It’s a scary world out there, and anticipation can lead to dissatisfaction, mentioned one of my forefathers. Well, he must have been correct, but he of course didn’t know of hyped products that lived up to the hype. How times have changed! We now have a list of cars that got a lot of hype but eventually managed to be market successes.
Starting with the oldest here,
Showcased at the 2012 Auto Expo, the EcoSport was a precursor to what the compact SUV (or sub-compact SUV now) segment. It merged the goodness of a conventional hatchback but offered a better ability to travel on bad roads. The EcoSport then seemed like an idea that no other carmaker had successfully adapted to but the market was ready to welcome.
It took the company a little more than a year to finally introduce it to the market. But once that happened, not only did the company get an overwhelmingly good response, the buyers also got a product that worked as promised. Far from a great-handling Ford, the EcoSport was more about being an urban crossover SUV and it fared really well in that regard.
Honda City Diesel
Launched more than a decade ago, Honda City as a brand has seen the market grow, the shift to different body-styles, and the eventual liking for diesel units. The latter hurt the Japanese carmaker the most as competitors (with diesel engines, of course) continued to more successful. Both the market and the prospective buyer asked Honda for a diesel engined version, but that didn’t happen until late 2013.
So from being a market leader the City went to become just another sedan offering. Having said that, the City braved the competition and continued to be a prominent petrol-powered player, until it got a diesel engine. The anticipation was huge, considering the buyers had waited long enough and the company was betting big, too. The 1.5-liter diesel engine was introduced in the Honda Amaze first, but when Honda used it in the City (with a 6-speed gearbox, no less), the sales charts spoke for the product. Leading the segment, like the good old days, the City manages an average sales of about 6-7,000 monthly units.
Before the sub-categorisation of the compact SUV started, there were only two prominent models: the Ford EcoSport and the larger Renault Duster. Hyundai India, known to make feature-rich products, was absent from the segment. WIth the ix25 available in certain markets, it was clear what Hyundai had in store for the segment in India. Unsurprisingly the market was waiting eagerly for the product. And irrespective of how the product was, it was almost a certainty that the upcoming compact SUV was about to get good looks, a well-made interior, and a wide range of engines.
So when the Creta came out, not only did it manage to live up to the speculated reports, it did so while proving to be better than the competition in a couple of areas. The compact SUV currently manages about 7,000 sales every month, and with the company’s recent decision of bumping up the production, expect shorter waiting periods for the same, too.
Maruti Suzuki Baleno
Dethroning the Maruti Swift from its position as the segment-leader in the premium hatchback segment is a task in itself. And it would have needed the challenger to not just be aggressively priced but also boast segment-leading features to do so. Internally known as YRA, the wait for the Baleno was huge, thanks to continuously available spy shots and the prospects of it being a Swift replacement.
And while it didn’t dethrone the Swift, but with prices starting at just under Rs 5 lakh (when launched; have been revised since), the Baleno managed to claim the premium hatchback segment like no other car. The use of a lightweight platform ensured it performed adequately well with the same engines as the Swift’s, had a premium cabin inside, and offered more spacious, too. The vehicle manages about 7k units every month.
They say the Maruti Alto range is insurmountable. Well, they must not be lying because it offers you adequately powerful engines (for city driving) that are inexpensive to run and maintain. Now if any product that came close to hustling the Alto is the Renault Kwid. Showcased before launch — enough to create the hype — the vehicle boasts crossover styling but with the practicality of an entry-level small car.
Now, months after being introduced, the Kwid has crossed 1,00,000 bookings and continues to be a strong proposition in the segment. Not only did it manage to live up to the hype, with new models to be made available (1-liter and AMT gearbox coming this year) it will cater to a wider range of buyers.