Its a three way fight between Honda Amaze, Ford EcoSport and Hyundai Grand i10 for the best car of 2013. There are juries dime a dozen to decide that. I wont join that league. What I would rather look at is the worst of the lot. Like I have done in the last 2 years.

Nobody talks about it, writes about it, thinks about it. But surely, in the dead heap of two dozen cars–big and small–launched in 2013, there are a few that are not worth the effort. And why do we need to look at them? Besides filling up space and giving you something to read about, to those unfortunate ones who do land up here, it will perhaps show some humble car manufacturer what kind of cars ought be made or launched in India.

What is heartening this year that except maybe a couple there werent any new cars that were specifically bad. Which goes to show that there is something that the manufacturers are doing right.

There are two ways to decide the nominees. One, based on where the product is at fault either in yours truly’s humble standards or when compared to those in its segment. The other is when despite being a good car, factors like price or cost of service and spares have relegated it to the margins.

Like in the past, those that figure in this list are not bad cars per se. They are only not as good as the others. With the disclaimer taken care of, lets get down to the business.

Cross Polo

Its a little hard to imagine that a Volkswagen would ever make it to such a list. But that is exactly what I meant when i said there werent many outrightly ludicrous cars launched this year. The Cross finds itself here because it does not, bar some tacky cladding, offer anything beyond the existing Polo.

In Europe, this version comes with a higher ground clearance that gives it better versatality. We would have loved to have it here. Instead we are charged more for changes that are neither classy nor necessary. This is a result of a company trying to conceal an obvious dry product pipeline. We would have been better off without the Cross.

Cross polo bigger but not necessarily better

Chevrolet Enjoy

General Motors would want to forget 2013 in a hurry and that is not because its car features in this list. (I dont even think they care). They had two launches this year–Enjoy and Sail sedan– both have Chinese origins and both have their own set of problems.

But while the space and practicality saves the sedan, it could not rescue the Enjoy. Suspect build quality, tacky interiors, underpowered engines and lack of refinement are its myraid problems. And GM’s mess with the Tavera was so big that Enjoy could not even get a decent marketing push. This one, is a disaster and one of the prime contenders for the crown.

A gross misnomer

Maruti StingRay

Like VW, another surprise here. A Maruti actually makes it to the list. And the fact that this was the sole launch from the company in 2013, proves what an underwhelming product it is. Basically a souped up version of the boxy Wagon R, the Stirngray does not bring anything new to the table.

And it is a mighty disappointment because there was so much that could have been done with the car. The projector headlamps and chrome garnish on the grille only makes it look even more ungainly. And uncool. And the tagline — my thing, everything–does not help either. The sting is clearly missing here.

Value for money changes but

Mahindra Verito Vibe

Such a list is not complete without the customary entry from either a Tata or a Mahindra. This year the toss up was between the Indica Vista D90 and the Vibe. The latter makes it for the loss of opportunity.

Given that Mahindra’s hands were tied due to its estranged partnership with Renault, the Vibe isn’t a bad product. Whats got my goat was the ridiculous boot lid.

Neither a proper small car nor a sedan, a notchback design would have done a world of good to the car. Instead it falls in the no man’s land.

I am still confused what to call it…a compact sedan or a hatchback, because it is none. Perhaps the market is as confused for only that can explain the lack of takers.

Mahindra Verito vibe a practical compromise

Rave and rant, post comments, fight, jostle….you are most welcome. Or abuse me at sumant.banerji@gmail.com. Want something else, vote on and let us boot one of these out. Let the mud slinging begin.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (10 votes, average: 4.8 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...

This year has been rather unforgettable for most in the domestic automobile industry. Sales have been sluggish, sentiment has been low, excitement lower and footfalls at showrooms the lowest. Read more

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (12 votes, average: 4.25 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...

It has, or if I daresay, had all the markings of a winner. Decent to look at, a capable engine, loads of features and an aggressive price tag. And with the backing of a network as wide as Hyundai’s, the success of the Grand i10 was perhaps a given. Read more

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (14 votes, average: 4.43 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...

Except when there is an Auto Expo, the first half of a year is always less exciting than the latter half that has the festive season and a rush of new car launches leading up to it. The first three months (January-March) is when the marketing teams are busy shoring up numbers and launching cars is often a distraction. The next six months till September is the annual lul period when consumer sentiment is low either due to the weather or annual vacations. Read more

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (4 votes, average: 4.25 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...

Last month, Renault Duster completed a year in India. During this time, over 60,000 units of the vehicle, believed to have prised open the compact SUV segment, have hit the roads and revived a company that was languishing at the fringes. However, as is the case with most non Maruti, non Hyundai brands, the honeymoon season for the car is over. Read more

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 4.17 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...

The first half of the year is behind us and barring the Honda Amaze and Ford EcoSport, it has been a washout so far. Traditional, established brands have struggled to attract new buyers just like many “new” cars and for the industry this year is turning out to be nothing short of a nightmare. As we head to the business end of the year where the festive season brings with it hopes of a revival, here are the 5 cars that may just hit the bull’s eye. Read more

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (4 votes, average: 4.5 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...

When competition hots up, the meek become nervous and buckle under pressure…the not so meek neither so mighty, show resilience and soar higher than ever before. The Maruti Swift Dzire seems to belong to the second category. Read more

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (9 votes, average: 4.11 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...

Like every other year, dozens of cars–big and small, awful and spectacular, practical and extravagant–will hit the roads this year as well. And like always only a few will hit the bull’s eye and the others will fall by the wayside. These are the some that look worth waiting for. Read more

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 4.5 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...

Call it a stroke of luck or astute planning, but the launch of the Renault Duster in the first week of next month, could not have come at a better time. The domestic car industry a squeeze seldom seen in history and unlike in the crisis of 2008-09, neither the government nor the industry has any answers to it. The current problems that began with a crisis of confidence seems a lot more fundamental and India centric. Read more

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (15 votes, average: 4.33 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...