Special edition cars – Are they really special?

Each year, just as the festive car buying frenzy is about to kick in, automakers of all hues and colours launch “special edition” models of their regular cars. While some automakers add equipment, others are content to plaster on a few decals, in the process passing off a dolled up car as a “special edition” model. So, are special edition models of cars really special, or are they mere stock clearance exercises? Over the past month, the Indian car market has been witness to a slew of special edition cars. We’ll take a look at each of them.

Maruti Suzuki Swift SP

Maruti Swift SP

What’s the car all about? The Swift SP adds equipment to the LDi and VDi trims of the hatchback, albeit with a minor price increase. For the price increase, you get power windows on all four doors, a four-speaker audio system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity reverse parking sensors, SP branded memory foam cushions, seat covers, steering wheel wrap, central locking with keyless entry, rub strips on the flanks, 60:40 rear split rear seat, fog lamps, wheel covers and blacked out A-pillars.

Essentially, Maruti Suzuki is giving you a car that’s close to the VXi/VDi variant, in “special edition” guise. How much more is the automaker asking? About 37,000 rupees more. Installing these features from the after market would also cost something similar. In that light, is the Swift SP special? Not really.

Maruti Alto 800 Onam Edition

Maruti Alto 800 Onam Edition

The Alto 800 is a big edition in Kerala, whose biggest festival of the year is Onam. Maruti Suzuki lined up the Onam Edition of the Alto 800 for the Kerala market. The car gained about 15 new features, in an accessory package that was sold as an add on, for about 18,000 rupees.

Maruti Suzuki claims that this package allows the customer to save nearly 7,000 rupees. Is that special enough? Well, if you’re a stickler for savings, yes, that’s a handful of money to spend on a festival. If you’re looking for something extraordinary, no this special edition variant of the Alto 800 won’t deliver.

Maruti Suzuki WagonR Avance

Maruti WagonR Avance Edition

The Maruti Suzuki WagonR Avance is a similar story. For a 12,000 rupee price increase, Maruti has added some equipment to the LXi variant of the car. 2-DIN stereo with Bluetooth, twin tone dashboard, rear power windows, new seat fabric, central locking with keyless entry and security alarm, body decals, roof rails, and a rear spoiler are the additional features. Considering that these features will cost much more than 12,000 rupees to buy from the after market, the Avance edition of the car seems like a decent deal. Is is special? Not really.

Hyundai i20 Elite Celebration Edition

Hyundai Elite i20

The ultra successful Hyundai i20 Elite has turned one. To celebrate this occasion, Hyundai has loaded up the Sportz edition of the car with new features. Alloy wheels, body decals, a couple of badges, metal ABC pedals, a 3M Satin Black roof wrap and a glossy finish for the C-Pillar trim are the additional features. Cost? 29,900 rupees? In money terms, the extra cost is justified, but this doesn’t make the car any special as the customer’s the one bearing the costs for what are essentially run-of-the-mill features.

Skoda Rapid Anniversary Edition

Skoda Rapid Anniversary Edition

Each year, Skoda comes up with anniversary editions of the Rapid. It’s no different this year. Apart from the regulation contrast roof wrap and door decals, the car also gains wood trim and twin airbags on the inside. All this is available even on the base Active 1.6 Petrol variant of the car, making it somewhat special, especially for the added safety.

The top-end Elegance Plus variants get a TrackPro car tracking system, which is a handy security feature to have. On the whole, Skoda’s managed to implement the extra features at no extra cost to the customer, and that’s commendable. In fact, the anniversary edition variants of the Rapid are cheaper than the regular variants. So, is the Rapid Anniversary Edition special? Hell yes! But remember, you may not be able to snag hefty discounts, which were otherwise available on the Rapid.

As a buyer, you’ve got to keep these in mind.

1. Special edition versions often add features that may be useless to you. So, take a long, hard look at the feature list before succumbing to the marketing blitz.

2. Check after market prices of the accessories given that most special edition models are dealer fitments anyway. Opt for the special edition model only if you’re getting a better deal.

3. Don’t take the “special edition” tag too seriously. India’s car market isn’t mature enough to demand performance boosts in special edition cars.