10 significant launches of the decade

Well, the year is coming to an end and here we at Indiandrives are looking forward to the New Year, as are most of your readers. With the end of 2010, not only does the year come to an end but also a decade. For the Indian automotive industry, this has been a big time boom. There were many cars launched, some cars retired and many more news which always ensured that the Indian automobile hub was always the point of discussion. To put things into perspective, we have actually witnessed a revolution.We have listed out some of the best launches in terms of mass appeal and procurement during this decade.

Ford Ikon 2000 –

Starting with the Ford Ikon in India, the first car to be launched in the year 2000, it catapulted Ford India’s image as makers of sporty vehicles. The Ford Ikon in India was launched in 3 engine options. The 1.3 liter petrol which was termed as the “Josh” machine for its performance but delivered good fuel economy at the same time, the 1.6 liter petrol which was made to satisfy only the enthusiast crowd and then the ultra fuel economist 1.8 liter diesel engine. All these cars catered to one or the other clientele and paved the way for bringing in further Ford India models. Even after a decade, this car still sells in India with the same 1.3 liter engine and a more modern 1.4 liter diesel motor under the hood.

Maruti Suzuki Alto 2001 –

This small car was dubbed as a replacement for the Maruti 800 worldwide however as is the norm in the Indian market, this car was sold alongside the Maruti 800. It was a bigger and costlier option to the Maruti 800. Initial slow sales picked up when Maruti Suzuki India Limited offered huge discounts and then some sprucing up of the interiors. People begun to recognize this car as a safer option to the bare bones Maruti 800. It was the best seller for Maruti Suzuki India Limited for consecutive 6 years thereon after which it was replaced by more modern rivals in the sales chart. Over the years, it has undergone significant changes both in the interiors and under the hood, the more recent one been the introduction of the K10 engine and elongation of the wheelbase.

Fiat Palio 2002 –

This car was dubbed as the vehicle which would bail out Fiat India Limited out of its economy crisis. It sort of did revive Fiat India Limited’s fortunes but only for a short while. This had nothing to do with the Fiat Palio as of such but then it had more to do with the pathetic sales and service of the Fiat company. It was initially launched with a 1.3 liter petrol engine, 1.9 diesel engine and a stonking 1.6 liter engine. The latter was only for those harping for performance. Circa 2007, this car was again relaunched in India with a new 1.2 liter engine{the fuel efficiency for the old 1.3 liter engine was dismal as compared to the other hatches} and a 1.3 liter Multijet engine. The 1.6 liter motor was relinquished to oblivion. As of now, the Fiat Palio still soldiers on in India and may be due for another revamp shortly. It actually invented the hot hatch scenario and one which every manufacturer is trying to vie for.

Mahindra Scorpio 2003 –

This was Mahindra and Mahindra’s first foray into the urban market, the Mahindra Scorpio. The best part is that there was no help taken from any foreign agencies while this SUV was conceptualized. It was dubbed as an alternative to the other Indian product, the Tata Safari. The morale of the company was boosted when Bollywood star, Ajay Devgann{we accord to numerology} took the first delivery of this stylish SUV. There was no looking back for Mahindra and Mahindra. Though there were some problems with the SUV’s ride, handling and engine intercooler package, these gripes were ironed out with new editions been launched every year. Initially it was offered with a 2.6 liter CRDE engine option putting out 110 Bhp whereas the 2.1 liter petrol engine churned out 116 bhp. The former was a best seller due to the engine option and cheap running costs. As of now, the Mahindra Scorpio is offered with two diesel engines, one is the same 2.6 liter CRDE for the rural markets whereas for the urban markets, it is the 2.2 liter turbo charged M-Hawk diesel which produces 120 Bhp.

Honda City 2004 –

This car was a significant improvement from the old one in terms of interior space. It was an entirely new design and one which was for sure a love or hate at first sight one. It still got buyers who were impressed with the acres of interior space, calm demeanors of the car and also its ultra frugal petrol engine. Honda Siel Motors India Limited still skimped on some equipment for this car and were widely criticized for the lack of giving an I-vtec motor in place of the I-dsi one doing duties. Criticism taken well, Honda Siel Motors India Limited introduced an anniversary edition of this car and plonked a 1.5 liter I-vtec motor churning out 100 Bhp. There was literally a melee for this car and they were sold out in no time. In October 2008, Honda Siel Motors Limited launched an all new Honda City with only one 1.5 liter Ivtec motor putting out 118 Bhp. This was pricier by about Rs 1.5 lakhs than the outgoing model but it still sold the same crazy numbers that Honda Citys always did in India.

Maruti Suzuki Swift 2005 –

This was the other small car or rather mini hatch from India’s largest car maker, Maruti Suzuki India Limited. This car won rave reviews and was one of the best designs in the Maruti Suzuki portfolio. Even before the company started offering test drives for this car, there was a 6 months waiting period. No wonder, Maruti Suzuki India Limited had to multiply their production and workers were made to work overtime. Initially it was offered with the same engine as the Maruti Suzuki Esteem however in a tweaked form raising 88 bhp. Later on, the famous Fiat multijet diesel made its debut under the hood of this car and the waiting periods increased to 8 months. In keeping with modern times, Maruti Suzuki India Limited introduced a new 1.2 liter K series petrol engine which produced the same power figure but better fuel economy and emission norms compilation. In Europe, a new Suzuki Swift may have made its debut however it wouldn’t be until 2011 that we would get it in India. Truly a hot hatch.

Honda Civic 2006-

Honda Siel Motors India Limited launched this stunner on the unsuspecting Indian public. It was Honda’s other premium offering than the Honda Accord. It was a worthy alternative to the Toyota Corolla, Chevrolet Optra and the Skoda Octavia. Its space age look coupled with the futuristic interiors won it many fans and for a short while, there was a waiting period for this class act. Its handling and impressive ride quality coupled to the fun to drive but frugal engine ensures that it still stays on top of the segment, no matter who the competition is. In 2009, the company in keeping in line with the environmental concern, launched a Honda Civic Hybrid but found a few takers due to its almost Mercedes C class price tag. Honda took some time to rectify this by reducing the price tag by 40% and only then could the stocks be cleared. Recently the Honda Civic was slightly tweaked but those were only cosmetic changes and no changes were done to the engine.

Hyundai I10 2007 –

This small car in India was dubbed as a replacement for the popular Hyundai Santro. However as is the norm in India, it sells alongside the Hyundai Santro in India. The Hyundai I10 was available initially in one 1.0 liter engine trim. This was the same engine from the Hyundai Santro but in a tweaked form. Later on, in keeping with emission compliance, the company also introduced a 1.1 liter Kappa engine with higher power output. Indian car buying public soon began to recognize the potentials of this small car and they lapped it up with an eagerness as displayed for the Suzuki Swift. Not content to rest on their laurels, the Korean company introduced even better engine options in 2010 and are also set to launch the diesel version of this car sometimes later on next year.

Hyundai I20 2008 –

Following on the footsteps of its smaller sibling, the Hyundai I20 was launched in India by Hyundai Motors India Limited. The Hyundai I20 is a super-mini hatch from the manufacturer. This is in keeping with the trend of getting hatch backs which can give sedans a run for their money and at the same time are less costly than the sedans. The Hyundai I20 in India was launched with the underpowered{for this car} 1.2 liter engine from the Hyundai I10 and then later on with a 1.4 liter diesel motor. Then came a 1.4 liter petrol engine mated with an automatic transmission. It epitomized the quotient of space in a hatchback and made sense for those looking for the convenience of a hatch. It is one of the safest cars in India with a 5 star rating for safety. It gives and option for 6 air bags, ABS, EBD and traction control. Well, you can’t ask for more from a price point below Rs 8 lakhs. Moreover, Hyundai Motors India Limited have started exporting the Hyundai I20 from India across to the world.

Tata Nano 2009 –

This was one car which the whole world was waiting with bated breath. Since its announcement by Mr.Ratan Tata at the start of the decade, this car was mired with controversies and other delays. However when it was finally launched in 2009, people marveled at its cost effectiveness and at the same time the finesse of qualities like space, performance, fuel efficiency and ease of driving from a small car. Though it was offered via lottery scheme earlier, as of now, it is been offered over the shelf. Due to some incidents of the car catching fire and also some reliability issues, the sales figure of the car dropped to low 3 digits. Tata Motors responded by adding a safety fuse, shield over the silencer and also by offering a 4 years warranty on the Tata Nano. This somehow has spruced up the sales quotient and the small car from India is now been exported across to the world. A Rs 1 lakhs car is now available in India and for the world.

Toyota Etios 2010-

This was launched almost at the end of the decade and still it features in this list. This is because this sedan is an all new made for India sedan and the first one by Toyota Kirloskar Motors to have such a low cost. The Toyota Etios is yet to be seen on the Indian roads however the company already has its hands full with booking for approximately 6 months. It remains to be seen if they would stop the bookings like they did for the Toyota Fortuner. This is an all new platform and would also spawn a hatchback and a small SUV. The car itself promises class leading space, fuel efficient engine, amazing ride and handling along with the Toyota reliability. It remains to be however seen how the car would fare on the Indian roads. It is priced at par with its would be nemesis, the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire.

We have excluded all CBUs or imports and have mostly considered vehicles below Rs 15 lakhs as these are considered to have mass appeal and in some way or the other have influenced the Indian market scenario. Looking forward for the New Year 2011.

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