In recent times, more and more carmakers are heading towards the Indian market owing to the growing demand in the automobile sector. However, there have been several best-selling and famous rides that, if launched in India at an opportune time, were never launched for the Indian buyers.
Here is our pick of the top 5 cars that could have made it big in India, but were never launched:
Honda Civic Type-R
Though India had the normal version of the Honda Civic, which is quite popular up till 2012, in 2013 Honda pulled the plug on the vehicle due to poor sales. That, coupled with the fact that the market was tilting towards SUVs in place of premium sedans, Honda had little faith left in the model.
The high-performance version of the Civic, dubbed the ‘Type-R’, is regarded by many as the best front-wheel-drive car in the entire world. Still, it was never launched in India by the Japanese automaker, as the Indian market showed no signs of accepting an expensive hatchback.
The current Honda Civic Type-R supports a specially-tuned engine, a stiff and light built, and upgraded brakes and chassis. In order to give the ride a special sporting feel and to distinguish it from other Honda sports-oriented makes, the badge interior of the Type-R uses a red hue.
Another popular car that could have made it big in the Indian auto market is the Fiat 124. Launched in 1966, the small family car succeeded the dated Fiat 1300. The small family car was awarded the 1967 European Car of the year. In October 1968, Fiat launched an upgraded model dubbed Fiat 124 Special.
Fiat 124 served as a basis for several other best-sellers from Fiat, including the four-seater 124 Sports Coupe, the two-seater convertible 124 Sports Spider, the luxurious Fiat 125, and a station wagon. The production ran till 1974, after which the ‘124’ name sat in silence until 2016 when it was reintroduced as a convertible model. Considering Fiat’s lackluster lineup in India, apart from the Punto Abarth, the 124 could have been the model that brings it back into the limelight.
Making its debut during the 1989 Chicago Auto Show, Mazda MX-5 is a small two-passenger roadster supporting a front mid-engine and a rear-wheel-drive system.
A convertible version of the ride, called Mazda MX-5 Miata, was released in North America. Miata is an Old High German word for reward. It was developed according to a design doctrine known as Jinba Ittai, which translates to “oneness of horse and rider.” Unfortunately, the ride was never launched for the Indian auto market.
Mazda MX-5 collected worldwide acclaim for its dynamically balanced, small, lightweight, minimally complex, and technological modernity built. The ride is considered to be a spiritual successor to the British and Italian sports cars of the 1950s and 1960s, most notably Lotus Elan.
The history of the full-size car by Chevrolet dates back to 1958. The ride is Chevrolet’s flagship passenger car and considered to be one of the best-selling vehicles in the US market. The first generation of the Chevrolet Impala was launched from 1958 to 1985. In order to distinguish itself from the then-popular models, Chevy Impala supported symmetrical triple taillights, which lent it a very unique look.
The third generation of the passenger car began in 2000 and was the one that could have struck gold in India. Young businessmen in India were looking for a ride that looked classy and offered good creature comforts as well but were forced to keep their searches limited to the now-discontinued-but-due-for-a-possible-revival Hindustan Ambassador.
Now, the hope of the Impala being launched in India is lost forever as the automaker has announced to end production of the model from June 2019.
Ford Fusion Sedan
If you are old enough or are invested in automobiles enough to know this, you might recognize the name. Ford Fusion was indeed launched in India, but it was a bit too ahead of the times. The compact SUV/Crossover vehicle segment wasn’t really alive back then, with only the Honda CRV managing to survive the segment. The model in question though is not the European spec MPV, but the American spec Sedan version.
Popular as an affordable performance sedan in the US, Ford Fusion is currently in its last generation, with Ford’s new strategy of aiming to be a “mobility company”. Their focus on trucks will see the regular passenger cars disappear in the US. In India too, Ford has reduced its lineup to only a few cars, most of which are compact, to help bag the tax relaxation for sub-4-meter cars. Ford also killed the Fiesta in India, which was regarded as one of the best cars in the country in terms of handling.
While the sedan version is our main focus, the MPV version could have made a comeback in India in the sub-compact SUV segment (against Maruti Brezza). The newer Ford Fusion supported a number of changes and introduction of new features. In addition to the modifications done to the bumpers, door mirrors, and side moldings, both front, as well as rear lights, received new detailing. Though the no-frills Crossover SUV version of Ford Fusion, labeled the Ford EcoSport was launched in India, the original model never was given a chance to prove its might in the India auto market, although Ford’s market analysts might argue otherwise. The truth of the matter is, the vehicle was launched a decade too early in the Indian market.