We started to have a very limited number of car buying options ever since the Big 3 came into picture in the early 90s. Although the market was largely dominated by these 3 Japanese players during the last three decades or so, on & off there were certain cars that came into the picture, in some cases did well too but eventually they were either discontinued or the company behind these cars simply packed up the operations and left.
Many of you might own these cars too, such as the Chery QQ, Mitsubishi Lancer, Chevrolet Joy, Kia Spectra and Hyundai Santro etc that were available in the not-so-distant past. You might be wondering how these cars in other markets look today? Are they discontinued already or have been replaced by a newer generation model if still available, well… let’s find out.
Chery QQ was the first true Chinese hatchback to appear in Pakistan back in 2005. The car got fame internationally due to its striking resemblance with GM Chevrolet Matiz which was also marketed here as Chevrolet Joy. GM also filed lawsuit against Chery but didn’t have much success in that case globally. The resemblance was so much so that parts such as doors of the original Matiz were a bolt-on fit on the Chery.
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Initially it was being imported as CBU but Karakoram Motors, the company behind bringing in the QQ, became the first to have signed a technical collaboration agreement with Chinese automaker to produce right-hand-drive vehicles in Pakistan. However a flurry of car buying options vanished from the scene after the economic debacle of 2008 and with currency starting to nosedive quickly & car prices began surging up. The Chery QQ too, faded from our market.
What happened to QQ abroad?
In its time the QQ was known as the bestselling car in China and the 1st generation that was available in Pakistan was produced till 2015. However by 2013 Chery had already launched the second generation QQ with a 1.0 liter petrol engine while an electric version called eQ is also currently available for sale.
Santro was a popular hatchback in Pakistan that was marketed by Dewan-Farooque Motors between 2000 and 2010. It was originally 1st gen Hyundai Atos while the Santro name (derived from Sanskrit) was applied specifically for Indian market and was used in Pakistan as well.
Santro saw good success in Pakistan between 2002 and 2006 however it was phased out primarily due to Dewan’s financial despair and the car itself which remained unchanged after 2002 and saw some stiff competition in form used JDM imports such as the Vitz.
What happened to Santro abroad?
The 1st gen Atos was produced between 1998 and 2003 while the 2nd gen was between 2003 and 2014, after which the car got discontinued and saw the newer Hyundai i10 hatchback as its replacement. However in 2018 the Santro got resurrected in India with a completely new platform, engine & styling. Currently the 3rd gen Santro is only available in Indian market while there are reports that it may appear in Latin American markets under Atos nameplate somewhere down the line.
Kia Pride/ Classic
Pride hatchback was the first Kia car to appear in our market during mid 90s under Tawakkal Group. However the company allegedly took thousands of bookings and fled away with the collected money while delivering just a handful of units. Although the car was good, the scam put a bad impression on its name and the reputation of the vehicle got badly hit since after sales was next to nothing.
Later in late 90s, Dewan-Farooque Motors stepped into the picture and they launched the sedan version of Pride which was originally called as Pride-B under Kia Classic nameplate in Pakistan. It was available till 2006 and although it did reasonably well in its initial years, the later models were unable to attract buyers due to other available options and overall the car failed to make a greater impact in the market.
What happened to Pride/ Classic abroad?
Kia Pride and its sedan version Pride-B got succeeded by Kia Rio in year 2000, although the second generation Rio that was produced between 2005 and 2011 was labeled as Pride in certain markets including in its home South Korea. The Rio is currently in its 4th generation that debuted in 2017 and is due to get a facelift this year.
The Kia Spectra liftback was another popular car that was introduced by Dewan in 2000. It did extremely well in its initial years but later went on to become the most undesirable car in our market. Kia Spectra between year 2000 and 2002 sold an impressive 4,487 units before its collapse started. In the remaining three years (2003-2005) Dewan managed to sell only 568 units and the Spectra was ultimately discontinued.
What happened to Spectra abroad?
The Spectra was succeeded by Kia Forte in 2008. In some markets the car is also called as Kia Cerato. The Kia Forte is currently in its 3rd generation that was just introduced in 2019.
Nexus Automobiles offered a range of Chevrolet vehicles in Pakistan between 2004 and 2008 which were originally re-badged Daewoo models since General Motors (GM) had acquired the financially troubled South Korean automaker Daewoo and it used Chevrolet badge to market these cars in the Asian region.
Not many know that Nexus utilized some portion of Ghandhara Nissan’s facility to assemble the Joy hatchback locally which was originally a 1st gen Daewoo Matiz facelift. The car was earlier offered as CBU with an 800cc engine, however the local assembled Joy had 1000cc engine under its hood. Like many other newcomers, the Joy was unable to make a larger impact and was seen in limited numbers on the roads.
What happened to Joy abroad?
The Joy nameplate was primarily used in Pakistani market while the car was best known as Chevrolet Spark elsewhere. By 2007 when Nexus was taking its last breaths here, they introduced the 2nd gen Spark/ Matiz with an 800cc engine as a CBU import but that car saw a hard time leaving the showrooms. Today the Chevrolet Spark is in its 4th generation that debuted in 2016 and has received a thorough facelift in 2019.
In addition to Joy, Nexus also had the Chevrolet Optra in its lineup which was a re-badged Daewoo Lacetti. The car was sold in limited numbers since being CBU it was expensive than other similar vehicles available in the market.
What happened to Optra abroad?
The Optra got succeeded by Chevrolet Cruze in 2008. Nexus did import a few units of Cruze here but it was outrageously expensive, almost double the price of that of the 8th gen Civic which was a sensation of its own back in those days. The Cruze is currently in its second generation that debuted in 2014 and received a facelift in 2019.
However in some markets including Egypt and Algeria, GM still use the Optra name to sell the Baojun 630 sedan that was originally developed in China with GM’s collaboration with its Chinese partner SAIC. Baojun 630 underpins the Lacetti platform and made its debut in 2011, while the facelift arrived in 2015.
Mitsubishi Lancer has been a popular car in Pakistan since early 1980s. However in recent past, Dewan Mushtaq Motors sold the 8th gen Lancer between 2004 and 2010 here which was quite a successful car in its time. The debacle of 8th gen Lancer started in 2008 when Dollar started to climb up and since Lancer came as a CBU import, the prices started to become unrealistic over the period of time.
What happened to Lancer abroad?
The 8th gen Lancer was replaced by the 9th generation model in 2007 however that car never made its way here. It lasted till 2017 when troubled Japanese automaker Mitsubishi officially announced to discontinue the Lancer with no successor in sight.
Later after getting discontinued from everywhere else, the Lancer re-appeared as a 10th generation model in 2017 called Grand Lancer that is exclusively being sold in Taiwan and Mainland China since there is a strong demand of Lancer nameplate in that part of the world.
Nissan Sunny is another car that has a deep history in our market. And in different times it was also assembled locally but unfortunately has always been in bad hands. Ghandhara was never able to make this car a success despite the fact that the Sunny was an extremely popular car in the 70s and 80s. After their brief stint of selling the B14 Sunny in the late 90s, Ghandhara between 2005 and 2011 sold the N16 Sunny which was also later assembled locally, however being a pricier option than other similar cars, it was never a hot seller.
What happened to Sunny abroad?
In 2010, the N16 Sunny was replaced with a rather ugly looking N17 Sunny that is still being produced in quite a few markets. However in 2019 the N18 model debuted which is being sold with different names in different regions. It is called as Versa in North American markets, Almera in ASEAN and Sunny in the Middle East.
Saga is the oldest Proton nameplate and the very first car that the Malaysian automaker produced. Based on the 2nd gen Lancer that debuted in 1983, the Proton Saga appeared in our market in 2006 under Royal Automobiles’ umbrella however due to its conservative styling was never able to attract buyers in numbers good enough to survive.
What happened to Saga abroad?
The Saga that we received in 2006 was the final iteration (LMST) of the 1st gen model, however today the Saga is in its third generation which debuted in 2016 and has received a facelift in 2019. Under Geely’s leadership the Saga is doing wonders in its home market and more importantly is about to make a comeback in Pakistan as Al-Haj Automotive having joined hands with Proton is in process of introducing a range of vehicles including the 3rd gen Saga facelift which will also be assembled locally at Proton’s plant that is being constructed in Karachi.
Proton’s worthiest car in its lineup in Pakistan back in those days was undoubtedly the Gen-2 aeroback. It underpinned a platform which was extensively developed in house by Proton and its technical partner Lotus. However like most of the newcomers, the fortune of Proton Gen-2 wasn’t too different either.
What happened to Gen-2 abroad?
While we got the Gen-2 aeroback version, its sedan derivate was called as Persona in its home market. Interestingly Persona was a standalone nameplate itself and the Gen-2 derivative was actually its second generation model that was produced between 2007 and 2016. The Gen-2 aeroback however was produced between 2004 and 2012. And while the Gen-2 came to an end in 2012, the Persona continued and entered its third generation in 2016 & has received its facelift in 2019.
A computer animation professional with over 23 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations, TV channels & production facilities in Pakistan. An avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver quality content to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com