In early 2013, we had listed out a few cars that were instant hits for their makers. These cars went on to become the bread-and-butter models for their respective carmakers. See: Cars in 2012 that were instant hits in India
At that time we had predicted that a couple more upcoming cars would be instant hits for their makers – the Ford EcoSport and Honda Amaze. Both cars have performed phenomenally well. But in the past two years, there have been a few more that qualify as instant hits for their respective carmakers. We list out the instant hits from 2013 to 2015 in terms of sales.
The Ford EcoSport revolutionized the compact SUV segment. When launched, Ford did not anticipate the kind of demand that it had, leading to waiting periods of nearly 9 months. The EcoSport has continued to sell well despite some initial demand hiccups. In the past six months alone, Ford has sold nearly 25,000 EcoSports.
Why was the EcoSport a hit? The compact dimensions, high ground clearance and feature rich vehicle caught the fancy of the Indian consumer. It provided the benefits of an SUV (high seating position and ground clearance) with the convenience of a hatchback (under 4 metres in length) at a price point that really had no competition, with decent fuel efficiency for the diesel model and good power on the turbocharged petrol (Ecoboost) model.
The Honda Amaze has what it takes to effectively tackle the Maruti Dzire. Of course, Honda does not have the reach and network of Maruti, else the story could have been different. The Honda Amaze is the most spacious compact sedan in the market – quite a feat considering the car is limited to 4 metres in length. Even the more recently launched Hyundai Xcent has not been able to outsell it. Of course, the Dzire is still way, way ahead. In the past six months, nearly 29,700 Honda Amazes have been sold.
Why was the Amaze an instant hit? The diesel engine is what worked its magic for the Honda Amaze. The 1.5 litre iDTec diesel, putting out 100PS of power and giving a claimed fuel efficiency of 25.6 kmpl was a big draw with the crowd. The space in the passenger cabin and the 400 litre boot were added bonuses. The Amaze continues to be a value-for-money proposition.
Hyundai Elite i20
The Hyundai Elite i20 has been a runaway success for its maker. It has surpassed the sales numbers that its earlier iteration – the iGen i20 and the previous generation Hyundai i20 have managed and has opened up the market for the more expensive premium hatchbacks. The car is quite a good-looking vehicle and is loaded with features (although some were deleted compared to the iGen i20). In the past six months, the Hyundai Elite i20 has sold over 57,500 units, crossing 10,000 units a month a few times.
Why was the Hyundai Elite i20 an instant hit? The fancy styling and Hyundai’s growing reputation of reliability have helped it. It provides everything that a buyer is looking for in a car – good space, decent ride and handling, plenty of features and comfort, with easy access to a service network. The good looks, of course, being the main draw.
Hyundai Grand i10
Hyundai’s other big hit in this period has been the Hyundai Grand i10. The car sits just a segment above the earlier i10, but has changed the dynamics of what people expect in a hatchback, straddling the hatchback and premium hatchback segment. The Grand i10 was one of the first few cars to really offer a plethora of comfort features at its price point – including rear AC vents and other gizmos. The Grand i10’s sales have since stabilized a bit, with it selling more than 49,700 cars in the past six months.
Why was the Hyundai Grand i10 an instant hit? The price point at which it launched and the features that it offers are the main reasons for the Grand i10 being a hit. It offered power-folding mirrors, rear-view camera, rear AC vents etc. Another big draw, was the fuel efficient 1.1 litre diesel engine that has a fuel efficiency of over 24 kmpl.
The Maruti Ciaz has only been around for about six months, but it has got off to a great start, managing to overtake the Honda City in sales in a couple of months. However, it’s settled at the number two spot in the mid-size sedan segment. That’s still a great achievement for Maruti, as its predecessor, the SX4, did not sell well in the C-segment at all, barely managing about 1,500 in a good month. In the past six months, the Maruti Ciaz has sold about 28,100 units.
Why was the Maruti Ciaz an instant hit? One of the main reasons for its success is its styling. The luxurious look and feel of the Ciaz, coupled with the acres of interior space it offers have been its strong points. Plus this is one of the most feature-rich cars ever to come out of Maruti – with everything from a reverse camera, Bluetooth and power-folding mirrors. Yes, it’s a big deal for Maruti. The reason it hasn’t been able to become the No. 1 in the segment is the somewhat lacklustre performance from its engine options compared to the Honda City.
The Honda City was launched in the beginning of 2014, giving it a good head start over the Ciaz. But its main battle was with the Hyundai Verna, which had stolen its crown a couple of years before that. Honda, not only managed to win the “leader of the C-segment” crown back from Hyundai, but it also managed to push the Verna down the sales charts. In the past six months, the Honda City has sold over 37,100 units, nearly three times the amount that the Hyundai Verna has sold!
Why was the Honda City an instant hit? The City completely redefined what it was all about. It retained its performance offering with its peppy petrol engine and added the fuel-efficient diesel engine to the range. At over 26 kmpl claimed mileage it brought in a whole new set of buyers. Plus it was loaded with features – the top-end variant offering GPS navigation, sun-roof, reverse camera etc and loads of space inside.
The Tata Zest (and the Tata Bolt) are the cars that have a huge task cut out for them. They are the pinch-hitters for Tata – they have to deliver. That said, the Tata Zest has been off to a good start, redefining Tata’s image as a carmaker. These cars are focussed more on the personal buyer rather than the commercial segment. The Zest has sold over 18,600 units in the past six months – not phenomenal when compared to other compact sedans like the Amaze or Dzire, but a good number for Tata.
Why is the Zest a hit? The Tata Zest is showcasing Tata’s prowess with technology. It came with a 1.2 litre turbo-charged petrol engine with multiple drive modes – a first for the segment. It also offers a fantastic infotainment system with automatic climate control on the top-end variant. Fit and finish is leagues ahead of what earlier Tata cars were. It is also great to drive and has good passenger comfort.
The Maruti Suzuki Celerio was launched in early 2014 and the car’s unique selling proposition was the automated manual transmission (AMT) it brought to the equation. The first-in-class feature has redefined how Indians look at automatic gearbox equipped cars and the Celerio AMT’s strong sales have prompted many car makers in India to bet big on AMT technology. In the past six months, Maruti has sold nearly 33,500 units of the Celerio.
Why was the Celerio an instant hit? It offered an affordable automatic transmission that redefined what an automatic car could offer. It offered great fuel efficiency on the AMT gearbox – over 20 kmpl for an automatic. And it was spacious enough, had a decent feature list, and of course a price point that was attractive.
The Mahindra Scorpio is not an “all-new” vehicle as far as the brand goes, but it is an “all-new” product with a new chassis, more features, a facelifted design and tweaks to the engine, transmission and suspension that make it quite an improved product over the earlier Scorpio. This is its biggest makeover yet in the history of the Scorpio since 2002. And the makeover has delivered – the Scorpio has not seen its sales dip at all, holding on to its leadership position in the budget SUV space (not considering its sibling the Bolero). In the past six months, since its launch, the new Scorpio has sold nearly 28,600 units.
Why was the Mahindra Scorpio an instant hit? Mahindra knows how to play to the gallery. It thrives on making butch, rugged SUVs, with radical styling and loading them with features. The new Scorpio is no different. The biggest changes are under the skin with a new chassis and suspension that have improved the ride quality and driving dynamics considerably, while retaining the rugged image of the Scorpio.
Up ahead, we see a few more potential hits that would be launched this year. The Hyundai iX25 has got quite a bit of buzz going for it, and so does the Maruti YRA compact SUV. Other reasonable hits are likely to be the Renault Lodgy, the upcoming Ford Figo, and possibly one more hit for Tata.
Also see: New car launches of 2015