17 features coming to tomorrow’s Marutis, Hyundais & Tatas

The features that manufacturers think will become popular are mass-produced, bringing their costs down rapidly. When mass production happens, that's when you see them getting common in the mainstream cars.

GTO shared this with other BHPians.

Let me tell you 6 undeniable facts about features:

1. Almost all common nice-to-have features were first offered in premium flagship cars, be it parking cameras, ABS, airbags, cruise control and so on. And it's not just features - even CRDI diesels, direct-injection turbo petrols and dual-clutch ATs made their debut on luxury cars before eventually coming down to <10-lakh rupee models.

2. Eventually, the ones that manufacturers think will become popular are mass-produced, bringing their costs down rapidly. When mass production happens, that's when you see them getting common in the mainstream cars. I call it the "democratization" of features :)!

3. Whenever there is a fresh new car launch, the OEM wants to stand out and one of the easiest ways to accomplish that is via a snazzy new feature set. It only takes one manufacturer to create demand + buzz around a feature, for every other brand to follow. Case in point = the MG Hector & its panoramic sunroof. Now, it's become an expected feature for anyone spending 20 lakhs on an SUV / Crossover.

4. In rare times, the mass market brands beat luxury cars too! Case in point = Apple CarPlay & Android Auto which populated hatchbacks & compact sedans far earlier than it did the 50 - 75 lakh cars. Cheap-thinking BMW actually wanted to charge owners an annual fee for Apple CarPlay!

5. The Koreans (Hyundai-Kia) are generally the first-movers in bringing technology from the Germans to the mass market. You can send a thank you note to them.

6. Downside? With more features & tech coming to cars, you can expect prices to keep rising.

Therefore, if you want to know what features will become common in the mass-market cars of 2025 - 2030, you only need to look at the premium cars of today, then apply some thought & logic to which might get popular in mainstream segments tomorrow. Here are the features that I think will be seen in 6 - 14 lakh cars in the coming decade:


Just like ABS is saving lives today and has been made mandatory by the Indian government, so too will ESP :thumbs up. ESP is a life-saving technology that can help even a newbie driver if the tyres start to lose their grip in corners or during an emergency manouveur. The technology is fast becoming commoditized in India. It is cheap, mass-produced and you will definitely see it in budget hatchbacks tomorrow. Proof? The Maruti Swift recently added ESP to its offering :thumbs up. I'm betting big on ESP.

Front Camera + Parking Sensors

You can get a factory-fitted reversing camera even in cheap Marutis & Hyundais today. The same democratization of "visibility" will happen at the front end. Although small cars don't really need a front camera due to their size, this is a feature that will be appreciated by newbies & first-time car owners for sure. The hardware is already dirt cheap. I'll go a step further and say that 360-degree cameras are going to see a jump too (already available in the <9-lakh rupee Nissan Magnite).

An impressive sound system, perhaps even a subwoofer

Tata took the lead here by providing really good ICE setups (for the price) in cars like the Tiago & Nexon. You can almost feel the pressure on other manufacturers as customer expectations have risen. I feel that better quality sound from 6 speakers will become ubiquitous in the cars of tomorrow, similar to how a good camera is expected from even 15 - 20k smartphones. Subwoofers - which make a HUGE difference to the sound quality - will also enter many more cars. IMHO, a great sound system is the easiest way to differentiate your cabin. And it's more enjoyable than a panoramic sunroof for sure as the owner can use it for 100% of his driving time. As someone who lives on music and test-drives all mass market cars, I couldn't be happier. Nothing quite like a very early morning, a new important car, an empty highway and good speakers.

More Airbags

Thanks to GNCAP and some responsible media platforms (like Team-BHP :D), the customer is becoming a lot more safety-conscious. Considering the high fatality rates on Indian highways, well, better late than never is all I can say! Due to them becoming mandatory in India (driver-side airbag), production has already been ramped up like anything and airbags have become cheap to buy for the OEM. I expect to see 4 - 6 airbags in more hatchbacks. We'll have to wait for the next-generation launches though, as it's not easy to add airbags to an existing model. Got to appreciate brands like Hyundai & Ford for offering 6 airbags in their compact cars much before anyone else did.

Safer Structures

Further to my previous point, customer awareness, government legislation & bad press (especially) is going to force manufacturers to offer structurally safer cars. Nothing ruins a manufacturer's sleep more than negative media articles, and there's no one better to force them to do something than a government order. The OEMs have realised that safety is slowly becoming more & more important to customers, and are planning their next-generation cars accordingly.

Better Automatics

Today, the AMT is more or less the standard AT in cheap cars, thanks to the big guys like Maruti, Hyundai, Tata and gang selling them by the thousands every month. But customer satisfaction isn't high, owner complaints are frequent, the driving experience poor and long-term reliability remains patchy. ATs are a new thing for India's mainstream customer today as we have traditionally been an MT market. But as the customer becomes more mature & accepting toward ATs, he is going to demand a proper, smoother AT. After all, if a proper AT costs 1 lakh and an AMT is for 45k, what is the difference of 55k in EMI terms? Hardly anything in the 5 year loans which are popular with today's car buyers.

Ventilated / Cooled Seats

This will take a bit of time, and won't become as common as say, ESP or more airbags. But more cars are going to get this feature for sure, especially the ones that can command a little premium in the showroom (B2 hatchbacks, Compact SUVs, MPVs). Ventilated seats aren't just nice-to-have, they are also incredibly useful in the hot Indian summers & greatly elevate comfort levels, especially on long drives. Here's a good discussion on the topic. Among owners of cars with ventilated seats, the feature has a near 100% satisfaction rating. You can be rest assured that car manufacturers have taken note.

LED Headlamps

Their costs have fallen, the technology is far superior to halogens & bi-xenons, and Maruti even offers LED headlamps in cars like the Baleno! I feel LED headlamps will eventually become like "halogen" units and you'll see them even in models like the S-Presso / Santro. Vid6639 adds that the mass market will most likely see the reflector LEDs, and not projector-type LEDs which are more expensive (e.g. Seltos gets reflector LEDs as well). Vid6639 says that, post LEDs, laser-guided headlamps like in the latest BMWs, will become the next big thing in 10 years. You can bet that the 2030 Hyundai Creta will feature laser-guided eyes!

Digital Instrument Clusters

Thanks to smartphones, the price of digital screens has fallen so rapidly that I feel it's cheaper for an OEM to offer a digital cluster than an analogue one! I hate this trend as I prefer pure & classy analogue dials, just as I do with watches. I feel that analogue dials add a certain classiness to the cabin if done well. A majority of BHPians also prefer traditional dials over digital ones. Hope manufacturers don't blindly jump onto this trend!


So good! You can thank the Chinese for mass-producing TPMS kits. Simple, cost-effective, a life-saver (on highways especially) and money saver (longer tyre life). TPMS will soon become as ubiquitous as touchscreen head-units are today. In fact, thanks to touchscreens (which also serve as a display for other functions), TPMS will penetrate deeper into the economy segment.

Wireless Phone Charging

I hate the technology as it stands today, but as with any new tech, it is fast evolving and will become the standard one day. Thanks to Bluetooth, no one uses AUX cables for audio anymore. It'll be the same with wireless phone charging. It has already entered the VFM segments via the Sonet & Magnite, while Maruti (Vitara Brezza) & Renault (Kiger) are offering the same as an official accessory.

Rear Sunblinds

Almost every luxury car has a retractable sunblind on the rear windscreen. This feature has become all-the-more important since the sunfilm ban by the Supreme Court. The rear sunblind greatly elevates comfort levels for rear passengers and as an added bonus, it makes the car look bad ass from the rear too (tinted glass look). Not just the rear windscreen, I believe that sunblinds will soon be coming to rear windows too.

Ambient Lighting

Am surprised this isn't already standard in Maruti Altos! Reason = LED strips are dirt cheap today and for a tiny price, they can transform the look of your cabin at night. Improving the interior ambience is important to cheap cars with cheap interiors. I just hope manufacturers don't go overboard by making their cabins look like a Diwali night! And at the very least, please do make the brightness levels adjustable via the soon-to-be-standard touchscreen ICE.

Automatic headlamps & wipers

Imagine a product planning meet going like this - "does it offer convenience?". Yes. "Does it add value to our topmost variant?". Yes. "How's the pricing from our suppliers?". Dropping fast. You can bet that top variants of hatchbacks will offer auto headlamps & wipers one day. The feature is already commonplace in Compact SUVs, while some hatchbacks too (e.g. Altroz) are equipped with auto headlamps & wipers. Coming soon to the mass market for sure.

Sporty bodykits

Cars are increasingly becoming commoditized and the differentiation between same-segment cars is getting slimmer by the day. The space, power rating, equipment etc. is more or less similar in any C1 or C2 segment sedan today. The main differentiators are looks, brand & pricing. In their quest to stand out and offer more individuality to customers of the highest-trims, the smart manufacturers will start offering factory-fitted body kits. Toyota is the master of this and has sold really good kits on the Liva, Corolla Altis, Fortuner etc. The Sportivo 1st-gen Fortuner did sell better than expected, and was the inspiration behind the Legender. Customers of the topmost trims give the OEMs F-A-T profit margins, and I think they are going to entice more clients with sporty bodykits. But again, these will only be offered on the topmost variants. Inspiration taken from the AMG-line of Mercedes & M-Sport BMWs.

More Interior Choices

In their quest for differentiation and to extract more money from buyers of higher variants, the big brands will definitely offer you a little more spice for your cabin. Think of tastefully done highlights (like Kia), interior panels that are body-coloured or contrast-coloured etc. Just like you get dual-tone exteriors. Further, I feel more manufacturers are going to give you cabin options on C2-segment sedans and crossovers. It's already available on many premium cars where darker interiors are matched to lighter body colours and vice versa. More customers will have the opportunity to choose from light or dark interior themes. All-black cabins will go up in popularity as well.

Paddle Shifters

Paddle shifters are nothing, but nicely shaped buttons on the steering wheel. There is nothing mechanical about them, it is purely electronic commands and hence, cost-effective. I expect to see more Compact SUVs (just introduced in the 2021 Sonet) and C2 segment sedans (Verna 1.0 Turbo gets them) to offer them. Penny-pinching Honda too offers paddle shifters in the Amaze, as does Ford in the EcoSport. This will remain a premium feature though - like ventilated seats - and offered on the higher variants of cars that can get away with charging a premium.

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