5 Cars that were ahead of its time in the Indian market

Automotive technology is a very fast changing and advancing technology. In the past few decades we have seen immense development in the technology which is usually eagerly accepted by the market. However, once in a blue moon a product comes by that is way too advanced for the market and sadly ends up being a flop. Today, we have compiled a list of 5 such cars in India that were too advanced for their times-

1. Opel Vectra

Opel Vectra
The Opel Vectra luxury sedan also had 8-way adjustable seats (Image source)

General Motors had launched the Vectra luxury sedan in 2003 for a jaw-droppingly high price(at the time) of Rs. 16 Lakhs. This car was imported as a CBU(Completely Built Unit) straight from Germany and was pitched against the Ford Mondeo, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. It was powered by a 2.2 litre engine with 146HP and a 5 speed manual transmission. It even came up with class leading features such as powered ORVMs, full leather upholstery, 4 airbags+ABS and ESP, 2-zone climate control and an MID display among others. However, sadly it failed to garner much interest and had to be put to rest soon enough.

What didn’t help it’s cause further was the fact that spares were very hard to come by and the car was not easily serviceable for the time given the very high complexity of the electronics it used since Opel wrapped up its business in India in 2006 and support was scarce.

2.Suzuki Kizashi

Suzuki Kizashi
The Suzuki Kizashi aimed to compete with the Volkswagen Jetta and Toyota Corolla

Maruti Suzuki was widely regarded as a “cheap car maker” since they never had a premium product to compete in the higher segments. In order to change this perception, they introduced the Kizashi in 2011 which was a D-segment sedan meant to compete with the Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Jetta, Honda Civic and the likes. It was priced at Rs. 16.53 Lakh at launch. This was brought in as a full import from Japan and featured a 2.4 litre 175BHP engine mated to either a 6 speed manual or a CVT automatic transmission. Sadly it never caught on since it did not have the prestige attached to its brand unlike the rivals and also since it was too expensive for previous Maruti customers. Spares and support were also a problem unlike a usual Maruti since the parts were exclusive and had to be imported.

3. Chevrolet Forester

Chevrolet Forester
The Chevrolet Forester came with a 2.0L Boxer engine

As a part of a global agreement during the time, Chevrolet was selling rebadged Subaru products and decided to bring the Subaru Forester to India under the Chevy badge. Known as the Chevrolet Forester, the SUV was launched in 2004 for an expensive sticker price of around Rs. 15.60 Lakh. It was brought down in CKD (Completely Knocked Down kits) form and assembled at their domestic facility. It was powered by a 2.0 litre 4 cylinder “Boxer” engine with a 5 speed manual gearbox producing a total of 118 BHP and 180NM torque. The Forester was loaded with features such as an All-wheel drive system which was offered as standard along with 2 airbags and ABS and height adjustable seatbelts.

However, the high price deterred Indians from buying it and even after discounts of up to Rs. 2 Lakh, it could not do well and was axed quickly. The main concerns included the poor service network of Chevrolet and high maintenance costs.

4. Toyota Prius

Skoda Yeti
The Toyota Prius Hybrid used an Atkinson Cycle system

The Toyota Prius is one of the most well-known brands of the global automotive industry which took the Hybrid technology to the mass market. Toyota also gave the car a try in India when it silently launched the car in 2012 at a pricey tag of Rs. 29.93 Lakh. It came powered by a combination of a 1.8L petrol engine along with a 60kW motor which offered combined figures of 98HP and 142NM with a sole 6 speed CVT automatic transmission. It came with features such as in-built navigation, bluetooth and rear camera at the time.

However, Toyota was not able to sell many of these due to the price tag as a result of it being brought as a CBU. Toyota, however did not give up and eventually also offered the 2012 facelift as well as the next-generation 2017 car but the car failed to find many buyers throughout its run with less than 500 units sold till it was finally officially discontinued in 2020.

5. Skoda Yeti

Skoda Yeti
The Skoda Yeti was a premium compact crossover launched by Skoda in 2010

In 2010, Skoda launched the Yeti, their premium compact SUV at Rs. 15.40 Lakh. It was developed as a crossover to offer car-like handling and dynamics while also being able to tackle bad roads like an SUV. Powered by a 2.0L 4 cylinder TDI diesel engine producing 140HP and 320NM of torque mated to a 6 speed manual transmission and came with a 4×4 system replete with electronic differential locks. It also got safety features such as 6 airbags, ABS, traction control, electronic stability program, hydraulic brake assist, hill start assist and anti-slip regulation among others.

The Yeti proved to be a very convenient car for city dwellers who desired the high stance of a crossover while being compact, but was eventually ignored by most customers in the segment due to its small footprint and high price tag as well as the notorious reputation of Skoda when it came to after-sales service. In a bid to revive the Yeti, Skoda did give it a minor facelift in 2014 but it was too late by then and the Yeti was silently axed shortly after due to poor sales.

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