When we as Indian motorists look and see the variety of cars available and on sale in other markets, we sulk. And immediately think why manufactures in India are not getting cooler cars or their better versions. It’s simple they were too risky. The sales numbers would not be high enough to justify the launch and selling to a market that only has small population of enthusiasts. But from time to time, a OEM decides to take that risk and bank on us, the enthusiasts to get our hands on the different, weird and unlikely choice.
Below are 10 such cars that came to India. Some did well, some not so much and some formed their own cult following.
1) Ford Fiesta 1.6S
The Ford Fiesta 1.6S was a proper enthusiasts car. There was great suspension, brakes, chassis balance, which all translated to greatest handling and fun available for the Indian petrol-head before the VW Polo GT arrived. But Indians loved the diesel version of this car more and that meant it had to go.
2) Skoda Fabia
The Fabia was a spectacular offering in the Indian market. German (Czeh badging) engineering and quality in a hatchback package. But Skoda’s service issues and the introduction of the Polo which was a better looking car sealed this hatchbacks faith.
3) Tata Nano
The people’s car was great. An brilliant idea. Performed well. had good space and was a boon in city traffic. Bad marketing of touting it as the cheapest car in the world lead to this wonderful true city cars end.
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4) Tata JTP twins
Tata entered the performance arena and what happened? The Indian enthusiast who now is older and has to buy a car for his family went and bought a more economical SUV or compact sedan. These were great cars that were truly different and more powerful than its standard versions. They are sadly gone too.
5) Fiat Linea T-Jet
A fast sedan that could go to office in a dignified manner over the week, take the kids to school, ferry the family in comfort and on the weekends become a hooligan. The Linea was great but a limited retail network and dismal sales did not only end the road for this car but also Fiat in India.
6) Skoda Yeti
Still one of the coolest looking SUVs around. It stood out of the crowd of boring SUVs with its European design and German quality like no other SUV at the time. It did not catch on sadly due to the pricing being as expensive as a Fortuner at the time. Skoda bring it back.
7) Ford Fusion
The first crossover to take on India before the SCross, Creta or the value for money options that came later in the form of compact SUVs. The Fusion was truly underrated. Its size then was not understood like today and buyers of traditional big SUVs stayed away from this Ford.
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8) Zen Carbon
You can’t find one today that has not been tinkered with or modified. It was Maruti testing the waters for enthusiasts and offered a bold three door hatchback. The three-door solution never was understood in India and thus this car is a rare sight on Indian roads today.
9) Hyundai Getz
Before the Maruti Swift or the Tata India Vista were cool big hatchbacks to own, the Getz was the one to buy. Comfortable, cheap, good performance, great mileage and adequate features. This was the perfect recipe for the Indian buyer. But once the others with the Swift Jazz caught up, the Getz was done.
10) Nissan Teana
Big, luxurious, feature loaded and could be had with a V6. And that was a problem. Only a petrol V6 meant bad fuel economy and buying a diesel Accord, Superb or Camry made more sense than the longest car in the class – Nissan Teana.