Snapshot – Safety isn’t what’s foremost on car buyers’ minds, say the automakers, choosing this reason to conveniently sell cars that are under equipped in terms of safety features offered. It’s all relative of course, and the lower spec of safety equipment on Indian cars is glaring when these cars are compared to their equivalents in developed markets. Here are five such global hatchbacks that have lost significant safety features in the Indian car market. To highlight this seeming discrepancy, we’ll pick out cars sold in both developed and developing markets.
Maruti Suzuki Swift
The Swift that Maruti Suzuki builds in India and exports to emerging car markets around the world many not be very differently equipped in terms of safety equipment. However, developed markets such as Japan and the European Union gain vastly improved safety equipment. For instance, the right hand drive Swift hatchback sold in the UK market features safety options such as ESP, hill hold assist and side, curtain and knee airbags. This isn’t all, the car also manages to score a full five star rating on the Euro NCAP safety test cycle, a feat that the India-spec Swift will find impossible to surpass in its current state. In India, the Swift is offered with ABS+EBD and twin airbags on the top end petrol and diesel variants.
Maruti Alto 800/K10
The Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 and K10 models are exported to Algeria with not just airbags but also ABS+EBD, two features that can mean the difference between life and death. In India though, the only major safety feature offered on both these cars, apart from the regulation three point seat belt, is a steering mounted airbag. Given that the Alto twins have performed dismally in the Global NCAP safety rating tests, adding active and passive safety features could make the cars safer. However, the weak body structure continues to remain a bone of contention, and one that isn’t likely to be resolved anytime soon.
Hyundai i20 Elite
The Hyundai i20 Elite made its global in India, and it was only later that the car was launched in Europe. The Euro-spec version of the car, bound by regulatory environment in that part of the world, adds safety equipment to the equation. The car’s bodyshell is also said to be stronger in the Euro-spec variant than that on the Indian version. Talking of the safety features, the i20 Elite sold in Europe offers a flurry of equipment ranging from 6 airbags, hill start assist and lane departure warning, to electronic stability program (ESP), vehicle stability management (VSM), ABS+EBD and disc brakes on all four wheels, making the i20 Elite quite a safe car indeed.
The Nissan Micra sold in the United Kingdom is a better equipped car than the one sold in India, in terms of safety features on offer. Six airbags, ABS+EBD, ESP, a tyre pressure monitoring system and cruise control are offered. In India, twin airbags and ABS+EBD are the only major safety features that the Micra gets. Nissan India has been under a cloud of sorts over the weak safety structure of the Datsun Go. The car maker is making amends though, what with a better equipped version of the Go due to be unveiled shortly. If some of this focus on safety percolates to the Micra, the car would be a safer ride in town.
Hyundai Grand i10
The Hyundai Grand i10 that’s sold in the UK gets four solid disc brakes. In India though, the car makes do with drum brakes for its rear wheels. This is just one of the many safety exclusions that the car sees for the Indian market. Other exclusions include the likes of an ESP, ABS+EBD and a full complement of six airbags. As one of Hyundai India’s best selling cars, a safer Grand i10 variant is bound to appeal to the select few who want a safer drive on Indian roads, most of which are considered very unsafe.