Do large hatchbacks have potential in India

I think there is one thing that could prevent these cars from succeeding - the rise of small crossovers like the Maruti Brezza & Hyundai Venue.

BHPian Arsenic recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

We do have a thread on this, but it's 11 years old and the Indian car scene has evolved quite a bit since then. So, it's worth asking again - is there a gap in the Indian car market that a C-segment hatchback can fill?

The poster car of large hatches, the VW Golf

Why large hatches might succeed... and why they might not

Well, theoretically we already have one large hatch in India, the Skoda Octavia. However, it still looks like a sedan styling-wise and it doesn't resemble a large hatchback like the Golf or Hyundai i30 one bit. The only true large hatch that's ever been sold here is the Chevrolet Optra SRV.

BHPian carrazy's stunning SRV

The SRV unfortunately bombed, mostly because the pricing was quite high (7.5L for a hatch in those times was ridiculous!) and due as well to the fact that people didn't really know who GM was targeting. Here's a post from 2006 by mod Navin about the same.

Out of curiosity, I decided to ask a friend for his opinion on whether large hatches would succeed in India. Here's what he had to say:

More on that point about enthusiast cars later...

Now I personally find another one of his statements quite intriguing, and it's why I think large hatchbacks do have potential in India.

He does have a point, although I'm not sure if there is necessarily more space on offer. The VW Golf has a wheelbase of 2636mm, close to the Virtus' 2651mm, and offers quite a good amount of rear legroom + a 380L boot. Additionally, one might argue that a hatchback opening is a lot more convenient than a traditional trunk.

However, I do think there is one thing that could prevent these hatches from succeeding: the rise of the small crossover. The Venue and Brezza have already brought down sales of the likes of the i20 and Baleno, so what chance does a Golf/i30 have against a Taigun/Creta? Of course, those who value a low centre of gravity will always spring for the hatch, but that probably isn't the majority of consumers in today's market.

But how can a large hatch succeed?

think there are 3 ways that these big hatchbacks can capture sales:

Price them to sell

The Indian market no longer sees 7.5 lakh for a hatchback as ridiculous. In fact, I'm sure it would accept a C-segment hatchback at the same price as a compact sedan. Wouldn't a Corolla hatch priced along the lines of the Virtus be quite a unique proposition? Or even better, an i30 at the pricing of the Verna!

Bring the hot-headed versions

I do believe that had the Golf GTI been launched instead of the Polo GTI back in the day, we'd be seeing quite a lot of GTI-badged cars on our roads today. Considering we no longer get the Octavia VRS, something like a Hyundai i30N, Kia Procee'd GT or even a Toyota GR Corolla priced similarly to the old VRS would be quite a tantalizing proposition. In fact, it would bring enthusiast cars back to the 30-50L price band, which many Indian car enthusiasts searching for fun cars with a 40-55L budget would appreciate.

Sell them as alternatives to electric crossovers

Wouldn't many of us rather have an MG4 vs the ZS EV? I personally wouldn't mind purchasing a Nissan Leaf or VW ID.3 at a decent price. I'm sure a lot of us who aren't massive fans of crossovers but are keen on going electric would love to have a nice electric hatch in our garage. I know I'd love to have one for sure!

Here's what GTO had to say about the matter:

In India, hatchbacks are only bought because of price and even there, we have seen innovations like the Compact Sedans (started by Tata) which became runaway successes because they gave you a "sedan body style" at a price comparable to hatchbacks.

The main reason though is crossovers. A large hatchback will cost as much as good crossovers and there is simply no competing with that body style. The mass market appreciates crossovers & SUVs for their style, higher seating & enhanced GC. Even the C2 sedan segment is floundering thanks to the crossovers.

Large hatchbacks will attract a limited set of buyers.

Here's what BHPian vedirah had to say about the matter:

Yes. If a product like the Golf was available in the market today my money would be where my mouth is. I absolutely love the hatchback body style - even more so than the Sedan, and definitely more than SUV/MPV/Crossover. It looks cool, has a great seating position, and basically, it's the perfect driver's car. I would love to see large hatchbacks make their way here. When it's time to upgrade my Polo in 5-6 years, if these are around I'll be inclined to purchase a large hatchback.

Here's what BHPian Jaguar had to say about the matter:

In our market, hatchbacks are considered entry-level cars and therefore it is difficult to sell a large hatch. However, with the disappearance of entry-level sedans, I feel there could be a market for decently-sized hatches. But aren't the likes of Nexon just larger hatches on stills?

Here's what BHPian Chetan_Rao had to say about the matter:

Potential? They already sell, we just like large hatchbacks in a certain 'other' body shape!

Seriously though, I'd pick up a 'conventional' large hatchback with a competent powertrain over a comparable sedan/CSUV in a heartbeat.

I'd prefer an i20 N-Line DCT for 15L over the Nexons, Brezzas, Venues and Sonets of the world. I continue to be disappointed Honda never gave us a 1.5 iVTEC + magic seats version of the Jazz/Fit, I'd prefer it over a City, maybe even a Civic.

If VAG brings in Fabia/Golf with a competent motor, I'd prefer them over a Slavia/Virtus.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

Redlining the Indian Scene