Short Cars With A Rump, And Why India Is Nuts About Them

Faisal Ali Khan
by Faisal Ali Khan
short cars with a rump and why india is nuts about them

According to lore, Americans dig big cars, Europeans love their hatchbacks, Australians love pick-ups. And the Indians? Indians love sedans. The sedan is a status symbol for most in India. It provides a feeling of accomplishment. It also costs more. A sedan does not cost much more to make than its hatchback platform cousin. What makes a sedan more costlier are the taxes we have to pay.

The Indian government wants to promote small cars as they are eco-friendly and consume less fuel. They are easy to park and maneuver. They take less space on the road and help in reducing traffic congestion. If you visit India, you will notice that the infrastructure growth is not keeping pace with the GDP growth. This makes small cars extremely important, and the Government of India is leaving no stone unturned to promote them. But how do they do that?

All cars measuring under 4-meters in length and having an engine capacity of less than 1.5-litres (diesel) / 1.2-liters (gasoline) are classified as a small car and attract only 12% excise duty. All other cars cost you (well, us) 27%. Now what if you want a sedan, but not the tax? This is where the compact sedans come in.

The first company to develop a compact sedan was Tata. The owners of Jaguar Land Rover made the Indigo CS (Compact Sedan), which measured less than 4-meters in length and was powered by a 1.4-litre diesel engine. This helped Tata Motors save 15% excise duty, which they passed on to the buyer, resulting in the Indigo CS becoming the cheapest sedan in the country.

The next company to follow the Compact Sedan craze was Maruti Suzuki (Suzuki’s Indian operations), which developed the Swift DZire (a Swift with a 316 liter trunk). In comparison, the Honda Jazz has a trunk space of 399-liters. But still the Swift DZire (gasoline) sells almost twice that of the Jazz (the Jazz is only available in gasoline).

The compact sedan craze is quite high and growing. This is the reason why Mahindra (which now owns the rights to the Renault/Dacia Logan and has renamed it Verito) is planning to cut the bumpers of the Verito to make it a sub 4-meter car. Why did Toyota’s made-for-India-car, the 4.26 meter Etios, get a shorter brother, the 3.77 meter Etios Liva? Now you know.

Many others are planning similar things with their MUVs and SUVs.

It looks like India will soon be awash with stout cars with a little rump.

Faisal Ali Khan is the owner/operator of, a website covering the auto industry of India.

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  • CRConrad CRConrad on Apr 22, 2012

    Faisal: "4 meters", "1.5 litres", and "1.2 liters". Not a hyphen in sight, nor should there be. Really. Trust me. Thank you.

  • CRConrad CRConrad on Apr 22, 2012

    Oh, and judging just from these two profile pictures, the Swift DZire is hideous, while the Indigo is really rather cute.

  • 28-Cars-Later I'm actually surprised at this and not sure what to make of it. In recent memory Senator Biden has completely ignored an ecological disaster in Ohio, and then ignored a tragic fire in Hawaii until his handlers were goaded in sending him and his visit turned into it's own disaster, but we skipped nap time for this sh!t show? Seriously? We really are through the looking glass now, "votes" no longer matter (Hillary almost won being the worst presidential candidate since 1984 before he claimed the crown) and outside of Corvette nostalgia Joe doesn't care let alone know what day it happens to be. Could they really be afraid of Trump, who AFAIK has planned no appearance or run his mouth on this issue? Just doesn't make sense, granted this is Clown World so maybe its my fault for trying to find sense in a senseless act.
  • Tassos If you only changed your series to the CORRECT "Possibly Collectible, NOT Daily Driver, NOT Used car of the day", it would sound much more accurate AND TRUTHFUL.Now who would collect THIS heap of trash for whatever misguided reason, nostalgia for a much worse automotive era or whatever, is another question.
  • ToolGuy Price dropped $500 overnight. (Wait 10 more days and you might get it for free?)
  • Slavuta Must be all planned. Increase price of cars, urbanize, 15 minutes cities. Be poor, eat bugs
  • Sid SB Not seen a Core without the performance pack yet. Prefer the more understated look of the Core vs the Circuit, but both are great fun to drive.