Automakers spend a lot of money to “design” a vehicle. Although a lot of emphasis is put on the car’s safety, performance and fuel economy, the foremost thing is “the first impression”- how the car looks. When you are “wowed” by the car when you first see it, the chances of you wanting to own it, are much greater. This is the same for any product; ‘Form’ over ‘Functionality’ leads the way.
Some car companies that have been getting this eye-pleasing design point correct, have enjoyed handsome sales around the world. When a car buyer walks into the car showroom, the way the car looks, the color, styling and presentation will have an impact on how well it will sell. On the other hand, cars that are not visually attractive have always been more difficult to sell and it counts more on their engineering or perhaps extraordinary performance to sell.
Related: The Best Civic In Pakistan..
Although we don’t have much variety in Pakistan when it comes to buying an automobile, particularly after the early 90s, still there are a few examples when we had cars that stunned our auto consumers with their looks. Although this can’t be applied to every successful car in Pakistan; for example Suzuki Mehran is successful because of its cheaper running & maintenance, and perhaps lack of competition in its class but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the prettiest car in the market.
Talking about sedans in particular we have compiled a list of vehicles from the previous 2 decades (1990-2010), which were available in our market as an import, as well as locally assembled. These cars besides their performance were largely loved for their design, the way they looked & were one of the greatest “head-turners” of their time. Cars currently in production are not included in this list & will be covered in another post.
Mitsubishi Lancer 4th gen 1988-1991
The Mitsubishi Lancer 1991 was one of the greatest head-turners & well ahead of its time in terms of design. Considering the fact that the car was released internationally by 1987, the design was much futuristic compared to its rivals which were still rolling out boxy designs. Mitsubishi used the slogan ‘Built for Tomorrow’ for this Lancer, and to be honest it literally was!
With its light weight, a responsive engine, excellent handling, design that offered maximum headroom for the rear passengers and head-turning looks ,this Lancer was one of the most loved sedans of our market. Though almost always carried an impression to be expensive on maintenance, this particular Lancer was the most popular, and still the most seen on roads (excluding the Dewan Lancer) among the Lancer family from the 70s up to late 90s.
Toyota Corolla 7th gen 1993-2002
The seventh generation Toyota Corolla E100, better known in the market as ‘Indus Corolla’ was larger, heavier, and visually more aerodynamic than the model it replaced. It was a desire of the development chief Akihiko Saito to make a mini Lexus, hence the design was largely inspired by the award winning Lexus ES300.
Design wise one just cannot go wrong with the E100 Corolla. It was the simplest and one of the most loved designs of Corolla ever. It remained on sale in Pakistan by Indus motors for 9 years, the longest production period for any locally assembled Corolla generation. It was replaced in 2002 by the 9th generation Corolla since Indus skipped the 8th gen in Pakistan altogether.
Throughout its 9 years of offering, Indus produced 3 iterations to keep the car going along with time. Among those, the 2nd iteration is widely believed to be the most popular one. Despite being out of production for about 14 years, the E100 Corolla has its own charm and is always a delightful sight to see a well-kept one on road.
Honda Civic 5th gen 1992-1995
The 5th generation EG Civic first appeared in our market in 1992 with a 1300cc carburetor engine under its hood. These imported units were equipped with sunroof, and design-wise were a major leap ahead of the EF Civic it replaced. The local production of these 5th generation Civic with a 1500cc carburetor engine commenced in April 1994 and within just two years, was replaced with the 6th generation Civic in Pakistan.
It has the shortest production span for any local assembled Civic but it remained popular in the market due to its sleek design & tremendous room for modifications. In 2001 when ‘The Fast and the Furious’ movie was released with some pretty good coverage of the EG Civic, the 5th gen Civic became even more popular than ever. Nearly 6 years after it was discontinued in Pakistan and with the 7th gen Civic already in the market, the 5th gen Civic enjoyed a remarkable resale value and at one time was more in demand than the newer 6th generation Civic in the market. The car was also labeled as ‘dolphin’ due to a flat hood and raised cabin & trunk, resembling a dolphin’s snout.
Honda Civic 6th gen facelift 1999-2001
The 6th generation Civic won ‘Car of the Year’ award in Japan soon after its launch. It was introduced in Pakistan in 1996 replacing the 5th generation Civic just two years after the local production at Atlas Honda plant kicked off. However, Honda had this art of producing some absolutely stunning facelifts back in those days. In 1999 when the 6th generation facelift with revised front & rear end arrived, it almost made its award winning predecessor look dull. Often regarded as one of the most beautiful Civic to be made, the 7th gen Civic was a true jaw-dropper, an immediate head-turner and was the first locally assembled Honda Civic to offer the ‘Oriel’ trim that came with sunroof.
Honda City 3rd gen facelift 2000-2003
In January 2000, Honda launched the facelift for the rather decent looking SX8 City. Exterior wise the car was transformed from a sober looking sedan into a typical aggressive Honda now featuring bold crystal headlamps, different rear combination lamps while the 3-piece bumpers were replaced with a single unit bumper design. Stylistically the facelift SX8 is undoubtedly one of the best looking Hondas ever to appear in our market. The City weighed just under 1000kg thus offered a great balance and impressive fuel consumption. With its low-slung body, light weight, responsive engine, excellent suspension setup and striking looks the car was a complete package within itself.
Honda Civic 7th gen facelift 2004-2006
The seventh generation Civic was launched in Pakistan back in 2001. It replaced the hottest looking 6th gen facelift Civic and it was one of those designs that gradually grew on the consumers. Initially the sedan was a bit boring with rather simple headlights, non LED tail lamps, a grey interior that came without optitron speedometer cluster. Soon after the 9th generation Corolla was launched, Atlas Honda provided the Civic with much needed improvements including a beige interior, optitron meter & rear LED tail lamps.
However it was again a facelift that transformed the 7th generation Civic into an aggressive head-turner. The 7th gen facelift, popular with its nickname ‘eagle eye’ took the popularity of the Civic to a new level, and does include in our list of the most beautiful sedans to be available in Pakistan.
Toyota Corolla 9th gen (2002-2008)
For more than 9 years Toyota kept offering the 7th generation Corolla and skipped to launch the 8th generation in Pakistan. In 2002 however, the 9th generation made its way in Pakistan and after almost a decade, was the first Corolla which you can park right next to a Honda Civic and say “If this is a Civic, I’ve got a Corolla”.. The 9th generation was an instant hit, and turned many a heads on its arrival. It was a trend setter since it was the first local assembled car to offer a beige interior, the first to offer optitron meter cluster and the first to come equipped with LED tail lamps.
Honda Accord 7th gen CL-7/8/9
The seventh generation Honda Accord was without any doubt one of the coolest looking sedans to be available in the country. With its sharp & aggressive style it was one of the greatest head-turners of its time. It also won the “Car of the Year Japan Award” for a record third time and is included in our list of most beautiful sedans to be available in our country. According to many, this accord still turns head more than its successor, commonly known as ‘Thai Accord’ in our market.
Mitsubishi Lancer (2007-09 Facelift)
Lancers had a long history in our market which dates back to the late 70s. Lancers have always been loved for their superior drive quality but their maintenance has always been slightly towards the higher side.
With an absence of nearly a decade, Lancer’s comeback in our market was in 2004 when Dewan Mushtaq Motor Company (DMMC) launched the 7th generation Lancer in our market as a CBU import. Though the car had design cues much similar to its performance oriented sibling, the Evo, its front-end was somewhat weird. However the facelift that arrived in 2007 had a much improved personality, thanks to the revised front-end. However due to the increased import duties the prices of Lancer went sky high and since the car was imported as CBU, and with the launch of newer 8th gen Civic (2006), and 10th gen Corolla (2008); the Lancer (from 2004) with its higher price tag never stood a chance to compete against the established players. Unlike the pre facelift model, which sold in considerable numbers, the facelift Lancer was never a handsome seller but it does qualify for our list of good-looking sedans in Pakistan.
Honda Civic 8th gen 2006-2012
In July 2006, Honda launched the eighth generation Civic in Pakistan. The car was bigger than the previous Civics in almost every aspect. It carried a 1.8 liter 140bhp engine, the biggest ever offered by Atlas Honda in terms of displacement, as well as power. 8th generation Civic was unique in so many ways, it introduced the “two-tier” instrument panel with digital speedometer & opposite moving wipers etc. Honda used the word “Reborn” for their marketing campaign of the vehicle and it became so popular that the word got permanently associated with this generation of Civic.
Eighth generation Civic was produced for the longest period of time as compared to all locally assembled Civic models. It was launched in July 2006 and was produced till September 2012 (7 years & 2 months) before being replaced by the ninth generation Civic. 8th generation Civic is highly regarded due to its nimble acceleration, drive quality, aggressive looks and a futuristic interior, and was undoubtedly one of the greatest head turners of all time.
These were a very limited number of beautiful sedans which were available in Pakistan in a span of 20 years, however we strongly believe Pakistan’s automobile market should be enriched with a variety of brands so a consumer may choose from a competitive range of vehicles rather than opting among a handful of cars.