses a 1.3 litre diesel engine putting out 74 bhp of power and the petrol shares the engine with the Swift, – a 1.2 litre petrol engine. It’s tall boy design is good to use in the city, as it provides good visibility and is easy to manoeuvre.

The Ritz facelift has added some zing into the Ritz’s sales which had slipped to about 4000 odd cars before the facelift, but jumped to 7,600 in September before settling at about 5,700 in the past couple of months.

Honda Brio automatic

October 2012

honda brio automatic photo

Honda added two automatic variants to the Brio line up – an S (o) AT variant and V AT variant, priced between Rs. 5.74 lakh to Rs. 5.99 lakh. The Brio automatic comes with a five-speed automatic transmission and makes an already easy car to drive even easier.

The car is powered by a 1.2 litre petrol engine putting out 86 bhp of power. It is compact, yet spacious on the inside, but lacks boot space. It makes for an ideal city runabout. Also read: Honda Brio AT launched

The Honda Brio’s sales have dropped off slightly toward the end of the year and the automatic hasn’t changed its fortunes much. The Brio sold 2,199 cars in November, down from 3,700 in October.

Maruti Alto 800

October 2012

maruti alto 800 road test

One of the most important launches in the hatchback segment was the Maruti Alto 800 launch. This car replaces the old Maruti Alto, and is an all new body. The engine, however, is the same as the older Alto 800 (796 cc), but has been given a bit more power and torque. Power is up to 47.5 bhp and torque is now 69 Nm.

Changes include a more spacious cabin, better gear shift and revised design on the interiors and exteriors. The top-end variant also offers a driver’s airbag as a safety feature, and it’s available in six variants with either only petrol or petrol-CNG dual fuel options, priced between Rs. 2.44 lakh to Rs. 3.5 lakh. Also read: Maruti Alto 800 road test and review

The refreshed Alto has added some spark back into the Alto’s sales figures. It’s anyway the largest-selling car in India and sells more in a month than most of its competition put together. The Alto sold 26,600 cars in October in the month of its launch and slipped slightly to 23,550 cars in November.

Ford Figo facelift

October 2012

ford-figo-facelift-road-test-photo

Ford launched a facelifted Figo in October. The car has as many as 140 changes in it, but only some major ones are visible such as the styling. The front gets new headlamps and bumper. The alloy wheel design is new and at the rear the design of the tail-lamp has been tweaked. The interiors on the top-end Titanium variant now include steering audio controls and new upholstery. The engine management system too has been tweaked for better acceleration.

The Ford Figo is available in eight variants priced between Rs. 3.82 lakh and Rs. 5.99 lakh. It is one of the most spacious cars in its segment, straddling a price segment between small hatchbacks and premium hatchbacks and is good value for money. Also read: New Ford Figo driving impressions

The Ford Figo too has seen sales slipping in the past few months, from 6,300 units in September to 4,800 units in November.

Chevrolet Spark facelift

October 2012

chevrolet-spark-2012-photo

Chevrolet gave the Spark a minor facelift in October to freshen it up with a new grille design and changes to the centre console on the interiors. The Spark is priced between Rs. 3.26 lakh and Rs. 4.10 lakh. It still comes with a 1-litre petrol engine putting out 63 bhp of power and 90 Nm of torque. What works in the Sparks favour is the maintenance package that General Motors offers with the car for three years. Also read: Chevrolet launches refreshed Spark

The refreshed Spark has lifted sales numbers slightly, with the Spark selling 829 units in October, going up to 925 cars in November.

Chevrolet Sail U-Va

October 2012

chevrolet-sail-hatchback

The Chevrolet Sail U-Va was one of the most anticipated launches from General Motors. The Sail U-Va is a direct competitor to cars like the Maruti Swift and Hyundai i20, priced in a similar range. The Sail U-Va comes in seven variants priced between Rs. 4.44 lakh and Rs.6.62 lakh. It comes in petrol and diesel, with the petrol being a 1.2 litre engine putting out 85 bhp of power, while the diesel is a variant of the 1.3 multijet engine putting out 77 bhp of power.

The Sail U-Va is one of the most spacious cars in its segment and is decently equipped with features, and provides good value for money. However, the car has failed to excite buyers probably because of its bland design. Also read: Chevrolet Sail U-Va launch

The Sail U-Va sold only 1,595 units in November, a far cry from the 5,000 odd units the company was expecting.