The five-door hatch style segment has been in India from more than two decades now. With the ever-increasing popularity of hatchbacks, companies have been rolling out a lot of models to impress the customers. There were some cars which introduced the Indian consumer to this segment. Let’s have a look at such forgotten or rephrasing it, immortal hatchbacks in India that once used to rule the road.
Tata Indica | Mission report, December 30, 1998: Small cars are gone!
Well, how can anyone forget this hatchback from Tata launched back in 1998. Its only mission was to kill the small cars that were roaming on the roads at that time. And the Indica really did become a winter soldier. Tata advertised Indica with a tagline: ‘More car per car’. It is also considered to be India’s first indigenously developed passenger car. It was the most modern car designed by Tata at that time. A 1.4-litre engine was the one that powered the hatch. Tata Indica offered features such as air conditioning and electric windows, which again at that time was only offered in upmarket cars. It is still one of the most successful models from Tata to be ever built.
Maruti Suzuki Zen Classic | Why settle for less?
Zen has a cult following in India and that too from the time it was launched. This is why Maruti Suzuki decided to give the Zen a more premium feel by introducing a retro model. This was known as Zen Classic. With round lamps, three-piece grille and a steel bumper, Zen got a classic look for sure in this avatar. But then again history has it that Maruti has not been successful with experimenting. This experiment was a dud as consumers were not keen to buy this one.
Daewoo Matiz | Way ahead of its time
This small hatchback was launched in 1998 and was the most famous offering from the company to the Indian market. Matiz with its 796cc engine that churned 52hp and peak torque of 71 Nm was a good performing car. It also had a good fuel efficiency offering 18.5 kmpl. The spacious car was also equipped with some first-in-class features that made Matiz unique. But due to poor service from the company and tough competition from the already established cars like Tata Indica, Maruti 800 and Hyundai Santro, the Matiz could never really hit it off and was discontinued in 2000.
Fiat Palio | The power play beginner
The 1.6-litre 100hp engine powered Palio was the car company launched to revive its position in the Indian market. It was launched at the time when the world was shocked by the disasters of USA’s twin tower. Yes, the 9-11 attack. Well, let’s keep the mood light and skip this date. Palio was nothing like its rivals. Everything in this hatchback came with maximum abilities for that time. And to add a cherry on the top of the cake, it was endorsed by the legend, Sachin Tendulkar himself. Palio was a real deal.
Hyundai Getz | It’s Lovely… It’s Precious
This hatchback launched in 2004 had a successful short run in the Indian market. It came at a time when there were not much offered in the segment. Getz came powered by a 1.4-litre DOHC petrol engine that used to churn out 81.86hp of power and a peak torque of 115Nm. It had a mileage of 15.6kmpl. It was loaded with features like power steering, power windows, rear window defogger, rear reading lamps, remote fuel lid opener and much more. But when Maruti Suzuki launched Swift, the sales came crashing down. The company discontinued Getz in 2007.
Maruti Suzuki Alto | The king of good sales
It was launched in India back in 2000. In no time, the hatch became the top-selling car in India. And the stubborn Alto lost only to its sibling, the Dzire, and that too in 2019. It stayed at the top for 15 freaking years. This is the saga Alto name has carried with it since then. Maruti Suzuki’s Alto was so successful that the company never departed its ways from it. There were no major design changes until 2012 when Alto got a major revamp session with all-new bodywork and interior.
Chevrolet Sail U-VA | Limited Edition Hatch
This is one of the latest to be launched on the list. It was showcased at the Auto Expo 2012 and was launched in November, the same year. The car was powered by a 1.3-litre turbocharged diesel engine. Sai; U-VA was a good seller in India and had a major chunk of share in sales for the company. But with the decision of GM to leave India, this hatch was also removed from the Indian market.
My personal opinion: the car looks as if it was just a cut-out version of the sedan Sail counterpart. The rear looks are not at all appealing.
Fiat Uno | Power, safety, space, style: What else is required?
Uno, the car that moved Europe was launched in India too. Agile, yet comfortable, the affordable hatch had everything you could have asked for, at that time. For power, you had 1.0-litre Fully Integrated Robotised Engine mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. The company stated that the size of Uno was such that you could fit it in tightest parking lots and still easily fit 5 adults inside due to the ample legroom and headroom. Fiat’s R&D led the car an aerodynamically streamlined body which had a drag coefficient of just 0.30. (We’ll get to the informative part some other day). But even with all this, Fiat could not attract a lot of customers towards the hatchback.
Maruti Suzuki 800 | The undisputed Champion
The Indians wanted a pocket-friendly car and Maruti came to rescue with the very well-known legend 800. The ‘Hall Of Fame’ car was loved by the customers and is the longest selling Maruti car till date. Affordable and Fuel Efficient, 800 never saw any tough competition in the market though it gave many others a stiff one. It was the emission norms compliance that led to discontinuation of the car from the market. It is still a heartthrob amongst the ones who modify the legacy.
Hyundai Santro | The family car with a distinctive style
Santro was what Hyundai made a mark from. The family hatchback became really famous when launched in 1998. The hatchback was powered by a 1.0-litre Epsilon petrol engine. Being the first car from the carmaker, Indian customers were really thrilled as the design elements of the Santro were different from what usual hatchbacks used to look like at that time. This car was so popular after the inception that Hyundai became second-largest carmaker in the country and first largest exporter. The car has got major facelifts and upgrades since then and is still in production.
Have fun reading: 10 Forgotten Hyundai Cars In India | From Getz To Sonata
So this was the list of the forgotten or maybe not at all forgotten hatchbacks in India. Hope you had fun reading this. Let us know in the comment section below.