Snapshot – On one hand we have veteran cars that serve the Indian market for decades and on the other, cars that are a flash in the pan, disappearing from sight even before the next generation of buyers barely register these cars’ presence. Today, we’ll take you a walk down memory lane and bring to you Part I of the 10 Forgotten Cars of the 1990s.
The now-defunct South Korean automaker Daewoo started its India foray in the 90s with the Cielo C-Segment sedan. The car featured a 1.5 liter-4 cylinder petrol engine that put out 80 Bhp of peak power and 128 Nm of peak torque. 5 speed manual and 3 speed automatic transmissions were offered.
The Cielo was India’s first mass market, fuel injected car and one that attracted a fair share of buyers who wanted a “premium” looking car, different from the Maruti 1000s/Esteems. The car was also the first C-Segment sedan with an automatic gearbox.
The Cielo delivered poor fuel economy, a reason why many buyers shied away from the car after showing initial interest. Daewoo introduced a more powerful variant of the Cielo, dubbed the Nexia. The Nexia used larger wheels and a 1.6 liter-4 cylinder petrol motor with a 16 valve and DOHC head. With 92 Bhp-130 Nm on tap, poor fuel efficiency did the Nexia in too.
The Opel Astra C-Segment sedan introduced Indian car buyers to German build quality, high quality interiors and a feature filled cabin. However, the car never really caught the car buyers’ fantasy, with the likes of the Honda City and Mitsubishi Lancer being more preferred options. The Astra was offered with petrol and turbo diesel engines, and was known for its plush ride quality. The Astra Club edition also offered a sunroof, a feature that reaffirmed the car’s fixation with opulence.
The Escort sedan was the first car that Ford launched in India during the 1990s, in its joint venture with the Mahindra group. The Escort was known as a solid car but one suffered from underpowered engines. High maintenance costs was a factor that led to many sedan buyers shying away from the American car. The initial batches of the Escort sedans made in India were also prone to bouts of unreliability. Together, unreliability and high maintenance costs ensured that the Escort quickly faded away from car buyers’ buying option lists.
The booking frenzy for the Fiat Uno hatchback is the stuff of legend. However, Fiat’s spat with Premier Automobiles Limited, its Indian joint venture partner, led to the Italian automaker delaying production long enough for the competition to gain an upper hand. The Uno was sold with 1.2 liter petrol and 1.7 liter diesel engines, the largest such motor in its class. Though the Uno was known for its heavy build and reassuring handling, the car never caught the fancy of buyers whose initial enthusiasm waned.
The Peugeot 309 is another sedan whose success at the hustings was sabotaged by issues out of its control. In the 309 sedan’s case, labour trouble at the Premier Automobile Limited’s factory that Peugeot had jointly set up, was the cause of the latter making a hasty retreat out of India. This move killed the 309 and Peugeot is yet to make a comeback here. The Peugeot 309 was sold with petrol and diesel engines. the TUD5 diesel motor on the 309 also powered a range of Indian cars, from the Zen and Esteem Diesels, to the early iterations of the Hyundai Accent and the Premier Rio.