Whenever we take a trip down the 90s, we tend to get all nostalgic. After all, everything about the 90s was purely magic. From fashion to movies, there is no dearth of iconic things in the 90s. And when it comes to vehicle, the 90s was like a golden era. With several iconic vehicles hitting the Indian market, remembering the 90s is the coolest thing to do. So here are 10 iconic cars in India from the 90s.
Maruti Suzuki Esteem
The Maruti Suzuki 1000 was one of the most iconic sedans of its time. In 1993, it was rebadged as the Maruti Suzuki Esteem. As an evolution over the 1000, the Esteem brought in a new 1.3 litre 4-cylinder petrol engine which punched out 60 PS of power in a carbureted form.
The Esteem was and continues to be one of the most popular sedans through the 90s thanks to its refreshing design and affordability. But that wasn’t all; the Esteem could also easily cross the 120 kmph mark on the speedometer which was a difficult feat to achieve back then. For the longest time, the Esteem had been the go-to vehicle for both rallyists and budding racers.
The first car of the Hindustan Motors X Mitsubishi joint venture, the Mitsubishi Lancer was a good-looking sedan that wore a unique and sporty design. The sedan was powered by a capable 1.5-litre petrol engine that churned out 86 PS of power and was later offered with a diesel engine as well.
The Lancer became a massive success in the 90s as it bridged the gap between sports and luxury. Sharing roots with the legendary EVO, the Lancer had one of the best ride quality and chassis back then that even made it popular amongst rallyists.
The second offering by Daewoo in India, the Matiz was the “cute little car” of the 90s that was one of the best-suited offerings for a small family. Much like the Maruti 800, the Matiz too was powered by an 800 cc engine, in a three-cylinder avatar. The engine churned 52 Ps of power, which was more than what the 800 produced back then.
The Matiz however locked horns with the Hyundai Santro which was also launched during the same time. The success of the Matiz was credited to its non-boxy looks and great mileage. To date, the Matiz is immortal in the memories of all the 90s kids.
Maruti Suzuki Zen
Maruti’s third offering in India, the Zen was a premier alternative to the 800. As a result, everything about the car felt better. It had better interiors, more cabin space, and a more powerful engine.
In fact, the success of the Zen was such that it became India’s first “World Car”, as it was also exported to various European countries from 1994 onwards. To date, the Zen is remembered as one of the best hatches from the 90s car era.
Launched directly to compete with the Maruti Suzuki Esteem, the Cielo was a promising offering from the South Korean Manufacturer. Competitively priced to match the Maruti Esteem, the Cielo offered much better value for money, thanks to its luxurious features and spacious interiors which made it quite a popular sedan back then. The vehicle was powered by a 1.5-litre petrol burner which churned out a good 75 PS of power, making the one of the most powerful sedans of the era.
Another star sedan of the 90s, the Ford Escort was an owner’s favourite. Despite the fact that the Escort wasn’t a perfect vehicle, we don’t find a reason not to include it in our iconic vehicle list. The Escort was a well-engineered vehicle that came with almost all comfortable features such as, power steering, music system, air conditioning and front power windows as well.
As Ford’s first car for India, the Escort was a spacious sedan with a large boot and comfortable seats. The 1.8-litre diesel engine of the Escort still remains a beautiful memory for people who owned the vehicle for a long time.
The success of the Tata Sumo knows no bound. Ever since Sumo launched, it became a huge success all over the nation. The Sumo was indeed the first modern passenger vehicle in all senses.
Powered by a tried and tested 2-litre diesel engine the Sumo possessed an incredibly spacious layout that could seat as many as 9 people. Enjoying an undisputed reign of over two decades, the Sumo was and continues to be one of the hottest SUVs to ever hit the Indian market.
A sedan that never fades away from our memories, the Hyundai Accent was Hyundai’s first sedan for India. Powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine, the Accent churned out 92 PS of power in its first generation.
Competing with the popular Esteem, the Accent went on to stay in the market longer than the Esteem. The vehicle became massively popular owing to its sportiness and feature-loaded cabin. With power steering and AC standard across all variants, the Accent started a trend that changed the entire scene.
As GM’s first offering in India, the Astra was one of the best-looking and the fanciest sedan back then. Launched in 1996 the Astra came with a 1.6-litre petrol engine with single-point fuel injection.
The vehicle churned out a modest 76 PS of power, which was later enhanced in 1997. The Astra had a feature-rich cabin, well-done interiors, power windows, central locking, and power steering — all as standard features.
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The OG Tata Safari
Saving the best for the last, no one can forget that the 90s gave us something that we cherish to this day. The original Safari was India’s first truly affordable luxury SUV back then. The first Safari came with a 2.0-litre diesel engine that was fitted with a turbocharger back then, putting out 90PS of power, mated to a five-speed manual and a four-wheel-drive option.
The Safari has since the 90s car era, ruled the streets for almost 22 years until the BS6 norms came in. The Safari badge, however, is so popular that Tata Motors was forced to rebrand it as the all-new Tata Safari that we now have.
The 90s car era was filled with some of the most iconic vehicles that ever hit the Indian market. If you too remember some of those icons, comment down below and who knows that we do a part 3 soon! And if you haven’t read part 1, make sure to check out: Iconic Cars in India from the 1990s | Its Rewind Time!