Friday, November 02, 2007

Pa's the answer to Splash

Just when you thought the B (or A2) segment of Indian cars got a little boring, there’s a lot of news to cheer up.

Almost all the cars in the segment are quite old. Santro has become an old-looking race horse, Zen Estilo never did justice to the Zen brand, Wagon-R and Indica have been around for a while and don’t really do justice in the looks department, and Spark is stuttering to even start, probably because of its Chevrolet association.

It was time for a change, and I think Hyundai has got it right. I10, or the Hyundai Pa as its known elsewhere, has arrived, and, with Maruti Suzuki’s Splash (Wagon-R’s cuter replacement) set to release next year, I10’s release has set the car-war rolling again. It’s refreshing to see some change in the hottest car segment in India.

It was time Hyundai replaced Santro coz of its dated design, and it was time Maruti had one solid product in the entry segment. I think Maruti somehow didn't have a real winner as far as the looks are concerned in this segment, probably because of its recent focus in Swift, SX4 and the Grand Vitara. B-Segment is really a cash cow in India, and products such as ‘I10’ and ‘Splash’ would just be the perfect bets to get the cash registers rolling for the two biggest car makers in India. I love the fact there are new options for the car buyer. A lot of other segments are boring for lack of competition. For example, you don’t have a real choice in ‘A’ segment – it’s just between the M800 and Alto, both from the Maruti stable. B+ Segment’s got Swift and Getz, but Swift is easily a no-brainer. Also, Skoda’s premium hatchback (Skoda Fabia) will be positioned in the C segment.

That said, the segment that could really do better is the entry level Segment ‘C’. If you are looking for a petrol car between 5L and 6L with a boot, there’s really no car that you could go with without thinking too much or compromising on one factor or the other. Esteem is from our grand-daddy’s generation, Logan looks boxy and sometimes yucky (and you don’t want to pay that much for a car that some just wouldn’t like), Indigo Petrol is not refined as the other ones in this segment, and Ikon has got maintenance issues. Of course, Hynudai Accent’s slow phase out was a case study example of killing a solid cash-cow of a brand.

In short, I would love to see some real action in this segment. I personally had to stretch to reach the SX4 since this segment was out of solid options. 2008 is going to be one fine year.


At Saturday, November 03, 2007 12:06:00 AM, Blogger Ramkumar said...

hi senior or shud i say machan.
indian car buyers have traditionally chosen substance over style. U can even sense the same sentiment in US with indians opting for japanese cars instead of american.
But the opinion is changing now a days with more and more beneficiaries of indian economy boom wanting to buy a car in A or B segment with some extra cash to lose. Every car co. launching in india would have robustness in mind first before thinking of style. I bought Wagon-R for the following reasons.
1. i can sit upright in it. though the center of gravity wud b little high than other cars bcos of it.
2. Maruthi stable - fuel efficiency.
3. Ground clearance - Indian roads sir. even with this car i hit the bottom few times.
4. Look is also not that bad. come on it is definitely better than 800.

At Saturday, November 03, 2007 12:33:00 AM, Blogger Govar said...

@Ramkumar - hi da! :) I totally agree that Wagon-R is a very practical and is probably the most sensible if you want to keep the running costs down (Gas option), but it's time for a change. Most cars around the world get a redesign after 5/6 years and it's time for all cars in Segment B. That's exactly what these car companies are upto too. For example, even Honda City and Corolla are in for a new look in 2008. A change is always good, a refreshing change only more so.


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