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Entry Level Hatchbacks- Perfect Combination of Price & Convenience

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Rummaging through the Alto 800 price, or looking up the Renault Kwid’s on-road price? It is more than likely that you are shopping for an entry level hatchback, one that isn’t heavy on the pocket while also offering the convenience, comfort and features as expected from an entry level hatchback. Lucky for you, this is one of the most booming segments in the Indian automotive sector and sports some of the most recognizable and popular cars plying on Indian roads.

 

 

By definition, a hatchback is defined as a car that sports a rear door that swings open to provide access to the limited cargo area, effectively limiting the vehicle to a 2 box configuration (engine + passengers). India’s first and commercially successful personal family car was the iconic Maruti 800 hatchback. These cars afford the practicality, convenience, comfort and the appealing price points that bonds well with the express requirements of a typical Indian nuclear family.

 

Traditionally, hatchbacks were all barebones and limited in their inclusive features. The carmakers stuck to their strategy of dishing out a cheap car that was, a) competitively priced, b) miserly when it came to fuel consumption, and c) demanded less maintenance. This was the era of the aforementioned Maruti 800, the Hyundai Santro Xing and the Tata Indica, all popular cars yet limited in terms of their functionalities, features or mass appeal. Then again, when you have a handful of competent choices, it is more than likely that the hatchback’s nagging negatives will be conveniently forgotten or ignored.

 

In 2016 however, the entry level hatchback segment is an institution in itself. There are many world-beating players here and the rate of innovation in this segment is comparable to that seen in the luxury car segment. Whilst Maruti Suzuki is still the most dominant carmaker here, companies such as Hyundai, Tata and Renault have made considerable inroads as well. Whilst Maruti Suzuki has its consistently top selling Alto (split into the classic Alto 800 and the more urbane Alto K10) and the Celerio, Hyundai has the Grand i10 and the Eon. Tata Motors suffered some bad times (the overexposure of the Indica platform mostly) but is making a confident comeback with the recently launched Tiago, while Renault has shaken the entry level hatchback segment to its very foundation with the Kwid.

 

All carmakers, big or small, have a stake in this exciting automotive segment. While the chances of defeat are multifold, bold innovation is richly rewarded too. A case in point here is the Renault Kwid, a car that looks premium in a bonafide budget segment. This segment attracts the biggest audience, a section of people with their improved buying power and need for easily manageable (ahem, parkable) vehicles that are also easy to maneuver on the busy city streets. Innovations such as Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) improves the driving experience and is first tested on hatchbacks before being moved up the ladder. What works for the hatchback segment, works for the rest of the market too!!



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