Snapshot – If you keep a car around for over five years, you better ensure that it’s an multi utility vehicles that sells purely on the dint of utility and nothing else. Two legends in this segment are the Maruti Omni, an all-purpose van that is used in both urban and rural India, and then there’s the Mahindra Bolero, a 10 year old MUV that’s still selling like hot cakes. In the hatchback or sedan segments though, where buyers tend to be fickle and product lifecycles short, automakers can’t really push five years in terms of a car’s life cycle. Yet, examples of cars that are guilty of overstaying, and as a consequence underperforming, abound in the Indian car market. We bring you 10 such examples that have clearly overstayed their Indian visas.
The Vento sedan arrived into India in the middle of 2010, and earlier today Volkswagen rolled out a facelift for the car. While this may be good news for some buyers, most buyers are already bored with the Vento, which requires more than a facelift. The car that looks strikingly similar to its lower priced hatchback sibling, the Polo, needs an all-new model to spur sales and the facelift is just the “old wine in new bottle” story. In a market where all-new cars such as the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz and the Honda City rule the roost, the Vento seems quite outdated, notwithstanding the 1.2 liter turbocharged petrol engine and the 7 speed twin clutch DSG automatic gearbox.
The Fiat Punto arrived into India in 2009, and the Giorgetto Giugiaro designed master piece quickly became the styling benchmark of the B+ segment. Six years means that a lot of water has flown under the bridge, and a facelift that arrived last year was just a half measure, whose other half is clearly an all-new model. It’s of small wonder then that the Punto Evo, as Fiat would like to call the facelifted Punto, is another dud seller. It doesn’t help that the Italian automaker has plans of brining a replacement to this capable B+ segment hatchback only in the winter of 2017. A case of too-little-too-late? You bet!
The Volkswagen Polo is even older than the Vento, and a facelifted version of the hatchback arrived into India a few months ago. A mild nip and tuck job is what the facelift is, and it’s simply not enough in a market that has the likes of the Hyundai Elite i20 and upcoming hatchbacks such as the Honda Jazz and the Maruti Suzuki YRA. What’s the Polo’s calling card? Two powerful variants in the form of the GT TSI and GT TDI variants. In India though, buyers opting for high performance hatchbacks form minuscule numbers. Where does that leave the Polo? Crying for an all-new model, which is expected to arrive sometime in 2017, riding on the MQB platform.
The Fuat Linea sedan arrived even before the Punto, in early 2009. And all that fiat managed after 5 long years of the car in India was a mini botox surgery. And the brand thinks that bringing back the 1.4 liter T-Jet turbo petrol engine is its gift to motor heads in the country. Clearly, buyers don’t seem to be impressed and the Linea is one of the poorest selling C-Segment sedans in the country. And further compounding matters, there’s no replacement in sight for the next couple of years. While the Fiat Aegea does look yummy at this day and age, will it still be so, two years down the line? That’s a hard question Turin needs to find an answer to.
The Nissan Micra arrived with baby Porsche looks in 2010, and won a few hearts with its cutesy appeal. Nissan wanted to make the car scare kids. Lo and behold, a facelifted version materialized, but not before the Micra had already lost its appeal and grounding in the Indian car market’s hatchback space. The Micra replacement isn’t coming to India until early 2017 at least and that will make this hatchback seven years old. Now, in a dynamic market where the top two, Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai, scrabble for market share by launching updates every two years, Nissan simply seems to be reading the tea leaves wrong. 8 % marketshare before 2020? All the best!
Maruti Suzuki Gypsy
The Maruti Suzuki Gypsy is a timeless looker and the mountain goat can still hold its own off the road, where lesser cars don’t even dare going. However, the off roader is an opportunity lost for Maruti Suzuki, which could have fished into Suzuki’s global portfolio and come up with the Jimny, the international replacement for the Gypsy. Why, the Jimny sold in the United Kingdom – a right hand drive market – even featured the famed 1.3 liter Fiat Multijet turbo diesel engine under the hood. The Thar killer the Gypsy could have been, but alas, the bean counters at Maruti Suzuki think otherwise.
Everytime a prospective car buyer sees an Indica hatchback on the street, the image of a Tata car being best suited for cabbie duties is reinforced. It’s high time that Tata Motors pulled the Indica off streets in India, as the car is 17 years old here. The upcoming Kite hatchback, which will debut later this year, is said to be the replacement of the Indica. However, murmurs from some quarters suggest that the Indica could be kept in production purely for the taxi cab market. Clearly, the cab hangover is something that Tata Motors is finding very hard to deal with. With the Indica still around, the image makeover will only be harder to execute.
Tata Indigo eCS
The Tata Indigo eCS is the grand daddy of the compact sedan space in India, what with the car kickstarting the sub-4 meter sedan category here. Now though, the Indigo eCS is really an old fogy, appealing more to cab owners than personal car buyers. Like the Indica, the Indigo eCS could also be at the end of its product life cycle in India, with the Kite based compact sedan said to be its replacement. That said, it remains to be seen whether Tata Motors musters the will to kill off a car that is still dpoing steady numbers in the taxi segment.
In 2007, Mahindra and Renault tied up to bring India the Logan, a low cost sedan developed by the Romanian automaker Dacia. A few years later, Renault and Mahindra went separate ways, but the latter, with the intention to milk the Logan until it ran dry, purchased the rights to build and sell the car here. It’s been 8 years since the Logan was first introduced in India, and the car continues to sell here under the Verito badge. Of course, personal car buyers would have nothing to do with this car, which is better known as a comfortable cab. Now, even the cabbies seem bored with the Verito. And as for the Vibe, it’s purely bad vibes.
In luxury SUV territory, keeping a vehicle around for over 12 years isn’t the wisest thing to do, but Ford India chose to do just that with the Endeavour. Now as dated looking as the Force One, the Endeavour is barely managing to make it out of showroom floors. Fortunately, a replacement is in order by the end of this year, and that should put the current Endeavour out of its misery. Ford would have learnt its lessons with the Endeavour though, on the need to emulate Toyota when it comes to serving the Indian car buyer with a renewed zeal every half decade. Why, the Fortuner will be replaced early next year, and so will be the Innova.
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