Snapshot – Ravishing hot looks did not sell cars in India till recently. Thankfully things have changed, and attractive cars – like the Honda City generations, the Hyundai i20s, the Ford EcoSports did a lot to change our tastests. But before them, good looks did not sell. The old Chevrolet Optra SRV, the recent Renault Fluence in both its iterations are just two examples of this. And the Maruti Suzuki Dzire, which became quite an attractive car is a hot seller today, but it was a hot seller earlier too, when it was a super boring car to look at. Now time to see our four beautiful, mass market flop cars of India that we wish sold a lot better than they did.
Fiat Punto Evo
The Fiat Punto Evo may not look as ravishing as its Giorgetto Giugiaro older sibling but that is scarcely the reason why this car hasn’t hit bulls eye. Despite all that gloss and shine, the Punto Evo is a slow selling car. Car buyers are yet to warm up to a resurgent Fiat brand and the Punto Evo almost seems like collateral damage, a car that’s paying for the sins of its maker.
The Punto Evo remains one of more solid cars that money can buy in India’s budget hatchback segments. The 90 HP diesel variant is a strong performer on the open roads with a wonderfully able ride and handling package. The Punto is reasonably well endowed when it comes to features and creature comforts. Even the Abarth variant later did not click with the masses – but that was not a great looker, to tell the truth. The Classic Punto still remains a really beautiful car.
The Ford Fiesta C-Segment sedan’s facelift makes it look like an Aston Martin, but car buyers simply seem to have forgotten this option in the sedan space. Flashy looks are only one part of the Fiesta’s appeal. Scratch below the surface and you’ll come up with two gems called steering and handling. The Fiesta’s suspension is supple enough to dispatch road irregularities with aplomb while the suspension let the car hold it line like a train on rails.
In the hands of the capable, the Fiesta Facelift’s 1.5 liter TDCI turbo diesel motor with just 89 Bhp-205 Nm is enough to keep the Volkswagen Ventos and Skoda Rapids of the world in the rear view mirror, and this is saying something. Yet nobody, not even the enthusiast brigade, seems interested in the Fiesta. This is one car that looks good and should sell good.
The Linea, prior to its facelift, almost seemed like a sculpture fashioned out of a single block of metal. Though the botox job doesn’t do much justice to the original score, the Linea is still a head turner. It’s of another matter that the Fiat sedan brings the rearguard of the C-Segment pack. The T-Jet petrol motor is the most powerful in its class, endowing the Linea with exciting acceleration, and enough pep to give drivers the thrill of driving.
The underpowered diesel pulls the car down, and it’s baffling to note why Fiat is not offering this car with the 1.6 liter Multijet turbo diesel motor. While the Linea will be replaced in a couple of years by yet another hot looker, its maker seems to have run out of ideas to sell this sharp looking sedan that is so involving to drive when the going gets twisty.
The French have their quirks but the Fluence will have none of it, at least as far as its looks go. The Renault Fluence D-Segment sedan has almost disappeared from roads in India even though a facelifted version was lined up last year. The facelift has done little to pep up this car’s sales. The Fluence has instead sunken to even greater depths after the facelift, which again is baffling.
The car that Renault used to spearhead its second coming in India is no longer on D-Segment sedan buyers’ wishlists, notwithstanding the plush ride, and the tractable, fuel efficient turbo diesel engine. It’s hard to put a finger on why the Fluence failed despite the car being such an elegant looker. One would think that D-Segment buyers would favour flash to boredom, but the Toyota Corolla Altis clearly proves that this line of thinking doesn’t fly.