If there’s one word that’s making the most noise in the Indian automotive scene, it has to be ‘Subcompact’. Almost every other day, car manufacturers are coming up with their version of a subcompact vehicle- be it subcompact sedans like the recently unveiled Volkswagen Ameo or subcompact SUVs like the new kid on the block, the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza. Born out of a government policy of lowering the excise duty of vehicles measuring less than 4m, the subcompact segment of the car bazaar gained momentum in no time with a slew of launches by various car companies. Today, we sit on to talk about the sedans of the pre-subcompact era, that were more appealing to look at, proportionately designed and yet were available at a price point similar, or believe it or not, lesser than today’s so called ‘budget-friendly’ cars.
Maruti Suzuki Esteem
Now the Esteem is one car that doesn’t really need any introduction. It was more of an aspiration car for most of us Indians back in the late 90s and early 2000s. It had that style quotient that earned it a huge fan-base and backed by the reliability of Maruti Suzuki, it was one of Maruti’s most successful cars ever. It was the first sedan for most Indian households and Maruti was quick to tap the nerves of the aspiration aspect that began to be associated with the car by the very popular tagline that appeared in various campaigns- “My Daddy’s Big Car!”. And we couldn’t agree more.
The Esteem was long gone before the advent of Subcompact sedans (replaced by the older gen Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire), it still needed a mention in this list of Old School sedans, for it truly was one of our favorites.
Subcompact Replacement: Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire
The Hyundai Accent was another classic that shows Hyundai’s old thinking. It was a versatile product from the Korean stable. The Accent was pretty much the only viable option for those who wanted to break away from being caught in the crowd of Maruti Esteems, and it did a good job at that. The old Accent’s boot wasn’t well in proportion with the rest of the body of the car, but the whole blend came with an assurance of making a statement wherever it went. Hyundai kept the Accent in production well into 2013, which shows the popularity of the mid segment sedan.
While the name lives now, albeit with a slight lingo, it’s never quite the same thing as the original one.
Subcompact Replacement: Hyundai Xcent
Ford Fiesta (Classic)
Ford entered our market with the Ikon, which was soon followed by the Fiesta and well nothing speaks about the success of the car better than the fact that the very same car, with a few minor modifications, still lived on in Ford India’s lineup of cars until as recently as September last year, when Ford silently pulled the plug on the car along with the old gen Figo. The Fiesta is one of Ford’s most popular vehicles outside India, available both in sedan and hatchback options and though we never got the hatch here, the Fiesta sedan had its own share of popularity amongst the Indian masses. Fiesta became synonymous with practicality as there was virtually no lack of equipment on the car, even by today’s standards- Bluetooth telephony, steering mounted controls and a design that was not preposterously bounded under 4000mm. There was a reason why the old Fiesta lived with the ‘Classic’ moniker even after the introduction of the newer generation of the car.
Subcompact Replacement: Ford Figo Aspire
Chevrolet India introduced the Aveo at a time when they had already established themselves as a premium brand. Their best card was the Daewoo Matiz inspired Chevy Spark. It sold in volumes and the introduction of Aveo just worked. As again, it was a full-stretched out sedan with comfortable interiors. Chevy worked every way possible to please the back-seat passengers while giving a powerful engine to the driver in front. And undeniably, owning a Chevrolet is a hassle-free experience in the truest sense of the word with Chevy’s extensive 3-year roadside warranty.
Subcompact Replacement: Chevrolet Sail
And well, those are some of our favorite 3 box design cars from the past that we think were leagues ahead in their overall appeal compared to modern day subcompact sedans. What’s good is that while they might not be available in the showrooms today, a curated bunch of these are available pre-owned, maintained upto the highest degree by their proud owners. Truly, what’s beautiful today only turns graceful with time!