Nine lives? These cars can live longer – Part I

Following our previous article on cars that could easily cross the 1,50,000 km milestone, we got bombarded by comments on how their cars have been running successfully. The key to having a trouble-free ownership is how one takes care of his/her car, apart from the longevity of the product itself. In this article, we include a few popular cars that seem to go on forever.

Premier Padmini

premier padmini photo

While its arch rival, the Morris Oxford based Hindustan Ambassador, might have continued to be on sale until about a year ago, the Premier Padmini had a relatively shorter life. What started life as Fiat 1100, the car was brought to India by Premier Automobiles Limited (PAL), and can still be seen running on Indian roads.

The front-engined rear-wheel drive car wasn’t just a classy way to cover ground, it proved to be very popular among enthusiasts. And now, it’s making its presence in the classic car circles as well, with various owner and fan clubs running successfully.

Since it has been present (in abundance) for a very long time, there are a plenty of mechanics who know the car inside out, so living with it is not an issue. But with stricter emission norms being imposed, the Padmini might lose its everyday usability. For everything else, it’s still one of the best products that love could buy; valuing it in monetary terms would be disrespect to the car.

Maruti 800

Maruti 800 Car

The first Maruti brought and publicly sold in India was the Suzuki SS80. The cars that followed successfully catapulted Maruti Udyog India Limited to heights that are still not reachable by most competitors.

The Maruti 800 featured a 796cc engine, was originally the people’s car, and with bulletproof reliability, it still continues to soldier on, albeit the last one left the production line last year. The light controls were a boon for Indian roads, but the company did keep it on sale (and almost left it without any updates) a bit longer than they should have.

It’s fun to drive, and if you too follow the ‘less is more’ philosophy, the car still makes sense. It was a pivot point in the history of automobiles in India, and still continues to enjoy that status.

Hyundai Santro

Hyundai Santro Front

Arguably the only automobile company that understands its customers so well, Hyundai made an entry to the Indian market back in 1998. The tallboy Santro not just proved to be a better alternative to the Indo-Japanese cars in the segment but also marked the beginning of Hyundai India’s reign.

Reliable and spacious, the Santro also ranks high in terms of driveability. The car was finally succeeded by the i10, but you can still find innumerable examples plying on Indian roads, most of which have a content owner behind the wheel.

It was discontinued recently, so owning one today won’t be too problematic. It lacks safety features, which is a negative point, but apart from that, the Santro (in any of the post-Zip drive avatars) won’t have a problem tackling everyday situations today.

Maruti Suzuki Swift

1st Generation Maruti Suzuki Swift Hatchback

Maruti’s reliability record is pretty strong, but sadly most of their products fail to feel premium, as say a Hyundai would, or well-built, as say a Fiat (not talking about fit and finish here!) or VW would. When launched in the decade that passed, the Swift successfully managed to bring customers to the premium hatchback segment, and upped the company’s status, too.

It drove really well, was good to look at (sporty, in fact) and was backed by Maruti’s impressive sales and service. Things went one step further when the Fiat-sourced diesel engine was put inside the Swift’s engine bay. The sales climbed and the user base grew.

Now, a decade hence, people still continue to drive theirs happily. The new Swift was further improved, and while it feels a bit claustrophobic at the rear, the car continued to do well. What must be noted is that, the Swift successfully managed to prove naysayers wrong – the diesel engine can run without any issues and the Swift diesel is a testament to that.

Hyundai Accent

Hyundai Accent

In terms of phonetics, the Hyundai Accent has been replaced by the Xcent. And in terms of the market position, the same has been done by the Verna. But the Accent, discontinued about two years ago, still continues to exist in a lot of happy homes.

While the Accent Viva was a legend in itself – bet there was no other car in the segment that looked so cool and offered as much practicality – the regular Accent wasn’t a market success for no reason. It introduced us to the CRDi engine, wasn’t too expensive to run, had a faster ‘GTX Tornado’ version, too, and offered low seating – something that car enthusiasts love.

Toyota Qualis

toyota qualis photo

Talking of longevity and leaving the Qualis would be a sin. Toyota India doesn’t have a huge range of sporty cars on sale in India, but the cars that exist (might be a bit bland in terms of design and the way they drive) keep going on and on…

The Qualis epitomises that, and right from the day it arrived from Toyota Kirloskar’s manufacturing plant, the vehicle has won hearts (and sales) because of reliability, longevity, space, and brand value.

The MUV not only affected the sales of existing products from Tata and Mahindra, but also paved way for its successor, the Innova.

Honda City


Owing to the widespread torque and great fuel efficiency, diesel cars are the market’s favourite here in India. And while the receding gap between petrol and diesel prices, and bans on old diesel vehicles are making petrol cars very relevant again, the fact that Honda City continued in the market without a diesel engine (until last year) speaks a lot about the car.

Unlike the first generation ‘VTEC’ which was an enthusiasts’ favourite, the models that followed failed to garner much love from the same set of people. But the city proved its mettle when it came to longevity. City owners seldom switch brands, and there’s a reason behind that. Not just that Honda offers world class products, the owners get so accustomed to their cars because the City does everything so well. Except offering the drive some feedback, that is.