Both companies are expected to launch the two models closer to Diwali making it the highlight of year in the hatchback segment
Maruti Suzuki, the country’s largest car maker, will launch an all-new Wagon R later in the year, pitting it against the Santro that Hyundai is readying for launch around the same time.
Both companies are expected to launch the two models closer to Diwali making it the highlight of year in the hatchback segment, which is the biggest pie of the Indian car industry.
The sub-segment where the two models will compete, generates more than 30,000 units in sales every month, half of which comes from Wagon R alone.
The two cars share rivalry that dates back to 1998, when the Santro was launched just before Maruti unveiled the Wagon R. Both cars had similar dimensions, engine power and targeted the same buyer. In numbers though, Wagon R always had an edge over its peer.
The Wagon R, which is the fifth best-selling model in India, will receive its fifth upgrade since its debut later in the year. The last major update to the model came in 2013. Maruti Suzuki’s increased focus on the Nexa models and upgrades to its other best-sellers over the past years had led to the Wagon R being sidelined.
While the new Wagon R is already on sale in Japan the Indian version will be different and will be attuned to the model’s traditional exterior styling in the country. Built on a new platform that will make it lighter and thus fuel efficient, the new Wagon R will retain the trademark tall-boy design that has made the car quite popular with the Indian buyers.
This new Maruti car will comply with the crash test norms that has been in force since October last year, which deals in frontal and side impact. Nine of the 15 models that Maruti Suzuki sells - including Swift, Dzire, Baleno, Ertiga - currently meet the crash regulations. The new Wagon R will get an updated engine too.
Discontinued in 2014, Hyundai has lined up the Santro for launch close to Diwali. While the Korean car brand is yet to finalise the name (whether or not to name it as Santro) speculations are rife the car will carry the same name to help it connect with the buyer. Several dealers continue to report a high consumer interest in the car.
The Santro will help fill up the yawning gap between the entry level Eon and the Grand i10, which was widened with the phase out of the i10 last year. The new car will retain the tall-boy stance of its predecessor, complete with large windows and spacious interiors.
Speaking to Moneycontrol previously Hyundai India managing director y K Koo had stated that the company will launch a compact car featuring a ‘family design concept’. The previous generation Santro that was heavily promoted by ace Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan was targeted at young families as a reliable and roomy car.
During its peak the Santro generated more than 60 percent of Hyundai’s volumes competing against long-time rival Wagon R. Hyundai was forced to phase-out the car to free up production space at its factory for newer models but not before the last batch of Santros were retailed to the taxi segment.The Santro will be one of the eight new cars promised by Hyundai for India till 2020.