United Motors finally launched the Alpha hatchback on 2 January, kickstarting 2021 to an interesting opening for Pakistan’s auto industry.
Alpha is a 1000cc city hatchback that challenges the Suzuki Cultus and Kia Picanto, and the new Alpha is considerably the cheapest offering in the 1000cc hatchback segment.
The launch took place at the Pearl Continental Hotel in Karachi on Saturday where the automaker reportedly shared its plans to add more vehicles and a couple more variants (automatic and electric) of the United Alpha to its lineup in Pakistan. The automaker also stated that the Alpha will be offered as a Complete Knock-Down (CKD) unit to ensure its edge over its competitors in terms of price.
As pointed out by experts, the Alpha United is a rebadged and facelifted version of the first generation Chery QQ. Apart from the slight differences in the front and the rear with different pairs of headlights and taillights, it is basically the same car that was introduced by Karakoram Motors 16 years ago.
It has familiar, smooth, and beveled body-lines and silhouette as part of a simple and functional overall design. Although the black plastic panels and the questionable headlight and taillight design reduce the ‘clean look’, note that the United Alpha is a city car that is only meant for simple use in a cheap and reasonably comfortable manner.
The theme of simplicity continues inside with a standard-looking dash design besides a touch-based infotainment screen, a modern-looking gauge cluster, and a two-tone design that makes the interior slightly bright. It also includes soft, cotton fabric seating as the standard.
Although it has the basic features and amenities of a modern car, it lacks airbags which is a big let-down.
The United Alpha features a 1000cc, naturally-aspirated Dual Overhead Cam (DOHC) 4-cylinder petrol engine that produces 68 hp and 93 Nm of torque, and is paired with a 5-speed manual transmission. Additionally, the engine is Euro-4 compliant.
The car has a McPherson Strut coil spring suspension in the front and a semi-independent, cylindrical, helical spring setup at the rear for a smooth ride.
While it has front disc brakes without ABS and conventional rear drum brakes at the back, the relatively lesser curb weight of the car (890 kg) enables easy halting on normal brakes as well.
The Alpha will be offered in only one trim-level for now, and it will have the following features:
For almost Rs. 1.4 million (Rs. 1,395,000 to be exact) one can get a 1000cc hatchback that competes with the Suzuki Cultus and the Kia Picanto for less than the price of a top-spec Suzuki Alto.
However, United Motors has always had questionable product quality, which is why its Bravo failed to impress despite being the cheapest offering in its segment. Moreover, with the lack of basic features like airbags and the ABS technology, the Alpha does not come across as particularly appealing.
Regardless, its price makes it a considerable contender among the other brand new cars being offered in Pakistan, but it remains to be seen it will be able to hold its own against the WagonR, the Cultus, and the Picanto in terms of sales figures.