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 had a wide array of options to choose from. Although the bulk of sales have always been contributed by small hatchbacks, the segment which is wholly dominated by Pak Suzuki, we did saw some diversity in the 1300cc sedan segment which has been a popular segment in our market as well.
Related: From the Forgotten Pages of History
Let us have a look at different 1300cc sedans that were assembled locally between 1991 and 2020. Don’t forget to let us know which one you think tops this list.
Suzuki Margalla (1991-1998)
It originally appeared in our market towards late 1988 as Swift sedan with a 1000cc engine, however when Pak Suzuki’s Bin Qasim plant at Karachi became operational in 1991 the local assembled versions began rolling out with a 1300cc G13 engine paired to a 5-speed manual transmission only & the car was renamed as Margalla.
Margalla was loved for its decent looks, cheaper price tag and easier maintenance. Despite its subcompact dimensions, it offered a rather spacious interior. Even after it was discontinued the car enjoyed tremendous success in used-car market thanks to its impeccable compatibility with CNG. Margalla was discontinued in 1998 when its sales started to nosedive with the introduction of Honda City SX8 in 1997.
7th gen Toyota Corolla E100 (1993-2002)
The 7th gen Toyota Corolla with a 2E carburetor engine was the first vehicle to roll off the Indus Motors assembly lines in 1993. It was commonly labeled as Indus Corolla in our market & for about 9 years, the car literally ruled the 1300cc sedan segment.
With decent looks, robust performance and easier maintenance the 7th gen is still remembered as one of the most popular locally assembled Corolla model. Despite all these years, it still holds a decent resale value in used car market.
3rd gen Honda City SX8 Pre-Facelift (1997-2000)
Honda Atlas introduced their fist offering in the 1300cc sedan segment in the form of City SX8 in January 1997. The car got immediate success due to the fact that even its base model was power-packed & was priced considerably lower than base Toyota Corolla XE which came with black bumpers, manual windows etc. It was powered by Honda D13B 16-valve carburetor engine and was available with a 5-speed manual transmission only. The car was loved for its handling and performance while providing a superior drive comfort on par with other similar options available back then. It was replaced in January 2000 with the arrival of a thorough SX8 facelift.
Suzuki Baleno Pre-Facelift (1998-2001)
Pak Suzuki introduced the Baleno sedan as a replacement of Margalla in 1998. Throughout its lifespan it was considered as the most technologically advanced car in Pakistan. In 1998 the Baleno became the first locally assembled 1300cc sedan to come equipped with a fuel injected engine. Bear in mind at that time Toyota Corolla and Honda City were equipped with carburetor based engines.
Related: Pak Suzuki And The Sedan Segment
The Baleno had a G13B engine under its hood and was paired with a 5-speed manual transmission. Many might not remember but Pak Suzuki introduced more than 12 exterior colors when the Baleno was launched back in 1998.
3rd gen Honda City SX8 Facelift (2000-2003)
When the City SX8 facelift arrived in January 2000, not many people realized it’s a just facelift as they took it as a completely new model. The exterior revisions were extraordinary which transformed a rather somber pre-facelift City into a typical aggressive Honda.
Related: 22 Years of Honda City in Pakistan
The interior received major revisions too including revised instrument panel, revised door panels, and new steering wheel. Furthermore an automatic transmission option was added while the carburetor engine was upgraded to a PGM-Fi (Programmed Fuel Injection) unit. The 3rd gen SX8 facelift is often regarded as the most loved models of Honda City in Pakistan.
9th gen Toyota Corolla (2002-2008)
After a long 9-year tenure of the 7th gen, having skipped the 8th gen model altogether, Indus Motor Company introduced the 9th gen Toyota Corolla in Pakistan which came equipped with a variety of engine options including the 1300cc 2NZ-FE unit. Initially however it came without the VVTi function.
The 9th gen was a huge shift from the 7th gen the development of which dated back to early 90s. It was also the first time that a local assembled 1300cc Corolla received a fuel injected engine. The engine was paired to 5-speed manual gearbox while the car enjoyed the first 1300cc car to have beige interior, optitron meter, crystal headlamps and LED tail lights.
Suzuki Baleno Facelift (2002-2008)
Suzuki updated the Baleno with a facelift in 2002. It possessed a revised fascia with rounder and smaller headlamps depicting a sportier look. It maintained its reputation of being a technologically advanced car in our market with an immobilizer offered as standard with the facelift versions. It was also the first local assembled 1300cc car to have an immobilizer. Furthermore under the hood while the engine was same, the facelifts received a 2-coils per cylinder setup. The Baleno facelift was also the first local assembled car to have factory fitted CNG versions on offer.
4th gen Honda City iDSI Pre-Facelift (2003-2005)
In 2003, the City SX8 facelift was replaced by completely new 4th gen City with L13A iDSI dual & sequential engine under its hood. The car was a complete departure from previous City & was designed with comfort & fuel economy in mind. It had a spacious interior, rear flat floor and enormous 500 liter cargo volume.
Related: The Best Honda City in Pakistan
It was unique in so many ways such as the engine that had 8 spark plugs, fuel tank that was located beneath the driver seat, additional quarter glasses near the A pillars and 2 glove boxes which Honda called His & Hers. The 4th gen was also the first local assembled car as well as the first 1300cc sedan in Pakistan to have a CVT gearbox option in addition to the regular 5-speed manual transmission. It was also the first local assembled car to comply with Euro-III emission standards.
Suzuki Liana (2005-2014)
In 2005 Pak Suzuki introduced the Liana sedan replacing the Baleno. Initially the car was imported from Japan as CBU while local assembled version began rolling off the assembly lines in 2006.
It was powered by an M13A engine under its hood and was considered as the best value for money hatchback considering its price versus features on offer. It was available with 5-speed manual transmission as well as factory fitted CNG versions with advanced SIS (sequential ignition system) kit. Liana was available will 2014 with rather dismal sales however after which Pak Suzuki is yet to introduce a local assembled sedan in our market.
4th gen Honda City iDSI Facelift (2006-2008)
In 2006 Honda introduced the 4th gen City facelift with revised front & rear styling. Other than cosmetic enhancements the vehicle was same as the pre-facelift versions.
10th gen Toyota Corolla Pre-Facelift (2008-2011)
In 2008 the 10th gen Toyota Corolla was launched in Pakistan. Dimensionally it grew bigger than its predecessor however it retained the same 2NZ-FE engine which now got equipped with VVTi. A year later in 2009, it surpassed Suzuki Mehran to become the bestselling car in Pakistan and since then the Corolla has never looked back as its sales continued to grow outselling every other car by a huge margin for the next 10 years.
10th gen Toyota Corolla Facelift (2011-2014)
In 2011 the 10th gen Corolla facelift arrived which was stylistically a bit different as far as the exterior was concerned whereas the interior remained the same.
5th gen Honda City (2009-Present)
In 2009 Honda introduced the 5th gen City in Pakistan equipped with 1300cc L13Z V-TEC engine paired with 5-speed manual and 5-speed automatic transmission. Visually the 5th gen was a great deal of improvement over its predecessor. It was sharp looking, bold and aggressive. However due to the absence of competition Honda is still selling the car for over 11 years now and has completely skipped the 6th gen City for Pakistan. Throughout these years, this generation has received innumerable number of facelifts which are merely grill changes.
11th gen Toyota Corolla Pre-Facelift (2014-2017)
The 11th gen Corolla was introduced in 2014 and while it kept getting bigger in size in every passing generation, the car retained the tried and tested 2NZ-FE engine under its hood for the base XLi & GLi variants. In terms of sales the popularity of Corolla jumped to another level with Indus Motor Company posting record sales ever since this generation was introduced.
11th gen Toyota Corolla Facelift (2017-2020)
In 2017 a facelift was introduced which was mechanically same but had refreshed fascia and slightly revised rear end. Although the 11th gen is still being sold in Pakistan with 1.6 & 1.8 liter engines only, the entry level variants have recently been discontinued and are replaced by 3rd gen Yaris sedan.
3rd gen Toyota Yaris (2020 Launch)
The Yaris is the latest addition to locally assembled 1300cc sedans. Though the launch event was recently ruled out due to coronavirus outbreak, bookings that were open last month were also halted due to plant shutdowns amid prevention of the spread of deadly virus. We might be able to see the Yaris on roads once things settle down and production & deliveries are resumed.
Related: Toyota Yaris- Here vs There
So which according to you is/ was the best local assembled 1300cc sedan in Pakistan, let us know with your comments. (7th gen Corolla, Margalla, 9th gen Corolla, Liana and 5th gen City facelifts aren’t separately mentioned as changes were negligible).
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