While Maruti is the largest manufacturer of cars in the country, it has had its own share of ups and down. In this list, we'll be counting down 5 models from Maruti that failed to generate any interest in the public
There are a few companies like Maruti-Suzuki, that have the kind of acceptance and popularity that they do. From day one, the company was destined for greatness. Be it the unfathomable support from the government or a key understanding of what a country with 1.3 billion people want. In terms of car sales, they outrank every other manufacturer in India by a considerable margin and worldwide, Maruti-Suzuki alone stands in the top 15. While that may not sound very impressive, just remember that the Maruti-Suzuki brand is only available in India and everywhere else its cars are sold as a Suzuki, which itself stands just 3 spots below Maruti and counted as a seperate entity. While they may have perfected the formula for sales success, they were definitely a handful of models which Maruti-Suzuki took the chance on but just couldn’t turn the ambition into healthy sales figures. From unsuccessful model updates to new models destined for failure right from the very beginning, India has had their fair share of Maruti-Suzuki models which the Indian diaspora would rather choose to forget.
The Kizashi was the brand’s first official entrant into the market as a premium sedan. While Maruti-Suzuki was definitely long overdue for a competitor in the segment, the company was quickly taught a valuable lesson. With such cut-throat competition, it is better to first walk than to run. The Kizashi was imported into India as a CBU, with just one cariant available and stuffed with all the bells and whistles. This brought the price tag to an astronomical mark of INR 16-17 lakh. Alas, trying to show off the car while also convincing the public to spend that much on a car from Maruti-Suzuki just proved too much for the company.
Every millenial in the country will have fond memories of a Zen in their own family, extended family or of the neighbours. It was India’s first love affair with a quick hatchback and the welcoming public scooped it up by the dozen. It had a peppy 1.9-litre petrol engine, which was coupled to a featherweight body and a modern platform - the perfect vehicle to help India blow off some steam with. However, the time came to update the faithful dog and that’s where things took a turn for the worse. The car which introduced to replace the old model looked like the designers went home on a friday, got drunk and had completely forgotten about their assignment for the weekend. Many did and still do criticise the car for being of the worst abomination-of-a-design-update to step out the Maruti factory. And we don’t entirely disagree, we’re afraid. The car lost popularity and all its steam, following the epic failure of this new model and the Zen entered the Indian history books as one of the most loved and most hated cars of all time.
Maruti Zen Estilo
While we already have you on the topic of Zen’s, let us talk about another mode which tried to recreate the magic of the Zen but failed miserably, the Estilo. At first glance, you woudln’t expect this car to carry the Zen moniker. The former is a tall-boy whose biggest talking about is its shoulder room, while the latter is a low slung hatchback that can light the pants on fire of anyone who dares. Only the badging on the back is the only thing it had in common with the original. It was built on the Wagon-R platform and unfortunately or… fortunately, it just couldn’t establish itself as a worth option for new Maruti buyers and that reflected in its poor sales performance.
Grand Vitara XL7
In the early 2000’s, Maruti-Suzuki was very much at the top of the automotive food chain. Clinking the champagne glasses of success and its demand far exceeding the actual supply, the company had enjoyed being the king of the Indian automotive segment for far too long. So, failing to immediately notice the change in customer’s taste and threats from a barrage of new SUVs from its competitors, Maruti decided to begin selling the new Grand Vitara XL7 in India. Customers, which at the time thought twice before even opting for the AC option, got the car as a CBU unit from Japan. The car wasn’t even displayed on showroom floors, the company chose instead to send only select invites for viewing and test driving purposes. Even though it had all the bells and whistles like a 2.3-litre all-alluminum V6 making in excess of 150bhp, ABS, EBD, automatic AC, a well-appointed cabin and the works. Alas, a familiar name and luxurious appointment just weren’t enough to convince buyers to shell out more that INR 15 lakh as the base price for a car from the house of Maruti.
The Maruti 1000 can definitely take credit for being a one-of-its-kind at the time. It showed the kind of forward thinking innovations that were being of thought up at Maruti-Suzuki HQ and achieved something even bigger - give the people of a developing country at the crux of economic liberalisation, something to dream about. This quickly turned into envy as the car was more at reach for the elite than the masses. It got a 1.0-litre petrol engine which, despite a low kerb weight of 825kg, felt way too underpowered for the kind of heft it had to haul around. Thankfully, these complaints didn’t go unheard at Maruti and the car quickly got a new replacement - the legendary Esteem. With added luxuries and power in the form of a new 1.3-litre engine, the Esteem rose to stardom like it was meant to from day one.