We had a very limited variety of options ever since the ‘Big 3’ came into picture in the early 90s. Prior to that, auto consumers in Pakistan had a wide array of options to choose from. From 1990 & onwards, the 1000cc hatchback segment has been largely dominated by Pak Suzuki, however on & off there were various other 1000cc options offered by different automakers that were assembled locally.
Let us have a look at different 1000cc hatchbacks that were assembled locally between 1991 and 2020. Don’t forget to let us know which one you think tops this list.
Suzuki Khyber (1991-2000)
Pak Suzuki started assembling the MK-I Swift locally which originally appeared in our market in 1985. Its facelift arrived in our market towards 1988 however it was in 1991 when Pak Suzuki’s Bin Qasim plant at Karachi became operational & the local assembled versions began rolling out. The imported versions were sold under the Swift nameplate while the local assembled version was renamed to Khyber.
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It was powered by 3-cylinder G10 engine paired to a 5-speed manual transmission only. The car was loved for its decent appearance, easier maintenance and a rather impressive drive for a 1000cc hatchback. It was available till year 2000 before being replaced by MK-II Swift aka Cultus.
Hyundai Santro Plus (1999-2002)
In December 1998 Dewan Farooque Motor Company was incorporated, which made agreements with South Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia to assemble and sell their vehicles in Pakistan.
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The Santo Pus was the first vehicle that rolled off their assembly lines in 1999. It was a tallboy hatchback that was also the first 1000cc car in Pakistan to have a fuel injected engine. There was only a 5-speed manual transmission on offer. The Santro Plus was available till 2002 & was replaced by Santro Club.
Suzuki Cultus (2000-2017)
A long lifespan of MK-I Swift aka Khyber came to an end in year 2000 when Pak Suzuki introduced the MK-II Swift and labeled it Cultus. The Cultus was loved for its easier maintenance, a rather spacious interior, decent looks & the availability of factory fitted CNG versions.
It also had a 3-cylinder G10 engine under its hood that was paired to 5-speed manual transmission only. However by 2007, Pak Suzuki introduced a fuel injected 4-cylinder engine with the Cultus while transmission remained same. It was available till 2017 before being replaced by Celerio.
Suzuki Alto (2000-2012)
Sensing competition from a newcomer Santro in 1999, Pak Suzuki introduced not just one but two 1000cc hatchbacks in year 2000. The other being the 5th gen Alto, which unlike its sibling the 3-cylinder Cultus, was powered by a 4-cylinder carburetor engine but was equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission only. The Alto was smaller in size than the Cultus and was priced cheaper too & was available with factory fitted CNG as well. It was discontinued in 2012 when the Euro-II emission norms were enforced in Pakistan and the company wasn’t able to introduce a fuel injected engine with this car.
Hyundai Santro Club (2002-2010)
The Santro Plus was replaced with the better looking Santro Club in 2002. It went on to become quite a successful car in Pakistan however its fate was bumped into Dewan’s financial woes and the car got lost in the dark. However the Santro fared a decent resale value in used car market for a long time. It was powered by a 1000cc fuel injected engine with factory fitted CNG versions also available. Transmission choice was 5-speed manual only.
Adam Revo (2005-2007)
The locally made Adam Revo made a brief stint between 2005 and 2007. In addition to 800cc variants, the Revo was also available with 1050cc versions. Like most other locally assembled cars, the Revo too was available with factory fitted CNG versions with both of its engine capacities. The car was discontinued within 2 years as it was unable to cope up with the competition.
Chevrolet Joy (2005-2008)
Nexus Automobiles sold Chevrolet branded cars in Pakistan between 2004 and 2008. Originally these cars were rebadged Daewoo models since General Motors had acquired the financially troubled South Korean automaker and it used Chevrolet badge to market these cars in the Asian region.
While most of the cars sold by Nexus were imported as CBU, they utilized some portion of Ghandhara Nissan’s facility to locally assembled the 1000cc Joy hatchback. The same car was available with an 800cc engine in Nexus’ CBU lineup and was sold as Chevrolet Exclusive. The Joy was equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission & was priced competitively too, however the company packed up its operations by 2008 and reportedly sold its jigs & fixtures to Ghandhara.
Suzuki WagonR (2014-Present)
Pak Suzuki introduced the WagonR tallboy hatchback in 2014, two years after the 5th gen Alto was discontinued. Originally it was available with 5-speed manual transmission only however recently the company has launched an AMT version with the WagonR.
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Despite an unusual shape the WagonR saw good success due to its good fuel consumption and was a prime choice for those in ride-hailing business, however lately the hatchback is suffering from a deplorable decline in sales.
Suzuki Celerio/Cultus (2017-Present)
In 2017, Pak Suzuki launched the Celerio hatchback as a replacement of the MK-II Cultus. However the company retained using the successful Cultus name to market the car and the results were extremely positive.
Powered by the 1000cc engine, the Celerio was equipped with 5-speed manual but after a short while an auto-gear shift version was also introduced making it the first car in Pakistan to have an AMT gearbox. The Celerio is considered among bestselling cars in Pak Suzuki’s product portfolio.
Kia Picanto (2019-Present)
In 2019 Kia-Lucky introduced the 2nd generation Picanto almost 3 years after it was discontinued from the rest of the world. Pakistan currently is the only country where this generation of Picanto is being assembled. The car with a 1000cc engine comes with 5-speed manual as well as an automatic transmission option.
So which according to you is/ was the best local assembled 1000cc hatchback in Pakistan, let us know with your comments.
A 3d animation professional with over 20 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations & production facilities of Pakistan, an avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver writings to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com