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Despite the onslaught of SUVs, India remains a predominantly small hatchback market as far as sales numbers are concerned
Until the advent of compact and mid-size SUVs in India, hatchbacks ruled the roost entirely, accounting for majority sales figures year after year. While SUVs have hogged the spotlight in recent times, India still remains a strong market for hatchbacks. Six of the highest selling cars of January 2020 are hatchbacks, with Maruti Suzuki leading with the Swift, Baleno, Alto and WagonR while the Grand i10 and Elite i20 being popular choices from Hyundai’s stable.
Compact proportions and excellent driveability make hatchbacks a sensible choice for urban masses. Modern hatchbacks also come with all the bells and whistles on the features front, improving the desirability quotient significantly. And yet, some of the coolest and extremely stylish hatchbacks from global players are not offered in India due to a number of reasons like complex GST structures, cost optimization challenges and competitive rivals. Here are five cars we wish were launched in India.
The Polo has been successful amongst car enthusiasts in India, especially in the GT trim with its 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine and the seven-speed DSG. When Volkswagen launched the sixth-generation of the icon in 2017, we hoped for an India launch announcement to follow. Sadly, that never happened. It is larger, sportier and better connected making it an exciting package. Globally it gets the 1-litre TSI engine (to debut in the Rapid soon) in two states of tune, 95hp and 115hp while the GTI gets the 2-litre TSI churning 200hp. If VW launches the new Polo in India, it might be re-engineered for the MQB A0 IN platform and possibly shortened to avail sub-four metre tax benefits.
The B-segment French supermini is one of the most successful European cars. It's the only car alongside the VW Golf to have won the European Car of the Year awards twice, in 1991 and 2006. Its lightweight and stiff chassis made it famous amongst the motorsport fraternity too, with the Clio having competed in racing championships like 24 Hours of Spa, 24 Hours of Nürburgring and British GT among others. The Clio in its latest iteration is certainly one of the most stylish Renault cars out there with its signature C-shaped DRLs and sporty cuts and creases along the flanks. It’s powered by a set of turbo petrol and diesel engines, notably the 1.3-litre TCE 130 with 130hp and 205Nm of torque that will soon power the India-spec Duster.
The i30 is arguably the most stylish car belonging to Hyundai’s ‘i’ range of cars. The i30 won the IF and the Red Dot design awards in 2017. It's a popular choice for motorsport too, with the i30 N TCR having won consecutive seasons of the World Touring Car Cup in 2018 and 2019. The i30 N gets three engine options – 1.6-litre naturally aspirated petrol (127hp and 160Nm), 2-litre turbo-petrol (164hp and 203Nm) and 1.6-litre diesel (136hp and 300Nm).
Hyundai will launch its N performance brand in India and the carmaker showcased the i30 N Fastback at the Auto Expo 2020, hinting at this performance variant possibly being the debut N car.
Recession? No, the Toyota Corolla is immune to this economic disease. It was 2019’s highest selling car in the world with Toyota selling 2.82 lakh units worldwide. The hatchback isn’t as popular as the sedan, but it’s equally capable. Based on the brand’s global TNGA architecture, the Corolla is as robust and reliable as its siblings. It’s available with multiple engine options - 1.2-litre turbo-petrol (116hp and 185Nm) and 1.8-litre and 2-litre petrol hybrids making 122hp and 184 hp, respectively. The era of the Toyota Corolla in India is over though with Toyota having stopped the production of the Corolla Altis. With BS6 transition, it no longer made a business case for Toyota in India.
Long known for its design prowess, Kia rarely disappoints on the design front and the Ceed is no different. It was conceptualised at the brand’s design studio in Frankfurt, and built exclusively for the European market. The LED headlamps, 'Ice Cube' DRLs, sculpted bonnet and elegantly rising shoulder line make it quite appealing. Globally there are multiple powertrain options as well. It gets Hyundai Motor Group’s 1-litre and 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engines alongside the 1.6-litre CRDi from the first generation Creta. In India, Kia is performing extremely well in the mid-size SUV segment with the Seltos and in the luxury van space with the Carnival. Their next car for India is likely to be the Sonet compact SUV, and if Kia eyes the premium hatchback segment following the Sonet, then the Ceed would be a great option to consider.