We have very little options when it comes to buying new cars in Pakistan. As the market continues to be dominated by a handful of options, that are successful only because of the lack of available alternates, rather than the positives of the vehicle itself. It often leads us to wish if somehow there was a way to bring back the successful cars of the past— in the current era.
Cars listed below were quite successful in their respective times due to specific reasons. Though one can always buy these cars from the used car market today, but honestly speaking a new car has its own charm. Following are the vehicles we wish to see them back on our roads as ‘new’.
The Cuore was the only 800cc local assembled hatchback in Pakistan that came with an automatic transmission. In fact, even 1000cc hatchbacks offered in our market at that time came without automatic transmission option.
Although it was expensive than Mehran, the other 800cc hatchback available, but offered better looks, relatively better comfort, was economical, came equipped with factory fitted CNG and easy maintenance with frequently available spare parts.
Today the cheapest small car with an automatic transmission in our market is the 660cc Suzuki Alto VXL AGS which cost an insane PKR 19.51 lac. Indus Motor Company can even consider launching the new 660cc Daihatsu Mira and rebadge it as Cuore, just like what Pak Suzuki did with the Celerio hatchback.
Honda City SX8 Facelift
Often recalled as one of the most successful model of Honda City in Pakistan. Interestingly its life span was less than 6 years, with facelift comprising of hardly 3 years. Contrary to this, the 5th gen City was assembled for more than 12 years in our country.
Related: The History of Honda City
The City SX8 facelift came equipped with a fuel injected 1300cc engine paired with manual as well as automatic transmission option. It was spacious, yet wasn’t too large on the outside so was quite easy to maneuver in narrow streets and could easily be parked in tight spaces. It offered exceptional visibility for the drivers with thin A-pillars and least number of blind spots for the driver.
Despite being out of production for about 17 years now, the City SX8 still holds quite a decent reputation in the market. With its low-slung body, light weight, responsive engine, impressive fuel consumption, excellent suspension setup and striking looks, the car was a complete package within itself.
Lancer was quite a popular name in our market during the 80s and 90s, however when the imports were tightened, it disappeared from the market. In 2004, Dewan Mushtaq Motor Company (DMMC) re-introduced the Lancer sedan in Pakistan.
Lancers used to be a class apart when it came to drive pleasure, and so was the DMMC Lancer. Although the design itself wasn’t too outlandish, yet it was sober and elegant and came with probably the most ambient and better looking interiors available at that time.
It was available in 1.3 as well as 1.6 liter engines with manual and CVT transmission options and did quite well in terms of sales up until 2007/08. The DMMC Lancer is obviously one of the few cars that we wish to see running on our roads as a brand new car.
Before making their comeback having teamed up with Lucky Group, Kia had a couple of shots in our market during 90s and 2000s. Among the models that were introduced, Sportage remained their most popular offering. The Kia Sportage powered with a 2.0 liter engine was a proper 4×4 vehicle and was available at half the price of other similar vehicles available back then.
With its decent looks, and smaller yet practical size, the Sportage remained an ideal low budget 4×4 option and it would be no better to see it running on our roads again.
Toyota Corolla 1.6 GLi
The 7th generation Toyota Corolla also commonly known as Indus Corolla was probably the most loved local assembled Corolla model in our market. Although the bulk of the sales comprised of the 1300cc carburetor variants, the most fun to drive was the 1.6 liter fuel injected one called as the GLi.
The Indus Corolla remained in production for nearly 9 years in our market. Towards the end of its tenure, the company offered special editions with automatic transmission as well as sunroof. That’s the package we believe should be available as a brand new option today.
Imagine a 7th gen Corolla powered by a 1.6 liter 4A-FE engine under its hood, with an automatic transmission option loaded with driver/ passenger airbags, ABS and sunroof. What more you can ask for?
Honda Civic 6th gen Facelift
After 2006 when the 8th gen arrived, the Civic grew bigger, with a single 1.8 liter engine, got expensive and became limited to those with good purchase power only. Before that, it had a much broader consumer base with availability of smaller 1.5 and 1.6 liter engines among the offerings.
Related: Honda Civic Completes 50 Years
Between 1996 and 2006, spanning two generations (6th and 7th), the Honda Civic was primarily available in two versions, the 1.5 liter Exi which was a simple fuel injected version, and a 1.6 liter Vti with Honda’s Variable Valve Timing technology.
Among these two generations, the 6th gen (produced between 1996 to 2001) was considered more fun to drive and offered superior driving characteristics than the 7th gen. However, the 6th gen facelift is something that will always be missed as it was probably the most beautiful models to look at, delivered excellent performance, was available in smaller 1.5 and 1.6 liter versions, offered goodies such as ABS, sunroof & power antenna and had a more practical no-fuss automatic transmission option instead of the Prosmatec.
We are sure if the 6th gen Civic facelift is available today with a 1.6 liter Vti engine, airbags and the features mentioned above, it would perhaps sell more than the current gen City and Civic combined, and Honda Atlas might well be able to post individual sales figures of their cars again!
The last of this list is none other than the Suzuki Margalla. You won’t be surprised to know that Margalla remained the best selling sedan Pak Suzuki has ever produced. The sales of Suzuki Margalla in 1996 (6,000 units a year) remained more than Baleno, Liana as well as Ciaz.
Related: Pak Suzuki And The Sedan Segment
Baleno in its 8 year of production hardly able to manage to get close to 4,062 units in 2003/04, while it remained dangling around 2,000 units a year, in its entire life span. Liana in its first year of production did managed to get close to 6,000 units, but in its last 8 years of production sold only 6,127 units (averaging just 765 units a year). In its final two years, Liana sold only 164 units in 2012/13, and 161 units in 2013/14 averaging just 13 units a month!
Ciaz on the other hand, despite being a very good car, stayed at the showroom floors and was never able to sell in considerable numbers. Considering this, a cheaper and affordable sedan like the Margalla which was reliable, extremely inexpensive to maintain, and performed like a real workhorse will always be missed.
Related: Remembering Suzuki Margalla
The Margalla came equipped with a 1300cc engine under its hood and had a power packed option called the GLX available in its lineup. Margalla GLX if offered today as a brand new car with a fuel injected engine, packed with goodies such as ABS, airbags & price tag around that of Wagon R, would probably end the chapter of every other Suzuki currently on offer.
Pak Suzuki could have even considered re-badging the Ciaz as a Margalla, as in case with the Cultus/ Celerio but they missed the opportunity. Is there any successful car from the past that you want to see running on our roads again as brand new? Let us know with your comments.
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