There are at least 10 small cars that will launch in India within 12 months. Most of these upcoming hatchbacks have been spied testing in the country.
However, it's noteworthy that not all hatchbacks that have been seen testing on Indian roads are going to showrooms. Today, our focus is on a group of hatchbacks that were spotted in India but never made it to the market.
10 Hatchbacks that never came to India
1. Ford Fiesta
The Ford Fiesta hatchback was spotted in Chennai in the year 2011. Back then, there were rumours of this car being India-bound, slotting above the Figo that raced to 50,000 and soon to 100,000 units in no time after its launch in March 2010. However, the car never made it to the market.
Ford India did launch the sedan version, but the European-spec hatchback that was spotted in India was used only as a test mule for the 1.5L Ti-VCT petrol engine. Manufacturers have refrained from premium hatchbacks, and this is owing to the small boot space and the lack of generous legroom for the rear occupants that one comes to expect for a car north of INR 10 lakhs. Moreover, the market is currently gravitating to SUVs and crossovers.
2. Hyundai i30
Earlier this year, the third-generation Hyundai i30 was spotted testing in India. However, the South Korean carmaker has no plans of launching the large hatchback in India, and this is despite bringing the earlier generation to the Auto Expo to test the response. Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL) is reportedly using the i30 as a test mule for the development of the BSVI-compliant 1.5-litre CRDi diesel engine.
3. VW Golf
The Volkswagen Golf is another premium hatchback that has been spotted in India on numerous occasions but won't make it to the market. The VW Golf GTD test mule that was recently seen in Bangalore was here for component testing. It's said the test mule was being used by a German component manufacturer, not Volkswagen. A PEMS (Portable Emissions Measurement System) seen at the car's rear further confirms this speculation. Volkswagen India is currently working on a facelift for its Polo hatchback.
[Image source - team-bhp.com]
4. Toyota Yaris
Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) launched the Yaris sedan in April this year. The hatchback version of the Yaris is sold in several global markets and was earlier rumoured to be India-bound to rival the likes of Hyundai Elite i20 and Maruti Baleno. In an interaction with media at the Yaris sedan's launch, N Raja, Deputy Manager Director, Toyota Kirloskar Motor, clarified that TKM won't launch the Yaris hatchback in India. No specific reason was given for this decision. TKM plans to launch a Toyota-badged Maruti Baleno instead of the Yaris hatchback to compete in the upper B segment.
5. Suzuki Cervo
Back in 2010, Maruti Suzuki was rumoured to be readying the Suzuki Cervo for its Indian launch, to take on the market below the Alto. The small car was even spotted in the country on a couple of occasions, near Maruti's facilities. It was said that the India-bound Cervo would get the 1.0-liter K-Series engine instead of the 660cc engine of the international-spec model. In reality, the Cervo was brought to India solely for study and component testing purposes and Maruti would have to make a significant loss on every unit sold to have been able to compete with the Nano.
6. Fiat Bravo
The Fiat Bravo is another premium hatchback that was speculated to be India-bound, but was never launched. A feasibility study conducted by Fiat India showed that there was little market for the Bravo. Hence, the company axed plans to bring the premium hatchback. The Bravo that was imported into the country to carry out the clinics was later used as a company car for the Fiat India management.
The Tata Indica gave birth to many new models, including the Indigo sedan, Indigo CS compact sedan and the Marina station wagon. In 2011, Tata Motors started testing a long-wheelbase variant of the Indica with a three-row seating, which was rumoured to get the 1.4-litre CR4 diesel engine. The Indica XL never made it to production.
8. Nissan Note
The Nissan Note e-Power was spied in India earlier this year. The test mules were devoid of camouflage, which is an indication that Nissan India was not testing the car for a local launch. Instead, Nissan India was testing the e-Power technology in the Indian conditions.
The e-Power technology offers all the benefits of a conventional electric powertrain without having to worry about charging the batteries through an external source. Nissan e-Power system comprises of an electric motor that is powered by a small battery. This battery is charged by a small petrol engine, which means there's no requirement of an external charger.
In a country where there's increased stress on faster adoption of electric vehicles without a well-planned battery charging infrastructure, Nissan's e-Power technology is a practical option.
[Image source- thrustzone.com]
The Clio-based Renault Modus was brought to India in 2011. While there were some rumours of the Modus being India-bound, neither the Clio nor the Modus were ever going be able to compete with the Swift, i20 and the Baleno. The European specification test mules were here for the validation of the next-generation Modus. Eight countries were a part of the company's validation program. The surface and climatic conditions provided by the Indian sub-continent help auto manufacturers gather vital data of the vehicle systems.
There have been many sightings of the last-generation Hyundai i20's 3-door version on the Indian roads. The 3-door i20 was an export-spec model made in Hyundai's Sriperumbudur facility off Chennai until the production was shifted to Izmit, Turkey in mid-2010. The 3-door i20 in the above image is a left-hand drive model that was destined for the Swiss market.