Retro is in! But it’s very, very niche. There are three retro cars on sale in India today, which stay true to the original design, but have in fact become completely modern cars. These three are the Fiat 500, the Volkswagen Beetle and the Mini Cooper.
All the three cars command a premium in the Indian market, with the Fiat 500 being the cheapest among the lot and the Mini Cooper being the most expensive.
The Fiat 500 is probably the cutest car of the three as far as retro-styling and in keeping with the original design goes. The Fiat 500 was first launched in 1957 as a tiny two-seater with a 500 cc engine twin- cylinder petrol engine. It was discontinued in 1975. However, the new Fiat 500 that was launched in early 2008, about 50 years after the original is powered by the tried and tested 4-cylinder 1.3 litre Multijet diesel engine that does duty in many Indian hatchbacks. The engine puts out 75 bhp of power and 145 Nm of torque. The 500 is a two seater with a completely retro design theme carried out on the interiors as well. There’s a generous dose of chrome all around the car. It has modern creature comforts such as a sun-roof, climate control, ABS and integrated Bluetooth audio system – a perfect city car for two.
The Fiat 500 won’t cut it on the value-for-money front, but it is a car that you just must get if you want to stand out in a crowd. It’s hard not to notice a bright red Fiat 500 in traffic as its retro-looks and cute design is a sure-fire headturner. The car is priced at Rs. 15.5 lakh ex-showroom Delhi.
The Volkswagen Beetle that’s on sale now has very little in common with its ancestor. The present Beetle is based on the Volkswagen Golf platform and has its engine in the front, and is a front-wheel drive, unlike the air-cooled rear-engine that drove the rear wheels in the original Beetle. First launched in 1938, the original Beetle achieved cult status. The car saw various iterations on the same body shell right up to 2003, where only a limited batch were still being produced in Mexico. The new Beetle that replaced it is a much bigger car, more spacious and with all the modern creature comforts. The new VW Beetle that will go on sale soon in India is powered by a 2-litre diesel engine that puts out 140 bhp of power and has a six-speed manual transmission.
While the Beetle does deviate significantly from its original, the overall design theme is still unique and bears resemblance to the original, although a lot larger. The original Beetle was a “people’s car” but the new Beetle is more of a luxury hatchback. The new Beetle will be priced at about Rs. 21 lakh ex-showroom Delhi.
The Mini Cooper is a classic British car. But after BMW took over the brand it has got plenty of German influence, right from the way it handles to the powertrain choices. The Mini brand is sold in India by BMW and there are three models on offer – the Mini Cooper S, the Mini Cooper Countryman and the Mini Cooper Convertible. The Cooper S is the Mini that almost sticks to the original design brief, although it is uber luxurious in comparison to the original. The Mini Cooper S is powered by a 4-cylinder, 1.6 litre petrol engine that puts out 184 bhp of power. Being a light car, it is a fun-to-drive vehicle. It comes with all the safety and creature comforts you want – ABS, airbags, sunroof, large retro-electronic dials, leather-upholstery and alloy wheels with run-flat tyres.
The Mini Cooper is a complete attention-grabber. It is actually a sportscar designed as a retro-hatchback. It is powerful and peppy, and yet has the cute appeal of the original Mini. It’s not a car that you buy as value-for-money, but one that you would buy for pure individuality without really breaking the bank. The Mini Cooper S is priced at Rs. 28.9 lakh ex-showroom Delhi. Also see: Mini Cooper video
Which of these three classic retro-modern cars is your favorite? Tell us.