Auto Policy 2016-21 opened doors for many new automakers to step in the Pakistani market. However majority of what that has been introduced during recent years comprise of expensive SUVs beyond PKR 4.5 million price range, thus out of the reach of majority.
Although the SUV segment is growing on a rapid pace in recent years, it makes up less than 3% of the market as far as sales are concerned. While the bulk of sales are still contributed by hatchbacks & sedans, the segments which are still largely dominated by Suzuki, Toyota and Honda whereas the newcomers are reluctant to give them a competition.
One of the rare new launches in this segment is the Changan Alsvin subcompact sedan, which is the only local assembled sedan launched by a newcomer before the expiry of current auto policy. Although Proton has launched the Saga sedan, its local production is yet to kick off with deliveries to commence from December 2021 onward as communicated by various dealerships, so its presence at the moment is on papers only.
The Changan Alsvin quickly rose to fame due to its attractive design, rich features on offer and a rather acceptable price tag which is lower than the Honda City and Toyota Yaris in our market. Although Master Motors like other new players, isn’t a member of PAMA (Pakistan Automobile Manufacturers Association) hence its sales data isn’t shared by PAMA each month, still one can see a decline in Yaris & City sales ever since the Alsvin stepped into the market. And moreover, public response on the new sedan is generally positive.
Other than Changan and perhaps Proton, no other automaker is willing to tap the entry-level sedan segment. Although Sazgar was in process of introducing the BAIC D20 sedan, but its entire BAIC program seems to be in shadows whereas the company has now shifted its focus towards overly expensive Haval SUVs.
Among newcomers which tasted a phenomenal success in Pakistan is the South Korean automaker Kia, which became the third bestselling brand in Pakistan beating Honda earlier this year, now only behind Toyota and Suzuki in terms of sales. Kia’s bulk of sales comprise of Sportage crossover SUV whereas it also has local assembled Picanto hatchback and recently introduced Sorento mid-sized crossover SUV in its portfolio. The company is in process of introducing more cars in Pakistan but they are likely going to be crossovers.
The recent success of Changan Alsvin should give confidence to newcomers that a modern & well-equipped sedan against a decent price tag can create its name in presence of established players. While one may argue that most players in the game lack a quality subcompact sedan in their global portfolio, but thankfully Kia does have a promising sedan that is doing well in markets where its offered.
We have already written about the Kia Soluto in the past, which we believe is an ideal option to be introduced in Pakistan. The car is also marketed as Pegas in some countries including China, and its right-hand-drive iteration has recently been introduced in South Africa, making a strong case for Kia-Lucky to bring this car here.
Elsewhere its sold as a 1.4L sedan although the displacement is 1342cc, it can be easily marketed as a 1.3L sedan in our country. Bear in mind Honda City SX8 (1997-2001) was 1343cc, Proton Gen2 (2006-07) was 1322cc, Suzuki Liana (2006-2014) was 1328cc, 5th gen City (2009-2021) is 1339cc and even the Changan Alsvin has a 1370cc engine variant, all marketed as 1.3L sedans so the Kia Pegas/ Soluto can also be sold as a 1.3L sedan in Pakistan. The dual CVVT engine of Soluto/ Pegas is capable of producing 94hp of power and 132Nm of torque with transmission options including a 5-speed manual and a 4-speed automatic.
Right-hand drive Kia Pegas (Soluto) sedan in South Africa
It’s a nice looking subcompact with a very cheap price tag, but as per its reviews it’s not at all a cheaper product when it comes to quality. Up front there is Kia’s signature tiger-nose grille and despite its shorter dimensions for a sedan, the vehicle looks very well balanced. For the sake of comparison, the Soluto/ Pegas is shorter in length & height than the 5th gen Honda City we have here, but its wider and has a bigger wheelbase compared to the Honda City which results in better interior space for the occupants. It even has an impressive 475 liters of cargo volume which is impressive for a car of this size.
Kia Soluto (Pegas) in Philippines
The Soluto/ Pegas is well-equipped too, with more features than any car of this price. It has dual airbags, ABS, engine immobilizer, multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, digital fuel gauge and trip meter, 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, driver arm rest, reversing camera and ISOFIX child seat anchors etc. The car is already available in markets including China, Egypt, Vietnam, Brunei, Philippines, Colombia and South Africa.
Although the subcompact sedan segment has seen inclusion of two new contenders, the segment has a huge demand with buyers still needing to wait from 3 to up to 8 months for deliveries, so Kia Pegas/ Soulto can definitely fill that gap as it has got all the potential to do well in our market. Do you think Kia should consider introducing this car in Pakistan instead of just focusing towards crossovers? 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