With the year ending, we look at cars that were significant in 2015 – because of not only their sales success or promising starts but also how they managed to create a difference in the market.
Starting with the smallest and least expensive:
Launched in October this year, the Renault Kwid offered crossover styling at the price of an entry-level hatchback. Now that has worked wonders for the vehicle: the company is said to have received about 75,000 bookings for the vehicle and with customers ready to wait for up to 10 months for delivery, it’s a success indeed. Thankfully, Renault has plans to up the production, and with a heavy localization (about 98 per cent), it should not be a problem, either. Also see: Kwid vs Alto vs Eon
Why it matters: Styling different from the norm – something that singlehandedly managed to catch the prospective buyers’ attention. In addition to that, the Kwid as a product received good reviews, too.
The new Figo has big shoes to fill, given that in its previous iteration the Figo was well appreciated, from both customers and reviewers. The new one is thankfully better in most ways, which has certainly worked for the company. It is off to a promising start, managing about 3.5k units in October and about 2.8k units in November. Also see: Figo petrol and diesel review
Why it matters: As a package the Figo makes much more sense than it ever did. It’s more powerful, has an improved interior, doesn’t scrape its undersides easily, and is even offered with a decently quick automatic gearbox version.
Maruti Suzuki Baleno
Unlike the new Figo which succeeded the old one, the Baleno has to live up to a name that left the company’s line up long ago. However, if you would like to draw parallels, this Baleno makes for a better product than the older Baleno, in more than one ways. First it trumps MSIL’s superstar, the Swift, at its own game by being lightweight, fun to drive, and efficient. To top it all, with a starting price of just under Rs 5 lakhs, the Baleno is good enough to attract customers from two distinct segments. The result is 4k sales in October (keep in mind that it was launched on October 26) and 9k in November, beating the Swift and inching close to the Hyundai i20.
Why it matters: The base version comes with dual airbags standard, which is a first for a numbers-oriented Maruti bar the S-Cross. Pricing has been very crucial and MSIL has managed to have a clear winner here.
Was everybody bored with the Ford EcoSport and the Renault Duster in the segment? Maybe. And what was the best way to make the most of the situation? Launch a new product. That’s what Hyundai did, and given the success of the Creta, it’s clear that Hyundai made a point that it wasn’t too late in joining the party. In terms of sales, Hyundai has managed to average about 7k monthly sales figure.
Why it matters: Thankfully it’s not just the hype that the Creta relies on, it comes with a wide range of engine+gearbox choices (two diesels, one petrol; manual as standard on both, automatic optional on larger diesel), well-made and feature rich interior, and good looks. Also see: Honda BR-V to challenge XUV500, not Creta
Fiat Abarth Punto
Think of it as Fiat’s way of thanking its fans and enthusiasts! The India-made Abarth Punto is based on the India-spec Punto Evo, has a ‘stonker’ of an engine, and is inarguably the most fun to drive car for the money that can handle well. Being enthusiast oriented, don’t expect huge sales, but as a product, it’s very promising indeed. Also see: Why enthusiasts love the Abarth Punto but won’t buy it
Why it matters: Likes the Palio GTX of the yore, the Fiat Abarth Punto introduces the concept of hot hatch like no other. To top it all, the vehicle isn’t too expensive but addictive in its own way. Own one and you’ll end up driving it more, and deriving more pleasure than any other car in its segment.