Small luxury cars

The car market is no longer classified as small, large and luxury cars but has morphed into dozens of variants from small hatchbacks to large saloons interspersed with SUVs and ‘crossover’ models that are essentially normal cars that look like SUVs. But the growing traffic and problems with finding parking space are making big luxury cars difficult to drive, as a result many smaller sedans that now offer numerous luxury features have hit the sales of bigger cars.

Small sedans like the Maruti Swift had been poor cousins to larger sedans like the Honda City or Hyundai Verna above which was the slightly larger Toyota Corolla Altis and above that were even bigger saloons like the Honda Accord. Today the City and Altis have become bigger and more luxurious so they have squeezed out the Accord and the Toyota Corolla and Camry. They have so much space and are loaded with so many luxury features that they make for good choices and are cheaper as well.

They are however facing huge competition from compact sedans like the Maruti Dzire, Hyundai Xcent, Honda Amaze, Ford Aspire, Tata Tigor and Volkswagen Ameo. All these cars are less than four metres long but have somehow re-engineered their inner spaces to provide surprisingly good legroom, seat width and interior space. The huge competition between them has resulted in their offering luxurious and tasteful seating and many features that were earlier found only in luxury cars. Their top models all offer excellent climate control, music, infotainment, navigation, automatic transmission, et cetera. They also sport other conveniences like keyless entry, push button start, delayed lights off, daylight running lights, et cetera.

To add to this confusion of choices, all these desirable features can also be found in the rapidly growing new segment of small SUVs. New models of Renault Duster, Ford EcoSport, Hyundai Creta, Maruti Brezza, Honda BRV and Tata Nexon

offer all the features of compact sedans with bigger wheels for bad roads plus a masculine ‘macho’ look. They all also offer very good steering and suspension systems to make driving easy, safe and effortless.

They are all good to look at and have a host of other features for safety and comfort. Many of these luxury features are not found in older models so many buyers are upgrading from older models of Dzire or Xcent as they are surprised and overjoyed at getting some of these new features.

All these sedans and SUVs come fitted with very responsive and quiet new diesel and petrol engines that are so fuel efficient that good fuel consumption is taken for granted. They are also now so reliable that breakdowns are almost unheard of. But if they do break down their advanced electronics can make roadside repair very difficult and you have to rely on the company’s ‘helpline’ systems. As all these cars are now on par with world standards it is no surprise that they are being exported all over the world.

Although it may seem that a car buyer can now get almost any automotive luxury that he or she may want, competition is sure to surprise us with new models, variants and features every year to pull us away from the popular choices to something novel or new.

—The author is the region’s most celebrated automobile columnist