Tata Estate to Maruti Baleno Altura: 10 FORGOTTEN ‘station wagons’ of India

The Indian automotive scene has always been very conservative in terms of choices. Many interesting body types like coupes and two door hatches never gained popularity. Another type is station wagons, which are very popular in many countries but not in India. Basically, a station wagon, aka an estate, is based on a sedan but has a larger cargo area owing to the bigger body form. While they might not have gained popularity, quite a handful of these vehicles have been sold in our country. Here’s a look at 10 forgotten station wagons of India. Don’t forget to check the video at the end!

Fiat Padmini Premier Safari

The Fiat Premier Padmini was one of the most popular car of its time. However, its station wagon variant might not be as well known . It was called the Fiat Premier Padmini Safari and was the first station wagon in India. The Padmini Safari was manufactured by a Mumbai-based coach-building company called Starline Motors. The estate was launched in 1973, and was more spacious than the regular sedan variant. It was powered by a 40-PS, four-cylinder, petrol engine and never sold well but you can still find some restored Premier Safaris.

HM ‪Ambassador Estate

Bet you didn’t saw this coming. Hindustan Motors also made a station wagon based on the regular Ambassador. The estate version came out much later though, in the 1970s when the sedan was already being sold since 1958. The company just attached a box with metal and glass which is quite apparent in the picture. It was based on the Oxford Traveller and offered more space than the sedan.

Maruti Baleno Altura

The Maruti Baleno’s estate version was launched some time after the sedan’s launch. Called the Altura, it was a total dud-seller. The Baleno itself never sold much but Altura’s sales were even more pathetic. This, in spite of the fact that the petrol engine was high on performance and fuel efficiency. The Altura even offered a more spacious interior than the sedan. It came with features like a speed-sensitive power steering, Kenwood audio system, alloy wheels and all four electric windows.

Skoda ‪Octavia Combi

Skoda Octavia Combi vRS was the name given to the absolutely nuts Octavia vRS sedan. The Combi vRS was powered by a crazy 1.8-litre, turbocharged petrol engine that produced 151 PS, similar to the sedan. The Combi vRS was offered with some bright paint shades and also featured a stylish yet subtle body kit. It can also be called as the hot estate of the country, and the only one we had.

Tata ‪Indigo Marina

The Tata Indigo Marina was company’s attempt to make a station wagon. Based on the Indigo sedan, it was a decent sedan and quite spacious too. However, it lacked on many grounds, chief of them being that it was underpowered and thirsty. Also, it had a poor build quality, something which was common with all the older Tata cars. It was powered by a 1.4-litre petrol and diesel engines that was  shared with the Indigo sedan.

Opel Corsa Swing

The Opel Corsa is a well known sedan made by the now defunct (in India) company. Opel also launched the lesser known Swing in 2003, which essentially was an estate version of the Corsa sedan. Powering the car was a rather thirsty 1.6-litre petrol engine that produced a max power of 94 PS. It was one of the fastest station wagons of the country and had a true top speed of more than 170 kmph. Unlike many other station wagons, the Corsa Swing looked quite good but never managed to sell decently.

Rover Montego Station Wagon

The Rover Montego station wagon was a result of a partnership between Britain’s Rover Motors and Bangalore-based Sipani Automobiles Ltd. The car was launched here in 1993 and was a feature rich vehicle. The Montego with many features such as a sunroof and a self-levelling suspension among others. It was powered by a 1,991-cc turbo diesel motor that produced 80 PS of maximum power and 165 Nm of peak torque.

‪Tata Estate

The Tata Estate was company’s first attempt at making a passenger car. The Estate came with multiple first features like power windows, power steering, 15-inch wheels, factory-fitted cassette player and a tachometer among others. The vehicle was designed loosely on a Mercedes station wagon of that era. The Tata Estate offered a spacious interior and was powered by a non-turbocharged 1.9-litre diesel engine that offered 68 PS of maximum power. The car didn’t do very well in sales as it wasn’t too reliable and the engine also wasn’t too powerful.

Fiat Weekend

The Fiat Weekend was based on the Siena sedan, which in turn was based on the Palio hatchback. The Weekend was launched in India in 2002 and came as a more spacious alternative to its sedan sibling. It was designed by the renowned Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italy and was produced at the company’s Ranjangaon facility. Powering the Fiat Weekend was a 1.6-liter petrol engine. No prizes for guessing that the car did poorly in terms of sales.

Fiat Palio Adventure

Fiat Palio Adventure was another estate that was based on the same platform. The Adventure was basically a Weekend with plastic cladding, wider tyres and sportier alloy wheels. The body cladding and the factory-fitted bullbar gave the Palio Adventure a pretty rugged look. It was powered by the same 1.6-litre petrol unit that powered the Palio 1.6 GTX. The Adventure didn’t find many takers and was eventually discontinued owing to a really low demand.

Image sources – 12610

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