Estate cars or station-wagons are versatile vehicles that can be used to transport a large amount of luggage as well as carry 4 or 5 people in comfort. Most often these cars have siblings that are sedans and hatchbacks. In India, while the latter two have been strong sellers, estate cars have really not managed to capture the imagination of the regular car buyer. At the moment, there is not a single estate car on sale in the country. Over the years though, there have been attempts by various automakers to launch some really good estate cars. Here’s a look at some of them.
Premier Padmini and Hindustan Ambassador
It all started with the Premier Padmini. Well, this wasn’t a factory-built estate. Actually, Premier only supplied a driveaway chassis and it was some dealers who took up the job of building the estate body. As a result, the market for the estate was limited.
The Hindustan Ambassador, which was the only other car sold in the country back then, had a similar story. The company only provided a driveaway chassis, while the body was built by other players.
The first serious attempt at building an estate car was made by Tata Motors. This car was conceived and built as an estate only. It was not based on a sedan or hatchback. As a result, it looked a lot better than what had been dished out in the earlier years by Premier and Hindustan. In fact, it had a luxurious feel to it. Features like power steering and power windows enhanced its appeal. However, it was a heavy car and used a 1.9L diesel engine that put out just 68 BHP. This made it quite sluggish. Its reliability was not a strong point either.
A result of a tie-up between Bengaluru-based Sipani Motors and British manufacturer Rover saw the advent of the Montego in India in the 1990s. The car was available in sedan and estate body shapes. Once again, this car looked like it was designed to be an estate and not just a mod-job on a sedan. It was very luxurious for its time and had a 2.0L turbo-diesel engine that made 80 BHP. It was the quickest car available in India in its days. Sadly, it was way more expensive than anything else available back then and Sipani was too small a player to actually compete with other established manufacturers.
Opel Corsa Swing
Opel’s second offering in India was the Corsa sedan. This car was based on a hatchback and looked like a hatchback with a boot added on as an afterthought. In the coming years, Opel introduced an estate version called the Swing which looked a lot better than the sedan. It had the same 1.6L petrol engine as the larger Astra sedan and performance was quite impressive. A 1.4L petrol was also available. Being a German car, its quality too was among the best.
Maruti Baleno Altura
The Maruti Baleno sedan was popular for its performance and interior space. However, not all people liked the way its rear end looked. The Altura changed that. Still, the car was just not well-accepted by the Indian public and faded away without a trace.
Fiat Palio Weekend / Adventure
Like some of the cars above, the estate version of the Palio looked better than the sedan (Siena / Petra) did. The Adventure came with plastic cladding and roof rails giving it a rugged look. Fiat as a company, never managed to maintain any momentum it gained in order to keep going. Despite some great engines and strong build, like other Fiat cars, the estates were slow sellers.
Skoda Octavia Combi
The Octavia sedan was a big hit in India. To add some variety to the range, Skoda offered the estate version of the car as well. To start with, it was powered by a 1.9L turbo-diesel engine. Later, it got a 1.8L turbo-petrol with 150 BHP on tap as well.
Tata’s second attempt at an estate car was this wagon based on the Indigo sedan. It was very spacious and looked better than the sedan, but suffered from poor quality like many Tata cars of the past. As a result, sales didn’t take off.
Audi RS6 Avant
The Audi RS6 Avant was not just an estate, but a true blue performance machine with enough power to outrun sports cars. It had more than 550 BHP on tap, a 0-100 km/h time of 3.9 seconds and costed Rs. 1.35 crores (ex-showroom). It was never expected to sell in huge numbers.
Volvo V90 Cross Country
No list of estate cars is complete without a Volvo. The Swedish company offered the stunning and well-equipped V90 Cross Country in India for a while. It was powered by a 2.0L turbo-diesel engine with 232 BHP on tap. This car was aimed at the higher end of the market and sales were low. It has been removed from Volvo’s website now.
Source: Read Full Article