India’s largest car maker – Maruti Suzuki has almost every model ruling the segment it sells in. More than half of the Indian car market is owned by Maruti. This is the dominance that Maruti enjoys in the country. However, not all cars from Maruti have been successful. There have been big flops as well. Some were variants, others were independent models. It wasn’t that all of them were bad, but few of them couldn’t be successful due to bad marketing strategies or customer perception. We take a look at the top 5 cars from Maruti that flopped.
The Maruti Zen was a hit in the 90’s This Jellybean design soon caught up in the market and it became a premium alternative hatchback to the 800. Late on Maruti introduced a new variant of the Zen called the Zen Classic. It had a retro appeal and the headlamps, taillamps and the chrome plated grilled were designed in a classic fashion. The round headlamps with chrome bezels did not gel well with the otherwise modern design of the hatchback. However, apart from trying to look retro, The Zen classic actually looked ugly. Obviously, it did not go down well with buyers and this was a reason t bombed in the market.
Maruti’s second attempt to make a people mover bomber big time. The Omni was hugely successful, but the Versa flopped. The main reason for that is said to be the price. Though it came with a 1.3-litre aluminium engine, shared with Esteem, it was the high price point that acted as a deterent to this spacious van. Making Amitabh Bachchan the brand ambassador of this vehicle also could not save it from being a disaster. The Versa was later re-launched with a stripped down version and a 1.2-litre engine. This is the Eeco, that sells today and is a success.
Maruti Zen Estilo
The Zen had created a niche for itself and was a very successful car with traits that few cars had in those times. It was peppy and sporty in nature. A driver’s delight, so to say. After it was discontinued, The Zen Estilo was launched in 2006. This car had nothing in common with the Zen. This was the Suzuki MR Wagon, which used the Zen brand name. The Zen Estilo could never make an impact like other Marutis as it was in a confused state. It wasn’t as complete as a Wagon R, nor was it sporty like the old Zen. This was a reason why buyers did not identify with this car. It was though, a bit common among women drivers, especially the pink colour! The Estilo did away with the Zen Monicker in 2009, when a facelift was launched. Finally the Estilo was put to rest in 2014.
This premium sedan from Maruti Suzuki was a classy car, launched in 2011. The Kizashi came in as a CBU (completely built unit) and attracted a heavy import duty. It was priced around Rs.16 lakhs, which was considered expensive then. However, price was not the main reason behind the failure of this model. The Kizashi came only with a 2.4-litre petrol engine which had 185bhp of power. A lack of diesel engine did not attract buyers. Also Maruti was never seen as a premium brand, hence people preferred other brands while spending that kind of amount for a car. But the Kizashi, though being a competent car, flopped internationally as well.
Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara
Maruti’s attempt to sell a premium SUV was a failure. The Suzuki Grand Vitara was a fine SUV, however it never struck a chord with Indian buyers. One of the main reasons was a lack of diesel engine. Powered by a 2.4-litre petrol engine, the Grand Vitara was a powerful car, but found it wanting in front of the Ford Endeavour or Toyota Fortuner. It also came with a 4WD system. Priced around Rs. 20 lakhs, the Grand Vitara was priced much higher than other Maruti cars. The result was a flop show and it was withdrawn from the market. The new generation Vitara is set to be launched in India sometime next year.