Sparklers on wheels

You had a mixed sense of pride and exhilaration when you bought your first car. That gives us a deep emotional connect with our wheels. Before buying a car, most people spend a few (or many) days contemplating every ‘hot’ model in the market and test driving some of them.

brunch Updated: Oct 26, 2013 17:47 IST
Deepesh Rathore
Deepesh Rathore
Hindustan Times

Admit it, you had a mixed sense of pride and exhilaration when you bought your first car. That gives us a deep emotional connect with our wheels. Before buying a car, most people spend a few (or many) days contemplating every ‘hot’ model in the market and test driving some of them.

This emotional connect is what makes us see only certain cars in the market, and be blind to the rest of them. I like to call this the ‘hot zone’ where the cars inside this zone are what everyone wants, while the others languish. Here’s what’s hot right now.

So who’s in the Hot Zone?

Heat & Duster: Renault have managed to get the Duster in the hot zone where it gets customer love

Manufacturers are always searching for ways to keep their car models in the hot zone. Ford’s EcoSport is there right now, while the Figo is a borderline case after enjoying many months of hotness.

Renault managed to get their Duster in the hot zone and the SUV has outsold every car in the Renault showroom since then. Hyundai i10Grand, Honda Amaze, Mahindra XUV and a few more cars are sitting in the hot zone and enjoying customer adulation today. However, it is Maruti that has mastered the art of getting its cars in the hot zone, model after model. The Swift and the Dzire have been permanent residents here. The same is the case with the Ertiga MPV right from the time it was launched.

And then there are models such as the Alto and WagonR that are enjoying evergreen hotness.

Out of the comfort Zone?
Often, mostly with age, cars tend to slip outside the hot zone. This has a disastrous effect on sales, and manufacturers have to take measures to fight back. One way is to do a facelift to make the car look fresher; throwing in more features and options. Others come up with a slight price revision to make the car more attractive.

The trendsetters: Maruti has made a habit of sexing up existing models by offering special editions such as the Alto K10 Musik

However, one of the best ways to build excitement around a car is with a special edition model. This often packs in features and trims that are not available in other variants. It usually comes with an array of colours that were not earlier available with the model. A number of additional features are thrown in to make the buyer feel really good about going in for the special edition.

This also makes a lot of sense in the festive season as the special-edition model appears more exciting to buyers.

The special-edition club
Maruti is one of the industry leaders in offering special editions. A couple of weeks ago, it launched the Alto 800 special Anniversary Edition to celebrate the first birthday of the car. It has been made distinctive with features like a new Purple Haze body colour, eye-catching new body graphics, new seat upholstery, a blacked-out middle pillar, body side molding, rear parcel tray, body-coloured side mirror and an optional audio system. Priced at Rs 3.12 lakh, the Alto 800 Anniversary Edition stands out.

Prior to this, Maruti had also launched the Alto K10 Musik edition in September. It has been built around the theme of music and features a JVC MP3 player with USB support and 4-inch front speakers. That is a lot of music capability in a small hatchback and music-loving buyers should give the special edition a serious look. Maruti has also thrown in a rear spoiler and mudflaps to make the special edition more attractive.

Speed frills: The Honda Brio Exclusive edition comes in bright new hues

A couple of weeks before the Musik Edition, the company had introduced the WagonR ‘Madhavan’ Signature Edition. Actor R Madhavan is WagonR’s brand ambassador and the signature edition bears his signature on the body graphics. The frills include a Kenwood 2-DIN audio system with USB and AUX support, rear parking sensors with a digital display, a Bluetooth kit and art leather covered seats and steering wheel. Full wheel covers and a rear roof spoiler add to the package, priced Rs 20,000 more than the ordinary WagonR.

Other ‘special’ players
The Renault Duster Anniversary Edition has body graphics on the side of the vehicle and a new body colour called Cosmos Blue. Till now, this colour was only available on the export variants of the Duster. Volkswagen is also playing the game slightly differently by offering a ‘Corporate Edition’ accessory pack on the Vento. The pack comes with alloy wheels, a trunk spoiler, mudflaps, door protector, window chrome set, a navigation system, rear view camera, seat covers and doorstep garnish.

Honda, too, has launched the Brio Exclusive edition. It comes with a special ‘Premium Sporty’ black interior, a tailgate spoiler, door visor, illuminated side step garnish, reverse parking sensor and chrome-finished exhaust tip. The special edition comes in red, silver and white shades.

Japanese rival Toyota’s Etios XCLUSIVE limited edition comes with two-tone interiors, better seat fabrics, an audio system with Bluetooth, chrome-accented gear lever and rear parking sensors.

With manufacturers offering special editions, this festive season is the best time to buy a car loaded with features, while paying significantly less for them. Rathore is the Director of EMMAAA, an automotive advisory specialising in emerging markets.

From HT Brunch, October 27

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First Published: Oct 24, 2013 17:42 IST